Thoughts on Web Browsing

I’m not one to really be on top of technology. No really! ~ I used Windows 98 Second Edition until about 2005 when I “upgraded” to Windows 2000 Professional and it took me until this year, 2011, to start running Windows XP as my default operating system. Therefore, I do not have Windows 7 or Vista anywhere around me. Go ahead and ridicule me, I deserve it!

Now that my disclaimer is out of the way, I’ll get to a little soliloquy about the current state of the World Wide Web and the browsers we use to access it.

A very long time ago, I stopped using Microsoft’s Internet Explorer to browse the Web. It’s actually kindof funny that I had little experience with Netscape Navigator at that time. When I began paying for a monthly subscription to access the Internet, both of these browsers were at version 3.0 with an impending new 4.0 version of IE in the works. I used IE simply because it was right there, already installed on my Windows 95 box.

After about a year, I started poking around at other software available and discovered Opera. I’m a sucker for good shareware and at this time, Opera was a try-before-you-buy entanglement. But I was hooked. This was about 1998 and Opera already used an MDI, or multiple document interface. Nowadays, browser makers tout this as tabbed browsing. Funny that IE didn’t feature this until a couple of years ago though way-back-when, Microsoft pushed MDI programming on all independent developers as the way to go. Whatever, Opera’s claim at the time was “the fastest browser on Earth”. For its day, Opera really lived up to that claim.

Microsoft wielded its power through leveraging their dominance in the operating system software market to effectively eliminate Netscape. Netscape ended up being bought by America Online. Alot of time was lost, Netscape never released a version 5 of Navigator and rebuilt the Netscape Communicator Internet suite based on a project they started called Mozilla. Mozilla was released as an open-source project, which means others may use that code to build other Web browsers from it. One of these offshoots is called Firefox. The Netscape product was based on the original Mozilla code through versions 6.x and 7.x but based on Firefox for versions 8.x and 9.x. The final version of Netscape 9 is basically equivalent to Firefox 2.

For an illustrative timeline of all this, don’t take my word for it;
see this wonderful scalable graphic.

Anyhow, somewhere back about three years ago, I began using Firefox as my primary browser rather than Opera. I can’t even remember what the reasoning was at the time. It might have had something to do with eBay or the relative ease with which Firefox was available. Maybe both. Maybe it had to do with the time I’d been spending in Linux and having Firefox, or its Debian brother Ice Weasel, immediately available, much like IE 3 was back in my Windows 95 days. Nevertheless, I’d reach for the latest install of Firefox whenever I’d done a fresh install of Windows when I wanted to play in Microsoft-land.

Recently, Firefox released version 4.0 and I subsequently downloaded that and installed it. I must say that I was somewhat disappointed. In fact, there were enough aggravations precipitated by this upgrade for me to switch back to using Opera as my default browser, though I’d always had it available to me, I would infrequently update the version I had installed. I’ve always liked how Opera was very well self-contained. Which, I mean to say, if I’ve got Opera installed on some USB drive. All I have to do to run the program is find the executable there and double-click it. No requirements that something needs to be installed in the windows\system32 directory, no registry entries needed. It has always worked.

The other day, I was reading this article about memory consumption by Firefox. Its intimation is that the problem has been around a long time and is the fault of the underlying Mozilla foundation. Furthermore, the article adds that this problem will now be addressed.

Having read that article, I began doing a little bit of research about available browsers. One reason for doing this had to do with refreshing my failing human memory of what happened when. Another reason was my continued endeavors to stay on-top-of-things as much as possible due to my authoring of Web pages and the inherent limitations of design imposed by a user’s choice of Web browser. My earlier research indicated that Opera was actually further along in the compatibility of the upcoming HTML 5 standards. No surprise there; Opera was the first PC browser to achieve cascading style sheet compatibility in the famous CSS2 acid test.

By the way, if you’re interested in obtaining some of the older, seemingly non-existent Web browsers shown in the above mentioned scalable timeline, try either or Beware, opening modern Web pages with old browsers can be a scary experience though! Besides the likelihood of the browser just flat out crashing, you’ll find that if you’re able to view a page, it will not look like it would in a more modern browser and definitely not how the author intends his/her page to look. If, by me bringing up Netscape earlier, you’ve suddenly had a fond reminiscence and longing for an integrated Internet suite, I may suggest you try the Firefox-based SeaMonkey.

So, today, a bit more research into the whole Firefox memory phenomenon yielded me a slew of other browser programs based on Firefox or Mozilla. The one I sat on is a project called Pale Moon. What fascinated me about this project was its claim of Firefox not being compiled with full-optimization of today’s better computer processors. I thought the very premise was interesting, so I downloaded it knowing that I’ve got an okay processor; an AMD Turion running at 2GHz. We’ll see if it’s much faster as based on my previous 4.0 Firefox experience, I opted for the version of Pale Moon based on the old 3.6 Firefox code.

The website further suggested a pair of personas which I declined to download based on the small pictures shown. But what that did get me to do was to look for some other Firefox themes. I found a new one I’d never seen or used before and I think it’s slick as snot! It’s called Oskar 1.9. (Picture IS link!)

In Opera, I generally like the Lix skin, but if you prefer bigger buttons, then the WMP 11 skin would do better for you. Here’s a shot (and link!) of Lix: