Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Bye, Bye, IE

If you are still using Internet Explorer to browse the Internet, you have fallen away from the path of innovation. Back when the Netscape/IE war was raging, I stuck it out with Netscape until I found the IE feature I couldn't live without. Additionally, Netscape's tendency to crash pushed me over the edge.

What was this dramatic feature? The addition of the address bar to the Start bar, allowing me to click and simply type in an address without the hassle of finding and starting the application. Since then, I've used IE, but I'm worn out from all of the security holes and the inevitable patches. Now Firefox has the feature I can't live without.

When my Linux-only brother-in-law told me about Firefox, I was skeptical, having been burnt by other browsers, such as Netscape 6 (which was awful). I wasn't sure that I'd like the tabbed interface. However, after using Firefox as my default browser for the last 8 months, I'm sold.

Even without the extensions, Firefox has significant advantages over IE. The tabbed interface is both easy to use, and allows you to have multiple pages open without cluttering up the start bar. I tend to have 15 applications running at any given time, and 3-5 web pages open when I'm searching for things, which makes this new method well-worth it.

The extensions, however, are where Firefox just shines. By default, you can block popup windows in Firefox, but when you tack-on Adblock, it allows you to remove ads from within pages, using a wild-card to remove all ads from specific sites. After a week or so of playing with this, I rarely, if ever, get any ads at all. Dict allows you to select words out of any web-based text and define it. Nuke Anything allows you to remove any part of a web page, such as those stupid animated GIFs I find so annoying.

My only complaint about Firefox is its inability to use a couple of sites that are IE-specific. However, when you add the ieview plugin, you can automatically launch IE for those pages.

If you have not tried it, you are missing out. You can download Mozilla Firefox for free from http://www.mozilla.org.

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