I finally dumped Opera

22 07 2006

Somehow the Indian government decided to block all blog domains last week so I couldn’t post this earlier. Anyways, not that the blogs are back, here is the latest post.

I finally dumped Opera. I have already written why Opera 9 beta disappoints. In fact some of the problems that I faced in the beta version have been rectified in the complete release. For instance, the browser doesn’t crash when multiple tabs are opened. It finally imported all my RSS feeds and bookmarks from the previous installation. But still, Opera left me with a lot to desire. I am an old pro, and have always welcomed the enhancements that they have made to their browser but this time Opera 9 doesn’t look as good as it used to be.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

For a start, Yahoo! Mail looks very different in Opera 9. I get to see a huge blank space on the webpage and have to scroll down to have a look at my mails. I don’t know why this is happening in Opera because Yahoo! seems to work fine in Firefox and IE. Read more about why Opera disappoints from the link I have provided above.

I still hung on to Opera; primarily because of its RSS feed reader. I have become so well attuned to it that I am literally in love with it. Opera takes the cake in this respect because its RSS reader can read feeds automatically at regular intervals. So if I want to know the score of a live Cricket match every 10 minutes, I won’t have to pass any command to the reader to extract feeds. I love this technology.

This is one thing that I could never find for Firefox. I mean, they have innumerable extensions and feed readers for Firefox and even the Live Bookmarks are designed to read news feeds but they cannot emulate this effect of Opera. I was on the lookout for a good feed reader for firefox and finally found Sage. I liked the way it imported the OPML feeds from Opera. It gave me summaries of all the feeds, just the way Opera does. But yes, it doesn’t import feeds automatically like Opera. Still, I thought it was good enough for me to declare Opera defunct for me, at least for the time being.

This actually leads me to follow the browser wars. IE7 has been released by Microsoft. Firefox is preparing to release version 2. (I hear that FF 2 beta is already out) and have already prepared a roadmap for FireFox 3 (to be released next year). Opera has added widgets, torrent downloader and hopefully more will come in next upgrades. I will follow the browser wars and keep posting on it here.


© Crime Master Gogo

Advertisements




Opera 9 beta version disappoints

9 05 2006

I’ve been an ardent fan of Opera since its release 6. It fascinated me at that time because it was the only browser at that time that featured tabbed browsing. It had a very technical interface at that time and even the most common websites looked ugly while viewing in Opera 6. But things improved with Opera 7. They made it nearly as good as Netscape and Mozilla. Further enhancements were made in Opera 7.5. Voice command and similar features were added in Opera 8. Support for RSS feeds was also added this time. This looked like the coolest browser on earth. It justified their claim of being the fastest browser in the world.

When Opera prompted me to update the browser, I promptly updated it and started using Opera 8.54. It supported some of the skins that were designed for Opera 6 and 7. I particularly liked a blue coloured skin that blended well with the background of my desktop. While I never liked the email client of Opera and always preferred Mozilla Thunderbird, its IRC chat client was reasonably good. Plus of course I loved its tabbed browsing technology.

Things have changed a lot ever since Opera 9 beta was released. For old timers like me, it comes as a big change from releases 7 and 8. What’s the difference between Opera 9 and its previous versions, one may ask? On the face of it, Opera has added two new components – the content advisor (similar to the one that is functional in IE) and a Bittorrent search and download client. While I can’t say anything about the capabilities of both since I hardly use bittorrent for downloading stuff or the content advisor to censor whatever I browser, I can still say that the overall features of Opera have taken a downturn. Let’s see how.

With the addition of these two new components, the browser has become a bit slower to load. For an average user it takes longer to open up. I do not know why. Opera 8.54 used up nearly 37MB of memory at a given time while release 9 beta uses just 16 MB of memory. Yet it takes longer to load. I am not sure why.

The new beta release does not support some of the older skins. I wrote above about the blue coloured skin (XP-Blue 2003) but it is not available for this release. They have also tried to make it more trendy and photogenic in the sense that some of the icons have been replaced with new, more colourful icons. For instance the blue coloured RSS logo that you used to see in the address bar of version 8.54 has been changed to orange, signifying a live bookmark akin to FireFox.

One thing that really pissed me off was that the version 9 beta release failed to import the RSS feeds, bookmarks and cookies from Opera 8.54 from my previous installation. I had to manually import them, rather set them up all by myself and it was a tedious process to fix up more than 20 plus RSS feeds in the new browser. Some bookmarks were indeed imported but it was not good enough. I had to set up the bookmarks manually too and even arrange them in the order I had kept in the older version. It was an hour long exercise that gave me a headache.

They have added a new component called Opera Widgets in this beta release. It is something that can be akin to the extensions that are easily downloadable in FireFox. It looks cool on screen and are implement able immediately on download but the downside is that these widgets cover the entire screen at a time and do not allow you to use the browser window behind it at the same time. That’s a big turn off for me.

Then they have also changed some of the keyboard shortcuts. I am one of those rare geeks who rely heavily on keyboard shortcuts. In fact I do not even touch the mouse except when I have to click on some links on a webpage. But their new shortcuts are totally messed up. For instance, Ctrl-N used to open a new tab in the old version but it opens a new window in Opera 9. To open a new tab, we have to use Ctrl-T which incidentally was the shortcut for saving a bookmark in the older version. To save a bookmark in Opera 9, you will now have to use Ctrl-D.

Another thing that I have noticed is that Opera 8.54 had its own installer while Opera 9 beta comes with the windows .msi installer. Whether this is good or bad, I really don’t know.

The most important thing about Opera is its speed. Opera works on an algorithm that downloads the text content of the webpage before the multimedia content. This is the secret of Opera’s speed and success. But I have noticed that their claim to fame has taken a beating in this release. I noticed that most of the web pages that I usually view were taking a longer time to download. The difference may have been marginal at times but at other times it was glaringly slow, despite the fact that I am using a broadband connection. I also noticed that the browser crashed sometimes when I opened multiple tabs, something that never occurred in its previous releases.

For the moment I have shifted my loyalties to FireFox. What is cool about firefox is the unending number of extensions available for it. Firefox takes the cake here because I can install the entire Google toolbar in it while I cannot add any plugin to Opera. Yes Opera does have its own search capabilities directly linked to Google, Yahoo, etc but the features of their toolbars cannot be exploited in Opera. Maybe Opera should work on this where firefox has gained substantial ground against it as well as IE.

Soon I will download IE7 and review it. Although I am sure that it will not even be close to the functionalities offered by FireFox and Opera but still let’s see what changes Microsoft has made in their browser.

© Crime Master Gogo





Move over Firefox and Opera, here comes K-meleon

23 01 2006

I am a MS hater. Well okay, by MS I mean Microsoft and not MouthShut. There are a lot of things that I hate about MS. But the thing that I hate the most is Internet Explorer. I have been at my wits end in my search to find the best alternative for Internet Explorer. My search led me to Firefox. It was good, in fact extremely good. But somehow, it refused to work on my computer. Then my search took me to Opera. It too was good and I slowly adapted myself to it. I simply love it for its speed, customization, colours and the fact that it turned free! I was literally in love with Opera. Internet was incomplete for me without Opera. But then I found K-Meleon.

What is K-Meleon?

K-Meleon is a Mozilla based internet browser that can be regarded as one good replacement for Internet Explorer. The browser project was started way back in August 2000 by Christophe Thibault when he released the first version of K-Meleon after just one day of coding. The first ever version didn’t even have some of the basic features of a web browser that we now take for granted like history, context menu, cookie management, MIME types among others. What set it apart from the alternate browsers of that time was that it was based on the Mozilla Foundation’s Gecko browsing engine instead of the older and error-prone IE engine. In other words, it was developed using the Gecko html engine instead of the one that was used by Internet Explorer. As the development of K-Meleon picked up, newer versions were released with an alarming speed, and by 2002 the browser had already been updated 7 times!

The current version of K-Meleon, released on Jan 10, 2006, is based on the Mozilla 1.7.12 code and is largely an improvement on the same keeping in view the security concerns of the end-users. K-Meleon is built under the GNU General Public Licence which means that the developers can access the complete source code if they want to build on the browser.

THE FEATURES

Lower Resource Usage
One of the most important feature that sets it apart from other browsers is it’s comparatively lower memory usage making it a very lightweight component while running under Windows. At the same time I noticed that it was using some of its features very efficiently.

Tabbed Browsing

This is one feature that is taken for granted in most modern day browsers. I heard that even IE’s next release will have tabbed browsing. In the case of K-Meleon though, the tabs are called layers.

Built-in search functions

The browser has a built-in search function wherein by pressing CTRL+G, you are presented with a dialogue box that will automatically query Google and give you the appropriate results. Additionally, there are a lot of other search engines added to it.

Skins

The browser comes with 4 customizable skins and more are available for download through their homepage.

RSS Feed-reader

Another feature that is now taken for granted in most browsers is the RSS feed-reader. RSS feeds keep you updated about the latest happenings on your favourite websites.

Pop-Up Blocker
The pop-up blocker is available though still a lot needs to be done on it. I found that it was not able to close many pop-up windows.

Password Manager
Again one feature that is almost taken for granted. This is very useful though I believe that Opera takes the edge in this respect as it is more user-friendly.

Ad-blocker

Tired of viewing pesky text ads on web pages? Here is the solution. One of the features that is not suitably highlighted on K-Meleon’s homepage is that it has a built-in code that can help block banner and text ads in a jiffy. Whats more, you don’t need to do anything to activate the ad-blocker since it is already turned on!

Speed

While Opera lays claim to being the fastest browser but K-Meleon leaves it miles behind. I noticed that it worked faster than both Opera and Firefox. Of course Internet Explorer is simply no competition at all.

WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE

Pop-Up Blocker
As already said, the pop-up blocker needs to be worked on. It can be quite disconcerting for the user to see an entire webpage load in front of the one he intends to view.

Email Client

K-Meleon simply opens your default email client if you click on the email icon. It can however do well with introducing its own email program on the lines of Mozilla Suite or Opera browser. It can be kept as an optional tool.

Keyboard Shortcuts
Many keyboard shortcuts like those for opening new layers or to go back and forward are still missing from the browser

Download Manager

This has a lot of scope for improvement as there is virtually no support for broken downloads.

VERDICT
Since most Gecko based browsers will remain in a state of improvement for the time being, I guess more and more improvements will be made to this browser as well. I can vouch for this browser for its speed and security. Rest assured, I can sit back, relax and enjoy my browsing experience.

You can download this browser from download.com or from their homepage