This is something different, but very helpful… especially if you like using Firefox.
Old technology but still cool…
One of my biggest gripes is that it’s sometimes hard to get things working after some of your computer programs make updates. I’ve had lots of issues with Windows 10 updates over the past calendar year, and luckily I’ve been able to fix some of them. The latest problem I had concerns Firefox, which is my preferred browser (I don’t trust Chrome because I don’t totally trust Google). Continue reading →
Back in October I wrote a post titled Firefox vs. Chrome where I mainly talked about how I liked Firefox versus Chrome for its customization and how it seemed that more sites I followed or checked on got more traffic from people using either Firefox or Internet Explorer, which I don’t like but it is what it is, instead of Chrome. At that time part of the discussion in comments was how Chrome ran much faster than Firefox, and I really couldn’t disagree with it, but stated that the customization was what kept me with Firefox.
I do have to admit that sometimes the slowness of doing some things in Firefox got on my nerve. Copying and pasting things shouldn’t take any time at all, but sometimes things would hang up. I noticed whenever I wanted to download anything that the download window took exactly 8 seconds before the OK button would highlight, and then another 5 seconds before the explorer window would come up so I could select where I wanted to save something. Frankly it was starting to get on my nerves.
Notice I’m saying everything in a past tense? No, I haven’t left Firefox. Instead, I thought it was time to see if what the Mozilla people were saying all along, that Firefox was indeed as fast as Chrome, but what slowed things down here the add-ons that make the browser fun, things that Chrome doesn’t come close to having. Yes, experiment time!
I went into Tools then Add-ons and then Extensions. I had “only” 14 extensions running live on the browser, and in my mind I didn’t think that was too many. But I had to disable some of them for this test. I disabled everything except 3 things. I kept the Adblock Plus pop-up blocker because I absolutely hate those things. I kept my Multirow Bookmarks Toolbar so I could keep the 3 rows that I love so much on the browser. And I kept the Search Status plugin because that’s the biggie for me in checking webpage stats. Everything else had to go for the moment. I then hit restart and wondered what would happen.
What happened? It popped back up almost immediately, and suddenly everything was fast and immediate. See, the thing the Mozilla people have said all along is that except for Adblock Plus they they don’t make any of the other extensions; well, they don’t make many of them. These are added by other people who access the open source software and create either a need or a luxury. Some of them are created by companies such as Skype or Zone Alarm or even AVG to integrate with your browser to better communications or safety. In that instance it’s not the fault of the Mozilla folks that the browser slows down, or that it starts consuming a lot of resources, which used to shut down my computer until I upgraded to Windows 7.
I tested it for about 4 hours and the speed was amazing. It seemed to run as fast as Chrome and Opera, which still touts itself as the fastest browser online. If Firefox is slower than those other two, it’s negligible at this juncture because I’m not waiting for anything.
I was a happy guy… sort of. I’d gotten rid of a lot of things, but now I wanted to see what would happen if I added a couple more back. I did it piecemeal, to see if any one of these might slow things down. I started with the Download Status Bar, which I figured was the least intrusive, and my speed maintained itself. Then I realized that I needed to add Greasemonkey back because that added the option of being able to download YouTube videos, which I’d lost by turning it off. I restarted the browser and things were still fine. One last thing, and this was truly my luxury item. I wanted to see if I could add Stylish, which changes the look of many websites for my browser, without losing speed. I did that and my speed stayed the same; whew!
Which ones didn’t I add back? I left off AVG Safe Search, Colorful Tabs, Microsoft Framework .Net Assistant (I have no idea what that even does and I don’t remember adding it), Read It Later, Rank Checker, SEO for Firefox, Weather Watcher and Adblock Plus Pop-on Addition, which brings extra strength to the original Adblock Plus and works great.
I will be removing most of these since I’ve decided I’m not going to use them anymore, but some I’m going to keep and load only when I need to run them. Rank Checker is a great tool because you can use it to check your keyword rankings on 3 search engines at the same time, and if you have multiple phrases you want to check it’s perfect for that. I’m keeping the extra Adblock Plus because there are some websites I go to that always open up new windows that that’s irritating. And I’m keeping SEO for Firefox because it’s another great tool for checking SEO stats on websites. The others… they just have to go, and removing things instead of leaving them disabled supposedly helps speed as well.
Is Firefox slow? Not anymore! If it is for you maybe you should try my experiment, and then if it works see what you can live without. I did the same thing on my laptop and it was amazing, but since I didn’t have all the same add-ons there as on the main computer I didn’t add much back. Go ahead, try it. 😉
Last weekend I finally had it with Firefox. After one more crash because it was blowing up my resources I decided it was time to give up the ghost and I switched to Chrome.
I had two other alternatives, of course. I could have gone to Opera, which has always been pretty fast, but it just seems so sparse. True, one should probably only think about using a browser to browse the internet, but many of us are looking for certain things from our browsers to enhance the user experience, if you will. I also could have gone to IE8 but decided I just don’t want to go backwards, even though I’ve heard good things about IE9, which I haven’t loaded yet.
Anyway, Firefox had suddenly decided to go nuts on me. It was using some major league resources on my computer, once to the tune of 1.8GB; that’s a lot. It was regularly going over a gigabyte, and that was way too much. Then it started crashing all the time, asking me to send crash reports to Mozilla. Last Sunday it crashed the 7th time in one day and that was that.
So I made Chrome my default browser. I had been thinking about it anyway, but not without some reservation. It’s a Google product, as you know, and almost anything related to Google wants to track you. I wrote a post in 2010 telling people that if you use Google Toolbar it tracks your searches and then you start getting targeted advertising. I know they try to tell us it’s for our benefit but I just don’t feel the benefit if you know what I mean. At least you can turn it off for Google Desktop.
I used Chrome for about 4 days and started to feel that, though it had been running better than Firefox, it had issues as well. For instance, every once in awhile it just hangs for a little bit. I went to check the resources and found that it was using a gigabyte of memory as well; what the hey? It seemed to handle that much memory a little better than Firefox but not entirely; that was shocking.
Then I started missing some of my customization. For instance, I was able to modify the look of Firefox to what I was used to in the past; you can’t do that with Chrome. Also, certain plugins that make using a browser that I’ve come to like aren’t available on Chrome. As a matter of fact, I couldn’t figure out how to get anything onto Chrome whatsoever. Well, I did finally get one thing to work, but that was it.
Yup, I started missing Firefox, but I had to do something to help it stop crashing. I decided to take a look at all the plugins I was running, along with other things, to see what I really didn’t need anymore. I ended up disabling, then removing, a lot of things that I noticed didn’t even work anymore. Firefox 5 automatically disabled some thing it said it wasn’t compatible with, but I use both Stylish and Greasemonkey and it turns out some scripts with each of those weren’t working anymore either, and could have been causing a conflict.
The verdict is pretty good so far. The highest recorded memory since I made the changes is 525MB, which is easily more manageable. The browser hasn’t crashed since I started using it again and I’m happy about that as well. Maybe it’s finally going to behave; one can only hope, right?
But customization is really what puts Firefox ahead of every other browser, and in the end that’s really why it’s my favorite. That’s my story; what’s yours?
Suffice it to say, Firefox is my favorite browser. True, there are times when stuff acts up and I’m a little irked. Then again, what works perfectly all the time, right?
The best thing I love about Firefox is how you can customize it to do so many things for you. You can set it up to track stuff for you. You can set it up to connect with social media sites. You can set it up so you can change both the look of the browser and certain websites you visit. There’s just so much, thousands of things, that I decided to mention my top 5 here. One quick warning, though. Like people tell you with your blog, the more add-ons you activate, the slower your browser might run. If you have enough RAM, or run fewer than 15 add-ons, you’re probably good.
1. Adblock Plus – this is probably their most popular add-on, and with good reason. It blocks all types of ads, which is a great thing. Of course it’s not perfect. For instance, it blocks pop-up ads on news websites, but it can’t block those “subscribe” pop-ins you see on some blogs. It blocks Google Adsense ads unless you decide you want to see them. Since I visit lots of blogs sometimes I want to see what people are doing in case I want to try something. This one is a must have.
2. Stylish – I wrote about Stylish two years ago on this blog, so I’m not going to say much about it again except to say that right now what you see below is what my Wikipedia page looks like:
3. Rank Checker – This is a good plugin if you want to see where your website or other websites rank for search terms on the search engines Google, Yahoo or Bing. It’s great because you can add multiple search terms for one website and you can add multiple websites into one search as wel.
4. Greasemonkey – I’ve mentioned Greasemonkey before, but haven’t written a post about it so I’ll talk about it again here. This one lets you add code that other people have created that allows you to do things on websites that they might not want you to do. For instance, I can download any YouTube video I want to via a script I found. Also, many ads on Facebook are blocked, and many images will automatically pop up larger. It’s a great compliment to Stylish.
5. MultirowBookmarksToolbar – I don’t know why they didn’t separate the words, but I love this one as well. I had a lot of bookmarks, yet I only had the one row. That meant I had to keep clicking on this little arrow that was hard to see so I could see all the bookmarks that I wanted easier access to. With this addon it created 3 toolbar rows, though on the last one I only had 5 bookmarks and decided to trim a few out to get it down to 2 rows. Of course it works best if you have a monitor that has a lot of real estate, and since I have a 22″ widescreen it’s perfect.
And there you are. If you’re using Firefox do you have any favorites?
In September 2008, I wrote a review on this blog concerning Google Chrome. It wasn’t the most positive review, but it was brand new and I said I’d check it out again at some point. That point is now.
First, let me tell you why I’m doing it. I’m a Firefox guy, but as you may remember, I wrote in August about some of the problems I’d been having with it. The sucker was constantly freezing up on my computer and I couldn’t shut it down via the Task Manager, so I’d have to reboot to use it. Also, this problem started with CommentLuv in the past month where I’m visiting blogs and having to refresh a few times to leave a comment so the program will pull up any of my posts. My hope and test was that Chrome would alleviate those issues.
Installation is still goofier than anything else I’ve seen. You still get this super long EULA before you can download it, and I decided to read the entire thing to see if there were any traps in it. If there were I missed it, but I made sure not to allow it to add anything else to it when I downloaded the loaded it up.
It says it installs fast; trust me, Firefox loads at least 10 times faster. And when the browser finally showed up I have to admit that it looked a lot more like Opera than what I was expecting. There were two tabs at the top, with a plus sign where I could add more tabs, and a menu bar; that’s pretty much it. I pulled up the Help link so I could figure out how to use a few more things, such as wondering where toolbars were. Seems they don’t use toolbars because they say it slows things down; I’d never heard that before, but I did some reading and they’re not the only ones saying it, so I’ll leave that for now.
To set things up, everything starts by clicking on this little wrench at the top right. I did change a few settings, nothing overly brash, but one thing I set that didn’t seem to change anything was making the default fonts bigger. When I closed and reopened the browser, that setting didn’t take hold, so I found myself having to enlarge every page I went to later on.
I’ll say this; pages do load pretty fast. I turned off pre-fetching, which can slow things down, and I’m sure that helped. I also changed the theme, which is under one of the default tabs when the browser opens for the first time, so that was pretty cool. I learned how to import bookmarks from Firefox, and one of those was my bookmarks toolbar, so that’s one toolbar I got back, and all the other bookmarks are aligned under this button to the far right that says “other bookmarks”; that makes sense.
As for plugins or extensions, there seems to be a lot of them but not the one I’m looking to use, unfortunately. I like being able to see PR or Alexa rank when I visit new sites, and the closest I could find that works with Chrome was SEO Quake, and I don’t like running that all the time. But that’s a personal preference thing; I’m sure you could find something to use.
The important stuff now. I can’t tell you if the browser will lock up and shut down like Firefox had been doing, but I have to admit that Firefox hasn’t messed up in this way for me in the last month or so. There’s no way to test for that, I’m afraid, except to leave it open for a month or so; that’s probably not going to happen. I did check resources and it’s using about 2/3rds less than what Firefox consumes, so that’s a benefit.
But when it came to CommentLuv, it seems I have the same problems with what’s going on with them on Chrome as I have on Firefox. So, at least this tells me it’s not a browser issue; heck!
So, once again, I don’t think it’s bad, but it doesn’t fix the main issues I have with Firefox and thus don’t warrant my changing just yet. But it will be another browser I’ll use to look at new webpages as I create them.