Tag Archives: browsers

Why I Left Firefox For Chrome And Why I Came Back

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?

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Firefox 5 Already?

Wow, that was fast. It was only in April that I was giving my review of Firefox 4 and now Mozilla is already releasing the Firefox 5 browser. Is there a major problem with Firefox 4? As it turns out, no.

It turns out this is the plan by Mozilla and the way they’re going to be doing things from now on; at least until they get tired of doing it this way (that’s my prediction). Their expectation is to have a new release every 3 months to try to better keep up with quick and ever-changing web technologies. The fact that, in my opinion, Firefox 4 was much better than Firefox 3 (though one of my friends differs on that view) and now we’re switching to something else is slightly irksome, but it’s hard to gripe about someone that actually keeps improving on things that we’re not paying for, unlike my rant in January about many things being new and unimproved.

What’s new in this release? Other than a few cosmetic changes the only thing I’ve heard about is a few bug fixes. Frankly, that leaves me less than impressed, but it might turn out to be a big deal. This time around I haven’t heard anyone talking about reducing how Firefox hogs resources, and that’s a major difference in past browser updates. Also, I wish someone would work on updating the Adblock Plus add-on to better help us block things we don’t like such as popups and the like.

And, based on the speed that we’re now going to see, we can look forward to Firefox 6 and Firefox 7 coming out before the end of the year or possibly at the beginning of January; gush! This is the way things are going, so it’s probably a waste of time asking what your thoughts are about the speed of coming changes, but I’m going to do it anyway; how do you feel about all of this?

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Firefox 4; My Review

Yes, it was time for me to download Firefox 4 to see what it had to offer. I thought about waiting up until late last week, when 3.6.whatever started freezing up on me again. No idea why it kept doing that, but I can honestly say that version 3 never lived up to expectation and almost drove me away from what had become my favorite browser.

Actually, I’d thought Firefox 4 was still in beta, but it seems to be the real deal, and it’s about time. It’s promised faster speed and better functionality; let’s see what it’s all about.

The download, of course, was simple, one of the gripes that I had against Chrome. It automatically updated all my bookmarks and all my add-ons and the like, with a few exceptions. I don’t have weather anymore, and I lost this neat little add-on from AVG that tested links before I went to them and gave warnings to those that were dangerous. It looked like I was going to lose my Multirow Toolbar add-on as well, but I searched beforehand and saw that its creators had a beta going for FF4 and, once I updated to the new Firefox version, went and grabbed it and things are working great once more. I was also able to get an old favorite of mine back, Colorful Tabs, which helps me see all the different tabs easier than having them all be the same color.

One of the first things I noticed was how much it seemed to look like Chrome. It took away the toolbars and put the tabs at the top of the browser, with the address bar underneath it. The idea was to open up the browser so we could see more of our content. Me being me, I like change but not that much, so I went into the options setting, which is at the top left, and put things back where they used to be; very easy to do. The one thing they finally added that both Chrome and Opera had was where you can choose the option to Paste and Go if you copy a link into the address bar; that’s sweet.

Firefox 4 is supposed to be up to 6 times faster than its previous version, so of course I had to test that. I’ll say that normal websites seem to load pretty fast, but I had to do the test of YouTube. The videos did load faster but they didn’t play much better than previous. For whatever reason everything was shaky; not sure what that was about, but it’s somewhat irritating.

It’s also supposed to handle resources better, but I just checked and it’s using 430K of my resources, which is pretty much the same as the other version. I had read where the more tabs you have open the more resources it uses but come on. I turned off prefetching webpages to help speed things up and reduce resources, as well as altering about:config to tell it to reduce resources if I minimize the browser to the toolbar, but that seems to be being ignored as well.

The final test I can’t do yet, and that’s to see if the browser will lock up any time soon. That one I’ll just have to wait for, but I’m a patient guy. Overall Firefox 4, at least for the casual user, has some things that are changed around that some people might find fascinating, but since I have no need for synching my browser to anything the only thing that’s different to me might be the speed. I hope the YouTube thing clears up eventually as well.

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My Top 5 Firefox Add-Ons

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?

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Google Chrome Revisited

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.

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