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Firefox 0.8 – Resistance is futile

Wednesday, February 11, 2004 by strudleman || [1 Comment]

We avid net surfers have hung our toes off the edge of a dozen browsers over the years. The browser wars brought innovation and intuition into a clunky industry; they brought standards to a world dominated by cut/paste ass code. In the end, beyond the blood and carnage that was Netscape emerged a victor. Internet Explorer reigned as king. According to Google IE is stronger than ever.

Now that we know who the most popular browser is, let’s talk about the best browser. I give to you Firefox 0.8

Firefox is a lightweight, full featured browser. It’s damn fast, and sports some excellent features. Over the last year it’s gone through several name changes (due to trademark courtesies), starting with the buzz-creating Phoenix 0.1. At version 0.5 the Phoenix namesake was dropped in favor of Firebird, and with the release of version 0.8 we’ve gone to Firefox.

Despite its wavering brand, Firefox is the very definition of software stability. And with Mozilla’s enhanced bookmark manager, quick searching, skin-able GUI, tabbed browsing and automatic pop-up blocking, there isn’t a better product out there.

Bookmark Manager: Creating bookmarks, or Favorites, is as easy as ever: CTRL-D or Bookmarks > ‘Add Bookmark’, just like in windows. But open up your Bookmark Manager for real power. From the manager you can add or delete bookmarks, move them or edit their properties. You can view all bookmarks in a tree-like directory structure, create new folders, move bookmarks through them with ease. Finally, organizing your bookmarks is as easy and familiar as using Windows Explorer. A helpful addition to the Bookmark Manager is the ability to sort your bookmarks, using the new Quick-Search utility.

Quick Searching: To the right of your location bar (by default) is a small input field with a Google icon. This is a Quick Search box, featured in past versions of Mozilla’s amazing browser. From wherever in the web you may be stranded, type in your query and be transported to Google’s search results (helpful for those on a slow connection!). If Google just isn’t your bag, you can add your preferred search engine, and use that instead! Microsoft could learn something about a user’s true preference from Mozilla. Additionally (for those who prefer GUI’s as opposed to keyboard shortcuts), you can use that box to search for text on the page you’re viewing. Another great feature for those of you who can’t break the habit of going to Google for your searches, here’s a handy tip: Instead of typing www.google.com, waiting for the screen to load, entering your query and then hitting enter, try just typing google and then your query. For example, 'google xpd8' will take you to your search results. The Quick Search bar is also integrated into the Bookmark Manager, and filters your favorite sites based on what you type, allowing you to find any bookmark quickly from a large list.

Skin-able GUI: Without the help of RAM-guzzling, spyware-infested third-party apps, IE is left in the dust when it comes to GUI appearance customization. Mozilla makes is as easy as skinning Winamp or your favorite IM client. Visit Texturizer.net for all your themeing needs. Firebird had no shortage of custom themes, and as developer’s update for the new Firefox, you’ll be increasingly satisfied with your theme selections. At the time of this writing (2 days after release) there are already 26 themes available for download.

Tabbed Browsing: By far, Tabbed Browsing is the reason I use Firefox over Internet Explorer. I multi-task quite a bit while on the net. I’ve rarely got less than 3 websites up at any given time. Multiple sessions of Internet Explorer can really clutter up your task bar, making things hard to find. ALT-Tabbing between applications can take quite a while, searching the small titles given to each window, looking for just the right one. It’s also a resource hog. Opening 5 instances of IE takes an incredible 54.4 Megs of RAM (on my machine, at this moment). To view 5 websites with IE this is the only option. One instance of Firefox, with 5 tabs open (viewing the same pages) takes up 26 Megs of RAM. Less than half of what’s required by the seamlessly integrated, highly optimized (READ: incredibly inefficient) Internet Explorer. Tabbed browsing directly relates to the speed of the application.

Pop-up Blocking: A standard in modern web browsers (except IE) is Pop-up blocking. Using no third party apps or over-hyped ISP 'features', you too can avoid pop-ups forever. Seriously, I mean forever. Pop-ups, pop-unders, those crazy sites that pop up dozens upon dozens of windows flying by your screen screaming obscenities at you while laughing hysterically as you frantically tap ALT-F4 faster than your keyboard was meant to withstand. All gone. That should be enough to make anyone happy. But Mozilla has taken it a step further with their Pop-up Whitelist. Go to Tools > Options > Web Features. There, along with the option of disabling Pop-up Blocker entirely, is a tool for enabling Pop-ups on particular sites which you allow. Occasionally misguided webmasters make legitimate usage of pop-ups, and you’d like to see them. Simply add the URL to this list, and retain the power of Pop-up Blocker without missing the content you seek.

That completes my review of the new Mozilla Firefox. Call me a Zealot if you wish; but these are my opinions. If you don’t like them, I have others.

Download Mozilla Firefox for free

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