bibliotechy

Posts Tagged ‘browsers’

The Virtue of Many Browsers

In STT on May 21, 2010 at 4:28 pm

This overdue post (I got sidetracked by the iPad) is a result of …
1)a co-worker trying to get to a PDF document to show up in their browser (fixed with a Firefox plug-in, here) and…
B) watching the Winter Olympics on the web, or rather attempting to watch them on the web via my favorite browser, Firefox…

Both incidents brought to mind the necessity of having to use more than one browser if one is attempting to utilize all the features that the wonderful internet has to offer.  And I don’t mind this, really I don’t.  It’s second nature to me and I’m here to say it ain’t going to change anytime soon (see: Adobe Flash vs. HTML 5 video support).

Now I’m a big fan of Firefox, always have been, and probably always will be (I tried to switch to Chrome, but it only lasted an afternoon, I missed Firefox too much).  I like how I can customize Firefox, add plug-ins for better handy features, it’s speed, it works on Windows and Mac and Linux.  And Firefox was all about apps before apps were cool and everyone (maybe even you?) had an app store.

But Firefox doesn’t play Microsoft Silverlight video (and I just double-checked, still a problem in Firefox 3.6.3).  Yep, this winter I couldn’t watch curling or biathlon on the internet if I tried to use Firefox to access the NBC Olympic website.  The International Olympic Committee (IOC), NBC, and Microsoft had an exclusive agreement to use Microsoft’s Silverlight video format as the only video format for internet broadcasts (instead of the ubiquitous Adobe Flash).  Incidentally the Silverlight video looked great, even at full-screen resolution the images of curlers and skaters and snowboarders were pretty darn sharp and vivid.

So… to watch Curling Team USA, first I had to download and install Microsoft Silverlight (this was true with both my Macs and PCs). Than due to a bug in Firefox that made using Silverlight impossible no matter if you used a Mac or a PC (and all parties can be blamed for this, Firefox, Microsoft, Apple, the IOC…) …Anywho, to watch curling or biathlon, I had to switch to the browser that is made by the same company that makes the computer’s operating system, get it?   So….
-on a Windows PC I’d switch to Microsoft Internet Explorer 8
-on a Mac to Apple Safari

Both IE and Safari are the “native” browsers that are built by Microsoft and Apple to work well and take advantage of Windows and OS X, their respective operating systems.   Oh so many years ago I tried to uninstall IE from my Windows PCs, which in theory you can, but why bother?  It still comes in handy and makes you appreciate Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera …you get the idea.

Here’s my rundown of the browsers I use on an almost daily basis, with one exception, but the geek in me felt compelled to mention it, see below:

Firefox – I could go on and on and gush about what I like, which I kinda laready have, but suffice it to say it like it, I know how it works, and I need my add-ons and my search engines.  As a former refernce librarian and now a library consultant, I have something like 2 dozen+ in my search engine drop-box (everything from Google Images to NOBLE to Wikipedia).  You can find a listing and links to my favorite, got-to-have-them, Firefox add-ons here: http://delicious.com/bibliotechy/addons

I use it for pretty much everything on Mac or Windows, including MassCat as Internet Explorer does not play nice with the Koha ILS.  I don’t use it when a page doesn’t load correctly or a plug-in doesn’t work.  This hardly ever happens anymore, but some recent examples:
InfoTrac – couldn’t get scroll-menu to work in Browse Publications menu
Winter Olympics –  Silverlight plug-in didn’t work

Safari – Apple’s built-in browser for Mac, now available for free download in Windows too.  I use it when something doesn’t work in Firefox on my Mac.  A handy feature in Safari on the Mac is in the Develop menu, called User Agent.   This allows you to render any webpage as though your Mac’s Safari browser was in fact any version of Microsoft Internet Explorer (which doesn’t run on a Mac, talk about proprietary!),  or any version of Firefox, or even Opera.  Pretty neat, but it’s a feature many Mac users don’t know about because it’s buried in the Advanced settings (Go find it Mac users! Nice step-by-step here.).  I gotta admit I like the look of Safari in Windows better, there are subtle layout differences and I like ’em, but it stills works the same in Windows or Mac.

Other than that it’s kind of boring with very few apps to add on, it just works…  But, I do absolutely luv the homepage option of showing a thumbnail gallery of frequently used pages.   Also Safari is the built-in browser on the iPhone and iPod Touch, so I use it daily on my iPhone without even thinking about it (even though there is now another choice in Opera mini).

Opera – I want to like. I want to use it.  I’ve downloaded it a dozen times in both Windows and Mac and try it for about 15 minutes and then go back to Firefox, Safari and Chrome.  And then I end up up deleting because I never use it again and really have no reason to.  The same has been true of Opera mini on my iPhone.  It’s free and has a mini version of that thumbnail-gallery-of-frequent-sites as your homepage, but has nothing else really to offer.  “Opera, you’re OK, it not you, it’s me…”

Google Chrome – I use mainly when testing a how a webpage looks (if it will work on other browsers), or just for fun, or because it’s FAST! It works equally well on Mac or Windows, it looks fun, has lots of neat “skins” to change it’s appearance, it has that handy thumbnail gallery of frequently used pages like Safari mentioned above, and it’s fast, like WICKED FAST! This last feature is ever-so-useful on ye olde Windows XP computers you might have hanging around.  It’s almost like having a whole new computer on these old machines. How does Google do that???

But I find the bookmarks in Chrome a bit cumbersome to organize and use, and the add-ons are not as polished or reliable as those in Firefox.  Again, as I mentioned above, luv that thumbnails of frequently used sites as a homepage feature as well as it’s speed!

In sum, my feeling towards browsers is:

  • The more the merrier!
  • There’s something for everyone in each browser!
  • Your desktop is a melting pot!  (Coincidentally, it turns out my Mac’s motherboard was a just plain melting, but that’s for my next post…)

See, browsers made by Apple, Google, and Microsoft can all live together, even if they are ruthless competitors in the marketplace.  It’s all good!

BTW – I finished editing this post in Google Chrome.  Why?  Just because… I happened to have it open and editing WordPress works pretty much much the same in any browser …although I can’t vouch for Internet Explorer, never have tried that ;-)

iPad you pad we pad they pad … oohh, Pad Thai!

In STT on January 28, 2010 at 12:12 pm

UPDATE – The wifi version of the iPad is out and for sale online or at an Apple Store or Best Buy near you!

I have yet to see one or touch one at a store, but plan to soon!  I will give my readers any further impressions I have once I get the chance to do just that.

In the meantime, here are two nice round-ups of the media coverage as well as reviews from the major media outletsNew York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today): (

Incidentally, if you happen to have one, let me know what you think …and when you’ll let me borrow it 😉

Original Post
I gotta use the word iPad right in the title, it’s required for all tech blogs the day after Apple’s BIG announcement …and I finished this just before lunch.  Here’s my take on the iPad thus far, after I was OK with the name of it …until I started hearing all the jokes…
Helpful must-see links on all things iPad are below.

Steve Jobs is a master at presenting,
if only I could learn his presentation secrets

It’s one heck of an e-reader!

  • That color touch screen.
  • The elegant page turning for ebooks.
  • That faux wooden bookshelf for all your digital editions, this ain’t no Nook.
  • And that New York Times that looks like a real paper newspaper with the columns, nice.
  • Oh, and it uses a real browser and email and maps and games and everything app-wise an iPod Touch/ iPhone uses.
  • And yes, yes, yes, probably another incompatible ebook format with the new iBookstore and more DRM. It’s a pain in the neck for consumer and libraries and readers in general.  Not that I like it one bit, but it’s to be expected for some time to come until publishers and big media figure out how to make sense of the new digital world (who woulda seen this comin’!?).

It’s a big beautiful iPod Touch

  • iPad has a much bigger touch screen (9.7″) than an iPod Touch (3.5″).
  • iPad has same memory specs as Touch (16GB – 64GB).
  • iPad can use almost all the 140,000+ apps in iTunes available to iPod Touch & iPhone users.  Facebook to games and games and games, Apple demoed a lot of games for this the iPad
  • And interesting price points as low-end iPad is $499 and high-end Touch model is $399.

It’s not-quite-a-netbook

  • no hard drive bigger than 64GB
  • no physical keyboard (which I’m use to on my iPhone as are millions of kids (and grown-ups) on their iPod Touch & iPhones).
  • iPad doesn’t have a built-in camera, a mic yes, but no camera … that camera would be real handy for Skype or video-conferencing or taunting friends when playing games or scanning in barcodes for LibraryThing (saw this on LT Twitter feed!) or even just taking pictures!
  • But it does have access to Google Docs online and Apple iWork and other productivity apps thru iTunes.
  • So you could kinda use it as a laptop replacement. But you can do the same thing with an iPod Touch & iPhone, albeit on a smaller screen, but those devices you can take anywhere in your pocket, and the later also makes phone calls … I’m not ready to give up my iPhone.

It goes on sale in March, I’ll see you at the Apple Store
I’ll  just be browsing

The Must-See Links!!!

First Impression Hands-on Reviews

BTW

I “watched” the Apple news conference at home with a sick child (Me, excitedly “It’s for Daddy’s work and it’s historic!”  Child’s response … “Can I play Nintendo?”).
So I “watched” on my laptop using the decades old technique of reading updates / viewing photos on various tech blogs (lots of tabs open) from reporters at the conference (found Engadget had the best feed).  And then a Twitter post led me to a link on Ustream of another tech blog reporter (Leo Laporte, TWiT) using an iPhone 3G S with built-in video to broadcast the event live … with tinny sound and choppy video … which in turn I watched on my iPhone (even over 3G), until I couldn’t stand it anymore and went back to reading on Engadget … a mash-up, if you will, of the old and the new …

iPad = and another word to add to my custom dictionary so it stops underlining it in red! 😉

Best Browser ever!? Google Chrome

In STT on March 13, 2009 at 2:18 pm

OK, so there is one piece of software that my office Mac can’t use yet that makes me jealous of Windows users … shocking I know!

It’s Google’s Chrome browser and it only works on Windows XP and Vista for now …

It’s fast, it is very very very fast!!!

And it seems to work fine on ye olde Windows XP boxes like I have at home, it almost makes that old Dell seem as fast as my work Mac … almost …

But, There are a few things to get use to in this browser:

  • tabs on on the very top of the browser instead of below the menus like in Firefox and IE
  • the menus are off to the right side (File, Print, Bookmarks, etc.)
  • the URL address window is also the Google search window
  • the home page defaults to a gallery of your most used pages (you can set your own homepage too).  At first I thought this was a goofy feature, but now I’m totally sold on it.  You get up to 9 little screen shots, and clicking on one will take you right to that page. It is very very convenient!  Safari 4 now does the same thing and Firefox has an add-on called Showcase that mimics this too.
  • Google has a nice set of short feature videos you can watch here.

Run! Don’t walk, to your nearest internet connection and download it today!