September 11, 2008

Thanks, but I don’t want to try out Google Chrome (yet)

Filed under: Blog — krkhan @ 4:36 am

Alright, Google finally releases the Chrome browser, along with a certain comic detailing features of their product. I check out the comic and the feature-list, I decide that there isn’t any compelling reason for me to switch to Windows and run the beta. I also decide never to blog about it unless I deem it important enough for a try out. So far, so good.

But hey, I have violated the unimpeachable moral obligation of going along with the current buzzword by declining to be a part of the Chromosphere. In the past week, at least seven different people have tried to persuade me to believe Chrome is going to take over the world. In fact, that is the inherent problem with Google and Apple fanboys. They equate anything remotely new from their favorite corporation with the second coming of Christ, and then try to convince other people over it. I do happen to be a fan of both as well, but I still don’t see why products like 3G iPhone or Google Chrome deserve the applauds lauded by these people. Here’s a list of arguments Chrome fans presented to me:

  • Chrome is Google’s attempt to blur the line between desktop and web, and it is the future Operating System
    Bullocks. The line between desktop and web shall never be blurred. Are you trying to tell me that you’ll be installing your printer or screen drivers to web one day? Will a browser ever be capable of doing even half of the stuff that operating systems do, e.g., implement the POSIX specification or host other processes?
    No? I didn’t think so either. Yes? You do not have any idea what an operating system is.
  • Chrome isn’t a memory hog like Firefox
    Firefox’s memory-usage has steadily improved over the released and I have yet to encounter someone who had any serious memory troubles with the former that were solved by the latter.
  • Chrome’s Javascript runs faster
    The only worthwhile feature of Chrome is its Javascript engine. Nevertheless, milliseconds of speed improvement won’t even be noticeable by me. The AJAXed Facebook or Gmail run on my Firefox extremely well and I don’t think my productivity with either would increase by switching to Chrome.
  • Chrome’s rendering engine (WebKit) is new whereas Firefox’s rendering engine (Gecko) is outdated
    Wrong. Totally wrong. Gecko might be bloated, but Mozilla does a more than reasonable job of making it perform well. Gecko is huge — WebKit comparatively isn’t — but it is still frequently updated and properly maintained. The huge codebase is an issue for the developers rather than the users and as long as developers are delivering stable final products using that codebase, it’s certainly not an issue for me. WebKit is great for new applications like Chrome, but Mozilla has already settled with Gecko so it isn’t a bother for them.
  • Chrome uses separate processes for each tab
    And this was the only “visible” feature Google was able to highlight in their comics. This is nifty behavior, but with frequency of my browser crashes reduced to almost once a month, this isn’t enough to convert me over.

On the other hand, consider the mammoth developer base Mozilla already has for its Firefox extensions. Google isn’t going to replicate that as well as bundle Chrome with killer feature(s) anytime soon, if ever. What Google perhaps aimed to do was to get other browsers to adopt Javascript enhancements that they’re going to introduce with Chrome. More than that, I don’t think Chrome shall ever compete in user share against Safari, let alone against the big guns.

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May 11, 2008

The Vulpine Metamorphosis

Filed under: Blog — krkhan @ 12:55 am

These days, anyone claiming that browser-wars are still around tends to sound like a broken record (or Rihanna — eventually the same thing anyway). In reality, the grandmother theorem, which has been around for about three years now, states that “Firefox > Internet Explorer for all Firefox versions >= 0.1 (Pescadero)”.

Nevertheless, as far as I believe, Firefox wouldn’t have been able to provide such a great browsing experience for a diverse range of Internet users without the ever useful addons — the little “extensions” that provide new functionalities or enhance existing ones in the browser. With the choice of these addons being a persistent topic of discussion among the fox-fans, I thought of compiling a list of addons I have been using for over about two year now. These addons have become an integral part of my day-to-day browsing and any Firefox user should at least try them once just to see how convenient they make your internet surfing. Giddy up!

  • CoLT: Suppose you want to copy the text on a hyperlink. The traditional way would be to position your cursor at the start, click and select the link till the end and then Ctrl+C. The shortcoming is pretty obvious, as it is cumbersome to position the cursor at the beginning without it being turned into a “hand”. This extension provides the intuitive solution in the form of a “Copy link text” menu entry when you right-click a hyperlink.
  • DownThemAll!: Forget KGet. Forget Download Accelerator Plus. This extension does everything a download manager should do and does it with style. It can resume, pause, download in chunks, download all the links on a page, filter those links according to a criterion and does all of this with easily customizable settings.
  • File Title: An extension which, IMO, should be pre-compiled in Firefox. When saving webpages, it provides the page titles as the file name instead of the original (usually worthless) file names e.g., “index.html”.
  • Greasemonkey: The grand daddy of ’em all. No top Firefox extensions’ list can ever be truly complete without Greasemonkey. It’s an extension which allows you to install other tiny “scripts” that work on particular websites. For example, Orkut’s design has this annoying habit of being centered on my screen even when I have more horizontal space available on it. With a Greasemonkey extension, I can change the behavior so that Orkut “stretches” across the screen and spans all the occupied space. Similarly, I can use Greasemonkey to change layout or theme of popular websites. The count of these tiny scripts approaches infinity, as there are even books out there that just document how to write them.
  • Pearl Crescent Page Saver: Another useful addon, this one provides menu and toolbar options for capturing “screenshots” of webpages.
  • Save Session: More often than not, you have to exit Firefox while you’re browsing (e.g., you want to shut-down your PC, the PC wants to shut-down just because “Windows told ya!”, you have installed another addon or your cat is messing with the power-cord etc.). Save Session allows your to save the current “state” of your browsing so that you can later on continue exactly from where you left off. Nifty, isn’t it?
  • SmoothWheel: This addon makes page-scrolling relatively smoother depending on the settings — something Opera addicts shall be delighted to discover in Firefox.
  • Tab Scope: Another “Opera-ish” addon, this one creates pop-up thumbnails of open-tabs when you hover your cursor on them. Very useful for habitual users of tabs.
  • User Agent Switcher: Allows you to switch your user agent string which identifies your browser on the websites you visit. Useful for bypassing “browser checks”, e.g., websites which allow only Internet Explorer access (as brain-dead as that sounds, they do exist).

“And so at last the beast fell and the unbelievers rejoiced. But all was not lost, for from the ash rose a great bird. The bird gazed down upon the unbelievers and cast fire and thunder upon them. For the beast had been reborn with its strength renewed, and the followers of Mammon cowered in horror.” — The Book of Mozilla, 7:15

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May 20, 2007

Inspirated in PlayStation Portable web browser

Filed under: Blog — krkhan @ 12:58 pm

Although I was aware of PSP and PS3 web browsers to be operating on a NetFront back-end, it never really occurred to have my blog checked on either of them. Nevertheless, today I received some screenshots of Inspirated being rendered in a PSP web browser. The interesting bit that immediately grabbed my attention was the breaking word-wrap in the left sidebar. This was something which I had been intentionally doing for some time through IE hacks; but as it turned out, the PSP web browser automatically breaks overflowing words in dimensionally restricted blocks in order to avoid the expanding box problem.

Inspirated in PSP Web Browser
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Thanks goes to Angeousa Quicksilver for providing the screenshots.

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