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Browser brouhaha

October 27, 2014 4 comments

For years now, I’ve been using Opera 12 as my main Internet browser, but more and more sites are upgrading their tech to be incompatible with it, and apparently the current versions of Opera lack much of its functionality. For a while now, I’ve had to rely on Firefox for certain sites that Opera couldn’t handle well, like Facebook and Netflix. But I had trouble figuring out how to import my Opera bookmarks into Firefox, so I kept on using Opera for most things.

Lately I’ve been thinking I should go ahead and try Google’s Chrome browser — in part because I have it on my smartphone, and since it stores bookmarks in the “cloud,” importing my Opera bookmarks to Chrome would automatically put them on my phone too. Also, I found out this week that Chrome would let me use a bookmark bar like the one I so rely on in Opera, with my favorite sites all listed without the need to open menus. So I decided to try Chrome, and it works fairly well, except for some annoyances, like how there’s no way to open a link in a new foreground tab (which is shift-click in Opera and, as I’ve just discovered, control-click in Firefox), and no RSS reader. Also, for some reason, Chrome doesn’t get along with Netflix streaming at all. Even with the most current update of the streaming software, the image was low-resolution and posterized. So clearly I couldn’t switch to Chrome as my exclusive browser.

But here’s the thing: Once I imported my Opera bookmarks to Chrome, I was able to import them from Chrome into Firefox — and yesterday I figured out how to create the kind of bookmark bar I wanted in Firefox! So I finally have all my bookmarks organized and available in Firefox as conveniently as they are in Opera. Which gives me a strong incentive to keep using Firefox as my primary browser (and I’m using it now as I write this post). And there are other minor ways in which using Firefox is closer to the Opera experience I’m used to, like the ability to open new foreground tabs. It still has a couple of drawbacks, though. Opera has a function I really, really appreciate, which is the ability to disable animated GIF images. I’m very easily distracted and annoyed by such things, so I love having a browser that I can set to disable the animations by default unless I choose to turn them on. I gather there are things you can download that let you temporarily freeze them by hitting the Escape key, but that’s not the same thing. It’s mainly an issue for me on the TrekBBS, whose edit window has a bunch of animated smileys adjacent to it, and that can be very distracting. I may try to see if I can just get used to it, since there are so many advantages to Firefox over Opera 12. (For one thing, when I copy and paste a text in Firefox, it retains formatting like italics and bold.)

So it looks like the main benefit of getting Chrome on my desktop is that it’s helped me make better use of Firefox and my phone. So it’s been more a transitional aid than anything else. It’s a good thing these downloads are free.

The other issue I have to consider is peripheral to that. I’ve recently tried upgrading from my email client, an old version of Eudora (the original program, rather than the modern namesake that’s basically a modification of Mozilla Thunderbird). I pretty much had to, because for some reason my main email service has suddenly stopped letting me send outgoing mail through a client program (i.e. I can’t access its SMTP server, and I’ve gotten no useful response from the provider’s tech support) and I couldn’t get that version of Eudora to connect to my Gmail account. I tried Thunderbird itself, which works okay except for one thing: It doesn’t seem to check mail automatically, even though I have that option turned on in its setting menu. So I’ve been relying on the mail client in Opera lately — although that’s a bit annoying because I have it downloading mail from both accounts, and my Gmail account automatically picks up mail from my main account, so I get most of my mails twice in Opera. I may have to test out another client or two before I find one that works for me. I could just keep using Opera, but it feels wasteful somehow to have a whole browser program open to serve only as a mail program.

Progress is annoying sometimes. Sure, it’s great when new things come along with new abilities, but it’s frustrating when progress takes away things you were happy with.

EDIT: How about that? Just minutes after I posted this, I suddenly got the test e-mail I tried sending to my Gmail account from my mail client weeks ago. I tried again with a new test message, and it worked too. So the problem has spontaneously fixed itself, immediately after I complained about it publicly. Thank you, universe! I approve of this new, more responsive approach. Keep up the good work!

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