Friday, December 10, 2004

Firefox blazes the trail......


Now that rarest of rare occurances on this blog, a technical article.......will wonders never cease?

Back in my adolescence, when it was my proclivity to read cheap novels, one of my favourites was Craig Thomas' FireFox. The novel described the next generation Fighter plane that had been developed by the Soviets, and stolen by the West. It could travel six times the speed of sound, had thought operated weaponry, and in the days before the stealth bomber actually came into our reality, was radar invisible.

Today, we have a new Firefox, except this time it is a web browser, and is brought to you by the people who brought you Mozilla.

Most pop ups, spyware, and security bugs that you encounter on your desktop or Laptop worm their way into your machine via the internet, or more precisely your internet browser. The one most people use, is Microsofts Internet Explorer, due to it being included with all of Microsofts operating systems. This browser I have found has more holes in it than a swiss cheese, and has over the years since I stopped using Netscape Navigator caused my machines to be infected by all sorts of malignant and malicious programs. I have had to get more and more software of the like of Ad-aware, spyware blaster, spybot, and a multitude of anti-virus software to prevent my machine from being overrun by every little malicious program and cookie on the web. It has been an exhausing run.

Now however, as a result of an open source approach we have the FireFox browser. Open source, for those of you that have never come across it, is an approach that is taken by not assuming the software is owned by one person or organisation, and is instead developed by all the programmers on the web that would care to take a shot at it. This allows many people to examine the software and add aspects that they think it needs, rather than a group of wage slaves at Microsoft being told what to include by technologically ignorant and profit orientated management. In addition, because of Internet Explorer's ubiquity, and also as a result of the Hacker communities righteous animosity toward the software giant, most if not all of the Malware (malignant software) is directed at that browser.

Open source counters all of this, and benefits us all, it is, in quite a literal manner, information anarchy.

FireFox has none of the weaknesses and all of the strengths of Internet Explorer. As it was developed in an open source manner, it has many functions that Internet Explorer (IE) does not. These include, tabs for multiple views in the one browser instance, in built pop up blockers and Live Bookmarks Syndication via the new RSS (Really Simple Syndication) that feeds right into their bookmarks. FireFox also uses the Web Standards Project (WaSP) guidelines so that previously lazy web site designers can include FireFox in their page design blueprints for increased FireFox compatibility.

FireFox when installed, takes all the settings and bookmarks from your local version of IE and Imports them, the install is painless and all your settings are ported over. The look and feel of FireFox is similiar to that of IE, so there is little adjusting to the new browser. Multi-media applications will have to be installed again, that however is simple, and usually just involves clicking on a link, and the download and install is generally over in a flash. So no problems there.

It is generally not a good idea, if you have IE installed to uninstall it, as FireFox pulls some settings from it, and if you have windows 2000 or Windows XP, some of the files that IE uses are also used for Windows Explorer as Microsoft have intentionally built IE into their operating systems to ensure the browser market share (you may have heard one or two things about the suits against Microsoft in recent years). You can however delete the icon from your desktop and start menu without any danger to your operating system.

There is only one hitch, and that is one that rests solely on the shoulders of lazy web designers, that fault is that as of now, one or two web sites do not work with the FireFox browser. At one point some of the buttons in Yahoo mail did not function, however that has been resolved, and all is now fine with FireFox and that site. All Music Guide, as I found today has not yet got its shit together, and is still not FireFox compatible, however with the noise that is being made about it on this and other blogs, hopefully this situation should soon be resolved. However as you would not have uninstalled your version of IE, you can still use it to view this site.

I heartily advise all readers to get FireFox, and slip out from under the oppressive corporate advertising, spying yoke of MicroSoft.

FireFox is information anarchy in practice, and has produced a far superior product.

You can download FireFox from

http://www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/

Enjoy....

Peace and Hope

FatherCrow

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