Viruses, browsers and sleuths

Winter sky over Angel
Winter sky over Angel

Sadly, it is Tigger’s turn to fall ill. Yesterday, she had a sore throat and this morning felt too unwell to go in to work. Winter is traditionally the time for colds and ‘flu, though these days, “viruses” seem to be with us all year round.

I went out and bought a few things, merely palliatives, not cures, alas, and so we remain holed up, waiting for the worst of the symptoms to pass and life to return to a semblance of normality.

Recently, I have been trying out Chrome, Google’s browser. Google has become a big corporation and one which, like Microsoft and IBM, people have begun to view with suspicion. I must admit to consciously avoiding Google applications myself and looking for alternatives, though I am not entirely sure what it is that I fear.

Nonetheless, I decided to take a look at Chrome with as much impartiality as possible. I find it reminds me somewhat of the early days of Firefox: on one hand, it gains from its simplicity, being nifty on its feet, but, on the other, a lot of expected functions are still missing. One of these has been added in the latest version: a bookmark manager. Before, you could only add or delete bookmarks but now you have some simple organizing functions as well.

One feature still missing is the Open function. In Firefox I use this a lot. This is because I write my blog posts in a text editor and check the result in the browser. The only way to display an HTML file from your hard disk in Chrome seems to be to type in the URL, e.g. something like file:///C:/Blogs/test.htm. Either that, or make Chrome your default browser, in which case clicking on the file will presumbly open it in the browser. I am not yet ready to make it my default browser, though.

I do sometimes use the Google browser, however, and I shall be interested to see how it progresses. It has come into the game fairly late and has a lot of ground to make up. There is plenty of competition, too, though many of the “competing” brands are really Firefox dressed in motley, not independent browsers at all. We remember also that the much loved Netscape Communicator finally gave up the ghost in March though there are still people using the final version.

Incognito Window
Incognito Window

One interesting feature of Chrome is the “Incognito Window” which you can open in the Tools drop-down menu or by pressing Ctrl+Shift+N. This brings up a new window which is supposed to leave no traces of its activity on the host computer. When the window is closed, all cookies, all visited URLs, etc, are erased. If you click a link in an Incognito Window, the new tab or window is also of the Incognito kind, indicated by the icon in the top left corner of a sleuth wearing dark glasses.

When you open an Incognito Window, a notice is displayed, reminding you that you are still at risk of being spied on. The Incognito Window confers no anonymity on the user, merely leaves no traces on the computer. This could still be useful. For example, if you use the browser on someone else’s computer to carry out transactions on your online bank account, it is reassuring to know that passwords and personal details will not be left behind on the machine. I believe that such a facility is soon to be added to Firefox, but Google has stolen a march on the Mozilla team in this instance.

If you are perfectly content with the facilities offered by Internet Explorer, by Firefox or by whatever other browser you use, and if, to boot, you are not at all curious, then you probably needn’t bother with Chrome. On the other hand, when a major player enters a new field like this I think it’s worth taking a look. I must say, though, that I hope we are not on the brink of a repetition of the “Browser Wars” that caused so much trouble and bitterness a few years back.


About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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3 Responses to Viruses, browsers and sleuths

  1. cbramhall says:

    If you are comparing browsers, have you tried Safari yet?

  2. dave says:

    I will give it a whirl, just because I like to try new things. I have been of Firefox for years, and am happy with it. Internet explorer sends me through the roof with grief!

  3. SilverTiger says:

    To cbramhall: I am not systematically comparing browsers. I just thought I would try out Chrome. I might have a look at Safari one day if I am at a loose end though I am not encouraged by the reviews that suggest that it is pretty thin on features while not being as fast as the makers claim.

    To dave: Firefox is pretty good and I use it most of the time, having seen it develop from its earliest beginnings. I imagine it will be my regular browser for the foreseeable future but I am an unquiet soul always on the lookout for novelty!

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