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Location: Austin, Texas, United States

I'm a software engineer / partner working for a young company in Austin, Texas, USA. I spend most of my free time hanging out with friends and family, eating out, and partying in the Warehouse District. I should spend more time working on my house....

Monday, February 21, 2005

Best Web Browser - Firefox

I downloaded the new Firefox web browser a few months ago and I must say it is awesome. The browser is based on the code for the Netscape and Mozilla browsers shelved years ago when AOL bought Netscape. AOL gave the browser code to the Mozilla foundation to distribute for free and independent developers have been working on it ever since. They have made lots of improvements over the years and in fact have improved it beyond the latest version of Internet Explorer.

How is it better? First of all it has better security :
Firefox isn't totally secure -- no browser can be, especially if it runs on Windows, which has major security problems and is the world's top digital target. But Firefox has better security and privacy than IE. One big reason is that it won't run programs called "ActiveX controls," a Microsoft technology used in IE. These programs are used for many good things, but they have become such powerful tools for criminals and hackers that their potential for harm outweighs their benefits.

My favorite feature is tabbed browsing. Tabbed browsing allows you to open many Web pages at once in the same browser window. Each is accessed by a tab at the top of the browser. It is simple and elegant and allows perpetual web surfers like me to stay organized and on top of all of the windows we have open. Additionally you can create a folder of bookmarks and open them all at once in a single window!

Another cool feature is the permanent search box included as part of the toolbar. It is defaulted to Google, but changeable with a click on the down arrow beside the icon to Yahoo, Amazon, eBay or any Search Engine you choose to add. Just use the key combination of Ctrl+K and you can type in a search parameter into the box. Additionally Google's "I'm feeling lucky" search is the default if you type your search parameters in the Location bar (where the web address/URL shows up). This allows for Smart Keywords to make browsing really quick.

A final feature I'll mention is one I haven't begun using yet, live bookmarks. Live bookmarks lets you create a bookmark a website if the website is known to have an RSS feed. I already have an RSS management tool, Sharpreader and thus haven't had sufficient incentive to try the Firefox tool out yet, but I will. If you want to understand more about RSS read this Forbes article.

One final note to anyone who downloads FireFox. Some, not many, websites were built using IE specific codes and thus don't show up in FireFox. This is rare. I actually haven't had it happen to me at all, but others have. If it does occur just open up IE and view the webiste there, then go back to using Firefox!


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