Chad Perrin: SOB

18 September 2008

Web browsers suck.

Filed under: Geek,Mezilla — apotheon @ 01:12

Well . . . so much for my Flock experiment.

Tonight, Flock decided to develop a show-stopping bug. See, Flock suffers a segmentation fault every time I open a Webpage. It sometimes does so when I open History in the sidebar, or even just when I switch focus away from it and back to it.

Sounds like a real winner! Don’t you think so?

I’m back to using Firefox 3 now (and I turned off that asinine “smooth scrolling” crap in the tab bar, by setting toolkit.scrollbox.smoothScroll to “false” in about:config). A browser that never loads a Webpage is kind of useless to me. Bye-bye, Flock. Go flock yourself.

Let’s see, here . . . what browsers have I tried out that are at least nominally up to date? In no particular order:

  • Amaya sucks.

  • Avant sucks.

  • Camino sucks.

  • Chromium isn’t really in a release-worthy, usable form yet. If I had the C/C++ code-fu, you could bet your firstborn I’d be working on it, though.

  • Dillo sucks, except when I time-travel to 1995. Then it’s awesome.

  • Emacs/W3 sucks. What — you didn’t know Emacs has a Web browser?

  • Epiphany sucks.

  • Firefox (including Iceweasel and Swiftfox) sucks.

  • Flock sucks.

  • Galeon sucks.

  • Internet Explorer sucks.

  • Java-based browsers suck by definition.

  • Kazehakase sucks.

  • Konqueror sucks.

  • Lynx sucks (including all knock-offs I’ve seen, like Links and ELinks).

  • Maxthon sucks.

  • Mozilla suite sucks.

  • Netscape sucks.

  • Opera sucks.

  • Safari sucks.

  • Songbird sucks.

  • W3m sucks.

I really hope Chromium makes it into FreeBSD ports soon and doesn’t suck when it gets there. I’m tired of browsers that suck. I want a non-sucking browser.

Is that really so much to ask?

12 September 2008

Browser Choice: Flock

Filed under: Geek,Mezilla — apotheon @ 02:51

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve probably noticed that I’m generally pretty annoyed with Firefox. If nothing else, my SOB entry Has Firefox jumped the shark? ought to serve as a pretty big hint. My interest in the development of Chrome (as hinted at by my TechRepublic article, What are the security implications for Google Chrome?) might offer some indication of my intent to eventually find a way to get away from Firefox, too.

A while back, a new browser came out: Flock. It’s built on the same codebase as Firefox, but some notable changes have been made in its interface, and it is intended to much more closely integrate with “social” Websites. It’s called “The Social Web Browser” on its own Website, and bills itself as “The Browser for the Modern Web”.

I gave it a try early on. It suffered from some shortcomings and annoyances that frankly annoyed the crap out of me — even more than Firefox did. I went back to Firefox.

A while later, I tried it again. Some things had improved. Others had not. Back to Firefox again.

I’m giving it another try. So far, it seems head-and-shoulders above Firefox for me. It’s a little lighter and a little faster, and even though its built in support for Delicious bookmarks seems to be broken on this install, it supports the same Delicious bookmarks plug-in I was using with Firefox — so all is well on this front.

I’ve (re)found something that will keep me from completely losing my mind until I get a chance to give Google Chrome a more serious try than I currently can (since it’s only available on MS Windows so far and has some show-stopping issues that will have to get fixed before I use Chrome for more than just testing purposes). Finally, I’ve discovered a slightly less odious browser choice than Firefox, in the form of its fork, the Flock browser.

At least, it seems less odious so far. I’m keeping my mind open, though.

19 August 2008

Has Firefox jumped the shark?

Filed under: Geek,Mezilla — apotheon @ 07:01

A while back, I got frustrated with the lack of search functionality in the Firefox “Exceptions – Cookies” dialog. See, I have my cookie handling preferences set to “Accept cookies from sites” and “Keep until: ask me every time” because I like to know what cookies are being saved on my computer (and have the option to say “Hell no, I don’t want any cookies from 1.adbrite.com!”). Unfortunately, if for some reason I need to allow a cookie that I had previously denied, it’s a severe pain in the behind to find that cookie.

I mean, sure, it’d be easy in the “Exceptions – Cookies” dialog to change the setting for the specific cookie whose setting I need to change, if I had the domains of every cookie in the exceptions list memorized. I don’t, though. Thus, if for instance a cookie for base.googlehosted.com got denied and I need to allow it so I can view something in Google Docs, but I don’t remember that domain — I just figure I must have accidentally denied a cookie with “google” in it somewhere — I have to scroll through the whole list parsing it by eye to find the one I need. With almost 1000 cookie policy exceptions in the list, that gets really tedious really quickly.

. . . and of course, the people at Mozilla seem to be entirely incapable of realizing someone might want a useful search feature for this dialog. Well, I decided to solve the problem myself. I wrote a program in ruby I call fxception — a command line utility that just does a quick text search and spits out the exception status of each cookie source domain in the list.

So, the Mozilla project released Firefox 3.0. It has all kinds of new features. They also changed something about the way cookie policies are managed.

Did they add in some useful search functionality? No, of course not.

They put the cookie exception policies into a damned binary database file, thus ensuring that there’s no quick and easy way to write your own search tool, since the Mozilla project won’t give us a search tool.

. . . and I can’t figure out a good reason to have put the cookie exception policies into a binary database file. I’m really far outside the average, and I still only have about a thousand exceptions. A flat file can handle that just fine. Using binary file formats is a great way to just make interoperation between tools more difficult — which is suspiciously like the way Microsoft seems to operate. How badly has Mozilla lost the plot?

Argh. If you ask me, the apparently steady and inexorable march toward greater bloat, more unnecessary binary format files (there’s at least a handful of new *.sqlite files to replace old *.txt files), and more generated files you’re not “allowed” to touch (making portable bookmarks, for instance, very difficult to arrange without using a third-party service), looks suspiciously like a sign Firefox may have jumped the shark.

Mozilla is still the browser I dislike least, but every time I turn around, the benefit to using Firefox over other browsers gets less and less compelling. In fact, “compelling” isn’t even a word I’d use any longer. It has gotten to the point now where the benefit is small enough that, if I was using something lame and broken like Galeon or Konqueror, there wouldn’t be motivation enough to make the switch to Firefox any longer.

It has gotten to the point where all the major browsers are pretty much equally crap. In purely technical terms, Firefox isn’t even much better than IE any longer. The only thing it has going for it, aside from being distributed under an open source license (and a few of the benefits that go along with that), is its extensibility.

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