Which web browser is best?

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MikeGale
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Re: Which web browser is best?

Post by MikeGale » Sun May 25, 2014 7:41 pm

I, probably unfortunately, started thinking long and hard about the programs I use, a year or two back. I wanted to better understand how they enable me to do what I want, and how they hinder me.

Unfortunate, because I've come to realise how unsuitable they often are. Many act as straight-jackets for the mind!

Some rough observations and notes, may be of use to others:
  1. No browser is particularly good. I use several and deliberately don't form too strong preferences, to any of them.
  2. Browsers that spy on me annoy me intensely. They all seem do it in some way, except Tor-Browser maybe. Every time they fetch an update, grab a config file update... they log your details. Chrome may be the worst on this. Outshines the NSA in how much data it collects I suspect. (See point below about inspecting browser traffic, for ways to actually see this happening in real time.)
  3. Pointing out bugs, design improvements... can be a long hard road. These guys often appear to have an active hatred of user feedback. If you're prepared to take more time than seems necessary and wait for maybe a year or two, it's worth doing though. Also be ready for a mindless decision from somebody has been tasked to "clean out" the backlog (to call some of these folk clueless would be too generous)!!
  4. The W3C etc. have ongoing discussions on these things. They are generous enough to let us listen in. It's worth taking a look if you're serious about what lies behind browser design. Many competing minds, some arbitrary decisions, just to keep things moving. After taking such a look you might feel more sympathy for all involved. Their work is not easy.
  5. It's well worth taking a look at your browser sessions with a tool like Fiddler (debugging Proxy that shows you a lot of detail). The useful content of, possibly, most pages, is swamped by the burden of unwanted nonsense that they carry. As Albert says, in his post.
  6. (Beyond the browser) If you analyse pages you might find that many are distracting and reduce your ability to understand them easily. That's deliberate. Adverts and "graphical design" are, as usually done, deliberately meant to catch your attention. It would be cool to have decent ways to avoid that. (Ways that are good/great for both content maker and reader.)
  7. The browser essentially treats a user as a pure consumer. No interaction, no original though expected. In fact they seem to actively suppress such things. I much prefer the idea of active reading than the passive form they seemingly want to force onto me!
  8. It is possible to filter out a lot of junk by taking charge of your DNS system. There are a surprising number of URI roots that never serve anything but unwanted material.
  9. Browser extension technologies may not be as usable as you first thought.
  10. It is possible to seize some control. If you do go down that road, be aware that the browser makers may seem to fight you every step of the way. If you look at their business models you can understand that they may not have much interest in your goals!
  11. That's enough...
Happy browsing!

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Albert Wiersch
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Re: Which web browser is best?

Post by Albert Wiersch » Mon May 26, 2014 8:06 am

Hi Mike,

Interesting comments.

I suppose if you like privacy then no major browser will do. I think I decided to give up on privacy awhile back... I just assume everything on the Internet is "spying" on me these days.

Your comment about taking charge of the DNS system is interesting. I may investigate that and try to block the IP's of common servers that serve nothing of benefit to consumers. Do you have any recommendations on this?

Your note about browser makers fighting you is interesting too, because I noticed some of the "junk" that browsers load is Google stuff - like tracking and analytics... and I'm pretty sure Google would not want you blocking Google's stuff that Google benefits from.

In many ways I long for the days when browsers were much simpler and could just display static information and good content (well, not all of it was good but there was a lot less spying and a lot less junk and a lot less complexity and bloat to slow things down). In fact, things were so simple that a 64K or 128K Internet connection could feel fast! :D Those days are long gone though.

Happy browsing to you as well!
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MikeGale
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Re: Which web browser is best?

Post by MikeGale » Mon May 26, 2014 7:01 pm

I think hidden spying is undesirable in principle, but there is a practical side. There are so called "advanced persistent threats" out there. APT's. Not just your tax payer funded guys but some purely criminal. They collect and buy up the information that is captured by others, put it together and use it to plan a hit on your home or whatever.

So from a practical viewpoint it's worth stemming the flood of information you spray out every time you visit a site.

Practically you can use your hosts file on a windows system. (Unix derivatives? Check your system manuals.) It takes a few minutes and you can update when you feel the necessity.

I've used it for several years now. For example when I hear about a newly discovered phishing... scam I might add their entries to my hosts file so that I can't receive anything from them. (It's sensible to leave yourself some notes and set an alarm for yourself to delete the entries in, say, 3 months.)

It's a lot of work to keep up so is worth using other people's good work. http://winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.htm is a source. It has instructions, updates and explains some of the messing that has been done in Win8.1 (etc.) and how to avoid the "loopback stupid redesign" syndrome.

Google is basically an advertising company. Look at their financials. 97% of revenue is from adverts (last I looked). If all non advertising activity ceased it wouldn't make much difference. They have recently systematically shut down activities that have value to humans but not to their advertisers. Like the hits they have made on the world of RSS feeds and even UseNet archives. Many are happy with that, all well and good, for them.

If you're not happy then you need to take charge. (They have been scanning all in and out bound emails so they can advertise at you. Recently they were forced to declare that openly. ...)

It's unfair to single out Google or the NSA alone. There's a lot out there, including data brokers.

Free DNS services, search, code downloads, font downloads... all give information about you. The big data engines at Google, NSA, various APT's, Criminal gangs 1 through 1267, etc. crunch this stuff day and night. Relevant for browser users and web site designers, both. For a designer it's often trivial to opt out of the surveillosphere and be a bit kinder to the audience. All it needs is thinking about it.

I think Mozaic had Gopher, Whois, Finger and other protocols built in, then Microsoft had a philosophy of enabling any language to hook into programming the browser. Superior philosophies that made things freer and more powerful. A better world, I agree.

(It was often very ugly, but the content usually showed evidence of brain activity.)

Then many of the good ideas got clear felled, often by clueless late comers who had done almost no homework. Such is life. Great ideas get destroyed when the dinosaur brains of society at large swamp the smart people who originally created it!

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Re: Which web browser is best?

Post by aleenashes » Thu Jun 05, 2014 6:24 am

hi I m using Firefox for 5 month now. But I have chrome as backup. :P

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Re: Which web browser is best?

Post by aleenashes » Wed Jun 11, 2014 6:19 am

Currently, I'm still using Firefox as my main browser.

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Re: Which web browser is best?

Post by adamak » Thu Jun 26, 2014 6:28 am

I use three web browsers: Firefox, Chrome and IE. Each browser has its own features. It's very important for webmaster to check site in few web browsers.

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Re: Which web browser is best?

Post by kingsleytailors » Tue Nov 24, 2015 2:48 am

I like Comodo Dragon Browser
Last edited by kingsleytailors on Thu Apr 27, 2017 5:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Which web browser is best?

Post by RSteinwand » Fri Apr 29, 2016 7:10 am

It's no secret I like to tweak for page size, page load time, and especially lately, time to first render (start of viewable content).

One of the many tools I use is WebPageTest and check the Film Strip View on the right.

As much as I like the web developer tools in Firefox, the overall performance of Chrome, and despise the lack of stability in IE, lately I've noticed that IE11 gets me viewable content on the page sooner. Now we're talking about seeing the page maybe .2 seconds sooner so not a huge difference by any means, but still I appreciate it.
Rick

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Re: Which web browser is best?

Post by MikeGale » Sat Apr 30, 2016 1:42 am

The browser scene also got a bit more interesting.
  1. Vivaldi went to RTM. I've seen good reports but not tested it myself. (I tested some early betas and got really annoyed that they seemed not to be doing anything useful and that I had to edit the registry to uninstall. I think they're well past that. Worth a look. There's a lot of Chrome in there.)
  2. There's also the Pale Moon browser (a fork of Firefox code) which is surprisingly good to use.
I haven't checked either of these yet but I'm hoping they don't spy on users as much as some browsers!

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Re: Which web browser is best?

Post by RSteinwand » Sat Apr 30, 2016 7:22 am

I used to use Pale Moon when there weren't a lot of 64 bit FF browsers available, but found that some aspects of my website menus looked different (like padding) but none of the other browsers I tried had that. So I dumped it for WaterFox (which I rarely fire up now).
Rick

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