17 June 2008

#75. Your New Browser Has Arrived

Note to Readers
23 June 2008
Jonathan's Tool Bar & Grill is going on temporary hiatus. Due to backlogged commitments in the real world, Mark and I will not be able to post on our regular schedule for a while. Please bear with us, and remember to check back here from time to time, because we will provide you helpful new
software and Web site reviews and tips whenever we can. Meanwhile, be sure to dig around in the archives to catch up on all the great information you might have missed!

Dear readers, I apologize for posting this entry a bit later than usual. But I'm sure you'll understand when you remember that Download Day is finally here. The browser wars have flared up again, with the long-awaited final release of Firefox 3.0 today, the Opera 9.5 release last week, and Microsoft testing a new, improved Internet Explorer 8. That means I've been very busy evaluating the new offerings for you.

Firefox 3 Hits the Street

I have been using and recommending Firefox for at least several years, and love it more with each new version. Version 3, which became available today (Firefox Download Day), is the best yet. I have had so much fun experimenting with the recent "release candidate" versions that I've hardly found time to write my blog.

Why should you change your browser? First of all, chances are you don't have to... because about 60% of Tool Bar & Grill readers, naturally smarter and more sophisticated than everyone else, already use Firefox. Another 8% or so use Opera, and about 30% use Internet Explorer. Among the general Web-surfing public, about 15% to 20% have adopted Firefox.

If you are still using Internet Explorer, consider switching to Firefox. The reasons are legion: it's much safer than IE; it's a lot faster; it's highly compatible with Web standards; and its memory usage now is quite reasonable (version 2 could be a resource hog).

Firefox 3 doesn't look very different from its predecessor, but the big changes are under the surface. It is easier than ever to install and to use. It sports some great usability features, like an address bar that suggests your favorite sites when you start typing, streamlined bookmark management, more convenient password management, and an improved download manager. And it now warns you not only of potential phishing sites, but also of Web sites known to inject malware into visitors' computers ("drive-by" infection is a growing problem).

Opera also is an excellent browser – fast, light, and very user-friendly. I've been using it for years too. So why does almost everyone recommend Firefox instead? It's the
add-ons. Firefox is an open and extensible platform, and programmers have created literally thousands of plug-in utilities that vastly multiply the browser's usefulness and versatility. I listed my essential favorites in post #33, and I've got a list of dozens more I plan to tell you about whenever I get the time. Some add-ons have not yet been updated to work with Firefox 3, but nearly all the ones I find essential now work fine, and the rest can be expected to catch up soon.

I found the Firefox 3
official download site overloaded most of the day. You also can download Firefox 3 from FileHippo, SoftPedia, and other download services. Then find out what's new in Firefox 3 and how to use it in the free e-book Field Guide to Firefox 3.

So what are you waiting for? Stop reading this blog, download and install Firefox 3, and then come back and finish reading Mark Lautman's survey of the best Linux videos.

Linux Goes to the Movies!

by Mark Lautman

Peter, my trusted bartender in the Linux Room, came in one day looking all dejected and frustrated. He always looks dejected and frustrated, because to get to work he first needs to pass through the Tool Bar and Grill.

"Boss," he said, "do you know what the difference is between the Linux Room and the Tool Bar?"

"Peter, we've been through this before. The Tool Bar has the furniture, the decor, the clientele, the reputation. But those things are all an illusion. Look at our modest establishment; can't you see why we can call this our 'home'?"

Peter had that look on his face that said "I'm going to quit right now."

"OK, Peter, I'll cave in to your epicurean aspirations. What do you think we should do to make our place more 'acceptable'?"

"Boss, the first thing we need is a full-size flat-screen monitor. And I have a list of just the videos we should play on it."

Peter enthusiastically compiled a list of must-see Linux videos. Here are his favorites, all of which express the theme that Linux is as good as or better than Windows or Macintosh. Next week I'll scour the Internet and list the most effective and efficient tutorials for the Linux beginner.

The following videos are appropriate for all audiences and ages:

Microsoft and Apple claiming to be #1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtp5gNhBZgo&feature=related

Microsoft and Apple corporations running Linux: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pa1RCg-Ccp0&feature=related

Linux users sharing fashion trends: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVOnFdMf0RU

Comparison of the desktop features between Vista and Ubuntu with the Beryl desktop; fabulous music accompaniment:

Powerful, Matrix-like Linux announcement: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KwEWxpOWOok

During the late-night hours, when the avant garde, progressive artists arrive, we show the following:

Troubles of upgrading a PC or Mac: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-L-0s-7-Z0

Anarchist view of Linux: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBUgEx_91BU

Mark Lautman

Thank you for tuning in to the Tool Bar & Grill. We hope you have learned something as well as been entertained. Tell us what you think about it by clicking the Comments link below or e-mailing jonathanstoolbar@gmail.com. See you here again next week!


  1. I already miss your tips Jonathan and will indeed keep checking for now ones.

  2. please come back

  3. Anonymous, thank you very much for your loyal readership and for your compliments. I regret that I have not had time to test new software and write new posts lately. Devoted readers like you have kept me going for the 1-3/4 years this blog has been in existence so far (I haven't made any money from it, unfortunately). And your loyalty encourages me to come back with new posts as soon as I can; I continue to accumulate new ideas for future posts.

    For now, however, I am overloaded with obligations to my real-world work that pays the mounting bills, family needs (including spending whatever time I can with my children and my new grandson), and making plans to tie the knot with the lovely Louise later this summer. Meanwhile, my partner Mark is finishing up an exciting new book and looking for a publisher.

    Regrettably, I can't predict exactly when I will post again. If I have a really hot idea that just can't wait, I'll try to publish it ad hoc. I will resume regular weekly posts as soon as I can, but that might not be till after the summer.

    Thank you very much again for your loyalty and your interest!

  4. Hi Jonathan,

    Have a very nice summer with your wife Louise, and all your loved ones. The most important thing in life, is taking care of the human persons (loved ones are much more important than computers and software) that surround us.

    Greetings also for your friend Mark.

  5. Dear Anonymous, thank you very much for your kind wishes and your wise advice. I apologize that I have not had time for new posts, but loyal readers like you are never far from my heart.

  6. New reader Roger Dooley wrote by email:
    What a great site! I hope you get active again soon.
    The software reviews and comparisons are extremely helpful. I can't try everything before committing to a program (like your take on driver saving utilities) and promotional descriptions are just about worthless. They all say, "This program will revolutionize your life." You're bookmarked, Jonathan!

    Later, Roger added in a new email:
    I'm retired, but help a lot of people with their computers now. I end up rebuilding spy-damaged machines quite often. Recently I had to find the drivers for a Gateway-modified Intel mobo with onboard audio and video. I just about lost it and nearly trashed the damned thing. Then I remembered an old program I used that gathered the drivers and archived them. So I went looking for a modern program to do that and bumped into your comments about DriverMax and an alternative program. The comment was a mature, reasoned suggestion, not a rant. So I thought I'd better see what this guy is about.

    Yes, what you are doing is a lot of time and work. It's also about the best I've seen for helpful ideas. When I hit a real MS-specific stumper, I also use MSFN. They've saved my bacon many times. Recently I've tried just googling a question with pretty good results. A lot of variation in quality of course, but answers nevertheless.

    Good luck,

  7. Roger, all I can say is thank you very much for your kind compliments, and for sharing your information with the rest of us. I put my heart into every blog post (as well as a lot of time), so it is very gratifying to discover that my blog has helped or impressed someone. I'm sorry I have had to take a break from blogging, but I just had to catch up on real life. I hope to be able to resume posting in a month or so, but can't promise.

  8. LMAO! This was hilarious! Troubles of upgrading a PC or Mac

  9. Pclicious, thank you for visiting and commenting. Mark and I are glad you enjoyed the video.