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Transformers, twenty years on! And introducing...

So, I've switched to Firefox as my web browser...

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2004-03-24 All Personal Tech

…and may Internet Explorer rot in a hell of its own making. No more separate programs to control popups and Flash content. No more massive security holes which allow web pages to install software remotely without consent. My patience for patching and finding workarounds for a piece of shit released in 2001 has run out.

What else prompted the change? After all, I can cope with bad software. Well, it was also something of a lifestyle choice, though not one which might be obvious. It stems from my tendency to save information I think I may want to refer to when offline or at a later date. For this, the WebArchive format (which packs a page and all of its images into a single file) has advantages.... though storing hundreds of conversations and short articles still produces significant clutter. So, I'm choosing to stop. If I think something is genuinely worth keeping for reference, I'll save it the traditional "file plus directory for images" way, as plain text or copy and paste the relevant snippet into my TreePad scrapbook. (I highly recommend TreePad. It allows you to store, search and navigate text as you would a file system. Something most people will find a use for, I think.)

Mozilla doesn't have support for WebArchive files… yet. MHTML, to use its non-newspeak name, is, contrary to what you might believe, an open format. All it does is wrap data inside some algorithms established for sending binary data via email a long time ago. Whilst I'm a little surprised this functionality hasn't made it into Mozilla (or its slim browser-only cousin, Firefox) I won't be surprised when it arrives. And, until then, I have Internet Explorer if I want to read through my WebArchives.

The reason I intend to stop storing copies of stuff is… because I don't read them. There are very few exceptions to this, and I don't intend to stop retaining information completely. On the other hand, I've always subscribed to the philosophy that anything that can't be called to mind or otherwise easily located often just gets in the way. I prefer my hard drive to be the way I prefer my head: organised and free from extraneous crap. I've been trying to prune my belonging of unnecessary stuff and things which don't still please me and end up getting mostly in the way for a while now, and it's overdue that I do this with information, too. I managed it well with my degree course (all I have is a handful of books and a small sheaf of notes) and have the best intentions for stuff from my PGCE course. You know what they say about good intentions, right? Yeah. It's time to get truly organised.

Footnote summary: Firefox really is lovely. It starts fast, is stable, offers tabbed browsing if you want it, copes with badly-written sites well, renders as pages download, has cookie and popup management built in, and even works with my online banking system. The tabs are worth a little extra praise, as I very much like the way in which you can have as many windows as you like, each with multiple tabs. Browsing has never been easier to organise… and this isn't even version 1.0 software yet!


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