By June 11, 2008

I paid for a Web browser.

I did something today I have never done in over fifteen years of using the World Wide Web. I bought a Web browser. I can’t believe it, either.

I started viewing the Web via Lynx, mostly because I was really used to the command line interfaces for accessing Gopher and Usenet. The first graphical Web browser I ever used was Mosaic in 1993, then transitioned over to Netscape Navigator 0.9 in 1994. NN0.9 was a big deal because it could automatically download images. I used Navigator 2.x until IE 4.0 gained a big enough foothold in the installed user base that we all started developing for it for work. IE 4.x transitioned to 5.x, and then 6.x …. And then Firefox came along and stole my heart back. I only use IE if the Web application I am using or developing for demands it.

Anyway, lots of browsers and versions came and went, and I never thought about paying for a browser until I got my Windows Mobile phone and had to suffer through Pocket Internet Explorer.

With access to the Internet shut way the fuck down, I have to rely on my phone to get most of my Web-based excitement. I mostly use the phone to get my personal email and to approve Gibberish comments on the fly. I get an email notification when there is a comment in the moderation queue. When I first bought my phone I would fire up PIE and try to log into the Gibberish admin panel …. Except that there is a “security feature” with PIE wherein you cannot paste passwords into a password form field. I use KeePass to generate and store all of my usernames and passwords. My password for Gibberish is a computer-generated string of letters, numbers, and digits. In short, it’s a fucking bear to input manually, especially when I am pecking away at a virtual keyboard with a stylus.

This “feature” led me to Opera Mobile. I’d messed around with the browser way before tabbed browsing was cool, but there was no way I was going to shell out money for it. Especially when IE or Netscape were free. I laughed on the inside when Stilts told me he had Opera on some of his home machines.

Opera Mobile is pretty damn nifty. It can do things like dynamically size the page to the dimensions of your screen. It has a user interface that allows for a good mix of inputs, such as hardware keys, softkeys, and the virtual keyboard. It also does this really neat thing … you can paste passwords into form fields. Holy fuck, it’s goddamn rocket science.

I wish that the bookmark system was higher up in the user interface; right now you have to click Menu -> Tools -> Manage Bookmarks and then select your bookmarks. Why isn’t there a bookmark menu directly on the interface? To me, this is far more important for average usage than “Show Downloads,” “Send Current Web Address As” and other shit on the Tools menu.

So yeah, I paid $24 for a browser. But to me, it’s worth it to avoid typing in 24-plus character passwords that don’t mean shit to a human being over and over again in Pocket Internet Explorer.

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Posted in: gibberish, review

3 Comments on "I paid for a Web browser."

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  1. roclar says:

    I use Opera on all of my machines these days. Back in the bad old days of Mac OS X browsing when I was changing browsers about once every 3-6 months, it was the first one that wouldn’t crash or memory leak to death in within a week. Haven’t bothered to fiddled with browsers much since. Will be interested to see how Firefox 3 and its offspring perform.

    Opera 9.5 released today so if you are comfortable uploading your bookmarks to opera.com, you could manage your bookmarks on your desktop.

  2. BushPutin says:

    You know…my brother was the creator of the Mozilla character for Mosaic and Netscape way back in the early 90s.

    http://www.davetitus.com

    -BushPutin

  3. Configures says:

    I use Opera on my OLPC XO; Opera came out with a free version just right for it (font sizes etc.).

    I might put Firefox 3 on my other XO when it’s fully released, though, for better performance (from what I hear).

    For bookmarks, I just added an Add to Connotea bookmarklet to Opera and use that instead.