Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Geek Wednesday: The Secret Browser

Geeks: Comment at will on the following statement:

A pure microprocessor would transcend spatial realms and exist only in the dimension of time.

So...magical, Secret Steve pulled a Windows browser out of his hat yesterday at WWDC. What of it?

Secrecy has its price: when you have kept your enemies in the dark, you also tend to leave your friends unaware. So Safari 3 is showing its security slip, and getting a lot of "incompatible browser" messages in Windows today. I found one in a good place to be incompatible, if you're a browser.

Too bad, because there's no faster or more efficient browser on the Mac platform than Safari. If Steve had at least let the rumor mill work a little over the past few weeks, enough to let the major sites and services tweak their settings to be ready for a new player in the Wintel online game, then maybe Safari would be getting better press than it's receiving so far. And if he hadn't waited until two weeks ahead of his telephone's big day to let the developers know when and how they can write apps for the thing, then we wouldn't get the storm of half-baked, poorly tested code that bleeding edgers of the iPhone are likely to see in two weeks. I wouldn't touch that thing if you gave me the $500 to buy it with. Well all right, Mark: if it brings world peace and does oral sex, then I'll take one.

But guess which browser that phone will be running? Yep, Safari. Think there's some virus writers and hackers out there getting their knives ready? Here's a tip, Mac users--in fact, a whole group of them:

  • Camino is the Mozilla Mac-friendly browser, and sports a lovely interface, a multi-layered bookmark bar (which Firefox itself still lacks), and zesty page load times. Very nice.

  • There's always Firefox itself. In my experience, it runs best in Linux, good in Windows, and fair on the Mac. But it's worth having in your applications folder, because web browsing is no longer a one-trick pony, after all.

  • Opera is perhaps the most visually pleasing browser, certainly for the Mac, and it has a host of usability features and community applets, such as a blogging portal and excellent forums, that set it apart from the competition. Highly recommended.

  • Shiira is another really pretty Mac browser with some great usability features and toys built in. Definitely worth a look.

  • Finally, there's OmniWeb. Costs 15 bucks for an ad-free version, but for the quality, reliability, speed, and features, it's well worth it.

  • You can always run Safari on your Windows box...if you dare.

    Coming Soon: I just installed a 64-bit version of MEPIS Linux onto the MacBook, and will be going through it the rest of this week. While we await a stable version of Vista and the October release of Apple's 64-bit OS, this offering from MEPIS is intriguing: a working 64-bit OS that is ready now. The high res drivers loaded without incident last night, so if I can get Linux to recognize the MacBook's webcam, I should be able to capture some video of MEPIS-64 in action. So check back later this week to see what we came up with. I can tell you so far that it was the fastest install of a full-blown OS that I've seen: under 15 minutes to load the KDE with a full GUI, OpenOffice, GIMP, Firefox, Evolution, a suite of utilities, drivers, games, and miscellaneous productivity packages. Pretty amazing so far.


    paul_nolan said...

    Just noting that as far as engines go, Firefox == Camino and Safari == Shiira == OmniWeb, so possible exploits may carry on through these groupings.

    Good advice, though

    May I also recommend WebKit ( - the bleeding-edge test community version of Safari, with all the latest fixes & added features that may not yet be in Safari 3

    Brian Donohue said...

    Point taken, though for Mac users still, security remains a future issue. My spout was mainly about offering alternatives to what that Firefox rep yesterday referred to as a "duopoly". Being a political blogger, I can tell you that one of the boring things about politics is exactly that: there's the GOP, Dems, and Ralph. No viable third party.

    But in tech, it's a lot more fun: there's Linux (and even BeOS currently resurrecting in development as Haiku) and Firefox and Wikis everyplace you look now. What if politics worked this way, and there was a truly active set of alternative platforms? Wouldn't it be cool to have the Ubuntu Party, and actually see it endorsed and funded by a major corporation that traditionally supports only Texas neocon tyrants? Such an arising wouldn't solve every problem, mind you: it would just shake up the playing field enough to allow a little more substance to seep into the national dialogue.

    Let geekdom ring.