Archive for October, 2002

The Wedding is Nigh!

I shall be marrying the most incredible and beautiful woman on the planet on November 9, 11:30 am, at The Texas Renaissance Festival in an english garden area named “Titania’s Bower”. Everyone is invited.

Screw IE, Mozilla, and all the others! It’s Crazy Browser!

So like 90% of the web surfers out there, I have been a long time Internet Explorer user. For quite some time I have heard about what a great browser Mozilla is, too. Well recently I heard about how Mozilla (a free open source browser) had the “smart pop-up killer” ability. Basically this prevents any unwanted windows from popping up, but still lets windows pop up if you request them (like if you click a link that opens a new window). So I decided to give Mozilla a try.
Mozilla is built on Netscape’s engine, so it pretty much looks like netscape. The smart pop-up killer worked great, and was very cool. However as I sued it I noticed more and more quirks. The first thing that bugged me is the complete inability to customize the toolbar at all. When I run IE, I completely reconfigured the tool bar to be very efficient, and compact. With Mozilla, you get the layout they give you, and that’s it. Now I know they are working on this for future releases. I also like to install the Google toolbar so I can search directly from my browser’s toolbar. Luckily there was an equivalent available for Mozilla. However, Mozilla did crash on me quite a few times, and any time it needed to open a “browse” window, such as when I wanted to save a file, the browse window took ages, and ages to open. Now, note this only happened on Windows 2000, but still annoying. The final straw came when I found I couldn’t use my online banking at all. The page was just totally screwed up in Mozilla. Now this most likely isn’t Mozilla’s fault, but the web designer’s fault. However, regardless of blame, I couldn’t use my online banking. One BIG advantage of Mozilla (and several other browsers) is “Tabbed Browsing”. This allows you to have only one browser window running in your taskbar, but within that window you can have as many windows as you want, which each show up as a “tab” in the window. Just click on each tab to go to that browser window. This is especially nice for people like me who like every window that opens to be maximized instead of opening up in a smaller window. Why IE has not implemented Tabbed Browsing, and Smart Pop-up Killing (which is very simple to do) baffles me.
So having had one too many quirks in Mozilla, I went back to IE. I then decided to see if there were any plugins or anything that would allow Tabbed Browsing, because it absolutely rocks. This is when I stumbled upon pure gold. Crazy Browser. This has everything I liked about IE and Mozilla, plus more. Now it does require you to have IE installed. I’m not exactly sure on the whole technicalities of how it works, but basically, it’s a stand alone program (not a plugin for IE), but yet uses certain components from IE to render web pages. It is so utterly customizable, your head will spin. I easily moved my toolbars around to my liking, and customized what buttons and menus I wanted. I told it what I did and did not want to open in a new “tab”. For example, by default, anything you click on in your favorites menu, anything you type in the address bar, and several other things all open in a new tab (basically a new window within the browser window). Well I unchecked a few boxes, and then it behaved just like I wanted and only opened a new tab for things that would normally open a new window when clicked on. There’s also an option you need to click if you want to be able to run more than one instance of Crazy Browser. For example, let’s say you’re researching llamas, and looking for web pages about giraffes. You could have one Crazy Browser open with 5 pages about llamas open (each having their own tab within the browser) and then open another browser and have 5 pages about giraffes open there. Of course if you wanted to you could also have all 10 pages open in one browser with 10 tabs. The important thing being that if you do want to run more than one instance of Crazy Browser you must check a box within the options.
You can also save “groups” of tabs. Taking the example above, I could save my 5 different llama pages as a “group”. then in the future I could click on that one entry titled “llamas” and it would open all 5 pages, each on their own tab. Let’s say you don’t always want to open all 5, but sometimes you do. Then you could just save each page individually in your favorites, and put them all in their own folder titled “llamas”. Now when you open your favorites, you see your “llamas” folder, and you can either click on any individual web page OR click the handy link at the to of the folder labeled “open all links” and open every link in that folder (in this case, our 5 llama pages) just like a group.
Now since Crazy Browser is it’s own program and not a plugin for IE, you can’t use the Google toolbar. At first I thought I would miss it. I don’t. It’s own built in search feature is very nice. You open a little sidebar, type in your search and click on which of the many search engines you want to search. The results then appear in their own tab in the browser. I did miss being able to just click on my search term in the Google toolbar and have it highlighted on the page, but this is a minor quibble which can also be accomplished, albeit not quite as elegantly, by hitting ctrl+f to bring up the “find” box.
Pop-ups are virtually extinct. I have had a few which fooled the browser and popped up in a new tab, and a few of those annoying ones that appear on the same page you’re browsing, but all in all, my browsing is almost pop-up free now. The smart pop-up killer works incredibly well.
There’s also cool drop down menu beside the address bar that lets you translate websites from one language to another using Altavista’s Babelfish function.
So far the only “flaw” I have found (and it’s only a flaw if it bothers you personally), is that you can’t re-order your favorites. They appear in alphabetical order. If you want to do anything with them, such as rename them, change their properties, or delete them, you have to go into the “organize favorites” menu. Also, if you have more favorites than will fit on a page, you have to click on the arrow at the bottom of the list to scroll it. It won’t scroll if you just hover over it like IE will.
Aside from the weakness in the favorites menu I have not found a single flaw. I’ve been to web pages using Flash, Shockwave, etc., and it appears that if the plugin is installed in IE, then Crazy Browser will work with it.
In my opinion, Crazy Browser is everything that IE and Mozilla should be. It is hands down the absolute most incredible web browser I have ever seen. I think that some of the default settings (such as almost everything opening up in it’s own new tab) could initially annoy you, but if you take the time to customize the settings to your personal preferences, I think it quickly becomes the perfect browser. It is completely free, and therefore does not have any kind of official technical support at all, so if you have a problem, you’re pretty much on your own, however I don’t see this is as much of an issue really. It’s preformed flawlessly for me, and I’ve had no problems figuring out all the options for myself without even looking at the help file included with the program. Give it a try, tweak it, and give it some time. Once you’ve gotten used to the change, you’ll never want to go back to any other browser until they get on the ball and put out something of this caliber. I haven’t been this impressed with something in a long time.