Enterprise Software

Alternative Web browsers

During this Guild Meeting, Ivan Mayes broke the chains that held us to Netscape and Internet Explorer by showing us some alternative Web browsers.

On April 25th Ivan Mayes showed us some alternative Web browsers. Don’t be chained to Internet Explorer and Netscape any longer.If you couldn’t join us then, enjoy the transcript and we hope to see you on our next live Guild Meeting.

On April 25th Ivan Mayes showed us some alternative Web browsers. Don’t be chained to Internet Explorer and Netscape any longer. If you couldn’t join us then, enjoy the transcript and we hope to see you on our next live Guild Meeting.

Note: TechProGuild edits Guild Meeting transcripts for clarity.

Welcome to the Guild Meeting!
MODERATOR: Welcome, all! How many of you have been to Guild Meetings before?

JPNERD: This is # 3 for me.

MODERATOR: Jpnerd, thanks for being so regular! Okay, what's in store tonight? Tonight we're going to be talking about alternative browsers. Our speaker is Ivan Mayes, all-around computer expert and Star Wars fan. And tonight, we're going to be giving away a copy of O'Reilly's Windows 2000 Active Directory to the best questioner. Okay, now that the housework is done, I'll turn the floor over to Ivan.

Just browsing
IVAN MAYES: Thanks mod—but to be humble, there is always so much more to learn in this field! I'll try to be as thorough as possible. Anyway, what browser is everyone using now?


BUTCH: Netscape 4.7.


IVAN MAYES: Seems the norm. At least 75 percent or so of desktop users use one version or another of IE. Beyond that, Netscape—which used to hold the field. I'll try to bring to light a couple of other alternatives—pros and cons, etc.

Most go with IE because, well, it’s there by default when it comes to Windows (any flavor). IE5 is probably the meatiest of the bunch. Likewise, it is also the biggest, taking up a considerable footprint on the hard drive

For Opera Fans
BUTCH: I met with a new customer this evening running Win 31 on a dial-up connection. What is available to this type of user?

IVAN MAYES: Opera is incredible for this type of user—compact. Even the latest version will run on a 386, Win 3.x, etc. The full package of Opera weighs in at UNDER 2 MB, if you can believe that! However, Opera runs anywhere from $18 (for an educational license) to $35 (less if bought in mass quantities)

PAXITUS: What about for us Win 9.x users?

IVAN MAYES: It does run the cleanest standard set of protocols for use on the Internet (http, et al). On the downside, most pages are either optimized for—you guessed it, IE or Netscape!!! Has anyone in the house used Opera, or is familiar with it?


JPNERD: Not me.

NAILERPA: No. Only tried NeoPlanet (www.neoplanet.com) other than the two big ones.

IVAN MAYES: Opera is available for download at www.opera.com. Of course, a fully functional 30-day trial is available for download. I recommend you check it out. It is about 1.6 MB to pull down.

PAXITUS: So far, I have not expanded my horizons.

IVAN MAYES: Another alt browser I'd like to mention is the latest incarnation of Mozilla. (www.mozilla.com). Basically, the latest beta of Netscape 6 is built on this engine; however, Mozilla is also a more compact flavor to do web browsing. It does provide for some interesting sidebars for shortcuts, bookmarks, etc.; however, in turn, you give up more real estate for these goodies.

Browsing around
PAXITUS: Apart from supporting someone else for a change, and footprint, what other reasons are there to try another browser?

IVAN MAYES: Fight the power, man! Revolution! The man is keeping us down!

No, seriously—if you don't really need or care about all the bells and whistles (autocomplete/password remembrance), or if you want more control over what you accept (cookies, scripts, etc.) when you're on the Internet, you might consider an alternative browser. Opera is incredible for the power user who likes multiple browser windows and has trouble managing them as well. You can 'pre-fetch' links in order to keep the flow rolling while you're still "somewhere else."

PAXITUS: I like hearing that!

IVAN MAYES: For down-in-the-dirt adherence to a standard, Opera does a darn good job. Unfortunately, most sites have been "optimized for use with" either IE 5 or Netscape, the big two. If there is ever a standard across the board, and I'll have to include other OSs (MAC, Linux, BeOS www.be.com), IE designers will have to move away from browser-specific coding. Whenever the W3.org (www.w3.org) decides on a standard, that is.

PAXITUS: What sort of things will be lost without optimization?

IVAN MAYES: For example, (and not necessarily 'lost' per se): graphics, formatting, some perl scripting. Java can go the way of the page error at the end user's desktop. Again, I think that this won't be wholly solved until an across-the-board standard is implemented. Any experience regarding this, paxitus?

PAXITUS: Not yet, but soon. Should I download Opera 3.62, or the beta 4?

IVAN MAYES: If you're going to try out Opera, go with the more stable Opera 3.62. The beta is still a bit buggy. I've experienced a problem here and there with it, as with the Mozilla beta. Otherwise, Opera 3.6 has run great without crashes.

The Microsoft connection
DRBOBM: Browser-specific programming has been with us from the early Netscape days. That is how we got the innovation of tables and frames, but when I teach HTML in class, I try to teach non-browser specific stuff. Most do not care; they use FrontPage which encourages IE only.

IVAN MAYES: Just another example of the big boys pushing their products (things we don't realize), but the DOJ should bring some ray of light to this type of situation!

DRBOBM: Ivan, it was that way in early days, too. Netscape Composer did the same thing. I agree with your thoughts on Opera (came in late). It is an excellent product and comes nearest W3 standards that I have found.

IVAN MAYES: In defense of Microsoft, however, they do have a nice, well-rounded browser; however, it's way bigger than necessary—bloated, even.

PAXITUS: What does MS do that isn't bloated? Any helpful settings we should know about?

IVAN MAYES: Drbobm is right. Netscape also had experienced this "corner on the market." They languished a bit too much and fell behind. Perhaps by adopting Mozilla, it will help rectify Netscape's presence once again in the market. Jumping on the open source bandwagon doesn't hurt, either.
Our Guild Meetings feature top-flight professionals leading discussions on interesting and valuable IT issues. You can find a schedule of Guild Meetings in your weekly, or on the Guild Meeting calendar.
PAXITUS: Before time runs out, any recommended browser for Mac OS or Linux?

IVAN MAYES: For either of these, especially Linux, Mozilla or Netscape 6 (when closer to complete). In the name of all that is configurable and open source, what else is there that is more alternative to the alternative? : )

JASON: Pax Opera is also beta testing a browser for Linux and BeOS

The handheld browser
DRBOBM: In the way of alternative browsers, have any of you had to look into handheld browsers? My boss wants me to develop one for a PalmPilot so our techs in the field will be able to look at info. Has anyone built anything like that? What are the pitfalls?

IVAN MAYES: Unfortunately, there is a limited field for Palms in the way of browsers right now. PDQSuite is a full suite and 'alternative' to the MS product. Unfortunately for the Palms, the graphics are killers

DRBOBM: Pax, you may try going to someplace like www.tucows.com and look at the OS that you need and the browsers there and experiment. I downloaded a browser for Win9.x one day to experiment. It was from India with all sorts of symbols that I did not understand, but it was a fair browser. They have a lot of stuff at that site.

IVAN MAYES: This should change once memory becomes, ahem, more of a priority! :)

DRBOBM: The killer on the graphics will be on size. I need to give field engineers drawings of equipment; not easy to do on a small screen.

What’s new in Browserland
PAXITUS: Any other up-and-comings we should watch for?

IVAN MAYES: BroadPage (www.broadpage.com). It also creates a smaller footprint, and makes multi-page organization a pre-configured dream. I wish I had a 32-inch screen sometimes. I'd be like Elvis with a bunch of browser windows open (instead of multiple TVs, as a la Graceland) : )

What’s your favorite?
IVAN MAYES: Any one on the floor that prefers a specific feature of their preferred browser? Why?

JASON: The multi-window feature in the Opera browser is nice. When you are chasing information down, you can view all the windows at once.

DRBOBM: I prefer IE because it is close to W3 standards, and I have to develop for the masses unfortunately. Other than that, I would probably use Opera if I had the extra money.

IVAN MAYES: And for heavy-duty research, there's nothing like having multiple windows that are easily kept track of.

PAXITUS: F11 toggle; don't know how I’ll live without it.

JASON: And you can open all the links in a bookmark folder at once—10 links, 10 windows.

IVAN MAYES: I agree with drbobm, perhaps because I've been fed on MS products, especially in the field.

Thanks for coming
MODERATOR: Thanks, everyone, but I'm afraid we're out of time. I'd like to thank our speaker, Ivan Mayes, for coming tonight.

Don't forget Thursday's meeting. Tim Lee, CEO and pres of BuyPogo.com is going to talk about 64-bit processors. And we're going to be giving away a CNet Mini-Hub.

IVAN MAYES: I'd like to thank everyone for coming down this evening to chat, If there are any questions I can try to help you with, please email me at ivandmm@hotmail.com.

MODERATOR: But for tonight, please congratulate paxitus. Paxitus is the lucky winner of a copy of O'Reilly's Windows 2000 Active Directory. Paxitus, please send your mailing address to TPGEDIT@techrepublic.com. Thanks, everyone, for coming!!!

IVAN MAYES: Congratulations, paxitus. Thanks, everyone, for coming on down!!!
Our Guild Meetings feature top-flight professionals leading discussions on interesting and valuable IT issues. You can find a schedule of Guild Meetings in your weekly TechProGuild Notes TechMail, or on the Guild Meeting calendar.

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