Dump Internet Explorer, switch to Firefox

I switched to Firefox after reading this post, and this article.

I am definitely glad I did. Firefox is quick (it took seconds to install), easy to use and, most important, it isn’t Microsoft. It’s great.

Update: Amazing. For two weeks my Yahoo email has been loaded with bugs, ever since they upgraded the service and increased the storage. I was totally unable to send attachments; when I clicked “attach files” it said “Your browser does not allow attachments.” I was totally screwed. After I switched to Firefox today, not a single problem — I can attach as many files as I want. I was having other serious problems — pages on Living in China and many other sites failed to fit on my screen; I simply couldn’t read any article posted to that site and others. Now they are all perfect.

Fuck Microsoft! How come no one told me about this before??

The Discussion: 49 Comments

for those considering switching browsers, you might also want to check out Opera: http://www.opera.com

June 26, 2004 @ 6:27 pm | Comment

Can you let me know why you like Opera? I’m not stuck on Firefox, though I’m amazed at how fast it is. A lot less waiting.

June 26, 2004 @ 6:33 pm | Comment

Well, Opera is also fast, plus it has mouse gestures, popup ad blocking, and tabbed browsing (I believe Firefox has these too, but Opera has had them longer, and I’ve been using it since before other browsers had them).
Another *really* nifty feature is that if you have several pages all open at once (which I always do), and then either Opera crashes (very rare) or windows crashes (more common), then when you restart Opera, it realises that it wasn’t shutdown properly and asks you if you would like to reopen all the same pages. This is fantastic if it happens when you’ve been browsing news articles and the like, and can’t remember what articles you had open.

It also has useful things like if you type “g some text” in the address bar then it will do a google search for “some text” and take you straight to the results page. Which is amazingly useful, and once you get accustomed to it, you’ll rarely visit the main page again (this can also be configured for other search engines/pages).

Next on the list of goodies is its little zoom-in box, which is handy if someone has set the font size of their page too small for your liking (happens quite often with me and some chinese sites), which allows you to instantly increase the size of just that page (conversely you can also zoom-out if needed).

The interface is highly customizable, and allows you to change the interface language and the “skin” on the fly. There are plenty of skins available for download at http://www.opera.com.

Finally, Opera also has a built in download manager, so you can resume/pause/restart downloads or any partially complete downloads.

It does have some problems displaying some pages (usually those pages designed to use misfeatures of IE, or pages that don’t conform well to web standards), and perhaps most frustrating is that it doesn’t currently work with Gmail. It also occasionaly has problems with pages that have been hardcoded to only accept IE or mozilla based browsers and reject all others. However you can easily configure Opera to identify itself as either IE or mozilla. Unless you pay for it, it also includes a small banner ad in the top right corner or the toolbar – but this is pretty unobtrusive.

All in all Opera has a couple of minor flaws, but they are small and can usually be worked around. The benefits far outweight any drawbacks it has, and Opera is a piece of software that I love to use, rather than just use because it gets the job done.

June 26, 2004 @ 7:18 pm | Comment

I’ve been curious about Opera for a long time, but I’ll check it out now — thanks! Firefox also has the built-in Google search box (and you can add any other search engine as well).

I am having one serious problem with Firefox, and I’d love it if you or anyone else can help: When I go to write a new blog entry with MT, the Main Entry page comes up without those very convenient b, u, i and URL buttons for automatic html commands. I can live without them, but if I am using lots of hyperlinks it’s a big inconvenience. Any thoughts? Maybe, as you said in regard to Opera, I need to configure it so MT recognizes it as an IE browser….?

Thanks for your patience. I am no techie.

June 26, 2004 @ 7:25 pm | Comment

I don’t use Windows, I use Linux, and thus I don’t use Internet Explorer at all.

My preferred web browser is Firefox. If you are new to it, I strongly suggest looking into the extensions (under Tools–>Extensions–>Get More Extensions). There are some very nice features available as extensions.

I’ve also used Opera, but am not that fond of it due to the fact that the free version of it display ads along the top of the window.

Firefox is fast, but if there may be some of you that want a little bit more speed… to get some more, type about:config in the address bar, and then turbo in the filter. Then double click on the entry that says “browser.turbo.enabled” and set it to true. That speeds things up even more.

June 26, 2004 @ 7:40 pm | Comment

Sorry, can’t help. Not being a blogger myself, I’ve never encountered that problem.

June 26, 2004 @ 7:44 pm | Comment

In my experience, telling a browser to masquerade as another hasn’t really helped anything much of the time.

I would tend to believe that MT blogs are designed to work w/ IE, and thats why the buttons you mentioned don’t appear in Firefox. You could also try using full-blown Mozilla, which is what Firefox is kind of based on.

Browser-masquerading has been around for quite awhile now, so Firefox can probably do it, but I am not sure how… I’ll check into and post back here if I find anything.

June 26, 2004 @ 7:50 pm | Comment

Forrest, I really appreciate it. Your tip about turbo sounds great, and I’ll check it out.

June 26, 2004 @ 7:52 pm | Comment

Alright… seems like the Firefox developers haven’t made it very easy to identify as a different browser yet… but there is a way to do it.

Look at this page, at the top there’s a little walkthrough.
I can help you w/ it if its unclear.

I also came across this, its gives ways to speed up Firefox even more.
Keep in mind that enabling pipelining increases the load on web servers, as it makes multiple connections to the server in use. Usually this shouldn’t be a problem, but on high-load servers, this could really irritate some sysadmins.

Lastly, one thing to keep in mind! Firefox’s pop-up blocker can sometimes block pop-ups that you need to see. When a pop-up is blocked, a little icon is displayed at the bottom left I believe,so if you need to see the popup, double-click on that icon and you can get to it then.

Take a look at the extensions too. I have some really nice ones installed… one that lets me remove any object from a page I’m viewing (such as annoying animated in-page ads, or just about anything else. I also just installed one that prevents any Flash animations from showing until I click play on them, which has the possibility of being great for those new Flash ads that cover up pages right when you load them.

Anyway, good luck w/ Firefox. Feel free to email me about any questions, seriously.

I love the blog, I visited China in March w/ my Asian Philosophy class, and can’t wait to go back, so this gives me a fix until then!

June 26, 2004 @ 8:19 pm | Comment

Looks like I spoke too soon… I found user agent switching/masquerading extension for Firefox right after I commented last.

June 26, 2004 @ 8:25 pm | Comment

Ok, I’ve just installed Firefox and had a little play with it. Here are my first impressions compared with Opera.

Mouse gestures weren’t installed by default and I had to download a plugin to get them enabled. Although once installed, I do like the way it draws a red line so you can see the shape of the gesture.

Pop-up blocking with Firefox isn’t as good. With Opera you can set it so that it will block all popup windows except for the ones that you explicitly click on. Firefox (by default, I don’t know if there are extensions for it), only allows blocking/non-blocking on a site-by-site basis. This is not as effective because there can be sites where you want popup windows that you open yourself, but not any of the automatic popup ads they have. It also means you have to explictly allow popups for each site you want, rather than have the browser realise that if you explicitly click on a link to a popup window, then you probably want it to open.

Firefox has a slightly annoying “browse for folder” dialog.

Firefox doesn’t have the auto-recover ability when it unexpectedly closes (again this is the default, I don’t know if there are extensions).

On the plus side, Firefox seems to have less trouble than Opera at displaying certain pages (gmail being the main one I tried).

Overall Firefox seems quite nice, but after initial glances, I still think Opera wins out in terms of usability. I’ll keep playing with it for a couple of days to get a better feel for it, but personally, Opera remains my browser of choice.

June 26, 2004 @ 8:59 pm | Comment

Gotta remember that Firefox is completely free though too πŸ™‚

June 26, 2004 @ 9:11 pm | Comment

Here are some extensions to try…
-Google Toolbar (adds some nice options to right click context menu, the search thing is redundant)
-BugMeNot (allows you to bypass compulsory website registration such as for the NY Times, right now)
-Nuke Anything (remove any object from a web page temporarily, it will reappear on refresh)
-Diggler (adds a button by the address bar w/ some nice features)

I just started playing w/ the extensions about a week ago, so I am sure there are plenty more…

June 26, 2004 @ 9:16 pm | Comment

True, Firefox is free both in terms of beer and speech, but there are times when free beer can be good too πŸ™‚ For me, using Opera is one of those times.

Sure, the ad in Opera is not perfect, but at the same time not really obtrusive either (plus half the time it just seems to say “buy opera to make this ad go away”).

As an aside, bugmenot is also a website http://www.bugmenot.com, so you can easily avoid soul-sucking registration with other browsers too (perhaps just not as automatically).

June 26, 2004 @ 9:40 pm | Comment

Firefox, Mozilla, Netscape, Opera … I like to think of all those companies as tombstones.

Like it or not, it’s an IE world. I optimized my Website for IE, but made sure it worked on Opera, Mozilla, Netscape and Apple’s Safari (probably the coolest of them all).

Sorry to rain on your indy parade.

June 26, 2004 @ 10:06 pm | Comment

Jeremy, after a few minutes on Firefox, I uninstalled IE. Good riddance. And it looks like the word is spreading. Do we all have to yield to the Great Dictator? When the BBC tells the world not to use IE, and when the article becomes the most-discusses article on the Internet, we know Microsoft might not be quite as invulnerable was you’d have us believe.

June 26, 2004 @ 10:15 pm | Comment

Imron, can you please explain what you mean about the “mouse gestures”? Is thios something a non-techie like me needs to be concerned with?

Forrest, thanks for the kind words about my blog. Are you going back to the PRC anytime soon? I really miss it, though sometimes I wonder why. πŸ™‚

June 26, 2004 @ 10:22 pm | Comment

What you say is true in that IE currently has the largest market share, but if you note Richard’s initial post, you can get a hint of why that’s not going to be the case forever.

Perhaps quite ironically, out of all the browsers you listed, IE is the only one not under active development (MS shut down its IE team a while ago), and it’s lagging noticeably behind in recent browser developments.

As an aside, Opera as a company isn’t quite the tombstone you might believe it to be. Sure it’s not big in the desktop market, but on mobile devices it reigns supreme. You don’t see IE installed on too many mobile phones.

June 26, 2004 @ 10:23 pm | Comment

Richard, mouse gestures are a wonderful way of interacting with the browser – there’s nothing technical about them, and once you’re used to them, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them.

They are usually performed by holding down the right mouse button, and then making a movement or pattern with the mouse. E.g in opera click and hold the right button and move the mouse down and to the right, and the page will close. Rightclick then move left and it will go “back” in the history. Rightclick then move right and it goes forward. Right-clicking a link and moving up-down will open that link in a new tab – there are plenty more and they are also configurable. Check out: http://www.opera.com/features/mouse/ for more info

June 26, 2004 @ 10:33 pm | Comment

Thanks a lot Imron; when I get the energy tomorrow I’ll consider playing with Opera. I’ve got to admit, I’m so happy with Firefox, I may have a hard time switching to Opera. But your description of the mouse gestures is intriguing. Why wouldn’t the others include such an obviously useful feature??

June 26, 2004 @ 10:52 pm | Comment

Richard, other browsers do have mouse gestures – Mozilla has them, and so does Firefox once you’ve installed the plugin. IE doesn’t include it because as soon as it had complete market dominance, Microsoft stopped all core IE development (i.e. only fixed bugs that were severe security flaws).

If you’d still prefer to use Firefox, then from the firefox extension page (Tools->Extensions->Get More Extensions) download the All-in-one-gesture extension and you’ll be set to go.

June 26, 2004 @ 11:05 pm | Comment

Mouse gestures are great… I’m still adjusting to using them, and I don’t usethem a lot, but they are nice. I think its great that Opera has included them and a lot of the other features, Opera is a very quality browser, but I just prefer Firefox.

One of the key philosophies behind Firefox is to create a lightweight, but extendable, browser. Thats the reason they don’t include things like mouse gestures in it.

However, there is a Mouse Gesture extension for Firefox, avaiable on the main extension page. (You can find other extensions on third party sites by Googling for them too) The mouse gesture extension I have installed also has a feature called rocker navigation. I believe Opera has this feature as well. Its great for moving forward and backward on sites you’ve visited. Hold down the right mouse button, click the left, you go back and vice versa for forward. Its very nice… I just started using it last week and am already hooked. I imagine I’ll be very annoyed the next time I use a browser without rocker navigation enabled…

June 26, 2004 @ 11:17 pm | Comment

“.. I think its great that Opera has included them..”

Heh, Opera invented them πŸ™‚ At least for web browsers anyway

June 26, 2004 @ 11:22 pm | Comment

I really appreciate this dialogue — I have certainly learned from it. Too bad I downloaded Firefox first! It won me over. I’m sure Opera has great attributes; I’ve heard wonderful things about it for years now. If that post I read had directed me to opera instead of Firefox I’d be using it now. That’s how fate works….

June 26, 2004 @ 11:32 pm | Comment

Heh, well you never know.. try Opera, and tomorrow maybe we’ll see a Peking Duck headline along the lines of “Dump Firefox switch to Opera” πŸ˜‰ (NB: for all you firefox fans, that last line wasn’t supposed to be taken so seriously)

June 27, 2004 @ 12:16 am | Comment

I’m glad we were able to help you learn some about the browser stuff Richard.

As far as going back to the PRC, I am not sure when I’ll go back. I still have 1 year left of school, and then I actually have to take one more class after that to “fully” receive my degree, so I figure I’ll live at home in Salt Lake City and work and maybe coach some soccer while taking that class. I’ve toyed w/ the idea of working for some charity soon out of college, and learning Mandarin, and then possibly entering the workforce in the tech sector since I’m a computer science major and that field is doing very well in China lately… I would think I would like to live in Beijing, I loved it there… but then again, I didn’t see much else… only the little town of Chengde northwest of Beijing… We’ll see what happens…

June 27, 2004 @ 12:22 am | Comment

Also, just came across this:

30 Days to Becoming an Opera7 Lover:


Scroll down a bit, and there is a comparison between Opera and Mozilla/Firefox

Give it a read and you’ll see why you’ve hearing all those good things about Opera for so long.

June 27, 2004 @ 12:32 am | Comment

How does it hold up for multi language support in text boxes, I’ve been having problems posting to some pages using Chinese characters.

June 27, 2004 @ 1:52 am | Comment

ACB> I’ve never had a problem entering text with pages designed with Chinese in mind, but for example, when I previewed my post just then, the Chinese I had initially written only showed up as question marks. I guess the thing to look out for is that your encoding (View->Encoding) is set to what the webpage is expecting. Most simplified chinese sites written by chinese use some GB variant (GB2312, GB18030 etc), most traditional Chinese sites written by Chinese use BIG5, whereas many Chinese sites (simplified/traditional) written by foreigners use utf-8.

It’s just a matter of playing around to find what works (though the sooner the word adopts utf-8, the better). e.g. if you set your encoding to GBXXX then you should see this ÄãºÃ (nihao) without any problem

June 27, 2004 @ 2:32 am | Comment

I’ve been using Mozilla for some time now – before the lightweight version – firefox – was made, so there’s little point in switching to firefox which has a simpler interface but roughtly the same features.

One feature I discovered recently on Mozilla and that I now use pretty often is the quick “find text” : just type slash “/” and then some text and it finds it in the page.

I don’t know about those mouse gesture things, maybe I should try them someday too πŸ™‚ it sounds pretty cool (Oh and I know some opera fans, seems like a good browser to. IE is also quite usefull for one thing – downloading Mozilla when you just instaled Windows)

June 27, 2004 @ 8:20 am | Comment


Taking your advice immediately–as I have learned is wise to do–I downloaded and installed Firefox. Then I spent the rest of the day trying to uninstall it because it wreaked havoc with the “look” of not only my site but every page I went to–the NYTimes looked like it was on acid!

However, I am sure I can make adjustments for that the next time I install it–and I am going to do so; it really is fast and has a neat look.

The main reason I uninstalled it is that I need the Google Tool Bar w/ BlogThis! as I am a Blogger user.
At the Google Toolbar Download site it said that it was only compatible with IE.

So, my question is really for Forrest or Imron: Folks, is there a Google Tool Bar W/ BlogThis! available somewhere?

I really want to break away from IE to see if that will solve all of the tech problems I have been experiencing over the past month or so using Blogger here in Beijing on my own domain hosted by ISP Interland.

Although I believe that Jeremy is speaking the pragmatic gospel.

It was great talking with you on the phone, Richard. I also spoke with Ben today. We will get together one night next week for dinner.

Thanks to all,


June 27, 2004 @ 9:34 am | Comment

Joseph, how terrible — I’m really sorry. It took me about 40 seconds to download using Windows 2000 and it was totally smooth sailing after that. Not a single glitch. Sorry if I ruined your weekend! (Forrest, Imron — any suggestions for Joseph??)

Yes, it was very good to talk on the phone with you and Ellen, and thanks for keeping in touch with my friend Ben. Hopefully you’ll overcome your computer problems and get your posting up to the volume of the old days.

June 27, 2004 @ 11:26 am | Comment

There is a Googlebar for Firefox, but I don’t know if it has the BlogThis! functionality in it.

I don’t think the toolbar for Firefox was actually developed by Google, so that may be why… Supposedly they are trying to give all the same functionality as the toolbar for IE, so if BlogThis isn’t there now, maybe it will be in the future.

That is weird that pages loaded oddly for you. I’ve had that experience w/ the older versions of Firefox, but the last 2 (0.8 and 0.9) have worked perfectly for everything I needed them for.

You can find the toolbar by going Tools–>Extensions and then clicking get more extensions in the window that comes up. You get taken to a website with a ton of extensions, I’d recommend taking a look at some of others too. However, if you have trouble finding the page… here is the url.

Hopefully this works out for you… Is it an absolutely necessity that you have the BlogThis stuff? What does it do? Let me know if you have any questions, I’ll be happy to help.

June 27, 2004 @ 12:43 pm | Comment

Emile> Yep, Opera has that / search thing too – and had it long before Firefox/Mozilla. It seems to me, most of the ‘wow’ features of FF/M have been taken straight from Opera πŸ™‚

Did I mention that Opera is also smaller (both to download and when instaledl) than Firefox despite also including a Mail Client, Newsreader, RSS feeds, + more. Oh yeah, in case you can’t tell, I love Opera.

June 27, 2004 @ 5:06 pm | Comment

Imron, I followed your links to read the comparisons. It sounds like I should download Opera and try it. It also sounds like it’s worth the small price to enjoy it without the ads. As soon as I get the energy….

June 27, 2004 @ 5:11 pm | Comment

Joseph> Opera’s toolbars are *highly* customizable, and you can create your own ones to mimic the Google Toolbar’s functionality.

Regarding a BlogThis button, check out this page:


It provides a link that you can just drag onto any one of Opera’s toolbars. Once there, that is your BlogThis button. You can change the icon in View->Toolbars->Customize Toolbars

June 27, 2004 @ 5:14 pm | Comment

Richard> Ok, if you have any problems send me an email. In case you couldn’t tell dev@null.com is a geeky reference to invalid email πŸ™‚ My real email is a my full name (without spaces) at gmail.com, with my full name being imron alston.

June 27, 2004 @ 5:23 pm | Comment

I use Opera, Mozilla, and Firefox (and IE because I need to check my sites display correctly). Opera wins it, hands down. It’s the best browser, IMHO.

June 27, 2004 @ 10:11 pm | Comment

Thanks Serial; it sounds like it may be the best, biut I have to say, I’m loving Firefox. But maybe after I download Opera 9later this week?) I’ll be won over.

June 27, 2004 @ 10:17 pm | Comment

Another FireFox speed tip (only do this if you aren’t on dial-up):

Go to about:config, and type nglayout.initialpaint.delay into the filter. Set the value to 0. It’ll blow your mind.

June 28, 2004 @ 1:34 am | Comment

Makes it all worth it

Cause and effect, my friends. If weblogs can cure just one person of their Internet Explorer cancer, then they have served us well indeed.

Let’s go for two!

June 28, 2004 @ 1:37 am | Comment


Regarding the bold, italics, URL buttons in MT, they’re, unfortunately, an IE only feature of MT. I’m on MT 3.0D, which has finally brought it over to Firefox, but anything prior to MT 3.0 doesn’t have the cross-browser compatible buttons. I think that may be because the older buttons were based on some 3rd party code, while the new ones in MT 3.0 have been rewritten to take into account non-IE browsers.

And welcome to the Firefox world. πŸ™‚

June 28, 2004 @ 4:08 am | Comment

Thanks Lashlar — I’d upgrade to MT 3.0 but I don’t think it’s compatible with MT Blacklist, which I will absolutely not give up! For now, I’ll just use Firefox and type in the html commands.

And yes, i will definitely look into Opera as well.

June 28, 2004 @ 10:23 am | Comment


This morning I paid a rare call on Peking Duck,…

June 28, 2004 @ 1:27 pm | Comment

Go to about:config, and type nglayout.initialpaint.delay into the filter. Set the value to 0. It’ll blow your mind.

Extremely dumb question (and I mean dumb): How do I get to “about:config” to get my mind blown?

June 28, 2004 @ 7:04 pm | Comment

richard> in the address bar, instead of putting in a webpage address type: about:config

June 28, 2004 @ 9:03 pm | Comment

Why get excited about the cut-down, cartoon version?? Get Mozilla, the industrial-strength browser!

Nothing against Opera, just very personal preferences about their interface. It’s on the level of “this is really irritating, and I can’t change it!” stuff.

Of course, Linuxii can use Konquerer as well, but I prefer Mozilla there as well. I think only Opera covers all three major platforms. πŸ™‚

June 29, 2004 @ 1:39 am | Comment

Casey> Just out of curiosity, what about it is so irritating that you can’t change? I can’t say I’ve ever felt that way about it.

June 29, 2004 @ 5:40 am | Comment

sorry i’m late to this discussion, but i was early to opera (1998) and it remains my browser of choice. (And yeah, i was doing mozilla before that).

i agree with the pro-opera points made previously (mostly from imron) but i’d like to add some china-specific points:

what initally drew me to opera in 1998 was that i was new to china with an aging laptop with minimal hard drive space and i needed the small footprint on my hard drive. in addition, in those days, i was on a china telcom dial-up connection and opera had a toolbar icon where i could quickly turn on/off downloading images if the connection was taking too long. it still has that feature.

now i have a desktop at home here with an adsl so that’s a non-issue, but i have a (newer) laptop as well and i use my Sony T-628 cell phone GPRS (through IR) as a modem when I am on the road and it only goes at 128 kbps so that quick “images off” click gets me the gist of the info i need.

moreover, and very important if you are living behind the great fire wall… with opera, it is super easy to turn your proxy server off and on. IE takes about 4 to5 levels of click- throughs to do it.

in opera, once you set up a regular working proxy through the preferences menu (and, children, you’ll have to figure out how to do that part for yourself; no clues here), you can quickly turn the proxy on or off, as needed, through either the quick preferences menu (in 7.0 under the file menu or, in 7.5 under the tools menu). better yet, in 7.5 you can add the “enable proxy servers” checkbox to your Status ToolBar and simply click it on when you meet a website that The Nanny doesn’t like and off when you are finished viewing “prohibited” sites such as blogspot, etc.

Another nice feature since version 6 is the ability to copy text (a whole page or a just a part) to a Note which is kept in the left panel of the browser. When copying the blurb it also records the URL of the page from which it was copied. This is a great feature, especially when doing Web research. It’s similar to MS’s One Note but it’s fully integrated into the opera interface.

if you’re living in china, opera is the way to go. zhende!

June 30, 2004 @ 12:42 pm | Comment

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