Random Thoughts

Browse happy

I came to think of it: Wasn’t there a site called browsehappy, where users of browsers other than IE could tell about how much better it is using the web now? To answer myself: Yes, there was – and there is still.

Last time I saw, there were testimonials from one Opera user, and several Firefox users. What’s the situation now? Well – there are testimonials from one Opera user, and several (eight) Firefox users. Maybe it’s time to change the picture a bit, showing that Opera users are happily browsing, too? And efficient and whatever, too. The world deserves to know that there are other alternatives thanFirefox.

So, what could I write about me and my use of Opera?

*Donning thinking cap*

Acid 2 test – the winner(s)

The first browser to pass the Acid 2 test: Safari. It has been nice to follow the blog of Dave Hyatt and see how he proceeded, not only implementing in Safari, but also finding an error in the test itself. I’m sure he will continue, implementing even more of CSS. (And those pouty faces that insisted it was all a PR stunt from Opera should rather reconsider their view.)

How soon the patches or upgrade will be released to let normal users try it out, we’ll just have to wait and see.

So, should we just announce Safari as the winner then, or…?

As sensible voices have uttered earlier, the important thing isn’t which browser pass the test first – it’s about all browsers working towards standard compliance, and passing the test of course. But first of all implementing and supporting the standards, and not stopping the development and growing stale.

In this scenario, the winner isn’t the browser which first pass the test – the winners are us, the users of browsers; we will find that as browser support the standards, the browsing experience will be enhanced. Web designers will have to worry less and less about not being able to do what they’d like, because of lack of support in browsers. The Acid 2 test is a goal to work towards, and a pressure to actually work towards it. That Safari is victorious in the race to pass the test shows that we’re on the right track. We’re winning more and more as the browsers support more and more, all of us.

In this race, we’re all winners.

Why you shouldn’t use Opera

You shouldn’t use Opera. Honestly – it’s an inferious browser, just ask any FFFB out there. It’s buggy and non standard and support too little CSS and shows a big, ugly ad in the interface and it’s not free. Oh, and it doesn’t have adblock.


That about wraps it up.

Oh, OK. It isn’t that buggy. And maybe it does follow the standards. And CSS support is good, after all, maybe.

But it doesn’t support all the CSS that Firefox support – that surely must count for something. Not?

And it certainly isn’t Open Source – you must pay for it. Or well, live with the ads, those surely are annoying.

Oh, and it doesn’t have adblock!


Not free, and not adblock. That decides it: Opera is an inferious browser. Better switch to Firefox right away.

Why Opera?

On the PC, I’ve used Netscape, IE, Opera, Mozilla, Firefox in various versions – and some more browsers on other platforms. I’ve used all of them for months and years, but I’ve always come back to Opera, no matter how how different it has been in use from the others. Why?

I started out by trying AWeb, Voyager and iBrowse, and bought the latter one. (Yes, bought.) This was on the Amiga, so Netscape or IE were not an option in any case – but I did get used to pages that didn’t work, many times unnecessary. At work, there was IE3 and Netscape – I changed between both but used mostly Netscape. When I read about Opera – version 3 I believe – I had to try it, out of curiosity. It was… Different. I could open several browser windows inside the browser – reminded me of Windows 3 and how that worked.

I wasn’t totally sold on Opera, and switched between that and Netscape for a long time. It was nice though, that I could turn off support for frames in Opera – made it easy to check that the sites I made with frames (I had to) worked without frames support. And – well, there was something about the browser, but still – I must admit Netscape was used more often.

Time passed. Browsers were updated. The browser that introduced me to tabs as we know them today, was iBrowse (what year was that? I don’t remember.) I didn’t use Opera seriously until version 5 – at that time I had bought my own PC in addition to the Amiga, and could use the programs I wanted. And I downloaded the new browsers as they arrived, trying them out, replacing the older versions. But now, Opera was the favourite.

With each version, Opera just got better and better, while Netscape stopped being, and IE grew fat and stale. The new alternative Mozilla arrived, but didn’t offer me enough. It spawned Firefox, which is a very nice browser, but it still lacks the little extra that Opera has spoilt me with. And now when Opera 8 here, I’m a really spoilt child – I’m not satisfied with just anything; I crave for the best.

So far Opera 8 is the browser in that category. What is it Opera offer, that makes it the best?

Opera 8

It’s fast! Measured speed, perceived speed – none comes close. And when I’m visiting my parents and have to use a modem to get online, it’s so easy to turn off the graphics, preventing them from being downloaded. Perfect.

Being skinable is nice, and I’ve tried out many different ones. But one feature I learned to appreciate was the one that confused me at first, by looking so different from what I was used to: Everything is configurable. Adding and removing buttons, status bar, address field ans search field – rearranging the whole user interface just the way I want it – it’s so easy. And I can save the arrangements and quickly switch between them at any point.

The concept of having a start page sounds silly to me now – Opera start up where it left off when it was closed down. That way I can have my favourite pages up at any time, or a set of pages I’ve searched for and use for different projects. I can save and load these sessions. True, I can get most of the functionality with Firefox – but not as stable, not the same quality, it just is inferior to Opera in that way. (And I really tried Firefox, not touching Opera for half a year or so.)

I also enjoy the way Opera handles RSS and Atom feeds; being able to read the feeds or just glance through them all in one place, it’s quick and comfortable. I didn’t like Firefox’s way to do it. I’ve also tried separate programs for reading feeds, and using web based solutions. The latter never worked for me. Using a separate program for feed reading worked very nice, and I didn’t think I would abandon it in favour of Operas built in feed reader – but I did. Even though that program (FeedDemon, I think it was called) offer nice features I miss and would like to see in Opera. But having it in Opera makes it even easier to read them – in that I don’t have to switch to another program (I’m lazy ;-)) – and maybe easier to start reading/trying feeds at all?

I also download files from the net, and Opera is an often used sworn partner in these cases. Having a good download manager then is a must – and Opera just gives me just what I need, no fuss, no problems, no waiting. As soon as I say I want to download something, Opera starts downloading, without waiting for me to tell where I want it saved. Or I can use a quick download command, where a predefined place is downloaded to.

Bookmarks? Sure, every browser gives you that. Opera offer more, though. Opera gives you the notebook, where you can write notes, of course, but there’s more. If I find an interesting page, I can highlight some of the text, and use Copy to note. Not only does this gives you the text in the notebook – if you double click the note, it opens the page where you got it from. A perfect companion when you research, whether it is for school or recipes to try out. Or anything else, like writing down ideas you have when browsing (or reading mail, or feeds.) I appreciate this one much.

Some pages try too much to look nice, making it difficult to see the links. No problem – just open the links panel, where all the links on the page is listed nicely. It may also work for badly written menu scripts, that just doesn’t work. It’s a feature that has helped me.

Password manager? It’s a kind of magic… The wand works perfect for me. Click the wand and the fields are filled out – or it presents you with a choice if there’s more than one possibility (such as two different mail accounts?)

The personal information is nice, too – in the preferences you fill out the fields with the values you often use in forms – your name, web site, email, blog, whatever. When you have a form to fill out, right click in the fields to choose, or start typing and use the arrow keys to select among the suggestions that pop up. Easy and time saving – and you don’t have to worry about getting things correct. As long as you’ve written it correctly in the preferences, that is.

The mail client. Well – I haven’t really used that one. OK, I have set it up so I can use it when I’m visiting my parents, and it works very nice. I’ve also set it up here now, to use my gmail account with it. Will play around with it more, but it shouldn’t be too different from the web interface for gmail, which works nice. If I’m satisfied, maybe I switch from Eudora for mail.

There are of course many features I don’t use – many of them simply because I haven’t learned everything there is to learn yet. But one thing many people praise, is the mouse gestures. I don’t use them. Not because they’re bad – the reason is simple: I don’t use a mouse at all. Except for some games.

Those are the features I like the most with Opera, and the browser I look at as the most serious alternative – Firefox – just don’t offer me the same; not in quality, not in functionality.

And still there are features I haven’t really tried out yet, but that looks great. User javascripts, as an example. Ah, sweet Opera – I look forward to getting to know you better.

Blame Opera for your incompetence

Many Opera users have noticed that some people, be they FFFB or otherwise, constanly makes silly claims about the best browser, Opera. These are for the most part claims that those same people themselved could’ve refuted easily had they only bothered to really try the browser they so much like to slag off. Those are the people blaming Opera for their own ignorance, and there are many answers to them around the web.

Then there’s those who blame Opera when it’s their own incompetence that’s at fault. Take the knowledge of CSS, and a simple thing like having the content of the body all the way out to the edge. Simple – just set “margin: 0” – right? Works in IE, works in Firefox, doesn’t work in Opera. Opera must be broken. And yes, this is an example I’ve seen a couple of times the last couple of days. I’ve seen similar earlier.

Not knowing the default values for margin, padding and so on in the different browsers is perfectly OK. Not knowing that there are default values? Well…You may find yourself with problems that puzzles you. At least until you give it a thought. Not knowing that both margin and padding influence ont the spacing between objects, such as the content in the body and the edge of the browser window, that’s incompetence.

There’s nothing wrong with being incompetent – we’re all incompetent in several areas. In the areas we have an interest, we educate ourselves to become competent. The aforementioned people with their problems with the margin in Opera could educate themselves further by reading or asking, and finding that the solution to their problem is something as simple as setting both margin and padding to 0. Instead of overcoming their incompetence in this field, however, they chose to blame it on Opera. And they’re not alone.

I wonder why so many are so quick to slag off Opera…

Fatal accident stops transatlantic swim

As keen readers of the Opera files of Tetzchners transatlantic swim probably already know, a tragic accident set a firm stop for his heroic quest. Out in open sea the company inflated raft punctured, and Tetzchner had to rescue his helper, PR Manager Eskil Sivertsen.

The punctured raft

Luckily, no lives were lost in this accident, so while Tetzchner may be disappointed for not being able to complete his swim, and his mother may be disappointed for not having him visit for a hot cup of chocolate, they may both take comfort in knowing he is a hero for saving a life.

Read the full story here.

Opera – the intelligent browser for intelligent people?

After Opera 8 was released, I searched for anything that mentioned Opera 8 and set up a feed for it on Blogdigger and MSN Search. I was curious of what people were writing about it, of course. Still am.

Now, much of it were news reports about its release, writing about its features. Later, after Tetzchner made his bold statement, there was a lot of writing about this, too. The latter sparked some laughter and curiosity – if the company had such a sense of humour, the browser might well be worth trying, too. And now that Opera was downloaded 1,05 million times, there’s a lot of buzz about someone swimming. Most of it in good spirit, even though there are some pouty “Congratulations, you’ve sent the CEO into his death. Hope you’re happy.” Well, yes – I am. It’s great that Opera 8 is a popular browser, and was downloaded more often than Firefox in the same time period. (As far as I know, Firefox 1.0 needed 5 days to reach the one million mark.)

But not all voices are positive. What does the critical ones say?

That Opera is a commercial product you have to pay for seems to be too hard for some (or many) to accept. And to accept having an ad in your browser interface seems to be more or less impossible – who would want that when you can get a browser for free without ads? (Quite a few, I hear; many who use Opera, of course, even of those who has paid for it – and then some who use Firefox and a google adwords plugin…)

Fair enough though, tastes vary. Some hate the thought of ads, others don’t mind. Those I’ve asked, who use Opera, doesn’t really notice the adwords in Opera. And some just prefer open source to commercial counterparts.

The second reason against Opera frequently mentioned: Bloat. Normally I would think of big, inefficient code when presented for this word, but in this case it seems to be a synonym for ‘feature rich’. And indeed, if you’re after “just a browser”, then Opera offer you more than what you want. Still – is this a bad thing? It may be feature rich, but it’s still a small download – smaller than the bare bones Firefox – and the features are hidden until you activate them. Should you at a later point want an RSS/Atom reader, you already have it. Mail client? You have it. Same with a newsreader for Usenet/News. And IRC chat. But if you prefer to download other programs for those features, nothing prevents you – and you’ll still have the smallest browser.

So, why these strongly worded opinions about Opera being bloated? Have these people actually tried Opera 8 themselves before making their opinions known?

But, there’s so many features, the interface is cluttered and confusing. It was said. Well – Opera have listened to you guys, the interface is simplified. Whether that is a good thing or not can be discussed, of course, but how confusing was it before this release, really? I can’t claim to have a lot of knowledge about this, but the people I know of that have tried Opera have had no problems starting using it, even if configuring it differently from the standard view can be daunting. The question is, how many want to do that, and for what reason? It’s different from what they’re used to from IE – but is that bad, or will it make people curious of what Opera has to offer?

A girl wondered about an alternative to IE. I recommended both Opera and Firefox, as they’re both good browsers. I probably also said I was happy with Opera. I do know I said that if she really tried Opera, and wouldn’t give up at the first thing that was different from what she was used to, she would never go back to IE. (Actually, I think I guaranteed that.) Now, installing browsers wasn’t something she used to do; she wondered how she should do it, and if it was difficult? I just told her to download the browser she would try, doubleclick the file when it was downloaded, and answer yes when the browser popped up the question if it should be the standard browser on the system. (Yes, because I guaranteed her she wouldn’t go back to IE, remember ;-)) Next time I had from her on that topic, she was a very happy Opera user.

Now, in the title I as if Opera is the intelligent browser for the intelligent user. I have no doubt this girl is intelligent, but I will make the claim that the Opera interface is no more confusing than that anyone who really try the browser, not giving up by the sight of the first button that looks different from what they’re used to, will learn to appreciate it. I also believe people are intelligent enough not to expect different programs are identical, and thus willing to learn to use different programs.

That said, it’s also nice to have some help going through what you can do with your new program – in this case Opera 8. Is there then anything better than 30 Days to becoming an Opera8 Lover?

Opera CEO hit the water

Jon S. von Tetzchner made the bold statement that he would swim from Norway to USA if Opera 8 was downloaded 1.000.000 times in four days, and Opera’s PR manager made the bold move to make his statement known in the public. Well – Opera was downloaded 1.050.000 times, so what else can Tetzchner do than start swimming?

To follow the journey, nicely illustrated with map and pictures, go to Opera’s pages and follow the documentary. 😉

Of course, starting in the Oslo fjord he will have to swim longer than neccessary – there is a better starting point.

Opera 8

Well, I’ve downloaded Opera 8, and am using it right now. A sleek browser that is fast and a joy to use. In my opinion there’s no other browser that comes close to the experience, either when I’m just browsing or working; all I need is just there, and it works smooth. I can’t recommend it enough, so if you haven’t already, go to Opera.com and download the browser right now.


As I’ve been using the beta versions of Opera 8 for quite some time myself, I’m not that surprised to see what is available and new in this version – but there are things I learn too1): I’m using the English version of Opera, but would like the Norwegian language files when they’re ready. The cool thing is, I don’t have to manually check now and then to see if they’re available; I just set it in the preferences (under the ‘General’ tab) that my preferred language is Norwegian, and it will be automatically installed when it’s ready. That’s neat.

Identify as something else – ua.ini

Opera has sometimes problems visiting some sites – not because of shortcomings in Opera, but because of broken browser sniffers. Opera has given you a choice to camouflage itself as Mozilla og Explorer to get past these sniffers, but it still has been able to identify Opera. Some sniffers are more thorough than others, and see this. Thus, Opera can be blocked from viewing sites it’s perfectly capable of viewing. Until now.

Now it’s possible to identify as Mozilla or Explorer without and Opera-string at all, which should do the trick. The downside is that the owner of such sites can’t see that Opera has been used, and thus still can’t be bother to do things right, so use it carefully. Now, this option can’t be accessed from the quick preferences – you have to edit a file in the profile-directory: ua.ini – which contains the sites where Opera should identify as something else.

Opera Software will put a ua.ini-file online, and Opera will check this once a week to see if there’s any updates to it, and update your own file if there are any additions. If you want to edit this file yourself, here’s what you need:
The list is stored in “profile/ua.ini” and it’s syntax is “WWW.url.tld=id”.

IDs are as follows:2)

1= Opera/8.0 (Windows NT 5.0; you ; en)
2= Mozilla/4.78 (Windows NT 5.0; you ; en) Opera 8.0
3= Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.0; en) Opera 8.0
4= Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 5.0; you ; en; rv:1.7.5) Gecko/20041110
5= Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.0; en)

So now you can identify as Opera without worrying about those silly sites that try to sabotage – Opera will take care of those on a site by site, basis. And if you do find a site which gives you a problem, there’s a handy “Report a site problem”-entry in the help menu. And remember, the more people identify their browsers as Opera, the more Opera will be visible in the logs and statistics, which in turn should make it less tempting to ignore it.

Old preference style

Anything else? The preferences are revamped, but maybe you miss some options from the old preferences? Easy to fix. You can get back the old preferences dialog easily by editing your “standard_menu.ini”. Search for the line

; Item, “Old preferences” = Show preferences, 100

and remove the “;”. This will create an additional entry in “Tools” menu to access the old preferences dialog.

1) Of course there’s things I learn – there’s just so much Opera can do as standard, there’s much I don’t know. Yet.
2) Well – they will vary of course, depending on your OS and language 😉