Time to get your Browser On

Ok, Microsoft killed IE8, IE9 and IE10. So… now what?

Introduction
About a week or so ago as of this writing, Microsoft effectively killed IE8, IE9 and IE10 by ending security updates for these three versions of their venerable browser, Internet Explorer. The only versions of Windows that will be able to use IE9 or IE10 after this is Windows Vista SP2 and Windows Server 2008 SP2.

However, like Windows XP, not many people are using Vista any longer. It was never a very popular operating system, being very overly resource intensive to the point of being difficult to run on contemporary computers. Upgrading to Windows 7 from Windows Vista was always a better alternative than trying to stick with Vista, in my opinion. But that’s another column for another time.

For now, if you were using Windows 7 or earlier, and you’ve been using IE8, IE9 or IE10, you have a choice to make. The list list is fairly short:

  1. You can upgrade to IE11 – If you’re using Windows 7 or Windows 8.x, you can follow the upgrade instructions here or you can upgrade directly by going here
  2. You can upgraded to Windows 10 – You can upgrade your PC to Windows 10 here. Once you do that, you can try IE11 or you can use Edge.
  3. You can upgrade to an alternative browser – You have a few choices: Firefox, Google Chrome or Opera

In my opinion, your best option, is the last option – upgrade to an alternative browser. I’ll get to why in a sec. I want to touch briefly on why the first two options may not be what you need.

Upgrading to IE11 can be problematic. At the end of the day, IE11 is still IE. IE is still a mess and still pretty much breaks the internet. IE11 still has a GREAT deal of legacy IE code in it. Its not something that I would want to run on any of my computers. If you have cause or reason to ditch ANY version of IE, not only would I do it; but I wouldn’t choose another version of IE to replace it. That’s probably some of the most sage advice you’re ever going to get from me or any other tech pundit – IE. Avoid it like the plague.

I’ve also had a GREAT deal to say about Windows 10 over the past year. It isn’t the field of sunshine and daisies that Microsoft has made it out to be. It has a number of different issues that I’ve outlined in a number of different articles. You can see some of them – perhaps the most serious – here; and I’ve outlined issues with upgrading legacy equipment here. There are some key take aways that you should be aware of:

  1. Microsoft is pushing everyone to upgrade to Windows 10. Period. They’re making it harder and harder to stay on Windows 7 or Windows 8.x
  2. Some Windows 7 or Windows 8.x PC’s weren’t meant, intended or are recommended candidates for a Windows 10 upgrade. Despite what Microsoft says about ANY PC running either Windows 7 or Windows 8.x being able to run the OS, its not always a good idea, especially on a tablet-styled ultrabook. That device may be running an optimized version of Windows, and the OEM or retailer may not officially support Windows 10 on that device. I hope I made that VERY clear in the article I wrote on my experience with Windows 10 on an officially unsupported device.

I’d even go so far to say that the low end Surface Pro 3 (with the i3 processor and 64GB of SSD storage) isn’t a good candidate for Windows 10. The i3 just doesn’t have enough punch.

Viable Options – A New Browser
Let’s run through these quickly. There’s one that I’d like to concentrate on.

Chrome
Its one of the most popular browsers in the world, but I actually think my malware issues occurred due to a security issue in the browser. I’m still having email issues and I have 2-factor authentication enabled. Once I finally and completely shed this bug, I’m never using Chrome again. I’d drop Gmail too, but I’ve not too much tied to that Google Apps email address.

Firefox
Interestingly enough, Firefox is an thought-provoking choice. Its built on the same core as Chrome – the Mozilla Project. Its similar enough to be like Chrome so that if you’re used to using it, you’re on familiar ground. However, its different enough to be its own animal and not susceptible to every bug and security hole that effects Chrome.

Opera
opera_logoOpera is a compelling alternative browser choice for a number of reasons. The most compelling of which is that it’s not one of the most widely known choices. I’ll get to why this is a huge oversite and why it might be YOUR browser of choice in due order.

Speed
Opera uses the Blink web browsing engine, which was developed as part of the Chromium project. The Chromium project was a joint effort between google, Opera, Intel and Samsung, among others. The engine is similar to that found in both Chrome and Firefox. It’s also largely responsible for Opera’s ability to crunch through web pages quickly.

Recently, Opera went head to head with Chrome, Firefox, IE and Microsoft Edge in a Best of Breed web browser competition conducted by PC World. In that test, a selection of over 30 web sites were selected. Each browser opened each site and page loads were timed and evaluated.

During this test, Opera turned out to be the best performing browser. Opera 31, with no Flash, loaded pages in just 1.64 sec. With a Flash plug-in, it required only 2.21 sec to open a page. It outperformed Google Chrome 44 (1.8 sec and 2.33 sec, respectively), and was much faster than Firefox 39 (2.6 sec. and 5.59 sec).

Opera has also gone through an extensive code refactoring. The software is really light on its feet and is less resource intensive. It’s really quick. Of everything I’m going to mention about Opera, this is probably its most compelling use factor. There are a few reasons why people use specific browsers. They either have a specific look and feel, or they offer a specific plugin or extension, or they’re fast.

The state of customization or extensions (see below) is easy to find. Most modern browsers offer ways to do this. However, at the end of the day, it’s the speed at which a particular browser renders a web page that keeps it as your browser of choice. Period. Opera has clearly demonstrated that it can play in the same internets as the big boys, AND it can outperform them.

Security
The software is under active development and security updates are released regularly. The software will also auto-update when new versions and security patches are available. You will never have to update the software on your own.

At the end of the day, staying secure is probably one of the biggest reasons why people have moved away from any and all versions of Internet Explorer (and likely one of the biggest reasons why Microsoft stopped supporting earlier versions of Internet Explorer). When Microsoft integrated it into the OS back in the Windows 98 days, it really screwed things up. It brought a browser’s insecurities to the heart of your operating system. Since Opera isn’t built on the core foundations of Microsoft Windows AND is cross platform (you can use it on OS X, Linux as well as Windows)

Eye Candy
If you’re really interested in customizing the look of your browser, Opera supports browser themes and background images. You can choose from their online catalog or use your own image. Thanks to their catalog, you can probably change themes as often as the wind changes directions.

Customizations
If you’re interested in enhancing the functionality of your browser, then you need to check out Opera’s online catalog of browser extensions. You can get weather forecasts. You can automatically translate web pages to your native language. You can install online security and ad-blocking software that integrates with the browser. Extensions enhance Opera, making it truly your own.

Opera also adjusts to your browsing habits, including how you search for content. You can choose one of the predefined, default search engines, like Google or Yahoo, or if it’s not already on the list, you can customize search by adding your own favorite search engine.

Off the Beaten Path
Of all of the modern browsers that I’ve seen in use here in the US, Opera isn’t high on the list. While that may make you think you should make another choice, it really shouldn’t.

Opera has many of the same features and functions of the more popular browsers, but it flies under the radar. Browser specific or targeted attacks shouldn’t effect it, as most malware is likely to target security holes in Chrome and Firefox.

Conclusion
Look, just because Microsoft has killed IE8, IE9 and IE10 doesn’t mean you HAVE to use Internet Explorer 11 or even Windows 10 if you don’t want to (well… at least for now, as far as Windows 10 is concerned. Microsoft is making it harder and harder to stay on Windows 7 or Windows 8.x).

However, if you’re concerned about finding a better browser, you can choose one of the top remaining, two; OR, you can go a bit off reservation and take a long, serious look at Opera.

It’s faster than Chrome and Firefox. Its secure. It’s easy to throw a coat of paint on and customize, making it new when you need it to be new. Based on all of this and the fact that is likely off most malware writer’s radar, Opera presents itself as a serious contender for your internet browsing needs.

It’s not rocket science, kids, but it is going to stop you and make you consider your options… IE is a train wreck. Chrome and Firefox are the most popular modern browser choices but have their own issues. Opera offers all the benefits that they do, but offer better performance and better security.

Are you using IE8, IE9 or IE10? Are you concerned about using IE11 or having to move to Windows 10 when you’ve already decided, its not for you ? Are you confused about what alternative browser is best for you? Have you used Opera lately? Why don’t you meet me in the discussion area, below, and give me your thoughts on browser security, and all of the alternatives I’ve out line here? Have I missed something or another alternative browser? Let me know in the comments section, below!

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Browse websites with UC Browser from your Android Device

ucbrowsericonIn many ways, many mobile users do more web surfing on their mobile device than they do on their desktop/ laptop PC. In some cases, a mobile device is all you’ve got, so you’re going to do all of your web surfing on your mobile device. In cases such as these, you really want a browser that’s going to work for you; and in many cases, that’s NOT the default browser that came with your device. This is why apps like UC Browser for Android are so important. This browser for your Android mobile device can really help you get the biggest bang out of your mobile device buck.

UC Browser is a browser for your mobile device. Its, adaptable configuration helps you adjust the way you browse the internet under different network connections. This allows you to reduce data plan needs and costs; and helps to speed up page loading. The latest version achieves faster data presentation by compressing web pages on its server, and by preloading pages in the background. Android 4.3 is supported in the newest version of UC Browser.

You can personalize your browser experience with add-ons. This is something that is somewhat new in the mobile world. You don’t see a lot of this, or haven’t in the past, largely because of performance issues, but UC has resolved those issues. Now you can quickly and easily upload photos to Facebook with UC’s Facebook Photo Uploader. This method is easier than using Facebook’s built in functionality, as you can get everything done in a single step. You also get push notifications on likes and comments from your friends without actually having to run the full Facebook app.

UCB-06 UCB-07

UC Browser also lets you save web pages as a PDF. Now, rendered receipts and other important information that don’t automatically have agents that email you a copy, can be saved and recalled later, as needed. Additional file handling capabilities built into the browser also let you manage zip files, directly from the browser. Now you can download supported, compressed files and unzip them so you can work with their contents more easily. This is further augmented by the app’s Download Manager, which allows you to multi-task and contains support for UDisk, permanent, cloud-based storage on UCweb’s servers.

I’m not a big fan of 3rd party browsers on my mobile devices. They often take up space and don’t offer much of an improved or better user experience than the built in version. With UC Browser, that’s not the case. The app is pretty cool.

Over and above the FB plugin and compressed file handler, the browser also offers a webpage translator. The plugin takes advantage of both Google Translate and Bing, and supports more than 70 languages, opening up more of the web to you while you’re out and about. The application is free; and is better than some of the other browsers that I’ve encountered on a mobile device. The only thing it’s missing is a desktop counterpart where synchronization between bookmarks, history and reading lists would make the experience on your device, that much better.

Even without these, it’s a great app; and as it’s free, it’s hard to turn down.

download UC Browser

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Browse the web in speed and style with Opera

opera_retina_iconChange is constant. If there’s one thing that you can count on staying the same, it’s the fact that things change. Case in point, Soft32 reviewed Opera Browser just over a year ago. At the time, I found Opera to be a decent browser, but not quite on par with, say, Chrome or Firefox. A year can make a huge difference, and quite honestly it did with the platform independent browser, Opera.

The internet is a huge resource, and if you go poking about, you never know what you’re gonna find. Opera makes that easier than ever with its Discover feature. Discover gives you top-quality news and entertainment from all around the globe. You can enjoy new content from a variety of categories and read articles from your region, in your language with just a few clicks. Its quick and easy to get the content you want.

Speaking of search, finding things with Opera is really easy. The browser has one intuitive, powerful location for searching and navigating the web. You can search using multiple providers and view the site suggestions as you type. This type of behavior should be very familiar to most web users and is a welcomed addition to Opera Browser.

OB-01

If you’re on a slow network, or if you just want to make your browsing experience that much faster, again, Opera has you covered. Its Off-Road mode compresses pages for faster, all-conditions browsing. It helps you stay online when your connection slows down. If you’re concerned about dropping a connection, or things totally tanking, Off-Road will help your browsing experience.

One of the biggest problems I’ve got with all of my bookmarks and favorites is keeping them straight and of course, getting to the ones that I use the most. Opera’s enhanced Speed Dial, groups your most-visited sites directly on a custom start-up page. From there, you can quickly search and access your favorite content. Once you’ve found something you like, keeping it just got easier. Opera’s Stash feature can capture a page with one click and organizes captured pages into a simple, sophisticated list. You can quickly search what you’ve stashed in a resizable preview page; or search what you’ve saved, by keywords.

Opera has come a long way in just over a year. With improved search and navigation support and the ability to support off-line browsing; and the ability to make your browsing experience, faster, Opera has changed..and its changed for the better.

If you’re looking for an improved browser experience, then Opera may just be the breath of fresh air you’ve been looking for.

download Opera

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Browse the web in speed and style with Opera Web Browser

Its hard, sometimes to get past IE. There’s so much that its done wrong in the past.  Finding a replacement browser isn’t always easy.  This is one reason why I like Opera. It’s a web browsing alternative for Windows.

There are usually a few important reasons why you use a third party browser. More than likely, you’re looking for something, some important feature that you just can’t seem to find or find to your satisfaction with the OS’ default browser. This is where Opera for Windows can come in, and come on strong.

If you’re looking for search improvements, Opera has  you covered.  With Opera, you get predictive search suggestions, as you type, making searching quicker and easier. Common searches for the major search engines are now built in. You can type your query right into the address field, and Opera does the rest.  If you want to use a specific search engine, simply right click in the search field of a search engine’s website and select “Create Search”.

Opera allows you to customize it to your liking. With a catalog full of colorful themes, you can give the browser a look you love, instantly. You can also create a design of your own.  You can also add, remove or reposition buttons and toolbars or change the entire layout of the browser.

If you’re looking for technology support, Opera has that too. Its Carakan JavaScript engine has been further enhanced to run quicker than ever.  This enhanced engine makes Opera the fastest browser on Earth.  With support for current web standards, Opera supports interactive apps and multiplayer games, easily.  It has a high-performance Vega graphics library.  even pages with lots of images load quickly and smoothly.  It also supports geolocation.  You can share your location with websites like Google Maps, without risking your privacy.

Download Opera Web Browser

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Find out which browser is the fastest on your device with Browsermark

Meet Browsermark, a free benchmark that measure and compare the performance of any browser on any internet enabled device, including: desktops, notebooks, tablets, smartphones and more. The benchmark runs test like the page loading and page resizing, and conformance testing for HTML5 and network speed so you can easily pick the right browser for your device.

We are all frustrated with the performance of our browser based on the device we are web browsing on, to the point that we continue to ask ‘Am I expecting too much from my tablet?‘” said Tero Sarkkinen, CEO of Rightware. Browsermark answers that question for you. This simple to run test will help you decide which browser gives the best web experience for your device.

Browsermark was designed to measure the browser performance in the context of JavaScript, HTML5, WebGL, CSS and many more. Browsermark provides the de facto benchmark approach to measure variety of different performance aspects of device’s browsing capabilities, functionality and speed, and provides well-understood results for easy comparison of different device capabilities.

All of the data will be uploaded to Rightware’s Power Board online database. Power Board gathers and maintains all of the official benchmarking data from all of the company’s benchmarking tools. Power Board allows access to benchmarking data of graphics, system, multicore, browser and user interface performance of various different devices, running different operating systems and hardware.

Run Browsermark

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Get hold of the best defence in the war against online surveillance

Tor is free software that works to defend a user’s personal system against privacy-invading network surveillance measures, which criminally limit online freedom, reveal confidential matters and monitor private business relationships. It works in an intelligently crafted way – “bouncing” your activities around a network relay which is operated by a number of online volunteers.

Installing this software makes it impossible for Internet “invaders” to monitor which sites you like to visit, and prevents sites that you frequent from uncovering your specific location. It doesn’t really matter what you do; whether you’re a journalist, a blogger, a soldier, a human rights worker or just another citizen, Tor becomes a valuable tool.


The really fun bit about Tor is that the more the user base expands, the more the user’s level of security grows. Though the software doesn’t just automatically encode all Internet activities, the user’s security will continue to increase based on the number of volunteers that decide to help operate these relays.

This piece of software is Open Source, meaning it is completely free of any political involvement, a great way to hide your IP address, overall great proxy to achieve personal privacy on the Internet.

When it comes to achieving the basic right to personal privacy online, this software is certainly the way to go. Once you get the hang of Tor — used alongside additional tools – it becomes the best way to achieve ultimate anonymity and data sharing freedom.

Download Tor

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Keep in touch with all of your Facebook friends with fTalk

Let’s face it. You use Facebook to keep up with your friends and family. You share pictures, stories, and stuff, and it’s a lot of fun. When it comes to connecting with friends, sometimes, getting the cute fluff out of the way so you can chat with yo’ peeps is just what is needed. This is the reason why I really like fTalk. It’s a multiplatform chat client, specifically designed to work with Facebook.

fTalk enhances your social media experience by taking Facebook to the next level. With fTalk, you can chat with your Facebook friends directly from your desktop, without having to run a browser and surf to Facebook. fTalk enables you to chat with your friends even when you’re at work or in a public environment where you don’t necessarily want to; or can’t open Facebook.  You can see which of your friends have logged in, you can change your status, use emoticons and even video chat! fTalk offers a fun and light Facebook chat experience; and its free.

fTalk is a decent app. It allows you to chat with your FB friends even without having an active FB session going in your browser. It’s very much like Skype for Facebook; or something similar. The app is great. I like it. However its only real value is that it automatically integrates with your FB account and pulls in all your FB Friends.  You could manually do that with Skype Windows Live Messenger, AIM or any other chat client that also supported video. While this doesn’t kill the application’s usefulness, it does limit you to just chatting or video calling to only your FB friends, and if someone does want to chat or video chat with you, they have to be your Facebook friend first.

download fTalk

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Edit the code of your web pages with Firebug

Firebug is a surprisingly powerful add-on for the Firefox web browser. Aimed at web developers, Firebug lets you examine and edit the code of your web pages in your browser window. It also allows you to examine

Firebug lets you view HTML, CSS, and JavaScript components of your web page, so if something isn’t displaying properly — an element is in the wrong place, text doesn’t appear the way you expect, or a piece of JavaScript doesn’t do what it’s supposed to — it’s much easier to work out what’s gone wrong and fix it.

The add-on comes into its own with CSS in particular. Firebug lets you see at a glance which rules of CSS apply to a particular element. Testing different rules no longer involves laboriously changing code in an editor, uploading it to your web space and refreshing the page every time you want to try something out. You can input the new code in Firebug and immediately see how it will affect the page you’re working on.

Despite being an add-on itself, Firebug is meaty enough to support its own add-ons, expanding its functionality — providing information specific to a package such as Drupal, for example, or adding reference materials.

As well as being a development tool, Firebug can also enhance your understanding of web programming by allowing you to view the code of any exiting website in detail. Unlike the “View Source” command, which only gives you a limited glimpse into the underlying workings of a web page, Firebug supplies considerable detail about each element so you can quickly gain an understanding of how a particular look or function was achieved.

read full review | download Firebug

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