Thu, January 20, 2005
Alert reader (and birthday boy!) Brandon has brought to my attention a "Newsweek" column published by our favorite tech columnist Steven Levy. (Honestly, Levy's not always wrong – just often wrong-headed.) Levy makes the excellent point that millions of computer users (including an increasing number of Windows users) are switching from the built-in web browser Internet Explorer (which launched the giant antitrust suit, which threatened to bring Microsoft's unfair practices to a halt until the Bush administration took over the Department of Justice and let Bill Gates off with a slap on the wrist) to a new open-source browser named Firefox.
If you don't know what open-source means – or why you should care – that's fine. Levy will give you an oversimplified definition that'll cover the basics. He'll also tell you about beneficial Firefox features like tabbed browsing, which allows you to reduce clutter by keeping multiple websites open in one window, and "hot new RSS technology" which he's always misunderstood to be the most fantastic salve for all the world's ills.
Still, Firefox is a delightful alternative to Explorer, which is bloated, buggy, sluggish, and prone to security flaws. (Levy will explain all that for you.) Firefox runs faster, takes up less space on your hard drive, and just plain looks damn pretty. If you're using Windows, consider downloading it – it'll even transition your existing bookmarks over from Explorer if you'd like. If you're on a Mac (and... God bless you), you're probably already using Safari anyway, which is cuter than – and about as excellent as – Firefox. The point is, if you're using Explorer on either platform: for God's sake, stop it. Over the holidays, I got my dad converted to Firefox on his new PC laptop, and he's loving it – if he can do it, you can do it.
Plus, who can say no to this sweet little face?