Your browser, or How I learned to love the Internet

How many of you know what a browser is? No, it’s not the lady who comes in and looks over everything and never buys. A web browser is the software that reads information (usually from the Internet), and makes it pretty on your screen. That is an overly-simple explanation, but I think it covers what we need here.

Almost everyone I know is using Internet Explorer(IE) by Microsoft. Primarily, this is because Microsoft pushes IE out with its operating system Windows. IE is just ‘there’, and works, so people use it. Unfortunately, the bad guys know this too and write malware (viruses, etc.) for Internet Explorer more than the other browsers combined. I have to admit, I first surfed the Internet using Explorer myself. The great news is that there are many free browsers to use for surfing, and they may suit you better.

Opera ( is a browser that has been around for some time. They are about to release version 10 to the public, but 9.6 is the current release. Some of the perks of Opera are that it can synchronize your information across different computers, check mail using the built-in email client, and preview news feeds from your favorite sites before you subscribe.

Opera also makes the claim that they have the fastest browser engine. This claim is hard to verify, but if speed is important to you, it might be worth downloading for a better experience.

A new entry for those using Windows is the Safari ( browser from Apple. Safari has its own pros and cons. Most of its pros relate to being ‘pretty’ and being able to pass standards tests. The standards are important so that websites work properly across all browsers and everything works as it should. Unfortunately, this doesn’t really mean much to the average user. Also, Safari claims to be the fastest browser available. Are you noticing a trend here?

The last browser I will mention is Firefox ( Firefox (Fx) is an open-source browser from Mozilla. Since Firefox is open-source, anyone can look at the code that makes it run and find problems or fix them. Firefox also has an extensive range of ‘add-ons’ that people contribute to make Firefox able to do more than just surf the Internet.

For example, I use these add-ons: AdBlock, Xmarks, Twitterfox, and NoScript.

AdBlock stops me from seeing ads on websites. Imagine the Internet with no ads, and that’s how you can see it. Xmarks synchronizes bookmarks and passwords across different PCs like Opera does with ‘Opera Link’. Twitterfox updates me with my friends’ tweets from Twitter. Finally, NoScript stops Javascript from running without your permission, and I would not recommend using it unless you don’t mind learning how to allow scripts to run that you want.

Those add-ons make my browsing much cleaner and more useful for me. There are a great many more that do these same things, just in a slightly different way. There are also add-ons to do everything from posting to your blog to listening to music at Put simply, Firefox can be customized by adding and removing add-ons until you find what works for you. With its 3.5 release, Firefox promises to be faster and easier to use.

Put simply, there are choices out there to be had. My suggestion is to give one or each of these a try to see what works for you. After all, isn’t that what a ‘personal’ computer is all about?