Friday, 16 August 2013

Google Chrome

I've just switched to Google Chrome. I saw it in active use on my cousin R---'s laptop the other evening, and thought, wow, that's quick! And legible too. So this morning, when a not-infrequent update battle took place between Windows, F-Secure and Firefox, with nobody winning, I decided to simplify my life and say goodbye to Firefox.

This was no light decision: I still basically liked Firefox, and had used it as my PC browser since 2005 without much to complain about, except that as it matured it added more and more features that I didn't want. All these add-ons and plug-ins and other things made updates ever more tedious, because they ceased to be instant, and I sometimes had to endure delays while Firefox brushed me aside, took over, and updated itself.

A particular annoyance was its own security features, which competed with the comprehensive ones already provided by Windows and F-Secure. F-Secure was needed for the PC, tablet and phone, and I could buy a well-priced package that protected all three, even though that involved two versions (Windows and Android) of the same product. Incidentally, with F-Secure installed on the PC, I did not need the extra level of security provided by Windows, but there was no harm in having an alternative at hand, just in case. I didn't need two alternatives, however.

Chrome is a leaner web browser, with a cleaner-looking interface. It is of course designed to complement Google Mail and other Google products, and by using it for all my Internet-linked devices I can get the bookmarks on them all perfectly synchronised. It's also nice to have a common house style for the browser.

No doubt I will discover a couple of drawbacks. Chrome cannot be lightweight without a few compromises. Its inability to hide remembered passwords was in the news a few days back, but that's not in fact news, since Chrome has from its start in 2008 deliberately kept security very basic, defending this decision by pointing out that there are plenty of third-party security packages available that will do password protection and parental controls, and so forth. Personally, I never ask a browser to store a password where absolute secrecy matters.

I'm noticing a welcome change just typing this post out on Blogger - the default font is larger, and I'm not getting irritating warnings all the time that the text 'hasn't been saved'. These are little improvements, but welcome, and if Chrome works like a proper PC browser on the tablet and phone as well, instead of in the somewhat limited way previous browsers have, then I shall be smiling broadly. Anything that simplifies and speeds up blogging while I'm away in the caravan is going to add pleasure to my life!

Well, I've discovered one nice surprise already. Immediately after posting the above, I tackled my next item for the day, which was making a backup of all my blog posts for the first half of August. This involved selecting the text (and any pictures) straight off the web page, and pasting it into a Word document, in this case two documents called '2013 08 postings 1' and '2013 08 postings 2'. To my amazement, the pasted text was exactly as it appeared in the web page, light orange background and all, and not some messed-around version in a different font. Even more amazing, the footprint was so small, despite the usual liberal use of photos in my posts.

That made the backup much faster to do. It suggests that only four documents will be needed for the whole of August. Not much work there, then! For comparison, I needed ten Word documents to accommodate the backup for the whole of July, when I was copying off the web pages provided by Firefox. Clearly Chrome somehow presents web pages with a lot less underlying formatting.


  1. well what a turn around Lucy. You were praising the Firefox platform when I was bemoaning the fact that Chrome had been and still is causing problems when and if I use it. I switched from IE to Chrome for similar reasons. I took your advice and retried Firefox but the newest version which is Firefox 23. I have had but one problem to do with compatibility but that has been resolved now. I currently use Windows 7, Firefox 23 with Norton 360 for all round security but for extra security when doing on-line banking I have installed 'Trusteer Rapport' (Santander suggested I use Rapport a couple of years ago and I have used it since) which encrypts everything before it goes over the Internet as long as I have ticked the 'protect this site' tab. Once ticked it remains protected each time I use the site. At first Rapport wouldn't run with Firefox and that was the problem which has been resolved. For remembering and hiding passwords I can use Norton but I have now installed 'Last Pass' software. This site stores your passwords but encrypts them beforehand so even they do not know the passwords you are using. They auto-fill passwords and any other form filling data if you wish too. All you need to remember is one master password. Norton provides a similar version. all this is on my laptop. I haven't deleted IE or Chrome just in case. For my Google android tablet I use Chrome but have also installed Firefox 23 which is compatible though I have yet to synchronise it with my laptop. As for plug-ins and extensions, you have the option to delete them if you don't want them so there's no reason to switch platforms because of speed issues.

    Shirley Anne x

  2. A complication in my case is that I'm still using Windows Vista. If I'd upgraded to Windows 7 or 8 I might, who knows, still be using Firefox.

    But actually I like Chrome: it's so uncomplicated, and it is fast. Moreover, it works brilliantly on my tablet and phone, and it's highly convenient how all the bookmarks on PC, tablet and phone all now synchronise.

    And I've got a feeling that Chrome will make away-from-home blogging rather easier for me, although that's nothing to do with any problems with Firefox, but with the browsers I've been using hitherto on the tablet.


  3. You don't say which tablet you have Lucy. If it was an Android for instance it would be totally happy with Chrome for synchronisation purposes as Chrome is the preferred platform so using Chrome on your PC makes sense. I am not happy with Chrome and I know of others who have given up on it because of the problems it causes. Vista has its own problems which doesn't help any. If your machine is a good one it might be worth upgrading the OS to Windows 8 which you can purchase for around £50. I bought a copy for E as she is using Vista but she hasn't loaded it yet. Windows 8 will also give you a better experience for viewing your photos too. I could upgrade myself but I am happy enough with Windows 7 for now. My phone syncs with my laptop and my tablet easily too as it is also an Android device. I am using Jellybean (Android OS) on the phone, Firefox 23 on the Laptop and Chrome at the moment on my tablet but as I want to use Firefox on the tablet I will need to set up synchronisation for Firefox if I wish to continue to be synchronised.

    Shirley Anne x

  4. My tablet is a Sony Tablet S, running the Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android, same as my Samsung Galaxy SII phone. So Chrome offers some across-the-board benefits.

    For the last year or so, upgrading Windows has seemed like a luxury, a non-priority item of expenditure, at a time when frankly ordinary spending and holidays and Fiona have first call on my cash. Maybe in 2014.



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