Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Browser Tabs

Another post on browsers!

I like Firefox, Mozilla, and Safari better than IE, (Internet Explorer) because they have tabs and IE doesn't, at least not yet. What are tabs, and why do I like them? Here's a picture -
Using my Firefox browser, I have 3 tabs open, three different URLs are available to me at a click

- the lighter tab is the one I was on when I took this screenshot, WebToolsForLearners, this blog,

- plus my Elgg blog with my name showing, and

- an interesting blog, The Adventures of Accordian Guy, a Toronto blogger.

I can move back and forth between any of these without opening new pages. I can have more tabs, and, when I click on a link in Firefox, if it is set to open in a new page, it will open as another tab. I don't get lost in a pile of open pages; I have them all laid out side-by-side.

What's the point of having more than one URL open at the same time? Sometimes it's useful when working on a project. Say I'm writing up a post, like now, and I decide I could communicate better if I showed a picture, I can go to File and open a new tab. Then I can go to my Bookmarks Toolbar and click on my bookmarked Flickr account and find the screenshot jpeg I uploaded earlier, get the size I want, and copy its URL. Then I click back into the tab with my my Blogger post and paste the URL into my post. Two tabs, two sites open, and moving back and forth between them.

Or I could be writing up something in Word, and want to look up a point in Wikipedia, and keep Dictionary.com open to check obscure word meanings - no problem - with tabs.

I have my Firefox set so it opens with two homepages, two tabs. There are lots of uses. Now, before I save this post, I'm going to add some Technorati tags. I never remember the HTML, so I'll open a new tab, click on my bookmarked link to the Technorati page that gives my the HTML for tagging, click back into this tab, paste the HTML in, and then add the words of the tags. Back and forth - no problem.

And I get the links to add to my text the same way, using a tab opened beside my post workspace.


Monday, March 13, 2006

Using Browsers - Works Best With ...

After my last class I was talking to one of the computer-savvy students about some trouble I have having playing some of the audio files for the most recent class assignment. He told me that I should be using IE (Internet Explorer). He agreed that it wasn't as good as FireFox in many ways, but it has an important strength. It is the most used, and most web applications are designed to work with IE while they aren't always designed to work well on other browsers. So I've taken his advice and opened my IE so I can use it to listen to my students' recordings of their narratives.

I accepted his advice because I respect his knowledge, and because I've stumbled against this problem myself more than once. I use a Mac platform, and I love my little iBook and OSX. And I really like Safari, the browser that came with it. But far fewer people use the Mac platform than use Windows and although most applications work quite well on the Mac platform, sometimes exclusively Mac
applications don't get as much support. Here's a small example.

Sometimes I forget to use Firefox for composing a Blogger post, and start doing it in Safari. This is not a good idea -
As you can see, above, I get more Browser usability in Firefox than in Safari, so I like to use Firefox when I'm composing, like now.

My computer-savvy student also suggested I use Mozilla, which is connected with Firefox, but not as trendy or adaptable. I've always liked Mozilla, which is what Netscape morphed into, so I might re-download it. It has Composer, which is a free, really easy, really handy WYSIWYG webauthoring application.

The short story:
My current favorite browsers: Safari, Firefox & Mozilla. Sometimes I use IE.


Monday, March 06, 2006

Academic Research is Changing!

Anyone who does academic research, or teaches others to do it, is facing a rapidly changing landscape.

From Educause,
via a feed in my Bloglines Account -

"The European Commission is to build a European digital library able to display around six million books, photographs and films and available to all internet users by 2010."

US Internet search giant Google started an international race to build an online library when it announced plans in December 2004 to digitise books and documents from a handful of big libraries.

Since then, US Internet and software giants Yahoo, Microsoft and Amazon have announced separate plans while France, upset that private companies took the lead, has pushed for the creation of a public digital library, AFP reports.

Add this to other evolutions - such as I have posted on previously - and you'll see that academic research has changed more since the arrival of the web than in the previous few hundred years!


Thursday, March 02, 2006

Browser Decisions

While you're deciding which homepage is the most useful or satisfying, you might want to think about what browers you use. Yes, I used the plural. I strongly recommend that, whatever your platform, you have at least two browsers on your computer. The three following are free, and good.

Some browsers are better than others at certain thing and on certain systems. While most people just go with Internet Explorer, in my roamings through posts of the ed-tech part of the blogosphere, one particular browser keeps coming up, and that is Firefox.

I'm not technically-oriented, so I want extreme ease of use. Firefox gives me that. The technically skilled like it because they can fiddle with it, making interesting changes and setting it up just the way they want. I did look at the Preferences, but I only made a few simple changes. Firefox is the browser I use most of the time. In a future post, I will explain why I recommend at least two browsers, and how you might use them.

One is not enough. My Mac laptop came with Safari on it. (BTW, Firefox works on any platform, Mac, Windows or Linux.)
Safari is a Mac browser, so if you're a Windows person, skip the rest of this post and just download Firefox.

I like Safari; it's fast and easy. However, because it is a Mac product and therefore has only a small part of the web populace, it doesn't always get good support from some of the products. I always use Firefox when I'm writing anything on my Elgg blog because I have had Safari swallow posts or comments instead of posting them. Too much frustration. And Safari does warn me it's unsupported when I forget and do Elgg work on it. So Safari is good for Mac users, but not fully complete because not all applications work well on it.

I have recently downloaded Camino
I haven't played much with it but it is part of the Mozilla family, just like Firefox, but aimed at Mac users. It looks interesting, but I will have to play with it more.

So my main message is - have at least two browsers.