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Trying Firefox -- uncertain what I think


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#1 of 44 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted November 26 2004 - 02:35 PM

I had a virus auto-install via IE 6 last week (my AV program caught it) which concerned me. Then, Outlook 97 inexplicably conked out yesterday. So, I thought I'd give Firefox and the associated email program, Thunderbird, a try.

I've been using Firefox for a few hours and it feels like an imperfect clone of IE 6. I run a high monitor resolution so I have to use an above-average default font size. IE lets you set the relative size and uses that as the default. Firefox has a setting, but didn't tell me where I was in the relative scale (small, medium, large). It also reverted back to the default (too small) after restarting. I found, buried in the settings, a way to set a minimum font size, but I don't want a floor, I want a relative scaling. So that's a major strike against it. Or do I misunderstand?

There's also a DPI setting, which has no effect. The default was 72. I chose "Custom" and came up with a 130 dpi setting. Aha, that will help my fonts. Nothing. Didn't change a thing. What gives? Is that there just to have extra knobs to twiddle?

Regarding speed, I've heard it's really zippy, but if anything it feels a bit slower than IE6.

Finally, also found the help to be worthless, not describing any of the features I've mentioned so far.

I'm going to keep at it for a while longer, but I'm currently leaning toward returning to IE.

Am I missing something? What promotes the fierce loyalty for Firefox that I see online?

#2 of 44 OFFLINE   Christ Reynolds

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Posted November 26 2004 - 09:14 PM

personally, i get a LOT less spyware with firefox than IE. i dont even really think to update my spyware scanners anymore, nevermind scan for spyware. i'm sure this wont last forever, the "people" who write spyware will catch on that firefox is gaining popularity and write for that browser eventually, maybe. until that happens, i'll stick with firefox, or whichever browser gives me the most features with the least spyware. i think people are excited about having a real (and popular) IE alternative now, and it is touted as the best thing to ever come along, which it isnt. but there are a ton of user-created upgrades and enhancements, with more following every day. mozilla also provides a great alternative to the awful and insecure outlook express. i still miss a few things about IE, but i'll keep firefox around until MS gets their act together, or mozilla slips dramatically in quality.

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#3 of 44 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted November 27 2004 - 03:37 AM

Hmmm... I was just installing a game, and it when looking for updates it couldn't launch FireFox to go to the download website. However IE started fine when it was set to be the default browser.

Quote:
personally, i get a LOT less spyware with firefox than IE
See, I never get spyware with IE. Maybe I'm a conservative web-surfer but it's extremely rare that I'm attacked by malicious software.

I can see the tabbed browsing handy. Except that links from e.g. HTF that launch into separate windows, still do. They don't go into tabs. So it makes me wonder what the point of tabs are.

I can see how someone would like Firefox, particularly as a MS alternative. But so far, it's not quite as good as IE for my needs. I'll keep at it, and see it I grow to like it.

#4 of 44 OFFLINE   Mark Shannon

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Posted November 27 2004 - 03:51 AM

Same problrm happens with me with MSN Messenger, Dave. When I click on links in messages, they open fine with FireFox, but when I click on the New Email Messages link, they open with IE every time, which is a problem for me because I have set IE to not accept ANY cookies or allow ANY certificates, in hopes to prevent spyware from affecting it.

#5 of 44 OFFLINE   Shane Martin

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Posted November 27 2004 - 04:28 AM

I had Firefox at work for the longest time. No popups at all and tabbed browsing is outstanding. Having been forced to switch to use IE 6 all the time, I really really really want to switch back. Tabbed browsing is something I just can't live w/o at the moment.

#6 of 44 OFFLINE   Jeremy K

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Posted November 27 2004 - 06:59 AM

Quote:
I had Firefox at work for the longest time. No popups at all and tabbed browsing is outstanding. Having been forced to switch to use IE 6 all the time, I really really really want to switch back. Tabbed browsing is something I just can't live w/o at the moment.

Why are you forced to use IE6? If you can't use Firefox, maybe you can at least use Maxthon. It is based on and still uses the IE engine, but gives you tabbed browsing and other features like Firefox has.

maxthon.com, I think?

#7 of 44 OFFLINE   Shane Martin

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Posted November 27 2004 - 07:04 AM

Quote:
Why are you forced to use IE6?
No admin rights so I can't install new stuff.

#8 of 44 OFFLINE   Will_B

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Posted November 27 2004 - 12:34 PM

Quote:
I can see the tabbed browsing handy. Except that links from e.g. HTF that launch into separate windows, still do. They don't go into tabs. So it makes me wonder what the point of tabs are.


Personally, I set my Firefox to open new windows in new tabs rather than in new windows. You have to engage that option. See other thread for how.

The tabbed browsing is the main reason I like Firefox the most, but also, I like the optional extensions that Firefox offers.

My favorite optional extensions are Image Zoom (great for enlarging thumbnail images of DVD covers), and Dictionary-Lookup in which you can click on any word on any webpage and it looks up the definition.

Frankly Firefox may not seem so amazing at a moment like this, when the current release is brand new and there are only 150 or so extensions available. Give it a few more days and there'll be hundreds more extensions, offering anything you could wish a web browser could offer. Then you'll see why Firefox is appreciated.

Oh, I forgot another reason why I initially got into Firefox -- the way that right click always works no matter what a website has done to try to prevent right-click from working.
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#9 of 44 OFFLINE   Will_B

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Posted November 27 2004 - 12:39 PM

DaveF, so you don't have to search out the other thread, here is the way to ensure that new windows will open in new tabs instead:
Quote:
That option used to be in Tools>Options>Advanced>Tabbed Browsing section, but for this release the option to make new windows appear in a new tab has been disabled...or more precisely, hidden.

The option was "hidden" because they were having some issues with it. But you can reveal it..

Type about :config in your address bar (don't be afraid).
Find 'browser.tabs.showSingleWindowModePrefs'
Toggle to true.

Now restart Firefox and go back into Tools>Options>Advanced>Tabbed Browsing section
and you'll see a whole new set of options for making new windows open into new tabs instead. Engage those options.


And the place to get extensions such as Image Zoom is here:

https://update.mozil...ication=firefox
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#10 of 44 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted November 27 2004 - 01:40 PM

Thanks for the tip on getting new windows to open in tabs. I thought it would be an option, but (obviously) I didn't find it.

I'm using it as my main browser to give it a fair shake.

I've also converted over to Thunderbird for email. There are some annoyances, but so far it's working pretty well.

#11 of 44 OFFLINE   PatH

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Posted November 27 2004 - 03:30 PM

To Will B:

What issues with tabbed windows as default? Interested in knowing before I make this my default.

PatH

#12 of 44 OFFLINE   Jason Harbaugh

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Posted November 27 2004 - 04:01 PM

I tried using Firefox after all the hype but I felt that it failed to compare to IE shells like Avant Browser. The tabbed browsing, which is my favorite feature of any browser, is poor in Firefox compared to Avant's. IMO of course. Let alone the dozens upon dozens of addon's and plugins you have to install into Firefox just to get it to work properly with most websites, and even then it doesn't for a few. That's why I still like an IE shell vs a completely different browser, the compatibility. That's why I dropped Netscape after IE4 came out.

As for spyware, disable active X, or at least make it ask before any active X is allowed to run and you won't have any problems. Of course it isn't 100% but you would really have to be looking for trouble to get it to install something on your system without you knowing.

All said, Firefox has a long way to go before I ever switch.

#13 of 44 OFFLINE   Will_B

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Posted November 27 2004 - 04:04 PM

PatH,

I believe the issue which led them to hide the "force new windows to open in new tabs instead?" option was that when you tell it to open all new windows in new tabs (without exception), that includes pop up windows which you may be used to seeing as small pop up windows floating above your main window -- for example when you are at Old Navy dot com and click on a picture of a sweater for a close up.

That small pop up window will become a new full sized tab. And - and this was the kicker I think - those small pop up windows which are created with java will attempt to resize the whole browser window down to the smaller popup size. Kind of annoying (though easily solved by unchecking - in TOOLS > JAVA CONSOLE - the option of whether or not to allow java to resize windows).

So to avoid those two curiosities, they left it well enough alone for now. I guess.

Frankly I like having what used to be small pop up windows appear as new tabs instead. You can have multiple tabs with several sweaters, each in a different color, open at the same time -- which you often can't have if it was a real pop up window.

Go ahead and engage the option as I describe, and see if you like it or not.
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#14 of 44 OFFLINE   Will_B

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Posted November 27 2004 - 04:08 PM

Quote:
Let alone the dozens upon dozens of addon's and plugins you have to install into Firefox just to get it to work properly with most websites, and even then it doesn't for a few.


That's simply not true. Yes, you have to download your Flash plug in, but you'd have to do that with IE too if it hadn't come already on your computer.

All the dozens of addons are simply ways for people to customize their browser, they don't have any bearing on how sites are presented.

There are a few sites which use Active X, which Firefox will not work with -- such as the Microsoft Updates page. But this is intentional, since the Active X feature is what lets in the malware. And you yourself suggest disabling Active X - thus making IE more like Firefox.
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#15 of 44 OFFLINE   Greg*go

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Posted November 28 2004 - 12:55 PM

If you want to have the Java popups still be popups, you can go into the about:config settings that Will mentioned above and adjust the follwing line:

browser.link.open_newwindow.restriction

change this setting to "2" (default is 0)


As far as making the browser quicker, there are several settings you can do that are turned off by default because some of the settings have been known to mess up the rendering of some websites. You can find these settings in this article: tweakfactor.com. I've been using these settings for quite some time and have never experienced any problems.

And like others suggested already, look at the extensions... Perhaps the most important one I think would be to insall IEview. This allows you to open any website that doesn't appear correctly by simply right clicking the mouse and selecting the option. The customization of the browser is one of the reasons why I like using it. Although the people at the Firefox Forums can be a bit elitist, there are many nice folks there that will help you out with any questions you may have about the browser.
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#16 of 44 OFFLINE   Bob_Chase

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Posted November 29 2004 - 03:21 AM

Jason, you claim that Firefox doesn't work with most websites (without installing plugins). Which sites would they be? I've been a FF user for about a year now and have yet to come across a site where it does not work. Come to think of it, I haven't had to install any plug-ins either. Am I missing something here?

#17 of 44 OFFLINE   Chris Bardon

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Posted November 29 2004 - 03:43 AM

Well, I've found that firefox uses way too much memory, and tends to slow my system down (at 30% CPU and 104Mb memory now), but I'm still using it over IE for the tabbed browsing features. I'm also not sure if I like the way that extensions fail to work across an upgrade, but hopefully that'll change now that there's a version 1.0 out.
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#18 of 44 OFFLINE   Scott Merryfield

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Posted November 29 2004 - 04:17 AM

I've been using Firefox for about a month. I switched after a 2nd spyware attack on my wife's PC, which took me way too much time to cleanup. So far, the only things I have not been able to use FF with are the benefits website my company uses to select/manage personal benefits and my company's VPN connection. Otherwise, everything works fine.

#19 of 44 OFFLINE   Will_B

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Posted November 29 2004 - 05:10 AM

The only page that did not work at first for me was the barchart page of my Ameritrade account. Because it was a secure page, and it was loading the chart from another unrelated secure page, I had to tell Firefox that it was alright to do that. Firefox is very security conscious.

Greg*go - thanks for the tip! Amazing what one can do.
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#20 of 44 OFFLINE   Patrick Larkin

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Posted November 29 2004 - 06:56 AM

Well, Firefox definitely has no advantages over Safari as far as I can tell. A bit more tweakability but nothing to make me switch. Safari at least allows you to close tabs easily.

Your talk of viruses and spyware make me cringe. Why put up with that nonsense?


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