Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Keepin' It Tight

The first proper 1.0 release (Gamma version) of Mozilla's Firefox is upon us, so download it if you haven't already. The Beta* versions were already superior in many ways to Microsoft's IE, which is already in its 6th release version. A number of features make Firefox a superior product in my opinion, mainly the built-in pop-up ad blocker as well as tabs, which on first glance don't seem like such an innovation but you will come to like using them in short order.

Also, as myself and countless others have mentioned, Firefox keeps out much of the spyware and adware crap that latch themselves onto IE with such ease and regularity.

However, it is still important to keep a number of adware blockers and exterminators operational on your system while using Firefox. If you want a useful list, here is a post I made some time ago with what I consider the best ones. Always remember to frequently search the databases of programs such as Ad-aware for updates.

The most recent version of Ad-aware that I have just installed caught more than a dozen spyware parasites. This is something relatively new as previously Firefox had kept all such problems away and almost rendered those free anti-parasite programs irrelevant.

Recently I read an eminently logical comment on the IE/Firefox debate, the gist of it being that fairly knowledgeable users, who nonetheless have a relatively superficial if nonexistent understanding of things beyond the ease of maneuvering around their own system and the net, assume that Firefox is fundamentally sounder because of its seemingly superior security. However, with at least 90% of the world's users still hooked up to IE, is it that those who create these malicious parasites and go after security holes see IE as being the only system worthwhile targeting for purposes such as mining info and simply highlighting its weaknesses?

Though I still believe Firefox to be better in many ways, at least for the next while it's back to daily system checks with Ad-aware and Spybot, though hopefully this is not a trend.

Speaking of downloads, for those dinosaurs out there whose gaming experience runs to solitaire and who get weepy-eyed at the thought of Pong, or if you just want to waste some time at work and don't want anything too involved, you may want to try Snood. An ostensibly simplistic game with annoying cartoonish graphics, it does do the trick if you want a few minutes to kill with your morning coffee. A free download with a 30-day free trial, I am still looking for the crack for the most recent version so as to override eventual paid registration. If anyone has it, please e-mail me...

* What's all this "Alpha" "Beta" and "Gamma" jargon you keep hearing in reference to computer software? Quite simply, Alpha (the first letter in the Greek alphabet) are the first and in-house versions that are only offered to outside users on a very limited basis. Beta (second letter in the Greek alphabet) is offered to selected users to be tested on a wider basis with some bugs still left to iron out. There are usually a number of Beta versions with the last few being release candidates with only a few final bugs left to be fixed. Gamma (third letter in the Greek alphabet) or "release" version is the one which is supposedly free from bugs; finished and documented, with all code and features completed.