Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Browsing Browsers

I'm not entirely sure why, but my computer seems to accumulate Internet browsers like a fat person's folds attract flies or Dane Cook attracts thrown bottles. I propose a Eighth Law of Thermocomputing: the number of unused Internet browsers on a given computer can be defined by its RAM minus its current number of downloaded applications (excluding, of course, Internet browsers), divided by the number of songs currently in the iTunes library plus the product of the processing power and the number of USB ports. The entire equation is then multiplied by the computer's Jobs Constant: if the computer is a Mac, you multiply the whole thing by zero since Macs can't use anything other than Safari anyway. If the computer is anything else, the Jobs Constant is one.

The worst part is you're never really sure where all of these browsers come from. I suspect there is an expertly trained strike force of gnomes that sneak into peoples' houses and download Chrome when everyone is asleep. I haven't been unable to prove this theory, but I figure if I keep watching my computer at night instead of sleeping I'll catch one eventually.

At one point I had every browser on my computer from something or another, save for Opera, which I downloaded anyway. I'm not even sure where Chrome came from. Since I'm unfortunate enough to be associated with Windows, I can't get rid of Internet Explorer, and Safari snuck in with an iTunes update. I downloaded Firefox with the intention of never using anything else, and I downloaded Opera for lulz and Hipster Points, which can be exchanged for a free scarf at any participating Urban Outfitters. Thus, I made it my mission to fairly and equally test all five of the main browsers, assuming, of course, people actually use Opera. I might be the only one. Fuck, I should just use Opera all the time. I could get so many scarves.

Anyway, each Internet browser will be measured in three areas. General Usability will be measured in Engineers. Each Engineer represents the ability of five grandmothers to check their emails with only minor assistance from their grandchildren. Infuripoints are measured in Sweetie Belles, each one representing half a fistfull of hair you have just torn from your head. Finally, the browser's Hipster Factor is measured in This Self-confident Douchebag. Each Douchebag is redeemable for ten extra Hipster Points. The maximum rating in any category a browser can receive is five, a theoretical perfect score being five Engineers, zero Sweetie Belles, and a number of Douchebags you've probably never heard of.

Internet Explorer

I'm starting at Internet Explorer because, theoretically, it will be all uphill from here.

We've all felt the pain of clawing and biting our way through this weeping mess of a browser. Unsafe, unusable, and generally not at all enjoyable in the slightest, I'm already reserving the last place trophy for everyone's least favorite browser (the trophy is actually my fist punching people who use Internet Explorer in the face). It's gotten to the point where Windows should just change the slogan to "the number one browser for downloading other browsers."

I clicked on the evil blue E on my sidebar so I could validate my prejudice and test the worst parts of every browser rolled into one, but nope. It took five minutes to load. I timed it. Five minutes. Not only that, but processing speed ground to a near halt as over nine thousand gigabytes of screaming failure attempted to load. And do you know what I did as soon as Internet Explorer opened? I took one look at the squirming, amorphous mass of toolbars, closed the window, saved this post draft, and went to bed. I wasn't having any of that shit. No fucking way. I remembered every reason I started using literally any other browser all at once, and the reasons could be neatly summed up as: everything about Internet Explorer.

General Usability    -    three Engineers
Despite the fact that Internet Explorer should never be used by anyone under any circumstances, it is often the browser of choice for old women with Dell laptops because they think that "Internet" and "Internet Explorer" are the same things. I once explained to my grandmother what Firefox is. I don't think she got it. Long story short, the General Usability rating is slightly inflated due to the sheer number of grandmothers checking their emails with it.

Infuripoints    -    five Sweetie Belles
The last time I got this pissed off was when I flew to Siam on a couch, only to realize the Moon was upside down. In other words: never have I been this pissed off.

Hipster Factor    -    zero Douchebages
Considering IE is somehow the most popular browser bundled with the most popular OS lines, the Hipster Factor of Internet Explorer is so low it's actually negative. If a hipster were to use Internet Explorer, his eyes would melt into his unshaven beard and his hands would combust. Should it somehow be installed on his precious Macbook Pro, the entire laptop would decompose into a pile of molten slag and burn a hole through the coffee shop's -excuse me, café's- floor.


"Fuck. Fuuuuck. Fuck fuck fuck fuck." Those are generally the words I say when forced to use Safari.

I've had a lot of experience using Safari, which roughly translates to "I've had a lot of time to learn how much I hate Safari." I'm taking a class at school about video and production, and the entire class is taught with a bunch of Macs, meaning I have to use Safari when I need sound effects, music, or I don't feel like putting the energy into loathing iMovie. I've been using it daily since September, so I can tell you every awful thing it does: everything. I don't know why Safari is so bad. It just is. I've never enjoyed using it. I even clicked on the little taskbar icon thinking "how awful can this be," and came out with more PTSD than a Vietnam vet. Somehow, Safari gets everything wrong by doing nothing at all. It's a great browser to use if you like looking at the color silver, though, so there's always that.

General Usability    -    two Engineers
It's sort of usable if you need to download six different sound effects for a car revving up, but I'd loathe using it for anything other than that and finding a better browser.

Infuripoints    -    four Sweetie Belles
Silver is a calming color. That is why it did not get five.

Hipster Factor    -    four Douchebags
Safari ranks fourth out of the five major browsers in use and comes with Macs, so it should come as no surprise that Safari gets four Douchebags. The only thing keeping it from getting five was because being a hipster is so mainstream now.

File:Opera O.svg

I honestly wasn't sure what to expect opening Opera for the first time. Some part of me was expecting some beautiful untold wonder of the Internet, hidden away because people were too busy lauding Firefox/Chrome/Safari or making fun of IE. The other, larger part was expecting a screaming shuddering train wreck everyone forced out of their minds for a good reason.

The result was ultimately...really good. I like Opera. In fact, it's the only one of the extra browsers I've kept. It's a light browser without a whole lot of frills, but that's nice in a way. It's pretty quick, too, which is cool. Opera is good because it doesn't do anything wrong, even if it doesn't do much to begin with. It...browses the Internet neatly and efficiently. What more would you want?

General Usability    -    four Engineers
"Basic" is one of the first words that come to mind, but it's a bit negative sounding. "Simple," maybe? Either way, it's very usable.

Infuripoints    -    one Sweetie Belle
I think the most infuriating part of Opera is how everyone will say “oh, you’re using Opera? Degenerate.”

Hipster Factor    -    five Douchebags
Holy hell, this is so hipster. I have so many fucking Hipster Points it’s unreal. I could fucking buy Urban Outfitters if I wanted to. That is how hipster Opera is.


I’ve used Firefox for a while now, mostly because when I try to do something, chances are Firefox will cöoperate and I won’t have to try to reopen Internet Explorer to remind me how much worse things could be.

It’s open, it’s extremely moddable, it’s reasonably fast. Also, fire and foxes are two pretty awesome things, so a fox that is on fire? Fucking awesome.

But there are things that bug me. Too many plugins and performance tanks. It tends to eat up processing power. They’re minor things, though. No big deal. I think the fact that flaming foxes are awesome sort of makes up for that fact.

General Usability    -    five Engineers
Fuck yeah open source.

Infuripoints    -    two Sweetie Belles
It seems like every day something or another is screaming at you to update. THIS PLUGIN NEEDS UPDATED! THAT PLUGIN NEEDS UPDATED! FIREFOX NEEDS UPDATED! Generally, I delete the plugin when that happens, because I start to wonder why I downloaded it in the first place. Eventually, I redownload it because I need to use it for one thing. The cycle repeats.

Hipster Factor    -    one Douchebag
Firefox is pretty mainstream, but I can see a Firefox-using hipster passing it off as a complex form of double irony.

File:Google Chrome 2011 computer icon.svg

I don’t get Chrome at all. I really don’t. It’s nothing special, really. I’ve been told it’s stupidly fast, but with all the testing I’ve done, it’s, well not. It’s not slow, but it’s not fast. It’s average. I have nothing to say about it, really. It’s just…average.

General Usability    -    three Engineers
It’s pretty usable because the interface is quite clean, which is nice.

Infuripoints    -    one Sweetie Belle
Nothing really pissed me off about Chrome other than the complete lack of things you could really customize with it, but since I never intended to use it for extended periods of time anyway, it doesn’t matter.

Hipster Factor    -    one Douchebag
With all the fuck and shit that’s been heralded about Chrome, no hipster should use Chrome. Doing so would result in an immediate banishment from the clan and destruction of their thick-rimmed glasses.



“Wait,” I’m sure you’re saying, “what the shit is a Rockmelt? I thought you were only reviewing five browsers! Why is Earth exploding in that logo?” I can answer your questions for you: an Internet browser, dickbutt; let me explain myself before you start throwing around questions, shitass; because fuck you, that’s why.

Rockmelt caught my attention as I was checking browser market shares. I thought it was a pretty interesting concept: a browser that integrates with your social networking. So I thought “hey, why the fuck not?”

Well, right away, Rockmelt absolutely fucking needed me to connect using Facebook. Okay, that’s sort of the whole point, isn’t it? What I hated though was how, even after it gave me the opportunity to disable some features before connecting (the two that I wanted disabled: accessing my contact information and allowing it to post statuses as myself), it then wouldn’t let me connect if I enabled those. “Fine, fine, fuck, have it your way,” I told Rockmelt after posting a status about how there might be weird activity on my Facebook page. “Jesus, no need to throw a tantrum, you stupid piece of code fuck.”

And then I felt bad for calling Rockmelt a stupid piece of code fuck. Rockmelt is pretty cool. My social networking is limited to deviantArt, Facebook, and YouTube, but Rockmelt managed to pull a lot of it together into something that wasn’t constantly screaming for my attention, save for deviantArt, which did not have a handy inbox app. In fact, for something with so many connections, it’s very clean, and somehow noticeably faster than the other browsers I tried.

One interesting thing it does is when you search something with the little Google bar, it doesn’t navigate you to a Google page, it brings up a little subwindow with the results. It’s actually sort of cool.

Also, there’s an app for The Onion. Yeah, I installed it.

These are all first impressions, but I’m starting off by giving Rockmelt four Engineers, three Sweetie Belles, and six Douchebags. Six? Because it’s even more hipster than Opera. Rockmelt is so fucking underground it’s got rock in its name.

So yeah, in rough order of how I like them: Firefox, Opera, Rockmelt, Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer. Now go change the way you live your life radically because I told you your Internet browser sucks. Get to it!