Why I browse with Firefox

Welcome once again to the Your Day listeners. I hope you enjoy Thursday's segment on the Firefox browser.

I started a new gig this week which meant I found myself sitting in front of a computer that didn't know much about me. The computer had lain fallow for some weeks or maybe even months. I first went out to Windows Update and loaded all of the critical system updates it had missed while no one was paying attention. There were 25 of them. It took quite a while for them to download and apply. In fact, I ended up having to cycle through the Windows Update website twice in order to get everything that I needed.

Once I was satisfied that I had applied all of the necessary windows patches, I loaded the Firefox browser. A computer, whether work or play, is not really very useful unless it is properly kitted out to browse the web.

I am glad that Firefox allows me to surf the web more safely than other browsers, but in truth I only thought about that when I first got Firefox. Now, the safety features in Firefox are like the airbags in my car. They give me assurance, but I don't think about them much when I am driving.

What delights me about Firefox every day is that it lets me surf the web more quickly and more productively. I learn more and work faster by using Firefox. The tabbed interface lets me keep a number of pages open without cluttering up the Windows taskbar. The profile manager (on my home computer) allows my wife and I to share the same browser without having to waste the several minutes that elapse when we log in and out of Windows. You can learn about Firefox Profiles on the mozilla website. I keep the buttons I use most installed on the toolbar, including my furl button and links to the resources I use most on the web. I have set the searchbox to use answers.com to that I can get the definitions of words and terms very quickly while I am researching my writing. I haven't yet loaded their 1-click plugin that promises to eliminate the copy and paste step as I drag text up to the search box, but it is on my list of things to try.

I do a bit of customization to my Firefox without installing any plugins. For example, I tell my Firefox to override links that want to open new windows and force them to open in tabs instead. I also tell Firefox to be diligent in maintaining my preference of it as my preferred browser, and I also customize its many privacy settings to suit my distaste for danger. There are quite a few setting I never change, but that's probably because the defaults work for me. I like knowing that they are there should I never need them.

Like I stated earlier, Firefox is safer -- but safety isn't all that sexy. Safety is simply a basic requirement for my continued browsing of an increasingly dangerous Internet. It's Firefox's ability to let me browse the way I want that keeps me coming back.

qv: Mozilla's FireFox

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About Phil Yanov

Phil Yanov is a Technologist, Columnist and Public Radio Commentator.

He is the founder of Tech After Five as well as the founder and President of the GSA Technology Council and the IT Leadership Council.

His personal technology column appears in Greenville Business Magazine and the Columbia Business Journal.

He co-hosts the Your Day technology shows heard on NPR radio stations across South Carolina and is a frequent contributor to technology stories appearing on radio and television.