Well, Chrome didn't work out. My nonnegotiable bare minimum for any browser is that it has to play well with MoJo's Drupal-based blog software, and Chrome didn't. This is almost certainly not Chrome's fault, since our software is....is....what's the right word? Finicky. Yeah. Anyway, Drupal didn't like Chrome, and our tech team confirmed that they knew about this and no fixes were forthcoming. So Chrome was out.
But it all worked out in the end. One of my regular readers suggested I give Opera a try, and I have to say that Opera rocks. It's always possible that I'm going to find some weird problem with it over the next few days, but so far it's been flawless. It's blazingly fast, it's got all the features of Firefox plus a few additional nice ones, it's highly configurable, and — hooray! — it works with Drupal with only a single minor glitch that I can live with pretty easily. Ad blocking was a little trickier than just installing AdBlock on Firefox, but a combination of a couple of tools got that working, which sped up page loading even more. The Wall Street Journal front page loads quickly and without randomly freezing up my system, and since I installed the ad-blocking tools I haven't run across any page that's gone into infinite freewheel mode as pages frequently did with Firefox. I'll keep my fingers crossed on that front.
This all makes me surprisingly happy. This is a testament to Opera, of course, but mainly, I think, a testament to my routinely bleak expectations for software these days. Finding something that actually works well, isn't larded up with mountains of intrusive crap I don't need,1 and isn't full of weird glitches,2 now counts as something of a miracle.3
Next up: a new email client to replace Thunderbird. I want something with a better, faster search of email archives. Ideally, I'd also like something that allows me to connect remotely through my home computer so that I can send email without resorting to my ISP's crappy web-based client. (My ISP, like many, only allows you to send mail if you're directly connected to their domain. If you're connected through some hotel's WiFi network, you're out of luck.) Should I check out Opera's email client? Probably. Any other suggestions?
And after that? A new computer. I'm so not looking forward to that, but my current box is just too old and slow. The good news on this front is that new PCs are, apparently, about 20x faster than my current one. The bad news is — well, everything else is bad news, probably. There was a time in my life when transferring everything over from one PC to another was sort of a cool challenge, and well worth it. But now? Not so much. But it's time to bite the bullet anyway. First step: figuring out to transfer an Opera installation. Progress!
1Actually, Opera does have mountains of weird features. That is, they're weird until I find some use for them, as I already have for a few of them. But they aren't intrusive and they don't slow things down. They do, however, sometimes require slightly more technical acumen than just downloading Firefox and using it straight out of the box.
2Though it does seem odd that you can't right-click on links in the "personal bar" at the top of the window. You can right-click on any other link, so why not those? And speaking of little glitches, why is it that all browsers allow you to set up a default page that comes up when you start the browser, but don't allow you to set up a default page for new tabs? Not a big deal, but it seems sort of strange.
3And speaking of miracles, what the heck is Opera's business model, anyway? I guess they must sell other stuff while giving away the browser for free? Or is it some other clever Norwegian trick?