Posts Tagged ‘The Long Farewell’

Opera Browser: The Long Farewell 6

March 21, 2016

I think we’ve finally come to the end of the road. Earlier this week I took delivery on my new PC, a System76 “Wild Dog”, a big, silvery box with enough bells and whistles to keep me happy for a while. I am currently in the throes of moving all my stuff from the old PC, and for the first time this Century, I’m not going to install Opera on a new computer.

I have found it’s easy to move bookmarks from Opera and Firefox on one machine to Firefox on another — just export as .html and import into the new browser. I find it’s just as easy to move the RSS feeds from Opera. In this case, I am importing to Thunderbird — Firefox has an RSS feed functionality, but they want to implement each feed as a “live bookmark”, and don’t give you a way to delete individual notifications.

I am long since past using T-Bird as a mail client. Everything I do these days is in the cloud — it all gets forwarded to gMail. Mind you, I haven’t tested the POP server forwarding on the new machine, but it should work. What I’m using T-Bird for is an RSS feed reader, to replace the Opera functionality.

So far, there’s good news and bad news, and not so bad news. The good news is, the 355 links for the RSS feeds came across OK and are working fine. The bad news is, all the old RSS notifications have disappeared, all 13,413 of them. So I’m starting over on the new machine. The not-so-bad news is that I still have the old PC fully operational, and will keep it plugged in on my desk for a few months while things shake down.

I do have one on-going problem though. I’ve been used to running two or three browsers on my machine. Opera on the left hand monitor for the news, Firefox on the right for school stuff, Chrome in the background for other things. I suppose I could run Firefox in two different windows. Or see if Vivaldi is ready for prime time.

Or I could dig around and find my old copy of Mosaic.

Opera Browser: The Long Farewell 5

February 11, 2016

Opera continues to recede into irrelevance. I’m finding my Linux version incompatible with more and more websites (the latest being Penny Arcade), to the point where I’ve built a new folder in Firefox for links that don’t work in Opera. The only reason I still use it is that it has an excellent RSS feed reader — better than Firefox, better than any of the standalone programs I’ve tried.

The latest in the Operatic saga is an offer from a Chinese consortium, including the odious antivirus firm Qihoo, to buy it for 50% more than it’s worth. It’s not clear if they want it for the technology, for their rolodex, or for the espionage possibilities.

Opera Browser: The Long Farewell 4

August 11, 2015

My Opera browser has become less and less compatible with more and more websites, until I find myself reduced to using it as an RSS reader.

Even Opera doesn’t like Opera anymore. Their revenues are down, even counting the more (one cannot say highly anymore) popular mobile browser. A recent report says they are considering a sale of the company. So this time next year, Opera may be a brand and a logo, but no longer a browser. My guess is that Opera will go the same way FoxPro did — bought out and abandoned as a brand and a product, with its components included in Microsoft Access.

Akregator: Not quite ready for prime time

June 26, 2015

There’s two reasons I haven’t dumped Opera altogether. First, is their RSS feed (part of their email function). It is still the best I have found. Second, is the fact that FirefoxOnLinux is in some sort of bunfight with JavaScript, and many things (like buttons) don’t render properly. Until both these are fixed, I’ll be using Opera for RSS and structured browsing. Let’s talk about RSS feeds

RSS (officially, Rich Site Summary, more often Really Simple Syndication) is a tool that notifies subscribers whenever a web site is updated. Why would you want to use something like that? Well, it’s a more compact and asynchronous way of keeping track of a lot of infrequently-posted websites than is, for example, Twitter, even though many people use a tweet-stream as an RSS replacement. Let me go over my approach to managing my information workload.

  1. There are some sites that update essentially once a day, like Slate. To see what’s on Slate, or APOD, or the Aviation Herald, I keep their links in a folder titled “Morning Papers”, and I open everything in that folder once a day.
  2. Other sites update weekly, or biweekly, or they may update daily but are such that I don’t need to see them every day. So I have another folder, titled “Daily”, and in that are subfolders “Monday”, “Tuesday”, etc. If Girl Genius updates MWF, then I have a link in each folder. On Monday, when I’m done with the Morning Papers, I open all the links in the Monday folder and read the latest Girl Genius cartoon, and catch up on the news from Bury St. Edmunds. BTW, the last time I looked, Firefox won’t let you do this — you have one link to a website, and if you save a link to a new folder, it moves the link from the old folder.
  3. Still other sites update continuously — Fark, or Reddit, for example. I know there will be something new whenever I go there, and I don’t want to be bepestered with notifications. There’s not many of those, so I can keep them in yet another folder, or even in my Speed Dial.
  4. Finally, there are sites that update irregularly, or seldomly, or that I’m only interested in aperiodically — Eureka Alert, Cooking sites, sites carrying the latest news on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I put those sites in my RSS feed, and I get notified whenever they update. Eureka Alert will do an 80-entry data dump a couple of times a day, Buffy, not so much.

Opera runs its RSS reader via the Opera Mail function. As with a good email client, you get to organize thing sin folders, you get a list of subject lines, and you get a look at the first paragraph or so of the update. Often, you get the full text.

But we’re trying to say farewell to Opera, remember? Unfortunately, it turns out there’s not a lot of good RSS readers out there. Firefox, for example, wants to put every RSS feed into my Favorites bar. That is OK for the first twenty or thirty, but I have over a hundred 345.

So, what else is available? Check back up on the Subject line. Akregator is a KDE based RSS feed for Linux. It has the same look and feel as Opera, but can show you more of the message, actually, the whole web page, and is reasonably easy to work with.

However.

Nice, clean layout. Pity about the 7,000 messages

Nice, clean layout. Pity about the 7,000 messages

There are three things wrong with Akregator: one bug, one feature, and one deal breaker.

The bug is that it will often reload a feed item that I’d already deleted. Not sure if it’s AK’s fault, or if the website is doing something funky with its xml. In any event, I’ll delete an item, and then come back the next day to find it reposted as unread. It’s easy enough to delete them, but I have to keep a running list of previously screened titles in my head.

The feature is that it doesn’t show you how many feed items you have hanging around. It shows you the number of unread items, next to each feed folder, with a total at top, but not the number of ones you’ve glanced at and left hanging about for later. Nothing in the documentation or the forae about it.

The deal breaker is the fact that it will reload the entire RSS feed set upon reboot, sending me, just for e.g.’s, from 27 unread items to over 7,000 unread items. Now, it may be that this is an artifact of the archiving feature, and that the solution is to tell it to just delete all feed items on closeout. So that I only lose the ones I’m really interested in.

Life is too short.

I’m sliding sideways, from OpenSuSE to Mint Linux sometime this week — I have the desire, I have the new SSD, I have the latest download, all I need is the gumption. Maybe there’s something over on that side of the world. Maybe Vivaldi will get their act together.

Opera Browser: The Long Farewell 3

January 27, 2015

Just in time, as the old one fades there’s a new Opera on the horizon. It’s called Vivaldi, and it’s the creation of Opera’s founder, Jon von Tetzchner. Right now the only Linux version is Fedora, but they promise to change that Real Soon Now. I suspect this “Technical Preview” was rushed out to steal some mindshare from Microsoft’s forthcoming Spartan browser.

Meanwhile, I’ve downloaded the Windows version and will be playing around with that. There’s no screenshots here, because The Reg article has enough of those.

So far, it looks OK. I mean, it’s a browser. I haven’t had time to test out many of the features. The deal-killer for me will be the RSS feed. In Opera, RSS is integrated with Mail, and they haven’t implemented that yet.

Definitely not an

Definitely not an “O”

Opera Browser: The Long Farewell 2

September 15, 2014

As I wrote last May, the Opera browser was, even then, a mere shell of its former self. It would appear that the decline continues.

Last week I bought a Windows 7 PC. Go ahead and snicker. The fact is, there’s a lot of stuff I have to do for work that can only be done on Windows, and I didn’t want to spend time fiddling with various virtual machines and emulators. Naturally, I keep it in the closet, with just the screen and keyboard showing. Also naturally, I downloaded Opera (24.0), because that’s what one does. The hope is that the Win version is still a decent product.

Not.

The Help/About is as bad as the Mac version. Three paths – to the .exe, to the cache, and to the ‘profile’, whatever that is. But given that I rarely need the paths, I shouldn’t really complain. Except.

The old ‘Hit F12 for site preferences’ functionality is gone. Now I have to dig through the various settings to set the ‘exceptions’ for a website. This makes Opera no better than any of the other browsers.

In the past, Opera would treat each tab individually, even if multiple tabs were looking at different pages of the same site. If I was on a page with lots of fine print, I could hit +++ until I could read the text.* If I had another page from the same website open (e.g. comparing products on Amazon), it wouldn’t be changed. This was good, because not all the tabs needed enlarging. Now, all the tabs from a given website get enlarged or reduced, whatever my preferences are.

Finally, a really cool Opera feature was the “reload every x minutes” function. This was particularly useful for Twitter, but it would help track any other site that refreshed its content rapidly. Now, that’s gone. Right-clicking the page lets you ‘reload’. Anybody can do that. Even Lynx would let you do that.

I suspect these ‘features’ are the result of Opera abandoning Opera and becoming a re-badged Chrome clone. I’ve got nothing against Chrome. Well, their bookmark system is ugly, but so is Firefox’. But if I wanted to run Chrome, I’d do that.

Fortunately, Opera 12 for Linux still retains the old ways. But word is, they’re working on Opera 25 for Linux. I won’t be upgrading.

—————–
* This is personally important to me. It used to be I didn’t have to hit + at all. Then my eyes started to deteriorate and I had to hit it six or seven times. I got computer eyeglasses and all was well, except that my eyes have continued their decline, and now I have to hit + six or ten times, even with the glasses on. I suspect I’ll be getting cataract surgery next Spring.

Opera Browser: The Long Farewell

May 16, 2014

I have been a fan of the Opera browser since you had to pay $30 to run it on the PC. Looking back, that had to be almost as soon as it was publicly available, in 1996 — almost twenty years ago. I have put Opera on every computer I’ve owned this century — Linux, Mac, PC; desktops, laptops, netbooks, tablets… As soon as I got an Android phone, I downloaded Opera Mobile. Opera never had more than 3% of the desktop market, but it made major inroads into mobile, particularly in Europe.

It was always a cutting edge application. For example, Opera was the first browser to provide tabbed browsing, back in 2000, and Speed Dial, in 2007. Then, too, the Norwegian development team seemed to have a bit of a sense of humor. When Microsoft, in one of their periodic episodes of insanity, started deliberately sending Opera users to broken pages, the Opera folks retaliated by translating all Microsoft web pages into …bork…bork…Swedish Chef English.

One of the things I particularly liked was the easy access to advanced and site-specific settings. I’m not real big on flashy displays on websites. Mostly, I go to a site for information, not entertainment or an intrusive sales pitch. I tend to run with everything turned off — cookies, plug-ins, JavaScript, flash, etc. Of course, that breaks a lot of the web, but if I come to a website that needs, say, JavaScript, and I think it’s worth it, I can hit F12, click on “Site Preferences”, and I’m there. Other browsers require you to drill down through multiple layers of menus.

Sadly, a once-great company seems to be abandoning its roots. A year ago, they stopped development of their mobile app, chosing to rebrand Chrome, instead. On the desktop, they seem to have quietly abandoned Linux. One of the co-founders, Jon von Tetzchner, has broken a three-year silence to say that the company had gone to crap.

Earlier this week I upgraded my office Mac to Mountain Lion — it won’t support One Trick Pony. I then upgraded Opera. In the process, it threw away all my bookmarks. That’s not a disaster, because I don’t bookmark a lot of stuff in the office (they frown on loveslavesofthevolcanogodess.com), and I do back up my bookmarks. Now under the old version of Opera, if you went to Help/About, it gave you nine lines of directory entries, telling you were it kept your files. Under the new Opera, I had three: where opera.app was (in applications, duh), where the cache was, and one other, equally useless bit of information.

The latest version of Opera for PCs and Macs is Opera 21.0.14 (released yesterday), for Linux, it’s 12.16, released almost a year ago to update a version first released two years ago. Opera for Linux no longer works with many websites, even with everything turned on, and I’m losing more websites every day.

So, the time has come to pull the plug. I’ll be using Firefox on the Mac and the PC, with Chrome for when I want to run a different browser in a different window. I’ll probably limp along with Opera on the Linux machine, because I still have over 100 RSS feeds there, but more and more of my time seems to be spent on Firefox and Chromium. It’s too bad. Even now, I like the Opera interface. Its method of handling bookmarks seems more intuitive than Firefox, and I didn’t have to download a stupid plugin to get the Speed Dial to work.

And now Mozilla is taking Firefox to the dark side by adding DRM. I guess I’ll have to switch back to Mosaic.