Editor's Note: Surfing on the Dark Side
Jun 23, 2006, 23:30 (18 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brian Proffitt)
Re-Imagining Linux Platforms to Meet the Needs of Cloud Service Providers
By Brian Proffitt
On Monday nights, I have to endure a great amount of suffering
for my fellow man.
It's when, for about four hours, I maintain Linux Today
via--Heaven have mercy--Internet Explorer. And my question is, why
in the world does anybody stick with this monstrosity?
The back story: on Monday evenings, I volunteer at a local
hospital, working at the front desk and directing visitors to the
various places in the hospital they need to go. Sometimes I will
take them directly to those places, either by walking, rolling them
in a wheelchair, or via golf cart. And aside from the occasional
thrill of driving a golf cart down busy hospital hallways, most of
the job is performed behind the desk.
I find volunteering very rewarding, but like any job, there are
times when things get slow. It's at these times I feel the need to
check up on the site: pushing through talkbacks, looking for a
late-afternoon story--that sort of thing.
The computers behind the desk have a VT100 emulation application
running on Windows NT 2000, so the browser of choice is just IE.
(And as a guest worker, I have no access rights to install Firefox;
I've tried.) Most of the time, this is just mildly painful.
Managing talkbacks is a single-screen process that just involves
reading and a lot of radio-button clicking. But if there's an
actual story, I need to see more than one Web page at a time. And
that's when things go horribly awry.
Such was the case on June 12 when I noticed Google has posted
the blog entry announcing the beta of Google Earth for Linux. That
was big news, and I wasn't going to wait a few more hours to post
that. So, I began the arduous process of opening multiple browser
windows(!) and getting the news up on LT. It worked, but it took me
16 minutes, which is over four times the amount of time it takes to
get a story posted on my home Kubuntu/Firefox machine.
Now, I realize that what I do with a browser is very
specialized, and even most Firefox users aren't going to routinely
open 40-plus tabs at a time. But even the most casual user can
benefit from tabbed browsing.
In my mind, anyone still choosing to use has either never heard
of Firefox or has not actually tried it.
I am coming at this, I suppose, from a fatherly angle. When my
kids choose not to try something we have served them for dinner, we
use the old saw, "how do you know you don't like it, if you don't
try it?" Right from the Parent's Handbook. Sometimes it works,
sometimes not. But I feel compelled to admonish all of us to urge
our poor unfortunate Windows-using friends to at least try
This is not just because of productivity; there's security,
flexibility, and ease of use to consider as well.
Friends don't let friends surf with IE. The sooner people
realize this, the happier all of us will be.