Browser Fatigue

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I love Internet Explorer 5. It's the best browser I've ever used, going all the way back to Mosaic. Now I see that IE 5.5 is coming out soon, and it's supposed to be the greatest thing since pizza delivery. Sounds nifty. I'm sure people will love it. But I think I'm going on a multimedia browser diet.

Now don't get me wrong, I love multimedia as much as the next Web head. Radiskull Hate Snow, a flash cartoon on shockwave.com, cracks me up no matter how many times I watch it. Ditto with the brilliant movie parody "Being Ozzy Osborne" over at iFilm.com. But usually, I'm surfing the web for information, not entertainment.

So quite often, I use IE with images, JavaScript, sound, and all the other multimedia gewgaws and doo-dads turned off. Unfortunately, this often has the effect of making my pages load funkier than George Clinton circa 1979.

The upgrade I'd make to IE 5 would allow me to turn all multimedia content on and off as easily as I can change the browser colors now. Text browsing dispenses with Web clutter, making it easier to find and process information. It allows me to bypass banner ads and annoying pop-up windows. Page load times are exponentially faster in a text-only environment. Plus, it's just plain fun, in a nostalgic kind of way.

When I am surfing the Web, I end up using MacLynx almost as often as I use IE. Sure, if I'm ordering a movie from Kozmo or checking out the Penguin's Progress, I'm an IE man. As I said before, I think it's the coolest browser on the block. The Fonzie of Web browsers.

But for getting my news from SFGate and Slashdot every morning -- in other words doing useful things rather than goofing off -- I'm all about the text, baby. Yet from what I've read in MacWeek, the new features in IE 5.5 aren't going to do too much for me. IE 5.5 is supposed to have a feature that lets you type-select links, and that does sound like a cool addition that will make my text browsing easier. But for the most part the upgrade is just more multimedia.

There's some sort of graphics toolbar that will let me turn an image into a linked button. Sweet, I'm sure that will come in handy all those times I, er, need to turn images into linked buttons. And apparently animated GIFs that are dragged onto the toolbar (gasp) remain animated! Well shuck my chickens and call me Shirley, I've always wanted my animated gifs in a state of perpetual motion.

I was under the impression that the browser wars were over. Considering that IE landed Microsoft in hot water with the DOJ and Netscape had to sell out to AOL, nobody seems to have won. (Well, except maybe Steve Case; Steve Case always wins.) I can understand why Netscape and IE were constantly trying to out-feature one another in those days, with the unfortunate end result being Netscape Communicator. But now that the fight is finished, instead of loading my browser up with even more features, I wish one of the big boys would make it easier to turn them off.

In the meantime, I'll be chillin' old-school with MacLynx, listening to some retro mid-'90s tunes, feeling like an old Luddite, and loading my pages way faster than all those modern browsers with their fancy features.

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