Choosing the Best Browser

My definition of a good browser is: A browser that works well for me.
Man is a funny creature. At times he loves change, be it for better or for worse. However, a wise man is one who does not change things too often.

After about 5 years of using Mozilla Firefox I decided to check out other browsers. Firefox was too good and therefore there wasn't any need to use another browser. That's quite a compliment for Firefox.

Changing My Browser
Lately, my Firefox browser had been getting very sluggish. I tried to disable all the add-ons, but it did not solve the problem. A friend told me that Google Chrome 3 enables fast browsing, and so I decided to try it. Alas, my experience with Google Chrome wasn't very positive. However, it was a good endeavor, since my quest for a quicker browser made me check out some other browsers such as Opera, SlimBrowser and Safari.

I finally settled down for Safari 4 (at least for the moment), after test driving the others. Why Safari? I'll discuss this a little later.

Every browser is better than the other just by a margin of a few milliseconds.

If you ever want to choose a browser, here are some things you must keep in mind:

Don't Use Technical Benchmarks but Judge by Your Preferences
In order to test various browsers, I did not use the technical benchmarks such as cold starting and warm starting time, RSS rendering, multiple image loading, etc. Every browser is better than the other just by a margin of a few milliseconds. A few milliseconds more or less do not make much of a difference to me.

Silly as it may sound, I was getting bugged by the slow startup and the sluggish scrolling of Firefox. So I decided to try something new. I did not go by what the developers or reviewers said. I chose Safari because it felt right. I was looking for a browser that makes life easier, and I found everything (almost) I needed in Safari.

Dispel the Browser Speed Myths
Browsing speed does not entirely depend on your browser. It depends on various other factors such as the host of the website you are opening, the content of the web page you are loading, your system configuration and your browser configuration. Every browser claims to be the fastest. However, just getting a "fast browser" may not be the solution.

Don't Leave Security up to Your Browser
It is foolishness to shop your heart out and then expect your browser to protect your credit card number. Security was not a big concern for me since I keep my online transactions to a minimum. Furthermore, every browser developer tries to provide maximum security possible. However, there are many smart hackers out there. So rather than relying on your browser, take precaution and don't flash your credit card too often.

The Best Browser in the Market May Not Be the Best Browser for You
Every browser claims to be the best. My definition of a good browser is: A browser that works well for me. All the other technicalities and features do not primarily matter. So if you want to choose a good browser, don't go after the hype. Check it out yourself, because the browsers that were touted as the best in the market may not work best for you or your computer system.

...the final straw came when it crashed and gave me a bX-59cppw error

Now here are some reasons why some popular browsers did not work for me:

Why Google Chrome 3 did not work for me
Google Chrome crashed too often. It could not bear the burden of multiple tabs. I loved the way it saved space by consolidating the title bar and the tabs bar into one. However, it froze at times, and crashed too often. The final straw came when it crashed and gave me a  bX-59cppw error. I could not access my blog for at least an hour after that. I immediately uninstalled it. 

Why Opera 10 did not work for me
Opera 10 had a few bugs and did not comply with certain JavaScript scripts. Even the drop down menus on certain sites did not work. Furthermore, I saw a furor over this issue on the internet. That's it. That was enough reason for me to uninstall Opera.

In Opera, I loved the quick dial page and the thumbnails shown while cycling between tabs. The feature in Opera that I loved the most is the Progress Bar. As seen below, my blog took 7 seconds to load at the speed of 6.3 Kbps. Also, out of the 45 elements, the 44th element (the Social Vibe gadget)  is slowing the loading time of my blog.

Cool feature, isn't it? However, it did not keep me from uninstalling Opera.

Why Safari 4 Worked for Me
Safari is as smooth as silk. Everything from the startup to the cycling of tabs to the scrolling is perfect. Everything from the fonts to the drop down menus to the dialogue boxes is quite stylish. The best thing was that it was not sluggish, and never crashed.

I loved the Top Sites page which is similar to the Speed Dial page in Opera. The difference is that it can display 12 of your favorite sites in an attractive manner as compared to 9 sites in Opera. Furthermore, everything on the Top Sites page is animated and has a Vista-like zoom and transparency.

Below is a screenshot of the cover-flow effect of the browser History.

Safari Limitations
Once you close Safari, you lose all your tabs (or sites). When you restart it, you cannot find the tabs you last opened. You can only find these sites in the browser History. I found this quite frustrating. Also, you cannot reopen a tab you have accidentally closed. You've got to go to the browser History and find it. Apart from all these limitations, I found the sailing to be indescribably smooth with Safari. So I'm sticking to Safari for a while.

So, which one is the best browser? After all my research, I have found  no browser to be perfect. Every browser has its own strengths and limitations.


How to Write a Good Blog Post Title

Whether you are into blogging, article writing or email marketing, writing a good title cannot be underestimated. No matter what the purpose of your write up is, writing a good title gets half the job done.

"Title", "headline" or "subject line"...whatever you call it, you must put as much thought into it as you put into writing your article. If you are a blogger, the fate of your blog post depends on the title to a great extent.

So let's consider the importance of a title to a blog post.

The Benefits of Writing a Good Title

  • More Readers
  • Site Credibility
  • More Followers
  • More Traffic
  • Successful Blogging

Types and Styles

I regularly come across various emails and blog posts where the titles are overused cliches:
  • For free traffic this works like crazy!
  • Use Your Traffic to Make Money
  • Some Good News!
  • Don't Know How to Make Money?
  • The #1 Secret Revealed!
Then there are titles that are soft and yet subtle:
  • Your Membership
  • You Would Love This
Some titles are ambiguous:
  • Choose Now! This One or That One!
  • Would You Do This to Your Blog?
Others are straight forward (like the title of this post):
  • How to Write a Good Blog Post
  • Learn to Blog in 3 Minutes
Some of the above mentioned titles are questions while others are exclamatory sentences. Regardless of the type, style and wording of the title, many of these titles are just irresistible, while others make you balk. However, If you are a writer, you must have resorted to these approaches at some time or the other.

So what is the secret (another cliche) of writing a good title?

A Good Title

A good title must have the following ingredients:

1) It must Grab Attention: The least a title must do is to attract the attention of the reader. This is the first step to getting your readers to read your blog post.

2) It must give the Gist: One look at the title, and it should tell the reader what your post is all about.

3) It must be Genuine: A title that seems promising, but slyly leads to a bunch of marketing waffles will immediately result in the reader hitting the "x" button.

4) It must portray Generosity: Your title must have an air of generosity. The reader must get a feeling that he or she is going to gain something. The blog post that follows must share some information and dispense some relevant knowledge that will be helpful to the reader.

5) It must give some Guarantee: A promising title will always make the reader stop over and read the entire article. You must offer solutions that guarantee results, and not just some hype.

The above mentioned guidelines are applicable not only to blog posts but also to email messages, articles, sales letters (let's not look down on marketers), and tweets.

None of us are born bloggers. We are all learning. I remember writing some crappy blog posts with some pathetic titles. We all have been there. However, in my opinion, even if your blog title has three out of the above five elements, you can consider the job well done.

Happy Blogging!

Cranking Out those Visitors! Twitter Popularity!

Twitter is no longer just a microblogging platform for friends to hang around online. It has become popular among corporate businesses and the entertainment industry as well. Corporates and celebrities are using Twitter to build their brand names and market values.

Gauging Twitter by its unique visitors, it has grown by 1,382 percent from February 2008 to February 2009, according to Nielsen. In comparison, Zimbio has grown by 240 percent and Facebook has grown by 228 percent during the same period. The report also reveals that the biggest chunk of visitors come from the age group of 35-49, out of which 62 percent access their Twitter accounts from work, and only 35 percent access their Twitter accounts from home. 

I just came across the Twitter page of a popular lady, and noticed that she had 3,548,295 "followers" but just 27 "following." The following to followers ratio works out to be 1:131,418. This means that she has 131,418 followers for every friend she is following. This is the Twitter page of Ellen DeGeneres.

When I checked the page of one of my recent followers, his first tweet said, "Just joined Twitter for the heck of it." Needless to say, that wasn't enough reason for me to follow back. However, most people from all walks of life are using Twitter to kick some goals in life.

Happy Tweeting!

What's Your Twitter Follow Philosophy?

You can also "Block" stalkers
if you notice any unusual interactions.

There are various trains of thoughts and philosophies regarding whom to follow and whom not to follow on Twitter. These are called "Follow Philosophies."

Here are just a few FPs (Follow Philosophies):
  • Follow people and wait for a few weeks to see if they follow you back. If they don't, unfollow them.
  • Follow everyone who follows you out of sheer courtesy.
  • Follow those people who belong to your niche.
  • Follow them if you like their faces.
  • Follow them if you like their bios.
  • Follow them if you like their sites.
  • Follow them if you like their tweets.
...and the list goes on.

Twellow is a cool application that lets you put into practice your FP. It taps into your Twitter account and neatly lays out all your Twitter associations by category. You can see the people linked to you through twitter. You can see their pictures, their profiles, their twitter page links, their followers, their URLs, their locations, their social links and their latest tweets.

Follow Indicator

There is one feature that I love on Twellow. It is the follow status indicator (that's what I call it). This little indicator will show you a rounded rectangular loop made by two arrows. If you are following someone and they aren't following you (non-mutuals), only half of the loop will be green. The remaining half will be red, indicating a one way association. If the entire loop is green it indicates a two way association (mutuals), meaning that the person you are following is following you back. This is an important visual cue that helps you sort out those who are not following you back and put your FP into practice.

Above this loop is a green "Remove" button, which you can use to remove someone from your following list with one click. The result will be reflected on your twitter page.

Cleaning the Clutter
I recently began to sort out my following. I logged into Twellow with my Twitter username and ID and began to look at the follow status indicator. I saw a bunch of one sided associations. I clicked on the "More Info" button to see some more details, and removed many from my list accordingly. Yes, I kept some important people who did not follow me back such as Dr. Wayne Dyer, and some other prominent personalities. However, I removed most celebrities without any hesitation. After all, they may have hired some ghostwriter to write their tweets.

I'm not done yet. It may take some time before I sort out all my following. Those whom I can't unfollow...what's the harm in letting them hang around?

What's the harm? This brings me to an important issue- Security. You can "Protect" your tweets if you do not want anyone to read them, except for the ones you approve. Just go to the "Settings" option on the top right of your Twitter page and the rest is self explanatory. You can also "Block" stalkers if you notice any unusual interactions. Just go to your followers list and do the needful.

Another cool feature of Twellow is that you can browse through different categories and follow people from your niche. However, I must warn you about one of the side effects of doing this- Spam! But then, off course, you can block them by going to your Twitter follower list.

So, whatever your FP may be, it is much convenient to implement it at Twellow than at Twitter.

Happy Following!

This Could Happen to You!

We have become so dependent on our pointing devices that should they disappear one day, we may be left high and dry.
No Mouse?
What if you were to wake up one fine day and find your computer pointing device gone or rendered inoperable? Imagine starting up your desktop or laptop without your mouse. Not a difficult task, is it? Most of us would be able to do this. But what next? How about reading your emails or checking out your social networking sites. Would that be an easy task for most of us? I guess not!

How would life be without your computer trackpads, trackballs, joysticks, light pens and mice? Would you have to go back to the early MS DOS days, when you had to learn certain commands in order to go to a particular directory, open a program, change a directory or print some matter?

Not really. Microsoft Windows enables you to use a number of shortcuts to work with your Operating System, Word Processor, Spreadsheet, Browser and Email Client without using the mouse. However, very few of us know these shortcuts. We have become so dependent on our pointing devices that should they disappear one day, we may be left high and dry.

It Happened to Me!
One morning this is exactly what happened to me. My computer refused to co-operate with my mouse. Actually, there was some problem with the driver. I had a freelance assignment to complete, and I couldn’t wait. Fortunately I knew some keyboard shortcuts as I had been using the Windows operating system for the last 10 years (used MS DOS and Win 3.1 before that...yuck!).

Shortcuts Came to the Rescue
How did I get about? I used some Operating System shortcuts; so I could open "Windows Explorer" by using "Windows+E." Then I used the Tab and Arrow keys to navigate around, and finally hit Enter to open my Microsoft Word document.

I knew how to close Microsoft Word using the "Alt+F4" keyboard shortcut. There are other ways to close a Word document, but I loved the "Alt+F4" shortcut, and rarely use the mouse for this action even today.

Another favorite shortcut that I always use even today is "Alt+Tab." It is so convenient to switch between all my open “windows” using this combination, rather than pointing my mouse to the taskbar and clicking on the required window.

Being able to navigate through the Start Menu without using the mouse is also very important, since most of the programs and documents can be accessed through the Start Menu. You can also Shut Down your computer using “Turn Off Computer…” on the Start Menu. However, I love to use "Alt+F4" to shut down my PC.

Once I open a Word or an Excel Document, I can get around without using the mouse for some basic operations. However, I’m not an expert at Word Keyboard Shortcuts or Excel Keyboard Shortcuts. Therefore I end up using the mouse for selecting text color, aligning text, copy formatting, inserting header and footer and other actions.

There are a whole range of Firefox Keyboard Shortcuts too. I just use the basic ones for navigating around a page and for switching tabs. My favorite ones here are F5 for refreshing a page and "Ctrl/Shift+Tab" for changing browser tabs.

What about Blogger Keyboard Shortcuts? Blogger has them too, although very few. Despite the fact that the blogger posts get autosaved, I frequently find myself using the Ctrl+S to save my posts.

The Indispensable Mouse
No matter how well you know your shortcuts, computer pointing and tracking devices have become indispensable. If you don't believe me, try doing the following without a mouse or a trackpad:
- Opening a link on a website
- Opening your Blogger or WordPress Dashboard
- Dragging and Dropping

...don’t work yourself up trying to learn all the keyboard shortcuts. It’s not worth it.

If you think about it, there are tons of things that a mouse can do with ease, and therefore we do not bother to use shortcuts. If you are good at touch typing, like me, you will appreciate some keyboard shortcuts. However, don’t work yourself up trying to learn all the keyboard shortcuts. It’s not worth it. The highly versatile computer trackpads and mice are here to stay till touch screen technology takes over. Until then, don't let your mouse go away :)

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