On the Edge

Resistance is Futile!
You will be assimilated!

Because why not? At some point one gets exhausted avoiding the Kool-Aid. (Which, for some probably neurologically depressing reason, I always type as “Kook-Aid” — or maybe it’s just a Freudian negligee. I mean slip. Underwear of some kind anyway.)

It’s a matter of not fighting an unwinnable battle. I used to use screen captures to recreate my various exquisitely customized toolbars after app updates. Exhausting. Finally, I just gave up and used the defaults.

The Kook-Aid in this case is the Microsoft Edge browser.

Because why not? Honestly, it seems to be a good browser (once one manages to forget how horrible Internet Explorer was (in so many ways)).

I was never one who thought Microsoft was bad. Yes, they’re a mega-giant, and yes they’re very controlling at times, but their software is generally really good, and the way it plays nicely together always impressed me.

[I used to offer a “Microsoft Challenge” to my Unix-loving, Microsoft-hating friends: In about 20 minutes, I can take a manager’s request for a data presentation, write an SQL query for MS SQL Server, embed that in an Excel spreadsheet that allows me to quickly create tables and great graphs, put that spreadsheet on the network, and then link a PowerPoint presentation to the graphs. The manager can open the PowerPoint to display real-time data, yet the PowerPoint has no power to affect that data (it’s safe). It all works great, looks great, and takes 20 minutes. Can you even do that in Unix (let alone quickly or cleanly)? I truly loved Unix, but it wasn’t the end all and be all some saw it as. In certain business areas, MS blew doors off!]

In fact, given how I feel about Google and the social media platforms, Microsoft and Apple are the last tech giants I don’t think are total shit. I still have some respect for MS and Apple, in part because of the sheer quality of their work.

§

I’ve been a FireFox user as long as they’ve been around (I go way back with Mozilla in general because of the Netscape browser). I also use Chrome, mostly for YouTube. People complain about how much memory Chrome uses, but I haven’t seen that (it does spawn a lot of processes, though).

I did notice recently that FireFox was using a gig of memory compared to Chrome’s less than 400 mb. That upset me, and I decided to see what Edge used. Not surprised to find it was also under 400 mb since they use the same engine.

That determined me to switch, although I now think the memory bloat in FireFox came from the ad blocker extension. I just launched it (which didn’t go well) and without the ad blocker, as shown above, it still takes more RAM than either of the other two.

By “didn’t go well” I mean the icon in the Windows start menu was the “unknown app” one, and clicking it didn’t boot FireFox. All I did was remove the icon from my taskbar (because I kept clicking it) and not use FF for a bit over a week, and the icon is dead? WTF FireFox?

Right-clicking brought up a menu that allowed launching the app, and I tried “pinning” it to my Start menu, but still got a dead app icon. And clicking it didn’t boot FF, but right-clicking and selecting “Open in new window” did. Again, WTF FireFox?

Finally went to About and checked version and that triggered a upgrade, and now it’s fine, but that was some poor performance there IMO. And I thought I had enabled automatic updates.

There’s also that, working in WordPress and dragging a photo to drop for upload, FireFox has occasionally crashed — just suddenly vanished taking my in-edit post along with it. (I’ve been lucky that either FF or WP retains it somewhere and haven’t actually lost a post, but it’s been very disconcerting.)

Lastly, when I went to their online system for feedback (to give them some well-considered feedback), that system wasn’t taking input. There was something that took my email and claimed they’d get back to me, but… well, of course they haven’t.

So it’s gone from WTF FireFox? to The Hell With It. We’re done.

(There is also that the iOS version of FireFox is, to me, utterly unusable. On my Apple mobile devices I mostly use Safari, but also the iOS Chrome app. The FF app is too annoying to use.)

((On the flip side, I do use the Mozilla Thunderbird email client. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good, and it’s free.))

§

I go way back to the beginning of the web (I was an internet user before the web). I remember when a co-worker downloaded the source code for the Mosaic browser and compiled it.

We all gathered around her desk for a demo. There wasn’t much web in those days, backgrounds were gray, and the few webpages that existed were mostly text. The few pictures we saw loaded, oh,… so,… slowly.

I was convinced this thing would never fly. Who’d want something so slow and clunky? Why would anyone ever need more than FTP, Telnet, and Gopher?

Ha! (Less than a year later I designed and wrote our company’s first web-based app. Tech moves fast.)

[This is why I don’t go anywhere near Wall Street. I wouldn’t just lose my shirt. I’d lose everything. Probably end up with some “magic beans” or something.]

§

I do have a few minor bones to pick with Edge.

Firefox still seems to render pages better than either Chrome or Edge, who use a wimpy font. (I don’t know how else to describe it. Text in Firefox just looks better. Darker, more robust, and easier to read.)

I also don’t like how Edge handles Favorites menus. FireFox still does the best there, too. I like their Favorites Manager a lot more.

Best feature is that FireFox menus can have separators — something Edge and Chrome can’t do, and I really resent it. I want my separators!

Edge also seems to think that, if I move an item in a dropped down Favorites menu, that was my only action so it closes the menu. But generally speaking, my moving an item leads to either moving another item or clicking an item in the menu. The way Edge vanishes the drop down is really annoying.

I also hate that it has two Favorites Managers, a small dropdown version that doesn’t seem very useful and a larger, kinda weird, version that seems clunky and chunky, but works okay.

Other than that, no complaints. I’ve gone so far as to make Edge my default browser and, as I mentioned, have removed FF from my Windows taskbar (mostly because I was so used to clicking it that I couldn’t stop).

§ §

Generally speaking I am not a fickle person; I place high value on loyalty and fidelity. But loyalty should never be blind — it’s always contingent and conditional.

I think character and honor here are about how one takes those contingencies and sets those conditions. Things that matter require a high bar. The more important something is to you, the greater leniency. (Mothers famously love and shelter their criminal sons.)

But being prone to loyalty often inclines one to stick with the smaller lost causes longer than is really sensible. That said, if forced to pick, I’d rather be the last person out the door than the first. I have a pretty strong, “well, you never know for sure, it might work out” ethic.

I’m obviously talking about more than browsers or tech giants here. It applies to people and ideas and jobs and hobbies.

And browsers and tech giants. 😉

§ §

In any event, I’ve fled FireFox and gotten on the Edge. (Edge of what? Wouldn’t being in the Center be better? Or how about Above for a better view? Is the Edge sharp? Is it a long way down if you fall off of it?)

One TODO task it forced me to finally do is write my own RSS reader. I had a FireFox extension that made Favorites sub-folders into RSS-fed lists. One just clicked if the title appealed.

But it didn’t work great (refresh issues), and only listed titles. I figured an RSS reader would be pretty easy, but never got around to more than a crude proof-of-concept. Rather than find an RSS reader for Edge I decided to get back to that project, and now I have an RSS reader I like.

Stay edgy, my friends! Go forth and spread beauty and light.

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

18 responses to “On the Edge

  • Wyrd Smythe

    I like the FireFox logo best, too.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      As an aside, Mozilla still hasn’t gotten back to my query, but Microsoft has twice. Granted it was automated responses, first to acknowledge the input, then to say they’re working on it.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Still haven’t heard from Mozilla, but the Microsoft Edge team sent me another email, this one titled, “You helped fix an issue in Microsoft Edge!”

        The email says they fixed an issue related to my feedback, and that fix will appear in a update to Edge.

        Wow.

        I think they’re referring to my complaint that Favorites menus don’t have separators like FireFox allows. (Chrome also lacks this.) It really annoys me, as I mentioned in the post.

        So if an update to Edge allows you to put separators in your Favorites menus… well, you’re very welcome. 😀 😀

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Or, it could be the thing I also mentioned about how, when moving an item on a Favorites drop-down list, after the move the list goes away. Usually, at least for me, when moving an item I usually have further intentions, either moving more items because I’m rearranging the list or maybe, having moved something to a “better” spot, clicking on that link. Either way, having the drop-down vanish was annoying to me.

        So maybe that’s what they’ll change. The drop-down stays dropped down until you click an item or click off the list to vanish it (or click the parent menu item that dropped down the list).

        That will be a nice fix, if that’s what they picked up on, but I do wish for list separators.

  • SelfAwarePatterns

    I use Chrome, mostly out of habit and convenience. All my passwords and bookmarks are in it. Although when I recently set up my laptop and installed Firefox as a backup browser, it imported all that pretty well. So if Chrome ever makes itself too inconvenient, switching might not be too painful.

    Although I don’t like the sound of that memory usage. Work obliges me to run a lot of crap (VPN, Office, Teams, Zoom, an occasional VM or two), and having a memory hungry browser in that mix might be a serious headache, more-so on my memory limited desktop than the laptop.

    Obviously I’m not a very loyal customer. But then Google, or any of the others, haven’t particularly shown themselves to be loyal to me, so it’s relationships of convenience on both sides. All of the tech companies at one time or another have impressed me, and at other times, made me hate them. (Well, I can’t say that Facebook every impressed me, other than with its untrustworthiness.)

    It’s been a while since I looked at Edge. Last time it was still pretty primitive. Might be time for another pass.

    I agree that pages look more vibrant in FireFox. There are hidden settings in Chrome to get a similar look, but it doesn’t seem to work as consistently, and having a site, I’d rather see what others are seeing on it. It does make you wonder what the deal is with the other browsers.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Nice to know I’m not the only who thinks FireFox renders better. Rendering is somewhat of an art, and Mozilla has a long history in rendering browser contents. No doubt their engine is quite different from the Chrome one. I wonder if it’s an artistic choice. Are there some who prefer what they see as a cleaner lighter look?

      Without the add-ons, FireFox seems roughly comparable to Chrome and Edge in terms of memory use, but as you see it still used the most. I believe they have been losing market share for a while. Maybe they’re spending more energy elsewhere. There is a Brave browser now, and Opera has hung in there. Safari apparently is available for Windows.

      FWIW, Edge imported my FF stuff with no problems. I still use Chrome the same as I used to (mostly for actually Google stuff, like YouTube), so no need to import stuff, but I’m sure it would work fine. Browsers seem pretty decent about interacting these days.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        A lot of people do seem to prefer the lighter look. I suspect it might depend on your age and what type of equipment you have. A lot of UI designers tend to be young and have quality tech, and that affects their choices. One of the things I had to change about my blog’s theme when I first switched was increasing the weight of the font, and that’s true of most themes. I occasionally hit a web site where the font is so light it almost seems like they’re going out of their way to make it hard to read.

        You mentioned writing your own RSS reader. The old Google Reader spoiled me on having a cloud based reader. These days I use InoReader, which I can highly recommend. A lot of people use Feedly, but it has (seemingly arbitrary) feature limitations that drive me crazy. But they both have free versions.

        There was discussion recently that the demise of the old Google Reader dealt blogging a major blow. I’ve always wondered why wordpress.com doesn’t do more with their Reader to try to fill in the gap. It seems like it would be in their interests.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        “A lot of UI designers tend to be young and have quality tech, and that affects their choices.”

        That is such an alien ethic to me. My background is that one programs for the lowest reasonable common denominator, not what one personally thinks looks good to them. Ah, well, that’s our culture now, I guess.

        You mentioned changing the weight of your font. Did you set font-weight to a number?

        To my eyes, most themes have lower-than-I-think-appropriate contrast between the color of the type and the color of the background. It’s such a violation of design ethics that it really bothers me — what is the point of making something hard to read?

        My theme has this shitty gray color for the type, and I’ve hated it since the day I began. I always have to go over every post and set the font color to black. (Once I upgraded and could use CSS, I could have fixed that, but I have so many posts with SPAN tags setting the color that there didn’t seem much point.)

        ((And now that I don’t trust WP to publish my posts with the paragraphing, I pull the HTML and use a vi script to change all those SPAN tags to P tags and eliminate the blank lines. No more problems with no paragraphs, and I know it’s still an issue because I see it happening regularly to another blogger. So those SPAN tags turned out to be useful after all.))

        The thing about writing my own RSS reader is that it works exactly the way I want it to and looks exactly the way I want it to. If I think of a feature I want to add, I just go into the code and do it. Likewise any bugs that pop up. Never any ads or worries about what the “free” software might be doing behind my back. I see it as a win all the way around. 🙂

        (There is also that, as a career software designer, I tend to have … opinions about other people’s software, because, also as a career software designer, I have high expectations.)

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        Looking at my site’s current Additional CSS, I didn’t change font weight where I thought I did. That might have been the previous theme. I did change the standard text color to a darker grey for exactly the contrast reasons you mention. I do see where I tried setting font weight to 500 for the widget area, in an attempt to make the sidebar weights consistent, but the targeted widgets ignored it for some reason, no matter what I did in CSS, so it’s currently commented out.

        On the lack of contrast, I once came across a designer site that actually had some recommendations on how much contrast should exist. Too little causes eyestrain, but so does too much. (I can attest to this. My first impulse to set the text to black turned out to be a bad one.) But I totally agree that most WP themes seem too low in contrast, and most of them are a bear to customize.

        On the RSS, I get that. In my case, the desire for a cloud solution was due to changing between work and home machines. That might be less of an issue if I ever end up working from a single machine. Although at this point, RSS seems to be in decline. Many new sites don’t support it, or support it poorly, pushing people to follow them on social media or subscribe by email. I don’t mind following people on social media, but I hate following sites. As to subscribing by email, well, we all know where that leads.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Way back when, I tried using numbers with font-weight and never got much in the way of results, so ever since I’ve only used ‘normal’ or ‘bold’ as the value. Using a number is, IIRC, part of original CSS, so it was just that browsers weren’t good at supporting it. You’d think they’d be better now, but maybe not.

        One thing I’ve discovered with my own website is that CSS can be kinda funny about what rules override what other rules. There are settings that, if set explicitly for a nested object, seem to disallow settings that aren’t as explicit.

        As an example, on my website, there’s a DIV element with an id of ‘PageBody’ and I might have a TABLE CSS class something like:

        #PageBody table.Menu tbody td {color:black;}

        If I later do something like:

        .RedFont {color:red;}

        And try to use a table element <TD class=”RedFont”> it might not work, but this does:

        #PageBody table.Menu .RedFont {color:red;}

        Or something like that. I’m doing this off the top of my head, and I’ve never really figured out why some CSS settings get ignored, so maybe this example is wrong. But it’s definitely something to do with a more explicit “path” for nested elements.

        I’ve found the “Inspect” popup window (right-click in the browser window) very helpful for diagnosing CSS issues. Navigate to the element in question, and you’ll see exactly how the CSS is being interpreted. (What seems to happen with a setting is ignored is that you CSS just doesn’t see the setting as relevant and doesn’t include it in its calculations. The setting in question won’t appear in the list of CSS that applies the selected element.)

        “Too little causes eyestrain, but so does too much.”

        Black text on a white background isn’t a problem with paper, but it definitely can be on the screen. I think that’s because the light coming from a white screen is much brighter than what’s reflected off paper.

        But I also think graying the text is the wrong way to go. Our brain is too prone to see that as distant or fuzzy — things that are distant or fuzzy are gray, so the brain sometimes thinks vice-versa, too. I think the trick is making the background less bright. Early browsers had gray backgrounds by default, and that may have been exactly to make the text more readable.

        I just took a look at my text background, and it looks to be rgb(250,250,250), so almost white. Might be my aging eyes, but I like the contrast level. But now I wonder if others find it too high contrast.

        “Although at this point, RSS seems to be in decline.”

        Figures. It means no advertising — exactly why I like it. I will not subscribe by email to random sites for exactly the reason you imply.

        Admittedly, my RSS solution is a bit unique. Since the early 1990s I’ve run a web server on my PCs so I can work on my site locally and then upload changes. Since my personal site is mostly a resource, I like having it locally available.

        A while back I realized I could use CGI, so ever since I’ve had various useful online apps, first in Perl, now in Python. My RSS reader is implemented as a web app that I run locally. It’s handy for web stuff, and since I stopped using Visual BASIC I no longer have a good way to create an interface for any app I write. Putting them on the web is a useable alternative until I decide if I want to get into some other language or platform that would let me create native Windows GUI apps. I am not going back to C++ and the Windows SDK. That was a fun era of my life, but no thanks. VB spoiled me to much.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        Now that you mention it, the font appearance never changed smoothly with the weight numbers. Nothing happens until you cross some boundary (I want to say 700 for bold and 300 for light). I guess it just gives the browser the *option* of being fine grained, but Chrome at least doesn’t seem to take advantage of it.

        The rule in CSS is that the more specific setting is supposed to override the less specific one. But I know I’ve encountered numerous cases where that didn’t appear to be the case. Sometimes, the only way to get what I wanted was to specify the specific element, which in the case of the widgets seemed like it would be fragile, so I didn’t go there. You can also code a rule in a way that it can’t be overridden, but that seems risky, so I avoided it.

        On the inspect feature, definitely. What’s nice is that it lets you manipulate the values in real time, which was very handy when I was playing with themes. Although the Chrome version would occasionally get confused between what was in the Additional CSS window and what I had modified on the fly, so frequent resets were needed.

        On dimming the background, I agree. One of the reasons I selected the theme I did was because it was relatively friendly to those kinds of changes. (That intermediate theme wasn’t, and doing it in CSS was a bear.) But even then, I still didn’t go full black on the text. It’s a dark grey on a lightly dimmed and slightly colored background.

        It’s been a very long time since I wrote a client based app. If I did write one now, I’d almost certainly do a web based one, even if only for local stuff, so I definitely know where you’re coming from. Of course, at this point it’s been a while since I did a web one too. I look at the ones my devs do at work, but they’re using pretty involved frameworks, which might be more trouble than they’re worth for anything that didn’t need to tie into enterprise databases and web services.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        CSS is one of those things I learned well enough to use, but never tried for an expert level on. It’s one of many areas one could devote a lot of time getting deeply into. (Unicode is another one I’ve learned enough to use without diving too deeply. Some topics are just too deep unless that’s what one mainly does.)

        “What’s nice is that it lets you manipulate the values in real time,”

        Yes! That’s a very nice feature. I’ve sometimes used it to remove something especially annoying from a webpage I’m trying to read. 🙂

        “…but they’re using pretty involved frameworks, which might be more trouble than they’re worth…”

        Oh, mos def! My RSS app is a 15k Python file; 279 lines of code including comments. 🙂

        I should include the actual RSS class, which is in another file. That’s another 241 lines of source code (again, including comments). And I suppose I should also include the XML SAX parser, so it’s a bit more involved than just the one file, but still, it’s a pretty simple app. There isn’t that muchto grabbing, parsing, and displaying RSS feeds.

        (At least not when one has been writing code for over 40 years. 😀 😀 )

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        Yeah, CSS is one of those things I know just enough to get by. The internet has, to some degree, ruined me on really learning things like that, since a reference for just about anything is a Google search away. That, and modern dev tools tend to be syntax aware and offer code completion templates on the fly.

        If I ever do code anything for personal use, I’ll almost certainly take the opportunity to get proficient with Python. Well, assuming something else isn’t ascendant by then.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Python has gotten its hooks into so many things, I suspect it’ll hang around for a while. It’s amazing how many Python packages for different sciences there are. It’s apparently really big in machine learning. (FWIW, I haven’t loved a language this much since Lisp.)

  • Brian

    I’m very much a Firefox user. Occasionally it needs a fresh install to iron things out, but I’ve become accustomed to that quirk (I’ve not had any particular WordPress-related issue with it). As for RAM, it uses what it uses, I have enough of the stuff to not need to worry – I tend to hoard tabs until I do a clear-out (which likely doesn’t help with this regard) – it’s presently running at 1.5GB+ RAM, which seems pretty typical for me.
    I use Edge when I want to be logged into two different accounts on the same website. I was using Bing for a while to save up Microsoft Reward points but I seem to have drifted away from that.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      I have to admit, as many problems as I have with Google, I’ve had a hard time tearing myself away from their search engine. I tried to switch to DuckDuckGo for a while, but it didn’t take. I never could get into Bing.

      I know what you mean about different accounts. I have a Wyrd Smythe YouTube account and a personal one. I hardly ever use the latter, but YouTube TV insisted on that one, so using a single browser I have to switch accounts back and forth. With two different browsers, I can leave one (Edge) set up for YT TV and the other (Chrome) for just YT. I did all my WP stuff in FF, so FF was also set to my Wyrd Smythe account.

  • Wyrd Smythe

    As an aside, here’s a comparison of how Edge (top) and FireFox (bottom) render the first paragraph of this post:

    Definite difference! There’s a bit more oomph to the FireFox text.

  • Wyrd Smythe

    This article in Tom’s Guide is about the memory consumption between Edge, Chrome, and FireFox. It found similar results — all three are roughly the same, but FireFox consistently uses more memory and Edge uses less.

    As an aside, saw the article in my newsfeed on my iPad. On my laptop, Bing couldn’t find the article even with three different search strings. Google found it on the first try (as the first article listed). I may eventually be able to ban nearly all of Google from my life, but the search engine and YouTube are impossible to kick to the curb.

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