Mac Browsers and Messaging

This entry, I’ll discuss browsers and instant messaging. In my previous blog, I wrote that this time I’d talk about
  • E-mail clients,
  • Browser,
  • Instant Messenger, and
  • calendar, address book, etc.
I am going in a different order because e-mail clients and calendaring will take one blog entry each.

The PowerBook, running Mac OS X (aka “Tiger”), as I expected, comes with with a browser: Safari. I did not like it at first, but that was before I learned my way around a Mac, in particular how to set preferences. I was used to using Firefox. I’ve been very happy with it. I like that it is fast. I like the tabbed browsing. I like that it is “open source,” but I’m not a fanatic about that. I really like that it is not Internet Explorer!

As I said, I did not like Safari much (because I didn’t know it had all those previously-mentioned things, except open source, going for it), so I installed Firefox. It works fine on the Mac, but I wondered about the otherMozilla browser for the Mac, CaminoTM. Since it has “Mozilla power. Mac style.” Firefox was fine, but just like when in a foreign country I don’t order the “American Breakfast,” I thought I should try something Mac-specific.

It was nice. Had the features I liked in Firefox. I did not like the way it did tabbed browsing. In particular, when I clicked on “open URL in another tab,” it displayed the new tab. Firefox opens a new tab in the background. (Maybe there is a way to do this in Camino.) I am used to, for example, doing a “Google-search,” and running down the page clicking items to open in another tab. Then I go through each tab checking them out.

I used Camino for a week or more. Then I had a “well, duh” thought: although it did not have “Mozilla power,” the native browser on the Mac probably has “Mac style.” So, I tried it again.

And in a short time I found I like Safari. It has RSS support, supports extensions, and tabs the way I like it. I modified some things, imported my Bookmarks and got rid of all the preloaded bookmarks I’d never use. And in playing it, I found another cool Mac-thing. (And this is not Safari-specific; it works with Firefox, too.) If you want to copy an image off of a web page, instead of selecting it, and selecting “copy image,” you can just drag it off and drop it somewhere else. Very neat.

Instant Messengering.
Tiger comes with iChat, which supports audio and video chats (as well as the normal typing variety). It supports AOL Instant Messenger and Jabber Instant Messenger. Of course, I want to use Yahoo. I have an MSN Messenger account, also, but don’t regularly use it. And when I use Yahoo Messenger, I want to sometimes do voice and video. So, while I am very happy with iChat, I also need Yahoo Messenger. Ah, well.

One minor disappointment: my Windows-capable webcam is not recognized by my PowerBook! No driver for it. Apple is big on firewire. They invented it. They also sell their own web camera, “iSight.” (Get it?) But, I have a USB web camera that works just fine and I don’t want to spend $150 for an iSight, no matter how elegant it looks. (And it does look elegant.)

Since I didn’t use Jabber, I got Adium, ” a free instant messaging application for Mac OS X that can connect to AIM, MSN, Jabber, Yahoo, and more.” Sorry to see that, “Adium does not currently have any Voice or Video (webcam) Chat functionality.” It is related to GAIM, which is built for UNIX and has a windows port.

It is okay. Even in the Windows world I was used to using multiple clients, or a single client (like GAIM or Trillion, which does not run on Mac.

Speaking of multiple clients, for pure voice conferencing, I’ve downloaded and use Skype.

Additional cool stuff I discovered.
Mac OS X has this really neat feature called Exposé. You know how on your Windows PC you can make all the windows disappear by hitting the Windows button and ‘M’? (You don’t? Try it.) Or on XP, you have a “Show Desktop” process that exposes the desktop (iconifies all of the windows) and puts them back again? It’s like that, only cooler, better. As the web site says, “Instantly access any open window with a single keystroke … Display all open windows as thumbnails, view windows of the current application or hide all windows to quickly locate a file on your desktop.” It is very useful when you’ve got a gazillion windows opened, and you need to find one particular one. Or, when you need to clear everything to get to the desktop. Or, when you need to copy an item in one window into another one, buried somewhere on your desktop. It’s useful. It’s cool.

Dashboard gives instant access to a set of widgets—small applets proving useful tools, such as real time weather, calculator, a dictionary, language translation, and a ton of others. Spotlight is a system search facility on steroids. (Oops… sorry. No longer politically correct. On… acid? Nope. On… adrenalin? Yeah. Okay.) It searches for whatever you type in… everywhere. In file names? Obviously. Inside documents? Yes. Songs in your iTunes library? Attributes of photos in iPhoto? Yes and yes. E-mail? Cut it out! Of course. And calendars, address books, System Preferences, etc. and so on.

Next entry: e-mail!

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