If it ain’t broke, why fix it?…

I’m getting that twitchy feeling again. The feeling to make changes.

I can’t quite make up my mind on browsers. I’ve been spending time lately with Brave on PC (don’t be jealous Vivaldi, I’m only seeing them on the side…) and Opera and Brave on Android (that phone layout on Opera… so easy to navigate). I’m getting itchy for change.

I like Mozilla’s overall message of privacy on the net, and I appreciate Vivaldi agrees. I’m just getting impatient for a mobile browser. Makes me search out new experiences despite the fact I have perfectly good programs at my disposal. Always looking for *the* perfect browser for my needs. I feel I’m getting close.

On the RPG front (Role Playing Game for the uninitiated), we’ve been playing mostly 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons. It’s… fine. No major gripes. I appreciate some of the changes made to improve speed during play and making magic users feel more useful. Some things rub me slightly the wrong way, but I can live with it because that’s where the game is and most aren’t interested in changing (again, in one game we’re playing).

But I miss older editions. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition was a beautiful mess, but I loved it when I started. So many different rules for different subsystems. So many weird restrictions (dwarves can’t be magic users, can only get so far in some classes but further in others…). It was the first system I truly loved though, and I have the books to prove it.

I want that original feeling back.

Playing with Linux is another hobby. I’m trying to see if I can make it work for me without a lot of problems. I spent a lot of time, originally, with the Debian-based distributions. I visited with the Ubuntu family, tried out Linux Mint, Zorin, and I’m currently happy with Manjaro’s Xfce flagship edition.

It works fine (though Firefox freezes up like Chicago in -40 F weather). It’s a rolling release, which means you never have to reinstall it. Updates keep coming out, making it up-to-date. There’s some risk in doing it this way, but it works fairly well. I’m just not sure how interested I am in reading update documentation before I update the computer.

I miss that Debian-based feeling, when I could just update and not worry so much.

So, I’ll pick up the old books (again), I’ll try other browsers again (it doesn’t mean anything, baby…), and I’ll probably change up the installation on the Linux Laptop (and probably go back in a few weeks), because the need for change gnaws at me, like my cat, when we try and show him too much affection.

I keep trying to optimize things, but I look backwards and what I used, because I know it. It can be hard to look forward or enjoy where I am, at times.

10 thoughts on “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?…”

    1. Thanks for the link! I had read something about that on the Brave forums, but it went a little over my head at the time. This breaks it down nicely.

      I do add additional privacy applications to Brave, just in case. It’s a project that I’m keeping an eye on for now, but I don’t think I’ll be adopting as a primary browser.

  1. You have the Tech-FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)
    What am I missing – Maybe I can just make this 1% better!
    I imagine many of in these Vivaldi parts do – the tinkerer in us won’t quit 🙂

    1. That sounds pretty accurate! I keep looking at all of the advantages and disadvantages of different programs/systems/whatever and end up with analysis paralysis at times. I’m frustrated with myself sometimes, but it’s who I am. On the other hand, I’m comfortable with a larger variety of programs, so I don’t feel locked into one particular choice.

  2. What do you do (or don’t do) about the Opera browser. Any Opera browser. I used it for years, but…after the Chinese bought it, bless their hearts, I got security paranoia and deleted all my old Opera installations.
    So, is that a concern to you, or do you think I’m simply paranoid? Maybe. What’s your thought?

    1. I’m less concerned with Opera than I am with Chrome, to be honest. Opera is owned by a Chinese subsidiary, but it’s run from a company in Finland, I believe, and programmed mostly in Poland, if I’m not mistaken. Privacy laws are more strict there, and I feel that helps. I do keep my eyes open for articles on Opera and privacy breaches, but I keep seeing them listed on browser recommendation sites, and they suggest that Opera has decent privacy features. I don’t use the “VPN”/proxy service, but I don’t have any heartburn right now about their ad blocker or news feed (one of my favorite features).

      Opera has, in my extremely humble opinion, one of the best mobile browsers (take that for what it’s worth!). The built in ad blocker provides decent results on Panopticlick, it’s fast, responsive, and does what I need. Firefox, on the other hand, feels sluggish and less responsive. Brave currently scores terrible on Panopticlick.

      I’ll keep my eyes open for stories about Opera, but for now, it works very well, and I add additional security features. I’m going in eyes-wide-open though, and I’ll dump it if I don’t feel safe.

      I keep waiting for Vivaldi’s mobile offering, but I’m concerned it might not give us any kind of advertising or security protection. I haven’t seen it though, so I’m just left wondering how it will fare compared to other browsers.

    1. That is one of two games I really want to play/run this year. I’m currently playing one 5e game and running another. It’s fine, but C&C will scratch that itch I have, I hope.

      Plus the Trolls seem like really nice, solid guys. They’re accessible on social media. They’re probably the only thing that would get me to a con (not a fan of huge crowds!).

      Thanks for the suggestion!

  3. Hi, interesting article! I know the feeling… I often chop and change between certain pieces of software or configurations, but I invariably begin to narrow down on one or two that suit my needs perfectly. Back when I was a heavy Windows user, I was always chopping and changing between AV software, until it (especially the free offerings) started turning into spyware. As for browsers, I started off using NCSA Mosaic and then Internet Explorer 3 (whose icon used to just be called “The Internet”) on Windows for Workgroups and Windows 95. Someone introduced me to Opera 3, and it rapidly became my favourite browser. I only ever fired up another browser for pages that it couldn’t render, even if I temporarily set it to identify as IE or Netscape. When Netscape eventually became Mozilla, this became my main email client but secondary browser. Then Mozilla launched Phoenix (which changed name to Firefox), which was so efficient and lean that it became my joint favourite browser with Opera. Firefox/Opera were jointly my main browser right up until Opera ditched Presto. As far as I’m concerned, Opera lost its way at that point and became a less-functional and irrelevant clone of Chrome. The final nail in the coffin for me was when a company of questionable character with both a conflict of interest (in terms of the users’ privacy) and a history of litigation and scandals bought a large stake in them (a Chinese “security”/games/advertising company whose AV software was recently disqualified by the testing labs for tweaking the version sent to the labs specifically to score well in their tests – a bit like VW did with their diesel engines). As far as I’m concerned, Opera is long dead. I’m just not willing to take that risk.

    I was about to comment on Brave browser, but I see someone has beaten me to it. I quite liked it, and have kept my eye on it, but will not consider it for now. I don’t like the idea of blocking ads, and then replacing them with ones from your own advertising network. It seems a bit parasitic and unethical to me. Sure, it’s potentially a bit better for your privacy, but I still feel uneasy at it. It also feels a bit like Adblock Plus’s “acceptable ads” feature: “We’ll block your ads unless you pay us”. It’s a virtual protection-racket. I don’t click on ads or buy anything from them anyway, and they don’t influence my shopping habits in the real world either, so blocking them 100% is actually saving both me and the ad networks money by not wasting bandwidth. Plus, it’s my hardware and I decide what code runs on it, not some ad network that has been targeted by the latest virus-writers. I’d rather pay to go ad- and tracker- free. This is one of the things I liked about the old shareware Opera with its ad-free Premium version.

    So what do I use nowadays? Well, it’s so easy to recreate your bookmarks and settings across multiple devices I don’t care about syncing between devices. I never stay logged in anywhere if I’m not actively using that site at that moment – and I use Keepass for a password database, which works across devices anyway… so I’ve no idea if my choices have any kind of sync feature or not, to be honest… but here we go:

    On Android I use GNU Icecat with a few privacy extensions installed. It’s basically Firefox ESR, but without the Mozilla branding. (I don’t have the Play store installed at all, – I use F-Droid as my repository). It works great, but is slow to load. People say Firefox is slow on Android, but trust me, it’s just the loading process not general surfing. It’s the only Android browser I will consider until Vivaldi release their Android version (and offer it as an apk download on their web site). The other Android browsers I’ve seen don’t seem to check https certificates properly for things like revocation, making the very use of https a lot less effective. For pages that won’t render in Icecat, I use Firefox Klar (i.e. Firefox Focus but installed from F-Droid). Firefox Focus uses Android’s Webkit-based rendering engine, so is essentially the same as using Chrome, apart from blocking ads and trackers.

    On GNU/Linux I use (about 50/50) Mozilla Firefox (it’s rebranded as Abrowser on my Trisquel machine) and Vivaldi, both with the same privacy extensions I use in Icecat. I think Firefox renders fonts a lot more pleasantly and clearly, and consumes less RAM, but Vivaldi is a lot more reliable and possibly a bit quicker with the business of actually rendering pages.

    On Windows…. To be honest, I can’t remember the last time I used Windows at home, although my Windows box at Work is using Vivaldi.

    I don’t use Chrome at all, because, quite simply, Google have forgotten how not to be evil, and have a distinct conflict of interest with regards to their browser. I did used to use Chromium, as it is the de-Googled FLOSS version of Chrome, but it suffers the same problem as Chrome and most Android browsers, in that it doesn’t (or at least didn’t, when I last used it) check https certificates properly for things like revocation. Google essentially put browser speed and winning benchmark tests ahead of user privacy and security. This was one of the worries I had with Vivaldi when it first appeared, however despite using the Webkit rendering engine, Vivaldi appears to check everything correctly. It puts user security and privacy before speed – and yet still runs quickly!

    1. Wow! I thought I got deep in the weeds. Thank you for the detailed and extensive response!

      I remember the old Presto Opera fondly. I also remember playing around with Mosaic once we finally got a Windows machine in… 96? We started with the venerable Apple IIGS, since the school district we used to live in was an Apple district. It got me almost all of the way through High School, and that’s only because the PC was an early graduation gift from my parents.

      I’ve noticed the same thing with font rendering. It’s hard to beat Firefox there! But I’ve also noticed that Vivaldi and the other Chromium-based browsers are just more responsive and seem to load faster. So I’m stuck squinting or waiting. There are no perfect answers, it seems.

      I’ll look into Icecat. I’ve used Firefox Focus and it is much more responsive than FF.

      Thanks again for responding! It’s nice to know someone else took interest!

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