In early spring of 2007 I decided to quit my job, sell my house along with nearly everything else that I owned, and to live out of my car while traveling the country. These are my stories (and pictures) of life on the road.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Just Browsing

There are some pretty interesting things going on in the world of web browsers and I figured I'd bring it up since it's something a lot of people don't think about. I'm definitely no expert on browsers but I've got some I like and I try to keep semi up-to-date on what's going on.

I use Google Analytics to watch the traffic that my blogs receive and it really shows you just how much big brother is watching. It will tell me all sorts of information about the visitors to my sites; such as what pages were viewed the most, time spent on the site, whether the visit was direct (as in you typed the URL yourself) or if they were directed from another site, etc, etc...

Don't worry though, it's not like it tells me anything real specific like that John Smith from Friarville is sitting around in his underwear and that the previous site he was on before coming to mine was www.nakednation.com.

Another thing it tells me is what web browsers people are using who view my site; and I happen to know that 65.68% are using Internet Explorer. Of course that's to be expected since it's the de-facto browser supplied with about every PC on the planet; but there's many more out there that are faster, more secure, more powerful, and are still free!

Firefox is by far the closest competition to Internet Explorer, in fact 24.76% of you that visit my sites use it. In the last few years it's been much more innovative then Explorer and many of the features Explorer 7.0 touted were things Firefox had already had for years. Not to mention Firefox (and pretty much all other browsers out there) is more secure then Internet Explorer and does a better job getting rid of pop-ups and the like.

I've used Firefox for the last 4 years or so and have gotten along great with it. It's available for both Mac and PC and has done pretty much everything I need it to do. I've recently switched though and started using Safari. Safari has always been a Mac only browser (just like Explorer is PC only) but that's changed now as their newest beta release is supposed to work with Windows XP and Vista; I can't vouch for how well though since I'm using a Mac.

Anyway, my reason for switching to Safari is because they're one of only a handful of browsers to recognize ICC profiles. An ICC profile is the color information stored with most images that tell whatever program that's opening the image exactly how to display the colors. So that way when I edit a photo on my laptop in Photoshop and save it either to post on-line or to give to someone else there's a little ICC profile embedded that will hopefully ensure that what someone else sees on their screen is very close to what I saw on my screen when I created the image.

Unfortunately none of the most popular web browsers recognize ICC profiles. This means they just take a stab at exactly what the colors should look like and it usually results in inaccurate and lackluster results. I'd always noticed that my photos uploaded to Flickr never looked as good as they did when I had the image opened in Photoshop; and that's why. That also means that everyone else who views my photos on-line is seeing a duller, less accurate version of my pictures.

When I found out that Safari does recognize ICC profiles I gave it another shot and was amazed what a difference it made. We've been discussing it a little on one of the photography forums I belong to and one of the guys loaded the same image in 5 separate browsers, took a screen shot, and posted the results on Flickr. The results are pretty apparent even if you're currently using a browser that doesn't recognize ICC profiles (and only 6.76% of you are). It's even more obvious looking at the image with Safari.

If you click on the image posted it will link you to the Flickr page where you can tell which image is from which browser by scrolling the mouse over it. Quite eye opening!
Safari doesn't have quite the same interface as Firefox but it's pretty close and I'm getting used to it. It's well worth it though to be looking at accurate color in on-line images though and I'm quite happy.

I'd highly recommend to anyone to explore some different web browsers; they're pretty much all better then Internet Explorer and let you do some really cool things while being more secure. For the most part they're all free and all very easy to use. The interface is basically identical from one to the other for basic usage; it's only as you did deeper that you find the real differences, so it's not like it's hard to learn to use a new browser.

Here are some links to websites for the more popular browsers-

Firefox

Safari

Camino (from the creators of Firefox but for Mac only)

Opera

Out of those Safari is the only one to recognize ICC profiles. Firefox would probably be your best bet though if you want to try another browser for the first time. It's really gaining in popularity and works with nearly every website out there without problem. You can run into issues with some sites not working properly with certain browsers. For instance this is the first blog post I've done since downloading the new Safari beta and it seems to have a problem when I try to post links; so I just switched over to Firefox and everything works dandy. Still though, I heartily recommend you give Safari a try just to see how different the colors are between browsers.

And let's see that percentage of Explorer users start to drop!! :)








3 comments:

Justin Serpico said...

Alan,

Consider adding Flock to the list. It works seemlessly with blogger and flickr. It's what I use on my blog (which is linked to your blog). It's based on Firefox and most Firefox extensions work.

I love it, and while I'm not sure it uses ICC profiles it does everything else I need. The key thing is to make sure your photos are uploading using sRGB and not Adobe RGB. browsers default to sRGB.

And yep, Feedburner stats do tell you a lot. Sort of addicting and really makes you wonder what big brother knows, if we as bloggers can see so much. Screen Res, browser, OS, location, incoming and out going. Searches, etc. Crazy!!!

Anyway, definitely look at Flock and try it out. Best "social" browser on the web!!!

Alan said...

I've heard people talk about Flock but never tried it, I'll have to do that.

I've always heard browsers just use sRGB too and though it does help saving my images with that profile they're still not accurate unless the browser actually uses ICC profiles. At least not in my experience anyway.

Keeneye said...

i.
love.
firefox.


period.

You've reached the end of the page but that's not the end of the stories. If you want to read more (and who wouldn't!?) then click on the archive links to the right hand side of the page. They're listed by month; the adventure starts in May.

The February archives aren't actually from this trip but are previous adventures I've had, which are worth reading as well.