Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Chrome need polishing

I've been using Google's new Chrome web browser since it was released in Beta version last week. Its release came at an opportune time in that Firefox 3, which I had been using, has a conflict with Flash 9 and videos were stalling a about 2 seconds. Installing Flash 10 (Beta) seemed to fix that most of the time but I wanted to watch the Republican convention without talking heads interrupting to tell me what to think about what we were (or were not) seeing and Firefox was balking again so I decided to give Chrome a try.

Chrome had absolutely no trouble streaming the convention for me and I was able to see much more than the one hour the networks were willing to show and was able to avoid the PBS filter.

It seamlessly picked up my bookmarks and preferences, even my passwords, from Firefox I was delighted to discover as I began surfing the web.

Chrome is obviously much faster than Firefox and Internet Explorer which is great! I've been on the Internet for 12 years now and I remember the days of really slow dial-up and the tedium of having to wait for so long for pages to appear on my screen. And I do laugh at myself when I become impatient when a page renders slowly. I mean, come on Kay, we're talking about a couple of seconds here. But it's sort of like getting used to going 70 mph on Vietnam Veterans Parkway and then having to slow down to 55 when you get to Rivergate. It's still pretty darn fast but it seems like crawling in relation.

Being able to launch downloads from the Chrome download bar, instead of having to go to the user's download file in Vista was quite handy.

It's frustrating when a page will not render correctly and the whole browser crashes so having Chrome written so just the one tab go down is good idea.

An initial concern with any browser is if it's going to render the pages as the webmaster intended. I didn't run into any sites where Chrome misinterpreted the page. Everything looked great. Unfortunately, a couple of times a day Chrome was unable to find the page at all and I'd get an Oops message. Occasionally, refreshing the page would clear the oops but more often than not it wouldn't and I'd have to open Firefox or IE to see the page.

I really appreciated the way Google seemed to know where I wanted to go and would provide suggested websites based on the little bit of the URL I typed in. Again, very handy.

I was glad to see Google had some video tutorials for Chrome but last week they weren't actually available and so I was pretty much left to my own devices in discovering how the browser worked and what my options might be. I know it's Beta but give us a clue.

It's not unusual for me to have dozens of websites open at once. I'll surf news sites and open pages to be read throughout the day when I have a few moments. Of course, I've still got a life and so it may take a few days for me to get around to them and those pages could be open for a while waiting for me to finish a blog post. What I discovered yesterday was that while Firefox tabs are scrollable left to right or via a drop down option so I can find the page I'm looking for Chrome doesn't seem to do that. At about 24 tabs opened all you've got is icons on those tabs. That's not helpful if 5 of them are Blogspot, 2 are Tennessean, another 3 are City Paper, throw in a few EdWeek pages and and some Wordpress blogs and it's frustrating to find what you want. In fact in Chrome once you reach about 35 open pages tab descriptors and even the fav icons disappear completely and you're driving blind with nothing on those tabs at all. That's completely unacceptable to me.

So I'm back to Firefox for now. I'll recheck Chrome occasionally to see how it's coming along but I'll leave this Beta version to those with more time and patience than I have now. Of course, if Chrome stays in Beta as long as Gmail has...

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