Which browser to use with Window 10?

There was a time, believe it or not, when the only choice you had for a graphical Web browser was Mosaic. Yep! There was only one. Back in those days, those of us lucky enough to be on the Internet did not have to worry about which graphical browser to download and use to get around the Web because the only answer was Mosaic.

As you can see from the following Mosaic browser screen grab from the past, not much of the graphical Web was very graphical—compared to today.

MasaicBrowser.jpg

Before Mosaic you ‘browsed’ the Internet manually. There actually was no Web. There was just the Internet. The Web, as we know it today, is actually a sub-set of the Internet. A very large sub-set, but the Internet is significantly bigger than the Web.

The so called ‘Web’ is that part of the Internet that is accessed via a Web network protocol such as HTTP/HTTPS using a Uniform/Universal Resource Locator address (URL). In most cases the browser hides the protocol being used so you you don’t need to bother about that. However, in most cases, you do need to enter the URL of the site you want to go to—or click on a favourite that has the URL saved for you.

I actually have no idea how big the Web part of the Internet is and after about five Google searches I was not able to find a useful answer.

Anyway. Back to the topic of which Web browser to use.

Today the more interesting Web browsers available are (in no particular order):

  • Internet Explorer (by Microsoft)

  • Edge (by Microsoft)

  • Chrome (by Google)

  • FireFox (by Mozilla)

  • Opera (by Opera Software)

  • Safari (by Apple)

  • SeaMonkey (by SeaMonkey Council)

  • Vivaldi (by Vivaldi Technologies)

  • Brave

  • Ghost

I am only considering browsers for Windows 10 here so I have not mentioned the likes of Dolphin or UC Browser, or the many other Web browsers available for Android.

By far the most used Web browser is Google’s Chrome browser, as this chart from TechAdvisor from Dec, 2018 shows.

BrowserPopularity.jpg

As at Dec 2018 Chrome is used by 63.5 percent of computer users with Apple’s Safari being used by 13.9 percent—and I would bet that about 95 percent of those are Apple devices (i.e., NOT Windows PCs). In third place we have the combined percentage for Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Edge browsers at 7.3.

Up until recently, on my Windows PCs, I used either Edge (mainly due to its speed) or Opera (due to its very low resource requirements—particularly its CPU usage requirements).

However, Google have made some very noticeable performance improvements to Chrome in the last couple of updates. They have also made the user interface more satisfying.

As much as I like Edge there are a number of Web sites that do not render perfectly with it. I feel that as more site developers move away from making their sites compatible with Edge there will be more and more sites that Edge cannot faithfully render—which is tech code for “they don’t come up correctly or as expected on the screen”.

While Chrome is still more CPU hungry than Edge on Windows 10 it’s CPU-chewing habit has been significantly improved over the last six months. I can now have 10 or 15 tabs open in Chrome and the Windows performance monitor is still only showing about 5 to 7 percent CPU usage on my 8th Gen i7 PC and memory usage is under 10 percent (with 8GB of RAM).

So my general recommendation today for Windows 10 is the Chrome browser.

However, I should add that some of the other browsers have special attributes should you want to consider them. For example, Vivaldi has special security features including (as I understand it) a VPN that can be toggle on and off from the browser.

Also, I have not used Apple’s Safari for Windows for a long time. However each time I tried it in the past I found it very heavy on resources and the two times I tried it with SquareSpace content creation it hung on me—but this was over 12 months ago. I suspect that Safari works very well on Mac and iOS devices, but I suspect optimising Safari for Windows is not a priority for the team at Apple.

What is it about Perth drivers?

It is pretty well known that Perth drivers hold the award for being the worst drivers in Australia.

Despite there being significantly less cars in Perth than Sydney or Melbourne, Perth drivers manage to achieve almost twice the minor accident/bingle rate—involving at least $1,000 worth of damage but where nobody had to go to hospital—than either of those cities.

Serial lane changers—drivers who continue to change lanes despite it not being required for them to exit the traffic flow (they are just changing lanes because there is a gap and changing lanes appealed to them)—are far more prevalent in Perth. Serial lane changers are the primary causes of bingles in traffic flows, which contributes to the first point above.

Not only does Perth have the highest rate of serial lane changers, Perth drivers changing lanes are 20 percent less likely to indicate during the lane change than for Sydney or Melbourne drivers.

Additionally, lane-change-cheating is far more prevalent in Perth. This is where a driver knowingly drives in the wrong lane in order to get ahead of the traffic flow, and then has to push their way into a different lane—usually at the last possible opportunity—to get into the lane they really should have been in to begin with. Lane-change-cheats force otherwise flowing traffic to slow or stop in order for them to complete their cheat.

There was a time when lane-change cheats were almost exclusively taxi drivers, but over the last 10 to 15 years it has become more common for regular drivers in Perth to lane cheat than for taxi drivers.

Merging! Perth drivers are notoriously hopeless at merging. This is despite a number of recent campaigns by the WA government to try and correct this failing; even going to the lengths of slightly changing the merging rules at one stage to try and make it easier for drivers to remember how to merge.

The two main mistakes that merging drivers make are: (1) not getting up to the merge speed before trying to merge, and then (2) braking hard to slow down at the time of merge in order to merge ‘more safely’.

When merging, you must be travelling at the speed of the traffic you intend to merge into. This is basic common sense. You obviously cannot merge into a traffic stream travelling at 100 kph if you are doing 80 kph. That is never going to work out well. It forces other drivers in the main stream to brake when they should not have needed to. This in turn can cause the drivers down the traffic stream to have to brake unexpectedly; and this can result in a bingle (again, see first point relating to bingles).

I don’t know what the answer is, or why Perth drivers drive the way they do. But I witness all of the above every day going to and from work.

Share Market resets back to level of two years ago

It’s the 5th Dec 2018. Ten years since the GFC. Today our market opened at a 22 month low.

Pre-GFC Update.jpg

As the Australian stock market struggles to get back to its pre-GFC level of 2007 it has stumbled and fallen by another 1.6 percent today putting back to levels of two year ago.

October and November have been painful months for the Australian market and for anyone with superannuation—which is probably everybody who is working considering superannuation is compulsory.

The Australian ‘All Ordinaries’ index started the year on 6,166 points and at that time there were many market experts predicting that the index would finally and easily break through the GFC barrier of 6,800 points by the end of the year; thereby finally getting the market back to its 2008 levels.

Well, those experts will be feeling a bit silly now. Market trends suggest the index will be lucky to finish the year anywhere near the 6,166 points it started the year at and the chances of it getting close the pre-GFC mark of 6,800 would be assessed as impossible.

Given that 2018 was predicted to be a ‘good’ year for the markets, what can we expect for 2019?

We won’t get the official New Year market predictions from the experts until about mid-January, but the early indications are for a ‘flat’ year in 2019. This is partly due to a combination of falling commodity prices, low and falling consumer sentiment, banks tightening up on loans for property and vehicles (as an outcome of the Royal Commission into banking), falling property prices, and the massive relative debt burdens that households have accumulated over the last five years.

Oh! And add to that the ‘average’ $400k superannuation fund has taken a $28k hit in 2018—which is likely to be factored into spending by anyone getting close to retirement.

On top of this, relative to inflation, wages have gone backwards for all but the top five percent of the workforce. For most of us in the remaining 95 percent of the workforce our purchasing power has reduced over the last five years due to very low wages growth. While the cost of living has increased by a shade under 11 percent in the last five years, very few wage earners would have experienced an increase in income much over six percent during that time. Thereby leaving a five (5) percent negative gap in purchasing power.

During the last five years I was ‘converted’ from contractor to staff. As an outcome of that my gross has reduced by a whopping 25.7 percent over the last five years.

Upgraded to a DELL Inspiron 13 7000 8th Gen i7

For the last four or so years my main computer has been a Microsoft Surface Pro 2. The Surface Pro 2 has a 4th generation 2xCore i7 1.7GHz with 8GB of RAM.

It has been a great PC and I have done a lot of photo processing on it.

But, as I am getting close to retirement, I decided to upgrade. After a lot of ‘research’ I landed on a DELL Inspiron 13 7000 8th generation 4xCore i7 1.8GHz with 16GB of DDR4 RAM.

Now I realise that the DELL Inspiron i7 has a relatively short battery life for a modern ultra-light 2-in-1 laptop. It is only good for about six hours on battery—depending what you are using it for. But, when it comes to being docked, the performance-for-dollar ratio for the Inspiron is the best. And, as I do almost all of my hard work—such as photo editing—when docked, then the battery life was not that big a consideration.

Another very important consideration for me was that it could be docked and that the dock would support at least one 2560x1440 resolution monitor, and in the future when 4K colour-correct 10-bit monitors get into my price range, then I want it to also support 4K.

I have been using the Inspiron now for about two weeks now. I am very happy with it. The performance improvement for editing images using Lightroom, Photoshop, Skylum Luminar, and Skylum Aurora 2018 is excellent. It is at least twice as fast as the ‘old’ Surface Pro in all the tests I have done.

As a few example, opening a RAW from my Sony a7r III in Photoshop used to take 17.8 secs on the Surface but the Inspiron does it opens in 9.5. Doing a HDR merge into Skylum Aurora from Photoshop used to take 27.8 seconds, and now completes in 12.0 seconds. And the saving the HDR layer back to Photoshop previously consumed over 31 seconds and now completes in just over 14.

I am very happy with the speed improvements. By-and-large everything happens in less than half the time it took the Surface.