My five-year-old insists that Bilbo Baggins is a girl.
The first time she made this claim, I protested. Part of the fun of reading to your kids, after all, is in sharing the stories you loved as a child. And in the story I knew, Bilbo was a boy. A boy hobbit. (Whatever that entails.)
But my daughter was determined. She liked the story pretty well so far, but Bilbo was definitely a girl. So would I please start reading the book the right way?
I hesitated. I imagined Tolkien spinning in his grave. I imagined mean letters from his testy estate. I imagined the story getting as lost in gender distinctions as dwarves in the Mirkwood.
So, with Firefox 3 now out, that of course triggered an exploration of which browser to use. The change in bookmark format in the new Firefox made it difficult to continue using URL Manager Pro, which I've loved for years. As a result I started fiddling around and seeing what browsers are currently available in OSX. I've been using Camino for about two years now, and haven't really explored the state of the art in browsers.
Here's the list of browsers that seem to be contenders:
lynx et al
First up is Safari. Currently at version 3.1.1 it is the default browser for OSX, and it's a fairly stolid and steady browser. Based on Webkit, like the KDE browser konqueror, it's fast and does everything a normal person would do with a web browser. It also pays attention to OSX services, so it ties in well with the OS's spellcheck and Keychain. The webkit part is open source, but there is far too much of it that is closed source for me to feel comfortable recommending it.
Camino has been my favourite of the mozilla browsers on the Mac. It still rocks, but I'm starting to miss some of the extensibility of Firefox. It's very much a mac feeling application, and is based on gecko so it's safe and secure. It's fast, it looks good and any site that gecko can render, Camino can render. Oh, yeah and it's completely open source, licensed under either the Lesser GPL, GPL, or the Mozilla Public license.
Firefox 3 is now out, and it looks alien on the mac, especially after using either Safari or Camino for the last couple of years. I'm sure a theme that is vaguely mac-like will come out, but for now, it looks 'wrong'. Other than appearance, it seems to work well.
OK, here was my first surprise. Opera got rid of a bunch of crap. I've been using Opera on my cell phone for a while, and it's quite a nice browser in that format, and it seems to be fairly fast as a desktop client now.
Omniweb is another Mac only browser, and it again feels 'right' on a Mac. The downside is that it costs 15$US and is completely closed source. Those two items are show stoppers for me. Trying it for 30 days on it's shareware plan and you can decide for yourself.
iCab falls into the same shareware category.
This sucker is based on Firefox2, but it's more of a specialty browser. It's designed for social networking. Go now and try it. If you're a Facebook or Flickr addict, a blogger, or suffer from any of the other networking addictions, this puppy is the cat's pajamas. It's open source (mostly GPL) and uses standard bookmarks as it's Firefox 2 ancestry would suggest. Tabbed browsing works as expected.
I've now switched to Flock, although it doesn't quite feel like a Mac app, the added functionality of it for what I mostly do is enough to overcome that.
Oh, did I mention that it has a dedicated blog editor built in? that's what used to write up this post.
And I did mention Lynx.
It's still around, and it's still useful for text only browsing, and I still keep a copy on any computer system I own. When I have a chance I also tend to compile a copy of Links as well.