Saturday, April 21, 2018

It’s Time to Give Firefox a Fresh Chance (GOOG)

From The Verge:

Because everyone using Chrome for everything is a bad idea
Ever since it was first released almost a decade ago, Google’s Chrome browser has been the most consistent piece of technology in my life. I’ve gone through a legion of phones, laptops, and headphones, I’ve jumped around between Android, iOS, Windows Phone, macOS, and Windows, but I’ve rarely had reason to doubt my browser choice. Things have changed in recent times, however, and those changes have been sufficient to make me reconsider. After so many years away, I’m returning to Firefox, in equal measure pushed by Chrome’s downsides as I am pulled by Firefox’s latest upgrades.

If a friend were to ask me what the best web browser is, I’d answer “Chrome” in a heartbeat, so don’t mistake this as a screed against Google’s browser. I still see it as the most fully-featured and trouble-free option for exploring the web. It’s just that sometimes there are reasons to not use the absolute best option available. Here are mine.

The thing that woke me up to my over-reliance on Chrome was when Google implemented an ad blocker directly into the browser. I’d usually be delighted to have ad blocking automated away, but the surrounding conversation about Google — an ad company — having sway over which ads are and are not acceptable to present to users convinced me there was a problem. According to NetMarketShare, Chrome is now used by 60 percent of web users, both on mobile and desktop devices, and Firefox looks respectable with 12 percent of desktops, but is almost a rounding error with only 0.6 percent of mobile devices. Apple’s Safari and Microsoft’s Edge don’t look much better, even though they’re the default option on their respective OS platforms.

Chrome has outgrown its competition in a way that’s unhealthy. My colleague Tom Warren already detailed the deleterious effects of Chrome’s outsize influence, with web developers optimizing and coding specifically for Chrome (and Google encouraging the practice), with unhappy connotations of the crummy old days when Internet Explorer was the dominant browser for the web. Chrome came to liberate us from the shackles of IE, but like many revolutionary leaders, too many years in power have corrupted Chrome’s original mission....MORE
We noted the start of Firefox's turnaround in last July's "Firefox vs Chrome: "Firefox’s blazing speed with huge numbers of tabs leaves Chrome in the dust"  followed by "Close Those Tabs!":
I know we have sent conflicting messages on the subjects of tabs and bookmarks.

On the one hand pitching the fact researchers had tested the latest version of Firefox with 1,691 tabs open at the same time - "a power user's dream" - while on the other hand posting "Hey, You at the Computer, Hoarding Links is a Mental Illness":
Step away from the keyboard, we're going to get you some help....
If you switch and feel some anxiety about not sending Google enough personal information, the GOOG does have a couple non-Chrome options:

1) 'Optical sensors' embedded in everyday objects could assess cardiovascular function and help users improve heart health" (GOOG)
Well isn't this a dream come true:
I am not putting cameras* behind the mirrors in the bathrooms, sorry.
Maybe behind the ones in the long hall.

From CB Insights, Jan. 5:
The biggest players in tech are increasingly going after the healthcare space.
Patent activity, in particular, gives a window into where tech giants are investing in health tracking R&D. Amazon has patented heart-rate detection by smartphone and Apple has patented smartphone-based  health tracking. Now Google is moving deeper into medical data as well.

patent application published January 4 details how Google could use “optical sensors” placed in patients’ devices or belongings to capture data on individual’s cardiovascular function – all with the aim of motivating behavioral changes and reducing instances of heart disease.
The sensors might even be positioned (per the patent’s illustrations) in a “sensing milieu” in a patient’s bathroom.

Google’s new invention for at-home health tracking would
  1. monitor certain aspects of a patient’s physical appearance; and
  2. track changes in appearance that relate to cardiovascular health problems.
In addition, it would integrate with other Google hardware and software – such as Android phones and Google Glass – to capture, process, and analyze as much user cardio data as possible.
The data would be monitored for trends and shared with patients or their medical professionals.

Google ups the healthcare ante against Apple

This latest patent aligns with other signals pointing to Google’s long-term strategy in healthcare: Patent filings in recent years have indicated Google’s interest in using noninvasive sensors to collect real-time medical information and apply the data for predictive purposes....MUCH MORE
*The only difference between a camera and an 'optical sensor' is the wavelength in the electromagnetic spectrum we're dealing with.
And sometimes there is no difference at all.
2) Some Thoughts on Google Offering An Online Depression Test
From AFNS:*

To encourage more sufferers to seek treatment, Google is now offering a quiz for users to check their own depression symptoms when searching for information about the disease. What do you think?

“This should help remedy the current problem of Google not having nearly enough info about me.”
Hannah Leibold Lithium Wholesaler

“Thanks, but if I were actually interested in addressing my mental health problems I wouldn’t be spending so much time online.”
Pete Winspear Sidewalk Excavator