Firefox vs. Chrome

There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who use computers, and those who understand them. This is not intended as an insult to those of the first group, as if you don’t know anything because you’re not a programmer. It’s like the difference between those who drink milk and those who own cows. Once not smarter then the others, and plenty of milk drinkers are fully educated on what farmers do, but really only the farmers are going to be able to tell a sick cow from a healthy one, and provide proper treatment. The same goes for users of web browsers, which results in endless bickering matches over what the best choice is.  The truth is; neither one is better then the other. They are simply suited to different needs.

Now, before anyone argues about this, let me explain my own grounds. I love Firefox, and I adore using Linux. I abhor Chrome. I tried Chrome, and I hate it, and I’ve had to defend myself against Google lovers ever since. But that’s not what this is about.

My strongest strength as a geek is explaining the tech-heads to the laymen. Which usually translates into explaining my dad to my mom. My mom is one of those people who uses computers, but really understands nothing about them. And she’s smarter then your average computer user. Even those with advanced computer skills who don’t go blank when you mention HTML tags have their limits on what they do and do not want their browser capabilities to be. So this is where we get Chrome.

Microsoft and Google both have the same objective. They market to the masses. They make software that can be used by everyone, regardless of their tech level. Windows is becoming more and more pre-setup, so that you can send your little old aunt down to the computer store and she can pretty much run it by herself. As long as you don’t mind her using Internet Exploder, of course. Google is doing the same thing–marketing to the Everyman. Chrome is designed so that you can go over to your little aunt’s house, get rid of IE, and put that on instead. It’s designed to take care of itself, much as a robot would. All the features are hidden out of the way where she won’t accidently click on them and turn things on and off that you’d rather work alone. It’s clean, fast, efficient, and uncomplicated. And it drives people like me nuts.

You see, then there’s the other side of the spectrum. The tinkerers, hackers, and coders. We like everything out in the open. We like to have all our options available to us, because we know what they actually mean. Chrome drives people like us crazy when we want to be able to clear cookies in a snap, and disable and re-enable plugins on a daily basis.

It’s like what I tell my dad when he doesn’t understand why people think Linux is so complicated. It’s a wonderful, powerful operating system. It is extremely customizable–but some people don’t want to be able to customize that much. Some people don’t know how. Linux is a pet; to use it to its fullest capacity you have to groom it, and train it, and tweak it, and personalize it, and make it your own, and no one can do that for you but you. If you don’t enjoy that, or if you don’t know how, then you will hate it and it will give you no end of difficulty.

I have a friend who’s about my age. She’s a writer. She’s smart and competent, and was born in the right era to understand as much as I do about computers. But she doesn’t. She’s considering switching to Apple so that it’s less complicated for her to sync between her iPhone and PC. My reaction to this is…well…very strong. I’m going to get an iPhone and not even run Apple software on it! Because I’m a hacker. I make the hardware do what I want it to do, rather then going along with the intended purpose. Or, as my brother’s favourite saying goes: “I void warranties.”

So that’s why I abhor Chrome. That’s why major geeks like my father think the design interface is idiotic. It was designed to be used by people who just want to use a web browser to browse the web. So if you’re a web browser who wants to browse the web–go download Chrome! You will love it. I highly recommend it for just about everyone.

Just never, ever recommend it to me. I’m open source all the way.


Comments

Firefox vs. Chrome — 2 Comments

  1. I’m not a hacker. Chrome is making me mad, though, because on the library computers where I do most of my online time I cannot get anything Gmail/blog related to function at all unless I download chrome. Every time. I don’t know if Google is making it hard to use other browsers, on purpose, but the suspicion makes me MAD.

  2. The distinctions you’re making between operating systems and their users sound very much like the analogy in Neal Stephenson’s classic essay “In the Beginning Was the Command Line”.

    And if your objections to Chrome were purely on the grounds of the openness of the code, I’d suggest running Chromium—the free-software project that’s essentially Chrome before the Google branding is stuck on—instead.

    But since customizability and power are what you’re ranting about, I’ll merely say that you sound almost like an ideal user for Gentoo Linux; the reasons you don’t like using Chrome are very much like the reasons I don’t like using Ubuntu or Fedora or any of those kinds of distributions: the administration tools either don’t provide the functionality I want or expose it in a way I would never think of, and the packagers insist on bundling all sorts of “features” that just get in my way.

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