Vivaldi

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Anyone who has been reading this blog for a while will know that I was a big fan of Opera, right up until they moved to Chromium for their rendering engine.  It wasn’t the choice of Chromium per say (though I do think they had a lot of benefits writing their own engine) but the complete change in direction of the browser.

Opera moved from being a great user experience to being just a clone of Chrome in a single version and the complete lack of features really ended my use of it.

Well it looks like the founder of Opera feels the same way and he’s created a new browser, Vivaldi, which looks like it will bring back the old Opera’s design philosophy.

It’s currently available as a technical preview and it certainly has its limits at this point but it’s already better than the current Opera releases.  While it uses the Chromium engine as well, it looks to be a very tight team developing it and hopefully that will bring the kind of features more advanced users want in their browser.

Messeging Apps: Threema

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There is a plethora of messaging apps out there these days but most of them are tied/owned to big social networks of some kind.

I recently talked a bit about Bleep but development of it has been pretty slow.  I found Threema in the Windows Phone Store and decided to give it a go.

First things first, it’s not free, but that’s to be expected.  Threema focuses on security and that pretty much negates a “free” business model that involves advertising as their revenue stream.

It is cross-platform, so you don’t have to have Windows Phone to use it, though there is no Windows version.

Setup is simple, they use a random sample of swiping to generate and private/public key pair and then your off t the races.

Threema is both secure and can be anonymous as well as it doesn’t require you to enter your phone number of e-mail address as part of the sign-up process.

Of course you have to find someone else who has Threema to message them but that isn’t a big hurdle since the app is only $1.99.

Adding contacts is perhaps the only weak point I found with Threema.  A friend downloaded it and I scanned the QR code for him.  It added him to my contacts and so I sent him a message.  On his end, there wasn’t an obvious way to add me to his contacts (without scanning my QR code) but after fiddling around a bit we found you could start a new chat with me and then add my to the contacts list from there.

Threema supports group chats and delivery and read receipts and just about everything else you might want in a messaging app so I’m going to see if I can get a few more people on it and give it a good work out.

I’m still interested to see what happens with Bleep, but it may be a while before anything happens with it and even longer still before there is a Windows Phone version.

BitTorrent Sync

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Using cloud services to store my data isn’t something I’ve been a big fan of, I do use OneDrive a bit, but only for things that aren’t very important but I need to share with others.

BitTorrent Sync on the other hand looks to solve many of the concerns I have and provide a solution that keeps control of your content in your own hands.

It’s still beta at the moment and I think I’ll wait till it’s out of beta to give it a try, but I’m defiantly interested in it.

Messaging Apps: Bleep

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Messaging apps have been centralized services for a long time, but Bleep from BitTorrent looks to change that.

Currently I have four different messaging apps that I use; Skype, WhatsApp, Viber and BBM.  They all have a centralized service of some kind (Skype being a kind of exception but not really) and security is not a high priority with any of them.

Bleep uses the BitTorrent protocol to make s distributed network with encryption built-in and no centralized servers.

If they can get broad OS support I’ll be very interested in moving away from all of my other messaging apps on to Bleep.

The Death of Opera 12

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I’ve been using Opera 12 as my main browser for years now, but more and more sites are starting to fail with it.

The Chromium based version of Opera is just such a poor substitute that I can’t see myself moving to it.  That means either Firefox or Chrome.

I’ve used Firefox for years and with some add ons it’s a pretty good substitute for Opera 12, but it is a bit of a resource hog and with every version looks more and more like Chrome.

On the other hand I’ve been using Chrome for testing and Google has obviously put a lot of effort in making a technically superb browser, but it is Google 🙁

So the winner is Firefox, but I have to admit there’s no technical reason I can find to prefer it over Chrome.  Sometimes I guess you just have to accept a moral stand as the only reason for choosing one vendor or another 😉

Migrating to Firefox was easy enough, just had to export my bookmarks out from Opera (Firefox has apparently dropped importing from Opera at some point) as HTML and then loaded them in to Firefox.

I did have to setup Firefox Sync again as I haven’t used it since the major update they did a while ago.

I did install a couple of extra add ons:

  • Adblock Plus
  • Bookmarks menu (to get an opera style bookmark menu item back)
  • Download Panel Tweaks (to get rid of the annoying download arrow animation)
  • DuckDuckGo Plus (easy default search setup)
  • Firebug (to replace the Opera debugger)
  • NoScript (I may remove this again, we’ll see)

The only other thing now is to store my passwords in the browser again as I logon to the various sites.