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  • Home > Reviews > Opera

    Opera, MouseImp and Winamp

    Feb. 1, 2003

    I just tried the newest version of the internet browser underdog, Opera. Less than an hour later, the offending software was off my machine. Now, I'm a big fan of Opera, have been using it consistently since the late 4.x version was out. I have not paid the $39 for the ad-free version, but enjoy its many advanced features. I enjoy the tabbed interface for multiple windows in the same browser. I enjoy the pop-up free browsing. The bookmark system is more intuitive and easy to control than, say. . . Internet Explorer and Netscape (and that includes Mozilla). The thing I like best is the feature that allows you to browse at the exact same spot you were at before you closed your browser. It has changed the way I surf the internet. I now think of my browsing as I would reading a novel. Before, I had to do it in sessions. Oh, time to close the browser. Hmm, wonder where I was last night, I can't remember. Oh, which bookmark is it? Oops, it just crashed, I had five windows open and they are all gone. If only I could remember where I was before the crash. Yeah, melodramatic, but you get the point. Any time I close Opera, or even if it crashes (which is much less frequent than other browsers I could mention), I don't have to worry. I just reopen it and every window is there again. Even Mozilla, which has the resume where you were browsing before feature, doesn't do that for all every window.

    So I love this software. Imagine how great my expectations may have been. for version 7.0. I read on ZDNet that Opera 7.0 was faster (an impressive feat to begin with, considering previous versions were very speedy in rendering). The first thing I noticed when I opened the new version, it didn't have my old windows. Every other version of Opera installs over previous versions just fine, and picks up where you left off. I'm a little put off, but it was no loss. Of course, some people, like Fred Langa and Scott Finney would condemn me for installing over software, preferring fresh installs. For most things, I prefer the same thing. Just not for Opera, for the reason that installing over allows me to pick up where I left off.

    The next thing I noticed was the interface. I don't like it. I must be blunt, it sucks. The buttons all flash when the mouse hovers over them, the buttons are all in the wrong place, the bookmarks look wrong (at least it imported all the old ones, but I did back them up before hand, thank you very much). Why change the buttons around? I've been used to these buttons all in the "right" place for quite some time. I was annoyed at having to hunt for buttons like a newbie. And then have the buttons flash at me, as if mocking my ignorance. Yes, you can turn off the flashing. Who knows, you may even be able to move the buttons around. Who cares? I didn't like it. And the color scheme. Ew. I know Opera is skinnable, but again, who cares? I want a decent looking interface and usually don't change it after that. Winamp has skins galore, but I use the standard. I'm just that kind of computer user.

    The icing on the proverbial cake was Opera 7.0's inability to interact with one of my favorite pieces of software of all time, MouseImp. For those who don't know, MouseImp allows you to right-click on a window and scroll, much as you can in Adobe's Acrobat, only in more programs across windows. There is a free and a pay version of this little gem. I use MouseImp all the time, and hate working on computers that don't have it installed. With how much time I spend on a computer, I have to protect my wrists, and MouseImp allows me to scroll with minimal hand movement. Sadly, it appears that TV Studios no longer supports or updates MouseImp, which is a shame. As computing continues to evolve, software is written that is not compatible with MouseImp, including many java applications and an old favorite of mine, OpenOffice. That's fine, as I can get by and don't need the special scrolling for those as much, my primary browser is one place where I do need special scrolling. Gotta save my wrists. Apparently, Opera was rewritten and has a new software core, making it incompatible with MouseImp. When I discovered this lack, I knew it was a matter of time before I uninstalled the offending software. I tried it for an hour or so before uninstalling. And reinstalling Opera 6.05 back on my machine. Oh, and when I opened the new installation of 6.05, it resumed my surfing from where I was before I tried 7.0. 6.05 is here to stay, I guess.

    A side note about MouseImp's compatibility. I still use OpenOffice, but Mozilla is rarely used because it doesn't play nice with MouseImp. Winamp 3.0 was rewritten and is no longer compatible, so out it goes. Guess it depends on the software, whether I will keep it. Many of them, the MouseImp issue was enough to push me over the edge when I'm indecicive. Winamp 3.0 also changed its interface from 2.8x. It has the stupid new media management system that I hate. It eats up more memory. But the MouseImp pushed me over the edge. Now, I understand the importance of good interface design, even took a class on the subject, and if a previous GUI is awkward, change may be for the best. But when it is useable and comfortable and software engineers change around the interface, willy-nilly, it makes me angry. New features aren't enough. Stability might be, depending on how bad an issue that was before. Making the GUI prettier is not a good enough excuse to me. So, I still have Winamp 2.8x on my machine. And there it will stay. Updating software is important, in the face of all the security issues, and yes, dare I say it, in order to make a profit. Just make sure you do it right and don't alienate your users.

    Now I will step down off my soapbox.

    Copyright © 2007 Matthew Rutherford
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