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
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,
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.