If there's anything that will make me me think twice about switching away from Opera it's a killer, easy to use, personal wiki that doesn't work in Opera. Something like TiddlyWiki - "a reusable non-linear personal web notebook" - would fit the bill.

Essentially, it's a personal wiki which you upload to a server. (Everything is contained in a single file.) When you read it the server doesn't DO anything but send you the text. There's no database, no back end work at all. All the magic is done client-side with javascript. You edit the wiki using your browser (javascript, remember?) and save the changes to your own hard drive. In other words, this isn't a collaborative tool like the wikis you know and love, it's a single-user experience.

The changes you make aren't saved on the server, which may seem pretty limiting, but if you need a quick way to create and publish content that doesn't need to be edited by your readers (blogs, manuals, quick synopses, FAQs) it's awesome. Build it locally and upload the single file to a server.

Just viewing the wiki downloads a local copy (to your cache), but if your right-click and view source you can save the entire wiki and all its contents anywhere you like. At the main site you can also download an empty shell of a wiki to play around with. It's very easy to get started.

Having your own personal wiki, on your own computer, can be immensely handy. I've used one (Newton) for almost a year now to keep track of snippets of documentation and code, Linux tricks, reading lists, shopping lists, etc. and I don't know how I lived without it. Tomboy is another good one. I'm seriously thinking of switching to TiddlyWiki, though, because I basically live in my browser.

The only catch is that it doesn't work very well with Opera. :( There are work-arounds, but they're kludgy. I'm going to give it a shot, though. If it doesn't work I might... no, never mind. Okay. I might switch browsers. [gasp]

TiddlyWiki's interface is very different from what most of us are used to. It's a bit like working with file cards, pulling out just the ones you need and spreading them on your desk. Every link you click opens onto the same page, which can be handier than hell for some kinds of content, but unsuitable for other sorts. It's not very well suited to long articles, for instance. It would be extremely useful for anyone who thinks in "outline style," keeps calendars and contact lists where they belong (not in Outlook), folks who need to take notes, or anyone who works with code snippets. I actually thought "Larry would probably like this" when I first saw it.

Neat trick: You can create a new blog on Blogspot and copy/paste your wiki into the template field. Google is now hosting your wiki. Cool? Cool. Later, if you decide to make changes, just edit it locally and update your blog template with the more recent file. Here's an example, which is just a copy of the main TiddlyWiki page uploaded into a test blog I made for the purpose. I viewed the source at TiddlyWiki.com, then pasted it into the blog template. Voila!


Deconstructing IE 7 Beta 2

Well, now. IE 7 Beta 2 is out. Isn't that special?

Let's see what it offers.

"The address bar now appears on the top and is not movable (relocating the bar is a common ploy among spyware and adware vendors)"
Good for IE. I don't remember spyware or adware messing with the always movable address bar in Opera or Firefox, though. Guess this just corrects an IE-specific problem, then.

"Also, the toolbar has been simplified to show only icons."
You mean you couldn't do that before? Opera and Firefox could.

"Also, the Favorites sidebar now has three tabs: one for Favorites, one for History, and one for RSS feeds."
Three! Holy moley! Wake the kids, honey, IE will have three tabs in the sidebar!
Opera's sidebar (we call it a "panel") can have as many tabs as you want. When you bookmark anything you can choose to add it to the panel.
Of course, there's the All-In-One Sidebar Firefox extension.

Welcome to the Internet, Microsoft! Everybody does tabs. They've been doing it for years. For cryin' out loud, I have a text-based Linux browser that does them! Why do your users put up with you?
(Psst. Opera was first. :) )

"However, borrowing from what we've seen inside the Windows Vista prereleases, Microsoft has added the ability to visually display all open tabs. Unlike with Vista's IE 7, you can't mouse over the open tabs to see previews of each page, something that Firefox and Opera currently allow you to do."
First, Firefox has at least three extensions that show all open tabs; Firefox Showcase, Tab Catalog, and Viamatic FoXpose. You'll find them here. As for page previews when you mouse over the tabs themselves, Viamatic Tabnail does this, and it looks pretty cool.
Unfortunately, and it pains me greatly to say this, Opera doesn't do any of these things despite what the article says. We're nagging the developers, though.

"Another feature borrowed from Windows Vista is page zoom. You can wheel in or wheel out on a page"
"Borrowed from Vista" is really code for "borrowed from Opera." I use scrollwheel zooming all the time.
I don't think Firefox does this, but I'll bet there'll be an extension for it by the time IE7 is released. It'll be at least half a year, right?

"Shrink to print"
It's [ctrl]+[F11] in Opera. We call it "Fit to Width." You can browse that way, too, (while zoomed in if you like) so you don't have to scroll horizontally.
I dont know if FF has this.

"You also have the ability to print only the highlighted section of a Web page."
Something that neither Opera nor FF can do? For God's sake, TRUMPET THIS FEATURE!

Playing catchup again, eh? Opera's been doing this forever. FF has extensions to do this. I'm going to copy/paste these sentences to save myself some typing.

"Built-in search"
+yawn+ See above. Opera does it, FF does it.

"...when IE 7 imports your data from IE 6, it'll preserve your search engine preference"
I had to read half the article before reaching a line that basically says "it won't break stuff," and the only thing it promises not to break is your search engine preferences? That's good, I suppose, but it implies that it will break everything else on your system. Not that they need to imply anything. We already know IE will break everything else on your system.

"IE 7 will lock that preference so that installing toolbars won't automatically--and sometimes without your permission--change that preference."
You mean, before IE 7, things could automatically change your preferences against your will? Oh my gosh! Say it ain't so. Why didn't this make the news?

"Improved security"
No comment.

Re security: "While in the short term these (changes) may dissuade some criminal hackers, others may find other flaws within the venerable browser to exploit going forward."
This is reporting at its finest, don't you think? I'm eagerly awaiting his next prediction: "It's not unlikely that, if you lack an umbrella, you will become wet in the rain."

Using heuristics, or algorithms, rather than whitelists, Internet Explorer can analyze a given page and determine whether it's the real McCoy or a spoofed page. Should you land on a suspicious site, you'll see a golden bar across the top of the page."

Ah, yes. The old Golden Bar ploy. I've heard of that. Firefox, of course, already has its own solutions.

"Another very good change is the simplified Internet security settings options. Microsoft has raised the security bar, making the default setting Medium-High."
You can set it to "high" full time. Just uninstall IE.

"Microsoft has neutered all but the most essential ActiveX Controls."
In other words, "we were wrong."

"A new feature within IE 7 for XP SP2 adds an address bar to pop-up windows, allowing you to determine whether you want to view that content (advertising, for example)."
First off, you'll know if you want to view it by viewing it. You don't go looking for an address bar to determine if an ad's an ad, you look at it and say, "oh, that's an ad," and then you close it. What this really means is that "pop-up windows will continue to be a nuisance in IE, but at least you'll know where they're coming from."
Anyway, Opera already blocks pop-ups quite well and Firefox does it even better. Like the "new improved IE," Opera also displays the address bar in those windows/tabs. I assume Firefox does, too, but I'm not sure.

"IDN support"
Hey, this is the same "Golden Bar" link from above! (A year ago, remember?)
I don't know if Firefox has a solution for IDN spoofing. I'd assume so. MMM?

"Microsoft has finally made it easy for anyone to delete their browser history."
Yes, yes, that's nice dear. This is basic functionality in Opera and Firefox. Don't you have homework to do?

It's February, 2006. IE users, you're going to have to wait at least until this fall to get what everyone else on the Net has had all along. Why do this to yourselves? Make the switch. It's not like you don't have a lot of choices.