Coast Updated…

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What’s New in Version 4.00

Four (4) is an important number. It represents the seasons, the elements, and the amount of members in the Beatles.
Zero (0) is the amount of pies we have.

So, 4.0 is a pretty big update.

If that isn’t a teaser that makes you curious as to what it is, I don’t know what is!

It’s part of the announcement of the update to the Opera Coast browser for the iPad.

In a world where all of the browsers on the iPad want to be just versions of the desktop program ported over, Coast is something completely different.  I first discovered Opera Coast over a year ago.  I actually blogged about it at the time and was a little tentative with the title.  “Investigating Opera Coast“.

When I think back on it, I didn’t like it at first.  I wanted a browser for my tablet that indeed worked like the desktop version.  

Opera was anything but a desktop browser just running on the tablet.  The navigation was completely different.  I liked the swiping to navigate and the search facility right off the bat.  No URL – the screen is just all website.  It took a little while but it’s now become my default browser.  At edCampSWO in Tilbury, I was talking to a colleague and I noticed that he was using it as default as well.

I alternate between Opera and Firefox on the desktop.  One of the reasons why I stick with Opera is its discover feature.  There’s always something new and interesting to read.  With this update to Opera Coast, it has a discover feature as well.

I think that part of what challenged me at first with Coast was the lack of menus and options.

But, as I started to use it, I realized that on my tablet they were basically eye candy.  I didn’t use them.  There is a configuration available for Coast but you’ll notice that there are very few options.  Of course clearing your browsing data is important but there’s very little significantly different.  Bookmarks appear is a 3×4 or 3×3 grid on the opening page.  It really is minimal when it comes to extra features – I find that it just supports browsing so quickly and efficiently.

Opera Turbo is a unique feature to the Opera line of browsers.  It’s worth mentioning and consideration.  It’s a compression scheme that sends some webpages through Opera servers where they’re compressed and passed along to you.  The claim is for a faster browsing experience, using less data.  I have it enabled since I do have a slow connection at home.  I’m not sure just show much it saves me but even if it’s a bit, it should speed up the process.

Of course, in my world, sharing is important.  Opera Coast has sharing built nicely into the new version.  Most importantly, I’m impressed with how operation is all based on touch and touch actions.  After a while, it just seems like this is how a tablet browser should function.

Opera Coast is a free download from here.  I’ve found it to be worth the learning curve.  Any other takers out there?

Should Have Done This Years Ago

Years ago, maybe five?, I had a Lenovo laptop with a whopping 2 MB of memory.  At the time, I wanted to try out Ubuntu in a dual boot situation.  I already had purchased the Dell Netbook that came with Ubuntu and I really liked it.  So, off I went to the Ubuntu website and downloaded Ubuntu and made the machine dual boot.  One side was Windows XP and the other side was Ubuntu.

Of course, I had to download the 32 bit version of Ubuntu with the limited memory that I had in place.  The computer was OK on the Windows side but just screamed on the Ubuntu side.  It was just so fast; it was hard to believe that it was the same computer.

When that laptop died, I indulged myself with this computer.  It has an i7 processor and 4GB of RAM.  Windows 7 was OK but like most Windows installations slowed over time no matter how many times I tweaked it.  I’m sure that it’s self-inflicted.  So, I decided to make the computer dual boot to Ubuntu.  Now, when you have the slow internet that I do, you really have to pick and choose your downloads wisely.  I could go somewhere and download on their high speed – but I still had the Ubuntu DVD from my previous installation.  I was just going to test for proof of concept anyway – so I installed it and started to use it.  Darned if it didn’t make this computer fly.

I kept using it, and when updates came along, I would just apply the updates.  I was totally happy.  The last update was 14.04LTS and I was very, very happy with it.

Until I tried to install the Opera Browser.

Oh yeah.  That other decision has come back to byte me.

Opera only comes in a 64 bit version so I couldn’t install it.  I went online seeking advice and there was no natural path from the 32 bit version to the 64 bit version.  It calls for brute force installation from scratch.  Just backup your Home Directory after revealing hidden files so that you can resume Ubuntu life.

I looked at my face mirrored in the monitor.  You dummy.

Right out of the box, Windows 7 was running 64 bit.  That was only half a hard disk away.

The timing was right.  Ubuntu, which updates itself every six months, has just released version 14.10.  Why not?

So, I started the download and went to take the dog for a long walk.  There’s no sense in sitting at the keyboard watching the download process inch along.

Sure enough, when we returned, there was a disk image sitting on my desktop.  I just need to burn it to DVD, reboot from the DVD and then install.  Wait!  Do I have any DVDs?  It’s been so long since I’d burned one.  Fortunately, having a son in the television editing business means that there’s never a shortage of video stuff.  I walked down the hall and got a blank.  Of course, I needed to dig into the ol’ brain cells to remember how to burn a DVD…done!

I rebooted and was so impressed with the installation screen.

I could:

  • Run Ubuntu from the DVD (nah, I’m here for the duration);
  • Erase the entire hard drive and install Ubuntu 14.10 (goodbye Windows);
  • Erase the petition and install Ubuntu 14.10 (yes, but that would remove everything and I’m not that radical);
  • Do something else; (I was totally intrigued by this but passed…)
  • or, the preferred solution – you have Windows 7 and Ubuntu 14.04LTS installed – upgrade Ubuntu to 14.10.  Yes!

Half an hour later, I’m done.  During the process, I noticed that Ubuntu had archived certain things and then restored them.  On first boot, I hit Firefox to see that my theme (Puny Weakling) and all of my extensions save.  It was just a matter of copying my Home Directory and I was back, good to go.

I had bookmarked a couple of upgrade advice resources:

Some I had planned on doing anyway, some were new and some were ignored.  After all, Ubuntu is all about open ideas and concepts – even in its installation.

I installed Ubuntu Tweak and messed about.  I think we all have an idea of what our computer should look and act like.

And, I’m back in business.  No stopping me from trying out Opera on Ubuntu now!

If this works out well, maybe I’ll buy more RAM.

I’m never completely computer happy.

Looking Good

Out of the box, most browsers look the same.  Kind of silvery with tabs and it’s only when you start to poke around under the hood that you realize that there’s a big difference.  I’ve always customized my computer – it’s just pleasing rather than having to deal with a boring interface.  Since I spend most of my time in a browser these days, it seems only logical to customize the look of the browser.

There are many themes available for you already created and waiting for you to download and apply them.

One of the things that intrigued me about Opera Next was the menu option right in the browser to create your own theme. 

I’ve always been impressed with this image that was part of a Ubuntu release and have maintained it as my desktop on my computer.  With Opera’s built in “build a theme”, I was able to make it part of my desktop of my browser.

But what about the other browsers?

Well, you could poke around the theme repositories and see if you could find one – or you could roll your own.  Here are a couple that I played around with. 

The applications are essentially extensions to the browser.  Just install them and away you go.  There are others so if you don’t like it, try another.  The goal here is customization.

Canvas for Firefox

Theme Creator for Google Chrome

They both function similarly.  You personalize with images that you upload from your computer and you can adjust the colours for the application.

As I was looking around the already created themes, I notice that there are a great deal of options if you’re a soccer fan and want to show your loyalty via a browser customization.  Editorial Note – lots of Brazil!  If you’re in a school setting, how about a custom school theme with school pictures and colours?  Themes can be shared amongst friends or the whole world, if you’re interested.

I’ll confess – I’m no artist.  Despite my efforts, I couldn’t do better than the themes that I’m currently using.

There’s definitely an element of green there.  It sure beats silver.

Still Wanting It All

This may be one of those posts that you want to skip.

It gets to me basically documenting my thinking about my personal use of web browsers and may bore you to tears.  But, if I blog about it, it helps if I ever need to rationalize what I’ve done or backtrack on my thinking.

A while ago, I had taken Opera Next for a ride and actually had installed it on a my computers and was happily using it.  Then, reality kicked in and I realized that the limitations to it ran too deep for my workflow.  So, I stopped using it although I kept it on my computer.  I just knew that since Opera had started using the same rendering engine that Google Chrome did that it might come in handy.

Online life resumed using Google Chrome and Firefox.

Over the weekend, a couple of the frustrations that I had with these browsers made me think that I’d like to take another look at Opera Next.  Using Chrome, periodically, my Macintosh would totally lock up and require a hard reboot.  Plus, my reflections about updating my blog bizarrely were documented in a post a week or so back.  Firefox was my saviour and I used it so well.  I was on the Beta channel in Firefox and was very interested to notice that the new interface had been released on that channel.  I was happily using that as an alternative but there was one little gotcha.  For some reason, I couldn’t find a pin to Pinterest on Shareaholic.  It as there on Chrome but not on Firefox that I could see.  I keep a Pinterest board for my blog posts for some unknown reason and so adding using two pieces of methodology was just bizarre. The current version of Google Chrome also isn’t playing nicely with the graphics on my Macintosh.  I like to do one CMD + – to make the text a bit smaller in Hootsuite so that I can fit more text on the screen.  The cursor leaves a bunch of artifacts on the screen that are annoying.

I should note that, if there is any finger pointing to be done, it’s at me.  I have no doubt that these problems are self-inflicted and that I just need to step back and isolate things.  But, that will come after I give Opera another chance.

I had been running version 20 so it was no surprise that there was at least one upgrade.  I’m now running version 21.

Opera has a nice clean looking interface…time to messy it up with the extensions that get me through the day.  Now I remember one of the reasons I didn’t stick with Opera before.  The selection of extensions is small when compared to Firefox and Chrome.  But, many of my favourites were there.  I thought that it was a shame that there weren’t more – after all, they were using the Blink engine just like Chrome.  Then I found the answer!  It’s called Download Chrome Extension.  It’s an extension that, when added, let’s you download Google Chrome extensions and install them.  There were only a couple of things that I wanted like the WordPress extension so I grabbed it and did the installations.  Sweet!

Now, I’m not much for a silvery look so next is to find a theme.  There are actually quite a few interesting ones from the Opera store but, as I’m poking around, there’s an option to create your own theme!

Now, how’s that for the ultimate customization.  Which one of the millions of pictures I have on my computer would I use?  I decided to take the image from my Grade 2 friends at Gosfield North.

So, I’m really cooking.  But, then I hit a couple of bumps – Opera Next is not available for Linux (yet?).  And, the synchronize feature between Macintosh and Windows isn’t working yet.  Man, I just want it all!

But, as I type this, I’m using the Scribefire editor in Opera under Windows and things appear to be working nicely.  I’m going to keep it for a while.  I like the Speed Dial, Discover, and the ability to handle extensions.  It is like working in Google Chrome with the exception of some user interface options that look different.  Some blogs are even calling it more polished.

So, it’s my go-to for right now.  Or, at least, until I get restless again.  My to-do list does include digging into the things that weren’t working with the other browsers.  Looking for the perfect browser is always fun.