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Issue #110: August 30, 2009

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Q: I was thinking of changing browsers to Google Chrome or Opera could you give me your thoughts on this?

– Steve B.
Fort Walton Beach, Fla

A: Well, Steve, at the risk of being accused of dodging your question, please let me give you some generalizations, then point you to the web for further research.

The first thing to ask yourself is “Why do I want to switch?”  For the most part, Internet Explorer (the Microsoft browser that comes with the various flavors of Windows) is a feature-rich, extensible, and very popular browser that is fully capable of fulfilling all of your browser needs.  It is also arguably the most-targeted piece of software of virus and malware authors because of its numerous security problems.  Microsoft is constantly releasing security patches, trying to stay ahead of the bad guys.  Chrome (google.com/chrome) is a relatively new browser offered by the 8000 pound cyberspace gorilla, Google.  I have little experience with Chrome, but Google has a tendency toward high-quality, stable software, making this an attractive choice.  They also have a tenancy toward personal monitoring that would make anyone who is concerned about their privacy think twice before putting too much information through Chrome’s slick interface.  Opera (www.opera.com) claims to offer a “faster & safer Internet”.  I know many people who swear by it, and Opera claims over 20 million users.  I recommend you do a web search on “compare browsers” and read some independent reviews before you make your decision.

Q: I like to play scrabble on the Pogo website.  The problem is that now when I get to the actual game and try to hit the “play” button, it is hidden below the message line at the bottom of the screen, so I cannot click on it.  I think this new quirk started after I installed an update from Windows (Home Edition, 2002 version).  I tried changing the screen resolution–no help.  I also tried to restore to an earlier date, but no date I tried was available.  Could the problem be with the Pogo site, or is there something else I could try?

– Jo H.
Fort Walton Beach, Fla

A: The actual rendering of the contents of a web page is every bit as much a function of your browser as it is of the web content itself.  In other words, the web content provides instructions to the browser about what it’s supposed to display, but it is up to the browser to carry out those instructions.  Browser manufacturers often have differing opinions on how to interpretat the instructions, which is one reason why web content often looks different depending on which browser you’re using.

In your case, it sounds like something that didn’t used to be on your system before the update has changed the playing field (pun intended) and now it doesn’t appear as it used to.  The only translation I can come up with for “the message line at the bottom of the screen” is the browser’s status bar, which you can easily disable by selecting the “View” menu, and on the “Toolbars” submenu, uncheck “Status Bar”.  You might also want to try gaining some browser real estate by maximizing your browser’s window, or even putting it into full-screen mode temporarily while you’re playing your game.  Maximize is the “Square” button next to the “X” in the upper-right corner.  You can view full-screen either by selecting the “View” menu, and clicking “Full Screen” or simply hitting the F11 key.

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