Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Opera? More like, Opwnera, amirite?

It's official. Opera is now better than FireFox. And this not my opinion. No, my friends, it is FACT.

Yesterday, those great guys in Norway released version 9.0 of their Opera browser. It's great. It's bliss. I think I creamed my pants three times before even finishing reading the page that lists the new features. Back when Opera was at their 7.x series, I briefly deserted and used FireFox for a while, and the main plus for me was the AdBlocker plugin. I blogged earlier that there was a trick to make Opera block Flash embeds which efficiently also blocks 90% of the online ads, but it wasn't the best. But now that Opera added a Content Blocker, I will never again have to switch back to the sloth that is FireFox.

The major new features:

  • It has a god-damn content blocker. Goodbye, ads! Still take a bit of digging through the source to block embedded scripts, though.
  • It has a built-in BitTorrent client. I'm really not kidding. It's not ĀµTorrent, but it's pretty awesome.
  • Tabs thumbnail preview. Pretty sweet. Hover your cursor over a tab and a mini-version of the page pops up along with some details.
  • Per-site preferences. You know all that sweet stuff you can setup for a browser to make it more secure and comfy? Like cookie settings, popup blocker settings, enable images, enable javascript, enable plugins, and like a TON more... you can now do that for each page separately (or have it use the default).
  • Widgets. I haven't tried any yet, but judging from the Opera Widget Guide it looks like they're essentially like FireFox's plugins. Or Vista's sidebar components. Or Windows's ActiveDesktop elements. Or Javascript widgets. With cream. Say aah.
  • Customizable search engines. Used to edit your search.ini yourself? Well, not anymore. Everything you could do in there, you can set from the Opera UI itself now, without restarting the browser. Even search forms that use POST data! (Which FireFox still can't do reliably or easily.)
  • opera:config. So FireFox stole a few (well, a FEW) features from Opera? That's cool, we'll steal back one or two. This looks like you can essentially edit the opera6.ini settings file from within Opera.
And don't forget: Opera is free!

So is there anything I don't like? Unfortunately, yes. It seems like each major version upgrade, keyboard shortcut keys change. Though I love the feature in itself very very much, it's not handy if each time I memorized all the keyboard shortcuts, they change in the next version again!
In the first few minutes of using Opera 9, I noticed that New tab, Paste and go, Close tab... three of the most-used shortcut keys I use, and all three keyboard shortcuts are different. Why?

[edit] Oh, nevermind. You can change keyboard shortcut assignments. Hooray! :)
[edit2] I can no longer login to Hotmail with Opera 9. Boo.
[edit3] Well, I can, but only if I allow normal and third party cookies from *.msn.com, *.live.com, *.hotmail.com, *.passport.com and *.passport.net. Gotta love Microsoft for shoving you through 5 different domains (and at least 3 times as much servers) before logging you in to Hotmail.