Prior to purchasing the PowerBook I had an interesting exchange with a friend from the USA Scott who was advising me on the process:
Scott: “As I have already said, you really haven’t experienced RSS in all its glory until you have used Safari.’ Perhaps the most useful thing that Safari brings is Spotlight searching (or more appropriately, filtering).”
Chris: “I am really looking forward to trying this out as it looks good, but I am still skeptical.
I have tried RSS feeds into MS Outlook (way too many “emails” to handle each day) and have had blogs etc set up in Firefox, but that felt too cluttered and intrusive.
I sort of like the fact that I keep all my RSS fee stuff separate so I know where it is if I want it, and I use the Browser to get to information I want to when I want to.
I am prepared to be convinced though”
That was back in December 2005, so what is the position after three months using the PowerBook.
First let me explain why I like Firefox so much. Obviously it isn’t just a “front end” to Internet Explorer (which is the main reason I switched from iRider). I use two features in particular all the time; a) the ability to have multiple tabs open and effectively set as the home page i.e. when Firefox opens it opens up the multiple tabs I have selected as my home pages, and b) the ability to automatically reload tabs on a pre set timeframe (10 minutes for news pages for example, 1 minute when on an eBay auction, once a day on blogs)
My initial set up on the PowerBook was to use Firefox as my browser and Safari for RSS feeds, and this worked really well for me. Well it did until I took a look at the CPU activity and was horrified at just how resource hungry Firefox was, using up to 75% of my available resource. Now I must confess that I had, and in many ways still have, the bad habit of keeping too many tabs open at any one time. I blame this on a number of things; a) too many years Windows use whereby you just don’t really get into the habit of switching between windows, closing applications down and generally using the desktop real estate very efficiently, and b) the novelty of been able to do it after years of Internet Explorer captivity!
In addition to the CPU discovery I also noted that if I had a blog open that required a sign in password (for example, our family blog) Firefox didn’t remember the password each time it reloaded on a timed schedule.
During this time I was getting more comfortable with Safari. I had set it up so that I had my RSS feeds in a number of different folders, Mac, Technology, Personal, Sport etc and each of these was shown on the Bookmark Bar, so in effect I had each group visible all the time showing me how many new feeds where in each.
About a month ago I switched totally to Safari! Whilst I miss the automatic reload I have got used to it, in part because I now use the Mac totally differently to the PC (Desktop and Notebook). I shut down the Mac more (just love the simplicity of closing the lid and walking away). I switch between applications and move applications around the desktop much more. I still use Firefox on my Windows Desktop and love it, but I use it in a very different way – I leave it running all the time and use it as a Media Centre and for the internet from time to time so it is nice to know when I go back to it the news pages etc will be pretty much the latest versions as they will be automatically reloading whilst I am away.
Back on the PowerBook I have even integrated my RSS feeds and web sites into the same folders. For example in my Blog folder I have Surfbits and the RSS feed for Surfbits. Safari doesn’t even ask for the password to the family blog when it refreshes.
If I had to give one reason for using Safari though, it wouldn’t be a technical one. It would simply be “Why Not?” It does what I need from a RSS reader and a browser, and it does it in one place. When I purchased the PowerBook I wanted to give everything Apple a chance to impress me, and I am ashamed to say that I didn’t by going down the Firefox route first. Not only that but I also have to confess that Scott was right from the very beginning.