Ignorance can cause heartache, loss of time and problems doctors cannot diagnose. Ignorance is not an excuse to break the law, may cause seborrhea and inability to achieve orgasm. Ignorance is not synonymous with stupid – it means lack of knowledge. In my life I’ve never seen such an abundance of ignorance as on the Internet – a possible exception is the tabloids in the supermarket checkout line.
This is neither a slam or a rant against users. It is an observation about exploitation of users by companies that take advantage of user ignorance. Most people don’t have time to explore all the nuances of a computer, let alone the inherent dangers on the Internet. I won’t even get into cell phones, except to say, if you have a smart phone, ignorance can snag you like the bogyman in a foggy woods.
I like and use Google, use gmail and gcal. However, I’m aware that Google is storing vast amounts of information about me. This is why I use a private email address from my web server for purchase receipts, and other private messages. Yes, I am aware that this is not perfect; no email message is without security flaws on the Internet. Nevertheless, its better than web-mail.
I first used Google Chrome on Windows, then when it was released for Mac, installed it there. The first thing I noticed with Chrome is, it lacks choice. In my experience with users in a professional setting, most users don’t want choice. The notion is, “Make the damned thing work” and that’s all that matters. Even IT professionals install programs and leave the default settings, knowing that some of these settings are purposely gathering information for the company that built the program. Chrome, especially with the initial releases, set new standards for storing information on your computer.
In all browsers I’ve used, there is a way to limit the cache – files from websites stored on your computer. And I’ve used web browsers on the big three, from Lynx on UNIX to the latest on Mac and Windows. Cache, like cookies is not a bad thing. It speeds up load time by not having to reload the same graphics, and other parts of a site every time you visit. By default, most cache sizes are far too big, although some people want to make them even bigger. With huge hard drives these days, you could have hundreds of megabytes of crap on your computer, unless you set the browser cache to a reasonable size.
In Chrome, there is no easy option to do this. According to Google, you can set it from the command line through a shortcut, (alias on a Mac). At least you can now delete the cache from Chrome, but there is no provision to do this every time quit Chrome.
I have 7 web browsers installed on my Mac. In the Windows box behind me there are four browsers, including Internet Explorer. This is so I can see what a new site will look like in various browsers on a real machine with different monitors. Not only that, some browsers are dedicated for a single purpose – I use Camino for gcal and nothing else.
Imagine if I allowed all these browsers to have several hundred MBs of storage. Theoretically I could wear out a hard drive with read/write alone, not to mention perhaps a gigabyte or more of crap on these computers.
All that aside, I see no compelling reason to use Chrome. If Google fixes this problem, allows more choice on my end, I will go back and use it for something. Meanwhile, Firefox remains the browser of choice for me. It works pretty much the same on all systems, has more choice and functionality than any browser I’ve seen. Most of all, I can control most aspects of it.