Browse that: looking beneath that Chrome finish

John
John Gushue
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Chrome. Such a cool word for Google to choose to name its long-awaited web browser, a product it has been working on for years, for one of the few areas of the web not already under full Google control.

Last week Google unveiled Chrome, which is going head-to-head against Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Mozilla's Firefox, not to mention smaller competitors, like Apple's Safari.

Chrome. Such a cool word for Google to choose to name its long-awaited web browser, a product it has been working on for years, for one of the few areas of the web not already under full Google control.

Last week Google unveiled Chrome, which is going head-to-head against Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Mozilla's Firefox, not to mention smaller competitors, like Apple's Safari.

Does the world really need another web browser? Google would like you to think so. In fact, in a particularly curious way of announcing the browser's completion - a comic strip released a day in advance - Google argued that the web as we know and (especially) use it today is very different indeed than the web that triggered the browsers that dominate the marketplace today.

That's a good argument, I thought, as I wondered what Chrome would look like.

Google Chrome

www.google.com/chrome

After downloading it and using it over the last week or so, I'm not entirely sold.

First impressions are important and Chrome makes a decent impression, it's very, very clean. Elegant, even. The layout is simple, if not minimal, which is pretty much what you would expect from a search engine that is the antithesis of "clutter."

Figuring out what to do next may be your biggest challenge, especially if you're accustomed to the workflows you've built with your existing browser. After fumbling around for a bit, I did what I always advise others: read the instructions.

In this case, click on the tool tab (a wrench, natch) up in the top-right corner, and then select the help option. Google has learned a few things over its decade in business, and explaining things clearly and easily is its forte, I learned quickly how to import my bookmarks, what keyboard shortcuts to use and how to navigate seamlessly in my browsing.

I use both Explorer and Firefox on a daily basis. Truth be told, I would use just Firefox, but I have to use Explorer for several proprietary programs involved in my work. Chrome seems to echo Firefox most among other browsers; it adapts the multiple-tab format that Firefox pioneered and actually improves on the ease of moving things around.

One question, though, stuck around my mind as I worked: would I switch to this? While I admire the look of Chrome, I'm not sold on the finish, as it were. As sleek as it appears, it doesn't appear to blow Firefox out of the water.

But I'm not deleting it - not just yet. Like millions of others, I like to keep my online options flexible. And, to be fair, Google says it's just getting started with putting a shine on its Chrome.

Elsewhere this week

For Better or For Worse

www.fborfw.com/strip_fix/

My wife has followed For Better or For Worse closely for years, like countless readers who related to Lynn Johnston's semi-autobiographical comic strip about a family that grew older, day-by-day. Last week, the strip was set to come to an end - but Johnson couldn't quite pull the plug on the Pattersons. While one Sunday strip conveniently foretold what had (or will) become of key characters, Johnson had one big surprise: she was rebooting the strip, from the start. Instead of republishing old strips, she's revisiting them, with changes to the content. (This news caused quite the stir among fans, believe it or not.) This is the link to see the daily developments, as well as explore the rich online archive that Johnson has created.

Down for Everyone or Just Me?

www.downforeveryoneorjustme.com/

Ever clicked on a much-visited site, only to find that it appeared to be dead? The title of this site says it all: is the site down, or is the problem on your end? The service will answer that very question for you.

John Gushue is a news writer for CBCNews.ca in St. John's. E-mail: surf@thetelegram.com. Read past Surf's Up columns and daily updates at his blog: johngushue.typepad.com.

Organizations: Google, Microsoft, Mozilla Apple

Geographic location: St. John's

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