I've converted to Google Chrome. If you didn't know, Google Chrome is Google's fairly newly released web browser. I was previously using Firefox, but I like Chrome for a few reasons. The most important is memory management. Without getting into too much technological detail, it basically spawns a new process for each tab instead of just a new thread, this makes it easier to free memory when you close a tab. I tend to keep a lot of tabs open (I currently have 34 open), which are mostly pages that I opened and will go back to soon (too lazy to bookmark and then delete the bookmark later) or some like Gmail, Google Reader, and Google Calendar that I always keep open. While Firefox 3 has improved on memory management a lot, it still gets really bloated and I would have to close the whole browser and reload it every day or two. Chrome does a much better job and I like that it has it's own task manager (shift-esc) that shows how much memory and cpu usage each tab is using.
Another is cpu usage. I noticed that Firefox would sometimes use up a lot of cpu usage even when I wasn't doing anything (it was just sitting in the background). It happened on just some sites and I think most of the time it was related to flash ads. Chrome doesn't have this issue, or at least I can easily find out which tab is causing the problem and kill it. Also, if flash is having an issue, which it sometimes does, again, I can just kill the flash plug-in and reload the pages that I need flash, all without reloading the whole browser. With each tab in a separate process, one website won't cause the whole browser to crash, it'll just crash the one tab. I find Chrome to be a bit snappier than Firefox as well, especially when first starting the browser. I found the combined location bar and search box confusing at first, but now that I'm used to it, I really like it. I really like that I can customize the search, so for example, if I want to search google, I just type in the keywords, if I want to search google maps, I just precede the keywords with "map" (I added that one). I can also search mininova and isohunt (for bittorrents) by just typing in "mininova heroes" or something like that and it'll send me right to the search results from mininova. It saves me from first going to the site and then searching.
It's not all positive for Chrome though. It doesn't have extensions (though I don't use any that I can't live without) and it doesn't support the google toolbar (which I like for the keyword highlighting and autofill). The bookmarking in Chrome sucks, fortunately I don't bookmark much, but I'd like to be able to periodically bookmark all the opened tabs just to make sure that I don't lose them. Chrome also crashes on me every day or two (though I'm a pretty heavy user). It's not that big of a deal b/c it remembers all my tabs and reopens so fast, but still, it's annoying. It's pretty awesome though considering that this is it's first release. Way more stable than the first release of any other browser.
One other interesting feature that at first I thought was dumb, but turned out to be pretty cool is the page you get when you open a new tab. It shows you your most visited sites (screenshot above). This makes it really quick to open a new tab and go to one of these pages. It's kinda amusing to see what are my most visited sites:
- Statcounter - checking how many people visited my sites (blog, school, vincentcheung.ca, etc)
- Adsense - checking how much money I've gotten from ads on vincentcheung.ca ($57 since January, most of which is from the last few months)
- Slashdot - News for Nerds. Stuff that matters.
- The Star - Toronto's newspaper (get local, national, and global news all in one place)
- Facebook - No explanation needed
- Real Clear Politics - Checking the latest American election polls
- Digg - Procrastination
- Google News - More news (I also have a special "Volleyball" news section that has news articles with the word "volleyball" in them)
- TD - Watching my mutual funds portfolio drop in value