Browsing the Internet
The term browsing the Internet or web browsing seems to fall short of an accurate description of the activity. Browsing has always conveyed a sense of leisure, a sort of timeless activity that occurs while on holidays or during a warm sunny Sunday afternoon. It seems far fetched to use this term to describe the activity that takes place when a person is filling out a tax form or taxing their car on the Internet. Web browsing could more accurately be described as “reaching” with every synapse in your brain and muscle in your body reaching expectantly, dependent on the dexterity of your fingertips on the keyboard and/or your accuracy with the mouse, pointing device, to successfully complete important tasks.
All Internet users start a web browser in order to locate and read web pages. The first web browser was created in 1990 by Tim Berners Lee the founder of the World Wide Web. In 2012 there are many different web browsers available on many different devices, smart phones and tablets such as the Ipad all have browsers for displaying pages from the Internet. All web browsers are available for download and they are all free. All web browsers can access websites but each browser has its own strengths. Some of the browsers available are Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera to mention a few.
The browser market is very competitive, Internet Explorer, Microsoft’s offering has had the lion’s share of the market since its inception until recently when it was just overtaken by Chrome, a Google development. Safari is the browser that comes with the Mac IOS, Firefox is owned by a not for profit organisation entitled Mozilla who describe themselves as a proudly non-profit organization dedicated to keeping the power of the Web in people’s hands. Each of these highly competitive, each looking to increase its market share of users. Figures for October this year show the following usage.
To pick which is the best browser for you is really a matter of personal preference and is dependent on the operating system you have on your computer, i.e. Windows XP/Vists/7/8 or IOS in the case of an Apple Computer Mac and the discussion is beyond the space available for this article, suffice to say there is very little to choose from between the best of the browsers as listed above.
All browsers read web sites and each of them have extra functionality which can be added through plugins , extensions or add-ins depending on the browser. Opera has an interesting feature that works in some of its older releases, more particularly releases that work with Windows XP. This feature allows a user with a working sound card and speaker/headphones to have the browser read the text on the screen and those with a microphone can speak commands to the browser, as it is not available in more recent versions it is not quite a solution to the dependence on the fingers and the mouse, but it shows signs of hope for future development and is definitely useful for any one with restricted dexterity. Other extra functionality available in all recent browsers is the facility to translate web pages into many languages, these translations may not always be grammatically correct or totally accurate, however, they provide the ability to understand what is being said in a foreign language website and will also allow people who do not speak English or Gaeilge to understand what is on our websites.