Goodbye Firefox?

The Horror

I still have my t-shirts. I’m not sure how they’ve held up over so many years, especially with how frequently I have worn them – one for Firefox, one for Thunderbird – both from the official Mozilla store.

Image representing Firefox
Image via CrunchBase

I’m fairly certain I’ve been using Firefox since 1.x, and perhaps even before. I jumped ship from Internet Explorer as quickly as possible and having been a long-time fan of Netscape Navigator, Firefox with its relations to Netscape was appealing to me.

Today I did something that I’ve seen coming for a long time now. I’m not sure if it will stick – but I’ve done it.

  • I exported my bookmarks from Firefox into an HTML file (I probably have several thousand, carefully categorized).
  • I imported my bookmarks from the HTML file into Google Chrome (it looks like they came over without a hitch).
  • I closed the almost-always-running instance of Firefox.
  • I unpinned Firefox from my Windows taskbar.

Now I sit┬ástand in front of my computer, the monitor flashing its warm blue glow, my fingers typing on the keyboard as if nothing has changed, and yet something has changed – something significant. For over five years now a large portion of my life and work has occurred via the Firefox browser, and now, now it is no more.

What Happened?

Firefox’s bloat over time was a big hassle for many – but I held onto Firefox through all of that. The slow release cycles compared to Google’s Chrome drove others crazy, but I held on through that.

What finally drove me (several years ago) to begin using Chrome for at least a significant portion of my web activities was the profiles – something that Firefox never really was able to handle well, as far as I know, still can’t. I have different “personas” on the web – they are all me (Dave Mackey) and I don’t pretend to be different people, but I operate for different functions. I am the personal me, I was the corporate me, I am the techie me, and I am the pastor me. Each of these personas was best served by a separate profile. With thousands of links organized into categories, it was too confusing to try and keep track of everything all mashed into one profile – so now, my ministry links are in my ministry profile, my personal links are in my personal profile, and so on.

Any Hope of Reconciliation?

Sure there is. I have never used Chrome as my 100% primary browser. Up to this point I’ve primarily used Chrome for web app (GMail, Facebook, Calendar, Asana, Keep) and have used Firefox for browsing and discovery (e.g. StumbleUpon, Digg, RSS, Zakta). There may be issues that arise when I use Chrome for everything that weren’t present when I used it for only these app’ish purposes…but I sort of doubt it.

Still, there is hope for reconciliation in my relationship with Firefox. Why? Because, quite honestly, I don’t trust Google. No, I’m not paranoid. Yes, I let them collect all sorts of info. about me and use it to target their advertising at me. I’m not worried about that – I’m worried about commitment. Google has axed far too many products or twisted them beyond recognition to be entirely trusted. I now Google Reader is the latest example, but there have been so many others – anyone remember their attempt with wikified search? Or how about that note taking application – what was it called?

So, Google, here is your word of warning: I’m watching you. Customer acquisition isn’t the whole game, to win customer loyalty you need to be loyal too, and you’ve fumbled quite a few times in this area!

2 thoughts on “Goodbye Firefox?”

  1. Sorry to see you leave Firefox! I’m glad you held on to Firefox through its bloat period, but I thought I should point out that Firefox, today, is the most memory efficient browser of the two as verified by multiple independent tests. It’s also getting faster and faster in every release (http://www.engadget.com/2013/03/21/firefox-nightly-odinmonkey/) and is already the fastest in some JS tests.

    Anyway, that wasn’t the reason why you switched to Chrome. How are you using the four different profiles/personas in Chrome? Curious about your workflow and how that could be improved in Firefox.

    Lastly, you’re right about the privacy issues with Chrome. I thought this post was a good read: http://www.campaul.net/blog/2013/03/10/why-im-switching-back-to-firefox/

    Cheers, and welcome back to Firefox any day!

    1. David,
      Thanks for commenting! I have no doubts that Firefox is now the most efficient with memory – but honestly, it doesn’t matter what browser I use I regularly hit 1 GB of memory usage by the browser alone. Chrome has the “one-up” on Firefox in this matter b/c it offers the “task manager” which allows me to see how much each tab is using and end the process as I desire (its usually Gmail, Calendar, Facebook, RSS, etc. that uses up so much, I have these tabs pinned, so it is also important that Chrome doesn’t close the tab, it just crashes it and its very easy to reload without repinning).
      I’m also sure that odinmonkey will make a vast improvement to JS rendering speeds, though, honestly, I think a very small proportion of my time is spent on REALLY heavy JS sites. Sure, it’d be nice if Gmail was a bit faster and Asana responded more like a desktop app – but I doubt that odinmonkey will bring the sort of native speeds that would really tempt me.
      So, one of my profiles is my “personal” profile. It attaches to a Google Apps account. When it opens I have automatically pinned several tabs – Gmail, Facebook, Calendar, Asana, Keep. These come up every time b/c they are were I “live.”
      Now, oftentimes I need to work for, say the church, so I have a separate profile for that. I’m able to access all my Google Apps info. (which is a separate account) without any of that mishmashing of accounts (Google does a poor job w/imho), and also simultaneously flip back to my personal account. Add onto this that I have a regular gmail account that has adsense and adwords associated with it, and I need yet another profile, so I can look at my adsense/adwords data without closing out my other two profiles.
      In each case, I can have unique pinned tabs that help me accomplish what I need to accomplish – for example, in the church one, I have pinned Google Drive and Asana (which, btw, is using the same authentication as the personal profile, it is just much faster to have both workspaces open side-by-side rather than swapping back and forth…sort of like two monitors versus one).
      I also have different extensions installed with each profile – for instance, I use LastPass to manage passwords in the personal and church profiles, but not in the old gmail profile – I know the only passwords I use there…and I only use MightyText (SMS integration) in my personal profile.
      I also have bookmarks that are specifically related to each task. For example, in my personal profile I have on my bookmarks bar TWC (The Weather Channel), Freshbooks (freelance work), Feedly (RSS), Reddit, and Keep. I don’t have any of these on the bookmarks bar for the church, instead I might have a bookmark to our internal CiviCRM install or to the WordPress admin. page for the church site.
      Hope that provides some insight into my reasons…and I look forward to keeping abreast of how Firefox innovates in the future.

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