by Alejandro Torres Frías

When it comes to improving our computer experience, there’s nothing better than learning as many tricks as possible that can be easily implemented by the average user.  If you are one of those people who like to learn tips and tricks about computers, this series of posts is for you.  Instead of trying the typical “Top 10 Tricks and Techniques” type of article, in one article, I’ve chosen a “Series” type of approach, which will allow me the necessary time to think about each next recommendation I’ll write about. Let’s look then, at my favorite tricks and techniques for an optimum computer experience:

1. Use all 5 Great Browsers to Surf the Web

I hope that by now, you are aware that the “little blue e” icon on your desktop doesn’t mean Internet, it only means access to Internet.  The “blue e” is called Explorer, and it’s Microsoft’s browser.  Browsers are used to access the Internet, and if you think it’s the only browser out there, think again.  The fact that Microsoft happens to load with its OS and software about 92% of the computers in the world, and they happen to install only THEIR browser, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t other ways to access the Net. There are in fact over 10 browsers available today with which you can access the Internet.  But I’m only gonna talk about my favorite 5.   But, Why use all 5?  My answer:  If you were given the choice of owning and driving 5 great cars, would you prefer to drive just one car, the car you were given the first time?  Each browser has its own appeal and characteristics that make them unique, and after you download them and start using, you will soon find out which one fits your browsing style better than the other one for different tasks.  And remember that you can have all 5 browsers -or more, installed in your computer all the time.  The following, are the 5 best browsers, in my order of preference.  Kind of (I really like them all).

I Opera:
This Norwegian beauty includes the best zooming capabilities if compared with all the other browsers.  Whenever you are going visual on your browsing (Photos, videos and graphics, for example), use Opera;  you’ll be surprised of the zooming magic “Ctrl+mouse wheel” has on most sites you visit.  It loads fast, looks good and provides an incredibly friendly and easy to use RSS feed reader. Even though it’s my favorite browser, I don’t use it as often as I could, mainly due to the fact I still have 4 other browsers to use.  Let’s say it’s like the Ferrari in my garage which I don’t take out to drive all the time, given the fact I also own 4 other cars.  You get the drift, right?  For an in depth review of Opera, go here.

II Firefox:
Mozilla Firefox is very special because it was the first browser that started making a dent in Explorer’s Market Share.  To give you an idea of its popularity among experts, the market share for average users is about 70% Explorer and 13% Firefox, but among computer savvy users, Firefox has a pounding 75% of market share, over Explorer’s very insignificant 5% or less.  One of the best characteristics of Firefox is the large number of add-ons that it’s able to have installed, which makes it extremely customizable to fit anyone’s needs.  For an in depth review of Firefox, check out this.

III Flock
Another of my favorite browsers, Flock is also called “the social browser”.  If you are into Facebook, Youtube, Flickr, Digg, WordPress, Delicious, StumbleUpon and/or other social networks, Flock is the one.  With its amazingly useful sidebar and media bar, and given the fact it’s powered by Firefox, you can count on it being an extremely stable browser (yes, all browsers crash sometime).  Beautiful, fast and social.  Totally recommend it.  If you want an in depth review of Flock, go here.  Flock also works with most Firefox add-ons, which I must say, as browsers change version, don’t always continue to work.

IV Safari
Apple’s Safari browser was only recently launched for Windows, so we could say it’s just started to add followers.  Besides having a fairly different look (not necessarily cute), if you compare it with all of the other browsers I’ve mentioned, it has similar functionality, good tab use, and it feels somewhat different to use.  Yes, the Apple folks design weird UIs, I know.  My main use, is with its Home Page set for  El Mercurio, online version of the biggest, mainstream newspaper in Chile.  It’s just great to launch Safari and have the newspaper open in front of your eyes.  Setting different and specific Home pages in the different browsers is a good tip, by the way. In regards with the full on review, click here.
V Chrome

Google’s new toy in their (free) store of goodies comes at a time and moment in which we didn’t need another browser.  No, I’m kidding.  Nothing better than competition to spur innovation.  The more competition, the more options and benefits us users obtain.  Or so they say.  Staying faithful with Google’s mission of controlling the universe, sorry, organizing all of the information, nothing better than a swift Google Browser that may interact perfectly with all of Google’s tools for world domination.  One of the coolest things about Chrome, is it’s innovative tab design on the very top of the window.  It opens very fast, it reloads tabs even faster, and it has the great feature of searching Google if you just type the query in the address bar.  No more search bars to go look for.  Let’s thanks the folks at Top Ten Reviews for providing this review for Chrome and all the other browsers.  Here, you can find a Top Ten review for the most important browsers.

Oh, I’d forgotten about Explorer.  I didn’t give you a review, or included it on my list of top browsers.  Well, that’s because it’s not on my list of top browsers.  All I have to say about Explorer, and most of you will want to to know, is that banking sites and similar websites work particularly well with Explorer.  No wonder why the financial markets are aching so much.  There’s 2 things I use Explorer for: 1: to download another browser when its the only browser pre-installed on a computer, and 2: To perform those painful banking transfers.  Its painfully slow start, continues crashes and dangerously weak security, make me want to stay away from it.  And no, I’m not a Microsoft basher, I am a somewhat knowledgeable user who’s not patient with slowness and “crashiness”.

Go out and drive those 5 FREE beauties that are waiting for you.  And let us know about your experience in the comments section.

PD: One more thing.  In case you care… whenever I talk about technology, I will ONLY talk and recommend FREE, totally FREE software/apps.  And believe me, I will recommend you a lot of them.