Of oranges & browsers

orange
Last man standing. The cursed orange bush today.

IT’S OVERCAST and cool this morning, and I’m sitting on a web chair under the brown umbrella on the yard patio. It’s refreshing. I’m looking at this orange tree and wondering how long it’s gonna last. It drops fruit, a character flaw.

It’s the last of the fruit trees here in the yard, the only one I have not removed. The oranges are sour, not worth warm spit, and the bush drops them on the grass every day, stuff I must pick up. And it is growing because everything grows here. Fast.

I won’t whack it this year and maybe not next year, but it’s living on borrowed time.

yard
A summer scene of green.

After a few false starts over the past few weeks, it appears the rainy season has begun in earnest. Abel the Deadpan Yardman came Saturday for the first cut. The grass is morphing from brown to green. I have disconnected the Symphony cooler upstairs, and I’ve moved the tower fan from the bedroom to the closet for its summer siesta.

We’ll be damp and cool until October at least.


The browser hunter

I am often on browser safari, hunting the best lion, tiger or giraffe that’s composed of bytes. Google Chrome, of course, is the world’s most used, a fact I find horrifying. One should avoid Google when possible, and there are excellent alternatives.

Since The Unseen Moon exists to improve mankind and womankind too, I’ll tell you about three, all based on Chromium, which means you can easily import your Chrome bookmarks and use the same Chrome extensions.

  1. Gab Dissenter, brought to you by the free-speech alternative to Twitter. Dissenter is a beaut, fast, sleek and good-looking. It even incorporates a function with which you can leave comments on any website, even those with no comment sections.
  2. SRWare Iron, or just Iron for short, comes to you from a German company, and it’s another lovely alternative to Chrome. Both Iron and Dissenter act pretty much like Chrome without being Chrome.
  3. Microsoft Edge which — starting last January, I believe — is a whole different animal than the original Edge that came with Windows 10. The first Edge was dreadful, but it’s now, like Dissenter and Iron, based on Chromium.

Give one or more a try. Don’t be a Google enabler. It attaches you to bad karma, affects your aura, and can make you smell bad.

Felipe’s been distracted

GOTTA INQUIRY from a reader today, Dave Davis, wondering why it’s been silent here for a week. I’ve been busy with other things. That’s all.

For instance, yesterday we drove down the mountainside to the nearby state capital to see the movie Joker, especially since so many leftists are hysterical about it and the bad example they say it sets. People might even shoot up the theaters, they howled and wept.

Crazy people do bad things with guns, you know, and it’s the fault of the guns.*

jokerI fail to understand the hubbub about the movie. It was reported to be very violent. It isn’t.

There are four murder scenes, no more. In two of them, a pistol is used, and I didn’t see any blood whatsoever. Also, a suffocation. Again, no blood. A knife was used in the fourth, and it got a bit grim, but by modern, anything-goes standards, the flick’s almost PG.

You want to see violence? Watch Sam Peckinpah’s 1969 cult classic The Wild Bunch. Now there is a violent movie, one which I love, by the way.

Joker is similar to the 1976 movie Taxi Driver in that both are about losers who descend into homicidal madness. Taxi Driver and Joker are about equal on the violence scale. And Taxi Driver‘s star, Robert Di Niro, has a role in Joker. Coincidence?

Joker is very dark and grim, not suitable for young children for that reason. It’s less about violence than it is about insanity. The movie’s finale was too drawn-out. Otherwise, it was interesting, and Joaquin Phoenix is a very good actor.

* * * *

I’ve also been busy with time-consuming computer matters. A word-processing program I’ve used for years, and on which I had some important documents saved, decided recently to display everything garbled. I could find no solution. Luckily, I also have hard copies of most of the documents, but they’ll have to be typed all over again.

Now I’m using Zoho Writer. I gave other options a test drive, but Zoho won out. It’s an Indian company if you don’t know. Nice document program. Free.

I also investigated browser options. I’m a browser junkie. My primary goal always is to dodge anything Google, and that includes the Chrome browser. I had been using it a short spell due to my previous browser, Comodo Icedragon, disappointing me.

First, I decided on Brave, and it worked well for a week or more till one morning I turned on my H-P desktop, and it simply was not there. It wasn’t anywhere on my desktop machine. Poof! Gone! How strange. I liked it too. Lovers disappoint you.

I downloaded it again, but now I cannot trust it. It’s a backup.

I returned to Chrome, short-term. It is reliable, reliably good, reliably evil. Chrome is a nosy parker. If you open Chrome, take a moment to open your task manager. You’ll find a long list of Google Chrome things running quietly in the background like mice, and if you close Chrome completely, they keep on running. They don’t close when the browser does.

Your life is their cheese. No other browser I’ve tried does that. Not even Firefox.

I’ve settled on a new browser that’s working quite well, a lot like Chrome. You can even use Chrome extensions, which is great. My new browser is Yandex, a product out of Russia. I had tested Yandex a couple of years ago, but it was too Russian, the language.

But it’s improved a lot!

Now you can set it to come up in English nearly always. Occasionally, it will display something in Russian, but it immediately translates it into English. It works very much like Chrome but with some nifty, additional features.

I imagine you’re using Chrome or Firefox and always will. They’re like Facebook and Twitter. They get their claws into you, and you submit like a putz. Sad.

So that’s what I’ve been up to, Dave. Movie-going and online investigating: word-processing and browsers. Also, some yard work and the afternoon visits to the plaza downtown to sit with coffee and my Kindle. It keeps the old boy busy.

* * * *

* A parable: A flock of sheep noticed that wolves came into the pasture at night and ate some of their fellow sheep. The sheep noticed that wolves have teeth, so the sheep decided to pull out their own teeth. They felt safe after doing that. But not for long.

Hi! I’m Felipe, and I’m an addict

ALL TOGETHER NOW: Hi, Felipe!

Thank you. To cut straight to the chase, I’m an addict of YouTube. This is a relatively new addiction that only began in the last year. Before then, like so many others, I was a casual user, but now it’s affecting my life, a classic sign of addiction.

Before, I just smoked it. Now I inject it.

acastro_180403_1777_youtube_0001.0What makes YouTube so compelling is that it’s visual, and you can find virtually everything on the website. While the internet as a whole is the Library of the World, YouTube is the Library of the Visual World.

Want to watch last night’s Tucker Carlson show? Want to watch everyday people walking the streets of London in 1901? With original sound?

Want to watch Hermann Göring in full Nazi regalia, including a swagger stick, shortly after being captured and strolling a sidewalk on a sunny afternoon in Germany and chatting amiably with a U.S. Army officer?

A young Tom Cruise channeling Bob Seegar in Risky Business? Or the real answer to why there is no Palestinian state? Scientists explaining why there is no cause for climate alarmism? Jesse Pinkman’s first shot of heroin in Breaking Bad? (The best drug depiction I’ve ever seen.) Or Jax Teller’s death ride in Sons of Anarchy?

Concerts, travel, history, it’s all there to see in color or black & white.

I’m glued to my desk, which is why I’m here today. I need help! I suppose the first step is to find a sponsor. Who will hold my hand?

Sadly, YouTube is owned by Google, a thuggish arm of the political left. Dodging anything related to Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc., is an endless goal of mine on general principles. But my addiction has kept me hooked on YouTube. Addictions do that.

Ask Jesse Pinkman.

Let’s look at browsers. Google’s Chrome is the world’s most popular browser, and there is a reason for that. It is very, very good. But the principled among us know it should be avoided. Doing so can be darn difficult.

Over the past few years, I’ve tried scads of alternatives. Firefox (not much better if you want to dodge the thuggish left), Opera, Vivaldi, Edge (meh), Yandex, Maxthon, Comodo Dragon, Comodo IceDragon, SeaMonkey, Avant, Midori, Puffin, Pale Moon, even Dissenter.

They work to varying degrees. Sometimes they work fine, and then they don’t. None work as well as Chrome. However, recently I found this:

Brave: a better mousetrap

Brave was born in 2015, the brainchild of Brandon Eich, one of the founders of Mozilla (Firefox). In 2014, he was the CEO of Mozilla, and then he did something politically incorrect. He let it be known he opposes gay marriage.* Oh, dear!

Adiós, Eich! Don’t let the door smack you on your way out, you Nazi homophobe. And we don’t want to hear any of your mea culpas! Will people never learn apologizing to the left not only does not work, it is counterproductive? It digs your hole deeper.

New ImageFirefox’s loss was our gain. He co-founded Brave. I tried Brave a couple of years ago, and found it lame, not ready for prime time, and it wasn’t. I never returned till a few weeks ago, and what a surprise. It’s Chrome-like, and you can use Chrome extensions. It’s also easy to import Chrome bookmarks, etc.

It’s very much like Chrome, but better. Better than Firefox too.

So, at least in this, I have freed myself from Google. One small step for a Gringo, one giant leap, yada, yada. Brave rightly brags that it’s “safer, faster and ad-free.”

I remain hooked on YouTube, however. I need help! Sad.

* * * *

* So do I, by the way. Let’s stick to civil unions. All the legal rights but without the “marriage” word, which makes many people cringe. Just dodge the word.

Life is change

SOME ASPECTS of life I like to change. In other aspects, I am rooted deep into the soil, loathing change. But, like a woman, I do enjoy rearranging the furniture at times.

Not actual furniture. In that I am deep into the soil. Leave the dang furniture where it is, so I won’t trip at night.

But the internet furniture is very susceptible to change at the Hacienda. Here are some changes I’ve made over the last couple of months, just for the sake of conversation.

I’m not much of a conversationalist in person, but I like to chat with my internet amigos, most of whom remain mute.

* * * *

First furniture:  I changed browsers. After years of using Google Chrome, I switched to Opera, a Norwegian company. Years back, I tried Opera for a few months, but was not entirely satisfied, so I embraced Google Chrome.

A couple of months ago, I decided to give Opera another look, and I’ve been using it since. I like it. In Belarus, it’s the No. 1 browser. In the rest of the world … not so much.

Anytime you can dump anything Google, you should. I also shun Google Search, and I rarely say I’m Googling something. I prefer to say online search. My search program is the oddly named DuckDuckGo. Its claim to fame is that, unlike Google, it does not track you. But I don’t give a flip if I get tracked.

Tracking is to fine-tune ads directed at you, but since I use an ad-blocker, I almost never see ads anyway.

* * * *

Second furniture:  I changed my email provider. The last time I did this was two years ago. I described the process in The Email Safari. I switched to Fastmail, a paid and good service that’s run by a bunch of Australians. Only $20 a year.

But the $20 plan offers just 1 GB of storage. I wanted more, so I was faced with two options. Buy a slightly pricier plan, or go elsewhere. I choose Option #2.

One of the services I tested two years ago was Zoho, a company that’s officially Californian but is mostly Indian. The gripes I had about Zoho two years ago have been resolved.

Zoho does all kind of stuff, 90 percent of which does not apply to me, but its email service is free up to 5 GB, five times what I’m getting from Fastmail for $20 a year.

I’ve used it for about month now. When I complete a year with no headaches I’ll let Fastmail go.

I still have my Gmail address, and I always will. Like my U.S. citizenship,  it’s something you don’t surrender. Both Fastmail and Zoho allow me to send virtually all email with my Gmail return address even I’m using Zoho or Fastmail.

* * * *

Third furniture:  I’m a big fan of password managers. Sure, the browser (at least Chrome and Opera do it) will save your passwords, but I just don’t trust the browsers  for that. It’s not their primary focus.

Over the years I’ve tried most of the major password managers, and I’ve found all of them buggy. The best so far is Dashlane, which is what I was using until I switched to the Opera browser and found Bitwarden by chance.

It was on Opera’s extension list.

I’d never heard of Bitwarden. It’s a relatively new company, and doesn’t try to do too much. It does not save your passport number, your driver’s license number, your bank acount numbers or the address of your crazy Aunt Mildred.

Bitwarden saves passwords, period, and it’s quick in coughing them up when you need them. It also generates safe passwords. I’m bewitched by Bitwarden.

Sometimes you have to shuffle the furniture around. The internet is fun, ¿no? I think so.

* * * *

(My internet life does not apply to a smartphone, tablet, laptop, none of that stuff. I’m strictly an H-P desktop man.)