11 August 2005

Specks of Gold Found in Mining the Traffic Reports

I sometimes wonder which is my greater enjoyment -- writing this blog or looking through the Site Meter traffic reports which measure it.

My daily readership is generally low enough that my vanity is ill-served by the raw numbers -- totals of vistors by the week, the day, and the hour, visits categorized by referral source and by visitor details, pages listed in order of popularity, depth of reading by hour of the day, and so on. Instead, I get more geeked when I find the weird stuff -- like discovering that, on average, a greater percentage of my readers are located in Western Europe than in the Mountain Time Zone -- or learn about something which I otherwise would not.

Amongst the myriad data which Site Meter tracks is each visitor's web browser usage. Typically, it breaks down something like this: 55% Microsoft Internet Explorer (all versions); 35% Mozilla Firefox (including all versions of the related Mozilla and Netscape browsers); 7% Apple Safari; 2% Opera (all versions); and the remainder designated as a mysterious "Other". It looks like Site Meter has augmented its detection capabilities recently, as this morning's browser share graph showed this:
"Other" revealed at last!

"What the heck," I thought (I don't mind swearing loudly around other people, but I'm easily offended by my own thoughts). "What are 'iCab 2.x' and 'OmniWeb 125.x' and why has it taken the OmniWeb people 125 tries to get it right?"

After some quick Googling (note to self -- must compose "I Heart Google" haiku at earliest opportunity), I found that both iCab and OmniWeb are alternative browsers for the Macintosh OS. iCab is developed in Germany (volksbrauser, anyone?) and claims that it offers "10 features, that you don't find in other browsers". OmniWeb (current version is 5, not 125, by the way) positions itself as an improvement over the Safari browser, much as Opera and Firefox compare themselves to the weak-sister Internet Explorer. As I'm not a Mac guy, I've never seen, much less used, Safari; I can't say whether these claimed improvements in OmniWeb are valid or not.

As a Firefox user, however, I can say that, at least as to the features I saw described, Firefox does it all, albeit with an additional extension or two. Tabs? Got it. "Shortcuts to any searchable website"? Got it. RSS feed-handling? Got it. Session saving? Got it with the SessionSaver extension and its SnapBack Tab function. Easy bookmark editing? Got it with the Flat Bookmark Editing extension. $29.95 price tag for OmniWeb (or 29 Euros for iCab)? Nope! (and Nein!)

I tell everyone I meet to get Firefox. I'm pleased to meet you; now go get it.

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