Not bad, IE8!

August 10, 2009 at 1:19 pm (Internet surfing) (, , , )

I am not a big fan of Microsoft. For one, their products cost a lot, and secondly, everyone still uses their products! I never like the feeling that my choices of Internet services are limited or that I’m following the majority of American consumers. I think it’s my innate need to be unique–just like everyone else. :-P

For those of you who read my article about IE8, I have a confession to make. I wrote that without ever using it. But now I am. And I love it! I will tell you why, and this time, it’s from experience!

1. Web slices really are the bomb! Not many websites are compatible with this thing, but I think the more we get the hang of it, the more we’ll start seeing them available. A green webslice button shows up  in your command bar (top right, next to the home button) when it is available.

Basically, a web slice is for seeing a mini page of a site you look at frequently–right from your favorites toolbar. The example they use on the Microsoft website is bidding on an ebay item. You can add a slice for an individual item, not just that webpage, and the slice becomes bold when new information is available. I would test it if I had money to buy something! *tear* 

I use a web slice for my yahoo mail. I can just click on it and see what messages I have in my inbox, regardless of what website I’m on! I really wonder why no one came up with this sooner! I haven’t seen it become bold, so I don’t know if I’m doing something wrong, or what. I still like it!

2. Accelerators are a major time-saver! Whenever you highlight anything a webpage, you’ll see a little blue accelerator button. It gives you a pile of options. These are the ones I use the most:

  • Highlight any address and open a Google or Bing maps page on a new tab with this location mapped. No more copy/paste, new window, clicking and typing! I actually thought of this idea before! Read my mind! :-D
  • Highlight any word or phrase and run a google or wiki search in one click. AMAZING! I use this all the time!
  • Right click on any website and share it with digg, reddit, stumbleupon, and Delicious. Sometimes you can do it right from the current page, or you it will quick link to the website in a new tab. Either way, it’s a wonderful time saver.

I would suggest browsing through all the accelerators and adding all of them that interest you. You may be surprised how many they have and how often you’ll use them. Plus, both web slices and accelerators either open new tabs or don’t require you to leave the page you’re on, so you don’t have to lose what you’re working on just to look something up.

3. One sweet search box! You can set up default search engines, like Google, Bing, Wiki, Amazon, etc., choose any of them at a given time for a quick and easy search.

4. Three words:  previous session recovery. Ever accidentally closed all tabs and realized you still wanted them? Now all you have to do is open IE again, click Tools, and then click Reopen Last Browsing Session. Works like a charm. I’m saved!

There’s other features that I haven’t covered (or figured out how to use). I would suggest reading over more features on the Microsoft website or watching the videos so you can get the most out of IE8.

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Internet Explorer 8: Worth an Upgrade?

July 14, 2009 at 3:07 pm (Internet surfing) (, , , , , , , , )

Internet Explorer is known for its majority claim on the Internet browser market share and it’s close ties to the Windows operating system. Microsoft continue to flourish and says their new browser is worthwhile and better than ever! Here are a few ways IE8 exceeds it’s previous version.

One unique feature of IE8 is the accelerators. These tools save further browsing time by turning popular searches into a simple right-click function. For example, you can highlight an address, right click on it, and choose the “Bing Maps” feature (similar to Google Maps, or Mapquest). Another smaller window slides out with a small map showing the location of that address and a link to get to directions. This saves you the time you would spend opening a new window and copy/pasting the address on a mapping website.

You can see search results on popular sites such as Google, Dictionary.com, and Wikipedia. First, highlight a keyword(s) on the web site you are viewing, like “Tiramisu” for example, and right click. Choose the accelerator of your choice to see a mini page with Tiramisu search results on Google, or the dictionary or Wikipedia entry at a glance (Tiramisu is, by the way, a delectable Italian dessert!). There are a variety of accelerators available that may interest you, some using Microsoft sites like Bing and MSN, and others using popular sites, including YouTube and Facebook.

Web slices are another new IE8 feature that is available for select webpages (indicated by the green web slice icon at the top of the page). Web slices allows you to see a small “slice” of the pages you want to check regularly, without searching for or loading the webpage.

For example, if you are bidding on an Ebay item, you can add a slice for that particular item (instead of the whole webpage) to your new favorites bar at the top of the page. When the slice has new information, like another person bidding on your item, the slice title become bold. You can click on the slice to see a mini page with your item, increase the bid, or read the new information, etc. Other slices available show news, stocks, weather, sports, etc. The new favorites bar displays your slices along the top of the screen similar to tabs for easy access.

IE8 has some feature with which you may be familiar. Similar to Google Chrome, IE8 has “tab isolation” that prevents the whole browser window from crashing if one tab malfunctioning and “In-private browsing” that allows you to surf without saving history and files to your computer. Like Firefox, if your browser window closes unexpectedly, you can restore all your tabs to the previous session. Like the Google toolbar feature, you can restore recently closed tabs into the same window if you accidentally close a tab.

Internet Explorer 8 also is equipped with newer technology that promises more security and speed. To read more about the security features, check out microsoft.com/windows/internet-explorer. Whether it is really faster than other browsers is up for debate, depending on how testing is done and what pages are tested. The best way to know if it works better is to try it out for yourself. Based on your Internet services connection speed and surfing habits, you may be able to load pages faster with Internet Explorer 8. Keep in mind that it is good practice to back up your files and create a restore point before you install IE8. If you do decide to download IE8, check out browserforthebetter.com if you want your download to help feed the hungry.

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Bing: Explore Microsoft’s New Search Engine

June 23, 2009 at 12:16 pm (Internet surfing) (, , , , , , )

For your next online purchase, you may want to try Bing.com, Microsoft’s new “decision” search engine. Perhaps you have tried it already and you haven’t noticed any difference from other browsers, other than the pretty picture backgrounds on Bing’s homepage.

If you’re not sure where to start or what Bing offers, click the “Tour Bing” link in the top left corner of the home page. The features are most convenient when you have a Microsoft account, which may be worth your while. You may also want to change your preferences, which can be found under “Extras” in the top right corner.

From the homepage, you will see a column of options on the left side if you want to focus your search results. If you click on these options, such as “Shopping” or “News, more subcategories will appear that may assist your search.

If you search from the main bar, more options will be available based on your keywords next to your results. Here are a few examples:

  • Search: Honda Civic, sidebar options include: Used, Parts, and Videos
  • Search: Border Collie, sidebar options include: Breeders, Training, and Adoption
  • Search: Yosemite, sidebar options include: Lodging, Weather, and Camping

Each search results page also include related searches, sponsored links, and search history.

Bing is termed “The Decision Engine” because it offers more than just search results, most of which are related to buying decisions. For example, if you search for “mountain bike”, you will see a “Shop for mountian bike” heading above the website results. This feature includes brands, prices, and guides, where you choose more specific results. These links take you to a page that shows an image, price, and description with the option of going to that website.

Bing helps you compare businesses at a glance. Suppose you type the keywords “hotel San Diego”. The first result is a “Listings for hotels near San Diego, CA” feature that itemizes names of hotels—including a link to their website and their phone number—next to a map showing all their locations. A link for directions is available for each hotel, which directs you to a driving directions page similar to MapQuest. If you click on the name of the hotel, you will see a simple rundown of reviews, prices, and contact information, etc.

You can get local information like traffic and weather simply by typing those keywords into the search bar. Check on flights and track your packages by typing the flight or shipping number. Review your stocks’ statuses on a table by searching for the ticker symbols in a row followed by “quote”. Ask basic trivia or math questions in the search bar, like “who wrote the constitution” or “how many liters in a gallon” and Bing will have the answer.

Bing offers some interesting interactive features as well. Each website result has hover option to the right that brings up a summary of that site and other related links. If you hover over images results, you can see the size, name and a link to related images. Videos on Bing will begin playing if you hover on them.

As with any product or idea, Bing is most helpful for certain occasions, preferences, or needs. If you want to find a specific website or lesser known topic, Bing is probably not going to be any better than another search engine. In fact, the “helpfulness” could become an annoyance if you’re an experienced surfer who’s not interested in the latest deals and fads. Most of Bing’s features don’t ever require you to leave their website, which is very helpful for shopping, comparing and researching simple trivia, but sometimes completely irrelevant to your searches. That doesn’t mean you should not use Bing for those reasons, the normal search results are still available in plain sight. You just won’t always need the extras.

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