From:         Patrick Crispen 
Subject:      TOURBUS - 11 NOV 2004 - Firefox


The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved

Howdy, y'all, and greetings once again from deep behind the orange curtain in beautiful Irvine, California, a sweet confection made from a mix of nuts and boiled sugar.

I apologize for dropping off of the face of the earth these past few weeks. I speak at a bunch of educational technology conferences each Fall, so I've been frantically creating a crop of new PowerPoint presentations. In fact, I'll be posting all of my new conference PowerPoint presentations to

over the next few days [like Wednesday-ish]. Feel free to steal any or all of them. They're my gift to you.

Also, for those of you who have postponed installing Windows XP Service Pack 2 until after Halloween, I promise that my *NEXT* post will tell you, step-by-step, how to upgrade with the fewest possible hassles. Today, though, we need to deal with an even more important issue: Ditching Internet Explorer.

On with the show...

A few weeks ago I mentioned that Internet Explorer users can get spyware just by visiting particular websites. You don't have to click or download anything. Internet Explorer automatically installs the spyware for you. [Thank you, Microsoft!]

And you can download the fix at :P

All kidding aside, let me add my voice to the growing chorus of experts proclaiming that IT IS TIME FOR YOU TO STOP USING INTERNET EXPLORER! Today. Now.

The fact of the matter is that Internet Explorer has WAY too many security holes in it, holes that anyone can use to infect your computer with spyware, pop-up ads, homepage hijackers, and a host of other nasty stuff. Besides, while the Internet has grown by leaps and bounds recently, Microsoft hasn't released a major upgrade to Internet Explorer in over three years. THREE YEARS! That, coupled with Internet Explorer's astonishing market share, makes IE a juicy target for the internet's more nefarious netizens.

Even worse, Microsoft recently announced that they will no longer offer free support for Internet Explorer on Windows 95, 98, 98 SE, or ME. If you have any of those older Windows operating systems, Microsoft may or may not release a patch for your system when the next major Internet Explorer hole is found. And Microsoft may or may not charge you money to get this patch.

Microsoft's suggestion? Upgrade your operating system to Windows XP. My suggestion? Ditch Internet Explorer, even if you have Windows XP. [Yeah, I know. "Get a Mac" is also a solution. But Macs aren't free.]

Fortunately, earlier this week Mozilla released a new web browser called Firefox 1.0 that is both safer and, in my humble opinion, better than Internet Explorer. And it's free.

Here's how to get it.

Upgrading to Firefox 1.0

If you already have an earlier version of Mozilla Firefox installed on your computer, you need to upgrade to Firefox 1.0. The newest version is both faster and more powerful. And it also includes some security patches that your older version may not have.

Fortunately, upgrading older versions of Firefox is simple to do:

1. Open Firefox.

2. Go to Tools > Options.

3. Click on "Advanced" over on the left side of the Options menu.

4. On the right side of the Options menu, scroll all the way down to the bottom. You should see a button under Software Options labeled "Check Now." Click on that button.

5. Follow the on-screen prompts.

That's all there is to it.

Downloading and installing Firefox 1.0 for the first time

But what if you don't already have Mozilla Firefox installed on your computer. Well, all you need to do is:

1. Open Internet Explorer.

2. Go to

3. Download Mozilla Firefox.

4. Close Internet Explorer [hopefully for the last time.]

4. Install Mozilla Firefox onto your computer.

How do you download Mozilla Firefox? Well, that depends upon which operating system you are using. If you are using Microsoft Windows, just click on the "Free Download" link in the green box near the top of the homepage. When the File Download window appears, just save the Firefox Setup 1.0.exe installation file to your desktop. The file is 4.68 MB, so it'll take approximately 23 minutes to download over a 28.8 modem connection. And, yes, it really is worth the wait.

If you compute with fruit, skip the link on the homepage and instead go to

This will start the download process for the Mac version of Mozilla Firefox.

Finally, if English is not your native tongue, check out

Mozilla Firefox is available in 20 different languages including the Queen's English.

Installing Firefox

Firefox’s installation process is a snap:

1. Close any programs you may be running, including Internet Explorer

2. Double-click on the installer file you just downloaded. It should be sitting on your desktop.

3. Follow the on-screen prompts [agree to the end-user license agreement that no one ever reads, choose if you want to do a standard or custom install, etc.]

4. Sit back and watch Firefox install.

Importing your favorites list into Firefox

One of the biggest concerns most Internet Explorer users have is how to import their favorites list into Firefox. Guess what? Firefox does this for you automatically.

No, really.

During the installation process, Firefox will open an Import Wizard dialog box and ask you if you want to import your internet options, bookmarks, history, passwords, and other data from Microsoft Internet Explorer into Firefox.

Cool, huh?

Firefox will also ask you if you want it to be your default browser. My recommendation is to choose Yes, but that decision is completely up to you.

Using Firefox

Firefox works pretty much like Internet Explorer with a few exceptions:

  • Favorites are now called "Bookmarks."
  • That little "G" box to the right of the address bar is a Google
  • search box, similar to the Google Toolbar we talked about two Summers ago. Just type in your keywords and press enter, and up pops the Google hits for those words. And if you click and the "G" you'll see that you can also search Yahoo, Amazon, Creative Commons,, and eBay. You can even add your own search engine to that list.

  • If you press Ctrl + F or go to Edit > Find in This Page, you
  • won't get a pop-up box. Instead, the find box is embedded in the bottom left of the browser window. And when you key in a word in the search box, that word is highlighted on the page.

    There are some more differences between Firefox and Internet Explorer, and you can read about them all at

    ------- IE View -------

    So, once you download and install Mozilla Firefox, should you uninstall Internet Explorer? No, for two reasons:

    1. You can't. Windows Explorer is so closely integrated into Windows that uninstalling it is bloody well impossible.

    2. You shouldn't. Some web sites--like Microsoft's Windows Update and Encarta sites--were specifically written to only work in Internet Explorer. While these sites are few and far between, you need to keep Internet Explorer around so you can still access them.

    So, keep Internet Explorer but use Mozilla Firefox. And, while you are at it, you should download Paul Roub's free "IE View" Firefox extension at or

    What does IE View do? Well, when you are in Firefox and you come across a page that requires Internet Explorer, you can right-click the main body of that page and choose "View this page in IE." IE View will automatically open Internet Explorer and load that page.

    Cool, huh?

    To download and install IE View, click on the "( Install Now )" link on the IE View page. A pop-up menu will appear telling you that you are trying to install an unsigned item. That's cool. IE View is safe. Click on the "Install Now" button to download and install IE View.

    Once IE View has installed, completely close Firefox and then open it up again. You can now right-click on any web page in Firefox and it will automatically open in Internet Explorer [although why you would do this for any pages other than those that won't work in Firefox is beyond me.]

    There's more I want to tell you about Mozilla--how to use tabbed browsing, how to use Adblock, etc.--but I'll save that for a future post. For now, download and play around with Mozilla Firefox. And feel free to let me know what you think!

    The Best of Everything!

    Last week we announced a new resource called "The Best of Everything" which is an annotated compendium of links to the best stuff on the Internet. Since then, new categories have been added, as well as a nifty context-senstive interface to Ebay. Try it out and please use the feedback links. Your input is important to us.

    The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
    Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved

    Have a safe and happy week, and we'll talk again soon!

               .~~~.  ))
     (\__/)  .'     )  ))       Patrick Douglas Crispen
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