Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Chrome sucks - it is not superior to Firefox

Suspiciously surprised.
That's the descriptive I'd choose if I had to tell how I felt when a friend of my father asked me, right in the middle of a completely unrelated discussion, if I tried Google's web browser Chrome, as it was faster.
The guy's nice, but he's not a geek, nor a techie of any kind. He probably understood the principle of USB ports like two years ago.

So logically, I told him to stick with Firefox for the moment because it was well rounded, and since I didn't know Chrome, I told him that it was relatively fresh, he should wait a bit before moving. In my mind, it was absolutely obvious that he had no clue what he was talking about. Zero. Zip. Nada. The fact that he asked me if Internet Explorer was worth it probably was the final nail in the coffin. Who the fuck uses IE aside from people who don't know how to install any extra software and haven't even asked themselves if there were alternatives to IE?

Still, this bugged me so I decided to go look for comparisons and see what was true.
What became clear is that the word did spread: Chrome is indeed faster. Or is it?
Well, I had to know it myself, so I downloaded and installed it, and made tests.
They say it's super fast. Oh, yes, at launch, it's indeed faster, but I don't really care about the launching, because that's going on once, and I keep my browser open for hours after that.

What matters is how fast tab loading is, once the app is running.

Now, my PC is a +2 GHz dual core with 4 Gb of RAM.
The current Windows install is really a brutish fabric of mine, nothing conventional, but it works fine. As for Firefox, its main core has been completely buried by too many extensions for caring to count.

So I opened Chrome, and kept Firefox running as well, I went on with opening a battery of websites, some of which I knew where rather long to load, others which were snappy-fast.

Result? No effin' difference. My Firefox is a failed attempt at a pieced up hot rod and yet, it loads just as fast as vanilla Chrome. They're just equal. There is no difference at all. So why bother?

And most importantly, what's going on with the massive applause of Chrome?

For example, one of the articles I read was this one, from PC mag's Lance Ulanoff.
It's from 02.02.2010, so it's a bit old, but it's still from this year.
Now what did he say?

When Google launched Chrome in 2008, it was almost laughably under-powered, but it was wicked fast. It let you search right inside the address bar (a feature I love to this day) and loaded pretty much every page (almost always with an odd HTML translation error or two). Wonkiness aside, it just worked. We were all impressed with Google's first effort. Chrome beta was followed in a remarkably short time by a full-blown first version. Now, less than 2 years later, we're testing Google Chrome 4.0. Firefox is still beta testing version 3.6!

No kidding. Did he really make a comparison between release numbers?
What kind of professional is that?

After a half dozen tabs, both made my system feel like it was swimming through molasses.

That, I call bullshit.
I have the old and bad habit of opening like 50 tabs on the average, and that's been going on for years, with plenty of videos running, paused and so on and so forth. Firefox has seldom crashed. And it has certainly not turned into that snail thing he appears to have come across.
I mean, 6 tabs and his PC's core clock runs through syrup?
This guy is a joke!
Perhaps he should stop trying to run Firefox on a Kitchen Honeywell.

He probably forgot that billion dollars heavy Google is running for a monopoly on web browsers here.
You know what companies with billions can do? They can buy good reviews and positive buzz. They can hire legions of gushing anonymous commentators. They can get a good many crucial shrills. And that's just what it looks like.

And this wouldn't be perfect without citing someone who actually seemed to know a thing or two about Google's business guidelines:

mpantani1 February 3, 2010 1:23 PM
Another article about Chrome without a single reference to its essential purpose: private data collection and sale. The price of the product is the value of my personal information. For me that is too expensive, but others sell themselves for less. Lance, maybe you are not concerned but many of your readers are. Aren't you doing a disservice by not telling the whole story?

Think about it. Your private life has a goddamn value, and you're selling it off for less than pennies (this includes the Facebooks and the likes by the way).
The search engines are already devouring your "private" life. The moment you send a query, you're filed in a way or another. Anything you type is tied to a given slot in statistics, with tabs and line numbers.
Against that, you can use the Scroogle Scraper (in theory, it prevents tracking, which is a good thing); and learn more creepy stuff on the home page of Google Watch.
While everything should be done to protect privacy and even prevent the exploitation of non-anonymous data for the sole purpose of making money, we had Google's CEO telling us something like that last year:

If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place.

Well, isn't it nice? It's fashionable. It's quite chilling in many ways. Shall we say Orwellian? Right, there's context, and these words are picked apart. But you have the video link, and you'll see that the context is nothing more than mere sugary coating. You don't need to stop there.
In this video, same Schmidt tells you that the IP of your house is stored along whatever goes in and out from that IP. Same goes for a company. CEO guy focuses on the company, picks an example with Washington Post and its countless employees, and that's supposedly proving that it's not hurting privacy, that it is impossible to really sniff anything of private importance in a way that matters. Sure, after all, it's a company, and you don't browse at the office the same way you do at home. Some don't browse at all. Besides, there's lots of people fused at the bottleneck that is the company's firewalled super-router. One IP for all!
But in the house, at home, that's quite different. It's your family, or only you. It is, above all, purely about your private life. Yet he quickly dismisses this little nagging difference. Oh and the data is kept for 18 months.
That's... err... long, no?

Not done? What about Recorded Future? What would you do if you learned that Google and the CIA thought they should monitor Internet cooperatively (and here's another Wired article)?
Perhaps it would be time to reconsider the importance of privacy once for all. It was recently "discovered" that tracking the verbose on Internet and the way people felt and reacted on the Twitters and else would, in the vast majority of times, prove a decisive indicator of what would happen on the stock market in the next three or four days.
Well, it's not a surprise to me because it's damn obvious that it's all about speculation, and thus bits of info and lots of emotion.

Now, it goes without saying that an organ that collects such data is literally being able to probe the future, to the point of being able to influence the course of action resulting from such privy meta-observations, and that means lots of money. Is it legal? I can't tell. Most likely yes. Anything's legal now as long as it prints toilet money. Is it even fair regarding business and trading rules? I'd almost say hardly.
Not to say that billions of fools would pay for such words right the Oracles's mouths and chicken guts, without realizing the paradox at hand. Irony of all, only the Oracles would know what to do during the next turn, as they would be able to predict the evolution of the market according to those specific massive sales of data and predictions, supposedly used by their clients in order to make the right buy/sell choices for the next few days.
I think they should have called the company Returning Future.

Ah... world of madness. So, where were we?
Well, here comes another problem.
That a big business house follows the law is normal. It's logic. It's expected.
That one big company goes beyond that and decides to mine data alongside the CIA... now that's a new shade of red in the sky.

So you want to help Google beyond the immense advantage they already have with their search engine, by using their web browser now?

It's not just about the tech side of it. It's also about how you live as a human.

But who am I kidding? Google already owns 85% of the Mozilla Foundation, which allows Google to maintain some special deals with MF. And AOL poured more than two millions into it as well.

PS: I posted the browser stats for my own blog here.


Anonymous said...

I agree.

Anonymous said...

I agree also. I have tried it now for about 6 months. There are mulitple problems that mostly involve the cache. Back to FF for me!

Anonymous said...

Chrome is not faster than Firefox when it comes to loading webpages, period.

It's the third in line after FF and Opera with IE being the slowest overall (IE 8).