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For the last few weeks I’ve been surfing the Web with Version 5.5 of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, an upgrade that replaced the 5.0 that was standard on a couple of my computers. I particularly like a feature that allows the periodic synchronization of Web sites on the Favorites (aka Bookmark) list, so that they may be viewed when your computer is not connected to the Internet. Simply check the “Make available offline” box when you designate a new site for your Favorites list, and IE 5.5 will update it when you’re doing other things with your computer, so that it will be available whenever you want it. This feature is best used with sites that present designer-controlled content on its pages, rather than a database-driven site usable for legal research or ordering from a catalog house. Further, the user of a desktop computer with an “always on” Internet connection won’t find it as useful as someone who spends a lot of time on the road with a “sometimes connected” laptop. I also like a Print Preview feature that makes it clear what I will get if I decide to print a particular page. Microsoft claims that upgrade fixes some security holes that shouldn’t have been there in the first place — and who am I to argue? In general, the new version seems to crash a bit less than the old one — this may, of course, be more a function of our crash -rone systems rather than IE5, itself — and work a little faster. In any event, I haven’t found a downside to the free upgrade, so I suggest you might want to look into doing it, when you have some spare time. The URL is www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/ download/ie55sp1.htm. OPERA Of course, IE5 is not the only Browser out there. I’ve not been happy with the latest version of Netscape’s Browser, preferring to keep the older Version 4.7 instead of upgrading to Version 6. But I’ve been delighted with the latest version of Opera, a multiplatform browser/e-mail combination I’ve read about, but never before installed. Opera Version 5.11 for Windows requires a 2.24 Megabyte download if you already have a Java 2 Runtime environment on your computer or don’t wish to use Java, or 9.96 Megabytes if you require the Java support software. Opera 5 can operate in a “free” advertising supported mode. I didn’t find the fixed advertising banner objectionable, so didn’t bother to spend $39.00 to convert to paid mode to delete the banner. Opera comes with a nicely integrated e-mail client that I like better than either Microsoft’s Outlook Express or the mail program available with Netscape. A tool bar icon pulls up a mini-menu that enables a fast switch between the mail list, individual pieces of e-mail or a split screen showing both. (The various views are available in other e-mail clients, but the Opera client is simply easier to use.) But Opera is more about the Browser than the e-mail client. Opera looks a lot like IE5, and seems to do most of what IE5 does, even importing my IE5 Favorites list into its own HotList. And Opera does a lot that IE5 doesn’t do. Opera can open all of the sites listed in a HotList folder with one command. This makes it very easy to create a Startup folder, to immediately open the three or four pages you use all the time, when you first load Opera. Navigation is easier; hold the right Mouse button and click the left, and Opera moves to the immediately preceding Web page. (This is equivalent to the back-arrow icon on both the Opera and IE5 tool bars.) Hold the left and click on the right, and the Browser moves Forward. In addition, so-called “Mouse Gestures” enable other navigation possibilities without bothering with the keyboard or even the toolbar icons, although both icons and keyboard shortcuts are also available. A Google search box is available directly on the Opera tool bar. Enter a word or two, click, and Opera immediately sends the search request to www.google.comand moves the Browser to the resulting Google Hit list. As I consider Google the best of the general purpose search engines, I find this a very useful feature. The last features I will mention are the “progress” boxes at the bottom of the screen when a new Web page is loading. During the load, the boxes identify the page being loaded, the percentage of the page loaded at a particular instant, the download speed, the total number of images on the loading page and the number of images already loaded, the number of kilobytes loaded, and a stopwatch showing the time it has taken to load the page. With most pages this information passes so quickly it is difficult to see; when things are going slowly and you really would like to see the information, it is there. I’m not about to toss out IE5, but I have made Opera my default browser on at least one computer. I think that you’ll like it, too. SUMMARY Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 5.5 upgrade is an excellent Web Browser, but I like the new Opera, Version 5.11 better. Opera, Version 5.11 for Windows. www.opera.com. Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5. www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/ie5 Barry D. Bayer practices law and writes about computers from his offices in Chicago’s south suburbs. Write to him at PO Box 2577, Homewood, IL 60430 or e-mail at [email protected].

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