Flashblock for Safari
I go through browsers like I used to go through brands of breakfast cereal.
When I switched from Safari to Camino last year I mentioned my longstanding grudge against the Firefox project. Because of their indifference to the Mac build of Firefox, and to anything outside the central clique’s sensibilities, Firefox on Mac will always have rough edges. It’s great for coding and testing your own sites with the benefit of third party extensions, but otherwise it’s pretty unpleasant to use.
In contrast, the Mac-only Camino browser tries hard to smooth over its underlying Gecko engine. It wedges in Web form controls that sort of look right. Everything outside the content area is kosher. And it starts up so fast I’d swear someone sold his soul to the devil. But Camino is powerless in the face of the immortal Gecko hyphen bug-no-“feature”-well-um-whatever-you-say-but-it-just-sucks. Because the developers of the Web’s most famous rendering engine are not particularly interested in Web typography (what?), solutions to the problem are always slated to be in the “next major version.” And if that next major version is a bullshit release (like Firefox 2.0) that is pushed out to distract from more important things happening elsewhere (like Internet Explorer 7) then too bad for the Internet!
Having had enough of Camino’s clumsy Gecko rendering, I switched to Opera several months ago. Opera has some very nice features that preserve the user’s work (open sites, filled form fields), and its type rendering is pretty good. But its Mac OS X appearance and behavior are borderline. And its ten-second-plus startup time on modern hardware just doesn’t make sense. When I noticed the Opera process sucking CPU cycles when not in use, I had to deep-six that ho.
So, back to Safari. And horrendous Flash ads.
I can’t oppose Internet advertising in general—it pays my salary. But I do hate garish, outrageously moving attention-hijackers that run uncontrollably. Rather than block ads entirely, I prefer to reign them in the way I’ve long done in Firefox with the Flashblock extension, and in Camino via CamiTools. Flashblock forces Flash objects to display in a box that you choose to activate. Advertising is not singled out by myriad rules; it is simply put within the user’s control along with any other use of Flash. (In Opera I just left plugins off most of the time.)
Hallelujah—I’ve finally found a free, Flashblock-equivalent solution for Safari: Safari Stand. (Weird name. Dude is Japanese or something.) Among other things, it can disable plugin objects until you click on them. This is the way it should be. Browser makers, are you listening? This human-friendly option should be built in!
Well, that and the medieval wizardry of breaking lines at hyphens, Gecko.