Friday, October 3, 2008

Google Chrome: I'll pass

My Firefox browser crept up to using 200 megs of system resources today, so I decided to try out the new Google Chrome browser, which treats every window and tab as a different process. Close one tab, use fewer system resources. Awesome!

While Chrome installed (it took a long time!), I started looking for, StumbleUpon, and download manager tools for Chrome. I found and StumbleUpon bookmarklets, hooray! But while I was deciding if no wonderful DownThemAll download manager would be a dealbreaker (I use DownThemAll in conjunction with my blog reader to feed my podcast addiction), I noticed the blog post "Why I Uninstalled Google Chrome." It's about Google's weird privacy situation. It's bad enough that every time any one of the kajillion random people we let use our wifi does a search, that gets logged in Google's database under our IP address. Google anonymizes that, but not really.

With Chrome, Google would keep a database of not just my searches, but absolutely everything I do online. Though I am not a terrorist or a pornographer or a promising young politician susceptible to Roveian use of spying agencies, having everything I do online in someone else's database is still creepy to me, and I don't think Firefox does that (it seems like phoning home to Google every time you load a web page would slow you down a bit).

Additionally, it occurs to me that Chrome would probably not allow anything like the NoScript and AdBlockPlus Firefox extensions that currently make my web browsing experience so downright pleasant. Nearly every page you visit wants you to be running some google-analytics script, presumably to harvest information about you and show you ads. NoScript means I don't have to have my information collected and used against me in annoying video ad form, so only under the severest page malfunction circumstances do I even temporarily allow google-analytics. And AdBlockPlus means I'm puzzled when I end up on a web page where people are complaining about the annoying video ad. What annoying video ad?

I think I'll just hope that Firefox's next version incorporates the cool individual-process feature* instead of switching to Chrome and hoping that Google will suddenly care more about my privacy than its ad revenue.

*Firefox has shown a weird combination of hard work and denial on the memory problem. It's clear they're trying to fix it. But they also suggest you're a weirdo for having the problem and you really ought to use fewer windows and restart Firefox more often.

Update: Google plans to open Chrome up for extensions.

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