Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Grandfather browser

I'm almost embarassed to admit it, but I've taken to using Lynx very often. For those who don't know, Lynx is a text browser. All you get is pure ASCII. No images, single font, single size. I use it mostly for reading research related stuff. I've found (empirically) that it offers quite a few advantages.

Mostly, it helps me focus. Of course, I access Blogger in Firefox, where right now I have about eight tabs open, with at least half being completely work-unrelated (cricket scores, PhD comics, Indian Express and so forth). Where there is a tab, there is a switch to it once in a while, which can be hugely distracting.

At a deeper level, though, in a text browser its really difficult to go to any external links - even those that are there in a particular page. There's no easy way of opening them while keeping your current page (no new tab/new window... and if you know of one, don't tell me!) so you really tend to (a) open pages that you will read and (b) stay focused on reading them. Moreover, links don't stand out as much as they do in a graphical browser, they're just blue in colour as opposed to black. I even read a few blogs on it these days - I've been noticing that in a tabbed or graphical interface I sometimes tend to just gloss over the information rather than really reading it.

I cannot emphasize how nice it can be to have just one font. One gets tired of big, small, italicized, colored, imaged and generally distorted text at times. Console font can be a blessing.

Lastly, it really is the best solution for ad-blocking - of course!

Of course, Lynx never will replace a graphical browsing interface - but I find myself pretty happily spending an hour or so on it continuously at times. Trust me, if you intend to get through the GNU Make Manual in two or three (or even one!) sitting straight, Firefox is probably not your best choice.

Think I might have finally crossed the line into insanity? I can't blame you :)