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Hot on the Web

Here and there on the Web

This column originally ran in ComputorEdge on January 24, 2003
(Issue 2104, Surfing Made Simple)

I recently found yet another way to save time, if not money, by shopping online: Fandango.

The last few times I've gone to the nearest movie multiplex, the line to simply buy tickets was approaching Disneyland length. And half the time, by the time we got to the head of the line, the showing we wanted to see was sold out.

Fandango lets you buy tickets ahead of time, with a credit card over the Internet. When you show up at the theater, instead of getting in line to buy tickets you go to the Fandango station — much like an ATM — and swipe the same credit card you used to purchase the tickets, and it prints them up and kicks them out to you in a manner of seconds.

The drawbacks? Well, there's a modest service charge so that buying from Fandango will cost you a bit more.

And there are no refunds — so if for some reason, you can't make the show after you buy the tickets, you're out of luck. (The first time I did this, the movieplex was so crowded we almost didn't find a parking space — something you can't tell from home.)

Browser updates

If you're using Netscape 7.0, you've probably been prompted to download the 7.01 upgrade. It's free, and seems cause no problems on either my Mac or Windows XP box.

After a few years of relying primarily on Opera and Mozilla, I've come back to using Netscape as my primary browser — using Internet Explorer only for visiting certain Web sites that obstinately cling to non-standardized technology — an e-mail broadcasting company I work with, for instance, has menus that will only work with IE.

For daily browsing, I find Netscape 7.x to be more stable than any of the others — it crashes less often, seems to load pages almost as fast as Opera, and handles browser plug-ins nearly as well as IE.

But it's the fact that it doesn't crash as often as IE that has brought me back to Netscape. At least for now.

Opera has a new beta version of their popular browser out now — 7.0 (6.0 on the Mac, which for some reason is always an interation behind in number but not functionality).

The new version continues Opera's recent user interface development of increasing graphical slickness; the toolbar in the Windows version looks almost like the Mac OSX interface. (And the rollover effects on the taskbar icons — in which the text command for that icon fades into view — is very cool.) From a little bit of playing around with it, Opera 7.0 seems to have kept all the features that make Opera stand out from the pack — multiple browser windows within the same session, the fastest rendering engine out there (makes pages load faster), and growing plugin support.

There's still a free version of Opera with built-in banner advertising, or you can purchase Opera and turn off the ads.

It's good to see that despite Microsoft's domination of the industry, that there are still companies willing to offer us quality alternatives to Internet Explorer — if only to keep Microsoft honest. The fact that both browsers have features that make them superior to IE in some ways, and preferable to IE for some of us, is an added bonus.