Last updateMon, 21 Jan 2019 12pm

Better, more intelligent web searching

As this column goes to press the sordid quadrennial political circus north of the border is thankfully coming to a close. 

Anyone who follows the news cannot help but be aware of the staggering dishonesty and reality twisting by the mainstream, corporate news media.  Readers of this column will also be aware I have pointed out the political bias sneaked into your computer and other online-connected devices by the corporations in charge of major internet search engines.

One reason I have taken notice of the political bias of search engines is my choice of internet browser.  My preference for the Mozilla Firefox browser means that I have a search window that permits me to easily search Google then immediately run the same search against Yahoo, Bing, or any of several other search engines.  This is a feature not found in Google’s Chrome or Microsoft’s Edge.  Google and Microsoft are competitors for the search engine market so it should come as no surprise that the browsers they make do not make it easy to use the competition’s search engine.  As kids love to say: “well, duh!”

The nonprofit Mozilla Foundation, makers of Firefox, believes the “internet must remain a global public resource that is open and accessible to all.”  To that end, the search window in the Firefox browser is not restricted to the company brand when searching.  Enter a term into the search window and the Firefox user is presented with the opportunity to search using Google, Yahoo, Bing or DuckDuckGo.  Searching Wikipedia or Twitter is also installed by default.  This feature makes it trivial to compare the search results of the different corporation’s search engines, and to see what differences may exist between them.

Aside from better and more intelligent internet searching, there are other important reasons to consider ditching the Chrome, Internet Explorer, or Safari browser you are now using.  Firefox offers better security and privacy in part because of its complete independence from large data-mining corporations such as Google, Yahoo, etc.  Firefox blocks third-party trackers while in Private Browsing mode, and fully supports ad blocking plugins.  And there are thousands of other free add-ons that you may install to personalize Firefox.  That is for another column.  Mozilla has led the way in the move away from content that makes use of Adobe’s Flash technology that has been such an ongoing security and privacy issue.

Mozilla does not favor one computing platform over another, so Firefox versions are available for Mac, Windows and Linux computers, as well as Apple iOS or Google’s Android tablets and phones.  And the best feature is the price.  The Mozilla Foundation makes their software available for no cost; but if you visit mozilla.org you may scroll all the way to the bottom of the page where you will find an unobtrusive link where you may make a donation if you care to do so.

Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant with more than 20 years IT experience and a Texan with a lifetime love for Mexico.  The opinions expressed are his own.  He may be contacted through his web site at SMAguru.com.

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