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Opera: The Steve Fonyo of Browsers
A screenshot of me writing this blog. My CMS (left), prevew (right), all in the same window

OK, perhaps this isn't the best analogy. If you don't know who Steve Fonyo is, my friend Flocons recently wrote a blog about him. In short, he lost his leg to cancer, like Terry Fox, and attempted a similar run across Canada. He, however, was able to complete his marathon, yet got little recognition for it. If you want to learn more about Steve Fonyo, you should read my friend's blog.

What does this have to do with the Opera browser? Very little, other than that, I don't think Opera gets enough recognition for its accomplishments. I've recently downloaded Opera 10, the newest version of the Opera browser. Opera has always been one of my favourite browsers for its innovations but gets little recognition from web users. Opera had tabbed browsing, full page zoom and the "speed dial" feature before any of today's major browsers. Basically, if you want to know what new features will be coming in the next version of your favourite brower, just check out Opera and you'll likely find it there already.

The only reason that I hadn't been using Opera exclusively is because in previous versions, it did not display some web pages correctly. It seems to be getting better with that. Also, the last time I looked, I was not impressed with its "widgets" (known as extensions in Firefox), but there seems to be a lot more widgets available now. Another thing I did not like was that it did not have an "ad block" feature. It was stated by someone from Opera that they would never include this feature. Opera has a content filter feature, but it's a bit complicated to use. I finally was able to get it working but I'm not impressed with it. I may write separate blog on this.

In addition to adequately addressing the issues I had above, Opera also has some other cool features (a few of which, I have not seen in other browsers). I will mention a few of my favourites.

Arrange Tabs
You can arrange your tabs to be cascade, tile vertically or tile horizontally. This is extremely useful for comparing websites without have to switch back and forth between tabs. To do this, you just need to right-click on the tab bar and select "Arrange".

Open Previously Closed Tabs
This can be accomplished by just going into your history and looking for the tab you closed but this can be tedious. Opera has a single button that shows your most recently closed tabs. It's located on the far right of the tab bar.

Open In a Different Browser
If for some reason the page is not displaying correctly for you, you can right-click and select "Open With" and choose another browser that is installed on your computer.

Tab Preview
If you mouse over a tab, it will show a small screenshot of what's in the tab. Very useful to quickly find the tab you are looking for.

There is a feature that lets you add quick notes. I'm not sure if I'd use this feature but for people to visit a lot of websites, they might want to leave some notes about certain sites.

Read To Me
Opera has a feature where you can highlight the text and have it read the text to you.

One-click Add to Bookmark
Recently, my step-dad had complained that after upgrading to Internet Explorer 8, the single-click "Add to Favorites" button was replaced with a "Add to Personal Toolbar" button. He was very upset about this because he was use to having that button. Opera still has this button, but you need to customize your tab bar to add it.

Opera Turbo
A new feature of Opera 10 that isn't of much use to me but may be useful to someone else, is Opera Turbo. Opera Turbo speeds up browsing on a slow connection. It doesn't display pages correctly but if you only care about the speed, then this may be something you'd be interested in.

I know some of these features are available in Firefox via extensions but they are all built in as part of the Opera browser! And they are all nicely integrated into the interface so that they are not in the way but are easily accessible. Another thing I've also heard is that Opera is working on speeding up the execution of javascript. What that means (for those of you who aren't programmers) is that certain pages that use a lot of (client-side) programming, will load faster. So, in conclusion, I hope more people will take notice of Opera as the innovator it really is. Unlike Steve Fonyo, nobody can call it a copycat.

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