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After some 7 years of continuous use of Microsoft Internet Explorer for Windows (yes, I'm a Windows user), today I switched to Mozilla Firefox. There will be no return.
I own a notebook with a high-res LCD screen (effective resolution: 133 ppi). I had to do a lot of tweaking to Microsoft Windows so the type doesn't appear too small on my screen. Reading numerous blogs has always been a challenge because of the pixel-sized, anti-accessible page design of these sites.
But this is over now, since I finally understood how many different options Mozilla Firefox holds in store for a power surfer.
The by far most important accessibility option is hidden under Tools / Options / General / Fonts & Colors / Minimum Font Size. This simple setting (that needs to be set separately for each encoding) makes Firefox automatically enlarge all type that is smaller than the defined threshold. After I have set the regular font sizes to 18 and the minimum size to 15, no badly designed website, not even Typographica ;) , will hurt my eyes.
After I installed two Firefox extensions (ColorZilla and Web Developer from https://update.mozilla.org/extensions/ ), I also received two separate options for powerful page zooming. Unfortunately, strange rendering problems occur when I try to zoom in using ColorZilla and zoom out using Web Developer, so the solution isn't perfect.
Also, the simple and brilliant zoom combo box in Opera is still unprecedented. So when I run into a web page that is all done in bitmap graphics and the type is simply too small, I open it in Opera and set the zoom to 200%, or sometimes 150%. I still don't understand why web browser manufacturers didn't implement this simple feature on standard basis -- after all, wordprocessors such as Microsoft Word have had it for ages.
But in general, I find Opera somewhat dodgy. I never could get into its strange screen setup, while Firefox captured me from the day I installed the final release. I already managed to grab some more extensions from https://update.mozilla.org/extensions/ and installed all possible developer menus ad and popup blockers, as well as a very handy tool that enhances Google search results with web page thumbnails from Alexa.
Then I packed some essential RSS feeds into Firefox's "live bookmarks". Since Firefox isn't quite a full-blown RSS reader (I'm still really getting used to RSS), I experimented with a few offline browsers such as SharpReader. In the end, I decided that I like FeedDemon most: http://www.bradsoft.com/feeddemon/
This little application is written by Nick Bradbury who in the past had written Allaire HomeSite and TopStyle -- two beautifully designed, well-engineered web design applications (HomeSite was later taken over by Macromedia). The "newspaper view" of RSS feeds in FeedDemon is just so cute: http://www.bradsoft.com/feeddemon/screenshots/screen.asp?img=2
The application still has its pitfalls, but I think it has great potential. Its user interface is well designed, and there is nothing I hate more than ugly computer applications. (If you want to see one, take a look at http://www.ghisler.com/picture.htm -- it's an application I often use but truly revile its UI design).
So, today, my reading experience on-screen has improved dramatically. ClearType definitely remains OFF on my machine. What I'm really missing now is a well-done superhinted monospaced font that renders in two-pixel stems in the common screen sizes in the regular cut, and in three or four-pixel stems in the bold. Lucida Console is very good, but doesn't have a bold! Andale Mono is very well-hinted and has an extensive character set, but also doesn't have a bold, and is simply way too thin (renders one-pixel stems in fairly large ppem sizes).
I'm looking forward to seeing Luc(as)' de Groot's Consolas as part of the Microsoft ClearType font collection, but I gather it will not be superhinted for black-and-white, but only fasthinted for ClearType. And, as I mentioned, ClearType remains OFF on my machine
For the time being, I made a custom font family by glueing together Lucida Console with Arial Monospaced Bold. I had to tweak their font metrics so they go along well, but of course, instead of doing this sort of hacking, I'd much prefer if somebody simply made a good, usable, monospaced screen font. Or maybe I'm missing something?