Making the modern “Web” a bit lighter and more private

Forum Forums General Tips and Tricks Making the modern “Web” a bit lighter and more private

  • This topic has 32 replies, 8 voices, and was last updated May 9-8:28 am by PPC.
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  • #58803
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    PPC

    I recently noticed how much I use the web, and how heavy it got…

    The first contact I ever had with the internet was using a BBS (yeah, I’m that old).
    It was just text, with some ascii art, but allowed me to share files remotely and receive messages for the first time ever…
    Some 30 years later, the web has evolved, and its… bloated, and full of nasty things like trackers, intrusive adds and heavy and many times useless javascript codes…
    A youtuber (Luke Smith) did a funny video about the fact that he was looking for some info about how to cook a plate and he found pages with recipes that were many mega in size- just to give some cooking advice! He has a slow network connection (like many of us) and those pages took ages to load.
    I don’t know much about web development, but I do understand that if you want to run a webmail service, a webstore, or a streaming video club service or a social network – all that needs a way to log on securely… and that may imply some heave coding (for example- gmail/outlook’s webpages are at least as heavy as having thunderbird mail application open)
    But most web pages are not any of those services… Why do newspaper’s webpages need JavaScipt enabled to display images? Images and text have been displayed in simple html code since the internet dark ages.

    Some youtubers and Opensource intusiats, like Derek from DistroTube youtube channel, defend, with great entusiasm a new internet protocol based on Gopher- Gemini that is text only- like BBS of old…
    It’s a nice effort, but, for me, as for most people, webpages without pictures (when pictures are needed to illustrate something) are a step back…
    Don’t get me wrong- I use a text only internet browser all the time- on my android device, to read news during my commute to work, because I have a very limited mobile data plan… But if you don’t have that particular problem, why use webpages without pictures or nice formats?

    Why the long rant?
    I’ve been testing the new Badwolf for antiX web browser – that, out of the box comes with JavaScript disabled- it’s easy to enable- just click the “JS” button… But I noticed how fast and light most web pages are, with JavaScript disabled- reading the news on-line is a pleasure, and I don’t have to click all those “We care about your privacy” pop ups. Do you really care about my privacy? Don’t use tracking cookies, don’t spy one me, don’t spy on my browsing!
    Directed internet adds are a privacy plague and should be outlawed or be “opt-in” only.
    I do care that those adds on the side or the top of the screen are paying the news I’m reading for free. Hell, since I was a kid I’ve had to endure tv adds for the exact same reason, so I’m ok with it.. But my TV does not try to spy on me to show me only adds to stuff I’m into. Don’t do that, it’s nasty.

    Facebook is crying about the fact that they will loose millions in add revenue because the new IOS privacy policy stops them from spying on IOS users? Don’t worry, you’ll still make millions from non targeted adds, you won’t go bankrupt…
    A regular android user, without a rooted device can do the same- I sure did- it’s (almost) impossible to get a completely untractable device when using the internet… as is impossible to get a door impossible to force open- is that any reason to leave your door wide open?

    So, show me adds to pay for stuff I get for free, I don’t mind. Don’t spy on me to select what adds to show me- that I do care.

    And my advice- when you can, use a secure browser, if possible with JS disabled for most sites that don’t really need it- you’ll have a much faster and private web experience.

    …and yeah, take badwolf browser for a test drive- it’s dev, the dev of it’s searchbar patch and Xecure are doing great work – it’s still under development, but trust me, well worth testing/using, particularly for news webpages, blogs, etc…
    Turn JS on, and it’s still a more secure and lighter than the average bear, sorry, browser, that renders (almost) all webpages correctly.

    P.

    • This topic was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by PPC.
    • This topic was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by PPC.
    #58809
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    christophe
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    :D

    Funny that you post this today. Just yesterday I dusted off my Dell Mini 10 netbook. It’s too weak/old/lame to handle the “modern” web. BUT.. I couldn’t let that stand. I had to find a way to make it useful. So antiX 19 core, with IceWM, qpdfview, dosbox… & badwolf, all make it run very nicely! And the browser is the key. Unless it can allow me to read & sign into the forum & view other web sites, an old laptop isn’t really worth much.

    You brought up very good points. A very valid statement on the status of the modern web, and a good solution.

    And the Yogi Bear cartoon reference was fun, too…

    #58810
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    seaken64
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    :D

    If I had only one computer I would make it a smartphone. And that’s pretty common among the current generation. But I have several computers and many of them are old and considered “junk” by today’s standards. I have not been able to use Badwolf yet. But I have had good success using SeaMonkey and NoScript. I also use Links2.

    I miss the days of Gopher when you could get good information without all the distractions. Reading on the modern web is uncomfortable with all the distraction. Turing off JavaScript helps in a lot of cases. But some websites do not respect turning off scripting or ads.

    For browsing the modern web it’s better to have a modern computer. But I still have other machines that are not worthless. I have learned to use text-based programs for playing music or even downloading videos for offline viewing. antiX is very helpful for this since it supports a lot of text based software and even has a text based control centre user interface. But even for a GUI I have a couple old P-III computers still in service. I use them to play music and read simple websites like Wikipedia. One has only 256Mb RAM and I set it up with JVM and it’s initial RAM use is about 56Mb. I don’t use the GUI browsers on that rig. Only simple text based stuff like Lynx or Links2 and music players like mpd/mpc & Cantata and Audacious.

    I will give Badwolf a try. I have a couple dual core machines that I have antiX 19 on and those machines should run Badwolf just fine since I already use SeaMonkey+NoScript on them.

    Seaken64

    #58812
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    Brian Masinick
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    :D

    The past few posts got me thinking. In some ways I appreciate the power of the modern computer and the modern web, but seaken64 and I can also look back on the past with much fondness.

    I definitely remember the early days of the Web. I used network-based systems 10-20 years before they were commonplace. The earliest ones mostly had access to worldwide text-based forums and newsgroups. For instance, the Usenet, which I first used with a fast, simple tool called rn (read news), was particularly interesting.

    The company where I worked, Digital Equipment Corporation, had TWO Research Labs, one in Cambridge, Massachusetts (CRL) and the other one in Palo Alto, California. (WRL, Western Research Lab). There we had network access to college and research academic networks that passed these news services around. They had information about everything, from newspaper-like stories to sports information to discussions about technology and categories of information. These were great until the access to these networks became more widespead, at which time the noise, spam, and other undesirable things crept in, little at first, then to the degree that most of them ultimately shut down, by then largely replaced by Web content.

    That’s too bad because these were once among the best possible ways to get information and you could read as much or as little as you needed, and you could search them for the specific content of immediate interest.

    There are definitely benefits to what we have today, but there are times that the old simplicity is nice, especially when we are using old equipment. I also remember that the old, simple, fast, and elegant things were also the most fun and interesting to use, much like our software.

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by Brian Masinick.

    Brian Masinick

    #58816
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    seaken64
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    :D

    I am testing Badwolf now on my main P-III that I use for keeping track of what an old computer is still capable of in the modern age. It’s not going well so far. I could not login to the antiX forum. I think it has something to do with WordPress but I am not sure. It hangs after clicking submit on the login screen, either off the menu or at the end of a thread/message.

    I tried turning JS on but it just pegs the CPU at 100% and freezes up.

    I switched over to SeaMonkey. Admittedly I had trouble with SM on the antiX forum until I installed NoScript and got it restarted. But with SeaMonkey and NoScript I can log in and the browser runs reasonably well, as long as I am patient. I know this is a very poor experience for browsing when compared to modern equipment. But it works. Also, I have to “hold” SeaMonkey at the 2.49 version since the latest version requires SSE2. So, it’s not perfect. But so far it is better than Badwolf on this computer.

    I will try Badwolf on some other machines that are better than a P-III. I’ll try a P4 and a Dual Core.

    Seaken64

    #58819
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    skidoo
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    :D

    bloated

    (over)specialization
    Nowadays, astoundingly few folks among the younger generation are generalists.
    “Ima be a ‘web designer’ when I grow up”
    “Currently, I’m fulfilling the role of domestic engineer, but aspire to become a ‘data scientist’ and…”
    .

    rational ignorance

    (The) practice of avoiding research whose cost exceeds its benefits

    “Rational ignorance is refraining from acquiring knowledge when the supposed cost of educating oneself on an issue exceeds the expected potential benefit that the knowledge would provide.”

    grabbing links to 2 random examples:

    “10 great web design components to incorporate in your website”
    “Web Design Elements: Examples And Best Practices”

    Most of the ’employed/contracted WebDesigners’ are NOT technically knowedgable. They are ‘creatives’ and, on behalf of their paying clients, go shopping for pretty (and/or functional) components for use in the client’s gonna-be-oh-so-snazzy website.

    The maker of componentA is unaware how/where their component will be reused, so they specify a “dependency list” of associated resources to be used by the component (images, scripts, css stylesheets)… and they specify that their component depends on (has been successfully tested with only) exactly version x.YZ jquery javascript library. Meanwhile, component B thru Zed each blindly specify lists of resources to be retrieved//embedded…
    .

    exquisite corpse (paraphrasing thewikipedia definition

    Exquisite corpse, also known as exquisite cadaver [..] is a method by which a collection of words or images is collectively assembled. Each collaborator adds to a composition in sequence [..] allowed to see only the end of what the previous person contributed.

    .

    Why do newspaper’s webpages need JavaScipt enabled to display images?

    a request for a given url will be fulfilled by the webserver conditionally, based on
    user-agent, screensize, O/S, etc details conveyed in the http request header
    (e.g. avoid serving 4000x3000px images to user viewing on a < 1366×900 screen)
    but
    to fulfill the anticipated need for “adaptive layout”, embedded scripts are necessary to manage “What to do if/when the viewer switches their device orientation, on-the-fly, from horizontal to vertical”

    some websites do not respect turning off scripting or ads

    css3
    W3C (web ‘standards’ consortium) is corporatized, and in the latter iteration of the spec, “cascading style sheets” have grown fangs ~~ capable of performing timed (or interactive, event-driven) script-like behaviors. It’s allabout delivering a better “experience”, right? Has nothing to do with performing an end-run to bypass your javascript adblocker, right?

    webasm
    (web assembly)
    (browser retrieves, and runs, uninspectable compiled code)
    Yeah, gotta stay (in)secure, gotta keep yer browser up-to-date.
    Camel’s nose is under the tent ~~ webasm may not yet be enabled-by-default in the current version of (Hobson’s_choice) chromezilla, but with each incremental release is aggressively “supported”. No worries, you’ll be able to click a feelgood “switch it off” button… until next browser version, when (predicatably) it ASSidentally silently gets switched on again with each new version update, until finally the “off switch” disappears from the false-sense-of-empowerment “preferences” screen.

    #58821
    Member
    Xecure
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    :D

    Latest build (not fixed the startpage yet) is in the antix-contribs gitlab group
    https://gitlab.com/antix-contribs/badWolf/-/tree/contribs-release-deb/deb-packages
    Test that one to see if the fixes in the latest version worked.

    #58824
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    seaken64
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    :D

    Badwolf is working ok on this Pentium 4 – I am using it now to type this message. I suspect it may be related to SSE2 – the P4 supports it the P-III does not.

    It’s weird to have to use the scroll on the mouse to increase page size. I prefer the keyboard controls like Ctrl+ and Cntr-. But maybe I can get used to it. It’s also weird to not have a menu. I’ll use the old-guy standby of printing out the key bindings and have it near the workstation while I learn how to get around in Badwolf.

    Seaken64

    #58825
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    seaken64
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    :D

    I’m not sure I see the need for such a minimalist interface on a computer with multiple threads and 3+ GB of RAM. I see the need for this on my systems with 512MB of RAM. But I have had no problem using SeaMonkey or FirefoxESR or even Chromium on this machine. Why would I chose to use this Minimal Interface when I can get an easier and more pleasent experience with SeaMonkey+NoScript?

    Maybe there is a reason. I don’t know. I’ll keep using this for a while to see if it can change my original impression.

    Seaken64

    #58828
    Member
    PPC
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    :D

    Why do newspaper’s webpages need JavaScript enabled to display images?

    Well, I do realize that there’s sometimes technical reasons for that, thanks for educating me more on that, Skidoo, but I meant that on a generic way… for example https://www.wired.com/ reads great and displays the top stories pictures correctly even with JS off (but pictures on the lower part of the page do not display, no big deal). If you click any article, it displays fine and with pictures!
    One of the biggest Portuguese tech news site- https://pplware.sapo.pt displays fine, pictures and all, even without JS… Then again, the webpage of one of the best selling newspapers in Portugal, jn.pt displays no image at all on the landing page, but displays them fine in most articles… And reading this newspaper using badwolf without JS is almost like loading local pages- every single article pops open and displays correctly in about 1 second!

    Even video streaming does not need JS- https://invidiou.site/feed/trending does allow us to view many YouTube videos, without JS enabled, and those guys are no tech giants like google… I use that site a lot on badwolf and works great, adjusting the video resolution as needed to great a smooth play even on my single core computer…

    And I can log on to the forum using badwolf without JS, but I can’t open my messages (it works fine if I enable JS). But I have only 64 bits machines, so any problem doing
    this can be lack of CPU power to use the web engine?

    Edit:

    “Why would I chose to use this Minimal Interface when I can get an easier and more pleasant experience with SeaMonkey+NoScript?”

    Hum… Use whatever you like best and/or works best for you- The suckless team developed the “surf” browser, that doesn’t have an address bar… now that’s minimalism for you!
    The latest version – badwolf 1.1, customized for antix does have a “web search” box, that allows you to search duckduckgo, and does have a customized startpage that allows you to access bookmarks – since, for security reasons it does not store any cookies/history when you close a tab, it really does not allow for “history” or “store credentials” features. It runs constantly in “private” mode.
    But hey, what’s nice about the opensource crowd? Freedom of choice- Badwolf is just one more (private) tool available, that happens to run fine on computers that are more than 10 years old (but probably not on machines that are 20 years old).
    If you use badwolf to constantly access services that require log on it can be tiresome, because you need to keep entering your credentials every time you access a service- it very private, but also annoying… On the other hand, it’s perfect, if you share your computer with someone else (and don’t have separate users)

    P.

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by PPC.
    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by PPC.
    #58829
    Moderator
    Brian Masinick
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    :D

    I’m not sure I see the need for such a minimalist interface on a computer with multiple threads and 3+ GB of RAM. I see the need for this on my systems with 512MB of RAM. But I have had no problem using SeaMonkey or FirefoxESR or even Chromium on this machine. Why would I chose to use this Minimal Interface when I can get an easier and more pleasant experience with SeaMonkey+NoScript?

    Maybe there is a reason. I don’t know. I’ll keep using this for a while to see if it can change my original impression.

    Seaken64

    To me it’s a matter of personal preference and also for those who want as much privacy as possible.

    Both reasons are reasonable, but it is still a matter of preference.

    Some people want glitter and fancy appearance. Many other people object to any glitter.

    As long as there are options available for the various preferences, it is up to each person to choose the environment they prefer.

    Brian Masinick

    #58841
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    seaken64
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    :D

    Yes, I agree with the sentiment about choice. I’m not suggeting that Badwolf is not a good tool. I am just questioning my own preferrences. I mean I can sit down at my old 286 running DRDOS-7 and use Lynx to browse the web. But since it is not as enjoyable as using SeaMonkey on my P4 why would I? I enjoy the experience of browsing in SeaMonkey better than Lynx or Links2, and, it seems at least for now, Badwolf.

    Can’t we get a nice user interface that is easy to use and still get privacy? Now, I realize that whether an interface is “nice” is subjective. Some folks like keybindings only. I prefer using the mouse to move around when browsing the web, but wierdly prefer uing Ctrl+ and Ctrl- and Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V, etc. Must be something from my DOS days where some key commands are second nature to me and I like seeing those made available in my software. If I had used a Mac when I was young maybe that would be different.

    Anyway, for me, the Badwolf interface is too stark. In order to use it I need to learn a new set of commands. But why? SeaMonkey runs fine and more to my liking. Now, if Badowlf was the only thing that runs on this machine then I would see it differently.

    Maybe if I could modify the interface to my liking, like I can in IceWM or Fluxbox. Than I could see Badwolf having a big advantage for limited hardware. But maybe such an effort to add such a feature to a minimal browser doesn’t make sense.

    I will continue to use Badwolf for a few days just to see if I can change my mind. But the security features is not enough for me. It more about the comfort level of using the browser.

    Seaken64

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by seaken64.
    #58843
    Member
    seaken64
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    :D

    And by the way – I DO really have a 286 running DRDOS7 that I can use on the internet – with ethernet on my broadband internet service. That’s where I really miss the days of Gopher!

    Seaken64

    #58844
    Moderator
    Brian Masinick
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    :D

    And by the way – I DO really have a 286 running DRDOS7 that I can use on the internet – with ethernet on my broadband internet service. That’s where I really miss the days of Gopher!

    Seaken64

    Cool!

    I don’t have anything that old other than me! 💪👍

    Brian Masinick

    #58847
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    seaken64
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    :D

    It appears that I can modify the keybindings and make changes to the interface with a css file. I’m not sure how to do it but I will take a look and see if I can figure something out. It irritates me that I have to use the mouse scroll to enlarge and reduce but there is a keybinding of Ctrl-0 to go back to 100%. I want to see if I can add the Ctrl+ and Ctrl- to step up and down in 10% increments.

    BTW, Vivaldi does the same thing. I have to use an onscreen scroll with click and drag to enlarge and reduce. It’s cumbersome and I miss the keyboard control that is more precise. Call me fickle.

    Seaken64

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