Thursday 25 May 2017

The Brave Browser

It was only a week or so ago that I was grumbling to someone about the internet, and the time it can take to load a web page.

Using Firefox with NoScript, I have to take a decision on whether to allow scripts to run, but these are not always limited to the page of interest.

When viewing newspaper and magazine websites like Radio Times, I find it quite alarming that it wants to load dozens, possibly hundreds of script libraries belonging to Google, Facebook, Twitter & so on.

I guess its just an indication that everyone is spying on me (...hey, just because I'm paranoid, doesn't mean they aren't out to get me!). Do they really want to know whether I plan to spend the evening watching Springwatch or that 1960's western on Movies4Men?

Either way, it slows down page loading, and even when the page appears I can't scroll down for another 800milliseconds because Facebook want a piece of the action!

So what a coincidence that a few days after my rant, I should happen upon a new web browser called: Brave

The basic concept with Brave is to block trackers and annoying adverts. This makes browsing faster than using the most popular internet browsers, and generally more of a pleasure.

you can set the Brave dashboard to open when you start a new tab (or select any other web page)

Blocking trackers and other unnecessary stuff not only saves time, but may also save you money if you are paying for data download by the MByte (e.g. browsing on a mobile phone). Its even removed all the advertising clutter from my Facebook page.

Brave is totally HTML5 so its "goodbye" to Flash (...Yippee!).

I don't seem to have had any video issues so far playing media (I mostly use BBC & YouTube). However, as Brave still very new, somethings don't work quite right yet. One example is using the graphs on World Coin Index

As you can see, the red x/y guides do not line up with the mouse pointer.

Edit 1st June: this seems to have been fixed in the last couple of days.

Also, I've yet to workout how to store passwords, but that could be down to me.

what about those poor advertisers?

About now, you are probably wondering when the roof on the internet is going to cave in! If advertisers are blocked from websites, how is anyone going to make any money?

This is where it gets complicated, as they want to encourage Brave users to agree to "opt-in" and see limited ads. They will then pay users for their time in a cryptocurrency called BAT (Basic Attention Token). These micro-payments will basically depend upon how much attention the user pays to any particular advert.

Adverts are selected based upon user interest, which is reckoned to provide a more efficient match between advertisers and web surfers. No one is tracked (whether you opt in or out of the "show-me-some-ads" system) as data is analysed on your local computer, and a local learning algorithm provides the ads match.

Calculations for micro-payments are also performed on the local machine, and BAT's are managed on the Ethereum blockchain, so there must be some kind of basic digital wallet built into the browser.

One of the many things that are still not clear is how much of this stuff has been implemented.

Over time, the business model may change. If Brave becomes too popular, could it be acquired in a hostile takeover and snuffed out?

Who knows?  Since the software is largely open source, that seems unlikely. But for now, the important thing for me is a much improved internet browsing experience.

The main-man behind Brave is Brendan Eich who seems to have been responsible for JavaScript and was a big-cheese in Mozilla.  Despite the latter, Brave is more closely related to Chromium than to Firefox.

Brave downloads

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