Aug 22, 2023, 06:27AM

Opera Button Gone

Dumb browser removes something great.

Opera 2015 icon.svg.png?ixlib=rails 2.1

For years I’ve used Opera because of one great thing. You could finish reading a site and then click a button that disappeared the site and replaced it with your bookmarks. That button is no longer there. The successor button still gets you the bookmarks, and as always these are presented in rows and columns of fat, colorful rectangles that dominate the screen (tiles, I think). But to eliminate your old screen you have to do it the standard internet way. You hunt along the top for something small to click, and meanwhile your wrists undergo not-great leverage.

Browsers typically subject you to this chore when you get rid of a screen or choose a bookmark. Opera’s new-screen button abolished it: no more lift-and-creep. The button was located on the top border, but in a prominent and easily reached place. One dart of the wrist, a click, and then you had the screen with the fat rectangles. Opera still does the bookmarks that way; it’s a set-up called the Speed Dial. You can roam your possibilities by flopping your wrist back and forth, with the cursor landing on big familiar targets. This is civilized treatment of the wrist, eyes, and neck. But now, on Opera, you must do the top-of-the-screen creep when you’re closing a tab. The Speed Dial’s too big to lose, but the other half of the duo, the new-screen button, has fallen prey to an idiot reshuffling.

I thought Opera was against the top-screen experience. I thought I had an oasis; now it’s half an oasis. Small-time, Opera doesn’t work with a number of services (including my password manager). It has to offer something especially good and it did. But now it offers only half. The powers that be are always frustrating, but here there’s a willingness to take active steps against users. Last year Kindle slapped me: they had a backspace key and then, no, it was a home key. You don’t go back a screen now, you go to the device’s home page. I thought that Kindle, the market leader for e-readers, provided features anchored to the fundamental logic of its product type. I thought that Opera, a small-timer among internet browsers, would treasure advantages that made it special. But both outfits, big and small, showed me I was wrong.

The companies that pull this nonsense just want to take things away. No, that can’t be it. But they operate so blindly that any good thing can get sucked up and disappeared, and no one but us, the dumb readers, will notice or care.

Handling Caro. I’m wandering here and there in The Power Broker, as a man will do at different seasons of his life. Print is how I read Robert Caro and this time my wrists are better prepared for the job. Typical that I’m surprised by this. I never thought about anything in my day-to-day life that my exercises might help me with. But here’s an advantage that sneaked up on me. When I lie on my back and peer up at the ant trails (“…from the state—specifically from the Legislature and the body that administered the Legislature’s wishes, the State Division of Housing, headed by the State Commissioner of... As late as 1968, during the…”), I’m not flattened by the 1295 pages above me. I can handle the weight, which makes for a nice change.

I still don’t expect to finish The Power Broker. I’ll make deeper inroads than I would have, but that’s all. Frankly, finishing The Power Broker is like finding enlightenment. It’s the sucker move.


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