My Opera 8.5 Review on CNET

As this Opera 8.5 review took awhile to put together, I might as well post it here as well. I’ve been an Opera user since v6 after being fed up with reinstalling Mozilla and its extensions. Firefox has a lot going for it these days, but it still doesn’t feel as nimble as Opera to me, and the default install still doesn’t cut it feature-wise, so I always have to go dig for extensions that invariably muck the install up. To be fair, there’s plenty about Opera that could annoy/confuse some users so I try to cover both sides.


  • Undo (ctrl-z) opens closed tabs (since Opera was opened!) with full history. This is the handiest feature.
  • Close Opera and restart where you left off with all tabs loaded (or don’t, it’s up to you). If Opera crashes? Just reopen, everything’s there.
  • Advanced features power users expect, like mouse gestures and the two above, Just Work out-of-the-box without worrying about extensions. Search the web for how many FF users have had to uninstall, manually scrub their registries and Program Files, reinstall and redownload all their extensions. I suffered through lots of this with every Gecko product before sticking w/ Opera.
  • Install new versions over the old ones, or start fresh in a new folder and run em side-by-side. It Just Works.
  • Super customizable with the best skinning in the business. 1) click skin (it shows what your browser will look like with all your menus/toolbars instantly) 2) keep it or don’t.
  • Dead simple panel usability. It’s just a bookmark in a frame, put anything in there. I have my TaDa list in front of me every time Opera opens.
  • Instant print preview with fit-to-page. IE users are used to neither..
  • Notes is the perfect web researh tool. Copy page text to a note (it remembers the URL) then add your own text. Double-click the note to return to the page.
  • Javascript: Fastest engine on Windows, excellent bookmarklet capabilities, User JS without the vulnerabilities of Greasemonkey, and Opera allows access to it’s JS console so JS authors can get fancier JS errors in a panel.
  • Lesser target for evil than FF and IE. Of course, no ActiveX.
  • Great download manager that remembers source URLs.
  • Helpful forums and users
  • Now free and ad-free :)


  • It can’t install advanced 3rd-party extensions that dig into the chrome, etc (though bookmarklets may do the job).
  • Non-savvy web users used to IE may be overwhelmed or disable cookies/JS/images/CSS and forget how to re-enable them. If dad is used to clicking "the blue e", FF may save you some tech support calls.
  • Some sites needlessly hide features from/block it. Savvy users can usually get around these and Opera handles everything fine, but others might find it very frustrating.
  • Older versions lacked full AJAX support (used in Gmail). This fact contributes to the problem above.
  • Embedded Quicktime and RealPlayer plug-ins sometimes are a pain to get working, and may still fail if the site used incompatible HTML.
  • Opera’s error-correction is a bit different than IE and FF, so sites made by amateurs that "made it work in IE and FF" may render differently.
  • Like any highly customizable app, Opera gives you the power to really mess it up (though it can always be fixed).
  • Lacks IE/FF’s in-browser rich text editing interface, though these are mostly common in CMS’s.
  • Like all non-IE browsers, lacks ability to verify signed executables you open off the web (though signed doesn’t necessarily imply safe).

Adventures in Painting

Last night I dropped a whole gallon of white paint on the step on our front porch. I was carrying two cans and, needing one hand free to open the screen door, I slyly lodged one can on my knee against the outside wall. Don’t do this. Opening the screen the can tumbled off my knee and burst open on the step. Luckily the can landed on its lid and much of the paint oozed out slowly (which is still quite alarming!) rather than splattering all over my shoes, leg and everything else. Kathleen handles emergencies so gracefully it amazes me. Without getting a drop of paint on her clothes she manages to quickly hand scoop 95% of the paint back into the can while I scurry in a circle cursing myself. We were also lucky the paint was acrylic because it pretty much wiped and hosed clean off everything. As Kathleen says, any dirt that got in the paint will be “texture”.

We’re starting with the two bedrooms next to ours, giving them a few coats of the cheap paint, ripping the carpet out (nice terrazzo underneath) and then moving on to the rest of the house. We’re still deciding on colors. I have trouble envisioning colors on such large areas so I’m gonna take some room pics into Fireworks and color the walls their to try out some of our ideas.


Dear friends,
You might’ve received a frantic call from Kathleen or me regarding helping us move an incredibly heavy piano that I purchased at Salvation Army. The item has been successfully transplanted to its new home in our office where it will await repair and tuning for decades. What does this mean to you? You can begin answering our calls again.

Steve & Kathleen

Steve with piano

Camden Park

Camden Park illustration
One of these days a West Virginia trip is in order and some of my favorite memories are from Camden Park. Originally opened in 1903, it still apparently has its original wooden coasters from the end of the 50’s. Check out the awesome train cars on the Big Dipper (1958). From the skyliner you can probably see what a dump the place is now compared to its heyday, but you can still ride the old chain pulled Haunted House. I loved riding the Spider all lit up at night. Nice overview pics.


A few hours after I called in sick on Friday, Kathleen came home, too, with a problem with her tonsils. We were pretty useless all day; she slept, I mostly sneezed uncontrollably, but I managed to install the new CPU in my recording computer and find it defective. I took what I thought was 12-hr medicine, but it turned out to be 4-hr, so the last half of the day I felt particularly terrible thinking that I had to wait to take more. Before bed I did the generic version of Thera-flu, which had no perceivable impact. I woke up dehydrated probably a half-dozen times. Before breakfast Kathleen gave me an Advil Cold & Sinus and fnially something seems to be working. She’s been super patient with me, I dunno how she does it.

Reorder WordPress Link Categories

Update 1/14/2011: According to Dustin Gurley, this still works in WP3 w/ minor modification. Thanks, Dustin.

Update 1/30/06: a plug-in now exists to handle this.

WordPress lacks the ability to specify the exact order that link categories appear in the sidebar. The get_links_list() function can only order categories by name or id, and this limitation becomes annoying when you create your categories out of order (you can no longer order by id) or want to rename your categories (“Junk” has to appear before “My Favorite Links”).

Here’s how to completely customize the order of your link categories:

  1. Open up your WP database with a database admin tool (eg. MySQL Query Browser or phpMyAdmin).
  2. Find the wp_linkcategories table and the row of the category you’d like to appear first.
  3. Update the cat_name field of that row, prefixing the existing name with the HTML comment: <!--01--> (eg. My Stuff becomes: <!--01-->My Stuff)
  4. Update the rest of the rows in the order you want those categories to appear, prefixing each name with <!--02-->, <!--03-->,

Now when get_links_list() orders categories by name, they’ll be in order by the numbers in the comments, which will be hidden by the browser.

Note that you can’t simply enter the comment within WP because it will escape the greater/less than characters, breaking the format of the comment. For the same reason you won’t be able to change the edited category names within WP without breaking the comments, though you can remove the comments and go back to ordering by name or id.

Maybe someone will make a plug-in to do this from within the WP interface.