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Opera -- The Browser
Opera for First Time Users
Switching to Opera
My Trip to the Opera


My Trip to the Opera

The Download was easy and short.
Well I geared myself up to download Opera. The folks at operasoftware were good enough to donate a copy to Newbie dot Org so that we could keep you updated.
Why did I have to gear-up for the download? Well, memories of downloading other browsers had me nervous. I was prepared to spend an evening away from my computer while it did the Download Waltz. Even though the promotional material at Opera Software talks about how small the program is I did not really understand how small it was until I went to download the file. The version I'm using Opera 3.5 is just a little over 1 megabyte. This compares favorably to the 10 megabyte plus downloads of other venders.
By the way, do definitely take the time to browse through the various promotional and informational pages scattered around at You will find very helpful information and a link to receive updates and notices.

The Install was easy, not many options.
Running the install was very straightforward. When installing other programs one has to pick and choose options from the zillion packages and addons. With Opera there is no standard, compact, or custom type of installation to worry about. There is only one install path to follow. You just keep click "NEXT" until you are done.
If you wish you can elect to change the directory where Opera will be installed and into which folder the shortcuts for Opera are placed. Other than that no options apply. And, if you are okay with the default settings you can just click "NEXT" until you get to "FINISH" and you are done.

Registration -- was easy.
When I opened Opera for the first time I was confronted with a screen telling me how many days I had left in my free trial. I promptly input the registration number from Opera and this screen went away gone. That was that. No more to do. No huge screens with address, email, phone number, shoe size, do I like the color red, am I going to buy a ton of computers this next year, none of that. Just a simple input registration number, thank you, and we are done.

Multiple Windows.
Next thing I noticed were several windows open where I expect to see one. In other browsers one is trained to expect a single browser window. If more than one window is opened then you are confronted with multiple copies of the browser. Opera has the ability to cascade several browser windows on the same screen. One can move these around, tile them in various patterns, and in general play with the browser windows the same way you would with documents in a text editor or graphic program.

HotList in my Face.
On the left there was a HotList running down the side. This brought to mind two things: 1) I want my screen reserved for the browser window. So how do I get rid of this Hotlist? 2) How do I input my hotlist from my other browser into this section?
As a programmer I know exactly why they have the hotlist display implemented as the standard default. Because other browsers don't typically offer a permanent display of the hotlist customers will have no way to anticipate the existence of such a feature. Hence they must put it in your face so that you can see it is possible. The same is true for the multiple screens upon initial load of the Opera browser. They must show you several screens so that you can know there is such a possible feature.

Turning off the Hotlist Display.
This was an adventure. I hope in future releases this will be made a little more intuitive. As it turns out the answer was in fact intuitive -- just not intuitive to this idiot. So guys put in two intuitive answers.
Where I went wrong is from using my experience. By previous experience I'm trained to look for stuff about configuration in the Preferences menu. I looked all over the Preferences menu for something about the option of turning off the Hotlist view. Couldn't find a clue. Found lots of other stuff but never found that -- not under preferences.
Finally when I consulted the Support pages at the top of the support document for Configuration was an answer: Go to the View menu. Doh! Wish I had thought of that. But, apparently others haven't thought of it either. How do I know that others haven't thought of it as well. They have the answer at the top of the Configuration support page. Okay guys go the next step and realize that if something is giving folks a problem to the degree that you are forced to answer it as the number one question maybe it's time to add a clue in the software. I'm suggesting to the Opera people that they put some reference to this under the Preferences window. Since many of us dummies seem to be looking there. Sometimes as a programmer it's necessary to put information (or a link to the proper information) not where the information belongs but where people go to look for it.

Importing Bookmarks.
Okay, now on to the next challenge. Importing my Netscape Bookmarks into Opera. Here things got tough. Alas, I was pushed to the wall and had to investigate the help file. Gak and double ghak!
When I got into the help file I found a section within a section within a section that tells one very clearly how to import bookmarks. The instructions were very clear. Unfortunately for me, once again there is a very necessary function that was hard to find because: "We is silly and look where we look not were the info is." So once again I'm going to suggest that the folks at Opera consider putting a menu item on the Hotlist submenu which says "Import Bookmarks" -- or, something to that effect. After a little trouble with looking in all the wrong places, I now have my "Bookmarks inserted."

Let's Browse!.
So then now that we can settle down and start doing some serious browsing. Except for one small problem. Out of the box, Opera seems to be having a problem finding my name server. I have not been able to load any pages other than the Opera Pages. The exception being pages where I use direct IP addresses. For example, Opera could not find but it could find
Once again the solution was easy. And, once again I had to look around for the darn thing. In the Preferences/Advanced section there is a box called Synchronus DNS. Who the heck knows what "Synchronus DNS" is? Well, whatever it is, apparently on my computer this needs to be checked on. Out of the box it was not checked. Needs to be checked. So after I found it and checked it, pages loaded just fine.
Turns out this "Synchronous DNS" thing is related to the fact that I'm using a Winsock 2 update. I found the following on the Opera Support sight.

Synchronous DNS -- If you use the new Winsock 2.x(comes with Windows 98), you may have to enable this in order to make Opera load documents properly.

If you are using Opera with CompuServe and Opera "hangs" for a long time trying to load web sites, or won't load sites at all, enable "Synchronous DNS" under 'Preferences/Advanced'.

A Suggestion
Here's a suggestion for the Opera Software people. When Opera runs for the very first time do a little test. First download the opening screens as usual (obviously you are using IP addresses for this function since it works even when Synchronous DNS is not set right). After successfully downloading a page the proggie knows that the internet connection is happening. Okay, so try to download page using a name and that DNS thingie. If the page does not download, switch the synchronous thingie and try again. If the page downloads then keep that as the default. If you think about it put a message box up informing the user of what you just did and ask if they would like to see a webpage which explains what you did and why you did it. If they click yes, then download and present the page. By having it be a webpage with explanation you can keep the info uptodate and put a nice notice of other new stuff and maybe an ad or two.
Sounds like a lot of work for the poor programmer to do. But hey, why not have one or two programmers to that work and help us millions of Newbies not have to confront the word "Synchronous". It might be 20 hours of programmer time but it might save thousands and thousands of hours of Newbie time. Also, if I did not have a free registration I might have given up with yet another failed software install -- assuming that I messed it up and was too stupid to use the program anyway.