The KISS Principle

I don’t spend hours trawling through our Forum, but dip in to it fairly regularly. When I do so, typically I see that I have “99+ Unread Items.” Err….I think I’ll give that a miss, thanks very much: I have never, even in my earliest Vivaldi user days, done that. For a start, there are a lot of items in a foreign language, and whether the language is French or German, Chinese or Ukrainian, or something even more esoteric (to me at least), they might as well be in a language popular on a planet in the Andromeda galaxy. Like most Englishmen, I’m terrible at languages. I speak English (the proper one, not its mangled American counterpart) and Profane with a degree of skill, even brilliance; a few words of French, German and Spanish picked up during my travellin’ life; and rather more Polish as a result of living in Warsaw for 23 years and counting but the degree of fluency would shame a native 2 year old, I’m afraid. Not for the want of trying, mind you, I’ve tried various courses and phrase books, but it just never seems to stick. It drives My Beloved crazy, and my kids and probably most of my English speaking Polish friends probably find it pretty pathetic, but that’s the way it is. C’est la vie……

Anyway, I digress: the Forum. The fact of its linguistic variety is in my view a tribute to both the company and its developers, in being able to produce a great browser and support it through a (largely voluntary) support network with such a truly global reach. I have seen the odd post criticising it, saying it’s too complex, there are too many categories, and it’s difficult to drill down to an individual topic or specific problem within a topic, and there may be some truth in that. I would suggest that is more of an issue for the developer or enthusiast who likes to play around, tweak the look-and-feel, use every productivity enhancement and new tool as soon as it comes out – and there is nothing in the least wrong with that. Were I a techie I would probably be the same.

But I’m not. I’m a simple end-user. My needs are straightforward (I’ve written about them before both on this blog and on questions I’ve raised on the Forum, so I won’t repeat them). Which is where The KISS Principle comes in.

I’m sure most of you are familiar with it, as it’s in common enough usage nowadays, but when I first heard it, way back in my late 80s – early 90s investment banking days, I naively thought my manager (a middle aged woman from Alabama) was making a pass at me. I was trying to solve a procedural problem and getting increasingly confused with no hint of a solution in sight. She wandered into my little office to see how I was getting on, having spotted me sitting head in hands, and caught a phrase or two from my fluent Profane. I explained briefly (cleaning up my language) what was wrong. She placed her hands on my shoulders, massaged them gently for a moment, then breathed in my ear: “Kiss, baby. Kiss.” Then she gave me another squeeze and wandered off.

Seeing my confusion, a colleague who knew the lady well (he had been with the bank a few years longer than me) came to ask what the hell was going on (he used another word, but I’m sure you get the drift), and I told him. “Not sure I want to kiss the boss,” I finished lamely. He roared with laughter, explained what she meant and left. I though for a minute or two, made a fresh coffee, then got back to work and using their guidance had it sorted in half an hour.

KISS stands for Keep It Simple, Stupid. In other words, don’t make anything, no matter what, more difficult than it needs to be. I had been overthinking. I pared away the stuff that was irrelevant, got back to the bare bones of the problem and lo and behold the answer I wanted was staring me in the face. Done deal.

Now I KISS all the time, because it’s a principle that in my experience works pretty much every time, no matter the problem you’re trying to fix. A rickety table needs a repair: forget all the fancy bits of carved wood and polished brass brackets holding it all together: they may look nice but bring nothing more to the table (literally). Simple screws and wood glue will probably work just as well.

It’s the same with tech – probably more so. Vivaldi is brilliant if you love customising your browser experience. By and large, whatever you want it to do, no matter how you want it to look, you can set it up pretty easily. It’s engineered that way. When I installed it, I spent an hour or so, not that long, setting up the basics to give me the simple, clean and attractive browser functionality I wanted. Forget about tab grouping, tab stacks, RSS feeds, all of that stuff – I don’t need any of it. I want to open my browser and see something I like to look at – I have three favourite themes and I rotate them, depending on my mood (or simply for an occasional change of scenery): changing from one to another takes a second or two, via one setting, and it’s done. I want to be able to open a few tabs without performance issues: I usually have no more than three or four (currently three: my Vivaldi Home is one, to get me into this page to write this essay, and the other two are links to one of my favourite radio stations – its Home page and the link from there to the broadcast). I can see from Sidebar I’ve an Unread Mail but I’ll get to that later. That’s it – I need nothing more.

The hardest bit I found when I was setting it up the first time was getting my handful of Shortcuts where I wanted them (at the top of the page on the Shortcuts Bar), miniaturized and logically grouped, but once I’d figured it out it’s done and dusted – adding a new one this morning took me about 30 seconds – and when I change themes all of that crosses over without change perfectly. It’s the epitome of KISS, as far as I’m concerned: everything I want is there, where I want it, and all usable simply and quickly without difficulty.

I often see posts on the Forum stating that after installing such-and-such update then the following problem happens (followed by a typically hacked off brief comment about it not being acceptable). 90% of the time, there is a set up choice that has been overwritten by the update, so a simple setting change does the job. I’ve noticed too that this appears to happen more frequently when running on Linux. Again, in accordance with KISS, I use the Windows OS that came with my laptop (a 2013 Lenovo ThinkPad W530). The only change I have made to it was to get my free upgrade from W7 to W10, and I didn’t do that until close to the end of that offer, to give it some time to settle down. I take all the updates, whether to the full OS or simply to the embedded Edge browser that I still use, when they are released and likewise upgrade Vivaldi as and when I see there is a new release. It is always a completely pain free operation taking a few seconds to a few minutes for a bigger Windows update, but apart from clicking “Upgrade Now” I don’t have to do anything.

It works for me. Not once have I seen any of the problems that are highlighted on the Forum, nor those X-certificate warnings that appear on the internet with sad regularity. It’s a battered old machine, and couple of the keys sometimes don’t work, but the display quality is still bright and clear, and it’s still fast. I did a little test last week: from switching on the power to boot up, through launching Vivaldi, opening one of my short cuts and seeing the content took me around 40 seconds – which I thought was really good. I repeated the test, this time to the Edge browser but the same short cut, and it took less than a minute (the extra seconds were spent opening the Windows Mail app as opposed to seeing the Mail content already on Vivaldi). Again, in my view, a really good response. I repeat: KISS works for me.

It may be coincidental, but I think not. Keeping as close to plain vanilla as possible seems to give me everything I want from this battered Old Beast. God knows what I’ll do when W10 reaches its end of support in, what, 18 months, because the Old Beast is technically unable to upgrade to W11. I guess I’ll have 3 choices: do nothing for as long as I can on a less secure laptop (and hope I don’t catch anything nasty); convert the OS to one of several thousand possible Linux distros (my head hurts just thinking about that); or spend a bunch of money on a new machine running, probably, Windows 12…..

One for another day.

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  1. An extremely informative article. By the way, congratulations on getting featured as a blogger on Vivaldi 🙂

    1. Thanks, glad you enjoyed it. Hadn’t realised I’d been “featured” – serious question: where do you see that?

      1. You’ve definitely been featured on the homepage’s member spotlight section in the top right corner (it shows a different community member each day).
        We have also featured some of your blog posts on the homepage and on

  2. Just get a MacBook; that’s what I did and I’ve been scratching my head wondering why I had waited so many years.

    1. Thanks for the Comment, Alexei.

      Simply put, I would never buy an Apple product. I had a first generation iPhone back in the day, and it was perfectly fine, but subsequently I moved over to Android devices (primarily Samsung) and have always found them to be just as good. And invariably cheaper than their Apple alternatives. I’m also not keen on locking myself into the Apple universe: any more than I’m overjoyed about being locked into the Google or Microsoft infrastructures…..but at least they are a lot cheaper.

  3. Couldn’t reply to your comment on my blog. I have been logging in rather infrequently and they seem to have removed the comment option. Extremely sorry !


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