Monday, November 08, 2010

Going On A Flash Diet

Apple's war on Adobe Flash is partly a clash of business empires and also a clash of philosophy and style.  Flash is clunky but flexible, and widely adopted.  However, it lacks the elegance and efficiency that characterize Apple's products.  HTML5 offers many benefits, but it still cannot quite match Adobe Flash.  Still, it was a revelation to me that you can add 2 hours to your MacBook air battery life by ditching flash - at least according to some.

As an executive in an online video start-up, I'm intimately familiar with the benefits and drawbacks of Flash.  Right now, we cannot dump Flash because HTML5 does not adequately support encrypted video - something that is needed to thwart potential pirates.  Apple has implemented encryption on the Mac platform, but not universally.  That major studios and content providers still consider HTML5 insufficiently secure can be seen in YouTube. While many videos are now available in H.264, not all of them are.  Many still show up as blanks when you try to watch them.

Given the news of the added battery life, I decided to give it a shot.  I downloaded ClickToFlash, a safari extension that blocks Flash from loading until you click on the box where it sits.  The results: amazing.  I can't attest to the full battery life impact because I didn't do a scientific test, but it certainly seems to work.

More than just battery life, however, going on a Flash-diet improved my MacBook performance all around.  Web pages showed up with a fraction of the ads filled in, reducing visual clutter.  And they loaded much faster as well.  My CPU load was also visibly lower as well.  I tend to leave my browser open all the time these days, and with Flash ads everywhere, that drains battery and performance continuously.

So, ClickToFlash is my new favorite extension.  I highly recommend it.

Gizmodo without Flash - Cleaner, Simpler

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