Flash Blocking Browser Tools

In the past, I’ve often used an ad blocker in Firefox. I’ve recently come to find that I don’t need to block all of the ads to speed up the loading of pages. The payoff comes in blocking Flash. I’ve started using a Flash blocker in Firefox and Safari, and the outcome has been a faster, more controlled browsing experience. Once Flash content is blocked, a single click on a Flash container within a page will enable it to run.

You’ll soon realize how much Flash is overused on many sites. After I started blocking Flash, the static ad images that appear on sites don’t bother me enough to continue running my ad blocker. Try it yourself.

Defending The Flash Player

I am an avid follower of tech news. It seems that as of late, the Adobe Flash Player has been taking a lot of hits in the tech press. I’m now writing to defend it.

Criticism of Flash reached a head last week when Apple announced their new iPad. As everyone knows, the iPhone OS does not support the Flash Player. Apple’s lack of support for Flash on their mobile devices is quite deliberate. The general consensus is that Apple hates Flash and wants to use the iPhone and iPad as weapons to try to kill it. This irks me.

The exclusion of Flash on the iPhone and iPod Touch is understandable, but I believe that the lack of Flash support on the iPad is a huge mistake. I don’t want to buy the iPad, but if I were interested, the lack of Flash would be a deal breaker for me. Far too many websites rely on the richness that Flash provides. Sure, YouTube videos play on the iPhone and iPad via H.264 video support in a dedicated app. However, web video isn’t the only area where Flash is popular.

Websites for musicians and restaurants are two areas where web designers lean heavily on Flash. One can complain about that fact all they want, but it is a reality. I personally have no problem with it whatsoever.

In addition, most all of the web-based games on the Internet are played within the Flash Player. Think of the gaming destinations Pogo, Kongregate, Farmville, etc. People enjoy playing these games. To simply not include them in a product that is designed to browse the web is totally unacceptable.

Flash has been a standard on the web for a very long time. More than a decade ago, it brought static web pages to life with animation, sound, and interactivity. I’m tired of hearing the growing calls for the format to be abandoned.

The anti-Flash camp contends that the Flash Player is a slow, buggy resource hog, often hitting 100% CPU usage and crashing web browsers. I have never noticed this on any of my computers. I can stream Flash video and multitask on my aging machine without issue. In fact, I have a decade old IBM Thinkpad that sports a Pentium-III processor with 512 MB of memory. That Thinkpad plays Flash perfectly fine, without struggle, overheating, or 100% CPU usage. When you consider that modern computers have dual and quad-core processors, what difference does it make if Flash is heavy on system resources?

To conclude, I have no problem with the Flash Player. I’ve never noticed it slowing down my computer or crashing my web browser, even once. In my opinion, Macromedia and Adobe have historically done a pretty good job at maintaining the Flash Player across all platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, and Solaris. It is ubiquitous, and it just plain works. So I say this to everyone who is bitching and moaning about the Flash Player: Get over it. If you don’t like it, uninstall it. See how great your web experience is after you do that.