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Adobe Flash is bad for the environment

Tuesday November 9 2010

Flash Energy Usage On a computer the CPU plays a big part in its total energy usage. A modern CPU can easily gobble up between 20-60 watts when in full use. When casually browsing the web, Adobe Flash can often be seen to hog the CPU’s idle cycles by 100%, preventing any of the energy saving technology in CPUs to kick-in. In some browsers this even happens when tabs with Flash are not being used and open in the background…

Ars Technica had a good write-up about this phenomenon in the new MacBook Air a few days ago:

We did find (quite by accident) that Apple may have more reasons behind not installing Flash by default other than the stated reason of ensuring that users always have the most up-to-date version. Having Flash installed can cut battery runtime considerably—as much as 33 percent in our testing. With a handful of websites loaded in Safari, Flash-based ads kept the CPU running far more than seemed necessary, and the best time I recorded with Flash installed was just 4 hours. After deleting Flash, however, the MacBook Air ran for 6:02—with the exact same set of websites reloaded in Safari, and with static ads replacing the CPU-sucking Flash versions.

If you consider these rough numbers, that Flash increases energy usage of a highly efficient laptop by 33%, and you consider the amount of computers in use at any given time, then you can make some fun estimates:

Say that on average 250 million people are browsing the web simultaneously. And say that, about a quarter of the time, some Flash ad is being displayed on one of those machines. Also say that running Flash uses 30 watts on average. Then Flash is wasting 1875 megawatts of energy, enough to power about five million European households. Or the equivalent of the energy produced by 700 typical wind turbines.

Interesting to see such a huge environmental impact from a small piece of software! So do yourself (and the planet) a favor, and remove Flash!

Please correct me if I’m wrong about any of these numbers!

Samsung ML1610 and Snow Leopard

Saturday July 24 2010

Update 2011-08-06: This stopped working under Lion. You can install the SpliX drivers instead. Setup was a breeze and everything works again.

Samsung ML1610 Got my new MacBook Pro a week ago, and had to reinstall the driver for my trusty old Samsung ML-1610 laser printer. I bought it years ago for less than 50 euros and it’s still going strong.

It’s a great (and cheap) printer, but Samsung doesn’t officially support it for Mac OS X (Snow) Leopard. Which is kind of strange, because it’s quite easy to get to work! Just install the 10.3 drivers for the ML-1710, choose the 1710 driver for your 1610 printer and it will work in 10.6 just fine.

You can find the driver on Samsung’s website. It’s not available on the US site, but it is on the Dutch one. Strange again… but it’ll work!

Speed up your iPhone

Saturday May 22 2010

I’ve had my iPhone 3G now for about 2 years, and it has gotten slower over time. I noticed that it had nothing to do with runnings apps or ‘being too full’. Restarting it or removing unused apps didn’t make it any faster, for instance.

I’m thinking that the culprit was SSD fragmentation. Obviously the iPhone doesn’t have a fancy controller like the Intel X25M and constant use might leave little free blocks available for writing.

After a quick backup & restore in iTunes (right click your iPhone, choose Backup, wait, then choose Restore from Backup) the iPhone is snappy as new – even when it’s chock-full of apps!

Update: Especially for iOS4 with a 3G, turn off Spotlight if you’re not using it! You can find this setting under Settings/General/Home button. Makes a big difference.

Did it work for you too? Let me know in the comments below!