New computers – Mac (Flash)

First off, I probably have to modify the perception that I may have left, in this series of postings, that I hate the Mac and everything it stands for.  Not true.  While I find the “Apple knows best” attitude frustrating at times (all right, many times), the MacBook Pro that I purchased is a nice machine in many ways.  For one thing, it’s the most powerful machine I’ve got at the moment.  (Until I get the time to install the new desktop, anyway.)  For another, it hibernates (or suspends, or sleeps, or whatever you want to call it) really well.  I appreciate that ability to simply close the lid, and open it up, and all my stuff is still ready to go, within seconds.  (This has been a particular frustration with the Asus netbook, which sometimes hibernates, and sometimes decides to think about it.  Forever.  Or, until I take the battery out, whichever comes first.)  I like the ongoing and very accurate battery indicator (although I’ll have more to say about that in another post).

It was the battery indicator that first alerted me to the issues with Flash.  As one of my Mac resource helpers noted when I found this out, Flash may, single-handedly, be responsible for global warming.  It is rather odd to pull up a YouTube video, or any other page with a high Flash content (news sites are particularly vile in this regard) and watch the battery life almost instantly cut in half (or drop even further).  To get your battery life (well, most of it, anyway) back again, all you have to do is drop the offending Flash page.

The thing is, I’ve never noticed this before on my other laptops.  Certainly Flash, on Windows, doesn’t have anything like that same effect on the battery life.  Yes, it’s more of a drain, and, yes, you’ll probably have to keep an eye on heating issues.  But the battery life isn’t half of what it was simply because of viewing videos.

Apple doesn’t like Flash.  The converse may also be true.  Because, despite the Mac’s much-vaunted prowess in multimedia areas, online video definitely seems to be a problem for it.

At home, we’ve recently been watching some TV programs via the Internet.  (We’ve done this because, at home, I get Internet service from Shaw, which provides our cable TV, as well.  And, they seem to be just as unreliable at providing the uninterrupted TV feed as they do at providing Internet service or help.  So we’ve had to fall back on the Internet to catch up on shows we’ve missed while the cable was out.)  Because of this, I’ve had a chance to do some comparison between a seven-year old Windows (XP) desktop machine, and a brand new MacBook Pro.  The old Windows machine wins, hands down.  We’ve watched streaming feeds of shows from the company Websites of CBC, GlobalTV, and Bravo, all at the standard presented resolution, and in the full-screen display.  All of these sites use Flash.  And the old (seven years old, remember) Windows machine, using Firefox, has won every round against the Mac, using Safari.  The streaming is just as good (which is odd, considering the sheer age of the Windows box), but the Mac tends to lock up (or go random places) any time we use the controls to rewind, or pick up a missed segment.

To repeat what I started out with, the Mac is great in many areas.  Viewing Twitter, even with the new (and heavily script-laden) interface, the Mac is very much faster, and Safari opens new windows and loads them quickly.  Which I why I found the online video weakness to be so odd …

  • Sharkey

    Yeah, same here. Running Flash videos from Global, CityTV, CTV, etc., my MacBook 2004 stutters and freezes the mouse (which to my mind implies kernel hiccups). The latest Flash version (10.3) seems to be an improvement, but it’s a pale shade in comparison to Flash performance on Windows.

  • Grwww

    This is why Steve Jobs would really like for Flash to not exist. It is a poorly written application framework that has so many bugs that most of them are now just classified as known security risks, instead of “bugs” because Adobe doesn’t know how to fix them.

    Testing is one of the things that you have to wonder about. What does Adobe do to validate its software. Given all the exploits and bugs and crashing sprees, I’d guess that there isn’t much testing going on, of any substance anyway.