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    Toolbox: Blocking Flash Is Like A Cool Shower For Your Bot

    Written by

    Michael Byrne


    Hey sailor, welcome to Toolbox. This is the place where Motherboard’ll be telling you every week about this or that bit of software that you really need to have on your computer or phone-computer now. Requirements for something to be in our toolbox: 1) It is actually useful, like in the sense that you might turn to it on a regular basis and for hopefully more than one task, 2) It is free, or really, really exceptionally cheap (or cheap relative to function, like a smuggled tethering app), and 3) it is useful to most people, relatively speaking. Please send your suggestions to michaelb@motherboard.tv.

    Forgive me: I’m new at hating Flash, Adobe’s animation-qua-web design software that occupies a great deal of banner ad, gaming, video player, and out and out page design on the web. People have been hating Flash for a very long time, since even before the dawn of the non-Flash supporting iPhone or iPads. In my defense, it was slightly harder to hate Flash in the days before we could have everything Flash provides without actual Flash, via HTML5.

    There’s an entire website devoted to this, flashsucks.com, and blog rants as far as the eye can read about the same basic four or five anti-Flash points. Steve Jobs trashed it onstage last year, and wrote this neat little essay on why Flash is bad, concluding:

    The avalanche of media outlets offering their content for Apple’s mobile devices demonstrates that Flash is no longer necessary to watch video or consume any kind of web content. And the 250,000 apps on Apple’s App Store proves that Flash isn’t necessary for tens of thousands of developers to create graphically rich applications, including games.

    New open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices (and PCs too). Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind.

    Let’s sum it up. Flash is proprietary: Adobe owns and manages everything to do with it. It’s the opposite of open-source, and that stifles innovation. Lots of things are like that, but few things that desire to be a widespread protocol like Flash. Flash taxes CPUs—it sucks up battery life and I guess you could say it isn’t very green. It makes for really crappy, gimmicky websites like this and crappy web designers wind up violating basic web things like copy and paste ability, image saving, and bookmarking.

    It’s still all over the place, however. At least for the time being and probably a ways into the future. But I’ve since started using Flashblock, an add-on for Firefox and Chrome that kills Flash in a webpage and gives you a button instead with which you can allow it (happens a lot) or let the Flash object continue to be blocked. Sites I use a lot that are based in Flash, like Bandcamp, I’ve just added to the software’s “white list” and it leaves those site’s Flash things alone. I was happy to find that SoundCloud is not based in Flash.

    You can download Flashblock here for free. If you’re a Mac user, you’ll want clicktoflash, a similar but better add-on for Safari. Get it here.

    Reach this writer at michaelb@motherboard.tv