Tag Archives: MacBook Air

Seriously, get a Flash blocker

That's the way we like it.

That's the way we like it.

I have nothing against Adobe’s Flash as a technology. We wouldn’t have YouTube without it and look how much good that’s done for civilization!

The thing is, I’m in a slightly annoying computing situation – entirely of my own making, I stress. I work on a MacBook Air that I insisted my job buy for me (Noo, I don’t want a MacBook Pro! It’s far too heavy!).

Indeed the Air is light and thin and gives me a lot of gadget kudos at airport security. It also has a common, completely disastrous bug. When the machine gets hot, as the processor temperature passes some critical threshold and for reasons I don’t understand, the kernel task goes nutso and starts eating the twin CPUs, using 150% all on its own (more typically it sits at around 1.5%) and all work grinds to a halt.

Not every Air does this, only the lucky ones. In hot weather, mine does it several times a day and all I can really do it put it to sleep and go catch up on reading while it cools down.

I tried using a very geeky application called CoolBook which helps you undervolt the CPU to manage the CPU temperature, but I’ll confess I don’t understand what I’m doing well enough to make that work.

Then I read a tip about installing a Safari plugin called ClickToFlash (there are similar programs for Firefox) which doesn’t load Flash programs embedded in web pages until you click on them. In the meantime they get replaced with a handsome gray rectangle. I was pretty skeptical this would make any difference to my CPU problems.

But three days later, and my processor load is so low the load graph on Activity Monitor barely shows a blip (see illustration above). Turns out most web pages have some Flash on them, often just to make small animated ads, but I guess a lot of it is fairly inefficient code and eats up a lot of processor. Many pages are littered with Flash ads, all running at the same time.

So, my advice? Seriously, get a Flash blocker for your browser. Also I guess I should recommend that you seriously consider if you really need a MacBook Air.

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