The bloated web

When I bought this 12″ Powerbook in Feb 2003 it ran Mac OS X 10.2.3 (review). This was the beginning of Mac OS X’s future optimizations, but nevertheless it was still a slow OS back then. But Apple worked on it and today my 640 MB of RAM Powerbook runs the latest 10.4.8 pretty spiffily on this modest 867 Mhz CPU laptop.

And while the whole OS became faster and Safari has seen immense optimizations over the years, my web experience is terrible these days. Safari literally crawls each time I open 2-3 tabs at the same time! Firefox/Camino are not as fast as Safari in terms of scrolling and resizing, so I prefer to use that instead of a Gecko-based browser, while I dislike Omniweb and Opera. So, while Safari became fast, the web has slowed down! Most pages now use very bloated Dreamweaver-created HTML or unesessarily complicated CSS code, and *especially* all the Flash ads are making things extremely difficult for a 867 Mhz CPU to keep up. It’s amazing to see that it’s the web that will make me upgrade my laptop rather than the OS itself or its applications! Kinda sucks.

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Luis wrote on January 2nd, 2007 at 10:44 AM PST:

Yes, I agree. As I wrote you, flash and javascript, while being very nice technologies, are too often abused. During Christmas specially I’ve seen quite some pages with javascript effects (snow falling all over the page, for example) that would kill your CPU. Same with pages that have 8 bloated flash ads (some well done flash ads are very well optimized, but others are overkill). Also people should learn to use thumbnails for images when they want to include 20+ images on one page, otherwise it becomes very network and RAM unfriendly.

These reasons plus a few others (spammers, stupid sites just with sponsored links and no content, poorly designed pages, etc…) is what made me think that search engines really need to change their algorithms to adapt to the new web. Now there are too many pages, so search engines need to find ways to select just those that are worth and offer those links to their users first.

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Eugenia wrote on January 2nd, 2007 at 11:18 AM PST:

I just disabled plugins and java and used this css script to not display ads (JS is still On because I need it for gmail and hotmail). Now my powerbook feels about 2x faster when browsing. It is still not ideal because of all the JS and CSS that most sites use, but it does feel a bit better than before.

Edit: I switched to gmail’s simple view and i disabled JS altogether. God, what a relief is to be able to render Digg and Slashdot so fast! It’s like I have just upgraded my laptop!

Tom Dison wrote on January 3rd, 2007 at 6:25 AM PST:

I have lots of old laptops, so I always install flashblock for Firefox. I also like to surf with Links2 in graphical mode (-g). It does https and javascript, so I can check my webmail. Talk about a fast internet, Links flies on a P90 with 48MB ram.

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