Going Offline on June 3, Loss of Nearly 10 Years of Star Wars Fan Conversations

Topher Kohan of CNN wrote an open letter to George Lucas regarding the shuttering of the fan forums: Mr. Lucas, the 4th is not to be trifled with –

Apparently, Lucasfilm recently decided to remove the forums on June 3, 2011. They have already placed the forums in read-only mode as of May 3.

Pabawan, a site admin, offered this anti-explanation explanation: “At, we are always evaluating the various features of the website in order to provide the best experience to our users. As we review new community-based interactive features for the future, we have decided that the Official Message Boards at will no longer be part of the site” [read the full announcement here while it is available].

Instead of hosting fan conversations on, Lucasfilm has opted for Facebook and Twitter. Unfortunately, Facebook and Twitter are very good at doing what they do, but they do not offer the same experience or conversation that an online forum provides. Forums allow people to write longer conversational pieces that are searchable and archived within a theme delimited hierarchy. Facebook allows for conversations, but they are not easily searched and may not be archived indefinitely. Twitter facilitates conversation, but you may only write 160 characters at a time including hashtags (for thematic or subject linking), user references, and links.

Online conversations need a rich ecosphere of different Internet facilitated modes of conversation rather than relying on those that seem the most popular at this time. I believe that it for this reason that the Taiwanese embrace multiple modes of communication including BBS servers, Plurk, and others in addition to Facebook and Twitter.

I realize that Star Wars fans will likely shift their conversations to fan-operated forums. It is unlucky however that the many conversations on the now defunct will be lost forever on Friday, June 3. Perhaps someone will write a script to archive the forums before that date, but I do not know if Lucasfilm’s servers will permit such an archiving to take place.

Early 2008 MacBook, CPU Load, Loud Fans, and Adobe Flash

Yufang has since my previous post on this problem continued to have problems with anything related to Adobe Flash on her Early 2008 MacBook. Today, I decided to test out a hypothesis that I had regarding Flash. On many forums, Windows users with Flash don’t report the heavy CPU usage and subsequent fan cooling reported by some Mac users (including Mac users with a MacBook, MacBook Pro, iMac, and Mac Pro). This and Adobe’s lack of transitional support for Creative Suite into Cocoa (until CS5) led me to believe that Flash for Mac OS X was not optimized for the Mac OS X platform. The underlying hardware on both Macs and PCs are essentially the same now, so the differences are now between the OS architecture and the way Flash is built to run on the two different OSes. Considering that both Windows XP SP3 (Yufang owns a copy of this) and Mac OS X Leopard (what I last installed on her machine as a test to solve this problem) use roughly the same amount of CPU power according to process monitors and neither under normal operating circumstances cause the fan activity to spike with increasing CPU utilization, it seems that Flash is the independent variable.

With this in mind, I ran Boot Camp in Mac OS X 10.5, and installed Windows XP SP2, setup the wireless connection, upgraded to SP3, installed 73 critical updates, installed AVG Anti-Virus, installed Firefox, and installed Adobe Flash. Before trying out web Flash problems, I thought I would try it with one of her Big Fish Games, which immediately drives up CPU use and activates fan activity on Mac OS X. On Windows XP SP3, the same Flash game–one version compiled as a Universal Binary for Mac OS X and the other compiled for the Windows platform–runs more efficiently on Windows than it does on Mac OS X. I define efficiency as requiring less CPU activity to perform the same amount of work. On Mac OS X, that game requires more CPU cycles and more operations to run the same game that requires less CPU cycles and less operations on Windows.

My suspicion is that Adobe didn’t optimize Flash for Mac OS X. Flash has always been a pain on Mac, even in the old days, but it would seem like a company like Adobe that launched itself on the Mac platform would have done more to make their software work well on Mac. It seems like all that money Adobe makes on their overpriced software could have trickled down to end user software that didn’t waste CPU power and drain batteries unnecessarily.

A more thorough analysis of this would be necessary to pin this on Adobe unequivocally. Windows XP handles threading differently on a Core 2 Duo processor than does Mac OS X, which could cause a problem for certain software, particularly non-optimized software, on each OS. I don’t know to what extent that Vista or Windows 7 would change the results. I didn’t try Windows 7, because I didn’t want to use my unopened copy yet. Yufang has Windows XP, which has a smaller code base than Windows 7, so I figured it shouldn’t have as much overhead as Windows 7 would despite the supposed architectural improvements to the newer OS.

The bottom line is that I’m saying that the ball is in Adobe’s court. As it now stands, I wholeheartedly agree with Steve Jobs that Flash is a big mess on the Mac platform. When Jobs went on the record saying that recently, he wasn’t saying anything new. All of us Mac users have known that for a long time, and it’s been a problem that we’ve been waiting for Adobe to address for a very long time. Though, I’m glad that Apple has the clout to potentially swing things to HTML5 and H264, at least for online video.  It’s up to Adobe if they want to make an insanely great product that can compete with a (more–patent issues aside) open alternative.

In the meantime, Yufang will use Boot Camp to switch between Windows and Mac so that she can use her software without it overheating her computer and creating fan activity that detracts from her ability to use her MacBook altogether.

Loud Fans and Adobe Flash on Early 2008 MacBook

Yufang has an Early 2008 white Macbook, which we upgraded to Snow Leopard last year. Since adding 64bit software to her daily processing, she’s had to deal with a lot of loud fan revving and droning while using Safari and Adobe Flash Player. Tonight, I finally thought of a solution that, so far, seems to have done the trick. Up to this point, I have tried everything short of a nuke-and-pave reinstall of MacOS X, including: installing all Apple updates, continually updating Flash, repairing disk permissions, and resetting the SMC. Tonight, I was watching what was going on in Activity Monitor, and I thought about the fact that Safari runs in 64bit mode by default and Adobe Flash is still 32bit software on MacOS X. I wondered what would happen if I launched Safari in 32bit mode and tried loading up some Flash videos. Eureka! Now, Flash isn’t identified as running in Activity Monitor, and I assume is running within the Safari process (or via some kind of process reporting magic). Whatever the case, it seems that if you are experiencing this same problem on a MacBook (probably due to its lack of a real GPU), you can resolve this problem by running Safari 4 in 32bit mode: Select the Safari icon in the Applications folder > File > Get Info > Check “Open in 32bit Mode” > Close window > Relaunch Safari. Good luck, and please comment if you have other ideas or if this doesn’t fix your problem.