Experiences Without Flash So Far

It has been nearly a week since I uninstalled Flash on my MacBook. I haven’t had a chance to time my battery life, but I will do so soon. However, I do feel as if I am getting longer run time on my MacBook with all other things being equal (brightness set to minimum, same apps open, using MacBook throughout the day at school, etc).

The biggest difference with using a Flash-free experience on my MacBook has to do with Internet video and advertising. I don’t mind losing most of the video advertising, but some sites that post videos are less useful to me now. Boingboing.net is a prime example. I didn’t realize how many of their posts had embedded video. YouTube was lost to me until I found this page where I was able to enter their HTML5 beta for Safari and other HTML5 enabled browsers here (HTML5 has support for video without the need for Flash). Another loss was Wal-Mart’s photo center uploading feature. Now, I have to upload photos one at a time rather than selecting photos in bulk. However, I just found their photo exporter for iPhoto here–win!

NY Times Story on HTML5 and Supercookies

Unfortunately, the next iteration of HTML code, HTML5, won’t include the most awesome peanut butter and white chocolate infused snickerdoodles. The New York Times ran an article today on the possibility of new online tracking being developed that hides multiple cookies on a user’s computer in order to thwart those tracking cookies’ discovery. You can read about the Evercookie and other supercookies here. Things do get worse though. Bruce Schneier reported awhile back on tracking without cookies here. Similar concerns were raised on CNET about browser fingerprinting here.

I have no overwhelming problem with websites that I visit making money in some way on my browsing. The services that I enjoy have to be paid for somehow. This is something that some folks forget. However, I do have problems with companies being irresponsible or exploitative. Irresponsibility may include data leaks, hacks, or selling data to less responsible companies. Exploitation may include retaining data indefinitely for undisclosed purposes, shaping browsing experiences in a way that isn’t meant to merely sell something but that fundamentally alters one’s participation online, or commoditizing one’s online experience in such a way that it significantly devalues personal identities.

The Center for Democracy and Technology has some useful tips for maintaining your online privacy here. The main tips go without saying: strong passwords, protect your computer with encryption and security software, block ads and use private browsing, and keep up to date on privacy policy changes at the websites you frequent. Furthermore, steer clear of sites that have privacy policies that you don’t agree with. For example, Facebook does a lot of good things for helping folks stay in touch with one another, but they also use the data collected by our using the site and browsing other sites (if we remain logged in while browsing) to make money. There are ways to protect what data they have access to, but the best way is to stay logged out or don’t use Facebook at all.