Flash crasher

Block Flash animations with this free Firefox extension.

Flash adds multimedia effects to Web sites, but not everyone wants that. Some people find Flash animations annoying or distracting, or they're concerned about privacy and security. And for some, it's all of the above. Developers have responded with a variety of tools designed to block all or some Flash animations from loading. We took a look at Flashblock, a free Flash blocker for Firefox and other Mozilla browsers as well as related browsers such as Netscape. It blocks Flash, Shockwave, and Authorware in both Macromedia and Adobe versions.

After we installed Flashblock and restarted Firefox, the first thing we noticed was the "F" logo placeholder instead of blocked content in our animated weather gadget. Browsing to several other major Web sites that use Flash technology confirmed that Flashblocker was preventing Flash content from loading. Moving the cursor into the blocked content's placeholder frame changed the F logo to a Play button. When we clicked it, the blocked content played normally. Flashblocker didn't block non-Flash content like images and other forms of animation, nor did it keep pages from loading quickly and completely (except for blocked content). We accessed Flashblocker's tabbed options via Firefox's add-ons manager. These options are minimal, chiefly consisting of a check box to also block Microsoft's Silverlight and a whitelist for adding sites allowed to run Flash.

Even if you've got lots of bandwidth and PC power, there are Web sites so choked with animations that they never seem to stop loading. Try throwing Flashblock at them. It proved an effective tool for blocking animated ads and other Flash-powered nuisances, yet we could view any blocked content we wished just as easily as playing a video.

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