[Chicago] [OT] Is it just me ...

Ian Bicking ianb at colorstudy.com
Wed Oct 10 16:48:19 CEST 2007

skip at pobox.com wrote:
> ... or is my poor old laptop having to work harder and harder to just "surf
> the web"?  This AJAX technology has permeated everything.  On the one hand,
> web sites can clearly be more interactive.  On the other hand, the minimum
> system parameters necessary to simply browse the web seems to have gone up a
> lot in the past six months or so.  I have an 800MHz PowerBook G4 w/ 1GB of
> RAM, not state-of-the-art of course, but not a P3 either.  Just sitting
> there viewing Gmail (which has no stupid flashy ads or other eye candy)
> seems to consume about half my CPU.  What's it doing while it's just sitting
> there?

Firefox has some really awful memory leaks.  Gmail is pinging the server 
in the background (checking for new email), but there's no reason that 
should take up a significant amount of CPU.  The actual calls involved 
in the Javascript really aren't that complicated, and the level of 
libraries and abstraction is still pretty low in most Ajax applications.

> Does this have any ramifications for OLPC with its rather modest CPU?  What
> about computer recycling in general?  Browsing the web and reading email
> (often through the web) seem to be the most common uses for home computers.
> if I donate a compuetr to some organization what are the chances it will
> actually be useful to someone?

FWIW, Gmail works fine on the OLPC.  I've heard people say that the OLPC 
browser (which uses the Mozilla rendering engine, but doesn't use the 
XUL frontend that Firefox uses) is noticeably faster than Firefox.  But 
I've never used them both on a comparable platform, so I don't really 
know myself.

Ian Bicking : ianb at colorstudy.com : http://blog.ianbicking.org
             : Write code, do good : http://topp.openplans.org/careers

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