Sunday, September 12, 2010

Microsoft's Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit

A week ago Microsoft released version 2.0 of EMET (Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit):

Don't know what EMET is? I highly suggest you use it to launch applications that talk on the Net, in particular your browser. Here's a very technical video from Microsoft that talks about EMET:

Let me give you a sample scenario. You visit a legitimate site that you've used for ages which unbeknownst to you, ads being served up are coming from a compromised ad server (a scenario which by the way has happened many times). The malware then attempts to leverage an arbitrary code execution flaw. Unfortunately for you, you're not very diligent about keeping your system up to date or you've ignored updating your system because well, "I'll do it later." Malware sent your way succeeds in leveraging an arbitrary code execution flaw that just surfaced with your browser of choice two days ago installing a backdoor and thus gaining complete control of your computer at which point the remote attacker can take whatever files they please, use your computer as part of a spam network, denial of service network, etc, etc. In short, your system is completely at someone else's mercy and you don't even know it. Let's take a more optimistic scenario. You're on a fully patched Windows 7 system with UAC enabled so you're safe (usually) from getting your machine taken over but malware comes in through your browser which isn't patched. You don't have the latest browser revision because you've put it off, turned off auto-updates or worse, there's no patch for an exploit that has surfaced. You're then unfortunate enough to visit a site with malware and a recent exploit is leveraged introducing rogue code into your system. That code is at the very least capable of reading and modifying files you use day to day. Whether they be explicit documents (such as MS Word) or implicit documents (the cookies in your browser). Unfortunately, your browser doesn't prevent the malicious code from reading any file(s) belonging to you, in particular, browser cookies. After which, someone starts going into your various online accounts with your active cookies (which were conveniently sent to them over the Net) to see what they can find.

So how do you use EMET?

1) Go to the first link I provided - download and install EMET
2) After launching EMET hit the Configure Apps button in the lower right
3) Hit the Add button on the dialog box that comes up and specify the path to an executable you would like to protect, e.g.:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe

4) Hit the Open button on the file browsing dialog (aka OK).
5) Restart the application in question, in this example, Firefox

(Look at blog post image)

Firefox is now protected from a variety of attack vectors often used in arbitrary code execution. The video elaborates on them quite well.

Whereas RemoveAdmin (a security tool that I authored) is all about leveraging OS level security, Microsoft's EMET is about maintaining the integrity of processes and thus, at the very least, providing application level security, e.g., your browser cookies. At worst, if you have an unpatched system (the OS) you could find yourself with a system that's been botted, has had a keyboard logger installed, etc., etc.

In my particular case, I not only have added the browsers I use day to day to EMET (Chrome, Firefox), I've added all applications I regularly use that talk on the Internet. In particular, iTunes, WinAmp, Outlook, Adobe's PDF reader, Windows' Media Player and Apple's QuickTime player. The links I've provided in the previous sentence point to security advisories for each of these applications they are not links to the products' respective web pages. If you have doubts about what I'm saying, just visits those links. Yes, as hard as it for a lay person to comprehend, you can have your system compromised by watching a video pulled off a web site. This is why you should start using EMET today. In short, I will never launch my browser from here on out without this tool.

Finally the following article surfaced after my initial blog post. Here's a scenario where an exploit of Adobe's PDF reader has surfaced, Adobe itself doesn't yet have a patch but through the use of EMET the exploit is short-circuited:

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Rise, Rise and RISE of Apple

Is the news at this point surprising?

Apple's Profit Rises 78% on Appeal of New Devices

Apple's position is further cemented by one simple fact. The iPhone has fundamentally changed the way people operate, i.e. not only the things I can do on a day to day basis while I'm on the move but also when I'm sitting at home. In contrast neither Windows or Mac OS X have fundamentally altered how I've interacted with personal computers for years. While in some cases they do provide interesting back end services such as Windows' Media Center, Netflix's streaming service is the primary manner in which I consume video and I don't need a personal computer for that.

With Apple's latest firmware iOS 4 I leave Skype running on the iPhone in the background all the time. I can make and receive various voice calls and bypass AT&T completely. At the same time Pandora runs in the background streaming music based on previous feedback I've given it. This all the while relaxing on the couch and web surfing. If Pandora isn't doing it for me, I can fire up RemoteX and control WinAmp to start streaming music from various different sites that are in my default playlist. The music then starts over the Klipsch 5.1 speaker system on the PC. If the music streams aren't doing it for me either, I can fire Apple's remote app, search through my entire iTunes music library for a specific musician/song and start playing it:

Then again maybe later in the day I decide that I'd rather watch some video content. I can fire up Boxee on the PC, display it on my HDTV and control the experience through my iPhone:

(Aside: If you haven't tried the latest Boxee beta you're doing yourself a disservice, check it out)

You see it's about choice, choice and even more choice.

This is the fundamental difference between the Apple of old and the Microsoft of old. Many years (+15?) ago Bill Gates used to talk about "information at your fingertips" but his vision was very desktop centric and predated the rise of the World Wide Web which was spearheaded by forces not aligned with Gates' visions and Microsoft's fortes. We've reached a point where it's about consumption at your fingertips. Nowhere is this better showcased than what happened to Flipboard recently:


Flipboard, which uses Amazon Web Services, has been doubling its server capacity each day. The company would not reveal how many people have signed up for the service, but said it is a good percentage of iPad owners, of which there are more than 3.3 million.

Personal computers have been as much about content creation as content consumption which is why a desktop centric approach placed on a small device in the palm of your hand doesn't work and helps explain the runaway success of the iPad.

One other fundamental change Apple has elicited from consumers is they've opened up their wallets. While the sales of software to corporations has been par for the course for decades, consumers became extremely frugal quite some time ago getting very used to the idea of FREE. For example, I can recall the days when you had to pay for anti-virus software for your home computer, there's no reason anyone should pay for anti-virus software today. No doubt this is one factor why CompUSA exited the brick & mortar retail space.

Specifically, the rise of micro-transactions and digital distribution has put an end to the walled garden of various middle men relegating them to the dust bin. With many applications either free or 99 cents, Apple's App Store has ushered a new age where people buy software with no significant concern for the money they spend or the value they derive. After all, if it's a lemon, the most they're out of is 99 cents. Yes, no more $9.95 and $19.95 software specials thank you very much.

As middle men's leverage disappears with new digital distribution, it allows people that actually create products to achieve independent wealth:

The creators of Doodle Jump have sold millions of units. And the math is quite simple, app developers get 70% of the sale which means Doodle Jump's creators are now collectively millionaires and no surprise they quit their day jobs to focus on their new entertainment software business.

This is the kind of story that would never have happened 5 years ago if you were talking mobile applications. It's no surprise that because of stories like this along with the iPhone's market/mindshare, developers have flocked to Apple's platform. It also means that Microsoft, Google, Nokia and RIM (Blackberry) have their work cut out for them trying to establish similar mobile software ecosystems.

While Google has made lots of progress with its Android platform, I have to point out that all of the things I mentioned that I did at home with my iPhone (examples I gave earlier of controlling my PC) have absolutely no reliance on the telephone network (AT&T). Everything I talked about can be done with an iPod Touch or an iPad (via Wifi). Meaning the same software that works on the iPhone works on the latter Apple devices and such a dynamic or complementary ecosystem doesn't exist for other vendors. While there is movement in the Android space with respect to tablets, I'm talking about the here and now.

Which precisely leads into my key point. The reason why Windows has had a vise grip on the desktop is because of its ecosystem of choices. Whether its software drivers to drive an old laser printer to DVD creation software to photo imaging software, you name it, a turnkey solution for the consumer on Windows is probably there.

Switching to the mobile market, until the iPhone came along, there was no such equivalent ecosystem of choices. The telephone companies with their typical lack of vision did not make installing applications easy nor did they pioneer the smart phone category with a partner. Apple created the category and AT&T was willing to go along for the ride. With the introduction of the Apple App Store, seemingly overnight an explosion of choices for consumers became an ecosystem of choices. Which means the average consumer (jailbreakers, hackers, idealists, open source zealots need not apply) stands to lose more peripheral consumption capabilities than gain if they leave Apple's platform. Not being able to do many things you're used to becomes an extremely powerful dissuading force and people are very much creatures of habit further reducing the chances of them jumping ship.

As Microsoft, Google, RIM and Nokia will find, unseating such an ecosystem of choices is not easy. The peripheral advantages often outweigh enticements like "FREE". This is why OpenOffice hasn't suddenly supplanted Microsoft Office despite being "FREE". Or why LINUX desktops haven't supplanted Windows desktops despite, again, being "FREE".

It boils down to the ecosystem of choices and the side effect of having lots of choice (vs. few or no choices).

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Microsoft Security Essentials

This weekend I moved away from the freebie AVG as my antivirus software to Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE). This Lifehacker article clinched the deal for me:

However it was this Arstechnica article that elevated MSE enough in my mind and started me on the road to this decision. Basically a new attack vector was concocted in the wild that bypasses practically all antivirus software, except for MSE:

Here is an article covering the technical details on this new attack vector:

Given that Microsoft Security Essentials has better detection of malware than AVG (according to the information presented by Lifehacker, which I trust), fewer false positives, is not vulnerable to kernel hook attacks and last but not least is FREE, I was sold.
MSE is available for Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

"Safari 5 tested: Chrome, Opera still have JavaScript edge"

I was pretty sure it wasn't my imagination when I opined that Apple's just released Safari 5 felt significantly faster than Safari 4 on Windows (note the closing paragraph):

Make note of the Sunspider graph, namely IE 8's performance (or lack thereof). IE 9 however seems like it might be worthwhile to use. Yes, necessity or rather, loss of market share in Microsoft's case, is the mother of invention (swift kick in the pants). Just look at the trend for IE on this chart:

Monday, June 7, 2010

Apple Releases Safari 5 Today

As part of all the noise at the World Wide Developer's Conference today, Apple released the next major version (5.x) of their Safari web browser for the Macintosh and Windows platforms. Safari 5 is now available from Apple's web site:

After some initial empirical testing, Safari 5 (on the PC) feels much faster than Safari 4. It seems Apple made a real attempt at polishing the Windows version of Safari whereas in the past it seemed Apple was releasing a tool so web developers & testers could see how things might look on Mac OS X (the premise being it wasn't readily available). It feels snappy as I write this entry on

Here's Lifehacker's writeup on Safari 5:

Finally, the question of whether to make Safari or any other particular browser my default is irrelevant for me since I use the most excellent Browser Chooser:

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Pioneer's Kuro Elite: Best flat-panel HDTV ever

The subject of this blog post is a quote from CNET:

A couple of weeks ago my Sony CRT HDTV died. The particular model I had it turns out was extremely prone to failure. Visiting forums, I found them littered with people with issues. In some cases within two or three years after the TV was purchased in the early 2000's. As I did my research I weighed the pros and cons of trying to get the damn thing fixed. It turns an electronics repair place happened to be literally one block away from where I lived and they were well acquainted with the Sony model and its failure problems (a bad sign). They told me it would likely be $350 if it was fixable.

The "if" caught my attention and started me on the path of moving to a flat panel. It was a difficult decision for me since the video fidelity of the CRT was unmatched by flat panels. Even so, based on the reading I did on various forums the CRT could be a lost cause and I didn't want to sink any money on a 250 lb. dead weight.

So two days after its death I visited both Fry's Electronics and Best Buy and I was not impressed with the flat panel HDTVs I saw. Then on the same day on a whim I decided to visit Magnolia Hi-Fi in Seattle. When a salesman approached me I immediately commented that all the HDTVs I had seen that day were mediocre and that I was there hoping to be wowed by an HDTV but that I wasn't holding my breath. Before not too long he asked, "Are you familiar with Pioneer's Elite line?" I nodded. He then said something that immediately raised an eyebrow, "Are you familiar with the Kuro line of displays?" I responded with an affirmative but I also knew Pioneer was no longer making the Kuro line and that that even used they were expensive. Pioneer's Kuro line were reference displays and they blew everything else out of the water when it came to 1080p video fidelity. But as my luck would have it, Magnolia's manager actively tries to find Kuros for 'finicky' people like myself (aka videophiles). I had already seen BluRay playback over HDMI on a 50" Kuro in early 2009 and was utterly and thoroughly impressed (up until then no flat panel had impressed me).

I didn't need to be sold on the Kuro line. I didn't act back then because my Sony CRT was still working and I was extremely content with it given it didn't exhibit the graininess of flat panels when playing non-HD content (there's still a lot of non-HD content out there, e.g., streaming Hulu). I had been hoping the CRT would last me until 2015 when perhaps 50" OLED flat panels were available en masse but that wasn't meant to be.

When the salesman told me they had a brand new 50" Kuro in house, there was nothing else for him to say, I laid down the plastic. Magnolia didn't have a stand for it in stock so I picked it up two weeks later (back ordered). As I made small talk with my sales person I asked him if he still had the other Kuro in stock (they had 2 when I picked mine up) and he said, "I'm not sure but now you have me curious." He dug around in his inventory system and not only was the other one gone but there were 20 individuals who had laid down money at Magnolia stores across the US to get their hands on a Kuro when and if they became available.

The other small detail is that the CNET review is for the Kuro with the TV tuner, the Kuro I purchased doesn't have a built in tuner:

I'm using the Samsung HD tuner I had been using on the Sony CRT. I pointed out the CNET review since they're a third party singing the praises of the Kuro. It's not uncommon for CNET to make a comparison to the Kuro displays when reviewing a higher end HDTV. However, up to this day, no one has surpassed the Kuro line.

All I can say is, I lucked out and I'm extremely pleased with the Kuro.

Friday, April 2, 2010

A Tale of Two iPads

This NYTimes review sums up the two sentiments that are behind the iPad.

In short, many tech people convince themselves of the lack of the iPad's utility due to comparisons with traditional computers. I might point out that some people privy to the early Internet believed it should not be made readily available to the masses. The reasons were varied but I assure you, the root of some of it was mere technical snobbery.

I completely agree with the New York Times reviewer's assessment, if you are not a tech person, Apple has created the computer for the rest of us. Funny thing is, I decided to do some googling to try to find references to that old Apple slogan but instead I found someone saying exactly what I'm saying here:

The iPad is not even out yet (2 more days) and when you view the applications that are being released for it, it is truly impressive (the Netflix one took me by surprise):

I ask you one simple question - when was the last time you saw such a movement for any other device?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ha! We beat Apple! (Dream on)

The nay sayers lined up when Apple announced the iPad but arguments such as "I'll get a general tablet so I can run whatever I want" miss the point. The point being these same critics aren't running off to buy a competing device like the HP slate gizmo announced roughly two months prior. In short, the Apple iPad isn't intended for them (barring hot air).

I read an excellent article on Tom'sHardware entitled 5 Reasons Tablets Suck And You Won't Buy One

Point number 4 is key. It should have been number 1, underlined and accentuated with a headline tag <H>. Interface is why previous tablet offerings have been relegated to niche status. Is there a particular reason for this? Yes, Rob Enderle sums it up nicely:


Now the most successful company as measured by profitability is Apple–who appears to be still locked into the proprietary hardware and software model that proceeded Windows’ success.

The problem with the PC model and the even more complex cell phone OS model was that no one person owned the customer experience. As a result, with the exception of Apple, PC vendors started doing stupid things like not assuring the service experience or putting software that reduced reliability (crapware) on the systems they were selling. In addition, complexity and an excessive focus on cost reductions got out of hand, significantly reducing the perceived quality of the system.

When the iPad's sales numbers are announced in a year (with unit sales in the millions), the usual will happen. Microsoft will feel the need to duplicate Apple's success and will assemble a crack team to provide a competitive offering. Haven't we been here before? Yes. Zune trying to take on the iPod. This after Microsoft's first response to the iPod Plays for Sure completely fell on its face.

Do you see a pattern here? Continual reaction to Apple's market success stories. This all underscores my strong opinion that Microsoft's leadership lacks vision. Steve Jobs despite his warts (he's not the nicest person if rumors are true) is a tech visionary.

Up until now, Microsoft has simply told hardware vendors to slap plain jane Windows on a keyboardless computer. Once again, complacency and myopia hold Microsoft back.

Friday, February 26, 2010

How Microsoft Lost the Platform War

I'm a big fan of Joel Spolsky's blog:

Joel Spolsky has a lot of software development experience. While having worked at Microsoft in the 90's it is clear from his writing that his talents are mutually exclusive from those days. Microsoft was just another employer on the road of life. Today he runs FogCreek Software in New York City. One of my favorite postings from Joel was entitled How Microsoft Lost the API War written back on June 13, 2004. In technological terms this is now ancient history. However, what Joel wrote back then is still relevant in terms of how Microsoft lost the hearts and minds of software developers. While writing that column Joel took a tangent:

Why Apple and Sun Can't Sell Computers
Well, of course, that's a little bit silly: of course Apple and Sun can sell computers, but not to the two most lucrative markets for computers, namely, the corporate desktop and the home computer. Apple is still down there in the very low single digits of market share and the only people with Suns on their desktops are at Sun. (Please understand that I'm talking about large trends here, and therefore when I say things like "nobody" I really mean "fewer than 10,000,000 people," and so on and so forth.)

I wrote to Joel Spolsky in the past year and mused how those words no longer hold true (about Apple anyway). I pointed out that half of my team members at work were operating with Apple Macbooks.  

Then today I caught this on the New York Times:

OS X Share Up 29% in Past Year, Slowly Chipping Away at Microsoft


Apple’s relative share has grown by 29.4% in the past year, while Windows lost 3.8%. Mobile increased the most in the past year, more than doubling its share of web consumption.

Adding fuel to the fire is another potential paradigm shift - tablet/slate computing. While there will be various Windows 7 based tablet products on the market, I have a very high degree of confidence Apple's sales of the iPad will likely marginalize these offerings. This is an opinion I immediately formed when the iPad was announced and it is write ups like that of Brian X. Chen from Wired that reinforce this, i.e. he didn't write "What the HP slate Means for the Future of Computing."

What the iPad Means for the Future of Computing

At this point you're guessing I'm writing this on a Macintosh. Nope. I use Windows 7 day to day. However, I'm not an ostrich with its head buried in the sand. I see reality. Microsoft ZDNet blogger Ed Bott seems to be on the same wavelength:

Like I said, apps matter.

So why is Microsoft incapable of responding appropriately? Read the words of a former Microsoft Vice President:

Microsoft’s Creative Destruction

In short, Microsoft is severely hobbled by a Balkinzation stemming from differing agendas among its product groups, a lack of vision (Ballmer at best is a Chief Operating Officer, he has no vision whatsoever and the longer he stays the more Microsoft is damaged) and the usual myopia found at a large company wanting to protect cash cows originating in the distant past (Office, Windows).

Until Microsoft has a come to Jesus moment (often precipitated by lots of layoffs & loss of market share) nothing will change. Except by then, it could very well be too late...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Adobe's Flash R.I.P.?

Adobe is frustrated at Steve Jobs as Apple's mobile devices increasingly become a bigger player in the Internet experience. The iPhone platform which was released three years ago still does not have Flash and that does not seem like it will change anytime soon. But it's not entirely Apple's fault. Adobe's Flash platform isn't conducive to long battery usage. Simple as that.

The recently announced Apple iPad along with advances in HTML5 will only accelerate the trend of companies rebuking Adobe's Flash platform over the long term.

It turns out, Adobe's frustrations are well grounded (in fear). If content creators start considering the growing Apple userbase and stop leveraging Flash because they'd rather not alienate Apple device users, it means a long and slow death spiral for Adobe's platform. Fact: Adobe makes a LOT of money selling content creation software, Adobe doesn't make any money on people downloading the Flash plugin. Adobe is one of the largest software vendors for the Windows platform outside of Microsoft itself, e.g., Photoshop, Dreamweaver, PDF software, etc., etc. In short, Adobe makes a large portion of its revenue selling content creation tools. If one of its major formats dies, i.e. Flash, that's a serious blow to Adobe.

Case in point, remember when Real Networks blazed trails with respect to streaming audio/video over the Internet? Well, look where they are now. I can't remember the last time I installed any of Real's software and given the fact that practically no one puts out content in Real's format anymore, that won't be changing anytime soon.

I wrote about HTML5 a few days ago which shimmys itself in a position that essentially starts loosening Flash's vice grip on video playback. It seems I'm not the only one with this opinion:

"HTML vs. Flash: Can a turf war be avoided?"

Here's an excerpt:

Bruce Lawson, Web standards evangelist for browser maker Opera Software, believes HTML and the other technologies inevitably will replace Flash and already collectively are "very close" to reproducing today's Flash abilities.

"The Web (including video, games, animation) is too vital a platform for business, communication, and society to be in the hands of any single vendor," Lawson said. "But it'll be a while; there is a huge body of existing content that uses Flash."

Both Lawson and I have come to the same conclusion - the long term future for Adobe's Flash platform is not bright (pun intended).

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The (Internet) World In Two Hands

David Morgenstern a blogger from ZDNet cuts to the heart of the matter as far as what Apple's newly iPad announced represents, "The iPhone is a device that puts the world into one hand; the iPad, two hands." Read on if you like:;col1

I could not agree more. A consistent behavior I've seen of naysayers is a continual comparison of the newly announced iPad vs. laptops.

Here's one scenario that I don't see any laptop or netbook taking on. Increasingly HDTVs are coming with Ethernet ports to stream content off the Net. But who says they have to act purely as clients? That is, reading information, e.g., movies off Netflix's video servers. Why can't the TV be the server? Albeit a really simple server. Like the kind where instead of relying on infrared signals it abides by a well known command protocol coming through its Ethernet connection.

So before too long the TV industry devises a standard (that would be layer 7 application protocol for all the geeks) for controlling televisions via Ethernet interfaces. Then, before you know it, you'll see a remote control application for the iPad (or its posterity) where every living room device that has a remote will have its buttons represented as a skin overlaid on the iPad's surface. This is one of many scenarios that comes to mind where a laptop or netbook simply does not make the grade and looking at the iPad strictly through such a lens falls short.

Which is why I couldn't agree more with the title of Morgenstern's blog post "Dude, the iPad isn't a notebook - get over it!"

If you have doubts about the enthusiasm the iPad generated, I can tell you empirically that as Steve Jobs unveiled Apple's latest creation, tech sites were being hammered with traffic. I found Engadget and ZDNet to be noticeably slow as the morning of the iPad's unveiling wore on. I was following the announcement through:

I visited other tech sites since I was curious to see the buzz elsewhere - I found them to be very slow.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Chrome 4.0 / HTML 5 Video Playback

Google's just released the next major revision of its Chrome browser, version 4.0, to the masses in the last day:

Previously Chrome 4.0 was only available to the initiated (development release). Updating to 4.0 for existing users is simply a matter of clicking on the wrench icon in the rightmost toolbar area and then selecting About Google Chrome.

DownloadSquad featured a variety of Chrome plugins in a November article (only useful at the time to folks with the development release):

With 4.0's release Chrome's extensibility goes up dramatically and thus its utility.


Chrome's addition of extensions overshadow its in HTML 5. Among them, video playback. The ramifications of this while not immediately forthcoming are significant. For quite some time most web designers/developers have assumed their users to have Flash but it turns out Flash has its issues. For starters, Flash's performance under Mac OS X is very poor and something that many Mac fans continually scoff at. The proof is in the pudding:

For a variety of reasons including the fact that the HyperText Markup Language (HTML) originally was focusing on document publication and not rich multimedia experiences, Macromedia (a well known company later acquired by Adobe) entrenched itself with the novel idea of extending browsers with video playback. Before you knew it, its Flash platform became the defacto standard for video playback. The fly in the ointment is that as the Macintosh user base has grown dramatically, they're increasingly a louder voice and unhappy with a second rate video playback platform. Rest assured, the number of Macintosh users is growing faster than Adobe (and Steve Ballmer) would like - Apple's recently announced latest quarterly results were phenomenal.

There are two big issues with Flash. First, Adobe has struggled with lots of security issues with both its Flash plugin and PDF reader. Secondly, as much as I've been a fan of Flash for blazing trails, I hate to say this but I'm liking the idea of not requiring it on my desktop. It turns out performance-wise, by today's standards its architecture poorly leverages my hardware. Despite Flash being pervasive for the better part of a decade Adobe only now has seen it fit to leverage GPUs during video playback. GPU acceleration within Flash is still in beta:

In other words, Flash can be very CPU intensive while your computer' graphics subsystem and its computational prowess goes unused. It turns out decoding video is intrinsically a parallel computation, something GPUs excel at.

I'm willing to bet anyone with a laptop, even a powerful one, knows all too well what happens when you start playing lots of Flash content - the fan starts cranking.

I'll close with pointing out that if you are running Chrome 4.0, you can opt to use HTML 5 video playback by default on YouTube instead of Flash by visiting the following page: