Google’s Blobby Birthday Doodle Wastes Power

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Google has ticked off users by wasting their CPU and energy on doodles which could have been done more economically in Flash

Google has been criticised by users for a series of celebratory doodles on its home page, that are slowing down PCs and wasting electricity.

Over the weekend, Google used an illustration of a “bucky ball” (a molecule of fullerene) to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the synthesis of the iconic chemical, which was rendered using javascript and used upto 100 percent of the CPU (central processing unit) of computers displaying the page. Today, the search giant has a slightly more restrained Doodle, written using CSS3 and HTML5, which covers the window with interactive moving coloured blobs to celebrate Google’s twelfth birthday.

CSS3 versus Flash, Google versus PCs

The two doodles backfired on Google, as users started to complain that their PCs ran very slowly. Andy Smith checked his household electricity meter and found his power usage went up by 15W (roughly ten percent of his PC’s usage) and Google Chrome went up to use 57 percent of his CPU. At ZDnet, Jack Schofield found one browser window used half his CPU resources.

Google’s discussion forums rapidly filled with complaints and various suggested fixes, including switching to the secure  HTTPS protocol or using the Advanced Search option. But many users did as Jack Schofield did, and simply switched to a different search engine.

Google followed the bucky ball gaffe with a screen full of coloured blobs, which it created using clever and elegant code in the new CSS3 (cascading style sheet) standard web syntax. Each circle is web page element called a “div”, and a simple instruction turns each of these into circles, instead of squares. The divs are programmed to move out of the way of the cursor, and eventually settle into a Google logo.

The bubbles are not as wasteful as the bucky ball, but they still gathered complaints on the web, with Jack Schofield reporting that the blobs use 50 percent of his CPU in Firefox, and use about twice as much power as an Adobe Flash video.

Apple rejects Flash

Apple recently backed the HTML5 standard against the more widely-used proprietary format, Flash. Apple’s Steve Jobs said Flash was a doomed technology and refused to run Flash on the iPad or iPhones

Bucky ball molecules, or fullerene, are named after engineer Buckminster Fuller as they have a skeleton of carbon atoms, in the shape of the geodesic dome, which he designed.

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