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the film criticism aspect of cyber | by maryann johanson

is FlickFilosopher.com crashing your iPhone?

I hear this from reader Clayj via email:

I’ve noticed over the past few days that when I visit your site using an iPhone, clicking ANY link within the site causes Safari on the iPhone to freeze up. Basically, the only page I can view is the main page.

Do you know about this problem, or what changes you might have made recently that might cause this to occur? I’m just curious as to whether other iPhone users are also having problems with your site now.

As I told Clayj, I haven’t changed anything, and I haven’t heard this from anyone else. I don’t have an iPhone myself, though, and so have no experience surfing this (or any other) site with the device.

Anyone have any insight, or similar experiences?



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  • I don’t have a iPhone either, but I’ve not noticed any crashes while using my Mac Safari browser to browse around.

  • Well, now that I have raised the question, I have found at least a partial solution to the problem. (Ironically, if you are affected by the problem you will not be able to read this solution unless you use a different browser.)

    1. On the iPhone, exit Safari.
    2. Click Settings > Safari.
    3. Turn OFF the “Plug-Ins” option.
    4. Click Settings. Press the Home button to return to the home screen.
    5. Start Safari.

    You should now be able to surf this site without any issues.

    BUT the question remains: What changed? A week ago, I had no issues surfing this site, and I had Plug-Ins turned on. Turning off the Plug-Ins option in Safari solves the issue here, but it causes iPhone users to have to give up some functionality with respect to other web sites, so it’s not an ideal solution. It’s possible that one of the ad sites you use changed their code (without your knowledge, of course) and that this is the source of the problem.

    MaryAnn, if you could amend your post to add a quick blurb to the effect of “if you have issues with this site on an iPhone, turn off plug-ins in Safari”, it might help iPhone users. I am trying to get some other iPhone users to test your site so we can find out the extent of the problem, and I will have them test the solution, as well.

    Thanks!

  • That’s pretty odd, since wandering around pages the only content I see commonly on all pages that uses a plugin is Flash. But there is no Flash support on the iPhone to start with.

  • True, there’s no Flash on the iPhone.

    But I turned on the Debug Console in Safari on my iPhone, and when I visit the FlickFilosopher.com home page, it reports two instances of:

    Other Tip on Line 0
    QuickTime
    This movie format is not supported.

    Since the Plug-Ins option has to do with plug-ins for playing videos, I wonder if MaryAnn’s recent use of QuickTime videos on the home page is somehow related to this problem?

  • Since the Plug-Ins option has to do with plug-ins for playing videos, I wonder if MaryAnn’s recent use of QuickTime videos on the home page is somehow related to this problem?

    So you’re saying that the iPhone can’t handle an Apple plugin? That seems weird.

  • It might be interesting to know if you crash going from say, this page, to another page on this site that doesn’t have any embedded Quicktime. Say, like:
    http://www.flickfilosopher.com/blog/2008/07/everyones_a_fan.html

  • Bill, extremely good suggestion! I tried this and the answer is no, there are no problems going from THIS sub-page to the sub-page you linked to with plug-ins turned ON.

    So the problem has been narrowed down to:

    Plug-Ins ON
    going ONLY from home page (flickfilosopher.com) to any other page in the site; moving between sub-pages is OK

    I even tested going directly to one of the sub-pages where a QuickTime video was embedded (the Hamlet 2 redband trailer), and going to another sub-page was not a problem. So right now, it appears that the problem is limited to navigating from only the home page to any sub-page, with plug-ins turned on.

  • Well, the only other Quicktime video on the home page as I write this is the one here:

    http://www.flickfilosopher.com/blog/2008/07/trailer_break_the_day_the_eart.html

    If you go directly there, and then to another page without Quicktime, that might also be interesting to see what happens.

  • Going from that sub-page (with QuickTime) to another sub-page is OK.

    So the only time it freezes up that I can see is going from the HOME page to a sub-page with Plug-Ins turned on.

  • The Day the Earth Stood Still trailer also stands out because it was posted almost a week ago, when you say the problems started.

  • Oops, we cross-posted.

    I hereby vote “that’s quite a mystery” then. Maybe it doesn’t like 2 Quicktime movies on the page or something.

    Yes, I am officially guessing wildly.

  • I was thinking the same thing: 2 movies = trouble, maybe? It’s a WAG but it could be correct.

    We’ll find out one way or the other fairly soon, as the first trailer is at the bottom of the page and should roll off the bottom with MaryAnn’s next post or two. Then I’ll try it again and we’ll see what happens.

  • Well I just tried going to the page on my iPhone (which I just got Sunday and I’m totally geeked about it, yeah!) and it crashed the browser. Then I went back, and it worked ok. That being said, I was going to say the same thing that’s been brought up here. I think the embedded Quicktime videos are to blame. I know they just about bring Firefox to it’s knees when I go to the home page on my slow ass computer here at work. I have a feeling that’s probably what’s hurting the iPhone too. Quicktime or no, they’re big files it’s trying to buffer, and it’s a very low-end processor in there. I would imagine that two movies would indeed make it much worse.

  • Rick B.

    I just wanted to provide another data point – Mobile Safari also locks up if you go from MaryAnn’s front page to another site by clicking a link (like a “purchase this on Amazon” link).

    This doesn’t actually pose much of an issue for me, as I always read this site via RSS (NetNewsWire), so never actually hit the “front page” as such.

    Has anybody considered that it might be something to do with the glumbert videos? The only reason I ask is because I’ve been unable to view them on my Mac – it just says “Loading” forever, and clicking the Play button doesn’t do anything. Is it possible that Mobile Safari is choking on something there?

  • Has anybody considered that it might be something to do with the glumbert videos?

    If I’m not mistaken, those are embedded here as Flash (at least, the only one I’ve looked at was), and the iPhone has no Flash support in any event.

  • First off: Thank goodness it’s not just me. :-)

    Second: Yeah, I too have noticed lately some delays when hitting the home page of Flickfilosopher.com, and not just on my iPhone. I am pretty sure it has to do with third-party stuff that appears on the page, like videos and such. It wouldn’t surprise me if the combination of two QT videos and the less-powerful iPhone CPU caused some issues there.

  • Rick B.

    If the glumbert videos are just Flash, then they shouldn’t be the problem. Still can’t figure out why they won’t play on my Mac. I’m running the Flash 10 beta, but just discovered that there’s also a Shockwave Player (different from Flash, since it’s at v11), so I installed it, thinking it would clear up the problem with glumbert, but no dice.

    It does seem likely that the QuickTime movies might be the culprit.

  • I’m just about positive it’s the Quicktime videos that’s causing the problem. That also explains why turning off the plugins solves it.

    After I posted my last comment, I tried to navigate away from the home page and have the same crash as Clayj. I went back one or two more times and experienced the same thing. So that’s another confirmed data point, at any rate.

    Changing those videos to links instead of embedded videos would clear it up if that is what’s causing it (and I’m pretty sure it is) and it’ll improve the browsing experience elsewhere too. I had been meaning to send along a note about those videos drastically slowing the page load in Firefox on my work computer anyway. This is just another good reason for them to go.

  • Ryan H

    Well, .mov is just a container format. There is a massive range of variables that it can be dealing with. It might be that it was compressed with some sort of error or faulty calls embedded inside it. A fully featured desktop player can deal will all sorts of issues without the user ever noticing them while a mobile version that can’t afford all the bells and whistles goes into cardiac arrest.

    I know that if there was a general problem with iPhones and quicktime the news would be all over, so I strongly suspect it has something to do with the options, settings and plugins used to compress this particular file.

  • Now that MaryAnn has removed the two movies from the home page, the problem no longer occurs. So I guess we know now that embedded QuickTime movies can, under certain conditions, cause an iPhone to crap out when visiting this or any other site.

    Thanks for everyone’s participation in figuring this out!

  • MaryAnn

    Well, I thought the embedded trailers were pretty cool. Turns out, not so much.

    I’ve deleted all the embedded Quicktime movies. Sorry for the inconvenience.

  • Well, they were cool. :)

    I would have just suggested putting them below the fold of their posts, so that the homepage doesn’t get top-heavy with them.

  • MaryAnn

    As I was surfing around for a potential solution for the problem, I discovered that embedded QT movies can wreak havoc with Internet Explorer, so I figured it was better to just remove them entirely.

  • You think that’s bad: I’ve spent every night for the past three weeks working on a web site for a friend of mine (in my increasingly less-and-less spare time), and we finally finished the site on Sunday and got it uploaded yesterday. Everyone loves the site, but tonight they told me that Firefox users can’t see a lot of the images on the site… and it’s not like I coded the pages strangely. Firefox is just that stupid. IE and Safari don’t have any problems at all.

    Now I have to go figure out a different way of coding stuff that moronic Firefox can handle. So what I thought was done, is no longer done, and I have to spend more time working on it and updating something like 20 pages once I figure out the proper solution.

    MaryAnn, I would like to thank you for making the decision not to use the embedded QuickTime movies anymore. I think it’ll improve the performance of your web site a fair bit, and us iPhone users won’t be stuck on your home page anymore. :-)

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