Please forgive any ignorance I might be displaying here, it's mostly guesswork.
When I watch an online video, I tend to notice annoying little hesitations in the playback, where the video will freeze on a frame for a split second, but the audio doesn't. My guess is that this is Adobe Flash, busily prefetching video for smooth playback, but caching it to disk to be used moments later (and never again). Unfortunately, while this is happening, playback suffers. When disk activity ceases, playback is smooth. In fact, if I pause playback, wait for disk activity to stop, then press play, I don't see hesitation at all. So I think I've pinpointed the problem: Flash is stupid.
It's already pretty ridiculous that this act should affect video playback at all, it reveals either that Flash makes for a pretty lame video playback method, or a problem with the way my OS or hardware is working. The magical forces that play back video from RAM are/should be separate from the forces that store or retrieve data. There should only be interference if the data being retrieved is itself delayed.
Furthermore, I also use Hulu Desktop, an app that's little more than a standalone Flash player. It caches and plays back just dandy without hesitation unless there is an actual problem with retrieving data. (Also, I strongly suspect that in order to appease content providers, they prevent the app from ever storing data to disk, which helps protect streaming video from being freely stored and reused.)
So I know this can be fixed.
What I want to do is force Flash videos to store their temporary nonsense in RAM, which I have plenty of, and leave my hard drive the hell alone. Where do I configure this?
What's equally irritating is that with a web browser like Firefox, I already have plenty of control over how it works with respect to the disk. I can control disk cache, history length, whether or not it stores etc., or run it in a privacy mode that restricts disk caching of any kind. Flash bypasses all of this, like it is its own little fiefdom, it sets its own cache, its own cookies, phones home for updates, without ever presenting the user a way to configure any of this behavior. You can wipe your browser history all day long and flash cookies and goofy flash apps and such will stick around in cache until doomsday.
I know this stuff has to be configured somewhere. Where's it hiding?