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- Third party cookies - do you really want them?
Sat 30-Apr-11
7:58 pm
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Danny
Scarborough, England
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Sat 12-Aug-06
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I have been doing pretty intensive analysis of our web site performance over the past few days. In summary, this lists every activity that takes place on my laptop browser when I visit CSH.

It shows where delays are happening and which bits could be improved upon to make loading the blog or forum faster.

One aspect that really hit me like a shotgun blast between the eyes is the number of "third party cookies" that are delivered to my laptop. I was never aware that so many were installed before now.

Just to be clear:

1 - cookies are harmless - they are just a few characters of data, such as the time you logged in

2 - "first party cookies" are the ones that our site sends to your computer. They are only used for very simple purposes, such as not showing ads on the forum left-hand sidebar if you are logged in.

3 - "third party cookies" are also harmless.

4 - "BUT" when you visit our site, everybody from Google and Amazon to Twitter (third parties) will send cookies to your computer.

5 - these organisations mean no harm. The information that they collect from many millions of Internet users is simple homogenised to provide statistics.

6 - these organisations make Mega Bucks $$$ from selling this massive wealth of knowledge to the marketing departments of large firms.

7 - like they can forecast that (for example) 36% of people who visit CSH will go on to visit Liberty of London (some chance big_laugh ) and so they can offer to advise Liberty of the best placements for their online advertising and demand a hefty fee on the back of the free information that they gleaned from you and me.

Twitter is the worst offender. Unintentionally on our part, our site will enable Twitter to send 20+ cookies to your computer. If you visit the Twitter site, that count rises to 30+ and it continually refreshes them so it knows how long you stayed, which Twitterers you viewed and so on.

Personally, I dislike these third party cookies. All browsers have the ability to switch them off. First you need to clear your cookie cache. Here is how you switch them off in FireFox:

Click on Tools on the menu bar. Then Options and the Privacy tab on the pop-up. Uncheck "Accept third party cookies".

Never knowingly underfed

Sat 30-Apr-11
10:02 pm
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maggenpie
Cornwall, UK

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Sat 21-Aug-10
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Thanks Danny, I've just done that. I had to add a step, to choose 'use custom settings for history' since I didn't have that selected.

Never assume anything - except an occasional air of intelligence.

Sun 1-May-11
9:33 am
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Rae Mond
Waalre, NL

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Thu 7-Jan-10
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There's also an EU directive coming into force here soon (don't groan yet, this one may actually be useful) that says companies should no longer just give you cookies without checking that you're happy to receive them. 

 

There was a load of press hoo-haa about it and that disingenuous creep and Information Commissioner Christopher Graham invaded my car on the way to work one morning to talk about it on the Today programme. I wasn't paying much attention because it was early and it sort of blended seamlessly with the next article, which was about the authorities torturing people in Egypt. Though I know it's not true a bit of me will always now associate the teflon faced gimboid with human rights violations of the worst order.

 

Anyway. Enough of my disdain for my former employer. More info about this is available from the ICO website. Being the modern, sleek, effective and efficient organisation that is call-me-chris's wetdream  there is as yet absolutely no guidance available on how to comply with the new rules, and nothing for individuals to say how it may change their web using experience. But I'm sure some will be produced in a year or so.

 

It does look like there's something new (or more likely just a version of old guidance with the new branding on) about how to look after your personal information generally, which may of use/interest

Intolerance will not be tolerated.

Sun 1-May-11
10:44 am
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Danny
Scarborough, England
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Sat 12-Aug-06
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Thanks for that, Rae. V interesting indeed.

BTW - your Facebook link - I replaced the spaces in your Facebook name with full stops. Is that really your page that it links to? That RMW looks different!

Never knowingly underfed

Sun 1-May-11
10:54 am
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Rae Mond
Waalre, NL

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hmmmm, that's definitely not me, though she does seem to share an interest in growing veg (unless I'm seeing that tiny profile pic in a very wrong way.

Me actual FB userthing is /raemwright. I shall change this now.1

Intolerance will not be tolerated.

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