Friday, May 21, 2010

Tracking Cookies:
Google Offers Opt-Out

In keeping with the "bad news travels fast; good news is forgotten" theory, I dug up something quite good today that was only whispered in the tech news: Google lived up to their motto this past March and started offering opt-out options and tools for being free from being followed by their Tracking Cookies. Imagine that.

Not that I actually care, since I've been blocking Tracking Cookies on my web browsers for over a decade. And not that your average Internet surfer is going to notice. Google aren't exactly advertising their kind gesture.

If you've read my previous posts on Tracking Cookies you already know what to do: TURN OFF third party cookies in your web browser settings. On Mac, every browser worth using has this setting available in its Preferences under various descriptions. Here are some examples:

Safari Preferences:

OmniWeb Preferences:

Camino Preferences:

FireFox Preferences:

iCab Preferences:

Opera Preferences:

. . .

For the sake of review,
What Are Tracking Cookies? has a very good description of them HERE.

My rendition:

Fried SPAM with cute little colored sprinkles on top. Or if you prefer sushi, how about:

Marketing people, ideally, like to help people find what they need and want. (These days we know that is generally NOT the case, thank you MBA degree mills. But I cover that subject over at my zunipus blog). The modern ideal in marketing is to follow you every minute of the day and offer you sales opportunities everywhere you go that are tailored just for you.

There are some marketing people who would be most pleased to implant a chip under your skin that triggers off automatic ads with potential sales opportunities around every corner. Some people believe this will trigger the end of the world. What a revelation. Darn, you got chip ID #666? That's not good.

Since it is illegal to 'chip' anyone in our current age, the next best thing is to 'chip' your web browser. This allows marketing people to follow you around on the Internet and trigger off automatic ads with every click.

The 'chip' in your browser is called a 'cookie', formerly 'magic cookie'. Thank Lou Montulli of Netscape for the concept and name. Cookies are actually very benign in concept. They allow the sharing of basic information between you and specific websites. For example, they are able to hold your ID and password at the Apple Store. They can also feed back to each specific website where you visited within that website. Amazon make very good use of cookies, suggesting books, music, electronics, etc., that fit within your demonstrated interests while navigating their site. It can help you find things you never knew existed.

Where cookies become evil is when they are shared among many sites. These are Tracking Cookies. Google is the King of Tracking Cookies. What you end up with is a syndicate of websites, all associated with one marketing hub, such as Google, who all share their cookie data with one another via ubiquitous Tracking Cookies. This means that your Google web searches end up with Targetted Ads aimed particularly at you.

Suppose you went to and went shopping for sex toys. Thanks to Google's Tracking Cookies, now the entire syndicate of Google associated web shops knows. So now you get ads for vibrators on your Google search pages. You go to for the very first time and up pop ads for warming gels, various stimulation pills, elongated probing instruments, on and on.

If this all sounds entirely offensive and invasive of your privacy, you're not alone. I personally don't give a rat's about marketing data collection, no matter what 'opportunities' they may offer. When I want something I go out and research it, all on my own, and typically end up buying the best product at the cheapest price entirely due to my efforts. No ads required. To me, advertising is a distraction at best. Therefore, my web browsers are maxed out with ad blocking plugins and settings. Even in situations where anti-ad measures fail, my brain is so used to marketing 'opportunities' on both the real and virtual landscapes that I quite literally don't see them. They don't exist in my mind's eye. There are 'subliminal' marketing theories of course, but every one of them fails from my POV.


My parents freak out whenever I visit them because I never bother to mute the TV ads. Why do I do that? I literally don't notice them! I don't care what they say. If I pay attention at all it is typically to mock them, they are usually so ridiculous and predictable. The only exceptions are abusive ads. I pick up on them rather quickly and take note of what they're selling in order that I never buy it. I also enjoy collecting examples of abusive ads. I often post perpetrators of what I call 'AD BLASTING' and 'AD SLAMMING' over at my zunipus blog. For some reason, my personality is particularly offended by any form of human abuse. Maybe it's because I'm human. With the plethora of psychopaths in world politics, religion and biznizz these days you have to wonder how many humans are left on Earth. But I rant.

We humans always discover and create new ways to thwart other people's bad choices. Blocking Tracking Cookies is simple because just about every web browser provides a method. Set it once and forget it. Happiness shall be yours young apprentice.

Well, there is one drawback: Advertising isn't going away.

You'll still be hit with it everywhere you go IRL or WWW. But instead of the ads targeting specificially you, they'll simply be generic. Darn! You'll just have to settle for having your privacy.


Monday, May 3, 2010

Oh good!
China is cracking down on...
blogs like mine

It astounds me how conveniently and deliberately citizens in my country, the USA, ignore the fact that 'China' is actually Red China, the biggest and most oppressive communist state in the world. I've had friends attempt to 'inform' me that China is functioning as a 'capitalist' state; That they depend on 'capitalism' for their income of foreign currency. What a nice fantasy. The fact remains that Red China will never be actually, factually capitalist while ruled by a totalitarian / communist regime. So next time you go buying your Walmart junk from China, think about the wonderful oppression of fellow human beings you're supporting.

Because I say stuff like the above, I am now one of many targets by the Red Chinese government for CENSORSHIP. Blogs like mine, or any other 'subversive' sources of information and opinion on the Internet, are going to be BLOCKED by the Red Chinese government.

When I read this news today, I first thought to myself "Oh good! Maybe I will no longer be spammed by kiddies in Red China every single time I post an article here at Mac-Security!" But I am willing to bet that somewhere in Red China some member of the Red Hacker Alliance will keep an eye on subversives such as myself and make sure we are tortured for our heresy from afar. Like I'll relent, confess my sins against Mao and kiss The Little Red Book, if only their terrifying spam will stop! (o_0)

You can read about this latest round of Red Chinese bullshite in an article from the Associated Press: