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Within a couple of minutes after reading these paragraphs, I had installed and configured Ghostery to block cookies from over 500 advertising-related tracking sites.

The recent iPhone location-logging controversy caused quite a stir in the media. But as I noted on Twitter a couple weeks back, many of the people upset that their phone keeps track of nearby GPS towers and WiFi access points are oblivious to the fact that their Web-browsing habits are being tracked—often with far more detail—every time they go online.

For example, pretty much any blog or news site you visit (yes, including Macworld.com) uses scripts and tiny (or invisible) images—often called bugs—to track your online behavior and, usually, provide that information to ad networks and other Web-usage trackers. Whereas prior to iOS 4.3.3, someone with access to your iPhone’s backup could get a general idea of where you’ve been, chances are numerous companies have detailed profiles that include the kinds of sites you visit, which topics you find interesting, and possibly even specific items you’ve purchased.

Ghostery’s notification panel Some will say this is just part of using the Web. But if, like me, you’d rather not make it so easy for companies to build a profile of your ‘net activity—or if you’d at least like to be able to know when that activity is being tracked—check out Ghostery, a Safari extension (also available for Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer). With Ghostery installed, whenever you visit a Web page that uses such tricks to track, you’ll briefly see a box listing all the services that are tracking your visit to that page.

 

(click here to continue reading Evidon/The Better Advertising Project, Inc. Ghostery 1.0.0 for Safari Web Browser Review | Macworld.)

I allowed Google Analytics, and SiteMeter, because I don’t mind letting webmasters knowing I visited their site, but why should DoubleClick get my data? Or worse, why should a company like Right Media or Facebook be able to profit off of me? I realize that if every browser blocked advertising cookies, some websites might vanish, or switch to a pay-to-view model, but I don’t care. Would my life really be less enjoyable if I couldn’t visit ESPN to check NBA scores? Or read about the latest vapid pop-culture meme at the Huffington Post?

So if you use Safari, Firefox, Google Chrome, or if you are stuck using Internet Explorer, you should go ahead and install Ghostery. Simple, and useful. You don’t even have to automatically block cookies, you can just decide as you encounter them, or allow them from certain websites if you wish1

Footnotes:
  1. like mine, for instance. Though I don’t care if you do block the ads that help pay for my site, I just ask that you allow SiteMeter and Google Analytics access so I can fritter away time contemplating my site traffic []
Categories
environment humor Links politics

Reading Around on February 27th through February 28th

A few interesting links collected February 27th through February 28th:

  • Debunking the Clean Coal Myth : EcoLocalizer – “There is no such thing as “clean coal” in the U.S. today. Coal is responsible for 32% of CO2 emissions in this country and 83% of the CO2 emissions from producing our electricity. In theory, we could retrofit this nation’s coal plants to capture their pollution and store it. Here is my question: If every single coal plant needs to be revamped to be truly “clean,” why not just invest that time and money in truly clean, renewables?” [Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by Seth Anderson]
  • April Winchell » Barack Obama is tired of your motherfucking shit – Ray, a fellow classmate of Obama’s, was also bi-racial, and also trying to define himself. But what set him apart was his colorful manner of self-expression. Ray cursed like a motherfucker.

    This would all be snickerworthy enough, but it turns out that Obama actually read the audiobook version of Dreams From My Father.

    And that means he read Ray’s quotes.

    And that means you’re about to hear the President of United States using language that would finish Cheney off once and for all.

  • Chicago Reader Blogs: Chicagoland Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all: The Chicago Journalism Town Hall – “In other words: journalism isn’t dying. (Journalists are dying, of course, but even I don’t blame the Huffington Post for that.) The institutions are dying. That’s it. We’ve isolated the problem!

    Journalists (I will irresponsibly use this as a synonym for “people who work in broadcast or print,” even though we’re all kind of journalists, which I will get to later) blame the bloggers (ditto, for people who work online). Bloggers blame the journalists. Everyone blames the economy, and management. Was it Ben Goldberger in the Blog with the Aggregator? Or was it Eric Zorn in the Newspaper with the Inverted Pyramid, or Sam Zell in the Boardroom with the ESOP?”

  • John Bolton at CPAC: The Benefits of Nuking Chicago | Mother Jones – “Former UN Ambassador John Bolton believes the security of the United States is at dire risk under the Obama administration. And before a gathering of conservatives in Washington on Thursday morning, he suggested, as something of a joke, that President Barack Obama might learn a needed lesson if Chicago were destroyed by a nuclear bomb.”

    Asshole!

  • BULLS: Sam Smith: He was always Stormin’ – “Chicago understood Norm because it is known as the Second City. It is in the flyover region. Norm couldn’t crack the big time and run with the big boys, not among the playing elite and not afterward. But he never accepted being less than them and always was sticking his foot in the door to remind them he wasn’t going away.

    Norm was like us. Never really appreciated despite working so hard at it and giving everything he had every time. Norm broadcast harder than some guys played the game, and he let them know it. Someone was speaking up for us, and we loved Norm for that. And he loved us because he understood, if not accepted, rejection.”

  • SLAM ONLINE | » First Person: Norm Van Lier – “It was my dad who helped me let go of my anger. Before he died in 1988, we watched “The Godfather” together. Afterward my dad asked me, “Why do you think the Bulls owe you anything?”

    I told him about this and that, slights and slams, stuff that had grown into huge obstacles in my mind.

    “Did they pay you on time?” Yes, sir. “Were their checks good?” Yes, sir.

    “Well, then they don’t owe you a thing. So get up, stop feeling sorry for yourself, and go to work.”

    I swear, from that moment on, my attitude was completely different. I’ve not looked back since.”

  • The Sports Guy: Bill Simmons Welcome to the No Benjamins Association – ESPN Page 2 – Ru-oh.
    “For once, the league’s problems have nothing to do with talent, drugs, racial issues or how the sport is being played. With the country embroiled in its worst economic crisis in 80 years, the NBA is quietly bracing for its own little D-Day … only outsiders don’t fully realize or care. Clearly, we wouldn’t put this budding debacle on par with the Gulf War, the collapse of American car companies, the real estate quagmire, the implosion of Wall Street, the decline of the American dollar, the shaky footing of previously untouchable media institutions (newspapers, magazines, TV networks, movie studios and publishing companies), or even Vegas and the porn industry caving financially. “
  • Media Matters – Media Matters: In support of shunning – Will has made false claims about the Voting Rights Act and the New Deal. He made a claim about China drilling off the coast of Florida that was so wrong, even then-Vice President Cheney — who cited Will in repeating the claim — acknowledged it wasn’t true. When even Dick Cheney thinks you’ve gone too far in spouting pro-drilling falsehoods, you have a problem. But neither Will nor the Post corrected the error.

    Last year, Will claimed in his Newsweek column and on ABC that Social Security taxes are levied based on household income. Not true. He claimed that McCain won more votes from independents during the primaries than Obama did. Wrong. He claimed most minimum-wage earners are students or part-time employees. False. Will has even lied about Hillary Clinton’s Yankees fandom.

    Basically, George Will routinely makes false claims large and small, holds politicians to disparate standards, and engages in ethically dubious conduct on behalf of his preferred candidates.

  • The George Will Affair : CJR – Undeterred, on Tuesday, the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters, Friends of the Earth, and Media Matters for America sent a joint letter to the Post reiterating the call for some form of correction or clarification. It cited three key problems with Will’s column: that he misused data on global sea ice levels from the Arctic Climate Research Center; that he misrepresented the World Meteorological Organization’s position on global warming and climate trends; and that he “rehashed the discredited myth that in the 1970s, there was broad scientific consensus that the Earth faced an imminent global cooling threat.”

    “George Will is entitled to his own opinions, but he is not entitled to his own facts,” the letter concluded. “We respectfully ask that you immediately make your readers aware of the glaring misinformation in Will’s column.” But the Post’s position remains the same.