Anti-Cookie Free Fire Zone

What we’re about to say has nothing to do with anything, so feel free to use the comments for an Intellectual Free Fire Zone.

For the past few days your Curmudgeon has been waging a private — and futile, and rather silly — war on cookies. You know what they are, pesky pieces of code that every website you visit somehow manages to send to your computer. And the things stay on your computer!

Well, we’re not gonna put up with it, so we’re on a “virtually no cookies” campaign. We permit only about a half-dozen to remain on our computer — they’re from WordPress and a few other places we’re usually logged into. Except for those, we’ve been deleting all other cookies after visiting a website.

It’s not difficult to do. Using Firefox, one must first click on “Tools,” then “Options,” and then “Remove individual cookies.” You’ll see a list — probably a very long list, so you’ll have to scroll down and delete them one at a time. But be careful not to hit the “Remove All cookies” button because then you’ll have to log in again to whatever sites you regularly use. (Yes, we’ve done that.)

We have no idea what horrors really lurk out there on the internet, because we only visit university websites, science journals, newspapers, reliable reference sources, and only a few other blogs — including a handful of creationist sites. But even with our limited choices, we frequently accumulate a dozen or more cookies after clicking on only a couple of sites. It’s a constant struggle to stay cookie-free.

What we’ve discovered during this peculiar campaign is that some websites are relatively well-behaved. NCSE, for example only adds a cookie for their own site, plus one more — presumably to track when a visitor returns, so that he’s not counted as yet another unique visitor for the day. That’s understandable, but we’ve been routinely deleting even those cookies after every visit. Does that mess up their statistics? Maybe, but it’s trivial, so we don’t worry about it.

Other sites behave differently. WorldNetDaily adds six cookies. The Time Cube — which we almost never visit but we did just now to see how they behave — adds no cookies at all. That place is unique in many ways. We wouldn’t be able to determine any of this if we weren’t almost free of cookies before visiting a site.

But some websites — and remember, we only visit “safe” places — always add a ton of cookies, including several of these: ad.attitude.com, adtoany.com, addthis.com, ad.auditude.com, apis.google.com, badge.stumbleupon.com, disqus.com, doubleclick.net, gravity.com, outbrain.com, po.st, quantserve.com, scorecardresearch.com, sharethis.com, statcounter.com, and static.addtoany.com.

Those are the most common cookies we encounter that aren’t specific to a particular website. Some are related to advertizing (which we never see because we use an ad-blocker) but we really don’t know what they do, so we ruthlessly delete them after every visit.

And there’s more. After visiting some sites, cookies from unrelated and unvisited sites often show up, like: aol.com, linkedin.com, tumbleupon.com, twitter.com, and youtube.com. We have no idea why websites add those cookies. The internet is a mystery.

What does this mean? Probably nothing — nothing at all. Will we continue our crusade against cookies? Maybe, we’re not sure. Anyway, that’s all we have to say on the subject, so let the Free Fire Zone begin.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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18 responses to “Anti-Cookie Free Fire Zone

  1. Me here to tell you something that mean whole lot to me.

  2. Here’s what I do with firefox cookies. I’ll note that I am using linux, which probably makes this easier.

    I start firefox with a command line script, rather than from the GUI menu.

    My script does:

    1: Use an “sqlite” utility to dump the cookies to a text file;
    2: Run a “sed” script that deletes all lines from that text file, except the ones that I want to keep;
    3: Use the “sqlite” utility to reconstruct the “cookies.sqlite” database file from the text file.

    This mostly works well. Occasionally, I decide to login to a new site. And then, when I restart the browser, I find I am no longer logged in because the cookie was deleted. So I have to modify the part of the script that handles the deletions.

    This mostly works well, and is less effort than manually deleting cookies from within firefox.

  3. Cookie problem. First, curmie, buy a box of GS Thin Mints. Empty them into a bowl, then stuff ALL the cookies into your mouth at once. That will stop you complaining about cookies, out loud, at least.

    Second, if anything good came out of the Ham on Nye debate

    It’s THIS.

  4. Intelligent Design!

    Follow the evidence!

    (as long as it’s Christian evidence – shhhhh, it’s a seekwet)

  5. “The Time Cube adds no cookies at all.”
    Somehow that does not in the least surprise me.

  6. Holding the Line in Florida

    Happy Darwin Day fellow dwellers in reality! The rest can go to the Lake Of Fire! Sorry lads, one to many Margaritas!

  7. And Happy Lincoln’s Birthday as well — also born on February 12, 1809, same day as Darwin. Two great men born on the same day — proof, I tell you, of the veracity of astrology! Or not.

  8. Charles Deetz ;)

    Great links docbill, from opposite ends of the spectrum. The Nye track is super Sagan-esque, but I love how Bill’s voice rises and falls, as opposed to Carl’s even tone.

  9. SC, if you want to get an idea of who is tracking you and how they got into your system, and who the major players are, download the Firefox add-on called “Lightbeam”. It will create a nice, pretty graph using those cookies and show you links of who is talking to whom.

    As for the Ham on Nye debate, I highly recommend Potholer54’s excellent review of Ham’s definition of science.

  10. Cardinal Gary, thanks for the link to Potholer’s great demolition of Ham’s ersatz definition of “science”.

    By the way, getting a bit of snow there, are ya?

  11. I use a Firefox add-on: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/self-destructing-cookies/?src=denblog, which causes cookies to self-destruct after the tab is closed. You can exempt preferred sites if you wish. I run Linux, but I don’t thnk that the add-on depends on that. I have been using it for about nine months, with no problems.

  12. Mr Curmudgeon
    Kudos on your effort to track who’s tracking you… two observations:
    1. Depending on how the page is written, opening any site with ads is like opening multiple pages, as most ads can be their own little web page embedded in the page you want, with the “right” to write a cookie (and of course that changes every time you visit the page)
    2. The Time Cube, of course, is capable of writing a cookie to your computer hours or even days BEFORE you visit, because, Time Cube.

  13. @Pope RSG: About 7″ so far, with more forecast later this afternoon. Not the worst, but could have done without it.

  14. I always thought it would be entertaining to write a script to randomize the bits in the cookie.

    I have strange ideas about what constitutes “entertainment.”

  15. Tomato Addict admits: “I have strange ideas”

    You’ve come to the right place.

  16. Instead of cookies, here’s a link to a story about camels:

    http://www.npr.org/2014/02/14/276782474/the-genesis-of-camels?ft=1

    Here again, it appears that the Old Testament has a bogus story. An author writing centuries after the times he depicted assumed camels were trucking around in the deserts of the Holy Land in the time of Abraham. Archaeologists doubt that camels were domesticated at the time the original Abe was doing his thing.

    Maybe Abraham actually was using some variety of dinosaur….

  17. I guess since David Rives is now engaged in his TV show he has no time to make inane videos, and therefore we aren’t getting any more free fire zones. Speaking of which…I watched David’s show last Wednesday. Starts with a Jupiter movie and then he recycles his guest Dr. Rusty Maisel to talk about more Biblical artifacts. This episode would really stick in your craw. Dr. Rusty keeps on mentioning how archeology is proving the Bible (Wait that wouldn’t work for Ken “were you there” Hambo) and then David’s only semi-intelligent addition to the conversation is that since it can be shown that some part of the Bible is true even the pre-historical Genesis account must also be true. David also keeps on mentioning his considerable experience in archeology, no doubt a reference to the wack job museum his father runs in Tennesee. Seems David is going to be working off a small cadre of guests.

  18. Troy says: “David’s only semi-intelligent addition to the conversation is that since it can be shown that some part of the Bible is true even the pre-historical Genesis account must also be true.”

    Yes, and because the ruins of Troy (not you, the city) have been found, that proves the Iliad is true, so the Olympian gods are real.