Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Cookies, of the non-crunchy variety

Yesterday I found out that the EU has a law about cookies (not the delicious kind) which requires anybody with a website to advise any of its citizens if said website has them, and to allow them to opt out of cookies if they wish.

Cookies courtesy Dooher's Bakery, not Google

So: today I am letting everybody know that this site uses cookies, from which you can opt out by changing your browser settings. 

These small data files are placed on whatever device you're using to visit them, and the website that left them uses them to remember your actions and preferences - your login, your language, your font size, and other display preferences - so you don't have to keep re-entering all that stuff the next time you come back, or when you click on another page.

I don't want to invade anybody's personal privacy ever - believe me, there are some cookie-setting analysis programs that tell people way more than anybody ever should get to know about we internet users - but I did set up Google Analytics.

Without identifying you personally, Google Analytics tracks basic information like what country you came from, the type of web browser you're using, and what pages you visit within the Hugs site.  Then it shares those details with me.  A lot of other websites use it too, for a lot of different reasons.

In my case, the information helps me to see what kinds of knitting patterns and blog posts are really popular, so I don't post more of what nobody particularly liked.  It helps me ensure that the template I choose for the site looks good on the browsers and devices that people are actually using.

It also keeps me going.  I get a lot of e-mail from people who read Hugs, so I know the patterns I post here make a genuine difference, but the volume of visitors from all over the world is hugely out of proportion to the ones who reach out to me personally. When life gets crazy busy and I think the Hugs blog is something I could set aside to make time for the rest, the numbers I see on Google Analytics remind me how many other people care about this place as much as I do.

Truth be told, after a note from a knitter who is knitting a chemo hat for a loved one - and I get those heartbreakingly often - and tied with my own stubborn tenacity and love for routine, Google Analytics is a big part of why Hugs still exists after all these years.

Some people don't want cookies on their devices, and almost every variety of browser software includes a feature that lets you block them.  For some sites, that would make it tough for you to enjoy your visit at all, but it shouldn't change your experience on Hugs.  If you don't want Google knowing about visit here or anywhere else, you can change your browser settings to block those cookies.  Or, if your browser is a rare breed that doesn't include that feature, you can change browsers too. 

As I mentioned up top, visitors from the EU are now required by law to be informed of the use of cookies and given the opportunity to turn them off.  Blogger, which powers Hugs For Your Head, kindly posts a message with Yes and No buttons to readers from EU countries, but because I have a custom domain name for this site it won't display.  So, given that I am not much good at coding, I sourced some code online that should post such a message to my friends from the EU.  If you should have seen it and didn't, please let me know!  

Either way - have a great day and thanks, as always, for visiting.

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