Deleted Google Chrome from my MacBook and iPhone because Chrome is bad!
Returned to using Firefox as my second (work) browser.
Safari reigns supreme as my default browser. It is native, lightning-fast and the built in reading list feature is more than ‘enough’ – no plugins required.
Over the last four years, I have worked hard to make my blog as light, secure and privacy conscious as possible. ‘Https’ is forced across my entire domain; it is hosted on a European server; uses no analytics (Google and/or Jetpack); and the least amount of plugins possible.
When visiting my blog you should find that it is fast and, most importantly, not tracking you.
This is true most of the time but there are some exceptions where content has been embedded from external sites. The list of offenders is small (YouTube, Twitter, Instagram) but I am not happy that their presence allows them to intrude on my readers’ privacy none the less. It also meant, arguably, that I was not fully GDPR compliant.
Doing some research into this issue, I came across a post by Dries Buytaert discussing the ‘cookies’ that are installed from embedded YouTube videos. He discovered that YouTube provides a privacy-enhanced way to embed videos on your blog without leaving a cookie. Instead of using
youtube.com you can use
I finally got round to putting this into practice and spent a couple of hours this morning editing all of the YouTube videos embedded on my blog to use the following code:
<iframe src="https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/video-id" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe>
Testing a post in Safari, it is clear that it has worked correctly. The YouTube video is embedded and plays as expected but no trackers were contacted.
While doing this, I also found a number of broken links and some embedded audio files that were no longer working. I fixed those along the way, making for a very productive morning. Winning! 😃
The next step is to see if I can achieve the same with the handful of tweets and Instagram posts that I have embedded on my blog.
Back in September, Jim Groom shared his thoughts on the importance of reading for context. An approach to reading that for me is about becoming a more active, critical reader. As I read his post, I found myself nodding along, each sentiment reflecting what I find myself saying to both my GCSE and A-Level students on a weekly basis…
I’ve taken pains to reinforce how essential it is to read for context. To read for the things that don’t make sense, read for the things you do not know, and read for the ideas that make you stop and think. And in the process take the time to play detective. Look things up. Follow the lead the writer gives you, try and build a context for your reading. What’s more, with the ubiquity of the web the process couldn’t be any easier.
Without an understanding of context…
You miss something in the understanding. And with the web always already right there it makes the excuses of not doing it nothing short of paltry. Contextualizing and augmenting one’s understanding of any book is that much easier, faster, and more powerful—and it should increasingly be expected of students.
Yet I often find that it isn’t or hasn’t been. And as Jim exemplifies in the age of Google there is no excuse.
With my own students I begin at an even more basic level. When they encounter a word they do not know, I encourage them to work to figure it out; to contextualise it. And should that not work, to turn to the dictionary and find the definition. What I won’t do is tell them the answer nor will I allow them to ignore it. Why? Because…
…the act of reading is not to be taken for granted.
Reading is an active, critical process that needs to be cultivated. While it may not seem likely to them at first, I believe that most of my students come to appreciate that rather than taking the pleasure out of reading, stopping and looking things up improves their understanding and their enjoyment with it.
After updating my blog and home page to be more responsive, I continued with a little fine-tuning. Here is a brief account of the additional changes I have made…
- I have added a Google font called ‘Bitter‘;
- I edited the sidebar CSS to make the font size and colour more consistent with the blog body.
The majority of tweaks that I have made are focussed on improving the way the blog functions…
- I have switched back to featuring whole posts on the front page of the blog rather than excerpts;
- The about page has been updated to include an accurate list of my most popular posts;
- To make it easier for visitors to find specific content, I have added category links at the top of the archive page;
- All internal links now open in the same window; only external links open in a new window;
- As well as videos and images, embedded Google Docs now resize automatically. I achieved this by editing the FitVids.js script within my blog’s theme. While it doesn’t specify this on the FitVids.js github page, it will work with both ‘docs.google.com’ and ‘drive.google.com’ documents embedded using the iframe tag.
My home page now features a mini-profile with links to specific content, rather than a series of buttons. I think that it is more personal and does a better job of providing an overview of who I am, what I do, and where I can be found online.
I have also employed the built in menu to display direct links to key aspects of my online footprint, including my Twitter and Google+ profiles.
These changes have also improved the way the home page displays across all devices.
I am writing this as an addendum to two previous posts.
Like many others, I received the following email from the web clipping service Amplify yesterday.
As I explained in my ‘Account Management’ post, I decided that I want to ‘own’ my data and also improve my productivity by reducing my digital footprint. The process of exporting various data: images, posts… was reasonably straight forward. In many cases it took a couple of emails. In the best cases, it simply involved logging in and clicking ‘delete this account’. However, I was unable to close my Amplify account. I sent emails and tweets but received no replies. I had to live with a ‘redundant’ open account that I was not using anymore. Even getting rid of the behemoth that is Facebook was easier.
With the closure of Amplify, this matter has now been resolved, although not in the manner I would have liked. I wish no ill will towards Eric or anyone else that worked on Amplify. I am positive that their intentions with the service were entirely honourable and I know for a number of people, the model of clipping and sharing was a highly effective way to discuss content on the web. However, I think it was wrong that as a ‘user’ of the service, there was no way for me to close my account and/or liberate my data.
I would encourage everyone to think carefully about the online services and tools they sign up with. Before you sign up or request an invite, find out as much about them as you can. What are they going to do with your data? Who will have access to it? If you want to get your data out, can you? If you want to stop using the service and delete your account, will you be able to?
Here are some links to services and information you might find useful: