Do Not Track

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 plugins1 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 youtube-nocookie.com instead.

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.

No Trackers

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.


  1. Currently seven; four of which are helping to keep different aspects of my blog secure.  ↩

Reclaiming My Domain (since August 2016)

This is a post that I started writing back in 2017. I thought I should finish it off and post it for posterity. Some of these details have also been added to my about page.

rh make some noise gif

Reclaim Hosting

Back in August 2016, I moved my domain from Bluehost to Reclaim Hosting, which was co-founded by Jim Groom and Tim Owens. It grew out of the Domain of One’s Own project at The University of Mary Washington; providing space for students and educators to take control of their web presence. The migration was efficient and hassle free. A couple of issues arose as these things do and the support Reclaim provided was unparalleled.

Jim and Tim are legends and I am very happy to support their work. The ethics and aesthetics of the company chime with my own; not least due to a youth spent listening to punk and new wave. Two years on, I remain more than satisfied. Auto-updates; easy back-up and detailed documentation have allowed me to keep my various sites running with ease.

German Server

When I first signed up to Reclaim Hosting all of their servers were based in the US. As someone one who cares about privacy, I was ecstatic when I read Jim’s post: ‘Reclaiming Europe’. Jim and Tim’s success meant that they had to keep adding server space and this included the addition of their first European server in March 2017. I immediately made contact and took them up on the offer to move my domain to a Euorpean server. The server is called Kraftwerk and has been reliably serving my domain ever since.

Kraftwerk

On making this move, I realised that it had been quite some time since I had listened to everyone’s favourite German synth pioneers. I put all of their records on rotation and even made a playlist of their best material. This quickly began to punctuate my Saturday morning runs and the walk home from work.

Long Live RSS

Finally, like many of my web peers, I value open web standards; particularly RSS. In May 2017 Manton Reece and Brent Simmons released a feed format similar to RSS and Atom called JSON Feed. Based on the “developer’s choice for APIs” it “is much simpler to read and write” than XML, “and it’s less prone to bugs”.

This has been added to my blog using the WordPress Plugin giving readers an additional way to subscribe alongside the built in XML feed that comes as standard in WordPress. If you want to know more about why they created it, Manton and Brent discussed it on The Talk Show with John Gruber.

“We’re functioning automatic / And we are dancing mechanic / We are the robots”

~ Hütter, Ralf, The Robots (1978)

Make Some Noise Gif CC: Bryan Mathers (2017)