[nycbug-talk] FreeBSD & Google Analytics

George Rosamond george at ceetonetechnology.com
Mon Dec 10 21:20:28 EST 2012

On 12/10/12 19:42, Brett wrote:
>>>>> We (FreeBSD) are respecting DNT, not relying on Google.
>>>>> Additionally, disabling Javascript will also disallow
>>>>> tracking.
>>> A good reminder to disable javascript for daily internet use and
>>> only
>> enable for sites that need it. Even though FreeBSD is respecting
>> DNT, it doesn't take much of an imagination to see many other sites
>> will not respect this flag.
>>> Since there are probably many website administrators on this
>>> mailing
>> list, my suggestion to any of them who want to improve
>> privacy/security on the internet: build websites that are fully
>> functional without javascript.
>> No, you as a browser of the web need to protect yourself.  The
>> sites can deliver content through whatever media they want. If we
>> all feel strongly about this it should be negotiated via headers to
>> let the service know you are a text only client.
> That is practical for computer-literate people, but completely
> impractical for the average person.

Yeah, and this notion that "the sites can deliver content through 
whatever media they want" is such a crazy illustration of how low the 
internet has gone.  It flouts standards and that ancient client-server 
model that once thrived.

And unfortunately it is incumbent upon users, since policies, standards, 
etc., are all irrelevant or horribly distorted in reality.

> e.g.: Imagine installing noscript or disabling javascript by browser
> settings on the average person's computer. It would take them about 5
> minutes of browsing to hit a site that will not function correctly
> without javascript, or tells them to "please enable javascript" so
> the site will work correctly.
> Computer literate people, or people who don't mind some minor
> hacking, can then re-enable javascript or click the noscript "allow"
> button. If you know a bit about computers then you can usually guess
> when a site is not working propoerly what the reason is, and
> re-enable. But, for example, my mum and flatmates and 95% of the
> people who own iPads won't know or do this.

Yup.  Very true.  But that doesn't mean people on this list should just 
keep their mouths shut, IMO.

When you matter, and plenty of people on this list do, none javascript, 
etc., sites should be offered as an alternative, at least.  I mean, on 
another angle, think of mobile users with limited bandwidth.  Or what it 
was like being online during Sandy.

> "No, you as a browser of the web need to protect yourself." Is a
> fine-sounding pronouncement, but completely impractical (and
> therefore a useless suggestion) for the vast majority of the human
> population, unless webmasters stop having such a completely
> unrealistic viewpoint of what end users should do :-)
> "The sites can deliver content through whatever media they want." But
> I was not talking about "the sites." I was talking about the website
> administrators who choose what media to use, and choose not to
> provide fallbacks for people who disagree.

As Bruce Schneier once said in one form or another, security is a 'war' 
in which the civilians are in the trenches.

All the more reason to not require javascript, flash, etc.  I mean, 
flash-only homepages?   Why do people (esp light-weight design firms) 
still insist on that crap?  Maybe they haven't heard of the lack of 
backward compatibility issues, etc.

I wonder what the extra costs in power and cpu cycles is with people 
insisting on such heavy crap to find contact information or something 
stupid like that.

When .com's overtook .org's and .edu's for the most domains in ~1995, 
web sites were then slowly handed over to people more concerned about 
eye candy than about interoperability.  But the internet never would 
have happened without interoperability, and Edward Said would never have 
chatted with Ronald Reagan ;) </dumb joke>

BTW, NetBSD.org also uses Google Analytics, for those who still care 
about the original thread.


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