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I made dinner

Sous vide herbed chicken thighs on lemon, garlic pea purée. Roasted garlic green beans. Cauliflower potato mash.

 
 

Disqus, Self-Hosting, and Owning Your Interactions

3 min read

This morning, I read an interesting post by Don Williamson about how he removed Disqus comments from his site and moved to hosting his comments on GitHub, using some very creative hacks. Learning about the hacks he used is pretty fun, but I actually found his exploration of Disqus and its aggressive tracking more interesting. On the impact of performance on his site from using Disqus, Don pointed out:

Load-time goes from 6 seconds to 2 seconds.

There are 105 network requests vs. 16.

There are a lot of non-relevant requests going through to networks that will be tracking your movements.

He then goes into detail listing all of the ad networks and trackers that are pulled into a site when Disqus is enabled, and its terrifying:

disqus.com - Obviously!

google-analytics.com - Multiple requests; no idea who’s capturing your movements.

connect.facebook.net - If you’re logged into Facebook, they know you visit this site.

accounts.google.com - Google will also map your visits to this site with any of your Google accounts.

pippio.com - LiveRamp identify mapping for harvesting your details for commercial gain.

bluekai.com - Identity tracking for marketing campaigns.

crwdcntrl.net - Pretty suspect site listed as referenced by viruses and spyware.

exelator.com - More identity and movement tracking site which even has a virus named after it!

doubleclick.net - We all know this one: ad services and movement tracking, owned by Google.

tag.apxlv.net - Very shady and tricky to pin-point an owner as they obsfuscate their domain (I didn’t even know this was a thing!). Adds a tracking pixel to your site.

adnxs.com - More tracking garbage, albeit slightly more prolific.

adsymptotic.com - Advertising and tracking that suppposedly uses machine learning.

rlcdn.com - Obsfuscated advertising/tracking from Rapleaf.

adbrn.com - “Deliver a personalized customer journey across devices, channels and platforms with Adbrain customer ID mapping technology.”

nexac.com - Oracle’s Datalogix, their own tracking and behavioural pattern rubbish.

tapad.com - OK, I cant’t be bothered to search to look this up anymore.

liadm.com - More? Oh, ok, then…

sohern.com - Yup. Tracking.

demdex.net - Tracking. From Adobe.

bidswitch.net - I’ll give you one guess…

agkn.com - …

mathtag.com - Curious name, maybe it’s… no. It’s tracking you.

 

Including third-party JavaScript libraries on my site like choosing a sexual partner: you better know who that third party has been in bed with, or you'll be in for a nasty surprise.

Comments and comment spam are hard. But, that doesn't mean we should turn over control of our interactions to companies that choose to leverage your audience and your data for their own profit. Own your interactions!

 

 
 
 

Owning My Memories

1 min read

My quest to own more of my digital identity continues, as I continue to search for ways in which I depend on social media silos like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. One feature of Facebook that I actually find quite delightful is On This Day, which shows you content and interactions over the years on the current day of the month. I like this feature so much, I felt like I should have it for my website, in the spirit of the IndieWeb. I'm happy to say, I've got an initial implementation in place on my site!

I've created a plugin for Known, the CMS for this site, that collects a few of my own customizations, including my On This Day implementation, and its available on my GitHub. Currently, the On This Day functionality requires a patch to Known core that isn't yet open source, but I'm hoping to polish that up and attempt to get it into Known sometime in the next few weeks.

Three cheers to owning my own memories!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sharing what I watch...

1 min read

As I get deeper into the IndieWeb, I've been loving exploring more ways to share and publish my activities. Having a timeline that includes where I have been, what I've been eating and drinking, my recipes and reviews, along with photos, and social interactions helps me remember where I was and what I was doing on any given day.

Last night, I had trouble sleeping, so I decided to attack a new problem. I'm a big movie enthusiast, and enjoy collecting and watching great films. I decided that tracking what I'm watching would be a fun and useful way to enrich my activity stream.

I'd like to introduce Watching, a plugin for the Known CMS that I use for running this site. Using the plugin, I can publish a record of which movie or TV show I just watched. Earlier this evening, I watched a few minutes of Mad Max: Fury Road, which I absolutely adored, and it's been logged on my site.

Better yet? I've written experimental support for Plex webhooks, which create these records automatically on my site whenever I click or tap "play." How fun is that?

 

Restaurant Review: Astro Is Epic

5 out of 5 stars

One dozen assorted doughnuts from AstroA few weeks ago, Astro Fried Chicken and Doughnuts opened up a location only a few blocks from my office in Downtown Los Angeles. Astro was founded in Washington, D.C., and quickly built a reputation as one of the best doughnut shops in the United States. Their move into L.A. is a big step up for the fledgling empire. Astro offers four "daily" doughnuts that stay on the menu – classic glazed, maple bacon, peanut butter and jelly, and creme brulee. Astro also offers a rotating menu of "special" doughnuts, including such delights as meyer lemon, smoked almond, strawberry rhubarb, and rocky road.

In addition to their sweets, Astro makes some incredible fried chicken, including both breakfast and lunch sandwiches, served on savory doughnuts or cheddar biscuits, topped with a variety of delicious toppings and sauces, including kimchi slaw and buffalo sauce. The combination of sweet, savory, and fatty is pretty much perfect for my taste.

Today for lunch, I enjoyed two pieces of dark meat fried chicken, a cheddar biscuit, and a creme brulee doughnut. I was very impressed! My DreamHost coworker and I brought back an assorted dozen doughnuts to share with the office, and they were also tasty.

I'm delighted to have Astro in the neighborhood, and I will definitely be back. Highly recommended!

 
 

Movie Review: Disney Recreates a Classic

4 out of 5 stars

The family hit the theater today for a matinee viewing of Disney's new live-action remake of its 1991 animated feature, "Beauty and the Beast." The original is one of my all-time favorite Disney animated films, with great animation, a strong story, and a musical score that has become a classic. The live-action remake isn't as good as the original, but is a worthy take, with a strong performance by Emma Watson as Belle, reprises of all the catchy songs, and plenty of personality.

The film drags a bit in the middle, and could stand to be cut down by about 15 minutes. There is a bit too much exposition about the respective family histories of both Belle and the Beast, as well. That said, I really did enjoy the film and would recommend it for any fans of the original.