Tag: javascript

Misunderstanding Cookies

Example of Cookie Notification

In a recent column, Tracey Capen posits the reason so many sites are displaying the “This site uses cookies. Click ‘okay’ to continue” banner is because of Advertising—specifically because many people use ad-blockers so the advertisers want to still be able to track you.


Cookies in the EU

He almost accidentally mentions the actual reason for these banners: EU Regulations on privacy. Specifically, the regs state that websites must notify visitors before the site places cookies on the visitor’s browser, AND give them an option to opt out before that happens.

English: Tor Logo
(credit: Wikipedia)

So why do we in the non-EU part of the world see these banners? Because it is simply easier to display the banner to everyone, rather than by attempting to determine if the visitor is in the EU and displaying the banner IFF they are.

There are a myriad of ways to mask one’s location, such as using the TOR network, so the risks of failing to show the banner (and getting fined) versus just displaying it to everyone is a no-brainer.

But what about Advertisements?

Ads—and their ad-delivery network—use cookies in a variety of ways. Advertisers are charged by the networks for impressions (number of people to whom the network delivers the ad or CPM) and for the number of people who click on the ad (clickthroughs). The latter is more valuable to the advertiser and thus the networks charge more.

The ads aren’t directly loaded on the page without the network because there needs to be a system that counts the number of impressions, rotates multiple ads in the page location, and stops showing an ad when the ad’s CPM is exhausted. If an advertiser pays for 5,000 CPM, once 5,000,000 visitors visit the page, the next visitor will not see that ad.

When an adblocker runs it does at least one of two things: it blocks the ad code or (more likely) it blocks the ad delivery network code. What this means is the visitor’s browser doesn’t even request the code from the server; NOTHING from that server is requested. No code means the ad network can’t run and deliver the ads. Also, without a request, there is no cookie.

Even if somehow the site displayed the banner (“please accept our marketing/advertising cookie” Capen imagines them saying), the cookie can’t be added because there is no cookie. There is no ad network that loads. There is no ad to display.

Iterations in Less

Part of the beauty of Less and other CSS ‘compilers’ is to enable the author to automate tedious functions that normally must be coded by hand.

Cut Copy Paste
Cut Copy Paste (Photo credit: arthit)

Suppose you needed several classes that specified padding/margins:


No big deal, right? It wouldn’t take that long to type in; just cut and paste a bit.

Well, what if you needed them from 0-100 by 5s? (Never mind WHY you’d want to do this; this is a simple example.)



There’s a better way:

@steps: 100;

// Main Loop
.sidesX( @index ) when ( @index > 0 ) {
 (~".mRight@{index}") { .mRightX(@index); }
 (~".mLeft@{index}") { .mLeftX(@index); }
 (~".pRight@{index}") { .pRightX(@index); }
 (~".pLeft@{index}") { .pLeftX(@index); }

 .sidesX(@index - 5);

// End iteration at index zero
.sidesX( 0 ) {}<

// Individual class rendering
.mRightX( @offsetsize ) {
  margin-right: (~"@{offsetsize}px");
.mLeftX( @offsetsize ) {
 margin-left: (~"@{offsetsize}px");
.pRightX( @offsetsize ) {
 padding-right: (~"@{offsetsize}px");
.pLeftX( @offsetsize ) {
 padding-left: (~"@{offsetsize}px");

// Generate the CSS
.sidesX( @steps );
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Find Something You Like and Dissect It

Image representing Wikipedia as depicted in Cr...
Image via CrunchBase

I’m always on the lookout for a new technique or Better Mousetrap. I admit I don’t know all that much, so I’m happy to learn.

I was playing around with Wikify @ appointment.net (a nifty tool that goes through a block of text and ‘wikifies’ it–that is, links all the words it can find to relavant Wikipedia articles) when I noticed the behavior seemed rather…odd. I could see it go through the word list as it created links, and every time it linked up a word, every duplicate word was linked.

Let’s take some example text (from the now-defunct Dilbert Mission Statement Generator) and run it through the site:

“We have committed to synergistically fashion high-quality products so that we may collaboratively provide access to inexpensive leadership skills in order to solve business problems

Our mission is to continually leverage existing seven-habits-conforming catalysts for change as well as to competently leverage other’s error-free materials.

We globally leverage other’s professional meta-services as well as to conveniently integrate competitive solutions in order to solve business problems.

“It is our job to continually foster world-class infrastructures as well as to quickly create principle-centered sources to meet our customers needs

“Our challenge is to assertively network economically sound methods of empowerment so that we may continually negotiate performance based infrastructures

For example, the additional instances of “leverage,” “problems,” and “business” were quickly linked, once the first one was completed. Poking around their code, I noticed all the action takes place in wikify.js. There are a few gems in there. For example, the function call to reduce an array to only unique values:

function array_unique( array ) {
    // http://kevin.vanzonneveld.net
    // +   original by: Carlos R. L. Rodrigues (http://www.jsfromhell.com)
    // +      input by: duncan
    // +   bugfixed by: Kevin van Zonneveld (http://kevin.vanzonneveld.net)
    // +   bugfixed by: Nate
    // +      input by: Brett Zamir (http://brettz9.blogspot.com)
    // +   bugfixed by: Kevin van Zonneveld (http://kevin.vanzonneveld.net)
    // +   improved by: Michael Grier
  // %          note 1: the second argument, sort_flags is not implemented
    // *     example 1: array_unique(['Kevin','Kevin','van','Zonneveld','Kevin']);
    // *     returns 1: ['Kevin','van','Zonneveld']
    // *     example 2: array_unique({'a': 'green', 0: 'red', 'b': 'green', 1: 'blue', 2: 'red'});
    // *     returns 2: {'a': 'green', 0: 'red', 1: 'blue'}

    var key = '', tmp_arr1 = {}, tmp_arr2 = [];
    var val = '';
    tmp_arr1 = array;

    var __array_search = function (needle, haystack) {
        var fkey = '';
        for (fkey in haystack) {
            if ((haystack[fkey] + '') === (needle + '')) {
                return fkey;
        return false;

    for (key in tmp_arr1) {
        val = tmp_arr1[key];
        if (false === __array_search(val, tmp_arr2)) {
            tmp_arr2[key] = val;
        delete tmp_arr1[key];
    return tmp_arr2;

Aha! See how that works?

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