Yep, now we’re into the fun stuff. But it’s super important!
To make this site work properly, we sometimes place small data files called ‘cookies’ on your device. Most websites do this.
🍪😡 Cookies 😓😱
What are cookies?
A cookie is a small text file that a website saves on your computer or mobile device when you visit the site.
It enables the website to remember your actions and preferences (ex: login, language, etc) over a period of time, so you don’t have to keep re-entering info whenever you come back to the site, or to remember you’ve seen a certain screen, and won’t show it to you again, etc.
It can also enable certain functionality, like clicking on buttons, watching video, etc.
- Cookies are here to enhance the performance of the website, and some functions won’t work without them (such as signing up for the newsletter);
- We use Prettylinks, which tracks what links were clicked. The data is never shared anywhere; it’s simply for us to see what links people are clicking on most & finding most valuable;
- We have social media buttons on the website so you can find Kris online. These buttons require those sites to place cookies, known as ‘third party cookies’. Third party trackers tend to be ‘permanent’–i.e. they don’t disappear when you leave the site–BUT you can (and should!) remove them. Tips below.
- We have a newsletter sign-up on the site. My newsletter subscriber (Mailerlite) has to place cookies to do that. If you click to sign up, they need to know who you are! To reiterate, you can (and should!) clear cookies regularly to avoid tracking across sites.
- We have buttons linking to bookseller sites that contain affiliate links. That means we know when someone clicked on a link. It means the bookseller knows too. Also, if I ever actually set up the accounts fully, I would receive a small % of any sales that come through the session when someone clicked on that link (full disclosure: I may do that one day, but for now, my organizational skills are just not up to the task.) Just like for PrettyLinks, we use them to see what links people are clicking on most & finding most valuable.
- And please remember, if you click on links leading to external sites, I no longer have control over the tracking/cookies that occur on other sites.
Third Party Cookies & Other Technology
As outlined above, some of the third party trackers that may be found on this site:
Each company has their own policies for how they handle privacy, but here’s a website that lists a many of the common ones in one place: http://www.privacypolicyonline.com/privacy-policies/
How to control cookies
You can delete cookies, or prevent them from being placed in the first place, via your browser.
To delete them, you have to clear your cache.
Clearing the cache is usually done via Preferences. (I clear my cache after every single site I visit! Yes it’s a pain, but becomes automatic.)
You can do a search for how to clear your cache on your particular browser. And you DONT have to use Google for that search. For instance, Startpage or DuckDuckGo are as two search engines that do not track your use or IP. (I use Startpage for everything.)
Here’s a guide to clearing your cache on various browsers, published Dec 2017, but be aware, there may be updates as time goes on: https://www.lifewire.com/how-to-clear-cache-2617980
Note: sometimes there are TWO places you need to click. Be sure to poke all around in your browser, under Preferences >Privacy/Security, and sometimes under “History” (Hi there Firefox)
To prevent cookies in the first place, you do this your browser’s preferences panel.
Many browsers also allow a little more fine-tuned control, and give you the option to allow cookies ONLY for the sites you visit, but not for any third-party trackers that might be on that site (like Google or Facebook or other advertisers).
Sometimes this works best, because if you block cookies for the sites you visit, you may have to manually adjust preferences every time you visit, and some services and functionalities may not work.
On most browsers, you can also check a box to automatically delete all cookies whenever you quit the browser, (super nice!)
Note: Clearing your cache/cookies will affect visits to websites. Basically, sites won’t remember you anymore. That’s kind of the point, but that has some inconveniences. It will log you out of sites. Sites will no longer remember how far you were through an online course, say. But for many, those inconveniences are worth the hassle. Like brushing your teeth. It’s digital hygiene.
For what it’s worth
If you made it this far, I assume you’re interested in privacy. I am too.
So, I’ll mention there are several add-ons/extensions you can also use to block tracking cookies. For example, EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) has an app you can use to handle cookies, Privacy Badger. (note: I don’t receive anything from them for mentioning, I just like it)
There’s also something called ‘scripts’ used on many websites–basically, ‘scripts’ for the computer to follow, & execute certain actions.
Scripts can be really great, because they make sites interactive.
They can also be dangerous. Some are malicious (ex: they can tell the computer to turn on video or audio for example), and some are simply poorly-written code that can open your computer to malware or other problems.
Blocking or limiting ‘scripts’ can be done via your browser’s Preferences pane (usually under Privacy and Permissions.) For instance, you can require sites to request permission before accessing your video or microphone.
If it’s a trusted site, it’s often easiest to allow scripts & cookies, then delete afterward.
If it’s not a trusted site, or one that seems to have lots of functionality (i.e. the site DOES a lot) or it’s a sketchy site…block away.
Lastly, you can use a VPN (virtual private network). This basically ‘masks’ your IP address, so websites don’t know where you’re coming from, and cannot identify you by your IP address, which is pretty specific and, well, identifying.
I use several. It’s well worth the cost.
Some are free, some are paid. Some are crap–they log everything you do. Others are good–usually they’re paid ones, but even the paid ones need researching.
Do some research–Wired and Tom’s Hardware put out an annual list of their opinions on the best. Look to the comment threads–and this may be the ONLY time I’ll ever suggest that. (Aside: I don’t know why HideMyAss still shows up on lists. So, while I’m not recommending any, I have no problem not recommending some). Fwiw, as of this writing (April 2018) I love Private Internet Access-PIA. (I think they might have thought their acronym through a little more.)
Note: You STILL need to clear cookies & cache even when you use a VPN.
To wrap up, I encourage you to do something to stay invisible & protected. Who wants some billion dollar corporation creating a profile of you (and your kids, etc) by knowing every site you’ve visited, every button you’ve ever clicked, then selling that data to another billion dollar corporation? Or the government. Maybe yours…or maybe someone else’s. (waves at Russia)
Full Disclosure: I’m a writer, so I always see disaster looming. Your mileage may vary.
♥ Stay safe out there! And have fun inside the books! ♥