Third party trackers are killing the Internet

Open any news or entertainment website in a background tab. While you’re waiting for it to load feel free to read this rant.

Third Party Advertising and Trackers Are Killing The Internet

Sitepoint wrote in 2015 that page weights increased to over 2 megabytes. The New York Times analyzed editorial vs non editorial content on news sites that same year and discovered that mobile plans would cost a user nearly $10 a month to load one website’s homepage daily.

Lonestar - Take only what you need to survive
Take only what you need to survive

Content providers insist they need these advertising services to remain profitable and naturally, I disagree. The creft of junk visitors experience increase abandon rate and make them less likely to visit again. Especially when bombarded by the same poorly targeted ads over and over.. and over.

Audit your website

  • Check your typical download statistics. (DuckDuckGo search)
  • Verify what third party services you need to operate. Do you really need social network sharing buttons? Google Analytics? Is that third party ad service actually making you money?
  • Make a list of what you need and remove what you don’t.
Welcome to real life.

Chances are these services are as much a drain on your audience as they are on your bottom line. Take only what you need to survive and focus on what really matters. Your site is better without that industrial strength hair dryer.

Pandora Radio on Linux

Pandora Radio running in Firefox 51.0.1 on Peppermint 7
Pandora Radio running in Firefox 51.0.1 in Peppermint 7
htop and pianobar running in the terminal
htop and pianobar running in the Peppermint terminal.

I’ve been a paid Pandora Radio subscriber for years and love the service. Their website has always been a sour point because it sucks up CPU resources. Things have improved and their recent redesign completely ditched any need for Adobe Flash (it’s about time).

htop and firefox running Pandora Radio
htop and firefox running Pandora Radio.

Running Pandora Radio in the background while at the computer is now a habit, Last year I logged thousands of hours at work, home and in the car.

creating a config file in nano
creating a config file in nano

My solution for keeping CPU resources down has always been  Pianobar an extemely lightweight terminal client thats easy to set up and use.

Download it from your repository. In Ubuntu its easy.

sudo apt-get install pianobar

Then create a .config folder in your user folder if it doesen’t already exist. In there create a pianobar folder.

Within that folder create a file named config and provide your account info using a text editor such as nano. This will allow you to bypass logging in and selecting a station each time pianobar runs.

user = your user email address goes here
password = password goes here
audio_quality = mp3-hifi
autostart_station = station number from url goes here

Then open your terminal and type pianobar at the prompt.

Once running you can view the help menu by typing a ?

+    love song
–    ban song
a    add music to station
c    create new station
d    delete station
e    explain why this song is played
g    add genre station
h    song history
i    print information about song/station
j    add shared station
n    next song
p    pause/resume playback
q    quit
r    rename station
s    change station
t    tired (ban song for 1 month)
u    upcoming songs
x    select quickmix stations
b    bookmark song/artist
(    decrease volume
)    increase volume
=    delete seeds/feedback
v    create new station from song or artist
P    resume playback
S    pause playback
^    reset volume
!    change settings

Terminals not your thing? Pithos is just as awesome.

Tricia Helfer as Caprica Six
Tricia Helfer as Caprica Six

Oh, if you’re wondering about the wallpaper.

An open letter to online advertisers

Today I disabled Privacy Badger for a few hours while browsing the Los Angeles Times and even though I’m logged in and subscribe to their print and digital editions I was bombarded with a relentless attack of adverstisements as well as meaningless popups asking me to subscribe.

While Privacy Badger was disabled I experienced

  • Hijacked CPU cores to maintain agressive trackers and advertisements.
  • Annoying audio and video advertisements.
  • Flash advetisements frequently crashing.
  • Advertisements covering the article as I read asking me to subscribe. (I should point out that I’m subscribed logged in.)
  • A sluggish website viewing experience that hyjacked my entire browser.

After re-enabling Privacy Badger

  • CPU is now idle
  • Agressive advertisements blocked. Responsible advertisements are visible
  • Flash advertisements turned off
  • Fake news 3rd party advertisements on almost every page.
  • No pop-ups
  • Website experience became smooth and enjoyable.

Please advertise responsibly

I use Privacy Badger for one simple reason. Online is out of control. publishers, editors, and designers owe it to their readers to create a pleasant reading experience.

  • Don’t track us
  • Don’t advertise meaningless crap (fake news and other spam)
  • Don’t rely on Flash
  • Host ads that don’t track us, provide them locally on the same servers as your website’s content
  • Stop focing agressive advertising technicques

Privacy Badger is not an ad blocker but it does disable 3rd party trackers. Please advertise responsibly, especially if you’d like to maintain me as a subscriber.