Cookie management

So, if you read the post from yesterday, you probably realized that there was a flaw in that process. Even though Consent-O-Matic gets rid of that extra click in your browser for you, the cookies are still set on your computer.

In some cases, a lot of cookies. Ideally, they are there to improve your browsing experience but let’s face it. Unlike the good ones that remember that you’re logged in and have preferences for a site, they majority of them are used to follow your actions on the internet to “improve your browsing experience” which typically means that a profile is being built to deliver good advertising for you!

Since I do a lot of random news reading in the morning before the dog gets up, I’ve always wondered what my profile actually looks like. “This guy is weird and doesn’t appear to have a pattern.” Is random stuff a pattern?

Often, when I’m following a link or concept and I remember, I’ll open a Private or Incognito Mode window to visit the site knowing that when that window is closed, so are the associated cookies. It is a bit of a kludge if I’m doing a lot of reading so I was pleased when I found a better solution in the form of yet another extension.

Cookie-AutoDelete is a sweet little extension. It does just what its name implies. When you visit a site, cookies are set as per normal but when you move away from that site, the cookies are deleted.

Now, if all it did was the above, it would be frustrating because there are some sites that you visit all the time and it would be helpful just to keep those cookies. You’re covered here; Cookie-AutoDelete allows you to whitelist sites.

Obviously, WordPress is a website that I visit regularly so it only makes sense to Whitelist it to avoid having to log in every time I visit to set a login cookie.

It took me a bit to get the hang of it. Now, it’s like second nature, if I’m visiting an email or social media account, I’ll Whitelist it so that there’s continuity of being logged in. For others that I might visit once just to read the news or something, it’s cleaned out when I leave.

When I first installed the extension, I deleted all the browser cookies to start fresh with the thought that I would just accumulate those from sites that I use regularly and clean the rest.

I do have notifications from the extension enabled; there’s something good about reading a message indicating that a bunch of cookies have been deleted when I leave a site. There may come a time when I find that a bit too noisy and I’ll turn it off but, for the moment, it’s kind of neat to see.

Taming GDPR

When the concept of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) was announced, I think most people felt that there would be more openness and safety in web browsing. At least in the European Union.

We’ve all run across those requests for permissions before you visit a website. In the beginning, I was kind of interested in the sites that gave you the most information and asked to see the complete information about what information they were requesting. In some cases, it was a complete deluge of information and quite honestly, I didn’t know most of them.

As time went on, this became annoying. Finally, I decided to do something about it and that’s where I found Consent-O-Matic.

You like websites to respect your right to privacy, and your browser clears cookies when you close it. Consequently, you get the same cookie-consent box each and every time you visit the same websites. And you got tired of submitting the same information over and over. If only there was a way to automate your way out of this pickle? Lucky for you, Consent-O-Matic exists.

Consent-O-Matic is available from the Chrome store here and Mozilla here.

It seems to work as advertised. There comes a time when your mind becomes numb analysing the data that a web site wants to collect and you essentially have to agree to give it up anyway if you want in. Consent-O-Matic takes the mindless clicking of consent away.

If you get tired of giving approvals, you might just find this the answer.

The worst of the worst are the third party cookies and browser developers have given you the option of turning them off in the browser already. If you haven’t checked in a while, you might want to look at your settings to ensure that they are still unallowed.

Little help please?

I guess this is a plea for a little bit of help from my learned followers. From 5-6 in the morning, I devote my time to coffee, cereal, and some reading. (Except on Friday mornings)

My go-to reading involves a couple of local news sources and then I’m off to see what’s new in a variety of scenarios. My app for that has been Flipboard where I have over 170 categories that have caught my interest over time. The top group sits on top of the screen.

You can see that I’ve customized it over the years for my interests. There’s a big list that’s available from a waffle menu and “For You” seems to pull top stories from there.

Of course, I enjoy reading stories from all over the world but do try to focus on things Canadian and from Ontario. (One of the other categories not show here included Windsor / Essex County)

I’m nothing, if not fickle, at times.

I recently upgraded the Firefox web browser and once again it was promoting Pocket which it has acquired. It’s got an interesting integration right into the new tab of Firefox.

And to its credit, it does pull some interesting stories but I found that it’s important to check the date as they’re not all recent. I’d like to have some control over what appears, notably Canadian content. I’m hoping that it will learn when I pick Canadian stories so that it will show more of them to me. I hope that they’re random and interesting but from Canada.

How to find those Canadian stories is the next step. There is an option to Explore content and an interesting assortment is provided.

I’m not particularly fond of more of the “C” word that it offers. These topics aren’t selectable permanently; clicking opens a page of content related to the topic. I like that.

But, I’d also like to add the option of giving me Canadian and Ontario stuff. I can’t find it; and to me, that’s a show stopper for making this a permanent place for morning reading.

Now, I’m honest enough to let you know that I’ll accept humility if someone could come forward and tell me how to configure it for what I’m looking for. I like the integration into the browser but to be honest, I still have a tab open and devoted to Flipboard for my daily motivation.

Little help here?

Private relay

Man, this is a utility that I could have used a long time ago and still wish I could use it today.

Today, it would be nice for all teachers to have access as well.

How many times have you signed up for a newsletter, download a piece of software, or wanted access to a web service and you’re asked to provide your email address? All the time, right? Then, in a lot of cases, you do your evaluation of things and decide that you’re no longer interested. But, the email keeps on coming. Sometimes, it’s even begging you to return. Or the worst, your original request to be removed was honoured but your email address has been sold to another entity who are bombarding your mailbox with something else.

Now, I have no hesitation whatsoever with someone that offers me a service, I like it, and I want to support it. It’s the abuse of my email address being used for something else that really bothers me.

Like most people, I have a few different email addresses for different purposes, including software testing.

In this day and age though, there are a lot of teachers looking for new and exciting ways to engage students and they’re trying out alternatives, only to find themselves on a never-ending mailing list. There are well-intentioned people that are providing links to this and links to that but, more often than not, an email address is required to access things.

Mozilla has announced a new service called Private Relay that may very well help you out in your quest to find the next great thing. The concept seems simple enough; whenever you visit a website that wants an email address, this extension will generate a “burner” email address on the fly.

This helps you meet the requirement that you provide an email address to access things and keeps you in touch with the server and your real email address safe.

While we could use this service right now, sadly it’s still in testing and you have to be invited to the party to be able to use it.

But, the concept really excites me. It’s definitely something that I would put to good use so I’m going to keep my eyes on the formal release to the general public.

And, the best thing, is that this project is open source which means that anyone can look at the code. Check it out here.

In the meantime, be wary of websites that offers lists of “great resources”. It’s easy to say, here’s a link, here’s a link, … The real value comes when the list maker gives you an indication of grade level and curriculum expectations that can be addressed by using the resource. Perhaps they should also give an indication if an email address is required in order to access that resource. That would help you protect your online identity and that’s always a good thing.

I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts about providing an email address to online services. Do you have a safety strategy? Would this service from Mozilla be of use to you? Why or why not?

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

First off …

Today marks a day of rotating strike action by ETFO members in the following districts:

  • Peel District School Board
  • Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board

Details here.

Good Friday morning and the end to January. Will you be groundhogging in class today or Monday or just take a pass this year? I do have a Flipboard collection of resources here.

Check out some of the great posts from Ontario Edubloggers that I’ve enjoyed recently.

Listening to Reflections

Earlier this week, my friend Colleen Rose tagged me in a Twitter message looking for assistance…

So, sure, I shared it. The responses were amazing. It showed how powerful a learning network can be. You may wish to follow that discussion chain if you’re interested in collecting or affirming ideas.

Wouldn’t you expect the same results when working with students online?

Melanie White tried this past semester and shared some of her results from watching students reflecting on their experiences with a social justice focus. It wasn’t positive in all cases and Melanie shares at least some of the details.

Her conclusion?

It is the outcome of my work that matters. I must listen and learn and do better and repeat.

It’s sad that she had to endure this but let’s hope that she refines her approach and doesn’t give up completely. There can be so much value when it does work.

Slice of Life: Old Habits

I had to smile a bit as I read Lisa Corbett’s post about writing a paper for a course that she’s taking. I’m guessing that it’s in education and I remember some of the requirements and resources for papers that I’ve researched and had to write in the past. At times, there aren’t enough Os in boring. Such begins her story.

To assist, she turned to a tool that so many people use with students. I’ve done many a workshop on graphic organisers so it’s like second nature to me. I use an organiser here all the time for blog posts, my TWIOE show, and shopping lists among other things. I have such an exciting life. For the most part, like Lisa did, I tend to use either a Google document or a Microsoft OneNote document to do the deed. They work so well.

You’ve got to love the openness that she has for the writing/organising process and her thoughts about the hamburger approach to writing. We all learned how to write using this approach. How we’ve moved on in a digital world. Hamburger takes on a new and different meaning!

Thanks, Lisa – I needed some excuse for a graphic for this post!

Qu’est-ce qui fait d’un leader un leader ?

So, what’s your superpower?

Think for a second. We all have one or more.

Recently, Joel McLean listened to a podcast “What makes a superhero a superhero?” He then drew a parallel to leadership. “What makes a leader a leader?”

I thought it to be an interesting and appropriate comparison for Joel’s work. So often in education, leaders are appointed based upon some superhuman leadership ability. The question becomes “when was the last time that they actually used it?”

Is it a matter of increased workload that shoves this backwards or is it complacently that they’ve risen to their desired level?

But, let’s not overlook the fact that there are people who assume leadership positions and maintain or enhance their superpowers. It’s easy to identify those that don’t, but let’s also celebrate those that do well and continue to grow. Especially those who recognize those that know they can’t do it alone.

YouTube versus Text Instructions

Bottom line – I hope that Joan Vinall-Cox got her invitations for the party out in time. I didn’t get mine but wasn’t really expecting one ….

I’ve been working with getting the some of my contacts into a label so I can connect Evite to it for a future party. This led to a couple of important learning experiences.

In order to get the job done, Joan had to learn how to perform a new task with the contacts in her address book. She had a couple of options:

  • read a set of instructions
  • watch a YouTube video about how to do it

Personally, I find myself in this situation all the time. I almost always opt for a text instruction.

Why? (don’t hate me) I don’t read the entire document. I skim until I get to the salient part and then move on. I don’t opt for the video option because they can be so time consuming – advertising, attempts at jokes, fast forwarding is a challenge since you don’t know how far ahead to fast forward!

In Joan’s case, she was frustrated with text and found a perfect video that showed her exactly what she needed. I’m now wondering, based on her experience, if I need to open my mind to a new approach.

A caveat to both approaches though – some of the available stuff is outdated. The internet isn’t really good about keeping things up to date at times.

What’s in my Reading Pile?

Teacher-librarians are an amazing group of people.

Diana Maliszewski is off to the OLA Superconference this week but still managed to find time for her weekly blog post. In this case, a list of things that she’s reading.

Look for a title, ISBN number, and her rationale for why she is planning to read each book. It’s a nice collection. You might find her openness helpful in your own professional life.

I couldn’t help but note the difference in our reading styles. I like to read, yes, but I like to go cover to cover and only then on to the next book. Diana has a number on the go simultaneously.

I can’t imagine doing that myself; she obviously has a far better reading mind than I do.

Checklists and Independent Fridays

This post is an interesting approach to try and turn the tables, on the dreaded Friday, from unproductive to productive by giving Grade 8 students control over their own timeline.

Kelly McLaughlin, on the ETFO Heart and Art blog, shares an approach that makes Monday through Thursday more or less traditional in her plans and then makes Friday a day of “I.W.” or Independent Work. The concept revolves around students creating their own schedule for the day and the use of sticky notes to keep track.

I shuddered when I saw sticky notes because that’s how messages are passed around this house. But, in Kelly’s case, it’s a technique for managing productivity and effort – I couldn’t help but think it was just another form of graphic organiser.

It’s an interesting read. Would this approach work in your classroom?

Fence me in!

From Cal Armstrong’s new blogging site comes Cal’s latest revelation and it’s actually not OneNote related! It deals with a feature of the Firefox browser.

Cal has discovered and now exploited a feature that currently sets Firefox apart from the rest of the browser field in the Facebook protection game. It’s called Fences and Firefox basically promises that whatever happens on Facebook when you’re using Firefox stays in that tab. Your identity isn’t shared across any of the other tabs that you might have open. And who only has one tab open these days?

Further, Cal has discovered that Firefox comes packaged but you can create your own fenced in areas for anywhere you want.

The post is a nice read showing how he discovered this and then how he applied his new found knowledge to take the concept even further, thus taking control of things. Who doesn’t want to do that?

And, yet another terrific week of great reading.

Please take the time to enjoy all of these posts by clicking through and visitng them directly.

Then, follow these people on Twitter.

  • Melanie White – @WhiteRoomRadio
  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261
  • Joan Vinall-Cox – @joanvinallcox
  • Joel Mclean – @jprofnb
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL
  • Kelly McLaughlin
  • Cal Armstrong – @sig225

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