“’C’ is for ‘cookie’,” sang Cookie Monster on Sesame Street many years ago, “it’s good enough for me.” Cookie Monster would be disappointed to learn, however, that billions of the world’s cookies are not only inedible, but exist only as small files on people’s computer hard drives. These are web cookies, provided by the web sites that you visit. Like most Internet technologies, they can be immensely useful tools or dangerous infringements on your privacy. Here’s a summary of what cookies are, the difference between bad and good cookies, and how to protect yourself from the bad ones.
How do you know if your web site is legal? Well, if you aren’t engaged in some criminal enterprise, such as tearing the tags off of pillows (you know, the ones that say “NOT LEGAL TO REMOVE THIS TAG”), that’s a good sign. Even then, however, you could be on the wrong side of intellectual property (IP) law, if you aren’t careful.
What is IP? Essentially, it boils down to valuable (or potentially valuable) creations of the mind, such as inventions and creative expression (art, music, books, even this blog post). In the U.S. there are laws that protect the owners of IP. The three types of IP in the U.S. are copyrights, trademarks, and patents.
In 1999, the Mars Climate Orbiter, a satellite that was to study Martian atmosphere and climate, disintegrated and crashed on the red planet. Upon investigation, NASA found that one piece of software was communicating using English units (inches, feet, pounds), and another piece of software that received these data was expecting metric units (kilograms, meters, Newtons). The root cause of the disaster, as with so many human-caused disasters, was poor communication and bad assumptions.
Web site projects usually are not as costly as Mars missions, but they can be derailed just as easily by poor communication. Here are some ways to keep the communication lines open so that web development projects are completed on time and to the satisfaction of all stakeholders.
Gather ’round, children, and hear the story of a once-great communication technology that has all but disappeared from the Internet. For those of you who have forgotten, or are too young to remember, it was called RSS, which, depending on whom you asked, stood for Rich Site Summary, RDF Site Summary, or Really Simple Syndication.
With a piece of software called a feed reader, you could subscribe to RSS feeds from various sources – news sites, blogs, podcasters, video providers, and more – and receive summaries of new content automatically as soon as they were published. No more making the daily rounds of your favorite websites to get your information – the information came to you.
You Design. We Code.