Changes to BenTasker.co.uk

I've recently made a few changes to BenTasker.co.uk, with some more in the pipeline.

This post gives details on the changes made so far.

 

Bye Bye Google Analytics

Having Google Analytics on the site never really sat particularly well with me, it's yet more data being fed into Google's profiling systems.

However, the data it provides is useful to me as it helps me identify where users are coming from (and usually what search terms led them here) so that I can try and improve the site based on real-world data.

I provided the ability for users to disable Google Analytics on BenTasker.co.uk back in 2013, (and, in hindsight, should probably have collected some data on how often it was used). But that was only ever going to be of use to returning visitors (and even then, only those who noticed the privacy options on the left).

As of a few days ago, the Google Analytics tracking code has been removed from the site. Instead I'm using a self-hosted version of Piwik/Matomo (which, again, can be toggled off using the option on the left).

This allows me to continue to try and improve the site based on real-world data, without sending your information to Google in order to do so.

I've absolutely no interest in tracking individual users, as I only need fairly general data. So the following options are enabled within Matomo:

  • Mask IP Address - The last two octets of your IPv4 address are masked, so I'll only ever record the /16. IPv6 is similarly masked (the last two hextets)
  • Short retention of data - the anonymised logs are only retained for 6 months (this will likely shorten in future)
  • Do Not Track is respected
  • Self-Hosted - Your data is not being sent anywhere but to a server directly under my control, and will not knowingly be sent on to any third party.

The toggle on the left of this site will only disable Matomo on www.BenTasker.co.uk. If you want to disable it across all my domains you may do so here (will set a cookie to opt-out).

If any of the above remains a concern to you, I'd recommend installing an ad-blocker such as UBlock Origin and ensuring that your lists include trackers (Piwik is blocked by default in EasyList at time of writing). Whilst I can make every effort to protect your privacy on my domains, only a blocker can really protect you on the rest of the internet.

 

Code Snippets have a new home

Historically, I've posted even small code-snippets under my Documentation section. As the site has grown, it's made it harder for me to locate certain snippets. Although I make them publicly available, documentation I create has almost always been for my own reference/convenience.

A little while ago, I created a new site - snippets.bentasker.co.uk - to start housing the shorter examples. Essentially, just for the sort of thing you might put in a Gist on Github. That experiment has gone fairly well, and has simplified quickly locating certain things (though it's going to take quite some time to build up the snippets collection).

The new subdomain serves static HTML (I have a CLI based CMS for adding snippets) so loads far, far faster than my main site as it's not got Joomla! as a dependency. There's even a small Python based CLI for searching snippets, so that I can quickly search without needing to switch out of a terminal.

Larger documentation and write-ups will continue to be published into the Documentation section, but things like one-liners, function definitions and cheat sheets will now be published onto Snippets instead. Over time, some of the relevant material within the Documentation section will likely be copied over, but my current intention is to only do so as I find a need for things.

 

Future Changes

GDPR enforcement starts on May 26, so I've been reviewing how I hold and store data across my various services. At the same time, I've taken the opportunity to try and identify where other improvements can be made (especially if it makes GDPR compliance easier).

The downside is it means my GDPR documentation isn't quite ready yet, as I've been waylaid by things I've noticed, but it should result in some additional improvements being made soon.

 

 
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