Cookies and you: An update

The EU cookie law goes into effect May 26. This is a great law because finally, all privacy issues will be permanently eradicated from the internet.

If there was ever an example of politicians really "getting" the internet, it would be this. The law requires that you list on your web site all of the cookies that get set by your web site, and the purpose of each cookie. Not even session cookies, or Javascript cookies that are never sent anywhere but simply used as boolean "flags", are exempt; and this makes sense, because cookies of this nature are infamous in hacker circles for their unparalleled ability to steal your credit card, read your email, and sleep with your wife. The law also requires you to get "opt in" permission from a visitor before any cookies can be set. Redirecting every visitor to a page with this information and the ability to opt in to cookies is a great solution, because every additional step between a visitor and a conversion increases revenue by 10x, according to a study from AreYouFreakingKiddingMe, LLC.

We just updated our privacy policy to list all of the cookies that may get set by your site if you have Clicky installed on it, in case you need it. If this law applies to your web site, we're sorry, but you can either explain all of this to your visitors and let them opt in, or follow the instructions here to disable cookies.

We've had the option to disable cookies in tracking for a while, however that was created back when we only had one cookie ("the" tracking cookie). Since then we have added several more, whose purpose is to make the code more efficient and save resources on our end from deactivated/non-paying site (these being the session/boolean cookies mentioned above). Up until now, disabling cookies had no effect on these extra cookies. Because they were never sent to us, we didn't think it would matter. And it shouldn't. But now it does. Our tracking code has been updated so all cookies will be disabled now when this option is set (except one, but that will only be set for sites that are no longer using Clicky but still have the code installed, which is against our terms of service).

UPDATE: A user pointed out that Cloudflare still sets a cookie. We use them for our CDN (static.getclicky.com). Their wiki says that cookies cannot be disabled. We have reached out to them for their plans regarding this law and will update you when we know more.

UPDATE: Interestingly, the BBC, one of the biggest UK web sites, specifically states on their new cookie settings page that they embed third party items such as Youtube and Flickr that set cookies and that these are beyond their control so those cookies will still be set no matter how they decide about cookies served directly by BBC. Does this mean that sites embedding third party content or services, such as Clicky, are exempt from having to worry about these kinds of cookies? Who knows, but it's interesting.
17 comments |   May 22 2012 3:47pm

Database server migrations over the next couple of weeks

We're migrating to a new server infrastructure over the next couple of weeks, which means all of our database servers will be finding new homes. While any given database server is being migrated, traffic processing will be halted, but the server will still be online so you can view existing data. Once the files have been copied, it will need to be taken offline for 10-20 minutes while some rsync'ing magic finishes everything up, then it will be brought back online with its new hardware. At this point it will be anywhere from 30 - 120 minutes behind real time, and traffic processing will then resume.

Anything that interrupts traffic processing is something we'd always prefer to do on the weekend. However, we can only do 2-4 servers per day and we have almost 50 database servers, so that would severely slow down the process. So, we are going to be doing it on weekdays too, and expect it to take 2-3 weeks total. But it will be worth it!
4 comments |   Mar 26 2012 5:09pm

Android Widget (beta)

We're releasing a beta of our Android widget today. It should work on any phone running Android 2.0 or higher.

There are three widgets to choose from, depending on your needs. You can setup one or more widgets for every site in your account. The widgets are very battery friendly, even when set to pull every 5 minutes. I've been testing it for several months now with very aggressive settings and it's had zero impact on my battery life.

Why a widget and not a full blown app? We don't believe our resources are best spent maintaining an app that tries to do (almost) everything our web site does. Apps are much costlier to write and keep up to date. We are constantly adding new features and reports and tracking new types of data, etc. A simple widget living on your desktop (still one of my favorite Android features) that lets you keep up with your basic stats with a quick glance, with a few more details available when you click the widget (as shown here), fits the bill perfectly for us.

Handy dandy installation guide

  1. Since this is a beta, we're not releasing it through the official marketplace just yet. So you'll need to enable the option to install apps from "unknown sources" in order to install this on your phone.

    - Android 4.0+, go to Settings -> Security -> Unknown sources (checkbox).
    - Android 2.0+, go to Settings -> Applications -> Unknown sources (see a small guide here)

  2. Download this file onto your phone!

  3. Once completed, click the item in your notification bar (screenshot) and install.

  4. Setup a widget! The first time you do this, it will prompt for your username and password but you'll only have to do that once.

    Important note: Widgets don't have icons you click to open them up like standard apps do. Instead, you must install the widget onto your Android desktop before it can be used.

    In Android 4.0+, there is a new dedicated widgets area in your app drawer, so go into there and long-press on the widget you want, then place it on the desktop. Older versions of Android, you'll need to long-press on your desktop until a menu pops up, then select "widgets" then find Clicky. There are three widgets to choose from.

  5. Android 4.0 potential installation bug - sometimes, on Android 4.0, you have to install the downloaded file twice before it will show up in your widget drawer. This only happens on 4.0 and only sometimes, we're not sure what causes it yet, but if you don't see the widget after installing it, install it again and it will show up.


That's all there is to it. As mentioned above, you can add one or more widgets to your desktop for every site in your account, and data is pulled in a very battery friendly manner.

This is a beta so we want your feedback and bug reports. We hope to have an official release on the marketplace within 1 month!

22 comments |   Mar 20 2012 11:50am

blogspot tracking issue

[Update: This has been fixed!]

On Friday, Google appears to have made a change that's affecting tracking for blogspot.com hosted sites. A significant portion of our userbase is tracking blogspot.com sites so we want to get this figured out as fast as possible.

The issue is strange. The majority of people saying tracking broke, it's only affecting visitors from Germany. This raises a red flag to me, as I know Germany has strict privacy laws. Google may have agreed to block third party scripts from loading for people who visit blogspot.com sites and live in Germany. That's a stretch but... who knows.

Another possibility is that Google is "forcing" their dynamic view templates on visitors in certain countries now, either as a test or that's just the way it is. I know that it is not possible to track blogspot sites that use this new format, so that would explain it. However it seems strange Google would do such a thing, especially without publicly announcing it first. The last post on their blog was 3 weeks ago.

The frustrating thing is that everyone who has contacted us, I've gone to their site and verified the code is still installed. I click around on multiple pages, then view their visitor report on Clicky and verify every page I viewed was logged correctly. So everything seems fine. The code is there. I get tracked. But the stats for all of these sites are definitely way off compared to last week, so yes, something is wrong - but it's not on our end.

And of course, there's no way to contact Google about this, other than praying they see this post.

Does anyone know what is going on or have any ideas?
8 comments |   Mar 19 2012 12:40pm

Filter visitors by time spent online

We've had the ability to filter by actions, e.g. exactly 10, or greater than 10, or less than 10, for quite a while now, but we didn't have the same things for time spent online. Also, we didn't have double boundary support, e.g. more than 10 AND less than 20, which means we couldn't link to these filters directly from our engagement reports, something that has always driven me crazy (and you too, based on the emails we've received).

All of this is now fixed. It also works with the API, and the docs have been updated.

Time online is specified in seconds. Formats for both parameters are specified as shown below, if you are manually typing one in to filter by, or using the API:

10 = exactly 10
>10 = more than 10
<10 = less than 10
10,20 = range of 10 through 20 (including 10 and 20)

0 comments |   Mar 16 2012 4pm

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