Hints and Tips

Sometimes I write up some tips or hints. I've collected some here for your amusement.

Here are some hints



Scroll up for the full list of hints

Bypassing Page Counters

If you've ever visited a web page and been told "You've been here 5 times. Subscribe if you want to stay", you'll understand frustration. Everyone is in favor of paying for your services. After all, the owners of the page need to make a living too. Sometimes, however, we just can't afford to subscribe to ALL of them. A $15/month subscription if pretty high if you're going to look at 6 articles this month but might not return for 6 months.

Sites keep track of you in a couple of ways. The easiest is to use a Cookie. Cookies are bits of data that a site can hand to your browser. The browser will store that cookie. The next time you visit, the site can retrieve that cookie.

Here's an example. Suppose you visit whatsit.com. Whatsit will first look for a stored cookie called Page_visits. The site will remember that value as a variable. Call it "pagevisits". Now, if pagevisits is empty, they'll set pagevisits="feb17_0". Otherwise, it'll be the cookie value (like feb17_5). Then they break that variable down. If the first "word" is this month and this year, we know our visits is the second "word" (0 or 5). If the first word is last month, our visits is 0. The program adds 1 to the visits. If our visits is less than 5, we're good. If it's more than 5, we get redirected.

So far so good. Now, there is a new variable. This month plus this year, an _ and the new visits value (feb17_1). The program stores that value in a cookie that they can retrieve on your next visit.

So, in this case, all you have to do is clear the cookies for THIS site and you start over. Here's a thing to do that. To get started, drag and drop this bookmarklet to your browser’s favorites bar. Then go to the website you want to clear and hit the bookmarklet to reset your cookies.

Remove Cookies

Well, that works for cookies. However, there are other ways to keep the count. Instead of using cookies on YOUR computer, the site can get identifying information from your browser and store it on THEIR computer. We can't clear that. We can, however, hide our information so they have nothing to go on. All browsers have a "private" mode (Firefox) or "incognito" (Chrome). This mode doesn't release information to the sites you visit. When you see a link you want to visit, right click it and choose to open it in a private or incognito window. This will create a new browser window (not tab) that'll let you through.

Firefox

Chrome

That window should cover most everything. Have fun.