Category Archives: web2.0

Easy ways to sign out from Amazon, eBay, others

Ed Foster has discovered that it is very difficult to sign out from big companies’ websites. Yes, it is true when staying within the website’s rules. But it is dead easy otherwise.

The important thing to remember is that your identity is most of the times stored in the browser cookies. So, if you kill cookies, the session will go away and your identity will go away.

The easiest (but most destructive way) is to delete all cookies. With Firefox, this is the menu item Tools/Clear Private Data (Control-Shift-Del); on Internet Explorer 6, it is Tools/Internet Options/General/Delete Cookies.

The problem of course is that it all your login information for all the websites. Of course, if you were shopping on a public computer, that’s the best course of action anyway.

WebDev’s cookies menuWith Firefox, there is a much more precise way to delete the cookies. It comes with the Web Developer Extension – and cookie management is just one of that extension’s invaluable options. Once the extension is installed, it shows up as a toolbar. Cookies is a submenu on the left with a whole host of different options.

Using the extension, the easiest way to delete cookies is then to go Cookies/Delete Domain Cookies while on the target (Amazon, eBay, etc) website. This will delete all cookies set by that site and on the page refresh you will be a totally anonymous customer.

Advanced user’s notes

The above works in nearly all cases. Some websites get a bit sneaky and set Flash cookies instead. This is mostly done by websites such as YouTube, but for some reason images.amazon.com sets one as well. Deleting those can be done via Adobe’s Flash Player Settings Manager, which is actually a web page with specialised Flash application that shows cookies and allows to clear them.

Finally, deleting the cookie does not mean the website cannot track you otherwise. Google for example, will apparently use your IP address to correlate searches even across multiple sessions. It is not the same issue as keeping you logged-in, so I am only mentioning it in the wider privacy context.

Not so progressive JavaScript enhancement

As part of The Rich Web Experience, Fairmont hotel – where the conference is held – offers free WiFi. You have to enter username/password on the first post-connect page and then it unlocks browsing capabilities.

I love WiFi. I have an HP PocketPC that has WiFi built in. I was fully prepared to read my mail, do research and upload photos. Alas, that was not to be!

The WiFi protection form that collects the username and password uses javascript to submit the form with the submit button being an image with onClick handler. My PocketPC does not do JavaScript, or at least JavaScript they used. Therefore, I was not able to get past the login screen and actually use the WiFi.

I find this extremely ironic given that half of the talks at the conference is about Progressive Enhancement, Hajax and other ways to insure that the base functionality works even with JavaScript disabled. In my eyes, ability to submit a two-field form is pretty base.

The Rich Web Experience – day 1

I am currently at The Rich Web Experience 2007 conference. It is interesting to compare it to JavaOne conferences I have been to in the past.

To start, RWE is much smaller. It is about 400 people as compared to 15 thousands at JavaOne. This obviously makes scheduling logistics and eating arrangements simpler, but there is also a very different feel in the air. It feels that it is much harder to walk around without bumping into speakers and/or other moderately famous web people. At JavaOne, it is all about learning, here it is more like sharing.

Another interesting thing I noticed is that a lot more people than I expected were coming from Java server side background. In fact, we had a round of introductions at Web design Birds-Of-Feather session and more than half of the  people in the room had some (often strong) background in Java. To me, this is a great sign as it shows that the path I am taking (adding HTML/CSS/JavaScript to my Java skills)  has already been done by multiple people before without too many problems.

I have gone to the following sessions:

  1.  Secure application development with Ajax (by Dean H. Saxe)  – The presentation itself was great and covered interesting topic in details. I did not understand all of the advanced concepts and consequences, but the core message was very clear and the slides give enough hints and terms to do further research on my own. I would have liked a more detailed example (e.g. ‘This is why SOP is not applicable’ ), but overall it was great.
  2. Merging Ajax and Accessibility (by Mark Meeker) – Another great presentation. I heard before that designing for accessibility actually has beneficial side-effects of increased general usability and better design practices, but it was good to see it confirmed with large commercial sites. Mark also had great examples and talked about Hijax a bit as a way of building accessibility into the process, rather than trying to bolt it on at the end.
  3. Web Design for Server-Side Developers (by Greg Murray) – This one I have found somewhat disappointing. I knew that covering good HTML, CSS, Javascript,  modular design and supporting tools in one presentation might have been too ambitious.  Still, I was looking forward to some sort of high-level view consistent story tying together the bits together with some best practices thrown in. Unfortunately, Greg was not able to deliver that. He spent too much time jumping between the topics. He also talked about jMaki’s  implementation a lot. That might have been useful, but given that some very important issues (Internationalisation, classes vs. IDs, etc) were still not implemented correctly (by Greg’s own admission), I felt jMaki was not yet ready to be shown as an example of best practices.
  4. Web design/architecture Birds-Of-Feather session with Aaron Gustafson, David Verba and couple of others. It was actually interesting, because I sat with them at the dinner table without realising who they were. But you could see they were really smart and interesting, even in their unstaged moments. True geeks, in the good sense of the word. The session itself was a very interesting discussing and somehow I even managed to hog the floor for a while with my questions. Hopefully, it did not annoy too many people.

I am looking forward to the second day.