Archive for January, 2015

Quick Image Creation Hack On A Mac

Saturday, January 31st, 2015

It’s a cold Saturday morning, and my friend, noted author, volunteer firefighter and techno aesthete John Sundman posted the following Twitter query.

Ah ha! A question with an answer I stumbled on a few days ago.

To make a quick image, like a banner, out of similarly sized images on a recent Mac, here’s a quick hack.

1) Determine the size of your image. For the purposes of this exercise, let’s use 600 x 200px.

2) Open up a blank page in whatever easy text editing program you prefer. Myself, I prefer Taco HTML Edit.
Empty Taco HTML Edtor Window

3) In the text editing program, take a screenshot (CMD + SHIFT + 4) of an image in a size roughly approximate to your desired image size.

4) Rename the blank screenshot to something easy to remember. Perhaps, mybanner.png.
Renaming To My Banner

5) Open the blank screenshot (mybanner.png) in Preview.app.

6) Resize the blank screenshot to your desired image size (Tools > Adjust Size), in this case 600 x 200px. Save your resized image.
Resizing the Banner in Preview.app

7) Open the other images you wish to work with in Preview.app, edit them as desired, and Copy + Paste the images into your blank screenshot (mybanner.png).

8) Continue editing and don’t forget to save your work!

Healthcare.gov 3rd Party URL Referrer Real Talk

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

So yesterday, just before the State of the Union speech, a poorly detailed story was released about how Healthcare.gov is sharing visitor data with various 3rd party services.

What is happening is that Healthcare.gov uses a quick and dirty parameter search (age, zip code, certain status) for the initial search for health insurance plans. That URL with the personalized parameters can be passed as a referrer URL to the external services (analytics, testing, image serving, etc.) the Web site uses.

I looked at Healthcare.gov last night and saw the same behavior. As a long time online marketer, I can confirm this behavior is NOT unique to healthcare.gov and THIS URL REFERRING BEHAVIOR CAN AND DOES happen elsewhere on nearly every modern Web site. In fact, I’ve written about it extensively on this very site.

Aside from the status parameters used in the particular site search, any webmaster can see what you searched for on a Web site site, and what your IP address is and other client information.

Healthcare.gov 3rd Party Services as of January 20 2015
Full Size View

Where the pearl clutching should happen (Note to journalists: There are places to look *hint* *hint*) as there are some legitimate questions as to why certain 3rd party services are being used on the site or why the search is executed the way it is and/or URL parameters aren’t obscured (I’d have to think the site creators were afraid of a site performance hit on the latter).

Update: A few days after the brouhaha, Healthcare.gov started obscuring the URL parameters. As of this writing, Zip Code is still intact in the URL, but your IP address gives webmasters that information anyway. Here’s a screenshot of the new URL.

healthcaregov obscured url

Quick Facebook Non-Public Profile Setting

Sunday, January 4th, 2015

If you’re a Facebook user, at some point, you’ll want to evaluate how public your individual Facebook profile is. There are three types of settings you can choose - Public (default), Hide Your Profile From Search Engines and Hide Certain Parts of Your Public Profile*.

Here’s the official Facebook instructions to hide your profile from search engines: What should I do if I don’t want search engines to link to my profile?

And this is how your profile will appear if you’ve chosen NO (Hide Your Profile From Search Engines).

No Public Facebook Profile

*These section settings are configurable by editing individual sections of your Facebook profile.