Browser tracking and digital advertising in the modern era

In the day job, I deal with a lot of interactions between members of the public and ourselves, and our partners. If you're in any way involved in working with user data, then you'll have heard about GDPR.

To be honest, this is quite a new world for me. Even though I've been working in web development for many many years, it's generally been in the business or corporate space where we're less concerned about these issues. What I've learned has really opened my eyes to exactly how you see those adverts tracking you around the internet and the huge amount of data that various providers know about you to be able to do it.

The video below is only 30 seconds long, and, to be honest, slightly underplays the number of companies that get to see your profile data as you browse around the internet. But it's a good grounding.

GDPR is going to shake up a lot of how this all works and I don't think there is really a plan for how internet advertising is going to work after May 2018, but, in the meantime it's worth visiting in the short term to see what's being tracked in your browser.

The service there is a voluntary one which the main players in digital media have signed up to. It allows you to opt out of being offered adverts by different providers. So, if you opt out of everything there, then, often you'll see far less advertising as you browse.

If you want a good grounding in the GDPR space, then Rene linked to an excellent set of pages offered by his employer, Salesforce.

XControls 1.7.0 Released

I've been most remiss in not talking more about the XControls project which lets you quickly build an application that will run on desktop, iOS and Android with as little coding required as possible.

It's the little open source project that just keeps rolling along. As and when I get the chance, I'll have a blast through the Github issues list and put out a new version. Today has been one of those days where I've fixed a few bugs, added a few changes and released it to the website, and OpenNTF.

If you'd like any assistance in getting started with XControls or, indeed, if you'd like an application created, then please do drop me a line.

Jade / Bootstrap pagination mixin

I've been working on a new node.js application for the last few weeks. It uses LDC Via as a back end, but that is by the by. On the front end I am rendering HTML using Jade and Bootstrap

As I have the need to display quite a lot of data, I'm using Bootstrap pagination and had need to make a re-usable "mixin" that I can insert into many different pages. There are a few examples out there on t'internet that do this, but none that did exactly what I needed, so I've created by own.

To use it you just enter something like this in your Jade template:

- var pages = 10
- var currentpage = 3
+pagination(1, pages, currentpage, '/index/')

And you end up with a pagination control that looks like this:

Superb fix for high DPI problems with Notes and Windows

If you are running a PC with a high resolution screen (pretty much any high end laptop these days for example), you'll have experienced the issue where the scaling of text, images and icons in the Notes and Designer clients is awful to the point of being unusable.

Dan Anonielli has come up with a solution which seems to work very well for me at least: 

The basic idea is that when an application launches, Windows asks it if it is high DPI aware. Notes (well Eclipse), claims that it is and so Windows believes it and we get the resulting mess. But with the new registry entry mentioned in the blog above, we tell Windows to first look for an external manifest file that can override this default. So we can tell Windows that Notes is not high DPI aware and so Windows handles the scaling for us. 

It's not a perfect solution, but until Eclipse / IBM come up with something better then it's a good fix.

Edit 23rd May 2016:  I had cause to come and revisit this issue thanks to a customer and found that the solution above didn't always work and I couldn't find the reason. However, if you install 9.0.1 FP4 or higher then you should find that things are a lot better than they were. Still not perfect, but usable at least.