Package Tracker

This time of year everyone is ordering lots of things online. More often times than not, your packages are delivered by multiple carriers: FedEx, UPS, DHL, USPS. How do you keep track of what is being delivered when?

Arrive is a service/app that makes answering that question super easy! Simply download the app (iOS only), grant access to your email account and that’s it. The service will automatically scan your emails, look for new shipment notifications and add the package, estimated delivery date AND a thumbnail of what you ordered (i.e. a picture of tennis shoes or earrings) in a seamless view. Every time you open the app, the status is refreshed.

Watch Arrive in action below.

Behavioral Advertising

338207-browser-wars-browser-wars-chrome-vs-ie-vs-firefoxLet’s get to the nitty gritty here – What is behavioral advertising? It basically means that “someone” analyzes your the things you do online (i.e. clicking on a certain link or visiting a certain site) to gain information about you (and your behavior) in an attempt to advertise their services or products. For example, let’s say you go to Nordstrom’s website and search for a handbag. You find one you like, then click on it – it’s a pink handbag. After looking at the pics or maybe reading the reviews, you decide it’s not the right handbag for you. A few minutes later, you visit Facebook and miraculously, you see that same pink purse (and maybe other similar pink purses) highlighted in the “Things you might like” section or in the ads on the side of the page. How did that happen? You have just experienced Behavioral Advertising! This freaks me out. I absolutely hate it. It’s like someone is stalking my every move on the internet. Well, they are! (see also Buh-Bye Facebook)

“Some of the ads you receive on Web pages are customized based on predictions about your interests generated from your visits to different Web sites. This type of ad customization is sometimes called “online behavioral” or “interest-based” advertising.” This definition is according to the Digital Advertising Alliance Consumer Choice page. The good news is that you can find out all the companies that are collecting your behavioral data (not that you care) and OPT OUT. Personally, I could care less who these companies are! There’s no need for me to pick and choose who gets to track me and who doesn’t! Scroll all the way to the bottom on this page and select Choose All Companies, as shown in the image below.

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Few tips: 1) Before you do this, you need to ensure that cookies are enabled on your browser (If you don’t know what cookies are, read my post Online Tracking). If you don’t really care and just want to get it done for the sake of this exercise, instructions (with pictures) on how to enable cookies for all browsers can be found here here. 2) If you use multiple browsers (Safari, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox), be sure to do this on each and every browser, including your mobile devices!

Happy no-behavioral-advertising Browsing!

Online Tracking

Have you ever wondered how a website (i.e. Facebook) knows what you searched for on another website, (i.e. Macy’s)? Yahoo Tech explains the fundamentals of Online Tracking. Loosely, 

“First, When you visit a visit a Web site that contains ads, those ads leave behind text files on your computer called ‘tracking cookies’. These files contain a combination of letters and numbers — kind of like a license plate on steroids — that identify your particular browser on your particular computer. Next, When you visit a new Web page, the machines that deliver ads check your cookies, find your unique ID, and record information about your online behavior.”

urlThis is exactly  what the term Targeted Advertising means: The ads  (or pop-ups) you see are personalized based on what you do online – your search history. Chrome, Google, Safari all know your likes and dislikes because you have told them! Yes, your browser is stalking you. Yes, your browser is stalking you. Yes, your browser is stalking you. The next obvious question is, Why do we see ads on (almost) every site? Money, of course! The people who place those ads and successfully “target” or “lure” you into re-visiting the site where you saw that handbag get paid – for every click and even more for every purchase! There are no ads on because I am not running this site for monetary gain – at the moment, it’s a just hobby.

Lots of people use browser ad-ons like AdBlock Plus to prevent this type of tracking – just be aware that AdBlock may also prevent pop-up windows on sites like banks and that you’ll have to manually check the option to “Always Allows” pop-ups from these sites. Often times there are options to “opt-out” ads if you look closely (just like the Unsubscribe feature most people miss at the very bottom of emails.