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It's not me, Google, it's you - from GA to Fathom

tl;dr: I'm now using Fathom for my personal website analytics, and it's easy to self-host and maintain, better for privacy, and can lead to better site performance.

Since the mid-2000s, right after it became available, I started using Google Analytics for almost every website I built (whether it be mine or someone else). It quickly became (and remains) the de-facto standard for website usage analytics and user tracking.

Google Analytics UI

Before that you basically had web page visit counters (some of them with slightly more advanced features ala W3Counter and Stat Counter), and then on the high end you had Urchin Web Analytics (which is what Google acquired and turned into a 'cloud' version, naming the new product Google Analytics and tying it deeply into the Google AdWords ecosystem).

How to make Safari accept Google search strings in the Location bar quickly

A few months ago, I switched to Safari after having used Google Chrome exclusively for the past four years (before that it was a mix of Safari and FireFox). Safari is lean and fast, but the one thing that really bothered me was the fact that I would often try searching for something by entering keywords in the location/address bar, then hit enter, and nothing would happen.

I quickly realized that if I did this and nothing happened, I could jump back into the location bar (⌘-L), press the left arrow key to get my cursor in the beginning of the string, then hit space and enter to perform the search.

Until today, I've begrudgingly used that workaround. But then I was checking Safari's preferences to see if I might be missing something obvious, when I decided to uncheck some options and see if it made a difference. And it did!

Safari Search Preferences

Can't Disable Annoying Chrome Notifications menu bar item on Mac OS X

Update (7/20/14): You can finally disable the notifications icon by selecting "Hide Notifications Icon" from the Chrome menu:

Disable Chrome Notifications on Mac OS X

Original post below.

Today, I received a mysterious notification from one of my Chrome extensions that popped up under a generic alarm bell icon in my Mac OS X menu bar:

Chrome Notifications

No thanks. I have Notification Center (built into Mac OS X), and if I wanted to see spammy notifications from Chrome extensions, I would enable them there. I know I can disable individual (or all) extensions from this Chrome Notification Center, but that doesn't make the icon go away. Nor does the standard trick of holding down the command key and dragging the icon off the menu bar.

Using FeedBurner? For the sake of control, enable MyBrand service

We use and recommend FeedBurner for RSS feed stats, podcasting, and the other helpful services it provides. However, one downside of redirecting your website's users to your FeedBurner feed is the fact that you have no control over FeedBurner's URL for your feed.

Say, for instance, you burned a feed at http://feeds.feedburner.com/midwesternmac. If, in a year or two, you need to change the shortcut, or you would like to switch back to your own feed, you can cancel your FeedBurner account, but FeedBurner will only give you 30 days during which they'll redirect their shortcut to your new feed address.

Unfortunately, a lot of people won't switch their feed reader to your new URL, and you'll be stuck with a bunch of subscribers who unwittingly abandoned your RSS feed. Additionally, any feed aggregation services like Catholic News Live won't be getting stories from your site anymore unless they manually update your URL, since there will be no redirect after 30 days.

Deleted my Google+ Pages

I've maintained social pages and accounts for the more popular business ventures and websites I run on Facebook and Twitter for a few years now. These pages and accounts have driven a good amount of traffic to my sites (and they would drive more if I put more time into making them more relevant/personal).

When Google+ announced pages similar to Facebook's, I quickly set up a page for each of the same sites. But since I don't have time to manually post and manage each of these pages, they sat dormant since the day I set them up.

Plus, nobody 'circled' any of them.

Plus, nobody's really on Google+ anyways, besides the regular early-adopter crowd that, like me, jumps from new service to new service just to test it out and see what's neat and what's not.

Plus, Google+ doesn't have a real API that provides any value to me. Heck, I can't even have my site post an update to a Google+ page automatically... that's like feature #0 that should be in the API.

Rooting Android - General Observations and OG Droid + LG Ally

After a couple years having had no experience with an Android phone of any variety, a generous Twitter follower I had met donated two older Android phones, an original Motorola Droid (running Froyo 2.2.2) and an LG Ally (also running 2.2.2), so I could learn the Android UI and work on porting a couple of my iOS apps.

One unfortunate reality of the Android ecosystem is that phones are often abandoned by their manufacturers after only a year (or less time), and even if not, they are not kept up to date past one or two minor Android OS releases. For instance, both the Ally and Droid are more than capable of running Android 2.3 Gingerbread (and I'm now running 2.3.7 on the Droid, faster than 2.2.x ever ran), but Motorola has ended support for the device.

Switched back to Safari from Chrome... Again

Google Chrome No MoreGoogle lit up the hornet's nest yesterday when they announced that they were dropping built-in support of H.264 for their own 'open' WebM and OGG video formats.

I reconfigured Xmarks on all my computers (to sync all my bookmarks between FireFox, Safari and Chrome), and I'm back to using Safari full-time, with FireFox as my main backup. (FF 4.0 can't come soon enough).

It was good knowing ye, Chrome. I actually had my sights set on using Chrome indefinitely until yesterday.

Tabbing Between Fields in Google Chrome (vs. Tabbing through everything)

For some users, being able to tab through all clickable elements on a page is a blessing. For most, though, it's a curse (at least, in my experience). The default behavior of a browser should be to allow users to tab through form elements only (textfields, textareas, search forms, submit buttons, etc.).

For some time now, Google Chrome has only allowed users to tab through every. Single. Element. on the entire page. Luckily, there's a new setting that popped up in the 'Under the Hood' settings recently that allows a user to turn off this insane behavior.

In Chrome, select Preferences, then click on 'Under the Hood.' Go down to 'Web Content' and uncheck the checkbox next to "Pressing Tab on a webpage highlights links, as well as form fields."

Under the Hood settings - Google Chrome

Voila! Problem solved - now I can substitute Chrome for Safari much more readily. That and being able to read PDFs in-browser...

Using Google's New Font Library for Headings...

Today Google announced they'd help advance web typography by hosting open-sourced fonts on their CDN, and by giving the code to easily embed fonts on websites on a new website, the Google Font Directory.

It was amazingly simple: just copy the <link> code and paste it in your template's header, then set any element on your page to use the Google-provided font(s). I started using OFL Sorts Mill Goudy TT, and I like the look (except for the lower-case y, which seems to be cut off).

(The code simply adds an @font-face declaration via a Google-hosted CSS file... I wonder if it's legit to self-host the CSS and font file; I haven't read through the terms and conditions yet).

I'm thinking of using this library for a few other projects on which I'm working. Much easier than Typekit, and it doesn't require any javascript or flash overhead, like alternatives such as Cufon and sIFR do.

Whoa! Google Using Drupal's Breadcrumbs?

It would seem Google has rolled out a new indexing/display feature that finds breadcrumbs and displays them instead of URLs for certain search results. Drupal's already game, it seems, judging by numerous searches I've taken a glance at today:

Drupal's Breadcrumb-enabled Search Results

I guess since Drupal's built towards this kind of data heirarchy, Google quickly and easily indexes the breadcrumbs... any other sites/CMSs already in the index in this manner?

Also, I wonder what this will do in terms of eye tracking and such - the first time I noticed it, my eye went to the URL immediately - of course, that could just be due to the novelty of the thing.

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