14 September 2011

Over the last couple of days I’ve been trying to improve the performance of my blog. It’s not so much that it gets so many visitors that my server can’t take the load, but more pride of a job well done. I’m also wrapping up a book on the subject (well load balancing and general performance) so it would be somewhat hypocritical of me not to be following my own recommendations.

YSlow!

YSlow! is a great tool for seeing what’s going on on your website and working out ways to improve performance. Some of its rules and suggestions I don’t agree with and some you just can’t do anything about.

One of the things using YSlow! does though is make you keenly aware of all the different files your page is pulling. Now as expected there was a Javascript file for Google Analytics and another for Hit Sniffer. Google Analytics is something that most people seem to use and I set that up many moons ago but have never really used it. Hit Sniffer is much better as it gives me a really good appreciation of what people look at when they visit my site.

Am I using this for evil? No, I don’t think so. If anything it has greatly encouraged me to write more posts such as this one. Now that I know some people actually do read my blog, it’s far more motivating to keep it up.

However there was one thing on my site that I didn’t recognise. Something was visiting b.scorecardresearch.com. A bit of digging online shows that this is part of an “opt in” market research system. In theory they do not collect personal information but I am not 100% convinced that they don’t.

Anyway the issue isn’t that they exist, the issue is what the hell was it doing on my site? I didn’t opt-in to anything at least not conciously. Where did it come from and more importantly now that I’d seen the countless posts on Google complaining about it, how the hell do I get rid of it?

Twitter feed

It turns out that it was HL-Twitter, a plugin that shows latest tweets on my main page. Now what I don’t know is whether or not it is HL-Twitter itself that does this or whether it is just a side effect of having a twitter feed. I honestly suspect it might be the latter as other posts I found on Google about this joyous little issue talking about Java applets that had a similar issue.

Regardless, removing HL-Twitter removed the web bug. As I was only really showing my own tweets, it doesn’t really matter, but I’m still not impressed that this tracking system thing got onto my site without me knowing about it.

Anyway, if you come across this problem, check to see whether or not you have a Twitter feed - it could well be coming from there. At least now you have somewhere to start looking…



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