This is what Christmas is all about


From the News

Worker dies at Long Island Wal-Mart after being trampled in Black Friday stampede

Black Friday 2013 Kohl’s shooting charges filed

Black Friday Brawl Breaks out at Calif. Walmart

Then of course you have this one that happened at the Wal-Mart that we frequent.

Pursuit out of Macedon ends with crash in city

6 of these 7 are from a Wal-mart. When do we hold Wal-Mart responsible for inciting riots on Black Friday?


I’ve had enough, I want my privacy back!

Yesterday, while I was on Facebook, I noticed something that really made me cringe. Right there on my screen was almost a complete history of what sites I’ve been to and products I looked at. But this wasn’t a history page or anything like that this was the suggested ads. Facebook tracks everything you do and with the social graph plugins that every site is installing they are able to track what ever you do on third-party sites as well, even when you’re not logged in.

In addition, there are many ad networks that are tracking what you do online so that they can also target you with ads. I can navigate to many other sites and see those same ads there as well. The other day me and my coworkers we’re looking at bar tables and stools for a conference booth on For the last two days I’ve seen ads on almost every site I’ve been that include those exact products from For one, I’ve already been to the site and looked at that product I don’t need you throwing back in my face ever other click. And two, browser history based ads are just creepy.

But the complete history for the last month was the final straw for me. I went and started “Googling” for how to stop ad tracking. Here is what I found:

Opting-out of Google Ads tracking

  1. Login to your Google Account.
  2. Click on view and edit your ad preferences.
  3. On this page you can see what information is being shared by Google.
  4. You can opt-out at the bottom of the page.

Change your search engine

If you really care about your privacy, you’ll switch from Google, Bing or Yahoo search engine to DuckDuckGo. Why do you want to do this? Well I’ll let DuckDuckGo explain why you should search anonymously. DuckDuckGo promises that they don’t “Filter” the results based on your likes or interests and won’t share the search term with the third-party web site.

You can make DuckDuckGo your default search in Chrome by going to your settings, click on “Manage search engines…” and then set up a new entry for DuckDuckGo.

  • Enter DuckDuckGo in the search engine field
  • Enter in the keyword field
  • Enter in the url field
  • Click Done
  • Go back into the “Manage search engines…” and hover over DuckDuckGo and click on “Make Default”

Now when you do a search in the address bar it will send the query to DuckDuckGo instead of Google.

Fix Tracking

Another site that DuckDuckGo maintains is This is a set of recommended Browser extensions that will help you navigate the web without being tracked. I installed the following extensions and recommendations listed for Google Chrome:

  • DoNotTrackMe Chrome Extension – blocks ad network cookies from being installed so they can’t track you.
  • HTTPS Everywhere Chrome Extension – Will try to change the URL to the https version if available automatically.
  • I unchecked all the privacy options under the Privacy section except the “Do Not Track” option, although it seems that has no effect.
  • Privacy Fix Chrome Extension – This is an extension which will look through privacy option in Google, Facebook, Linked In, etc and walk you through how to set those options to better protect yourself.
  • Adblock Plus Chrome Extension – Blocks ads
    • I also found and installed an Adblock Plus Subscription called Facebook Privacy List which will block Facebook plugins and scripts throughout the web.


With the revelation of the NSA spying program and table that with “targeted ads” I just want my privacy back. The amount of data being collected on you is mounting steadily. I’d like my web activity to be as anonymous as possible if I can so control it. I am sure these measures I listed above are only blocking a part of the data being sent but at least I am fighting it in some way.

Photo credit (Internet Privacy Venn Diagram): Dave Hoffman (Flickr)


My Thoughts on Work-Life Balance

Yesterday, in issue #18, of the Modern Web Observer, I wrote an introduction that revolved around work-life balance and why it is critical. I felt like sharing it here:

One of the three core values we hold at appendTo is “work-life balance.” It’s a core value because we’re willing to punish ourselves for rather than let it slip. Despite being a core value it’s still a struggle because balance is different to every person. When you think of “work-life balance,” there isn’t a cookie cutter answer to the challenge.

Our industry is partly to blame for this struggle. There’s your standard 9-5 job, keeping up on the new technologies, watching the latest talks from conferences or – if you’re a speaker – writing talks and presenting them. On top of that, most of us are contributing back to our industry in some way either through open source contributions, answering questions on StackOverflow or blogging. Even though I feel our industry contributes to this struggle, it is also what makes this industry so great.

Regardless of your passion, you still need to take care of yourself. If you don’t stop to recharge, you’re going to crash. Last week, that’s exactly what happened to Harry Roberts. Harry, a 23 year old front-end architect, was working 9-5 at Sky in England, running around the country presenting talks during his off hours, then heading back to work. While giving a talk at “Speak the Web” in Liverpool last week, Harry crashed, passing out on stage while in the middle of his talk. He let his “work-life balance” become unbalanced. His story, that he blogged about on his CSS Wizardry site, hit home with me on why “work-life balance” is so critical. I really hope Harry can settle down and find more time for himself.

We started the Modern Web Observer to help with at least one aspect of “work-life balance” – staying on top of industry news. How can we make this newsletter work more for you? Please let us know if you’d like us to focus more on one aspect of the industry over another. The rest of a healthy “work-life balance” is up to you, so make it count.

Ralph Whitbeck
Modern Web Advocate for appendTo’s Tools and Services


jQuery Mobile 1.4.0 Alpha 1 – Filter Preview follow-up

After my post yesterday on the Filter Widget preview I sat in the #jqueryui-dev IRC chat room and had some conversations with the jQuery Mobile team about my issues I submitted. I learned quite a bit, for instance, I learned that the demos that came in the zip file for jQuery Mobile 1.4.0 alpha 1 are not updated for the new widgets as of yet. A lot of the issues I submitted were more for changing the demos then fixing problems with the library. The demo page for Filter was written with examples that mimicked other widgets instead of the functionality of the final code delivered in this alpha release.

One thing that I did find interesting was that in jQuery Mobile 1.5 the team plans to deprecate the ability to have the widget create the filter input box automatically like the ListView does now. For example:

This code will insert a filter input box automatically before the listview widget. This will still work in 1.4 but will be removed in 1.5.

The new recommended way is to specify the input element instead of letting the widget generate it. There are many reasons for this, the developer has more control and without generated markup there is less of a performance hit. Here is what the recommended code looks like:

We start by creating the filter box. We’ll use an input tag with a data-type="search" and an ID.

Next we can create one of four kinds of widgets to filter against, ListViews, Accordions, SelectMenu (although the filtering still seems buggy in this alpha release) and ControlGroups. You’ll need to add two required data attributes to the widget data-filter="true" and data-input="#youridofyoursearchinput".

Other data options:

  • data-filter-placeholder – Update the placeholder text of the filter input.
  • data-filter-reveal – All the child elements are hidden until the search filter reveals them.

Here are some more basic examples:



Collapsible Set

Demo of all filterable widgets

While I appreciate how hard it is to create a framework and get alpha and beta versions out the door with the possibility of API changes till final release it would be nice to have some small amount of documentation to rely on so that we can provide useful testing of the new features at this level. I am grateful though for the ability to be able to spend the last couple of days diving into the new functionality of the Filterable widget and get to be able to interact more with my fellow jQuery Mobile team mates. I find that I am now more knowledgeable having gone through this exercise about Filter Widgets.