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Good Cookies, Bad Cookies

Windows All Versions - All Browsers

Except for spyware and adware, we can't think of anything that is as misunderstood as cookies. You see all sorts of conflicting views on cookies - all from supposed experts. We're going to do what we always do and tell you the way it really is.

It's cool to write stuff that scares people, we guess. It sure is good for the old Web site traffic when some major site picks up your story about cookies that steal passwords, credit card numbers and read the license plates on your car. But, it ain't so, folks. It's really not. We're telling you for the umpteenth time that the term "ware" indicates "software". Whether it be "freeware", "shareware", "software", "spyware", "adware", "badware", "malware" or any other kind of "ware". Cookies are nothing but TEXT files. Plain text files that are deposited onto your computer by Websites for various purposes. The cookies are read by these Websites primarily for several purposes - and most of these purposes are not evil, devious, or sneaky. But somewhere along the line cookies got a really bad reputation. And labeling any cookie "spyware" is ridiculous because a text (txt) file is not a program. If all you had to do was write a text file to create a program, it would be cool and there would be lot more programs.

You could write your own programs by opening notepad and typing:

Dear Computer

I want you to shut down at 6:00PM and turn yourself back on at 5:00AM. And, by-the-way, remind me to watch Turner Classic Movies at 9:00PM tonight. Play some loud music at 5:00AM and get me up. And don't be late!

Thank you,

Your owner

Save that as an exe file. See what you get :) You'll get an invalid extension for one thing - because what you have is nothing but a text file. Just a text file. And, before the wizards amongst you get all in an uproar, we are aware (you see we do know some things!) that you can write JavaScript in a text file and they will execute (under some conditions). But, let's be reasonable. There's not a cookie alive that is going to be a script, at least not the kind of cookies we're talking about. We're talking about 99.999999% of all cookies, even the ones the anti-spyware crowd likes to call "tracking cookies". Some anti-spyware program documentation gives a description of a tracking cookie as a cookie which tracks your movements across the web.

Well, this just isn't so. Cookies can track your movements within a site (mostly used to see which pages are accessed and from what page); some can even track your movements across families of similar sites with the same ownership; and some can even track your movements across sites of various ownership and content if they use the same advertising network (let's say Doubleclick for example). That's not spyware, it's not a "ware" at all. It's a text file. You don't need anti-spyware software to remove text files, you can remove them anytime you want. If you're lazy (like TC) you don't have to do much to see the cookies on your computer. You can download a little program called a "Cookie" viewer and view and delete cookies. Here's a nice little one (it comes as a zip file - just unzip it and click the executable - you don't have to install it). Go to (and yes it's real freeware). You don't need any program to view cookies, in Windows XP you can go to C:\ documents and settings\ your username\ cookies and browse around. However there's other junk in there besides cookies. You'll recognize cookies because, like we've been telling you, they're text files. So, as we said, if you're lazy (like TC) use the cookie viewer and all you'll see are cookies.

What does a cookie file look like? Here's one right from TC's computer. It contains so much valuable personal information about TC we're going to dare show to all over you. Here it is:

It contains TC's Google preferences and login ID so that he can stay logged into Google (Adsense) without having to sign back in every two minutes. See all that really personal information? Hmmm...well now you know exactly how tall TC is; how much he weighs' where he lives and his telephone number. We'll bet his phone isn't ringing off the hook though. There's really no personal information there at all. And what information there is, is meaningless to you, to us, and to every other site but Google. Google can read their own cookies but other sites cannot. Doubleclick can read there own cookies, even across multiple Web sites. Oh no! Oh yes. But so what? It's a tracking cookie all right. It might be making sure you don't see the same ad more than once, or it could be used to see what ads you clicked on when you last clicked on a Doubleclick ad - and show you more of the same. But, hey the mechanism is running off the Web server and not your computer like spyware/adware/malware and PUSware. The cookie might be on your hard drive but it's not running on your computer and burning up your resources (like spyware and adware). Don't like Doubleclick cookies? Delete the little devils then. You can do to. Just use a cookie viewer or navigate to your cookie folder (see above) and right-click on all those tc@doubleclick(1) etc. cookies and they're gone. Yours won't say tc@ unless you are TC and you better not be :) Yours might say linda@ or sally@ or bill@ or hercules@ - get it? Delete them, don't "block them". If you start blocking cookies you're going to go through annoying times. It's aggravating when you can't access certain sites; can't stay logged into a password protected site, or start seeing the same Martha Stewart cookware banner sixty-thousand times an hour.

The points we're making here, are these:

1. Cookies are plain old text (txt) files
2. Cookies are not any kind of ware, spyware or adware - or underwear :-)
3. Cookies are not spyware/adware no matter what anyone tells you, even your anti-spyware program. They've gotta find something!
4. Even so-called "tracking cookies" are not adware, badware, malware, evilware, spyware, trojans, viruses - heck they're not even PUS. No matter who tells you they are - they're not
5. Cookies can be deleted faster than you can say: "TC & EB are awesome!" You don't need any special software to do it. Just your mouse and your fingers.
6. Cookie Viewers are not necessary. They're only necessary if you're lazy like TC. He says: "So? I'm lazy? What's your point?" But they're handy. Download one and see.
7. Did we mention that cookies are plain text files than can only be read by the site, the site family or the advertising company who placed them? They're not going to consume your first born, they're not going to harm your computer, they're not going to bring a gaggle of spammers flocking to your computer, they're not going to spread your medical history all over the Web. They're not going give out your telephone number, credit card numbers, your kids names and ages, or any other personal information about you.

Now, you don't have to like cookies but they're often helpful. Cookies can:

1. Save your preferences for sites like Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, and other site that let you customize your location (for weather, news, local news, etc.). They can also be used to store you preferences for site layout and colors for sites that allow you to customize the look of the pages you use. (I know you! You're the one with the Mauve page and purple fonts!)
2. Cookies let you stay logged into to a site that requires a login username and password. Otherwise you're going to have to log back in every time you navigate to another page. Not convenient!
3. Cookies control the number of popups, pop-unders and floaters you see on a particular site. Goodness knows we certainly don't want to see that popup for Slim-Fast sixteen hundred times. If we're going to have to endure popups, floaters and pop unders, at least give us some variety.
4. Cookies allow webmasters to gather statistics about the number of unique visitors his/her site gets and which pages are the most popular. If you have a dud page there's no sense spending time on it. You just assign that page to EB :) and go on to more worthwhile pages.

So, now when you visit some guru site that is attracting a huge volume of visitors because he says that cookies are worse than the monsters in "War of the Worlds" - you'll know better - and you'll move on to a site where the guru knows what he or she is talking about - right? Especially if he/she gives you really good cookie recipes like we do!

Here's a couple recipes for cookies that TC used to like back in the days when he could still eat cookies :-( :

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups butter
24 oz. chocolate chips
4 cups flour
2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt
2 cups sugar
1 8oz. Hershey Bar (grated)
5 cups blended oatmeal
4 eggs
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups chopped nuts (your choice)

  • Measure oatmeal, and blend in a blender to a fine powder. Cream the butter and both sugars.
  • Add eggs and vanilla. Mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder and soda. Add chocolate chips, Hershey Bar and nuts.
  • Roll into balls, and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.
  • Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees.
  • Makes 112 cookies. Recipe may be halved.
  • Any leftover cookies may be sent (FedEx please!) to:

Cloudeight Internet
Middleville, Michigan, USA 49333

Cornflake Cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup crushed corn flakes
1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, peanuts, or pecans)
1 cup quick-cooking oatmeal
4 cups flour, decrease to 3 1/2 cups for a chewier cookie
1 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • Preheat oven to 325F (If you're not in the USA use the converter on our start page :-) ).
  • Cream butter, sugars and egg.
  • Add oil.
  • Mix in dry ingredients.
  • Form dough into walnut sized balls.
  • Place on cookie sheet and flatten with a fork dipped in water.
  • Bake for 10- 12 minutes.
  • Cool on pan for a minute or two, then transfer to a rack to cook.
  • 24 servings 4 dozen

What computer guru site gives you stuff like this? Sometimes I think we're a little off :)

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