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by Tom Berry (trust him - he's older now)

Cookie Anyone?
Computer chip kind

In the middle of this four-day tropical storm in Kauai, I’m remembering the years I spent tracking web users. That’s right!  I was spying on them and tracking their every move. Mmm-wah hah hah haaaaaah. And now I’m vacationing in Hawaii.  (In the rain.)

Fact is, I was managing databases via web sites built to help businesses with chores like heavy equipment dispatching. There were various methods of keeping track of users as they ‘surfed’ the site and clicked on its tools. Yes, I used them all: login user name, "cookies" (text files stored locally on the user's machine), IDs created and stored in the user's local Windows registry database, and UIDs (unique alpha-numeric identifiers) to track and allow the user to come back to the site and be, yup, identified. In spite of my whacky laugh, I had no malice in my heart - unlike some people - but tracking a user’s ID is essential to understanding a user’s business dealings. If not for these identities the application simply wouldn't work.

Now, fast forward to today. No, nobody’s had any giant inspirations on how to change the application and use of the web. It's really the same old thing. Many would argue that statement but, really.

It’s true many businesses on the Internet, (yes Google included), have made an art form of tracking users. People who sell stuff would love to be able to track your purchases, where you go on the Internet, get to know your tastes, what colors you prefer, your favorite foods, even where you happen to be at this very moment so that they can tell you, via your ‘smart’ phone, that there a HOT deal just to your left.

Many have cried foul on the "cookie" - one of the oldest user-tracing tools. A cookie is a text file, created by a web site, that stores a very limited amount of information about the user on the user's computer. By retrieving the cookie the website can make your online visit easier by doing things like keeping you logged in or remembering what's in your shopping cart. Cookies are easy to get rid of and the file is not executable, which means it can’t harm your computer. All sorts of angst has been vented on the lowly cookie and it has been thoroughly villain-ized. And yet, it still is used. Mmm-wah hah hah  haaaaaah.

Who named cookies?  Yahoo says, ". . .in the early 1970s a group of programmers working at Xerox came up with an idea for storing a bit of information on another computer. They appear to have called this little chunk of information a cookie after a character from the popular (at that time) Andy Williams Show. This "Cookie Bear" character would follow Andy around asking for a cookie. Programmers can be very strange people at times. The action of tracing these little files back to their original source is also referred to as following a trail of cookie crumbs."

OK so you don’t love me for the work or my Hawaiian vacation.  To get in your better graces, I’ll tell you how to get rid of Cookies: download and install CCleaner, a program that has been around for years, is updated on a regular basis, and is free. Go to, choose "CCleaner Free - No Support", then choose a site to download from. I use and select "Download - Download Latest Version".

CCleaner is long respected in the industry. I’ve used it for years, and it’s never failed. When the program asks to save a backup file (just in case, horror of horrors, something should go wrong while it does its work cleaning up your operating system) it's good idea to let it do that and please remember where you put that backup file.

To get rid of Cookies using CCleaner:

*On the left navigator link panel choose "Options". Then choose Cookies and you will see a list of the Cookies in the left stored on your

*Select the cookies you want to keep, highlight them and use the arrow in the middle of the page to move the desired ones over to the list on the right, "Cookies To Keep". Which cookies to keep? Look for sites by cookie name that you might want to keep, where you log in to access your own information... Amazon perhaps?  Anything you leave on the left will be erased. (However, erased cookies will be reinstalled if you re-visit those same sites. Mmm-wah hah hah  haaaaaah. It will amaze you how quickly cookies are restored. But, that's because they work).

*Choose "Cleaner" from the left panel. You can leave the default choices listed under the Windows and Applications tabs as is. Now click on "Analyze". You'll see the program running the green progress bar from left to right across the top of the display. When it hits 100%, a list of cleanup will appear showing all the nodes that will be cleaned of old cookie-type files. This list of stuff to go can be really big. Dumping it will free up space on your hard drive and that is a good thing.

You can look over the list of files to be deleted and know that this includes cookies, cached web browser sites visited/storage and the Recycle Bin. Take a deep breath and go for it – click "Run Cleaner". It will do its work quickly and you are done. Now you can go surfing and collect more Cookies.

OH! And I should mention that you can also access the Preferences in your favorite web browser program and turn cookies OFF. Just be aware that if you do that you will have to re-log into your favorite login-required sites and may not be able to make all functions work while using the site.

Now, I'm gonna have a cookie.