A right kerfuffle

A blog about web development, programming and the awesomeness of the Internets

Month: October 2017

Identifying non-authenticated users with fingerprints

When building an app without user authentication, you sometimes still want to limit anonymous user actions. One route could be using cookies or IP numbers, but both are limited in that cookies can be manipulated (or deleted) and IP numbers might change. Luckily, there’s a another alternative and its called fingerprints.

Much like a persons fingerprints, a device can be anonymously identified by the combination of certain metrics that are available to the browser. Your screen resolution, operating system and language settings are in themselves not enough to single you out – but adding up enough of these identifiers you have a pretty unique set.

So instead of setting up a system of cookies, I recommend using the fingerprint as an anonymous but unique user ID, one that can be persisted and used globally in your app.

Five favorite online utilities

The Brandmark font generator

Get ideas for font pairings for your website with this handy little utility.

What’s my browser

Some users are tech-savvy, but most are not. Just send them to “What’s my browser” and get a reliable set of metrics for troubleshooting back when problems arise.


When you need to quickly compress a bunch of PNG or JPEG files. Just super easy to use and produces great results.

Crontab Guru

Cron jobs aren’t that complicated, but I sometimes use this to quickly verify a crontab schedule expression, or as a quick crontab reference sheet.

What the status code

Another simple online utility, for finding the correct HTTP code.

Moved to Vultr

This blog doesn’t pull that many visitors, it’s sort of a work in progress. So when moving from a shared hosting solution I was looking for an option that:

  1. Is cheap
  2. Requires little manual tinkering

This was surprisingly difficult to find. I mean, you could always get another shared hosting solution, or choose a package solution specifically for running one WordPress site, but most either put unnecessary restrictions (“you can only have one of these selected WordPress themes”) or just cost more than I used to spend. It’s just a WordPress blog after all. And on the other end – sure, you could always spin up a VPS instance for $5 per month and that would do. But then you’ll spend too much time just setting up your own server.

So when I found Vultrs app containers I was pleasantly surprised. At $5 you can get your own instance of a pre-configured container running WordPress (or something else). A few minutes of configuration and you’re basically up. It remains to be seen if this approach comes with any substantial drawbacks but initially I’m pleased with the service.

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