Online Tracking: What it is and how to better control it

Posted on: September 11th, 2019 No Comments

Have you ever wondered why some online ads you see are targeted to your tastes and interests? Or how websites remember your preferences from visit-to-visit or device-to-device? The answer may be in the “cookies” – or in other online tracking methods like device fingerprinting and cross-device tracking.

Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about online tracking — how it works and how you can control it.

Understanding Cookies

1. What is a cookie?

A cookie is information saved by your web browser, the software program you use to visit the web. When you visit a website, the site might store a cookie so it can recognize your device in the future. Later if you return to that site, it can read that cookie to remember you from your last visit. By keeping track of you over time, cookies can be used to customize your browsing experience, or to deliver ads targeted to you.

2. Who places cookies on the web?

First-party cookies are placed by the site that you visit. They can make your experience on the web more efficient. For example, they help sites remember:

  • items in your shopping cart
  • your log-in name
  • your preferences, like always showing the weather in your home town
  • your high game scores.

Third-party cookies are placed by someone other than the site you are on. For example, the website may partner with an advertising network to deliver some of the ads you see. Or they may partner with an analytics company to help understand how people use their site. These “third party” companies also may place cookies in your browser to monitor your behavior over time.

Over time, these companies may develop a detailed history of the types of sites you frequent, and they may use this information to deliver ads tailored to your interests. For example, if an advertising company notices that you read a lot of articles about running, it may show you ads about running shoes – even on an unrelated site you’re visiting for the first time.

Understanding Other Online Tracking

1. What are Flash cookies?

A Flash cookie is a small file stored on your computer by a website that uses Adobe’s Flash player technology. Flash cookies use Adobe’s Flash player to store information about your online browsing activities. Flash cookies can be used to replace cookies used for tracking and advertising, because they also can store your settings and preferences. Similarly, companies can place unique HTML5 cookies within a browser’s local storage to identify a user over time. When you delete or clear cookies from your browser, you will not necessarily delete the Flash cookies stored on your computer.

2. What is device fingerprinting?

Device fingerprinting can track devices over time, based on your browser’s configurations and settings. Because each browser is unique, device fingerprinting can identify your device, without using cookies. Since device fingerprinting uses the characteristics of your browser configuration to track you, deleting cookies won’t help.

Device fingerprinting technologies are evolving and can be used to track you on all kinds of internet-connected devices that have browsers, such as smart phones, tablets, laptop and desktop computers.

Controlling Online Tracking

1. How can I control cookies?

Various browsers have different ways to let you delete cookies or limit the kinds of cookies that can be placed on your computer. When you choose a browser, consider which suits your privacy preferences best.

To check out the settings in a browser, use the ‘Help’ tab or look under ‘Tools’ for settings like ‘Options’ or ‘Privacy.’ From there, you may be able to delete cookies, or control when they can be placed. Some browsers allow add-on software tools to block, delete, or control cookies. And security software often includes options to make cookie control easier.  If you delete cookies, companies may not be able to associate you with your past browsing activity.  However, they may be able to track you in the future with a new cookie.

If you block cookies entirely, you may limit your browsing experience. For example, you may need to enter information repeatedly, or you might not get personalized content that is meaningful to you. Most browsers’ settings will allow you to block third-party cookies without also disabling first-party cookies.

2. How can I control Flash cookies and device fingerprinting?

The latest versions of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Internet Explorer let you control or delete Flash cookies through the browser’s settings. If you use an older version of one of these browsers, upgrade to the most recent version, and set it to update automatically.

If you use a browser that doesn’t let you delete Flash cookies, look at Adobe’s Website Storage Settings panel. There, you can view and delete Flash cookies, and control whether you’ll allow them on your computer.

Like regular cookies, deleting Flash cookies gets rid of the ones on your computer at that moment. Flash cookies can be placed on your computer the next time you visit a website or view an ad unless you block Flash cookies altogether.

3. What is “private browsing”?

Many browsers offer private browsing settings that are meant to let you keep your web activities hidden from other people who use the same computer. With private browsing turned on, your browser won’t retain cookies, your browsing history, search records, or the files you downloaded. Privacy modes aren’t uniform, though; it’s a good idea to check your browser to see what types of data it stores.

But note that cookies used during the private browsing session still can communicate information about your browsing behavior to third parties. So, private browsing may not be effective in stopping third parties from using techniques such as fingerprinting to track your web activity.

4. What are “opt-out” cookies?

Some websites and advertising networks allow you to set cookies that tell them not to use information about what sites you visit to target ads to you. For example, the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI) and the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) offer tools for opting out of targeted advertising — often by placing opt-out cookies. If you delete all cookies, you’ll also delete the cookies that indicate your preference to opt out of targeted ads.

Cookies are used for many purposes — for example, to limit the number of times you’re shown a particular ad. So even if you opt out of targeted advertising, a company may still use cookies for other purposes.

5. What is “Do Not Track”?

Do Not Track is a setting in most internet browsers that allows you to express your preference not to be tracked across the web. Turning on Do Not Track through your web browser sends a signal to every website you visit that you don’t want to be tracked from site to site. Companies then know your preference. If they have committed to respect your Do Not Track preference, they are legally required to do so. However, most tracking companies today have not committed to honoring users’ Do Not Track preferences.

6. Can I block online tracking?

Consumers can learn about tracker-blocking browser plugins which block the flow of information from a computer to tracking companies and allow consumers to block ads. They prevent companies from using cookies or fingerprinting to track your internet behavior.

To find tracker-blocking plugins, type “tracker blocker” in your search engine. Then, compare features to decide which tracker blocker is best for you. For example, some of them block tracking by default, while others require you to customize when you’ll block tracking.

Remember that websites that rely on third party tracking companies for measurement or advertising revenue may prevent you from using their site if you have blocking software installed. However, you can still open those sites in a separate browser that doesn’t have blocking enabled, or you can disable blocking on those sites.

(This article is courtesy FTC’s consumer information. Find the original article here.)

Fall Sun Outages

Posted on: September 3rd, 2019 No Comments

Missing a channel? Seeing an error message? You may be experiencing a regular sun outage.

What are sun outages and how do they affect HCC cable customers? In both the spring and fall, the sun passes behind certain communications satellites once per day. 

Starting in late September, the energy from the sun will overpower the signal from the satellite, causing loss of signal, tiling and no reception at all on several channels. This can last 2 to 3 weeks and causes channels to go black for a brief period of time.  Initially, outages will be gradual and slight, and can last 15-20 minutes at peak times.

On your television you may see the error messages, “one moment please, this channel will be available shortly,” error code SOAOO, or “no signal” during the time of an outage.

So what is HCC doing about this? Unfortunately, there is nothing that we can do to prevent sun outages from occurring. All cable and satellite companies are affected by this semi-annual occurrence. We apologize for this programming interruption, and appreciate your patience during this time!

Watch the brief video below, from another cable operator, that explains sun outages simply.

HCC Increases High-Speed Internet Connection

Posted on: August 28th, 2019 No Comments

Initiative marks major improvement to Mason County’s Internet infrastructure

Left: Mike Oblizalo, VP and General Manager
Right: Rick Buechel, President and Owner

HCC announced today that it has completed a yearlong project to upgrade its network facilities by adding two geographically diverse fiber-optic cable connections, each capable of providing 100 gigabits per second (Gbps) of throughput to the public Internet. Hood Canal’s network upgrade marks the largest connections to be deployed in Mason County, giving the company the fastest “backbone” Internet connection currently available in the area.

The company’s backbone infrastructure upgrade compliments HCC’s ongoing Connect Cushman grant announced in late 2017, when Hood Canal Communications received $2.3 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service Community Connect Grant program to build a broadband network serving Lake Cushman. The utility provider contributed another $352,000 for the project.

“We’re thrilled to announce this level of connectivity to Mason County,” said HCC’s vice president and general manager Mike Oblizalo. “This vital infrastructure is a major step forward for rural broadband and connecting our community with the rest of the world.”

Unlike the high-speed Internet connections in customers’ homes, so-called “backbone” connections are used to connect a local Internet service provider’s network facility to the rest of the world. This backbone connection allows customers to access websites and other online resources anywhere in the world. Hood Canal Communications first looked at increasing the speed of their backbone connections over a year ago, with an eye on future growth in their existing customer base and a desire to create the infrastructure needed to support further economic growth in the area. Working in collaboration with engineers at their “upstream” network provider, Wave Broadband, the company undertook to design and construct two new fiber optic connections with physically diverse paths, connecting their network facilities in Union, Washington to Port Orchard and Tukwila, Washington, respectively. 

The new high-speed internet connections will support Hood Canal’s existing 5,500+ broadband subscribers with improved network performance and reliability, while also positioning rural Mason County as an attractive destination for commercial growth and new business development. The increased connection speed gives Hood Canal Communications the opportunity to expand their network’s “co-hosting” facilities, with enough bandwidth to power remote servers for any high-tech companies that might consider establishing a corporate foothold in the area.

Jennifer Baria, Executive Director, EDC Mason County

“Living in a rural area can provide you with some amazing opportunities: lower cost of living, space, peace and quiet, lower stress, lower crime, and generally a more active lifestyle. However, economic stability and growth today requires a few basic needs and one high-speed connection truly a necessity, not a luxury,” said Jennifer Baria, executive director of the Economic Development Council of Mason County. “Giving our rural communities broadband access and developing greater capacity helps ensure that we can connect worldwide, utilize educational opportunities that enable us to find future entrepreneurial success, and succeed in the online economy. Access to broadband rises opportunities and unemployment falls. The EDC is in full support of capacity development of this vital piece of infrastructure!”

Career Opportunity: Install & Repair Technician

Posted on: August 23rd, 2019 No Comments

We are seeking a full time Telecommunications Install & Repair Technician. Position requires installation and repair of all necessary cable/telephone/fiber-to-the-home/network wiring, in and out of the customer premise and also the hardware from the distribution system to the customer’s equipment for the reception of cable, broadband and telephone services. Additionally, maintaining and repairing outside plant facilities. Great benefits package for employees. Salary DOE.


  • Minimum of 2 years of Telecommunications installation experience.
  • Minimum of a High School Diploma, valid WDL and clean driving record.
  • Excellent computer skills. Proficient in Internet related applications such as email clients and web browsers.
  • Great oral communication skills for direct customer interaction.
  • Must be punctual, reliable and able to retain newly learned information.
  • Must be willing to actively learn new skills and expand knowledge, satisfactorily accomplish multiple tasks interpret a variety of instructions, work independently and efficiently to meet deadlines.
  • Familiarity and experience with construction techniques
  • Familiarity with networks and telecommunications issues.
  • Must be self-motivated, organized and detail oriented.
  • Must be drug free.

If interested, email resume to: or mail a resume to: CS Manager, PO Box 249, Union, WA 98592.

Please NO walk ins or phone calls.

Hood Canal Communications is a drug free, equal opportunity employer.

Career Opportunity: Telecom/IT System Technician

Posted on: July 30th, 2019 No Comments

Hood Canal Communications is a growing local Communications Company that is seeking a highly motivated, technologically diverse Telecom/IT System Technician: We are looking to hire a full-time Telecom/IT Technician with experience in:

  • PBX phone systems; particularly Toshiba, NEC and ESI. Installation and troubleshooting
  • Cabling infrastructure and network devices
  • Knowledge of Telecommunications standards
  • Wireless networking and basic knowledge of IP addressing and LAN/WAN components
  • Working knowledge of various Windows desktop O/S and Windows Server systems
  • Knowledge of VOIP, Unified Communication and SIP trunks is preferred
  • Working knowledge of test equipment
  • Knowledge of traditional POTS is a plus
  • IT knowledge/experience is preferred

We offer a fantastic benefits package and friendly teamwork environment. Salary is DOQ. HCC is Drug Free Workplace. Send resume to or mail to: Careers c/o HCC, PO Box 249, Union, WA 98592. Please, no walk-ins or phone calls.

HCC Customer Wins Mariners Tickets…and Gives Them Away

Posted on: July 1st, 2019 No Comments


Between April and May, we held a contest for new or upgrading HCC broadband customers. The grand prize were two tickets to a Mariners home game in the 2019 season, provided by ROOT Sports. The winner was chosen randomly early last June.


Multiple attempts were made to call the winner, but it was a postcard that finally reached Steven H. who lives outside of Shelton. Steven called, cautiously optimistic, to claim his prize. Through a bit of phone tag, we were able to get in touch with Steven on Monday morning.


Steven was understandably excited when we told him the news that he had indeed won two tickets to see the Mariners at T-Mobile Park on a date of his choosing! When the dust had settled, he followed up with an unexpected question. “Can I give them away?”


“Well, sure, they’re your tickets to use how you see fit,” we said to him. “Can we ask why you’re giving them away?”


Steven proceeded to tell us that his father-in-law, Mark S., loves baseball, and had just been diagnosed with a serious illness. Steven thought the opportunity to provide Mark the experience of seeing the M’s in person at T-Mobile park, no strings attached, was too good to pass up. We couldn’t have agreed more.


Steven brought Mark to the office on Monday afternoon, telling Mark that he was tagging along to help Steven pick up the prize. We greeted both of them and presented Steven with the prize basket. We went outside to take a few photos, and then said, “Mark, Steven has something he wants to tell you.”


These are the photos of the special moment when Steven told Mark that he was giving him this experience.



Mark could barely believe that his son-in-law was doing something so selfless! After many laughs and hugs, Mark finally said he couldn’t wait to see the M’s live.


“Which game do you think you want to see?” We asked. Without hesitation, he replied, “The Hall of Fame celebration game!” Mark says his favorite player has always been Edgar Martinez.


“Man, I’m supposed to be at home mowing the lawn right now,” Mark started to say at one point, then pointed to the gift basket and said to Steven “I’m glad I came with you to pick this up instead!”


Way to brighten everyone’s Monday, Steven. And Mark, we hope you have a great time at T-Mobile Park!



July Employee Spotlight

Posted on: July 1st, 2019 No Comments

Congratulations to Andrew Buechel, our July Employee of the Month!

Andrew is a great addition to our Connect Cushman team. He has been hard at work managing new buried service requests at Lake Cushman, keeping our crew on schedule and making new customers happy. He’s always willing to lend a hand whenever projects need extra support and our general manager can always rely on him to get things done right. Thanks for all you do, Andrew!

June Employee Spotlight

Posted on: June 1st, 2019 No Comments

Congratulations to Dave Collins, our June Employee of the Month!

Any time someone around the office needs help, Dave will stop whatever he’s doing to take the time to help find a solution. Last month, because of heavy winds and rain, a tree fell on HCC supply lines, causing some customers to lose service. Dave was quick to respond, troubleshooting late and returning early the next morning with technician Dan Dahl to clear debris and install a new line. Thanks for all you do, Dave!

Cable Upgrade Scam Warning

Posted on: May 6th, 2019 No Comments


Attention HCC customers: if you receive a phone call from someone outside of the United States telling you to upgrade your cable service, unfortunately it is a scam. Our sales teams are based in Union and Shelton, WA. If you’re unsure if the person calling you is legitimate, do not give them your information. Hang up and immediately call our local office to confirm your account status.


May Employee Spotlight

Posted on: April 25th, 2019 No Comments

Congratulations to Mike Oblizalo, our May Employee of the Month!

Mike was recently invited Washington, D.C. to testify at a senate hearing committee regarding the road blocks facing rural broadband providers. He traveled to D.C. alone, hob-knobbed with politicians and lobbyists, and gave his formal testimony to the Senate Commerce Committee.

Mike also fielded questions from senators regarding the challenges of broadband mapping and how, at times, it can inhibit our build outs. He was part of a prestigious panel but held his own in front of the committee.

Thanks for representing rural broadband and Mason County, Mike!

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