Weeknotes: 116


I spent much of this week writing documentation and thinking about things, sometimes in the other order. One of the things I’ve been thinking about is how cross-domain analytics will work with GOV.UK Accounts

GOV.UK uses cross-domain analytics (only if the user has consented to cookies on both domains, of course) to give a joined up view of how users interact with government. So naturally this has to work with GOV.UK Accounts too, or we’ll have an ever-growing blind spot in this joined up view.

Cross-domain analytics works by sticking a _ga query param onto cross-domain links, which the analytics code at the link destination picks up. The problem is that with accounts, most of the cross-domain stuff is in the form of OAuth journeys: we have cross-domain redirects. So we have non-cross-domain links which may do a cross-domain redirect; for example, navigating from an unauthenticated part of a service to an authenticated part, the link is a normal internal link, but it’ll redirect a logged-out user to the accounts domain.

So I spent some time thinking through all the cases:

  • is the link from the accounts domain or the service domain?
  • is the link to an authenticated or an unauthenticated page?
  • does the user have an active session on the service domain?
  • does the user have an active session on the accounts domain?

For each, figuring out which links a user will click on, which redirects will happen, and where a _ga param needs to be passed along for the cross-domain analytics to all fit together.

Geez, the web would be much simpler00And less secure. Ah, if only we could just trust everyone to not be malicious!

if any domain could read cookies from any other domain!


This week I read:

  • Midnight Tides by Steven Erikson, the fifth of the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

    This was an interesting one, as I had a lot of difficulty figuring out when it was set. Malazan can jump across continents and time when it changes from one book to the next, but this was particularly tricky. It’s the story of the Tiste Edur people, before Trull Sengar was abandoned in a warren for his crimes. So it’s clearly before the other books, but how long before?

    The humans in this book use the Tiles of the Holds, not the Deck of Dragons, and even that’s considered a more modern alternative to the traditional Edur sorcery, so is it in the distant past, thousands of years before the other books?

    There’s more evidence throughout the book which let me place it fairly accurately in the timeline by the end, but it took most of the book to get there.

Advent of Code

Advent of Code started this week, and I’ve started doing it in Haskell (as usual). My solutions are on GitHub.

As always, there’s a theme. And the theme for this year is that you’re going on holiday to a tropical island, not feeling up to the chill of the North Pole this year. We’re only a week in, so it’s been pretty easy so far. I’m looking forward to seeing what challenges will come.


I knocked off a few things from my to-do list this week:

I’m now down to the fewest outstanding tasks on my to-do Trello board ever: 28. Now, some of those are pretty long-term tasks like “save £50k house deposit”, but it’s weird to think that the end is finally in sight for tasks which I have to actively do (as opposed to just wait for). Of course, new tasks come up all the time, but the backlog is finally almost empty.

It’s hard to overstate just how integral this to-do system has become to my life. I’ve completed 1008 tasks since June 2018, and I don’t think that would have happened without the board.