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Why switching to Matomo for website analytics is a good thing

For years I have wondered why the world so blindly got hooked up with Google services and why almost nobody seems to question if that’s a good thing. Nobody I know has any doubts. Reviews everywhere on the internet tell people Google is the best, or at least it’s very good. And if you search for “best way to sync your android phone” or “alternative for iCloud calendars” or something similar, everyone seems to blindly recommend the Google sync stuff – Which also quietly has you use their services afterwards.

Why? It makes no sense… Oh wait, it does. The Google services as a whole work quite well and they work on pretty much every platform and system. Sure, but so do many others. So why choose, and trust, Google?

Like so many others, I recently started to resent companies like Google and Facebook who seemingly just do whatever they want. Dancing around laws and regulations like they don’t exist or matter and the endless lying to their users. I wrote a bit about that in a previous blog post.

Need stats? Get Google Analytics. Need calendars? Get Google Calendar (or whatever they call it). Need email? Get Gmail. And the list goes on. The internet is larger than Google you know… There are alternatives!

Meet Matomo

Recently I switched my statistics away from Google Analytics. I now use Matomo and I’m a happier guy because of it.
I’ve used both for a week or two to see if Matomo can match Google. This quickly changed from “We’ll see if this works” to “Damn, Google makes even less sense now”.

I now can see stats that I understand.
I now can quickly see what’s going on on my websites.
I now can track links and actually see what’s going on without needing a PhD.
I now can track goals in a way that makes sense to me.
And I get to keep my data! Nobody is looking over my shoulder.

This is of-course because I host my own server with Matomo installed on it. If you get Matomo their cloud service your data is still yours, but it’s stored in the Matomo cloud. So, might as well use Google Analytics then, right? Wrong.

Unlike Google, Matomo is unlikely to spy on you, simply because they have nothing to gain from it. Their mission is to provide accurate stats. Google their mission is to sell adverts. And to know which advert they can show you they need to spy on you so they know what you may want and show you adverts for it.

To me that’s an important difference.

Why I choose Matomo to replace Google Analytics

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t disapprove of the adverts. Hell, I make advertising software myself. But it’s how the advert is chosen that rubs me the wrong way.

So, Matomo it is then. But why Matomo and not something else?
Because Matomo is accessible to most people. You can host your own server for it, like I do, or use their cloud service for a fee. This means that pretty much everyone can use it.
Many of the others, I found, use less mainstream tech like Ruby on Rails or Redis or have strange requirements like NodeJS. Things that often aren’t available on many hosting platforms. Or aren’t as well known.

Matomo uses PHP, MySQL and a bunch of more mainstream technologies that work pretty much everywhere. That and the easier to use dashboard makes it very accessible.

It took me a few days to figure that out and make up my mind about it though. I looked at a bunch of the alternatives, considering where to host my data and such.
Finally I settled on hosting it myself on a VPS I got from Inmotion Hosting and installed Matomo on it, simple as that.

Matomo seems at least as accurate as Google Analytics, but the ease of use of Matomo is far greater, for me at least.
As I mentioned earlier, I now actually understand what’s going on on my site. The terminology is more clear. The dashboard is easier to use – It kinda just works…

Tracking your stats with Matomo

Tracking stats can of-course be done with their Tracking code, this works very similar to Google Analytics. Just stick a piece of code in your websites footer. Nothing all that special. But you need to edit your theme or website to insert that code.

Fortunately if you’re using WordPress you can do this with a plugin. I have developed Matomo Analytics for WordPress to make this super easy. The plugin adds a little dashboard and a few easy to use and understand settings. And you’ll be tracking stats within 5 minutes without editing your theme or adding any code. You can download Matomo Analytics for WordPress for free here – Get Matomo Analytics for WordPress.

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AdRotate Banner manager 5.5 – Available now!

This update removes a lot of unused debug code. Which overall should improve the speed of the plugin a bit (just a tiny bit). Also the installation script has been optimised to better check for existing tables. And more visibly the dashboard widgets got fixed and should now show up correctly.

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Don’t let PayPal fees bring you down with PayPal Surcharge for WooCommerce

Recently Paypal once again announced they will raise transaction fees. They also changed their Terms of Service in a way that you as a merchant are more liable for your customers antics, making it easier for them to charge you when trouble arrises (which should occur rarely, if ever. But still, not cool!).
By my calculations many transactions will end up costing almost double compared to earlier this year.

If you use WordPress with WooCommerce as your sales platform not all is lost though. You can easily lessen this costly burden and keep your business afloat more easy. With a simple plugin I’ve created. Read on for more information!

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Overcoming dongles on modern laptops

dongles-on-laptops

With the dawn of USB Type-C and the removal of traditional USB-A ports. A lot of people are stuck trying to use dongles for everything. While many people perceive dongles for laptops such as the MacBook Pro or certain thin laptops from Asus, Hewlett Packard among some others as something stupid or annoying. Others give in to it thinking that’s how things are now.

I see people using dongles for everything while others simply gave up and don’t connect anything. When I got my new MacBook Pro I too had a brief struggle with the concept. But then it hit me…

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MacBook Pro 2018 after 3 months of daily use

In February 2019 I got the latest and greatest MacBook Pro 15inch for myself. This will be my only computer which I use to develop my plugins on; AdRotate Pro and Analytics Spam Blocker and stuff like that. I also like to play a game every now and then. I watch movies, listen to my music. You know, the main computer I have to depend on for at least 1 to 2 years.

Coming from a 2015 MacBook Pro 13inch. I really like the design of the MacBook Pros and this new one is no exception. But it’s not without it’s flaws.

Over the last few years Apple, in my opinion, has been moving steadily away from ‘innovative and cool’ to ‘money-grab and elitist’. For this reason I gave up on iPhones and iPads. Never cared for gimmicks as the Apple Watch or AppleTV. And will probably never own an iPhone again with this very reason at the top of my little list of gripes.

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AdRotate Free 4.15.1 – Available Now!

Post Injection

Post Injection now also supports caching just like Widgets and Shortcodes. Same settings. Set and forget. Over the last few days I’ve worked with Benjamin from Borlabs Caching to test the implementation. If you want caching, definitely check out his plugin.

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No more transactions in AdRotate Pro?

I’m at that point in development where an update is almost ready for release and am going over a few things to test and try to make sure everything works.

The upcoming update will have a whole bunch of improvements and some new features including better support for Borlabs Cache and the new Google Analytics tracker.

Then I came across the advertiser features, transactions and stuff like that. Which is what we’re talking about today.

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Going to Mount Mayon while it’s erupting

Over the last few weeks I’ve been travelling around the Philippines again. Currently I’m on Luzon, near Naga city. We’re driving our motorcycles all over the place. We originally planned to go via Masbate Island to reach Cebu Island.

However, news of Mount Mayon and it’s “imminent and violent eruptions” kept coming in. So we decided to change course for this probably once in a lifetime experience. We drove to Legaspi City via the up-wind route, avoiding the major ash and dust clouds spewing to the east.

The city is right next to the volcano, just outside the actual danger zone which was evacuated several weeks ago. This basically meant we had a good view of the goings on.

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My quest for a refreshing drink

Today I felt like going for a drive but I was also thirsty… Often I then drive to a random place to find said drink. This time my adventure took me way out in the bushes to some super poor town. Foreigners, let alone tourists, rarely go to places like this.

This sometimes leads to many suspicious looks from the natives. But often times they seem happy to see someone else than their neighbour for a change. And in those events I feel like I’m the star of a parade, waving and smiling at everyone.

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