Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Cookie Crumbles


When I was a child, the sweetest words you could hear were, “Would you like a cookie?” Who wouldn’t want a chocolate chip cookie or a peanut butter cookie or an oatmeal-raisin cookie? Now, people get paranoid about cookies, considering them intrusive violations of computer privacy.

Cookie, the pastry, was the diminutive form of the Dutch koek, cake. Because cookies were usually sweet, the word was applied as a slang term to women. The March 6, 1920, issue of Collier's Magazine had this line: “That girl friend of yours is a cookie--hey, what?”

And because cookies could get stale and hard, the word was also applied in a hard-boiled sense: he’s a real tough cookie; don’t mess with him. On a more positive note, you might run into someone who was a real smart cookie.

The computer cookie is a packet of information that is passed between computers and stored on the local computer of a person using the World Wide Web. When he or she signs on again to the site that sent the cookie, there is instant recognition and validation of the user, and his previous preferences are recalled.

The name cookie derives from UNIX objects called magic cookies. This term was borrowed by Louis Montulli in 1994 when he was working on the concept of a virtual shopping cart for a commercial customer of Netscape.

You can purchase programs to remove cookies from your computer, but it you are moderately adept, you can make the cookie crumble by your own efforts. Try any of the following.

RiverSongs
About Cookies
About.com

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