Archive for March, 2010

Warning About URL Shortening

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Shortening URLs like are a bad idea, filling a real need, that seems like it’s not going to just go away.

URLs like are descriptive, help service like Google but they are way too hard to remember and take a long time to type into a web browser. Services like ,, , and others provide a short URL that will re-direct users to the longer version.

Google even created their own shortener at which, according to the official Google blog:

Google URL shortener is not a stand-alone service; you can’t use it to shorten links directly. Currently, Google URL Shortener is only available from the Google Toolbar and FeedBurner. If the service proves useful, we may eventually make it available for a wider audience in the future.

This was handy a few years ago, and once Twitter took off with its 140 character limit URL shortners took off with it. Most of these services now offer stats on how many clicks a URL has received — perfect for the follower count obsessed Twitterati (I mean that in a positive way – I promise).

The Danger!

The danger with URL shortners is you don’t know where you’re going to end up. With a URL like or or you have some idea of the reputation of that URL before you follow it. You can identify the domain, see if you know it, some times you can determine if you’re going to arrive at a web page, an image or a PDF document, etc. URL shortners obscure all of that.

This problem of this opaqueness was best demonstrated by the phenomenon of rickrolling. A (debate-ably) worse outcome is individuals clicking the short URL could be redirected to a malware/spyware site. While web browsers like Internet Explorer can be compromised just by visiting URLs this is a bad idea!

Formula 1 Fantasy Racing

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

2004 Ferarri F1 CarI want to invite everyone with any interest in Formula 1 to sign-up for Mitch & Brooke’s Fantasy Racing League.

It makes the races that much more fun to watch and gives you five drivers to cheer for.

My siblings and I all had our own teams last year. The inside tip is my sister’s strategy that proved to be the best of three of us was choosing drivers by hotness.

This is why I want to encourage you to sign-up this year. It’s a far better experience when you know the “owner” of the other teams racing against you because the excitement of the race doesn’t end with the chequered flag, but when you find out how your fantasy team did — well in my case, that’s when it ended. You may do well!

Mitch & Brooke’s Fantasy Racing League just opened up registration for this year. If you can look past the web 0.9 appearance of the site I promise you’ll enjoy the experience:

Fantacura Mk II

Friday, March 5th, 2010

My old 2001 Acura EL had a list of problems that were only getting worse and had to do with its 236,500 km plus age. So it was time to upgrade!

My wife Lindsay and I had three cars on our list, all used cars in that 3 to 4 year old or 40,000 km to 70,000 km range that generally defines the off-lease market — and they all needed to have a helping of sportiness and quirkiness.

All manual, all with a high level of trim.

The cars on our list were:

  1. The Mazda 3 Sport (wagon), as a sporty car with good use of space.
  2. SAAB 9-3, as it represented a bit of bargon given the companies current predicament. I even wrote into the AutoBlog podcast about my idea. It’s the very last thing they talk about at 1 hour, 28 minutes – they read the year wrong, but they don’t like the Saab manual either)
  3. Acura CSX, the Canada-only Super Civic that replace my EL in the lineup
  4. … maybe a compelling Honda Civic, Fit, or a Suburu could have squeezed in there, but probably not.

I consider buying a used car “family policy”, as I don’t want to pay for that initial depreciation, but I do want all of that high cost kit. I’m quite willing to diagnose the faults off a range of used cars from across Ontario and ride around like the Princess and the Pea on test drives until I find the perfect car.

Lindsay, not so much. In the end that just meant I could look at even more cars!

I settled on a 2007 Acura CSX, black with black tint, a 5spd manual and the 2.0 VTEC 155 hp engine. No leather this time (Lindsay’s happier, I’m not so much, but warming to not having leather).