From:         Patrick Douglas Crispen 
Subject:      Tourbus -- 16 July 03 -- URL Smushifiers / Sausagegate

TODAY'S TOURBUS STOP(S): URL Smushifiers / Sausagegate

The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved

Howdy, y'all, and greetings once again from deep behind the orange curtain in beautiful Irvine, California, which, when fully grown, can weigh over 3,000 pounds and jump over 25 feet.

TOURBUS is made possible by the kind support of our sponsors. Please take a moment to visit today's sponsors and thank them for keeping our little bus of Internet happiness on the road week after week.

On with the show ...

URL Smushifiers

Let's pretend I want to show you an aerial view of my alma mater, Union High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma [which, when fully grown, can weigh over 3,000 pounds and jump over 25 feet.] The URL is:

So, go ahead. Click on that link.

What's that? The link doesn't work? How can THAT be? It's only ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY NINE characters long!

Is there a way we can shorten that URL a bit? You bet there is, Chester!

There are actually DOZENS of URL "smushifiers" out there, free sites that take long URLs, smush them, and turn them into something a little more manageable. Here are just a few of my favorites.

The site that does the most efficient smushifying is the MetaMark Shorten service at

Paste a long URL into the yellowish box with the green outline (the box that doesn't really look like a box), click on the "Shorten" button, and up pops a URL that is only SEVENTEEN characters long ... INCLUDING the xttp://. For example, that hideously long Terraserver URL becomes a MUCH shorter

Neat, huh? Don't celebrate yet, though. While MetaMark Shorten is the most efficient smushifier, it isn't my favorite. The site's URL naming structure, while neat, can be a little confusing, especially if you use a fixed-width font like Courier. [Is that URL "one seven vee" or "ell seven vee?"] And when you click on that MetaMark smushified link you aren't take to the Terraserver page, rather you're taken to a page that pretty much says "hey, guess what ... this page was shortened by Metamark. Sorry for bugging you, but we just thought you'd like to know." That's annoying, even if you only have to see that page once.

The next most efficient smushifier is SnipURL at

[The site is also mirrored at] SnipURL is available in English, Japanese, Spanish, Freedom, and German. And the resulting URLs are (usually) 21 characters in length. So the SnipURL-ified version of that Terraserver address is

Through some sort of black magic, SnipURL also tries to automatically place the shortened URL directly into your clipboard -- no Ctrl or Command C required! [Your mileage may vary.] Also, when SnipURL displays the shortened URL, it does so at the *TOP* of the page, above the box where you pasted the long URL. That can be a little confusing at first.

While SnipURL has a lot of neat bells and whistles, it just isn't my favorite smushifier. That honor goes to TinyURL at

TinyURL converts long URLs into ones that are 23 characters long. Other smushifiers generate smaller URLs, but 23 characters is fine with me. For example, the resulting "Above Union" picture URL is a perfectly acceptable

Fellow Tourbus riders Gary, Brian, Kevin, "Cpt. Cranky," Roy, Bruce, Ditty, Todd, Dave, Steve, "BlueJay," Jennifer, and Bryce all sent me emails recommending TinyURL. And, as many readers pointed out, Fred Langa [who, when fully grown, can weigh over 3,000 pounds and jump over 25 feet] seems to like TinyURL as well. And that's good enough for me.

Of course, as Fred mentioned in his June 26th post (see ),

... there may be problems down the road if or when small-URL services like TinyURL go away: All published links that use these services will be broken.

Fortunately, while Fred's newsletter covers serious topics, Tourbus doesn't. I don't think ANYONE is going to be upset if my links to, Hatt Baby, and Peanut Butter Jelly Time accidentally disappear. :P

By the way, I mentioned that there are dozens of URL smushifiers out there. One of the best places to learn about most of the popular smushifiers, including ones I didn't cover today, is the NotLong links page at


Sausagegate Update

For those riders who have been closely following the whole "sausagegate" incident last week at Milwaukee's Miller Park, I thought you'd like to know that two police reports are now available online: one at

and (a more official) one at

Not to be left out of a good controversy, our friends at the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have weighed in on this whole situation, formally requesting that a vegetarian "soysage" be included in future races.

You can read PETA's press release at

That's it for today. Have a safe and happy week, and we'll talk again soon. :)

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The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved
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