Neat tinyurl integration

Steven | Random Thoughts,twitter | Wednesday, 16 July 2008

The promise of tinyurl is simple: Making long URLs usable! And so they do. And with them lot’s of other similar services:, snurl,, .. The idea is to keep the domain name as short as possible, than add a little hash at the end, and if a user hits that link the browser will redirect him to the page with the slightly longer url.

So, will redirect for example to, an small improvement indeed. The real beauty kicks in with very long parameterized links, like this Google Maps link. On that service it would become: That’s 16 chars instead of 176. Impressive.

The principle is easy. They just keep a database with all these long urls, generate a code/hash at the same time, and match them. As soon as someone hits that code, they do a lookup, and redirect the user to the url that correspondents. The shorter the code, the shorter the url in total. With the 3 chars of you can make (26+26+10)*(26+26+10)*(26+26+10) = 62*62*62 = 238.328 combinations. 26 alphabetic chars lowercase, 26 uppercase and 10 numbers (might even contain special chars as well, dashes and underscores for example). So as soon they go over that number (not very long from now) they’ll probably add an extra char, providing space to 62*62*62*62 = 14.776.336 (almost 15 million) combinations.

So why would you want to use such a service, space is cheap, right? Well, not always. Think of twitter. You can only use140 characters to send your message. If you want to share a 200 chars url, you simply can’t do it.
No wonder the tinyurl-like services are widely used in these twitter-esque environments. It even is integrated in twitter for real. If you enter an url over xx chars, it will create an tinyurl (using from your link and displays it like that in your tweets.
Tools like twhirl (highly recommended) integrate a similar service: you can choose from a number of providers, and shorten your url on the spot, saving precious char space.

An other use of this url shortening services is to hide the source to what you’re linking. So you can trick someone in or Rick Roll your victim. Worse: spam, mallware, .. You get the picture.
So I always had a double feeling about this. I like it on the on hand, saves you space. On the other hand, my judgement wether to click a link or not, is partly made by the link itself (is it a video, an image, a blog post, ..). Thin Slicing so to speak. I kind of automatically scan the status bar when I hoover a link. So, although I like it, I want to control it. Twitter doing it automatically is not me in control. Choosing to shorten the link is.

Yesterday we found out Twitter acquired Summize. Summize being a Twitter search engine, a very good on, so this indeed is a perfect match. They already merged the service in

I was checking it out, and discovered a very fancy and neat tinyurl integration in the search results, as you can see below.


tinyurl expanded

This is so natural and logic! It totally solves my problem.

redirect headerIt’s actually quite easy. This redirect is done with a HTTP header, resulting in a 301 (moved permanently) status, forcing the browser to get it’s request elsewhere.

On (and probably before on Summize, but I never noticed) they created a script that when you feed it a tinyurl (or other service) it just returns the original url. Like you can see in this example. The script is called hugeurl :-)
So behind the scenes the script is doing a call to that tinyurl page, fetching the location header (in any) and just displays the result in the output.

I can only hope this is going to be implemented in twitter, and in twitter clients as Twhirl as well. So yes, this is an official feature request: make my day :-)

What would you do if you were the CEO of Seesmic?

Steven | Random Thoughts,twitter | Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Loïc Le Meur That’s the question, Loïc Le Meur asked literally to the community last night. He IS the CEO of Seesmic, a video interaction platform that does kick ass. By asking this question via Seesmic and twitter and friendfeed as well, he hoped gathering interested insights about where he could head with his lovely startup.

And sure did he get reaction. Just read his post, and be amazed by the amount (and quality) of it.

Way to go!

Seesmic on Crunchbase


Update (July 16 – 9 am): got en email from Joan Lockwood. She’s Marketing and PR director of Seesmic. She’s thanking me for this post and includes a recent picture of Loïc. Offering me a t-shirt as well.
Nice work, this is what in my mind new PR ought to be!

Twitter marketing – get the message out

Steven | marketing, advertising & campaigns,twitter | Monday, 14 April 2008

Twitter is more than talking to your friends and followers. It’s also a good tool to communicate a product or service to a large bunch of people (that you don’t know just yet). But how do you communicate to this people who don’t follow you? Simple: follow them. They’ll get an email someone is following them, and if they’re not a hot shot like Joseph Jaffe of Guy Kawasaki with 1000ths of followers, they’re probably intrigued and want to check out who and what. At least I am.

Example, today I got the message WPZOOM started to follow me. It’s not that I started to follow back instantly, but at least I checked out the twitter page and the website: It’s a website about wordpress themes and so on. Quite nice it seems.

So what can be learned:
- Following people can be a good way to intrigue people and make a conversion later on.
- However, make sure you target your target group. It’s too easy to just start following all kind of people. You need to have a connection with the audience.
- Also take care about your twitter page. The tweets you post, the image you choose, the description .. they all build up on your image, and you only get one chance.

So a nice way to communicate, it’s kind of neath: you follow someone and don’t force anyone to do something back. Now let’s hope this won’t be used by spammers to frequently ..

Spam of the day

Steven | multimedia,Random Thoughts,twitter | Wednesday, 13 February 2008

I started together with Bruno de Regge, appreciated colleague, a new twitter account called spamoftheday. We select the best / funnies / most absurd / .. messages from our inboxes and post it there.1559606_340_1116081430036-spam

So if you like messages as “Remember how tight virgins feel? You can replicate that feeling by making yourself thicker and longer.” or “I heard John had to stop taking those capsules because he became too large, and his girlfriend complained it hurt” .. feel free to follow us.


Twittering again

Steven | multimedia,Random Thoughts,twitter | Tuesday, 05 February 2008

I tried it out some time ago, but kind of forgot about it.
But suddenly al kind of people start to follow my nearly dead account. I thought I had the moral obligation to at least give it one more shot, so here I am!

You can follow me @

I’ll try to hang in, and kind of discovered the joy of it. You learn to know the people you’re following on a different way. Kind of a delayed group chat. Fun!

Tweet for charity

Steven | marketing, advertising & campaigns,twitter | Wednesday, 19 December 2007

In Christmas time, charity kicks in.
In Belgium, one of the major Radio Stations, Studio Brussel, organizes an event, second year in a row, where they lock 3 presenters in a glass house without food (only protein drinks). The event is called "Music for Life", a nice theme on their normal slogan "life is music".
This year the project is about drinking water and profit goes to the red cross.

The fun thing about M4L is all kind of actions arise from the listeners, really the community :)
You’re supposed to buy records and that way they collect money.
But other ways of contributing are possible as well.

Like Bart, pretty famous in the blogosphere here. He decided to auction his 3000th tweet, aka twitter message. He asked me if I could contact our customers, but it seemed something I wanted for ourselves, These Days. And so Erwin (our boss) started bidding, and he won. He bought this message for € 400.


It means as much as: "This is the most expensive tweet ever. We don’t have any money left to pay you loads, but can offer you nice colleagues, great projects and lot of drinking water:".

Talking about win-win: we gave to charity, got a platform where we could promote our jobs at the same time and Bart saw his twitter followers grow from 250 to 273!
Nice action, nice coop.


Steven | Random Thoughts,twitter | Saturday, 14 April 2007

New blog about twitter:

By B.V.L.G.