Friday, April 27, 2007

Convert Long, Complicated Web Addresses Into Small URLs

create short tiny url Here's a quick review of the most popular URL redirection servicesto help you pick the right one for your job. - This is a name synonymous with URL redirection with maximum number of users. You can drag their bookmarklet in your browser and create short URLs in a single click. The advantage is that users can preview the web address embedded in TinyURL before visiting the actual website. With Preview, Without Preview - A relatively new but promising URL shortening service. It allows you to describe or annotate the destination website in the short URL itself. For instance, is the same as but the latter makes more sense to the visitor. And you can also use Google Talk or Yahoo! Messenger to create short URLs through a buddy called short website address - With SnipURL, you can choose your own web address with some meaningful text instead of using random addresses generated by This will help visitors get an idea of what they are about to click. It is possible to modify the underlying URL without changing the existing SnipURL address. Best of all, SnipURL can generate private URLs that can only be accessed after providing a password. - This may well be the favorite URL redirect service for bloggers and website owners since it provides usage statistics of your short URLs (i.e., Number of Hits). When a user clicks a URL created by, he is shown the web address of the destination for few seconds before the actual redirection. Now that's an intelligent design since users can opt-out even after clicking the short URL. Nothing deceptive about it. Final Thoughts - gives control in the hands of the user and automatically increases the level of trust. SnipURL gives you click through stats and more control over URL text so that makes it my favorite URL shortening service. [I personally use these services for sharing hyperlinks in my newspaper columns that are published in the Hindustan Times and Financial Express.]


ScratchYourself: Viral Sweepstakes That Brands Could Love

A new service called ScratchYourself came to our attention today. It’s a fairly simple Flash application that lets users upload an image and build a lottery-style scratch card from it. During the beta period people have a chance to win some very limited cash prizes that total $90 or so per day across all winners.

Once a scratch card has been created, users can email it to friends or embed it on their site. I created a quick scratch card with our logo and have embedded it below.

What interests me more than the front end, which would easily be duplicated, is the business model and payments infrastructure they’ve put in place. Users have an incentive to create and embed these on their blogs, MySpace page, etc.: if you create a scratchcard and someone wins a prize, you get the same prize as the creator of the card. Prizes are awarded, at the winner’s choice, via paypal, mailed check or amazon gift certificate.

The company’s business model is to attract advertisers to sponsor prizes (cash, products, coupons). If ScratchYourself turns out to be trustworthy and can circumnavigate the rather complicated federal and state regulations governing sweepstakes, brands could be attracted to this. You get a good long look at the image underneath the scratch area, which is more than can be said for most banner advertising. And publishers will like the ability to win the same prizes as their readers.

Shycast and Bix (acquired by Yahoo) are also experimenting with brand based contests, albeit through video (and Shycast is also a social network).


Akamai Releases FoxTorrent 1.0 - Firefox BitTorrent Add-on

Red Swoosh (acquired by Akamai for $15 million earlier this month) released v1.0 of FoxTorrent today. This is a fully functional BitTorrent client for Firefox that works cross platform (Windows, Mac, Linux) and has a very cool additional feature - the ability to stream files as they are downloading.

This is no Azureus (my BitTorrent client of choice), but it does the job and saves time by allowing you to manage torrents directly from the browser. I tested it on a few (non-copyright infringing, of course) files and it worked great on the standard BitTorrent functionality. Streaming just didn’t work, although with the way the BitTorrent protocol breaks files into pieces and reconstructs them in a non linear way means you may have to wait until the file is mostly complete to even begin streaming. I’ll try it again once the files are nearly complete.

Read More... - An Acoustic Similarity Search Engine

Audiobaba is a new kind of music search engine. You type in a song you like, and they give you a list of similar songs by other artists. You can listen to the sample of those songs, and if you like them, you can purchase them at Amazon or iTunes. The selection of songs they return is based on the acoustic structure of the selected. If what they returned doesn't sound similar to you, you can give it the thumbs down, helping their system to more closely match songs to each other that are more relevant. If you like a song in particular, you can add it to your bookmarks, or favorites. It's an interesting new way to find new music. They also offer their API to developers, sharing their new search technology. In their own words: "Audiobaba is a next-generation music search and recommendation engine. We realize that unless you know the name of the song you want, searching for music has so far been a pretty pathetic undertaking. Because there really is no better way to describe a song than "da da dee da da da", rather than using text to search for music, Audiobaba searches for music by fingerprinting the acoustic and impossible to articulate qualities of every song in its database and searches through them acoustically. We then further refine and personalize results as we receive feedback from our valued users."


ScratchYourself: Flower Power