Monument (marnanel) wrote,

Tinyurl whacking

You might know http://tinyurl.com -- it's a service which turns long URLs into short ones (rather like the competing http://www.makeashorterlink.com). For example, I wanted to link recently to the Open University fanfare, and tinyurl generated the new address http://tinyurl.com/ein .

Now, the other day, I realised that what was particularly interesting about tinyurl is that you can predict what URLs it gives to other people. All the URLs it gives out are combinations of one, two or three lowercase letters and numbers. If, as you'd expect, it's programmed to serve the shortest ones first, then (given that it's now generating three-letter codes) all the two-letter codes must already have been generated.

So if you pick one or two letters or numbers, you can jump to a random page which someone found interesting fairly recently.

Here's some examples I tried:

http://tinyurl.com/3 is an e-commerce unicycle vendor.
http://tinyurl.com/6 is a map of St Paul, MN.
http://tinyurl.com/j is Yahoo's category about URL shortening.
http://tinyurl.com/z is that MSNBC Enron typo.
http://tinyurl.com/3p is a discussion board about unicycling.
(Someone who loved unicycles must have been an early user.)

http://tinyurl.com/ma is an Ebay auction, now closed
http://tinyurl.com/an -- MORE freakin' unicyling
http://tinyurl.com/ne -- permission error, somewhere

Things really get interesting in three letters.

http://tinyurl.com/4fg -- Mac video games
http://tinyurl.com/8e4 -- the world's biggest seed
http://tinyurl.com/1s7 -- hydroponics
http://tinyurl.com/2sp -- penis enlargement
http://tinyurl.com/3lj -- photos of segregation in the 60s
http://tinyurl.com/6t1 -- evidence trashing program
http://tinyurl.com/7up -- how to optimise Windows XP
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