Hints and Tips

Sometimes I write up some tips or hints. I've collected some here for your amusement.

Here are some hints



Scroll up for the full list of hints

What are Short URLs?

You may have seen links on Facebook that have odd looking URLs (Universal Resource Locator - Internet Address). They're in the news recently because of the Russian hacking thing. Here's what they are.

You know some URLs can be pretty long. Here's one for a Simon's Cat video on Youtube. Go ahead an visit if you like. I'll wait.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTBjHjRhx_Y&feature=youtu.be

Welcome back. That isn't too bad but watch your Location Bar when you surf. You'll see some dandys. At any rate, when you're posting this link to Facebook or in an email it can be pretty confusing. There are several sites, however, that'll shorten it for you. The oldest, I think, is bit.ly. Google Shortener is another. Here's the shortened link from Google.

https://goo.gl/uZe5Kb

Much easier. So. How do they do it? When you go to any shortening site, they simply take your URL and generate a random alias. When you click on the link, you don't go right to Youtube, you go to, in this case goo.gl. Yep. The .gl is a domain like .com and .org. Once there, their server matches your code to the actual link. In, like, a millionth of a second.

So that's where it's handy. Where it isn't is using it, like the Russians did, to disguise a link.

Remember all my babbling about phishing emails? I'm always going on about "Look at the link". If you see a link, mouse over it to see where it's actually going. Like this. Mouse over what looks like your link. Look at your status bar. See?

http://My-Bank.com

And here's the rub and where the Russians trapped people into clicking. With a shortened URL, when you mouse over it, you see the shortened version. There are no red flags.

The moral of the story is to be careful as always.