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Scripting News, the weblog started in 1997 that bootstrapped the blogging revolution.

Solving the TinyUrl centralization problem Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named esther.jpgFollowing up on an earlier bit about centralizing and TinyUrl, this is one of those vexing problems that actually has a solution!

Every web app that produces long urls should provide a built-in url-shortening facility. The user interface would be similar to the one in Google Maps they call "Link To This Page." You click on it, and up pops a box containing an address you can use to point to the page. Screen shot.

But look at the size of the url that Google gives you. It should be short. Why not something like:

In other words, why doesn't Google have a built-in shortnener?

When blogging software gives you a permalink, it should be short. It's okay to make the user ask for one, why clog up the system with shortened urls no one uses.

Another key point, when they give you a shortened url, it should point back to the software that gave it to you, so the shortened link will be exactly as long-lived as the thing it's pointing to. In other words, the URL shortener wouldn't contribute any extra link rot, to use an old term coined (I believe) by Jakob Nielsen.

It's a mistake, in hindsight, for Twitter to give us TinyUrl urls, because the link depends on two companies and two servers. It would be better if it just depended on one, less likely to break.

Now that URL length has become an issue for users, it might be even better for designers to view URLs as part of site design. Look at the address for the page for the Wii at Amazon. Wouldn't it be easier to find if the address were:

Try clicking on it -- it actually works! ;->

Why should a user ever see the longer crappy url?

In other words, url-shortening isn't just for Twitter users, it's for everyone. Maybe most people don't look at the urls, but some do, and maybe more would if they made more sense?

Note: This is a repeat of a piece I wrote in November 2007.

A short step in URL-shorteners Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Progress in the art of twittering comes incrementally. This suggestion is a very small increment but one that would make the job of a frequent linker, such as myself, a little easier. ;->

I would like my URL-shortener to grab the title of the page I'm linking to and insert it into the typing box, before the shortened URL.

Suppose for example I wanted to link to a post Doc's site. From that page, I'd click on the bookmarklet in the toolbar of my browser, it would take me to the shortener page, and this is what I'd see:

A picture named box.gif

Then I click Submit, and off I go. This is a step I do manually now. Better if it were automatic!

Any URL-shortener could do it. The first is likely to get my business. ;->

What blogs are for: BMW Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named beamer.gifOne of the reasons everyone should have a blog is that when a company pushes you around, you have a place to post your side of the story, publicly, so future customers have a chance to benefit from your experience. Over the years I have written up experiences with Travelocity, American Airlines, Comcast, a now-defunct ISP, a Bay Area plumber. Now I'd like to tell you about a problem I'm having with BMW.

I bought a new BMW in July of 2007. It's my fourth BMW and I love it. It's powerful and fast, incredibly responsive. I don't drive much, but when I do, it's still a pleasure. That's saying a lot after having a car for almost two years; I still look forward to driving it. BMW makes a fantastic product.

But -- then we've been having all this rain this winter, and it turns out the car leaks. Water is coming into the cabin, the carpets are wet, they're not drying out even though the weather turned nice a few days ago. So I brought it in for service on Wednesday. The dealer said it was my fault the car is leaking, and wanted $800 to fix it. Now this is a car that has a four year warranty that's supposed to cover everything. I've owned a lot of cars over the years, even a rusted-out Wisconsin junker (that I loved anyway) and I've never had a car leak water. I didn't believe for a minute this was my fault. I told them I live on a normal street, not on a hill, with not many trees (but some) and I could check with my neighbors, but I didn't think any of their cars were leaking. He suggested I call BMW of North America customer service to see what they say, and they said the same thing. I should pay for this because it was caused by an "outside influence" (the rain, I guess).

A picture named car.gifThen at breakfast on Thursday a friend who also has a BMW says Weatherford is notorious for ripping off customers. Once he brought his car in for service, they failed to fix it three times, and each time wanted to charge him for the repair. He paid, cause what are you going to do, they have your car. Meanwhile they were pressuring me to either return the loaner, or agree to the $800 charge. I told them I was waiting for a return call from BMW of North America. (Three days later I still haven't heard from them.)

So I went back to the dealer, got my car, returned the loaner, got their writeup of the problem (now the estimate was $625), and took it to a local independent BMW repair shop that gets good reviews (deservedly, it turns out). They showed me a BMW-issued service note, from January 2008, explaining that the 5-series has a problem with water leaks.

I scanned and uploaded the service note: p1, p2, p3.

It's so outrageous. They knew the car has this problem, yet they still wanted $800 to fix it.

10:15AM: I have a wet car that smells bad. I have a call into another BMW dealer to see what they want to do about it.

11:15AM: Got a call back. They want to see the service note. I've emailed him a link to this blog post.


Last update: Saturday, March 07, 2009 at 6:39 PM Pacific.

A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.

One of BusinessWeek's 25 Most Influential People on the Web.

"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.

"The father of blogging and RSS." - BBC.

"RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer's 'Really Simple Syndication' technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape's 'Rich Site Summary', which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows." - Tim O'Reilly.

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