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Issue #318: August 25, 2013

Q: Why is it that no matter what I try, I cannot reach any of the tinyurl links you publish? I use Cox, enter exactly what you post in the paper and all I get is the Cox error page.

Pete C.
Fort Walton Beach, Florida

A: Pete, if you’re reading this please note that I had written back to you some time ago asking for more information on exactly what you meant by “the Cox error page”.  Since I haven’t heard from you, and since I am a bit concerned that others may be having similar problems, I’m going to go ahead and answer anyway.  But check your e-mail or your SPAM folder.  You might have missed a reply from me.

On this topic, first let me say that all links provided in the column are tested and checked for accuracy before I submit them for publication.  That being said, all it really means is that they were working when I wrote the column – I can’t help what a website owner might do after that.  I think, however, that the problem you are describing goes beyond one dead link.  It sounds like your system is having a problem with the means by which TinyURL guides you to the proper site, which, as usual requires a little background information.

As you probably know, URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator, a name which is longhand Geekenese for “web page address”.  A fully formed URL begins with “http://” and is followed by the website address and domain, such as my own  Specific pages on the site are then identified by one or more iterations of a slash followed by more characters.  Some of these URLs can get pretty lengthy, on the order of several hundred characters of unspellable and unpronounceable gibberish.  Such URLs were never meant to be typed by human hands, but rather embedded into web pages, where you never have to see them.  However, there are occasions when lengthy URLs need to be passed along; such as when one writes a newspaper column that’s read by eager Geeks who need to be directed to various sites, or when you’re e-mailing a link and your e-mail software insists on inserting a hard carriage return where your link wraps from one line to another, or even when you’re sending a URL via Twitter and your entire message is limited to 140 characters.  In these cases, it is extremely handy to have a tool that can take any link and shorten it to just a few characters that are easy to type, and don’t break across lines. is one such tool, along with,, and others.

These services work by performing what’s called a browser redirect.  They store the “real” URL in a database that associates it with the shortened alias.  When your request hits their site with a shortened URL a quick lookup is performed, the real (long) URL is retrieved, and you are instantly whisked away to your destination without ever having to type in all those characters.  When used the way it was intended it’s a great system.  The problem is that this until you arrive at the destination, you don’t know where you’re being sent.  That makes redirection an ideal tool to redirect you to sites that distribute malware, and that vector is often used in e-mails.  So, Pete, it is possible that Cox is trying to do you a favor by automatically blocking browser redirects.  It’s also possible that you have the configuration of a web security utility set in such a way that it is disallowing the redirect.  It’ll be up to you to contact your ISP, or check your software settings to determine the problem.  If you’re ever in doubt about a link in my column you can always visit my website at  All links that appear in the column are active and clickable in my posted articles.  If anyone else out there is having this problem with TinyURL hyperlinks, drop me a line – I’d like to hear about it.

2 Responses to “Issue #318: August 25, 2013”

  • Judie Day says:

    Thanks’ Jeff, I’ve been wondering why you use Tiny URL to post the links in your article. I’m so glad you wrote an article on it because I can now use it to post links into the announcements that I send out to the CLL Computer Club. Some of the links I send out can be very lengthy and this makes it so much easier. Thank-You so much for all the helpful information you’ve given us over the years. Thank-you so much, Judie Day, Your Official Geek.

  • The Geek says:

    You’re welcome, Judie. I could have told you all that a long time ago. You had not, because you ASKED not! hehe. Be sure and ask if there’s anything else you need!

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