How to Disable Twitter URL Shortening

In short: You can’t.

Recently, Twitter has started automatically converting all URL links in tweets (i.e. twitter messages) into 20 character “shortened” links. For example, if you send the message: “http://ChristopherPrice.com is awesome!” everyone will actually see something like: “http://t.co/IzKOWFnE is awesome!” Both links will go to the same place, but the shortened one is, in effect, cloaked. (Go ahead, try it.)

Shortened URLs are very handy sometimes, especially within the confines of a 140-character tweet. Additionally, you can convert a super-long, column-wrapping link into something you can email to the team and avoid the concern that Outlook will break the link.

There are times, however, when transparently sharing a URL is not only appropriate, but also important. Like when one is trying to develop a website’s brand. Or maybe an author believes (correctly, IMO) that fully disclosing a real link will provide some additional level of trust with readers. After all, in many cases, you really have no idea where a shortened URL is going to send you. On some devices, merely visiting a “bad” website can be harmful. That won’t happen too many times before increasingly suspicious people stop clicking on shortened links altogether. [Read more…]

Domain-Specific Redirects in WordPress Multisite

How to write an htaccess call to handle an entire mapped domain on WordPress Multisite.

Warning: This post has a pretty high geek factor.
You’ve been warned.

Since Otto (@ottodestruct) fixed the wordpress permalink issue in WordPress 3.3, when I moved christopherprice.com to a different WP install, I decided to eliminate the /%year%/ portion of the permalinks he recommended previously.

Since it is very bad for SEO to have previously ranked pages just disappear and show up at different URLs, I needed to set up a 301 redirect (permanent) instruction for each old URL to each new URL. For example:

http://domain.com/2011/post/ should now redirect all visitors (including Google spiders) to http://domain.com/post/.

[Read more…]

Slow Script on iGoogle

I’ve been driven a little (more) nuts lately with my iGoogle popping up with the following slow script error:

Slow Script - Safari is no longer responding because of a script on the webpage “iGoogle” (http://partnerpage.google.com/denverboulder.com?tab=mS). Do you want to stop running the script, or let it continue?

Error text:

Slow Script – Safari is no longer responding because of a script on the webpage “iGoogle” (http://partnerpage.google.com/denverboulder.com?tab=mS). Do you want to stop running the script, or let it continue?

Here’s the solution…

[Read more…]

What’s the Difference Between CIO vs CTO?

Nerd geekWhen talking to business managers, I often find confusion about the roles of technology leadership positions. CIO and CTO titles are frequently used interchangeably. Sometimes they only have a Director of Technology who reacts to “tech issues” when they come up. For the sake of clarity, I’ll offer my observation that Information Technology leaders tend toward one of two orientations: Internal business processes or external product development.

CIO is primarily internally-facing.

The CIO, or the Chief Information Officer, is a company’s top technology strategist who understands the business information needs of the company and the stakeholders of corporate operations. Maintains internal IT systems, including company information domains and business processes. Typically reports to the CEO on business models and vision issues, and collaborates with other business executives to learn their needs and develop new concepts. The CIO is a business person with IT experience.

A CTO is primarily customer-facing.

The CTO, or the Chief Technology Officer, is a company’s top engineer who most understands the science behind technology alternatives and frequently heads product research and development initiatives as they relate to the company’s current and future product offerings. Typically reports to the CIO or CEO (depending on corporate size and structure), and plans for technology evolution of the company systems. The CTO is a technology person having some familiarity with the company business model.

For what its worth, while I have experience in both roles, I am much more qualified for the CIO role.

What’s your take?

Do my descriptions match your understanding of the different roles? Do technology leaders in your organization participate at the highest levels of decision making? Does anybody know what they do at all?

Who’s watching you online?

Well, for starters, look below to see what I can tell about you. This information is available to every web site on the internet. It can be used to track your Internet use back to you personally.

Not impressed? Check out Arul John’s details page. His display of visitor data is more comprehensive. The difference between him and everyone else? He displays it for you to see, and the rest of us view it in Google Analytics.

The truth is that there are many people watching your every move online. From Google, to various advertising networks. From governments to site administrators. But before you start crafting a tinfoil hat, know that most of the people watching you are also watching everybody else — they are usually not interested in you personally. Rather, they are looking for trends, evaluating the quality of their own content, the effectiveness of their ads, and many other measures of their own performance.

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) protects you in at least four ways:

Anonymity

Using a VPN strips this information from your internet communication and replaces it with information about the VPN servers – meaning web sites see information about the service and not you personally, preserving your anonymity. The VPN services often don’t keep logs, so there’s no way to link your ISP account with your internet use. In short, you surf anonymously.

Security

When you access the internet over a public WiFi network – for example, at a coffee shop, hotel, friend’s house, airport, etc. – your surfing, email and other activity is insecure and open to snooping by the supplier of the service – the coffee shop owner, hotel technical guy – or anyone with the right equipment. It’s sort of like a radio broadcast – anyone with access to the WiFi equipment or with the right software on a laptop can “listen” to what you’re doing, by doing something called “sniffing” for network packets. The sites you visit, the content of your emails and instant messages and even in some circumstances the content of VoIP calls become visible to network “sniffers”. Using a VPN, everything you send and receive over a WiFi connection is encrypted. Anyone “listening in” will only “hear” a garbled mess, meaning your security is assured.

Privacy

Recently, governments around the world have put pressure on ISPs to track and record every form of internet activity – including web sites visited and emails sent and received using a technology called Deep Packet Inspection or DPI. Who knows what that are looking for and under what authority. I can’t talk about legality, but I don’t like anyone looking over my shoulders.

Access

Some services are not available from some countries. Sometimes news sources are blocked. Sometimes media content is not licensed for use outside of the USA (Such as Hulu.com, Pandora.com, ABC.com, BBC.co.uk). With a VPN service, your reported location is wherever the server is, rather than where you are.

Recommendations

I’ll update this page as I come across useful services and other good examples of when a VPN service is helpful. VPN services can be surprising inexpensive and even free. In fact, I suggest anyone with a laptop at least register and install one of the free services for when you are working from coffee houses, airports, and hotels. Better safe than sorry and the price is right!

Hostizzle is the VPN service I use most often. It is fast, mostly unrestricted, and it uses the openVPN standard so it works with just about any VPN software. Free plan includes 100GB/mo, and you have to renew a certificate each month. Paid plan is $4/mo for 1000GB/mo.

Still evaluating: proXPN, UltraVPN, Free OpenVPN, OpenVPN, VPN4All, and CyberGhost VPN.

Notable Articles

Fast Company – Is Starbucks a Sweet Spot for Hackers Looking to Steal Identities?

Kingston Times-News – FTC warns about public Wi-fi Dangers

CBS News – Want to Keep Your Credit Safe? Don’t Go Here!

PCWorld – 9 Ways to Keep Your Mobile Devices Secure While Traveling

What’s your take?

Do you use a VPN personally or to connect to your office network? Do you use it always, or only while you are using public Wifi?