A technology blog for The Economist Group IT team

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

TinyURL as a file-sharing system? 

I bought a copy of 2600: The Hacker Quarterly whilst in New York and a pretty good read it is.

I suppose we all have a pretty good idea that what TinyURL does is store a url as a string and allows access to that string via a short one (the tiny url). What 2600: The Hacker Quarterly highlights is that TinyURL doesn't check that the long url is actually a url. With that knowledge you can store any string of characters on TinyURL's servers and access that string via the tiny url. If you then have a mechanism to read a file as hex (with the hex editor that came with Norton Utilities, for example) and post that to TinyURL, BINGO!, you have a file transfer mechanism.

A bit clunky if not automated, but an interesting use of the service, though I'm sure that if TinyURL's servers start getting bunged up with huge "urls" then a fix will be put in place.

As the article points out this is a great example of people using something other than for its intended use. Another is using a hairdryrer to get those pesky barcode labels off the bottom of new crockery (I have remnants of labels on some plates that have resisted 100's of cycles in the dishwasher).

Do you have any other examples?
I saw another use for a hair dryer on scrapyard challenge. They started a really old diesel by blowing hot air into a vent?
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