Posted by darren on Sunday, November 21, 2010

Being a benevolent hacker seems to be how I've spent most of the last 10 years. Not a hacker in the computer/software/programmer sense, but by benevolently hacking the system to make it work. Smooth out the rough edges of the bureaucracy; make a better world.

About a month ago, the IT powers that be, began blocking url shorteners.,, tinyurl, etc., all became unusable.

I sent an email requesting that be unblocked.

It's been three weeks and I haven't heard anything. Yea or nay. It was clear: I couldn't wait for salvation from IT.

I needed an alternative.

I was able to find a few, small, unknown link shorteners. But who knows how long they would last? There was no customization. Besides, who were these people? I didn't feel as secure as with the big boys.

I wanted a solutions that I had control over.

I hit upon, a php script that allows you to set up your own url shortener. I just needed a domain and somewhere to host it.

Amazon Web Services was my first thought, but it seems like hosting really isn't a possibility. I'd have to pay for something. At any rate, it was too complicated.

Then I thought, perhaps it can be run off the side of my studyology Wordpress server. But, if this would work, there's obviously two problems, (1) it'd have to be installed in a subdomain and (2) this would make it very long for a url shortener:

Not ideal.

Then, I recalled that GoDaddy has free hosting accounts with domain purchase. It runs an annoying baner ad on top, but all I need is the server space.

As it turns out, GoDaddy already has Yourls as an application for one-click installation with its free, linux hosting.

But, I wanted a really short url, something tiny, something really puny. So I bought and installed Yourls there.

I made some changes to the config.php file to allow duplicate urls. Waited about 12 hours for GoDaddy to update (Not sure why this step took so long. It seemed like the DNS update was much faster.).

Now I have my personal url shortener. Currently immune to filtering:

Yours benevolently,