A Look at Bit.ly’s New “Realtime” Search Engine

Bit.ly, the number one URL shortener on the internet, was one of the first players in the space. While it rocketed way ahead of TinyURL, most popular social services like Google, Facebook and Twitter have started using their own URL shortening services like goo.gl, fb.me and t.co.

Anyway, Bit.ly still continues to be used by millions of users and is also integrated with thousands of apps and web services.

This week, it launched a new realtime search engine called “rt.ly“, which enables you to gauge the pulse of the internet — essentially what the internet is talking about, based on data generated by the millions of bit.ly links being shared by users across the web.

Bit.ly has been looking to monetize its vast user base and database of millions of links one way or another. It recently rolled out a bookmarking service, and also targeted enterprises with an advanced offering.

Here’s the official statement by Bit.ly labs on Realtime (rt.ly):

“Realtime is an attention ranking engine, offering the power to navigate through the stories that the world is paying attention to right now. Realtime allows you to filter attention by location, network, language, and topic. Want to see all stories about food being clicked on from Facebook? All of the stories about coffee? Easy. Stories only remain in the system as long as they are actively receiving attention.

There’s a bunch of fun technology under the hood. We fetch the content of every link saved or shared through bitly, analyze that content, then build models of human attention by analyzing the click distributions to the stories we see (at the phrase, URL, and story levels). The realtime interface provides you with the tools to navigate the stream of attention to these stories, and calculates the ranking at the moment that you make a request, so you’re always seeing the freshest content.”

While the beta service is currently free, Bit.ly could eventually roll out a premium version for paying subscribers, giving them access to advanced analytics and other features.

via bit.ly labs

Don’t be Tempted by the Kama Sutra Backdoor Trojan

appleIt’s difficult for some of us to resist clicking links or opening emails with provocative titles. That’s what hackers count on. Recently, one of many successful malware attacks was a file named Real kamasutra.pps.exe. Sophos reported that it really is a PowerPoint slideshow, but don’t get your hopes up. You’d have to infect your computer to see the images.

malwareWhat I will do is warn everyone, once again, not to be fooled by the old double extension trick. Even though you may think .PPS (slideshow), the .EXE on the end of the file makes it an executable file. When it’s launched, the slideshow above actually did display some rather unique images, however, it also installed a backdoor trojan. The trojan, called Troj/Bckdr-RFM, allows hackers to silently gain access to your PC. Once inside they can steal your data, your identity, and use your machine for any number of illegal activities.

Most of the time, you’ll see files with double extensions in email. One of the most famous email exploits was the I LOVE YOU.TXT.VBSfile. The .VBS on the end made it a Visual Basic Script, which installed a virus on millions of PCs back in 2000.

These days, your biggest risks come from clicking shortened links in social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. Thankfully, most of the short URL providers, like Goo.gl and Bit.ly, try to make sure that the links don’t end up at known bad websites.

If you’ve waited patiently hoping for a glimpse of the images in that Kama Sutra slideshow, visit the Sophos blog.

Bitly News Is a Hacker News Clone For Twitter

There are several ways to track popular stories on thanks to services like TweetMeme among others. However, the most common way of measuring popularity has usually been through the number of re-tweets a link has received.

Bitly News Hacker News Clone

Though using Retweets is a good measure, it in itself does not show the popularity of a shared article. For example there are thousands of users who automatically tweet a link using services such as Twitterfeed, so almost 50% or more of those retweets might be automated.

Bitly News is sort of a top news for Twitter which is pretty similar to how Hacker News is, however, instead of using crowd sourcing, the developer of Bitly News uses the Bit.ly API to source data and ranks articles based on the number of clicks it has generated. These kinds of lists definitely make sense since it takes actual measurement into consideration.

However, since Bitly News solely relies on bit.ly URL shortening don’t assume it to be 100% accurate or for that matter even 50% considering the number of alternative URL shortening services in use today on Twitter.

Bitly News was created by Jeff Miller as part of the Bit.ly API contest, for which he also won the first prize. It would be interesting to see how Jeff can take the project further to also include or source data from other URL shortening services to create a comprehensive snapshot of trending links on Twitter.

(Source: Tech Crunch)

Goo.gl Is The Fastest URL Shortener

A few weeks ago, Google announced the public launch of their Goo.gl. Goo.gl can also be used to create QR codes which can be read by mobile phones. With the announcement Google had claimed that it is the fastest URL shortener on the market right now, even faster than Bit.ly, which eventually took a potshot at Google. So is Google’s claim really good?

Pingdom URL Shortener Comparison

Pingdom ran tests on multiple URL shortener’s including Goo.gl and Bit.ly. The results give a astounding victory to Goo.gl, which is in fact 3 times faster their Bit.ly.

As you can see from the chart above, Goo.gl beat Bit.ly and other URL shortener’s by miles. Goo.gl also had a 100% uptime, which was also achieved by Bit.ly.

So if you had been doubting about Google’s claim, this should quell all your doubts.

Bit.ly Takes Potshot At Google With Their QR Code Feature

Bit.ly the market leader in recently added a feature to their service where adding .qr to their links would generate a QR code for mobiles.

Bit.ly QR Code Google Potshot

A similar feature was made available earlier this week by Google’s for their Goo.gl URL Shortener. However, as TechCrunch noted, Bit.ly has taken a wild potshot with their QR codes feature by adding picture of a fish (which resembles Bit.ly) gobbling some balls which are of course related to Google.

So is Bit.ly heating it up here with their battle against the search giant? Only time will tell.

Also Read: How To Read QR Codes on Your PC

Twitter’s t.co: A Take on Other URL Shortener

We have already seen Twitter shorten links in Direct messages. Now, it is expanding the same technology into status updates. This is one feature users have missed and complained about for too long and finally, Twitter is rolling it out as a feature for regular use.

This service has existed for direct messages which were shortened with twt.tl to prevent phishing and other forms of scams. This was achieved by blacklisting links from user generated reports and feedback. Now, the newly bought t.co domain will serve the feature to status updates.

The inclusion of this feature was hinted at, at the Chirp developer conference this year. This link shortening aims at improving the generated short links by keeping them meaningful and short at the same time. This would also help Twitter analyze the popularity of a link and roll out features based on it.

Not only this, the feature once integrated into the Twitter API will allow developers integrate newer tools and features into their applications and this will enhance the Twitter ecosystem as a whole. The developers will also have a more flexible choice on generating the shortened links.

The service is available for testing to selected Twitter employees only though; Twitter aims at making it available to the public soon. Once this feature is made available, I wonder what bit.ly will do to keep its charm.


Bit.ly Displaying Google Style Warnings For Harmful Sites

Not sure if this is new, but I have never since this before when I have clicked on thousands of bit.ly links before. However, when I clicked on a Bit.ly URL today, it displayed a warning to me that the site in question is harmful and may harm my computer. The warning is something similar to what Google displays to users on Firefox and .


If you are a Google Chrome or Firefox user, you might have seen similar warnings when you visit a malicious site using the browser. Has any one seen a similar Bit.ly warning before?

Bit.ly Now Supports Branded URL Shortening

One of my favorite tool ‘s blog just threw in a surprise news at us. It looks like Bit.ly is now using custom domains for Bit.ly Pro accounts while shortening the URLs.

Bit.ly Pro Domains URL Shortening

What this means is that when you try to shorten a URL from TechCrunch using bit.ly, Bit.ly will return a tcrc.ch URL instead of the usual bit.ly URL. This is definitely great news as bit.ly is one of the most widely used URL shortening service and it would help the Pro account users to keep an eye on all their URLs being shortened through Bit.ly and not just the one’s that they proactively create.

There is no official announcement about this on the Bit.ly blog, other than a announcement about the Bit.ly Pro a couple of days ago.

Hat Tip: TechMeme