Linking You to Safe Sites

Our URI shortening service, Linking You, has been slowly increasing in usage since we launched it last year. We’ve now shortened over 2,500 URIs which have been visited over 80,000 times. As Linking You becomes further rooted into the University, and is used by increasingly more and more people we’ve decided that we ought to spend some time ensuring that our service is not being used for malicious purposes.

I’ve just implemented a new feature which will help protect you against malicious links shortened by Linking You. Every new URI shortened as of this evening is now checked against Google’s Safe Browsing service and SURBL’s URI reputation database.

In the interest of keeping the Internets working, URIs that are considered dangerous by either of the above services will still be shortened however when you visit the short link you’ll be presented with a warning message instead of being forwarded on.

In the coming weeks we’re going to require all users of the API to use an API key in order to prevent misuse.

Student Timetables

Back in September I was quite bored one night and (as you do when you’re bored) hacked our student timetables so I could subscribe to it in Google Calendar (or iCal or Outlook or any other calendaring app that supports .ics format).

Joss Winn was quite impressed and offered to host it for my on the Learning Lab server, he even wrote a blog post which boosted my ego for about twenty minutes.

Anyhow a few weeks on I’m really pleased to say that a lot of my fellow computing students are using it and I’ve been approached by the online services team (whom Nick works for) about turning my hack into “an official hack”. Not only that but I think I’ve worked out a way of tracking changes to your calendar and you being notified by @ul_timetables on Twitter AND if you send a direct message to the account you’ll also be able to add new events to your personal calendar (such as assessments and exams).

I’ve not actually written the code yet because I’m a bit stretched for time at the moment however as soon as it’s ready I’ll announce it here and on Twitter.