One of the bigger sources for URL spoofing, malware insertion, and general Internet annoyance can be found in the legions of URL shortening services that exist on today's Web. You can't go three clicks deep on a page without finding some kind of cleverly named way to transform a 108-character URL into an 8-character shortcut. Regardless of the service you personally prefer for all of your URL-shortening needs, one common element remains constant through all of them: When you come across a shortened URL, you have no native way to tell where it is you're going.
The last thing you need is to be sent to some kind of horrific site that compromises your system's security (or, worse, some horrific site that compromises your job security). If you're a fan of the Google Chrome browser--and I bet you are, given that you're reading the Extension of the Week article--you'll definitely want to check out a little add-on called Explode.
Oh, you internet tricksters. Had I a nickel every time somebody erroneously sent me to a filthy, filthy Web site via a common tinyurl or bit.ly shortened url, I wouldn't have to write articles for Maximum PC just to pay my monthly Internet bills. But alas, I am quite gullible. Or at least, I was... until I ran across a lifesaving Chrome extension called Expand.
I often use this point in these mini-profiles to make some kind of joke along the lines of, "oh I bet you know what this does, don't you?" Try to envision that in the voice of Stan the salesman, if you can. Suffice, it is pretty easy to guess what the Expand extension does by name alone. In fact, there's only one configuration option that comes with this extension. The rest is all taken care of automatically and behind-the-scenes during your general browsing experience. Install this extension, sit back, and reap the benefits of its simple--yet powerful--functionality.
So, er, what exactly does it do? You'll find out after the jump!
Paring down an extraordinarily long web address into a manageable hyperlink makes it possible to share line-breaking URLs via email, text messages, Twitters, or any other medium without overwhelming the recipient, and therein lies the beauty of TinyURL. Unfortunately, the ugly truth is that while TinyURL makes short work of long URLs, they're also exceedingly difficult to recall for anyone not fluent in Nerglish. Or at least they were.
Of course, standard safe practices still applies. Don't click on hyperlinks from untrusted sources no matter what they're labeled as. And you know that buddy that still finds it amusing to send you a Rick Roll for the umpteenth time? Don't click on his custom TinyURLs either.