Hot-Linking

Using the internet on a daily basis and coping with the hoi polloi of the digital era makes me long for the days where the web was frequented mostly by CERN scientists and people knowing what the fuck they were doing. I ardently pray everyday for the institution of a mandatory Internet License granted to would-be users on the sole condition that they can justify an IQ somewhat half as high as my cat after he’s smoked his morning maui-wowi 3 incher (granted: the ability to roll a 3" with his paws altogether makes him a rather smart cat, but still)…

And I’m not talking here about spammers and other Nigerian sons of the General Abu-Ati who want to present you with an offer you can’t refuse. These are just low-life parasites of the net, unfortunate consequence of the flaws inherent to a network that was designed to resist nuclear attacks, but not insanely high doses of human stupidity mixed-in with greed. Everybody hate these guys, and they are the one most likely to get lynched when the falling apart of the North-American backbone eventually send mobs of angry slashdot nerds in the streets.

No. I’m talking about the one users who *think* they are using the Internet properly. The ones who do not hide.

First, there was the “friend” who’d forward you half-a-dozen emails to warn you about the impending “Internet sales tax to be voted any day now” and other bits of news that had usually been sitting on HoaxBuster or Snopes for a few months/years already. When tired of propagating inane Urban Legends, he would forward you insipid questionnaires quizzing you on particularly uninteresting details of your life, just in order to bore you with his own answers.

Sometimes, he would also send you [insert random spiritual figure name’s here]’s advice on Life, Love and the Universe… obviously written by some uninspired anonymous self-help guru but always finishing with the ominous imprecation to forward these cheap pearls of wisdom to at least 20 other morons, lest you end up like the poor chap who last ignored this friendly advice and perished the following night at the hands of a dozen sex-starved male gorillas freshly escaped from the nearby zoo.

One day, the same nitwit usually ends up opening one of these “Please open the attached file, there’s is something you’ll like in it”-type of email, figuring somebody has eventually caught on his idea to send useless pieces of junk to semi-strangers. When his infected computer starts spamming half the planet and slows down to a crawl, he barely notices, simply assuming that the chips are probably getting old, need some oiling or something…

But, with the magic of exponential growth and successive waves of viruses, there is a slim but nonetheless quite appealing possibility that one of the next virus to hit and spread through that endless ring of bonehead-operated computers will put them all out of order. I mean, what if, for once and for the good of the Internet community, we were to put ourselves together at work and create a mail-virus similar to the ones in existence these days, except instead of the usual pimply-teenage-hacker stuff they are usually meant to do, it would irremediably anihilate every infected host-computer all at once on a given date. Now I know it’s not that easy to destroy hardware through a software virus, but nobody said we had to look for faulty processor instructions or elaborate things like that: considering the kind of users we are dealing with, displaying a neat MS Windows-like error message:

Alert !
Your left processor has caught on fire. Please throw a bucket of water on the central unit and call 911 immediately.

… should do the trick… And simultaneously free-up my mailbox from its daily intake of pointless virus-infected mails sent through the computers of these second-class internet users.

But the email masses are not the only one polluting the net with their flat brainwaves. Nowadays, the same morons have expanded their realm to the Web. I am not talking about the overall subterranean level of most homemade web-pages and other acneic discussion boards: everybody has a right to express themselves (see: I’m not so radical after all), even if “expression” here consists of endless strings of LOLs, smileys and other sugary icons: as long as they don’t do it in my garden (or in my comments), I have no issue with it.

It DOES however become an issue when the aforementioned cyber-hemmingways start trying to embed nifty pictures in their messages (so far, so good), opt for a picture from my website (can only be flattered, really), although they do not deem necessary to ask for my permission (that’s much less nice, quite rude and stupid — especially given how I’d probably say yes in any case; but actually, I can live with that too) AND have the bright idea to spare on their own bandwidth by hot-linking directly to the files on my server (in a nutshell: displaying pictures as if they were on their server, while still having the files being downloaded from my server in the background, in essence, having me pay for their traffic)… And THAT, I really do NOT like.

I only caught on to it over the past few days, noticing some abnormal bumps in bandwidth usage (and by bumps, I mean literrally doubling or tripling over a few hours) and dissecting the weblogs, only to find out that a bunch of graphic files were being constantly queried directly by a multitude of pages on miscellaneous message-boards (probably people using them as signatures or something).

Luckily, there is an easy fix to this irritating habit: of course, one can have fun renaming the incriminated files, so that whatever picture originally lifted from your website gets replaced by some nasty image, wherever it’s been used on the Net. But I’ve got better things to do with my time than keeping tracks of hot-linking morons and renaming my files all the time. In fact, adding a few lines to Apache .htaccess file for the website does the same job beautifully.

So from now on, anybody hotlinking a picture from this website on a message board or any other external websites will get this image instead of the one targeted…

And by the way: It goes without saying that, although I retain copyright on any pictures I put here, I will quite gladly grant use to nearly anybody provided they ask first.

4 comments

  1. I am absolutely amazed at the notion of someone finding your pictures interesting enough to hotlink them anywhere. You should probably thank them for providing you with exposure you most certainly would not get with them sitting on this most interesting and rivetingly captivating toilet for your quasi-intellectualisms.

  2. Mr FreQ: such a shame you forgot to leave you email address (or any other contact info), I would have so much loved to have a private exchange with you… innit crazy how courageous people are forgetful sometime, eh…
    You do sound unusually bitter though… like, say, some moron who would have been attempting to hotlink a picture from this site and bump into the aforementioned moron-stopper I set up a while back…

    Well, as you said, none of my pictures present much interest to the general public (or myself), although I doubt you have really checked for yourself, and if you based your opinion on the snaps that decorates the sidebar of this site (most of which are not even mine, btw), I can see where you are coming from. Well, fear not my dimwitted friend, as not only have these appallingly bad pictures been deemed worthy of hot-linking over and again (and my logs are here to tell me how much), but even these low-quality rants seem to draw inordinately high amount of people who are not as bothered by their “pseudo-intellectualism” as you are.

    Then again, these people probably didn’t end up on this page by querying google with stupid search strings… unlike a certain person I won’t name but whose host starts with ‘pcp0010551739pcs.detrtc01.mi.comcast.net’ and ends with ‘pcp0010551739pcs.detrtc01.mi.comcast.net’ (IP: 68.43.56.108).

    Oh and please let me know if you ever find any of that midget porn you are looking for…

  3. yo dr Dave. You’re the shit! I enjoyed this post immensely. I learned a lot that I didn’t know before. Education is the first step to ending internet idiocy. Thanks. But you have to be somewhat intelligent to actually want to read the post in the first place…unlike FreQuat who doesn’t seem to realize that you’re pissed about theft, and not the fact that people want to use your pics.

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