Simple Rivals/Yahoo Image URL Decoder

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I’m a subscriber to Orangebloods, a Rivals network website that covers Texas Longhorn Sports and Recruiting. People post and share images all the time and a user posted the question below earlier this week when frustrated by Rivals automatic rewriting of images to pass through Yahoo’s CDN.

Photos that users paste on this Rivals Message Board have a URL that begins with https://ec.yimg.com and if you try to copy that photo into a message on another message board you just get a red X. Why?

After writing the explanation below, I decided to take 15 minutes to write some quick JavaScript to reveal the REAL image URL when given the Rivals/Yahoo CDN URL.

My Explanation:

Rivals is doing that to speed up the site. Looks like they are taking advantage of Yahoo’s CDN (Content Delivery Network) to offload serving images from Rivals main servers.

As to why those links don’t work elsewhere, they are likely blocking external references to limit their bandwidth costs. When people take an image URL from one site and post somewhere else (called hotlinking — see Wikipedia),  the site where the image originates has to deal with sending the image to the end user. If you have hundreds of thousands of people doing this …. it equals big expenses and slow performance. By making those external hotlinked image references break, Yahoo is preventing people from doing this and stealing their bandwidth.

On to the good part. To get the real Image link do the following.

Right-click on the image and choose “Copy Image URL”

You should get something like this : https://ec.yimg.com/ec?url=http%3a%2f%2fvinylmeltdown.com%2fwordpress%2fwp-content%2fuploads%2f2012%2f02%2fheader.jpg&t=1424285195&sig=Ms9hzzO6zoaz1fmmlbeUkA–~B

Notice the part that I bolded and underlined … right after the url= and before the &t …. that’s an encoded version of the real image URL.

Copy that part ….. go to http://urldecode.org/

Paste the encoded URL in the box and click decode. You will then have the real image reference. In this case, it was:

http://vinylmeltdown.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/header.jpg

Sixty-Four Miles + Flat Tire – No Pain, No Gain

After a string of 20-35 miles rides over a few weeks, I was really long overdue for a high-mileage ride. After all, I’m training for the MS150 and I’ll log about 80-miles on back-to-back days.

So, I combined one of my previous routes through Southeast Austin and Creedmoor with the route that I took to San Marcos back in early February. The result was a 64 miler.

Fifteen miles in I got my 2nd flat tire in as many weekends. This one was on the side of a country road in the middle of nowhere. Since I’d learned how to change my tire via YouTube when I got my flat the previous weekend, I was good to go. I swung by a bike shop in Kyle twelve miles later to buy a new spare tube, in case I got another flat.

The last 15 miles or so were BRUTAL. Extreme left legs cramps, but I had to power through. After all, I was 15-20 miles from home and stopping for too long would just make me stiffen up.

I made it home — even did the difficult Bradshaw Rd. climb instead of taking an easier alternate route. Sixty-four miles in Five Hours, five minutes.

Create Maps or search from 80 million at MapMyRide

First Organized Ride: Bike for Little Heroes

bikeForLittleHeroesWhile making plans to attend a wedding in Houston, I saw a charity ride on the outskirts of town on the next day. So, I did what any budding cyclist would do — took my bike and entered.

This was my first organized ride and I did the 54-mile route. I did a 50 mile training ride the weekend before, so I felt pretty good about the distance.

The ride took me three hours and forty minutes. I only took one rest stop at the 25 mile marker. I passed up the stops at the nine mile and thirty-five mile markers. The nice thing about these organized rides is that water, Gatorade, and various snacks are free at the rest stops. However, on a long ride, stopping at every rest stop will have you out on your bike ALL DAY LONG.

Create Maps or search from 80 million at MapMyRide

First Half-Century Ride: Austin to San Marcos and Back

bobcat_stadiumOne of the big hurdles for a new cyclist is making their first 50+ mile ride. I’m training for the MS150, a two-day 150+ mile ride from Houston to Austin in April 2014. So obviously, I had to get a 50+ miler under my belt soon!

I had decided to do the 54-mile route at the Bike for Little Heroes charity ride on the outskirts of Houston in early February. That was my first organized ride ever and I didn’t want to be worried about whether I could make the distance.

So, on the weekend before, I decided to ride a solo half-century from South Austin to San Marcos and back. You can see the route below.

Unfortunately an extra challenge came along on the day that I decided to go 20 miles further than I had ever gone. Twenty to twenty-five MPH winds from the South were blowing that morning. Which means that I was biking straight into heavy winds all the way to San Marcos. It was brutal, but it made it all the sweeter when I made it to Bobcat Stadium.

Thank God the winds were still blowing and gave me a huge push on the way back home. I felt like I had a sail on my bike as I was breaking speed records. After making it to the finish line and still feeling like I had more miles in the tank, I was feeling really good about the next weekends event.

Create Maps or search from 80 million at MapMyRide

MS150 Houston to Austin: Support Aaron Terry’s Ride to Raise Money for Charity

2500-goalThe MS 150 is an annual National Multiple Sclerosis Society fundraising event centered around a two-day 150+ mile bicycle ride from Houston to Austin.

When I first heard of people making this trip by bike, it sounded ludicrous. Later making the journey became a physical fitness goal. Once I mentioned the desire to a Church member who rode in 2013, he made it point to keep reminding me.

So, my time is finally here and I’m excited to participate. I’m new to cycling, but I’ve been training and I’m up for the challenge. While the physical preparation is all on me, I need your help to realize my fund raising goal of donated funds to fight multiple sclerosis.

This is not a pledge based on my performance. It’s a tax-deductible donation you can make to help further the cause of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

$2705 – Goal Exceeded!
Shock the World Goal: $2500

Support Me

NOTE: It’s not highly visible, but you should see this line near the top of the form: Thank you for your gift to Texas, Houston – 2014 BP MS 150 on behalf of Aaron Terry

Track Me

See my training progress and follow me live on the day of the event. Works with any of the MapMyFitness Apps. Just download it to your smartphone or use the website.

 

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis is a progressive neurological disease that affects people in many different ways. It could be paralysis one day, loss of vision the next or impaired memory the day after that. Living with MS means living with uncertainty.

When it comes to MS, only two things are certain:

  • Another American is newly diagnosed with MS every hour of every day.
  • Many people are joining the movement toward a world free of MS – including me.

Let’s Move Forward Together

The Society organizes 100s of rides nationwide. The funds they raise fuel research aimed at treating and eventually curing MS; they also provide crucial services for persons living with MS.

I’m helping the National MS Society move forward toward a world without MS and making a difference in the lives of 400,000 Americans with multiple sclerosis.

Maui Sunrise at Haleakala Crater Summit

Even though I like my photos, these do not even come close to doing justice to this experience. If you ever have the opportunity to go, don’t scoff at the notion of waking up at 3am to make the drive.

Temperatures at the summit are about 30 degrees cooler than at the surface which made it about 47 degrees that morning. The winds felt like they were at least 25mph, which makes for a pretty good wind chill. I psyched myself up for it by imagining that the strong winds were actually me feeling the force of the face of the sun in such a magnificent way. [Read more…]

On the Road to Hana: Wai‘anapanapa State Park and Black Sand Beach

We were excited about our last stop before making it to Hana because we really wanted to see the black sand beach. We wish we had brought swimwear, but we were so focused on the drive that we didn’t think about bringing anything along with us to enjoy the stops.

Regardless I enjoyed walking around, taking photos, and seeing the sights. [Read more…]

On the Road to Hana: Kahanu Garden and Pi`ilanihale

After a few more stops along the roadside, we decided to spend a little time at the Kahanu Gardens. It was a good decision and worth the per person fee.

Among the gardens, which showcase plants with significant roles in past and present of the islands, sits a huge platform made of volcanic rock that is believed to be the oldest known place of worship in the Hawaiian Islands.

[Read more…]

On the Road to Hana: Ke’anae Peninsula

Our first non-roadside stop on the Hana Highway was at the Ke’anae Peninsula. We stayed for about 30 minutes marveling at the rocky beaches and taking a few photos. Here are some of the shots I took. [Read more…]

A Visit to Lahaina, Hawaii on the Island of Maui

Having never been to Hawaii and not sure when/if I’d be back, I wanted to see another island. So we headed off to Maui for a few days.

We ended up staying in Ainu Nalu in the town of Lahaina. It was the perfect place to be our home base. Plenty of slow-paced activity during the day and really quiet at night. Lots of shops an art galleries along Front St.

Here are a few shots from around town. [Read more…]