- The Washington Times - Monday, August 24, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO | The growing popularity of Web address shortening services like bit.ly creates the potential for a bevy of broken links should one of the providers suddenly cease operations.

Those providers are now teaming up with data aggregation and syndication services company Gnip Inc. to form a system for archiving link data. That way, the links would keep working, even if the shortening service itself doesn’t.

The development comes less than a week after link snipper tr.im decided to cease operations — although it later reversed course.

These services convert long Web addresses into a handful of characters. That helps prevent those addresses from breaking into multiple lines when used in e-mails, news stories and other places. It also helps users stay within the 140-character limit on Twitter.

Called 301works — 301 is the server code for a redirect — the service is expected to launch in several weeks, Gnip said. Members will periodically submit lists of the original Web addresses that users shorten through their sites, along with the corresponding shrunken links they create, so the information can be stored.

Boulder, Colo.-based Gnip is footing the bill for now, and it will run and manage it. Participants are going to pick a nonprofit organization to manage the directory in the long term, Gnip said.

CBS to run video ad in EW print magazine

NEW YORK | An upcoming issue of Entertainment Weekly’s print edition will be embedded with a video player that will run ads for CBS shows and Pepsi.

The ad comes in a heavy-paper package resembling the kind of novelty greeting cards that make noises. A roughly 2-inch screen starts playing automatically as the page flips open. A speaker is embedded below it.

CBS Corp. and Time Warner Inc.’s Entertainment Weekly touted the video advertisement as the first to appear in a print magazine. CBS said the video player insert, made by a Los Angeles company called Americhip Inc., will be able to withstand the binding processes and mail delivery.

Free international calls standard at Vonage

NEW YORK | Unlimited domestic phone calls are nearly standard feature for land-line plans these days. Now, Vonage Holdings Corp., which helped pioneer that feature with its Internet phone service, is expanding it to most international calls as well.

CEO Marc Lefar said Wednesday that Vonage will include unlimited calls to more than 60 countries in a new standard plan that costs $25 per month, replacing a plan of the same price that included unlimited calls to just six countries.

The new Vonage World plan also replaces various step-up plans that included expanded international calling, like an “Enhanced World” plan that gave unlimited calls to 58 countries for $40 per month.

Mr. Lefar said that while domestic long-distance calling has been declining, international calls have been rising year by year, yet pricing hasn’t kept pace. He expects to market the new plan to immigrants in the U.S., including Asians and Latin Americans.

Vonage is the largest of the independent companies that supply their subscribers with adapters that let them plug their home phones into their broadband connections.

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