A while ago, I started noticing that my bandwidth usage for this site had gone way up. This was around the same time my blog became popular for its Manual vs. Automatic article, so I didn’t think much of it. My hosting provider, Net1Plus, is the best in the world and the people there are really, really nice, and since I’ve been with them for so long, they sort of let it slide.
Well, eventually I got curious – the amount of bandwidth I was supposedly using did not match up with the stats I was seeing from Google Analytics. So I dug into my Apache access log and found, to my complete surprise and horror, that people were hot linking to many of the pictures/wallpapers I’ve put up over the years. Say it ain’t so!
I had thought the days of naive hot linking were long gone – but I guess this IS the age of Friendster, MySpace, and so forth. Which, coincidentally, is where most of the hot linking was coming from. This is what happens when you give people with no idea how to use HTML a web page of their own. It’s like the old AOL and GeoCities age all over again.
Fortunately, I know what to do here. I’ve been around long enough to know how to use .htaccess (and I’ve seen it used before with great effect).
So now thousands of websites are getting an image that says something to the effect of “This site is stealing bandwidth. Please don’t do that; use an image hosting site instead.” I’ll continue to refine the image as time goes by. I want it to be somewhat shocking at first, to get people to react to it. Later (as in after a few days or a week) I might change it to something a little less severe. Then, eventually, I’ll just tell Apache to return a 403 – Forbidden. Because, after all, even the “warning” message still uses bandwidth – and I pay for only a certain amount, after all (as do most people online).
So if you’ve come to this site recently because of a strange new image that says you’re stealing bandwidth, well, now you know why. If you are inclined to get angry, let me offer you this – most people would’ve just redirected the images to something terribly obscene, like a horse’s anus or something terrible like that. I’m not that mean, though. I just don’t want to have to pay for more bandwidth, just so you can use one of the wallpapers I’ve posted here on your profile page. I don’t think I’m being unreasonable with that. There are plenty of image hosting sites you can use (Flickr, or Amazon’s S3 service are two that I highly recommend), or if it’s your own website, you can just save the images to your own site.
Using images from someone else’s site is always a risk, after all – you never know what they might do with them.