As it turns out, Sweden did not intentionally declare war on my web server earlier this month. Programmer Daniel Stenberg explains how the international incident happened:

A few years ago I wrote up silly little perl script (let's call it script.pl) that would fetch a page from a site that returns a "random URL off the internet." I needed a range of URLs for a test program of mine and just making up a thousand or so URLs is tricky. Thus I wrote this script that I would run and allow to get a range of URLs on each invoke and then run it again later and append to the log file. It wasn't a fancy script, but it solved my task.

The script was part of a project I got funded to work on, that was improving libcurl back in 2005/2006 so I thought adding and committing the script to CVS felt only natural and served a good purpose. To allow others to repeat what I did.

His script ended up on a publicly accessible web site that was misconfigured to execute the Perl script instead of displaying the code. So each time a web crawler requested the script, it ran again, making 2.6 million requests on URouLette in two days before it was shut down.

Sternberg's the lead developer of CURL and libcurl, open source software for downloading web documents that I've used for years in my own programming. I think it's cool to have helped the project in a serendipitous, though admittedly server destroying, way.

To make it easier for programmers to scarf up URouLette links without international strife, I've added an RSS feed that contains 1,000 random links, generated once every 10 minutes. There are some character encoding issues with the feed, which I need to address the next time I revise the code that builds URouLette's database.

This does not change how I feel about Bjorn Borg.

-- Rogers Cadenhead

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