What happened today is about 1 chance in 84 Billion.  Here is what happened.

I was using the URL shortening service http:\tr.im.  This service takes a long URL and shortens it into something manageable.  The utility of the service is that you get a short URL which can be used on venues such as Twitter, where every character counts.

In fact, I was going to tweet about a new product, Contact Capture for the iPhone.  The latest iPhone is the 3GS.   I typed in the long URL, as shown in the picture below.


Next, I pressed the [TR.IM] button and got the following:


If you haven’t picked it up, the iPhone is the 3Gs, the trimmed URL is “x3Gs”

Now for the fuzzy (very fuzzy math)

There are approximately 96 usable ASCII characters.  ASCII is the characters on your keyboard plus a few more  (A-Z, a-z and 0-9, etc) .  There are about 96 usable ones that the TR.IM service can use.

With 4 unique characters in the URL, that means there are 96 * 96 * 96 *96 combinations or 84,934,656 combinations.

This itself is interesting, but the fact that the URL was for an iPhone 3Gs we have to look at this question:  Of all trimmed URL’s, what percentage are for iPhone related content?  I am going to be  conservative and sale 1 in 1000.

So 84 million multiplied by 1000 is one in 84 billion.

The bottom line is that this was a coincidence, it made me smile and I thought I would share it.

Here are the links I made today:

Contact Capture for the iPhone:  http://tr.im/x3Gs

Contact Capture for the Blackberry:  http://tr.im/x3Fu

If the Blackberry link included something like a Blackberry model number, I would be heading out to buy a lottery ticket…no such luck.

This all made me think about Malcolm Gladwell’s new book Outliers.  One of the concepts I gathered was, basically, when opportunity knocks, you need to take advantage of it.  Sometimes an opportunity is one in 84 billion.