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Showing posts from July, 2006

Responsible Practices

Blogger One Button Publishing makes it so easy to setup and maintain a very attractive, organised, and useful website. Anybody who knows how to turn the computer on, practically, can have a Blogger blog. And anybody who knows a minimum about computer coding can have a customised Blogged blog.

And that's one of the biggest problems with Blogging. As easy as it is to customise a blog, it is just as easy to screw it up.

And the more that you depend upon your blog being online, the sorrier you will be when it's not. Even in businesses, this risk exists. In businesses, though, we practice risk management. You can, and should, do likewise.Backup your blog. Have alternate copies of everything, in various formats.Monitor your logs, even when no problems are being experienced. And when problems are being experienced, involve your logs in diagnosing the problems.Report your problems. Some problems can only be resolved by involving Blogger Support. It's their program - give t…

Blog Name Availability Problems?

When you setup your blog, and elect to publish to Blog*Spot (as many do), you decide upon a name (xxxxxxx.blogspot.com). The "xxxxxxx" must be unique - that is, nobody else in this world can use the same "xxxxxxx". You type your choice, the Blogger script checks for its availability, and tells you one of two thingsThis address is not available.This address is available.

If your desired address is available, you'll see the latter message. You can now continue with template selection, and your first post. As soon as you publish your first post, your blog (xxxxxxx.blogspot.com) becomes visible on the Internet, and is registered in DNS.

But how does the Blogger availability script decide if the address is truly available? Does it check its internal database, and make sure that nobody else has selected that name, but not yet published? Or does it maybe ping that address (ie reference its DNS entry, as you would do, when you ping)?
ping nitecruzr.blogspot.com

If th…

Using Images And Links In Your Posts

Using images and links in your blog is one of the easiest, yet sometimes least obvious, way to make your blog user friendly. The basic process is easy - each component is so simple to setup. Combining the various components, though, takes a bit of thinking. Maybe this article will make you think a bit.

A URL. A URL is one of the building blocks in HTML.

A Hyperlink. A hyperlink is simply a URL with a caption.
A Hyperlink, With A Hidden URL. We can have a hyperlink, with a caption describing the destination.
A Hyperlink, With A Visible URL. We can have a hyperlink, with a caption showing the destination URL.
A Hyperlink, With The Target Content Opening In A New Window. We can have a hyperlink, with the targeted content opening in a nw window (or tab, as your browser is setup).
A Hyperlink, With The Target Inside Another Post. We can have a hyperlink to a section inside another post.
A Picture, Embedded In The Post. An embedded picture is another building block in HTML.
A Picture, Dis…

Help Solve The Hijackings

Every week you read about another blog being hijacked. Yesterday, there was a blog. Today, a splog. How did this happen?The original blog was deleted, by the owner, or by Blogger anti-splog efforts.The owner switched to external publishing, or to a new URL, and did not plan the change properly.The owner did not practise proper security.The owner made no mistake. The attack came thru Blogger / Blogspot security.
One of the problems with the above list is that nobody knows if it's complete. Nobody really knows what is happening. All we can do is report the problem to Blogger Support. Sometimes, Blogger Support can resolve the immediate issue - the individual hijacked blog. But they have yet to report back, and let us know what the hell is going on.

The individual blog owners don't help a lot either. They see the problem, they report the problem, the problem is fixed (their problem is fixed), they go back to blogging.

If you know anything, and aren't telling what you kn…

Make Your Visitors Happy

This is a complex subject, but it starts with one rule.
Get all of the valid hits that you can.I'll restate that, in more obvious wording:
Get all of the hits that you can, but make sure that they are valid.If someone clicks on your URL, make sure that he lands right on an article that answers his question. If the details answering the visitors needs are not provided in that specific article where he lands, add a paragraph
In most cases, the above should be sufficient. Sometimes, you might also want to look at this topic, for more ideas.Don't just lure your visitor into your website, and expect him to search for the answer. If he's coming off a search hit list, he probably has other alternatives. When you see a 1 page view, but know that you had the answer to the query somewhere, that's what just happened. And you just lost a possible customer - and future bookmark.

Another option would be putting a search query box on your website. Many visitors, though they don'…

Corrupted Templates

My Blog Is Missing! Oh no! Generally, this refers to a deleted or hijacked blog. Other times, part of the blog is there, and the other part is not. This may be similar to the dropped post / sidebar problem, except there's garbage on the screen, or maybe the screen is blank. Or if you're in the Page Elements wizard, you can't add or relocate page elements.

What do I do now?

If you're lucky, the last time you published your updated blog, the publishing got interrupted. This will be more often seen when publishing to non-Blogspot blogs, but can happen with Blogspot too, generally with Old Blogger blogs. If that's what happened, you're in luck. Just republish your blog again. And next time you make changes, always test afterwards.

If the problem is in using the "Page Elements" GUI to add or rearrange elements, maybe the widgets are corrupt. Try resetting the widgets to default values, first. If the problem is with comments or posts, and setting…

Blogs And Your Browser

OK, you've got a kick ass web site. It's attractive, has good content, and it's nicely organised. Then you get email from your friend
Dude, your web site is crap.
How did this happen? You think it looks great.

Frequently, this happens when you design and test your blog for one browser, and your friend uses another. Firefox and Internet Explorer, which use differing code and display standards, are famous for this problem.

The Real Blogger Status / WordPress Edition #3

When the problem with Indian censorship of Blogspot blogs was first discussed, I wrote Help! I Can't See My Blog!. When someone wrote in seeking advice, I'd point him / her towards that article.

Then someone reminded me.
Chuck, we can't see your blog.

DOHH!

Then I remembered The Real Blogger Status / WordPress Edition #2. A quick import of The Real Blogger Status / Blogger Edition gave me the ability to provide Help! I Can’t See My Blog! / WordPress.Backup the template.Log out of Blogger.Reset the importer.Import my Blogger blog.If I do this often enough, it takes maybe 5 minutes total.

And, since I now have a WordPress blog, I can now advise someone:
Are you in India? This is a known problem.
http://bloggerstatusforreal.wordpress.com/2006/07/15/help...

How Did I Do That?

How did I create a dynamic feed showing the last 5 posts in this blog? Normally, I'd ask you to examine the code, then ask questions.

In this case, the solution involves more than just code. At least, you can't write this code on your own. Note: This example listing has extra line breaks inserted, to avoid causing sidebar alignment problems.

<div style='text-align:center; padding: 0px 3px 0.5em 3px;'>
<script type="text/javascript" src="http://app.feeddigest.com/digest3/PEXJUYD3JV.js"><noscript>
<a href="http://app.feeddigest.com/digest3/PEXJUYD3JV.html">Click for "The Real Blogger Status".</a> By <a href="http://www.feeddigest.com/">Feed Digest</a></noscript></script>
</div>

The code I got from FeedDigest. They take any set of Atom or RSS feeds (from any one, or from multiple web sites), and make you a custom feed in a javascript snippet like the above code.…

Splogging Bots

I don't know that ghosts exist, but I believe in them. I don't know for sure that splogging bots exist, either. I believe in splogging bots more than I believe in ghosts. At least, I respect the threat that they provide. Ghosts can't hurt you. In Spam Blogs #3, I discuss the scope of this problem.

Here's one very possible scenario. You are tired of having your friends complain about not being able to see your blog, every time Blogspot hiccups. So you setup a folder on your ISPs server, you register a domain name (cool), and you publish your Blogger blog to your new domain. Fine.

The next day, one of your friends emails you and says
Why are you selling stocks (adult movies, drugs, what have you) now?

And you go to your old URL on Blogspot, and look. And lo, you see a big advertisement blog, where your poetry used to be. WTF?

So you think
I'll fix them.
and you back into Blogger and change your blog to publish it back to the Blogspot URL. Get rid of the spam shit…

Help! I Can't See My Blog!

I just posted to my blog, so I know that it's there. I can tell others are looking at it. But I can't see it.

Well, the good news is you don't have a blog hijack or other calamity. Your blog is not gone.

Apparently, some ISPs are blocking *.blogspot.com, or maybe have network configuration or infrastructure problems. You can access Blogger.com or you can access Blogspot.com, but you can't access nitecruzr.blogspot.com, or bloggerstatusforreal.blogspot.com.

You can't access them directly, that is. If you can access any free, anonymous proxy servers, though, you may be able to access your blog.

Note: You can use PKBlogs with the URL pre packaged. Here is the address of this post (with gratuitous line breaks to prevent the old post sidebar alignment problem):
http://www.pkblogs.com/bloggerstatusforreal.blogspot.com/
2006/07/help-i-cant-see-my-blog.html


And an additional URL, to provide to those suffering from this problem, would be the WordPress version of this post:
ht…

Of Blogger And Business Relationships

Blogger is a free service - anybody can have a Blogger account, and setup as many websites (aka blogs) as he / she wishes, simply by providing an email address for registration.

But - and don't be deceived here - Blogger is not a non-profit organisation. Blogger - and Google - is paid very well. From advertisements, that appear on our websites. Or in the browser display, on the computers of folks who are reading our websites.We build and maintain the websites.Our readers view our websites.Our readers view the ads, provided thru our websites.Our readers buy the products presented in the ads, provided thru our websites.The retail companies pay their advertisers.The advertisers pay Google.We don't charge Google for our time building and maintaining the websites, and they don't charge us for the hardware and software that hosts the websites. It's a circular partnership.

And it's good that they don't charge us for support.

Charging for support would require a Servi…

Stolen Computers #2

Dirty Butter of Blog Village left a comment on my previous article Stolen Computers
Our Blogger blogs are hosted on our own domain. Are we at just as much risk as those blogs hosted on blogspot?

My immediate answer was "Somewhat". Then I realised that's pretty useless. A useful answer needs qualitative analysis.

Then I asked myself how relevant each of these issues are, anyway? So I rewrote the issues, and described them as threats. Some threats you can avoid, others you can't.

Threats that you may be able to avoid.Blogger accounts attacked by password guessing.Blogger blogs hijacked when deleted by the owner, and when deleted by a Blogger anti-splog bot.Blogger accounts attacked by identity theft.General unsafe use of personal computer.Unsafe use of personal computer in a public place.Unsafe use of any public computer.

Here you are vulnerable to an attack thru your Blogger account, which controls the Blogger database containing your blog, before publishing. You are …

The Real Blogger Status / WordPress Edition #2

Having just created my latest masterpiece Stolen Computers, I felt it would be appropriate to resynchronise my WordPress Edition. And found that to be a relatively painless experience.

I mainly repeated the previous experience, as chronicled in The Real Blogger Status / WordPress Edition #1.

In one issue worth noting, when you go to the Import Blogger screen, under Selecting A Blog, you'll see a list of all of the blogs imported to date. If the blog of interest shows at "100%" (which would be normal if imported already), when you click on that blog to import it again, nothing useful will happen.

You'll have to click on the Reset the importer link below the Selecting a Blog list. This will result in a scary warning about deleting all posts and comments (DOHH). Once that is done, the "100%" will change to "0%" for all blogs in the list. So it would appear that if you intend to reimport any already imported blogs, you'll have to import all of t…

Stolen Computers

If you have a Blogger blog, you (your blog) are under attack.

This is a very real problem. You may not even realise it, but you are vulnerable (actually, you're vulnerable because you don't realise it).

Every computer security expert knows that there are thousands of computers, worldwide, that are not under the complete control of their legal owners. Computers under the control of a bad guy, after infection from a trojan or virus, are a serious problem.

Know Your Visitors

Most Blogger blog owners, and publishers of various websites, shouldn't just write content, blindly.

Blog and website owners need to know who reads the content, too.

Some folks learn about their readers from the comments left by them. If the website is a blog, and if comments have been enabled, then some readers will feel moved to leave comments about specific posts.

Both Blogger and WordPress, and probably other blogging services, provide for comments. For regular websites, and for blogs without comments activated, you may be able to use Disqus. Disqus provides commenting on non-blog websites, and on blogs where more control (and separate from Blogger connections) is desired.

Backup Your Template

Your blog is almost a living, breathing thing. It's your presence on the web.

The posts in your blog are equivalent to the flesh - they give the blog content, features, and personality. The template is equivalent to the skeleton - they give your blog structure. The template isn't visible, like the posts are - but it's equally as important. Change the template, and you change the way all of the posts are displayed.

Hopefully, you back up the entire blog, maybe by mirroring it, periodically. That's a very good idea. You don't want to have to involve Blogger Support, except in extreme situations - like when your blog gets deleted.

(Note): These instructions are specifically written for Classic blogs. They will work for Layouts blogs also - but for Layouts blogs, Blogger provides a GUI template backup for backing up and restoring the template.
It's also a good idea to back up the template. If you make changes to the template, back it up before and after you …

Blogger Accounts, And Email Addresses

Setting up a Blogger blog starts with a Blogger / Google account - and setting up a Blogger / Google account starts with an email address.

This email address is not a mere, needless formality - it is a backup identity, and helps you to authenticate yourself to Blogger Support. It is thus a necessity, and should be kept current. And - need I say - remembered and secure. And it's easier to do all of these things when you stick to using one single account for all of your Blogger and other Google activities.

Mistakes Happen

The popular saying isn't that, but it's close. We all make mistakes.

If you just made a big mistake and deleted your blog, or if you're the latest victim of an over sensitive Blogger anti-splog bot, recovering your blog will involve Blogger Support, and the Blogger Support Help Form.

But don't start there - start by setting up a stub blog now.

Then finish the initial recovery:Recover the template (you did backup the template, at least once, right?).Fill out the Blogger Contact Form.Wait for Blogger Support to recover the blog, from their backup.

Optional steps while you wait for Blogger Support to act:Put a post in your blog.(Blog Title) Coming Soon.Admit that you were an idiot (yes, you were - admit it).(Blog Title) Coming Soon (Sorry - I goofed).

For a more complete procedure on blog recovery, see Aurea Martin (aka O.K., O.K.!) Erased your blog by mistake?.

Strange Out Of Body Experiences

Everybody has them.

They involve strange feelings, based upon a dream.

Sometimes, the dream becomes reality. Or reality becomes like a dream. I'm unsure which this is.

Today, I read my GMail.


support@blogger.com to me 5:00 pm

Hi,

Can you help us improve Blogger support? We welcome feedback about your recent experience so that we can improve the way we serve you.

Share your thoughts by answering five quick questions via the link below.

http://services.google.com/blogger/ts2?...

Your thoughts will help us to serve you better in the future.

Sincerely,

The Google Team


Share my thoughts? This is where the out of body feeling began.

Blogger wants to know my thoughts!!?? Hot dawg!!

So, I followed the link. And as abruptly as it began, the euphoria ended.

The link led to a simple 5 question multiple choice quiz. No opportunity to actually tell them anything. Back down to earth.

Can you help us improve Blogger Support? We welcome feedback about your recent experience so that we can improve t…

Help! My Blog Is Gone!

We're hearing that cry of dismay a lot recently. There are many symptoms, and actual problems, involved here. Look more closely at your problem, and at the list.
Triage The ProblemDeleted BlogHijacked BlogCorrupted ContentLogin ProblemBlocked By ISPBlocked By Network, or Local, ProblemLast Resorts
Please! Triage The Problem
If you are currently suffering from this symptom, please immediately help to triage the problem, post the results in a forum discussion (follow instructions about any rollup discussion), and participate actively in the diagnostic process.

>> Top

Deleted Blog
You made a mistake, and deleted your own blog, or maybe you or another administrator removed you from the permissions list. DOHH. Mistakes happen. Or the blog may have been removed by Blogger - for just cause - whether falsely or genuinely. Or, did you delete the blog intentionally, without considering possible consequences?

>> Top

Hijacked Blog
The bad guys may have hijacked another blog.

>&g…

Please Be Kind To Your Fellow Bloggers

The many Internet forums contain many discussions. Some discussions contain innocence, or naivete, that may make the more jaded to cough violently when encountering some discussions. If we are drinking any beverage when reading such posts, the keyboard and monitor are at risk.

In properly conducted Usenet forums, the experienced posters know to label such discussions with C&C (aka "Cats and Coffee") Warnings.

Please be kind to your fellow Bloggers.

Image Test

My apologies for the name of the post. "Image Test" is a good example of post title drift. This started out as an attempt to see if I could upload a picture, then I added examples and more points.

Now, it's a tutorial, for one of the easiest, yet sometimes least obvious, way to make your blog user friendly. Using images in your blog is easy, but using them effectively takes a bit of thinking. Maybe this article will make you think.

What I'll include here is several examples of simple but effective uses of images in a blog. After each example, I'll include the code, character for character (with exception to the note, below) used to create that example.
A URL.
A Hyperlink.
A Hyperlink, With A Hidden URL.
A Hyperlink, With A Visible URL.
A Hyperlink, With The Target Opening In A New Window.
A Picture, Embedded In The Post.
A Picture, Displayed Externally.
A Picture, Displayed Externally, Opening In A New Window.
A Button.
A Button, With The Target Opening In A New Windo…