Saturday, July 29, 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 them a chance.
  • Test your changes. Don't wait for your friends to alert you to your mistakes.
  • Troubleshoot your problems. Maybe you can solve the problem yourself, and maybe not. But find out.
  • Use peer support. If you're not living totally on the edge, chances are that someone else has already seen your problem, and may have a solution.
You should not expect that your blog will be online 7 x 24 x 365 - outages are to be expected. Nor should you expect effective and immediate support by Blogger for all of your problems. The more that you think Blogger Support provides all of the support needed, the more you need to educate yourself. It's your blog. Blogger provides the infrastructure, and you provide the content.

But, with a small amount of planning, and proper IT practices, you can minimise the inconvenience and the pain when an outage occurs.

Plan for Outages and Down Situations

Think of all of the ways that your blog could be down, or less than fully functional. A little preparation could go a long way the next time something happens. Either you, or Blogger Support, can make mistakes. If you don't make mistakes, you're not doing all that you could be. But learn from your mistakes - if you make the same mistake twice, you're not learning.
  • Mirror your blog, online. Use the WordPress import utility, and make a WordPress copy of your blog.
  • Mirror your blog, locally. If you have a local mirror, when you need to reference content, or show off your blog, you'll be better off than having nothing.
  • Backup your template. Your template is such a small bit of code compared to your blog as a whole. But for its small size, it affects the entire blog. If you customise your template, having a copy (or two) will save you a lot of trouble the next time you make a mistake.
This list is not intended to be all inclusive, so if you have any other concerns not addressed above, please let me know.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

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 things
  • This 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 the Blogger script uses DNS to verify availability, here is a big problem. There is a possible latency period, between selection (verification of availability) and publishing (actual claiming of address), when it's possible for someone else to also select that address. If you select an address, and somebody else selects that same address before you publish the first post, one of you will publish first. The second one publishing, to the same address, will overwrite the blog first published.

If you are selecting a desirable blog name, one that's short and easy to remember, it's possible that someone else would like to use that name too. If your name is based upon current events, you can bet that other people are thinking of those same current events. And if you're using Blogger, you're not alone. To see how active Blogger is, look at the Blogger Recently Updated Blogs list, which is constantly updated, and shows the last 10 minutes at any time.

It's also, remotely, possible that the Blogger script has a hole in it. Maybe it's identifying addresses as available, when they're not, and identifying addresses as in use, when they're actually available?

This is an odd situation, and may be coincidental. Maybe it's been a problem for a while, and just is becoming visible because of lowered noise in the forums. Or maybe it's a new problem. Who can tell, other than Blogger Support? In some cases, this might even be confused with Blog Hijackings.

Anyway, here are several cases, where there is something strange about name allocation. You be the judge - are these coincidental?


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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

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.



Each of the examples presented build on examples above it, so read the whole article if you have time available. Also, you may want to read the additional advice provided. And note the difference between how you create a hyperlink in the Blogger post editor, as opposed to many forum, and other web site, editors.

And for additional advice about using pictures in your posts, see Arranging Pictures In Your Posts, and Arranging Pictures In Your Posts, Side By Side.

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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?
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 know, then you are part of the problem.

If you know anything about the above issues, and are not writing about them, then you are part of the problem. If you are one of those directly affected, then you are obviously part of the problem. If you have a blog, you may be part of the problem; until this is solved, you may become part of the problem at any time.

The solution to the problem begins with you.

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Monday, July 24, 2006

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't see the answer in your article, will still think favourably of you if you provide them a convenient search box. Google will even provide you a search box which will target your website, but you need to be indexed by the Google search engine, first. Once that's done, get the Google Free WebSearch for your blog.

This is where knowing your visitors becomes essential.

When you have spare time, browse thru the SiteMeter and StatCounter logs. Look for Referring Pages and Search Engine Hit entries. Ask yourself two questions.
  1. What was the visitor looking for?
  2. Did my article provide him what he was looking for?
If question 1 provides a definitive answer, then make sure that question 2 can be honestly answered
Yes.
If question 2 must be answered "No", or even "Maybe", see the above advice.

You want repeat visitors. Make sure that the visitors that find your site leave happy. Link to other posts, or even other websites, if the article that they land on does not contain their answer.

Note: Having shown you how to make your visitors happy that they have landed upon your website, please avoid the deceiptful strategy of Amazing Bible Studies. You want repeat visits? Provide advice, and content, thats relevant, valid, and useful.

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 settings on the "Blog Posts" wizard, try resetting the post template.

If a simple republish, or widget reset, doesn't fix things, or if you have a New Blogger blog (as most of us do by now), try restoring your template (you did backup your template last time you made change, right?), then republish (Save Template). If you didn't back it up, then you'll have to get a new template.

To get a new Layout template, go to "Edit HTML", and select "Select Layout Template" under "Old Templates". For a new Designer template, you'll use the Template Designer wizard.

If that doesn't do it, then you'll have to have Blogger Support restore your blog from their backup. You do have a mirror copy of your blog, to verify its completeness when they do restore, right?

In most cases, though, a simple template refresh will solve things. Preferably, from backup.

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Sunday, July 23, 2006

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.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

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.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. You put the above snnipet into your template, and you have a dynamic feed from this blog. You make your own (free) (of course), and you have the same, for your blog.

Don't like the style of the information, as formatted above? Well, that's part of the FeedDigest template that I used. They'll give you a choice of half a dozen templates, or you can roll your own if you like coding HTML. All free.

Monday, July 17, 2006

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 shite. And when you try, you see
Sorry, this blog address is not available.

Browse thru the various threads in Google Blogger Help (in the 4 main subforums - ignore Share Your Blog!). You'll see this story repeated almost daily. How did this happen?

From the volume that it's happening, it pretty much has to be an automated process. Watching for newly available addresses (previously existed = worth money), re registering them, and putting spam blogs (splogs) in their place. And that's a splogging bot.

  1. We know that there's money in botnets.
  2. We know that there's money in splogging.
  3. We know that blogs are being hijacked, in various ways.
  4. We know about "distributed attacks", and about "throttled distributed attacks".
  5. The rate that the hijackings are occurring suggests some sort of automated process.

So next you ask
If my blog gets deleted (by me or by a Blogger anti-splog bot), or if I move my blog to an external host, how quickly should I setup a stub blog, to replace what I just deleted or moved? How many hours, days, weeks am I safe?

Well, as in the example above, the hijackings that I've read about suggest a period of days (or overnight), until the problem is noticed. So did your friend load your blog (the old URL) immediately after it was hijacked? Or hours, or days, after?

I, personally, would assume the worst possible case, and suggest
Minutes.


Put it this way. If botnets are not being used, right now, in blog hijackings, then the hijackings are being done manually. If the bad guys aren't using botnets right now, to hijack blogs, they will be sometime soon. Money follows money. Think. They are making good money right now. Using existing tools (botnets), they can make even better money.

I've been wrong before. Many times. I do not think I'm wrong right now.

This post, as other posts in my blog, is open for comments. Or you can sign my guestbook, and make your message private, if it pleases you.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

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:
http://bloggerstatusforreal.wordpress.com/
2006/07/15/help-i-cant-see-my-blog/


Remember to remove the inserted line breaks, when pasting either of the two above URLs.

(Note): Reading your blog, using an anonymising proxy server, is generally a free service provided by the proxies. Most proxies, though, aren't non-profit. They will charge a small fee for you to use forms and scripts, and other elements which are involved in writing to blogs. If your ability to maintain your blog, in addition to read it, is blocked, using an anonymising proxy server may cost you.


Update (19:30, October 23): Is this sorry situation repeating itself?


Update (6:00, June 21): Akhil informs us that the blogs are working.

Update (12:00, June 20): The Indian government is claiming that the block was an administrative error. The original govenment document (claimed scanned copy provided) very specifically defined individual websites to be blocked.


Update (18:00, June 19): Mac The Fork suggests Bloggers read about ongoing activities, then contact the Indian team CERT-IN, to discuss the situation.

Update (17:00, June 19): Jason of Blogger Support has issued one of their usual detailed analysis of the situation.

Update (15:00, July 15): The Google Feed Reader (and probably other feed readers) appear to access the feeds without having to access the blog itself. Enter the Atom feed URL, and you may be able to view the blog text. You won't see photos or fancy graphics, or scripts. Your sidebar won't be visible either. Just the post content.

Question: What the heck are you talking about? Blogger.com is not blocked, but myblog.blogspot.com is?

Yep, that's true. Open a command window, and enter "ping blogger.com". Look at the return.

C:\>ping blogger.com

Pinging blogger.com [66.102.15.100] with 32 bytes of data:

Reply from 66.102.15.100: bytes=32 time=20ms TTL=248
Reply from 66.102.15.100: bytes=32 time=16ms TTL=248
Reply from 66.102.15.100: bytes=32 time=17ms TTL=248
Reply from 66.102.15.100: bytes=32 time=16ms TTL=248

Ping statistics for 66.102.15.100:
Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
Minimum = 16ms, Maximum = 20ms, Average = 17ms


Here's the important part
Pinging blogger.com [66.102.15.100]

The IP address used by blogger.com is 66.102.15.100.

Now, do the same for your blog.
C:\>ping bloggerstatusforreal.blogspot.com

Pinging blogspot.blogger.com [66.102.15.101] with 32 bytes of data:

See the different IP address? That's why you can access Blogger (and post to your blog), but you can't access therealbloggerstatus.blogspot.com (and see what the heck is the problem). And that's why some folks get
502 Bad Gateway

Friday, July 14, 2006

Thursday, July 13, 2006

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 Service Level Agreement, either stated or implied. Here's a simple example of what you might expect to see, if you were properly acknowledged, as a business partner.
  • The system will be up 99% of the time during peak business hours, and 90% of the time during non-peak business hours.
  • If an outage occurs, the business partners will be notified when it is discovered.
  • When the outage is corrected, the business partners will be notified.
This is a very basic agreement, which might (no, should) apply to the relationship between Blogger (the website host) and us (the website builders).

Instead, what we have is the Blogger Help (right) Form, and the Blogger Status blog. And we have the Google Blogger Help Forums, where we (the unpaid staff) support ourselves. And occasionally, Blogger Employee drops by Google Blogger Help, like Christ on a magic horse.

It's a profitable business model - for Blogger / Google. If you want free website hosting, and can put up with minimal to no support, you come to Blogger, the K-Mart of blogging.

Several centuries ago, an American novelist wrote a tale about a young boy in the state of Missouri who, tasked by his aunt to paint the fence in front of their house, conned all of his friends into doing the work for him. Mark Twain's Adventures Of Tom Sawyer is classical American literature, and an example of the Google / Blogger business model.

(Edit 12/20): The new version of Blogger in beta is dead! Long live the new version of Blogger!

(Edit 12/15): And the unpleasant news about Blogger Beta continues to flow downhill, and we are in the valley.

(Edit 10/12): Today, we got some fairly unpleasant news about Blogger Beta.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

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.
  1. Blogger accounts attacked by password guessing.
  2. Blogger blogs hijacked when deleted by the owner, and when deleted by a Blogger anti-splog bot.
  3. Blogger accounts attacked by identity theft.
    1. General unsafe use of personal computer.
    2. Unsafe use of personal computer in a public place.
    3. 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 not vulnerable to an attack against your blog, directly. The address of your blog (its URL) is not in the Blogspot domain. No botnets targeting Blogger will find your website, so you are safe there. Nor will any Blogger anti-splog bots scan your website.

Once attacked thru your Blogger account, you are only temporarily inconvenienced. You (not Blogger) control your external domain. You (not Blogger) can immediately, upon discovery of an attack, delete the splog content. Then you can restore your external website from backup (you are backing up regularly, right?).

My suspicion is that sploggers won't even bother to hijack an externally published blog, based simply upon the above. So in conclusion, you are probably safe.

Threats that you probably cannot avoid:
  1. Predictable online presence.
  2. Blog owners lack of technical experience.
  3. Blog readers lack of technical experience.
  4. Blogger blogs attractiveness to search engines.
  5. Homogenous nature of Blogger / Blogspot structure.


Here, I would suspect that your readers would be attractive targets, and your blogs attractiveness to search engines still makes it a juicy attraction to sploggers. But based upon the scenario above, I don't see them exploiting either of those factors.

In conclusion, for at least these threats, as analysed, I see the blogs published locally on Blogspot as being the only possible targets. Externally published blogs are not at risk.

(Edit 10/26): Today, I must revise the above assessment. Now, we see actual detection of a serious hijack of an externally published blog.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

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 those already imported. Or at least note which ones have been imported, as the list will be cleared. Also, it would appear that, though any comments attached to the Blogger edition will be imported, any comments made directly to the WordPress edition will be lost.

In other words, this is not a blog synchronisation process - just a straight import process (DOHH).

I do note that all dates of original (imported) posts and commenst, along with all text and links, appear to be imported quite nicely. On a downside, and as noted in my previous installment of this saga, all links to other posts in this blog go back to the blog imported from, in my example to http://bloggerstatusforreal.blogspot.com/. So again as noted in The Real Blogger Status / WordPress Edition #1, this process does not create a mirror. When Blogger is down, you'll be able to refer any folks needing advice to the WordPress edition, but that will only show them the first page of any referenced article - any links go back to Blogger.

See The Real Blogger Status / WordPress Edition #3 for the continuing experience.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

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.

NOTE: This is an intense subject, and in writing about it, I make liberal use of hypertext. Each of the issues discussed below are explained in greater detail, in the linked articles. Please! Click on a link or two, and read the details.

In the recent past, computers controlled ("0wn3d") by the bad guys were used for one major purpose - spam delivery. In the world of blogging, though, they have a more immediate and obnoxious purpose. They are an essential component in the hijacking of blogs.

Starting with a database listing thousands of targeted Blogger blogs, an army of computers, in a botnet, systematically attacks each blog.
  • In a brute force password attack, the many computers in a botnet combine forces, and methodically guess the password for a known Blogger account. When the password is guessed, all blogs in that account are vulnerable to hijack.
  • In a ping attack, the many computers in a botnet simply ping each blog under attack, periodically. When any targeted blog fails to respond to a ping, presumably after having been deleted, that blog is vulnerable to hijack.
  • Thanks to the splog explosion, and the ongoing attempts by Blogger Support to contain the problem, your blog is subject, at any time, to being falsely detected as a splog. Legitimate blogs are being deleted by the Blogger anti-splog bots.


Note that classical brute force password attacks might have involved a consistent and sequential series of attempts, such as "aaaaaaaa", "aaaaaaab", "aaaaaaac"..., all coming from one single computer, and as rapidly as possible. That type of attack is obvious. When a sequence like that is noticed, any even rudimentary Intrusion Detection System would simply activate a filter against the IP address of the attacking computer, preventing any more attempts from even reaching the network.

Modern brute force attacks follow no pattern. A random sequence of character strings, with attempts spaced randomly over minutes, days, even weeks; and with the attempts coming, variably, from any of the thousands of different computers in a botnet, is to be expected now. All targeted blogs are attacked, randomly, from the many computers in the botnet. No IDS has a chance of detecting such an attack, carried out discretely.

As a vulnerable blog is identified, after no ping reply is received, it is assumed to have been deleted. The blog is setup, and registered to the owner of the botnet. As a vulnerable Blogger account is identified, it is taken over, and the password is changed. The blog or blogs involved are loaded with the spam content provided by the owner of the botnet, and the blog(s) become members of the latest splog cluster.

A successful attack could result in victory for the botnet owner today, tomorrow, or next week. Patience and persistence is the key here.

Some Blogger accounts are hijacked, not thru brute force password attacks, but thru password theft. Keyloggers, installed again by a trojan or virus, are a well known threat. Using a public computer, or using your own computer in a public network, can lead to password theft too.

Why are Blogger blogs targeted so systematically?
  • The blogspot.com domain is well known. Random, and systematic, searching for subdomains ("*.blogspot.com") will yield millions of hits. Each subdomain (Blogger blog) identified is known to be part of the domain, and all technical details about its hosting are known, from the domain itself.
  • Blogger blogs are predictably online. If the Blogspot domain is online, the millions of Blogger blogs will consistently respond to pings. Any targeted Blogspot subdomain (Blogger blog), not responding to a ping, can be reliably assumed to have been deleted.
  • Many Blogger blog owners are technically unsophisticated. With the easy and free availability of Blogger One Button Publishing, any Internet user can have a Blogger account and any number of blogs. Knowledge of even rudimentary computer security principles is not required.
  • Many blog readers, who frequent blogs with non technical content, are equally technically unsophisticated. They are the perfect splog targets.
  • Thanks to the Blogger - Google relationship, and the amenities offered, many Blogger blogs have good search engine rankings. These blogs cover a wide variety of technical and non-technical topics, resulting in a very diverse audience, and are of financial interest to the sploggers.
  • The Blogger / Blogspot domain, as a whole, is a perfect target for a distributed attack.


So how can I, as a Blogger user, help to resolve this problem?

Resolving this problem starts with you. Start now.


(Edit 10/26): When I wrote this article, originally on 7/9/2006, I focused on those who publish their Blogger blogs on Blogspot, the normal setup. My previous opinion was that those who publish off-site, ie to private hosts, are also at risk, though possibly to a lesser degree. Today, we see actual detection of a serious hijack of an externally published blog.

From today's discussion, we see possible more information on blog hijacking may be found at Loris Webs.


(Edit 10/23): This is getting still worse. I added Blogs Being Hijacked? to my list of Classic Blogger Issues.


(Edit 10/17): The situation is getting worse. Today, we see a PCWorld article about last weeks outage. And this week, we have suffered thru chronic periods of instability.


(Edit 10/17): In Blogger Help Group: Something Is Broken Blogs have been hijacked. . . ..., we see a mention of possible malicious hijacking.
my research with a Lynx browser shows that your blog url has been taken by blogger user monster-job-search-SFbp
(http://www.blogger.com/profile/33065055) on October 17, 2006, 1:15 AM.

I have now started a new thread - A Blog Hijack?, where I hope to diagnose this further.

Know Your Visitors

Most Bloggers, and publishers of other websites, shouldn't just write content, blindly. They 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.

As an alternative to commenting, some blog / website owners may prefer a GuestBook for their blog or website. There are quite a few free GuestBook products available, such as A-Free-Guestbook, and UltraGuest. GuestBooks are different from Comments - Comments are generally left for a specific post, while GuestBook entries apply to an entire website.

But we can get better information about our visitors, using specially designed visitor activity logs and meters.

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 make changes. Backing up the template is very simple.
  • From the dashboard, click on "Template", then "Edit HTML".
  • Position the cursor in the Template Editor window.
  • Hit Ctrl-A to select all text in the window.
  • Hit Ctrl-C to copy the selected text.
  • Open Notepad, and position the cursor in the Notepad window.
  • Hit Ctrl-V to Paste the copied text.
  • Save the copied file.

If you want to modify the template code using Notepad, because Notepad is way easier to use than the tiny template editor window, just make your changes then copy and paste from Notepad back to the template editor window. This will work for Classic or Layouts templates, equally well.

Note: In these procedures, I specify that you use Notepad (or any other plain text editor, that comes with the operating system on your computer) when copying the template. Do not use Microsoft Word, or any other word processor. A simple text processor, like Notepad, is just enough - A word processor, like MS Word, adds control characters. The template is straight text - the control characters, from a word processor, will make your template do strange things.

A template copy takes up very little disk space, and having a backup can be so useful. If you back it up before and after making any changes, you'll have a backup copy in case your current changes don't work as they should. And if the current changes do work as they should, and you need to recover from another calamity, like a mistakenly deleted blog, or a blog hijacking, you'll have a current backup to fall back on.

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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:

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?.

Friday, July 07, 2006

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 the way we serve you. The information you provide will be kept confidential in accordance with Google's privacy policy. We appreciate your time.

How satisfied are you with your overall Blogger experience?

Very satisfied
Somewhat satisfied
Neutral
x Somewhat dissatisfied
Very dissatisfied

How well were your questions answered?

Very well
Somewhat well
Neutral
x Somewhat poorly
Very poorly

How timely was the response?

Very timely
Somewhat timeley
Neutral
x Somewhat untimely
Very untimely

How likely are you to recommend Blogger to a friend or colleague?

Very likely
Somewhat likely
x Neither likely or unlikely
Somewhat unlikely
Very unlikely

Before you contacted the Blogger Support Team, which of the following resources did you first use for help?

x Blogger Help Center
x Friend or colleague
x Blogger Help Group
x Searched Google.com or another web site
None of the above


They just wanted numbers, so please give them numbers. I hope everybody got the same email. If not, see if the link above works for you.

NOTE: I selected "somewhat", rather than "very" (dissatisfied, poorly, untimely), because there was, believe it or not, some improvement. The problem of Wed, Jul 5 2006 13:00 - 15:00 or so, was reasonably short lived. But it was a couple hours later before many of us believed truly that the problem had been resolved.

And look at Blogger Status. Do you see any mention of the problem? Nope, the only record of the incident in question was threads like 0% (YES, there is a link there). Gotta be one of the shortest thread titles that I have seen in any recent time. The outage was 2 or 3 hours, which is one of the shorter outages too. But they need to document it, not ignore it.

I guess I Still Don't Get It.

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.
  1. Triage The Problem
  2. Deleted Blog
  3. Hijacked Blog
  4. Corrupted Content
  5. Login Problem
  6. Blocked By ISP
  7. Blocked By Network, or Local, Problem
  8. Last 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.

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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?

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Hijacked Blog
The bad guys may have hijacked another blog.

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Corrupted Content
Part of the blog is gone. Maybe the header is there, but no post. Or the posts are there, but the sidebar is blank. Oh no! What do I do now? Well, in this scenario, you may be looking at another case of the old dropped post / sidebar. If it's not a simple case of the posts or the sidebar having dropped down the page, you may have a corrupt template, and republishing may resolve the problem.

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Login Problem
You're logged in with the wrong account, or not properly logged in. Or maybe you tried to change the account name, and simply setup a new account without realising it.

Check and make sure that you don't have another account, that the blog is registered to. Find out what Blogger accounts are associated with your email address.

Or maybe you're logged in to the wrong version of Blogger. Did you simply make the wrong choice on the start page? If so, go back and try again. If you're certain that you made the right choice, but you landed in the wrong version anyway, clear cache and cookies, and try again.

Remember, though, part of the Blogger security strategy involves keeping the identity of the owner, of each blog, confidential. You don't want Blogger telling anybody who you are, so don't expect to email Blogger
I forgot the account (I changed my email address). What's my account?

and get a useful reply. You will have to do some work, and authenticate yourself, somehow.

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Blocked By ISP
Some ISPs, possibly motivated by political pressure, are blocking blog traffic, from time to time. You may see a variant of the well known
404 Server Not Found
or just as likely, a completely white screen, with no error.

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Blocked By Network, or Local, Problem
You have a network, or a local, problem. Both a problem with DNS, or the MTU setting, on your computer, or other local network or security problems, can result in the white screen as well.

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Last Resorts
If none of those scenarios helps, and the blog really isn't there any more, act immediately.

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Monday, July 03, 2006

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.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

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.
Now, since I have your attention, be advised that all example code below has been liberally seeded with gratuitous line breaks and spaces, to break up long lines of text, and thus prevent the usual post / sidebar alignment problems. The gratuitous line breaks make the code easier to read - human eyes can only absorb so much information in one stream, which is why we break text into lines, and paragraphs.

When you embed the code in your blog, those extra line breaks will break the code. Be sure to remove all gratuitous line breaks from your code, before publishing. And if you're in any way curious about how I setup this page, and showed the HTML so neatly, with links from section to section, see my tutorial on anchors and HTML. And you can always examine the code for any specific page element, if you're using Firefox.

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A URL

Here is a URL. See how simple it is? http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/2006/07/image-test.html
http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/ 2006/07/image-test.html
A URL is simply the address of a file, somewhere on the web. In this example, it's the address of this web page.

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A Hyperlink, With A Hidden URL

Here is a hyperlink, that is, a phrase (text) with a URL attached, as a link. This URL is hidden, unlike a hyperlink with a visible URL. The hyperlink points to another example in this post. Click on the link, and see for yourself. Check This Out
<a href="#Picture"> Check This Out</a>
A hyperlink is simply any object (here, a caption, "Check This Out"), surrounded by a clickable URL.

A hyperlink with a hidden URL is cleaner, and easier to read, than a hyperlink with a visible URL. Plain text is easier on the eyes. Replace the caption with a picture, and you have a button. Note that I used an internal anchor ("#Picture") in this example, rather than a complete URL (http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/ 2006/07/image-test.html). Also note the difference between how you create a hyperlink in the Blogger post editor, as opposed to many forums and other web site creators.

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A Hyperlink, With A Visible URL

Here is a hyperlink, that is, a phrase (text) with a URL attached, as a link. This URL is visible, unlike a hyperlink with a hidden URL. The hyperlink points to another example in this post. Click on the link, and see for yourself. http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/ 2006/07/image-test.html#Picture
<a href="#Picture">a href="http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/ 2006/07/image-test.html#Picture</a>
A hyperlink is simply any object (here, a visible URL), surrounded by a clickable URL. A visible URL might be used in articles that you would plan to copy into a text document.

When you copy text containing a visible URL, the copy target will contain useful information, unlike a hyperlink with a hidden URL. Note that I used an internal anchor ("http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/ 2006/07/image-test.html#Picture") in this example, rather than a simple URL (http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/ 2006/07/image-test.html). Also note the difference between how you create a hyperlink in the Blogger post editor, as opposed to many forums and other web site creators.

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A Hyperlink, With The Target Opening In A New Window

Here is a hyperlink, with the target opening in a new window. The hyperlink points to another example in this post. Click on the link, and see for yourself.
<a href="#Picture" target="_blank"><img src="http://bp3.blogger.com/_pzC_7PLtN-0/ SE1ocS9z0KI/AAAAAAAABJw/j794h4vOfYQ/s320/Check+This+Out.gif"></a>
A hyperlink is simply any object (here, a visible URL), surrounded by a clickable URL. Adding ' target="_blank"' (note the preceding extra space!) makes the target contents open in a new window (or tab, depending upon your browser).

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An Embedded Picture

Here is a picture, embedded in the post. See how simple it is? You can't click on this picture. Try it and see. See the difference between this, and an external picture?
<img src="http://bp3.blogger.com/_pzC_7PLtN-0/ SE1ocS9z0KI/AAAAAAAABJw/j794h4vOfYQ/s320/Check+This+Out.gif">
An embedded picture is simply a URL of a file containing an image, specified as an image. Surround it with a hidden URL, and you have a button. If you like, you can add text beside and / or below, the picture.

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An External Picture Here is a link to a picture, displayed externally. See the difference between this, and an embedded picture? Check This Out
<a href="http://bp3.blogger.com/_pzC_7PLtN-0/ SE1ocS9z0KI/AAAAAAAABJw/j794h4vOfYQ/s320/Check+This+Out.gif">Check This Out</a>
An external picture is simply a URL of a file containing an image, specified as a hyperlink. Or it's a caption ("Check This Out"), surrounded by a clickable URL.

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An External Picture, Opening In A New Window

Here is a link to a picture, displayed externally. This will open a new window, to save the reader from having to use the Back button, or allow to compare the original display with the resulting display. Check This Out
<a href="http://bp3.blogger.com/_pzC_7PLtN-0/ SE1ocS9z0KI/AAAAAAAABJw/j794h4vOfYQ/s320/Check+This+Out.gif" target="_blank">Check This Out</a>
An external picture is simply a URL of a file containing an image, specified as a hyperlink. Or it's a caption ("Check This Out"), surrounded by a clickable URL. Adding " target="_blank"" to the anchor tag makes the picture open in a new window. You can add " target="_blank"" to any anchor tag, with this result.

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A Button

Here is a button, that is, a picture with a URL attached, as a link. The button, as with the hyperlink above, links to another example in this post. Click on the picture, and see for yourself.
<a href="#PictureText"> <img src="http://bp3.blogger.com/_pzC_7PLtN-0/ SE1ocS9z0KI/AAAAAAAABJw/j794h4vOfYQ/s320/Check+This+Out.gif"></a>
A button is simply an embedded picture, surrounded by a hidden URL. If you like, you can add text beside and / or below, the picture. Making the button image isn't complicated. You can use any graphics or word processing program, that produces image files. Or, the right CSS / HTML code can be used to make a simple button image.

Note that I used an internal anchor ("#PictureText") to another section in this tutorial, rather than a complete URL (http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/ 2006/07/image-test.html#PictureText). You can read about Anchors, which let you jump to a specific section of a post rather than to the top of the post, in Putting Anchors, and HTML, In Your Posts

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A Button, With The Target Opening In A New Window

Here is a button, that is, a picture with a URL attached, as a link. The button, as with the hyperlink above, links to another example in this post, and the target opens in a new window (or tab). Click on the picture, and see for yourself.
<a href="#PictureText" target="_blank"> <img src="http://bp3.blogger.com/_pzC_7PLtN-0/ SE1ocS9z0KI/AAAAAAAABJw/j794h4vOfYQ/s320/Check+This+Out.gif"></a>
A button is simply an embedded picture, surrounded by a hidden URL. If you like, you can add text beside and / or below, the picture. Adding " target="_blank"" to the anchor tag makes the picture open in a new window. You can add " target="_blank"" to any anchor tag, with this result.

Note that I used an internal anchor ("#PictureText") in this example, rather than a complete URL (http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/ 2006/07/image-test.html).

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A Picture, With Text

Here is a picture, following text, with text beside it, and text below it. You can't click on this picture. Try it and see. Here is a first picture, with textHere is text, beside the first picture.
Here is text, below the first picture. Here is a second picture, with textHere is text, beside the second picture.
Here is text, below the second picture.
<img alt="Here is a first picture" border="0" src="http://bp3.blogger.com/_pzC_7PLtN-0/ SE1ocS9z0KI/AAAAAAAABJw/j794h4vOfYQ/s320/Check+This+Out.gif" style="float:left;">Here is text, beside the first picture. <br clear="left" /> Here is text, below the first picture. <br /> <img alt="Here is a second picture" border="0" src="http://bp3.blogger.com/_pzC_7PLtN-0/ SE1ocS9z0KI/AAAAAAAABJw/j794h4vOfYQ/s320/Check+This+Out.gif" style="float:left;">Here is text, beside the second picture. <br clear="left" /> Here is text, below the second picture.
The break record ("<br clear="left" />") is a key element here. You need the break, clearing on the left after that, to force text below the picture. As noted, this is a nonclickable picture. You could do the same, though, with a clickable Blogger hosted photo. You may find additional ideas for positioning images and text together, in this W3Schools Tutorial Exercise.

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A Button, With Text

Here is a button, following text, with text beside it, and text below it. A button is a clickable picture, that links to a post somewhere. This button, as with the hyperlink above, links to another example in this post. Click on the button, and see for yourself. Here is a button, with text Here is text, beside the button.
Here is text, below the button.
<a href="#PictureText"><img alt="Here is a button" border="0" src="http://bp3.blogger.com/_pzC_7PLtN-0/ SE1ocS9z0KI/AAAAAAAABJw/j794h4vOfYQ/s320/Check+This+Out.gif" style="float:left;"></a> Here is text, beside the button. <br clear="left" /> Here is text, below the button.
The break record ("<br clear="left" />") is a key element here. Since the picture floats on the left, you need the break, clearing on the left after that, to force text below the picture. Here is a second button, with text Here is text, beside a second button.
Here is text, below the button.
<a href="#PictureText"><img alt="Here is a second button" border="0" src="http://bp3.blogger.com/_pzC_7PLtN-0/ SE1ocS9z0KI/AAAAAAAABJw/j794h4vOfYQ/s320/Check+This+Out.gif" style="float:right;"></a> Here is text, beside a second button. <br clear="right" /> Here is text, below the button.
The break record ("<br clear="right" />") is a key element here. Since the picture floats on the right, you need the break, clearing on the right after that, to force text below the picture. Here is a third button, with text Here is text, beside a third button.
Here is text, below the button.
<a href="#PictureText"><img alt="Here is a third button" border="0" src="http://bp3.blogger.com/_pzC_7PLtN-0/ SE1ocS9z0KI/AAAAAAAABJw/j794h4vOfYQ/s320/Check+This+Out.gif" style="float:right;"></a> <span style="float:right; text-align:right;">Here is text, beside a third button.</span> <br clear="right" /> <span style="float:right; text-align:right;">Here is text, below the button.</span>
The break record ("<br clear="right" />") is a key element here. Since the picture floats on the right, you need the break, clearing on the right after that, to force text below the picture. Click on the buttons, and you'll see that they take you to another portion of this article.

You could, just as easily, have them take you to another picture. Note that I used an internal anchor ("#PictureText") in this example, rather than a complete URL (http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/ 2006/07/image-test.html).

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A Picture, With No Border

Here are two pictures, the first has default style, with a border surrounding it. The second has no border. Here is a picture, with a border Here is a picture, with a border.
Here is a picture, with no border Here is a picture, with no border.
<img alt="Here is a picture, with a border" src="http://bp3.blogger.com/_pzC_7PLtN-0/ SE1ocS9z0KI/AAAAAAAABJw/j794h4vOfYQ/s320/Check+This+Out.gif" style="float:left;"> Here is a picture, with a border. <br clear="left" /><img alt="Here is a picture, with no border" src="http://bp3.blogger.com/_pzC_7PLtN-0/ SE1ocS9z0KI/AAAAAAAABJw/j794h4vOfYQ/s320/Check+This+Out.gif" style="border-width:0px; float:left;"> Here is a picture, with no border.


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An Enlargeable Picture

Now the above examples, when they include a URL embedded in a picture, create a jump to some web page (in my example above, simply to another example in this article). This is how most of my posts, that include pictures, link from post to post. And this is how most web articles link from article to article. If you ever examine the code created when you upload a picture to Blogger, though, you'll see something entirely different. When you upload a picture, Blogger creates two files.
  • A thumbnail copy of the picture.
  • A full size copy of the picture.
The thumbnail copy is displayed in the post, with the full size copy linked to the thumbnail (instead of a jump to another post, you jump to the full size copy). If you upload your picture, but don't want it clickable, you simply edit the code, and you end up with an embedded picture. Or you could link to another post, and use the picture as a button. Here are a couple recipe pictures, so I can demonstrate this. Click on the pictures, and see the full size photos. Then, check out the recipes. Chuck's Cabbage / Shrimp Salad
And the best thing is, this is totally healthy (if you use low carb Cannola oil). Chuck's Potato / Leek Soup
This is totally healthy too. I picked this recipe up, while enjoying my current church. Other folks have liked it too.
<a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/ 5304/92/1600/DSCF0048%201280.1.jpg"><img style="float:left; margin:0 0 10px 10px;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;" src="http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/ 5304/92/320/DSCF0048%201280.1.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></a> <br /> Chuck's <a href="http://nitecruzrrecipes.blogspot.com/ 2005/07/cabbage-shrimp-salad.html">Cabbage / Shrimp Salad</a> <br clear="left" /> And the best thing is, this is totally healthy (if you use low carb Cannola oil). <br> <a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/ 5304/92/1600/DSCF0018.jpg"><img style="float:left; margin:0 0 10px 10px;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;" src="http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/ 5304/92/320/DSCF0018.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></a> <br /> Chuck's <a href="http://nitecruzrrecipes.blogspot.com/ 2006/03/potato-leek-soup.html">Potato / Leek Soup</a> <br clear="left" /> This is totally healthy too. I picked this recipe up, while enjoying <a href="http://martinezumc.blogspot.com/">my current church</a>. Other folks have liked it too. <br>
See the "<br clear="left" />" following the caption for each picture? As indicated in A Picture, With Text, it forces all subsequent pictures and text to start below the picture.

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An Enlargeable Picture, With A MouseOver Popup

Now the above examples, when they include a URL embedded in a picture, create a jump to some web page (in my example above, simply to another example in this article). This is how most of my posts, that include pictures, link from post to post. And this is how most web articles link from article to article. If you ever examine the code created when you upload a picture to Blogger, though, you'll see something entirely different. When you upload a picture, Blogger creates two files.
  • A thumbnail copy of the picture.
  • A full size copy of the picture.
The thumbnail copy is displayed in the post, with the full size copy linked to the thumbnail (instead of a jump to another post, you jump to the full size copy). And to that, we can add a popup, with the title of the picture. Here are a couple recipe pictures, so I can demonstrate this. Click on the pictures, and see the full size photos. Then, check out the recipes. Chuck's Cabbage / Shrimp Salad
And the best thing is, this is totally healthy (if you use low carb Cannola oil). Chuck's Potato / Leek Soup
This is totally healthy too. I picked this recipe up, while enjoying my current church. Other folks have liked it too.
<a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/ 5304/92/1600/DSCF0048%201280.1.jpg" title="Chuck's Cabbage / Shrimp Salad"><img style="float:left; margin:0 0 10px 10px;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;" src="http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/ 5304/92/320/DSCF0048%201280.1.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></a> <br /> Chuck's <a href="http://nitecruzrrecipes.blogspot.com/ 2005/07/cabbage-shrimp-salad.html">Cabbage / Shrimp Salad</a> <br clear="left" /> And the best thing is, this is totally healthy (if you use low carb Cannola oil). <br> <a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/ 5304/92/1600/DSCF0018.jpg" title="Chuck's Potato / Leek Soup"><img style="float:left; margin:0 0 10px 10px;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;" src="http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/ 5304/92/320/DSCF0018.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></a> <br /> Chuck's <a href="http://nitecruzrrecipes.blogspot.com/ 2006/03/potato-leek-soup.html">Potato / Leek Soup</a> <br clear="left" /> This is totally healthy too. I picked this recipe up, while enjoying <a href="http://martinezumc.blogspot.com/">my current church</a>. Other folks have liked it too. <br>
See the "<br clear="left" />" following the caption for each picture? As indicated in A Picture, With Text, it forces all subsequent pictures and text to start below the picture.

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An Enlargeable Picture, Opening In A New Window

The immediately above example, An Enlargeable Picture, gives you two images to look at:
  • A thumbnail copy, which you can see in the post, with the text.
  • A full sized copy, which you can see by clicking on the thumbnail.
Maybe you would like the reader to examine the full sized picture, while reading the text. Most browsers have a context menu, generally accessed by right clicking the mouse on the object of interest - in this case the thumbnail picture. In the context menu, they'll probably have, among other selections
  • Open Link In New Tab
  • Open Link In New Window
Any time the reader wishes to see the linked picture in a new window or tab, he / she simply selects the appropriate context menu entry. If you wish to make it easier for the reader, you can add
target="_blank"
to the anchor link, and automatically open the full sized picture in a new tab or window. This is similar to the above example A Picture, Displayed Externally, Opening In A New Window. Here are a couple recipe pictures, so I can demonstrate this. Click on the pictures, and see the full size photos. Then, check out the recipes. Note that the final result, whether the picture opens in a new tab or window, will be according to the Tabbed Browsing settings in each readers browser. If the user elects to open new windows in a new tab, that's where the new picture will open.
Chuck's Cabbage / Shrimp Salad
And the best thing is, this is totally healthy (if you use low carb Cannola oil).

Chuck's Potato / Leek Soup
This is totally healthy too. I picked this recipe up, while enjoying my current church. Other folks have liked it too.


<a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/5304/92/1600/DSCF0048%201280.1.jpg" target="_blank"> <img style="float:left; margin:0 0 10px 10px;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;" src="http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/5304/92/320/DSCF0048%201280.1.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></a> <br /> Chuck's <a href="http://nitecruzrrecipes.blogspot.com/2005/07/cabbage-shrimp-salad.html">Cabbage / Shrimp Salad</a> <br clear="left" /> And the best thing is, this is totally healthy (if you use low carb Cannola oil). <br> <a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/5304/92/1600/DSCF0018.jpg" target="_blank"> <img style="float:left; margin:0 0 10px 10px;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;" src="http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/5304/92/320/DSCF0018.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></a> <br /> Chuck's <a href="http://nitecruzrrecipes.blogspot.com/2006/03/potato-leek-soup.html">Potato / Leek Soup</a> <br clear="left" /> This is totally healthy too. I picked this recipe up, while enjoying <a href="http://martinezumc.blogspot.com/">my current church</a>. Other folks have liked it too. <br>


See the "<br clear="left" />" following the caption for each picture? As indicated in A Picture, With Text, it forces all subsequent pictures and text to start below the picture.

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For additional advice about using pictures in your posts, see Arranging Pictures In Your Posts, and Arranging Pictures In Your Posts, Side By Side. If you're in any way curious about how I setup this page, and showed the HTML so neatly, see my tutorial on anchors and HTML. And you can always examine the code for any specific page element, if you're using Firefox. Or check out the W3 Schools tutorials, that tell you all about each HTML tag, as used above.

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