Saturday, September 30, 2006

My Blog Is NOT Spam

Don't get me wrong here. This is, currently, not my problem. But it was once, long ago.

I suffered the indignity of solving the Captcha, over and over, for at least a week. And unlike many here, I don't just write a blog post. I write, and rewrite, and rewrite the rewrite. Then I add a couple links, to other posts, and reverse link those posts to my latest post. So each post, for me, would be a dozen (minimum) publishes, and a dozen (minimum) opportunities for me to solve the damn Captcha.

Then somebody wrote here about the link, which I had looked at each time I solved the Captcha.
My blog is not spam.


DOHH. I clicked on the link. Two more clicks, and I was done. I got a bot reply an hour later, and same day, a final reply.

I logged out of Blogger and back in, and posted a test. No more Captcha.

Unfortunately, not everybody has an easy experience like that. Many people write that they have submitted the request from
My blog is not spam.

at least once, and they are still waiting for service. And to them, I say
Submit it again.

It takes maybe 10 seconds to submit the request.

How long did it take for you to write your latest complaint? How long did it take for you to read this post?

Submit it again. Daily, if you post that often.

(Edit 12/9): The anti-splog whitewashing process, which also involves solving a captcha, appears to suffer from problems. We'll discuss those problems in My Blog Is NOT Spam #2.

(Edit 10/15): It appears that now we have a "?" next to "Word Verification", and clicking on that will take you to the review request form.

(Edit 10/3): Some folks have reported seeing just a "?", where the "My blog is not spam" would be. And clicking on the link brings them simply to the Blogger Help documentation. Well, nobody ever successfully accused Blogger of being totally consistent, or insightful. My regrets to you, if that's what you're faced with.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Publishing Problems - Classic Blogs

The problem of the week is Publishing.

You'll have a variety of symptoms, when publishing to a Classic blog.
  • The ever present spinner of death, which does not end.
  • The spinner of death gives way to a white screen.
  • The spinner is never seen, you get a white screen immediately.


What's worse, the post that you're publishing may or may not actually be posted. You'll not find out unless you
  • Open "Edit posts" in a separate window, and refresh the view periodically (when publishing a new post).
  • Open "View Blog" in a separate window, and refresh the view (when publishing an update to an existing post).


The Google Blogger Help forum is buzzing with complaints. One guy has started a thread advising us how to contact Google Investor Relations (since Google itself cannot be contacted).

I, personally, experienced all of the above symptoms, in trying to publish this article. I had to resort to resubmitting the post, and risk making a duplicate post, to get around the white screen, after I hit "Publish Post" the first time.

I fear that this may be only the beginning of the end of Classic blogs, as I predicted some time ago. Maybe it's even a (highly misguided) effort by Blogger Support to get its customers eager to switch to Beta blogs. Observations, and speculation, has already started.

  • Problems publishing - I can't even get to the end of this one, it's being updated so frequently. Maybe we need a new forum just for this issue.
  • PUBLISHING PROBLEMS, with an (excerpted) message from BS

    Hi there,

    Thanks for writing in. We are currently focusing all of our efforts on improving Blogger and Blogger in beta and getting beta ready for all of our users to switch over. In order to help improve Blogger as quickly as possible, we are going to focus our efforts on reading the problems you are experiencing and working on solutions immediately. We'll follow up with you only if we require additional information or if we have additional information to share. However, we do have some other resources to help you out.

    In the Blogger Help Group, experienced users can answer your questions, or you may find that your question has already been asked and answered in the archives. We also have a Blogger employee monitoring the group to provide assistance. You can visit the help group here:
    http://groups.google.com/group/blogger-help

    which, of course, puts us back here with the other sheep. Maybe Blogger Employee or Pete Hopkins will drop by.
  • Problems publishing new posts
  • yep same prob here downunder, for an International flair.

Can we summon Pete Hopkins, as Candyman could be summoned?
Pete Hopkins
Pete Hopkins
Pete Hopkins
Pete Hopkins
... Shall I do it?
Pete Hopkins

I've come for you.


(Edit 9/28 16:30): Looks like this problem was SPLOGGERS. Dirty sploggers. Jerks.

>> Top

Monday, September 25, 2006

How Long Do I Have?

This question has come up a few times this year.
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?


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


Do you think this to be fiction, or perhaps paranoid delusions? Then please read Spammers stole my old URL during transfer to FTP hosting!.

Under the right conditions, protecting yourself with a stub blog should take maybe 30 seconds.
  • Go to the Dashboard, and select Create A Blog.
  • Name your blog. What did you just delete? DOHH.
  • Select a template - just pick the first one.
  • Create a stub post.
  • Publish.
  • Done.
  • If you take as much as a minute, and the problem is the computer or network I can probably help you to get the time down to 30 seconds.
  • If you take much more than a minute, though, it's likely that you have a problem. In that case, I'll advise you to get yourself checked up by a real doctor. I can't help you completely.
Just do it. And do it now.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Peer Support - It Works ONLY If You Help

Blogger Blogs, and similar online and other IT products, use peer support to help their customers. Blogger, similar to other companies, provides Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, where Bloggers with various problems can write in and say
I have a problem [My Problem]. Can anybody help me?

If you properly compose your problem report in Blogger Help Forum, and state your version of [My Problem], one of several things may happen.
  1. A solution will be known, and will be instantly provided by one of the many helpers.
  2. A solution will be derived, from subsequent questions by one of the many helpers.
  3. You will be advised to report your problem, to Blogger Support.


Now, if you are so fortunate to have scenario 1 or 2 apply in your case, it is possible that the solution can be found in either Beta Known Issues, Blogger Help, or Blogger Status. It's possible - but not too likely - if it was, you (or someone like you) would have found it, and publicised it, long ago.

If the solution is provided by a helper, the chances are that it came from a prior thread in the forum, under scenario 3. And here's the problem. Of all of the threads mentioned in the many posts linked from Beta Blogger Problems, and from Classic Blogger Problems, how many of those threads end with somebody actually saying
YAY! It's fixed! And this was [The Solution]


Besides non-existent peer support, we have Blogger Support which is part of The Problem. Whether posting as Blogger Employee, Pete Hopkins, or anybody posting in Beta Known Issues, Blogger Help, or Blogger Status, Blogger only rarely publicises problem resolutions. I have previously discussed this issue as The Silence.

When a thread actually is closed, by anybody (preferably by the original poster of the thread), I would greatly prefer to transcribe the solution, into the appropriate Classic Blogger Problems or Beta Blogger Problems detail problem post. I would prefer. Very few can I do this way, though.

Why is this?

Because of the dozens of individual threads about the various problems, please tell me how many actually end in
YAY! It's fixed! And this was [The Solution]


The majority of these threads simply end. And there is The Problem.

Rarely, someone will post
I have a problem [My Problem]. Can anybody help me?

then sometime later they may post back
I found the solution [To My Problem]. Here is [My Solution]

without any interactive problem analysis. So we don't get to help solve the problem, but maybe we can still learn from the solution. This person is now part of The Solution.

But here's an odder scenario. Someone will post
I have a problem [My Problem]. Can anybody help me?

then sometime later they may post back
I found the solution [To My Problem].

without any interactive problem analysis, or the solution. So we don't get to help solve the problem, nor do we get to learn from the solution. This person is now part of part of The Problem.

Not everybody realises the benefits, and the requirements, of peer support. Peer Support works - if you make it work.

So, if you are involved in any of these threads, or other threads, and you find your problem solved (either by a forum helper, or by yourself), please post back in your thread
YAY! It's fixed! And this was [The Solution]


Provide your version of [The Solution]. The helpers are constantly learning, as they help others. Your feedback may help them learn, or encourage them to continue.

And having provided your your version of [The Solution], you are now experienced in your problem. Now you need to do some research. Find out what caused your problem, and why the solution was necessary.

Then come back to the forum occasionally, and look for other folks with what looks like your problem. When you see someone reporting their version of your problem, describe your solution to them.

But be selective here. Remain aware of computer and system uniqueness. Mention your problem, and your solution, but be aware of possible reasons why neither will be 100% universal. Read other folks reports of their problem, too.

Become part of The Solution, not The Problem.

>> Top

Migration From Blogger Classic To Blogger Beta - In Place Process

So I guess congrats are in order. You just got the notice.
Your blog can now be migrated to Beta. Click here to start.
or whatever. See, I haven't gotten the notice.

If you are ready for the journey, then go. Beta is a pretty fantastic improvement, regardless of the shortcomings.

But.

Before you start, backup your blog.

I say again.

Backup your blog.

Please.

(Note): More detail - a lot more detail is coming. This is almost a stub post. But I have seen enough problem reports recently
I just migrated my blog to Beta. And now it's hosed. What do I do now?

Well, first, you have to report the problem, and reply to the botmail. And be patient.

But while you're being patient, maybe you could work from a backup copy. If you had a backup copy.

Maybe if I say this again, you will next time.

So, I now tell you three times
Backup your blog, before migrating it.

Areas Of Google Blogger Help

The Google Blogger Help Group is the official help area for (Google) Blogger Blogs, where the users help themselves (with slight exception). There are 6 forums in Google Blogger Help.
  1. How Do I?
  2. Something Is Broken
  3. Publishing Trouble
  4. Login Issues
  5. Customizing Templates
  6. Share Your Blog


Some people occasionally confuse the first 5 with the last.
  1. How Do I?
  2. Something Is Broken
  3. Publishing Trouble
  4. Login Issues
  5. Customizing Templates
are for providing help. People write in when they need help, they ask for help, and the helpers try and answer their questions. The contents of these forums is generally relevant to current issues, as all properly provided advice from the helpers is posted as answers to the various questions.

Share Your Blog is a different forum. There, everybody gets up and yells,
  • Hey everybody, check out my blog!
  • Hey everybody, check out this neat article that I just wrote!
  • Hey everybody, here's some useful advice!


Some people ignore the amenities of Share Your Blog, and post in one of the 5 help forums various non sequiturs
  • Hey everybody, check out my blog!
  • Hey everybody, check out this neat article that I just wrote!
  • Hey everybody, here's some useful advice!
ignoring the focus of those forums. The people who need the help will be doing several things.
  • Most Frequently: Posting pleas for help
    Hey somebody please help me with My Problem!
    and waiting for a solution to My Problem.
  • Occasionally: Looking for posts
    Hey somebody please help me with My Problem!
    to see what solution, if any, was found for My Problem.
  • Seldom to Never: Looking for posts
    • Hey everybody, check out my blog!
    • Hey everybody, check out this neat article that I just wrote!
    • Hey everybody, here's some useful advice!

There are other problems with the
  • Hey everybody, check out my blog!
  • Hey everybody, check out this neat article that I just wrote!
  • Hey everybody, here's some useful advice!
approach.
  • It produces clutter in the forums.
  • It encourages the other helpers to spend their time writing marginally helpful articles, and less time helping.
  • It encourages the other helpers to likewise write
    • Hey everybody, check out my blog!
    • Hey everybody, check out this neat article that I just wrote!
    • Hey everybody, here's some useful advice!
    which leads to still more clutter.
  • The
    • Hey everybody, check out my blog!
    • Hey everybody, check out this neat article that I just wrote!
    • Hey everybody, here's some useful advice!
    posts, which cannot be pinned, and which generate no responses, will disappear below the many help requests, helping nobody.
  • The
    • Hey everybody, check out my blog!
    • Hey everybody, check out this neat article that I just wrote!
    • Hey everybody, here's some useful advice!
    posts, which cannot be pinned, and which generate any responses, will frequently be labeled as
    Spam!
    and your well meaning advice, valid or invalid, will vanish behind a barrage of attacks against you and your intentions.
  • Unless you are perfect, what you write will eventually need revising. When you answer a request for help, you try to stay close to the subject at hand. With no opening question to help you focus, your subject may wander. And no matter how valid and necessary the advice, what you post remains in its incomplete or imperfect state forever.
  • Other helpers, some who agree with the subject (however incompletely stated) at hand, would provide benefit by writing their own blog articles, and linking to your advice in your blog. When you neglect your blog, and post advice in your forum posts, their ability to link to your advice is impaired.
In general,
  • Hey everybody, check out my blog!
  • Hey everybody, check out this neat article that I just wrote!
  • Hey everybody, here's some useful advice!
is bad practice.

If you want to help, answer questions. Post links to your articles, in the body of your posts, and make sure that the links are relevant. Post links to your blogs in your signature. But don't get in a help forum, and yell
  • Hey everybody, check out my blog!
  • Hey everybody, check out this neat article that I just wrote!
  • Hey everybody, here's some useful advice!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Putting The Post URL In The Title

This tweak isn't necessary in Blogger Beta - it's already there. That was a bit of a pleasant surprise, when I tested my first Beta blog. Why is it necessary here? I'll explore that question later.

For right now, let's focus on making this work. It's a pretty simple change. You have to edit the template, so start by backing the template up.

Now, go into the template editor, and find
<h3 class="post-title">
<BlogItemUrl><a href="<$BlogItemUrl$>" title="external link"></BlogItemUrl>
<$BlogItemTitle$>
<BlogItemUrl></a></BlogItemUrl>
</h3>

and replace that with
<h3 class="post-title">
<a href="<$BlogItemPermalinkUrl$>" title="permanent link">
<$BlogItemTitle$>
</a>
</h3>

Save, then Publish. Simple enough?

>> Top

Help! Pirates Are Stealing My Blog!

So you put a lot of time and effort into making a blog that's entertaining and useful.

To keep it that way, you regularly watch to see who's viewing your blog, so you can keep your content useful.

And one day, you check out your incoming hits log, and you find a visitor to another web site, with content identical to yours. Except for the ads, or other amenities.

My content, their web site! My work, their ads??!!


Everybody who publishes interesting or useful content will find this happen, at some time or another.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Duplicate Post? Be Careful!

I'll bet we've all made duplicate posts, from time to time.

I, personally, am in the habit of hitting the Back button, when presented with"Your blog published successfully.", whenever I look at what I just posted, and realise that I should have said that just a wee bit differently. Do that immediately after publishing a new post, and you'll end up with a duplicate.

Or maybe you hit "Publish Post" twice, maybe while Blogger is sluggish (as if that never happens).

Or maybe you lack imagination, and you reused the title. Maybe you wrote "Something Or Other" some time ago, and now you feel the need to write a second post in that series.

Either way, you now have two posts with the same title, and with similar URLs. If your blog is http://myblog.blogspot.com, and you just posted "Something Or Other", you probably have 2 posts now:
http://myblog.blogspot.com/2006/09/
something-or-other.html

http://myblog.blogspot.com/2006/09/
something-or-other-some-other-nonsense.html
where "some-other-nonsense" got added into the URL, to allow you to have two posts titled "Something Or Other".

If you now delete one post, and you don't watch what you're doing, you'll end up with "Something Or Other" having a URL
http://myblog.blogspot.com/2006/09/
something-or-other-some-other-nonsense.html
If you delete that post, and publish "Something Or Other" yet a third time, you'll end up with
http://myblog.blogspot.com/2006/09/
something-or-other-and-yet-more-nonsense.html
.

When you see that you have duplicate posts, go to the Edit Posts menu. When you see two posts with the same title, find the column with the "Delete" links. Immediately left of "Delete", you'll see "View". Before you "Delete" any post, put the mouse over "View", and see what URL is associated with that post. Only select "Delete" for
http://myblog.blogspot.com/2006/09/
something-or-other-some-other-nonsense.html

and maybe
http://myblog.blogspot.com/2006/09/
something-or-other-some-other-nonsense-and-yet-more-nonsense.html

Be careful - make sure that you do not "Delete"
http://myblog.blogspot.com/2006/09/
something-or-other.html


And having deleted the duplicate (which is the only way to get rid of posts with unwanted file names), and if you truly need to reuse the title of a previous post, rewrite the new edition of "Something Or Other" - but with a unique title. Call it "Something Or Other #2" or "Something Or Other Updated".
http://myblog.blogspot.com/2006/09/
something-or-other-2.html
is a far better file name to work with.

Remember naming conventions, too. Words like "A" and "The" are not significant, and get dropped from the post file name. If you had one post with a title "Here's A Problem", and second "Here's The Problem", guess what the second file name will be?
http://myblog.blogspot.com/2006/09/
heres-problem-some-other-nonsense.html

Always name your posts with care, and start them out with unique phrases.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Do You Really Want To Delete Your Blog?

If you create a blog, and work on it, eventually it will rise in value.

Given enough work, and reader interest, it may even get a Google Page Rank of some decent value.

Let's say you manage to make something of your blog, then tire of it. The normal thing would be to delete it. Delete it - it's gone - move on to something new.

Simple, right? At one time, you could have just deleted your blog, using the dashboard Settings - Other - "Delete blog" wizard, in "Blog Tools", without thinking.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Setting Up A New Blog?

Always add a stub post. And Publish.

If you don't, you'll likely go back the next day, and try to login. And you'll get
Not Found

The requested URL was not found on this server.


Always setup a stub, if you don't feel like posting anything immediately. Why?
  1. You have to publish something, for the blog to exist. Either a real post, or a stub post, it doesn't matter.
  2. You cannot publish an empty blog.
Plain and simple.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

What's In The Header or How Do I Keep My Blog Searchable?

I have written various articles about customising the blog headers, in various ways, to use graphic elements in place of boring text.

In comments for The Real Blogger Status - Beta: "Customising The Header In A Beta Blog", Peter aka Enviroman writes
I think keeping the Header is important as removing it will remove the blogger tag $BlogPageTitle$ which is important for search engines.I did it another way. I added a "Add a Page Element" to the Header and put the graphic there.


Very good, Peter. So here are the headers for The Real Blogger Status (HTML), and The Real Blogger Status - Beta (XML), for your perusal.
Firstly, Beta.
<head>
<title><data:blog.pageTitle/></title>
<meta content='The Real Blogger Status: What Blogger Won"t Tell You' name='description'/>
<meta content='.......' name='keywords'/>

Secondly, Classic.
<head>
<title><$BlogPageTitle$></title>
<meta name="description" content="The Real Blogger Status: What Blogger Won't Tell You"></meta>
<meta name="keywords" content="......."></meta>


I think you'll see the "data:blog.pageTitle" (XML) and "$BlogPageTitle$" (HTML) records are at the top of the blog header, and undisturbed.

Far below, you'll find
<h1 id="blog-title">
<ItemPage><a href="<$BlogURL$>"></ItemPage>
<$BlogTitle$>
<ItemPage></a></ItemPage>
</h1>

The latter code is what is removed and / or altered, to put graphics in place. This does not disturb the former code, in any way.

It's also good to observe the limitations of the Blog Header page element, in New Bloggerblogs. Both the Blog Title and Blog Description fields accept HTML content, such as "<a href...>" and "<img src...>". Unfortunately
  • The Blog Title field is sized for blog titles, and has a limited length.
  • So, the solution would be to put the code into the Blog Description field. But, the Blog Title field can't be blank.
  • And having code in both Blog Title and Blog Description results in a cluttered and very messy header.
See The Real Blogger Status - Beta: Restore The Main Page Link To The Title, and Customising The Header In A Beta Blog, for my experiences with these limitations.

>> Top

Monday, September 11, 2006

Google's White Picket Fence

If any of you are fans of classical American (USA) literature, you may recall the tale by Samuel Clement aka Mark Twain, and Tom Sawyer and his White Picket Fence.

I am imagining this conversation between two Google executives back a few years ago.
Exec 1: We need to increase our ad sales.
Exec 2: OK, let's set up more web sites, and put our ads on them.
Exec 1: No way, bro. That's too much work. How will we ever come up with enough content?
Exec 2: No problem, dude. We'll get the public to do it for us. We'll provide the network, and the servers, and con the Internet users of the world into creating all of the websites for us.
Exec 1: That's the ticket! I've been looking at Blogger - they have an easy interface, we can get lots of dumb asses, who know nothing about computers or the web, to set up web sites, and write all sorts of shite. And we will own the web sites, and get richer from the ads that we put out there.
Exec 2: But with millions of dumb asses using computers, they'll make mistakes. And our servers will break down. And we'll have to spend all our surfing time answering questions, and explaining what broke today.
Exec 1: Not at all. We won't have to support them. We'll have a Help Form that we never have to reply to except if we're bored, and web sites that we can update when the mood strikes. And we can use Google Groups to persuade the dumb asses to help each other. And we can get somebody to write a bunch of email bots, so we never even need to read our email.
Exec 2: Kewl. Let's hit the beach.


And I'm betting that both of those execs are fans of Mark Twain. Because Blogger is a perfect example of the white picket fence.

>> Top

Thursday, September 07, 2006

A Notable Point

As Pal puts it in Blogger Buzz: Known Issues for Blogger in Beta
Issues that affect a large group of users will be resolved promptly (meaning that an engineer will start to work on it right away) whereas problems that just apply a single blog or account may take a little longer to fix.


I've been noting this for some time.
Well, consider this:
  • Problems that aren't reported don't get worked on.
  • Problems that affect more people get worked on by the more experienced staff. If you know about the problem, and don't report it, it won't rise in the queue as much as it could. So if it isn't seen immediately, it's your fault.
  • Computers are unique. Maybe your problem report will provide the necessary clue, and help the problem get solved.


So, Report The Problem, when you have anything to report.

And it's also encouraging to look at the spammer gallery, and see how many are dead. And my experience has been that the sooner you kill a spammer, the less spammers will come around in the future.

So, Report The Spammers, immediately, when you see their shite. And if you look a few days later, and their shite is still there, report them again.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Customising The Page Header #2

Replacing the boring text title in your blog is easy enough. Making it look really pretty is easy - when you know how.

Removing the header element in a New Blogger (2007) blog is not too hard. Replacing the template entry, or adding a new header page element, isn't terribly difficult. But some templates require just a bit more work. if you want to do a good job.



I started out with a plain text header, the default for Minima, in a pair of ugly boxes.






I replaced the default blog header with an HTML page element.



<a href="http://bloggerstatusforrealbeta.blogspot.com/index.html"><img border="0" src="http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger2/560/527000594325287/
1600/RBS%20Header%201.gif"/></a>
<p align="center">What Blogger won't tell you.</p>

The graphic content is nicer, but still the ugly boxes.


I then had to edit the template HTML.

I found the code for the Blog Title.
<div id="header">
<a name="Top"></a>
<h1 id="blog-title">
<ItemPage><a href="<$BlogURL$>"></ItemPage>
<$BlogTitle$>
<ItemPage></a></ItemPage>
</h1>
<p id="description"><$BlogDescription$></p>
</div>


That shows that I have 3 containers - "blog-title", "description", and "header" - to examine. Two containers = "blog-title" and "description" - are peers, and together make one box. That one box is enclosed by "header", which is the second box. And there are the 2 ugly boxes.

The rules, for each container, are in the Header section of the blog header code.

/* Header
----------------------------------------------- */
@media all {
#header {
width:660px;
margin:0 auto 10px;
border:1px solid #ccc;
}
}
@media handheld {
#header {
width:90%;
}
}
#blog-title {
margin:5px 5px 0;
padding:20px 20px .25em;
border:1px solid #eee;
border-width:1px 1px 0;
font-size:200%;
line-height:1.2em;
font-weight:normal;
color:#666;
text-transform:uppercase;
letter-spacing:.2em;
}
#blog-title a {
color:#666;
text-decoration:none;
}
#blog-title a:hover {
color:#c60;
}
#description {
margin:0 5px 5px;
padding:0 20px 20px;
border:1px solid #eee;
border-width:0 1px 1px;
max-width:700px;
font:78%/1.4em "Trebuchet MS",Trebuchet,Arial,Verdana,Sans-serif;
letter-spacing:.2em;
color:#999;
}


There are a total of 5 relevant rules, in my case.
#header
border:1px solid #ccc;
#blog-title
border:1px solid #eee;
border-width:1px 1px 0;
#description
border:1px solid #eee;
border-width:0 1px 1px;


I changed all "1px" to "0px".

/* Header
----------------------------------------------- */
@media all {
#header {
width:660px;
margin:0 auto 10px;
border:0px solid #ccc;
}
}
@media handheld {
#header {
width:90%;
}
}
#blog-title {
margin:5px 5px 0;
padding:20px 20px .25em;
border:0px solid #eee;
border-width:0px 0px 0;
font-size:200%;
line-height:1.2em;
font-weight:normal;
color:#666;
letter-spacing:.2em;
}
#blog-title a {
color:#666;
text-decoration:none;
}
#blog-title a:hover {
color:#c60;
}
#description {
margin:0 5px 5px;
padding:0 20px 20px;
border:0px solid #eee;
border-width:0 0px 0px;
max-width:700px;
font:78%/1.4em "Trebuchet MS",Trebuchet,Arial,Verdana,Sans-serif;
letter-spacing:.2em;
color:#999;
}





And no more ugly boxes.


Note that the above instructions are for a classic template. With a layout template, it's slightly easier.

/* Header
-----------------------------------------------
*/
#header-wrapper {
margin:0 2% 10px;
border:0px solid #cccccc;
}
#header {
margin: 5px;
border: 0px solid #cccccc;
text-align: center;
color:#666666;
}

Just 2 rules - "header-wrapper" and "header". Change both borders to "0px".


Want more ideas? How about using background images (aka wallpaper)?

>> Top

A Failure To Communicate

If you're as old as I am, maybe you too remember the Captain in Cool Hand Luke
What we got here is... failure to communicate.


Blogger Support wrote some interesting guidelines about Blogger Status.
Blogger Status: This venue is used by the Blogger Team to report production outages, such as database problems. This is not a place where we report known application issues.


The people who depend upon Blogger Blogs known nothing about application issues vs production outages. They just know that they can't login, can't publish, whatever. Then they go to Google Blogger Help - Something Is Broken, and they see a dozen other folks reporting the problem, and nothing being done. And when there is a 3 day discussion about a problem, and nothing is done for 3 days, and then we see a Blogger Status post like

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Posting to the Blogger Atom API (e.g. via a third-party website or desktop client) is not working properly. We are investigating.

Update, 11:24AM: This has been fixed.

Posted by Pete at 10:54 PDT


there is an example of the problem - failure to communicate.

How many problems take 30 minutes to be analysed and fixed? What went on, in Blogger Support, during the previous 2 - 3 days of discussions in Google Blogger Help?

Improvements In Communication - Small But Significant

As I noted in RBS Beta: Known Beta Issues - Being Acknowleged, we see a small but significant effort. There is now a web page Known Issues for Blogger in Beta, supposedly produced by Blogger Support. And there's Blogger Buzz: Known Issues for Blogger in Beta, by a new BS person, Pal.
...let me clarify the purpose of the various other communication channels that exist between the users and the Blogger Team:
  • Support form: Users can report problems with the application here to the Blogger support team. Depending on the issue the support team will answer with either some pointers to self-help information, ask for more information, or — in case of a new issue — report it to engineers for resolution. Issues that affect a large group of users will be resolved promptly (meaning that an engineer will start to work on it right away) whereas problems that just apply a single blog or account may take a little longer to fix.
  • Blogger Status: This venue is used by the Blogger Team to report production outages, such as database problems. This is not a place where we report known application issues.
  • Blogger Buzz: This blog contains information about new product features on Blogger as well as posts about cool and interesting things that go on the blogosphere.
  • Blogger Help Group: Here Blogger users help each other with gotchas, tricks, hacks, etc. The Blogger support and engineering teams monitor this forum and occasionaly post on issues of general interest, but it is not the goal of the Help Group to become an alternative to the Support form.



Submitted - - for your consideration.
  • Problem queueing. Problems that affect more people get worked on first.
  • The nature of Blogger Status. The people who depend upon Blogger Blogs known nothing about production outages vs application issues. They just know that they can't login, or can't publish, or any of a dozen other chronic problems.
  • The above post, from Blogger Support, was made in Blogger Buzz. Where we can expect to find
    ...information about new product features on Blogger as well as posts about cool and interesting things that go on the blogosphere.

    I think that this is neither a new product feature, nor a cool and interesting thing in the blogosphere. This is a serious problem, and a failure to communicate.

How many problems take 30 minutes to be analysed and fixed?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Customising The Page Header

Earlier, I wrote about how to Restore The Main Page Link To The Title, in a New Blogger (2007) blog. That was a hack, and a messy one at that. Blogger fixed that little omission, so it's no longer necessary. The blog title is now clickable, and links back to main page view - in a blog with default setup - just as it did for a Classic blog.

But it's still boring text - a title, followed by a description.

So some will ask
How do I customise my blog header? How do I (for instance) replace the boring text title with a picture?


You have several choices here.

The easiest, and probably the most popular, will be to use the "Configure Header" wizard in Page Elements.

The least popular will be as you would in a Classic blog, to edit the template HTML.

The choice with the most possibilities will be to use the GUI Page Layout editor, and replace the standard blog header with a hand created HTML / JavaScript gadget.

Go into Template - Page Elements. Edit the Blog Header element.

You have several choices here, with the Blog Header.
  1. Put code into the Blog Title field. You could put both a link and an image into there
    <a href="http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/index.html">
    <img border="0" src="http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger2/
    560/527000594325287/1600/RBS%20Header%201.gif"/></a>

    except for one major problem. It just won't fit.
  2. You could put the code into the Blog Description, except for another limitation. You can't have a blank Blog Title field. If you put your header code into Blog Description, what can you put into Blog Title that doesn't look tacky?
  3. I prefer to get rid of the Blog Header altogether, and replace it with a straight HTML page element.
  4. You could remove the Blog Header, and replace it with a background image.
See my article The Real Blogger Status: What's In The Header or How Do I Keep My Blog Searchable? for more discussion about this issue.


If you're lucky, you can just remove the Header page element.




If not, you won't be able to remove it, immediately.



If you see the second image - ie no "Remove Page Element" button, go to Edit HTML. Find the section of code


<div id='header-wrapper'>
<b:section class='header' id='header' maxwidgets='1' showaddelement='no'>
<b:widget id='Header1' locked='true' title='The Real Blogger Status Beta (Header)' type='Header'/>
</b:section>
</div>


and change "locked='true'" to "locked='false'".

<div id='header-wrapper'>
<b:section class='header' id='header' maxwidgets='1' showaddelement='no'>
<b:widget id='Header1' locked='false' title='The Real Blogger Status Beta (Header)' type='Header'/>
</b:section>
</div>


Then Save Template. Go back to Page Elements.


Now you can just remove the Header page element.






Now, just add an HTML / JavaScript gadget. Put whatever code you wish, in the body of the element.


<a href="http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/index.html"><img border="0" src="http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger2/560/527000594325287/
1600/RBS%20Header%201.gif"/></a>
<p align="center">What Blogger won't tell you.</p>


The added element will be in the sidebar, or the footer (wherever you created it), so grab it, drag it, and drop it into place atop the blog, where the Header element used to be.

Positioning the new header will require some experimentation; when you move the new element over the area where the header should be, it may drop centered on top of the post column. When it does this, move it ever so gently upwards a couple pixels or so, until it positions properly. When it is properly positioned, release it, and it will fall into place, properly positioned and sized.

Save the changes to the Layout.

Now add or update the meta tags, in the blog header. This gives you an attractive entry in a search hit list.

And finish the job properly - remove the ugly boxes, that are placed around the header by most default templates.

(Edit): In case you're wondering, making the header itself was easy, and involved no expensive software.
  • I used Microsoft Word to make the characters.
  • I did a Print Screen (Alt-Print Screen) to copy the image to the clipboard.
  • I pasted the image into Paint.
  • I saved the image as a .bmp file.
  • I used Irfanview (freeware) to trim the image, resize it, and make it into a .gif with a transparent background.


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When to Contact Blogger Support?

I would have, previously, said
Whenever you have plenty of time to wait.

The implication is that you are better off posting for help in Google Blogger Help. I would add
But fill out a Help Form too.

Today, in Google Blogger Help - Publishing Trouble: When to contact The Blogger Team, Jordan aka Blogger Employeee is more explicit.

  • If you're having difficulties accessing your blog or can't see your blog on your dashboard.
  • If you're getting a server error when you try to post or change your settings.
  • If you can't log in to your Blogger (beta or otherwise) account.
  • Any legal or TOS issues.
With these particular cases, you should contact The Blogger Team so we can investigate your particular situation and problem.

...please keep in mind that there might be a bit of a delay in our response to you, as we're a little busier than usual right now with the new Blogger in beta.

So what's new here?

(Edit): And having learned from experience, in Google Blogger Help - Something Is Broken: Image Uploading Update, this latest thread is locked.
Sorry...

You cannot reply to this topic because it is more than 30 days old or has been closed by a moderator.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Problem Here Is Not The Problems, It's The Silence.

I was actually quoted, externally, for saying that in my earlier post I Don't Get It.

And as Blogger Beta rolls out, the silence just does not let up . It's depressing, actually.

I noted last week of a major design deficiency in Blogger Beta - the fact that the title in Beta blogs wasn't linking back to the home page. I even developed a (ugly) workaround. So today, I was surfing away at Googolians, and I clicked on the title. And imagine my surprise when I found myself back in main page view. Then I went to page layout view on RBS Beta, and removed my ugly workaround. And noted that, indeed, the title is now clickable in article view, and will take you back to main page view.

And thinking back a few days, I don't remember seeing any official announcement about raw HTML template editing capability being provided either. Just a question or two in Google Blogger Help.

I've actually noted several avenues that Blogger appears to have use of, in communicating what's going on. How many are being regularly, and effectively, used?
  1. Blogger Buzz.
  2. Blogger Status.
  3. Google Blogger Help - pinned posts in
    1. Customizing Templates
    2. Publishing Trouble
    3. How Do I?
    4. Something Is Broken
  4. Google Blogger Help - ongoing discussions in
    1. Customizing Templates
    2. Publishing Trouble
    3. How Do I?
    4. Something Is Broken

Far and away, the majority of any useful information about what's going on comes from Blogger Employee, who has recently taken to signing also as "Jordan". Most of those posts are buried deeply in ongoing threads, started by unhappy Bloggers. Anybody learning about the items communicated must be spending a lot of time reading the discussions there.

The pinned posts, started by Blogger Employee (pre "Jordan") to announce various Blogger Beta features, were quickly barraged with complaints, and nothing useful to be seen there.

Blogger Status is technical information, about a few network events, posted mainly 1/2 hour before any resolution is provided, and following 95 1/2 hours of waiting for resolution. What's acknowleged in Blogger Status, affectionately (right!) referred by some of us as BS (what a serendipitous name), is maybe 25% of the observed problems.

And Blogger Buzz is mostly advertising. What else is "Buzz" going to be? Well, there's one exception, it comes very late in the game, and the appropriate words are buried deeply after more advertising.

Did I miss anything?

And, as usual
Welcome To K-Mart. How may I ignore you today?


Come on, Blogger. Admit the errors. You've got a lot more besides the combined login box to resolve. How about you admit some, before you develop the fixes. Don't make us just wait, and one day see things improved.

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