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Showing posts from September, 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 wa…

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 youOpen "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 w…

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 advi…

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 youproperly compose your problem report in Blogger Help Forum, and state your version of [My Problem], one of several things may happen.A solution will be known, and will be instantly provided by one of the many helpers.A solution will be derived, from subsequent questions by one of the many helpers.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 prov…

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.How Do I?Something Is BrokenPublishing TroubleLogin IssuesCustomizing TemplatesShare Your Blog

Some people occasionally confuse the first 5 with the last.How Do I?Something Is BrokenPublishing TroubleLogin IssuesCustomizing Templatesare 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…

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.

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-…

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.

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?You have to publish something, for the blog to exist. Either a real post, or a stub post, it doesn't matter.You cannot publish an empty blog.Plain and simple.

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>
<met…

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 usin…

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 ar…

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="To…

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 …

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 prod…

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 …

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 Br…

Admit The Errors

YouTube can admit their errors.

Why can't Blogger?

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 wha…