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Your Computer, And Blogger, And Deny By Default

If you've had your computer for a while, and been Blogging for a few years, you've probably felt the anguish expressed by many, recently.

That is not my problem. I can get there, I know how to follow the directions, but it will not let me enable the pop - up window to add lists, links etc. The only advise I can see is about having an extra "2" in your URL - I don't, and advise on people who have added extra java script to their template. I just choose a template from the blogger site, and haven't added anything to it, so I don't think that is the problem.

Many times, when something stops working in our blog, the problem is traced back to a change that Blogger just made - to their server, to the script that runs on our computers, to the cookie structure that is stored on our computers, and generally to all 3 of those in combination. All 3 of those factors work together, and many many times, the only real solution to a problem is to clear cache and cookies, and get on with your life. When you can.

That's not the only possible problem, because Blogger doesn't completely control the environment that their product runs in. Their product runs on your computer, which they don't control, and through complex communication networks that none of us control.

So your computer has been working fine for you, and now it doesn't. That doesn't mean that the problem was entirely caused by Blogger.

Blogger runs within your browser, as many web sites do. Blogger, however, is more like a thin client than a website. The complexity of the Blogger specific code, that runs on your computer, is only seen when various problems are being researched.

The problem with running an application like Blogger as a thin client, is that spyware operates as a thin client too. Your browser, in an attempt to keep spyware off your computer, becomes part of the problem. Configuration of your browser is part of a well defined layered security strategy, but the strategy has to be precisely tuned.

Long ago, your browser would be installed, and would allow any website to run any code on your computer, at will. If you knew of one or more bad websites, you were able to then set switches saying "This website cannot do this". This is called "Permit by default (deny on demand)", and this is one reason why anti-trojan / anti-virus products are kept so busy providing updates. You can't keep up with the bad websites, or the bad guys.

Newer releases of your browser reverses the "Permit by default" strategy, and denies all websites, by default, from doing any more than simply displaying text and / or pictures. If you want any website like Blogger to run code, or to popup windows, on your computer, you have to enable that website with specific permissions. This is called "Deny by default (permit on demand)".

Both Firefox and Internet Explorer, and most likely any other browser, gives you the ability to say, with precision, what types of code can run on your computer, from specific websites. Firefox has an assortment of permission lists, and you add specific websites to each list, so the website specific code will run properly on your computer. Internet Explorer divides all websites up into zones
  • Untrusted.
  • Semi-Trusted.
  • Trusted.
  • Local.
For each zone in Internet Explorer, you have a long laundry list of permissions.

To get Blogger to run properly in Firefox, you have to set several very important permissions, to "blogger.com". To get Blogger to run properly in Internet Explorer, you put "blogger.com" into the Trusted Zone list, then specify several very important permissions to the Trusted Zone. One permission, that's just been identified, is called cross-frame scripting. Another is the ability (or inability) of the browser to remember our previous selections. As time goes on, I suspect, we'll discover others.

The bottom line? If you're going to use Blogger, you're going to have to learn how to set permissions in your browser, that say what portions of Blogger (the Blogger "domain") are allowed to run what types of code. This is Permit On Demand, and it's how your browser works now. Better get used to it.

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