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Showing posts from September, 2007

Google Custom Domains - Elegant Yet Unreliable

Google Custom Domains are a simple solution for providing non-Blog*Spot URLs for blogs published on Blogger servers. They are very elegant in their design, which uses nothing special, just industry standard DNS referrals ("CNAME") to a load balancing DNS server. Neither the "CNAME" entry (on the server provided by the DNS registrar), nor the load balancing ("ghs.google.com") are anything innovative.

And that's what makes them so elegant.

But, there's a downside - they don't work, consistently. And the cases where they don't work are inconsistently similar to those cases where they do work.

The DNS provider is one major weakness which is not, totally, Google's fault. Not all DNS registrars support "CNAME" referrals - some only support "A" referrals, and many bloggers have trouble understanding the distinction between the two.

Not all support staff, working for the DNS Hosting companies, consistently know how to impleme…

Animated Gif Files Aren't Supported On Blogger / Picasa

Animated .gifs are a neat and easy way to decorate your blog. Unfortunately, if you publish them directly through the Post Editor photo upload wizard, they won't show animation.

Blogger Employee provided, in a forum thread, the answer to the question
Animated images won't stay animated if the image is a Blogger-hosted, since Picasa doesn't support animated images (and the Blogger-hosted photos are stored in Picasa Web Albums).

There is a workaround, which looks more complicated than it really is.

>> Forum thread links: bX-*00048

>> Copy this tag: bX-*00048

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Make A Private Blog

A blog is for you to share - with the world, with your friends, or with one special friend.

We see many examples of this diversity, when we go "Next Blog" surfing.

If you don't want the world seeing your blog, so you can share your private thoughts with your special friends, you can keep the world out. Just as the ability to post in your blog requires permission, you can make your blog require permission for anybody to read, too.

Custom Domain Names And DNS Settings

The Google Custom Domains, and the possibility of having a non-Blog*Spot address without the lack of functionality from setting up an external published blog, are a major improvement over plain old Blog*Spot to some folks. But be aware - some technical expertise is required.

Setting up a DNS entry is not a normal task for Bloggers. The draw of Blogger One Button Publishing is that youChoose a Blog*Spot address.Choose a template.Post and publish (and for New Blogger, forget the "publish" too).So what's up with setting up DNS?

There's some occasional confusion in the forums.
The site says to create a CNAME for example.com.. CNAMES are not for DOMAIN NAMES, they are for subdomains.. i.e, www, pages, users. DOMAIN NAMES use A records to point to an IP address.

But the difference between an A record, and a CNAME record, is pretty simple.
An A DNS record directly equates a hostname to an IP address.

A CNAME DNS record does not directly resolve to an IP address. Instead, it …

Making A 3 Column Template

Since New Blogger, and the Pick New Template wizard, was launched, many bloggers have been wishing for a 3 column template. So far, Blogger hasn't provided us with one. There are several web sites that offer templates, and some 3 column templates, but using a third party template isn't always a great solution.

Fortunately, making a 3 column template from a 2 column template isn't all that hard to do, assuming that your blog doesn't use fixed width components as Rounders, Scribe, Son Of Moto, Thisaway, and TicTac templates do. You can still make 3 column displays with those templates, but they won't look as good.

A 2 column template has 2 columns, floating opposite each other.
Main, floating left.Sidebar, floating right.
All that you have to do is split the Main column.
Main1, floating left.Sidebar2, floating left.Main2, floating right.Sidebar1, floating right.

A 2 column lefty template is just a mirror.
Sidebar, floating left.Main, floating right.
Again, split Main.
Side…

Look For Censorship By Chinese ISPs To Continue

During the course of the 17th Communist Party Congress, look for censorship of Chinese access to BlogSpot.Com, and similar web sites, to continue. In Why China shut down 18,401 websites, The Christian Science Monitor, September 2007, reported
The Chinese authorities are in the midst of an unusually harsh crackdown on the Internet, closing tens of thousands of websites that had allowed visitors to post their opinions, according to bloggers and Internet monitors in China.


To remind the citizens that they are being watched, the government has animated characters Jingjing and Chacha performing.


We don't want to get shut down so we shut down anything that could be offensive.says one Chinese ISP employee.Our upstream provider [the company that owns the servers] told us verbally there should be no commentary, no blogs, no bulletin board services, because the government is going bananas.
If Chinese bloggers continue to complain of lack of access to their BlogSpot blogs, expect for this probl…

Combining Feeds And Labels, To Get Feeds From Labels

I've written about the feeds from your blog, and I've written about labels in your blog.

Both features are very useful, in organising content from your blog. And we can combine the two, to publish targeted blog content, using a feed based upon a label.

This blog is http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/ This blog uses labels - and provides label feeds, to help you get the most benefit.

The Tower Of Babble Becomes Slightly Lower

In the recent past, bloggers have complained of an inability to access Blogger, because it was displaying in a "foreign" language.

The language seen would generally be the native language for that locale. Even advice to adjust the Profile Languages setting in the Dashboard was useless, because they didn't know the "foreign" spelling for their language. In one case, with a gentleman complaining from Thailand, I had no recourse but to suggest that he head to the nearest Thai Internet cafe, where he could hopefully find a friendly Thai native to show him the selection for "English", written in Thai.

Some time later, I observed that this advice was not quite so necessary.

A Welcome Post In A Layouts Template

Layouts template Blogger blog posts are sequenced as Classic Blogger blog posts are - by date, in reversed sequence. This means, again, that the newest post will fall at the top, and every time that you make a new post, it will be visible above any previous posts.

Just like a Classic blog, you can make the posts display in any order that you like - just change the date of each post. This is called a work around. With a blog of any size, and activity, and lots of posts to change dates on repeatedly, you'll find it to be a very painful workaround, too.

In a Layouts blog, though, we have one improvement. You can create a special post, and have it "pinned" to the top of the blog. I created a brief Welcome message, which is at the top of this blog, just below the header, but centered like a post.

When you're in the Layout Editor, just create a Text gadget. You can create content using either Rich Text, or HTML, at your convenience. After you create your new element, y…

bx-4uty9a

A few bloggers are seeing this error when logging in to Blogger. No relevant details observed yet.

We are sorry, but we were unable to complete your request.

When reporting this error to Blogger Support or on the Blogger Help Group, please:
Describe what you were doing when you got this error.Provide the following error code and additional information.
bX-4uty9a
Additional information
host: www.blogger.com
uri: /blogin.g

This information will help us to track down your specific problem and fix it! We apologise for the inconvenience.

>> Possible diagnostic questions.

Is the account used GMail, or non-GMail?If non-GMail, what service ("hotmail.com", "yahoo.com", ...)? Did you verify the email address by opening the email and clicking on the "click here to verify" link?If GMail, are there other services associated with that account (Google Apps, Orkut, Picasa, ...)? Look at the My Google Account screen for other possibilities, that might make you think of rel…

Of Blogger And Wal*Mart

One currently popular joke goesIf you don't think that God has a sense of humour, try shopping in WalMart sometime.Some folks go on to add more, possibly redundant, advice... and look in the mirror.

So how does this apply to Blogger? Blogger, like WalMart, caters to those with more basic human needs. WalMart, by carrying everything from grapes, to tires, to underwear, and vision care, is a one stop shopping center. And you'll see folks of all types there.

Blogger, with its One Button Publishing service, appears to be targeting the WalMart customers of the Internet. Many people, who barely know how to turn the computer on, and to use a mouse, are busy creating their own web sites, and learning as they go.

But there are some components of Blogger that aren't intended for WalMart shoppers.

Google Custom Domains
In the process of allowing us to setup a web site hosted on Google, using a non-BlogSpot URL, we have to setup a DNS referral. For those of us who understand computers…

bX-3cu0l2

Some bloggers are having trouble adding or updating AdSense ads on their blogs.

We are sorry, but we were unable to complete your request.

When reporting this error to Blogger Support or on the Blogger Help Group, please:
Describe what you were doing when you got this error.Provide the following error code and additional information.
bX-3cu0l2
Additional information
blogID: nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn
host: www.blogger.com
uri: /widget

This information will help us to track down your specific problem and fix it! We apologise for the inconvenience.

Apparently, their AdSense accounts need to have Blogger.Com permitted.
Log in to AdSense.Go to My Account - Account Access.Under Site, find "Blogger.Com".Select "Grant Access".Log out of AdSense and log out of Blogger.Clear cache in the browser, and restart the browser.Sign back in to Blogger.Try again.

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The Google Custom Domain Setup - The DNS Server Definition

Of the confusion surrounding definition of Google Custom Domains in DNS, second only to the confusion about the DNS Referral definition, is the DNS Server definition.

Google does not provide the name servers needed for Google Custom Domains to work - the name servers must be provided by your registrar. The name servers are indicated by "NS" records, pointing to 2 - 8 servers owned by the registrar. You do not change the "NS" records.

The "NS" records point to the DNS servers provided by your DNS hosting company. You pay for the DNS hosting service, and the DNS hosting company sets up the "NS" records, on your behalf.

The name servers, provided by your registrar, are where the domain definition records, such as "A" (Address), "CNAME" (Canonical Name), and "MX" (Mail Exchange), among others, are stored. You have to provide a "CNAME" record on those servers, with that "CNAME" record pointing to &qu…

Third Party Templates, Again

This week, a few bloggers are complaining about their blogs having lost formatting.
For some reason my blog is only showing up as text and pictures I posted- the whole template is gone and it's just black text on a white background.
This blog, like the others, is using a GoogleLite template.

When you use a standard Blogger template, you include it statically in your blog, and you use the Template wizards to select your template. Many people, who use GoogleLite templates, include theirs dynamically.
<style type="text/css">
@import url('http://googlelite.free.fr/stevenson.css');

This is a kewl idea. Why have a plain old static template, which never changes? Why not use something fresh, that changes periodically, without me having to do anything?

Well, this week is one example why this isn't a good idea. Apparently, GoogleLite has stopped serving some templates from their servers. Bloggers who have their blogs using their templates, dynamically, are finding …

The Google Custom Domain Setup - The DNS Referral

Of all of the instructions in the process of setting up a Google Custom Domain for your Blogger blog, none seems to generate so much confusion as setting up the DNS Referral. The actual procedure is simple enough.

So what's the procedure?

Note: In the examples below, I'm using the "ping" command to verify the state of my domain. In each example, I refer to my fictitious domain, mydomain.com. Please substitute the name of your domain, when appropriate.

Add a "CNAME" record. Point "www.mydomain.com" (or whatever address that you wish the readers to use for your blog) to "ghs.google.com". And leave the "NS" records to be maintained by your DNS provider.
www.mydomain.com. CNAME ghs.google.com.That's what the necessary "CNAME" referral record looks like. You'll have to work with a wizard provided by your DNS host, and you'll have to learn the rules of the wizard, to produce that "CNAME" referral. (*…

What's The URL Of My Blog?

We see the plea for help, periodicallyI need the URL of my blog, so I can give it to my friends. Help!Who's buried in Grant's Tomb, after all?No Chuck, be polite.OK, OK. The title of this blog is "The Real Blogger Status", and the title of this post is "What's The URL Of My Blog?".

Custom Domain Publishing Using URL Forwarding - Another Problem

Several bloggers today reported problems with their custom domain published blogs.
All was well on Friday and then on Sunday it's not working. I DID NOT DO ANYTHING TO MY BLOG!!!!! So it has to be Blogger since I am not the only one with this problem!!!


It was working fine Friday - I didn't do anything, and Sunday it just stopped working!!



Current DNS setup for 2china4darci.com:
www.2china4darci.com. CNAME 2china4darci.com. [TTL=3600]
2china4darci.com. A 64.202.189.170 [TTL=3600] [US]

The server at "64.202.189.170" is
pwfwd-v01.prod.mesa1.secureserver.net (64.202.189.170)
This shows a URL forwarding setup. Whatever Google server pointed to, from the URL forwarding setup, is apparently down. This is an excellent example of why URL forwarding just isn't a good solution, for custom domain publishing.

The correct DNS setup for 2china4darci.com:
www.2china4darci.com. CNAME ghs.google.com. [TTL=3600] [US]

This is called CNAME referral, and this is how custom domains works bes…

Custom Domains And URL Forwarding - A Bad Idea

If you're trying to get your Custom Domain setup to work, and are frustrated (as I am) by the fact that you can't get both "www.yourdomain.com" and "yourdomain.com" to forward properly, you may have complained to your DNS provider, suspecting that the problem is one which they must resolve.

And in some cases, your DNS provider may not know how to setup a "CNAME" record. Some providers only use "A" records.

Publishing Externally? Republish To Blog*Spot Before Publishing To A Custom Domain

If you're currently using FTP publishing to publish your blog externally, because you want to use a non-Blog*Spot address, you may have looked at your friends who are now publishing to a Google Custom Domain, and envied all of the shiny features in New Blogger that they can now use.

Now publishing externally was how you got to use a non-Blog*Spot address for your blog, under Old Blogger. But blogs published externally, and statically, can't use the dynamic features of New Blogger 2007. So Blogger developed Custom Domains, where the blogs could be published to the Google servers (enabling dynamic HTML), and use externally hosted DNS to point a non-Blogger domain into the Google servers (enabling non-Blog*Spot addresses).

Let's say that you have a blog, currently published to a section of your website, as "mydomain.com\blog". Depending upon how you setup your FTP Publishing, it may be redirected from "myblog.blogspot.com".Update your website, to point to…

bX-tkcah7

Numerous threads in Google Blogger Help, about bloggers unable to delete their blogs. Most are the more common bX-btoxyn error, but some are different.

Until Blogger Support reads this blog, we need to be reporting this through the Blogger Contact Form.
Code : bX-tkcah7
blogID: nnnnnnnn
host: www.blogger.com
uri: /delete-blog.do

>> (Update 9/17): The problem has been acknowledged by Blogger.

>> Forum thread links: bX-tkcah7 (Note Groups indexing isn't working right now).

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bX-btoxyn

Numerous threads in Google Blogger Help, about bloggers unable to delete their blogs. Some are an alternate, the slightly less common bX-tkcah7 error.

Until Blogger Support reads this blog, we need to be reporting this through the Blogger Contact Form.
We're sorry, but we were unable to complete your request.

When reporting this error to Blogger Support or on the Blogger Help
Group, please:

* Describe what you were doing when you got this error.
* Provide the following error code and additional information.

bX-btoxyn
Additional information
blogID: nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn
host: www.blogger.com
uri: /delete-blog.do

This information will help us to track down your specific problem and
fix it! We apologize for the inconvenience.

>> (Update 9/17): The problem has been acknowledged by Blogger.

>> Forum thread links: bX-btoxyn (Note Groups indexing isn't working right now).


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All Blog Administrators MUST Be Able To Perform

OK, you have a blog, and you just decided that you need someone else to help you, as a backup administrator.

Be careful now, don't put yourself in the position of losing ability to administer the blog.I accidentally lost administrative ability to the blog. What do I do now? How quickly can Blogger re instate me? Help!!!

Having a second administrator for the blog isn't a bad idea, but it comes with a caveat. When you have more than one administrator, either will be able to delete or downgrade either account. Both administrators have to be able to perform the job. Should either account become unavailable, the other has to be able to take over.

No HR In The Thisaway Template?

Odd. I maintain a couple blogs that use the Thisaway template. Occasionally, I would have a post that needed an HR page element.

<hr />

But that code would simply produce a big blank space. Yet when you preview a post, the HR shows up just fine.

So I look in the template (Customize - Edit HTML), and find

hr {
display: none;
}

Dohh. Remove that. Problem solved.

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Blogger Displaying In German

Various Bloggers have reported that various portions of the screens in Blogger are displaying their messages in German, regardless of their current language settings. Changing the language setting from the dashboard is reported to have mixed effectiveness, though trying that first makes sense.

This doesn't affect blog contents when published, just the scripts included in post editor, and the profile display.

>> (Update 9/25): This shouldn't be a problem, any more.

>> Forum thread links: bX-*00068

>> Copy this tag: bX-*00068

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Email Comments Contain MIME Encoding

Here's a comment I got recently in my email.

New comment on The Storm Worm Hits
Blogger.
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: multipart/alternative;
boundary="----=_Part_17_16511029.1189798206809"

------=_Part_17_16511029.1189798206809
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit

Wholesome Blogger has left a new comment on your post "The Storm Worm
Hits Blogger":

can you make this more clear for newbies to internet and its jargon.
I'm just now learning html. this sounds frightful.

Moderate comments for this blog:
http://www.blogger.com/moderate-comment.g?blogID=24069595

Posted by Wholesome Blogger to The Real Blogger Status at 14/9/07 12:30
------=_Part_17_16511029.1189798206809
Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit

<a href="http://www.blogger.com/profile/04181034629566982308">Wholesome Blogger</a> has left a new comment on your post "<a href="http://bloggerstatusforreal.blo…

The Trinity, And Your Browser

Earlier, I wrote about a triune relationship which affects your access to your blog. That issue is of direct interest to you mainly if you produce a blog hosted on Google servers, but not in "xxxxxxx.blogspot.com", aka a Custom Domain blog. If you're not publishing to a custom domain, that issue still affects you, but indirectly.

But there's another trinity that affects you directly, if you publish any Blogger blog. That's the triune nature of Blogger, with respect to your browser.The code for your blog, ie the posts, template, and widgets, on the Blogger server.The Blogger scripts, on your computer.The cookies, on your computer.

Your browser uses all 3 elements of this trinity, constantly, in helping you maintain your blog, and in letting you and your readers view your blog. When Blogger makes a change to their databases, they likewise produce changes that affect the content of all 3. Unfortunately, Blogger can't control all 3 effectively.

Why can't Bl…

The Trinity, and Your Web Site

The power and majesty of the trinity has been a part of mankind for years, before the Internet.

From religion (the Christian nature of the supreme being - The Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost), to properly robust systems, using triple redundancy (as in Robert Heinlein's science fiction - "I now tell you, three times, to do this!"), the number three has always had almost mystical significance.

And with your web site, there is a trinity too. You are using, and may be paying (directly or indirectly) for 3 different services.Registration.DNS Hosting.Content Hosting.Total Cost To You.

The AFF Splog Farm

If you do any "Next Blog" surfing, you've seen these. You may not call them "AFF Splogs", but you've probably noticed them. Statiscally, they make up 1/3 of the Blogosphere, in "blogspot.com".

Finding them isn't hard - just go Surfing.

http://www.blogger.com/next-blog?navBar=true

Identifying them isn't really hard, once you've seen a few.

Here's an obvious one.

Aff Friend Finder (this one is dead, now, so I will show it to you).
http://aff-friend-finderwvghpcb.blogspot.com/

Note the URL.
aff-friend-finderwvghpcb
aff-friend-finder <== Name
wvghpcb <== Suffix

Obviously, being generated by a script. Names are very brief (1 - 3 words, English). A suffix of random alphabetic characters is appended to the name, giving a unique URL.

The template used is a pattern too. Frequently Rounders, or 897. Monochrome backgrounds, no customisation, very plain. A single linklist at the top of the sidebar, the last item in the linklist will be &quo…

What Can I Write About In My Blog?

Blogger blogs are so versatile, and so easy to develop, that some folks don't see the forest for the trees. Every week we see the anxious queryCan I write a blog, and sell stuff?orCan I write a blog, and make up stuff?orCan I include ads in my blog?or evenCan I include ads from outside Google in my blog?
Well, there are quite a few things that are forbidden by law, or forbidden by Blogger or by Google, that will get your blog cancelled. Most of the forbidden items are common sense - or so it seems to me.

Forget About The Template Editor - Use The Page Elements Wizard

Back when the Internet was started, having a web page of your own was a tremendous accomplishment. You had to
Setup a web server (or find one with available space).Write content to go on the web page.Format the content.Load the formatted content to the web server.Look at the web page, and how plain it was.Add more formatting, maybe decorations.
And that was just one web page. Then you'd add a second web page.
Write content to go on the second web page.Format the content, and add links to the first web page.Add links from the first web page to the second.Load the formatted content (first and second web pages) to the web server.Look at the two web pages, and how they didn't work together.Redesign the web pages, to work better.
And that was just two web pages. Add a third, and still more details to deal with. Pretty soon, you were spending all of your time formatting the web pages. Not writing content, not making it pretty. Ugh.

If you want an interesting Blogger blog, you co…

Don't Like The Profile Page Element? Make Your Own

Every week, we see questionsI have friends posting in my blog, so it looks like a team blog. But it's my blog, and I want to show only my profile.orI want to list a friends profile, even though she's not technically a blog member.or maybeI want to add my birthdate (my city, the colour of my hair, whatever...) to my profile. How do I make it look good?and questions about tweaking the blog template, to accomplish this need, abound.

Blogs Published By FTP Appear To Hang During Publishing

Recently, we've had a few reports of bloggers, who publish blogs externally, report seeingYour publish is taking longer than expected. To continue waiting for it to finish, click here.In some cases, the blogs are large, with lots of labels. This may be an expected consequence of size.

But size doesn't seem to be a consistent factor, and some reports are of hours of waiting for publishing to finish. However, I'd still advise considering blog size as a factor, while we wait for advice from Blogger.

>> (Update 9/10): Blogger Employee now suggests that the problem may be related to a server address problemOne blog was able to shake this FTP problem by adding a "ftp." to the beginning of their server address in the Settings | Publishing tab (for example, the address changed from "server.com" to "ftp.server.com"). To see if this will work for you, first, try connecting via a separate FTP client with and without the "ftp." at the begi…

FTP Publishing: OK For Small Blogs, Not So OK For Larger Blogs

Does anybody remember the greatest (one of the greatest) features of New Blogger?No more spinner of death.With dynamic HTML, blogs are published as the reader reads them, and in small portions, selectively. When you update your blog - add a post, change the template, etc - all that changes is the source code. The source code is rendered into actual web site pages as the readers read the blog.

Since most readers will be reading the same portion of the blog - the main page - this makes sense. Publish what's needed, as needed. The larger the blog gets, the more that this makes sense. The older posts, that nobody reads but occasionally, publish later.

This requires web servers that can access the blog code, and publish on the fly, which is simple for blogs published on BlogSpot. For blogs published to non-BlogSpot servers, ie by FTP publishing, this won't be so simple. Blogger has to allow for old fashioned static publishing, for blogs published to other web servers.

Which bri…

The Blogger Dashboard Tower Of Babel

If you are a world traveler, you can have your Blogger dashboard in any of 36 world languages. Now, 36 (out of the known 310 languages) is not a great percentage, but it is a start.

But what of those remaining 274 languages? Are they completely ignored? Apparently not. One Blogger, reportedly based in Belgium, reports seeing her dashboard in Flemish. Oddly enough, Flemish isn't selectable, in the list. And, when she selects English, the dashboard stays "firmly in Flemish".

Apparently, there's a bug where, if the local language (as determined by ISP location) isn't in the list, you can't change. If this is true, those living in locales where the language is one of the left out 274, will face some hardship. They will have to learn to speak the local language.

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