Monday, April 30, 2007

bX-pn6gdm

This one may be the problem of the week.

We have Jordan's statement that they are "looking into it", and that's it.
That's a bug that you've caught, unfortunately. We're looking into it right now.


>> Forum search links: bX-pn6gdm

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Etiology, Blogger, And You

How many people know what etiology is? Wikipedia defines it as
...the study of causation

It's a fancy term for cause and effect. Fancy or not, though, it can have useful applications in real life.

In the medical world, it might be used in a study of the spread of an epidemic. In computers, we might apply its principles for analysing a chronic network problem, as in deciding if multiple people, reporting the same symptoms, implies the existence of a major, widespread computer problem.

Have you ever been to a hospital, and seen many sick people? If you did go to a hospital, would seeing the many sick people there lead you to conclude that there is a worldwide epidemic in progress? Most people are too analytical to lead to that conclusion. They know that a hospital is where sick people are expected to be seen.

Oddly enough, though, many folks who wouldn't make an assumption about a medical epidemic, based upon being in a hospital, will visit a technical help forum, may submit a problem report (for whatever "disease" their blog or computer currently suffers from). While posting, they will see a couple dozen folks complaining of the same symptom - and will conclude that there is some major worldwide (Internet wide) epidemic level application or network problem.

This mistake occurs frequently in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken - generally with those who aren't experienced with the normal level of problems being reported at any given time (of the day, week, month, or year).

Problem reporting levels do vary. As better weather hits in various places, you will see less problem reports being submitted because people are busy outdoors. Reporting of a particular problem, that may have a cultural or geographical affinity, will rise and fall as people in that culture, or geographical region, become more or less busy with other activities.

How many bloggers are there? How many blogs are there? I wouldn't bet that Blogger will cough up the number, so I'll say 500,000 bloggers, as a straw man figure. If you see maybe a couple dozen blog owners complaining of a "common" symptom, that may or may not have the same cause, out of 500,000, what do you think that the other 499,976 owners are doing? Possibly working on their blogs, because they have no problem.

For the record, I will now state
As of late evening 4/29/2007, and based upon the etiological nature of the problems currently being reported in Google Blogger Help, there is no widespread, epidemic level problem currently being reported by any bloggers.

That's not to imply that there never will be a large scale problem, as in the 403 Forbidden of May 2007, possibly solved In Silence. But by knowing what the small scale problems are, and by keeping the noise level in the forums down, we'll be able to recognise any epidemic level problems more quickly in the future, allowing Blogger Support to get to work, find, and fix their problems.

This will benefit everybody, in the long run. Episodes like the bX-sp4hmm problem of February 28, 2007 will become more normal, and ones like the 403 Forbidden error of March 2006 will be a distant memory.

There will always be problems reported in Google Blogger Help. Google Blogger Help is a hospital for sick blogs and bloggers. Even with a large number of active problems, though, we shouldn't conclude that there is a single-caused major problem being experienced. And we certainly shouldn't conclude that any widespread problem is solely the responsibility of Blogger to diagnose, and / or resolve.

And when you report your problem to Blogger Support, either through the Google Blogger Help forum, or through Blogger Contact, be aware that Blogger Support works on problems faster when they are reported by multiple bloggers.

If you don't report your version of your problem, it may not get worked on. Even if you report your version of your problem, though, don't expect a personal response. Just be patient and persistent and polite - and provide details to encourage systematic affinity and differential testing.

Please, be polite.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Make Your Blog Speak Your Language

Lately, we've had a few folks complain about their blog, or parts of it, being in the wrong language. Or sometimes, it's not even a foreign language, just "?" everywhere.

There are several settings that you can make, which will have varying effects upon your web experience. Consider the effect of each setting, carefully. Some settings may be more relevant in the GUI Post Editor wizard, aka "Compose" mode.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

bX-v6uqpl

Contending with the (apparently still active) bX-w12hpk for error of the week. Similar in reported volume too.

This one appears to be related to the Login script.
bX-v6uqpl
Additional information
uri: /loginz
host: www2.blogger.com


>> Forum search links: bX-v6uqpl

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

bX-w12hpk

This may be the error code of the week.

Low volume, but a steady stream of reports.

No consistency of symptoms, other than the code itself. Two posts reporting missing images, but that's a random and well known problem anyway. Does seem to have an alias, bX-v6uqpl, with similar reporting pattern.

bX-w12hpk
Additional information
uri: /
host: xxxxxxx.blogspot.com


>> Forum search links: bX-w12hpk

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Could Not Connect To Blogger.Com - Help Diagnose This Problem

In my musings about the well known pink warning
Could not connect to Blogger.com. Saving and publishing may fail.

or similarly
Cannot View Webpage

I realised a lot of questions. I think we need some idea of the nature of this problem. The answers can only come from those suffering.
  1. Describe, for the record, all symptoms observed. What does "Cannot Connect To Blogger" / "Cannot Publish To Blogger" mean for you?
  2. Where are you located, geographically?
  3. What ISP do you have?
  4. What type of Internet service - Cable TV, Dialup, DSL, Satellite - do you have? What speed (down / up, if known)?
  5. How does your computer connect - Ethernet, WiFi - to your service? Do you have a broadband router?
  6. Have you ever tried Publishing, when the message is being displayed on your screen? If Yes, could you, ever, publish successfully? If not, precisely, what error or problem was presented to you?
  7. Do you have more than one browser? If so,
    • Have both browsers ever shown the problem?
    • Have you looked at both browsers, simultaneously?
    • Do you see the problem on both browsers at the same time?
  8. Do you have more than one computer? If so,
    • Have both computers ever shown the problem?
    • Have you looked at both computers, simultaneously?
    • Do you see the problem on both computers at the same time?
  9. What Operating System (name, version, patch level if known) is on each computer?
  10. Is this the only Internet service, or website, on which you are currently experiencing a problem? What other services / websites do you use, with the same intensity / regularity as with Blogger?
  11. Have you observed any pattern when you might expect to see, or not to see the message? How often might you expect to see the message? For how long (seconds, minutes) might you expect to see the message?
  12. Since I've been recommending various diagnostic procedures in the various forums, you've possibly tried some already. What have you tried to date, and what results have you had? Be as complete, detailed, and objective as possible.
The answers that you might give might help to solve the problem, so be generous and thoughtful.

Note that you have several choices, where you can respond with your problem diagnoses.
  • Sign my GuestBook. Make a Private message, if you wish.
  • Haloscan Comment (immediately below, "Comments | Trackback", select "Comments".).
  • Blogger Comment (farther below, "POST A COMMENT", select "POST A COMMENT").
  • Post in the forum thread where you found the link to this article.
However you post, we all (including all suffering) thank you for your contribution towards solving this problem.

>> Forum thread links: bX-*00016

>> Copy this tag: bX-*00016

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Your Computer, And Blogger

All of the companies that I've worked for in my history, which had computers, controlled everything rather tightly.

Businesses do that. Businesses owned the big computers, aka mainframes.
  • We, as programmers, would write code.
  • We would test the code.
  • We would give the code to a computer operator, who would run the code as a job.
  • We would train the computer operators.

All code ran on company owned and controlled computers, over company owned and controlled networks, maintained by company trained personnel. Every change was made, and tested, by people working for the company. Very tightly focused, and controlled.

That was up to 30 years ago.

Enough history, let's look at reality.

The Navbar And The Flag Blog Button

Ever played with a hand grenade, or seen it done in a movie? The scene in Stripes, where Capt Stillman accidentally pulls out the pin on one, is a classic.

If you pull out the pin, you better have somewhere clear to throw it, and quickly. If you let go of the handle, for even a second, and the fuse lights, you better act fast.

Some folks play with the "Flag Blog" button on the Navbar, and think they've just lit a fuse. Fortunately, it's a fuse that you can extinguish easily.

The button is a toggle.
  • Click once, turns on.
  • Click again, turns off.
  • Click again, turns on.
If you click it an even number of times, from the same computer and same browser, while logged in to the same account and viewing the same blog, you're OK. No harm.

(Note): You may find it necessary to clear your cache, to ensure an up to date view of the flag.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Improving The GUI Fonts And Colors Selection

The GUI Fonts And Colors screen in New Blogger is pretty kewl. Want to change the typeface for the posts? Just pull down the list, and select "Text Font", then select the typeface and size. Want to change the color? Select "Text Color", then select the color from a chart of colors.

For all its kewlness, though, it's limited. You can change the post title color, but you can't change the post title font. Maybe there are even more limitations that we haven't realised yet.

The good news is, it's expandable - and easily so. You can add your own GUI selections, with very little work.

Look at the template, and the Variable definitions at the top (OK, I snipped the list, below, a bit).
/* Variable definitions
====================
<Variable name="bgcolor" description="Page Background Color"
type="color" default="#fff" value="#ffffff">
...   

<Variable name="pagetitlefont" description="Blog Title Font"
type="font"
default="normal normal 200% Georgia, Serif" value="normal normal 200% Georgia, Serif">
<Variable name="descriptionfont" description="Blog Description Font"
type="font"
default="normal normal 78% 'Trebuchet MS', Trebuchet, Arial, Verdana, Sans-serif" value="normal normal 78% 'Trebuchet MS', Trebuchet, Arial, Verdana, Sans-serif">
<Variable name="postfooterfont" description="Post Footer Font"
type="font"
default="normal normal 78% 'Trebuchet MS', Trebuchet, Arial, Verdana, Sans-serif" value="normal normal 78% 'Trebuchet MS', Trebuchet, Arial, Verdana, Sans-serif">
*/


The list above appears to correspond to the selections in the Fonts and Colors pulldown list. So, add to the list.

In this case, we need to be able to set the post title font. So, first, we add an entry, "Post Title Font", to the end of the list.
/* Variable definitions
====================
<Variable name="bgcolor" description="Page Background Color"
type="color" default="#fff" value="#ffffff">
...

<Variable name="pagetitlefont" description="Blog Title Font"
type="font"
default="normal normal 200% Georgia, Serif" value="normal normal 200% Georgia, Serif">
<Variable name="descriptionfont" description="Blog Description Font"
type="font"
default="normal normal 78% 'Trebuchet MS', Trebuchet, Arial, Verdana, Sans-serif" value="normal normal 78% 'Trebuchet MS', Trebuchet, Arial, Verdana, Sans-serif">
<Variable name="postfooterfont" description="Post Footer Font"
type="font"
default="normal normal 78% 'Trebuchet MS', Trebuchet, Arial, Verdana, Sans-serif" value="normal normal 78% 'Trebuchet MS', Trebuchet, Arial, Verdana, Sans-serif">
<Variable name="posttitlefont" description="Post Title Font"
type="font"
default="normal normal 140% 'Trebuchet MS', Trebuchet, Arial, Verdana, Sans-serif" value="normal normal 140% 'Trebuchet MS', Trebuchet, Arial, Verdana, Sans-serif">
*/


Now, we find the CSS rule set for the post title.
.post h3 {
margin:.25em 0 0;
padding:0 0 4px;
font-size:140%;
font-weight:normal;
line-height:1.4em;
color:$titlecolor;
}

and change the rule set
.post h3 {
margin:.25em 0 0;
padding:0 0 4px;
font: $posttitlefont;
line-height:1.4em;
color:$titlecolor;
}

And save the template. Now look at the Fonts and Colors pulldown list. Yes, it was that easy. Now note that was for a Layout template - but it's not any harder to tweak a Designer template, similarly.

The challenge will be coming up with the right variable names, to add the variable settings to the CSS rules. The variables need to be descriptive (so you know what they are used for) and unique (so you can control the right CSS rules) - and you'll want the Template Designer wizards, in "Advanced", to have properly descriptive labels. Look at the 4 examples, above, with the "name" and "description" values - then look at "Variable definitions", in the template for your blog.

Other than those concerns, you can use any variable names that suit you. It's your blog, and your template.

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Additional bX- Codes Needed?

Not so long ago, many Bloggers would complain, quite frequently of a common problem
We apologize for the inconvenience, but we are unable to process your request at this time. Our engineers have been notified of this problem and will work to resolve it.


After various complaints and suggestions, Blogger seeded their code library and added a seemingly unique error code to each known failure point. Almost overnight, it seemed, complaints mentioning the generic error message quoted above disappeared. A much more maneagable query became common.
I have a bX-aaaaaa code - what does it mean?


Now, it seems, new Blogger code is being added that doesn't issue a bX- code, and the generic error message is being reported again.

>> Forum thread links: bX-*00027

>> Copy this tag: bX-*00027