Sunday, September 30, 2007

HTTP 500 Server Errors

Some bloggers are reporting seeing HTTP 500 Server Error when trying to access their blog.
The website cannot display the page
HTTP 500
Most likely causes:
The website is under maintenance.
The website has a programming error.

>> Forum thread links: bX-*00069

>> Copy this tag: bX-*00069

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Make A Totally Private Blog

Typically, a blog is for you to share - with your friends, or with one special friend.

It doesn't have to be though. It's just as normal to have a blog that only you can read.

Saturday, September 29, 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 ("") 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 implement a "CNAME" either. GoDaddy supports it, and their "Total DNS Control" wizard will let you create a "CNAME". But the process is confusing, and more than one hopeful Blogger has reported being told, when contacting GoDaddy personally, to use an "A" record.

  • When attempting to publish a blog, after the proper "CNAME" referral has been setup and verified, the Blogger may see the monolithic error
    Another blog is already hosted at this address.
    Sometimes, this error can be corrected, but not always.

  • After publishing the blog successfully, to say "", the Blogger will frequently find that "" won't respond with the same content (generally, a 404 error is observed) ((Update 2007/10/05): This may not be an issue, any more). This is in spite of the fact that
    • With normal publishing to Blog*Spot, "" will, reliably, equal "".
    • With Custom Domain publishing, "" will redirect to "", and "" will show the same content as "" (though remaining on "").

  • Even when none of the above problems are observed, the various blog aliases publish asymmetrically, in a way that must be demonstrated, to be effectively explained.((Update 2007/10/05): This also may not be an issue, any more)

  • With the asymmetric publishing results, many Bloggers have found their search weights, and Page Ranks, dramatically reduced. This does not make them cooperative for further analysis.

  • Having observed some or all of the above symptoms, some Bloggers try using URL forwarding, sometimes when recommended by their DNS hosting company. URL forwarding stopped working sometime during the weekend of September 15, 2007, and affected many blogs.

Not all Bloggers experience all of the above. Some Bloggers do, successfully, publish to a Custom Domain, with all 4 aliases showing identical content, though the "" irregularity is still normal. It's seldom that these cases are identified, though, as Bloggers with no problems seldom post in Google Blogger Help.

This needs to be fixed - tell Blogger that this is stupid.

>> (Update 6/6): Blogger is aware of our concerns, and may be working on the problem.

>> Forum thread links - Inconsistent or unsuccessful: bX-*00023

>> Forum thread links - Complete success: bX-*00024

>> Copy (either of) these tags: bX-*00023 bX-*00024

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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.

Friday, September 28, 2007

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 you
  • Choose 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 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 refers to a relative or absolute hostname. A relative hostname is indicated by no period (.) at the end of the hostname. An absolute hostname is indicated by the trailing period (.).

When a DNS query is made for a CNAME, the hostname that is pointed to is used to obtain the actual IP address. The pointed-to hostname may itself be another CNAME, or it may directly provide the IP address using an A entry.

As an example, let's look at Google Apps for Your Domain: Creating Your Canonical Name (CNAME) Record:
  • Click Add New CNAME Record. If you've already created a CNAME record for your website's address with Google Apps, click Edit next to the existing CNAME record.
    1. Enter the part of your website's address that you picked in your Google Apps control panel. For example, if you picked as your address, enter urban for step one.
    2. Enter as the host name.
    3. Leave as default selection.

Not too much confusion there. As long as you decide upon your domain names before you start, it's just another recipe. Mix a, b, and c, and serve.

(Note): For some detail about DNS records, see PCMagazine Definition of: DNS records. For still more technical detail, you can see FAQs.Org: How DNS Works. Or see my case study, Google Custom Domain - Case Study #1

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

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.
  • Sidebar1, floating left.
  • Main1, floating right.
    • Main2, floating left.
    • Sidebar2, floating right.

That's the concept. The execution is a bit tedious, but doable. But it really does work. Note that this exercise was conducted some time ago, and before the cross the board deployment of bi-directional templates, in support of blogs in Arabic and Hebrew.

This is probably as easy as importing a pre coded template. Note that this example uses a Minima template, in mint condition. If you've tweaked the Header code, or added main or sidebar objects, you'll deal with some variances. But you'll go through the same challenges if you import a pre designed template, and more.

First, backup the template that you have right now.

Next, go to the Edit Template wizard. Find two snippets of code.

The first, in the Header, at the top ...

/* Outer-Wrapper
----------------------------------------------- */
#outer-wrapper {
width: 660px;
margin:0 auto;
font: $bodyfont;

#main-wrapper {
width: 410px;
float: left;
word-wrap: break-word; /* fix for long text breaking sidebar float in IE */
overflow: hidden; /* fix for long non-text content breaking IE sidebar float */

#sidebar-wrapper {
width: 220px;
float: right;
word-wrap: break-word; /* fix for long text breaking sidebar float in IE */
overflow: hidden; /* fix for long non-text content breaking IE sidebar float */

And a second, in the Body, almost at the very bottom ...

<div id='main-wrapper'>
<b:section class='main' id='main' showaddelement='no'>
<b:widget id='Blog1' locked='true' title='Blog Posts' type='Blog'/>

<div id='sidebar-wrapper'>
<b:section class='sidebar' id='sidebar' preferred='yes'>
<b:widget id='BlogArchive1' locked='false' title='Blog Archive' type='BlogArchive'/>
<b:widget id='Profile1' locked='false' title='About Me' type='Profile'/>

And replace those two snippets of code with two slightly larger snippets. When you do this, carefully examine your current template, and what widgets you have in the Main (posts column) and Sidebar containers. Here, we have only BlogArchive1 and Profile1. If you've added any custom widgets to your main or sidebar columns (and almost everybody does, after any amount of time), be sure to copy the custom widget code from your current template to your new template!

The first ...

/* Outer-Wrapper
----------------------------------------------- */
#outer-wrapper {
width: 660px;
margin:0 auto;
font: $bodyfont;

#main1-wrapper {
width: 480px;
float: left;
word-wrap: break-word; /* fix for long text breaking sidebar float in IE */
overflow: hidden; /* fix for long non-text content breaking IE sidebar float */

#sidebar2-wrapper {
width: 160px;
float: left;
word-wrap: break-word; /* fix for long text breaking sidebar float in IE */
overflow: hidden; /* fix for long non-text content breaking IE sidebar float */

#main2-wrapper {
width: 300px;
float: right;
word-wrap: break-word; /* fix for long text breaking sidebar float in IE */
overflow: hidden; /* fix for long non-text content breaking IE sidebar float */

#sidebar1-wrapper {
width: 160px;
float: right;
word-wrap: break-word; /* fix for long text breaking sidebar float in IE */
overflow: hidden; /* fix for long non-text content breaking IE sidebar float */

And the second ...

<div id='main1-wrapper'>
<div id='sidebar2-wrapper'>
<b:section class='sidebar' id='sidebar2' showaddelement='no'>
<b:widget id='BlogArchive1' locked='false' title='Blog Archive' type='BlogArchive'/>
<div id='main2-wrapper'>
<b:section class='main' id='main2' showaddelement='no'>
<b:widget id='Blog1' locked='true' title='Blog Posts' type='Blog'/>

<div id='sidebar1-wrapper'>
<b:section class='sidebar' id='sidebar1' preferred='yes'>
<b:widget id='Profile1' locked='false' title='About Me' type='Profile'/>

Save your changes.


And finally, backup the template, again!

Yes, it's that easy!

Now in this exercise, you took a standard 2 column template, and simply split the main column. What you have right now is probably a little crammed together. When you see that the 3 column layout works, you can try and widen the columns just a bit. And the simplicity of the coding aside, you'll likely find a challenge in getting the right column widths. That task might be easier by putting both sidebars immediately next to each other. Most standard Blogger templates, in mint condition, should be pretty similar, though templates that stretch will need a slightly different (and actually simpler) technique.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

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 problem to continue during the near future.

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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 targetted blog content, using a feed based upon a label.

This blog is

You could look at my posts about Blog Feeds, using

Or, you could subscribe to a feed about Blog Feeds, using

Note the syntax elements here - you have to be precise.
  • "" is the blog.
  • "feeds/posts/default/-/" is the essential labels feed syntax.
  • "Blog%20Feed" is the feed "Blog Feed".

Note that label feed URLs are case sensitive. Compare both links, below.

A labels feed is one more possibility in combining your blog with a second blog, or with a web site.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

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, generally 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. You can now just go to your dashboard, and change the language setting on your own, without knowing the "foreign" language in question.

I set my language to Thai, to see what would happen. This is what you'll see, when you're in Thailand, if you haven't set your language already. If you're not in Thailand, you'll see a different display - except for one key detail.

See the pull down list in the upper right? That's the language selector.

You open the pull down list, and note the third entry from the top, that shows "English" as the secondary label.

The list is sorted in sequence by primary language name, at the convenience of the locals. Depending upon what the local language is, you'll find the secondary language names in a difference sequence - but all that you have to do is to find "English" (not "English (UK)" though!), somewhere in the list.

You select "English" using the secondary label, and you're in business.

You may be able to avoid the dashboard, and use the Set Language wizard, directly.

As above, we see the same pull down language list, sorted the same, and again with the Secondary Language labels.

Again, Select "English" as a Secondary Language entry.

And, back to normal.

Which ever wizard you use, I will still advise all who stay in any locale where their native tongue is not predominant, to learn a minimum amount of the local language.

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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, you can drag and drop it anywhere in the layout - at the top of the post column, or the sidebar, or even at the bottom of the post column.

Positioning a new page element, using the layout editor, can require some practice. When you move the new element over the area where you would like it to be, it may center on another area of the page. When it does this, move it ever so gently in the right direction, a couple pixels or so, until it positions properly. When it is positioned where you want it, release it, and it will fall into place, properly positioned and sized.

Once you are happy with your "Welcome" post, you'll discover additional tweaks that make it even better.

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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.

Additional information
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.

  1. Is the account used GMail, or non-GMail?
  2. If non-GMail, what service ("", "", ...)? Did you verify the email address by opening the email and clicking on the "click here to verify" link?
  3. 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 relevant details.

Remember, the smallest detail might provide a relevant clue. Help us to help you.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Of Blogger And Wal*Mart

One currently popular joke goes
If 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 (OK, some portion of computers anyway), this is a pretty simple process - two steps, really. No complex decision making, just A then B.

Most WalMart shoppers know to trust their car (tire mounting) or their eyes (vision care) to a professional. Yet some insist on making their own non-BlogSpot web site, and while doing so, request help with the requirement
I need it explained as if you were explaining it to a 3yr old

Some people just don't get it. They will have to involve a paid professional, to work with them in real time, in a one to one basis. Google Custom Domains just isn't a product that everybody can do, on their own. Even WalMart shoppers, who embody the Do It Yourself spirit, can't do everything on their own.

You pay for DNS Hosting, in most cases. Involve the Support Team of the DNS Host, and get the CNAME referral setup properly.

Custom Templates
Another issue that's relevant here is the Blogger Template. If the posts are the flesh of the blog, providing colour and shape, the template is the skeleton. Blogger has given us a dozen or so base templates to choose from, plus the ability to use our own. And, they have structured the template code, and added components (the "widgets") which make it less necessary to edit the template at all, if we need to add any of dozens of popular blog accessories.

Yet some bloggers insist
I'm a journalist, not a tech person, and BLOGGER shouldn't expect everyone who uses it to understand code talk.

And everybody doesn't have to know code talk. If you're going to drive your car, and fill the tank with gasoline, you can trust the maintenance to a qualified mechanic. And you won't need to own even a screwdriver or wrench. And you can add any of dozens of accessories to your blog, as page elements, without going near Template Editor.

But if you're going to mount a custom engine in your car, you better have a torque wrench, and know how to use one. And, if you're going to put a custom template in your blog, you better learn XML, and the vagaries of Template Editor.

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Friday, September 21, 2007


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.

Additional information
blogID: nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn
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.
  1. Log in to AdSense.
  2. Go to My Account - Account Access.
  3. Under Site, find "Blogger.Com".
  4. Select "Grant Access".
  5. Log out of AdSense and log out of Blogger.
  6. Clear cache in the browser, and restart the browser.
  7. Sign back in to Blogger.
  8. 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 "", for your blog to be referenced as part of a Google Custom Domain.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

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('');

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 their blogs becoming flat and plain, and ugly.

So if your blog has suddenly become flat, plain, and ugly, and you're using a GoogleLite template, that is why you're here.

In other cases, people who provide free templates become their own worst enemy - so many people loading the templates - the hosts that serve the templates run out of bandwidth.
There's a frog on my blog.
We've heard that complaint a few times, and it generally refers to the PhotoBucket icon that is captioned
Bandwidth Exceeded.
When you provide free templates to the public, you serve components in the templates using free image servers like PhotoBucket, and you get lots of "customers", eventually your customers will make PhotoBucket say
and display a frog where your template should be.

Free templates are great - but they have their limits.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

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, Please substitute the name of your domain, when appropriate.

  1. Add a "CNAME" record. Point "" (or whatever address that you wish the readers to use for your blog) to "". And leave the "NS" records to be maintained by your DNS provider. CNAME
    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. (** Note 1)
    Make sure that the "www" entry is at the top of the "CNAME" list, and that there are no "A" records, if you want the primary domain (aka domain root) to refer to "" too.

  2. After you have a correct CNAME in place, test it.


    Pinging [] with 32 bytes of data:

    Reply from bytes=32 time=73ms TTL=247
    Reply from bytes=32 time=71ms TTL=247
    Reply from bytes=32 time=71ms TTL=247
    Reply from bytes=32 time=74ms TTL=247

    Ping statistics for
    Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
    Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
    Minimum = 71ms, Maximum = 74ms, Average = 72ms


    Pinging [] with 32 bytes of data:

    Reply from bytes=32 time=73ms TTL=247
    Reply from bytes=32 time=71ms TTL=247
    Reply from bytes=32 time=71ms TTL=247
    Reply from bytes=32 time=74ms TTL=247

    Ping statistics for
    Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
    Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
    Minimum = 71ms, Maximum = 74ms, Average = 72ms
    You may see variants of this, but look for the essential results! ( ** Note 2 )

  3. Once the CNAME has taken effect, and you see the test results as above, go to Settings - Publishing, and publish the blog ("Switch to: • Custom Domain", then "Switch to advanced settings") to
    Here you don't add a trailing ".", just enter "" for "Your Domain". Then, select "Redirect to". You may see a variant of this too, another, very well known problem. ( ** Note 3 )

    You may, alternatively, choose to publish to "", and select "Redirect to". In some cases, this may be your only choice.

  4. You're done here. Get busy writing, and promoting, the blog under the new URL.

(** Note 1:) Step 1, above, shows the "CNAME" record, that's the end result of your DNS setup. If your DNS Host provides a setup wizard, like GoDaddy Total DNS Control, you'll have to translate those instructions to fit the wizard. You may even have to involve the Support team at your DNS Host. You pay them (generally), so use what you're paying for. Or find another hosting service, that can help you.

(** Note 2:) You may see a variant of the illustration provided in Step 2, above.


Pinging [] with 32 bytes of data:

Request timed out.
Request timed out.
Request timed out.
Request timed out.

Ping statistics for
Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 0, Lost = 4 (100% loss)

This is not a fatal problem here. As long as you see
Pinging []
you are in good shape. If you continue with step 3, your readers will eventually see your blog in it's new, non-Blog*Spot URL. An issue that's possibly unique to you, like dropped packets, shouldn't keep a custom domain from working. You will want to work on that problem too, but later.

You may possibly see another, only slightly less disappointing result.

Ping request could not find host Please check the name and try again.


Pinging [] with 32 bytes of data:

Reply from bytes=32 time=74ms TTL=246
Reply from bytes=32 time=71ms TTL=246
Reply from bytes=32 time=73ms TTL=246
Reply from bytes=32 time=75ms TTL=246

Ping statistics for
Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
Minimum = 71ms, Maximum = 75ms, Average = 73ms

This, too, is another oddity of DNS, and similarly may not be a fatal result.

(** Note 3:) You may see a variant of the desired results in Step 3, above. The well known error "Another blog is already hosted at this address" is not fatal, though some additional work may be required.

So why do we need all of this?

But why a "CNAME" record? And why ""?
  • The host "" is a load balancing server array. When the reader's DNS client asks for the address of "", it gets the address of whatever server is available right now. If you have published your blog to "", there will be an entry in "", for "", pointing to your blog.
  • In order for you to refer DNS traffic for "" to "", rather than to "" (among many possibilities), you have to use a "CNAME" record. An Address ("A") record will only point to an IP address; to point to a host name you must use a Canonical Name ("CNAME") record.

When a reader of your blog points his browser in your direction, he is referred to "".The host "" then provides a specific IP address, pointing to the single server that will be used to serve your blog to this reader.

Another reader of your blog will be accessing it thru a different IP address, using another server. If one reader accesses your blog thru server "D", another reader may access it thru server "F", and a third thru server "G". If server "B" is down, "" won't offer it for referral. Other readers of other blogs may be using servers "A", "C", and "E" at the same time.

Google provides a load balancing server array, to give your readers the best possible experience. Use the array, not a single server, nor a URL referral. Or prepare for complaints
Gee, your blog performance sucks.
Your blog is down - again!

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What's The URL Of My Blog?

We see the plea for help, periodically
I 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?".

Monday, September 17, 2007

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 CNAME [TTL=3600] A [TTL=3600] [US]

The server at "" is (

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 CNAME [TTL=3600] [US]

This is called CNAME referral, and this is how custom domains works best, and in accordance with explicit instructions from Blogger.

This, unfortunately, won't provide for both "" and "" to work, immediately - a little more work may be required. But "" will work properly, not temporarily until another Google server goes offline.

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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 "" and "" 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.

Some DNS providers will convince you to use URL forwarding, where your domain is redirected to the DNS providers servers. They set their servers to simply load any portion of the desired website ("" or "") from your Blog*Spot website ("").

This will indeed load the content, as desired. There are several downsides to this "solution", though.
  • Your DNS provider may have to set this up in their servers, it's possibly not a DNS setting that you can make.
  • As the reader views your forwarded blog, the content of the address bar in the browser will be inaccurate.
    • In some cases, it will constantly indicate "" or "".
    • In other cases, you'll even see "".
    • In most cases, you'll see no detail about the actual URL being viewed.
  • We're unsure about how well search engine spiders, and other robotic visitors, will react to URL forwarding.
  • URL forwarding bypasses the load balancing provided by "", and this is bad for everybody.

Blogger has admitted that Custom Domains needs work. Let's wait for them to figure out how it should be setup, at their end. Try and avoid using URL Forwarding, unless you are really desperate.

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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 "\blog". Depending upon how you setup your FTP Publishing, it may be redirected from "".
  1. Update your website, to point to your blog as "".
  2. As I describe in Your Blog, Custom Domains, And Righteous Solutions: Additional Virtual Host, setup a "CNAME" referral for "" to "".
  3. Republish your blog back to Blog*Spot, let's say as "". Go to Settings - Publishing, click on "Switch to: •", and provide "myblog" for the Blog*Spot Address.
  4. As I describe in Google Custom Domains - The Two Step Domain Referral, now publish your Blog*Spot blog "myblog" to "", on Google servers.

If you only have your blog, and nothing else, the task is a bit simpler.
  1. As I describe in Your Blog, Custom Domains, And Righteous Solutions: Additional Virtual Host, setup a "CNAME" referral for "" to "".
  2. Republish your blog back to Blog*Spot, let's say as "". Go to Settings - Publishing, click on "Switch to: •", and provide "myblog" for the Blog*Spot Address.
  3. As I describe in Google Custom Domains - The Two Step Domain Referral, now publish your Blog*Spot blog "myblog" to "", on Google servers.

The key step here is that your blog has to be hosted on Blog*Spot, before a Custom Domain forwarding can be setup. Your Blog*Spot URL ("") will forward, automatically, to your custom domain. This saves those with an established blog at "" from losing that address to sploggers.

But note this small detail. If you started publishing the blog externally, so you could host photos without a storage limit, and the photos are stored on the FTP server, note that externally hosted photos will stay on the FTP server, until you move them, manually.

Complicated? Not really. Just take it one step at a time. Just pray that you don't get the old monolithic error
Another blog is already hosted at this address.

>> Forum thread links: bX-*00028

>> Copy this tag: bX-*00028

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Sunday, September 16, 2007


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
uri: /

>> (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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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.

Additional information
blogID: nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn
uri: /

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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Blogger Employee On Holiday

Blogger Employee shocked the Blogosphere, Friday 9/14, by announcing to Google Blogger Help Forums that he/she will be off for 2 weeks, to holiday in Greece.

And as of right now 9/16, we have 2 active warnings, and 3 possible wildfires. Your guess is as good as mine, what will be fixed this week.

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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.

Don't assign administrator status to someone who can't do the job, or to anybody that you don't trust completely. Remember any administrator will have the power to remove all other administrators (including you) from their status, so don't let a fox into the henhouse.

And, should you have administrator status, and be able to remove yourself because someone else has it too, before you remove yourself note the identity of the other administrator. Don't get into Google Blogger Help, and ask
How do I find out who the other administrator is? I removed myself, and now can't get back in. Help!

Until Blogger fixes this major design weakness, you need to deactivate any administrators who won't be available for an extended amount of time. Decide how long you can, conveniently, wait for the second administrator to perform. If that person will be unavailable for an inconvenient amount of time, deactivate his / her administrative status. Don't depend upon filing a report with Blogger Contact, to get your status restored.

Also, you may need to note that Blogger isn't a robust content management system, that supports and tracks concurrent updates by multiple people. You have to manage the people who update the blog, on your own. You have to be able to trust each blog administrator, as Blogger won't help you track their activity. There is no update log, to tell you who changed something.

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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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Friday, September 14, 2007

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
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: multipart/alternative;

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:

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

<a href="">Wholesome Blogger</a> has left a new comment on your post "<a href="">The Storm Worm Hits Blogger</a>":
can you make this more clear for newbies to internet and its jargon. I'm just now learning html. this sounds frightful.
<a href="">Publish</a> this comment.
<a href="">Reject</a> this comment.
<a href="">Moderate</a> comments for this blog.
<font color="gray" size="2"><br>
Posted by Wholesome Blogger to <a href="">The Real Blogger Status</a> at 14/9/07 12:30 </font>

Not too readable, and you have to search a bit to find the "Publish this comment" and "Reject this comment" links. The links are there, though it would be fairly easy to click one when aiming for the other.

I hope that this gets fixed soon.

>> (Update 9/18): The problem appears to be resolved.

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

>> Forum thread links: bX-*00067

>> Copy this tag: bX-*00067

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

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 "", 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 Blogger control all 3 elements in the trinity? Because they need to be stored on, and run from, your computer (your readers computer).

So what happens when Blogger makes a change to their database, containing your blog? For some period of time after a change is made, your computer, or a readers computer, may or may not request up to date content. It may or may not rebuild or discard a cookie. And if Blogger has changed any portions of any of the 3, and all changes aren't reflected on your computer (your readers computer) simultaneously, the script running on your computer (your readers computer) will come eventually to a point where the blog content and / or the cookies don't match the expectations of the script. On individual computers with this sort of problem, this would produce a Blue Screen Of Death.

Long ago with Blogger, this would have resulted in a well known, monolithic error
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 some persuading, Blogger started providing some details, when reporting an error.

You, or your reader will see a variant of
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.
Additional information
uri: /2006/12/connecting-two-dissimilar-networks.html

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

That's all that a bX- code is. The Blogger equivalent of a Blue Screen Of Death. But it's one that, in some cases, your computer contributes to - and one for which you have to accept partial responsibility.

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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.
  1. Registration.
  2. DNS Hosting.
  3. Content Hosting.
  4. Total Cost To You.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

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 "".

Finding them isn't hard - just go Surfing.

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).

Note the URL.
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 "Friendfinder", and will link to "AdultFriendFinder.Com".

The content is another story. For a long time, I thought that the blogs that I was seeing were hijacked from existing blog owners, and were legit content, though a bit random and scattered subjects. Then another blogger showed us what we have.

Scraped content. Scraped from other blogs.

But, it's scraped content with a payoff - a payoff that you don't want, and may not see immediately. If your computer isn't properly protected, with a robust layered security strategy, you are possibly now a part of another botnet.

>> (Update 10/12): This problem has not gotten any better.

>> Forum thread links: bX-*00065

>> Copy this tag: bX-*00065

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

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 query
Can I write a blog, and sell stuff?
Can I write a blog, and make up stuff?
Can I include ads in my blog?
or even
Can I include ads from outside Google in my blog?

Well, there are quite a few things that are forbidden by law, or by Blogger Terms Of Service, that will get your blog cancelled (and maybe land you in court - dohh!). In alphabetic order (as with most of my lists), you should not write about
  • Child porn (period).
  • Counterfeiting currency or financial instruments.
  • Explosives manufacture.
  • Planned assassination of a political leader (actual or fictional).
  • Terrorism.

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 could add accessories and decorations, but that requires editing the template. If you're a computer programmer, a Blogger template isn't hard to do, it's just another language to learn. If you're not a programmer though, editing the template would be one more way to screw up your blog. Look in the Google Blogger Help forum Customising Templates, if you don't believe me.

Enter Blogger One Button Publishing, and Cascading Style Sheets. Now, you design a template (or borrow one already designed), and write content. That's all that's needed, to start a web page, also known as a Blogger blog.

When you get ready to improve a Layout or Designer template, you use the dashboard Layout GUI wizard to add, configure, and position accessories.

That's how you accessorise your blog now.
My, that's an inspiring blog. Now, write more content.

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Saturday, September 08, 2007

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

Every week, we see questions
I 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.
I want to list a friends profile, even though she's not technically a blog member.
or maybe
I 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.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Blogs Published By FTP Appear To Hang During Publishing

Recently, we've had a few reports of bloggers, who publish blogs externally, report seeing
Your 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 problem
One 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 "" to ""). To see if this will work for you, first, try connecting via a separate FTP client with and without the "ftp." at the beginning of your server name.

>> (Update 9/7): Blogger Employee is now involved, and has some specific questions.
  • Could you guys tell me which hosting provider you're using? If everyone's using the same provider, that's an easy point to focus on.
  • Have you ensured that things are running smoothly on your server? If you log in directly to your server, do you run into any difficulties?
  • How many of you are unable to fully publish after you get the error? Or, are you eventually able to publish your files even though it takes a long time to do so?
  • Have you checked out this article:

>> Forum thread links: bX-*00066

>> Copy this tag: bX-*00066

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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 brings back the old Spinner of Death, now repackaged as a simple advisory message
Your publishing is taking longer than expected. To continue waiting for it to finish, click here.
And the larger the blog, the longer the publishing takes, and the more this message is being seen. It's also possible that less servers are being made available to handle FTP publishing, or maybe more blogs are being published by FTP, which means that more sharing of servers is done during FTP publishing. This will make everybody's FTP publishing take longer.

Then too, it's possible that people who publish externally tend to have larger blogs. The older (and larger) blogs may be owned by more experienced bloggers. Publishing externally isn't something done by those with less experience.

Maybe you, the owner of a blog published by FTP, would benefit from watching how the publishing takes place. Short of examining FTP publishing logs on Blogger.Com (right), you'll have to settle for looking at the logs provided by the owner of the server that hosts your blog, if anything is available there.

Or maybe you can simulate the publishing process. When you backup your blog, you're effectively publishing it to your local server. HTTrack, and similar mirroring products, effectively publish your blog locally, though as a client side process.

With your blog published once to your external server, and your readers able to access it there, try republishing it back to BlogSpot, under any URL that's available. Once you have it published back to BlogSpot, try mirroring it, using HTTrack or a similar product.

What you see may make you understand why you see
Your publishing is taking longer than expected. To continue waiting for it to finish, click here.
more often.

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

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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