Thursday, December 13, 2007

Missing Archives And Template Corruption

This blog has a lot of posts for me to keep up with, and they have been developed over a couple years. To find relevant posts, I frequently look in the date sequenced catalogue, aka "Archives". One would expect to find a catalogue of posts for each month, since the blog was started.

One would expect. Before checking your blog, be sure to reload the view, if it's been sitting for a few hours. This seems to have happened maybe sometime after 18:00 PST today, give or take 2 or 3 hours. I didn't see consistency in all of my browsers, until I refreshed the view of the blog.



This is normal.



This, too, is normal.



This is not normal. The numbers in parentheses indicates that I have posts for those months. But when "opened" (note the arrows for August, July, and June pointed down), nothing shows in the posts lists, as it does for December and November.


If I click on a month label, I can see all of the "missing" posts in main page view. So the archives aren't really missing, just the archives index list is borked.

I've checked this from another computer too, and I get the same results. Other people see other months missing too. My other blog of useful size, PChuck's Network, shows similar results, starting from July 2006 and going backwards. This is the same in Firefox and Internet Explorer too. After refreshing the blog view, as noted above.

Other bloggers are noted different problems. Some cannot find the "email this post" icon, others are seeing the "quick edit" icons (either the pencil, or the screwdriver / wrench) visible on the blog for all readers to see. Neither recovering the blog template, nor resetting the post template, have been 100% effective in this case. We should note that even when the pencil or screwdriver / wrench icon is seen by a reader, clicking on the icon does not give the reader access to blog settings.

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So, Do You Want To Play A Game?

This is the game of "Porn\\\\Next Blog" surfing. Like all games, it must have some rules. You are welcome to make up your own, as you see fit. These are simply my rules, which I follow for consistency.
  1. Use Firefox, on a computer properly protected with Layered Security.
  2. Start Firefox from within SandboxIE.
  3. Open half a dozen or so tabs, to start, in the window.
  4. The goal of the game is to hit "Next Blog" repeatedly, until you have surfed to 3 Adult Friend Finder splogs.
  5. The surfing, for maximum consistency, should be done as rapidly as possible. One of the problems of "Next Blog" surfing is that you constantly find interesting blogs which you will be tempted to examine. Don't spend time looking at blogs, keep going. When you find any interesting blog, or when you find an AFF splog, move on to the next tab.
  6. When you have found 3 AFF splogs, you will have 3 tabs with those splogs, plus any incidentally interesting blogs, displayed in the tabs.
  7. If you fill up the tabs with interesting blogs, before you find 3 AFF splogs, open some more tabs and keep going.
  8. When you have found 3 AFF splogs, go to each tab, and count the number of blogs surfed for that tab. Right click on the "Go back one page" down arrow, and count the number of blogs listed. If there are 15 blogs listed, select the bottom blog in the list, and recheck the list (and repeat, if a 15 additional blogs are listed). Count the total number of blogs listed. Add up the counts, for all tabs, and remember to count the final blog surfed in each tab.
  9. The total number of blogs surfed will be the score.
  10. When you are done, use SandboxIE Control (right click on the SandboxIE icon in the tooltray) and "Terminate All Programs". Firefox, and any associated processes (including any possibly "malicious" scripts started from the splog code), will be flushed, without damaging your system.


Here's my play, from this evening. Look carefully at the content of each blog, in the 3 pictures, before concluding that I published 3 copies of the same picture! Look at the posts, below the white space!



See the white space below the top ad? That's where the AFF ads would be.



I may put alternate copies of these 3 splog pictures, with the AFF ads left in place, in another blog, later.



I just refuse to show pornographic pictures here. And by the way, those URLs are munged too.


For these 3 splogs, I counted a total of 30 splogs surfed. This makes the AFF splog count 1 in 10, which is kind of light. It's heavier at other times. Play it, and find out for yourself.

Looking closer at the pictures, you'll see that I opened 8 tabs, and filled 6 of the 8. Besides the 3 AFF splogs, there were 3 otherwise interesting blogs, which I will look at later. Some of those are possible splogs too.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A New Game! Let's Go Porn\\\\Next Blog Surfing!!

Several months ago, I started a series of posts which I entitled "Adult FriendFinder", or "AFF". Adult FriendFinder has been long known for providing Internet advertisements using pictures of "local" women, with many of their pictures frequently described as pornography.

An unidentified criminal organisation is currently producing a large number of blogs, which are being hosted by BlogSpot, and which use Adult FriendFinder ads as their signature. These blogs are maintained in great volume, so when you use the "Next Blog" link in the Navbar for any amount of time, you will likely surf to one or more.

The volume of these spam blogs, or splogs, in BlogSpot, is one of the reasons why I, and a few other bloggers, now advise those with blogs read by sensitive people, to remove the Navbar from your blog. I make this advice, ever mindful of Blogger repeated advice that the Navbar should not be tampered with.

And this is why I currently refer to using the "Next Blog" link in the Navbar, as "Porn\\\\Next Blog" surfing.

Adult FriendFinder was recently censured by the FTC, and promised to cease producing pornographic advertising easily visible. They claim to have hidden any undesirable pictures behind a warning.

The latter claim is, to put it mildly, hot air. To truly understand what I'm talking about, you will have to see for yourself. But, only look after you have properly prepared your browser. Please, do not surf these splogs without protection.
Please, if you are disturbed by the nature of what you see, do not complain to me. I am only advising you to look, so you may understand why your blog gets so little random traffic, or why your page rank has dropped recently. Please, complain to Blogger, and do so frequently.

Like any game, there are rules. You are free to develop your own, however (and leave me comments here discussing your rules), if you wish. I explain the rules, and show a sample game, in my next post.

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Surfing Unknown Blogs? Sandbox Your Browser!

Normally, when I instruct you to check out a blog or web site of dubious reputation, I explicitly advise you to protect your computer. One way to prevent installation of malicious software on your computer, when you must surf dodgy web sites, is to use a proxy server. Using a proxy server will protect your computer, by running all web site client activities on the distant server, and send to you only the visible components of the web site itself.

And that's the downside as well as the upside of a proxy server. Sometimes, you'll need components of a web site, that you wouldn't get through a proxy server.

When a proxy server isn't a useful solution, consider using a sandbox.

Antivirus programs, like Norton / Symantec, have been using sandboxes, for years. Now, you can run your browser in a sandbox too. SandboxIE was originally written to "Sandbox IE", as in Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer, before V7, was well known to be insecure, prompting the development of SandboxIE. But SandboxIE will run other programs, as in other browsers, just as well as it will run Internet Explorer.
Sandboxie intercepts changes to both your files and registry settings, making it virtually impossible for any software to reach outside the sandbox.

Sandboxie traps cached browser items into the sandbox as a by-product of normal operation, so when you flush the sandbox, all the history records and other side-effects of your browsing disappear as well.
You can run two instances of your browser - one inside SandBoxIE, and a second outside SandBoxIE, to produce parallel results for various reasons.

If I advise you to go Porn\\\\Next Blog surfing, so you can see why your blog isn't getting as much random traffic as it should, or why your page rank has slipped again, I'll advise you to run your browser within SandboxIE, for safety.

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

Deleting A Page Element? Delete It Through The Page Elements GUI

In articles like Can't Delete A Page Element?, I explain how to remove a page element from your blog, when it's locked. This is a two stage process.
  • From the Template Editor, unlock the page element.
  • From the Page Elements GUI, remove the page element.


Occasionally, I give this advice, only to have somebody ask me
Chuck, why make it so complicated. Just delete the entry in the template.


But it's not that simple. Look at a Linklist page element, for instance.



See all of the URLs in my "Blogger Help Links" page element, in the sidebar, for instance?


Now, look at the template code, for that page element.
<b:widget id='LinkList2' locked='false' title='' type='LinkList'>
<b:includable id='main'>

<b:if cond='data:title'><h2><data:title/></h2></b:if>
<div class='widget-content'>
<ul>
<b:loop values='data:links' var='link'>
<li><a expr:href='data:link.target'><data:link.name/></a></li>
</b:loop>
</ul>
<b:include name='quickedit'/>
</div>
</b:includable>
</b:widget>


Where are all of the URLs in the list? They aren't in the template HTML, that's for sure. How do you get rid of the URLs, if you delete the above code from the template?

You have to use the Page Elements GUI, to remove the content behind the page element that's located in the template HTML.

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