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Showing posts from April, 2008

The Two Templates

Your Blogger blog uses two different yet related HTML / XML templates, in formatting and displaying your posts.

The blog template defines objects that are consistent for the entire blog - and the post template defines objects that are consistent for each post (though the content of each post will vary, from post to post). You can change the blog tempate, when you wish.

The post template, when the blog is published, becomes part of the blog template - but the two are maintained separately. This lets you change your blog template (and the page layout) without affecting the post template (and the posts layout), and vice versa. When Blogger makes changes to post related features, they change post template code.

New Custom Domains "In Transition"

DNS, which is the backbone of Google Custom Domain publishing, is a distributed directory of all Internet hosts - like the Google servers where your domain is published.

We say that DNS is a "distributed" service, because the data provided to you, by DNS, resides not in one, or two, but millions of servers - all over the Internet, and owned by many different companies and individuals.

When you setup a new domain, using a DNS Management utility provided by your domain registrar or another DNS host, you can add the DNS entry when convenient to you. Some DNS management utilities will provide advicePlease wait 12 to 24 hours before trying to use your new URL.or a similar message, simply because the DNS information that you enter, through the utility to your DNS server, has to be distributed to the other DNS servers, all over the Internet.

Mail-to-Blogger Can Provide Anonymous Ability To Post

In the forums, we see periodically the queryHow do I let everyone in my company post to my blog, without requiring them to register?and my answer is typicallyYou can let them post comments, but to post actual articles, they will have to register.

And as we have learned, there is a limit in the number of registrations - each blog can have up to 100 members - administrators, authors, and readers - and no more. Apparently, up to 100 people can post to any blog, and no more.

That's not completely true. To use the Blogger Post Editor, through your browser, to post articles, you have to be a registered blog member. But, if you setup a Mail-to-Blogger account, and give out the Mail-to-Blogger email address, anyone knowing the address can post using their email program. Although here, you can moderate any posts, before publishing, should you feel the need.

This solution will have 2 caveats.You are now opening the blog to anyone who knows the email address. Don't use an easy to guess…

Custom Feeds And The Google Sitemap

Custom feed services, like FeedBurner, give you much more than a native Blogger blog feed. You can aggregate content and pull in material from other blogs and web sites, you can provide more user friendly formatting, and you can even track the number of readers who subscribe to a FeedBurner custom feed.

Your Blogger blog even supports your use of a custom feed. If you setup the Post Feed Redirect option, all links in the blog that would reference the native blog post feed are replaced by the custom feed. Your blog readers, when they click on a link that saysClick here to subscribe to my feed!automatically subscribe to the custom feed. This is good for your readers, and for you.

Unfortunately, use of the feed redirect option isn't a good idea for everybody, immediately. If you're using a Google Sitemap, to make it easier for the search engines to index your blog, and bring you more readers, you'll need to use the native blog feed.

With the blog redirecting all blog post f…

Mail-to-Blogger Author Settings

Recently, we noted the ability of blog Authors to setup their own Mail-to-Blogger access code to a given blog.

As a blog Author (aka "Guest" member), you will note a new Setting tab - "Email", where you now have the ability to setup your own Mail-to-Blogger address - with the public portion of the address set as your normal MTB public address. This is the same feature, that you may have enjoyed on your own blog, as an administrator / owner.

Setting Up A Custom Domain? Check Your References!

When you setup a Custom Domain, the migration process for Blogger access to the blog is transparent.

The setup wizard provides encouraging adviceWe won't leave your readers behind!
http://myblog.blogspot.com will redirect to your custom domain.Not all non Google services will update the blog URL properly, when you publish to a custom domain.

FTP Publishing - If You're Having Problems, Check Your Settings While You Wait For Support

Many different reports are seen in the forums, this month, about problems with FTP publishing. The old "Your publish is taking longer than expected ..." error is reported a lot. Alternatively, some folks report seeing no error, yet their posts simply don't end up on the blog.

Blogger Support will try to help you - really. As long as you report the problem objectively, and wait patiently. And they can help you best, when it's a problem that they can solve.

Some problems they can't help you solve, or at least can't help you as easily as you can help yourself. Problems with FTP Settings are problems that you can solve, on your own, a lot quicker than Blogger can solve for you.

If you have a problem with FTP Publishing, report the problem. And while you're waiting for their attention, spend some time diagnosing the problem on your own.I fished around and discovered that my host, pair.com, using the special additional login username and password that I adde…

Configuring The Page Header

When someone starts decorating their blog, one of the first things done is to replace the plain text page header with something more stylish. That task has become gradually easier, starting with the rollout of New Blogger (2006).

With a Classical template, this was done by editing the template HTML. When New Blogger (2006) started out, this was originally done by creating an HTML page element, and putting it in place of the Page Header page element. Recently, Blogger added options in the Header GUI, which lets you create a passable custom element, in just a few minutes.

From the Page Elements GUI, click the Edit link in the page header. This gives you the "Configure Header" wizard, which has several key abilities.Upload a graphic file (from your computer or elsewhere or in the web).Select whether the uploaded graphic is to replace the text Title and Description, or simply be placed behind it, as a background element.Select whether the uploaded graphic is to be shrunk to 66…

FTP Publishing - An Example Of The Complexity

Publishing a blog to an external server, using FTP, has always presented interesting challenges. I've been writing about those challenges for some time, and occasionally describing their seemingly random nature. This week, we see one example of the randomness, which is being experienced by those publishing to Yahoo Small Business.I got on the phone with Yahoo Small Business, and went through the trouble shooting process. ... One of the things about the Yahoo Small Business accounts is Yahoo teamed up with ATT SBC. With that team up, it created a weird log on user name, with two @@ in the user name to use FTP publishing. For example: you need both the [email address]@user-[email address]

The solution, in this case, and recommended by Yahoo Small Business is tocreate another FTP User ID independent of the main User ID.

In other words, Yahoo Small Business made a change, it wasn't successfully communicated to their customers, and it took a joint session between one customer and …

The GoDaddy Domain Manager

Making any custom settings to your custom domain, beyond what is done by the "Buy A Domain" wizard, involves the eNom / GoDaddy Domain Manager. If you bought your domain on your own, you might have chosen eNom, GoDaddy, or any of dozens other DNS hosts / registrars. Each domain manager will be different.

Once you're in the domain manager, what do you do? GoDaddy provides a lot of settings for managing your domain. eNom, the alternate Google partner in custom domain registration, has a Domain Manager that's similar only in result. Any other DNS host will have something still more different.

You may get to the Domain Manager directly (using a bookmark). If you bought the domain using "Buy A Domain" or Google Apps, you can alternately use the Google Apps "Advanced DNS settings" wizard. My domain is hosted by GoDaddy, and I bought it using "Buy A Domain".

Having entered your userid and password, successfully, you are presented with th…

Diagnosing Problems With Custom Domains - Case Study #6

In my previous custom domain case study, I presented a poorly working custom domain, where the "www" alias was properly setup, but the primary domain was using URL forwarding. Maybe it's a setup recommended by the DNS host technical support staff, who don't support "CNAME" referral for the primary domain.

Some DNS hosts just don't understand "CNAME" referrals, and the previous case doesn't show how badly domains can be setup.

Let's look at one case, again a fictional example "mydomain.com", setup using the "Advanced Settings" wizard.

There are 4 URLs to study here.The primary domain "mydomain.com".The "www" alias for the domain "www.mydomain.com".The primary BlogSpot URL "myblog.blogspot.com".The "www" alias for the BlogSpot URL "www.myblog.blogspot.com".

First, let's dig the DNS records for the primary domain "mydomain.com".
;; QUESTION SECTION:

What's Broken In FTP Publishing, This Week?

Blogs published using FTP have always offered interesting challenges for their owners, and for Blogger. The many selling points for Custom Domain publishing, as I recall, included the ability toPublish to a Google server.Have a blog with dynamic HTML and a Layouts template.Have a non-BlogSpot URL.Avoid the chronic instabilities of FTP publishing.

This week, we see a plethora of complaints about FTP publishing, in the forums.

What are the possibilities?It's your imagination that your FTP publishing is having problems.A lot of FTP server hosts are having problems.Blogger really broke something - big time.Blogger fixed a lot of non-FTP problems. What you see in the forums is a sudden lack of other complaints ("noise"), making the normal level of FTP publishing problems ("signal") more audible.FTP published blogs are typically produced by bloggers who spend more time at their computers. The climate improving in many parts of the USA has taken other bloggers away f…

The Google Custom Domain Photo Hosting Problem Hits Harder

The Google Custom Domain photo hosting problem has been with us for a while. I first reported this problem in August, 2007 - and again, last week. Last year, it was simply a chronic problem that I had noted. Last week, it affected my blogs, but only on one important photo.

This week, the problem became more obnoxious. It now affects multiple photos, which are used in multiple blogs (possibly a lot of blogs). The Cumulus Blogs Hidden LinkLists, the Cumulus Blogs MultiStyle Labels, and the Language Translator Bar, are used by a few bloggers who I've never met. Maybe you're one of them (you've read this far, so maybe you are).

Look in the sidebars of my blogs - like this blog "The Real Blogger Status" or my networking blog "PChuck's Network", at the "Topics" section, or even "Topics" in Roberto's Report (Roberto, a bud of mine, uses the same graphics in his blogs). On most days, you'll see one or more missing buttons / …

Diagnosing Problems With Custom Domains - Case Study #5

In my first 4 custom domain case studies, I presented working, or semi-working domains, each being a case where the domain owner appeared to have tried to setup the domain properly. By action of the DNS host, or maybe of the Blogger wizard, some of the cases didn't exemplify proper setup, but the owner at least tried to do properly.

In some cases, maybe through ignorance, or stubborness, the owner will simply ignore instruction, and do his own thing. Sometimes, the setup will work, but it will still be wrong. Maybe it's a setup recommended by the DNS host technical support staff.

Let's look at one case, again a fictional example "mydomain.com", setup using the "Advanced Settings" wizard.

There are 4 URLs to study here.The primary domain "mydomain.com".The "www" alias for the domain "www.mydomain.com".The primary BlogSpot URL "myblog.blogspot.com".The "www" alias for the BlogSpot URL "www.myblog.blog…

Photos Missing From Blogs Published To Custom Domains

This problem has been reported for many months, and comes and goes. Right now, it seems to have come again.

Look at the Language Translator bar, in this blog. See the place where there should be a Greek flag (between the "German" and "Italian" flags)? What you see there is "en|el" - no flag. THAT showed up the moment I published this blog as part of Nitecruzr.Net.

>> Forum thread links: bX-*00063

>> Copy this tag: bX-*00063

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Blogging

Setting up a web site is a lot of work.

Once you get past the process of actually setting up a web site, you have to write something.

If you want very many readers, you have to write a lot, frequently, and regularly. If you want your readers to return, they have to be able to find what you write. And need I say this - if you want readers to return over and over, what you publish has to be attractive and organised.

FTP Published Blogs Redirect BlogSpot URL Automatically?

Ever since Custom Domain publishing was provided by Blogger, one noticeable feature that differentiated custom domain from FTP publishing was the status of the original BlogSpot URL. With a blog published to a custom domain, the original BlogSpot URL was automatically redirected to the new custom domain; but this was not done for blogs published by FTP.

This was a major deficiency too.With the original BlogSpot URL unused, blog readers had to be informed in advance of the pending change.As soon as the blog was published and the BlogSpot URL became available, it was frequently snapped up by splog publishers.This necessitated publishing of a stub blog, by the former owner, after the blog was published by FTP, informing all that the blog had been moved to another URL.

This deficiency appears to be ended. I was in the process of diagnosing a problem with an FTP published blog, where the owner reportedI can no longer reclaim the original subdomain, as was recommended.

I went to verify the c…

The Blog Feed Redirect Option Needs To Be Used Properly

When you setup a Blogger blog, and use a properly configured feed, the combinations of comments, labels, and posts feeds can do wonders for making your blog more accessible and maintainable. You have a number of feeds, with URLs based upon the URL of the blog, to work with.

For more possibilities, you can use a custom feed, provided by an aggregation service like FeedBurner or FeedDigest. When you use a custom feed, you can even redirect references, within the blog, to the custom feed, so you don't have to manually reconfigure things like post footer feed links.

The Edit Posts Menu

When you create a blog, do you just post, endlessly? I don't.

For every new post I make, I update, revise, and relink each post to other posts. And the dashboard "Posts" menu (formerly "Edit Posts") is an essential part of that activity.

From the Blogger dashboard menu, click on "Posts" - and you're there.

The Daily Coyote

Apparently the blog "The Daily Coyote" was locked as a spam blog, pending investigation. The owner then convinced its readers to conduct a DOS attack against Google Blogger Help, until it was restored to operational status, in the impression that such action would hasten Bloggers reaction.

It was restored 7th of April 2008, and the owner admitted the same, in a post on the blog. Obviously unlocked.

Yet the useless posts continue in Blogger Help Group. This prevents other people, needing help, from being helped promptly.

To the owners of the blog:You need to again email your readers, and instruct them to knock it off. You aren't bothering Blogger, but you are interfering with other bloggers being helped.

Blogger has a very real problem with spam blogs. If your blog is blocked, or if it's removed, it's not done so trivially, nor are you the only one being so oppressed.

Right now, Daily Coyote whinings are approaching classification as a Denial Of Service Attack.

Go …

The Making Of Nitecruzr Dot Net

Many people set up a Google Custom Domain simply so they can have a single Blogger, published to a non-BlogSpot URL.

A custom domain can include more than just one blog, though. You can setup multiple blogs in one domain, limited only to your imagination, and the virtual hosts limitation of your domain registrar.

Here, for instance, is how I setup my custom domain, "Nitecruzr Dot Net".I setup a home blog for the domain, which will index all of the existing blogs. This was a new blog, "nitecruzr-dot-net.blogspot.com", which I published to "www.nitecruzr.net", using the "Buy A Domain" wizard for the new domain "nitecruzr.net".I defined additional virtual hosts in "nitecruzr.net". Each additional host, just as you may have setup the "www" alias, is another pair of "CNAME" referrals to "ghs.google.com" - added using the DNS management wizard provided by your DNS host or domain registrar. If you set…

Classic or Layouts Template? Your Choice (Maybe)

Does anybody remember Old Blogger (pre 2006), and the process of adding or relocating an accessory - maybe a picture or linklist - to the blog? For many of us, that memory is fast fading. New Blogger 2006, and the Layouts templates with their GUI linklist setup, is so much more user friendly. You can use a Layouts template with any blog published to a BlogSpot URL - or to a non-BlogSpot URL on a Google server, using Custom Domain publishing.

Even with New Blogger 2006 being the reality (and Old Blogger a distant memory), some bloggers are still stuck with a Classic template. Maybe by choiceI hate new Blogger, and the widgets. I like having a template that I can understand.or maybe forced upon themI want to publish my blog to my own server.some bloggers are sticking with a Classic template. Publishing your blog to a non-BlogSpot URL on an external server, using FTP, requires static HTML and a Classical template.

Occasionally, you hear the puzzled questionWhat does this mean?Your …

Diagnosing Problems With Custom Domains - Case Study #2b

Encouraged by my ability to setup my own personal custom domain, I persuaded my bud Bob to do likewise. Now, Bob isn't a techie (so he would tell you), but he does know how to follow procedure. And I encouraged him to try it.its easier than it looksSo, just last night, Bob tells me in his usual taciturn wayOK - It's http://robertosblogs.netthen laterEXACTLY the way you described in your post

But - and it seems like there's always a "but" with Blogger - the results were not quite the same.


Let's take a look at "robertosblogs.net".

There are 4 URLs to study here.The primary domain "robertosblogs.net".The "www" alias for the domain "www.robertosblogs.net".The primary BlogSpot URL "roberto-dot-net.blogspot.com".The "www" alias for the BlogSpot URL "www.roberto-dot-net.blogspot.com".

I started by examining his DNS setup. First, the primary domain "robertosblogs.net".
;; QUESTION SECTION…

Blogger In Draft - The Blog List

Taking the concept of the BlogRoll to the new level, we now have the BlogList. The Blog List, one of the shiny gadgets in Blogger In Draft, combines the BlogRoll with a blog feed to give an ever changing list of blogs with their most recently added posts (title and / or post snippet are selectable in the display).

Unfortunately, the Blog List doesn't work, consistently. You can see an example in my Nitecruzr Dot Net home page, in the sidebar section "Nitecruzr Dot Net". In my test, we see "PChuck's Network" with a recent post, but shows no hint of the recent posts in this blog "The Real Blogger Status".

We must remember that Blogger In Draft is a Beta testing platform, and we shouldn't be surprised when it doesn't always work. Blogger Support is aware of this recently discovered shortcoming.

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Managing Your Custom Domain

As I stated in The Choice Is Yours, given the choice in the future, I would personally recommend and use the "Buy A Domain" wizard for setting up any new domain. Not all bloggers will agree with me on this, as some have additional needs, and prefer to setup their domains with more detail.

If you already own a domain, and maybe have additional components like mail or other servers defined, you'll use the "Advanced Settings" wizard in Blogger - after using the wizard provided by your DNS host to setup the DNS for your domain. If you bought your domain from GoDaddy, you'll use the GoDaddy DNS Manager; if you bought your domain from another registrar, you'll use their DNS Manager.

Note that some basic functions, like payment / domain registration renewal, may be available in the Apps desktop, for Google Apps accounts setup for domains purchased through Blogger. These functions may not be available for domains purchased directly from a registrar, with the…

Duplicate Blog? Delete The Duplicate, Carefully!

As Blogger makes it easier for us to use the Blogger wizards, occasionally we will do things that we don't need to do, simply by hitting one or two buttons that "didn't used to be there". Sometimes, we may even setup a new blog, without intentionally doing so.

So once you realise that you made a mistake, do you just go into Settings - Basic, and select "Delete This Blog"? Have you ever done that, and as you finger pushed down on the mouse button, looked at the settings and said to yourselfNO! Not that blog - the other one!Too late. You just deleted your good blog.

Been there, done that.

And deleted blogs don't have a Recycle Bin (Trashcan for you Maccies).

Bet the second time, you'll do this with more care.Go to Settings - Basic, and change the blog description.This blog is being deleted.Look at the extra blog, and make sure that the description, in the header, saysThis blog is being deleted.Go back to Settings - Basic, and look at the description ag…

Diagnosing Problems With Custom Domains - Case Study #4

In my first 2 custom domain case studies, I presented actual custom domains - all setup and working. Neither of those exemplify all custom domain setups though. In my 3rd post in this series, Diagnosing Problems With Custom Domains - Case Study #3, I showed a custom domain setup that was not only asymmetrical but incomplete. Here's a variation on that, where the primary domain isn't even defined in DNS.

Let's take a look at a fictional example "mydomain.com", setup using the "Advanced Settings" wizard.

There are 4 URLs to study here.The primary domain "mydomain.com".The "www" alias for the domain "www.mydomain.com".The primary BlogSpot URL "myblog.blogspot.com".The "www" alias for the BlogSpot URL "www.myblog.blogspot.com".

First, let's dig the DNS records for the primary domain "mydomain.com".
;; QUESTION SECTION:
;mydomain.com. IN A

;; ANSWER SECTION:
mydomain.com. 86400 IN SOA n…

Custom Domain Setups Terminating With bX- Codes

During this week, we've seen a number of reports that bloggers, when attempting to setup a custom domain, are observing a variety of bX- codes. Generally in the past, most problems with custom domain setups would report the well known monolithic errorAnother blog is already hosted at this address.or possibly an equally frustrating problem404 Not Foundrecently attractively repackaged asBlog not found

Sorry, the blog you were looking for does not exist. However, the name (your supposedly non existent blog) is available to register!

My suspicion is that, in an effort to diagnose the causes of the monolithic error messages, Blogger has added additional bX- codes into the custom domain code libraries. Maybe that's the actual reason for the addition of the request for details, with the bX- codes.

Maybe we'll eventually see a reduction in the number of custom domain setup problems in general, as Blogger identifies and resolves various weaknesses in the custom domain product. Or a…

Details About bX- Code Circumstances Now Requested By Blogger Support

In an effort to reap benefits from the chronic bX- codes, Blogger Support now asks for the details, related to the circumstances. Just fill in the form, and enjoy the feeling that your pain is not being ignored.

This request for diagnostic details, plus the bX- Codes Glossary blog, should reduce the frustration level ever so slightly, when a bX- code is experienced. Maybe this effort is part of a increased focus on solving some of the ongoing problems, like the pervasive "Another blog ..." error, encountered periodically during custom domain setup.

In order for the form to be useful, we have to use it. As I've stated before, every report about a given problem, no matter how many times experienced, is significant. If you don't report your experience, it may not be resolved as quickly as it could be.

When you get a bX- code, take the time and add an entry to the form, with complete and precise detail about the problem. Like the False Positive Locked Blog, following p…

Controlling The Search Engine Spiders

Most, but not all, blog owners eagerly anticipate the arrival, upon their blog, by the search engine spiders.

The spiders come to index your blog, when the search engines recognise your blog's existence in the Blogosphere.

For those blog owners who don't want their blogs indexed, Blogger provides the settings, in Settings - Basic - Privacy, "Add your blog to our listings?" (for internal Blogger spiders, and Blogger links) and "Let search engines find your blog?" (for external spiders).

The Choice Is Yours

If you decided that you wanted to publish your blog to a non-BlogSpot URL, and you opted for Custom Domain publishing, you're now left with 2 choices.Setup from scratch, using "Advanced Settings".Find a registrar, and register the domain of your choice. Be sure to choose the right registrar!Figure out the registrar's DNS setup wizard, and the right settings, and setup your DNS.Use the Blogger "Advanced Settings" wizard, and republish the blog to your new domain.Setup the simple way, using "Buy A Domain For Your Blog".Choose the domain.Pay for the domain registration.Make any additional settings to your new domain, at your convenience, using the standard eNom / GoDaddy DNS Management wizards.Get to work making a user friendly domain for your readers. That's why you're doing this, right?

I suspect that the latter will be the choice for most bloggers, who are just getting the idea to publish outside Blog*Spot, and who don't already have …

I Promise You, This Blog Exists

I almost hesitate to start this post, because of the date. However, I promise you, this is no joke. Recently (and before today, so I don't see this as a joke), Blogger made a change to their servers, and to how they display "404 Address Not Found". And, I've seen some confusion resulting from the change.

Here, for instance, is a link to this blog. And here is a link to this post.

Simple enough? How about a link to a non existent web site. See the display?
Server not found
Firefox can't find the server at nitecruzr-non-existent-blog.


Duh. What's a server?

OK, "Chuck's Non Existent Blog" doesn't exist. Or, it exists in my mind, purely to make this point. Don't think about this too hard though.



How about a just deleted blog?
Blog has been removed

Sorry, the blog at nitecruzr-non-existent-blog.blogspot.com has been removed. This address is not available for new blogs.


This blog did exist - for a few minutes. It doesn't exist now, and the…