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Showing posts from November, 2008

Custom Domains And URL Forwarding - A Second Reason Why It's A Bad Idea

Some bloggers, who want to publish their blog to a Google Custom Domain, elect to not purchase the domain using the "Buy A Domain" wizard, still decide to accept their domain DNS configuration from a third party - the domain registrar. Many registrars advise use of URL forwarding, and this is known to cause problems with Blogger.

DaVe L, in Google Blogger Help - Publishing Trouble: 404 Error/Register.com domain issue, writes
Since this past sunday, my blog www.shortandsweetnyc.com has been getting that 404 error when I enter the URL. I registered the domain name through register.com and have called them several times to try to figure out what the issue was. They have been telling me that everything is fine on their end and it looks like the problem is on blogger.com's end.

And here we have yet a third incident involving Register.Com, in a single week.

An HTTP access trace shows us:

Sending request:

GET / HTTP/1.1
Host: shortandsweetnyc.com
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U;…

Blogs And The Redirect Warning

The Blogosphere, and particularly the BlogSpot address space, has been known, for some time, as a space where dodgy content is located.

BlogSpot has been used for delivery of visually undesirable content (aka porn), and non visually undesirable content (aka hacking and spam) for some time. In January 2008, that changed, and publishers of blogs containing various forms of hacking / porn / spam found their activities hampered (though not completely shut down).

Many bloggers who wished to continue to provide us with antisocial and illegal content, using Google servers, started to relocate their payload, so Blogger could not detect the malicious blogs by merely scanning all of BlogSpot.

And Now, A Dose Of Paranoia For You

Danasoft - Free Signs For Your Blog

How scared should you be - did I just hack your computer?? Highlight from here, ==>Advice from the makers of the sign:These signs are created and served by our webserver in real-time for each person that views them. Your IP address and other information are only visible to YOU, not to others, but because people see their own IP address and computer information displayed on a blog, they think that their information can be seen by everyone!Get back to work!!<== to here, and find out.

See Geolocation: Where Are My Readers Located? for more advice. Better, spend your time publishing informative and interesting content - make your readers feel genuinely welcome.

New Google Apps Engine Servers Are Not Yet Released

Even though newly setup domains, using the "Buy A Domain" wizard, are apparently using the new "216" series Google Apps servers, I was recently advised that the engineer setting them up has still not given the green light for publicizing these yet. Until advised, I'll still advise you to use the (old) Google Apps servers, in your Asymmetrical Custom Domain DNS setup.
mydomain.com. 3600 IN A 64.233.179.121
mydomain.com. 3600 IN A 72.14.207.121
www.mydomain.com. 3600 IN CNAME ghs.google.com.

Be patient, these are yet to be released officially.
mydomain.com. 1800 IN A 216.239.32.21
mydomain.com. 1800 IN A 216.239.34.21
mydomain.com. 1800 IN A 216.239.36.21
mydomain.com. 1800 IN A 216.239.38.21
www.mydomain.com. 3600 IN CNAME ghs.google.com.

Watch this space, and be patient.

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Custom Domains, And Register.Com As The Registrar, Redux

During the past week, we had an interesting experience where customers of Register.Com were reporting broken custom domains - domains that were using DNS service provided by Register. We traced the problem to a bogus address record, on a Register DNS server.

ghs.google.com. 14400 IN CNAME ghs.google.com.

Some time yesterday, the problem was, supposedly, fixed.

Not.

This morning, in reviewing the many threads in BHG: Something Is Broken, I see a reply in one threadI called Register.com again and walked through changing the DNS server settings one more time, and things are now working again.

In the process of closing that problem, I did a final Dig on the domain, and found an interesting detail.

; <<>> DiG 9.3.2 <<>> @dns090.a.register.com www.theresmytwocents.com ANY
; (1 server found)
;; global options: printcmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 33071
;; flags: qr aa rd; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 2, AUTHORITY: 0, ADDITIONAL: 0

Why Isn't Google Solving The Server Not Found Error 404 Problem?

This is a cry echoed by many, and for some time. Some, who ask this question, ask a similar question too, "Why Isn't Blogger Solving The "Another blog is already hosted at this address" Problem?" And there is but one answer, to both questions.Google is solving "the problem". One problem, at a time.
But "the problem" will never be solved, as long as bloggers keep referring to it as "the problem". It simply isn't one problem - it's many problems, with the same symptom.

Custom Domains, And Register.Com As The Registrar

Most people, when setting up a new custom domain, simply use the "Buy A Domain" wizard, and end up with eNom or GoDaddy as a registrar. Neither eNom nor GoDaddy are foolproof, and some folks find new and exciting ways to make their domains not work. Neither the Custom Domain Reset Form, nor the Blogger Help Group, will be retired within this lifetime. For all their flaws, both eNom and GoDaddy are predictable, within limits.

Some folks like to "roll their own", and use third party registrars, and "Advanced Settings". Now, we have challenges.

This evening, we have BHG: Something Is Broken: Custom domain suddenly not workingWe've had a custom domain set up perfectly for 2 years. Somehow this morning, with no changes to our DNS nor blogspot .. our blog is fubar.

As usual, I start examining Dig logs (here, unabridged) for the domain. And, I find oddities.

; <<>> DiG 9.3.2 <<>> crackedsidewalks.com A
;; global options: printcmd

Custom Domains And URL Forwarding - A Definitive Reason Why It's A Bad Idea

Many bloggers, who want to publish their blog to a Google Custom Domain, elect to not purchase the domain using the "Buy A Domain" wizard. Some folks decide to do so because they want a domain in a TLD that's not provided by the wizard, others just like to do it themselves. And sometimes, "doing it themselves" is where the trouble starts.

KJ, in Google Blogger Help - Something Is Broken: DNS Redirect Errors, asksI've had some of the same problems as others who have posted, with the blog not showing, error messages, etc...
I've tried to go through and correct the areas that I thought haderrors, but the more I read the more confused I become.
Would someone be able to assist me to see if I have everything set up properly?

Here's what we saw, when we checked out the blog in question.


This isn't going to encourage prospective readers to read your blog.



And, checking out the DNS configuration, we saw:

mydomain.com. 3600 IN A 64.202.189.17…

Custom Domains, And Major Paradigm Shifts

If you're reading this, you have a computer (or at least access to one). Your computer is being used as a client, to read this blog, which is located on a server. The Internet is a "Client - Server" application, and Google has thousands of servers, which they use to provide us access to our blogs, and other activities.

I won't go into the details here, but aside from the fact that both clients and servers are types of computers, there are not a lot of significant similarities between the two. Servers are generally not, in a well designed and secured environment, used as clients.

Then there's Google. If a Google server needs to provide you access to your blog that's published to a custom domain, it has to contact a Google DNS server to get the IP address of your blog, located on another Google server. That is, a server becomes a client. And there is one of the weaknesses of the custom domain product, in general.

Your Browser, In Anonymity And Safety - Browser Isolation

In the Internet, just as in the real world, there are places where you just don't go, if you want to stay alive and / or safe. Safety on the Internet starts with staying out of web sites where you don't belong, and hardening your browser when you surf web sites that you don't completely trust. Besides hardening your browser, by disabling scripts from untrusted web sites, browser isolation is a new and promising protection technique. We isolate our browsers using two alternate techniques - proxy servers and sandboxes.

A proxy server can be run locally (on your network), or remotely (on the Internet). When run remotely, and provided by a third party, it provides anonymity as well as security. Address traces, such as from a visitor log in our blogs, show visitors as the proxy server and no farther. The security provided by a proxy server is configurable - if all that you desire is anonymity, you can enable many proxy servers to pass browser content that isn't necessa…

The GoDaddy Domain Manager: Removing An Address Entry

If you have a custom domain that was setup for you by Google Apps, or through the "Buy A Domain For Your Blog" wizard, or if you setup your domain to use the Google Apps standard configuration, you probably reference a Google server that doesn't exist any more. The Google server "66.249.81.121" was taken offline some time ago, yet many custom domains still have this configuration.

mydomain.com. 3600 IN A 64.233.179.121
mydomain.com. 3600 IN A 66.249.81.121
mydomain.com. 3600 IN A 72.14.207.121
www.mydomain.com. 3600 IN CNAME ghs.google.com.


Reliance upon "66.249.81.121" contributes to at least some of the cases of "Server Not Found Error 404" observed recently. If your custom domain contains a reference to that server, your domain will probably show these symptoms eventually. If your domain is already showing this symptom, that may be why you're here.

Removing the entry in question isn't difficult. Start from the GoDaddy Domain Manag…

Custom Domains And New Google Apps DNS Servers

We've been getting a lot of reports of some well known problems recently, from blogs published to Google Custom Domains.Another blog is already hosted at this address.andServer Not Found

Error 404No, Chuck, tell us something that we didn't know.

When I analyse a custom domain problem, I always start with a DNS analysis, expressed using an excerpted Dig log. Typically, I'll see
Symmetrical Main Domain

mydomain.com. 900 IN CNAME ghs.google.com.
www.mydomain.com. 900 IN CNAME ghs.google.com.

or
Asymmetrical Main Domain (aka "Google Apps" configuration)

mydomain.com. 3600 IN A 64.233.179.121
mydomain.com. 3600 IN A 72.14.207.121
www.mydomain.com. 900 IN CNAME ghs.google.com.


This weekend, though, we're seeing a variant on the latter configuration, reported as usual in anxious queriesFor 3 days I received a message that the blog was redirecting. Then I got error 404 for a day and decided to switch to blogspot and back to my custom domain. Got an error that this domain is …

Custom Domains, DNS, And Time To Live

Custom domains, to the typical blogger, should be incredibly simple to setup. Functionally, the setup process is two simple steps.Create a DNS entry for the URL of your choice, pointing to Google.Publish the blog to the URL.But for all of that simplicity, they are seemingly random in their failures.

Why are custom domains so apparently randomly unreliable?

One example, where we can see random behaviour, is in surgical DNS changes. One of the recent causes of the flood ofAnother blog is already hosted at this address.andServer Not Found

Error 404is a reference to a DNS server that isn't in service any more.

Many bloggers, lately, complain of the "Server Not Found Error 404" symptom. I'll look at an HTTP Access Log for the domain, and seeHost IP address = 66.249.81.121followed by<h1>Server·Not·Found</h1>(LF)
<h2>Error·404< /h2>(LF)Next, I look at an excerpted Dig log for the domain, and see
mydomain.com. 3600 IN A 64.233.179.121 mydomain.com.…

Your Blog, And Blogger, And Custom Domain Publishing

Blogger has thousands of computers that they control and support - their servers.

They have millions of computers that they don't control, but still try to support - our computers. Then there are the remote servers, to where we (try to) publish blogs using FTP. They don't own, or support those computers, and that relationship creates a lot of challenges when we want to publish our Blogger blogs to those non-Google computers.

Custom Domains And The Blogger Redirect Selection

One odd question which has been popping up occasionally from puzzled bloggers would be the nature of the Blogger Custom Domain Redirect optionI selected "Redirect mydomain.com to www.mydomain.com.", but I'm still getting a "404 Not Found". What is up here?orWhy do I keep getting a parked page, even after I selected the Redirect option?

So, we Dig the DNS configuration, and see

www.mydomain.com. 3600 IN CNAME ghs.google.com.

or maybe

mydomain.com. 3600 IN A 68.178.232.100
www.mydomain.com. 3600 IN CNAME ghs.google.com.

parkwebwin-v01.prod.mesa1.secureserver.net (68.178.232.100)
68.178.128.0 - 68.178.255.255
GoDaddy.com, Inc.

And there, ladies and gentlemen, is your answer. The first configuration will give you a 404, because there is no DNS definition for "mydomain.com". The second configuration will give you the GoDaddy server "68.178.232.100", and a parked page display.

If you want the Blogger Redirect option to have any meaning,…

FTP Publishing - November 2008

This month, we again see reports of several frequent FTP Publishing problem symptoms. The well knownYour publish is taking longer than expected. To continue waiting for it to finish, click here.andConnectException: Connection timed out.

These symptoms have been seen fairly recently, but now we have an additional detail. Some reports are from bloggers who have examined the server activity and firewall logs, and who explicitly state that the server is getting no incoming traffic. This could, conceivably, be another episode of the Server IP address / Name setting change.

If you are suffering from this problem, please provide diagnostic informationThe blog BlogSpot URL (if applicable).The blog domain URL.The name of the server hosting company.The Blogger FTP server setting value.as part of your problem report, in BHG: Publishing Trouble. Please, be socially conscious and start a new thread for your report.

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Custom Domain DNS Addresses And Name Addressing Conventions

Periodically, when reviewing the many problem reports about Google Custom Domains, and especially those reporting the ubiquitous "Another blog ..." error message, we'll look at the DNS configuration and see a partial DNS setup
www.mydomain.com. 900 IN CNAME ghs.google.com.
yet the blogger reporting the problem statesI setup my domain with both the root, and the "www" alias, defined. This is what I setup! Whatever can the problem be?

FTP Publishing: Moving Ahead - How It's Done

Many Bloggers, currently publishing by FTP to external servers, need to plan for a somewhat immediate move of their blogs back to Blogger and Google servers.

No matter how you look at it, this is a manual process. This week, an FTP Publishing Migration Tool, stated to be available 2/22, developed to support the immediately required migration, will mitigate some of the tedium and uncertainty that's described below.


Start from the Settings - Publishing screen. See the advice for "Blog URL"?
"nitecruzrtestftp.blogspot.com will redirect to your FTP blog."

That's the current BlogSpot alias, and soon will be the only URL.

Just select "Switch to: • blogspot.com".



Endure yet another CAPTCHA.



You're done. You're publishing on blogspot.com. And see the Blog*Spot Address?

Just don't try hitting "Save Settings" again.


Home again. Now, if you like, move to a custom domain. Or not.

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Your Custom Domain Registration, And The "Buy A Domain" Wizard

When you purchase a domain using the "Buy A Domain For Your Blog" wizard, from either eNom or GoDaddy, you're paying $10 USD to eNom or GoDaddy, solely as a domain registration fee. And you're buying the domain anonymously. The eNom or GoDaddy name used to access your domain account is random, and doesn't refer, in any way, to your identity as a blogger. This is an intentional registration feature.

To get the account name ("Sign-in name") and the accompanying password, you need access to the Google Apps account that's created by Blogger, when you use the "Buy A Domain" wizard. You have to have the email from "google-apps-do-not-reply", that you received as a receipt, for access to Google Apps (at least initially).

Without the Customer Service PIN, that's provided in the Google Apps display, neither eNom or GoDaddy can help you. I suspect that even the relationship between the PIN and the Sign-in Name is kept secret from th…

Custom Domain Setup Procedures, Again, Terminating With bX- Codes

A few months ago, I reported that custom domain repair procedures were reported to be terminating with bX codes. Previously, I had reported of custom domain setup procedures doing likewise. Now, it looks like we are in for a third round of bX codes, when setting up custom domains.
bX-x2qlz6

Additional information
host: www.blogger.com
uri: /blog-publishing.dobX-x2qlz6These are the errors that we're seeing right now, all apparently during the custom domain setup procedure.

First and foremost, report your bX code, using the code reporting form!

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Clear Or Refresh Your DNS Cache

Blogger custom domain publishing depends upon DNS.

Sometimes, when we have a blog published to a Google Custom Domain, we'll make a change to the domain DNS configuration and notice that our readers can see the change, but we can't.Once again, at 6:23, someone was able to see my blog and leave a comment

Yet, moments after I tried, I was still getting the 404 error. So there seems to be some intermittent activity!This is not an unusual report.

Now You See It, Now You Don't, Now You See It Again?

Last month, we learned that Google Apps DNS server "66.249.81.121" was permanently out of service.66.249.81.121 is gone forever. Removing that A record will help.

This evening, I was examining one custom domain "solution", which looked a bit dodgy.

mydomain.com. 10800 IN A 66.249.91.121
www.mydomain.com. 10800 IN CNAME ghs.google.com.

Now, we have "66.249.91.121". A quick HTTP trace shows:

Sending request:

GET / HTTP/1.1
Host: mydomain.com

• Finding host IP address...
• Host IP address = 66.249.91.121

Receiving Header:
HTTP/1.1·302·Moved·Temporarily(CR)(LF)
Location:·http://www.ertmc.ro/(CR)(LF)

Yes, it is alive.

C:\>ping 66.249.91.121

Pinging 66.249.91.121 with 32 bytes of data:

Reply from 66.249.91.121: bytes=32 time=332ms TTL=242
Reply from 66.249.91.121: bytes=32 time=378ms TTL=242
Reply from 66.249.91.121: bytes=32 time=321ms TTL=242
Reply from 66.249.91.121: bytes=32 time=311ms TTL=242

Ping statistics for 66.249.91.12…

Diagnosing Problems With Custom Domains: Rex Swain's HTTP Viewer

Whenever I answer a problem report which involves a blog published to a Google Custom Domain, I always start my answer with a Dig log. A Dig log tells me what's behind the behaviour of the Custom Domain. Having looked at what's behind the scenes, I look at the front scenes. One very common front scene is (guess what?)Server Not Found

Error 404and I'll report to someoneYou have the well known
"Server Not Found
Error 404".and to a select few that will be news.Great, Chuck, what do I do now?but to many bloggersGreat, Chuck, tell me something that I don't know.So, how do you describe the old "404", so you can diagnose it?

For analysing the sequence of events that lead to the "404", and various other browser related events, I use the Rex Swain HTTP Viewer. This is a free (what else?) online service, that produces an online text log (suitable for copying and pasting) of the contents of an HTTP conversation between a web client (such as your comp…

Blog Slurping Not Working

Recently, we are getting reports from bloggers, anxious to publish their blogs on paper, that Blurb and BookSmart are no longer able to retrieve blog content.TypePad, WordPress.com, and Blogger are all bugged out on BookSmart. For some reason, these platforms made changes in their APIs, in essence how their code talks to our code, and BookSmart can’t recognize those changes.andThese problems have been escalated to the dev teams at TypePad, WordPress.com, and Blogger.

It sounds like BookSmart is a typical third party product, with the vendor unwilling to make changes at their end, to support changes made by Blogger. Now they want Blogger (TypePad, WordPress) to support their code, so they can continue to extract data ("slurp"?) using their own code, unchanged.

If BookSmart, a third party product, uses Blogger APIs to retrieve content, and Blogger changes their APIs, Blurb then should update their code which uses the APIs. Almost surely, Blogger's support for Blurb is limi…

The Navbar Is Optional

The question whether the Navbar is a requirement, in all blogs hosted by Blogger / Google ("Blog*Spot and Custom Domain"), has been asked repeatedly, and debated by many bloggers, for years. Today, Blogger has finally provided an authoritative answer.While we don't recommend or support the removal of the Blogger navbar, there is nothing in our Terms of Service that explicitly mandate its use.
As far as actually doing it, it requires just a simple 5 minute template edit (10 minutes, including backing up the template, twice).

I will, however, point out that, if you publish your blog for people other than you to read, you will probably have happier readers if you leave the navbar in place. As time goes on, and Blogger improves the navbar, you'll find more and more reasons why removing it is just not a good idea.

It's your blog - but it's your readers blogs, too.

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Diagnosing Problems With Custom Domains - Case Study #9

One of the many ways of including one web site (blog) inside another web site (blog) is by using an IFrame. The host web site contains a frame, and the source of the frame is the other web site. And you can do that as well in what looks like a custom domain, but won't give you the same results.

<frameset rows="100%">
<frame title="http://www.mydomain.com" src="http://www.mydomain.com" name="mainframe" frameborder="0" noresize="noresize" scrolling="auto">
<noframes>Sorry, you don"t appear to have frame support.
Go here instead - <a href="http://www.mydomain.com"></a></noframes>
</frameset>

Put that in the template for your web site, and behold - you have the contents of your Blog*Spot blog displayed right there. And if all that you care about is your readers visually able to read the content of the blog, you're done.

<frameset rows="100%">
&l…

Schizophrenia And Custom Domain URLs

When you setup a Blog*Spot blog, and publish to "myblog.blogspot.com", Blogger automatically defines "www.myblog.blogspot.com" and redirects it for you, to "myblog.blogspot.com".

This is a traditional convenience for your readers. When custom domains were first developed, they didn't provide the same thoughtfulness - the ability to (optionally) redirect "www.mydomain.com" to "mydomain.com" (or vice versa) wasn't added, as an option, until much later, and after a lot of pleading by the blogger community.

The great majority of all bloggers consistently select the "Redirect mydomain.com to www.mydomain.com." option, when setting up their custom domain publishing. It's also possible that Blogger has, maybe not intentionally, enabled that option by default, in some (though maybe not all) custom domain scripts.I am trying to use the custom domains option to publish my blog but I keep getting the 'Another blog is a…

DNS - The Backbone Of Google Custom Domains

DNS, or the Domain Name System, is an important component in Blogger, and an essential component in a Blogger blog published to a Google Custom Domain. Whenever someone reports a problem with a custom domain published blog, I start my reply with a DNS analysis. Generally, I use an excerpted Dig log, and / or an HTTP trace, to show the problem objectively.

To understand the importance and meaning of the DNS analysis that I provide, you need to know several thingsHow DNS works.How Custom Domains use DNS addressing.How Custom Domains are affected by DNS Latency.

For insight in how DNS works, I'll offer you several external articles, of differing technical depth. As always, I'll alphabetise this list, so examine each one in turn.
D. J. Bernstein: How does DNS work?
How Stuff Works: How Domain Name Servers Work
I.T. Knowledge Exchange: How does DNS work
Wikipedia: Domain Name System
And, you are welcome to "Google It", for possibly more discussions.

Now those of you with a pla…

Google Does Not Provide DNS Services

When you setup a Google Custom Domain, so you can publish your Blogger blog to a non-Blog*Spot URL, Google continues to host the blog content.

Your readers, and you, access the blog content using the URL of the blog, and require use of the DNS system to do that.

However, Google doesn't host the DNS, and DNS hosting is an essential part of the custom domain setup process. Lack of proper DNS setup, for your custom domain, may cause any of several results - none of them good.

Making Your Domain Into A Google Custom Domain

If you have a non-Blogger web site, and want to publish a blog to the web site domain, it's easy enough to add the blog as a custom domain entry, and keep the web site.

Some folks have a domain, and they don't care about the web site or other current features - they just want Google hosting, and they want to get away from their current host. That's not a difficult task either.

Avoid The bX-o3wmwc and bX-xu1zoq Errors, When Rearranging Page Elements

One of the neatest feature of Layouts Blogger is the ability to rearrange objects on the blog page, using a GUI drag and drop process. We can't always do this, though, and sometimes we aren't given any useful clue why.

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

When reporting this error to Blogger Support or on the Blogger Help Group, please:Describe what you were doing when you got this error.Provide the following error code and additional information.
bX-xu1zoq

Oh no! Now what?

Well, you won't be able to drag and drop, at least right now. But you can get the job done, and in this case, easier than I can write this instruction.

First and always, backup the template. Now, since you are in the Layout - "Edit HTML" wizard, look in the "Edit Template" window. With the Widget Templates not expanded, you'll be able to find a list of the widgets (now known as gadgets).

You will have to know, or guess, the title of each page element (gadge…

Custom Domain Publishing, And Google Apps - November, 2008

As a blogger who publishes many of my blogs to a Google Custom Domain, I'd say that one of my fears (which has been experienced at least once, already) is seeing
Server Not Found

Error 404
when accessing my blogs.

Based upon experimentation and reader feedback, I can now state that some 404 errors can be avoided, or corrected, by correcting your DNS setup.

This is an excerpted Dig log of the current DNS setup, as currently provided by Google Apps, or when you use the "Buy A Domain" wizard to setup a new custom domain. If you don't see at least some of these addresses in your Dig log, you have a different configuration, and can skip this advice.

mydomain.com. 3600 IN A 64.233.179.121
mydomain.com. 3600 IN A 66.249.81.121
mydomain.com. 3600 IN A 72.14.207.121
www.mydomain.com. 3600 IN CNAME ghs.google.com.


Reliance upon the DNS server "66.249.81.121" contributes to at least some of the cases of 404s being currently seen. Removal of that server from your setup is n…

Making A Blog or Website Is A Progressive Activity

Does anybody remember publishing, before the web?

Some people still publish to paper, and they still go through these details.

Publishing to paper takes merchandising, project management, time, and other resources, and you have to acquire and apply all of those resources before you print one copy of whatever you are publishing.