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Showing posts from February, 2009

Your Blog, A Welcome Post, And The Search Engines

When New Blogger 2006 was rolled out in January 2006, one of the first shiny new features provided was the Welcome Post. Bloggers had been asking for the ability to add a welcome post, that is a text object that would sit at the top of the blog, and show up on every page displayed, long before 2006. That addition, one of my first customisations of my new blog, made the blog more friendly (so I hoped).Welcome to The Real Blogger Status. See "About Us" for help using the site. If you're reading an article, you find that you need more detail about what you're reading, and there's a link in the text there, click on the link.Not long after I added my new gadget, though, I noted a problem.


The Real Blogger Status: Custom Domains Using 301 Redirect In DNS ...
Welcome to The Real Blogger Status, now addressed as "blogging.nitecruzr.net". See "About Us" for help using the site. I appreciate your comments - as do ...

Say what? Why should my SERP entries…

Third Party Templates, Again

This month, we have another round of bloggers complaining of problems being experienced while uploading templates provided by Pyzam and other third party sources.

I'm tired of wasting my time trying to upload a new template that just won't upload. I am new to Blogger and just when I knew where beautiful templates are, that's when Blogger upload starts going crazy. It used to be very easy, no hassle before. I'm starting to lose my interest in Blogger. I'm beginning to resent the fact that is difficult to upload third party templates now.
and
I have been trying to change my template, but I am receiving error messages every time I try. It states:We were unable to save your template. Please correct the error below, and submit your template again.

Your template could not be parsed as it is not well-formed. Please make sure all XML elements are closed properly.

XML error message: The markup in the document following the root element must be well-formed.

Here we have another …

Blogger Following Integration With Google Friend Connect Was Not Seamless

Very few changes in Blogger are ever seamless. On the morning of 2/23/2009, this blog had 226 Followers. By the same time the next day, it was down to 184 Followers. Many bloggers reported still more alarming changes in their Following populations.

Blogger Support, in Known Issues for Blogger 2/23, notesusers who already use Following and Friend Connect may notice missing blogs in their profile, as well as a decrease in the number of public Followers on their blogs.

This is because we have set these users to "anonymous" to avoid linking the profiles of Blogger and Friend Connect users without their permission. They are still following privately and will able to make themselves public again.In other words, your blog did not lose any Followers, some of your Followers were simply changed to Following anonymously.

You (the blog owner) simply have less pictures to look at, on your blog. And you (the blog Follower) simply have your picture visible on less blogs. But the Followin…

Publicising Blog Updates, Using FeedBurner Email

To further answer the regularly asked question "How do I let my friends know when my blog is updated?", we have FeedBurner.

Properly setup, a FeedBurner feed will provide a neat subscription form for your blog, and help you maintain your subscription list, for any publicly accessible blog which publishes a feed.

Your Blog Published As A Virtual Host, And Successfully Accessed

Sometimes, after setting up a blog, publishing it to a custom domain, and dealing with the "404 Not Found" and the "Another blog ..." / "naked domain" errors, we get a working custom domain. And just as knowing what diagnostics we do not want to see, it's good to know what we do want to see.

Here, for instance, we have a blog published to "blog.mydomain.com", which is a virtual host in the domain "mydomain.com".

First, an excerpted Dig log.

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


Next, an excerpted HTTP trace.

Sending request:

GET / HTTP/1.1
Host: www.blog.mydomain.com
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.9.0.6) Gecko/2009011913 Firefox/3.0.6
Connection: close

• Finding host IP address...
• Host IP address = 209.85.171.121
• Finding TCP protocol...
• Binding to local socket...
• Connecting to host...
• Sending request...
• Waiting for response...
Receiving Hea…

Custom Domains, Google Apps, FeedBurner, and An Unusual "404 Not Found"

Occasionally, the ubiquity of the custom domain curseServer Not Found

Error 404surprises even me. In this case, as in many others, the domain is properly setup.

mydomain.com. 3600 IN A 216.239.32.21
mydomain.com. 3600 IN A 216.239.34.21
mydomain.com. 3600 IN A 216.239.36.21
mydomain.com. 3600 IN A 216.239.38.21
www.mydomain.com. 3600 IN CNAME ghs.google.com.
---
ghs.google.com. 282206 IN CNAME ghs.l.google.com.
ghs.l.google.com. 300 IN A 74.125.43.121

An an (abbreviated) HTTP trace gives intriguing details.

Sending request:

GET / HTTP/1.1
Host: www.mydomain.com
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:
1.9.0.6) Gecko/2009011913 Firefox/3.0.6
Connection: close

• Finding host IP address...
• Host IP address = 209.85.171.121
• Finding TCP protocol...
• Binding to local socket...
• Connecting to host...
• Sending request...
• Waiting for r…

Your Computer, Your Browser, And Cookies

This month, we have had a few reports of problems logging in to Blogger, possibly involving the "cookies" which retain login information from one online session to the next.

Many security issues are deeply frustrating, to the folks who have to endure the problems. This becomes more frustrating, when you understand that the code from Blogger.Com has no choice in the matter. If Blogger.Com requires cookies (as most web sites do), and if cookies aren't being retained by the browser, the Blogger scripts can't function. And when you have a setting that's created under "Blogger.com" and read while your blog is being accessed (under "BlogSpot.com" or whatever non BlogSpot domain your blog is published), you'll need third party cookies enabled.

The really frustrating issue is that many security products, constantly "evolving" thanks to economic pressure (free enterprise competition) and security pressure (never ending hacking attempts

Your Blog, Multiple URLs

Having multiple blogs in a custom domain is a simple matter, with a custom domain array. Sometimes, you may want to publish just one blog, but use multiple domain URLs for that blog. There are several ways to do this, producing varying results with some subtle differences.

Recently, I changed the domain URL for my church blog "Martinez United Methodist Church", from martinezumc.org, to martinez-umc.org. I started out with a stub at the new location, and slowly added content. The new URL was fully operational last week, and over the weekend I finished the job.

The blog now has 4 URLsThe primary URL is martinez-umc.org.There are 3 secondary URLsThe original BlogSpot URL martinezumc.blogspot.com.The original domain martinezumc.org.The current BlogSpot URL martinez-umc.blogspot.com.

Each of the secondary URLs redirects, using a "301 Moved Permanently", to another URL.The original BlogSpot URL "martinezumc.blogspot.com" redirects to the original domain "

Including Mathematics Equations In Your Blog

Occasionally, we see the wistful forum queryI want to include mathematical formulas in my blog. Will Blogger include Latex support, as WordPress has recently done?The concept of Blogger including Latex, or possibly Mathcad or Mathematica, is probably a matter for the Blogger WishList.

Short of a Blogger enhancement, consider using the standard practice of hosting the mathematical content in a WordPress blog, or another web site. You can then include the other web site in your Blogger blog. You can include large articles or discussions in separate pages, with links in the posts or maybe sidebar linklists. Small articles or discussions can be displayed in iframes, sourced from the articles in the other web sites. With single equations, you can always make pictures, and embed the pictures in the posts.

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Custom Domain Publishing, Your Blog, And The Browser

Many bloggers, grown weary of the periodic and unpredictable nature of the ubiquitousNot Found

Error 404and its cousins, the oldAnother blog is already hosted at this addressand the newerBlogs may not be hosted at naked domainserrors, are losing their grip. Recently, we see too frequentlyI tired of worrying about it, just published my blog to www.mydomain.com, and decided to forget about the optionRedirect mydomain.com to www.mydomain.com.Imagine my surprise when I typed "mydomain.com" into the browser address window, and up popped the blog!
Those of us experienced with this issue simply askWere you using the Firefox browser?and following the surprised replyYes, but how did you know?we explainFirefox does this automatically. If Firefox gets a "404" when retrieving "mydomain.com", it automatically tries for "www.mydomain.com", and vice versa.
Not all browsers work this way. Anybody using Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari, ... is still probably s…

Your Blog, The Search Engines, And The Main Page

Many blog owners are unclear about how their blogs are indexed by the search engines.

We occasionally see the confused queryVisitors are coming in to my blog through the Google search engine. They don't stay though, the reason being that Google doesn't take them to the post they found - and which is obviously the one relevant to their search - but to the home page of the blog. Why does this happen?
The search engines are like your readers - with your posts published on the main page, they will index the post content, from the main page.

Disappearing Posts - The Mystery Begins

Today, we have a mystery - disappearing posts. I felt the need to revise my post Custom Domain Publishing, And The 404 Error, so I found a link to the post, selected "Open In A New Window", and let it load.

A new window is what I got. With the blog contents, but not the post contents. I even cleared browser cache, and tried again. I looked at page source, using View - Page Source (Firefox), and the code listed contained no post content, either. It's not a dropped post problem.


Note the browser window, at the top, where you'll see the post title. Just no post content in the blog body.



Having made the above picture, and uploaded it, I tried again maybe 10 minutes later. Now the post shows up fine.

(Update 3/3): Today, this problem became even more interesting.

(Update 3/2): If your blog is showing this symptom, first try a workaround suggested by Blogger. If that doesn't work, try using the "Edit Posts" menu - select all posts ("Select: All")…

Please, Blogger, Restore My Deleted Blog

Every week, we see the anxious query in the forumI have been trying for about 2 weeks to get a hold of someone about my accidentally deleted blog. I have filled out the contact form numerous times, and have gotten no response. Is there anyone who can help?This question comes from someone who hasn't bothered to read the (not at all) fine print in the "Delete This Blog" wizard, currently accessed from Settings - Basic - Blog Tools.This will permanently delete your blog including all posts. You can create another blog at this address using the Google Account you're currently logged in with, however, we can't restore your blog posts once you choose to delete your blog.That warning seems pretty explicit to me.You can create another blog at this address using the Google Account you're currently logged in with, however, we can't restore your blog posts.

What more should be said? You delete it, it's gone. Maybe Blogger Support will relent, if you fill ou…

Your Neighbour's Cough

Have you ever visited your personal physician, and instructed himMy neighbour has the same cough as I have. Her doctor prescribed xxxxxxxx medicine. I want a prescription for xxxxxxx.Hopefully, not. Your doctor, if he has any professional capability, will know that a smoker's cough (in your 80 year old neighbour) won't be treated the same way as an influenza infection (in you).

Visitor Logs: Monitoring the Blood Pressure / Pulse Of Your Blog

If you're concerned about your personal health, you track your vital signs, regularly. Personally, I monitor my blood pressure and pulse every two months, courtesy of the American Red Cross (and regular blood donation). If you care about the health of your blog, you'll do the same, using one or more visitor meters.

If your blog has a complete outage, you'll know that right away. You, personally, won't be able to access it. What if some readers can see the blog, and others can't? Examining your visitor logs, regularly, can help you know when your blog is offline, completely or partially.

If you are in one geographic location (with a given ISP), and the majority of your readers are in another location (with another ISP), you may or may not know when your readers can't see your blog. Likewise, if the blog is offline for a couple days, when you're not looking at it, you may never know (though your readers will).

A visitor meter, with its accompanying log,…

Custom Domain Publishing, And Google Apps - February, 2009

For our latest episode in the ongoing saga of domains purchased through Blogger / Google, with DNS setup by Google Apps, we now (possibly) have parked domains setup by Google Apps. This (excerpted) Dig log looks like it shows a simple case of the domain not being properly setup.

mydomain.com. 3593 IN A 68.178.232.99
www.mydomain.com. 3600 IN CNAME mydomain.com.

parkwebwin-v02.prod.mesa1.secureserver.net (68.178.232.99)
68.178.128.0 - 68.178.255.255
GoDaddy.com, Inc.

The blogger reporting a problem statesI tried publishing back on blogger and then back to my custom domain but no change.which, to me, suggests that our old friendAnother blog is already hosted at this addressmay not be part of this scenario. Typically when "Another blog is already hosted at this address." is seen, it's when trying to re publish to the custom domain address.

The problem of domains redirecting to a parking server, owned and operated by the registrar, has been with us for a whil…

Firefox V3 and Cookies

Cookies have been a recognised security hazard for several years, for many security experts. Firefox Version 3 takes cookies very seriously, and expects you to do likewise.

If you've upgraded to Firefox Version 3 recently, you may have noted problems when logging in to Blogger, or running scripts like CAPTCHA based verification for comment entry. Under Tools - Options - Privacy, you'll find a selection to "Accept third-party cookies". The Blogger login process uses cookies from Google and / or GMail ("mail.google.com" / "gmail.com") to allow you access to your Blogger account. CAPTCHA scripts check to see if you are the owner of the blog, so you, the owner of your blog, don't have to enter a CAPTCHA when posting comments to your blog.

If you don't enable third party cookies, you'll likely see mysterious messages about JavaScript not being enabled, you may have to login repeatedly (even though you selected "Remember me"), or …

Blogger / Google Balances Freedom Of Speech Against Freedom From Harassment

Blogger / Google is based in the USA, where freedom of speech is one of the most acknowledged basic freedoms. They try to balance the schizophrenic right of you (the blog owner) to publish (without feeling harassed by reader opinion), against you (the blog reader) to surf and read blogs (without feeling harassed by publisher opinion). And, they do this in a multi-lingual fashion. What's objectionable in Portuguese may be only slang in American.

Everybody has an opinion. If it's your opinion that a particular Blogger blog contains material that's harmful, hateful, or otherwise objectionable, and violates Blogger Terms Of Service, Blogger has provided their form Blogger Help: Report a Terms of Service Violation. There, you can state your opinion.

Having stated your opinion, please don't post the URL of the objectionable blog in an open forum. Leave it to Blogger to evaluate the blog in question, and be patient.

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Custom Domains and Case Significance in the URLs

This blog is "blogging.nitecruzr.net".

If I wanted to dress it up a bit, I might tell you it's "Blogging.Nitecruzr.Net". Either URL should work, equally well.

That's not the case with all blogs, today. Here's an example - "mydomain.com". A normal DNS configuration, per an excerpted Dig log.

MyDomain.com. 3600 IN A 216.239.32.21
MyDomain.com. 3600 IN A 216.239.34.21
MyDomain.com. 3600 IN A 216.239.36.21
MyDomain.com. 3600 IN A 216.239.38.21
www.MyDomain.com. 3600 IN CNAME ghs.google.com.
---
ghs.google.com. 32316 IN CNAME ghs.l.google.com.
ghs.l.google.com. 300 IN A 74.125.43.121

Adding Social Networking Buttons To Your Blog

Look carefully at the bottom of this post - and other posts in this blog. Right below "Topics", do you see "Share This Post!"? The "Share This Post!" section is what we call Social Networking. It lets your readers - hopefully those who have social networking memberships - bookmark your posts in the social networking services. In my blogs, we currently have De.licio.us, Digg, FaceBook, StumbleUpon, Technorati, and Twitter.

If one of your readers has a membership in one of those services, and wishes to share your post with other members, he / she has only to click on the icon, or the adjacent text link, and the selected service will bookmark the post (subject to the normal site bookmarking procedure, which varies by service).

Custom Domains, and a Second Typical "404 Not Found"

Sometimes, even with a properly setup custom domain, you (or your readers) may encounter a well known problemServer Not Found

Error 404I wrote about this earlier, about a symptom that has no obvious cause.

Sometimes, the well known "Server Not Found Error 404" symptom has a cause, but you may have to look carefully to find it. Many times, you find no clue in the DNS addresses. This is a normal (asymmetrical) DNS address configuration.
mydomain.net. 3600 IN A 216.239.32.21 mydomain.net. 3600 IN A 216.239.34.21 mydomain.net. 3600 IN A 216.239.36.21 mydomain.net. 3600 IN A 216.239.38.21 www.mydomain.net. 3600 IN CNAME ghs.google.com. --- ghs.google.com. 282206 IN CNAME ghs.l.google.com. ghs.l.google.com. 300 IN A 74.125.43.121

Here, an (abbreviated) HTTP trace will give you a clue.

Sending request: GET / HTTP/1.1 Host: mydoma…

Please Don't Post Clickable Links to Malware Blogs

Every day, well intentioned bloggers post anxious demands in Google Blogger Help GroupThis person listed their blog in several forums. As an admin of two of them, I have had many complaints over it about spamming. We have blocked his address from our forums, but it seems he has many of them and he keeps spamming it hourly.

Please shut this blog down.

http://bigspamblog.blogspot.com

So getting "bigspamblog.blogspot.com" removed should be such a simple task, but it's not.

The problem is that, for everybody who reports a spam blog in BHG, someone else reports that their blog was just falsely accused of being a spam blog. Not every blog reported to be a splog actually is a splog, and not everybody reporting a splog actually is reporting a splog to get it removed.

So Blogger has to verify each spam blog report, before acting on a demand posted here.

Many spammers post in BHG
OMG, remove bigspamblog.blogspot.com!
and while we wait for Blogger to take action, they watch their hits …

Make Links Open In A New Window

If you design your blogs, as I do, with lots of links to other blogs and web sites, you probably like to make the links to the other blogs and web sites open in a new browser tab or window (depending upon reader preference). That helps with reader retention (for you), and increases convenience (for your readers).

Unfortunately, in too many of the Blogger GUIs, there's no selection for "Make links open in new window". If you want all links in your blog to open in a new window, you can do this with a simple template change (but do this with discretion). If you want specific links to open in a new window, you may have to code each link individually.

Creating A Custom Feed

This blog is about blogging, and I suspect that a few of you have subscribed to one or more of the feeds that are provided here. I use a number of feeds, too, in this blog - look in the sidebar. You can, alternatively, subscribe to a topic related feed from this blog.

Maybe my blog, alone, will be authoritative for some readers. Some folks may like to combine my feed with other web sites, for more a more balanced and versatile content. For that, we can use a feed aggregator, like FeedBurner or FeedDigest, and burn a feed of our own.

When we burn a feed, we can (subject to options provided by the aggregator, and what's provided in the content) include such details as:
Which web sites or feeds we want to read.Whether to include author, date, title, and / or web site of the original article.What specific subjects to include.

Once the feed is burned, we can then decide what format we wish to use, when including the information on our blog. Depending upon the feed aggregator, again, w…

Importing / Exporting Blog Contents And Other Hosts

Last year, Blogger announced an exciting improvement in Blogger blogs - the ability to export and import blog content (comments / posts) between Blogger blogs (as long as you have administrative access to both blogs).

At the time, that was interesting, but not so useful, as only Blogger blog content was supported by the process.

The Content Of Our Blogs Is Our Responsibility

Blogger provides an interface, and utilities, for us to create web sites using Blogger One Button Publishing.

Short of ensuring that what we publish isn't illegal or other wise violates Terms Of Service, Blogger doesn't care about what we publish. What we publish is our business. And that includes maintaining our access to our blogs, and of keeping track of what we publish.

Daily, we see the complaintsI deleted my post, by mistake. Can Blogger restore it for me?orMy sidebar is at the bottom of the page. Blogger, fix this.orI don't know what's wrong, it just stopped working. It looks fine in Firefox, but you can't see anything using Internet Explorer.and these are all problems with blog content.

If your blog is subject to a Content Warning, it's possible that this is a recent problem that involve Blogger changes. Other than the interstitial which has been causing problems recently, problems which involve blog content are our responsibility.