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Showing posts from April, 2009

Firefox and NoScript, and Clickjack Alerts

Surfing the web, with all of the potential dangers in surfing to any web site known and unknown, is an adventure. Some of us use Firefox with NoScript, which improves the odds in our favour ever so slightly, and helps us to enjoy the adventure. NoScript epitomises the Unix security principle "Deny by default, Permit by exception", and explicitly requires you to designate each newly surfed web site as trusted. If you're a Firefox / NoScript user, you may have recently noted a new feature in NoScript - "Clickjack Alerts" - which accentuates the adventure occasionally.

Some folks may have even seen a Clickjack Alert pop up when logging in to Blogger. Obviously, this doesn't provide us with a feeling of ease as we login. So, the questionShould I keep the "lock item" box checked, as NoScript recommends?is to be expected.

I think the decision to leave locked, or to unlock, any script that we use often should be made on two bases.Convenience.Security.

Blogger Is Not A Content Management System

Blogger is a one button blog / web site publishing system. It has no sophisticated Content Management capabilities.It's limited to 100 blog members / readers, and the member list is maintained using the Permissions wizard.It provides no activity log, showing maintenance or updates. This may present a challenge, in a team blog with multiple administrators.It provides no archiving of multiple historical versions of a given post.It provides no backup and restore capabilities, beyond the known manual processes.It provides no ability to transfer ownership of multiple blogs between one account and another, besides one blog at a time.It has no ability to allow multiple authors to work, simultaneously, on one post without the possibility of the work done by one overlaying another.It provides no ability for team members to use page / post editor for page / post development - and allow an administrator to oversee and moderate before a page / post is published. Limited pre publication mod…

Internet Explorer Version 8 Is Out

Blogger, being a web based platform, is very sensitive to changes and problems which originate in the browser - both your browser (as you produce your blog), and your readers browser (as he / she reads your blog). With any major change in any popular browser, comes yet another need for Blogger to recertify and update their code base.

This month, Microsoft released Internet Explorer Version 8. Like each newly released version of Internet Explorer, it's going to create new needs for the Blogger crew to update their code.

And it will create additional need for us to test more thoroughly - both a general test of our blog right now, and additional testing of any future changes - with IE V8, as well as with previous versions. And when you find a problem, diagnose it properly.

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Blogger Is Not A Social Networking Platform

We've been discussing the status of the Profile View counter for several weeks now. Recently, we've been seeing queries in Blogger Help Group about the counter, that make it look like the blogs have equal or lesser status than the profile, to some bloggers.My profile views are not updating. Can I add a SiteMeter counter to my blogger profile even if I don't own a blog?and here we have to note that you can't add a SiteMeter, or any other visitor counter, to your profile, period. You add a counter to your blog. If you don't have a blog, you set one up.

With Social Networking platforms, like FaceBook, MySpace, and Orkut, you start with a profile, and add accessories like blogs to the profile. Your profile is what people view first, when they follow the link on your friends page. Your blog, if you have one, is an accessory to your profile.

Blogger isn't a social networking platform - it's a blogging platform. With Blogger, if you have a single Blogger blo…

Making Your Blog's URL Available For Reuse

By now, everybody should be well aware that a BlogSpot URL that currently has a Blogger blog published to it will never be available for re issue.

Even with no publishing activity to that blog for the next century, and barring any mistakes in ownership, your blog is yours, forever. We also know that when a blog is deleted, the URL that it's published to is locked to that blog, for eternity, to prevent a hijack of the URL by spam blog publishers.

The Complexity Of A Custom Domain DNS Setup

I read this frequently in the Blogger Help Group forumsAll that I read about redirecting the custom domain seems backwards - from my BlogSpot address to a personal URL. That's too complicated, I can't do that!

Is it possible to just redirect traffic from my personal URL to Blogspot?and some helpers come back with Yeah, it's so much simpler. Why should you do it any differently?and they are right, it is far simpler to just redirect the custom domain URL to the BlogSpot URL. But it won't get you the same results.

A standard custom domain is comparatively complex.Setup an "A" / "CNAME" referral, from the domain to Google.Publish the blog to the domain URL.Setup a "301 Moved Permanently" redirect, from the BlogSpot URL to the domain URL.Re publish the blog to the domain URL.Setup a Google redirect, from the Google server to the blog, published to the domain.

Look how simple it is to just redirect the domain URL to the BlogSpot URL.Setup fo…

The Profile Views Counter Is Frozen

A couple weeks ago, I reported an increasingly common complaint among bloggersMy profile view counter is stuck. It's been stuck for some time now. When is Blogger going to fix this?and recently, my standard reply, which I copy and paste into my post, became It's not broken, it's frozen. Blogger made a performance related compromise, and now provides "estimated" hit counts. Get a real visitor counter (free) and install it on your blog(s). You'll get more accurate and detailed information.

Unfortunately, that reply fails to satisfy all bloggers complaining about the frozen counter. Maybe, that's because they don't understand the issues.

One blogger even gave a business case for using the actual profile view counterI have Statcounter, and I DO understand that the profile counter is just how often someone looks at my profile. That's precisely what interests me: whether someone cares a bit more for the blog that they'll spend another second look…

FTP Publishing - April 2009 #3

This morning, we note that Blogger has added 2 new servers in their FTP Publishing array.If you are using Blogger to publish to your own website and your host blocks by IP, you will need to allow through the IPs of the new Blogger publishers. The IPs are:

74.125.66.132
74.125.112.132

Whether these 2 servers completely replace the previously documented array is unclear right now.

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Indent Your Paragraphs

Personally, I don't care for indented paragraphs - though I know some who like this.

I think that justifying all lines in my posts, straight to the left margin, makes for a cleaner look. And, I separate each paragraph with hard line breaks, not "<p> ... </p>", which makes typing my posts faster - though that does complicate things a bit, by requiring that I use the "Convert line breaks" setting.

Not everybody agrees with my viewpoint, which is normal for the blogosphere. Some folks like indented paragraphs. And from them, we see the occasional queryI put blank spaces at the front of my paragraphs, and that looks fine in Preview mode. But the published blog shows no indents. Why?And the immediate answer isPreview mode, and the published blog, will always differ.

Blogger Blogs and the Widgeo Counter

We're seeing a few reports this weekend about blogs freezing when loading, with the mysterious address "http://0.0.0.0/" (and the precise text in this address varies from report to report), showing in the browser status bar.

Some bloggers have discovered that this is caused by the presence of the Widgeo counter being installed. Remove Widgeo, and the problem goes away. Find another visitor counter, that's more reliable.

If you're seeing this mysterious symptom in your blog, and Widgeo is not involved, diagnose your recent changes. Then, let us know what you diagnosed as the cause, in your case. Practice peer support.

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The Blogger WishList Is No More

Blogger, for all of their imagination and wisdom (and collectively, they have a lot of both) can never hope to keep up with the collective and individual desire and imagination of all of their customers (aka "bloggers"). Nor should they hope to do so. The strength of Blogger / Google lies in their vast customer base, which is practically infinite in diversity.

One of the key screens in the Blogger Help database has always (in my mind) been the Blogger WishList form. Until this week, anyway. Yesterday, I was somewhat dismayed to learn that the Blogger Wishlist form is no more. In its place, a list of tips, with one suggestionHave a great idea or suggestion? Let us know! We enthusiastically read and tally all your suggestions.and the link "Let us know!" leads straight to the Blogger Help Group.





So now, we are to hope that Blogger Support regularly reads through the Blogger Help Group, looking for suggestions. Some bloggers are using the Blogger Help Survey form, …

Problems With Blogger Commenting, With Formatted Text

Several bloggers have reported problems with Blogger blogs, and comments with formatted text, like bold type, or italic type, and / or embedded links. It's not easy to describe, maybe seeing the problem will be easier.

And voila, there we see the problem. Here's what I typed, and formatted.Here is a line of italicised text, followed by 2 hard line breaks.

Here is normal text, and an embedded link, followed by 2 hard line breaks.

Here is a line of bold text, followed by 2 hard line breaks.

Here is more normal text.

You can see, below, what actually displays.

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FTP Publishing - April 2009 #2

Yesterday, we noted the return of the well known FTP Publishing symptomPublishing your blog is taking longer than expected. To continue waiting for it to finish, click here.

Today, and based upon observed threads in Blogger Help Group, and comments to the earlier post, it appears that the problem was not fixed, for all bloggers.

If you're experiencing a problem with publishing your blog, please provide details about your problem. And please, especially, when you report your problem, state whether you observed this problem yesterday also, and specifically state whether the symptoms of your problem are the same as reported yesterday. Nobody will be served by us reporting that yesterdays problem was not fixed, if your symptoms do not reflect the same problem as was fixed yesterday. If we have a new problem, that has to be diagnosed and treated as a new problem.

When making your problem report, as always, please provide details.The blog BlogSpot URL (if applicable).The blog domain URL…

Private Blogs Have A Downside

The helpers in Blogger Help Group advise bloggers about a variety of problemsMy archives are only visible below my posts. Help!orInternet Explorer won't load my blog - it aborts before the blog finishes.orI can't see all of the posts in my blog. Where did my posts go?

FTP Publishing - April 2009

This week, we are seeing the return of the well known FTP Publishing symptomPublishing your blog is taking longer than expected. To continue waiting for it to finish, click here.

There are numerous threads in Blogger Help Group, including one rather long and multiposted thread in Publishing Trouble, "FTP Publishing not working.".

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.

(Update 11:30): Blogger Support has fixed the problemThis has been fixed.

(Update 10:30): Blogger Support has acknowleged the problemWe're looking into this now and will post an update once we have more info.

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Profile Improvement - "Show astrological signs" Checkbox

For months, we notice one odd forum topic, coming up, seemingly, every week.I know that I can turn off the astrological references (by not including my date of birth) but I find it very irritating that it is the default for everyone here.orFor those of us born between November 30 and December 17, the sun actually passes through Ophiuchus, and while much astrology doesn't acknowledge this fact, those of us born under the sign are acutely aware of the differences.orI was born on Nov. 22 1972, i.e. on the cusp - between two sun signs, so I would like for the astrological sign in my profile to show two sun signs.

For the latter two complaints, there's still no solution. You can't pick your astrological sign, it's a function of the birthday information. But now, you can at least disable yours from showing, even if you enter your birthday information.

And, if you're accustomed to seeing yours, and you're distraught that it's missing, now you know why.

That's a…

Your Blogs And Your Blogger Accounts

Some bloggers are confused about the relationship between blogs and Blogger accounts, and think that you need a separate account for each blog. This leads to questions likeI have 2 blogs, and whenever I am logged in to one, I can't edit the other.orI can only see one blog at a time, in my dashboard.

In other scenarios, some bloggers accidentally create a new Blogger account, when they setup a new blog.

Fortunately, in both cases, it's no great task to simply transfer one of the blogs to the account that owns the other blog. Subject to the Blogger limit of 100 blogs / account, you may keep all of your blogs under one account, or under a dozen accounts, at your pleasure.

If having multiple blogs under one account makes you worry about mixing blogs that shouldn't be seen together, by their all having a common "About Us" / "Profile" gadget on the blogs, make a custom Profile gadget for the blogs that are sensitive to you.

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The Many Faces Of Google

Many bloggers are totally unaware of how many different domains make up the Blogger and Google address space.

Daily, we see passionate yet vague problem reportsMy Followers gadget doesn't show any pictures.The links in my Navbar don't do anything when you click on them.I can't publish a post - the buttons don't work (aren't there in the toolbar).The feed gadgets on my blog don't update.Each of these complaints, phrased as they are, result in part from bloggers who don't understand how many addresses (domains) Blogger and Google use, in providing us the ability to publish and maintain our blogs, and in providing our readers with the ability to view and to enjoy our blogs.

Most of us are aware of the dual nature of Blogger / BlogSpot, hopefully when we setup and maintain security settings in our browser.Blogger contains the code ("scripts") that lets us setup and maintain our blogs. We will have to trust Blogger, since it contains the code that lets …

Custom Domain Published Blogs, And A Righteous Offsite Redirect Interstitial Warning

In January of this year, I noted that a number of externally published blogs, some externally hosted, others not, were subjected to an "Offsite Redirect" interstitial warning. For blogs published using FTP, to an external server, this is a righteous condition.

Even if blog content is produced from Blogger and published to an external server, and the content is monitored by Google and scrutinised for undesirable content (hacking, porn and / or spam), that does not guarantee that the content of an FTP published blog will all come from the Blogger server. Any server that you FTP content to, from Blogger, you can as easily FTP to from a non Blogger source, and can add non Blogger content. Some non Blogger content could possibly contain hacking, porn, and / or spam.

Spammers have used Blogger this way, in the past. Start with a BlogSpot URL, redirect it using external hosting, add spam directly to the external host. In that case, an "Offsite Content" interstitial w…

Setting Up A Gateway Blog

For various reasons, some bloggers want to have a BlogSpot URL that points directly to a web site not hosted by Google, with content not produced by Blogger. This is generically called a "gateway" blog. They explicitly want a BlogSpot URL, pointing to offsite content.

Many bloggers wanting to do this don't know how to do this, nor are they aware of the consequences of doing this.

To forward a BlogSpot URL properly, you need a server based DNS redirect - which you can't do in BlogSpot, since you don't have server based access. You could put a meta refresh into the blog header, and that might work, but depending upon how you do that, either the search engines will penalise your blogs for duplicate content, or the domain won't be visible to your readers. And some security minded folks have browsers explicitly configured to ignore meta refreshes.

If you do get a "301 Moved Permanently" working, your readers will be seeing an "Offsite Content"…

So Why Are Custom Domains Setup So Complicated?

Every week, at least one BHG forum thread, in which I provide advice about a custom domain setup, includes the questionWhy are custom domains so complicated?And the short answer isThey are not at all complicated; they are elegantly simple - when you understand their simplicity, and follow the instructions.
The long answer, which justifies the simplicity, is not so simple.

What Are The Fantom Followers In Your Followers Gadget?

When you Follow a blog, you add the feed from that blog to your Google Reader account, which is linked to your dashboard and Blogger account, and you add a link and an icon, from your account to the Followers gadget on the blog. That's simple enough, if you are logged in.

Since Following doesn't require you to actually login now, it has no way of retrieving a name or picture. If you are not logged in to Blogger, you can just hit the "Follow" button now, and it will setup the Following for you. You login later, or never, as you wish.

You end up with a shadow icon, plus a fantom Followers name, a couple dozen random letters and numbers. When you do login, it would pull up the fantom names / blogs that you have setup, and let you associate any that you wish with that account. You can change the name to anything that you like, after you connect the fantom name to an actual Google account.

Some people may never bother to login and connect their Followed blogs with their…

The Profile Views Counter Is Not Updating

Not all bloggers, who monitor blog activity, want the trouble of installing a visitor counter. Some folks rely upon the "Profile Views" counter in the Blogger account profile.

This week, many anxious bloggers report that their counters are not operating.My blog Profile View counter is BROKEN and has been stuck for at least 5 days if not more - I have Statcounter and I know that it is way off!

(Update 4/10 14:00): Blogger has provided an updateBasically, having completely accurate counts caused a lot of problems for profile pages that experienced high traffic - at several times in the past few months this has led to difficulties and slowness for the entire service. These problems were amplified even more by a number of users who abused the count by running automated scripts trying to bump up their counts.

Because of this, we've switched to using an estimated count of profile views; while it's less accurate we believe that keeping the service running and responsive has t…

What is "javascript:void(0)"?

Do you see the Followers gadget in the sidebar here?

See the "Sign in" link at the top of the gadget (if you're not signed in to Following), or the "Invite your friends" link at the bottom of the gadget (if you are signed in to Following)? Move your mouse over either link, and watch the browser status bar (generally, the lower left of the browser window border).

When you move the mouse pointer over a normal link, you should see the URL of the link. In this case, you seejavascript:void(0);
A lot of blog owners don't understand the reason for this, and think that the blog is broken, or maybe hacked.I can't publish any posts on my blog, or moderate any comments. At the bottom of the page I get an "Errors on page" message, and if I hover over certain areas of my dashboard, I get the "javascript:void(0);" message.