Sunday, June 28, 2009

Blogger Blogs Redirecting To "blogoholic.info"

This weekend, we have seen several queries from anxious bloggers who report that their blogs are redirecting to mysterious URLs containing the domain "blogoholic.info".
My custom domain blog is being redirected to Blogholic.info, more specificaly this page http://searchacross.com/?flrdr=yes&nxte=js&dn=blogoholic.info&fp=kXHnDH0xDZIfzljX%2BDZc03diJWrFV5N2iQsAAr%2B8wZ5vQbLTczZHqvpj5dH6ceOni8J3qmgZu6B7HPtmtRSh3liB4Bceya4r6bgt7Hun9mtM%2BFPcjOiVrmJZXmemWKnsednw2Q%3D%3D&prvtof=xjrTXwchHaVL%2BUf32HNg%2BrxOBffsFN1Lkm7UUA%3D%3D&cifr=1


Upon research, we've found that the blogs affected were knowingly using a script provided by Blogoholic, and some portion of the script was apparently discontinued. That causes the URL reference (quoted above) to redirect to the Blogoholic web site itself.

In cases where the Blogoholic code was installed in a HTML / JavaScript gadget, the cure for the problem is to simply delete the gadget with the bad code. One blogger, however, had installed the code directly into his template, and reported more complications.
I can't do his solution (remove the bad code) because you have to go to 'Layout' to get to 'Edit HTML', and the redirect to that other website occurs when I double-click on 'Layout', too.


In the latter case, the "Edit HTML" wizard can be accessed easily, by finding out the blogID, then referencing the "Edit HTML" wizard directly by URL. Once in the "Edit HTML" wizard, it's not terribly difficult to find and remove the offending code.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Renaming A Followed Blog

I've said before, repeatedly, that you must rename your blog with great care, if it's mature and / or has any reputation. Don't go changing the blog URL without planning the change, if you hope to keep your readers or search engine reputation. That admonition applies, likewise, to a blog with Followers, since people Follow blogs, not people.

If you look at the code behind the "Follow Blog" link in the navbar, you'll see a reference to the "blogID", not the URL. Conversely, when you subscribe to a blog feed, as when you become a Follower of a blog, you subscribe to the URL.

If you look at your Reading List, Google Reader Subscription List, or any other newsfeed client, you'll see blog feeds which are based upon the blog URL. With a new blog name comes a new blog URL, and a new feed URL. Your Followers won't have the updated blog feed in their Reading List, or anywhere else that matters - unless you advise them to change their subscription.

Since the Follower to blog relationship is maintained by blogID, a staged development / test strategy, using a new blog, may not be a good idea. Where a new blog is developed with major changes, your Followers would be left Following a dormant blog.

After you change the blog URL, and the old URL is now free, publish a stub blog to the old URL. Include a notice that the blog has moved, and provide the new URL in the notice, with a clickable link. This will let your Followers and subscribers know to change their subscriptions, and will provide a link for the search engines to follow.

To complement the visual redirect for the blog readers, you can use the Post Feed Redirect URL from the stub, to redirect the blog feed. This will let your Followers and subscribers continue to read the blog feed, using the old feed URL to access the new feed URL.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

You Are Responsible For Maintaining Access To Your Blogger Account

Almost every Internet service, that requires us to identify ourselves, provides a backup identification option.

Every properly planned Internet service provides a way to access their services, should we forget our account name and / or password. Some services provide backdoor access in such easy fashion, that some people don't bother about using front door access.

Some Blogger blog owners use backdoor access to Blogger, routinely. This is a problem, on various levels.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Custom Domain Problems - June 2009 #2

This weekend, as the custom domain problems initially observed June 16 continue to be reported, we see now a new symptom. Observed by the administrator of an affected blog, in the Settings - Publishing wizard, will be the warning
The DNS record for your domain is not set up correctly yet. If you just purchased this domain the set up process may take up to a day.


In several cases, this is reportedly observed for blogs with righteous DNS addresses.


Why?



Here we have one example, "wakworld.com".

First, we see an extracted Dig log.

wakworld.com. 3600 IN A 216.239.32.21
wakworld.com. 3600 IN A 216.239.34.21
wakworld.com. 3600 IN A 216.239.36.21
wakworld.com. 3600 IN A 216.239.38.21
www.wakworld.com. 3600 IN CNAME ghs.google.com.


Next, an excerpted HTTP trace.

Sending request:

GET / HTTP/1.1
Host: wakworld.com
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.9.0.11) Gecko/2009060215 Firefox/3.0.11
Connection: close

• Finding host IP address...
• Host IP address = 216.239.38.21
• Finding TCP protocol...
• Binding to local socket...
• Connecting to host...
• Sending request...
• Waiting for response...
Receiving Header:
HTTP/1.1·302·Moved·Temporarily(CR)(LF)
Location:·http://www.wakworld.com/(CR)(LF)
Sending request:

Sending request:

GET / HTTP/1.1
Host: www.wakworld.com
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.9.0.11) Gecko/2009060215 Firefox/3.0.11
Connection: close

• Finding host IP address...
• Host IP address = 74.125.47.121
• Finding TCP protocol...
• Binding to local socket...
• Connecting to host...
• Sending request...
• Waiting for response...
Receiving Header:
HTTP/1.1·200·OK(CR)(LF)


<link·rel="alternate"·type="application/atom+xml"·title="Will·and·Kate's·World·-·Atom"·href="http://www.wakworld.com/feeds/posts/default"·/>(LF)
<link·rel="alternate"·type="application/rss+xml"·title="Will·and·Kate's·World·-·RSS"·href="http://www.wakworld.com/feeds/posts/default?alt=rss"·/>(LF)

All in all, a normal diagnosis for a blog published to "www.wakworld.com".

Yet, as stated by the owner of the blog,
I have disabled all google apps, and am pretty sure my DNS is righteous but still the error notice persist.
The DNS record for your domain is not set up correctly yet.


(Update 6/22 16:00): It appears that this symptom is related to the Custom Domain Redirect Problem of last week.

(Update 6/22): Recent discoveries suggest that this message may be yet another embodiment of the well known symptom "Another blog is already hosted at this address".

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Custom Domain Publishing And The Broken BlogSpot Redirect

This weekend, as the broken BlogSpot to custom domain redirect problem stretches into its 4th through 5th days, we see a diverse crowd of bloggers complaining about the problem. Some bloggers have been following this problem since Wednesday, others just discovered it today. One group of complainants which always intrigues me is the ones with the biggest and most popular blogs.
What? Blogger can't do this to me, and get away with it! I'll move my 10,000 visitor / day blog to WordPress!!
as if the daily visitor count makes them more important.

Everybody who is hurting, because of this snafu, is hurting because of links that continue to refer to the BlogSpot URL. The BlogSpot URL is the primary blog address until you publish the blog to a custom domain, and only until then. When you publish the blog to a custom domain, it becomes a secondary blog address. It's a secondary blog address which should diminish in importance, steadily, as your the custom domain address becomes more mature.
  • As soon as you publish your blog to the custom domain, you cease issuing the BlogSpot URL.
  • As the domain becomes more mature, you have more new inlinks pointing directly to the domain.
  • As the search engine databases are updated, both old and new links to the blog will point directly to the domain.
  • As you publicise the blog, and encourage new inlinks, you should also encourage the conversion of existing inlinks to point directly to the domain.


If you buy a new car, you don't leave it in the garage and keep driving the old car. Most people make up places to drive, just to show the new car off. Similarly, with a new non BlogSpot URL, you want people to know about it - both for direct browsing and for newsfeed access (Following / subscription).
Hey, check out my blog with it's new URL!


As the custom domain URL becomes used, the BlogSpot URL should diminish in importance, both absolutely and relatively. Your ultimate goal should be that it would have zero importance.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Blogger Accounts, And Non Existent Email Addresses

Most web services, when you setup a new account, require you to provide an existing email address, for backdoor access.

After you finish providing all of your personal details, and hit "Create my account" or whatever, you'll then see
Check your email now, and reply to the message from us, so we can activate your account!
You open your email, reply to the message or click on a link in the email, and you then see
Congratulations, and welcome to our service!

By verifying your email address, you're ensuring that, one day when you forget your password, you simply click on a link "I forgot my password!", and they email you a hint, or maybe let you reset the password from a link in the email. Since you verified the email address originally, you know that you will be getting the "forgot password" email in your inbox.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Reminder To All Bloggers With Computers That Run Microsoft Windows

Many times in the Blogger Help Forum, we see bloggers angrily complaining
Why does Blogger not work now? It worked yesterday! What did Blogger break today?
and sometimes, we will see a trend of multiple bloggers complaining of the same problem. Generally, and given enough bloggers with the same complaint, Blogger Support will investigate, tweak some code, and things will get back to normal.

The latter scenario doesn't happen immediately, though, nor does it happen consistently.

Deleted Blogs Can't Be Added To Google Webmaster Tools

Occasionally, we see confusion in Blogger Help Forum, expressed by bloggers who may have deleted a blog, then noted that the blog was still indexed by Google. Upon learning that Google Webmaster Tools lets us manage the search engine relationships for our blogs, the next question is something like
How do I verify my blog in Google Webmaster Tools? I deleted it, and can't edit the template!


Hoping that you still control the Blogger account that deleted the blog, you start by undeleting the blog. With the blog back on the dashboard, you can resume verifying ownership, in Google Webmaster Tools.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Custom Domain Problems - June 2009

This evening, we have several reports of numerous suddenly broken custom domains. The BlogSpot URL, normally redirected to the "www" alias of the domain, is now directed to an "off site redirect" warning. The domain root, and the "www" alias, may or may not be working as usual.

With some versions of Internet Explorer or Safari browsers, which are known to have problems displaying interstitial warnings, you may see simply
... cannot display the web page.
or a similar notice, instead of the "off site redirect" warning.

Here's an example - "dianamuse.blogspot.com", now published to "www.swoond.com".

The DNS addresses are righteous.

swoond.com. 1800 IN A 216.239.32.21
swoond.com. 1800 IN A 216.239.34.21
swoond.com. 1800 IN A 216.239.36.21
swoond.com. 1800 IN A 216.239.38.21
www.swoond.com. 1800 IN CNAME ghs.google.com.


Righteous DNS or not, Houston, there is a problem!




An HTTP trace shows one problem. First, "dianamuse.blogspot.com".

Sending request:

GET / HTTP/1.1
Host: dianamuse.blogspot.com
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.9.0.10) Gecko/2009042316 Firefox/3.0.10
Connection: close

• Finding host IP address...
• Host IP address = 74.125.19.191
• Finding TCP protocol...
• Binding to local socket...
• Connecting to host...
• Sending request...
• Waiting for response...
Receiving Header:
HTTP/1.1·301·Moved·Permanently(CR)(LF)

<p·id="tag"><em>Push-Button·Publishing</em></p>(LF)
<span·class="r"></span></div></div></div>(LF)
<div·id="body"><div·id="main"><div·id="m2"><div·id="m3"><div·class="mainClm"><h1>You're·about·to·be·redirected</h1>(LF)
<p>The·blog·that·used·to·be·here·is·now·at··http://www.swoond.com/.(LF)
<br>(LF)
Do·you·wish·to·be·redirected?(LF)
<br><br>(LF)
<span·class="info">This·blog·is·not·hosted·by·Blogger·and·has·not·been·checked·for·spam,·viruses·and·other·forms·of·malware.</span></p>(LF)

Next, "www.swoond.com".

Sending request:

GET / HTTP/1.1
Host: www.swoond.com
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.9.0.10) Gecko/2009042316 Firefox/3.0.10
Connection: close

• Finding host IP address...
• Host IP address = 74.125.53.121
• Finding TCP protocol...
• Binding to local socket...
• Connecting to host...
• Sending request...
• Waiting for response...
Receiving Header:
HTTP/1.1·200·OK(CR)(LF)

<link·rel="alternate"·type="application/atom+xml"·title="s·w·o·o·n·d···(n(C3,A9)e··d·i·a·n·a·:·m·u·s·e·)·-·Atom"·href="http://www.swoond.com/feeds/posts/default"·/>(LF)
<link·rel="alternate"·type="application/rss+xml"·title="s·w·o·o·n·d···(n(C3,A9)e··d·i·a·n·a·:·m·u·s·e·)·-·RSS"·href="http://www.swoond.com/feeds/posts/default?alt=rss"·/>(LF)


(Update 6/22 16:00): The issue is now resolved.
Custom domain redirects are now fixed; thanks for your patience!


(Update 6/21): As this problem continues through its fifth day, we see a new symptom.

(Update 6/20): Blogger Employee Siobhan provides a second acknowledgement of the problem.
We are very sorry and I promise we are working hard on it. The issue should be fixed early this week.


(Update 6/19): Blogger Employee Gatsby again acknowledges the problem.
We've been tracking this issue since it was first noticed on Wednesday, and are working hard on the fix. For the latest updates on this problem, please check out our Known Issues blog.


(Update 9/18): As this problem stretches into its third day, bloggers are also starting to note broken feeds, since feeds based on the original BlogSpot URL are redirected, just as the base URL is done.

(Update 9/17 10:00): Blogger has acknowledged the problem.
Custom domain users are reporting that traffic to their blog's Blogspot URL is inserting a redirect warning notifying users that they are leaving Blogger. Previously, no warning was issued and visits to the Blogspot URL were automatically re-routed to the user's Custom Domain.


(Update 9/16 22:00): Blogger Support has been informed of this problem.

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Manual Access To Key Blog Maintenance Wizards

With a blog that uses a Layouts template, the key blog maintenance wizards, like
  • "Create Post".
  • "Edit HTML".
  • "Edit Post".
  • "Page Elements".
  • "Pick New Template".
and others are all related. The blog template contains meta code that makes some of these wizards work. If we mess up the template, some of these wizards may not work anymore. Then, we say simply that we have a "corrupted template". What now? Can we recover from a "corrupted template"?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

FTP Publishing and the Security Challenge

FTP Publishing, as a way of letting us publish blogs to non BlogSpot URLs, presents many challenges - both to us, and to Blogger. I've written, repeatedly, about the stability and the support, issues. There's a third issue - security - which has several interesting details.

One of the reasons why FTP Publishing is a major challenge for everybody is that there are 3 parties involved in the process - you (the bloggers), Blogger (Blogger Support), and your host server (the host server support staff). Each of the 3 parties has to protect itself, because each of the 3 parties is at risk from the FTP publishing process.
  • You connect your computer to Blogger , and the Blogger FTP publishing server ("publisher"). And you connect your computer to the remote host. That's two sets of computers that you don't own, or control. And that's two sets of risks.
  • Blogger connects its computers to yours (permits you to connect to theirs), and they connect their computer (FTP "publisher") to your remote host (as well as to thousands of other remote host servers). Again, two sets of risks.
  • Your host server has to accept a connection from the Blogger publisher, as well as dozens of other computers used by you, and by others of their customers, like you.
  • With Blogger blogs published to BlogSpot, or to a Google server, Google can monitor content, and verify that it's not in violation of Blogger / Google TOS. With Blogger blogs published by FTP to an external server, this is not true. It's a trivial matter to publish non Blogger content on a web site that accepts FTP published content.


Any computer, directly connected to the Internet, exposes itself to immense security risks. Anybody with a computer connects their computer to the Internet through a firewall. In order to connect to any computer through the Internet, a hole has to be made through the firewall.

When Blogger connects their computer to your host server, they open a small hole in their firewall, and require that your host server open a bigger hole in theirs. PASV FTP, which is the way Blogger connects to your host server, requires a small security risk at the client end (Blogger), and a larger security risk at the server end (your host server). Not all host server support staff are willing to make the necessary security changes required. Some negotiation is required, when setting up FTP Publishing, from time to time.

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Arranging Pictures In Your Posts

We see a lot of questions in Blogger Help Forum, about getting the pictures, in our posts, located and sequenced properly.
  • How do I get my pictures into the middle of the posts?
  • Why aren't my pictures clickable, to show the full size content?
  • Why do I always have to move the pictures from the top, into the text?


If I'm setting up a new post, and I have a lot of pictures, the easiest way by far is to organise everything locally, on my computer, before doing anything in the Blogger post editor.
  1. Sequence the posts first, in my photo album software, locally on my computer.
  2. Write text to go with the pictures, locally, on my computer.
  3. Sequence the picture uploads.
  4. Upload the pictures, in the right sequence.
  5. Add text, and formatting, around the pictures.
Steps 3 and 4 have to be done as one effort, and carefully.
  • You can only upload up to 5 pictures at a time.
  • Each set of 5 pictures is located in front of all previously uploaded pictures (and, of course, all previously placed text).
  • Any group of 5 (or less) pictures is uploaded, in reverse sequence, of how you select them. If you want pictures A - B - C - D - E arranged in that order, you select them as E - D - C - B - A.


With 12 pictures in sequence, to display as A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L, I upload them in 3 sets as
  • (First Set)
    • L.
    • K.
    • J.
    • I.
    • H.
  • (Second Set)
    • G.
    • F.
    • E.
    • D.
    • C
  • (Third Set)
    • B.
    • A.


If you need to upload pictures after the post is compiled and / or published, you'll have to relocate what you upload, into the middle of the post. If you're using Internet Explorer, you'll want to work in "Edit HTML" mode, and copy and paste the code that contains the link to the full size display, which surrounds the code for the picture itself. If you drag and drop the pictures in "Compose" mode, using Internet Explorer, you'll find that sometimes the code for the links to the full size displays gets lost. You'll end up with a picture displayed in the post, and no link to view the full size display.

Now, for an extra treat, would you like to position multiple pictures on the same line, next to each other?

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Internet Explorer and "Operation Aborted" - June 2009 #2

The ongoing problem with Internet Explorer issuing "Operation Aborted" when loading various blogs continues to be reported. Some bloggers report having observed a difference between being logged in to Blogger, and not. The reports do not verify specifically whether administrative status over the blog in question is the problem, though.

I have setup a FeedDigest feed which aggregates comments from the following RBS posts:

If you have recently seen, or are seeing, this symptom - either in a blog which you control, or a blog which someone else controls - help us to help you, and provide your observations.
  • What browser version (the complete version number of format "n.n.nnnn.nn" may be significant here) are you using?
  • What operating system (again, name and version, please) are you using?
  • In what blogs(s) have you observed the problem?
  • Is that your blog(s), and if so, did you see an improvement by removing the Follower / Friend Connect gadgets? By changing the comment form option? By removing any other gadgets?
  • Have you made any separate effort to diagnose your problem?
  • Do you see this problem:
    1. When logged in to Blogger as the blog administrator?
    2. When logged into Blogger, but as a blog author?
    3. When logged into Blogger, but as a blog visitor?
    4. When not logged in to Blogger, at all?
    Please state all cases tried, as well as all cases where the problem was observed.


(Update 7/18): It appears most recently that this problem may not be completely resolved.

(Update 6/25): And taking us back to the time when this symptom was first seen, one blogger today stated that, in his case, his experience with "Operation Aborted" is eliminated when he removed an HTML gadget with SiteMeter script.

Here is the code, for the consolidated feed as displayed:
<script type="text/javascript" src="http://app.feed.informer.com/digest3/ZVBX3YEXAV.js">
<noscript><a href="http://app.feed.informer.com/digest3/ZVBX3YEXAV.html">Click for "Blogger and IE "Operation Aborted"".</a>
Powered by <a href="http://feed.informer.com/">RSS Feed Informer</a></noscript></script>




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Publish an HTML Based Feed

Occasionally, you may want to include your blog in an external web site. There are many ways to do this, depending upon how much work you are willing to do, and what you want the web site to look like when you're done. One of the easiest ways to do this, in my experience, is to include the feed from your blog, in the web site. Unfortunately, not all web servers can handle newsfeeds, directly.

When you're faced with this limitation, just publish your blog feed through FeedBurner. In FeedBurner, select "Publicize", then "BuzzBoost". The BuzzBoost option will let you publish your feed as HTML code, and give you a few useful options to let you show your feed in ways that your readers will appreciate.

Just add the HTML provided by FeedBurner to a post, or the template, on your web site.

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Custom Domain vs FTP Publishing - June 2009

Last month, we saw two steps in the beginning of the migration from FTP Publishing to Custom Domain Publishing, as a standard for non BlogSpot publishing of Blogger blogs. A visible change was provided by Rick Klau, new Blogger Product Manager, with Blogger Buzz: FTP vs. Custom Domains. A second, less visible change was made to the new blog setup process.

Before last month, the "Name your blog" screen, where you selected the name of the BlogSpot blog which you wished associated with your blog, had an alternate link at the bottom, "Advanced Settings". If you were to click on the "Advanced Settings" link, you'd be taken directly into the FTP Publishing setup process, without choosing a BlogSpot name.

The "Advanced Settings" link is now located on a screen reached from the "Continue" link on "Name your blog", and the link now takes you into the Custom Domain "Advanced Settings" publishing setup screen.

This change accomplishes two things.
  • It emphasises the shift in direction, from FTP Publishing to Custom Domain Publishing.
  • It removes one problem with FTP Published blogs - blogs that could be setup without a BlogSpot URL.


Long ago, Blogger blogs that started out as BlogSpot publishing, and were later converted to FTP publishing using the "Settings" - "Publishing" wizard, simply created a blog that was externally published. The previously published BlogSpot URL simply went out of existence. If a blogger wished to direct his readers from his former BlogSpot URL to his new non BlogSpot FTP published URL, he had to publish a new BlogSpot blog to the former URL, with a notice
This blog has now moved to a new URL.


One of the advantages of Custom Domain publishing was the automatic redirect of traffic, from the BlogSpot URL to the domain. Sometime after this was provided, this redirect was added to newly created FTP Published blogs too, but only if they were created from BlogSpot blogs republished from Settings - Publishing. Blogs created from "Name your blog" - "Advanced Settings" were created without a BlogSpot URL, so there was no BlogSpot URL to be redirected to the FTP published URL.

This loophole has now been eliminated. All newly created blogs will start out with a BlogSpot URL. Custom Domain publishing is provided as a convenient part of the blog setup process - to enable the blog to start out, immediately, with a non BlogSpot URL, as well as a BlogSpot URL. FTP Publishing, where required, can be selected from "Settings" - "Publishing", for public blogs using a classic template.

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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

There Are No Elephants In My Back Yard

I'm scared of elephants, if they're allowed to run wild. What time is it, when an elephant sits on the hood of your car?

OK, Chuck, I'll bite - What time is it?
Time to get a new car. LOL.


Many years ago, when I moved to California, and having heard of the possible damage to your car (probably, an uninsured expense too) should an elephant sit on it, I put up a sign in my back yard.
No Elephants Permitted Here!
And, apparently the sign served its purpose - I haven't seen a single elephant in my back yard - or sitting on my car - since I moved here.

An unlikely tale, you probably say. More crudely, you'd ask me
What have you been drinking today, Chuck?


So, what's the point of this narrative? Just this, that most bloggers may not waste time in putting up signs to keep elephants away - but they have other, stranger superstitions. My favourite examples of the latter would be advice from some bloggers about how to avoid the mysterious bX codes, the equally mysterious "Error 400 Bad Request", or the well known custom domain problem of "Another blog ...".

The bX codes are symptoms of problems, they aren't the problems themselves. In some cases, they signify specific errors, to provide more specific error diagnostic than simply the earlier seen monolithic error
We apologize for the inconvenience, but we are unable to process your request at this time. Our engineers have been notified of this problem and will work to resolve it.
Do you remember seeing that message, long ago? I sure do - not fondly, though.

In other cases, they may simply be unique trace points in the Blogger code base. If you just now see a new bX code, when you are using Blogger against your blog, this may signify one of two conditions.
  • You just made a change to your blog, and caused a problem.
  • Blogger just added or removed a coded termination point, in an effort to observe the blogging process in general, and to diagnose the cause of a previously reported problem.
Only Blogger Support will know the difference, and that only after you submit the details about your experience with the newly observed code.

If you see a bX code, you're welcome to try to diagnose your problems - and to correct the problems in your blog, when you find any to correct. Try affinity analysis and / or differential analysis, if you're willing and able.

Like signs forbidding the presence of elephants, though, keep a proper perspective. Don't ascribe any special effectiveness to the signs - and let other folks tell you, authoritatively, what is wrong with your blog, based only upon their own personal experience with their own blog.

The number of possible bX codes is close to 326. Anybody who starts a blog, containing posts guessing at the "meaning" of a couple hundred bX codes, has a statistically small number of codes - which is insignificant compared to 326 (1,073,741,824). Avoid anybody who offers you the privilege
Hey, wanna see my bX code list?
Any blogger who compiles a list of bX codes, and their observed meanings, is wasting his time. Don't let him waste your time, too.

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No, You Can't Have That URL

Every day in Blogger Help Group, we see the naive yet plaintive queries
I want to setup a new blog. The perfect address for my new blog would be xxxxxxx.blogspot.com. But today I found this message at that address:

Sorry, the blog at xxxxxxx.blogspot.com has been removed.
This address is not available for new blogs.
Who do I speak to at Blogger, to get that address released to me?
or
There are a lot of blogspot names that are taken and never used with no way to contact the owner of the blog to see if they're willing to part with the name. Any suggestions?
or
Is there any way to obtain a blogspot name that is currently being used by someone but has been inactive?


Subsequently, when told
No, you can't have that URL - pick another and get to work putting valuable content into your new blog!
They might respond with
That makes zero sense. The blog is GONE. But the address is being reserved in perpetuity for what exactly?! This constitutes a Catch 22, aka chaos.


At first appearance, that's a valid argument. Why not recycle unused URLs? But what are these "removed" URLs? Let's look deeper.

Do you keep up with any of the ongoing threads at Blogger Help Group? Besides the "I want a URL that's not available" whine, one other thread subject that we see a lot of is "My blog just got deleted, because they say it's spam. It's NOT SPAM!!!"

What happens, with a unjustly detected spam blog, is that the blog owner has to appeal the deletion. If the owner was a victim of a false detection, the blog is restored, and returned to the owner. And that's the other side of the story here.

In order for unjustly deleted blogs to be returned to their owners, the URLs have to be locked when deleted. If a blog has been removed, but the URL is not available, the blog was removed, pending review and return to the owner.

There's no deadline for the review process to start, or to complete.

In neither case are you guaranteed the ability to assume control of the URL, from another account. The only way to reliably take over control of a URL is to transfer control of the blog.

Find another URL, you can't have this one, it belongs to the owner - neither offline / online status, nor even activity level, is relevant to continued blog ownership. Find an available URL, and get to work giving value to your new blog. And remember - if you are setting up a new blog based upon some recent news story or new fad, other people may be doing the same.

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Monday, June 08, 2009

Internet Explorer and "Operation Aborted" - June 2009

Bloggers have been reporting the monolithic error "Operation Aborted" for many months, at a slow but steady rate. Last month, the problem was reported in much greater intensity.

Previously, the cause of the problem, when known, was third party scripts that didn't operate properly inside an HTML / JavaScript shell. One instance, not the sole cause but the one most observed, was bad code in the SiteMeter visitor counter, later solved by SiteMeter. Last month, many bloggers found that removing the Blogger Followers / Google Friend Connect gadgets, and changing the comment form from "Embedded below post" to "Full page" or "Popup", provided relief to their affected blogs.

Two weeks after the latest problem was reported, though, this problem continues. And some bloggers are recently reporting that their blogs have this problem, and it's not apparently solved by removing the Blogger Followers / Google Friend Connect gadgets, or by changing the comment form from "Embedded below post" to "Full page" or "Popup".

The longer that this latest version of the problem goes, unsolved or unacknowledged by Blogger Support, the more confusion this causes. People who would like Following / Friend Connect, or the inline comment form, on their blogs, won't be installing them because they are uncertain what will happen to their readers ability to access their blogs. And if the original problem (problems) which existed before May 2009 continue, or if new non Blogger caused problems occur, we won't know about them because we wait for Blogger Support to fix the known (or perceived) problem with Following / Friend Connect.

Not all problems are caused by, or can be solved by, Blogger. But if Blogger Support can't solve the problems that they have caused, the problems which they can't solve will continue to cause confusion, and there will be no way to triage the Blogger caused problems from the non Blogger caused problems, and the known problems from the undiscovered ones.

If you have recently seen, or are seeing, this symptom - either in a blog which you control, or a blog which someone else controls - help us to help you, and provide your observations.
  • What browser version (the complete version number of format "n.n.nnnn.nn" may be significant here) are you using?
  • What operating system (again, name and version, please) are you using?
  • In what blogs(s) have you observed the problem?
  • Is that your blog(s), and if so, did you see an improvement by removing the Follower / Friend Connect gadgets? By changing the comment form option? By removing any other gadgets?
  • Have you made any separate effort to diagnose your problem?

Your report here, of what you are seeing or have seen, may be invaluable.

(Update 7/18): It appears most recently that this problem may not be completely resolved.

(Update 6/25): And taking us back to the time when this symptom was first seen, one blogger today stated that, in his case, his experience with "Operation Aborted" is eliminated when he removed an HTML gadget with SiteMeter script.

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Saturday, June 06, 2009

There Are No Deleted URLs Available For Re-Use

Periodically, we see the plaintive query
I would like create my blog as xxxxxxx.blogspot.com, but I can't because it says "This address is not available". When I search for this address, I see
Sorry, the blog at xxxxxxx.blogspot.com has been removed. This address is not available for new blogs.
or possibly more monolithic
The blog you were looking for was not found.
What do I do now?
Just as with an "abandoned" URL, you don't have a lot of choices here.

When the blog was deleted, either by Blogger or by the owner, the URL was locked to the owner. If it was deleted by Blogger, the owner is entitled to an appeal. If it was deleted by the owner, the owner is entitled to change his / her mind. If it's not available today, it won't be available tomorrow.

Pick a URL that's available, now - and get to work giving value to your new blog, now.

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Friday, June 05, 2009

Some Bloggers Seeing "Blogger Unavailable" When Maintaining Specific Blogs

Some bloggers are reporting lately that when they try to access, post to, or maintain their blogs, they see
Blogger Unavailable
The message appears to be specific to individual blogs, and to be independent of browser, computer, and network being used. One blogger reported this problem with his blog, "jetreidliterary.blogspot.com", and specifically not with his other blogs.
I can't see or post to my blog: jetreidliterary.blogspot.com

I can see and post to my other blogs.

I've cleared my cache, tried to log on from other other computers, run all the security programs again.



The problem is, apparently, in the blog. I got this picture after weeks of waiting. This one comes from trying to publish a comment to "althouse.blogspot.com". Other blogs get this when editing a post, or changing the template. See various comments below.

Obviously, the problem is with the individual blogs, as I am getting comments here from folks who see the problem, in their blogs.



An HTTP trace shows an interesting symptom, here.
Sending request:

GET / HTTP/1.1
Host: jetreidliterary.blogspot.com
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.9.0.10) Gecko/2009042316 Firefox/3.0.10
Connection: close

• Finding host IP address...
• Host IP address = 74.125.19.191
• Finding TCP protocol...
• Binding to local socket...
• Connecting to host...
• Sending request...
• Waiting for response...
Receiving Header:
HTTP/1.1·503·Service·Unavailable(CR)(LF)


If this message is affecting your access to any of your blogs, help us out here, so we can gauge the scope of the problem.
  • Do you have multiple blogs, and if so are all blogs, or just some, affected?
  • Please identify the blog(s) affected.
  • If you have any other blogs, not affected, please identify them.
  • Do you see exactly what's pictured above?
  • When did you first observe this problem?
  • How long had your affected blog(s) been in existence before you saw this problem?
  • Did you make any identifiable change to the affected blog(s) just before you saw this problem?


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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Coding Error In Blog Feed Causing Problems For Bloggers Using Microsoft Outlook on Local Area Networks

Some bloggers who subscribe to various blog feeds using Microsoft Outlook, and similar desktop client newsfeed readers, report problems with computers that are based on Local Area Networks and use local named resources. A coding error in the blog feed tracker, in the post footer, causes the URL, which should point to the Internet server "blogger.googleusercontent.com", to be interpreted as a request for local resource "//blogger.googleusercontent.com".

The snippet of code, which should be provided as
<div class="blogger-post-footer"><div></div><img width='1' height='1' src='http://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn-nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn?l=www.yoursite.com'/></div>
instead is provided as
<div class="blogger-post-footer"><div></div><img width='1' height='1' src='//blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn-nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn?l=www.yoursite.com'/></div>


The omission of "http:" from the snippet of code causes two problems.
  • The URL is not properly rendered, and the tracker object is not loaded.
  • The computer tries to access HTTP server "blogger.googleusercontent.com" as local resource "//blogger.googleusercontent.com". This causes the computer to apparently lock up, compelling some bloggers to reboot their computers, because the computer has simply "stopped responding".


Some folks experiencing the effects of the problem report it as
brutal and widespread
If my computer were to stop responding, I suspect that I would do likewise.

If you are using Microsoft Outlook as a newsfeed reader, and your computer stops responding, now you know why.

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Why The Need For Third Party Cookies In Blogger Blogs?

Not all bloggers understand the authentication and cookie issues which are involved, as we update and view our Blogger blogs.

Occasionally we see perplexed queries
I wish blogger didn't insist on the requirement of third-party cookies in order to comment.
or
Why do I have to login each time I access my account?

Many bloggers aren't aware of the various different domains used by Blogger / Google. Two of the key domains, in this case, are "Blogger.com", and "BlogSpot.com". The first is where we login, and the second is where many of our blogs are published.

With a blog published to a custom domain (not to BlogSpot), we have more possibilities. And now, with blog access affected by geographical country, we have even more possibility for confusion.