Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Custom Domain Publishing, And Google Apps - September, 2009

Back in December 2008, Google was finishing the process of deploying the new Google Apps DNS servers - a set of 4, to replace the old set of 3. Around that time, Blogger Support had (unofficially) stated that they would inform us when the old 3 servers had been officially retired, so bloggers everywhere who used the Custom Domain Asymmetrical DNS Configuration would know, definitively, when it was essential to update their DNS setup.

It's now 9 months later, and we have still gotten no official word. In the mean time, almost weekly, we see problem reports with attempted use of the old 3 servers (all long offline) being the center of the problem.

Enough. In my opinion, all bloggers using the old 3 servers, for their domain DNS, need to update their DNS setups. You need to have your domain using the 4 new Google Apps DNS servers.

For the record, I will now state this.

Anybody with a custom domain using a DNS setup of

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.

needs to immediately update to

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.

I can't hazard a guess why anybody would not have updated, but it appears that this is still the case.

For the sake of your readers, update your Custom Domain DNS configurations. This week, or sooner.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Your Custom Domain, Outside Blogger

Some bloggers have a custom domain, and think that the domain is only good inside Blogger.
How do I use a non Google web site in my custom domain?
or
Can I use a domain name registered via Blogger in another webhosting, if I quit Blogger?
as if custom domains are something mysterious, and only work on a Google server. But, this is far from reality.

One of the advantages of having a domain, that uses DNS hosted on any registrar on the Internet, is that you can include any blog or web site, in your domain, that you wish. You can have any combination of Blogger blogs, WordPress blogs, Yahoo blogs, and any web sites that use DNS to direct traffic to them, in your domain.

You will have to know how to access the eNom or GoDaddy DNS Management wizard (for a custom domain setup by Blogger), or your third party DNS manager wizard (for any custom domain originally setup by you). And, you will need specifications from any third party content host, as to what DNS settings are required for their server to be accessible.

But, if you can get both of those essential items, you can setup your non Blogger blog or web site, as part of your Google Custom Domain, or instead of your Google Custom Domain, as you wish.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

The Video Upload Wizard Needs Work

We've seen a few reports of problems uploading a video, since that option was added to Post Editor.
Please contact Support, and include the following information:
Blog Id:bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb
Video Id:vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv
or possibly even
Please contact Support, and include the following information:
Blog Id:bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb
Video Id:FAILED


Upon further investigation, sometimes by the blogger and other times by a helper in Blogger Help Forum, we may find that the video is too long (100M is the maximum length), the video is of the wrong format (only AVI, MPEG, QuickTime, Real and Windows Media are accepted), and in one case, the video was detected as copyrighted material and refused.

Apparently, the video upload process doesn't provide a lot of diagnostic information. Maybe that's one reason why the new Post Editor didn't include video upload, for a long time.

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Protect Your Blog - Install Third Party Code, Carefully

Have any of you seen this sort of offer, when looking at third party accessories, and contemplating installation?
You don't do a thing! For Blogger blogs, we offer "EZ Install"! Just give us the blog URL, and an account name and password, sit back, and let us do the work!
and maybe later, you're posting in BHF: Something Is Broken
Somebody is posting spam posts on my blog!
or
Where did these ads come from? I didn't put them there!
or worse yet
Why is my blog deleted? I don't post malicious script!
All of these concerns have been noted, in real problem reports, and were caused by real mistakes.


Not everybody will note a connection between "EZ Install", and the malicious content. With some, reputable, third party software, this won't be the case, at all - there's a lot of reliable third party code that only wants to provide their product, and make the install easy for you, just as claimed. But, it's always a possibility, and you would do well to consider the possibility.

Always install third party code with care. If you're going to have the third party code installed for you, do this with greater care.

If I was going to use an "EZ Install" process, here's how I would protect myself.
  1. Setup an "EZ Install" Blogger account, made a member of the blog in question.
  2. Make my "EZ Install" member an administrator.
  3. Run the "EZ Install" process, and check out the software carefully.
  4. When satisfied that the new accessory is working properly, revoke Administrative status of the "EZ Install" member.


If I was really paranoid (no, just a small bit paranoid), I would add a precaution:
  1. Setup an "EZ Install" Blogger account, made a member of the blog in question.
  2. Upgrade the "EZ Install" member to administrative status.
  3. Backup the template.
  4. Run the "EZ Install" process, and check out the software carefully.
  5. When satisfied that the new accessory is working properly, revoke Administrative status of the "EZ Install" member.
  6. Backup the template again.
  7. Compare the two backup copies, and consider carefully each change.


What the heck, you should backup the template, anyway! Comparing the two backups is just a small extra step.

It's your blog, and you are responsible for its content, both visual (what the readers see), and non visual (what only you see). It's your decision, too.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Image Upload Is Now Subject To Terms Of Service

Recently, Blogger added acknowledgment of Terms Of Service to the image upload wizard in the post editor. Unfortunately, this addition is not immediately obvious to everybody - and to some, seeing it comes as a revelation.
This is how I fixed it:
When you get one of the upload dialog boxes, there may be a check box next to the UPLOAD IMAGE option at the bottom. It is one of those "I agree to something xxx" that you have to check. Once I checked it, the UPLOAD IMAGE button became activated.


My mother would call that a "snake", as in
If it was a snake, it would have bitten you already.


In this case, it would simply bite you once, then quickly crawl away.


This is what you will usually see. Except for one time.



Look carefully, to the right of the "Upload Image" button! Do you see it? Take a good look right now - after you check the box and upload, you'll not see it again.



Probably most folks see it once, check the box, upload, and they never see it again. Check TOS boxes isn't all that earthshaking, and very few folks ever read the Terms. So later, when your friend asks you why his upload doesn't work, are you going to think of it? I doubt that I would.

But, thanks to tgold, we might.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Blogger Magic - The Interstitial Warning Display

Magic shows have been around for centuries - the world is full of magic, when we don't understand what's going on. URL redirection is a Blogger magic trick, similar to the disappearing quarter - a common sleight of hand trick in stage magic performances.

Another Blogger magic trick, and one which not all bloggers or blog viewers appreciate, is the interstitial warning display. Interstitial warnings pop up like magic, where you (or your prospective viewer) would least expect them.
  • In front of a "private" blog, where you have to identify yourself to continue.
  • In front of a blog that contains (or is reputed to contain) objectionable material (naughty pictures or such).
  • In front of a blog that is (or appears to be) published off site.
  • In front of a blog that has been blocked, for TOS violation, or maybe for hosting hacking content.

Blogging Requires Learning

It's so simple to setup a Blogger blog, and publish posts. A "stock" Blogger blog takes maybe 5 minutes to setup, and half of that involves choosing an available blog name, and writing your first post. Generally, after you have published a few posts, you should start to think about the fun stuff - such as making the blog more attractive, or about getting more readers.

And now, you have a chance to learn, about blogging in general, and about Blogger blogging specifically. And if you want to learn, Blogger Help Forum: How Do I? is a great place to start. Just keep an open mind.

Learn how to ask for advice, accept advice, and ask intelligent questions about advice provided.

Please, when you ask for advice, don't start with
I need more traffic to my blog. Please make simple instructions, as I don't want to learn anything - I just want a checklist.
or
I want my blog published to a working custom domain. I bought my domain from Domains-R-Cheap, and it doesn't work! The advice given here is too full of jargon! I don't want jargon, I want plain advice!

All advice given in Blogger Help Forum won't be to everybody's native level of understanding. Some things that you want to do, with your Blogger blog, may require more experience than you have, right now. People who give advice on how to execute the tasks required won't make check lists for you - you may have to learn how to perform the required basic tasks, first.

Basic blogging is linear, by design. Intermediate and advanced blogging projects require planning, reasoning, and diagnostic testing. Some projects will go better, with the right third party services and tools.

Advanced blogging projects won't be linear, and won't come with check lists. If you are advised to do some additional reading, don't reply by demanding a check list. Read what you are given, and read the linked articles within the articles that you are given.

Respect the helpers, and they will respect you. Whine, the real helpers will ignore you, and you'll be getting "help" from the trolls and spammers.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Missing Followers - September 2009 - The Good News, And The Bad News

Just recently, we see in Blogger Help Forum many anguished queries
Where are my Followers?
or conversely,
Where are the blogs that I'm Following? / Why is my Reading List empty?


We had this problem earlier this month, and that problem was later fixed. Now, it's back again.

Looking at the posts in Blogger Help Forum - and the comments made to my earlier post Missing Followers - September 2009, and taking each blog URL provided, I have looked at each blog. To a blog, I see the Followers gadget, and contents, with no problem. And Blogger Support, having done the same, sees the Followers too.

In other words, there is good news, and there is bad news here.
  1. If you are not seeing Followers on your blog, nor on my blog, do not be despondent. Chances are, many of your readers - and Followers - see your Followers just fine. That's the good news.
  2. If you are seeing the Followers on your blog, and think that you aren't involved, don't be complacent. Chances are, somebody reading your blog, and contemplating Following it, sees no Followers, and / or no link to Follow your blog. That's the bad news.


This problem is plainly common to the blog readers, not just to the blog owners.

If you have access to a second computer, or even a second browser, you may regain access to your Followers that way. If you have no second browser or computer, try clearing cache and cookies. Remember the side effects from doing that, however.

If either of the latter suggestions help, that's good news and bad news, again. You'll have access to your Followers - but some of your readers, who are probably in the same situation as you, won't see your Followers, and won't know to try either solution.

Blogger Support needs to solve the problem, if we're going to get on with our lives.

Help us, and help yourself, if you're seeing this problem, or if you know anybody or are getting a report from somebody with the problem.
  • Do you not see Followers on just one blog, not on many blogs, or not on all blogs that you examine? Can you not see Followers on my blog, for instance?
  • When you do not see the Followers on your blog, or on my blog, are you logged in to Following from your blog, and / or from my blog? Does your Followers gadget (the place where a Followers gadget should be) contain a "Sign in to Following" ("Sign out", alternately), or is it completely blank?
  • What is unique about you, that might explain you having this problem? Where are you located? What Internet service do you have ("cable", dial up, DSL, "satellite")? What operating system, what browser? What security software? Any of these details could be relevant here.


(Update 4/24): This problem is stated to be resolved. A more authoritative citation will be provided, when available.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Twitter Gadget Causing Distress

A few bloggers are noting offensive content in their Twitter feed gadgets.
On my Twitter updates, it is showing all other peoples, and some are pretty rude, ie bad language. I have removed that gadget from my page.

Apparently, a gadget update made by a developer contained buggy code, and picked up a feed from a tweeter who is not very polite in his tweeting language. I won't name the offensive feed, and hopefully nobody who wants to be a responsible tweeter will, either.

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Blogger Magic - Custom Domains and Redirected Feeds

Ever watch a magician do "sleight of hand", say the old disappearing quarter?
Here's an ordinary quarter (in my hand). Nope - not in my hand! Where did it go? What's that, behind your ear? There it is (behind your ear)!
How did he do that?

Blogger / FeedBurner / Google has a magic trick for you, and it's just as mysterious to many bloggers.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Blogs Locked For Malware Distribution Are Being Removed From Control Of Owners

Recently, we've seen that Google and StopBadware.Org are stepping up the fight against malware distributed from Blogger blogs. Not only blogs actively distributing malware, and blogs linking directly to web sites that distribute malware, are affected. In one identified case, a blog that linked to a "clean" web site, that linked to another web site where malware was distributed, was locked.

In other cases, blogs that use dodgy accessories are being targeted.
It seems now that many of the reported URLs have a 'BlogLinker.com' code snippet in them- *please* stay away from this widget in the future; it is completely nefarious.


It appears that here, Blogger is doing the right thing. Blogs that help to distribute malware are being locked, and removed from the Internet.
When you check your blog with web-sniffer.net, it returns a 404 Not Found response.

http://web-sniffer.net/?url=earnovertheinternet.blogspot.com&submit=Submit&http=1.1&type=GET&uak=0

This is typical of the other blogs that have recently been flagged for malware.


This policy is in keeping with the fight against dynamic hacking / spam distribution. If Blogger is to have a chance to fight the hackers and sploggers who move their activities from blog to blog, on an hourly and daily basis, they have to freeze the contents of any suspected blogs, pending an in depth examination of the suspects.

Any blog that is a victim in this action has to be examined by Blogger Support, when requested in an entry made in the Malware Appeal Requests form. If your blog is involved, you may wish to purge your blog, when given the chance, using a Safe Browsing diagnostic report as a reference. Generate the report now, and wait for Blogger to unlock your blog, and it will hopefully be available from your dashboard.

This strategy, though seemingly harsh, is likely the best possible choice, right now, for Blogger.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Missing Followers - September 2009

We see this periodically, and under many circumstances. Just recently, we see in Blogger Help Forum the confused query
Where are my Followers?
or conversely,
Where are the blogs that I'm Following? / Why is my Reading List empty?


Remember that you login to Followers, separately. Your having logged in is not essential - but it may be relevant to this problem. And, make sure that you are logged in to your normal Blogger account, if you're concerned about the blogs that you are Following.

We don't yet have a lot of details about this issue, just yet. Help us out here, if you are experiencing this. Blogger Support provided a form, from a couple months ago, which may help them.

These details may also be relevant to the problem.
  • What is missing - the Followers gadget, or the pictures?
  • How about the Reading List at the bottom of your dashboard - are your Followed blogs listed there, or are those missing, too?
  • If just the Followers pictures are missing, look at the wizard on your dashboard, for your blog. Are Followers missing from there, too?
  • Are you not seeing Followers on your blog, or somebody else's blog?
  • What is the URL of the blog(s) where you do not see Followers?
  • Do you see Followers on my blog?
  • Are you logged in to Followers?
  • Are you logged in to your blog?

Answer here, or in a thread in Blogger Help Forum, as you wish. And watch this post, as we add additional questions that may help Blogger Support get a handle on this problem.

(Update 9/23): This problem, which was supposedly fixed a couple weeks ago, is back, maybe the same cause, maybe with a new cause.

(Update 9/18): This problem is thought to be fixed. A more authoritative citation will be provided, when available.

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Your Blog, Custom Domains, And The Quadruplet Google Apps Servers

Some people can't see the forest, for the trees. Occasionally, we see a query from a perplexed blog owner, seeking to publish to a custom domain.
Google wants us to repeat the same IP address 4 times?
216.239.32.21
216.239.34.21
216.239.36.21
216.239.38.21
Uh, aren't they're the same? Why the needless duplication?

Like quadruplets (newly born human children), you may need name tags to distinguish one server from the other. But, if you look closely enough, no, they aren't the same. As always, I'll present these examples using excerpted Dig logs.
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.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Diagnosing Problems With Custom Domains - Case Study #10

Recently, we've had a few custom domain problem reports in Blogger Help Forum which start with the usual generic problem report
I'm getting "404 Not Found".
or
OK, here's another case of "Another blog is already hosted at this address."
and when we look at an excerpted Dig log, we see an odd setup.

mydomain.com. 3600 IN A 66.98.145.18
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 A 66.98.145.18

or
mydomain.com. 3600 IN A 66.98.145.18
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.

mercury.orderbox-domainforward.com (66.98.145.18)
66.98.128.0 - 66.98.255.255
ThePlanet.com Internet Services, Inc.


Looking at the server "66.98.145.18", chances are that it's some sort of forwarding server. But why are the bloggers in question so careful to retain the existing forwarding server, then add the Google Apps servers and / or "ghs.google.com"?

Obviously, and to repeat myself yet again, the correct setup is

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.


And, another.

mydomain.com. 1800 IN A 68.178.232.100
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.

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


Another reference to the GoDaddy parked server. The registrars like GoDaddy call this "user friendly 404 display". Some network / security experts call it "404 hijacking".

The frustrating thing about "66.98.145.18" or "68.178.232.100" is that it won't necessarily cause an immediate failure. If any one of the 4 of the right servers come up in the resolution sequence first, you'll not have a problem. But one day, "66.98.145.18", "68.178.232.100", or whatever bogie is configured in your bogus solution will be tried. If you're lucky, you'll simply hear
Your domain is "404" again!
If you're not, you'll be seeing
Another blog is already hosted at this address.


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Diagnosing Problems With Custom Domains: The Dig Tool, Run Against The Domain Authority Server

Sometimes when we work on a custom domain problem, we'll recommend specific DNS changes, and we'll make plans to deal with the unavoidable DNS latency issues.
Make the above changes, and wait for one full day, before continuing.
The above caveat will be highly advisable, because of gross latency required by the DNS host (1 day TTL is pretty nasty).

mydomain.com. 86400 IN A 74.53.137.215

As always, we'll be using a Dig utility to examine the DNS settings in question.

The DNS settings, as noted, may not be visible immediately. If the existing DNS address record for "mydomain.com" includes a TTL of 86,400 seconds (1 day), then we should wait for one day, before assuming that any changes that we are making will take effect.

Maybe we don't want to wait one full day, just to see if the blogger working on the problem (or worse, the DNS host support tech paid by the blogger for service) makes the right settings. Fortunately, we don't have to wait until TTL expires, and the updated "A" or "CNAME" records hit the local DNS server, if we do a little more work. The changes made at the DNS host will be present on the authoritative DNS server for "mydomain.com", instantly.

Note that these are details that aren't available on all DNS Utility services on the web. To my knowledge, only the Kloth.Net Dig server provides this much detail, in a GUI interface.

With Kloth, besides entering the domain name for "Domain:", select "ANY (any type)" for "Query:". This will give a slightly different log from Dig.

; <<>> DiG 9.3.2 <<>> @localhost nitecruzr.net ANY
; (1 server found)
;; global options: printcmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 32900
;; flags: qr aa rd; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 14, AUTHORITY: 0, ADDITIONAL: 0

;; QUESTION SECTION:
;nitecruzr.net. IN ANY

;; ANSWER SECTION:
nitecruzr.net. 86400 IN SOA ns11.domaincontrol.com. dns.jomax.net. 2009050100 28800 7200 604800 86400
nitecruzr.net. 3600 IN A 216.239.38.21
nitecruzr.net. 3600 IN A 216.239.32.21
nitecruzr.net. 3600 IN A 216.239.36.21
nitecruzr.net. 3600 IN A 216.239.34.21

;; Query time: 103 msec
;; SERVER: 216.69.185.6#53(216.69.185.6)
;; WHEN: Sat Sep 12 23:43:19 2009
;; MSG SIZE rcvd: 386


What we need here is the "SOA" ("Start Of Authority") record, which identifies the authoritative DNS server for "nitecruzr.net".

nitecruzr.net. 86400 IN SOA ns11.domaincontrol.com. dns.jomax.net. 2009050100 28800 7200 604800 86400

The authoritative DNS server for "nitecruzr.net" is "ns11.domaincontrol.com".

Returning to the Kloth Dig form, we paste "ns11.domaincontrol.com" for "Server:", in place of the usual entry "localhost". When we run a Dig for "nitecruzr.net" against "ns11.domaincontrol.com", we see a slightly different Dig log.

; <<>> DiG 9.3.2 <<>> @ns11.domaincontrol.com nitecruzr.net ANY
; (1 server found)
;; global options: printcmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 49580
;; flags: qr aa rd; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 14, AUTHORITY: 0, ADDITIONAL: 0

;; QUESTION SECTION:
;nitecruzr.net. IN ANY

;; ANSWER SECTION:
nitecruzr.net. 86400 IN SOA ns11.domaincontrol.com. dns.jomax.net. 2009050100 28800 7200 604800 86400
nitecruzr.net. 3600 IN NS ns11.domaincontrol.com.
nitecruzr.net. 3600 IN NS ns12.domaincontrol.com.
nitecruzr.net. 3600 IN NS ns54.domaincontrol.com.
nitecruzr.net. 3600 IN NS ns53.domaincontrol.com.
nitecruzr.net. 3600 IN MX 10 aspmx.l.google.com.
nitecruzr.net. 3600 IN MX 20 alt1.aspmx.l.google.com.
nitecruzr.net. 3600 IN MX 30 alt2.aspmx.l.google.com.
nitecruzr.net. 3600 IN MX 40 aspmx2.googlemail.com.
nitecruzr.net. 3600 IN MX 50 aspmx3.googlemail.com.
nitecruzr.net. 3600 IN A 216.239.38.21
nitecruzr.net. 3600 IN A 216.239.36.21
nitecruzr.net. 3600 IN A 216.239.34.21
nitecruzr.net. 3600 IN A 216.239.32.21

;; Query time: 103 msec
;; SERVER: 216.69.185.6#53(216.69.185.6)
;; WHEN: Sat Sep 12 23:52:32 2009
;; MSG SIZE rcvd: 386

There are all of the DNS records for "nitecruzr.net", from the authoritative server. If we had just made DNS address changes, we would see them displayed instantly, instead of having to wait for TTL to expire so our local server ("localhost") would refresh cache, and show us the updates.

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

A Second Chance In Life

Not all bloggers can handle the truth, and when I have told some that
With anonymous ownership comes responsibility. You have to maintain access to your blog, without requiring additional assistance from Blogger.
not everybody responds positively. I won't publish the email that I have received recently, thanks to the Google Forums anonymous email delivery service.

But given further chance to reflect, there may be a way around the quandary. If you can't prove ownership of the blog, you can't have control of that blog. Sorry, that part can't be avoided. But you can start a second Blogger account, and a new blog, and you can link the new blog to the old one. You won't be able to go the other way, unfortunately.

But there it is, for you - a second chance. You don't have to pay a thing for the privilege - like all Blogger blogs, this one too is free. And, you get a new account, and a new password.

And maybe, with the new account, you can remember the password, and maintain the backdoor access? Be a responsible blogger, and encourage others to do the same.

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Monday, September 07, 2009

Arranging Pictures In Your Posts, Side By Side

Having published Arranging Pictures In Your Posts, which hopefully explains several frequently asked questions
  • 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?
I find that there's a fourth question that gets asked.
How do I display pictures next to each other, not on separate lines?
This question, I would typically answer by advising
Use nested tables.
That makes an effective workaround, although a clumsy one.

But it's possible to simply float pictures side by side, if they are small enough to fit into the space provided. That's not so hard to do, just make them small.

Here are two pictures, as I would normally set them up.








<a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_pzC_7PLtN-0/SqVtLtQ-psI/AAAAAAAACMI/QGLCaRhCPtA/s1600-h/DSCF0048.JPG" target="_blank"><img style="border-width:0px; float:left; margin:0 10px 10px 0;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand; width:320px; height:240px;" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_pzC_7PLtN-0/SqVtLtQ-psI/AAAAAAAACMI/QGLCaRhCPtA/s320/DSCF0048.JPG" border="0" alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5378825377860724418" /></a>
<br clear=left />
<a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_pzC_7PLtN-0/SqVtLM37lKI/AAAAAAAACMA/db5mR8RGXw8/s1600-h/DSCF0018.JPG" target="_blank"><img style="border-width:0px; float:left; margin:0 10px 10px 0;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand; width:320px; height:240px;" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_pzC_7PLtN-0/SqVtLM37lKI/AAAAAAAACMA/db5mR8RGXw8/s320/DSCF0018.JPG" border="0" alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5378825369165730978" /></a>
<br clear=left />


Besides the size problem - those pictures will not fit next to each other, given the space in most browser windows - there is another reason why you do not see them side by side.
<br clear=left />


So, make the pictures smaller, remove the break between the two pictures, and what do you get?





<a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_pzC_7PLtN-0/SqVtLtQ-psI/AAAAAAAACMI/QGLCaRhCPtA/s1600-h/DSCF0048.JPG" target="_blank"><img style="border-width:0px; float:left; margin:0 10px 10px 0;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand; width:160px; height:120px;" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_pzC_7PLtN-0/SqVtLtQ-psI/AAAAAAAACMI/QGLCaRhCPtA/s320/DSCF0048.JPG" border="0" alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5378825377860724418" /></a><a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_pzC_7PLtN-0/SqVtLM37lKI/AAAAAAAACMA/db5mR8RGXw8/s1600-h/DSCF0018.JPG" target="_blank"><img style="border-width:0px; float:left; margin:0 10px 10px 0;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand; width:160px; height:120px;" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_pzC_7PLtN-0/SqVtLM37lKI/AAAAAAAACMA/db5mR8RGXw8/s320/DSCF0018.JPG" border="0" alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5378825369165730978" /></a>
<br clear=left />


Or even smaller, if you want to put half a dozen pictures there.





<a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_pzC_7PLtN-0/SqVtLtQ-psI/AAAAAAAACMI/QGLCaRhCPtA/s1600-h/DSCF0048.JPG" target="_blank"><img style="border-width:0px; float:left; margin:0 10px 10px 0;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand; width:80px; height:60px;" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_pzC_7PLtN-0/SqVtLtQ-psI/AAAAAAAACMI/QGLCaRhCPtA/s320/DSCF0048.JPG" border="0" alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5378825377860724418" /></a><a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_pzC_7PLtN-0/SqVtLM37lKI/AAAAAAAACMA/db5mR8RGXw8/s1600-h/DSCF0018.JPG" target="_blank"><img style="border-width:0px; float:left; margin:0 10px 10px 0;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand; width:80px; height:60px;" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_pzC_7PLtN-0/SqVtLM37lKI/AAAAAAAACMA/db5mR8RGXw8/s320/DSCF0018.JPG" border="0" alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5378825369165730978" /></a>
<br clear=left />

This is a fluid template. If you make the browser window narrow, the post column will become narrow. See what happens if you make the post column too narrow to show both pictures side by side - grab the size of the browser window, and move it inward.

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Saturday, September 05, 2009

Posting At High Rates Results In Restrictions

For a long time, blog owners who would frequently publish many posts in one day would report the anguish of having to solve a CAPTCHA.
  • Blogger Help Why do I have word verification on my posting form? explains the necessity, and the limitation.
    This restriction is in place as much to control the load on our servers as to prevent explicit spam. Therefore, there is not a whitelisting review process to exempt individual blogs.
  • The Search Engines, And Web Sites With Dual Addresses

    I've written separately about a problem that the search engines might have with possibly duplicated content. If you're not careful, and Blogger wasn't looking out for your interests, your blog (web site) could get a duplicated content penalty from the search engines, for your possible use of label searches to index your blog. Yet, there may be another way for your blog to get a duplicated content penalty from the search engines.

    Your blog, as published by Blogger, comes with 2 aliases - "yourblog.blogspot.com" and "www.yourblog.blogspot.com", or maybe "yourdomain.com" and "www.yourdomain.com". If not managed properly, these aliases may cause the search engines to see duplicated content.

    To properly manage this dual personality, you use the Google Webmaster Tools "Preferred domain" wizard. For a properly verified website, go to "Site configuration", then to "Settings".

    Under "Preferred domain" for a BlogSpot published blog, you have 3 choices
    1. Don't set a preferred domain
    2. Display URLs as www.yourblog.blogspot.com
    3. Display URLs as yourblog.blogspot.com


    Similarly, Under "Preferred domain" for a custom domain published blog, you have 3 choices
    1. Don't set a preferred domain
    2. Display URLs as www.yourdomain.com
    3. Display URLs as yourdomain.com


    Further explanation is provided, behind the "Learn mode" link.
    The preferred domain is the one that you would like used to index your site's pages. If you specify your preferred domain as http://www.example.com and we find a link to your site that is formatted as http://example.com , we'll treat that link as if it was http://www.example.com . In addition, we'll take your preference into account when displaying URLs in our search results. It may take some time for changes to be reflected in our index.
    Learn more about setting a preferred domain

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    Post Editor Problems, In The Singapore Region, Continue

    Now into its second month, we are getting reports of improperly loading post editor sessions, from bloggers in Singapore.
    My edit/newpost page is screwed up, with buttons everywhere, and the button for posting pictures and videos's missing too ... I'm a Singapore user using SingNet.


    This problem, apparently being related to your Internet service, can't be seen by Blogger, or by anybody but you (and your neighbours). If you don't report your problem, don't expect for it to go away. And possibly, you should be reporting the problem to your ISP too. And please, when reporting the problem at this end (either in Blogger Help Forum, or comments here), state explicitly whether you are in Singapore or the vicinity, and whether your ISP is SingNet (and neither implies the other, so answer both please).

    Be part of The Solution, not of The Problem! First, check to ensure that you have selected the correct version of the post editor. Then, proceed to my private forum, The N Zone, where we may try to work on this problem ourselves.

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    Friday, September 04, 2009

    Identifying Your Local DNS Server

    DNS, which lets you translate a host name or URL into an IP address, is a key process in Internet use. One of the first questions that you need to ask yourself, when you have an Internet problem that may involve DNS, is
    What DNS servers are you using?
    and many times, this question can be answered by direct observation of the IP configuration of your computer.

    If your computer runs Windows XP, or one of its direct peers (Windows 2000, Windows Vista, Windows 7), open a command window, and type
    ipconfig /all
    Here's an example of what I would see, from my computer.

    Windows IP Configuration
    Host Name . . . . . . . . . . . . : PChuck1
    Primary Dns Suffix . . . . . . . :
    Node Type . . . . . . . . . . . . : Broadcast
    IP Routing Enabled. . . . . . . . : No
    WINS Proxy Enabled. . . . . . . . : No
    DNS Suffix Search List. . . . . . : pchuck.net
    Ethernet adapter Local Area Connection:
    Connection-specific DNS Suffix . :
    Description . . . . . . . . . . . : 3Com EtherLink XL 10/100 PCI For Complete PC Management NIC (3C905C-TX)
    Physical Address. . . . . . . . . : 00-04-76-D7-C5-6A
    Dhcp Enabled. . . . . . . . . . . : Yes
    Autoconfiguration Enabled . . . . : Yes
    IP Address. . . . . . . . . . . . : 192.168.1.50
    Subnet Mask . . . . . . . . . . . : 255.255.255.0
    Default Gateway . . . . . . . . . : 192.168.1.1
    DHCP Server . . . . . . . . . . . : 192.168.1.1
    DNS Servers . . . . . . . . . . . : 192.168.1.11
    192.168.1.33
    Lease Obtained. . . . . . . . . . : Wednesday, April 16, 2003 11:19:12
    Lease Expires . . . . . . . . . . : Wednesday, April 23, 2003 11:19:12

    In this example, DNS on my computer is provided by "192.168.1.11" and "192.168.1.33". What you see on your IPConfig log will probably be different, and may be a key clue in diagnosing the problem which you are experiencing.

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    You Own Your Blog Anonymously

    When you open a demand deposit account at the local financial institution of your choice, you are subject to formalities. You have to provide proof of identity, using a legally recognised identification document, such as a drivers license or passport. And, you have to fill out a form, which is sent to the treasury agency of your national government. This provides your government access to your funds, hopefully under closely regulated circumstances.

    When you open an account with Google, to allow you to own and operate a Blogger blog, you are subject to no such formalities. You provide simply the name of a current Google account, or you setup a new Google account. The only thing required here is that you provide a unique and valid account name. No verification of your personal identity is ever required.

    Since no verification of your identity is involved, you can own and operate your Blogger blog, anonymously. You can say what you want, on your Blogger blog (within restrictions imposed by Blogger and Google Terms Of Service), without fear of being identified, or of having your blog seized by any economic, political, or religious authority.

    If you want to increase your anonymity, you can have multiple blind protection, using a chain of email addresses as secondaries for each other. Since email addresses don't require government issued identification, you're even safer.

    With anonymous ownership comes responsibility. You have to maintain access to your blog, without requiring additional assistance from Blogger.

    If Blogger / Google is to reliably protect you, and protect your Blogger blog, against covert or overt impersonation or seizure of control, by a third party such as a jealous boyfriend / girlfriend or an offended government agency, they have to monolithically require that you prove ownership, when requesting assistance. If you can't prove ownership, by identifying yourself using either your account name / password, or the email address PLUS have access to the email address, you can't have access to your blog.

    But in this case, there may be a way around the stalemate.

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    Thursday, September 03, 2009

    Mail-To-Blogger And The Unchangeable Email Address

    One query, implying much perplexed curiosity, that we see occasionally in Blogger Help Forum, is about Mail-To-Blogger (aka "Mail2Blogger").
    How do I change the Mail-to-Blogger email address prefix?

    The New Post Editor And Spell Checking

    Now that the new post editor is available in Production (Orange) Blogger, a few bloggers have already noticed a significant deficiency
    Where is my spellchecker?
    as if use of a spellchecker is essential to their blogging activities.

    It's possible that including a spell checker in post editor isn't a good strategic move for Blogger, in the long term.
    • Blogger / Google is international, and multi-lingual. Every different culture, and language, has its own unique spelling and grammar.
    • Even with single languages, blogging subjects require an almost infinite combination of individually permitted (designated "good" spelling), and individually prohibited (designated "bad" spelling) phrases and words. Every different blogger is unique, and likely has unique requirements.
    • Many browsers, and other third party products, include spell checking, that's configurable to the needs of the individual users (of which blogging would be a small part only).


    So, instead of complaining about the lack of a spell checker, maybe we can start using third party solutions - at least, until Blogger develops an enhancement. Both Chrome and Firefox include a spell checker - and one which, to my eye, is more configurable than the Blogger spell checker. For Internet Explorer, a few bloggers use IESpell, which is, as many third party products, free for personal use.

    An alternative possibility would be to return to using the old post editor. Hopefully, until the new post editor has been fully populated with features, the old post editor will continue to be available.

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    Wednesday, September 02, 2009

    The New Post Editor Is Here

    Apparently as part of its 10 year anniversary celebration, Blogger has quietly released the (previously) Draft Post Editor into Production (Orange) Blogger.

    If you look at Global Settings under Settings - Basic, you'll see the (former) setting for "Compose Mode" now replaced by "Select post editor". Here, you can select "Updated editor", or view an overview. Or, you can leave "Old editor" (Compose mode enabled), or "Hide compose mode", selected - depending upon your current setting.

    Selecting "Updated editor" gives you the former Draft Blogger equivalent of Post Editor, now available for all Blogger blogs in Production Blogger.

    There are interesting changes in "Post Options".
    • No "Backlinks" options.
    • Real scheduled post settings ("Post date and time").
    • Edit HTML ("Convert line breaks" per post) settings.
    • Display HTML settings.


    And two major omissions.

    And now, there's the option to create true static pages for the blog.

    And as the new post editor becomes more commonly used, new features and old will cause new problems.
    • The New Post Editor implementation of "Read More".


    If you require Spell Check and / or Video Upload, restore the old post editor.
    • Go to Settings - Basic - "Global Settings".
    • Select "Old editor" (Don't select "Hide compose mode").
    • Remember to hit "Save Settings".


    And, by the way, note the term "Global Settings". If you make this change under one of your blogs, this will be the setting for all of your blogs. Also, if you just accepted membership in another blog, check your post editor setting.

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    Tuesday, September 01, 2009

    Know The People Who View Your Blog - Followers, Readers, Subscribers

    If you publish a blog, and you don't just publish for your own viewing, you publish for other people to view it.

    If your blog has a limited audience, we call it a private blog. You know who enjoys your private blog - and reading your private blog, through the browser, is the only way that people may view it.

    If your blog is public, some folks may Follow, while others may subscribe to, your blog, besides those who actually read your blog.

    "Following", "reading", and "subscribing" are not the same. Each relationship may involve a different medium used when viewing, a different traffic pattern, different rewards for you, and may be measured in a different way. If you're at all curious about who your visitors are, you need to know this.