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Showing posts from November, 2009

How To Not Get The BlogSpot URL Of Your Choice

The controversy continues, in that many bloggers cannot think of a URL for their blog, other than ones that are already taken.

Some are so desperate that they think of imaginative but Pyrrhic solutions.Solution here would be a way to report this as a kind of abuse (Yes I know it's not really abuse in any form) or otherwise get in contact with the owner. And I don't mean hunting down the contact information from the web as it practically newer works. I mean there should be an option "I would like to contact the owner of this blog" or something similar.Here we see two alternatives, neither with any future.

Following And Private Blogs

A frequently seen sign of confusion, in Blogger Help Forum, is the connection between Following and Private blogs (blogs designated "Only people I choose").If I make my blog private, will people still be able to follow my blog?Like many Blogger Help Forum questions, this one suffers from a significant amount of ambiguity.

There are several details, relevant to the above question.Classically, people were said to "follow" a blog when they would periodically view it online, and / or view its contents using a newsfeed reader. People designated as Readers will be able to view a blog in the browser, though new posts won't be visible in a newsfeed reader.Blogger recently developed the Following program, to involveUse of the newsfeed, automatically added to a Dashboard Followers Reading List, and Google Reader.For blogs displaying the Followers accessory gadget, the ability to, temporarily, have ones icon displayed in the Followers gadget.For blogs displaying the Follo…

Gobble, Gobble

Today, in the USA, we celebrate the national holiday of "Thanksgiving". Many people call it "Turkey Day" because the traditional cooking for the holiday meal is centered around roast turkey. The words "gobble, gobble" have two meanings.Turkeys are attributed as making that sound, such as the cat makes "meow", and the dog "bow wow".Celebrants of the holiday eat a lot of food, also popularly expressed as "gobbling".
So, we have a "double entendre", that is, still, relevant.

Make A Static Page For Your Blog

A static page is one of the simplest accessories that you can add to your blog. It's simply a post that has been archived, and will never display in main page view.

It's astonishingly simple to make a static page.Publish enough non static posts, to populate your main page. If you're simply making a web site, set main page size to 1 post, and publish one post.Publish additional posts, and back date additional posts before the oldest non static post.The additional posts, back dated, become static pages.Wasn't that simple?

(Update 2010/01): As a belated Christmas present, Blogger now provides us, as a new post editor option, with the ability to create true static pages for our blogs.

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The New "Next Blog" Link - What Next?

Up until last week, I would advise folks looking for traffic to their blogs that they should publish, publish, publish.Besides friends and family, your initial readers will come through the "Next Blog" link, randomly. You get more "Next Blog" traffic from posting more, less from posting less. And, you'll need this initial traffic.Last week, with the new "Next Blog" link, all of that changed. Now, people hitting "Next Blog" get another blog, but with 2 major differences from the possibility last week.The "next blog" linked to will be chosen for similar content / subject, and same language, as the blog being displayed currently.The "next blog" linked to will not be chosen relevant to updating activity. You're just as likely to get a blog published to 5 years ago, as 5 minutes ago.

This gives us two concerns, which we did not have earlier.Finding other blogs of random subject and recent updates won't be as simple …

Choose Your Text Colour And Background, Carefully

If I publish a blog in which I concentrate on content and information, I want to make the content and information easy (yet inviting) to read.

This blog, The Real Blogger Status, is marginally easy to read - and looked boring - before I upgraded to a Designer template, which has a more complex background. Then, I added my floating background, to make the text easier to read.

If I wanted something stylish, I might have chosen a template with a black background, such as in my Tech World blog. White on black is very elegant looking, yet reasonably easy to read.

Make A Team Blog And Keep The Members Separate

Occasionally, we see a confused queryHow do I allow access to my blog, and keep my GMail account private to me?orHow do I have my friends using my blog, and each person use their own name in publishing posts?These are people who do not understand the concept of team blogs.

Team blogs use a separate Blogger / Google account for each member, they do not require everybody to share one Blogger / Google account. You add each team member as an Author, in Settings - Permissions. When you do this, note two cogent details.Each blog is limited to 100 Members (Authors + Administrators + Owners), in total.You can invite members, using the email address that you know. People can accept membership using what email adddress (Google account) they wish. People may be able to accept multiple member entries, which may affect the 99 author limit.If either of those two details are a problem to you, perhaps you should look at Content Management Systems. A CMS may give you more control over access to y…

Coyotes, Hyenas, And Turkeys

The 1978 cinema classic "Animal House", which starred the late, great John Belushi as John Blutarsky, was a comedy about American 1960s college life. It was described by one reviewer asthe best college comedy ever made. Nothing has ever come close to comedic perfection, and never will again.It focused on one fictional fraternity, Delta House, the rejects of the campus fraternity system at the college.

The members of Delta house included screaming nuisances (coyotes), troglodytes and trolls (hyenas), and hapless morons (turkeys). Many inhabitants of Delta House, many years later, can be found as bloggers, posting in Blogger Help Forum.

Coyotes are individuals who, unhappy with the way they are treated by Blogger, convince the general public (their reader population) to conduct a Distributed Denial Of Service attack against the forum. The owners of their namesake blog, The Daily Coyote, conducted a DDOS in April 2008, when it was locked as a suspected spam blog.

Hyenas are ind…

Waiting For The Tap On The Shoulder, Part 2

In my musings last month about spam blogs, and people victimised by spam blogs, I analogised the legendary college secret societies, and the impersonal and rude treatment of the unfortunates who did not get initiated.eventually, those who don't get elected will open their eyes, remove the blindfold, and find herself / himself in a pitiful group of rejects, all waiting (hopelessly) for that tap. The tap that never comes.

The New "Next Blog" Link - What Now?

Long ago, I observed that getting readers for your blog started with publishing posts. Thanks to the "Next Blog" link in the navbar, as you published posts, you'd get readers who randomly surfed to your blog. As you got more readers from random access, some readers would become return readers, which would encourage you to publish more. Which would bring you more readers. And so on.

That was a great strategy on Bloggers part, for a Blogosphere withRelatively few blogs.No spammers.

Unfortunately, the spammers of the Internet figured that was the perfect way to get readers to their splogs, too. And BlogSpot splog farms were born.

This week, we have The New "Next Blog" link. For any blog with any given subject matter, a reader hitting "Next Blog" gets another blog in the same language, and with the same subject matter.

As noted by several readers of this blog, there's one thing missing now.

"Next Blog" now makes no attempt to look for blogs…

It's Here - The New "Next Blog" Link

Just a couple days ago, I observed that the "Next Blog" link in the navbar was being redesigned. So, it's here. Click on "Next Blog" from above. Now, you'll get other blogs in English, and for this blog, other techie blogs.

No more hacking, porn, or spam blogs, from clicking "Next Blog" - unless the blog that you're currently viewing contains hacking, porn, or spam. Which means no more hacking, porn, or spam from this blog, from clicking "Next Blog" - period.

The end of hacking, porn, and spam in the NextBlogosphere. Bravo, Blogger.

Maybe you'll see a third difference. Now, any randomly accessed other blog may, or may not be, recently updated. This won't please everybody, unfortunately.Before it would often bring me to sites I had no interest in or were not in english, but at least it brought me to recently updated sites. Now when I do it I often get stuck finding a ton of sites all on a single topic, and many of them ha…

Diagnosing Problems With Blog Feeds

Recently, we're seeing an assortment of complaints about blog feeds, either not working at all, or updating slowly. Whether presented in a browser display, in a Following Reading List / Google Reader, or in a bloglist gadget, the accuracy of the feed as displayed can be affected by a few issues.Custom feed redirection.Custom Domain redirection.Classic vs New feed URL, and Blogger vs BlogSpot / domain served feed.Feeds served by third party servers (FTP publishing).Feeds from private blogs (which don't exist).Cached feed content.

Custom Feed Redirection

A custom, redirected feed, redirected through FeedBurner or a similar service, will be affected by problems with the service. When you check out a problem with a redirected feed, it may be helpful to compare the redirected feed content with the non redirected feed content.

Custom Domain Redirection

A feed coming from a blog that's published to a custom domain will be affected by the custom domain DNS issues. Feeds redirecte…

Blogging Anonymously Has A Price

Blogger supports anonymity - both in our ability to maintain and to own a blog anonymously, and our ability to comment on blogs anonymously. But this anonymity comes with a price.I need to contact the owner of "xxxxxxx.blogspot.com", but there is no contact information and the blog is private.orHow do I find out who left an anonymous comment on my blog?orI can't access my blog - I forgot the password and the email address doesn't exist any more.orI deleted my account, and they won't give it back to me!All of these are queries by bloggers who do not understand the price of anonymity.

Multi-Lingual Blogging Requires Language Selections

Occasionally, we see requests from folks who want to publish a blog in non English languages, and don't trust the Google Translator, or translated blogs using a Translator Gadget.

Every different world language has its own peculiarities - character set, font, grammatical constructions, even direction of type will differ from language to language. To support these peculiarities, Blogger has a language selection, for each language which they support. This roughly parallels the ongoing development of the Google Translator.

Coming Soon - The New "Next Blog" Link

I've been writing about the navbar, and the "Next Blog" link, for some time - about its random nature, about its dangers, and recently about its design changes. Soon, we are promised a major functionality change in "Next Blog". Blogger Buzz: Coming up Next... suggests that soon, the link will let us surf to blogs with both language and subject affinity to our blogs.

This is a great idea, and one that's been long overdue. This has been coming, since well before January 2008.

But like all great ideas, one should consider the details.

It will be interesting to see what a blog with a totally unique language / subject pair will link to. Also, how granular will the subject association be? For that matter, how will blog subject be determined? What of blogs with multiple subjects - or of course some blogs with no subject, simply ramblings?

And will this allow folks to intentionally (or un intentionally) surf to porn or spam, if they are currently viewing porn or …

Custom Domains And The Chair To Keyboard Interface

A Google Custom Domain is an elegant solution for alternately addressing a blog with a BlogSpot or a non BlogSpot URL, and having the current search engine value of the BlogSpot URL transferred to the non BlogSpot URL. There is no other DNS based solution for doing all of that, and doing that so elegantly.

It's so simple to setup, too.You start with a righteous DNS configuration.You publish the blog to the primary address.You redirect the secondary address to the primary address.You are done with the setup.

For all of it's simplicity, it has a major flaw in the way it's implemented. This flaw, in Computer Security, I describe as a Chair To Keyboard Interface Fault. A CKI Fault is a frequent factor in computer security problems, and similarly, in custom domain problems.

Yet the bloggers, who generate the faults, are not the sole cause of the faults.

Custom Domains depend upon DNS, and DNS is not a user friendly infrastructure. DNS, or Domain Name System, is buried so de…

I Can't See My Blog - What Should I Do?

This is a very difficult question to answer, because of its almost infinite complexity.There are several different causes.There are more symptoms than the number of causes.There are still more ways that bloggers might report the symptoms that they see.The reports, and the symptoms, will vary in both accuracy, detail, and relevance.Different problems can be fixed only by people with different roles, relevant to the blog.Some problems can be fixed only by the blogger (blog owner).Others can be fixed by the owners of the client computers or their network service providers.Still others can only be fixed by Blogger Support or third party server owners.The epidemiology of the problems will produce different observations.A few problems are occasionally observed by Blogger / Google staff.Some problems will be observed by the blogger.Others may be observed by the bloggers friends / blog readers.A very few problems will be observed by everybody.
The term "blogger" can itself cause con…

Who Are Your Anonymous Followers?

Occasionally, we see queries from bloggers who are unsure what anonymous Followers are.How do I know when someone Follows my blog anonymously?andHow do I block anonymous Followers?

When someone Follows a blog publicly, he / she gets two things:A subscription to the blog newsfeed, in the Following Reading List, and / or in Google Reader.An entry in the Following community for the blog.

When someone Follows a blog anonymously, she / he gets one thing:A subscription to the blog newsfeed, in the Following Reading List, and / or in Google Reader.

If you Block someone from Following your blog, you remove their entry from your Following community. Newsfeed subscriptions, though, are universally open - if a feed is available to anybody, it's available to everybody. Your anonymous Followers, as well as your Blocked Followers, can read your newsfeed - just as any reader who wishes to subscribe, without using Following.

If the blog feed is routed through FeedBurner, anybody subscribing to the …

Is Blogger Free?

Occasionally, in Blogger Help Forum, we get the querulous inquiryIs Blogger free, or must I pay for the service?orWhat upcharges will I have to deal with, after publishing my blog?

To answer the question, I'll sayYes, and no.

Within limits, and excepting for minor details, you can publish a Blogger blog, and maintain it for a very long time, without needing a major credit card.

There are two possible charge items, that I can think of.If you want to publish your blog to BlogSpot, the service is free. Publishing the blog to a non BlogSpot URL will require paying for either Custom Domain publishing, or service from a remote server published using FTP. Both will likely cost you some money, though you will not pay the money to Google.If you publish a blog with photos, and you host the photos using the native post editor upload, you'll be using the Picasa service. Picasa is free, to a limit, then there is an upcharge for additional Picasa storage capacity.

For a free service, there a…

Add The Followers Gadget To The Blog

It's been a bit over 2 months since Following was added as a Blogger feature, and daily we see anxious bloggers askingHow do I get Followers to my blog?as if that is a holy grail of blogging. My first answer is always Write interesting and relevant content for the blog, so people will read the blog, and will want to Follow the blog.But there is yet another detail, that not all bloggers seem to get.

Add a Followers gadget to the blog. Having a Followers gadget, with pictures of other Followers, will attract more Followers than just the "Follow" link in the navbar. The "Follow" link, besides not having pretty pictures, works differently than the Followers gadget.

You're going to get a different class of blog readers using the Followers gadget, than the Follow link. The Followers gadget lets people Follow the blog without signing in to Bloggerusing a different Blogger accountusing a non Google accountThe navbar Follow link requires the reader to be logged …

Blogging Anonymously

We know that Blogger allows us to blog anonymously, by promising to never reveal our identity as a blog owner.

This policy leads to mysterious scenarios, like when someone forgets the account that they used to create a blog, that they do own. And, it leads sometimes to tragic scenarios, like bloggers who don't have access to the back door email account, and can't prove blog ownership.

Even though Blogger allows us to pursue our anonymity, though, that doesn't guarantee absolute anonymity without effort.

Maybe It's Time To Start Over

I've been advising folks about spam problems, and splog detection (both righteous and spurious), for several years.

Sometimes, the advice is about cleaning up the blog, and submitting it for review. Other times, it's about blogs unjustly accused of being spam. Occasionally, it's about a spam blog, that just can't be reviewed again, or maybe a old blog, that you just can't regain control.

Less Traffic To Our Blogs

One of the more active (and frequently controversial) subjects discussed in this blog is getting more traffic to our blogs, also known as getting the blog indexed by the search engines. Not everybody wants their blogs indexed, though.How do I make sure my blog is NOT found by search engines?That question is asked, regularly. And, in truth, there is only one truly effective answer.Don't publish your blog on the Internet.This is similar to the question (and answer)How do I keep my blog private?

Short of absolute effectiveness, the most obvious solution is the two Settings - Basic options. And there are other tweaks which you may find, in Google Webmaster Tools.

And, in the spirit of locking the barn after the horses have been stolen, there is the subject of Removing Your Blog From The Search Engines Caches. Search engine caches, like browser caches, won't clear overnight, if ever.

You'll need to note that the entries in "robots.txt", that result from the two Blogg…

The Attack Of The Clones

One noticeable spam problem became visible in late 2009, thanks to yet another Blogger error.

This left a lot of bloggers (some legitimate and others actually spammers) reporting both confusion and indignationMy blog seems to be locked, but when I fill out the CAPTCHA, I getYour blog is not locked, and does not need review.What do I do, now?
andMy blog is not spam! Honestly, how could Blogger legitimately call my blog spam?
Both of these reports, echoed by dozens of bloggers and spammers, show two sides of the same story.

The New Navbar And The "Follow" Link

The new navbar, with its Follow and Share links, has been out for just over a week. People are starting to use the Follow button, instead of the Followers gadget - which is not necessarily present on every blog. But there are differences between the "Follow" button on the navbar, and the "Followers" gadget that's (sometimes) added to the blogs. These differences are causing some confusion.

The Followers gadget lets you login to Following, under any account, Blogger or not - and separate from the account used to login to the navbar. If you so desire, you can Follow any blog without logging in - You'll add a temporary "shadow" icon to the blog (if you choose to Follow publicly), and you'll add the blog feed to your Reading List and / or Google Reader subscription list.

With the Follow link on the navbar, if you're not logged in (using the "Sign In" link), you'll not see a "Follow" link. Once you do login (which y…

The New Post Editor And Read More

One problem which we seem to see, pretty consistently, in Blogger Help Forum, is where the posts and a sidebar end up in one long column, with one above the other.

Reports likeMy posts have vanished!andMy sidebar (my archives, my Followers, my profile gadget, ...) have dropped to the bottom of the page!are seen a lot in the forum. Generally, it's caused by trying to put too much in one place.

Recently, though, a few bloggers report the dropped sidebar symptom, after they try the new post editor, and the Blogger "Read More" option (called by Blogger, "Jump Break").