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Showing posts from April, 2010

Static Pages, And A Custom Pages Index - Part 2

There are always details to deal with, and the "Linklist as Pages Index" solution, to provide a "Pages" gadget that indexes non pages, is no exception. As pointed out to me this morning, a "LinkList" gadget, when simply substituted for the "PageList" gadget, doesn't have the right stuff to make the selected tab light up, when the requested page is being displayed. The lit up tab makes the Tabs gadget seem so user friendly, and some folks like that little detail.

Static Pages, And A Custom Pages Index

Ever since static pages were released by Blogger, bloggers have been asking how to index non static pages in a static pages (aka "tabs") index. Questions like
How do I publish a label page with my static pages?and
How do I link to another blog, in my Pages gadget?andHow do I publish posts in pages?are asked, fairly regularly.

Blogger Provides Blog Access Using Two Factor Authentication

Many bloggers are confused about how to protect their blogs, both from unauthorised administrative access, and unauthorised viewing. An example of the confusion is the occasional questionHow do I set a password in my blog, to prevent unwanted viewers?and the correct answer here is simple.You can't set a password. Blogger uses two factor authentication, to protect your blog.
If you own a house or a car, you may occasionally wish to provide guest access to your house or car. Maybe you have an extra key, which you lend to your guests, so they may use your house or car at their convenience. If you've done this, you may observe inconveniences caused by availability of a shared key.A key may be lost, necessitating re keying of the locks, and distribution of a new key to all who have access.You may not wish for your guests to have access to the entire house or car, at all times.You may not wish for your guests to have access to the entire house or car, permanently.Your guests may…

Retaining Page Rank, And Traffic, During the FTP Migration

As May 1 fast approaches, there are still a few FTP bloggers waiting to make the plunge, who askWhat happens to my page rank, when I migrate?andHow do I retain my traffic, if I move to a new URL?and these are not very simple questions to answer.

The best result will be achieved by migrating to the same URL structure, under the custom domain.If you can migrate from your external, FTP published server, to an absolutely identical URL - for all posts - in a Google custom domain, then you can retain page rank, and traffic.If your URL changes, even slightly, then your page rank starts over at 0, because the content has to be re indexed under the new URL. Now, you ask whether the traffic can be automatically redirected, from the old URL to the new URL.If the URL changes, but the traffic can be redirected properly, then you can retain your traffic, and your page rank - though starting at 0 - will build up faster than it did when the blog was started. You'll see moderate total drop of se…

Our Ability To Blog Anonymously Is Confirmed

In a recent statement in Blogger Help Forum: How Do I?, Blogger has confirmed our right to publish our blogs anonymously.Our policies aren't pro-stalker, they are pro-respecting the privacy of user information. We simply can not release information without due process.

Since this is a legal issue, you'll have to follow appropriate legal channels. Sorry we don't have an easier answer at this point, but I hope you can understand where we are coming from in terms of the importance of respecting privacy.

Adding A Gadget Above Or Below The Posts Gadget

Almost every blogger is used to adding gadgets of various types, using the "Page Elements" wizard, to the header, the sidebar, and / or the footer of their blog. If you can't do that, you just aren't enjoying Layout Templates, to their fullest.

Where Is The Template Designer Wizard?

The new Designer Templates were released over a month ago, and still not everybody knows how to access them. Almost daily, we see the plaintive query
Where in my Blogger settings can I access the new Blogger template designer?and to be sure, it seemed, at one time, a bit tricky.

(Update 2010/06/10): The Template Designer is now a production Blogger feature.
The Template Designer is now part of Production (Orange) Blogger, and is accessible from the dashboard "Template" page - or the navbar "Design" link.



If you click on "Design" from the navbar, you get the "Template" page, where you find the "Customize" button.

There it is - "Template Designer".



Just login to Blogger, click on "Template", and hit the "Customize" button.

You can't miss it.

Blog Ownership - Possession Is The Law

Long ago, Blogger blogs had a very simple membership permissions policy.

Each blog had an owner, and members. The owner was the administrator of the blog, and ownership could not be transferred.

This simple policy was a problem, because some blog owners would eventually lose interest in a blog, and want to cede ownership to someone else. In other cases, people were known to die suddenly, leaving blogs with no live owners. In both cases, Blogger Support would become involved, and would manually transfer ownership.

Later, Blogger developed the Permissions wizard, and added a class of member called "Administrator". The original publisher of a blog becomes the first administrator, who may, at his / her discretion, designate additional administrators.

Blogger Commenting, And Social Networking Relationships

Every week, we see the anguishHow do I get user xxxxx blocked from commenting on my blog?because many people enjoy FaceBook and Twitter, where there is no spam, and no unwanted comments. They think that Blogger comments should be controlled, as social networking like FaceBook and Twitter are controlled.

With FaceBook, each person controls their own Wall, and their own neighbourhood. With Twitter, each person decides exactly who they wish to Follow, and sees tweets from only those folks that they follow. Neither FaceBook or Twitter encourages you to open up your neighbourhood to the world; both allow you to establish each contact, one by one, at your discretion.

With Blogger commenting, you are encouraged to allow anybody - or anybody with a required level of authentication - to comment on your blog. This encourages freedom of speech, and extends your neighbourhood far beyond the walls that you setup with FaceBook and Twitter. Some commenters, and other readers of your blogs, may …

The Template Designer Uses Cascaded Code

CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets - and the new Designer Templates use CSS to full advantage.

The new Layout templates, with the GUI "Fonts and Colors" and "Page Elements" wizards eliminated the need to edit template HTML to change fonts or colors of many template objects, or to add or move objects around the screen. The Template Designer goes even further, in GUI wizardry.

Blogger Blogs, And "Make Money Fast And Easy"

Blogger One Button Publishing is a platform for publishing personal web sites, using an intuitive GUI process.

You publish content that's personal to you, and your readers (possibly using alternative techniques like Following and subscribing) read your personal web site because of the content that's personal to you.

If you have advertising on your web site, and you are paid to host the advertising, the ads are financed by the companies that sell the merchandise featured in the ads. And your readers are the targets of the ads, so they hopefully will buy the merchandise.

The money flows from your readers, to the sellers of the merchandise, to the advertisers who publish the ads, to you who host the ads on your blog. Your readers learn about the merchandise through your efforts, and you are paid because of that.

That's organic advertising and merchandising. You make money from publishing content, that draws readers, who read your content, and click on the ads. The advert…

FTP Publishing - The Full Story

I've been writing about Custom Domain Publishing, and about FTP Publishing, and the relative advantages and differences, for several years now.

In August 2007, I went out on a limb (for me, anyway) and I suggested thatFrom an economic and support viewpoint, it makes more sense for Blogger to concentrate its attention on Custom Domain publishing, where they control everything but the domain directory process, and can eliminate the uncertainty of supporting communications with hundreds of third party servers, complicated by geographical and network distance issues.
Blogger, in FTP vs. Custom Domains, last year, provided their view of why custom domain publishing has more future.As I've dug in over the last few weeks on issues relating to FTP, as often as not the problems were not Blogger-related but were a byproduct of a webhost implementing stricter security on FTP logins (only whitelisting certain IP addresses, for instance, or throttling access for certain users). These are not…

Making Jump Break Work For Blogs With Older Templates

The new Blogger solution for auto summarised posts, also known as "Read More" or "Jump Break", is becoming increasingly popular in Blogger blogs, for several reasons.Auto Pagination resulted in display segmentation, caused by the perceived need to publish hundreds of posts on the main page.Desire to display a dynamic index of posts as the main page.Desire to simply make the main page and / or archive retrieval displays smaller.
The "Jump Break" feature itself is reasonably easy to use, when you are using the New Post Editor, and with blogs that use a template released after Jump Break was released - apparently in September 2009. If your blog was created before then, you may need to add a critical bit of code to the post template.

Putting A Post At The Top (A "Welcome" Post) - Part 2

Many people have asked how they can have a Welcome or Index message in their blog.

I have a Welcome message, at the top of Nitecruzr Buzz, or on this blog, for instance.

This blog uses a text gadget, positioned above the post gadget, which leaves a gadget that shows up on every page. On Nitecruzr Buzz, I used a future dated post, so my "Welcome" showed up only on the "Home" page. Neither solution was optimal.A true "Welcome" message should show up only on the "Home" (first) page. A text gadget shows up on every page.A future dated post shows up only on the "Home" page, but it shows up in the Archive index with a future date.

Private Blogs And Your Visitor Log

There are known limitations, to the effectiveness of making a blog private.

The problem of access latency, where a blog made private won't block everybody immediately, is one. Another is the possibility of co workers of a legitimately designated reader being able to read a private blog, on an office network that uses a caching proxy server. But there are other perceived problems with private blogs, that don't actually exist.

One perceived problem is seen when examining the visitor log for a private blog. Some one without access permission, loading a private blog, will load the "Private Blog" interstitial warning on top of the requested page. The visitor log will show the page in question being loaded. But look closer - do you see any other pages being loaded?

A log from StatCounter is perfect for this task. For any visitor to your blog, you can see a record of each link clicked during the visit. For an uninvited visitor to a private blog, you'll likely see on…

Blog Feeds Hijacked By "Net-Temps Job Search Feed"

A few bloggers, recently, are trying to add a Feed gadget to one of their blogs, and as they do so, the "Configure Feed" wizard shows a mythical "Net-Temps Job Search Feed". This typically happens when the feed in question has not been activated.

If you're seeing the "Net-Temps Job Search Feed" when trying to "Configure Feed", you'll findThe Save button will be non responsive. You can't publish a Feed gadget configured for a non existent feed.As soon as you correct the problemActivate the feed for your blog (when the feed is for your blog).Hit "Change Feed URL" from the "Configure Feed" display with "Net-Temps Job Search Feed" displayed.Hit "Continue".you'll see the feed for your blog in the "Configure Feed" gadget window. And, you'll be able to publish the new Feed gadget.

Before you can do step #2, though, you may experience a small amount of panicOMG, my blog has been hi…

Classic (HTML) Templates Get A New Lease On Life

As a result from a few (justified) complaints about Auto Pagination and its effects on blogs with classic (HTML) templates, Blogger has released an enhancement which will make classic templates, in general, more usable.

In Creating pagination links on Classic Templates, we see two new options for classic templates.If you are using Classic Templates and would like to add pagination links to your blog, there are currently two options for setting this up. Both involve adding a snippet of code to your blog's template, which can be done from the Template | Edit HTML tab.
You even have the ability to customise the link caption, with the phrase of your choice, or even a graphic - as you can see on some of my blogs.
"<$BlogPaginationLinks$>" (for language automatic, "Older / Newer" captioned links)."<$NewerPosts$>" / "<$OlderPosts$>" (for manually labeled custom captions).

Anybody with a blog with a classic template will enjoy using…

The New Designer Templates Have A Downside

The new designer templates have been out, now, for slightly more than a month. And we're seeing some occasional reports about performance issues.The new template downloads slowly!orThe new template scrolls irregularly.or evenIt froze my browser!

Well, these are all real observations, and explainable ones at that.


Here's the "wallpaper" from my Nitecruzr Buzz. This is a full size (1800 x 1200) x 24 bit color photo. As rendered, my photo management program tells me that it uses 6.5M of RAM.


Traditional "wallpaper" would be maybe a 20 x 20 px snippet, at 256 colors (carefully muted), and tiled. Now we have color photos, 1800 x 1200 x 224, that fill the browser window. That will take a few seconds to download, and some power to display.

But, there's more.

The new templates feature the blog content housed in a transparent layer, so you can see the background beneath the content. As you scroll through the blog content, the background is displayed, in it…

Make The Blog Header Non Clickable

Everybody has their own idea how they want their blog.

Not everybody wants the blog title to link back to the main page at all, while some folks would like to have the title link back to the main page even when the main page is displayed.

The default Blogger code enables a link in the blog header, when anything but the first segment of the main page (aka "home" page) is displayed. Some people would like the link completely disabled, on all segments. Others would like the link enabled, on all segments.

Some folks don't like the way the title changes colour - in many blogs, the "links" (unvisited links) and "visited links" have colours that stand out from the text. Look below - see the purple and blue text? Those are links. If you don't like the title to colour itself, you remove the links - or replace the title with a picture - as I have done above.

In most of my blogs, I could do without the clickable title, completely, as I have my Menu B…

FTP Publishing - The Migration Is In Progress

If you're currently publishing a blog externally, using FTP, you've probably seen the handwriting on the wall - or maybe, on your dashboard.FTP publishing will no longer be available after May 1, 2010
You currently have blogs that are published using FTP. You must migrate your blogs to a new custom domain URL or a blogspot URL. To learn more, see our dedicated blog and help documentation.

Start migration now

So, get started. Read the Blogger FTP Info. If you have any problems before, during, or after the migration, add them to the FTP Migration Issues Tracker database, so your problems can be properly diagnosed and resolved.

Remember, as I've said before, if you have a problem, and you don't report the problem, then you become part of the problem. So, report the problem, if you have a problem.

When you migrate, you have several possibilities for the new URL which will be progressively more complex, yet be offset by a varying effect upon page rank, search engine reput…

Dissecting The Great Firewall Of China

China has always been a subject of legend and mystery, in "Western" (non Asian) culture. Recently, one unique Chinese artifact - the Great Firewall Of China - has become a subject of legend and mystery too. For both bloggers (publishers of both Blogger and other blogs - and of various web sites) and bloggees (readers of both Blogger and other blogs - and of various web sites), and for people inside China and outside, the GFWC is the subject of discussion in both techie and non techie blogs, forums, and web sites.

People inside China wonderWhy can't I see my Blogger blog?and people outside China wonderWhy can't my readers, inside China, see my blog?And those are the simple questions.

People inside China, more realistically (and echoing some of the questions seen occasionally in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken) askWhy can't I see all of my Blogger blogs?orWhy can I see my Blogger blogs, but not my neighbours Blogger blogs (my FaceBook page, my Tweets, ...)?…

Moles, Spies, Spammers, And Turkeys

In 1977, the late Charles Bronson - better known for his vigilante justice "Death Wish" movies - starred in a movie that capitalised on US paranoia about American - Soviet Russia relations. Set at the height of the Cold War era, the plot of Telefon featured 51 human time bombs - all ordinary Americans. Each had been hypnotised to perform as Soviet spies, when a specially coded telephone call was received, with each tasked to sabotage some specific portion of the American infrastructure.

None of the 51 human time bombs had any conscious awareness of their intended roles. Each thought of her or him self as an ordinary American, and lived that way - until a phone call from an evil renegade Soviet agent triggered their personal hypnotic suggestion.The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, but I have promises to keep. And miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep. Remember. Miles to go before I sleep.
In the action adventure genre of fiction (aka "spy movie&q…

Private Blogs And Designated Readers

Last year, in Private Blogs And Commenting Policy, I documented a private blog conundrum.

I had discovered the oddity that designated readers in a private blog are unable to publish comments, when commenting is authenticated as "Only members of this blog".

At the time, I merely suspected a design oversight on the part of Blogger engineers, in deciding that designated readers to a private blog were not afforded the courtesy of being allowed to comment.

Republishing A Custom Domain Blog

Sometimes, when you are publishing a blog to a custom domain, you'll have a problem with the settings. Some settings problems can only be solved by repeating the publishing process. But you can't repeat the process - once a blog is published to a URL, you can't just publish again, to the domain URL.

In some cases, you have to publish the blog back to BlogSpot, then re publish to the domain. In other cases, you have to return the blog to a BlogSpot publishing, so you can solve some problems now - and return to the domain publishing, at some unknown time in the future.

This is all done from the Settings - Publishing wizard, which you access from the Blogger dashboard - and it's as easy as 1 - 2 - 3 - 4.Always start by getting a new ownership verification token, and adding it to the domain DNS address list. Pay careful attention to DNS address entry conventions! If you are instructed to add a "CNAME", you do have to add a "CNAME" - regardless of o…

Blog Membership Changes Won't Have Immediate Effect

We see these horror tales, occasionally.I made my blog private, and only invited a few friends. The next day, I checked my visitor logs, and saw evidence of people that I did not invite, still viewing the blog.orMy friend was a second administrator of my blog. I decided that I did not want him administering the blog, so I removed him from Permissions. To my dismay, the following day, he was still able to make changes.

With Blogger, membership / permission for any blog is checked only when someone initially accesses a blog. Ability to access a private blog, or to administer or post to any blog, is provided in a cookie based token. If someone does not clear cookies, or close the browser after clearing cache, access to the blog will continue, until the cookie expires. If someone tries to access the blog, and he has a cookie permitting him to do so, he will continue to get access - even if the access is revoked.

So once again, I urge you to grant access to your blog with care and disc…

Blog Hangs "loading from google-analytics.com" / Redirects To "google-analytics.com"

A few bloggers are reporting that their blog hangs with the message "loading from google-analytics.com" or redirects to "google-analytics.com". This is a low volume problem (maybe 1 or 2 reported / day, during the past week or so), but it seems to be consistent. We simply don't have a lot of details.

We've setup a rollup question in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, and ask that you provide what you can, here or there.What is the URL of the blog, that's loading / redirecting?What are you doing when you see the message - logging in to your Blogger account, or loading your blog?Is your Blogger account based on GMail, or non GMail?Does your blog have any third party gadgets, loaded using "Add a gadget" in "Page Elements"?Can you please provide the complete and exact error message, and describe precisely where, in the display, you see the error message?Provide what details that you can, so we can try to get an affinity.

>> …

Recovering Your Account Information

Blogger promises us that our blogs will be ours, forever, and that we are free to publish our blogs in privacy, if we so desire.

They do this by protecting our Blogger accounts behind Two Factor Authentication. Both the name of our Blogger account, and the password used, are our secret to keep.

Since both the account name and the password are secrets, you can't just write to Blogger Support one day and sayI forgot my account name - can you tell me what it is? When you setup a Blogger account, you provide an email address, which will be used for recovering forgotten account names and passwords.

Use The Post Feed Redirect URL, When You Rename Your Blog

When we rename a blog, we use the Post Feed Redirect URL to redirect all feed references, from the old URL to the new feed URL.

When we setup a custom feed for a blog, maybe using FeedBurner, we use the Post Feed Redirect URL to redirect all feed references, from the blog, to the FeedBurner feed. That lets us use a FeedBurner feed without having to change all of the feed links in the blog.

Besides using the Post Feed Redirect URL to setup a FeedBurner feed, you can use the Post Feed Redirect URL when you re publish the blog to a new BlogSpot URL.

The DMCA Violation Form May Have A Just Use, After All

The MPAA / RIAA stranglehold, in the USA, on the electronic consumer, may have reached a peak with their ability to coerce the US Congress to pass the DMCA. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, thought by some to be the most noxious bit of legislation since the British Tea Act of 1773, may have a valid use, though.

It's possible that the DMCA Violation Form, which Blogger / Google provides, may be useful in reporting content that's been pirated, personally, from you. If you believe that your pictures, and / or articles, are being unjustly copied within Blogger / Google hosting space, you may get some relief from reporting this as a DMCA Violation.

Note, however, that a DMCA Violation report is a serious complaint, and can have repercussions both upon the source and target of the complaint.Please note that you will be liable for damages (including costs and attorneys' fees) if you materially misrepresent that a product or activity is infringing your copyrights. Ind…

Spam Review Escalation Depends Upon Action By The Blog Owner

During the past couple of weeks, we have noted a significant increase in the volume ofUnlock my blog, it is not spam!problem reports, with a large proportion being judged false positives after review. Unfortunately, the false positives can only be identified after the blog owners reportI submitted the review request, and the appeal, and I waited the required 2 business days. Now what?and we have seen a few of those this week. We have also seen a few more odd reportsThe 2 business days ended several days ago! I am tired of waiting for you to do something about this! Why haven't you done something about this?and here, we have to point out that you (or the blog owner) are the key player in the next step - that is, requesting the escalation to Blogger.

If we reply to youSince Blogger gets 2 business days to process restores requested and appealed, we'll give them until Friday to act directly from your requests. If they have not acted by then (which seems to be the case in may…