Sunday, January 31, 2010

Transferring A Blog From One EMail Account To Another - An Alternate Possibility

I've written about the simple procedure of transferring a blog from one Blogger account to another, and how simple it should be.

Sometimes reality steps in - and the normal transfer procedure won't work.
  • Maybe you don't want your EMail (GMail) address known by the current blog owner.
  • Maybe the two EMail addresses are thoroughly tangled - you invite the second EMail address as a blog member but just don't get the email - even in "Bulk" or "Spam"! What to do?
  • Maybe you opened the invitation email under one account, but were logged in to Blogger using the other account. This can happen if you execute the transfer, using just one browser.

Sometimes, having ignored one or two basic (to me) rules of Blogger account existence, you just can't send a membership invitation to a second Blogger account.

Blogger Accounts, And Changing The Email Address

As I've written in a few places, the name of your Blogger / Google account is based upon the email address that you provide, when you setup the account.

The name of the account can't be changed, and neither can the email address for that account. When you want to manage your blog(s) from an account with a different email address, you must setup a new Blogger account, starting with the Settings - Permissions wizard.

This isn't obvious to everybody.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

You Don't Always Get Everything You Want For Christmas

In the "Western" world, and for the young of heart, there is one very special day of the year, celebrated by (almost) everybody - December 25, aka "Christmas". While this was once (and still is now, for many) a religious holiday of great importance, for many young people it is important as a secular holiday - you get presents. For celebrants of both the religious and the secular versions of Christmas, this is a time of joy.

But, there's a sadness here too. Not everybody that I know always gets everything that they would like to get, even for Christmas. The lack of unlimited funds makes Christmas a time of anguish and depression, for some people.

Some folks, legendarily described as "bad", might traditionally get a lump of coal instead of presents.

In the Blogger world, Christmas comes irregularly and without notice. In a recent Blogger Christmas, we were given a new version of the post editor, with a greatly improved ability to upload and arrange photos. That improvement was eagerly awaited by many bloggers, for a long time.

The latter "present" arrived without an assumed second present, accompanying it. The new post editor lacks a spell checker - and this has been noted, many times. Unfortunately, many bloggers don't appreciate this, and decide that Blogger is intentionally mistreating them.
Bring back the spell checker!!!
is a cry seen regularly, in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken.

Instead of seeing a glass that's half full (finally, improved photo management), the bloggers see it as half empty (no spell checker). They just fail to accept the fact that Blogger can't provide all required changes at the same time.
What did you get?
I got a lump of coal.


Blogger, like The Real Blogger Status, releases changes, progressively. If you got a lump of coal last Christmas, be good this year - and hope for something better next Christmas.

Christmas 2009 came and went, and some folks are paying the bills this month. Christmas 2010 will be here, in another 9 or 10 months.

Christmas never comes soon enough, for kids. It doesn't come any sooner, when you wait for it, with anxiety, either. Spell checker for the new post editor is coming - though it, too, won't come any sooner if we keep asking about it.

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Privacy Has Limitations

If you own a computer, and use it where there are other people - maybe in your home or office - you may setup your computer so certain files can only be read and / or updated by you.

Maybe you decide just you and one other person - or you and a select number of other people - should share access. That's your decision, and one of the features of Windows Networking and similar file sharing protocols is the ability to have and to maintain private files and folders.

Built in to Microsoft Windows, and other network operating systems (aka "NOS"), is the process of "authentication" and "authorisation" - that is, "Who are you?" and "Should you be doing this?". A major portion of any NOS does just that, constantly.

There is no similar feature in the Internet, using HTTP (or HTTPS).

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Custom Domain Publishing Vs FTP Publishing - Understand The Difference

This week's announcement about the (lack of) future for FTP Publishing has started a shock wave of FUD and panic. Some folks in Blogger Help Forum: How Do I? may be panicking unnecessarily.
Am I in trouble? Do I need to switch back to BlogSpot - and if I do, can I keep my dot com name - mydomain.com?


In this case, we look at other clues in the question, and check out the domain.
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.

That's a blog published to a custom domain, and that blogger has no need to worry. Custom domain publishing has offered an alternative to FTP publishing for a while - now, Blogger is exercising that alternative.

So, should you worry?

Look at the URL behind the "View Blog" link on the dashboard, and at the Settings - Publishing display.

My blog "Nitecruzr New Template Laboratory" is published to "nitecruzrtestnew.blogspot.com".
You're publishing on blogspot.com

My blog "The Real Blogger Status" is published to "blogging.nitecruzr.net".
You're publishing on a custom domain

My blog "Chuck's FTP Test" is published to "nitecruzr.com".
You're publishing via FTP

Only the latter blog - "Chuck's FTP Test" - needs to be migrated. The others are fine. Only worry about your blog, if you see
You're publishing via FTP
.

Does your blog
  • Use a BlogSpot URL, exclusively?
  • Have a layouts template?
  • Have a shiny gadget, like a BlogList, Following, maybe a Google Translator?
If any of the above are true, then most likely, you do not use FTP Publishing. Relax, then get back to work.

Blogger FTP Info: Who's affected? provides a simpler answer to the above question.
  • If your blog URL ends in "blogspot.com", you are not affected
  • If you don't see "You're publishing via FTP" (or "You're publishing via S/FTP") when you go to "Settings | Publishing", you are not affected


If your blog is published by FTP to an external server, you have Until May 1 to plan and execute the migration - back to BlogSpot, then maybe to a custom domain.

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FTP Publishing - January 2010 #2

All good things come to and end, and FTP Publishing is subject to this rule. Back in June 2008, I suggested that the option to publish Blogger blogs to non Google servers would not be available forever.
FTP publishing has a limited life span. From an economic and support viewpoint, it makes more sense for Blogger to concentrate its attention on Custom Domain publishing.


The future, for Blogger publishing, has arrived. From Blogger Buzz: Important Note to FTP Users we see:
In evaluating the investment needed to continue supporting FTP, we have decided that we could not justify diverting further engineering resources away from building new features for all users.

For that reason, we are announcing today that we will no longer support FTP publishing in Blogger after March 26, 2010.

Blogger will try to ease the pain, somewhat.
  • A migration tool will be available February 22, to automate the migration process.
  • A dedicated blog will discuss what's happening.
  • Blogger team members will make themselves available.


So, it's time for you to prepare to move forward, to alternatives that let you use new and shiny layouts Blogger.

Welcome to the future.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

FTP Publishing - January 2010

This week, we have yet more reports of the chronically present old friend
ConnectException: Connection timed out.
for bloggers publishing by FTP.

So far, the reports of this problem seem to be associated with server space provided by Aruba.

If you are suffering from this problem, please provide diagnostic information:
  • The blog BlogSpot URL (if applicable).
  • When was the blog setup in Blogger? (If the blog was published immediately by FTP, say so).
  • The blog domain URL.
  • When was the blog setup for FTP publishing?
  • The name of the server hosting company.
  • The Blogger FTP server setting (name or IP address of the server), in use right now.
  • What operating system, browser, and version of Java do you use?
  • Where are you located, and what ISP do you connect through?
If you have other blogs that are not having a problem publishing, the same information may be relevant too. Remember, we're looking for a solution for your problem, so be generous, and precise.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

FTP Publishing - The Host Server Support Staff Works For You

If you are still publishing your Blogger blog to an external, non Google server, using FTP, in spite of many recommendations, you are probably used to various advice, such as that which instructs you to contact the support staff for the host server, when problems are seen. Not everybody knows how to deal with server support personnel, though.
The host server staff says they don't see any log errors.
or
I can update using FastFTP, with no problems. The problem must be with Blogger!
These are common attitudes, which probably should be expected. Common or expected, they may not get your problem solved.

The clues are in the server logs. What the host server support personnel see as "no log errors" may need to be interpreted properly. You pay them for service, so they work for you.

FastFTP, and similar desktop clients, require a series of server profiles which you setup, by hand - one for each server. You have no problem with FastFTP because you configure FastFTP, specifically, to work with your host server. Blogger code, on the other hand, has to support hundreds or thousands of different host servers, never knowing if any 2 should be treated the same, or differently. Many host servers are specified as domain URLs. How can the Blogger code identify and track each individual domain / server URL, and know what precise tweaks are required for each?

If you look in the forums and see a few questions about FTP publishing problems already asked, this possibly indicates a problem that Blogger has caused. Find a common question with similar symptoms being reported, and add yourself to that question. When there are others sharing your symptoms, adding your symptoms to the question may help Blogger solve your problem faster.

On the other hand, if you don't see any similar questions, it may be up to you to deal with your problem. And you should start by learning to assert yourself, when you need help with your FTP publishing problem, by patiently and persistently involving the host server support staff. Ask a question in the forum - somebody has to be the first, after all. But concentrate your efforts on the host server support.

Occasionally, we see problems that are actually caused by host server changes. Keep an open mind here.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Problems With Posting Comments To Blogs, With Embedded Comments Form Used

This week, we are seeing more reports of people who can't post comments on blogs which have the Inline ("Embedded below post") comments form. Unlike a previous problem which involved CAPTCHA ("word verification") screening, the CAPTCHA form seems fine here.

People who are not members of a blog, when preparing to comment, are allowed to select how they wish to authenticate, and be identified, subject to the options selected by the blog owner.
  • Anonymously.
  • Using a pseudonym / URL.
  • Using An OpenID.
  • Using a Google id.
For some people, this pulldown list is empty.

This appears to be yet another problem with a blocked script. One successfully diagnosed problem involved a Kaspersky product. The solution, in that case, was to whitelist "www.google.com/friendconnect".

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Want Your Blog Deleted Or The URL Freed Up? Do Not Delete Your Blogger Account

In March 2009, Blogger changed its blog deletion procedure, to let you recover a mistakenly deleted blog on your own, and to make a blog's URL available when the blog is deleted.
  • When you use the "Delete blog" wizard in Settings - Basic, a deleted blog goes into a "Deleted But Recoverable" status.
  • The blog is immediately visible on your dashboard, possibly behind the "View all blogs" link, and is displayed with an "Undelete this blog" link.
  • 90 days after you use "Delete blog", the blog is truly deleted, and the URL is made available to the public, on a "first come, first served" basis.


However, this process applies only to deletions using "Delete blog".
  • If you delete a Blogger or Google account, any blogs owned by that account are locked to that account. The URLs for those blogs will be permanently un available to the general public.
  • If you want the blog URL to be immediately available to another individual Blogger account, you have to transfer control of the blog, properly.
  • If you want the URL to be immediately publicly available, you have to rename the blog to publish to another URL.


Please, don't make the mistake of deleting the account that owns a blog, purely to transfer control of a blog to another account. If you do that, you'll have toDo it right, the first time, please.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

You Blog For Your Readers - Both Current And Future

This blog is almost 4 years old - I started it in March 2006. I review my visitor logs from time to time, and occasionally, I see hits against posts written in 2006. Sometimes, the logs show visits which start with posts written in 2006.

Were I to stop posting today, it's possible that someone may be reading this post in 2014 - or later. That is one example why the Blogger policy
Blogger accounts and Blog*Spot addresses do not expire.
remains valid, even with some bloggers complaining about "expired" blogs.

The noted complaints are not, specifically, about expired blogs - in general, bloggers do not care about "expired" blogs. This is good, because in Blogger's eyes, there are no expired blogs. The bloggers in question only care about an expired blog when it is published to a URL that they believe is the perfect URL for their intended blog.

If you start a blog, that blog, and the URL that you publish to, is yours. Period. You can blog daily for 5 years, or never for 5 years, and either alternative - or one of dozens between the two - makes your blog equally valid.

If you see an "expired" blog, that is merely a blog that has no updates. Even if you see that a blog has no updates, you cannot see that the blog has no readers. Only the owner (living or dead) - can (could) see that the blog has no readers. And even if a blog has no readers now, that does not mean that changes in world events might never make the blog relevant, at any time in the future.

If the URL of your choice - which would be perfect for your blog - is in use, you can't have that URL. Choose another that is not in use, and get to work making your blog well known. That's the alternative.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Another Example Why Blogger Isn't Solving The "Another blog is already hosted at this address" Symptom

Yesterday, in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, we were treated to the start of a wildfire, with many bloggers, quite suddenly, reporting
Everything's been fine for months, but now I'm suddenly seeing "You're about to be redirected."
and
Help, I'm seeing "404 Server Not Found" again!
The cause of the problem was subsequently traced to another hacking action on the Internet, where a Distributed Denial Of Service attack was aimed at eNom, one of the custom domain registrar partners with Google. Within that morning, eNom mitigated the problem, and the problem reports in Blogger Help Forum trickled to a halt.

But the problem reports were only the primary result of the DDOS. We will, quite likely, see more results, in the weeks to come.

What's The BlogSpot URL Of My Blog?

We see this question a lot, in Blogger Help Forum: How Do I?
Hello! What's the address of my blog?
and generally it motivates a simple answer.
Can you view the blog online? If so, look in the browser address window.
or
Can you login to Blogger? Find the "View Blog" link.

There are cases when the above advice, though technically correct, doesn't help answer the original question.

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Surfing The Blogosphere

For a long time, the natural way for finding multiple, random blogs was "Next Blog" surfing. After a while, spammers found out about this, and "Next\\\\Porn Blog" surfing became the norm. A couple months ago, Blogger developed a new "Next Blog" link which has turned out to be safer - and boring. Fortunately, "Next Blog" surfing isn't the only way to see what's out there in the Blogosphere.

We have a number of alternative strategies, which give you various choices to focus or randomise your surfing.


Blogger Profile Surfing
This is easy to focus, and it's symmetrical. While you are finding out about other folks, they are also finding out about you.

You fill out your Blogger profile with key words describing your interests. Your key words, separated by commas, become links to search for other profiles with identical key words. You link from your profile, to SERP lists of other profiles, and then to other blogs. The options, which focus your surfing here, are based on the keywords which you add to your profile, then which profile you examine from the SERP list, and finally which blog you select from a given profile.


Following Surfing
Following Surfing, like Blogger Profile Surfing, involves your profile. The Following profile, though, links blogs and profiles asymmetrically, and provides focused and random surfing alike.

You link from anyone's blog, to random and miscellaneous personal icons of the Followers, then to profiles of the Followers, and then to other blogs. The options, which focus your surfing here, start with which Follower icon to select, then what blog linked to the profile of the Follower selected.


Google Blog Search
Like Blogger Profile Surfing, this is easy to focus. While the latter is symmetrical (as you are able to surf other profiles, others are able to surf yours), this option allows you some anonymity.

This gives you the ability to specify a number of interesting criteria to narrow down your interests, then randomly accesses multiple blogs in a search based upon your criteria. One frequently requested "Next Blog" feature has long been language selection, and that is one key selection for Google Blog Search.

You link from the blog search options screen to a SERP list of blogs, and to the blogs of interest.


Google+
Google+ is an interactive search process, where you contribute as you benefit. With Google+, you get recommendations of blogs and web sites, based upon what you recommend to other people.

When you share what interests you - and as your universe of friends expands - your friends will share, with you, what interests them. If your friends are interested by what you share, then some of what they share will interest you.

As your universe of friends expands, you'll have more friends who are interested in what interests you. As your friends are interested in what you share, they will share what you share, with their friends - and their friends will become your friends.

As your universe of friends expands further, you'll have more friends with other interests. As you explore your friends interests, some of what interests them (now) may interest you (later).

Google+ is much more dynamic than any literal "search engine", because it is constantly expanding. Google+ lets you surf, based on your friends recommendations - and as your universe of friends expands, so will your universe of interests.


Next Blog Surfing
No longer accessing blogs that are recently published, and supposedly engineered now to access only other blogs of similar subject to the current blog displayed, the "Next Blog" link will still access random blogs. It just uses additional filters, with language and subject identified so far.

You link from any blog, to other blogs, one at a time. There are no options here - you take what you are offered, or continue surfing.

Each strategy has its advantages, so try them all and decide for yourself which one suits your needs.

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Thursday, January 07, 2010

Creating And Hosting Your Website

There are many services available on the Internet, for creating and publishing a website. Blogger provides some services so transparently, that people get confused, occasionally, about what Blogger can reliably provide. Blogger provides some equivalents of some of the services available - with others, you may be on your own, or at the mercy of the support staff for other hosting services.
  1. Blog content created on Blogger, hosted on BlogSpot.
  2. Blog content created on Blogger, hosted outside BlogSpot.
  3. Blog content created outside Blogger, hosted on BlogSpot.
  4. Blog content created outside Blogger, hosted outside BlogSpot.

Blog Content Created On Blogger, Hosted On Blogspot
This is the most popular content / hosting option. Simply use "Create a blog", pick an available BlogSpot name, choose a template, and start posting. Blogger One Button Publishing is so easy to use, many bloggers have no idea how many services are involved, here.

Blog Content Created On Blogger, Hosted Outside Blogspot
Here, after a Blogger blog is created, and hosted on BlogSpot, you had (some time ago) the option to re publish your blog to a Google server outside BlogSpot, or to a non Google server altogether. Both options had strong points and weak points. Note that the latter option, aka FTP Publishing, ended in May 2010.

Blog Content Created Outside Blogger, Hosted On Blogspot
Occasionally, someone wants to setup a blog using a desktop publishing product, then use FTP to load the blog to BlogSpot. This is, however, not an option in Blogger.

Blog Content Created Outside Blogger, Hosted Outside Blogspot
We also occasionally see requests for advice how to do this. Unfortunately, websites produced and hosted outside Blogger / BlogSpot are subject to the options and requirements of the publishing and hosting platform in use. Blogger is not involved here, at all. The nature of third party hosting services requires that you get any necessary assistance from the content and hosting service in question.

Just understand your options, and choose what's right for you.

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Custom Domain Migration - Managing The Traffic

Your blog depends upon traffic for its success.

Anything that affects the traffic to your blog, such as any change in the URL, affects the success of your blog. Publishing the blog to a custom domain, like renaming the blog, will affect traffic to your blog. The effects of the change will vary from blog to blog, because of the different traffic to every different blog.
  • Followers. People who find your blog because of recommendations by other people.
  • Search engines. Robotic processes which methodically surf your blog, and provide dynamic indexing to people who search for information.
  • Subscribers. People who read your content from their newsfeed reader.
  • Viewers. People who read your content from their browser.
No two blogs are the same - and no two blogs will have the same combinations of traffic sources.

The differing combinations will make every custom domain migration unique. You simply cannot predict what will happen to your blog, during the migration - but you can plan, and improve the experience.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Blogger Blogs Redirecting To "smashingfeeds.com"

This week, we are seeing a few reports from anxious bloggers that their blogs are redirecting to mysterious URLs containing the domain "smashingfeeds.com". This is somewhat reminiscent of the "blogoholic.info" hijacks of June 2009.
My blog site has been hijacked & redirects to: http://searchinvented.com/?flrdr=yes&nxte=js&dn=smashingfeeds.com&fp=57S


Immediate reports from some bloggers suggest that removal of a possibly recently installed "Tweet This" gadget may be the most likely solution, when faced with this problem.

If you can access the "Page Elements" wizard, and if you have previously installed a "Tweet This" gadget on your blog, that's where you should start. Other blogs have the code installed directly into the template, and will have to use the "Edit HTML" wizard.

As with the "blogoholic.info" redirect, this exploit has been seen to cause corruption of the blog or gadget template, which may redirect you to "smashingfeeds.com" when you try to access the "Edit HTML" or "Page Elements" wizards. If you have this problem, you'll have to find out the blogID, then reference "Edit HTML" or "Page Elements" directly by URL.


In one case, the "searchinvented.com" / "smashingfeeds.com" redirect is being found on a blog that has a "falling snow" gadget.


After removing the offending code, don't forget to clear cache, before testing your change!

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