An Important Update

Dear Followers Of This Blog ...

If you did not use a Blogger / Google account when you Followed this blog, years ago, you are probably not Following now . During the past...

Friday, February 26, 2010

InterPersonal Conflict - Defamation Vs Impersonation

As blogs are being increasingly used by ordinary people, to make their mark in the world, they are also being used by people to annoy or assault others, mock others, and other attacks of varying severity.

In Blogger Help Forum: How Do I?, we regularly get questions like
How do I get a stalker's defamatory blog removed?
How long does it take to resolve an impersonated blog complaint?
Someone has created a fake blog using my name - how do I get Blogger to remove this, or do I just sue?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Auto Pagination And Read More Solutions

Possibly the hottest issue this week, in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, is the Auto Pagination feature, which was introduced last week. Auto Pagination automatically helps people to limit the sizes of their archive / label / main pages, as downloaded from Blogger servers.

Before the Blogger post editor "Jump Break" solution was provided, there were at least 3 known variants, for auto summarising posts. One was provided in Blogger Help: How can I create expandable post summaries?; and at least 2 others were provided as third party suggestions. It's possible that any of these 3 variants are present in some blogs, where the owner has not seen fit to remove them, in favour of deploying the "Jump Break" in new post editor.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Identifying Yourself, As The Owner Of Your Blog

Occasionally, somebody in Blogger Help Forum: How Do I? wonders
Why don't I have a Layouts (or Template) link in my dashboard?
How do I setup additional team members, without the right link in Permissions?
and the first question is
Are you logged in as the blog administrator / owner?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Auto Pagination Feature Receiving Mixed Review

The latest significant change to Blogger - Auto Pagination - is causing some concerns in the blogger community. Early reports were focused on inability for readers or search engines to find all posts
I need to display 12 posts on the every page. Please give a way to disable auto pagination. Not everyone needs this feature.
Auto Pagination doesn't help me!

As you can see in my blog, "Auto Pagination" doesn't help. I need at least 45 post in my front page. Doesn't help people reading my posts. Can anyone help me with this?
are probably among the more objective problem reports seen this morning.

Looking at the problem reports in detail, we can see at least 3 classes of problems.
  1. People with blogs with classic templates, who need to move to layouts and use "Newer Posts" / "Older Posts".
  2. People who are using "Newer Posts" / "Older Posts", and simply perceive the need to decide their own page size.
  3. People who are seeing badly calculated page size, as in one post / page. A large number of these reports may be connected with use of the "Jump Break" / "Read More ..." option.

So, I setup 2 rollup questions, in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken.
As noted, Blogger has admitted to blogs using the "Jump Break" / "Read More ..." option as being one possible problem cause. Until Blogger fixes all of the problems, and there are no more complaints, I'll suggest that anybody still seeing any problem involving Auto Pagination should continue to supply details, objectively and politely, to the rollup questions. It's always possible that the "Jump Break" / "Read More ..." option is not the only cause of the problems being experienced - and your report might provide the needed diagnostic detail to help Blogger identify another problem.

If you're seeing a problem with your blog, which involves Auto Pagination, please observe some basic guidelines.
  • Post in the right question. If you have any doubt about whether your blog uses a classic or a layouts template, read here.
  • Read the instructions at the top of the question, and provide the details about your problem. The requested details vary by question, and will change as this problem continues to be explored.
  • Blogger will decide whether the change was necessary, what the problems are, and how to fix the problems. The more facts that you provide about your problem, the more chance that Blogger will find the cause of your problem, and will fix your problem first. The more opinion that you provide, the more chance that Blogger will look at somebody else's problem report, and fix their problem first.
  • Be patient.
  • When this is over, review and trim your main page size.

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Template For Virginia USA #2

For Christmas (End Of Year) 2009, I went back to Virginia again, for a brief visit. What I found, besides the snow (and there was too much of that) were some positive notes. The State Of Virginia USA really is moving into the future. For us Californians (Yes, I consider myself a Californian) they now have a Frys Electronics, a Trader Joes (2 of them in the Richmond area!), and an In-N-Out Burger (No, they don't have that yet!). OK, I'll settle for 2 out of 3.

The point is, Virginia really is moving ahead, into the future. And this month, some bloggers are feeling the need to do that. Two changes in Blogger - Auto Pagination, and the approaching end to FTP Publishing, will both hasten the end to classic templates, and make the move to layout templates more natural.

Owners of blogs with classic templates have, for a long time, been asking about how to get "Newer Posts" / "Older Posts" links for their blogs. That's not a feature that can be provided, in HTML, unfortunately. The "Newer Posts" / "Older Posts" links have to be dynamically generated, so they can't be part of HTML based templates.

This week, we're seeing a new need for the "Newer Posts" / "Older Posts" links. Owners of blogs subject to restriction in archive or main page size, thanks to Auto Pagination, report inability to get all posts indexed by the search engines, or viewed by their readers. Neither main page view, nor individual archive page views, will consistently display all posts in a single page. Without "Newer Posts" / "Older Posts" links, all posts can't be indexed or viewed.

Without the dynamic display that's part of a blog with a layouts template, your blog won't have "Newer Posts" / "Older Posts" links, and won't provide indexing or viewing of all posts in an archive or main page. Nor will the blog have a dynamic labels index.

Now, blogs that use classic templates, and have large or complex posts, are just broken. When support for FTP publishing ends next month, there will be no more blogs that absolutely must use classic templates.

No support for FTP published blogs = no need to support classic templates.

XML based layouts templates are now reality, in Blogger blogging. It's time to move ahead, Virginian bloggers.

That said, I am suggesting that you provide details about your problems, so Blogger may be able to fix your problems.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Blogger Accounts, And Blind Logins

One of the promises of Blogger, which makes a Blogger blog such an asset to the masses of the world, is the freedom to publish without being forceably identifiable.

Anonimity is a major advantage, for many who publish Blogger blogs. But there are a few downsides to anonymity - and one may be seen when we try to edit our blogs.

Some bloggers load a blog in the browser window, then click on the "Sign In" link in the navbar, in the expectation that they are signing in to that blog. For folks who only maintain a single Blogger account, and who have enabled the proper security settings, this will appear to be what's happening. But, it's not.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Three Strikes, And You're Out

In the American game of baseball, each player while performing in the offensive role has three chances to swing the bat and hit the ball. If he does not connect with the ball in any way, on the third chance, he is "out" and goes to the bench.

As a blogger, and when your blog is detected as hosting possible spam content, you have three strikes, too.
  1. An automated spam classification process, performed by a Blogger bot, inspects your blog, possibly with a few other blogs, and locks or deletes your blog.
  2. A manual review process, performed by people, inspects your blog again, and objectively asks whether or not it is actually hosting spam. This is done after you complete the sometimes hated 4 step review process.
  3. A second manual review process, performed by people, inspects your blog for a third time, and carefully asks whether the first two processes were correct. This is done after the review process, and is generally referred to as "escalation". This is the final recourse which you have, when you wish to continue publishing this blog.

If any one of the three steps concludes that your blog is not hosting spam, you get on base and may have a chance to, sometime later, score a point ("run") for your team. If none of the three steps finds your blog innocent of hosting spam, you get to go sit on the bench, because you are "out".

In baseball, the difference between the pitch made with one strike against the batter, and two strikes against the batter, is significant. With one strike against him, the batter can somewhat afford to be selective, and wait for a pitch that he likes; with two strikes, the batter almost has to swing, at any decent looking pitch. The batter is at a disadvantage, with the second strike pitch - because the third strike represents his last chance to accomplish something.

In spam reviews, it's to your benefit to submit the "second strike" review request, from the dashboard link. The review submitted from the dashboard link is done sooner, and it's more permissive. The review submitted from the forum request is much more carefully done, and is more restrictive. Most blog owners want their blogs reviewed and restored, as soon as possible.

All players must abide by the decision of the umpires. If the umpires rule that you're out, then you are out. Go play in another league, if you wish, or wait for your turn to possibly bat again, later (if the game does not end before that time). While you wait, read the Blogger Content Policy, the Blogger TOS, and the Google TOS.

It's that simple. Three strikes, and you're out.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Schizophrenia And Custom Domain Blogs Published To Additional Virtual Hosts

Long ago, when custom domain publishing was first offered as an option by Blogger, there was a noticeable design deficiency.

If you published your blog to the root of the domain (""), you'd have no content for the "www" alias ("") - and if you published to the "www" alias, the root would, similarly, lack content. It was a significant day for many custom domain bloggers, when this discrepancy was eliminated.

Valentine's Day Is Coming - Celebrate With Care

This Sunday, many bloggers will celebrate another important holiday in the year - the holiday of celebrated relationships, aka Valentine's Day. Some bloggers will decorate their blogs, using a Valentine's Day standard - falling hearts.

Incautiously chosen relationships cause pain and suffering - some even known as "the gift that keeps on giving", aka an STD. Some incautiously chosen falling hearts decorations have recently been found to cause another "gift that keeps on giving". At least one falling hearts variant, provided free by a hacker, has been reported as causing a blog hijack, noted by several bloggers in Blogger Help Forum as a "" hijack.

Like STDs, the blog hijacks being discovered recently don't always show up immediately. Normally, when people write in to the forum reporting
I´m being hacked! Every time I type the address to my blog, I´m getting redirected!
we advise them to remove any recently installed third party accessories.

Recently, the victims of "falling hearts" and its predecessor "falling snow" have reported having installed their problem accessory some time ago, and just recently noticed the hijack problem. A few accessories are removed, before the problem is discovered and removed.

It's possible that these accessories are being released intentionally, as stealth hijacks. Like STDs, you won't see the problem, until long after the fun is gone.

If you choose a "falling snow", "falling hearts" or maybe "falling flags" (for Fourth Of July?) decoration for your blog, choose with discretion. Don't wait for your readers to write to you
Why do I get a page full of advertisements, instead of your blog?

Remember - security for your readers begins with you.

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Monday, February 08, 2010

The New Post Editor With Static Pages

For many months, bloggers have been asking for the ability to add static pages - pages that do not contain dated posts, and that do not show up in the archive index, or in the main page display - to their blog. Before this year, only the latter possibility existed - posts that would not show up on the main page could be created by publishing posts back dated to appear before the earliest post on the main page. This created "static" pages that still appeared in the archives index - a messy workaround.

In January 2010, as a belated Christmas present, true static pages were added to the new post editor. In June 2010, the new post editor was moved into Production Blogger.

It's not difficult to make a static page. In the Classic Blogger GUI, dynamic pages (aka "posts") are accessible in the post editor under two tabs - "New Post" and "Edit Posts". Static pages are accessible under one tab - "Edit Pages". On "Edit Pages", you start with the "New Page" button. This simply takes you to a replica of the (new) post editor page, but a replica lacking fields for Labels, or Post Date. You then create, and publish, a page. Your new static page looks just like a post, except it lacks dates and labels, and it has a slightly different URL form.

With the New Blogger GUI (2011), Posts and Pages are separate menu items, along with Settings and other selections. When you're in the Pages editor, select "New page". From the pulldown list, select "Blank page" to create a new page. You can alternately select "Web address", if you wish to create a Pages entry that redirects the reader to any existing URL within or outside the blog.

Since static pages have neither dates nor labels, they won't show up in an archives or labels index. Pages have their own index - the Pages index. After you publish one static page, you have 3 choices how to index your static pages.
  1. In a sidebar linklist, provided by Blogger.
  2. In a horizontal tab index / vertical linklist not in the sidebar, provided by Blogger.
  3. In an index of your own design.
You get to make this choice after you create the first static page - but as indicated below, you can change you mind any time you wish.

Having created and published your first static page, and selected an indexing option, you may create additional static pages, view and edit existing static pages, or create and edit posts. Once the first static page has been published, and the indexing option selected, you edit the static page index as a normal page element, depending upon what indexing option you have selected.

If you wish to change your post page indexing between the first two options, you can drag and drop to reposition the gadget, using Page Elements. Here, you have 5 positioning options, which give you 2 different formats depending upon positioning.
  • Below the header, as a horizontal linklist, spanning the entire width of the header.
  • Above the pages / posts container, as a vertical linklist, spanning the width of the pages / posts container.
  • In the sidebar, as a vertical linklist.
  • Below the pages / posts container, as a vertical linklist, spanning the width of the pages / posts container.
  • In the footer, as a horizontal linklist, spanning the entire width of the footer.
You can drag and drop the pages index, and it will position and resize itself - try it and see.

If you decided to make your own Pages index (#3, above), you can go to "Page Elements", and "Add a Gadget", and select "Pages" for a Pages index, with the above choices. If you selected #1 or #2 above, you can use "Page Elements" and delete the Pages index, and create your own.

Once you have published a set of static pages, you can go to the "List of Pages". For each page, you'll find a "View" link and a page title. From each "View" link, you can extract the URL of the page. If you selected the custom index option, you'll need the page titles and URLs to use them in your own custom index, that you create separately.

This isn't a complicated option. If you are able to use the new post editor, try it and see what you think.

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Saturday, February 06, 2010

Your Blog, Schizophrenia, And The Search Engines

One of my most intriguing subjects (to me, anyway) examines the differences between the "root" alias of a BlogSpot blog, and the "www" alias (ie, "" and "").

The fact that they are separately stored in browser cache will cause mysterious results, when the blog is viewed alternately using the two different aliases.

This is not a terrible problem for your readers, when they simply read the blog. It can cause problems with the search engines, though, as they index your blog based upon inlinks from your readers.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Duplicate Blog Posts? Remove The Duplicate!

As a savvy consumer, you likely love to hear about offers for 2 for the price of 1, of something that you buy frequently. That's a great deal, normally.

It's not for blog posts, though.

When you start to see double in your blog, chances are that you duplicated the Blog Posts entry in the template. It's not hard to fix, fortunately.

Edit the blog template, using the dashboard Template - "Edit HTML" wizard. Do not expand or unfold any widgets.

If you unfold either 'Blog1' or 'Blog2', you will have to find the end of the unfolded gadget section, which could be hundreds of lines later. If you delete 1 too many, or 1 too few, unfolded lines, you will get a syntax error.
Error parsing XML: ... The element type "b:section" ...
Deleting just one line (see below) is way easier, believe me.

Look for two lines, in the Body of the template, which may or may not be immediately next to each other in sequence:
<b:widget id='Blog1' locked='true' title='Blog Posts' type='Blog'/>


<b:widget id='Blog2' locked='true' title='Blog Posts' type='Blog'/>
<b:widget id='Blog2' locked='true' title='Blog Posts' type='Blog'/>
<b:widget id='Blog1' locked='true' title='Blog Posts' type='Blog'/>

Save the change. You will get a stern warning when you save, demanding that you confirm that you really want to delete "Blog2". Obviously, you do. And don't forget to clear browser cache, and restart the browser, to reliably test your change.

Remember to save a copy of the template, before and after doing this.

And now, since you're here, and if you just removed a duplicate post template from your blog, help me to help others, and think why you're here.
  • What changes have you made, to the blog?
  • What accessories have you installed?
  • Any templates - Blogger or third party? - installed?
  • Any changes between classic and layout templates?
  • What Blogger features / wizards do you use?
    • Draft Blogger?
    • New, or Old, Post Editor?
  • What third party services have you ever allowed to access the blog directly, to install something?
Solving this problem starts with you.

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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Blogger Blogs Redirecting To ""

This week, we are seeing a few reports from anxious bloggers that their blogs are redirecting to mysterious URLs containing the domain "". This is somewhat reminiscent of the " /" hijacks of January 2010.
I can log in to my blog, but then in a few seconds the page goes blank, and in the URL it the bottom it says redirecting and flashing back and forth...

Immediate reports suggest a "falling snow" decoration, apparently acquired before Christmas 2009, as one known culprit. Other reports mention a possible variant, "falling hearts" (Valentines Day?).

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

I wouldn't bet that this is the only cause of this hijack, but it looks to be one place where you can look, should your blog show this problem.

So far, the problem code has been easily corrected, with a simple removal of the HTML / JavaScript gadget containing the offending code.

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

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Identifying An Available BlogSpot URL

When you create a new blog, the first essential task is to decide upon the BlogSpot URL. You want to do this right, because this is one of the most challenging changes, successfully, after the blog becomes mature and gets a reputation. What is the one most important characteristic that your new blog URL has to have?
The blog name has to be available - not in use, in any way, by another blog.

Many bloggers start their new blog by picking a name.
How do you find out if the name of your choice is available?
And there is really only one way to tell, and it's not obvious.

Here are three blog names.
Only one of these three is available. Which one is that?

"" was apparently deleted by Blogger or by its owner. The URL is not available.

"" was possibly deleted by Blogger, as a suspected spam blog. Review and restoration is (was) pending. The URL is not available.

"" is (was) probably available. The URL was probably available, though it may not necessarily be available now.

Some bloggers try to determine an available (non existent) URL by using the "ping" (aka "ICMP echo") command.

Pinging [] with 32 bytes of data:

Reply from bytes=32 time=158ms TTL=56
Reply from bytes=32 time=861ms TTL=56
Reply from bytes=32 time=206ms TTL=56
Reply from bytes=32 time=128ms TTL=56

Ping statistics for
Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
Minimum = 128ms, Maximum = 861ms, Average = 338ms


Pinging [] with 32 bytes of data:

Reply from bytes=32 time=138ms TTL=56
Reply from bytes=32 time=153ms TTL=56
Reply from bytes=32 time=118ms TTL=56
Reply from bytes=32 time=133ms TTL=56

Ping statistics for
Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
Minimum = 118ms, Maximum = 153ms, Average = 135ms


Pinging [] with 32 bytes of data:

Reply from bytes=32 time=136ms TTL=56
Reply from bytes=32 time=130ms TTL=56
Reply from bytes=32 time=125ms TTL=56
Reply from bytes=32 time=139ms TTL=56

Ping statistics for
Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
Minimum = 125ms, Maximum = 139ms, Average = 132ms

With many networks, you will see definitive proof when an address does not exist, or when an address may exist but no host at the address is responding. Long ago, BlogSpot would respond that way too. Then Blogger found out that spammers were hijacking previously used URLs.
  • Search for recently abandoned URLs by using the "ping" command.
  • Pick up URLs with search engine reputation left behind by the previous owner
    • Pinged previously as in use
    • Pinged now as not in use
  • Publishing to the URLs not in use.
Blogger decided to cloak the fact that a blog URL is not in use now, and / or was never in use.

Pinging [] with 32 bytes of data:

Reply from bytes=32 time=145ms TTL=56
Reply from bytes=32 time=145ms TTL=56
Reply from bytes=32 time=117ms TTL=56
Reply from bytes=32 time=125ms TTL=56

Ping statistics for
Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
Minimum = 117ms, Maximum = 145ms, Average = 133ms

Does "" actually exist? It did not, when this demonstration was published. In reality, we don't know - for a certainty - that we might be permitted to create a blog using any of the 4 URLs above.

The only way that availability of an URL is truly known is after it's too late.

Go to "Create a blog", and enter the blog name of your choice. If the name is available, your new blog will be given that name, and it won't be available after that.

And that, in reality, is the only way of determining availablity.
If "Create a blog" says that it's not available, then you can't have it. If "Create a blog" creates a new blog for you, then you have it. And now, it's not available.
And that's reality.

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Monday, February 01, 2010

Blogger Magic - Custom Domain Redirects

Money is a popular artifact used in magic tricks - everybody loves looking at it, and playing with it.

The disappearing quarter - which starts out in your hand, and is found behind your ear - is intriguing. Equally as intriguing is the magician who can take two 50 cent pieces, and turn them into a dollar bill.