Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Renaming Your Blog - Planning The Change Properly

Your blog depends upon traffic for its success.

Anything that affects the traffic to your blog, such as a change in the URL, affects the success of your blog. If you republish your blog to a different BlogSpot URL, as with migration to a custom domain, you will not lose any content. Both comments, posts, the template, and all custom settings, will stay with the blog. And if you plan the republishing effort, you can minimise the loss of traffic.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spell Check And Video Upload Now Available In New Post Editor

One point of contention, repeatedly echoed in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, is
Bring back spell checker!
and
Where is the video upload icon in new post editor?
I've been explaining these omissions for a while, and sometimes feel like Sisyphus as I do so.

Well recently, I learned that this may be history sometime soon. If you are able to use Draft (Blue) Blogger, you can now enjoy both spell check and video upload, and new post editor, together. Just remember that the Draft features are only seen if you use the dashboard. If you use the "New Post" link in the navbar, you will get the features of Production (Orange) Blogger - either classic post editor with old photo capabilities, or new post editor without spell check / video upload.

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Blogger Blogs Redirecting To "freegadget2015.blogspot.com" / "freegadget-xde"

As yet another chapter in the tale of the hijacked Blogger blogs, today we have reports of blogs redirecting to "freegadget2015.blogspot.com" and "freegadget-xde".

For those newly experiencing this persistent assault upon our blogs, see the FAQ My Blog Has Been Hijacked - What Do I Do? for diagnosis and removal techniques. Note that you'll probably need to use the "Edit HTML" wizard, and delete the offending code, for expedient removal.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Blogger / Blog*Spot Connectivity In MidWest USA

A few bloggers in the MidWest USA region - apparently AT&T DSL customers - are reporting inability to access Blogger, Blog*Spot, and in some cases, various Google services.

We have a Problem Rollup question in Blogger Help Forum, where the epidemiology of the problem is being explored.

For right now, if you are affected by this outage, please use a proxy server to access all Blog*Spot blogs. And read BHG Resources: My Blog Is Gone, or [FAQ] I Can't See My Blog. What Should I Do? for insight into diagnosing this problem.


(Update 10:00 3/28): This problem has been resolved.


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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Including Content From Other Websites In Your Posts

I use excerpts of articles from other websites, in a few of my posts - when the other websites provide more in depth description of the issue being discussed.

I use some websites, such as WikiPedia, more than others. It's good practice to at least link back to the originating website, when copying or quoting any significant amount of unique content. There are so few restrictions, in general, what content we may include in our blogs - so it makes sense to be polite when we include content from other websites.

In most cases, and to keep my posts relatively short, I prefer to simply quote a brief, relevant snippet of content, and link back to the originating website.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Static Pages In A Renamed Blog

It's possible that Blogger takes the term "static", as in "Static Pages", very seriously. I've been hearing rumours of odd URLs in blogs that are renamed - ie, published under a new URL - where static pages are present. Today, I setup a brief experiment.

You may see the result of my experiment, in my test blog "Nitecruzr Test Pages In Renamed Blog". The blog started out as "nitecruzr-test-pages-blog-rename.blogspot.com". You are welcome to click on that link, if you wish. It won't get you anywhere, though.

After I setup the blog, I published a couple Static Pages - "About Me" and "About This Blog", with a tab bar below the header, as the Pages index. After publishing the pages, I renamed the blog to its current URL "nitecruzr-test-pages-blog-renamed.blogspot.com". Do you see the name change?
nitecruzr-test-pages-blog-rename.blogspot.com
nitecruzr-test-pages-blog-renamed.blogspot.com

A very small change, but it's significant.

And now, please examine the blog itself. Observe the URL of the first post, "Lorem Ipsum".
nitecruzr-test-pages-blog-renamed.blogspot.com/2010/03/lorem-ipsum.html

And look at the Pages Index
Home    About Me    About This Blog

The 3 static links:
nitecruzr-test-pages-blog-rename.blogspot.com
nitecruzr-test-pages-blog-rename.blogspot.com/p/about-me.html
nitecruzr-test-pages-blog-rename.blogspot.com/p/about-this-blog.html

That's a problem. What we should have is

Home    About Me    About This Blog

The 3 static links:
nitecruzr-test-pages-blog-renamed.blogspot.com
nitecruzr-test-pages-blog-renamed.blogspot.com/p/about-me.html
nitecruzr-test-pages-blog-renamed.blogspot.com/p/about-this-blog.html


So, try it. Click on an link in the first example, above.
The blog you were looking for was not found.


What have we observed?
  • Static Pages get a new URL, when the blog is renamed.
  • The links in the Pages index are not changed.
I think somebody has some work to do, yet.

Fortunately, if you know that this oddity exists, it's not hard to correct it. Just delete the Pages index. Then go to "Page Elements", and add a Pages index again. The re added Pages index will now have links with the correct URLs.

But please, only delete the Pages index - please, do not delete the individual pages. It appears that pages are given the same duplication prevention treatment, as are posts. If you delete the pages, you'll end up with suffixed URLs, when you re create the pages.

There is more to consider, when we examine a blog published to a custom domain, and the blog In Transition. We will examine that, tomorrow.

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Blog Hijackings - The Worst May Be Over

Blogger Support took control of the blog hijacking problem yesterday. Today, I did a search in "Add a Gadget", and found encouraging results.







I believe that they are now trying to disable the installed gadgets - so if you see a blank space on your blog, that's possibly why.


(Update 2010/11/25): And to celebrate Thanksgiving Day 2010, we see a report of yet another hijack attempt.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Blogger Blogs Redirecting To "freegadget2014.blogspot.com"

In a disturbing repeat of problems experienced earlier this month, we have reports of blogs redirecting again, this time to "freegadget2014.blogspot.com".

For those of you experiencing this assault upon your blog, see the FAQ My Blog Has Been Hijacked - What Do I Do? for current diagnosis and removal techniques. Note that the gadgets noted this week, as earlier, appear to resist removal, so you'll probably need to use "Edit HTML", and delete the offending code.


(Update 2010/03/23): Blogger Support has taken ownership of the problem.
Our team is working to sort out these affected gadgets from our side, and hope to have this fix out shortly.



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The "Buy a domain for your blog" Wizard Is Broken

Sometimes, you have to tell people something twice, before they will listen to you. This month, the "Buy A Domain" wizard has that problem.

As always, start from Settings - Publishing, and select "Switch to: • Custom Domain". If you were buying "mydomain.net", for "What address would you like your blog to have?" you should simply enter "mydomain", select ".net", then hit "Check Availability". This month, if you do that, you will see
There was an error processing this form. Please try again.

URL should end in a valid domain extension, such as .com or .net.


In this case, you must enter "mydomain.net", then select ".net". The ".net" bit is validated, too. If you enter "mydomain.com", then select ".net", you'll get the same error.

Strange, but true.

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Auto Pagination And Shared Network Resources

Many of you who publish blogs have home computers, connected to the Internet. If you don't live alone, you probably share the use of your computer, or your Internet access. Even those who live alone may share resources occasionally.

It's possible that, if you own your computer and provide your Internet access, you recognise two truths about computer and Internet use:
  1. Network resources have a cost. Neither your computer, nor your Internet service, is free. You (or somebody) had to buy your computer, at one time. Somebody pays your ISP a monthly fee, so you can surf the Internet.
  2. Network resources are shared. You may have a problem downloading the latest blockbuster movie, while your roommate is listening to his / her favourite Internet radio station. You may notice that it takes 2 - 3 times as long to download a movie in the evening, as it does very late at night. If your household shares a computer (I believe this is still not uncommon), you may have to wait to use YouTube, while somebody else is reading email.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Auto Pagination And Broken Links To Archive And Main Pages

Among the many odd circumstances connected with the controversial Auto Pagination feature that was introduced a month ago, we see reports by a few bloggers of broken inlinks, caused by segmentation of archive and main pages. Most reports specifically mention broken SERP entries, which link to content that's now found in an archive or main page segment that's reached by one or more clicks of "Older Posts". The new and currently un indexed segments have URLs which differ from the SERP entries.

This effect is similar to a problem which I wrote about some time ago, which affect SERPs linking to main page content. Both the archive pages and the main page in a blog are more likely to be indexed by the search engines, because there is more content on these pages, and some content has already been indexed. Some posts, lacking inlinks completely, and depending upon the publishing frequency, may never be indexed except as archive or main page content.

Static Pages And The Pages Index

As more people are adding static pages to their blogs, the questions about the possibilities have started coming.
How do I add a label search to my pages index?
or
How do I add a post to my labels index?
or even
How do I add a link to another blog as a page index entry?
And right now, you can't do any of these things, to a standard pages index.

A Pages Index gadget indexes the static pages in your blog. Period.

But as I've written before, a pages index is nothing more than a linklist (in the sidebar), or a horizontal menu bar (under the blog header), with the links to the pages enumerated in the linklist or menu bar.

A linklist is easy enough to make - that's just a simple gadget, in "Page Elements". A horizontal menu bar isn't all that much harder to make.

Just find the Pages List for the blog, and for each page, extract the page title, and the page URL. Each page title combined with the page URL becomes one clickable link in the linklist or horizontal index. When you want to add non pages to the pages index, those are simply more entries - a caption / title + a URL becomes yet one more clickable link in the linklist or index.

Then style the linklist or index, as you like.

The one thing that you won't get is a cute gadget, that morphs between a horizontal tab bar and a linklist, as you re position it below the header, or in the sidebar. You have to plan where you want your index, and style it accordingly. Other than that, it's a 30 minute task to make one or the other.

If you like the look of the Static Pages Tabs Index gadget, particularly in a Designer Template - but you want to index labels and / or post pages, you will need to use a linklist in place of the Pages gadget.

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Static Pages And Comments

After long waiting, Blogger added a static pages option to our blogs. And even as blogger are busy adding static pages to their blogs, they are learning what static pages are - and what they are not. And as we note what static pages are not, we have to note that one feature which they appear to provide - comments - may not work for everybody.

Some bloggers have observed that comments do not work on their static pages. Comments are a complex product, and are sensitive to many settings - both in the blog, and on the client computers.

Right now, we're just starting to look at this deficiency. Help us out here, if you are able.
  • First (guess what is first?) what is the URL of the blog with the noted problem?
  • Does the blog use Embedded, Popup, or Separate Page comments?
  • Is the problem observed on the computer of the blog owner, on the computers of the readers, or all computers?
  • If the problem is inconsistently observed on multiple computers, what operating system and browser is in use when the problem is noted? When the problem is not noted?
  • Does the blog contain any customisations in the post template?
  • Have you tried standard comments diagnostics?
That's where we start. The initial diagnoses start with you, and with what you can tell us.

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

What Pages Are - And What Pages Are Not

For years - almost as long as Layout Blogger has been out - bloggers have wanted the option to create static pages - pages that do not change - as part of their blogs. We've suggested a workaround, created from backdated posts, with some success.

In January, Blogger gave us true static pages for our blogs. And even as people started adding static pages to their blogs, the confusion about what those pages are, and what we can do with them, surfaced.
How do I add a date to a page?
How do I link to a page using a label?
How do I publish multiple posts on a page?


A static page consists of a title, and a single article. The article is created using a wizard extremely similar to the posts editor - but a wizard without an option to set a date, or labels.

By default, a static page is indexed through a pages index. If you wish, you may add a page to any linklist which you setup. A page is not associated with a date, or a label, and it does not appear in an archive index, an archive retrieval, a label index, or a label retrieval. A page does not contain any posts, just static text.

If you want multiple articles of content on a page, simply edit the page and add multiple articles, separated by section headers - larger type. If you wish, you can add links to the section headers, and / or link to the section headers using anchor links.

If you want to index or reference an article in your blog using a date or label, you publish a post. If you want to index an article using only a static link in a post, a linklist, or a tab bar, you publish a page.

A Pages index, setup using the Pages gadget, will index both dynamic and static Pages>, and help you publish your posts to your pages. If you wish, you can make a custom tabs index and substitute that for the Pages index. You can examine a custom Designer tabs index above (just below the blog title), and a custom Layout tabs index in my home blog, "Nitecruzr Dot Net".

And there's a final limitation to static pages. Static pages are accessed only from links. The home page of the blog is still the main page of posts - there is no option to designate a static page as the home page - though you can substitute a static HTML / Text gadget, in place of the home page posts. And you can, similarly, make other gadgets appear only with specific static pages.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Setting Up A Custom Domain

Having written my referential guide Troubleshooting Your Custom Domain Problems, I have seen more than a few questions in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken that are solved by use of the guide. Maybe you can avoid use of that guide, if you plan ahead of time.

What's The BlogID Of My Blog?

This blog is (for those of you not familiar with it) "The Real Blogger Status". The URL (name) of this blog is currently "http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/", and it was previously "http://bloggerstatusforreal.blogspot.com/". Subject to the details involved in the renaming process, I am entitled to rename this blog anytime that I wish, and the name (URL) can change, anytime I do so.

There is another "name" for the blog, that does not change (unless I should perform a blog / URL swap). The BlogID is the internal name, that's setup when the blog is first created. Look at the source for the blog, in the header.
<head>

...

<link href='http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/' rel='canonical'/>
<link rel="alternate" type="application/atom+xml"
title="The Real Blogger Status - Atom"
href="http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/feeds/posts/default" />
<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml"
title="The Real Blogger Status - RSS"
href="http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/feeds/posts/default?alt=rss" />
<link rel="service.post" type="application/atom+xml"
title="The Real Blogger Status - Atom"
href="http://www.blogger.com/feeds/24069595/posts/default" />
<link rel="EditURI" type="application/rsd+xml" title="RSD"
href="http://www.blogger.com/rsd.g?blogID=24069595" />

There we see two places to find the BlogID.

If you are a blog member, you can also find the BlogID in a few links in your dashboard. In some cases when asking for help in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, you may need the BlogID, as well as the URL.

If I were unlucky, and this blog was to be locked as suspected spam, the BlogID would become the LockedBlogID. In this case, the LockedBlogID may be the only thing useful in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Blogger Magic - Securing My Pictures From Being Copied

Every week, we see the naive query
How do I prevent my pictures from being copied?
and this, I regret to say, is a magic trick that has yet to be perfected. Others ask
Why does Google let people publish blogs with pictures stolen from other blogs?
and here, we have to note that Google has no interest in controlling, or even tracking, blog content.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Blogger Magic - Detecting The Blog Feed

Ever see a magician take a pack of playing cards, shuffle the deck, wave his wand over the deck, and make the Ace of Spades rise into the air? Pretty mysterious.

How about I wave my wand over my blog, and make the blog feed URL rise into your browser? You've seen a BlogList wizard - you add a blog to your bloglist. Just type in the blog URL, and it pops up the feed. How did it do that?

Blogger Blogs - Know The Options

Remember buying an American manufactured car in the 1980's?
If you want Option a, you have to buy OptionPack 1. You cannot get Option b with OptionPack 1, Option b is only available with Option c and OptionPack 2. OptionPacks 1 and 2 cannot be ordered together. Option d is only available with Extended OptionPack 2, and cannot be ordered with Options b or c.
Some bloggers are starting to feel confused about Blogger and their options, reminiscing how I felt in the 1980s.

Right now, we have the following options, all ordered separately.
  1. Classic vs Layout template.
    • Your blog is configured for a Classic (HTML) template using Layout - "Edit HTML" - "Revert".
    • Your blog is configured for a Layout (XML) template using Template - "Customize Design".
    • Your blog requires a Layout template, to have Gadgets, "Older Posts" / "Newer Posts" links (this distinction was removed in April 2010), Dynamic Label indexes, and Static Pages.
    • Your blog can use HTML content in a Layouts template, but cannot use XML content in a Classic template.
  2. New Post Editor vs Old Post Editor.
    • The new post editor and old post editor are alternately selected, using Settings - Basic - "Global Settings".
    • The new post editor is required for the enhanced photo upload wizard and for static pages.
    • The old post editor is required, for spell check and video upload, in Production (Orange) Blogger.
    • The new post editor in Draft (Blue) Blogger has both spell check and video upload.
    • If you get the New Post Editor, it will apply to all of your blogs. If you are a member of a team blog, all members of the team will end up with the New Post Editor.
  3. Draft (Blue) vs Production (Orange) Blogger.


So know your options, and pick what you need. And when you need help, state carefully which options you need help with.

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Private And Team Blog Membership Invitations Are Subject To Abuse

When you invite a designated reader to your private blog, or invite a member to your private or team blog, you use the Settings - Permissions wizard to send an email to the prospective member or reader. You select the email address to send the invitation to, based upon the known address of your prospective member or reader.

The prospective member / reader, upon receiving the email, is free to send it on, to any other email address that he or she uses, and to accept the membership by using any Blogger account - current, or setup at the time of accepting the invitation.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

In A Custom Domain Setup, You Have Your Job - And The Registrar Staff Has Their Job

Setting up a custom domain for your Blogger blog is pretty simple, when you follow the rules. All that you need are "A" and "CNAME" referrals, redirecting to Google servers.

Some bloggers, when troubleshooting a custom domain problem, get confused, or frustrated, and try tweaking additional settings. Such attempts won't help, and will only make their job, and the registrars job, harder.
  • In specific cases, you may make changes to "MX" records. But "MX" record changes won't solve any problems with your custom domain.
  • If you are setting up your own DNS server, you may change or create "NS" records using your registrar's CPANEL utility.
  • If you're using registrar supplied DNS hosting, the "NS" records are the responsibility of the registrar.
  • You have no need to create or change "PTR", "SOA", "TXT", or similar records. Ever.
You do your job - and let your registrar do theirs.

Please, know your responsibilities, and the limitations of your responsibilities.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Diagnosing Problems With Custom Domains: An Alternative Dig Tool

As I wrote earlier, when I'm diagnosing a problem with a custom domain - and occasionally, with other blog and network problems - my most frequently used tool is a Kloth online Dig. With Dig being an important diagnostic procedure, it's a good idea to have more than one Dig utility available.
  • The Kloth server may be down.
  • The Kloth server may not offer the right options.
  • It's good practice to occasionally (and sometimes, intentionally) cross check results against another server.

For many Dig investigations, I like to use a second online Dig service - WhoIs, provided by All-NetTools. The All-NetTools WhoIs Dig actually provides more than a standard Dig. A WhoIs Dig, for a domain, provides much valuable information about the domain / registrar relationship. Here, for instance, we can see an All-NetTools WhoIs Dig for this domain, nitecruzr.net.
http://www.who.is/whois/nitecruzr.net/

REGISTRY WHOIS FOR NITECRUZR.NET

Domain Name: nitecruzr.net

Registrar: GODADDY.COM, INC.
Whois Server: whois.godaddy.com
Referral URL: http://registrar.godaddy.com
Status: clientDeleteProhibited, clientRenewProhibited, 
clientTransferProhibited, clientUpdateProhibited

Expiration Date: 2010-03-24
Creation Date: 2008-03-24
Last Update Date: 2009-05-01

Name Servers:
ns11.domaincontrol.com
ns12.domaincontrol.com
ns53.domaincontrol.com
ns54.domaincontrol.com


Here, we see useful information about this domain, including the fact that it expires within the month. In cases where the domain in question is seen to be parked, knowing that a domain recently expired helps us advise a blogger that it's necessary to contact the registrar immediately, and avoid loss of domain registration.

A an All-NetTools DNS Dig against nitecruzr.net provides still more interesting and useful information.

http://www.who.is/dns/nitecruzr.net/

The WhoIs SOA Dig shows us the SOA record.
NITECRUZR.NET SOA RECORD
Name Server  ns11.domaincontrol.com
Email   (masked)
Serial Number  2009121603
Refresh  8 hours
Retry   2 hours
Expiry   7 days
Minimum  1 day

Here, we see the name of the domain master server, and the various expiry times for the domain.

The Whois DNS Dig shows us the well known host records.
NITECRUZR.NET DNS RECORDS
Record  Type   TTL  Priority  Content
mail.nitecruzr.net  CNAME  1 hour   ghs.google.com
nitecruzr.net   A  1 hour   216.239.36.21 (Mountain View, CA, US)
nitecruzr.net   A  1 hour   216.239.32.21 (Mountain View, CA, US)
nitecruzr.net   A  1 hour   216.239.34.21 (Mountain View, CA, US)
nitecruzr.net   A  1 hour   216.239.38.21 (Mountain View, CA, US)
nitecruzr.net   MX  1 hour  10  aspmx.l.google.com
nitecruzr.net   MX  1 hour  20  alt1.aspmx.l.google.com
nitecruzr.net   MX  1 hour  30  alt2.aspmx.l.google.com
nitecruzr.net   MX  1 hour  40  aspmx2.googlemail.com
nitecruzr.net   MX  1 hour  50  aspmx3.googlemail.com
nitecruzr.net   NS  1 hour   ns11.domaincontrol.com
nitecruzr.net   NS  1 hour   ns12.domaincontrol.com
nitecruzr.net   NS  1 hour   ns53.domaincontrol.com
nitecruzr.net   NS  1 hour   ns54.domaincontrol.com
nitecruzr.net   SOA  1 day   ns11.domaincontrol.com. dns.jomax.net. 2009121603 28800 7200 604800 86400
www.nitecruzr.net  CNAME  1 hour   ghs.google.com

This will never replace the Kloth Dig log, completely. The Kloth server offers many more options, such as the ability to selectively Dig against aliases besides the domain root and well known aliases. It is a worthy complement to a Kloth Dig in many cases, and can be used as a backup or cross check.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

The New Blogger Template Designer Is Here

After months of waiting, Blogger today released their new template library. Instead of a static library, though, they chose to provide an array of combinable choices.
  • Multiple, exciting styles.
  • A huge library of theme organised backgrounds, each with an associated colour palette.
  • A selection of layouts, with symmetrical combinations of
    • 2, 3, and 4 columns
    • with and without split sidebars
    • in both left and right variations
  • Adjustable column widths.
  • An updated Fonts and Colors GUI interface, with selections for new template objects like Pages Index gadgets.

From the dashboard or navbar, select "Design". From "Page Elements", then select "Template Designer" - and check out the possibilities.

What we have, now, is an almost infinite variety of possibilities, which should keep many bloggers happily occupied for days.

Yet, there are missing pieces.
  • There are no dynamic width (aka "fluid") templates, a feature that was quite useful, to this blog, with a layout template.
  • The "Layout" GUI will only let you rearrange existing objects - there's no ability to add new objects. You'll still use "Page Elements" to add custom accessories, headers, etc.
  • There's no GUI to save the old layout, before moving forward. If I had an existing blog, I would try a new template only after backing up the existing template.
  • There's no link to "Edit HTML". You have to go "Back to Blogger" to "Edit HTML", or to use "Page Elements".

As with every new feature Blogger presents to us, always remain aware of security restrictions on your computer and network, and consider how the Designer content is hosted. If you can't get the Designer to work on your browser, try another browser or another computer.

Those deficiencies aside, I now have a new look for my Buzz blog, and another for my Recipes blog.


Note this product, like all shiny new Blogger improvements, will have its rough edges. Blogger expects that, and provides Blogger Help Forum: Problem with the new Template Designer? Report it HERE! for reporting problems with the template designer. Note that the question will be closely moderated.
Fair warning though, all off-topic relies will be removed


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The Layout Template "Edit HTML" Wizard And "Expand Widget Templates"

Sometimes, when we're working on a problem that requires editing the HTML in a layout template, we need to understand the need to expand (or not expand) the widget templates. This month, for instance, we have hundreds of blogs containing malicious code, unknowingly installed by the blog owners. The malicious code must be removed, but the installed code aggressively prevents use of the "Page Elements" wizard, and the "Remove" button.

Note: The selection to "Expand Widget Templates" has been replaced, by folded lines of code, which are now expanded selectively.

When the "Page Elements" wizard can't be used to remove code, you have to use the "Edit HTML" wizard, and remove the individual gadget entries, one by one.

Here's what the unexpanded line entry for one problem gadget looks like
<div class='widget Gadget' id='Gadget1' />

That's easy enough to find - and to delete.

Here's what that entry looks like, expanded. To examine, and maybe modify, the gadget code, you have to select "Expand Widget Templates". To simply remove an entire gadget, on the other hand, do not select "Expand Widget Templates".
<div class='widget Gadget' id='Gadget1'>
<h2 class='title'>Maukie - the virtual cat</h2>

<div class='widget-content'>
<script type="text/javascript">
if (!window.gadgets || !gadgets.rpc) {
document.write('<script type="text/javascript"' +


'src="http://www.gmodules.com/gadgets/js/rpc.js?v\x3d9261b340ef5af1e5faca55914670c7\x26container\x3dblogger\x26debug\x3d0\x26c\x3d1">' 

+
'</scr' + 'ipt>');
}
</script>

...


</span>
</span>
<div class='clear'></div>
</div>


OK, the example above was heavily excerpted. If I was to include the entire code set for this one gadget, I would risk this post (my main page display) being subject to segmentation, caused by Auto Pagination. So, I gutted 95% of the interior code. But, you should get the idea.

The point is, when you need to remove malicious code, do not select "Expand Widget Templates". Then, find (as an example)
<div class='widget Gadget' id='Gadget1' />

and delete that one line.

Problem solved.

And next time, be more selective what gadgets you install in your blog.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Loss Of Comments After Publishing Blog To A New URL

Recently, we've started to see a number of reports in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken of comments being lost after a blog is newly published to a Google Custom Domain - or in some cases, to a different Blog*Spot URL. Like many problems involving comments, custom domain problems, and / or URL changes in general, this problem warrants further investigation.

To start with, there are a few questions which are relevant, which may help us diagnose where the problem originates.
  • Blogger Support suggests two useful details.
    1. The exact URL of a post on your old blog which has comments.
    2. The exact URL of a post on your new blog which is missing comments.
  • Where are the comments being lost - can you find them still inventoried in "Edit Posts", for instance?
  • Were the comments moderated, or unmoderated?
  • When were the comments posted (by the blog readers)? When were they approved (if moderated) by you?
  • Is the blog owned (and moderated) by you only, or is it a team effort?
  • From how many different browsers and / or computers have you observed the comments lost?
    • Your computer / your readers computers?
    • Any affinity as to browser or computer operating system?
    • Does your blog have any cultural, geographical, or linguistic relevance?
    • Do you observe this problem with just this one blog, or with other blogs too?
  • What type of comment display does your blog use - Embedded, Popup Window, or Separate Page?
  • Did you buy the domain through Blogger ("Buy A Domain"), or directly from a registrar? If directly from a registrar, did you use a righteous DNS setup?
  • When you observe the lost comments, is the blog "In Transition", or does this happen after Transition ends? Or is this a simple blog rename, to another BlogSpot URL?


This is just a beginning effort, to diagnose the problem. Help us out here, and maybe help yourself.
  • Answer the above questions, either in your forum question, or as a comment below.
  • Subscribe to the comments feed for this post.
  • Check this post occasionally for more questions, and answer more questions when asked.


(Update 2010/05/20): In a private note from Blogger Support, we are told
Comments should usually sync within 24 hours of the time when you changed your URL, most of the time much sooner.
(Update 2010/05/06): We have an update from Blogger Support.
We released a fix on May 1st which should prevent pretty much any 'my comments havent synced after a few days' issues.' So for any person reporting the change after May 1st, it should be a matter of hours. If we see cases where its longer, please let me know!
Note if you change the blog back to the previous URL, you'll just make things worse. That puts the comments through two URL changes. If you change the URL yet again, when you find out that changing the URL back didn't accomplish anything, you're going to have to wait still longer.


Help us to help you, and provide details. Please.

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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Editing The Blog Template

The template is like the skeleton of your body - you can't see it (easily), but the success of the blog depends upon its being there, and being structured properly. If you're going to have a blog, and publish it effectively, eventually the "Fonts and Colors" and "Page Elements" wizards won't do enough for you. You're going to want to get to the details, underneath the GUI processes.

You access the template editor using the GUI dashboard Template menu selection, where you will find (among other options) the "Edit HTML" button. Clicking on "Edit HTML", you may get a serious warning to read.
Directly editing HTML may affect the way some features work and is only recommended for advanced users. Editing template HTML may unpredictably affect other Blogger features. We recommend using the Template Designer first, where you can Add CSS under the Advanced section.
Should you choose to click on "Proceed", you'll be into the "Edit HTML" display.

With a Classic template, you have just one major activity when you're in "Edit HTML" - and that's what the name suggests, you edit the HTML. You'll have some CSS code, but no XML - so it's all relatively straightforward.

With a Layout template, you'll have a few extra options.
With a Designer template, you'll have one additional minor option.
And with a layout template, you'll have "Edit HTML", but with a few more tweaks than with a classic template. You'll have CSS and HTML - and XML - code to edit. And don't overlook the possibility of using HTML code in place of XML code, in a layout template.

One of the least understood selections in the Template "Edit HTML" wizard is the option to "Expand Widget Templates" , which has been replaced by selectively unfolding any gadget to be edited. Just understand when to unfold - and when to not unfold.

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Friday, March 05, 2010

Some Hijack Malware Is Being Claimed To Be Blogger Provided

As the ongoing investigations into the nature of the latest malware based blog hijacks continues, some victims are claiming that the malware that they installed, unwittingly, was possibly part of a Blogger provided gadget, installed using the Blogger "Add a Gadget" wizard in "Page Elements".

If you find this as you clean your blog, will you please report your finding here. Please state, in a comment below, as completely as possible
  • The title of the offending gadget.
  • The author of the offending gadget - this detail is very useful, as many popular gadgets are provided by multiple authors!
  • Any specific selections or settings that you made, when installing the gadget.
What you find, and what you provide here, will be passed on to Blogger Support, at all possible speed, for their verification.

All responsible bloggers thank you, for your honest contributions.

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Identifying And Removing HTML / JavaScript / XML Based Malware From Your Blog

Occasionally, in the recently discovered social engineering blog attacks that involve shiny blog accessories, we've seen reports of aggressively protected malware, that's being installed on some blogs.

When a misbehaving HTML gadget is the source of the problem, it's sometimes possible to click on the "Quick Edit" icon for the gadget, and click "Remove". Alternatively, go to "Page Elements", and click on the "Edit" link for the gadget in question. This does not always work so simply, however.

If you can't remove a recently installed gadget, because you get redirected when trying to use the "Layout" button from the dashboard, or the "Remove" button from the "Page Elements" wizard, you may have to be imaginative.
  • Use a well protected browser - minimally, one which blocks scripts from any non Blogger / Google domain, to clean your blog. This is the simplest possibility here.
  • Use an HTTP text proxy, to examine the blog code.
  • Remove the code manually.
    1. Use a protected browser or proxy server to access the blog, and "View Source".
    2. Look in the source, and find the offending gadget / module. If it was installed as an "HTML / JavaScript" or Blogger "Add a Gadget" (XML) gadget, look at the code carefully, and look for "Gadgetnn" and "HTMLnn", where "nn" will be the sequential number for that HTML / XML gadget. This is important.
    3. Manually access the Layout "Edit HTML" wizard for the blog.
    4. Do not check "Expand widget templates" - just "Edit HTML".
    5. Look in the code, carefully, for each "Gadgetnn" or "HTMLnn" entry.
      <div class='widget Gadget' id='Gadget1' />
      or
      <div class='widget HTML' id='HTML1' />
    6. Remove that line of code.
    7. Save.
  • As always, please backup the template before and after you do this cleanup!


If you cannot find an obvious culprit from a quick "View Source", then start removing all "HTML / JavaScript" gadgets, and all XML gadgets (possibly including some installed from the Blogger "Add a Gadget" wizard), installed most recently ("recently", in some cases, being 2 - 3 months back).
  1. Remove a gadget.
  2. Clear browser cache.
  3. Test.
  4. If no improvement, repeat.
Alternatively, just remove all accessories and gadgets - then re install and test everything, one by one.
  1. Add a gadget back.
  2. Clear browser cache.
  3. Test.
  4. If a problem is seen, remove that gadget and identify it.
  5. Repeat.
It's your blog, and your decision which way to go. Barring any obvious suspects, I think I'd try the latter.

If you do put some accessories back, or add anything more, keep an eye on what you add, and check your blog frequently. A lot of the complaints this week appears to involve hacks that may have been installed 2 or 3 months ago. Watch out for smart code, that doesn't activate (reactivate) the hacking immediately when installed.


It appears that some malware may be included in some gadgets installed by the Blogger "Add a Gadget" wizard. If you find removing any Blogger gadgets to provide you any relief, please report your findings in my article Some Hijack Malware Is Being Claimed To Be Blogger Provided. Your details, provided there, would be greatly appreciated.


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Blogger Blogs Redirecting To "deplayer.net "

This week, we are seeing a few reports from anxious bloggers that their blogs are redirecting to mysterious URLs containing the domain "deplayer.net". This is somewhat reminiscent of the "searchinvented.com / smashingfeeds.com" hijacks seen during January 2010, and to the "sendptp.com" hijacks seen during February 2010.

Early reports mention the "Real time hit counter" gadget, seen by some as the "Halifax 2011" countdown gadget, or possibly the "Halloween 2010" countdown gadget, as being the gadget most successfully removed. It's also possible that the "falling snow" and "Tweet This" gadget code has been upgraded to redirect to "deplayer.net". We also have reports of an "ITunes" accessory, a "Martin Luther King Jr Quotes" gadget, and a "yoga journal" / "yoga pose" gadget being involved this month.

As always, I'll caution you to be wary of any third party gadgets. It appears from some comments received that there is protective code in these newest gadgets, which aggressively blocks use of the "Page Elements" gadget GUI removal. If you try to hit the "Remove" button, or hit "Layout" from the dashboard link, and you are redirected, you have 2 choices.
  1. Use "the Page Elements" wizard from a browser / computer which blocks scripts from all third party domains, outside the Blogger / Google world.
  2. Access the Layout "Edit HTML" wizard directly, and remove the entry for the HTML / JavaScript gadget directly from the template code.


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


It appears that some malware may be included in some gadgets installed by the Blogger "Add a Gadget" wizard. If you find removing any Blogger gadgets to provide you any relief, please report your findings in my article Some Hijack Malware Is Being Claimed To Be Blogger Provided. Your details, provided there, would be greatly appreciated.


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Thursday, March 04, 2010

Auto Pagination And The Difference Between Blogs And Static Web Sites

Some bloggers seem to treat Blogger blogs like static web sites, and design their blogs so specific blog posts are consistently presented as part of the main page view. They overlook the basic design of blogs, where the main page simply contains the most currently published posts.

This attitude is merely eccentric, except in cases like the current controversy about Auto Pagination.
I have chosen to display 12 posts, because mine is a listing of twelve exact posts which i update daily. I now have only nine of the posts showing regardless of how many - 12 or 50 or 500 - that I preset to display. I need them all to show, because I daily print out this entire list in an MS Word booklet format - and without having the entire blog display, I can no longer do this.
This is merely one example of the bloggers who are having trouble accepting the reality of Auto Pagination, and the consequently segmented archives, labels, and / or main page displays.

Let's look at how web sites are setup, for background.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Help Me! I Can't Access My Blogger Account To Publish My Blog!

Every week, we see the anguished cry of blog owners, who don't have access to maintain, or publish to, their blogs.
Help me! My email address changed last month, and now I can't sign in to my blog!
But, if you look at the fine print, you see the full story
Help Me! I never bothered to remember my password - I used the Forgot Password wizard to reset my password every time I wanted to sign in to my Blogger account. My email address changed last month, I can't get the email from the Forgot Password wizard, and now I can't sign in to my blog!

As I have repeatedly advised folks, Blogger lets us maintain our blogs anonymously, and promises anonymous access and ownership for eternity. There is no magic token attached to our blogs, that let us conveniently email Blogger and ask for a second back door access to our accounts.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Blogs Composed Using Microsoft Word Causing Problems With Auto Pagination

Besides the somewhat predictable cases of blogs with lots of text and / or pictures, comes a third possibility for problems with Auto Pagination - excessively complex HTML. We've noted before that Microsoft Word generates a lot of complex and mysterious HTML - and some large blogs, which contain a lot of articles composed under Microsoft Word, appear to be suffering from segmentation - possibly without justification.
My blog was BIG, and no one ever, not once, complained it was slow loading.

It's (almost) unbelievable how long Google is taking to flick the switch and restore things to how they were pre auto-pagination.
and the reply
It appears that you have done a lot of copy-pasting from MS Word into your blog, and unfortunately doing so will add a very large amount of unseen (but still 'heavy') HTML tags to your post.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Auto Pagination Is Not Optional

The Mercedes brand automobile is a marvel of efficiency, engineering, and safety (so I've heard). It's designed for comfort, and for speed. If you drive one in Germany, where it is designed and built, you can even enjoy its comfort at speed - whatever speed you desire - perfectly legally.

Get on the Autobahn, get in the fast lane, and use your headlight flashers when you approach someone from the rear. Keep an eye in the mirror, for someone using their flashers at you - and be prepared to move over, when someone uses their flashers.

In this country, Mercedes owners (and other drivers) have to obey the speed laws, just as everybody else does. Try telling the policeman
My car is safe at 90 MPH. I'll pay extra fuel tax, and use the premium lanes - and I can go 90 MPH, because I want to go 90 MPH.
and see what response you get.