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Showing posts from March, 2011

Who, Me? I Don't Spam

In mid 20th century USA culture, one popular magazine had a mascot, Alfred E. Neuman, who was best known for the intellectually incuriousWhat, me worry?
As the comment spam filters are being trained, by blog owners such as you or me "voting" each individual comment as spam or not spam, we are starting to see modern day Alfreds asking in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is BrokenWhat, me spam?or given slightly longer and more descriptive quotesWhy are my comments treated as spam by Blogger?
Harsh though this may be, your comments are treated as spam, by Blogger, because eitherMany blog owners have "voted" your comments, posted to their blogs, to be spam.Many blog owners have "voted" similar comments, posted by spammers, to their blogs, to be spam.The bottom line here is that your style of comments just are not welcome, on these blogs.

You have 3 possible courses of action.Continue to post these comments to these blogs.Post these comments to other blogs.Post o…

Of Monster Trucks, Blogger Blogs, And Spam Lock

Jerry (we will call him that, since we don't know his real life name) loves monster trucks.

Jerry drives a monster truck, he goes to monster truck shows, and he publishes a blog about monster trucks. One of Jerry's friends is Sam (no, we don't know Sam's real life name either). Sam publishes another blog about monster trucks.

Recently, Sam's blog about monster trucks was locked, for suspected spam hosting, by the Blogger anti-spam classification process.

What's New Is Old Again

Recently, Blogger announced exciting new changes coming, in Blogger. This week, we are seeing signs of the confusion.What's the "New Blogger", that everyone is talking about?
We see these questions, periodically. Every year, there is some type of "New Blogger". When Blogger releases another "New Blogger", everybody talks about "New Blogger" as if it was something completely rewritten, and obviously different from "Old Blogger". Remember that, at any time "Old Blogger" was "New Blogger" just the previous year, and was being fixed - as "Blogger" - just the previous week.

Does anybody remember "New Coke", in 1985? People who liked "Coke" (aka "Old" Coke) and hated "Pepsi" (aka "New" Coke) kept and shared notes of where they could find stores still selling "Coke", and would drive miles to find "Coke". This was, obviously, long bef…

Following / Friend Connect, Stats, And "opensocial.googleusercontent.com"

Some blog owners spend hours pouring over the activity records, Blogger Stats display, and / or visitor logs for their blogs. Sometimes, they see unexplained details which cause needless worry.I clicked on a link in Stats, that referenced activity from "opensocial.googleusercontent.com", and got "Page not found". Is somebody hacking my blog?andWhat is "opensocial.googleusercontent.com"? I see that URL a lot, in my visitor logs!Fortunately, this is a slightly less mysterious and sinister story.

Take a look at the Following community on your blog, or any other blog that interests you. See the icons, of the Followers? Click on one, and watch the contents of the browser status display (generally, the lower left border of the browser window), closely. As the large white popup window opens up, in the middle of your browser, you'll see "opensocial.googleusercontent.com" mentioned in the status display, briefly.

The popup window, with the Foll…

Blogger Stats And The Interstitial Warning

Recently, we're seeing quite a few owners of "adult content" and private blogs reporting problems with their Stats displays.Blogger Stats are no longer counting!andOn my Stats display, the pageview counts have not changed since this morning!!andStats aren't loading, for my blog!These reports are coming from owners of various blogs which have an Interstitial Warning display in front of their blogs - either because the blog is subject to an "Adult Content" warning, or because the blog is published privately. The Interstitial Warning has been known for other instances of interference with visitor information.

We have a rollup discussion in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, where this problem is being explored, in detail. From what we can tell, this problem started sometime late 3/26 Pacific time.

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Photos Recently Uploaded In Blog Posts Don't Display Properly, As Thumbnails

Several blog owners, today, have reported that recently published posts containing photos show a blank space, or a tiny box, where some photo thumbnails should be displayed, when the blog posts are displayed in the browser. When using various browser analytical tools, such as the Firefox "Page Info" wizard, the thumbnails in question appear to be downloaded properly to the browser cache - they simply are not showing up, in the blog display.

Examination of HTML code, for the problem photos, in Post Editor "Edit HTML" mode, reveals odd snippets of code. Here's code from one reported problem.

<a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-QD2r5DgzQWI/TYx6OGeaORI/AAAAAAAAAbg/1RBV-M9NVoY/s1600/IMG_2598.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="0" r6="true" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-QD2r5DgzQWI/TYx6OGeaORI/AAAAAAAAAbg/1RBV-M9NVoY/s320/…

There Is No Immediate Solution For The Turkish "Great Firewall" Blockade

The problem with DigiTurk, Turkish ISPs, and the Turkish courts has dragged on for several months now - and many Turkish blog owners are impatient. We see evidence of the impatience, weekly.People advised me to change my IP to 74.125.93.121 but how do we do that?This is a technical "solution" that won't work, consistently and reliably - and that will only degrade access to other blogs, worldwide (not only in Turkey), when used.

Custom domain DNS setups need to use righteous addresses. Use of half ass "solutions" will only degrade service for owners and readers of blogs published to other domains, and will not provide a permanent solution for Turkish blog owners.

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Connectivity Problem With Some GoDaddy Hosted Custom Domain Published Blogs

This weekend, a few owners of blogs published to custom domains are reporting problems viewing their blogs.

We are seeing various reports, such as unhappily reportingI can't view my blog!If we view the blog ourselves, or maybe if the blog owner uses one or more proxy servers to view the blog, the blog will be seen with no problem. Apparently the blog is actually online, regardless of the original observation.Now what?
In many cases, the blog in question uses GoDaddy hosted DNS, and a specific set of GoDaddy servers, to provide domain addresses to the blog readers.

How You Login To Following Affects Your Ability To Block Followers

Following, now using Google Friend Connect, gives its members several options - and some options may cause confusion. You can login to Following using any account, hosted on any of six different Internet services, and Follow using any of seven different Following profiles. And the account used for logging in to Following can differ, at your discretion, from the Blogger account that you are using, at any time, to maintain your Blogger blog.

Get To The Root Of The Problem - Blame DigiTurk And The Blog Owners Who Offended DigiTurk

Recently, we've seen a few demands, from Turkish nationals and various residents and visitors in Turkey, who appear to believe that Google intentionally compelled the Turkish ISPs to block access to Google hosted content.Google needs to give us another set of IP addresses. The last set lasted for about 3 months, and has stopped working!This overlooks the detail that Turkish officials specifically warned Google that they must not attempt to bypass the Turkish blockade, by using different IP addresses.

These demands that Google should use different IP addresses are also ignoring the actual reason for the use of multiple, dynamic IP addresses in the first place - the need for all Blogger and Google customers, worldwide, to access Blogger and Google services, consistently and reliably. Maximum availability of Blogger and Google services is possible only if all people needing access to Google servers be prepared to use whatever servers Google may make available, at any time.

Our acce…

Post Editor, Stats, Template Designer, And Internet Explorer V9

Some time ago, Microsoft deployed the latest version of their browser, Internet Explorer Version 9. Blogger blog owners and readers alike are starting to use IE V9 on their computers - and recently, we've started to see hints in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, indicating that Blogger may not be up to date in allowing for its unique requirements.
Since I loaded Internet Explorer 9 on my computer, my Stats sits loading ... forever.and
I can't publish any more. It just sits there spinning!
In retrospect, and were I not professional in my advice, I would simply say
I told you so!

"I Can't Manage My Blog" - Three Sides To Every Story

One of the more intriguing Blogger problems, seen daily in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, involves control or ownership of our blogs.I can't manage my blog!orMy blog isn't on my dashboard! Can Blogger give me my blog back?Besides the constant possibility that this is yet another locked or deleted blog, caused by spam classification (righteous or spurious), there are several possible scenarios here.

The most commonly seen scenario, besides the already mentioned spam classification, involves past inadvertent creation of a second Blogger account (worse, a third, or fourth ...), by the blog owner - with the blog owner currently having access to the wrong account. The person reporting the problem needs to recover access to the other Blogger account - preferably after clearing cache, cookies, and active sessions, and restarting the browser.

A second scenario, seen occasionally (but not publicised, for several reasons) may involve a blog, stolen by an unknown second party…

Custom Domain Publishing, And Naked Domains

We see several problems weekly, which relate to custom domain redirects.My domain root isn't working!orHow do I get my naked domain to redirect to my blog??Generally, we'll investigate, discover an apparent Google server problem in the original publishing sequence, and recommend recycling of the domain.

Sometimes, the solution is simpler - but we may not get to the simple solution, immediately.

Mail-To-Blogger, Private Blogs, And Clueless Owners

Occasionally, we see signs of some blog owners acting like ostriches, as they publish their private blogs using Mail-to-Blogger, and ignore yet another Blogger security initiative.I like my Mail-To-Blogger email address! Why does Google tell me to change my "secret word"?
Some owners of private blogs believe that their blog is invisible to hackers and spammers, as an ostrich sticking his head into a hole in the ground becomes invisible to predators. If you combine a private blog with an activated Mail-to-Blogger address, using an easily guessed "secret word", you have yet another future spam host.

Hackers don't care about the name of the blog, or the fact that the blog is private. Their script starts with a working email address, from which they derive the public portion of the Mail-to-Blogger email address. Given an easily guessed "secret word" - the private portion of the Mail-to-Blogger email address - they have yet another blog on which they c…

Lack Of Referer Spam Leaves Blog Owners Worrying About A Sudden Drop In Traffic

In early February 2011, many Blogger blog owners, who tracked blog reader traffic by using Blogger Stats and Google Analytics, were wondering about blog traffic from mysterious sources, like "bit.ly" and "goo.gl". When informed that it was fraudulent activity, and a type of spam, they thought no more of the problem, and moved on.

Some Blog Owners Report A Scrolling Stats Display

For most blog owners, the formatting of the Stats display is a model of efficiency. For each display (Overview, Posts, Traffic Sources, Audience), when looking left to right, we see a display that's pretty tightly limited to 75% screen width, when the display size is adjusted to 100% screen height. That's maybe 10% wider than the post editor display, with both post editor and Stats leaving the well known white space on the right.

Legendarily - and I can't think specifically where I could quote this trivia, the Blogger wizard displays, such as Post Editor, Settings, and Stats, are limited this way so blog owners won't be forced to size their browser windows to 100% of screen width.

See how neatly the horizontal width of the Post Editor display is sized?


And here's the Stats display, with similar "white space".


Oddly, a few blog owners have been reporting, recently, that they are being forced to scroll left to right, to see the entire Stats display. One bl…

The World Wide Blogger Culture, And Comment Filter Training

The new comment filtering system has been in place now for almost 6 months, and we are slowly starting to see improvements, with signs that spam (aka "bulk") content is becoming more individualised.

Recently, we've seen suggestions, from discussions in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, that the filters are being put in place in Asia. Reports of unfair filtering, similar to the complaints seen 6 months ago about English language filtering, are being seen now about Chinese, Japanese, and Thai language filtering.

Blog Owners Losing Blogs When GMail / Google Accounts Are Disabled

This week, we've gotten a number of reports from unhappy blog owners, in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, who find their blogs deleted, and their Blogger / Google accounts disabled.

Upon trying to login to GMail (for GMail based Google accounts), or to Blogger (for both GMail and non GMail based Google accounts), they are redirected to Google Accounts: I'm getting a message that says 'Sorry, your account has been disabled.'.

At the top of the latter display, you see in yellowPlease visit the Apps Status Dashboard for more information.The Apps Status Dashboard for 3/8/11 shows a note of "Service disruption" for "Google Mail". This leads to a PDF document Gmail Outage - February 27, 2011.At 6:00 PM, February 27, Google Engineering temporarily disabled access to Gmail and other Google Apps services for all potentially affected users. This was a precautionary measure to prevent issues with data integrity during the mailbox restoration process. W…

Blogger Post Editor, And Photos Hosted Under Picasa

Many blog owners are unsure about the hosting of photos, as published to our Blogger blogs, under Google. We see innocent questions like
What happens if I delete my Google account?and slightly frustrated questions
The photos on my blog disappeared!and agony
I had my Google account, and my blog, restored - but my photos are still missing!!These are examples of real life questions, posted in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken. These questions identify issues that need to be explored.

Missing Followers Gadget Content - March 2011

This evening, we are seeing a small flood of reports about missing Followers, in various Followers gadgets. The reports posted so far, in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, have been inconsistent and incomplete, and identifying a pattern isn't possible.

We have a rollup discussion, where we are collecting details about your personal observations.Are all Followers icons missing? Is the Followers count also missing? Is a blank space visible, where the icons should be seen?Are the icons missing when you are logged in to Following, with your icon visible at the top of the Followers gadget?Are the icons missing when you are not logged in to Following, with the "Follow" button visible, at the top of the Followers gadget?Are the icons missing on blog(s) which you own, or blogs which you do not own? Can you see the Followers, in my sidebar, to the right?Are Followers missing also, from your dashboard list for your blog(s)?Please identify blog(s) where you do not see Fo…

Content Displayed In Blogger Dashboard "Reading List" Is Incomplete

Recently, we started seeing various reports from Followers and subscribers of various blogs and websites, about content displayed in the Blogger "Reading List" newsfeed reader.The "All blog updates" list in the Reading List is incomplete!andMy Blogger Dashboard display only goes back a few hours!!
The complaints involve only the aggregated content of the blogs displayed individually, under the Blogs column in the Reading List, as "All blog updates". The individual blog content, as displayed separately, do not appear to be affected.

We have a rollup discussion, in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, where the details of this issue are being discussed. This problem was originally reported on or before 2/25/2011, and the discussion itself was opened on that date. On 3/2/2011, Blogger acknowledged the problem, and implied that a resolution would be coming.We're working through this right now and will report back as soon as we have more information…

Conflict Issues Won't Always Be Resolved In Your Favour, Nor Immediately

Recently, we're noting a few angry complaints from people who may or may not be owners or readers of Blogger blogs.I reported blog "xxxxxxx.blogspot.com" for impersonating me repeatedly, but Google is ignoring me!and multiple complaints about the same blogWhy is blog "xxxxxxx.blogspot.com" not being removed by Blogger? We demand its immediate removal!These bloggers show no understanding about the need for jurisprudence, nor for the concept of two sides to every story.

If you report a problem blog to Blogger, using either the "DMCA Violation" complaint form, or the "Report Abuse" wizard, you are creating one half of a legal conflict. The other half of the conflict is the target of the complaint, or the publisher of the offending blog. In a legal description, you (and others agreeing with you) become the "prosecution", and the target of your complaint becomes the "defendant".

Team Ownership, And Blog Security

A well known adage describes multi-personal issues, in generalA chain is only as strong as its weakest link.In terms of blogs with multiple owners, each individual owner becomes one link, in the chain of blog security.

Any blog with multiple administrators ("owners") is subject to its abuse by any one of the owners. Whatever the abuse involvesInstallation of dodgy code.Dodgy installation practices.Addition of untrustworthy members or administrators.Theft of the blog by removing all other administrators.You (the original creator of your blog) absolutely must exercise discretion, in inviting other people to jointly administer a blog with you.

Any one administrator can install malicious code, can use an EZ Install procedure to invite a hijacked Blogger account, can add another administrator who can do any of these things, or can even remove all other administrators. Just one person (the "weakest link") can cause chain breakage (a damaged, hijacked, spam locked, or …