Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dynamic Templates Becoming More Usable

Possibly encouraged by less than positive reviews, Blogger has recently enhanced their dynamic templates.
Dynamic Views are a set of templates that make it easy and fun to explore a blog. As you might expect, we’ve made the gadgets interactive too. Instead of appearing in a panel that consumes valuable real estate on your blog, gadgets now appear in a dock that slides in and out as you move your cursor over them.
Now, at least some of the gadgets in the sidebar will be visible to your readers, when they visit your blog, as viewed using a dynamic view.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Some Confusion Over Use Of The CC TLD Aliases, By Search Engines And Visitor Logs

Some blog owners, possibly unaware of the recently added Country Code Top Level Domain Aliases, are seeing the aliases in their visitor logs / meters, and various non Google search engines - and are afraid that their blog has been hacked.
My SiteMeter logs show that I've had incoming traffic from "mybloggerblog.blogspot.in". Clicking on one of the links in SiteMeter, I see my blog, "mybloggerblog.blogspot.com". Has somebody cloned my blog?
In reality, the scenario is not so ominous.

Those of us aware of the CC aliases, and how they are being used by Blogger, will understand that simply seeing a non canonical alias in our referer lists, in any search engine or visitor log / meter, is not an indication of malicious activity. People long used to seeing only "blogspot.com" and "google.com", and not yet experienced with the CC aliases, may become confused, however.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Account Recovery, Evaluated Using Return On Investment

Too many Blogger blog owners, seeking recovery of a long dormant account, overlook the realities of the Blogger business relationship.
I started the blog 10 years ago, I have forgotten the password, the email address is long gone - and I need the blog deleted now.
When told that deletion is not possible, if you cannot provide proof of ownership, they next ask for personal assistance.
But isn't there a person to whom I can explain my problem? Surely we can reach some understanding!
The reality is that Blogger wants to help their customers - when helping their customers provides them some business benefit.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The New GUI Template Editor, And Removing The "Blog Posts" Gadget

Since the most important part of almost all Blogger blogs is the posts, the "Blog Posts" gadget is an essential element in the template. Sometimes we have to remove the gadget though - maybe the gadget is corrupt - or in odd cases, we may have a duplicate "Blog Posts" gadget.

In either case, the solution is known, and is quite simple.
Remove (the / one) "Blog Posts" gadget.
Unfortunately, not everybody, needing such advice, is able to do this. People using the Template Editor in the New Blogger GUI (2011) may find, to their frustration, that removal of a "Blog Posts" gadget isn't permitted.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Use A Dynamic Template, To Display The Blog In One Single Main Page Display

Ever since Blogger installed auto pagination. Blogger blog owners have been asking
How do I disable auto pagination?
and
Why can't I display my blog on the main page, without my readers having to use "Older Posts?
The response, up to this year, has been simple.
You cannot disable auto pagination. You have to allow sharing of network resources.
Though technically correct, the latter response has not always been met with appreciation.

The solution, for avoiding auto pagination, is now simple. Install a dynamic template, on your blog.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Identifying An Available URL - #2

The issue of URL availability has been a subject of intense debate, in Blogger Help Forum: How Do I?, for several years.

Many would be blog owners URLs learn that neither "dormant" blogs, nor deleted blogs, nor spam locked blogs, are automatically available for the curious nor desperate.

Those denied the URL of their choice ask
How do I find an available URL? All of the good ones are taken - and picking one that's available is way too much work! I'm moving my blog to WordPress!
And that complaint is somewhat valid.

Under the Classic GUI, picking an available URL was a pretty painful process.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Account Recovery Options, And Prevention Of Blogger Account / Blog Hijacks

Ever since Blogger started using Google accounts to authenticate Blogger account access, blog owners have had trouble maintaining access to their accounts and their blogs. Not all Blogger blog owners understand - and less accept - the measures that Blogger has taken, to prevent malicious, unknown persons from using Internet obscurity to hijack their accounts, and their blogs.

Every day, we see numerous complaints in Blogger Help Forum: How Do I?, about inability to recover account access. And, we see occasional (not occasional enough) reports about blogs now owned by people who are not personally known by the rightful blog owner.

Blogger is continually improving their account recovery, authentication, and account hijack prevention policies. Unfortunately, as they improve in one area, they make things more difficult in another.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Diagnostic Improvements With Photos Hosted By Picasa

For some time, blog owners would note mysterious problems with photos on their blogs, in various ways - depending upon the browser in use.

Some blog owners and readers would report a mysterious red "X", others a big, blank space - and still others would see nothing at all, not even a space. The only common symptom would be
My pictures have vanished!
Recently, photos hosted under Picasa changed that vague symptom, by displaying two "place holder" icons, depending upon either of two commonly diagnosed problems which had caused the missing photos.

Cloning Your Blog

Occasionally, we see evidence of wistful thinking in Blogger Help Forum: How Do I?.
How do I make an exact copy of my blog, to another URL?
This should be a simple enough task - but it's not.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Your Blog Is Forever - But Access To, And Support Of, Your Blog, Requires Your Effort

Some blog owners misunderstand the apocryphal promise from Blogger to us
Blogger accounts and Blog*Spot addresses do not expire.
From the tone of some questions in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, some blog owners seem to think that Blogger promises us unending service, without requiring any effort on our part.

We need to think of Blogger blogging as a partnership, between Blogger and us. Blogger is a business - and some principles of business apply to how they treat us.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Hint Will Not Always Recover Your Access To Your Blogger Account

Some Blogger blog owners, trying to regain access to their blogs after a long absence, attribute their problem to over indulgent security measures.
I have too many email accounts, and no way can I remember all of them!
and maybe even
I have too many GMail accounts, and no way can I remember all of them!
Our suggestion will be, that they should carefully check all email (GMail) accounts. Their next request seems like a final solution.
Can Blogger just give me a hint, so I can remember which account I need to check?
Here they are asking for a last ditch effort, which is not guaranteed to bring success.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Using A Robust Sitemap, With Your Blog

For a Blogger blog, proper indexing by the search engines is critical to the success of the blog, in getting readers.

Some blog owners are disappointed to find that their blog has no page rank, and no visibility in the search engine results - and little to no chances for getting readers.

Not all blog owners understand details about the custom domain migration process, any issues related to renaming the blog, or simply how to get a blog properly indexed.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Blogs Viewed, Using A CC TLD Alias, Will Continue To Be Indexed Using "BlogSpot.Com"

We're starting to see some evidence of confusion, in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, about the impact of the new CC TLD aliases, upon indexing and reputation.
There's no cache for my blog, after redirecting to a ccTLD!
This is an example of the confusion, from a concerned blog owner.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Blog Owners Reporting Inability To Update Various Template Gadgets

For several weeks, we've been seeing a light but steady stream of reports from blog owners unable to update various template gadgets, on their blogs. This blog, personally, has the full page Topics Index, which needs to be updated with half a dozen newly created labels.

In some cases, the "Save" button may appear inactive or dim; in other cases, the owner will see the "Saving..." status endlessly displayed, while the wizard appears to "hang".

Country Code Based Aliases Will Contribute To Problems Which Involve Domain Based Filters

As the Country Code TLD aliases, for blogs published to "blogspot.com", become more and more noticed, incidental problems are being reported.

For people who are security minded, as well as people who are conscientious about what is permitted on their personal computer, a few domain based filter related problems should be obvious.
Where are the pencil / tool icons on my blog?
and
Why can't my readers comment on my blog?
are just a couple examples of the various questions being seen in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, since the CC TLD aliases went into effect last week.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Publicising Updates To Your Blog, Using FaceBook And Twitter

If you publish a public Blogger blog, and have a FaceBook and / or Twitter account, then you have an audience for your blog updates, waiting to read your blog posts. Any Blogger feed (which eliminates private blogs) can automatically post, to FaceBook and / or Twitter.

How To Avoid Getting Your Blog Locked, As A Suspected Spam Host

This is a question that some blog owners ask in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken.

This will generally be after they have just been through the Blogger spam review process. Some of those asking the question are spammers, blatantly asking what they can get away with. Others are regular blog owners, unwittingly hit by "friendly fire", as Blogger just tries to keep the level of spam down, in the Blogosphere.

One of the challenges involves identifying the genuine cries for help - and ignoring the hackers and spammers, who are trying to make trouble for everybody.

Removing Blogs From Your Reading List

One of the strangest cases of confusion, exhibited in Blogger Help Forum: How Do I?, comes from people who only want to remove a blog from their Reading List, using the "Manage Blogs I'm Following" wizard.
I can't remove a blog from the Reading List - there is no trash can in the Manage wizard!
Here, I'll advise you, simply, to not look for a trash can icon.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Incorrect Orientation Of Photos Uploaded In Post Editor

We see occasional reports of problems with photo orientation, from various blog owners posting in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken.
Why are my photos displayed horizontal, when they should be vertical?
Presumably, if someone's photo was taken with her standing, the blog owner does not want the photo showing her lying on her side.