Friday, March 30, 2012

Non Existent Blog Feeds, Replaced By Mysterious Content, On Our Reading Lists

Periodically, we see reports in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, about hijacked blogs. Sometimes, the reports come from blog owners (or former blog owners) who cannot now control (or publish) their blogs - or maybe who report mysterious content on their blogs. Other times, the reports come from people who report mysterious and unwanted content in their Reading List (Google Reader) displays.

Of the latter group, many are being found to have earlier Followed blogs owned by people who are naively trying to attract random readers to their blogs, and who overlook the reason for having blog feeds in general. Different Followers would report seeing multiple streams of randomly changing content in their Reading Lists.

Recently, we've gotten reports from people who are seeing a single, and unique hijacker in their Reading Lists - producing consistent streams of duplicated, repetitive content. This does not appear to involve blog owners, naively misusing the Post Feed Redirect.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The New Blogger GUI, Comments, And Word Verification

Recently, we're seeing a few frustrated blog owners, in Blogger Help Forum: How Do I?, who have decided that the recently provided CAPTCHA ("word verification") screening puzzle is simply too much for their readers to handle. Some blog owners have discovered that removing the CAPTCHA, from their blog comment wizard, is not all that easy, either.
Everytime I click on "Save settings", to disable word verification on my blog, as soon as I return to the settings, it is enabled again. How do I get rid of the CAPTCHA?
Some blog owners have not yet learned that the New Blogger GUI (2011) just is not ready for public use.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Privacy Concerns Over Posts Being Published, And Preview Mode

Some Blogger blog owners, as they develop a post, use Preview mode to periodically observe what the post looks like. A few owners are confused about the privacy of a post, as it is Previewed. Some think that the temporary nature of the Preview window makes the content, as Previewed, intentionally unavailable for viewing by their readers.

Here is a Preview URL for this post.
http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/b/post-preview?token=yV1fKDYBAAA.ySUB0XKSvMXVATQkgsbJpQ.vf2Wk6Ed_TXX54XVpLn3uA&postId=1855542079708688719&type=POST
If you're interested, click on the link. Does it show you anything? How about another?
http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/b/post-preview?token=zx9iKDYBAAA.ySUB0XKSvMXVATQkgsbJpQ.r_B4NGbmR453Nsa2tYZPKg&postId=1855542079708688719&type=POST
See anything interesting?

Presumably, the tokens attached to the URL make the visibility of the post temporary - and the previewed post becomes secure by obscurity. That is, if anybody cares enough to view this.Why did I see evidence that 5 people had already read the Preview (and now, said evidence is gone)?

But like every Blogger feature, there are always ways to complicate the issue.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Blogs LIsted Twice, In The Blogger Profile Or Dashboard

Occasionally, an oddity in our Blogger profiles will cause confusion - and offer some blog owners a opportunity to make a bad mistake. For some unknown reason, some Blogger blogs may be listed twice, in the dashboard or profile Blog List.

If you are one of these blog owners, seeing the same blog listed twice in your dashboard or profile, think before you act! Check the URL behind the blog title, for each entry - you'll see an identical URL behind both.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Deleted Posts, And The Blog Feed

Occasionally, a bewildered blog owner will write into Blogger Help Forum: How Do I?, and ask
How do I completely remove a post? I deleted a post - but my readers still could read it, in Google Reader!
Some owners are not clear about the nature of post deletion, and the blog feed.

The New Blogger GUI, And The Disappearing Drafts List

Right now, a few blog owners who depend upon using the Draft status on posts, and who move posts in and out of Draft status regularly, are noting an oddity in the New GUI Posts menu.
I can't find my Draft posts - there's no menu selection!
Looking at the menu, one sees only "All".
So how do I identify and update my Draft posts?
Fortunately, this is not hard to remedy. Just pick any one post, currently displayed as "Published".
  • Select that one post, and hit "Revert to draft".
  • Immediately, select that one post again, and hit "Publish".
And there is that one post, with the others, again published - and the menu now will now have selections for "Draft" and "Published".

This is, unfortunately, a temporary fix - the next time you reload your dashboard, you'll see only "All" again. But, it's easy enough to repeat.

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Monday, March 12, 2012

Recovering Your Account Information - Improved

Blogger has long promised us that our blogs will be ours, forever, and that we are free to publish our blogs in privacy, if we so desire. Based on those promises, not all Blogger blog owners have made the right decisions, in retaining access to their Blogger / Google accounts.

Many problem reports. from frustrated owners, are seen, daily, in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken.
My email address changed some time ago, and now, I can't login to Blogger and update my blog!
Last year, Blogger made several changes to their account recovery policies and procedures, which made this subject, for many blog owners, a critical and painful issue. Now, Google is making an organised effort to reduce the pain, by improving their account recovery tool.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Problems With FaceBook Code Are The Responsibility Of FaceBook Support

As we add social networking accessories and gadgets to our blogs, we need to appreciate the nature of the connections, which we are adding.

Some Blogger blog owners fail to understand the relationships between the different Internet services, such as Blogger / Google, FaceBook, and Twitter.
Why do I have to solve a CAPTCHA when I post on my Wall?
and
Why does my "Share to FaceBook" wizard not let me include a snippet or thumbnail from my blog?
These are typical questions, seen recently in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken. The people, asking these questions, probably do not understand that services like FaceBook are not part of Blogger or of Google.

Friday, March 09, 2012

The CAPTCHA Sucks - But It Does Zoom

I have yet to see anybody who loves - or even likes - CAPTCHA ("word verification") screening. Several weeks ago, I noted a distinct drop in comments here, so I removed it from this blog. I am not the only blog owner to do just that.

I do note that it is a bit - just a bit - easier when it is larger. Both Chrome and Firefox use the Zoom key
Ctrl +
to make text larger. And the CAPTCHA form zooms, the same way.

A quick 1 - 2 - 3 hits of Ctrl + makes the CAPTCHA larger, and I find maybe 25% easier to read. It still sucks - but Zoom makes it suck slightly less. Whether it truly stops scripted hacking - even with the new form - remains to be seen, though.

Monday, March 05, 2012

What Does Stats Provide, That Third Party Visitor Activity Meters Cannot Provide?

Not all blog owners realise how unique Blogger Stats is, in its design.

Some owners may idly suggest that Stats can easily be replaced by any third party visitor activity log / meter.
Why bother to use Stats? Since Blogger Stats shows referrer spam, it's pretty useless - just use SiteMeter or StatCounter.
They have no idea why Stats was designed as it is, nor what information Stats provides, that no competing product can possibly provide.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Your Blogger Account: Anonymity Vs Security

One of the most frustrating problems with Blogger accounts involves the conflicting goals of anonymity and security.
  1. We are allowed to publish a Blogger blog in complete anonymity. Blogger acknowledges and supports that need.
  2. Anonymity comes at a price. Should you succeed in intentionally becoming completely anonymous, then forget the account name or password, there will be no way for Blogger to help you to recover access to your Blogger account.
Every week, we get reports from people who can't access their blogs because they changed their email address without proper planning, or they don't know which account owns a given blog. And some time ago, we dealt with a small flood of reports from people whose Blogger accounts - and blogs - had been stolen, using some devious hacking techniques.

Considering the need to prevent account and blog hijacking, yet allow people to be able to recover account access after changing email address, Blogger and Google have added an additional option for account authentication. This option may not please people who value anonymity, though.

Google Friend Connect Accessory Stopped Working For Some Custom Domain Published Blogs

We are observing owners of a few Blogger blogs reporting that the popular Google Friend Connect accessory, as suggested last year, recently stopped working, on their blogs.
I have a Blogger blog but I'm using a custom domain (not purchased through Blogger though) - and my Google Friend Connect is gone now, just like they announced it, concerning the other non-Blogger blogs.
From a brief check of several blogs reporting this change, it appears that blogs published to non BlogSpot URLs, using custom domain publishing with incorrect DNS setups, are being treated as non Blogger blogs. The Following / Google Friend Connect accessory, on those blogs, is now stopped.