Saturday, June 30, 2012

Blogger Magic - A Static Home Page, Video Demonstration

To better explain the process of setting up a blog with a static home page, I have produced a new video demonstration (somewhat improved, from the attempt earlier today). This is experimental, so be kind.

This is intentionally a silent video, because the recording process, used for displaying the screen, is very heavy on computer resources. Audio doesn't improve the experience.

See the How To page, in the demo blog, first:

My Static Home Page Demonstration Blog

And now, the video:

Nitecruzr Video: Setting Up A Blog With A Static Home Page

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The World Wide Blogger Culture, And Date Formatting Under The New GUI

Since Blogger took the next step with The New Blogger GUI a few months ago, and made it The Default Blogger GUI, complaints about the New GUI have been numerous, and impassioned. One complaint, seen occasionally, mentions the date / time setting wizard, in the Post Editor "Post settings" Schedule.
In the new blogger interface, it is very hard to backdate content. You have to use the calendar GUI, you can't just type a date it. I have content going back 13 years, do you know how hard it is to click the left-arrow on the calendar 144 times to get to the proper date??? It's a nightmare!
This is one person who needs a more flexible date setting wizard, in The New GUI.

In criticising the new date setting wizard, we need to understand the reasons for the design. I don't think that Blogger designed the new wizard, and removed the ability to just type the date, simply because they wanted the new wizard to look shiny.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Blog Owners Reporting Posts Publishing Without Page URLs

We are seeing a small amount of blog owners who report that their blogs appear to be publishing new posts without individual URLs. The latest posts, when indexed in the Archive gadget, or in the post titles, simply link to the main page of the blog. Some reports mention that links in the "Edit Posts" / "Posts" menu also link to the main page, while other reports explicitly state that the links in "Edit Posts" / "Posts" are fine.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Confusion Over Community Building Accessories - Blog Feeds, EMail, And Following

A few blog owners become confused over the various community building options offered for our blogs. We see the queries in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken.
How do I get a list of my Followers email addresses?
and
Why don't my email subscribers show up in my Followers gadget?
and
How do I know how many people subscribe to my feed?

These questions all come from people who don't understand the differences between blog feed subscribers, email subscribers, and Followers.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Attention June 2012 Graduates: Transfer Ownership Of Your Blogger Blogs, Now

As you pack up your personal belongings, and close down your various student activities related to your college / university life, you're probably spending some time creating various traces, to point to your new life, which is now starting. One such activity would involve filing various "change of address" notifications, for people / services who communicate with you through postal mail, addressed to the college postal address which you use.

Similar to postal mail, you probably have a college email address, issued to you when you registered as a student. Hopefully by now, you have setup a non college email account, and are busy filling out change of address "notifications" for the many services which communicate with you through email. As you do this, you should think of your Blogger account, which owns your Blogger blogs.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Norton Safe Web Is Claiming That All BlogSpot Blogs Are Fraudulent

We are seeing a steadily increasing flood of reports, in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, from people who use Norton Safe Web, and who are now seeing some distressing advice.
When I try to view any BlogSpot blog, I see
This web page is a known fraudulent web page. It is recommended that you do NOT visit this page.

For your protection, this web page has been blocked. Visit Symantec to learn more about phishing and internet security.
What is Google doing about this false alert?

Since Norton (aka Symantec) is not a part of Google, there is not a lot that Blogger or Google can do about this problem.

Don't Delete Your Post (Or Page), To Rebuild It

Many people have a yearly ritual, called "spring cleaning", where the entire house gets a complete cleaning, from top to bottom. When one does spring cleaning, one does not tear the house down, however - one only cleans what is there.

Some blog owners seem to think that "spring cleaning" of a post starts with tearing the post down, as in deleting it and starting anew. We get an occasional query, from a perplexed blog owner, in Blogger Help Forum: How Do I?.
I rewrote a bunch of posts, and now all of the URLs have weird numbers at the end. How do I clean up the URLs?
and the only way to clean up the URLs is to start over, and re publish the original posts, with the non suffixed URLs.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Empty Or New Blogs Are Especially Vulnerable To Spurious Spam Classification

One example of agony, seen all too frequently in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, comes from new (would be) blog owners.
I setup my new blog, using a great blog name, properly chosen - but before I could post, I got email from Blogger.
Hello, The review of your blog at http://yournewblog.blogspot.com/ confirmed that the content violates the Terms of Service for: SPAM. In accordance with those conditions, the blog has been deleted - and its URL is no longer accessible.
This was a new blog, with no posts! How can it be considered spam??
Unfortunately, this blog owner is the latest victim of the spam problem, and "friendly fire".

If we consider the known lifetime of spam blogs, we can see that new non spam blogs are especially vulnerable to spurious classification as spam hosts.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Where's The Dashboard?

We see this confusion, a couple times a week, in Blogger Help Forum: How Do I?.
Where is the dashboard?
In the Classic Blogger GUI, the display which contained the "Blog List" (at the top), and the "Reading List" (at the bottom) was labeled "Dashboard". Many people also called the "Settings" / "Template" screens for the various blogs, linked from the Blog List, the dashboard.

The New Blogger GUI has no page with the label - and no links "To The Dashboard". The Navbar (another unlabeled feature) has two links - "Design" and "New Post" - which lead to different dashboard sections, when you are appropriately logged in to Blogger. And, the "B" logo at the far left of the navbar will, similarly, take you to the Blog List / Reading List.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Custom Domain Diagnoses - Identify DNS Address Inconsistencies

One of the more intriguing causes of intermittent custom domain problems starts with inconsistent DNS server configuration. Recently, eNom, one of the "partners" in "Buy a domain", has been serving inconsistent DNS configurations, from time to time - including one very blatant episode the afternoon of 6/18/2012, which was reported by several dozen angry blog owners.

Detecting, and diagnosing, the inconsistencies is typically a complicated process.
  1. Identify the domain authority servers, typically using a Who Is lookup.
  2. Dig each domain address (typically "naked domain" and "www" aliases), from each of the identified domain authority servers.
  3. Extract and aggregate each Dig log.
  4. Compare aggregated Dig snippets.
This was not a task for the faint of heart, or tech challenged, blog owner.

Recently, I was given a handy tool which does all of this, in one quick GUI transaction.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Internet Explorer V8 / V9 And The New Blogger GUI

Back when Internet Explorer V8 was first released by Microsoft, and Blogger had yet to update their code to allow for its peccadilloes, some Blogger blog owners used the Internet Explorer "Compatibility View" switch, to make their browsers work with Blogger (when they were using the Blogger "Classic" GUI).

We've recently been seeing an increasing number of people in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, using Internet Explorer, who report problems with The New GUI.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

When Using "Buy a domain", Prevent Interruptions

One of the saddest problems reports, seen in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, and mentioning the custom domain purchase process, starts with
I had a problem with my credit card, and had to get my bank to allow my purchase. But now, I see
We found an existing order for this domain. Please contact support.
or maybe
I had to answer the phone after I started my purchase, and now the domain that I wanted isn't available. How do I get the domain that should be mine?

These problem reports are from people who did not understand how simple the domain purchase process is.
  1. Select an available domain.
  2. Provide registration and payment information.
That simplicity is based on a monolithic restriction.
The purchase process does not allow for interruption.
It is to your advantage, when purchasing your domain, to complete the purchase, quickly.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Research Custom Domain Problems From The Beginning Of The Purchase

Sometimes, researching a problem, with a custom domain published blog, involves a Who Is lookup, to determine key domain details - like DNS server namess, purchase date, registrar name, and others. Starting with the properly spelled domain name is essential, to getting a useful Who Is lookup. In cases where the blog / domain owner can't spell the domain name consistently, you can start even more basically.

To determine the details about a domain purchase, when you have any doubt, ask for a copy of the invoice or receipt. If the transaction was conducted electronically, copy and paste of the key information is most useful. If the transaction involved a paper trail, have the receipt scanned, and a picture posted somewhere that you can view.

Friday, June 08, 2012

The Latest Round Of CAPTCHAs Left Me Speechless

During the past week, I have seen a small handful of mentions of the latest Blogger CAPTCHA form, so I was not surprised this evening when I encountered one, in real life. In this case, where I was privileged to see these real examples, I suspect that the CAPTCHA itself was only marginally involved, as the cause of the problem being discussed, in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Identifying The Frog - And Other Image Oddities - On The Blog

An occasional sign of confusion, seen occasionally in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken, starts with a simple statement.
There's a frog on my blog!

Those of us who know about third party templates know what's up, here. Given the right browser, you can find the problem, in a couple minutes.

Blogger Magic - A Static Home Page, Improved

For many years, Blogger blog owners have been asking for the ability to have a static Home page, on their blog.

We came up with a basic solution for that, a couple years ago. Last year, I packaged the procedure.
  1. Set "Show" to "0 posts".
  2. Add a static HTML / Text gadget.
  3. Tweak the template for the new gadget, to display only on Home page.
This was an obvious solution (to some of us) - but it's painfully complex, and it involves editing the template HTML. It's an interesting techie solution - and that's about it.

Today, I realised that Blogger recently gave us this option, in a far simpler solution, last month - but not so many people noticed it.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Confusion Over Reason For, And Effect Of, Country Code Aliases

Some blog owners are a bit confused about why Google developed the Country Code based "blogspot.com" aliases - and what effects the aliases have.

Of the people who know about the worldwide distribution of the Country Code aliases, not everybody understands their actual purpose. And, not everybody sees aliasing, even when they live in countries outside the USA.

Similar to the earlier confusion about our email addresses displayed in the navbar, a few blog owners, publishing "mybloggerblog.blogspot.com" (for instance) see their blog displayed as "mybloggerblog.blogspot.co.uk" (when they live in the UK), and think that the whole world now knows that this blog, "mybloggerblog.blogspot.com", is published by someone in the UK.

Not everybody, living in the UK, and seeing the blog as "mybloggerblog.blogspot.co.uk", may realise that people in France see it as "mybloggerblog.blogspot.fr", people in Italy see it as "mybloggerblog.blogspot.it", and so on. This is a problem, because some blog owners prefer to keep their country of residence a secret, from their readers.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Label Management In The New GUI

With more people starting to use the New Blogger GUI, we're starting to see more questions about some non obvious and obscure details. Recently, people are starting to use the New GUI for routine blog maintenance, and are trying to manage their labels.
How do I add labels to my posts, using the Posts (previously the "Edit Posts") menu?
The answer is right there in front of our eyes - but we need sharp eyes.