An Important Update

Dear Followers Of This Blog ...

If you did not use a Blogger / Google account when you Followed this blog, years ago, you are probably not Following now . During the past...

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Extracting HTML / JavaScript From A Source Listing

If you do any work on your blog, and the template, eventually you will need to extract gadget source code.

The ability to extract source code can be useful in various tasks.
  • Identifying a problem gadget, to others.
  • Publishing a gadget on a separate page, by embedding the code in a page or post.
  • Recovering the content of a deleted gadget.

In each case, use of the proper text browser or source listing is where I start.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Use Google Drive For Team Document Development

Ever since AutoSave was developed, and added to posts being edited, people have been having problems when editing un published posts.

We see periodic cries of anguish, in Blogger Help Forum: Get Help with an Issue.
I had been working on this post, for weeks! Just as I selected a portion to delete, AutoSave kicked in, highlighted the whole post, and saved an empty post!!
and
I was working on this post, along with another member of the team. We keep making changes, and erasing each others changes!!!
Blogger allows long period editing of un published posts - and they provide team blog ownership - but you'll do better to not use either possibility, with any important projects.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Blogger Blog Readers Unable To Comment, Using OpenID Accounts Hosted By WordPress

We're seeing a scattered collection of reports, mentioning problems publishing comments, using OpenID authentication.

This problem appears to be related to the Blogger rollout of SSL support, for our blogs, which is currently in progress. SSL, or Secure Socket Layer, represents the next step in blog / website security - a step which the Internet community has been taking, for many years.

Blogger has been using SSL (aka "HTTPS" login), in their dashboard, for several years.
https://www.blogger.com
That's a secure Blogger login. The problem with Blogger using SSL in our blogs is that moving to SSL requires care, to avoid confusing our readers. Lack of care will subject our readers to the well known "mixed mode" warnings.
This site has insecure content.
Only secure content is displayed.
Firefox has blocked content that isn't secure.
These are several examples of what were normal, years ago, on many websites. Blogger does not want our readers subject to needless confusion, from these warnings.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Publishing A Gadget To A Specific Page

Long before Blogger developed static pages, blog owners had wanted to have some accessories or gadgets visible only on specific pages.

Initially, we discovered that gadgets could be displayed conditionally, based upon the URL being displayed. This is a fairly simple task, when you get used to it - but it requires editing the template HTML - and can look a bit scary, to those inexperienced in template editing.

Recently, we realised that some gadgets can be embedded in a page or post, by editing in HTML mode - and accomplish the same. I demonstrated my custom "Contact Me" gadget, using that ability.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Clearing Cache Won't Always Solve Problems

Sometimes, when diagnosing a problem which involves cache, you may be advised to "clear cache" - or possibly, "clear cache, cookies, and sessions".

Instructions, to do either, may vary according to the problem being diagnosed. Unfortunately, clearing "cache" or clearing "cache, cookies, and sessions", for problems which involve cache, may not always solve the problem at hand.

If you have a problem when viewing your blog - or if you wish to immediately refresh your personal view of your blog, you might clear "cache". If you have a problem with your Blogger dashboard - maybe when switching between Draft and Production Blogger, on the other hand, you would want to clear "cookies". Whenever you clear cookies, you should clear cache, also - so, if you have a problem when maintaining or publishing your blog, you will be advised to clear "cache, cookies, and sessions".

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Static Blogs, And Spam Classification

Blogger blogs are starting to become a regular website publishing platform - not just a blogging platform.

Long ago, a Blogger blog was just an online journal, with posts, and text. Then, Blogger added labels, later static pages - and then the ability to replace the home / main page, with dynamic or static content of your choice. Recently, the original limitation of 20 static pages / blog was relaxed (we are not yet certain that the limit has been eliminated completely, however).

Now, you can practically publish a static website, without even having posts, using a Blogger platform. But, is this a good idea, with Blogger "One button" Publishing?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Use A Blogger Blog As An OpenID Host

We see an occasional request, in Blogger Help Forum: Learn More About Blogger, about commenting and the profile used when authenticated.
How do I have my comments linked directly to my blog? I don't want my comments linked to my profile, with people having to hunt for my blog links!
This person does not understand why we have Bogger / Google / Google+ profiles, linked from our comments.

Even if we can't provide direct links to our blogs, when commenting using a Blogger or Google account - we can do that, if we can comment, using an OpenID account. An OpenID account links directly to our designated blog - when we specify the right blog URL, while logged in using OpenID, to publish a comment.

Your Blogger blog will provide an OpenID account, just as well as a FaceBook or WordPress account will do, for any Blogger blog using Blogger hosted commenting. Blogs using third party commenting systems may, or may not, support OpenID.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Change Per Post Comment Settings, One Post At A Time

Occasionally, we have a blog owner trying to enable commenting, on a blog - and being unsuccessful diagnosing commenting problems.

Checking the per blog comment settings, in the the dashboard menu under Settings - Posts and comments, there's no obvious problem. The problem, in some cases, is in the per post settings, in the Post Editor "Post settings - Options" wizard - but not all posts will have a problem.

The "Reader comments" setting, for any new post, is taken from the setting for the previously published post. If you publish a post today, with "Reader comments" selected as "Don't allow", the next post will also be set to "Don't allow" - unless you change the setting, before publishing. Similarly, if it's set to "Allow", the next post published will have it set to "Allow".
  • Allow
  • Don't allow
That's the choices, for each new post.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Spam Blog False Positive Classifications Do Exist

No matter what Blogger does with improving the spam classification process, they will always generate some false positive classifications.

The more that they improve the classification process overall, the more obscure the false positive classifications will be. Some false positives will require intense investigation of the blogs, to identify the relationships between the blogs involved - and to prove, to Blogger Policy Review staff, that a false positive classification is present.

Some time ago, in Blogger Help Forum: Get Help with an Issue, I had occasion to deal with a blog owner who was a currency trader, by profession. This person had published a cluster of blogs, where he discussed legitimate issues involved in currency trading.

Currency trading is an essential part of exchange of merchandise, between different countries (the export / import business) - and the Blogger spam classification process had deleted his blogs, as suspected spam hosts.

Friday, November 21, 2014

GPT / PTC / PTS Content Is Not Welcome, In Blogger

One of the most easily overlooked details, about Blogger blog content, is that GPT / PTC / PTS Content is not suitable, for Blogger blogs.

Blogger Content Policy has a section which describes GPT / PTC / PTS Content, in passing.
Spam: Spam takes several forms in Blogger, all of which can result in deletion of your account or blog. Some examples include creating blogs designed to drive traffic to your site or to move it up in search listings, posting comments on other people's blogs just to promote your site or product, and scraping existing content from other sources for the primary purpose of generating revenue or other personal gains.
Unfortunately, spammers have been very subtle, in their description of various make money fast programmes - and not so many blog owners think it necessary to contact a lawyer, to interpret the Content Policy document, when planning their new blog.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Private Blogs, And Dynamic Blog Access

Occasionally, someone may publish a blog as private, invite / accept readers, then later decide that results are not as positive as desired.

It's easy enough to change a blog, from Private to Public. Just go to the Permissions wizard, in the dashboard menu Settings - Basic, and change Blog Readers from "Private" to "Public".

Unfortunately, this may not leave everybody able to access the blog.
I made my blog public, last week. Some of my friends are now seeing
Your current account does not have access to view this page.
Why is this still an issue?
The blog owner, in this case, is seeing the effect of cache, and authentication.

In many cases, simple instructions to "clear cache, cookies, and sessions" may resolve this problem. This does not always work, however - and the mystery why it does not always work may frustrate us, almost as much as the original symptom.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

'Good Enough' Never Is, With Custom Domains

This month, we're seeing an interesting collection of problem reports, in Blogger Help Forum: Get Help with an Issue, about custom domain setup.
Why is my blog offline - occasionally?
And
Why do some (just some!) of my readers tell me they can't see my blog?
Investigating the problem, we see that the domain is, indeed online - some of the time.

Investigating the DNS addressing, robustly, we find an all too frequently seen set of name servers:
mydomain.com. 14400 IN A 216.239.32.21
www.mydomain.com. 14400 IN CNAME ghs.google.com.
What we see here is a domain, setup by someone who thought that one server would be 'good enough' to get by.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Comments, Owner Choices, And Reader Choices

Much of what we do in life - and what we do when using Blogger - is based upon, and limited by, choice.

Some choices we get to make, for ourselves. Other choices are made for us, by people who make their own choices.

Some blog owners do not want their readers to have to login to Blogger, to comment on their blogs. Other blog owners do not want their readers to have to solve a CAPTCHA, to comment on their blogs.

A few blog owners do not want their readers to have to do either.
It seems anyone who wishes to leave a comment, will have to do some form of login, either via Google or a CAPTCHA, to do so! Is there a reason for this, would it not be easier, for anyone to just leave a comment?
And the answer here is simple.
It would be easier, if neither were required.
But reality - involving activity by spammers, and activity to counter spammers - leaves some of us with less choices.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Clearing Cache, Cookies, And Other Website Data

Most of us, as we surf the Internet, are going to surf some websites, repeatedly.

Everybody has favourite websites. When we surf the same website, over and over, some of what we do and see may not change a lot.

To keep us from wasting our time, and generating unnecessary network traffic, our browsers keep track of the websites that we visit over and over, save records of what we do and copies of what we see, and note what has changed. The website content, stored locally, is known as "private" data.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Confusion About GMail Vs Non GMail Based Email

Long ago, when diagnosing a problem thought to involve email, in Blogger Help Forum: Get Help with an Issue, we would ask a very simple question
Is your Blogger account based on a GMail - or non GMail - email address?
And we would carefully add
Please, do not state your email address, here!
The latter request was to prevent theft of peoples Blogger accounts.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Adding An Office Document To Your Blog

Just as many blog owners enjoy the option to include photos and videos to their blogs, some would like to add office type multimedia.

Queries about adding PDF documents, spreadsheets, and Word documents, to our blogs, are frequently seen, in Blogger Help Forum: Learn More About Blogger.

One of the issues that need to be considered is that many professional documents are created using proprietary office software. PDF files, for instance, are created using Adobe Acrobat. Excel spreadsheets and Word documents are created using Microsoft Office. Another issue may involve confidentiality. Office documents may contain confidential data, that's not intended for the world to view.

Google has a solution for handling all of these proprietary file formats, and for the confidentiality issue.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Comments Posted Use "noreply" Email Addresses

Recently, we've noted a number of complaints about Blogger commenting, in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken
.My comments all use a "noreply" email address, instead of my actual email address. How do I have people email their replies to my comments?
This appears to be one more way which Blogger is trying to safeguard our Blogger accounts and blogs, from malicious, technically astute blog thieves.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Blogger "Contact" Form - What You See Is What You Get

Blog owners add the Blogger supplied Contact Form, then wonder about the details, and what options are available.

The Blogger supplied "Contact Form" gadget provides a very basic form, with few options. There's not a lot to do or see.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The CAPTCHA, For Anonymous Comments, Isn't Going Away

Several weeks ago, Blogger added a security feature to Blogger commenting, to reduce comment spam.
Note: Even if you don't have word verification turned on, anonymous commenters might be asked to enter some text. This helps protect your blog from abuse.

This change has not pleased everybody.
I disabled "prove you're not a robot" for commenting. Why do my readers still have to solve a CAPTCHA, each time they comment?
This blog owner is not looking at the bigger picture. This new feature will benefit many blog owners - when Blogger is used, properly.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The "Reply" Option, For Embedded Comments

The option provided some time ago, to the embedded comment form, to allow "threaded" comments, is becoming quite popular.

Unfortunately, the "Reply" link does not always work. Blog owners and readers alike complain.
I click on "Reply", and nothing happens!
This problem appears to have accelerated recently, possibly resulting from the hasty rollout of the new anonymous comments CAPTCHA - but there are other less obvious possibilities, too.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Renaming Your Blog, And Historical Stats Pageview Counts

Occasionally, we see odd questions about Stats, and the history of someone's blog (or maybe, the URL of someone's blog), in Blogger Help Forum: Get Help with an Issue.
If I started my blog last year, why does my Stats display show pageviews from 2, or even 3, years ago?
and
If I rename my blog to a better URL, how do I carry the Stats numbers to the new URL?
Neither blog owner shows an accurate understanding of the historical nature of Stats pageview counts.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Use "Quick Edit" To Bypass The Dashboard Menu

One very useful Blogger feature is the option to bypass the Blogger dashboard - to edit the various gadgets, and existing blog posts.

The feature, termed "Quick Edit", provides two different icons, generally visible to the proper recipients, with the option enabled, on the published blog.
  • The "Quick Edit" "pencil" is visible to administrators and authors, in the posts toolbar, to the right of the "Email Post" icon. This will generally be in one of the post footer lines.
  • The gadget "screwdriver / wrench" icon is visible to administrators, to the lower right of each template gadget (except for "Blog Posts").
Though the "screwdriver / wrench" icon is more visible, that icon has no name, and no selection option in the Blogger dashboard. And, there are more mysteries.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Don't Write About What Makes Money - Write What You Know

Too many blog owners start their first blog - and the first step is to drop into the nearest online publishing forum - such as Blogger Help Forum: Learn More About Blogger, and ask the question of the typical marketing expert.
I want to start a blog. What should I write about, to make the most money?
And there is where many spam blogs start.

People who are making money, are busy making money. They do not hang out in forums, waiting for you to ask how to make money, so they can tell you how to make money - probably, some of the money that they want to be making.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Blogger Is Unfair - To Would Be Blog Thieves

Blog owners continue to forget the account name and / or password of their Blogger accounts, then demand alternate recovery options.

Every week, we see the reports in Blogger Help Forum: Get Help with an Issue, claiming that changing their email - or getting a new phone - caused somebody to unfairly lose access to her / his blog. Too many blog owners refuse to understand that the email address and phone number are simply backdoor accesses to their Blogger accounts.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Blogger Terminology - Blogs Vs Posts

Sometimes, we see odd confusion in Blogger Help Forum: Get Help with an Issue.
I deleted my blog - can somebody help me restore it? I worked so many days writing it!
or alternately
I am trying to write a new blog, but it says my url has already been taken (by me).
If the first owner is kind enough to include the URL of the deleted "blog", we may use our favourite online diagnostic tool - and discover that the blog is still online, and not deleted! In the second case, we may find a new blog, with one post.

Investigating further, we discover that the problem here involves terminology. This article that I am writing, "Blogger Terminology - Blogs Vs Posts", is a post, which is part of my blog, "The REAL Blogger Status" (which right now is actually The ONLY Blogger Status - but that is another tale).

The terminology here is pedantic, to us - but it's very real, to the blog owner who has just deleted an important post. Or to the owner who has published one post - and now wants to publish a second (not blog, post).

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

A Deleted Blog Can Only Be Recovered By The Owner

Deleted blog recovery requests come in many forms.
I can't access my blog!
or
My dashboard is empty!!
or
Somebody deleted my blog!!!

A successful deleted blog recovery starts from the dashboard button or link, to "Restore" or "Review" the blog. When the blog was deleted by the owner less than 90 days ago, and the owner is able to login to the right account, the "Restore" button will bring the blog back, as the owner watches.

If the blog was deleted by Blogger / Google, and the owner is able to login to the right account, the "Review" button starts the recovery process. If use of the "Review" button brings no results - or if there is no "Restore" / "Review" button at all, things get interesting.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Blogs To Have Automatically Generated Sitemaps

Last week, Blogger gave us a feature that various blog owners have asked about, for many years.

The previous sitemap, based on the blog posts feed, has been replaced by an automatically generated, dedicated sitemap. You can see one, for this blog, as an example.

Accompanying the new sitemap will be an updated "robots.txt" file.

Blogger Blogs To Have Automatically Generated Sitemaps

Last week, Blogger gave us a feature that various blog owners have asked about, for many years.

The current sitemap, based on the blog posts feed, is being replaced by an automatically generated, dedicated sitemap. You can see one, for this blog, as an example.

Accompanying the new sitemap will be an updated "robots.txt" file.

The new sitemap is not being setup, immediately, on all blogs. Only blogs with standard "robots.txt" file will get the sitemap, initially. It's being installed, automatically, with no action required by the blog owner, on a limited number of blogs.

Monday, November 03, 2014

The Google "One account" Login, And Cookie Filters

Thanks to the recently added Google "One account" login, all Blogger features are now vulnerable to "third party" cookie filters.

Long ago, many people who used Blogger would login to Blogger using a link in the navbar - or a similar Blogger login wizard.
http://www.blogger.com
Now, that login redirects to the Google "One account" login.
http://www.google.com
When referenced from a Blogger login, the latter URL becomes magnificently complex.
https://accounts.google.com/ServiceLogin?service=blogger&passive=1209600&continue=https://www.blogger.com/home&followup=https://www.blogger.com/home&ltmpl=start

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Custom Redirects, And The Mobile Template Redirect, Are Now Compatible

One of the neatest features added to Blogger, this decade, has to be the Custom Redirects.

For many years, we asked, over and over, for the ability to optionally publish a blog with a static home page. 2 years ago, Blogger gave us that ability, and more, with Custom Redirects.

But, Custom Redirects had a problem - it did not work with a mobile template, and a redirected mobile home page. Recently, however, that changed.