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Showing posts from July, 2008

The Post Editor And HTML Special Characters

Most web pages that you will view on the Internet are written in HTML. HTML, or Hypertext Markup Language , was designed long ago to enhance simple text, giving it ability to display more than simple letters, numbers, special characters, etc. What you're looking at is mostly simple text. Here, on the other hand, is an example of bold text . And here, italicised text . And here, red text . Are you interested yet?

Blogger and Entry of Sensitive Data

Security awareness, in almost every feature of every computer application, operating system, and security program, is reaching an intense level. Any time that you enter a password, don't be watching the screen and counting the number of "*" or "#" characters displayed there, expecting the count to match the number of characters you know that you put in the password. Just in case there's somebody standing behind you, shoulder surfing your password entry process, a masked password of "n" number of characters won't necessarily be displayed as "n" number of "*" or "#" characters on the screen. Blogger is part of the paranoia, too. In various places where Blogger accepts entry of a password, after you hit "Enter" or "Save", the number of "*" may change. This is to keep people from walking up to the screen, counting the number of "*" displayed there, and guessing that 7 "*&

Separating Your Identities

If you've been blogging for a while, you probably have a small collection of blogs. Some blogs may deal with your personal life - maybe your family life, hobbies, political or social activities. Other blogs may deal with your professional life. Sometimes, you may consider that the two (or more) personalities should be kept separate. Maybe your personal life would conflict with professional issues, or maybe your politics need to be kept separate from your family. The safest and most effective way to keep the two separate would be to have separate Google accounts. If you're an experienced blogger, though, you know that's not an easy task. If you have access to only one computer, that's a recipe for disaster . Short of having separate accounts, consider two isolation techniques. Remove the "About Me" page element from the sensitive blogs. You can have your own version of "About Me" , with very little trouble, if you wish. From the dashboard, Edit

Help Your Readers Search Your Blog

When your blog gets larger, you'll want your readers to be able to find the content easier - sometimes using more detail than can be found in the Archives index. You can generally use Labels for a more comprehensive index of the blog contents - but both labels, and titles, index the posts based on your vision of the blog. What if you want your readers to view your blog, on their terms? This is where the Navbar, with its search box, becomes useful.

Less Traffic To Our Blogs?

I've been advising bloggers about an essential and sensitive subject - getting more traffic to their blogs - for years. Such a simple activity - post accurate, relevant, and useful articles - and advertise responsibly - the search engines will see you - and the readers will come. But there's a problem here, similar to the chicken and the egg paradox. If more search engine visibility depends upon more readers, and more readers depends upon better search engine visibility, how do you start the process? Where did the first chicken come from, anyway? With Blogger, there is a way around the paradox - the "Next Blog" link , driven by the "Recently Updated Blogs" list. When you post to your blog, your blog goes onto the "Recently Updated Blogs" list. People using the "Next Blog" link access the RUB list, and there they are reading your blog. The more that you post, the more readers you get from "Next Blog". But, there's a lim

Google Webmaster Tools And Web Crawl Logs

One of the most useful selections in Google Webmaster Tools , that your readers will appreciate, is the Web Crawl logs. These logs show various problems that your readers might encounter , as they surf through your blog. Of these errors, the easiest for you to correct, and possibly the most consistently useful, will be those listed in the "Not found" log. These are actual coding errors, somewhere in the blog posts. My readers probably find these, from time to time. They shouldn't, though. So, click on the link "Download this table". That downloads the display, into Excel. Then, copy and paste the first column. That gives me a list. URL http://bl

What FTP Is - And What It Isn't

We see this query in the forums almost weekly I need the address for the Blogger FTP server. or How do I FTP my updates? or Why do I get nothing but FTPConnectionClosed when publishing? Coming from a normal web site publishing environment, you're used to composing your web site offline, then publishing the web site by sending the updates, using FTP, to the host server for the web site. That's similar to what you do with a Blogger blog, but with one major exception. When you use FTP to publish a blog, Blogger is the FTP client . There is no Blogger FTP server. You still use the plain old Blogger Post Editor (with one rare alternative ) to compose the posts. FTP Publishing under Blogger simply lets you publish the blog, instead of to BlogSpot, to a third party provided host server, outside the BlogSpot name and physical space. (Update 2010/03): And now, even FTP Publishing is no more . >> Top

Path Variances When Publishing By FTP

Occasionally, settings which identify the location of your blog, relative to the FTP folder on the server where your blog is hosted, may change. Some changes may be related to changes at Blogger, other changes may be related to changes in the server itself. Symptoms may vary, but will typically mention denied access, or missing content. Access is denied. Requested action not taken: file unavailable. The system cannot find the path specified. Most frequently, the change required will be the relative root designation. The change will probably involve the main publishing path ("Settings" - "Publishing" - FTP Path) and / or the archives path ("Settings" - "Archiving" - Archive Path). If the current value is ".", change it to "/". If the current value is "/", change it to ".". If the current value is, for instance, "blog", change it to "/blog". If the current value is, for instance, "

Diagnosing Problems With Custom Domains - Case Study #8

Some time ago, I noted a technique being used by Blogger to combat the spread of spam blog referrals, which was creating some inconvenience for legitimate blogs using custom domains . That inconvenience seems to continue, even today. A prettier display, but the same inconvenience. This isn't good for your readers - nobody wants to surf to possibly malicious content - intentionally or otherwise. Nor is it good for your search engine reputation - this extra page will stop the spiders cold. Check your Google Webmaster Tools Logs if you see this one day, if you don't believe me. Let's look at the browser logs for myblog, and mydomain. 7/14/2008 09:24:54 Trying Redirect! Header: HTTP/1.0 301 Moved Permanently Date: Mon, 14 Jul 2008 16:24:56 GMT Expires: Mon, 14 Jul 2008 16:24:56 GMT Cache-Control: private, max-age=0 Content-Length: 3473 Content-Type: text/html Server: GFE/1.3 Connection: Close Redirect! Header: HTTP/1.0 301 Moved Permanently Date:

Server Changes At GoDaddy, And FTP Publishing Problems

Publishing a Blogger blog by FTP, to a third party server, presents a challenge, may I risk making an understatement. Bloggers choosing to host their blogs externally have traditionally been subject to numerous experiences , not all good. One of the least enjoyed is possibly seeing the advice Your publish is taking longer than expected. To continue waiting for it to finish, click here. It appears that a recent server change (some time in the last 3 to 6 months) at GoDaddy may be at least partially responsible for some of the FTP Publishing experiences, such as the latter advice. GoDaddy appears to have 3 server configurations right now. Linux, "hosting configuration 1.0", PHP 4.x. Linux, "hosting configuration 2.0", PHP 5.x. Windows, ASP.Net 1.1, IIS 6.0 . In at least one case, service moved from Linux configuration 1.0 to configuration 2.0 appears to be related to the symptom discussed above. According to the Original Poster in the thread linked above, service

New Blogger June 2008 - Displaying HTML

For years, bloggers have complained about the inability / complexity of displaying HTML code in a blog post. Being told to display "<" as "&lt;" and ">" as "&gt;" confuses many folks - it's not easy typing "&lt;" and "&gt;" - and it's still harder to type "&amp;lt;" and "&amp;gt;", which is how you display "&lt;" and "&gt;", respectively. Don't ask me to go any deeper.

FTP Publishing and the Complexity

Blogger is constantly fixing problems with FTP publishing, and more problems come up at the same time. Anybody who says that there is one problem, and waits for the one problem to be fixed, is assuring that the one problem won't ever be fixed . FTP Publishing involves scripted communication with hundreds of different "servers" (with Blogger acting like a "client") all over the world. Each different server, being owned by a different company, will be different from each other server; and each server will have different problems, which make the the Blogger scripts progressively more complex . Sometimes, changes by the server owner to some, though not all servers , may make a difference. And just because you were able to publish to your blog last week, that doesn't assure that you will be able to publish this week . Nor does it assure that somebody else will be able to publish today. What all of this means is that anybody who insists that his problem has t

Diagnosing Problems With Custom Domains - Case Study #7

Google Apps, which I originally identified in my second custom domain case study , and later in a separate article, Custom Domain Publishing, And Google Apps , is what I shall call a Web Services Aggregator. Google Apps gives us the ability to combine a Blogger blog using a non-BlogSpot URL in a domain with other Google and non-Google services. Google Apps is not the only web services aggregator that we have identifed recently. Yahoo provides a similar setup. Let's look at a Yahoo Web Services setup, using a hypothetical domain, "" (name changed here to protect the unfortunate). First, let's dig the DNS records for the primary domain "". ;; QUESTION SECTION: ; IN A ;; ANSWER SECTION: 1200 IN A 1200 IN A 1200 IN A 1200 IN A 1200 IN A 1200 IN A 68.180.1

Google Webmaster Tools And Label Searches

As a publisher of a Blogger blog, besides publishing articles, you have to know how those articles are being read. Just as knowing who is reading your blog , you need to know who is indexing your blog. The Google Search Engine, which feeds 2/3 of the known major search engines, provides Google Webmaster Tools , so we can monitor how well our blogs are being indexed.

Custom Domain Setup, Your Blog, and Your Readers

Periodically, someone interested but uncertain asks about the practical effects of publishing their blog to a custom domain . Will all the posts (the comments, the customised template, ...) be the same? or Will my readers be able to find my blog? or even Will I lose Page Rank, and if so, how long? These are all valid concerns. Publishing your blog to a custom domain is pretty much like publishing it to another BlogSpot URL, except you end up with two (maybe 3) URLs , each of which will work equally well. The BlogSpot URL. The primary URL for the domain. A possible secondary URL for the domain. There's no visible change to the content - it simply republishes to the new (non-BlogSpot) URL. If you want to go back to normal publishing , you republish to BlogSpot. Simple? Since the BlogSpot URL continues to work , everybody who has the BlogSpot URL bookmarked can continue to access the blog, transparently. You'll experience a brief loss of page rank , but you'll still get so

FTP Publishing and Network Issues

I've been discussing FTP Publishing, and comparing it to native BlogSpot and Custom Domain publishing, for many months. Besides the functionality and style differences , there are network issues - several key differences between custom domain and FTP publishing, which cause problems. The problems will come and go, and will randomly affect a different segment of the blogger population each time. Authentication . Blogs published by FTP are copied to servers with differing, and not always appropriately maintained, authentication policies. Control . Blogs published by FTP are copied to servers that aren't owned or supported by Google . Distance . Blogs published by FTP are copied to servers that are distant from Google. Dynamics . Blogs published by FTP are published statically. Each time a post is published, the entire blog is copied to the distant server. Overall . Looking at these issues, what should we expect? Authentication Authentication, the process of establishing y

LinkList + Feeds = Blogger BlogList

When we want to connect our blogs to our friends blogs, and vice versa, the first thing we think about is a linklist. Taking a basic list, and attaching a link to each list member, gives a nice structured list of links, called in some cases a BlogRoll, and called by Blogger a LinkList . That's simple, and that's boring. So Blogger went one better, replacing the links with blog feeds, and voila - the BlogList. For each LinkList entry, you provide a caption, and a link (URL). For each BlogList entry, you provide only a URL. Blogger does the rest, and you have a list of feeds. You can display the feeds in several different formats. For each feeds, you can choose to display The FavIcon of the blog. Title of most recent item. Snippet of most recent item. Thumbnail of most recent item. Date of last update. THis gives you a nice set of choices what you want your BlogList to look like. Want to see one in action? Look at the bottom of my sidebar, for my current BlogList (subject