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Showing posts from January, 2011

Security Add-Ons On Our Computer, And Our Use Of Blogger

Our use of the many Blogger scripts and utilities, as we maintain and publish our blogs, is affected by layered security settings in our browsers, and on our computers and our networks. The native browser settings , and the browser add-ons , are the most obvious settings - but they are not the only ones. Most computers will include various applications, running on the computer, that assist the operating system in preventing the browser - and other network applications - from allowing malicious activity on our computers. Long ago, these applications were best described in two classes. Firewalls . Applications that protected our computers from malicious network activity, coming from outside the computer. Anti-virus . Applications that protected our computers from ignorant user activity, inside the computer. The two types of activity could be easily distinguished from each other , both by how the activity was spread, and how it was prevented. As malicious Internet activity beca

Tweaking The Followers Gadget

With Following becoming increasingly important in many blogs, as part of creating an exciting and ongoing community, many blog owners are using improved versions of the Followers gadget. Repositioning the Followers gadget, outside the sidebar, will let you show more Followers - or you can show the same amount of icons, but larger ones, in a gadget with the same height. If you want to encourage more Followers, using larger icons wouldn't hurt. All that you need to do is publish the Followers gadget as a static page, using the Pages Editor, in "Edit HTML" mode. You can display Followers in a separate page, without having to edit the template . Or, you can use an HTML / JavaScript gadget, instead of the default Followers gadget.

Including A Video In Your Blog

Video content, like music (audio content), can provide education and enjoyment to your readers, when properly included in your blog. Video, also like music, can be a problem, when improperly included. If played without warning, as part of your blog, video content can be a worse problem than music that plays automatically. Just as it's not in your best interest, as a blog publisher, to include music that plays automatically, it's even less in your best interest to include a video that plays automatically.

Managing Your Followed Blogs, With A Non Shared Blogger Profile

If you are going to use Following effectively, you have to manage the blogs that you Follow , as well as managing the people who Follow your blogs . Managing the blogs that you Follow should be fairly simple - just click on the blue "Manage" button at the bottom of the dashboard. Some blog owners won't be able to do this, though - and for an apparently irrelevant reason. Following profiles that are associated with non shared Blogger profiles can't be managed using the "Manage" button. What now? Why can't I Manage my Followed blogs? Another problem that may result from a non shared Blogger profile would be a Follower icon with no profile link, or a link leading to the above display - if, of course, you are Following a given blog using your Blogger profile . You can show the contents of your Blogger profile, a list of your own blogs, and a list of your Followed blogs - and still not allow access to your Blogger profile - if you de select the opt

Bloggers Seeing Their Icon Displayed As A Shadow, On Followed Blogs

A few bloggers this week are reporting Following some blogs, and seeing the icon representing them, in the Following gadget, displaying as a shadow, with no name popup. Clicking on the icon, they see no profile name, though they do see a list of Followed blogs. Previously Followed blogs do not seem to be affected - icons and profiles display normally. We have a rollup discussion , in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken , where this problem is being explored. If you are observing this problem with your Following profile, please provide some details, as best as you are able - and help diagnose the problem. When you sign in to Following, which button / link do you use? Google Twitter Yahoo AIM Netlog OpenID If you are using a Blogger or Google account for Following, is the account based on a GMail address, or a non GMail address? Are you logged in to Blogger (separately from the Follower login!) using a GMail or non GMail based Google account, when you Follow and observ

Setup A Team Blog

Occasionally, we have some blog owners who have never considered publishing a blog with multiple owners, or even with multiple authors. A team blog is so easy to setup, yet some blog owners have no idea how to do this. A team blog with multiple authors is the simplest to setup - just go to Settings - Basic, and use Permissions to invite a friend as an author.

Restoring A Deleted Blog, Or A Deleted Blogger Account, Is More Than A Mere Formality

Everybody makes mistakes, and Blogger knows that. Some time ago, Blogger gave us the ability to recover deleted blogs - and later, to recover deleted Blogger accounts . Neither recovery procedure is trivial - and both procedures require that some amount of proof of ownership be provided. As blog owners, we are promised some degree of protection , as long as we maintain proof of ownership.

Problems With Spam Classification - January 2011

In early December, 2010, a number of blog owners found themselves with deleted or locked blogs, and mysterious circumstances which appeared to involve bogus spam classification . This week, we are seeing similar, though not identical, reports in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken . We now have a rollup discussion , for reporting the problem, in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken . Legitimate reports of this problem need to be carefully separated from other known scenarios. Blog(s) that are (righteously, or spuriously) deleted or locked - and can be reviewed, using the 4 step process. Blog owners who have (for one reason or another) logged in to Blogger with the wrong account, and who do not see their expected blogs in the dashboard. Blog owners who have deleted the Blogger account, or individual blogs, for one reason or another. These scenarios still need to be diagnosed and treated, individually. >> Top

Communicating With Your Followers

Some blog owners enjoy the Blogger community building tool of Following a lot, and some decide that it would be good to email their Followers when they produce new posts - or maybe, just to chat. How do I subscribe my Followers, so they get new post notices? and How can I email my Follower, if I can't use the "Send a message" link? Some of these ideas may conflict with a basic feature of Following. Following lets people read a blog using newsfeed subscriptions , and does not require email addresses, to subscribe . The latter detail is relevant because many blog readers may not want to provide their email address, casually. Even if someone does provide an email address in their Following account profile , that doesn't guarantee that it's an active, or even a working, address. If you use "Send a message", your message may, or may not, be read. If your blog content is likely to attract readers who don't use newsfeed readers, you can setup a Fee

Blog Owners Seeing "502 Server Error" When Trying To Access Their Dashboard

Recently, we've been seeing a few reports from blog owners, who are unable to access their dashboards I can view my blog, but I cannot see, or get to my dashboard. It loads forever and then tells me there is a 502 Server Error. or When logged in to Blogger, I cannot access and my dashboard. This is not a complete outage, and no affinity is known. We have a Rollup Discussion in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken , where we are soliciting details from people affected. If you are seeing this error, please help us to help Blogger Support, and provide some details. URL of the blog. Location (city, province / state, country). ISP providing connectivity. How severe is the problem? Is it a total, or intermittent, outage? When was the problem first observed? When was the problem last not observed? Your details about your experience with this problem may provide key diagnostic clues, so be as complete and precise as possible. If you are trying to access a s

The Detail Numbers In Stats Will Never Balance

The Blogger activity analysis tool Stats is becoming pretty popular among Blogger blog owners - but the growth in popularity is irregular. There are misunderstandings about the depth and scope of the statistics provided, in the Stats displays. Some blog owners are keeping logs, or maybe spreadsheets, from the numbers - and are adding up the numbers displayed, by rows and columns. Having added up the numbers, they are finding discrepancies. My 'All Time' Stats are inconsistent with 'Monthly' Stats! and Stats doesn't include all countries in "All Time" views!!

The World Wide Blogger Culture, And Date Formatting

The 21st Century is the beginning of new experiences for mankind. The Internet in general, and Blogger blogging in particular, are providing opportunities unparalleled in history - people of all nations and locations are coming together, casually and freely, to get acquainted. And with the opportunities come many challenges - some major, and others seemingly minor. One seemingly minor issue, with a significance which may not be realised by everybody, is how we write the date. In the USA, we generally write it as "mm/dd/yy", which stands, in computer speak, for "Month / Day / Year". A variation here is "mm/dd/yyyy", which denotes the year entered, and includes the century - which is also an important detail.

Static Pages And The "Jump Break" Feature

Blog owners are becoming increasingly interested in using the new Blogger offering, Static Pages (aka "pages"), in their blogs. Recently, we've seen blog owners who like to publish blogs with large displays asking about another new Blogger feature, Jump Break. Some blog owners would like to use Jump Break to summarise their static pages. Jump Break, the Blogger solution for auto summarising posts , displays an entire post, when the post is being displayed in individual post mode. When a post is being displayed in multi post mode - archive retrieval / label search / main page - the summarised portion of the post is displayed, with a "Read More" link leading to the individual post display. Multi post code is very simple - the group mode, summarised post links to the individual mode, full display post.

Including Music In Your Blog

Many blog owners are experimenting with multimedia, as part of their blogs. People who have 5 channel audio / 3D video systems, and various sources of content for each, look at their blogs and decide that the next frontier, for decorating their blog, has to be music. Any blog with a visual theme surely deserves an audible theme, also. Unfortunately, many blog readers like to surf the net, while listening to their favourite tunes. People who are listening to new age music won't appreciate surfing to a blog that makes their computer suddenly start to play grunge rock. Nor will classical music fans appreciate the latest rhythm and blues, or urban beat, hit tune. Unexpected music can create both a bandwidth annoyance, and an audible distraction. People surfing blogs in a shared environment - for instance a public library - won't appreciate any audio content , in any blog.

Correcting The GoDaddy Custom Domain Setup Advice

In Custom Domain Setup Advice From GoDaddy Is Wrong , I described the recently updated instructions provided by GoDaddy, to their customers, in Mapping Your Domain Name to Work with Blogger - and I described the observed results. When investigated, an excerpted Dig log shows a common symptom. 3600 IN A 3600 IN CNAME What we see there is a forwarded domain - and as I have explained a few times, domain forwarding does not produce an effective and reliable custom domain .

Custom Domain Setup Advice From GoDaddy Is Wrong

We have recently seen a few blog owners, in the process of setting up their blogs for custom domain publishing, reporting various symptoms. I get a bX-rfwe0f error, when trying to use the Publishing tab on Blogger, after purchasing a new domain from GoDaddy. When investigated, an excerpted Dig log shows a common symptom. 3600 IN A 3600 IN CNAME Server "" is not a Google custom domain DNS server - it's owned by GoDaddy, and it's used for DNS forwarding. ( -, Inc. GO-DADDY-SOFTWARE-INC (NET-64-202-160-0-1) -

Make An Email Based Feed From Somebody's Blog

Not everybody who spends time reading other people's blogs understands the concept of newsfeeds, and feed readers . Some people still prefer to use their email client as their feed reader. How do I get email notices, for new posts, from somebody else's blog? The standard reply used to be to ask the blog owner to setup FeedBurner email distribution , for their blog. Of course, this required that you contact the blog owner - and this isn't always possibile . If you think outside the box, though, you can setup email feed distribution, for any blog or website that publishes a feed. Setup a FeedBurner feed, for any blog or website that interests you. Setup email distribution, for the new feed. Subscribe to your new feed. Add another person using "Subscription Management". Setup a FeedBurner feed, for any blog or website that interests you. Add a feed, to your FeedBurner dashboard. Setup email distribution, for the new feed. From the dashboard Publiciz

Comment Filtering Hampers Busy Commenting

Now that comment filtering is in full force, some blog owners are finding that it requires an unfair amount of their time, to maintain. My blog gets a lot of comments - and too many non spam comments go into the Spam queue, forcing me to moderate before they can be published. This is an unfair waste of my time. I would like to turn the filters off, for my blog. Unfortunately for these owners, Blogger has stated that the comment filters are designed so everybody must participate . If the new filters were made optional, spammers could publish blogs with spam comments, and degrade the filter effectiveness.

The Technical Sophistication Of Your Blogs Readers

Almost daily, we see a problem report in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken , where someone publishes a blog that has readers with a problem My readers can't leave me comments! and when I diagnose the problem The blog uses an inline ("Embedded below post") comment form, with CAPTCHA ("word puzzle") verification. Your readers need to check their cookie and script filters, starting with "third party cookies". the response will frequently be No way! My readers can't handle that!

Blog Owners Reporting "The requested URL / was not found on this server. " When Attempting To View Their Blogs

One frequently seen report, in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken , comes from blog owners whose blogs are published to non BlogSpot URLs (though the problem reports may not always mention that detail, explicitly). Help! I can't see my blog - I just see The requested URL / was not found on this server.

Our Browsers, Add-Ons, And Our Use Of Blogger

As publishers and readers of Blogger blogs, our browsers are probably the most used feature on our computers. We use our browsers both to access Blogger, to publish our blogs - and to access BlogSpot (or our non BlogSpot domains), to read our blogs. Every one of us is different, and every one of us has different ideas what we want to see in our blogs. Just as no two blogs are alike, no two browsers, as used by two different bloggers, are alike. Every browser, as it gains a user population, will have some users who want additional features and functions. Some users will contribute, and write software to provide those additional features and functions - aka "add-ons". Each different blogger is going to have a different idea about what combination of add-ons are necessary, for their personal enjoyment of their own browser.

The "Claim your blog" Wizard Is Out Of Action

We start the New Year 2011 off by noting that an important Blogger utility, for owners of old (pre 2006) Blogger blogs, the " Claim your blog " wizard, is out of action. We're sorry, but we were unable to complete your request. If you need to recover ownership of your pre 2006 Blogger blog, you may have to wait a while. (Update 01/03 13:00): Blogger expects to have this fixed in 1 - 2 weeks. >> Top

Inviting Members To Your Blog

Some blog owners are confused about how to setup a team blog. Occasionally, in Blogger Help Forum: How Do I? , we see the query How do I setup a second account, that I can give to my blog authors? I don't want them knowing my personal login and password! as if there is only one account possible, for a blog.

Know Your Newsfeed Subscribers

Some people who publish blogs spend as much time tracking who is viewing their blogs , as actually maintaining and publishing their blogs. Recognising that newsfeeds (accessed directly from a feed reader, or from Following your blog) are a key tool in satisfying existing readers and hopefully getting new readers, many blog owners eventually ask How do I track who has subscribed to my RSS feed? Here, we have to provide some bad news. The different viewers of your blog - Followers, readers, and subscribers - have differing access to your blog, and you have differing ability to track your different viewers. One of the advantages of using a newsfeed to read a blog, for those readers who wish to be anonymous, is anonymity. Access to the Atom or RSS feeds, in your blog, is not tracked as browser access is tracked. And that's good news for the reader who values anonymity - but it's bad news for the blog owners. There is no tracking of the native Blogger blog feed, such that

The Paradoxical Spam Classification Process

Many blog owners, and would be blog owners, have no idea how the Blogger spam classification and review process works. We see frequent complaints in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken Blogger is deleting many blogs, and refusing to restore them! and Once your blog is classified, you'll probably not get it back. The process is broken, and thousands of innocent blog owners are being abused! These complaints totally ignore the fuzzy nature of spam classification , the unfortunate reality that not all spam blogs will ever be classified during the same day (or probably, even the same week), and the irritation that not all spam blogs will be immediately, or consistently, obvious . The spam classification and review process returns paradoxical feelings, to those of us who participate in it. Please remember that the folks who deliver the news are human. During some weeks, we must return the sad news Sorry, your blog will not be restored. It was confirmed as spam. Blogger sugge