Archive for November, 2006

Blog Ownership Stuck With The First Google Account? Don’t Delete It

November 30, 2006

Under Classic Blogger, it was possible to transfer a blog from one administrative account to another, by adding the second account, then deleting the first. Incorrectly done, though, you could end up with a blog with no administrator, and no way to add an administrator. And another trouble ticket for Blogger to resolve.

So Blogger changed the possibility, with Blogger Beta. Under Beta, you can add a second (or third, or …) adminstrator, but you can’t delete the first administrator. That takes care of the possibility of having no administrator. But it creates a second problem (which apparently Blogger doesn’t find important) – you can end up with an account that has no need to administer a blog, but having been the first administrator, is stuck with that ability none the less.

Having accepted that fact, one bright person came up with the idea

OK, what if I delete the first account?

A drastic, but seemingly effective way to resolve the problem.

But today, it appears that procedure is both drastic and fatal. When you delete the original administrative account, the blogs associated with that account disappear. This is stated by Blogger Employee, in Blogger Help Group: Something Is Broken Since switch my blogs aren’t on dashboard Help blogstars or Employee.

…the problem appears to be that you deleted the Google Account that these blogs were registered with. Be aware, when you delete your account, your blogs go with it.

In other words, do not delete an account having any blogs associated with it.

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Including A Video In Your Post

November 28, 2006

Photos are an easy way to make your posts more interesting. Going one step further, we have moving photos, ie videos.

Including a link to a video is as simple as including a link to a photo.
>>The Perfect Plumber

&gt;&gt;<a href=”http://video.google.com/videoplay?
docid=2638976382458360943&q=plumber”>The Perfect Plumber</a>

But look at my post in PChuck’s Network: Don’t Do It Yourself – If You Don’t Think About What You’re Doing

There we have a Shockwave Flash movie, embedded in the web page.

<embed style=”width: 400px; height: 326px;” id=”VideoPlayback”
type=”application/x-shockwave-flash”
src=”http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?
docId=2638976382458360943&q=plumber”>
</embed><br clear=”left”><a
href=”http://video.google.com/videoplay?
docid=2638976382458360943&q=plumber”
rel=”nofollow”>The Perfect Plumber</a>

Many video hosting sites expect that you will, eventually, be passing their displayed material along to your friends; that’s the fun of using the Internet. So they will make it easy, and provide the code for you to embed their video in your web page. Look at the embedded code above. Following the embedded object itself, you’ll see the link back to the website. There you can hopefully find the code that you need.

Use Post Pages When Advertising Your Blog

November 26, 2006

In one Microsoft help forum, some time ago, one wanta be helpful guy would answer dozens of help requests daily, by copying his entire library – 800+ lines of technical information – into each post.

This should take care of you. If it doesn’t, post back here with your questions. Now, read my entire compilation of experience. Your answer is in here – somewhere.

Now that Blogger provides its easy to build online web sites, anybody can do the same using a blog.

Blah blah blah. The answer is somewhere in my blog.
>>http://myblog.blogspot.com

Possibly this is done from ignorance. He doesn’t know about addressing his posts. This is how spammers and trolls operate too.

Want advice? Check out my web site – it’s in there somewhere.

Genuinely helpful folks, when they give advice, make their advice complete and relevant. The easiest way for you to do this is to link directly to the right article. To do that, your posts need to be individually addressable.

Go to Settings – Archiving. Make sure that “Enable Post Pages?” is set to “Yes”. That gives each post its own page.

Blah blah blah. The answer is in this article in my blog.
>>http://myblog.blogspot.com/myarticle.html

That’s better.

But wait – there’s more.

Thanks to the magic of anchor tags, you can link directly to the section in the relevant post.

Blah blah blah. The answer is here, in this article, in my blog.
>>http://myblog.blogspot.com/myarticle.html#ThisTag

That’s much better, and now complete and relevant.

When you give advice, send the reader right to the advice. If the reader finds the answer immediately, he’ll appreciate you more, and read the rest of the blog later. And hopefully, bookmark the blog, so his friends will find you later.

Registering An Address For An Externally Published Blog? Be Careful!

November 25, 2006

When you register an address for a Blog*Spot blog, it’s a pretty simple process. Setup a new blog, give it a Title, and a URL. The URL will be something like xxxxxxxx.blogspot.com, where “xxxxxxxx” must be unique. There is only one way to check for availability of any “xxxxxxxx”, and only one way to register your choice for “xxxxxxxx”, and make it unavailable for someone else.

  1. Enter the blog Title.
  2. Select an available URL.
  3. Select a template.
  4. Add a post to the new blog.
  5. Publish the new blog (this step only necessary for a Classic blog).

When you publish your blog externally, it’s a bit more complicated.

  1. Hire a service to host the blog / web site.
  2. Register your URL.
  3. Hire a service to provide you a directory (DNS) entry.

You may hire a package deal, where all 3 components are provided by the same service, maybe even your ISP. You may get all 3 components for free, ie no actual hiring involved. But you will have to spend some time on step 2, choosing and registering the URL.

Now, choosing the URL for an externally hosted blog / web site is not as simple as choosing a Blog*Spot URL. You will register the URL with the company that actually provides the registration service. There are, unfortunately, multiple companies that provide the service, and no one company has a master list of allocated URLs. So you can only tell them what you prefer, based upon what’s available at the time. If the registrar verifies your choice as available, they register it in your name and you now own the URL of your choice.

So the folks experienced in registering URLs use a lossy process. They find several possibilities, then have their registrar register one of the choices, usually in a list sequenced by preference. And here’s where the problem starts.

If you see a possible URL, based upon your listing what’s available at any time, there’s no guarantee that the same URL will be available an hour later, or even 5 minutes later. There are multiple registrars (as I indicated above), and at any time, other folks like you could be choosing the same URL. This is a much more common situation when you are choosing a URL based upon current trends. If you think it’s trendy, you probably aren’t the only one.

But that’s not the only problem here. Besides other people like you, you may have to compete with an automated domain squatting process that observes your research, sees what names you check for availability, and registers those names for itself. If you decide 5 minutes, or an hour, later to register a specific URL, you may find that it’s not available. At least, not available for the normal registration fee of $10. Try $1,500 – payable to Domibot (or any of several different names that they operate under).

I hope that you haven’t read this far, and are now wondering what I’m smoking. I’m perfectly serious – and you can read about this further, if you like. Here, too, we have a discussion where this problem was discovered. And, if you’re wondering

Just how much money can Domibot make, anyway?

you may want to read Bob Parsons (GoDaddy) The add/drop scheme… where the scam is discussed in detail, and in dollar value.

So, if you’re planning to register a URL, and are looking for a good one, that’s descriptive and unique, be aware of the possibilities. If you read the discussion (and be warned – it’s a pretty long one), you’ll find that no one really knows how Domibot operates. There are 3 ways to deal with them.

  • If you find an available URL that looks good to you, register it on the spot.
  • If you later find that your choice is available for $1,500, pay the fee.
  • Wait until the URL is again available, either 5 or 10 days later.

Read the linked articles, if you think I’m dreaming. I’m not.

The Page Cannot Be Displayed (Error 404)

November 24, 2006

This is a very popular error message, being seen recently. And by popular, I don’t mean well liked, as in

Chuck is a popular guy.

I wish.

I mean we are seeing it a lot, recently. Or it’s being reported a lot. Or maybe, it’s always around, but the other problems are down a lot, so this one is visible.

The problem here is, it’s used so much we don’t know what it means. It could be anything like

  • Your computer won’t connect to it.
  • We don’t know where it is
  • We know where it is, but we won’t let you connect.

In Microsoft Windows Networking, it might be a combination of the old Error 5 aka Access Denied and the Error 53 aka Name Not Found. Both of these are very popular (and again not well liked) errors in Windows.

So how do we fix it? That’s the bottom line.

You start by identifying who’s responsible for it. The message itself is coming from your computer. Start with a little basic troubleshooting. If the problem is just you connecting to one or more web sites (like your blog, and maybe other blogs), then it’s vaguely possible that the problem is in your computer or your network, or maybe your ISP’s network. If either is the case, then the ball is in your court. Help is available, though.

If you can eliminate your computer or network, and your ISP’s network, and the Internet as a whole, then the problem is probably in Blogger somewhere. This is a huge network in itself. Now you have two choices, and I recommend that you try both, simultaneously.

  • Report the problem to Blogger, directly.
  • Report the problem to your peers (and to Blogger indirectly).

And report the problem objectively, and calmly. Help the people who will try to help you.

When you report the problem, whether in a Blogger Help form, or to an open forum, try to include some description of the scope of the problem.

  • What are you trying to do? Read a blog, publish to your blog, publish a picture to your blog?
  • Just your blog, just some blogs (which blogs?), or all blogs?
  • (Currently relevant) Are the blogs in question Classic, or Beta, blogs?
  • What browser do you use? Brand and version will be useful.
  • Did you try from just one computer, or from multiple computers?
  • Did you maybe try from another location (another network, maybe your friends computer)?
  • Is the problem constant, intermittent, occasional? Did it just start, or have you always seen it?
  • Have you changed anything on your computer or your network recently?

These are all standard troubleshooting questions, and all are useful to anybody who has to help you diagnose the problem.

Migration From Blogger Classic To Blogger Beta – Planning The Process

November 23, 2006

We’ve been seeing mixed experiences with the migration from Classic to Beta. Some folks are just closing their eyes and jumping – and landing softly with no problems. Others are finding it a bit of a rough landing.

If you spent any amount of time adding custom components to your template, when you set the blog up originally, it’s possible that the migration process won’t easily convert your custom template. You might want to do a little planning, and experimentation, before you migrate.

  • Most standard template objects can be created in the Page Layout editor. Try setting up a Google account, with a new Beta blog, using a template similar to yours. Add your custom features, and see how well it works for you.
  • When you get the invitation to migrate your account, first make a test copy of your blog, using a copy of the template in your Classic blog. Then migrate your account, and convert the test blog first. If you like, you can easily copy the template from the Beta blog that you setup earlier.

A little extra effort might go a long way towards making the template conversion go easier for you, and keep your blog operating for your readers. It’s your choice – and I know what I’m going to do.

(Edit 12/14):
This week, having gotten the tap on the shoulder, I did a dry run migration, and identified some interesting issues.

Changing The Post Date

November 20, 2006

When you write posts in your blog, generally you’ll want them to show the date / time when they were written. A blog is a journal, and sometimes you will want to insert posts with a different date.

The default date / time, for any new post, is today / now. You can change that, any time it suits you, though.

Under the post edit window, you’ll find a collapsed list entitled “Post and Comment Options” (in Classic blogs), or “Post Options” (in Beta blogs). Click on the title, and the list will open. You can change the time and date for any post, right there.

Then, just Publish Post.

(Note 11/21): As noted below, if you change the date of the post, so it falls into a different month and / or year, and if you have Post Pages enabled (giving each post a permanent URL), the URL of the post will change.

  • You’ll have to republish the entire blog, so your archives and other permalink references will be correct.
  • Any external or internal references to that post will have to be updated.

Post / Sidebar Alignment Problem In IE – A Cure?

November 14, 2006

I’ve written about differences between Firefox and Internet Explorer, and about one specific symptom which seems to result from this difference. One of the challenges here has been that not all blogs exhibit this symptom. Most likely because not all blogs (not many most likely) try to cram page elements into spaces where they don’t fit.

But occasionally, you run across blogs that seem to be impervious to this symptom, even though they appear to be inviting it. And today, I ran across a possible reason why some blogs don’t have this problem.

And it’s not hard to make your blog, too, be impervious to the symptom. Just find the stylesheet code, and insert the portion in red.

/* Page Structure

#outer-wrapper {
width:740px;
margin:0 auto;
text-align:left;
font: normal normal 100% ‘Trebuchet MS’,Verdana,Arial,Sans-serif;
}
#main-wrap1 {
width:485px;
float:left;
margin:15px 0 0;
padding:0 0 10px;
color:#333333;
font-size:97%;
line-height:1.5em;
word-wrap: break-word; /* fix for long text breaking sidebar float in IE */
overflow: hidden; /* fix for long non-text content breaking IE sidebar float */
}
#main-wrap2 {
float:left;
width:100%;
padding:10px 0 0;
}
#main {
background:url(“http://www.blogblog.com/
rounders/rails_main.gif”) repeat-y;
padding:0;
}
#sidebar-wrap {
width:240px;
float:right;
margin:15px 0 0;
font-size:97%;
line-height:1.5em;
word-wrap: break-word; /* fix for long text breaking sidebar float in IE */
overflow: hidden; /* fix for long non-text content breaking IE sidebar float */
}

The rule names will vary, from template to template. Just find the rules with the float setting, and with text related settings like font-size and line-height, and add the code. This will vary, depending upon whether your sidebar is positioned on the left or right. The solution will be the same though.

Insert the code, save the template, and republish the blog.

(Edit 11/23): There’s also some identified, but not completely understood, issue of a 3px padding next to a float element, again apparently only in IE V6 and previous.

Squashed Navbar – And Only In IE

November 9, 2006

Not a major problem, but a trend. At least, two blogs identified with the problem. In Internet Explorer, the Navbar is squashed into a box, in the upper left corner of the screen. This is visible only in IE V6 and previous. IE V7 seems invulnerable to the problem.

This appears to come from a miscoded template – in both cases (below) the template has multiple <body> tags.

A Problem Resolved, Or A New Mystery Begun?

November 4, 2006

So today, Blogger Support, represented by Buzzie, reported in Blogger Help Group: Publishing Trouble 24 hours of no posting, no commenting, no nothing, at 11/4 12:00

We have fixed the problem. Again, sorry for the inconvenience. if you still have trouble don’t forget to mention your blog url.

The above quote was in response to yet another report of

We’re sorry, but we were unable to complete your request.

an often reported problem recently.

Slightly earlier, at 11/4 11:57 we see a similar message

We have fixed the problem. Again, sorry for the inconvenience. if you still have trouble don’t forget to mention your blog url.

This for todays problem, after 12 hours of hell,

Your post was not saved due to a database error. An engineer has been notified.

So what happened here? Did they fix two problems in one day, or was one problem present for the past week, and got fixed in 30 minutes? Was this yet another 30 minute fix?

For a livelier viewpoint, see Roberto’s Report: Have The Chooks Come Home to Roost?.