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Thursday, April 29, 2010

BlogList - what do you keep in yours?

BLOGLIST - WHAT DO YOU KEEP IN YOURS?

On this blog, I have two BlogLists, or BlogRolls, one of which I call Bonza Blogs. In Australia, we use the slang word, Bonza to indicate great, fantastic, you beauty, etc. You'll often hear people say, "I had a bonza time", "That's a bonza house", or some similar expression.




This style of BlogList, which is called, Cumulus Hidden BlogLists, is a style which Nitecruzr and I tweaked from a bonza, original idea by Ramani, of Hackosphere. We just added a different functionality for the Hidden characteristic. It now takes up less space in my sidebar, than would some other List styles. Just above it, in my sidebar, is another one. That one is called Helpful Sites and is devoted to technically helpful blogs, or websites.

That's not the reason, however, for this post. It's part of it. Maintaining a BlogList is entirely subjective. You may decide that your BlogList contains only Great Blogs which you like and suggest other bloggers link to, or visit. You may have a BlogList for many reasons.

Some of the reasons I have two BlogLists are, so I can -
  • Display access to the blogs I like to read, and
  • To keep track of very helpful sites where I can find answers to those techie questions which pop-up all too regularly.


Why spend hours looking for an answer, or leaving a question on Blogger Help Forum? Generally, most knowledgeable Helpers on the Forum will direct you to an answer they have written-up on their blogs, or to some other source. These are the sites which I try to keep track of in my Helpful Sites, as well as an extensive Favourites archive, divided into Folders, in my Browser. It takes so little time to do, but saves me heaps! Of course, it would be impossible to find the answer to every question in sites you save - but, it's a good starting place.

I'll bet that not many bloggers record the URL of a site that they got an answer from. Then, in a short while, they have another problem, and have to ask a question in Blogger Forum.

You can save the actual post URL if you like, too. On my Browser (Firefox), I have a folder called 'How To', and it is filled with post-links to answers. I can't remember everything I see, or learn.




Learn to record the sites where you find information, be it technical, or just for pleasure. You'll appreciate it one day.


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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What is a Cname? How do I add it to my Domain DNS ?

WHAT IS A Cname? HOW DO I ADD IT TO MY DOMAIN DNS?


After you purchase your Custom Domain, and once you receive your GoDaddy Registration Confirmation Email, from Google Apps, you set-up your Admin account. Then you will have access to the Google Apps Control Panel.

There, you can monitor the status of your services, manage your user accounts and email lists, create web pages, and customize the interface and services to your organization's needs. Through the Control Panel, you can also view and edit all your DNS Settings, update your WHO IS information, and renew your Domain, before it expires. Among lots of other things, you use this Control Panel to add Aname (host) and Cname (alias) records, to your Domain.


The Domain Naming System is a very deep, complex subject, best left to the experts, but a simple analogy may be to say that it basically provides your Internet address. Your domain name is translated into an Internet Protocol, or IP address, because computers understand numbers better than alphabetical letters, which we use to make our URLs.

A URL is constructed a certain way - in levels, like nearly everything else on a computer. After the Hypertext Transfer Protocol, the component parts, concatenated by a 'dot' (.) after each part, in the case of my blog's URL, are:-

  • The third-level, or Subdomain, domain - eg: www., or blogging.
  • The second-level, or Root domain - eg:robertosblogs
  • The first-level, or Top-level, domain name - eg:.net


... and your Domain is, in turn, hosted, either by GoDaddy, or hundreds of other companies called FTPs.


So, what is a Cname, or Alias?


Without delving too deeply, a Cname, also known as Canonical name, is the properly denoted host name of a computer. A Cname specifies an alias, or nickname, for a canonical host name record - a computer, in a Domain Naming System, (DNS), record.

Its responsibility is to identify the location(s) of a site(s) on the internet - particularly on the Web.


Any computer can be the target of any number of Cnames, but a separate Cname record must be defined for the domain which sources each alias. For each Cname record, you provide an alias (the source), and a host (the target). For instance, in a URL such as blogging.robertosblogs.net , the subdomain, blogging., is written before the domain name root, robertosblogs.net. Another host could be blogging. / www.blogging. which I use for this blog. That's one of the best reasons to have a Cname, because there could be many source Domains resolving to the one target.

Note: - Currently, if you publishing your Blogger blog to a non-root host in your Domain, it is recommended that you record, what is sometimes called your naked domain, as well as your www. alias, so that you have a symmetrical pair of hosts defined. Publish to the www. alias, not the naked alias.

The reason for this is that currently, re-direction is asymmetrical. Hopefully, this will be a temporary situation!

To confuse you even more, in the following images, my subdomains, or aliases, point to ghs.google.com. Why would I use ghs.google.com as the Points to Host Name, when the add a Cname record (see: step 9. image below) wizard, suggests otherwise? Well, to try and keep it simple, ghs.google.com is the central core/DNS array, so to speak, of a multi-tiered server system, with many filters. Most ISPs around the world will cache copies of ghs.google.com for speed of return (TTL)...

- One computer, called Son, talks to another computer, called Mum, and says; " What's Bob's address?" Mum says; "I don't know. Go ask your father, he'll know!" Well, ghs.google.com is the father - but, on the way to ask his father, someone, maybe a sister, gives Son the address. So, there's less strain put on Dad and he doesn't get overworked (how it should be). He planned it that way, too, 'cause we Dad's are smart! It's called referral. To speed-up the process of finding out your address, your ISP will have a surrogate picture of the 'father', on hand, to ask for the address. That speeds everything up.



So what are the steps to add a Cname record?

Step 1. Sign in to your Google Apps account




Step 2. Select, and click on, domain names.




Step 3. Select and click on Advanced DNS Settings




Step 4. Take a note of your Sign-in name (generally, a number), and highlight and copy the Password. The reason for this is that it works better to do it that way.




Step 5. Using the information from the previous screen, Sign-in to the Domain Control Center




Step 6. Once in the Domain Manager, click on your Domain Name link




Step 7. Click on Total DNS Control (nothing else)




Step 8. This screen is where you can add a Cname record, as indicated. Don't change anything else!




Step 9. Add your (subdomain) alias name, eg: blogging. or www.blogging. Also, you have to complete the Points to Host Name section, and the TTL (explained above).






(Back to above text)

Step 10. Check your entries. If all OK - log-out.





Last, but not least, the Aname record - what is it?

The 'A' record, or Aname, points your Domain to an IP address. You would change this ONLY if you wanted to point your website to a different IP. You use an 'A' record to define the IP addresses of the 4 Google Apps DNS proxy servers, when you're defining the domain root, and pairing it with the www. alias.

An MX record is only for email, and is changed ONLY if you want to re-route your email.


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Testing Blog - why have one?

TESTING BLOG - WHY HAVE ONE?


Why do experienced bloggers always have a testing blog, or ten? Here's a good reason. One blogger's plight ...

"I added a certain widget to my blog, XXXXXX, which adds a toolbar to your blog. It screwed up my Favicon so I had to set it up again through HTML. Now my tab browser isn't showing my blog title, YYYYYY. Instead, it shows the whole URL address, http://www.ZZZZZZZ.com.

This problem has also changed the way my blog is searched on Google. Instead of YYYYYY popping up on the search, the first link on the search shows the date of my last post."


If I am going to 'add' anything to one my blogs, I always add it to my 'testing-blog', first. It's just a regular blog, like all the rest, but I keep it for 'testing'. If something goes awry, like has happened to the above blogger, then it doesn't happen on my main blog!

Do yourselves a favour and create a blog (they are FREE and you can have as many as you want) - just for testing things out! It may be an add-on, it may be a certain bit of script, or whatever. You want to see how something works, looks, behaves? Do it on a testing blog. Maybe it's something to do with that 'blog you don't want anymore!'

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Uploading a 'Saved' Back-up Copy of a blog Template

UPLOADING A 'SAVED' BACK-UP COPY OF A BLOG TEMPLATE

I've written about 'Backing-up your blog template' on a couple of occasions, and given reasons for its importance. Here's one...

Reverting to a previously 'saved' copy of your template.

I was playing around with the New Template designer, today. Yeah, it's OK, and I have converted a couple of my blogs to fancy new templates, but on one blog, the changes didn't 'look' as nice 'live', as I thought they would from the Blogger in Draft wizard - or the original setting/layout wasn't what I liked. Yes, I could have spent the time changing everything to suit, but I didn't have that time, so I decided to revert to my previous template. I had to up-load a 'saved' copy - a lot quicker, and easier. Luckily, I always back-up - regularly!

Image 1. The New Template (Header didn't suit and would have to go, or get aligned properly).




Image 2. Using the Layout screen - Edit HTML - 'Upload a template from a file on my hard drive'




Image 3. Selecting the 'saved' copy of my template from a file on my computer (I have a folder on my 'D:Drive' with all these files in it - and it gets updated every month - routinely!)




Image 4. The Uploading of the file directive, is ready to be 'confirmed/saved'




Image 5. I have uploaded the file and Blogger is telling me that there are changes to be viewed/made. Blogger tells me that my 'new', or 'uploaded' template does NOT contain a widget from the previous template stored on my blog (- one from the New Designer upload). I have to decide whether I want that widget, or not.





Image 6. I made the decision NOT to save that widget, by clicking on 'Delete Widgets'. Now, the uploaded 'saved' copy of my original template, is 'live'. How easy was that?





Image 7. Back to normal. Thank goodness I had a 'back-up' copy of my template!




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Friday, April 23, 2010

Publishing to a Domain Host Name - be careful!

PUBLISHING TO A DOMAIN HOST NAME - BE CAREFUL!


Yesterday, I wrote a post on how to re-publish a blog from your Domain, to blogspot.com - change the host name - and then, re-publish it to the Custom Domain. Some bloggers would ask, why? What's the difference between publishing a blog to, say, stubblog1.robertosblogs.net, and publishing a blog to www.stubblog1.robertosblogs.net ?


OK, they look different for a start. One has, host name www., and one doesn't. One is a 'naked' host name - but that's not what this post is about.


This post is about the reason I changed nearly all my blogs recently.
  • It is because publishing to each of those domain names should be equal and interchangeable.
  • They should be symmetrical, but they are not.
  • You should be able to publish to one, and re-direct to the other, but Blogger has, it appears, stuffed-up, and you can't.

They (Blogger) are, however, aware of the problem, thanks to Nitecruzr, but as yet, haven't got around to fixing it.


So, what is the problem? It takes three parts -

  • Basically, the problem is, and arises, if I publish my blog to stubblog1.robertosblogs.net, Blogger will NOT give me an option to re-direct to www.stubblog1.robertosblogs.net, although both domain names are symmetrically paired on my DNS record.
  • Secondly, if I publish my blog to www.stubblog1.robertosblogs.net, Blogger will give me an option to re-direct to stubblog1.robertosblogs.net, (as you can see in Image 6 on my previous post) - but, then, my advertised URL will be wrong. That will necessitate me making sure that my Preferred Domain on Webmaster Tools, for that blog, is set to stubblog1.robertosblogs.net - bearing in mind that: - if I want good Search Engine reputation, I have to make the Preferred Domain equal what I advertise. If I advertise www.stubblog1.robertosblogs.net, my Readers will use that URL - which will have many effects on such aspects as Page Ranking. If I publish to www.stubblog1.robertosblogs.net, and advertise to stubblog1.robertosblogs.net, the search engines will get confused - unless my Preferred Domain is correct.
  • Thirdly, and this is not only very confusing, but it is very important - I should be able to publish to stubblog1.robertosblogs.net and re-direct www.stubblog1.robertosblogs.net to stubblog1.robertosblogs.net - but, if I publish to stubblog1.robertosblogs.net, Blogger gives me an option to re-direct my Domain root, robertosblogs.net to stubblog1.robertosblogs.net - AND, I NEVER want to re-direct my Domain root, to any of the Virtual Hosts.


It's better to be safe, than sorry.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Re-Publishing to blogspot.com, and back to a Custom Domain

RE-PUBLISHING TO BLOGSPOT.COM, and BACK TO A CUSTOM DOMAIN

Just recently, I noticed that most of my blogs were published to my Custom Domain in a workable fashion - BUT, they did not have the www. alias, as an alternative URL.

eg: Like this blog, they were simply published to the basic alias, like http://stubblog1.robertosblogs.net/ (Don't bother looking for it, it's an example), as were all the other blogs in my domain, in similar fashion.

I wanted to be able to search for http://www.stubblog1.robertosblogs.net/ , and see my blog, yet not lose my Readership, or have to set-up a re-direction, myself. Although my Custom Domain has both aliases, stubblog1 and www.stubblog1 listed in the CName record, I could not enter the www.stubblog1 alias in the address bar of a search, and be directed to my blog. Something had to change. I had to change the host URL, within the domain, to which Blogger was publishing my blogs. Simple enough, but somewhat time consuming. Here's how:

The red arrows are simply to draw your attention to important observations in the images.

Image 1. Select the Settings - Publishing screen for the blog in question, and then click on Switch to blogspot.com. This will start the change back from your Custom Domain, to blogspot.com, which has to happen, so you can change your Domain host.




Image 2. The Word Verification Captcha has to be completed, then click on Save





Image 3. Once the screen changes, you then have to -
  • Take notice, and check that the address will now be your original blogspot URL
  • Click on Switch to Custom Domain





Image 4. Now, your blog is back to blogspot.com, and if you did nothing, Blogger would continue to publish your blog to your blogspot URL.


So, now you need to tell Blogger to publish the blog to the (correct) domain URL. To do that, presuming you already have your domain set up, you need to click on Switch to advanced settings.





Image 5. Once you are on the advanced settings screen,

  • You enter the correct host name,
  • Complete the Word Verification Captcha (again), and click Save Settings





Image 6.
This screen is a very important screen, because it contains a re-direction. In my case, it re-directs from
http://stubblog1.robertosblogs.net/ to http://www.stubblog1.robertosblogs.net/, so I can now type in either address and find my blog - PLUS, my Readers will not be left behind, either!

Don't forget to check the box!


You also have to complete the Word Verification Captcha - (again), and click Save Settings.





Image 7. That's it, Folks!




Why did I decide to change what was working very well? Why change from stubblog1.robertosblogs.net and publish to www.stubblog1.robertosblogs.net ?

The answer is quite entailed, and has everything to do with Blogger itself.


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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

NoScript - a Powerful Ally

NoSCRIPT - A POWERFUL ALLY


Last week, I wrote a small intro article on a Firefox Add-on, or Plug-in, called NoScript.
That article showed a YouTube video of Tom Merritt from cnet, discussing NoScript. For background to this post, perhaps you'd like to see the video first.

When you see the NoScript site, it's enough to scare the daylights out of you - better still, scare the life out of Spammers, Malware attackers, Cross-site Scripting attackers, Click-jackers, etc. That would be great! I love it!




NoScript looks complicated, but if I can use it efficiently, anyone else can, too. My friend, Nitecruzr, got me started with it over a year ago, and I have felt a lot safer ever since. I am not an expert on NoScript. I use it, yes, but at a level I understand and feel comfortable with. I rely on NoScript to do the hard work for me.

The video of Tom will show you probably more than I know about NoScript - BUT, it doesn't cover everything that I like about NoScript. Let me explain.

I now use a security software package called McAfee Site Advisor. If I am unsure of the integrity of a site, I add the URL of the site into McAfee SA, and do a search of the site. McAfee gives me a Report. It's another Plug-in. In that post, I have displayed a couple of images of search reports - Good and Bad. I surf to the site if it's good, disgard it if it's bad.

Nitecruzr has always suggested to me to have a 'Layered Security' on my blog. Part of that layered approach to security is the programs you use, like a good AV Program, like avast, or anti-malware programs like AdAware and Spybot S + D. They both appear to be the same, but they aren't. It's the same with McAfee SA and NoScript.

Apart from the basic up-front protection of automatically alerting me to possible problems, NoScript also gives me a Report. If you look at the next image of a site-security report request on my Home Page blog, Roberto's Blogs dot net, you'll see a blue S in the Status Bar, between the Firebug icon and the McAfee SA icon and search box.

If I click on that blue 'S', hold the < SHIFT > key down while clicking on the name of the blog, in this case it says - Forbid robertosblogs.net, then search parameters are displayed.



This image shows the three search parameters I can view. I just select each and every one for a detailed report on the site-security.




Another reason for using Firefox as your Browser? I think so. NoScript works for all Mozilla-based Browsers.

NoScript auto-updates, too.


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Follower's Reading List - 'Hide/Show' function

FOLLOWER'S READING LIST - 'HIDE / SHOW' FUNCTION

One very interesting function of the Follower Reading List, is the Hide from list option. I truthfully, was never aware of it until trying to figure-out a blogger's problem, presented in the Blogger Help Forum.

Yes, I know, I should have been aware of it - like many other functions in Blogger, if you are going to blog on Blogger, you should be aware of where to find things on Blogger. Well, today, I became a little wiser.

  • The function itself, as far as I can figure out, serves no purpose, other than less clutter in your Reading List. If you Follow Publicly - why hide it from your list?
  • If you Follow a blog, Anonymously, it is not displayed on your Public Profile under Blogs I Follow.
  • Why would you want to hide a blog from your own Reading List of Blogs I am Following?
  • This Hide from list function is just for a blogger's own pleasure, I presume - and provides only confusion to some (me).


Let's look at it in the following images ...

Image 1. - This shows your Follower Reading List - Blogs I'm Following. Notice, in the top right is the Hide from list feature. It appears because I have actually selected to read the posts from one blog from the list, by clicking on the blog title. It won't appear if you are viewing All Blog Updates.




Image 2. - I was viewing the posts from an old, since deleted blog, - which I Followed anonymously because it would've be silly to show, publicly, that I was Following my own blog! I clicked on Hide from list. Two things happened ...

  • The Blogs I'm Following list changed - see left column, and
  • The Hide from list changed to Always show in list.


The posts from the now hidden blog still appear in the section under Items, until I enter any other command, ie: navigate away, or choose another task.





Image 3. - OK, I've chosen to view All Blog Updates, and the display from my now Hidden from list blog is gone. In the Blogs I'm Following list, you'll see the blog is NOT listed. Only 1 hidden blog .... Show list is obvious, and it is dulled. You can click on the Always show in list directive, all you want, but the hidden blog will NOT re-appear. That's another step.




Image 4. - This is where you get to see the name of the hidden blog, again. In image 3, above, you'll see the Show list option. In order to see the hidden blog, you have to click on that. Then, and only then, will the hidden blog re-appear, but it is still in the Hidden List. Notice also, that the directive in the top right-hand corner is missing? The Always show in list option? (I have added some question marks in the following image).





Image 5. - So, in order to get the blog back on your Blogs I'm Following Reading List - that is, remove it from hidden blogs list, you have to click on the blog title, then - click on Always show in list.




That's all, Folks!


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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Viewing your Followers' blog posts

VIEWING YOUR FOLLOWERS' BLOG POSTS


Aside from any possible personal aspects, for me, there are basically, three reasons behind Follower -

  • To read the posts from someone's blog, you like, by way of a 'Feed', and
  • To have people start Following your blog, to read your posts, by way of a 'Feed'.
  • To increase your readership


Blogger Follower gadget does that extremely well. Every morning I see a list of new posts on my iGoogle Home Page, in my Google Reader. Sometimes, there's 10, or 15 posts to read, whilst sipping a hot cuppa - before I do anything else.


Image 1.




There are three ways to view, or read, your Followed Blogs.

  • View the post on the original blog - click on the post, or blog, in your Dashboard Reading List.
  • View the posts - by subscription - to your Google Reader, or like-reader.
  • Actually visiting the blog's Home Page


A Reading List from a blog with NO Followed blogs, looks like this:

Image 2.




The next image shows a Reading List with Followed blogs :

Image 3.




If you are not Following any blogs, when you click on your Reading List - Manage Blogs, your screen will look like this:

Image 4.




When you start Following blogs, and click on Reading List - Manage Blogs, your screen will reflect those blogs, like this:

Image 5.




In Image 3, above, you'll see the link to View in Google Reader. If you click on that link, when you are Following blogs, your Reading List of blogs will automatically load all Followed blogs into Google Reader, from where you can also manage them...


Image 6.




Google Reader lists the blogs for you to view...

Image 7.




If you decide to discontinue subscription to certain blogs, you can unsubscribe in an easy two step process.

  • Click on Manage Subscriptions in your actual Google Reader, and select the blog you want
  • Click on Unsubscribe and OK. I prefer to unsubscribe, rather than clicking the Trash Can icon.


Image 8.




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Following the 'Leader' ?

FOLLOWING THE 'LEADER'


Sometimes I get it wrong. Sometimes, I shoot-off at the mouth, instead of the hip. I am not 100% sure in this case, but...

In August, last year, I noticed a comment on one of my blogs, from Reader, who was also Following my blog. I clicked the link, saw her blog, agreed with her sentiments, saw possibilities, and decided to Follow her blog. With me, so far? Great!

It is now over a year (Mar. 2009) since this Reader wrote that post which 'got me interested' in her blog. She hasn't written one thing since then! The interesting thing is, she now has 13 Followers! I certainly hope she does something soon! This goes to prove that you do not have to write lots of posts to get Followers. You just have to get your blog in front of 'expectant hopefuls'.

I'll bet, like I did last August, that most of the Followers on her blog, feel like me. Disappointed. They saw possibilities like I did.

If you are disappointed in a blog you are Following, you can Stop Following. It's as easy as. I just hope no-one was Following my suggestion, or lead on that Reader's blog?


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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Blocking a Follower - How do I ?

BLOCKING A FOLLOWER -HOW DO I?

Since Blogger introduced Following, there have been lots of changes made, or at least, it appears that way. With the introduction of Friend Connect, the method of blocking an unwanted Follower, has taken on a few more steps.

Just on 18 months ago, it was as easy as a couple of clicks, to Block a Follower. Then, very soon after, there was a slight change.


Now, you should be logged-in to your Follower, Friend Connect to make changes, such as Blocking a Follower. I must admit that I think it's a good idea because if you get to the screen required to Block someone, there's a pretty good chance that is what you intended! No accidents.

  • I found that I had to be a Follower of my own blog before I could access the screen to Block anyone!
  • You can't Block yourself!
  • You can't block an 'Anonymous' Follower


Blogger Help says:

"When you Block a follower of your blog, the user will no longer appear in the Followers Gadget on your blog and will not see your blog in their Blogger Reading List. However, since your blog is public, the user can still use the other feed readers to subscribe to your blog, read your posts, and comment."


So, if you decide to continue, and Block a Follower, the steps are as follows -

Step 1. - Sign-in!



Step 2. - Choose your Account




Step 3. Enter your Password




Step 4. - Click on Options to select Manage Members




Step 5. - Select the member to Block




Step 6. - Click on Block this user




Step 7. - Last chance to change your mind - Block




Unblocking a Blocked Follower is as easy as viewing the Show Blocked Followers, (see image at Step 5.), then clicking Unblock this user, as follows...





All Blocked users will be listed here...




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Blogger Error Codes