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Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Lessons Learned from Disabled Account



It was Oscar Wilde, who received the credit for this witticism:

"Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes".

Without harping too much on the tragedy of Saturday, and it was a tragedy, having my Google Account disabled - even for three days. The experience was worthwhile, though painful, as I learned some very important things. I will list them here for your perusal, and hope that you may gain benefit, from my mistakes.

When I say, my mistakes, I mean gullibility, from my over-trusting nature, my in-experience with a giant Internet icon, like Google, the ramifications of the said crash of an email carrier (presuming it was a crash, as no explanation has been given to, or seen by, me), and basic house-keeping rules, which I ignored, due to my sloth.


This is what I gleaned from my 3 days in Laptop Limbo, or Account Alcatraz. I'm sure I'll think of some more one day ...


Never have just one email / Google account, as Admin on your blog. Have, preferably, more than one, and from different carriers, such as:
  • 1 x Google (say, Gmail),
  • 1 x Yahoo, and
  • 1, or more, from other sources (in my case, a friend, and a daughter).

That way, if your GMail account is disabled, and hopefully, your blogs are still viewable, you can simply log-in via another account and continue blogging. OK, this could be a different story if the blog is disabled, for SPAM, for instance, but in general, it will assist you through the troubled times.

Another reason is so that if you, (ahem) 'accidentally' do anything wrong, like delete an account, you still have control of your blog.

REMEMBER: Kill the Account - Kill the Blog!


Never have all your Email Contacts on just one email account! Save a CSV file to your computer. This is easy to achieve via Exporting your contacts.




When your email account is also your Google / Blogger account, you are really lost if your email contacts are disabled, too.


Always have a back-up copy of your Template, no older than a week, or two, saved to your computer, as well! This, I feel, is essential in the event that many things happen. I routinely make a back-up copy fortnightly, and every time I work in the Template - before and after.

If your blog is disabled, you have only to create another blog, on a different account, and upload the back-up copy of the Template, calling it something else. Naturally, this will cause a few extra headaches for you, but they are better than losing ALL your work! Perhaps, even a back-up copy of your .xml export file, if you are fastidious enough to keep one - updated, of course. I do.


Have a back-up copy of your blog in HTTracker, as well. This very handy program will make an identical copy of your blog. I don't remember everything I added to my blogs, and where I placed gadgets, colors etc. HTTracker will copy it and let you see what's what! Well worth the effort, because there's no expense - it's FREE!


I think I am going to Follow my favourite blogs with two, or three accounts, from now on. If you lose your blog, as I did, or worse, all the blogs you are Following, and the list of those blogs, will be gone, too! Now, if you Follow all blogs with different IDs, you'll still have them. I'm sorry if that inflates people's figures, but I'm sure they'd rather have their numbers going north, than south!

One nasty thing I noticed was a message pop-up, when I went to re-Follow a couple of blogs over the last 3 days; "The owner of this blog has barred you from joining", or some such wording! It made me feel uncomfortable, and I think it was only a by-product of the account disablement.

I now have an elevated sense of empathy for those bloggers I see in the Forum, with genuine blog problems.


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It never ceases to amaze me!



To the NEW bloggers ...


I never cease to be amazed, at how many people take-up the blogging torch, and run with it - not knowing what it is, how it works, where to find information about it, how to interpret that information if they stumble upon it, what to do if the flame goes out, how to protect what they have - oh, the list is endless! I know! I help out in the Help Forum, and it's getting to the stage that, like many TCs, (Top Contributors), we are developing stock-standard answers to copy and paste as replies, because we are seeing the same old, same old!

This post is going to come back and kick me in the teeth, I'm sure, but, let me ask some questions which, incidentally, are not directed at YOU, my Readers and Subscribers, because you have already proven yourselves smarter than the average bear - by Following, or Subscribing to blogs, such as, this blog, and I bet, Nitecruzr's blogs, and many others like them! It's not meant to be insulting to anyone!

You are, on the most part, successful bloggers, with great blogs. People like Chuck and others, are not all powerful in the IT field - well, Nitecruzr may well be a helluva lot more capable than most, but we all just learn from mistakes, write up what works for us, and search for more answers, and examples, than do most people. YOU know where to find most of your answers, but, when will the average Joe-blogger learn?

Everyday, without fail, bloggers are asking the same old basic questions in the Blogger Help Forum:
  • Help me - I have deleted my gmail account and my blog is gone!
  • How can I make my blog look like it was yesterday? (Give me a break, please!)
  • How do I link to another site?
  • How do I transfer my blog to another account?
  • Why aren't my posts getting published for two weeks?
  • etc etc - ad nauseam!

Really, without wishing to appear as an omnipotent one, and certainly not wishing to appear arrogant, I must ask, isn't it time some people (I'd like to say, grew a brain) learned by themselves?
  • Have average bloggers ever heard of Blogger Help pages (not the forum)?
  • Have they ever done anything, without someone's else's (probably Mummy's) help?
  • If they run out of petrol in the car, do they blame the government? The petrol station?
  • If they can't find someone, do they blame the Council? The Postal Service? You?
  • If they move house, do they tell anyone? Like the Post Office? Get a re-direction?
  • etc.

I know I am being somewhat pedantic here, but it really is becoming a joke. Blogger, itself, is largely to blame, too.

They make it too easy to get a blog. There is NO re-direction to Settings, before you are given a green-light to write your first post! No details of where to find answers, if needed. No tour of the TOS. No, (and this is my favourite gripe), directions as to what to do if you don't like blogging! There should be a notice - in big, coloured letters, highlighted, maybe, telling beginners NOT to delete anything, before they know what they are doing. I wrote this post, back in 2006! I wrote this post back in the same year! Nothing's changed.


I bet if someone's brand-new BMW was to get a puncture, they wouldn't complain to the supermarket! They'd know where to look for the spare! Or, would they take it to the garbage depot, dump it, and then complain to BMW?

Please! Take some time out, to learn where to find answers! Also, learn how to ask questions. Reporting a problem, too, is just as important!

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Roberto's Blogs are Back - online, and 're-enabled'



After a very nasty shock, on Saturday, whereby my main GMail account was - 'disabled', my blogs - not found, my email - inaccessible, my images - unseen, my Follower - not working, my heart, broken, and the cat, kicked, (oh, hang on, I don't have a cat! Mmmm?), Roberto's Blogs is back on the air - all blogs, and privileges, restored.

BTW - not one single notifying contact from Google was forthcoming; - no indication of what was to blame, what went wrong, sorry about that, kiss-my-foot (or higher up) - nada, nothing, diddly, kaput! Great at communication, aren't they?

So, there were several lessons learned from those 3 days without my blogs, my primary email, my contacts list, and whatever else. We'll think some more on it and get back to you, with any recommendations.

There's a few things which my friend, Nitecruzr, and I, think are essential security measures to be taken, should this debacle ever occur again, with Google and its GMail.

Watch this space!


p.s. Thank you to the 100s of readers who sent messages of support, and encouragement, to me, over the last few days. They were just what I needed at the time! You're good people!


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Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Funny Business at Google - NOT FUNNY at all!



Tthe other day, strange, weird, and totally un-called for funny business was happening to bloggers accounts - generally with GMail. Blogs disappeared, Follower, Picasa, many other Google Account-driven features didn't function - AND - it was all under the pretext of your account being disabled due to a breach of the Google TOS.


What rubbish! Now, thanks to Nitecruzr, we see a trend across the blogOsphere - lots of accounts are being affected this way.


One cruel side of this debacle, is that I have been removed from the Follower list on many blogs, which I loved to read. I have managed to get some back, however, my pride-of-place in the queue, so to speak, has been savaged! I was 'first Follower' on some of those wonderful blogs. That means something only to me, I suppose.


Anyway, it happened at the weekend, most Blogger Employees are away, and today is the Presidents' Day, or as my friend's hubby called it; " ... birthington's Wash day, or something like that."


Hopefully, they'll get on to it, tomorrow. I can only hope that the old adage isn't true about tomorrow (never coming)!



To my Readers, Subscribers, and Followers - thanks for standing by me. This is not an indication of some spamming problem. I am one of the 'good-guys'! If you see that I have 'all-of-a-sudden' stopped Following your blog, it's because of this problem - not me!



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Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Duplicate URLs



Let's look at a scenario, which, incidentally, happened to me, today. I was re-hashing and editing - in a frenzy of activity, which even surprised me.

I saw a range of published posts, I had done, way back in 2006, which I thought needed to be re-done. WRONG! Update them, yes, but don't try to re-do an existing post, by re-newing it, and using the same URL. It won't happen! Blogger won't let it happen!

You can't use the same URL - again. Blogger will add a suffix to the existing URL, to prevent this.

Eg: One of the URLs I wanted to use again was the 'now deleted' -

http://www.recipes.robertosblogs.net/2006/01/ingredients-6-vegetables.html


I copied some of the contents over to a New Post. I completed the post, and published it. The new post URL was (now deleted, also) -

http://www.recipes.robertosblogs.net/2006/01/ingredients-6-vegetables_7288.html


See the difference? Blogger has added a suffix (_7288). Now, I don't know if these suffixes have any specific meaning. I've actually seen a few during my days with Blogger. Some bloggers either aren't aware of it, or don't care, or just ignore it, because they think that's normal? Who knows?

I noticed as soon as I went to copy the URL for my blog Index. Of course, I immediately tried again. Different result, though. Remember this if you see a URL like this:


http://www.recipes.robertosblogs.net/2006/01/ingredients-6-vegetables_4877.html
(Deleted, also).

When I don't know something, I try to find out - then, as a last resort, I turn to Nitecruzr 1, and The Real Blogger Status blog (my blogging bible, so to speak). He directed me to a post written back in August, 2009, in which he explains this exact phenomenon. Chuck explains about the URLs and how they are constructed, and what happens if bloggers try to do as I did. No worries, though. It's not going to explode your computer, or wipe your blog off the Internet.


So, what did I do to fix the situation? I once again, copied the contents, which is exactly how I wanted the post to look, and this time, when I clicked on New Post, I changed the name (Post Title) - so that Blogger would issue a new URL, and would not think I was trying to re-use the same, old, URL, which I deleted.

I got a new URL, and my post is looking good!


1: Nitecruzr

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Monday, 14 February 2011

Post Template - Changing Your Options



I don't know about your preferences, but I like the Post Page Option, for Labels, to be just under the Post Title. Don't ask me why, I couldn't tell you in a specific, meaningful way. I just do.




With most blogs, bloggers tend not to worry about it, I suppose. They just tick the Option Boxes in the Blog Post Page Element, -Reactions, - Comments, - Share and leave it at that. I don't. Blogger gave us the ability to vary the way our blogs look, and I try to take advantage of that opportunity, as often, and as tastefully, as possible.





Such was the case, this morning. I was chatting, as I often do, with Nitecruzr, and was asking about this option. I tried moving the Labels Option display, on one particular blog, several times - without success, yet I could do it, and had done it, on other blogs, such as this one. Why?

The first thing, among many that Chuck told me was that the Post Page Options are part of the Post Template - not the Blog Template! There is a difference. Maybe you knew all that, maybe not. I didn't! Oh, I had heard of the two templates, but I didn't know all that stuff - you see, I am not a 'real' techie kinda guy! That's why I study The Real Blogger Status blog, every chance I get!


<b:widget id='Blog1' locked='true' title='Blog Posts' type='Blog'/>


"That one line is the post template ... if you do not select 'expand widget templates' you see that one line.... if you do select 'expand widget templates' that one line turns into hundreds of lines, and the hundreds of lines are the post template ... the post template is a single interchangeable set of code that is moved from blog template to blog template. The post template is not part of the blog template ..." and,


" ... the post date, the post title, the post content, and the label list are all post template components ... because they are all part of the posts...."


Yeah, well, it was getting kinda heavily into techie stuff! Surely there was an easier way? I didn't have to tweak templates, or that kind stuff before. I read all the stuff he was telling me, but all the time, my brain was ticking over for a simple remedy. Then - bingo! Chuck was telling me about re-arranging components on the Post Template ...


"... so when you move the post date, the post title, the post content, and the label list around to different positions in the post, you are rearranging post template contents - all of which is separate from the blog template ..." Thanks Chuck!

Then, it dawned on me. Perhaps changing the Blog Template, itself, might be the remedy. I checked the templates of the other blogs I had success with, and they were all different to this blog in question. So, I navigated to the Design Screen, then the Template Designer, and chose a template like the other blogs had ... fixed-up the background, fonts, colours, etc, tweaked my CSS, and noticed on the preview part of the screen, that the Labels component of the Post Page was where I wanted it - under the Post Title! Yay!

So, various blog templates allow you to make changes to the Post template, and some don't. If you are having the same problem, try changing the template. Worked for me!


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Sunday, 13 February 2011

The 'New' HTML Editor



As I have often said, I didn't like using the HTML Editor. I always used the COMPOSE MODE Editor, with a few necessary visits to the HTML Editor, to 'add' things. This, as I've often been told, and found out, myself, is a recipe for problems.Things can go awry, switching between the two.

However, this New Editor helps the non-confident, with HTML. It tells you if you are wrong - and you can't PUBLISH until you get it correct! You can't even PREVIEW your post if the HTML is wrong!

So, I thought to myself, maybe, I can use the Compose Mode to do what I normally do, then, before Publishing, switch - ONCE - to the HTML Editor, check my script with the editor, and then Publish. So far, so good.

I am learning, however, and gaining confidence all the time. It's a very slow way of blogging, though. For instance, you have to make sure all the TAGS have an opener < , and a closer >. Also, I don't know why, when you use the Toolbar for emboldening, <b></b>, or Italicising, <i></i>, the editor does a 'run-home' to mother. The cursor disappears, and I have to scroll back to where I was working. There may be an easy way to fix that, but I don't know it.

Anyway, back to the main reason I am writing this. The HTML Editor is great! Not only does it tell you that your are wrong, but, when you try to Publish, it also highlights where you went wrong!




Give it a go. Like me, it will pay to learn.


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Blog Maintenance - and something to watch out for!



Blog maintenance is very important. There are various reasons for it, one being that sometimes, sites that you link to, may change their URL, or go off air for some reason. Maybe something has gone awry with your blog, too. Maybe an image is not showing, or, as I found in my recent editing, the result of switching from Edit HTML Editor, to COMPOSE (WYSIWYG) Editor.

My Readers don't want to be clicking on a link, to see a blog not found message, or similar. That reflects on me, and my blog. They won't hang around very long as Readers, or Followers, or Subscribers, if that sort of rubbish continually gets served up. So, it is very important to do a regular check of your previous posts, in a blog maintenance program.

I have just finished editing my Recipes blog, and it took me two full days, to edit 88 posts! I am currently looking at my Reflections blog. I didn't have to change every post. I just checked the links were working, and the posts had no other obvious problems. It's time consuming, however.


The one glaring error I did find, however, was the result of careless editing - switching from HTML Editor, to COMPOSE Editor. The only thing I can put my finger on is that it must de-stabilise the post editor, in some way, and things can happen, which you are at a loss to explain. I've written about it, before. I'm sure someone with the techie background of say, Nitecruzr, could name it. I just call it the wobbles.


I noticed links where there were not supposed to be links! What the ....? Is this Déjà vu?

Many of my Readers will know that I use Anchors (<a name="#Linkhere">....</a>) quite often in my posts. I do this for various reasons. I am starting to put a link back to the top of the blog. You'll see them at the conclusion of this post - TOP. The actual Anchors can be anywhere in any of my blogs, but I do put one, or more, in most posts.


I am also guilty of switching back and forth between the editors. Why? I really prefer the Compose Mode, but sometimes need to work in the HTML. The problem is basically that the New Editor changes the Anchor into:
  • a hyperlink, which it is not, and ...
  • it makes the Anchor obvious on the published post, which it is not supposed to be, unless you hover your mouse directly over it.

An Anchor link consists of two parts. The Anchor (Target), and the Link (Trigger) (which doesn't get affected in this case) to that Anchor.


This problem of the Anchor is best shown in the following images ...


Image 1. This is the basic, correct way my post should look, in the HTML Editor.




Image 2. This is the same in the COMPOSE MODE Editor. You won't see any highlighting, or indication that there is an Anchor in place.(Naturally, because you are in 'edit' mode.)



Image 3. This is what happens when I go back to the HTML Editor. You'll see that the Anchor has been changed into a hyperlink! It doesn't link anywhere, yet.



Image 4. Now, when I go back to COMPOSE MODE Editor, it does show as a link. You can see the highlighted words, and they are underlined.





Image 5. Now, when I go back to the HTML Editor, the blog ID and the POST ID have been inserted into the hyperlink.





Image 6. Now, if I publish that edited post, without picking up the error, this is what shows on the published post. A Link, which I neither want, not desire, to be shown on my post.



Image 7. Don't worry, though, no-one can access your blog post editor, other than you, if you are logged-in. This next screen shows what will show if a Reader clicks on the 'alien link'.




... AND, if the Reader does log-in with their own ID, it keeps repeating this process. They can't get to your editor.


So, what a strange occurrence, eh? This is caused by switching from one editor, to the other. A problem which happens too often, but correctable - DON'T DO IT !


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Saturday, 12 February 2011

Google Account Recovery



Just about every day, someone needs to ask how do they recover their Google Account.
"I've forgotten the password, or the Email address". Why people do not write them down, amazes me. It's not as though it's a Bank PIN.

Google asked me to Verify my Account Recovery Email address, today, as a matter of fact. It's no big deal. I just added my mobile phone number, too.




So, why do you need to lodge an alternative email address?


There could be many reasons for this, but the main one I can think of is, so that there is somewhere Google can send your password to, if you forget it!


How do I register an Alternative Email Address, or Verify, my Account Details?

Google suggests:
For all options, you will need to do the following:

1. Sign in to Gmail.
2. Click Settings at the top of any Gmail page, and open the Accounts and Import tab.
3. Click Google Account settings.
4. Select Recovering your password under Personal Settings. You may be prompted to re-enter your password to help verify your password and protect your account.
5. Click Add a recovery email address/a mobile phone number/security question if you don't have a recovery option already, or click the 'Edit' link next to your current recovery option to change it.
6. Click Save to make your changes.
7. Close the Google Account window using your browser's Close button if you don't want to sign out of Gmail just yet.


Using your existing Account Recovery Options in the event that you're unable to log in to your account:

For all options, you will need to do the following:

1. Visit our password recovery page.
2. Enter your username.
3. Click Submit.
4. If your Gmail username is accepted, a CAPTCHA will appear (letters in a distorted picture), which needs to be typed in the empty box below.
5. Click Submit.

To be contacted via:

Email -
1. Choose the radio button which says ‘Email to *****@****.com.
2. An email from Google is automatically sent to your recovery email address.
3. Log into the account of your secondary email address and follow the instructions provided in the message.

NOTE: If Gmail sends a verification email and you didn't receive the it, the message was probably caught by a spam or bulk mail filter in your recovery email system. Try checking your Spam or Bulk Mail folders for a message from account-recovery-noreply@google.com to see if the email ended up in there.

Your Mobile Phone number -
1. Choose the radio button which says ‘Text mesage to ********XX.'
2. A text message will be sent to your mobile phone with a password-reset code.
3. Enter the password-reset code on the following Text message code verification page.

If you have a security question as your recovery option -
Your account needs to be idle for 24 hours after following steps 1 through 5 in order to activate the security question option. Be sure to refrain from trying to log into your account for the full 24 hours.

Once 24 hours has passed, please follow steps 1 through 5 again. You will be presented with your security question.

If you're unable to use any of your existing account recovery options or you never enabled any account recovery options before you lost access to your account, you can try using our account recovery exam.


I have heard many of my friends ask me why I have so many email accounts. This is one reason. You don't need to have 10, just two - and preferably on different networks - say Gmail, Yahoo, or Hotmail!

Why would I need a Gmail and a Yahoo, or Hotmail email account? The reason for this is simple - Google won't let you use another Gmail Account as a Recovery Address for your primary Gmail Account.

Learn how Alternate Addresses work.


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Monday, 7 February 2011

Image Distortion? New Editor Compose Mode.



I recently started a new blog, which uses a lot of images. It's a blog about my travels, and images are important.

I normally use the Edit HTML editor, but because it has a limit of only five (5) images per upload, I decided to use the Compose Mode Editor - which seems to be able to upload many more images, in one go. I noticed, several times, that images can get distorted, or not uploaded correctly, when using the Wizard in Compose Mode.





What I also found was, that when I re-uploaded the affected images, the original ones, which appeared distorted, and also distorted when posted to the blog, became good, again. Of course, I now had two images, the same, in the Wizard.

Frustrating and time consuming? Yes.

The only thing I've seen on the subject of image distortion, is in Blogger's Known Issues.


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Wednesday, 2 February 2011

New Comments - SPAM Protection



Blogger's new Comments SPAM Protection is here. Learning how it works is well worth it.



The Blogger Help screen Comment Inbox, presents all you need to know.

If you have any Feedback, wish to Report issues, or make suggestions, then you can < HERE >:


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