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Friday, 29 March 2013

Anonymity - and Follower Feeds



Often bloggers are want to remain anonymous. Maybe it's because they are unsure of themselves, or maybe they think this person, or that person, wouldn't want to see them Following their blog, or for whatever reason, they want to remain private.

Anonymity has it's benefits, and it's down side. It's benefits include the ability to access a Public blog, and no-one knows, or you can Publish a public or a private blog anonymously. Is there a distinction between Anonymity and Privacy?

On the other side of the coin, one downside is with Feeds. I've seen questions in the Forum, like: "Why can't my Followers see my posts, when I can see theirs?"


Anonymous Blogs, or Private blogs, generate NO feeds !


If you 'Follow' a blog, you have two choices - follow Anonymously (Privately), or Publicly. It's the same with your Blogger Reading List. It's all classed as 'Following'. It all stems from your blog 'Feeds', and what you allow to be syndicated. If you want to follow, or get a feed from a blog, yet do it anonymously, you can, but one huge benefit, the reciprocal 'feed', doesn't work. Following is a two way street.


Most bloggers take, but don't give, which is their right, but it limits the promotion of their blog. There's an option on the Manage Blogs I'm Following screen which is often overlooked -




"Publish my activities to sites I've joined and connected networks"


You'll notice, in the image, that the option is dull and cannot be selected. That's because it isn't available, while I Follow 'anonymously'.


If I want to ensure that my activities are seen by the sites I've joined, and therefore, get full benefit from my association through Follower, the I make my Settings - 'Publicly', and tick the little box...








Ah, that's better.
I only have to worry about what Blogger means by - "Publish my activities".

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Blogger Reading List - How to Remove a blog



With the imminent demise of Google Reader in July 2013, the viable alternative seems to be your Blogger Reading List, itself. It always has been. It has been linked to the Follower gadget, as a Reader, and it has been linked to Google Reader, in a confusion of 'Readers'.

Link to this, link to that. Bloody confusing. What benefit would anyone derive from having two, or three different News Aggregators, or Readers? I don't know.
Why have such a convenient, great aggregator, as is Blogger Reading List, and not use it? I don't know the answer to that, either. The Blogger Reading List is ALL you really need !


The reason for this post, is to explain how to start, and stop/remove, (following) a blog, on your Blogger Reading List. Possibly, better terminology would be how to add the feed of a blog, and how to delete that feed from a blog. Call me pedantic, but all these fancy words are annoyingly confusing - follow, unfollow, feed, reader, subscription, aggregator, etc. The new user, or Blogger Newbie, can get in a tizz, just trying to make a presentable blog. Anyway, here goes ...

Here goes:

To start receiving the newsfeed (feed) from someone's blog (site), you add that blog's URL (Uniform Resource Locator) in the Reading List. It's as simple as this ...




You get the opportunity to 'Follow' that blog 'Publicly', or 'Anonymously'. A bit like with the Follower gadget. You can add more than one (1) blog at a time, too. Once you done all that, you click 'Follow'.


Now, to 'Stop Following', or 'Remove a blog from your Reading List', it's a little more confusing. It's as confusing as ...

 - You have to click on the 'Manage Reading List' option, which is the 'gear wheel', next to the 'View in Google Reader' option, which is not going to be there come July. (Not the gear wheel next to the Language option, just above it). Confusing? Sorry.




That brings up the next screen, which is the 'Manage Reading List' screen, where you click on 'Settings' next to the blog you don't want, anymore ...




The next screen appears, where you click on 'Stop Following' ...




... which brings up a confirmation option, where you click 'Stop Following', again  ...




There you have it. The confusing (complicated) way to Add, and Cease, reading a blog, or 'How to Add, and Delete/Remove a blog, from your Reading List'.

It's all the more confusing because of the word, and the gadget, called 'FOLLOWER', and the 'hidden' implication of the word 'subscription', which is normally associated with feeds and Readers. Or, am I confused?


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Thursday, 28 March 2013

Foreign Languages - adding them to your post.



Many times I have seen questions in the Help Forum, like this:


"How can I add two, or three, different languages to my post ?"



Well, I wrote about the answer, some time ago - and it hasn't changed ... Google Translate.


Example: If I wanted to translate this paragraph, from English to Greek, I'd just copy it to the translate tool, make a couple of commands, and hey presto - it's done. Then, I copy and paste it into my post. Easy as...







- Παράδειγμα: Αν ήθελα να μεταφράσει αυτό το σημείο, από τα Αγγλικά στα Ελληνικά, θα ήθελα να το αντιγράψετε απλά να μεταφράζει το εργαλείο, να κάνει μια-δυο εντολές, και hey presto - έχει κάνει. Στη συνέχεια, μπορώ να αντιγράψω και επικολλήστε την θέση μου. Εύκολη ως.


Why make it difficult? Some bloggers even try to tweak their templates! A definite no-no!

Years ago, I learned a very valuable secret (not so secret, anymore) - K.I.S.S. - KEEP IT SUPER SIMPLE ! (I know some people say Keep It Simple, Stupid, but I don't know anyone who is worthy of that insult).

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Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Google Reader - Which Replacement will You Choose ?



Some time ago, in blogging terms - June, 2005, I was wondering what a Reader was. I thought it was a school book. My friend Chuck, of Nitecruzr dot net, set me straight - ' ... they're called Newsfeed Readers, and they are a web application, which aggregates syndicated web content, such as News Headlines, Blogs, Video Blogs (vlogs) into one location for easy viewing'. They are also called News Aggregators, Feed Aggregators, Feed Readers, News Readers, and RSS Readers (Really Simple Syndication) .


What are we going to use instead of Google Reader?


Google Reader is our well-known, user-friendly feed reader, which many of us have used for ages, or seems that way (it was actually only created, and launched by Google Engineer, Chris Wetherell, in 2005) - and we all thought it would be around forever. Google is pulling the plug for Google Reader, on July 1st, 2013.

So, what are we going to use instead?


It has been suggested that the Top Windows RSS Feed Readers and News Aggregators, available, are: Newzcrawler, Omea Reader, NewsGator On-Line Services, NewsGator Inbox for Outlook, Awasu Personal Edition and Blog Navigator.

Don't forget, Feed Readers are also suited to certain Browsers. For instance - Sage, with Firefox! A great combo.

My choice? I'll stick with my Blogger Reading List.

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Which Translator Would You Choose ?



When it comes to translating a foreign language blog, on the fly, which Translator would you choose?

Cumulus Blogs, developed by Chuck Croll (Nitecruzr) and me (Roberto), can be of benefit to the average blog owner, and has some features which the Google Translator lacks.

When displayed on your blog, as on the top of this blog, Cumulus Language Tool gives your readers the opportunity to click on their flag, and translate my whole blog - not just a page. It is also a conspicuous addition to your page, when displaying the flags. It's not a small gadget which could be easily overlooked. Cumulus Blogs can be used in 60 plus languages, at present.

We've even created about 12 demonstration blogs, in the following languages, to display the versatility of the Language Tool. At present, we have French, English, Japanese, Chinese (Traditional), Chinese (Simplified), Russian, Italian, Spanish, Arabic, Indonesian, Hindi, and Portuguese. If you have a foreign language blog, it may be in your favour to choose the Cumulus Language Tool.


In comparison, I went visiting tonight, and came across a French blog, which had Google's Translator available for me. This is what I got:




It didn't translate the first time, and only translated the 'front page' the second time. I had to click translate - again.


Roberto's Blogs have a Cumulus Translator Tool, which doesn't need refreshing, and translates the WHOLE blog - once - the first time!





If a visitor to my blog wants to translate it to Greek, he/she clicks on the Greek flag, and gets this result:




Or, he/she can add the Cumulus Translator Tool to an html/Javascript gadget on his/her own blog, for their readers. All that is required is to copy the latest code and paste it in a gadget. Voilà!


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Tuesday, 26 March 2013

HTML Editor - 'Auto Save' Problem ?



One annoying problem is with Auto Save, I think, and it appears when editing, or compiling a post, in the html editor.

Auto Save can be good, or a bad, depending how you look at it. I think it's the cause of this annoying problem, which only happens occasionally - like every ten minutes, or so. It happens even when there is no actual problem with your html script, or whenever you are in a hurry.





Getting rid of it is a simple matter of clicking on the option to "Ignore warning" and 'Saving', 'Updating', or 'Publishing' again ... but why should I have to?

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Sunday, 24 March 2013

Removing Content from Someone Else's Site



Content can be removed from someone's site, either by the Webmaster of that site, or by Google, and three (3) other ways to get some information removed from another person's website (or blog).

  • Legal Removal - if you believe content needs to be removed from someone's site, based on applicable law(s), then you need this form:





  • Remove Personal Information - if you believe that certain personal information is appearing on Google's search results, then use this form:





  • Remove Content which is NOT Live - if you have a concern about information which has already been removed from the site in question, but is likely to show up in Google search results because the site hasn't been crawled recently, then you can complete this form:





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Google is Displaying my Deleted Blog !



Often times we see a plaintive cry for help, in the Blogger Forum:

'I deleted my blog a while back, and it's still showing my personal details on the web. Please help.'



Well, that's a nice way of putting it. Most are embittered ravings. People who think it's Bloggers fault that the information is still public. If you are going to delete a blog, make sure you delete any personal information first, and any posts you don't want anymore - unless you need it for other blogs you are keeping. It's your responsibility! Don't forget, the helpers are just bloggers, like you and me, who like to help. That's why they're called 'Helpers'.


So, what can you do? Notice, I said 'you'. When you post something, Google will update their index (including a cached version) when they next crawl your blog. And what causes the robot to crawl your blog? Generally, it's posting. But until it does, the cached copy stays 'online' and can be viewed when searching. Google now let's you request the removal of that information, from the web.

To request removal of the cached version of a page:

  • On the Webmaster Tools home page, click the site you want removed.
  • On the left-hand menu, click Optimization and then click Remove URLs.
  • Click New removal request.
  • Type the URL of the page you want removed, and then click Continue. The URL is case-sensitive—use exactly the same characters and capitalization that the site uses. How to find the right URL.
  • Select Remove cached version of this page.



Good luck !

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Back up your Blog Template - in New GUI



Securing your hard work, is most important, and blogging is not just typing a story and publishing it. It is so important, that I've written a number of posts on the subject. Blogger gives you utmost latitude when it comes to managing your blog, within reason, and it is your responsibility to take some responsible actions. Backing up your template to secure all that effort is one such responsibility, and should be a routine chore for us all. Template Back up is a must. Why?

There are several reasons, actually. Here are but a few:
... you will wish you had saved a back up of your template.



Backing up your template, is easy. Follow these steps :

  • Select the blog you want to back up. Choose 'Template' from the menu list ...




  • Click on 'Backup/Restore' ...




  • Click on 'Download full template' ...




  • Open a folder on your computer, say in 'My Documents', to save the file ...





  • Save the file in the folder ...





  • Check that the file was saved correctly ...





That's it. Do it every week, or month. Replace the previous file with a 'fresh' copy, and you'll never be caught out.

Have a cuppa.


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Monday, 18 March 2013

Google Feedback - a Furphy?



In Australia, we have a saying for something which seems not to be fair dinkum - a Furphy. It's a rumour, or something which is improbable. 'Fair dinkum' is another Aussie saying, which translates as true, or genuine. Today, I submitted a piece of Feedback to Google, on their special Feedback form, which you might find in a few places on some screens - not every screen, but a few screens - only! Fair dinkum, mate!

The readers of this blog, the Report, will be aware of a problem I recently started having with an annoying pop up. None of my techie friends could help me and I'm frustrated as hell, hence, the seeking of help from Google.

The Feedback option can be found at the bottom right of the Dashboard screen, or in the drop-down menu of the Blogger Options (gear wheel) button on the top right of the Dashboard screen. It can also, according to the 'Learn more' section, be found on the 'Report a bug' option - but I couldn't find the option I wanted, in the options available there.

The bottom of the Dashboard screen ...



The Top of the Dashboard screen ...



The actual Feedback form ... on the Dashboard screen


Now, this presented me with a problem. How do I get this Feedback form to show the actual problem I am experiencing? That of the annoying pop-up. There's NO Feedback form available on the Blogger screens!

Well, as they say, necessity is the mother of invention, or something akin to that. I started to experiment.

If I couldn't bring Google to the the mountain, I'd reverse course. I tried to think; "...which screen also has the Feedback option available?" It was then I realised that the 'Post Edit' screen shares the feature. However, after trying the 'html post editing' screen with no success, I tried the 'Compose Mode' screen. SUCCESS.

So, I started to make screen dump images of the whole process ...

'Step' 1 - Activate Google Feedback

'Step' 2 - Describe the issue


'Step' 3 - Highlight


'Step' 4 - Blackout


'Step' 5 - Preview


'Step' 6 - Submit



All looks good to here, doesn't it? Well it's a great idea which needs working on by some programmer who has his wits about him. It should be available on ALL screens !

Anyway, I loaded my post about the annoying pop-up into the Compose Mode Editor, and it looked like this ...


I highlighted the relevant part, wrote a short discourse on the 'issue', didn't have to Blackout anything personal, and pressed the button - 'Submit'.

I hung around on that screen for a few seconds, as they suggested, and got my notice of success feedback ...


Then the realisation hit me that it was all unreal ...

"We value every piece of feedback we receive. We cannot respond individually to every one, but we will use yor comments as strive to improve your Google experience."

What a crock ! I want FEEDBACK - just like you!
I don't even think I was supposed to report my problem there, in this manner. I think the feedback is for "I like what you..." or, "Google is terrific", or, "God bless you for all you're doing for us", etc.

A furphy, to be sure.


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Thursday, 14 March 2013

STOP FOLLOWING A BLOG - 4 easy steps



Every week, it seems, there is a question thread on the Forum, about someone's inability to stop following a blog. Although Blogger has changed from 'old' Blogger to 'new' Blogger, and seems to be favouring Google+ circles, Stopping Following is still relatively simple to achieve. It's a 4 step procedure.

Firstly, Step 1 - On your Reading list, click the little gear wheel on the right-hand side of your screen. Wait for the screen to display the list:




Step 2 - Select the blog you want to stop following, and click on 'Settings'




Step 3 - Click on 'Stop Following'



Step 4 - Confirm your decision.



That's it!

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Sunday, 10 March 2013

Re-Scheduling the Publishing Date on your Posts



Changing the date order of posts, or re-scheduling, to reflect your requirements, is dead-easy in the New Blogger GUI. You can not only change the date, but it gives you a calendar to plot it on! Time, day, month and year.



To set the date, you have to change from 'Automatic' to 'Set date and time'. To change the date, or time, simply click on the calendar, or clock. Don't forget to click 'Done', when you are !

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The 503 error - Web Server unavailability



Sometimes, the web server partially closes down due to temporary overload, or maintenance.

503 errors in the HTTP cycle

Any client goes through the following cycle when it communicates with the web server.

  • Obtain an IP address from the IP name of the site (the site URL without the leading 'http://'). This lookup (conversion of IP name to IP address) is provided by domain name servers (DNSs).
  • Open an IP socket connection to that IP address.
  • Write an HTTP data stream through that socket.
  • Receive an HTTP data stream back from the Web server in response. This data stream contains status codes whose values are determined by the HTTP protocol. Parse this data stream for status codes and other useful information.


Fixing 503 errors

The web server effectively shuts down - "Closed for Repair" - although it still functions minimally enough to communicate the 503 status code. Full service is impossible at this time. When you see a 503 error, you can rest assured that human intervention is current, and that it will not be long until service is resumed.

Phoning you ISP to determine why the service is down, could be fruitful.

Ref: Checkupdown.com

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Monday, 4 March 2013

Annoying Pop-up



This very annoying pop-up from 'somewhere' is driving me nuts. see: image


Please, if anyone knows how to get rid of the Shift R pop-up, leave me a comment.
It's everywhere ! Every time I point my mouse at an image, of any kind, up comes the pop-up.

I did learn one thing through this, if I hold down the < SHIFT > and the < Ctrl > keys, simultaneously, then press 'R', I get the Quick Editing function, on that post, only, which was not displaying - anywhere. Maybe everyone knows about that - I've been away from blog-land for over 12 months.
However, after editing each post, when you click 'Update', instead of being transported back to that page of the Post List, it transports you to the latest post.

UPDATE: Mar. 23rd -: I got an answer from Microsoft ...



It apparently is caused by my ISP (Vodafone). I'll call them on Monday, for sure. Bastards.

Update on an update: Mar. 25th - - problem passed back - like a hot potato.

Update on an update: Mar. 26th - - problem solved.

After calling my ISP (Vodafone) yesterday, and them suggesting to me that the problem was, indeed, Browser-based, and I should contact Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, respectively. I managed to find a 'Submit Feedback' option on Firefox, joined up, and put my question in the Forum.



Submitted ...



The Firefox TC answered within half-an-hour of my submission: "You will have to contact your ISP and ask them if you can opt-out of this feature to send images compressed in lower quality".

I did find a contact point for Google Chrome, on the 'About Google Chrome' screen :




I'm still waiting for an answer. NOT HAPPY, GOOGLE!


So, I contacted my ISP - again, and told them what had transpired with the Browser people. The Technician I got this time was a bit more 'lively', and immediately got remote access thru me, to my laptop, saw what the problem was, and fixed it. He had to rip me a new Profile for my access. Done. Why did I have to go thru all this pain?

... and, and ... my Quick Editing is restored - as it should be! I can see the little screwdriver and spanner icons ! Yay!

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