Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Bloggers are "People of the Year"

The latest issue of PC Magazine has named the founders of Blogger (Evan Williams, Meg Hourihan, and Paul Bausch) together with the founders of Six Apart (Mena G. Trott and Ben Trott) as People of the Year.

Although blogs have been around for awhile, PC Mag sees them as now being accepted into the mainstream:

Select bloggers were allowed the same access as traditional journalists at both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, among them Patrick Belton at and Jeralyn Merritt at, powered by blog tools Blogger and Movable Type, respectively.

One interesting tidbit in the article from Technorati: a new blog is created every 5.8 seconds, some 15,000 per day.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Reviews of MSN Spaces

Interesting review of MSN Spaces at Blogger Herald:

Rank: .5/10

"Whilst some are saying that Microsoft will help grow the market, which is possible, this service will do little to provide the current and future bloggers with anything other mass produced, standardised rubbish..."

And from Joe Blade:

"So, MSN Spaces. They're not ugly -- not Netscape ugly -- but they all look basically the same. They offer no subtlety, no grace, and very little in the way of customisation -- just near-identical blogs with near-identical feature sets, stamped out on a production line. I've seen several reviews criticising this, but I don't see it as a problem. Like Livejournal before it, I see MSN Spaces offering a valuable function -- hoovering up a significant proportion of crap from the web, and sticking it all in an easily-avoidable area."

Friday, December 17, 2004

Comment spamming hits MT

Comment spamming, which is an epidemic problem with WordPress blogs, has gotten to be a major issue with Movable Type as well.

Since inbound links are supposed to increase a site's popularity, some low-lifes have discovered that if they flood blog site commenting with hundreds of links, their own popularity rises. Online gambling sites are especially guilty of this tactic.

It has gotten so bad with many MT sites that the blogmasters have had no choice but to disable their commenting.

"Over the past two weeks, five hosts have in some way disabled MT or MT comments because of the server load they were creating," writes MT blogger Reid Stott. "Not five little Mom & Pop hosts - at least three of them I’d consider serious to top-notch hosts." Other bloggers also reported web hosts disabling MT scripts. One said their host, XO Communications, disabled MT after seeing 100 active connections to mt-comments.cgi, suspecting a denial of service attack was underway. Netcraft

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Google Suggest beta

How cool is this? You start to type in a search term in the Google search window and a list of suggestions appears in a drop-down as you type. Next to each suggested site is the total hits for that site. As you type more, the list becomes more specific to your search words.

This is the new Google Suggest Beta. From their FAQ:

"That's pretty cool. How does it do that? Our algorithms use a wide range of information to predict the queries users are most likely to want to see. For example, Google Suggest uses data about the overall popularity of various searches to help rank the refinements it offers. An example of this type of popularity information can be found in the Google Zeitgeist. Google Suggest does not base its suggestions on your personal search history."

Not everyone is thrilled with the idea:

"Most of us receive our traffic from many dozens of keyword phrases - often time many hundreds or thousands. If this service would become popular you could find your traffic stunted as Google only shows a handful of terms. Many of those terms may not have occured to the searcher - and so they click them." --WebMaster

Monday, December 13, 2004

Audio and videos in blogs

Here's something we get asked pretty frequently: how can I post audio and/or video in my blogs?

Userplane has announce a free service for creating audio and video for blogs called AVBlogger.

"...the AV Blogger service automatically detects the presence of a webcam and microphone, making it easy for even non-technical users to create recordings of up to 10 minutes in length. The service displays a side-by-side record and playback interface, allowing users to compare old and new recordings. Each recording is streamed from Userplane servers, and can be copy-and-pasted into any web page."

Looks very interesting. To see a blog that is using the service, take a look at some of the links on their site. You will quickly see that things can be a bit slow or even buggy. In most cases, it looks like a problem with the way the feed is set up on the site, not with AVBlogger.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

MSN Spaces to compete with Blogger

Microsoft is scheduled to unveil MSN Spaces as early as this week. Spaces is geared to compete directly with Google's Blogger blog platform and BlogSpot blog hosting.

Spaces has been up and running in a beta version in Japan since August. (Japan Spaces)

Some industry watchers have said they consider Microsoft's move into blogging as a counteroffensive against MSN archrival Google. In 2003, Google purchased Pyra Labs, the San Francisco-based vendor behind the Blogger blog-authoring platform. --MS Watch

Thursday, November 18, 2004

NY Times launches tech blog

Blogging gets more into the mainstream with today's first blog on Pogue's Posts. You can't get more mainstream than the New York Times, where the blog will reside with daily updates. From the inaugural post:

I plan to use this space to answer reader questions, follow up on the other columns, flag emerging tech news issues, point out hilarious or important developments on the Web, share cool tips and write about other topics that don’t justify a longer-form treatment.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Feedster's new blog search engine

Feedster has introduced a blog-only search page as part of its site.

Blog Search has come to Feedster. Now you can easily search across ONLY blogs and exclude results from official news sources.

Some searches we tried with topics and key words published in our own Blogger Blog did not show up in the search results. Try it yourself for key words that are fairly specific to your blog and see if you do any better.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004


Here is a must-have bit of software: Keyhole.

Google bought the company on October 27 and offers a free trial download. With Keyhole, you can zip around the earth with 3D terrain and the best mapping I've ever seen. Just enter your own street address and zoom in on your backyard. You may even catch yourself mowing the lawn! Enter a different address across the country or world and watch Keyhole lift off to a higher alititude and pan over and then down to the new location.

Some areas of the planet have better resolution than others. For a fun time, go to a highway you are familiar with, zoom down to about 100 feet above the ground, tilt the map so you are looking forward down the road, and then hold down the forward arrow key. You wil be zipping along like a pilot watching the traffic go by beneath you. Also, don't miss going over to Rome and look for the Coliseum. Zoom down and check out the tourists.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Blogger woes

Problems, problems. Seen around the Web the last couple of days:

"I can't seem to get into Blogger today, all I get is an error message saying site not found. Is anyone else having this problem? Or is it just me?"

"OK. It now looks as though my dissapearing post may be more serious. For the first time i cannot get to any Blogger or blogspot page. None of my favorite blogspot blogs are working (even super site Atrios is down) and Blogger cannot be accessed. Anyone got any clue whats going on?"

"oh great, not again. ..and I thought it was just me. :("

"it's totally down for me. what's the deal?"

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Not playing the SEO game

There is an interesting article by Dean Phillips I ran across that has a contrarian view on search engine optimizing. Or, as the author would probably say, search engine pandering.

In the author's view, Google is a trap ("Why are so many people falling into the trap of optimizing their website's to cater to Google's ever- changing algorithms?"), Dmoz naps ("I've heard and read countless horror stories about DMOZ taking 9 months to a year or more to add new sites to their directory...") and Yahoo is full of crap ("Why, why, why would anyone want to just hand over their money to Yahoo! that way, without any type of guarantee?"). Here's the conclusion reached by the author:

If you only remember one thing from this article, remember this: DO NOT DEPEND SOLELY ON SEARCH ENGINES FOR YOUR TRAFFIC! Find alternative ways to attract traffic to your website. If you're fortunate enough to achieve a high search engine ranking, consider it a bonus. But DO NOT MAKE THE SEARCH ENGINES A PRIORITY!

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Using CSS for SEO

Or, to get rid of the alphabet soup jargon, can Cascading Style Sheets be used to benefit Search Engine Optimization? The answer is yes.

We all know, or should know, that CSS is very beneficial for design and maintenance of a blog site. Taken a step further, CSS can also be used to fine-tune a page to be more spider friendly. In other words, a page that is designed to be indexed to maximize key words and phrases that you want to emphasize.

A very good discussion of this appears on OutFront which is a site I visit frequently. CSS can reduce the code on a page for starters. Beyond that, "CSS makes it possible to position content pretty much wherever you like in the code without affecting the appearance of the page, so that your important content is higher on the page, which to a search engine means it is more important. For example you can have your header appear on the top of a page, but be at the bottom in the code, which means the opening H1 of your content (very important to search engines) is right at the top."

There are other ways CSS can be utilized for SEO, but just the control over placement on your page is reason enough to get on the CSS bandwagon.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

The future of browsers

The importance of browsers to bloggers should be pretty obvious. Not only do you use your browser to create and maintain your blog, you also have to take into account what browsers your users might be using.

I think we're all familiar with the problems with standards compliance that Internet Explorer exhibits. Has anyone thought about why this has come to pass? Why has Microsoft allowed IE to slip behind everyone else? The fact is, Microsoft has not come out with a major upgrade to IE since August of 2001. In computer age terms, that is about like saying nothing has been done since the depression.

Microsoft has made it pretty clear that it will not be coming out with any standalone browsers in the future. It looks like the next version of Windows will have the browser built in --take it or leave it.

At the heart of the controversy is Microsoft's longtime insistence that the browser isn't a standalone piece of software, as it is most commonly thought of, but merely a feature of the Windows operating system. In future releases of Windows, starting with the long-awaited Longhorn, Web browsing functionality will be embedded deeply within applications, reaffirming the Windows interface rather than the browser as the center of the computing experience. --ZDNet

Let's not forget that Microsoft completely dropped support for the Mac version of Internet Explorer. If Google gets into developing standalone browsers, maybe we can actually look forward to more browser wars like we had with Netscape v. IE.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Google to create browser?

It is interesting that Google is reported to have acquired the domain name If you do a search on the name, you find that it is reserved. Now why would they do that?

A news story in the New York Post said that four people who worked on Microsoft's Web browser have recently been recruited to work at Google. However, Google declined to comment on the online reports and said it had announced no plans in this area. --Economic Times

One thing is certain: Google plans to do something with Gbrowser. Whether that "something" is a browser limited to music and image searches, or whether it will be a full-blown competitor for Mozilla and Internet Explorer remains to be seen.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Belle de Jour drops her blog

One of the most famous and interesting blogs has been Belle de Jour. Belle announced today that she was quitting the world of blogging.

Doors have opened and I'd like to see where they go. Other doors close, but as my mother said when I was 10 and tennis conflicted with piano on Thursday afternoons, you can't do everything you want to do. So my plans to be elected to Parliament, win a Nobel Prize and make the finals at Wimbledon are on the back burner for now. As book and telly projects progress, I'll come back to link - and I will let you know if the site is going to be moved.

Thank you to everyone who supported me. Thank you to the critics as well. I wish you all a sweet new year.

In case you live in a blogging closet, Belle de Jour was the journal of a London prostitute. The quality of the writing was so good that many speculated the site was a hoax.

After Belle won the newspaper award, there was fervent speculation about her real-life identity, with some suggesting the blog was a hoax by a journalist.

Belle responded by posting a message saying: "Yes, I really am a call girl ... A bored journalist could probably fake this blog but I'm not that clever."

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Blogging: writing on the bathroom wall

Jessica Cutler, who did so well as the blogger behind some juicy Washington escapades, is now posing nude in Playboy. Jessica, you may remember, was an aid to Senator Mike DeWine and was fired by the Senator over revelations in Jessica's blog about "sleeping around" with Washington big-shots.

The Playboy spread is called "Wild in Washington" and appears in Playboy Online, not the magazine: What advice would you give to someone starting a blog?

Jessica Cutler: With a blog, you can't expect your private life to be private anymore. You just never know. But, when you work on the Hill you find out the guy you've been sleeping with has told everyone in your office about it. So, what's the difference? It's writing on the bathroom wall.

Gmail as a blog platform?

Here's an interesting idea: utilize Gmail and it's gigabyte of storage as a blog platform. Some open-source software named Gallina can supposedly do this.

Gallina uses Gmail messages as blog entries, and the email service's message star to signify the publish status. Email replies to conversations are posted as comments to an entry. Because Gmail provides 1GB of email storage space for free, Hernandez' software makes that space available for the blog. --ZDNet

Blogging advice

Whether you're a complete newbie or have been blogging for years, good advice is always good advice. One such bit of good advice was posted on Busblog in June and contains some good tips you don't always see in the usual places. This is probably the case because much of the advice is a bit unorthodox. Some examples from 30 good tips (I especially like #14):

11. say exactly what you want to say no matter what it looks like on the screen. then say something else. then keep going. and when youre done, re-read it, and edit it and hit publish and forget about it.

12. link like crazy. link anyone who links you, link your favorites, link your friends. dont be a prude. linking is what seperates bloggers from apes. and especially link if you're trying to prove a point and someone else said it first. it lends credibility even if youre full of shit.

13. if you havent written about sex, religion, and politics in a week youre probably playing it too safe, which means you probably fucked up on #5, in which case start a second blog and keep your big mouth shut about it this time.

14. remember: nobody cares which N*Sync member you are, what State you are, which Party of Five kid you are, or which Weezer song you are. the second you put one of those things on your blog you need to delete your blog and try out for the marching band. similarilly, nobody gives a shit what the weather is like in your town, nobody wants you to change their cursor into a butterfly, nobody wants to vote on whether your blog is hot or not, and nobody gives a rat ass what song youre listening to. write something Real for you, about you, every day.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Another blogger fired

Never mind free speech, if the boss doesn't like something you have to say in your blog, you could end up jobless.

Joyce Park works (worked) for Friendster as a programmer. Her specific job was to speed up the site by switching some key site components from JavaScript to PHP. She made the very bad mistake, apparently, of stating in passing in reply to a question about her PHP operations that the site had been a bit "pokey" before the change.

Not exactly earth-shaking stuff. Nevertheless, enough to get her fired.

Critics of Friendster's move called it "silly" in light of Park's boosterism of the company. "Especially for a social networking company, it seems to reflect a particularly poor understanding of the medium," said Wendy Seltzer, staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. She added that because Friendster is a private company based in California, it can fire people at will, barring any discrimination. One blogger even urged Friendster users to terminate their accounts in retaliation. --Cnet News

Visit the Troutgirl site to get an idea of how it feels to get fired over a few published words. Apparently it isn't exactly a good feeling.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Understanding doctype statements

If you have ever looked at your Blogger template, you may have seen something like this above the HEAD statement:

!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN"

The doctype element is usually the first line of any template and gives some specific instructions to the browser on how some things should be treated. On a very basic level, the doctype element tells the browser what version of HTML is being used.

The "EN" part of the element refers to the language used in the markup. This is frequently misunderstood to mean the document is rendered in English. That is not the case and the document itself might be rendered in any language.

An incorrect or inappropriate doctype statement can lead to some unexpected results. We sometimes see questions here on Blogger Forum about problems that are solved by making sure the doctype element is appropriate for the document. In other words, you shouldn't blindly copy templates without having some understanding of how this works. For a very good explanation of the doctype element, take a look at the O'Reilley Net Web Devcenter. Here's an example:


This DOCTYPE claims that the document is a strict document; that is, it is authored according to a strict adherence to the W3C specification, and uses no presentational markup. Upon seeing this, IE5/Mac will kick its rendering engine into standards mode, so that your document will be displayed according to the W3C standards. This affects IE5/Mac's handling of both CSS and HTML.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Metro Blogs

What are Metro Blogs, anyway?

"We're kind of that friend of yours that always knows what's happening in the city," said Jen Chung, editor-in-chief of the New York-based blog, where she encouraged theatergoers this week to get out and see New York International Fringe Festival theater, passing along that "we hear that this is the first year that all the venues are air-conditioned -- woo-hoo!"

For those bloggers who haven't quite found the niche they want to blog about, this could be an attractive area if someone isn't already blogging about your home town. Consider the numbers. is getting about 30,000 unique visitors daily.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Blog meets Web dating

The nature of blogging is such that is had to be inevitable: dating sites have discovered the appeal of blogging.

It is so absolutely easy for an online dating service to host and integrate blogging that I'm surprised it hasn't been done more often. Blogging is a fun way to interact with a site. Blogs, by their nature, tend to raise the rankings of sites. Take a look at the way has put their site into the blogosphere. Here's a sample from an eTwine blog:

My shirt looks good but it would look better on your floor? What is this, cheesy pick-up lines 101? I think my shirt would look just great still on me walking back to my apt asap!!! So I'm out last week and this guy is talking to me and asks me for my # so I figure why not and give it to him. He calls me and I only have a second so I make plans to meet him for a quick drink. We meet and TOMMY is still really cute but I guess between the loud music and 4 grey goose & tonics lol, I never realized that he's the not the sharpest tack in the box.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Page Rank discussions

There is an interesting thread going on at Outfront on the subject of Page Rank. Specifically, what goes into calculating not only rank, but how rank should be looked at as only part of the equation in determining how a site is treated by Google and some of the other engines. Here is an excerpt from one post in the thread:

... you have on-page optimization factors and off-page optimization factors. Both are important, but IMO - off page/off site factors are more important.

Here are a few on page factors: meta keywords, meta description, keywords in title, domain name, position terms in title, page size, (h1, h2, h3, h4), words at the beginning of sentence or paragraph, valid HTML, text to html ratio, anchor text, alt text, broken links, internal linking, proximity of keywords to other factors, keyword density in body, bold/italic/other keywords, file name, file size, text around links, age of site, age of links, case of keywords, misspelling, bad grammar, plurals and many many more.

Off page: Page rank, anchor text (and all that goes with it), theme of site linking to you, number of back links, server response time, SEO programs, speed that links are required... basically links, links, links.

As you can see, the complexity of what goes into determining how your sites fares goes way beyond one or two factors.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Suppose you purchased a domain name in 1996 for your personal use called Suppose further that someone wrote a book based on the life of a girl name Katie who was molested:

The book, "," chronicled the plight of Katherine Tarbox, a 13-year-old from Connecticut who struck up an online relationship with a man she believed was 23. He turned out to be a 40-year-old registered sex offender, and when she met him in a Houston hotel a couple of months later while in town for a swim meet, he molested her.

And, suppose further that the author decided to name the book The book, by the way, has been quite a success --but not for Katie Jones who owns the real Website.

With the book's release to critical and commercial success, Jones -- the real -- began receiving millions of e-mails a week to her inbox.

You can read the full story on, but you would think that either the author or publisher would have checked out whether was an actual site before using it for a book name.

Monday, August 02, 2004

How Google lets itself be manipulated

There is something seriously wrong with Google's approach to page rank. This is especially true when it comes to blogs.

Consider this search phrase: "Blogging Tips."

The number 2 return (just before Blogger Forum) is a site called "Blogging Tips" located on BlogSpot. Take a look at the site before we continue.

Ready? Now, what have you noticed about the site? Right, it is a blog. Now, what else? It has a page rank of 6. Google must really consider this an important site since it is #2 on the search phrase return and the site itself is ranked number 6. Notice anything else?




So, in summary, you can plagerize someone else's work, post it as a blog, and Google will reward you with a high page rank for having absolutely nothing of any value to anyone. By the way, I pointed this out about six months ago and Google has done nothing. As a matter of fact, the page rank is now higher than my first post about this site.

It really makes me wonder why anyone bothers trying to impress Google. I see way too many cases of really informative and helpful sites not getting the ranking while jokes like Blogging Tips slide by with Google lapping them up. So, all of you folks who agonize over Google rankings just remember this: all the hype about Google's ability to rank sites in an orderly and logical way is just that, hype. It breaks down way, way too often.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Where Google is going with Picasa and Hello

Picture this: you send your best friend a picture from your weekend trip to the beach. Along with the picture, you lament that you would rather have been on a date. You and your friend both get served a Google AdSense ad for a Web dating service.

People have been asking "Why is Google paying big bucks for Picasa and then giving away the software for free?" Put Picasa together with Hello which is a peer-to-peer messaging service. Hello comes with Picasa. Google controls both. Are you getting the picture, or do you need Picasa to enhance the image for you?

The big bucks are going to come from users clicking the ads that are going to be served up at some point with their image sharing and instant messaging. Who has a better  handle on context-sensitive advertising than Google? Nobody; not by a long shot.

Some of this is hinted at on WebProNews which links to some interesting threads at Webmasterworld. If you like rank speculation, take a look. As one post in the thread said: "Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and lots and lots of others are all going to make lots and lots of money with this. Compete? Heck, they'll all be needed to meet demand."

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Blogging tips

You can't have too many tips when it comes to blogging. One good source is an article at NetGuideWeb which is pretty successful at compiling tips from various blog authors into one place. Here's one of my favorites:
"In a personal blog, there needs to be something that sets it apart from others in its class. It might be that it's particularly useful -shares inside-track knowledge, provides up-to-the-second analysis, hard-to-find links. Or it might have a point of view that's unusual, funny, insightful."

Monday, July 19, 2004

Google buys Picasa

Keep in mind that Google is in a forced "quiet" period pending the public offering of Google stock. That is why you may not have heard too much about the recent purchase of Picasa by Google.
If you don't know anything about Picasa, just think management and manipulation of digital photographs.
Immediate speculation raised the idea Google would go beyond radio and TV clips and enter the online-music business, selling downloads of music files. "You can't ignore it. There is tons of money to be made off of music," Danny Sullivan, editor of, told the Post.  --Seattle Times
I don't know about sales of digital music, but searching and AdSense ads going across the digital spectrum is something I can see Google getting more heavily into.
In the meanwhile, Picasa is a good product and is available in a free download. Go HERE and try it out for yourself.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Website do's and dont's

There is a very interesting thread at Thomas Brunt's Outfront on site design.

Frontpage? Javascript? Frames? Some good information on what to include and what to avoid on your site.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Blogger burnout

It happens to all of us. The old feeling that writing that blog has become a chore rather than fun. One or two days go by without blogging and you feel a sense of obligation to get something posted.

I coined a word a couple of years ago for this (I think I was the first, anyway): the "Blahgs".

One long time blogger (Counterspin Central) quit entirely on June 10.

Markos Juniga writes the Daily Kos and says "I never can post something and say I'm done for the day because I'm always thinking about the next post. I'm always feeling like I'm letting people down if I don't have any new stuff up on the site."

"I definitely get burnt out," he said. Sometimes "I'll go through the week and I'll go, 'Wow, that was a really bad week.' ... I haven't found a way to control it, to be honest. Either I'm on or I'm not on. I can fake it and maybe people don't notice it, but I know it when I'm not at my best." ---from Wired News

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Top ten site mistakes

Originally put together in 1996 and updated in 1999, the "Top Ten Mistakes" is still good advice for bloggers and Webmasters today.

Well worth the read. Here's one snippit that some bloggers should pay heed to:

"It is as hard as ever to read scrolling text, but aggressive use of distracting animation now causes even more problems than in 1996: users have started equating such designs with advertising which they routinely ignore."

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Point of Blogs is missed

Why is it that the mainstream media continues to miss the point of blogging entirely? For some reason the "journalists" are under the impression that blogging is reporting and, as such, all blogs should consist of balanced reporting. Nothing could be further from the truth.

There are some very good points made in this regard on the Captain's Quarters:

"No one expects blogs to be balanced and unbiased, unlike expectations for reporters of national media outlets. Unfortunately, they usually don't meet expectations in this regard, either becoming cheerleaders for a candidate (Jodi Wilgoren from the New York Times) or distortion providers against a candidate (Walter Pincus and Dana Milbank from the Post). Michelle Malkin notes some fairness and accuracy issues from the Post's past that he conveniently omits from his critique."

True, blogs are strictly a person's point of view. A blogger blogs about whatever is interesting from the blogger's perspective. Balanced? Against what? Here is the point that journalists need to let sink in: blogging does not even pretend to be balanced. Only the hypocrites among the journalists pretend to be balanced. With us, there is no pretense.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Where one Gmail invitation went

With all the thousands of people hot to get Gmail invitations, it was nice to see that one of my favorite people got an invitation through Blogger Forum's Gmail exchange link.

Michelle Malkin, who is one of the best syndicated editorialists in the country, noted in her blog that she received a Gmail invitation courtesy of SpaceMonkey. Michelle noted that she had no idea the invitations were such a hot commodity.

A few words about Michelle from her site: "My column, now syndicated by Creators Syndicate, appears in nearly 200 papers nationwide. My first book, Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists, Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores (Regnery 2002), was a New York Times bestseller."

I consider Michelle to be one of the few sane editorialists in the country. She tells it like it is and has little patience with all the whiners and victims so beloved by the liberal press.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Spam-proofing your blog site

Nothing is more annoying than having your email accounts flooded with spam. Studies have shown that a large portion of spam comes from spam-bots that surf the Web looking for usable email addresses.

So, if you have on your site, you can bet that within days your Gmail account will start being flooded with spam. There are ways to avoid this. One is to use a utility that scrambles your email address so that spam-bots won't recognize it as an address. We have more information on this on Blogger Forum's Articles and Tips section. But there is any easier way posted in an interesting article on Thomas Brunt's OutFront. This can be as simple and rudimentary as replacing the "@" symbol with the unicode equivalent which is "&" plus "#64;". According to the article, even this simple ruse is enough to fool the spam-bots: "We tested several demo-version email harvesting programs and found that changing the '@' and '.' to their Unicode equivalents was sufficient to fool the spambots."

The article also suggests using "disposable" email accounts so that you can just dump the address when you get too much spam coming in. More Gmail accounts, anyone?

Monday, June 21, 2004

Plug pulled on

Dave Winer, back when he created Userland, also created a free hosting site for blogs on his own servers. He called the free hosting site which hosted about 3,000 blogs.

Yesterday, Dave pulled the plug on citing the amount of work he was expected to do for free and health problems. Still, users were very upset to find their blogs gone with no prior warning.

...bloggers who relied on were furious, saying they should have been warned about the cutoff. Their anger spread to other bloggers, too, including Elisabeth Riba of Melrose, Mass., who called Winer "an egomaniacal blowhard with his head in the clouds. So much for his vision of blogtopia."

Such slams had Winer shaking his head.

"This thing has been blown so far out of proportion," he said. "It's just unbelievable to me."
--Associated Press via wjla news.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Fun things for bloggers

Here's a fun thing from Flooble: a utility that creates a random blog for you. Don't feel like blogging today? Got blogger's block? Just go to this site and have it create a blog for you. Here's one that was randomly generated for us:

I honestly hate my uncle The Boz. On weekends he is a little demented, and yesterday he just intrigued me... I needed his years of training talking to someone about love of the European lowlands, but he answered:
"No kidding?! I was just learning about the European lowlands in class!"

At first I interrupted "DUDE!" and the next day I just ran away all of a sudden. After all, he *is* my uncle and I have to live with that...

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Gmail fraud on eBay?

It has been reported to us that some of the Gmail sales on eBay may be less than legitimate. According to one poster on the Blogger Forum, he purchased what he thought was a Gmail invitation and all he got was a link to us here on the Gmail Exchange forum.

Not a very good purchase since probably only about 10% of the requests for Gmail can be filled. Some people will do anything for a buck.

Incidentally, there are about 4800 listings in eBay under "Gmail" at the current time.

Friday, June 11, 2004

RSS coming back to Blogger?

Blogger stirred up quite a controversy when it decided to support only Atom for new Blogger users. That left quite a few people upset and unable to syndicate the more popular RSS. Politics, ego and quite a few non-technical reasons were seen across the blogosphere as the real push for Atom versus RSS.

Now, in what might perhaps be a change of heart, Blogger's owner Google seems to be entertaining the idea of supporting both Atom and RSS. This would indeed be the a way to keep Google in a neutral position as the feeds wars continue.

"According to an internal Google e-mail seen by CNET, the company has been considering the change and last month assigned at least one staffer to write a memo summarizing technical details relating to RSS. The request came amid a broader discussion touching on extending RSS support for new Blogger subscribers and Google Groups, which supports Atom but not RSS in a test version of the service."

New wave of Gmail invitations

Early Gmail users now have an new "Invite a friend to join Gmail" link on their gmail accounts. Gmail is now accepting a new wave of members and this is a pretty logical way to get it done while Gmail is still in Beta.

If you have a Gmail account, please take advantage of this offer and let some other folks in. The Gmail exchange thread at Blogger Forum would be a good way to distribute your unused invitations.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Your site's keyword ranking

There are many utilities and sites to help you focus on your search engine ranking. One such site is Top25Web which has a handy script to test your ranking in Google by search phrase or term. Here's how it works:

You enter a search phrase that you want to establish as highly ranked for your site. Let's say, for example, that your site or blog focuses on wine from the Napa Valley. Obviously you would want "wine" to lead to your site. However, that is probably never going to happen. What you would need to focus on are people searching for a combination of wine and Napa and concentrate your efforts on the search phrase "wine Napa" rather than "wine." Why? Because wine is too generic and broad a search for most sites to be able to ever cash in on. Even if your site is ranked 5 or 6, the odds are you would be off the first page of Google hits.

So, you concentrate on searches you can win and searches that will attract someone specifically looking for what you have to offer. If you determine you want wine and Napa and maybe some other key words like "tasting" and "body" and "bouquet" and "chardonnay" then you start to get the picture of what your site needs.

That is where utilities like Top25Web can be handy. As you start fitting your key words into titles, blogs, site description and so on, you then check to see how Google is placing you in relation to these terms. If after a few months a particular phrase is still not doing well but another phrase is, then you know that you need to make some changes and perhaps concentrate more on the phrase that is doing well.

For example, according to Top25Web a search on "Blogger" puts Blogger Forum as #17. However, a search on "Blogger Help" puts Blogger Forum #1 in Google search returns. Using this utility and others like it can help you see where your strong points are in key phrase searches and where you are weak and need some beefing up.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Dull blogs

I guess a case could be made for the idea that nearly all personal blogs are dull. In other words, about as interesting as talking to somebody in the grocery line. You're never going to see them again so who cares what they have to say.

This gets back again to what we call the "Cheese Sandwich" blogs. This term was coined in response to a particular personal blog that was so boring it actually bordered on funny. The particular blog was: "I had a cheese sandwich for lunch today. Do you like cheese?"

There is one blog that revels in it's dullness. That is, of course, The Dullest Blog in the World. Here's a sample from the last two entries:

"I was sitting down on one of the chairs in my house. My hand was resting on the arm of the chair. I started to drum my fingers on the arm, thereby making a barely audible sound."

"I was standing quite near to a wall. I turned my attention towards it for a few moments. Having done this for several seconds I turned away from it and carried on doing something else."

Here's our own:

"I started looking at The Dullest Blog in the World today. One eye began to go out of focus, so I stared out the window for a minute. I got bored, so I went into the kitchen and fixed a cheese sandwich. Do you like cheese?"

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Latest Google bomb

This had to happen. Google up the search terms "waffles" and guess what you get? John Kerry's campaign site.

They did it to Bush, now Kerry is finding out what it's like to be the recipient of some Google bombing. In case you've been on another planet for the last six months, "Google bombing" is the technique of manipulating Google to return a particular site in response to searching on an unrelated search term. Instead of returning sites on recipes for waffles or whatever, some enterprising folks have loaded up the Web with references to waffles and to the Kerry site. Result? A Google bomb.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

From the horse's mouth

I've been waiting for an in-depth interview with one of the Blogger-meisters to come out. Finally, Evan Williams and Steve Gillmore do a multi-page "conversation" about the New Blogger in the latest edition of eWeek.

Many of the questions we see here in the Blogger Forums get answered. The "why" and "where is this going" get addressed --for the most part. Some samples:

On the New Blogger in general terms: "We did a bunch of user testing and are aiming to appeal to a much wider, less technical audience than blogging has ever reaching before. We feel we've made good strides in that direction. The second part is building out some of the community aspects. A few of the major features are comments and profiles, both of which help drive the connections between users, which is of course a big motivation for why people are blogging. And then the third is improving the experience and esthetics of the blogs themselves and the flexibility with what you can do with them. There are the new templates and the new URLs—every post has its own page—and some new flexibility in the templating language."

Some other sections: new tags in the new templates; Atom and RSS revisited; commenting in Blogger and why the decision was made to make comments a separate page; Blogger and Gmail; and much more...

Well worth the read if you want to learn a few things about Blogger.

Friday, May 14, 2004

MT no longer free

Ouch, didn't see this coming. The new version of Movable Type (3.0) that was just released is not free. Well, not exactly. There is still a "free" version if you look carefully.

If you look at the MT price list, a personal license for the product starts at $69.95 (intro price, regularly $99.95). That is a license for a maximum of 3 authors and 5 blogs. A commercial license starts at an intro price of $199.95 (regular price $299.95) and goes up to $599.95 ($699.95 regular price).

Still want it for free? Here are the terms for the free version of MT 3.0:

No support from Six Apart
No access to paid installation service
No access to fee-based services
No promotion of your weblogs through the Recently Updated list
No commercial usage
No more than one author and three weblogs

And how is the MT community taking this? Not at all well.

"The shift to charging for most users has led to outrage among some bloggers, who have been swiftly writing missives on their Movable Type-powered blogs about the pricing being too high and the restrictions on the number of authors and published blogs being too tough." --eWeek

Blogger reviews

Reviews of the "New" Blogger are starting to come in. I've started thinking of Blogger as "New Blogger" in the sense that Coke came out with "New Coke" at one time. It was a complete failure where New Blogger should do well.

One of the best (although short) new reviews I've seen is by Sushubh Mittal. He was a former Blogger who left for WordPress not too long after Google took over. He likes the changes in the New Blogger and tells us who will like Blogger and who should avoid Blogger. In essence, geeks who want to have things their own way and don't mind getting under the hood probably won't like Blogger. Those who don't care what is under the hood and are happy to have Blogger take care of things will probably be fine with Blogger --especially with the improvements.

I do still have one question about Blogger. How come the spell check still does not recognize "blog" or "Blogger" as words? You'd think....

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Blogs and blogs

Here's some basic stuff from the National Association of Convenience Stores Web site article on blogging called Blog, Blog Blog:

"A blog, or online diary, can be defined as "an online diary that relates personal facts and stories, political opinions or anything else that the writer wants to convey," according to Laurie Brown, a faculty member of the Multimedia and Web Design Department of The Art Institute of California, San Francisco."

Ok, like I said, some basic stuff. After talking about the Dean blogs and how the head Deaniac was the first presidential candidate to make use of blogging to communicate with voters, the article then got to blogging for businesses. This is what caught our eye:

"In an age where targeted marketing is gaining favor, blogging can allow a company to communicate on a more personal level with consumers. But how does a business begin blogging? A computer and an Internet connection are needed, for starters. There are several Web sites devoted to the art of blogging. One of the biggest, according to Emmons, is Other sites include, and"

Alright! We're a top "other site."

Opera supports RSS feeds

The latest version of Opera --version 7.5, supports newsfeeds in RSS format. The free download is the first version of the Opera Web browser to offer easy RSS viewing.

Setting up is easy. You go to the "Mail" tab and then "Newsfeeds" to choose or create the newsfeeds you want to monitor. Once you have the feeds you want, you only have to go to your mail tab and then choose which newsfeeds you want to read. You can set it up to refresh the feeds however you want --the default is every hour.

Opera is a fast, flexible browser that now includes newsfeeds in it's free version. The pay version is $39. The free version is the same, but with small ads displayed.

Opera does not support Atom feeds.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Changing the look of Blogger comments

If you aren't satisfied with the look of your comments in Blogger, it is very easy to change with a little CSS.

If you look at your template, you will notice that the actual comment that is displayed when someone clicks on the "Comments" link is controlled by this statement: div-class="blogComments".

If you want to change the standard look of your comments, simply add a formatting statement to take advantage of the div tag. If you are using one of the new standard Blogger templates, this will already be in the style section of your template. If you are using your own template, modify it to add a line in the style section of your template. On Blogger Blog, we changed the font size to be a bit smaller and to display in blue. You can make any CSS formatting changes you want. Here is what we added to get the effect we wanted:


Google Blog

Here's something I've never understood: why has there been no official Google Blog? I mean, a large cutting-edge company like Google purchases Blogger so they have a foot (a leg, actually) in the blogging door. Then, something like a year later, Google has no blog to call it's own.

That has now changed. Google Blog has just been launched to go along with the new Blogger roll-out.

"Insight into the news, technology, and culture of Google" goes the tagline. "Get the latest word direct from the Googleplex about new technology, hot issues, and the wide world of search."

Complete with Atom sitefeed, Google Blog is off and running with a post by Evan Williams: "Ever since I came to Google, they've been talking about putting up an official Google blog. And now, less than 15 months later, voila."

I'll be adding the sitefeed to my list of must-read blogs. I hope they keep it up. You know how it is with blogging --lots of work.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Solving archiving problems

It appears that the more heavily customized your existing template is, the more likely you will run into archiving problems.

Here is one cure: overwrite the archive line in your template with some stock archive language from one of the new Blogger templates. For example:

posted by
[$BlogItemAuthorNickname$] @ [a href="[$BlogItemPermalinkUrl$]" title="permanent link"][$BlogItemDateTime$][/a]

For this example, angle brackets (< and >) were replaced by square brackets ([ and ]) to get the line to display rather than execute. You would need to replace the square brackets with angle brackets.

Highlight your existing archive line and put this in its place EVEN IF THEY LOOK THE SAME.

This was the only thing that solved out double-link problem that caused a 404 error whenever anyone tried to use an archive link. It now seems to be working.

Archiving problems?

I'm seeing a lot of talk around the Blogosphere about archiving problems with the new Blogger.

On this site, all archive links are double posted for some reason. This, of course leads to 404 file not found errors.

So, is this something that can be fixed by fine-tuning settings and re-publishing the entire site? Not so far.

Stay tuned.

Blogger re-invents itself

If you're a Blogger user, you will have noticed some big changes in Blogger. Not only is the interface entirely new (and good, by the way), but some of the features users have been screaming about for years have finally been added. Just to name three biggies:

Commenting. Yep, you read it right. Blogger finally includes built-in commenting.

Email. Being able to post to your blog by email was included in Blogger Pro. Now it finally is available in the new Blogger version.

Templates. Tired of the miserable and miserly 6 templates? Now there are a slew to choose from.

We'll be taking a harder look at the new Blogger once we have a chance to test it out.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Personalized Google searches

For some time now, google has had a beta version of it's personalized searching available. It works like this:

You select topics that are of interest to you to create your own personal profile. Once your profile is created, you search on a word or phrase and move the personalization bar to skew the results more and more towards your areas of interest.

Example: suppose you are interested in law and you are located in Memphis. You would choose law as one topic, and you would choose Tennessee as the locality for your primary focus. You can add as many topics as you want. At this stage of the beta game, you have around 150 or so topics. From my own personal experience, you are better off choosing just a few primary topics in order to skew results in a meaningful way.

In the beta version, only the first page of results is personalized.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

What tha....

EDIT: This is a new, empty post that the new Blogger created at random.

Weird and interesting.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

More on Google IPO

Search Engine Journal has a good article on the Google IPO from the viewpoint of "selling out" the Google supposed core values and the future for Google. From the Google Owners Manual:

“Now the time has come for the company to move to public ownership. This change will bring important benefits for our employees, for our present and future shareholders, for our customers, and most of all for Google users. But the standard structure of public ownership may jeopardize the independence and focused objectivity that have been most important in Google’s past success and that we consider most fundamental for its future. Therefore, we have designed a corporate structure that will protect Google’s ability to innovate and retain its most distinctive characteristics. We are confident that, in the long run, this will bring Google and its shareholders, old and new, the greatest economic returns. We want to clearly explain our plans and the reasoning and values behind them.”

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Gmail invitations

For those of you with Gmail, you have probably noticed that there is a "Invite a Friend" link on the left side of your screen that allows you to send invitations to two people to get Gmail.

These are the invitations some are selling on eBay for around $40 each.

If you don't have Gmail and want it, see if you can talk a Blogger user into sending you one of theirs.

For those who still have invitations available, pick a couple of good friends and make the day for them.

Don't sell your invitations on eBay. That's just plain tacky.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Gmail sold on eBay

Didn't get a Gmail invitation? Never fear, you can go to eBay and find Gmail invitations going for around $40.00.

How's this for a good sales pitch:

"I can't promise you anything, but I got the exact name I wanted and so did my brother. Mine is just, And my name is pretty more need for silly numbers etc! When gmail comes out it's going to be huge, I honestly think this is your only chance to get the name you always wanted. This could be the email you never will have to switch from. In my opinion, gmail is that good."

Friday, April 30, 2004

Google IPO

Well, what do you know? The prediction that Google would come out with it's IPO disclosures by April 30 turned out to be correct.

Now the question is how will the sale take place? Forbes seems to think the price will be too high"

"The frenzy, however, creates a real possibility that investors will overpay for Google shares, though the company is profitable and might have years of growth to come."

Because of the way the IPO is going to be done (sort of eBay-like, but more Dutch auction like), there is a real chance the offering will be over priced. That means those who bid successfully could be stuck. On the other hand, think about Microsoft:

"If an investor bought $10,000 worth of Microsoft stock when it came public in 1986, that investor would be sitting on more than $3.5 million as of Friday's close."

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Ten steps to marketing with b-blogs

Say, what is a b-blog, anyway? I may have just made that up, but I'm simply talking about business blogs. Rich Ottum has an interesting piece on WebProNews about how "business weblogs are not rocket science."

Yep, it's true. Business blogs are subject to the same common-sense rules that apply to all blogging. Past the fundamentals, you get into some real differences. The basic difference being that business blogs are intended to promote a business.

But back to the fundamentals. Of the ten steps, my favorite is something we stress over and over for new bloggers:

6--Keep it Simple: Leave the Flash introductions to ad agency websites. Keep your weblog graphic design simple. Use color and images sparingly, and focus on readable text. Use categories, and make your archives easy to search. Use a template or an experienced designer to accomplish simplicity.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

What happened to Google's IPO?

A few months ago, you couldn't go anywhere on the Internet without running into speculation about the Google IPO. Google, which is a private company, was to score billions in a public offering --somewhere between $8 and $25 billion, depending on who you wanted to believe.

Google managed to play all this very close to it's non-corporate vest.

So, what's happening now? Some new speculation has it that Google will be making a public announcement this week. It seems that under some obscure securities law, Google might be forced to make some public disclosures about its internal affairs. This could be the case, so goes the speculation, because they have enough capital, and the requisite number of shareholders, to force the disclosures by April 29. Further speculating, if they have to make these disclosures anyway, why not do it as part of a public offering?

It's an interesting theory and you can read more about it at

Friday, April 23, 2004

Too many toolbars?

What happens when you get carried away with using toolbars on your browser? pc4media tried it out and got this result:

As you can see, it is possible to get carried away with toolbars. As pointed out, most toolbars tend to be "Me-Too" things without much to recommend them.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Rachel and the Nitty Gritty

Sometimes you have to go to extremes to find really cool and/or funny things. Sometimes they're right under your nose. Rachel of Rachel and the City is a frequent visitor here at Blogger Forum, but we had no idea about the woman inside the woman. Allow me to explain.

Rachel posts that she has decided to take out a personal ad rather than to continue to whine about coming up short in the dating department. Now, is the ad real, or is this a Rachel joke? Judge for yourself and get ready for some side-splitting honesty. A selection from Rachel's list of self-professed shortcomings:

"I AM CHEAP. Yes, I expect a man to be a freaking MAN and offer to pay for shit. Sure, I might not take you up on it, but then again, I might. And guys who wait and watch for me to take out my own wallet before they'll take out theirs when the check comes are cheap f**king bastards. On TOP of that, if I offer to pay for something and you f**king LET me... why don't you just f**king move back in with your parents and just mooch off of them for eternity and leave the rest of us women and our wallets alone."

OK, here's my synopsis: Rachel is HONEST and is tired of GAME PLAYING. So, put things on the table and let's get it on. No guesswork going into a relationship --it's perfect.

Thanks to How Did You Find That, cuz I never would have noticed this.

I'm assuming Rachel won't mind us bumping this up a notch in the public eye. After all, the more audience you have, the more applause you might get.

Gmail available for Blogger users only

Nice little touch for Blogger users: Google is making the beta version of Gmail available for users of Blogger.

If you didn't get an email about this from Blogger, then look at your Blogger main page for an invitation. There should be an invitation if you're a registered Blogger user: "As an active Blogger user, we would like to invite you to be one of the first to try out Google's new email service, Gmail."

Rumor has it that the prospect of getting Gmail is so appealing that many are signing up with Blogger just to get the Gmail invite.

Caution, other comments we have seen indicate that the invitation may be a once only deal. If you bail out of the sign-up, you may not get a second chance. Also, it seems that not every invitation is accepted.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Review of toolbars

Hardly an in-depth review of the various toolbars available, but interesting for a fast comparison.

The Porterville, CA Recorder takes a quick look at eleven of the currently available browser toolbars. "What I like best about the Yahoo toolbar is its portability. Settings are stored online, so you can customize it or add bookmarks wherever you are."

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Blog Wishlist Manifesto

We want to blog better. We want blog tools that help us, not get in our way.

In a few words, we want to: Create --> Connect --> Community --> Conserve

In a recent thread on the Bloggercon weblog, Dave Winer posed a question: "Question: What's next in writing tools for weblogs?". Well over a hundred responses came in. After printing out and reading through the 40+ pages of responses, a few major themes began to emerge. Bloggers wanted to create more easily, connect with others fluidly, create and manage communities around their weblog and throughout the blogosphere, and conserve their content. --Lisa Williams (via Windley's Enterprise Computing Weblog)

When you look at what bloggers want, you see where the trends are. This is exactly what the blog platforms should be looking at. I doubt if Blogger will pay much attention (the "big" guys tend to be slow to accept trends), but Squarespace and many of the cutting-edge developers will definitely be looking at this type of input.

So, when bloggers fill in a wish list, and when Lisa Williams and some others go through all of this to condense things into a single, good post, you gotta love it. We should all thank her for the work.

Here's a parting quote from her post:

They are always reading, seeing, and hearing new things and want to share that with others. Bloggers want to discover what's good and show it some respect by linking to it. Even when a blogger disagrees with something they come across, by linking bloggers express a forthright willingness to criticise openly rather than whispering behind someone's back or having a concealed contempt. To a greater extent than the mass media, bloggers are willing to engage with people who don't share their views and are willing to have their minds changed by new information.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

The weakness of A9 -and Google

Well Amazon has released it's search engine. It's called A9 and is, basically, Google with soothing colors.

I don't mean to put it down completely, but you have to ask the question: "What's the point?"

Take a look at it and judge for yourself. Try any search in Google. Try the same search in A9. What are the results? Exactly the same. A9 even has a toolbar available that blocks pop-ups, provides a history, and --wait a minute, just think Google toolbar and you'll have the idea.

While we're comparing apples to apples, try this: search on "blogging tips" and see what gem both engines put as #1. It's a lame BlogSpot blog with one entry that was posted last August. The blog site is called "blogging tips" --duh.

It says nothing. It provides nothing. Google gives it a ranking of 6.

I'll go further. It's a flat-out plagiarism of the same "blogging tips" that appears everywhere. Yet Google (and A9) think this single blog that contains no content whatsoever is "very important"?

Oh brother. I don't know why I ever pay any attention whatsoever to what Google thinks about anything. The A9 "me-too" just makes it more evident that Google needs to spend some time re-thinking whether it is a search engine or an ad platform.

Have some more fun with Blogging Tips. Take the first couple of lines from Tip #1 ("Choose an updating tool that is easy to use. Try out several services.") from this number 1 rated site and Google it. What comes up number 1? This does: Blogger Forum

Monday, April 12, 2004

Notes from Fallujah

Blogging live (or almost live) from Fallujah in Iraq is Rahul Mahajan. His blog, Empire Notes, shows what a blog can be as an alternative to the mainstream media. In essence, one man's opinion from down on the street.

Here's a quote from today:

To repeat what I said earlier in different words: in hindsight, people may well realize this is potentially as transformative a week for the world as was the week of 9/11. It's unravelling a bit slower and we are much more distracted with other issues. But any accommodative solution to the occupation is virtually impossible -- it wasn't just a few weeks ago. U.S. intent on staying and, therefore, it is determined to "pacify" Iraq. It is no longer possible for Iraqi politicians to preserve even the appearance of semi-legitimacy and accommodate the United States.

It's getting dark now and I am out of here.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Will MS force RSS standards?

It's an interesting question. At this point you have Atom going against several flavors of RSS. Right now there are no real killer apps that take advantage of syndication. Sure, blogs use it. But other than Yahoo, there isn't much point in the mainstream getting too excited about the controversy. Some standardization need to happen.

Rick Bruner, president, Executive Summary Consulting, agrees. "It comes down to what Microsoft does with it. Longhorn is expected to come with an RSS reader. At that point, it could go mainstream--it could become a viable ad medium then," Bruner says. --Mediapost

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Gmail attacked from all sides

It wasn't like you couldn't see this coming. Google's proposed email service, called Gmail, is under attack long before it even has become a reality.

Here are the expected complaints, most if not all of which involve privacy:

"Gmail will offer users a gigabyte of online storage, enough that they will never need to delete another message, according to the service's Web site. Indeed, the Gmail privacy policy warns that messages, even if 'deleted,' may still be stored in the system long after users have closed their account--something that bothers the privacy campaigners." --PCWorld

I guess so. That idea would bother me too. It's bad enough trying to be careful of what you say in email, but having your email conversations indexed and stored where they can't be deleted isn't too great an idea.

Here is the unexpected complaint: the word "Gmail" is already trademarked by another company. OOPS, what was Google thinking?

"Following Google's use of the name Gmail in a press release, financial service provider The Market Age PLC (TMA) registered its interest in the name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the British company says in a news release. TMA launched a Web-based e-mail service called Gmail in mid-2002 as part of an online share price and currency exchange rate analysis service offered by subsidiary Pronet, it says. Pronet's Gmail allows subscribers to annotate stock price charts and forward them by e-mail. The company is seeking advice on how to protect its intellectual property, it says." --PCWorld

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

The nitty-gritty of Atom and RSS

If you want to get into the real differences between Atom and RSS, just go to Mark Pilgrim's new article for XML.COM.

This is the best article I've seen to explain what the controversy is all about. Not from a political view, but a programmer's view. An example:

The other problem is that there is no way to know whether an entry's description is being used as a summary or as full content. Atom solves this problem by simply defining separate summary and content elements, and Atom feeds generally contain one or the other (although mine includes both, which is also valid).

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Blogger in a Box?

With Google coming out with Gmail, things may be falling into place with the thinking behind Google's purchase of Blogger.

Take a look at this for some insight on where Google is going with knowing and tracking the Internet habits of everyone. Then go on to Phil Wolff's Blog where he fills in the details. I won't bother repeating anything because it is good enough for you to go there and read the full post. Trust me on this.

The final thought on this: "By the way if Microsoft should 'beware' of a company it should be Google..."

Unavailable for comment

Love this little jab from Best of the Web Today talking about a speech by Ted Kennedy:

Kennedy said, "This president has now created the largest credibility gap since Richard Nixon." And: "He has broken the basic bond of trust with the American people."

Mary Jo Kopechne could not be reached for comment.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Interview with Movable Type founders

One of the original and still one of the best of the blog platforms is Movable Type. There's an excellent interview with Mena and Ben Trott, founders of Six-Apart, in the San Mateo Daily Journal.

The value of blogs, and the basis by which the Trotts have built their business around the development of a blog-creation system called Movable Type, is in the shared community one enters when becoming a blogger.

Take a look. It's really interesting to see how a twenty-something married couple turned an idea into a blog platform. Of course, if you know anything about them, you also know that:

After tweaking their business model, they decided they wanted to focus on consumers. Six Apart unveiled the first version of TypePad, a pay-for-blogging tool built upon the Movable Type system, in April of 2003. Around the same time they closed their first round of venture capital funding.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Blogging gene discovered

What drives a person to blog? Turns out that some people are pre-disposed to blog --Born To Blog could be their motto.

This discovery was revealed today by the Register, the British equivalent to Scientific American. If the Register states that something is scientific fact, then it must be so in the same sense that an Alabama county school board concluded that evolution is a "theory" held in disrepute by most scientists. But I digress.

Webloggers are born not made, and shouldn't be persecuted. The activity could be a positive, group-bonding social function such as grooming, or simply a harmless way of passing the time, such as masturbation.

In sifting through the blog data, scientists were first puzzled by one method bloggers use for social interaction. Something the scientists first believed was called "arse feeding" but later discovered was more likely called "RSS feeds". The exact purpose of Arse or "RSS" feeds remains a mystery.

Wonkette shows how to break into political blogging

Breaking into the tight circle of well-read political blogs has go to be the equivalent of stuffing a pimento back into an olive: 1) It's hard to do, and 2) why would you want to anyway? There's a lesson here to be learned. If you want to start a blog that gets read, be prepared to find a niche nobody else has exploited, or do whatever the others are doing, but more so. Take the Wonkette, for example:

The arrival of - and its rising notoriety here - signals that even a serious town like Washington (where rumor serves a purpose but gossip is somehow disdained) can capitulate to Hollywood-style tittle tattle. To those who fear the erosion of serious journalism, the wonkette's arrival on the steps of the Capitol is a quiet victory for creeping National Enquirer values. It is also another example of the boundary-busting powers of the Internet, where writers like to be less deferential to authority, more saucy, and frankly less accurate than established print or television. --News Obvserver

The Wonkette is Ana Marie Cox, a 31 year-old redhead from Nebraska. So, how does she take the same old hash and make it taste different? "She's fun and fresh and right on the money - and is writing what others think but can't always write. ... She can curse, for example."

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Searching "porn" with Google local

We pointed out before that Google now has a local option. We also pointed out it was in Beta, but it's beginning to look like there are a few kinks.

Ernie the Attorney told me that when he searches "porn" with Google Local in his part of the world (New Orleans), it comes up with lawyers. He invited me to try for myself.

I tried it in my neck of the woods and sure enough, a search on "porn" got a list of all the lawyers in my zip code. Even more interesting was what happens when you search on "porno." The number one search return on Google Local for "porno" was this:

Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge

Is this some weird form of Google Bashing? That would be a bit hard to do. It really seems more like some extreme tweaking needs to be done to the Google search algorithms currently being used in the Google Local Beta version. Or maybe Google is making some political statement? Naw, Google isn't into politics as far as I know. Maybe the Googlers just have some deep-seated grudge against lawyers and the church.

Try a few searches in your own area. Try "porn" and then "porno" with your own zip code. What do you get? Lawyers or the Catholic Church? Leave a comment on what turns up where you live.

Google goes email

What tha hey? Google is starting an email service? Looks like they made a list of everything that is wrong, wrong, wrong with MS and Yahoo and went where they needed to go. From the Gmail site:

Gmail is an experiment in a new kind of webmail, built on the idea that you should never have to delete mail and you should always be able to find the message you want. The key features are:

Search, don't sort. Use Google search to find the exact message you want, no matter when it was sent or received.

Don't throw anything away. 1000 megabytes of free storage so you'll never need to delete another message.

Keep it all in context. Each message is grouped with all its replies and displayed as a conversation.

No pop-up ads. No banners. You see only relevant text ads and links to related web pages of interest.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Zero Intelligence zeros in

Here's a blog I like: Zero Intelligence. The tagline is close to my heart --"Fighting school board tyranny inanity since 2004".

I think good blogs address a niche that needs to be addressed. In this case, we have a blog that reports and comments on the stupid school board tricks we all have to suffer through around the country. It seems that school administrators lack a certain amount of common sense. No, I take that back. They totally lack common sense: "Zero tolerance" that causes a girl to be expelled for having aspirin in her purse. A boy disciplined for drawing pictures of the Trade Center ("The pictures were too violent," moaned the teachers).

The latest flap is over wearing pink. Don't ask. Just go to and read on.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Will MSN have a blog search engine before Google?

It's interesting that even though Blogger is owned by Google, Google does not have a blog search engine. If you want to use Google to search just blogs, you have to throw in some complicated filters. Even then, the results are extremely spotty.

From the Seattle Times:

"MSN said it would also offer MSN Blogbot, a tool for users to search Web logs. Known informally as "blogs," these online diaries cover topics from cocktail recipes to celebrity plastic surgery.

Google does not have a blog search service, even though last year it bought Blogger, one of the most well-known blogging software programs on the Internet."

Friday, March 26, 2004

Blogger Forum #3 blog resource

Alexa's listing of Weblogs -->> Resources has Blogger Forum in the #3 position.

"The 5 most visited sites in all 'Resources' categories, updated daily!"

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Journalist accused of being blogger

"I'm shocked. To be accused of being a whore is one thing, but to be accused of being a weblogger is actionable."

This is all part of the ongoing joke as to the real identity of prostitute blogger Belle de Jour. An expert tried to use Google to search for patterns to find the real identity of Belle. One trail lead to Andrew Orloski, based on patterns the expert claimed indicated a male writer.

I prefer to think that Belle de Jour is real. We have discussed the site before and have had some contact with Belle. According to Belle in a March 23 blog:

"Wasn't it Tallulah Bankhead who said only good girls keep diaries and bad girls haven't the time? I'm setting out to prove her wrong."

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Mozilla 1.7 beta released

Looks like the new Mozilla release is even faster than the previous releases. If you're a Mozilla fan, give it a try. If you aren't, then maybe you should be.

To find out more, take a look at this discussion at OutFront.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Technorati has new look

Technorati has undergone a new look. More than the looks, there seems to be a new "direction" the site is taking. If you aren't familiar with Technorati, it keeps tracks of links, or as their tagline says: "Want to know what's being said, right now, about every Weblog or Web page that has something worth talking about?"

Everything is faster (badly needed). Where the links coming in for the searched site used to say "links" coming in and "blogs" coming in, now there is a single line. For example, Blogger Forum now says " has 194 links from 176 sources."

Does this indicate a desire to not be perceived as primarily a blog utility?

Another new feature (or one I haven't noticed before) is the "Get conversations" icon. This pulls in other links that are discussing the displayed link. All very interesting and, as always, well worth a visit.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Who blogs?

Males (63%), between the ages of 21 and 30 (46.3%), who are caucasian (78.6%), with a college degree or higher (90.1%), and have been blogging for more than a year (67%).

Most bloggers characterize their sites as "personal ramblings" and the large majority (83%) don't ask permission from companies before talking about the company or the company's products.

Want to find out where you fit in the blogoshphere? Take a look at the Expectations of Privacy and Accountability survey.

Scoble's advice to corporate bloggers

Scoble has some interesting points for corporate bloggers who are thinking about blogging their company or products. Here's just one of his twenty points:

Use a human voice. Don't get corporate lawyers and PR professionals to cleanse your speech. We can tell, believe me. Plus, you'll be too slow. If you're the last one to post, the joke is on you!

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Google goes local

Google has launched its local service in beta. Basically, the local search service finds things based on the locality you enter. For example, if you enter "movies" as your search term and then your zip code as the locality, you will get local theaters and video rental stores.

Quite an interesting concept. Try it out HERE.

Phone in your blog

It looks like Nokia is realizing the popularity of blogging. In the extremely competitive phone business, being able to take photos with you cell phone is not enough. Now the move is to take the photo and then blog it directly to your blog site from your phone:

The greatest potential for Lifeblog, however, is in the promise held by the little "b" in "blog." In spite of the name, the first version of the software does not include a blog interface.

"Maybe log would have made more sense," said Keith Nowak, spokesman for Nokia. But he does see Lifeblog as a useful tool for bloggers, helping them to organize their words and pictures. "You can look, day by day, here's what I did, here's what I saw."

Nowak sees actual weblogging as a possible future direction for Lifeblog. "It's a possibility," he says. "The interest is there."

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Sun leans towards RSS

Sun Microsystems apparently is beginning to notice things like blogging and content syndication. According to a CNET News interview with Tim Bray (XML guru newly signed on with Sun):

"There are some VIPs (very important persons) in Sun who are very, very hot on the whole area of blogging and syndication," Bray said. "There's a vision of next-generation technology around the intersection of RSS, XML and advanced search technologies."

"There's a corporate feeling that [Java Desktop System] isn't a first-class citizen on blogging and syndication, and it should be,"

Bray sees Java Desktop System (which includes Linux) as a likely candidate for RSS. That's an interesting thought: RSS as part of the Linux core, perhaps? It's also interesting that Atom apparently isn't even in the running at Sun.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Portuguese and the Google translator

I ran across an article today referring to Portugal's most famous blogger of all time--I just had to take a look. The site is O meu pipi and has an extremely large following in Brazil. For those who did not do well in geography, Brazil is the largest Portuguese speaking country in the world.

Not being able to speak Portuguese, this was a perfect chance to try out Google's "translate to English" on the Google toolbar. So, once translated we find out the tagline for "My Pipi:"

"Blog to step on the risk of the bad taste, but without exceeding." Ah, the weakness of computer language translation rears it's ugly head:

I glimpsed my partner. I scared myself and I thought: Pipi, what it is this, shovel? Then you are to break this sopeira to the canzana or it she is you to make it a pin? Not, a canzana was same.

Ok, I'll pass on what that means. But I did discover that the Google translator did a very good job on the "F" word which appears very frequently on the site.

RSS and Atom merged into one format?

Atom versus RSS and RSS versus Atom. Does it make a difference as long as you have a newsfeed for your site?

The future of syndication is confused at the moment with Blogger supporting only Atom and with most newsreaders at this point in time only supporting RSS. That's why it's interesting that Dave Winer, the main force behind RSS as the "one and only" syndication system is now suggesting that RSS and Atom merge.

After discussing the importance of RSS and recent successes of RSS, Winer states that RSS is in a position of strength to make an offer:

So from this strength, I've outlined a plan to merge RSS and Atom, much the same way we merged UserLand's format with Netscape's format in 1999. By making this offer to the Atom people I'm giving them a chance to get out of conflict with RSS. I think it's something users can support. I hope they get together and make a serious counter. Why shouldn't they?

The plan itself can be found HERE.

It would be nice to have a single format, but I don't see it ever happening. I don't want to get into the egos involved on both sides, nor is it necessary to get into the technical issues. Let's just say it would be something like the VHS and Beta people getting together in the 70's to combine the best of both formats into one format that would be backward compatible with Beta.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Are you a blogaholic?

Take the Are you a Blogaholic quiz to see if you're slipping into blogaholism. Answer such questions as "Will you feel guilty to your readers if you blog less than usual?"

Thursday, March 11, 2004

International aspect of blogging

I was looking at a Korean newspaper article that was discussing the Iraqi bloggers. The article itself was interesting: about how Koreans are pretty Web-savvy and blogging is quite prevalent. I especially like the author's Korean equivalent of what we call the "cheese sandwich" blog (blogs that bore you with very personal information): the "I had kimchi for breakfast " blog.

However, there's a larger picture here. The very fact that the author (Conor Purcell) is writing an article for the Korea Herald about Asian and Iraqi bloggers just shows how international and border-free blogging has become. As Conor points out, bloggers all share certain characteristics, not the least of which is the Narcissus factor:

All agreed the future of blogging is going to be more personal. As Harrison explains, "Journals and diaries used to be a very private thing that you kept under lock and key. Now, journals and diaries are online in the form of blogs and the writers are begging others to read them. There is a bit of Narcissus in all of us."

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Utility for picking colors

Here's a great utility for Blogmeisters: ColorCache. You can link to the site from the Blogger Forum Downloads page.

This cool utility is free for non-commercial users (and a bargain at $30 for commercial users). It allows you to easily pick and choose colors, add colors to a custom palette, change the hue and saturation of colors, and so on. In other words, it's perfect for bloggers who want to change template colors and are tired of having to experiment, re-publish, and start over again trying to find that perfect color combination.

See a color on a site you like? Just use the color dropper to add the color to your palette. Want to find some complimentary colors for your selections? Just use the analogous and complimentary tool.

Thanks to Lockergnome for pointing this gem out.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Is Squarespace what bloggers want?

Blogging used to be all about innovation. That's why it's always nice to see someone trying to take the basic blogging scenario and make it, well, more innovative. Here's what was innovative four years ago: you have a thought; you jot it down; you click a button and it is published to the Web for everyone to see.

Has much changed since then? Not really. Anthony Casalena will maybe be the one to move things forward. In December he started Squarespace while he was a student at the University of Maryland. Casalena believes that people want to be able to handle their blogging without programming but also be able to 1) have discussion boards included; 2) have hosting included; 3) track visitors and search engine requests without third party services; 4) have multiple pages with different topics for different audiences; and 5) be able to syndicate to the world without having to know anything about RSS vs. Atom.

Simplicity is also a key to where Casalena wants to go with blogging. Blogging is essentially simple, and Blogger really makes it almost as simple as it can get with what is available right now. But if blogging is so simple, why do people have to come to Blogger Forum to get answers to the how, why and what of blogging. How does this sound:

"Publishing a photo online should be as easy as dragging a picture onto your browser window," said Casalena. "Squarespace makes this possible."

Ok, now we're talking. Why shouldn't it be just that simple to get a photo into a blog? If that doesn't get you, how about this:

Casalena threw HTML editors and file transfer protocol (FTP) software out the window. "You can change the look, the organization, or the order of your site, and still -- the system keeps track of all your content and puts everything in its proper place," Casalena explained. "It remembers this blog entry goes into this category, this photo goes with that Web album, or that text goes with this discussion."--cms~wire

You might want to take a look at what Casalena is doing with Squarespace. I have a feeling this is the direction blogging needs to go. Will a college student with some good, no, some great ideas be successful against all the big competition? That's another question.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Blogging's two dirty secrets

When I first saw this in, I thought it was rather obvious: the two dirty secrets about blogging are, 1) it's a lot of work, and 2) not many people read your blog.

These are the observations of the author of Random Bytes, which Frank Catalano is shutting down after a year. Frank says about secret #1:

Just because you put a Web log in front of the hundreds of millions of people with Web access worldwide doesn't mean that most, many or even some of them will read it. Hell, they may never know about it.

It's a shame he's closing it down, because he writes some pretty good stuff. It's just part of the large problem of too much information out there to possibly sift through. Whoever comes up with a way to sift the Internet (not search it) will make a fortune. Anyway, here's a couple more observations from Frank:

In most cases, blogging is nothing more than a very public form of self-important self-abuse.

The late Robert Heinlein once observed, through one of his more outspoken science-fiction novel characters, that someone who reads his poetry in public probably has other bad habits, too. Today, that someone would also be a blogger.


Micah Holmquist at Press Action has an interesting read on warblogging --blogs that advocate/support/justify war.

With 11 tips on how you can get your blog noticed by warbloggers like Glenn Reynolds and Andrew Sullivan, the story sums up:

Warbloggers love to hear how the people of some town are enjoying freedom and can now hold some traditional festival or religious celebration. It doesn't matter if they have heard of the practice before or not. What matters is that it gives them another reason to justify the war. Follow each of these 11 steps and you will find yourself being showered with all sorts of affection from warbloggers. That's my guarantee.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Blogging: hot or not?

Take a look at the article on blogging, and more importantly the comments that follow.

The bottom line of the article:
"I don't get blogs. Blogs have their place in the world, but let's not make a mountain out of a molehill with them." --Christopher

Some responses:
"Sure most blogs might be just boring online diaries, but the fact that the average non-net savvy joe/jane can do it with minimal effort is worth getting excited about."

"I personally hate that everyone (and their grandma) is blogging crap daily using the exact same template as everyone else. That's what happens when those people use the same service online. Get a new freak'n template, or make your own PHP-based driven blog. Woohoo!"

"I love blogs. A great example was from a blogger (forget site sorry) in Iraq before & after the US invasion. The power to present unedited views and opinions is very important & useful. Watch what has happened in media & is starting to happen on the internet. The media companies either buy out anyone presenting contradictory views or buy a little "influence" with advertising dollars. I think blogging will become more popular as a result."

Hey, Christopher --guess what? Your article with updated comments by viewers is, in essence, a blog.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Is RSS the TiVo of the Web?

It's an interesting idea: equating RSS feeds with TiVo. For those of you who don't know, TiVo is a device that constantly streams television feeds to a hard disk. That way, you can decide half way through a show to record from the beginning. You can also pause live TV, record shows a week or two out with one click, and much more. The point is, it is a revolutionary step in the watching of television and those of us who have it can't imagine life before TiVo.

So, is RSS (and Atom) as big for the Web as TiVo is for television? "If you're not reading it in RSS you're wasting your time," declaimed Microsoft's blogging evangelist, Robert Scoble, who says he subscribes to nearly 1,300 feeds.

RSS has been called the TiVo of the Web, the first "killer app" of the anticipated automation of social and commercial transactions online using the Web's second-generation XML (extensible markup language) standard. --Business Tech Wire

Is Blogger correct after all with going with Atom rather than RSS? It would appear so now that Anil Dash has put the TypePad stamp of approval on Atom. RSS or Atom, Yahoo's Jeremy Zawodny sees it this way:

"Remember when you first starting seeing URLs appear on billboards and at the end of movie trailers?" Zawodny wrote in his blog in December. "It's going to be like that. One day we're just going to look around and realize that RSS is popping up all over the place. And a couple years later, we'll all wonder how we ever got along without it."