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."