A Consuming Experience

Blogging, internet, software, mobile, telecomms, gadgets, technology, media and digital rights from the perspective of a consumer / user, including reviews, rants and random thoughts. Aimed at intelligent non-geeks, who are all too often unnecessarily disenfranchised by excessive use of tech jargon, this blog aims to be informative and practical without being patronising. With guides, tutorials, tips - and the occasional ever so slightly naughty observation.

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Blogger scheduled posts: postpone or delay blog post to future date

Friday, May 02, 2008
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Blogger have, as they earlier heralded, finally rolled out the ability for Blogger users to post-date their posts, i.e. write a post and then schedule it for publishing at a future date and time of your choosing.

The ability to postpone or delay blog posts written in advance has been in demand for years. This facility is great for holidays, spacing out your blog posts more evenly over the week, etc. (I admit I don't use it much myself, I'm too paranoid about my post having content that may be out of date when it's published, so I check things first and publish live.)

Previously the best workaround I knew to produce future-dated posts on Blogger was to post via email using Emailschedule.

The new Blogger scheduling facility, which also uses email via Blogsend, has been available via Blogger in Draft (the new features' test playground for Blogger users) since February, with subsequent bug fixes for permalinks and the ability to use scheduling with FTP blogs, before it finally went live for non-Draft users yesterday.

Now, when you draft a post even on the non-Draft version of Blogger, once you've finished it (and saved it, of course) all you have to do is change the date and time after the end of your post to the future date / time when you want it published, then hit Publish (you may need to click the Post Options link to make the Post date and time visible first; it used to be, I wish Blogger hadn't hid it, it doesn't take up much space and is useful). See below, outlined red on the right.

(If you use the Keep Current Time script to ensure your draft posts aren't dated when you first created them but when you publish them, you'll of course have to untick the box first, outlined red on the left above, before you try to change the date and time to your desired future date of posting.)

Full howto (including how to unschedule a previously-scheduled post) is in the Blogger Buzz post on the release of the scheduling posts feature, so I won't go into detail here. I'd just mention that you can view and edit your Scheduled Posts via the usual Edit Posts tab - there's a new "Scheduled" link now, so you can view just your Scheduled Posts:

One trap to watch for - if you're using the Keep Current Time script, you may be forgiven for thinking that "Blogger time" is the same as your time, because the script always makes the Blogger post editor show, at the end of your post, your local time. But that's not necessarily the case. When you untick the Keep current time box, and manually change the time and date (to say 10 am 10 May 2008) and hit Publish, Blogger will publish your post at the date and time you've set - but only at the moment which is that exact time in the timezone shown in your Settings, Formatting tab. If that timezone is set to a different one from your own (it defaults to US Pacific time), then it will only publish the post when it gets to 10 am on 10 May 2008 in California - not 10 am 10 May in London!

So here's a tip: if you're using Keep Current Time and want to use scheduled posting, hie ye over forthwith to Settings, Formatting and ensure your Formatting timezone is set to your own timezone (saving the change of course), to avoid possible future confusion.

I don't normally blog about straightforward stuff on Blogger these days, but I really thought this new feature was worth highlighting. Now if only Blogger will fix it pretty please so that draft posts are published bearing the date/time you click Publish, and not the original date/time when you created or last saved the post, I won't need Keep Current Time!

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Funny Blogger in Draft typo

Saturday, March 08, 2008
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A recent post on bug fixes in Google's official Blogger in Draft blog has a typo in its own title (see the "Feburary"?). Pleasingly ironic. Love it!

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Blogger: how to use a www custom domain for your blog

Sunday, February 17, 2008
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This post explains how to get http://www.yourblogname.com/ to work for your blog when you're using Blogger and want to use your own www domain name for your blog (instead of http://yourblogname.blogspot.com), and not just the "naked" http://yourblogname.com. I know lots of people have had problems with the www part, so I explain the fix.

It includes a step by step on how to change over smoothly to a www custom domain on Blogger, with screen shots for popular domain registrar GoDaddy and your Blogger dashboard.


For bloggers on Google's free Blogger blogging platform, for over a year now since the introduction of the now feature complete fancy New Blogger, formerly known as Blogger Beta, with its widgety goodness and enhanced developer-friendliness, you've been able to blog via Blogger's service and enjoy free webspace on Blogspot.com, but use your own domain name for your blog instead of http://YOURNAME.blogspot.com/.

For example this blog's main URL is now http://www.consumingexperience.com but it used to be http://consumingexperience.blogspot.com (and that web address or URL still works to get you here, and my blog's files are still stored behind the scenes on Blogspot.com).

This custom domain service is excellent, and for SEO reasons I very strongly advise using it as soon as you can after you start your blog (ideally from its inception), because then:
  • you can build up search engine cred under your own domain name, rather than under "whatever.blogspot.com"

  • you won't suffer so much the pain of the sudden big drop in search engine rankings if you've built up decent Google juice under blogspot.com, then switch to a custom domain, and

  • you won't suffer so much through the effort and time and worry that it will take to build up search engine cred all over again under your custom domain name.

I've blogged the benefits and reasons for using your own domain name ASAP, previously - after I suffered myself through a drop in this blog's PageRank and its placing in Google's search results, when I switched this blog's domain from consumingexperience.blogspot.com to www.consumingexperience.com. I'd say it took at least 6 months for my visitor numbers to get back to roughly where they were, though luckily in fact during the last couple of months they're starting to better the old figures. But basically, I've lost 6 months of increasing my rankings. And I'd mention that my AdSense earnings, though they're not anything I can live on, dropped significantly too during those 6 months.

I think using a custom domain is easier than FTP publishing, where you use webspace on your own server (or space you rent from a hosting provider) to host your blog's files instead of Blogspot. (See Blogger Buzz for some advantages of custom domains over FTP).

There are decent Blogger help pages on custom domains. However people had trouble getting the "www" URL to work to take people to their blogs after switching to a custom domain on Blogger. I thought the teething problems had been ironed out by now, to mix a metaphor, but I recently had a comment that suggested otherwise.

So, here's how to switch to a custom domain on Blogger that starts with www (e.g. "www.yourblogname.com").

How to get a www URL for custom domain to work on Blogger

The main thing to note is that technically "yourblogname.com" is separate and different from "www.yourblogname.com".

Blogger will only let you use one of them. Most people are used to the "www" URL, so it's best to use that, and then redirect the "sans www" version (yourblogname.com), the "naked domain", to the www version.

There are two main things you have to do - set things up on the domain name end (your domain registrar), and then set things up on the Blogger dashboard end.

To do that, the steps to take are these, in this order (to avoid downtime on your blog) - assuming you've already bought your own domain name from a provider:
  1. Go to your domain name provider's site (not Blogger) - i.e. your domain name registrar or domain name hosting service, from whom you bought your domain name.

  2. Login to your account, and set things up so that the www version of the domain name you bought points to ghs.google.com (geek speak: on your domain name provider's DNS server create a CNAME record for www.yourblogname.com, and associate the www "alias" or hostname with ghs.google.com as the value or destination - see also Google's helpful guide on the domain name system).

  3. Now Blogger has a help page with step by step instructions on how to create CNAME records if your domain name provider is a common one like:
    1. GoDaddy.com
    2. ix web hosting
    3. 1and1
    4. EveryDNS.net
    5. Yahoo!SmallBusiness
    6. No-IP; or
    7. DNS Park;
    8. and even generic instructions for Other hosting services

  4. The most important point to note is that you must create the CNAME record for the www "alias", not for the "naked" domain.

  5. Blogger do provide helpful a step by step (see the links in 3 above), but I always find screenshots more helpful, so here are the steps for my own registrar GoDaddy, pictorially - if you use another registrar hopefully they'll still be of help. The things to click are outlined in red, and obviously you should select your own domain, the one you want for use on Blogger:

    If you've already got a CNAME record for "www" then click to edit it (see the bit outlined in blue below), otherwise click to create a new record (outlined in red).

    Now the next bit is the trickiest bit for non-techies to get, in my view. Note that for the alias box you enter just "www". NOT "www.yourblogname.com", not blank, just "www" (don't worry about the TTL line, no need to change that). Then OK or Save everything:

  6. It'll take a few hours, maybe a day or so, for this to "take". So give it a day or so, then check that "www.yourblogname.com" really does point to ghs.google.com. To do this, you can do a nameserver check using services like Pingability.com (which is free) - in the box enter "www.yourblogname.com" (obviously changing it to your own real domain name, with the www), click Check Domain, wait a bit, and the results should say that your www points to ghs.google.com:

    Don't worry that if you try www.yourblogname.com and you get a 404 error. That's because you've not quite finished yet. But it's best to test that the switch to Google on the domain name end has worked, before you go to the next step.

  7. Now you're ready to switch things over on the Blogger side. This Blogger help page shows you how (see the "Blogger Settings" section there) but here are screenshots again. The important thing here to note is that you should enter the "www" part also when you give Blogger your domain name, and of course Save your settings:

    (Google Apps aside. Blogger now provide the option to buy your domain through them. If you do that, I suspect that the "www" should be easier to set up than before, but I've not tried that option so I can't say for sure. That's because you'll get a "Google Apps for your domain" account with it, and in the past people have had problems if they had their domain on Apps then wanted to use the same domain as a custom domain on Blogger because Apps took over the "www" name so if you tried to use it for your blog you'd get a "Blog already hosted at this address" error message. If you already have GAFYD and had that problem, you had to delete that service from Apps in order to use www on Blogger. Or if you had set up the www on Blogger, then tried to use that Google Apps for that domain, Apps would take over the "www" subdomain. But I'm not sure if it still does. Effectively you couldn't have a domain hosted on Apps and use the www for that domain on Blogger at the same time. If anyone knows whether when you buy a domain name via Google from the Blogger dashboard page you can use www for your domain even though you get Apps, or indeed what the situation now is with Apps vs. Blogspot and the www issue generally, please let me know!)

  8. And that should be it! Test the "www" address in your browser and hopefully it should now go to your blog and show your shiny new domain name.

How to forward your naked domain to your new custom domain

It would also be sensible to make sure that your bare domain, e.g. yourblogname.com, will forward to your new custom domain hosted on Blogger / Blogspot. Again, you do that through your domain registrar, after logging in, via their domain forwarding option.

Here are screenshots showing how it's done with Godaddy, after you've selected the domain to amend:

Make sure you fill in the "Forward to" box with your "www" domain URL, and that "301" is selected rather than "302", then OK and save etc:

(With thanks as always to my Magical Sheep pardner Kirk, without whom I'm sure the www would have gone wrong for me too!)

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Blogger: undocumented keyboard shortcuts?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007
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I love keyboard shortcuts - they help me be much more productive - and it's great that Blogger have implemented some, having added the much needed "Save but keep editing" earlier this year: see the Blogger keyboard shortcuts list.

I just discovered that, at the start of a list item in a numbered or bulleted list in the Blogger Post Editor, the Tab key will create a new list nested inside the current list. And Shift-Tab moves a "lower level" list item back up to a higher level.

  • I'm a list item.
  • I'm another list item.
    • And I'm a lower level nested list item created by using the Tab key
    • And another one.
  • I've Shift-tabbed back now.

Could there be other undocumented or "secret" keyboard shortcuts? Does anyone know at all?

My biggest wishlist items for Blogger currently are (still!) to have hotkeys for:
  1. switching back & forth between Edit HTML and Compose view (and if the cursor would just stay in the same position when you switch views, that would be perfect!)

  2. a bulleted or numbered list (Ctrl-Shift-l perhaps?), and

  3. (a new one) the Add Image command.
Hey, it's nearly Christmas. I can wish, can't I?

Modest needs, moi.

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Blogger: Technorati tagger for multiple word tags fixed

Monday, December 17, 2007
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On Friday various changes to the Blogger post editor broke the Magical Sheep tagger userscript (which helps you add Technorati tags easily to your Blogger posts via the Firefox browser, using the free Greasemonkey extension). MC spotted the problem first. Or at least, was the first to point it out to me.

Fortunately that Javascript Jenius Kirk has fixed the user script so that it's all working again. Install the updated script and as long as your Post Options are visible, you'll see the tagger box as before. UPDATE: the script has further been tweaked to make sure the Post Options section stays open permanently even when you switch between Compose and Edit HTML modes. Links below are to the updated version.

If you've already installed the script, you can just install the tweaked script over your existing one and your MeTags etc will be preserved, no need to uninstall anything first.

I've uploaded the updated script to various places (same as before) so that the old links remain usable, but just point to the updated script (too small a fix to call it an "upgrade"!):
- and I've also updated my main post about that tagging tool to note the fix and to update the links there.

If you're a Blogger / Blogspot.com user who hasn't yet installed the script and you'd like to try it, or indeed find out more on what this is all about, see my intro on what are Technorati tags and my Technorati tag creator overview, step by step installation instructions and links.

Maybe those behind the Greasemonkey Gmail API could start turning their thoughts towards a Greasemonkey Blogger API soon? Pretty please?

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Blogger: bug with posted pics, & temp fix

Saturday, December 01, 2007
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Kirk spotted that if you upload a pic or photo to Blogger using the built in Add Image icon in the Blogger post editor, a new bug now means that anyone clicking on the picture in your blog post to see a larger version gets prompted to download it instead.

Kirk posts, and Team Blogger immediately see and leap into action...

Blogger acknowledged the issue and published a temporary workaround the very same day.

Here's a step by step to fix the problem, at least for now:
  1. After you've uploaded the pic, go to "Edit HTML" view in the Blogger post editor.

  2. Find the code for the image, which will look something like this (I've put the bits that you need to change in bold red):
    <a onblur="[stuff]" href="http://[stuff]/AAAAAAAAAps/l45SRB9MHmc/s1600-R/16112007023.jpg">
    <img style="[stuff];" src="http://[stuff]/AAAAAAAAAps/mde1x2JIA7c/s200/16112007023.jpg" [stuff]/></a>
  3. Go to the second tag that starts <img... and find the bit that starts with src.

  4. Copy into your clipboard the jumble of letters and numbers immediately before the s-something bit, which in the above example is s200 (it could be s320 or s400). Just copy the bit between the / slashes, not the slashes themselves, so in the above example I'd copy mde1x2JIA7c, marked bold green.

  5. Go back to the first tag that starts <a... and find the href part.

    1. In the s-something bit, change the -R to -h. But don't touch the rest e.g. the s1600 in the above example.

    2. Find the s-something bit and delete the letters and numbers just before it, between slashes (in the above example l45SRB9MHmc), or highlight it and paste in what you copied from the img src bit. Don't delete any of the letters or numbers before that bit, so in the above example don't delete or change the AAAAAAAAAps bit or the letters/numbers before it.

  6. So in the above example the first bit of the image code would end up looking like:
    <a onblur="[stuff]" href="http://[stuff]/AAAAAAAAAps/mde1x2JIA7c/s1600-h/16112007023.jpg">

Hopefully Blogger will fix this soon!

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Blogger "Keep current time" tool fixed

Saturday, November 17, 2007
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It's annoying to publish a draft post on Blogger / Blogspot and then realise it's been dated not the date / time when you hit Publish, but when you first created the draft post, which could be days or, in my case, weeks or months ago!

That's one solution to the mystery of the disappearing draft post that you just published - it's just been filed away in the archives at the date and time of the draft post's original creation, that's why you can't see it on your main home page (unless of course you first created the draft quite recently).

Apart from having always to remember to fix the date / time before you click "Publish Post", which I'm terrible at doing, the only consistent easy solution I know of so far is Jasper's free "Keep current time" userscript for Firefox and Greasemonkey, which ensures your published post will always automatically bear the right date and time.

Jasper kindly updated it once, but come the now feature complete fancy New Blogger, formerly known as Blogger Beta, with its widgety goodness and enhanced developer-friendliness, it was Aditya who got the script working with the new Blogger code.

However, during the last month or so the user script has broken again, because of formatting changes behind the scenes at Blogger. When you go to edit a previously-saved draft post, the "Keep current time" box is no longer automatically ticked.

Aditya seems to have been offline for some months now, I assume with his studies, as there's been no activity on his blog for a while, and I've not been able to contact him about this script.

Fortunately Kirk has come to the rescue (as always) and fixed the script so that it now works again, thanks Kirk, mwah! Man I wish Google would roll out an API for Blogger and Greasemonkey, like they did for Gmail and Greasemonkey.

As Aditya's MIA I've uploaded the corrected script so that everyone can benefit from the fixes (Aditya please let me know if you've a problem with that): Get the updated Keep current time script.

How to get the script, for beginners to Blogger / Greasemonkey

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New Gmail Greasemonkey API - & Blogger, please??

Sunday, November 11, 2007
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Tucked away in an update to a recent official Gmailblog blog post about future behind the scenes changes to Google's Gmail was some good news for Greasemonkey fans.

Greasemonkey is a free extension for the free and wonderful Firefox browser, which lets people write userscripts to do all sorts of clever things to webpages like change the way they look and work, improve your browser security etc - see this post for instance for a Technorati tagging sc