Welcome to The Real Blogger Status - Beta. Please note the warnings (as of 6/13: 0 active), and the alerts (as of 1/10/2007: 5 active).

Please be aware of the naming variances in this blog. You will find various references to "Classic" / "Old Template 2006" Blogger, and to "Beta" / "New Template 2006" Blogger.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Google Custom Domain - Case Study #2

I've been working with Google Custom Domains for several weeks now, first on other peoples domains, then some on my own, and finally on more of other people. In very few cases can someone get a custom domain to work completely.

We'll take my church blog as an example here, as we did with Case Study #1. This blog has 4 aliases.

  1. http://martinezumc.blogspot.com/
  2. http://www.martinezumc.blogspot.com/
  3. http://martinezumc.org/
  4. http://www.martinezumc.org/

Current DNS settings

Simply one "CNAME" pointing to "ghs.google.com". No "A" record, as discussed in Google Custom Domain - The DNS Referral.

Let's test what we have now.
C:\>ping martinezumc.org

Pinging ghs.l.google.com [] with 32 bytes of data:

Reply from bytes=32 time=124ms TTL=244
Reply from bytes=32 time=126ms TTL=244
Reply from bytes=32 time=123ms TTL=244
Reply from bytes=32 time=143ms TTL=244

Ping statistics for
Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
Minimum = 123ms, Maximum = 143ms, Average = 129ms

C:\>ping www.martinezumc.org

Pinging ghs.l.google.com [] with 32 bytes of data:

Reply from bytes=32 time=126ms TTL=244
Reply from bytes=32 time=124ms TTL=244
Reply from bytes=32 time=126ms TTL=244
Reply from bytes=32 time=122ms TTL=244

Ping statistics for
Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
Minimum = 122ms, Maximum = 126ms, Average = 124ms

Both "martinezumc.org" and "www.martinezumc.org", verified by pinging, pointing to "ghs.google.com".

I can publish to martinezumc .org with no problem

I cannot publish to www. martinezumc .org.

And once again, the infamous
Another blog is already hosted at this address

And here, for reference, is a DNS Report for martinezumc.org.

(Edit 2/7): Blogger Employee promises us
We're working on a fix for the current problem some users experience when switching between custom domains and Blog*Spot.

(Edit 2/12): Blogger Employee understands the frustration.

>> Top

Monolithic Errors #2

Setting up a blog, published to a Google Custom Domain, is a two step process.

  1. You setup DNS pointing to the Custom Domain server "ghs.google.com".
  2. You publish your blog to the custom domain.
And some folks have been able to do just that.

But many others can't. And we all get one error, consistently.
Another blog is already hosted at this address.

What does this error mean? I suspect that Blogger is validating the DNS pointer, before setting up the relationship between the Blog*Spot blog (which is what we currently have) and the Custom Domain. And, if the DNS doesn't point to "ghs.google.com", then the custom domain must be in use somewhere else.

An alternate possibility is that there is a pointer somewhere in the Blog*Spot blog that points somewhere already. Or maybe the Blog*Spot blog can't be found.

Either way, Blogger needs to fix this problem. At least, add a few "bx-" codes, to let us know what the hell is going on, and so we can enumerate the problem in the forums.

>> Top

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Trinity, and Your Web Site

The power and majesty of the trinity has been a part of mankind for years, before the Internet. From religion (the Christian nature of the supreme being - The Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost), to properly robust systems, using triple redundancy (as in Robert Heinlein's science fiction - "I tell you three times that this is so"), the number three has always had almost mystical significance.

And with your web site, there is a trinity too. You are using, and may be paying (directly or indirectly) for 3 different services.

  1. Registration.
  2. DNS Hosting.
  3. Content Hosting.

If you have a domain purchased thru GoDaddy, and hosted on their services (maybe a blog published using FTP), you may have a package deal, with all 3 services on one yearly bill. Or you could purchase (register) your domain from any of dozens of registrars, have DNS provided by another company, and host your web site on a third, like Blogger. That's your choice, based upon your needs.

All Internet service companies don't provide all 3 services. GoDaddy does. Blogger / Google provides only content hosting, if you publish your blog to a Google Custom Domain.
You can register domain names from any of a number of different registrars, and you can use .com, .org, .net or any other valid addresses. Remember: you only need to get the domain name; you don't have to pay extra for hosting service.

When you purchase your domain, you want to know beforehand that nobody is already using it. And you want to ensure that, in the future, nobody uses it. You pay for the uniqueness of your domain name.

DNS Hosting
When you pay for DNS (directory listing), you want to know that your domain can always be located. Redundant DNS servers, geographically separated, is important for high visibility web sites. You pay for the address listing of your domain name.

Now this little detail may not be important to you.
Chuck, this doesn't matter to me. I pay my ISP for service, and they tell me to configure "ns1.myisp.com" and "ns2.myisp.com" (or their IP addresses) as my DNS servers. Why do I care about whatever DNS server Google uses?

Well, I'll ask you to think about this. You use your ISPs DNS servers so you can access websites. You pay for DNS hosting so your readers can access your website. Both your ISPs DNS servers, and your readers ISPs DNS servers, have to ask your DNS host for the address of your website.

You write your blog for your readers. Your readers DNS servers have to find out the address of your web site. How many repeat readers do you expect to have, if they try to access your web site and see
404 Server Not Available
or a similar error?

Content Hosting
When you pay for Content Hosting, you want to know that your web site itself will always be online. Whereas a DNS retrieval is a small (but significant) amount of traffic, and of server space, your blog (web site), as it grows, will use increasingly larger amounts of server space, and generate increasingly larger amounts of traffic. Your content host needs a large and reliable connection to the Internet, as well as reliable server hardware. You pay for the hosting of the web site itself.

If you have a blog hosted on Blog*Spot, you pay nothing at all. If you have a blog hosted on a Google Custom Domain, you pay nothing for the Content Hosting, just for registration and DNS.

The latter 2 services are generally billed yearly, and at a fixed rate. Content Hosting is generally billed by the month, and will be tiered based upon the amount of storage required (size of blog), amount of bandwidth generated (number of readers * size), and various server services required.

>> Top

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Now, It's Gone For Good

The invitation, that is.

There's no invitation here.

I had to update an article in The Real Blogger Status (Classic), but I had just restarted my computer. Upon starting, I went to login to my dashboard, and that is what I saw.

No warning.

Just as I predicted, not so long ago (but didn't really believe would be this soon).

OK, I got it done. Some warning would have been polite, but accusing Blogger of being polite is never necessary.

So now, I have to update all of my newly migrated blogs with the shiny New Blogger template features, when I'm not busy helping with the stampede, that is.

>> Top

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Editing The Template In A New Blogger Blog

The template in a New Blogger blog, when published to Blog*Spot (or to a Google Custom Domain) is written in XML, not HTML. A lot of HTML based tweaks won't work in New Blogger.

If you force HTML into your template, you may end up with one of the new, cryptic error codes

This says that your post template contains invalid HTML.

Are you seeing this error? If so, don't despair.

XML is not as user friendly as HTML was. But 90% of the HTML based tweaks can probably be copied into HTML page elements in the GUI Page Elements section of the Template. Forget about raw XML, and use Page Elements.

XML is not as forgiving as HTML. You may have to learn some discipline, when coding New Blogger template entries, and even posts.

Most HTML tags, like the Anchor tag, come in pairs.

<a href="http://bloggerstatusforrealbeta.blogspot.com/
is an anchor link to this article. Notice the
<a...> ... </a>

Some HTML tags, like the Break tag, don't come in pairs.
is a tag that I use a lot. There is no sequence
<br> ... </br>
A Break tag, in strict HTML, is better written as
<br />

The requirements of strict HTML you will probably have to learn from experience. An Object tag can't be written as the Break tag is written.
<object />
isn't valid. Nor is a simple
<object ... >

Here's how I got an embedded video object to work, in my Miscellaneous Musings post More Bumper Cars
<span style="text-align: center; display: block;"><object height="350" width="425"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/z9tKWzxSZ5E"><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/z9tKWzxSZ5E" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="samedomain" height="350" width="425"></embed></object></span>
Note the Embed and Param tags, too. The Param didn't require pairing. The Object and Embed tags did - you'll get errors when publishing with them unpaired. I got an error when I tried publishing Object as
<object ... />
The only solution was to publish it as
<object ... > ... </object>
Apparently all tags aren't as versatile in formatting as the meta tag is. Life isn't fair, nor is strict HTML easy. Deal with it.

>> Top

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

New Blogger - And The Confusion

I have two Google (New Blogger) accounts, and half a dozen active Blogger (old Blogger) accounts, that I use for maintaining my collection of a couple dozen Blogger blogs. Thanks to the New Blogger owner account policy, that's not likely to improve in the near future.

Or at least before I finish migrating my blog collection.

On the computers I use the heaviest, I'm not likely to log out for days, or maybe weeks. Windows XP is stable, and one computer stays powered up 7 x 24 x never-off. So I don't frequently log in or out of Blogger, Old or New.

Thankfully, when I do login, I have my array of blogs to see in my dashboard. Sometimes, I login, by intention, to Old Blogger, and the login script grabs an old cookie and logs me in to New Blogger. Other times, vice versa. But whenever I do get logged in to the wrong version of Blogger, and see the wrong blogs, I know what's happened.

Those folks who don't have a huge array of blogs, maintained by an array of accounts, will get confused when they login to one account and get another. They see no blogs listed, and think

Oh No! My blog is gone!
Fortunately, it's not gone, you're simply in the wrong account.

But were it not for the folks who have reported the confusion, I know that the times I have logged in to the wrong account, I would have panicked too. It's not a great feeling. It's kind of like being at work very early in the morning, before getting coffee, your mind in a fog, and walking in to the wrong restroom. And then you have to pray that there is nobody else at work, in the room, when you walk in. In the wrong circumstances, you can be in trouble, so I've heard.

And when it happens to you, recovery is simple.If it happens again, or repeats later, look for a security or software problem on your computer.

>> Top

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Your Custom Domain Blog, And AdSense

The whole idea of Google Custom Domains for Blogger blogs is great, as it gives us most of the benefits of an externally published blog, plus the New Blogger Layouts Templates features. But there's a major flaw currently in there.

If your blog is accessed as both "www.myblog.com" and "myblog.com", this won't work. AdSense appears to be sensitive to this problem. Tell Blogger that this is a major problem.

>> Top

Monday, January 15, 2007

Google Custom Domain - Case Study #1

OK, Chuck. Time to put your money where your mouth is.

I've been writing about Google Custom Domains for almost a week now.

So, it's time to test what I've learned.

(Note): This post has been migrated to The Real Blogger Status: Google Custom Domain - Case Study #1, and has been substantially expanded in The Real Blogger Status: Diagnosing Problems With Custom Domains, and in the series The Real Blogger Status: Custom Domains Diagnoses.

This case study uses my church website, martinezumc.org, with DNS service provided by GoDaddy. So, I logged in to the GoDaddy control panel, and followed the Google GoDaddy instructions (instructions for other hosting services are also in that document). Steps 1 - 4 were on target. So, I document below Steps 5 - 7 of the instructions, which became my steps 1 - 8.

Note that GoDaddy is simply the example that I use here. Blogger provides How do I create a CNAME record for my custom domain?, which provides instructions for half a dozen different popular DNS Hosting companies.

Step 1

The Default GoDaddy Settings

Here we see all DNS entries created by GoDaddy, when "martinezumc.org" was setup originally. All entries point to GoDaddy, using an "A" record equating "@" (the domain root) to "".

Step 2

Just 2 Quick Changes

  1. I deleted the "A" record pointing the domain to GoDaddy.(See Note 2, below)
  2. I added a "CNAME" record equating "www" to "ghs.google.com".
For more detail about DNS records, see PCMagazine Definition of: DNS records, or FAQs.Org: How DNS Works.
(Note 1): This example is for a domain setup for the ".org" TLD, and using GoDaddy as the registrar. All experience so far indicates that the different TLDs (.com, .info, .net, .org, ...), and the different registrars (like GoDaddy) have different rules. Be careful here, and ask questions in Blogger Help Group: How Do I?, if anything here is not completely clear to you. We are still learning the details, and I suspect Blogger staff is too. If you have any doubt about the effectiveness of your DNS setup, execute Step7 below, and proceed only when you get similar results.
(Note 2): If you have an existing website with other content, and just want to add the blog as "blog.mydomain.com", don't delete the "A" record. Just add a "CNAME" record equating "blog" to "ghs.google.com".

Step 3

I Setup Blog Publishing

I went into Settings - Publishing for the blog currently published at "martinezumc.blogspot.com", selected "Switch to: Custom Domain", and set it to publish to "martinezumc.org". Note that it clearly warns us
martinezumc.blogspot.com will redirect to your custom domain.
with no mention of www.martinezumc.blogspot.com. This makes it unlikely that we should expect "www.martinezumc.org" to work.

Step 4

I Tested martinezumc .org


Step 5

I Tested www .martinezumc .org

Here we see just what I predicted, in Step 3, above.

Step 7
And to verify the GoDaddy setup (and diagnose the 404), a simple set of ping tests.
C:\>ping martinezumc.org

Pinging ghs.l.google.com [] with 32 bytes of data:

Reply from bytes=32 time=94ms TTL=242
Reply from bytes=32 time=92ms TTL=242
Reply from bytes=32 time=94ms TTL=242
Reply from bytes=32 time=94ms TTL=242

Ping statistics for
Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
Minimum = 92ms, Maximum = 94ms, Average = 93ms

C:\>ping www.martinezumc.org

Pinging ghs.l.google.com [] with 32 bytes of data:

Reply from bytes=32 time=94ms TTL=242
Reply from bytes=32 time=93ms TTL=242
Reply from bytes=32 time=93ms TTL=242
Reply from bytes=32 time=96ms TTL=242

Ping statistics for
Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
Minimum = 93ms, Maximum = 96ms, Average = 94ms

And there is a demonstration of the dynamic name resolution of "ghs.google.com".

And, seeing as "www.martinezumc.org" resolves properly, in this example to "", we can conclude that the 404 above is coming from Google, not GoDaddy.

The host named "ghs.google.com" is a load balanced server array. It's provided to give your readers the best performance possible, when visiting your blog.

And, last but by no means least, the DNS Report for "martinezumc.org".

Please follow me now to the next post in this series.

>> Top

Friday, January 12, 2007

Your Blog, And Its Dual Personality

When I write a blog post, like this one, Your Blog, And Its Dual Personality, it has a known URL - http://bloggerstatusforrealbeta.blogspot.com/
. It also has a second URL - http://www.bloggerstatusforrealbeta.blogspot.com/
. Try the two links, and see for yourself.

(Note): This post has been replaced by (and substantially rewritten, to reflect major changes to the custom domain product) The Real Blogger Status: Schizophrenia and Custom Domain URLs. You may also find insight in The Real Blogger Status: Your Browser Cache, and Web Sites With Dual Addresses

That's real, but it's not terribly useful. I advertise this post as http://bloggerstatusforrealbeta.blogspot.com/
, not as http://www.bloggerstatusforrealbeta.blogspot.com/
, intentionally. This blog is "bloggerstatusforrealbeta.blogspot.com" - "www.bloggerstatusforrealbeta.blogspot.com" is not necessary.

But what if this blog was "bloggerstatusforrealbeta.com"? That would make this post http://bloggerstatusforrealbeta.com/
. If properly setup, it should also be addressed as http://www.bloggerstatusforrealbeta.com/
(Note): Since I haven't setup a domain "bloggerstatusforrealbeta.com", don't expect to click on any of the latter links, and get anything useful. Sorry.

The point here is that "bloggerstatusforrealbeta.com" and "www.bloggerstatusforrealbeta.com" should be synonymous - for a domain that only contains a blog. For other domains, this may vary.

For many domains, the "www" prefix will be synonymous with the root - but not for Google Custom Domains.

  1. I pay for the DNS listing, which tells your computer where my blog is.
  2. I setup a DNS entry, pointing "bloggerstatusforrealbeta.com" to "ghs.google.com".
  3. I setup Blogger to publish to the custom domain.

From what I see, redirecting "bloggerstatusforrealbeta.com" to a web site on a Google server involves two address records.

  1. A CNAME record at my DNS service, forwarding "bloggerstatusforrealbeta.com" to "ghs.google.com".
  2. A pointer at "ghs.google.com", forwarding "bloggerstatusforrealbeta.com" to the actual physical website.

Google hosts lots of blogs, so we have to make sure the right one is associated with this domain.

My guess is, when I tell Blogger to publish my blog to "bloggerstatusforrealbeta.com", and to host the content on their server, they do three things:
1) Create the content, with links using "bloggerstatusforrealbeta.com" as the base URL.
2) Copy the content to the web server, in the proper location.
3) Create a pointer, on "ghs.google.com", indicating where the content was copied.

The result is that I have a pointer indicating the location of "bloggerstatusforrealbeta.com". I'd bet that also setting up a pointer for "www.bloggerstatusforrealbeta.com", indicating the same location, was a detail that Blogger overlooked.

The bottom line? I can setup a pair of CNAME records in my DNS service, both pointing to "ghs.google.com" - "bloggerstatusforrealbeta.com" and "www.bloggerstatusforrealbeta.com". But, without a pointer on "ghs.google.com", indicating the server where "www.bloggerstatusforrealbeta.com" is located, I'm out of luck for addressing this post as http://www.bloggerstatusforrealbeta.com/

(Edit 1/15): Using "martinezumc.org" as a publishing target for "martinezumc.blogspot.com", I see complete agreement with the above.

>> Top

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Custom Domain Names and the DNS Settings

The Google Custom Domains, and the possibility of having a non-Blog*Spot address without the lack of functionality from setting up an external published blog, are a major improvement over plain old Blog*Spot to some folks. But be aware - some technical expertise is required.

Setting up a DNS entry is not a normal task for Bloggers. The draw of Blogger One Button Publishing is that you

  • Choose a Blog*Spot address.
  • Choose a template.
  • Post and publish (and for New Blogger, forget the "publish" too).
So what's up with setting up DNS?

There's some occasional confusion in the forums.
The site says to create a CNAME for example.com.. CNAMES are not for DOMAIN NAMES, they are for subdomains.. i.e, www, pages, users. DOMAIN NAMES use A records to point to an IP address.

But the difference between an A record, and a CNAME record, is pretty simple.
An A DNS record directly equates a hostname to an IP address.

A CNAME DNS record does not directly resolve to an IP address. Instead, it refers to a relative or absolute hostname.

When a DNS query is made for a CNAME, the hostname that is pointed to is used to obtain the actual IP address. The pointed-to hostname may itself be another CNAME, or it may directly provide the IP address using an A entry.

As an example, let's look at Google Apps for Your Domain: Creating Your Canonical Name (CNAME) Record: GoDaddy.com.
  • Click Add New CNAME Record. If you've already created a CNAME record for your website's address with Google Apps, click Edit next to the existing CNAME record.
    • Enter the part of your website's address that you picked in your Google Apps control panel. For example, if you picked urban.mydomain.com as your address, enter urban for step one.
    • Enter ghs.google.com as the host name.
    • Leave as default selection.

Not too much confusion there. As long as you decide upon your domain names before you start, it's just another recipe. Mix a, b, and c, and serve.

(Note): For some detail about DNS records, see PCMagazine Definition of: DNS records. For still more technical detail, you can see FAQs.Org: How DNS Works. Or see my case study, Google Custom Domain - Case Study #1

>> Top

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Monolithic Errors

Long ago, on a computer that exists only in the memory of its users, you might be running a program and everything would come to a screeching halt. And the system console would print a brief and fearsome message


And what that cryptic message told you was that you were done. You had done something so stupid, that the computer, with even its infinite (!!) wisdom, could not recover. There were only 2 actions possible now.
  • Power the computer off, and back on, and restart. And pray.
  • Call the IBM Service Engineer.
And neither action was guaranteed to be 100% effective. But for a MLTP EAC, those were the choices.

Later, when Microsoft Windows was just becoming the dominant operating system on personal computers, it was even more unstable than it is now. If you had just installed new code, or tweaked the system settings to unacceptable values, occasionally the system would likewise throw up its hands in anguish and refuse to go any farther.

That was called a Black Screen Of Death. Unlike its predecessor, the MLTP EAC, the BSOD provided a puzzling series of letters and numbers, that could be translated by your super geek in residence (were you so lucky to have one) to indicate that your hard drive had died, or that you had loaded a bad driver for the latest installed accessory card.

In the newer Windows, Windows NT, 2000, XP, and now Vista, the black screen of death was replaced by something just a bit more user friendly, the Blue Screen Of Death. Using the official colour Microsoft Blue, you're told, in a more friendly way
Your're Done.

With Blogger, we are recently seeing two monolithic errors too.
  • 404 Page Not Found.
  • We're sorry, but we were unable to complete your request.
This puts us in mind of the old

If there's anything in the Blogger experience that causes FUD, it's these two errors. When you see one, there's nothing you can do but fill out yet another problem report, and join the gang at Google Blogger Help - Troubleshooting.

Doing the former, you fill out a form, and wait for botmail in your Inbox. After you reply to the botmail, you wait some more. Maybe one day things will start working again, and maybe not. After a while, you move to the latter.

In Google Blogger Help - Troubleshooting, troubleshooting is slightly more interactive. There, you describe your problem, and one of the Google employees who occasionally enters the forum will ask a few questions to diagnose the problem. If you're lucky, an answer may be in the latter article.

If you are lucky, a Google employee will later reply in your thread
You're good to go.
Another monolithic response for sure.

You check your blog, and it's working.

Now, both the Black Screen Of Death, and the subsequent Blue Screen Of Death, offered just a small bit of detail. Detail that let you diagnose the problem, and at least decide whether you might have caused the problem by installing a bad driver, or a memory module just went belly up. At least save you the time spent downloading and installing a new driver, when you should be traveling to the nearby computer store for another memory module.

With the current "Page not found / unable to complete your request" messages, we're back to the MLTP EAC level. Nothing to do but call the engineer.

We need the ability to figure out what we are doing wrong. Without knowing whats going wrong, any of us may be subject to either problem, at any time. And that is the FUD.

Let me put this briefly.
We need to know what is going on, so we can avoid causing the problem.
Right now, all we know is
We are using Blogger as a web site.
And the only way to predictably avoid the problem is
Don't use Blogger as a web site.
As solutions go, this one sucks. Please give us just a bit more diagnostic detail, instead of
I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.

Come on, Blogger, admit the errors, so we can avoid making the same ones over and over. Don't make Blogger like the Sword Of Damocles.

(Note 2/1): Please tell us that the below mentioned fix wasn't the one applied 1/31 late evening!!??

(Note 1/11): Blogger Buzzer states
Your blog is affected by a bug that hit others also and it is being worked on. Expect a fix in the next few days.

>> Top

Monday, January 08, 2007

Another Cache Refresh Needed?

From some of the problem reports in Blogger Help Group: Login Issues, it appears that some login scripts may have been changed again.

As in Blogger Alert 12/2: Missing Toolbar Buttons, if you're having any problems logging in, or if you're missing your blogs in your dashboard, you might want to try clearing cache and cookies again.

(Edit 1/31): The bX-68tbuv problem with image uploads, which appears to be related to this issue, has been fixed. Here's a definition of the lack of uniformity of the problem - this specific problem was unique to sessions starting from "beta.blogger.com".

This has been fixed. Regardless, use www.blogger.com and not beta.blogger.com.

>> Top

Blogger Maintenance January 9 Morning

In Blogger Help Group: Scheduled Blogger Outage Tuesday, January 9th, 2007, Helper warns us

Just wanted to give you all a heads-up that the old Blogger will be down for a couple hours tomorrow (Tuesday, January 9th, 2007). This scheduled outage applies to the old Blogger from 7:45am-9:45am PST. You will not be able to post to old Blogger blogs or access any old Blogger blogs on Blog*Spot during this time. We also will not be allowing any new accounts or new blogs to be created on the new Blogger during this outage. Google Groups will be also be undergoing planned maintenance on Tuesday the 9th. Accordingly, some features may be temporarily unavailable (including the Blogger Help Group).

Old Blogger, New Blogger, and Blogger Help Group all down at the same time. Might be a good day to take off.

>> Top

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Setup Your Google Custom Domain Name Properly

To let you have your blog using a custom domain name (not yourblog.blogspot.com), but without most of the drawbacks of a New Blogger blog published externally, Blogger now provides custom domain names, where you can have, besides yourblog.blogspot.com, yourblog.com.

(Note): This post has been migrated to (and improved in) The Real Blogger Status: Setup Your Google Custom Domain Name Properly.

To setup a custom domain name, you simply

  • Setup DNS (at your expense) to point your blog's URL to a Blogger server.
  • Setup your blog to publish to the custom domain.

Like all Blogger products, this one is a little Beta still.

Don't Cause A Redirect Loop
If you currently have your blog hosted as yourblog.blogspot.com, and you republish it as yourblog.com, Blogger will even maintain yourblog.blogspot.com for you, and forward all traffic to yourblog.com. And there is one problem.

If you observe my advice for transferring your blog to external publishing, you'll create a stub blog as yourblog.blogspot.com, and you'll setup a forwarding from the stub blog (either a manual link, or an automatic redirect) to yourblog.com.

In some cases, you might try the reverse. Maybe put your blog on yourblog.blogspot.com, and forward traffic from yourblog.com to yourblog.blogspot.com. This, however, is not a good idea. If you setup an automatic redirect from yourblog.com to yourblog.blogspot.com, then publish a second blog to your custom domain yourblog.com, your readers will watch their browsers try to load yourblog.com, which will redirect to yourblog.blogspot.com, which will then redirect to yourblog.com. And so on.

So, if you are going to publish to a Google Custom Domain, forget about the stub blog. Blogger will handle that for you.

Wait Until DNS Points To Google
In Blogger Help: How do I use a custom domain name on my blog?, we see

It appears that Blogger checks out your domain name, and if it points to somewhere other than "ghs.google.com", responds with
Another blog is already hosted at this address.
If you get that response, verify the IP address of your domain, by pinging. If the ping comes back with
Pinging ghs.l.google.com [] with 32 bytes of data:

Reply from bytes=32 time=93ms TTL=245
Reply from bytes=32 time=111ms TTL=245
Reply from bytes=32 time=116ms TTL=245
Reply from bytes=32 time=116ms TTL=245

or the like, your domain is ready. Otherwise, you need to wait until it is ready. Or face getting
Another blog is already hosted at this address.

A Possible Problem With The .Info TLD?
Jon Anderson writes
In a nutshell, it doesn't work with the TLD (top-level domain) of .info. More than one person is experiencing, and writing about, this problem.
Maybe a timing issue with the .Info TLD servers? I hope this one isn't just solved in silence.

(Edit 2/4): Blogger Buzzer states that
Currently .info doamins are disallowed due to the large number of spam blogs on these kind of domains.

Don't republish straight from FTP to a Custom Domain.
When you republish your blog from Blog*Spot to a custom domain, the blogspot URL of the blog is forwarded to the custom domain. So the blog starts out with the "xxx.blogspot.com" address.

When you have a blog published to an address outside of Blog*Spot, using FTP, then republished to a custom domain, you don't have a corresponding Blog*Spot URL - just the external address that you have just forwarded to "ghs.google.com". So what gets forwarded? Apparently nothing, and that may be a problem.

So, before you publish to a custom domain, take your FTP blog, and publish it back to a Blog*Spot URL. Blogger will forward the Blog*Spot URL to the custom domain, when you republish the blog to the custom domain.

Blogger Plus blogs can't be published to a Custom Domain.
Blogger Buzzer explicitly states that
Unfortunately currently there is a limitation that plus blogs cannot be converted to be served from a custom domain.

>> Top

Friday, January 05, 2007

New Blogger Image Test

A new test

This is a new version of my Old Blog post Image Test.

<a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/
s1600-h/Check+This+Out+2.gif"><img style="float:left; margin:0 10px 10px 0;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/
s200/Check+This+Out+2.gif" border="0" alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5016670364304227682" /></a>A new test
<br clear=left>
This is a new version of my Old Blog post <a href="http://bloggerstatusforreal.blogspot.com/
2006/07/image-test.html"><span style="font-style:italic;">Image Test</span></a>.

>> Top

Custom Domain Names Hosted By Blogger

Up to now, if you wanted a blog (web site) named myblog, you had 2 choices.

  1. Setup myblog.blogspot.com, hosted by Blog*Spot, and with all of the shiny features of (now) New Blogger.
  2. Setup myblog.com (myblog.org, ...), hosted by a host of your choice (and extra cost in most cases), but with less features than a Blog*Spot hosted blog.

Note: This post has been migrated (and significantly enhanced) as The Real Blogger Status: Custom Domain Names Hosted By Blogger.

Now, there is a third choice. Setup myblog.com (myblog.org, ...), hosted by Blog*Spot.
  1. You pay for the DNS listing, which tells your reader's computers where your blog is.
  2. You setup a DNS entry, pointing "myblog.com" to "ghs.google.com".
  3. You setup Blogger to publish to the custom domain.
(Note): Set the domain up carefully.

This solution has its good, and its bad, points.
  • The Good:
    • Save money. No need for an extra cost hosting service.
    • All of the shiny features of New Blogger.
    • None of the unstable publishing problems, reported of late.
    • Your current Blog*Spot address will continue to work, and to forward to your new, custom domain.
    • No more abandoned Blog*Spot address, and no more subsequent splog hijackings.
  • The Bad:
    • If you opted for external publishing to get away from Blog*Spot hosting, this isn't for you.
    • If your domain contains more than a blog - ie maybe a chat room or FTP server, this may be a problem. You have two possibilities here.
      • Have two named domains - one inside Blog*Spot, the other outside, and links between the two.
      • Setup a subdomain DNS record, pointing to "ghs.google.com". Make sure that all of the links between the website and the blog are absolute, ie "http://myblog.mydomain.com", rather than "/blog".

(Note 1/16): There's a lot of theory here. See Google Custom Domain - Case Study #1 for an actual exploration of the facts. And see Setting Up A Custom Domain? Here's Advice, for a review of the essential steps that you must follow.

>> Top

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Another Cookie Issue

Previously, we discovered a possible problem with Blogger and third party cookies. That could, potentially, affect all Bloggers, but only temporarily. As everybody adjusts to New Blogger, so should their computers, and the problems should go away.

But login problems, frequently looking like they might involve cookies, surface daily. New Blogger was publicised on 12/19, and two weeks later, the login problems don't seem to be going away all that quickly.

Maybe there's another problem, and maybe it involves the wording in instructions about permitting cookies.

Jordan, in login trouble - wont remember me, provides a long forgotten link to Known Issues for the New Blogger: The “Remember Me” login option will not work, where we are advised, when configuring Internet Explorer, to

...add google.com to the list of allowed sites under Internet Options > Privacy.
I wonder how many folks added "www.blogger.com", rather than "blogger.com", based upon the Firefox and Internet Explorer wizards
Type the exact address of the website...
I know that I become confused by that instruction.

Now, the article The “Remember Me” login option will not work specifically mentions Internet Explorer V6 as a problem, and Firefox is implied to be free from this problem. The date of that article is 9/5/2006. Firefox V2, and Internet Explorer V7, came out almost 2 months later.

FF V1.5 and IE V6, by and large, used "permit by default, deny on demand" security strategies. FF V2 and IE V7, on the other hand, use "deny by default, permit on demand" strategies, and are more likely to present a problem with incorrectly permitted cookies.

In short, for both Firefox and Internet Explorer, check your Cookies permissions. Make sure that you are allowing "blogger.com", rather than "www.blogger.com", to add cookies to your computer.

For more insight into the cookie issue, see Roberto's Report: Another Cookie, anyone?.

>> Top

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Publicising Your New Blogger Blog

Publicising your blog, in general, means submitting it to the search engines. There are some significant differences between Old Template and New Template (Layouts) Blogger blogs.

Get Indexed By The Search Engines
As with an old template blog, there are 3 default Blogger values, which describe your blog to any search engine spider.

  • $BlogPageTitle$
  • $BlogMetaData$
  • $BlogTitle$

In a new template blog, they're found in roughly the same place, but coded differently.
  • <title><data:blog.pageTitle/></title>
  • <b:include data='blog' name='all-head-content'/>
  • <div id='header-wrapper'>
    <b:section class='header' id='header' maxwidgets='1' showaddelement='no'>
    <b:widget id='HTML4' locked='false' title='' type='HTML'/>

What you'll end up with, at the top of the blog, will be roughly similar.

<meta content='The Real Blogger Status: What Blogger
Won"t Tell You' name='description'/>
<meta content='Blogger, Blogspot, blogger.com,
blogspot.com, outage, maintenance, inconvenience...
Permission Denied,' name='keywords'/>
<b:include data='blog' name='all-head-content'/>

>> Top