Google Risks

Some guy wrote a rant that his Google G-Mail account got disabled. So he used the Contact Us form to alert Google. He swore that he used a secure password. Therefore he doubts that his password was compromised. Google responded that they were looking into the problem.

In the end, the poor dude lost all his G-Mail history. This falls under the general risk of keeping your data in the cloud. I understand how easy this can be. Google has huge amounts of disk space. They have a nice and free product for you to use. You start using it and don’t look back. But you have to plan for the work case. That’s what I do.

You do not have to move away from the cloud to minimize the risks associated with it. For example, you can keep more than one Google account. That way you can split some of your email across multiple failure points. Yes this might cause some overhead while you check multiple accounts. However you can also use one account to aggregate mail from all the others.

The example guy from this story also lost his blog. This is something that is dear to me. I have spent the good part of a year blogging hard. I would hate for all that to go to waste. That’s why I have moved away from creating multiple blogs under one Google account. I am at the point where I create a new account each time I create a new blog. This is done even if I am working on a throw away blog.

I expect these problems to become more common as the industry embraces and moves into cloud computing en masse. You would be wise to assume that everything on the cloud will fail. The earlier you prepare for such a pending disaster, the better off you will be.

Blog Authority

In 2006, Mads Kristensen stated on his blog that Deflate was faster than GZip. In fact he found Deflate to be 41% faster than GZip. Recently Jeff Atwood wrote a post on his Coding Horror blog about this. He figured there was something wrong with this comparison. Both programs use similar algorithms. He determined he would not take this information for granted. So Jeff did a test. He found the programs to have comparable performance.

Jeff used random HTML files. He varied the file sizes for his tests. Jeff did realize that the Mads post was from two years ago. However he used this example to make a point. You should not trust what you read on the web, especially in blogs. He said that blogs posting incorrect information are dangerous. The real danger lies in developers believing what they read on the web. The real interesting part of Jeff’s post was the numerous comments from developers.

Not all blogs are created equal. Incorrect information posted on rarely read blogs does not do as much damage. In other words, blog authority matters. You really should not trust anything you read. A blog is just somebody’s ideas. It is not hard fact. It is unfortunate that programmers are gullible.

There may be some hope. There were a number of readers who commented that they did not believe in Jeff Atwood’s findings. This caveat holds true – reader beware. Blogs after all are really not that important. You can read blogs to look at different approaches. However you should verify all that you read. That’s the due diligence that us developers must perform.

The Future of Blogging

I read two articles/blogs about the future state of blogging. One was from Wired. The other was a response to the Wired article by Mark Evans. Both painted a somewhat bleak picture about the state of blogging. I take these outlooks seriously since I am very much into blogging myself.

The Wired article stated that blogging has been overrun with assorted marketing campaigns. There are very few real voices in the blogosphere. Blogs are becoming very impersonal these days. They are mostly professional sites that do best. It is hard for the little guy to get noticed. The true bloggers get a lot of aggravation like being insulted on their blogs. New formats are talking over. Twitter is the new Blogger.

Mark Evens responded to the Wired article. He is a guy that provides the Canadian perspective. He said that blogs showed up around 5 years ago. Now there are a total of over 175 million blogs out there. And by blogs, he means sites with text, links, and maybe an image or two. There is a very low barrier to entry. Hey. Most of my blogs are on free hosts. Even though the total number of blogs may be large, there were around 7 millions new blogs in the last 4 months. In other words, the popularity of blogging may be dwindling.

Is it true that Twitter and video logs are taking over? I know they are popular. However I continue to author a number of blogs. I also read a good deal of other people’s blogs. Perhaps it does not matter what other people are doing. One important side about blogging is that you do it if you like it. I also don’t care about others if people continue to visit and read my own blogs. It might be that blogs are not the hip thing to be doing. That is also fine with me. However I don’t think the sky is falling here.

Auto Blog

I enjoy writing posts to some of my blogs. However sometimes it is a real chore. I want to add some value and provide some pictures for a bunch my blogs. But who has the time? Hey. I am a computer programmer. Why don’t I write a program to do this for me automatically? I shall call this project “Auto Blog”.

At first I think that I will just write a program that mimics me. In other words, the program will start my web browser. Then it will type in my Blogger account and password. It will upload some pictures. And it will type away in the browser. This is almost like a virtual me. It also seems like it will be a lot of work. I might be able to handle writing a program that mimics what I would write. But it will take some time to make the web browser think the program is me typing away at the keyboard and clicking the mouse.

So I do a little research. There must be a way for my program to communicate directly with Blogger. I find that there is. Blogger has an API that programmers can use. It even does this via XML which I want to learn as a programmer. If you do not know what XML is, don’t worry about it. I start to dig into the details of how to make my program communicate with Blogger. Then I find a critical piece missing. There is no way to programmatically upload images.

Ouch. That was the whole point to my Auto Blog. I want to share a lot of images and post some commentary with them. I guess I will have to go back to the drawing board. In other words, I need to take the path where the program simulates me typing on my keyboard and clicking my mouse. This is the hard route. I figure that the good things in life do not come easy. This is a prime example of that principle. Go me.

Maximize Clicks

I have a number of blogs on miscellaneous topics. Recently I added Google AdSense to them. The goal is to make as much money as possible from users clicking on the ads in my blogs. To this end, I want to eliminate any distractions that might cause the users to not click on the ads. So I have tried to configure my blogs to not have many things to click other than the ads.

Therefore I have removed comments from my blogs. I have also hidden the labels for each post. As far as the sidebar goes, I got rid of the About Me link. I also ditched the blog history. In some cases, I have even gone as far as to eliminate the titles of each blog post. The title is clickable and brings you to a page with just that blog post on it. There should be no need for users to click that.

One of the few extras I did keep was the images I include in each blog post. Those are essential to a good looking blog. I did shorten the number of posts that are displayed on each page of my blog. This number was strategically chosen to be as long as the ads that are placed on the sides of the blog posts.

My hope is that this increases the chance that viewers of my blog see the ads and click them. The danger in these extreme methods is that my blogs will not remain interesting to keep the users coming back for me. So now I really need to engage the readers with some sharp writing and awesome pictures. I also need to ensure I post very often, as they see less blog posts per page.

I will let you know how this works out. For now I am already seeing an increase in the click through ratio on my popular blog pages. It is my hope that this trend continues indefinitely.

Blog Lessons

I read a post on the Latest Geek Stuff blog. This is a blog written by omfut. His post was entitled “1 Year of Blogging, What I Learnt (sic)”. Some of his experiences matched mine from my 10 months of blogging. I thought I would comment on these findings.

Omfut has been blogging for 1 year. He said blogging is fun when you enjoy it. He cautioned bloggers to not let it run your life. Even though it is hard to write every day, that does usually increase traffic to your site. What is your goal? Are you just trying to gain more traffic to your blog? Or are you sharing quality posts? The best blogs are those for which the author has a true passion.

My initial goal getting into blogging was to make a lot of money. I have not been successful at that. However I have chosen blog topics that really do interest me. It is also fun to learn about the technical side of blogging. For example, I liked learning how to use Blogger. And it was a trip to get into the world of Google AdSense. I am finding more and more that I want to learn how to do web programming.

Here was a funny thing from Omfut’s blog post. He said he put AdSense on his web site just as an experiment (as opposed to making money). Yeah right. It is fine to try to make a few bucks on your blog by using ads. But don’t try to fool us into thinking the goal behind it is not to make money. You will be only fooling yourself. Just for that you get no clicks on your ads from me buddy. Aside from that, good blog post. Hopefully you will still be blogging 1 year from now. I know I shall be.

Got on Reddit

I normally read Reddit to find good posts on programming. My default view on Reddit is to view the top “Hot” articles. This weekend I was surprised to find my Days of VisiCalc post coming in at item number 63 for hot programming posts. It was on page 3. This was very exciting as I did not even submit the blog post to Reddit. I could not help but log into Reddit and vote my item up. Hey. I wrote the darn thing, so I am going to give it a thumbs up rating.

My blog post that go onto Reddit was just my 2 cents on another interesting blog post about VisiCalc development history. Some comments on the Reddit submission said that my post helped call attention to the blog item I wrote about, even though it had itself been added to Reddit a couple months ago. Other comments stated that the blog I referred to was better than my own blog. This may be true since that blog was written by a guy who worked on VisiCalc.

My Redddit submission had received 16 points. Not sure if that means there was a net of 16 positive votes for it or not. I don’t think so as the submission received 42 up votes and 32 down votes. Whatever the point calculation, I am still happy that I can say that I was on Reddit. Thanks to Reddit user gst who submitted my blog entry in the first place. Props man.

Beware Spell Check

Tonight I had a lot of blogs entries to post on my Software Maintenance blog. However I still had time to spell check each of my entries. One such entry took a long time to spell check. Then I made corrections and tried to post the results. I was not surprised when Blogger bombed and I lost my changes.

I was not phased so I edited the entry again, ran spell check, then successfully posted my changes. Then I went on with creating other blog posts. At the end I did a quick check on all my posts for quality control. Wouldn't you know it? The post that initially bombed still had some of the Spell Check highlighting in the actual published version. What a crock.

Luckily I was able to go back, rerun Spell Check on the blog entry, then post one more time. Now the yellow Spell Check highlighting is gone. What is the moral of this story? Double check your work, especially if Blogger acts funny when you are editing your post. I think there may be another moral lurking down somewhere inside me. However this rant is now over.

Blogger Broke Again

I would like to upload a picture to show you an error message I continually get in Blogger today. The only problem is that the error happens when I upload pictures. This is a bummer. Recently I have been trying to post images with the blog posts I create. Now I cannot do this.

Wouldn't you know it? I am finally fed up enough that I want to help. So I try to figure out how to report the error. But when I get the error, my only choices are to go back to my post, or try again. Trying again produces the same error. I am determined. So I log into Blogger and see if there is a way to report an error using the Dashboard. Nope. I found a link to review known issues. None of the issues seem to be the one I am facing. What's a blogger to do?

In case the Google Blogger development team is paying attention, here is the error I get:

There were errors during upload.

The following images were not uploaded.

filename.jpg : This image could not be uploaded due to an internal error.


Company Response

Some time ago I read an article from CNN Money about “when bloggers attack”. It outlined the best approach for a company to take when bloggers write bad things about the company or its products. In general the article recommended that you first check out the history of the blogger. See if the blog makes any difference to the big picture. Check if the blog is high in the list of search engine result pages for your company. You can always try to generate higher ranked positive hits in the SERPS.

The article warned you to not get emotional or hostile. The best way to handle such a situation is to turn it into an opportunity. For extreme cases, you can always hire a professional company to manage your online presence. This could be a costly option. And it may not provide any more benefit than what you can do yourself.

CNN stated that bloggers in general are fair. I am not sure if I agree with that statement. But let’s assume it is true. The article I read recommended that you provide the blogger with more information. That way they can generate more posts that at least speak the truth. Bloggers are interested in generating more content after all.

I can relate to some of the information in the CNN article. My own posts often criticize companies. However I have not been contacted by any companies following the advice from the article. But sometimes I praise good companies and products. Wouldn’t you know it? I have been contacted by people thanking me for giving them positive reviews in my blogs. Perhaps I am just a small fry. And companies that I slam are just ignoring me. I hope to become bigger and more influential. I also hope that I am not on the receiving end of bad blog posts too.

Link or Cross Post

I was reading some new interesting blogs and came upon a blog by Kasper. There was no was to directly add comments to his posts. So I e-mailed Kasper and told him I liked his 8 ball problem. Then I added a post to my own Black of Hat blog called Eight Ball.

Later I started an e-mail dialog with Kasper. He was appreciative to my comments. He offered to link to my blog or cross post. Now I know about the idea of linking out to another blog. I e-mailed Kasper back and told him I had already wrote a blog post and linked to his.

Then I gave the cross-posting some more thoughts. In essence, Kasper said he would duplicate any blog post from my site on his own. He would then give me credit and link to me. I asked him to cross post my Loopback IP Address post. And he followed through and did so on his First Class Thoughts blog.

So I hope that I did the right thing. What method would be better for search engine optimization? What method will give me a better page rank? In the long run it may not matter much. But I am finding more people posting comments to my own blog. And I will want to know how to make the most of every opportunity out there. What do you think?

Google Knol

Google has publicly opened up Knol. Google defines Knol as a “unit of knowledge”. Knol was originally launched in December of 2007 to a select audience. The project is headed by Udi Manber, Google’s vice president of engineering.

Knol is similar to Wikipedia. The difference is that entries must have an author that put their name behind the work. There is no anonymous posing on Knol. Readers can suggest changes to a Knol entry. However the author controls whether those changes get applied to the Knol.

Google is positioning Knol to be the first thing someone searching will want to read. That being said, Google has stated that they will not artificially give a knoll more page rank than their existing algorithms calculate. There can be more than one knoll for any given subject. Readers have the ability to rate knols they read.

Authors can add New Yorker cartoons to a knoll. They can also monetize a knoll by adding Google AdSense to the knoll. However the positioning of the ads is fixed. Authors are free to link out of the knoll to other sites (including their own web pages). By default the entries submitted to Knol are licensed under the Creative Commons license.

Currently Google has a couple hundred knolls created. For the most part the knolls are related to the medical industry. I have been wondering what effect this will have on blogging, and more importantly whether this will be a Wikipedia killer. It is very exciting to get in on the ground floor of a new system created by Google. I encourage you to create a knoll on a subject for which you have expertise. Good luck.


I continually have a problem with some Blogger formatting. Here is the scenario. I enter a lot of text in my blog post. Then I go back and want to make some text in the middle to be a list. So I select the text and click the button to make a bulleted list. However instead of turning my selected text to a list, Blogger makes my entire post a list. The entire text is made one big item in the list.

Being savvy in HTML, I can switch into HTML mode with Blogger. I got in and move the UL tags around my selected text. Then I go and insert and bunch of LI tags around each of my items. Then when I revert to compose mode, my post looks as I expect it. However this is a pain that I go through every time I try to make a list.

What should I do? I guess I could chose a list before I start typing. Then I could type in the list and hope that Blogger works correctly. Perhaps I am expecting Blogger to work like normal desktop applications. Do we do things differently in web based forms? I would think that the people who tested Blogger would have had the same expectations as me.

Overall Blogger is a good tool. The price is right (free). That does not mean I don’t wish some bugs to be fixed, or some user interfaces to be better. I blog here because it is fun. If I were more responsible, I would submit a problem report with the Blogger team at Google. It is the least I could do. If I do follow through and submit one, I will document my experience here on my blog.

My Blogging Not Dead

Previously I had written a post about the ruckus in the blogging world about a famous blogger decided to end his blog. He declared blogging as dead. I thought I would share my own reaction to this, as I am an avid blogger myself.

First I want to give a little background. I read an article about Ashley Qualls a year ago. She is the founder of Whatever Life. This site has made her over a million dollars so far. And the amazing feat is that Ashley is only 18 years old. I figured that if an 18 year old can make it large on the web through advertising, I should get in on this too.

So I started up my Software Maintenance blog. My goal was to write up daily experiences in the software development world, put advertising on my site, and get rich. Things did not exactly go as planned. I did not rich. Thus I could not quit my day job. Along the way I read that you could get a better Google Page Rank if you had a lot of separate web sites, each of them linking to each other. Therefore I have created over 20 separate blogs. They all cross link with each other. My hope was that this would boost my page rank for each of the blogs.

In retrospect, since I still have my day job, I am not avidly posting to all these blogs. The Software Maintenance one is my main blog. I do not post to it every day. But usually I post every other day. I find it a fulfilling task. Even if the big money has not rolled in from the advertising, I continue to share my thoughts with the world on this blog. I plan on continuing this indefinitely, at least until I have retired from the software development industry.

Is blogging dead? Some of my throw away blogs that I created just to achieve page rank are definitely dead. However my life as a blogger is not over. That which I care about and blog about continues. My software maintenance blog lives on. It even thrives. I want to give a shout out to Ashley Qualls. Her experience excited me and inspired me to create my blog. This initial desire was for riches. But I have found that there is more to blogging that making cash through advertising.

Blogging is Dead

Everybody seems to be writing about a controversial blog post that stated that blogging is dead. Somebody special said they were hanging up their blogging hat. Their plan was to resort to e-mailing their blog info instead. The rational behind this move was that mainstream media was starting to monopolize the blog universe. Another was that people had moved on to other mediums such as MySpace, Facebook, Digg, and Twitter.

There are some statistics which seem to indicate that the rate of new blog creation is slowing down as well. In July of 2006, there were 175k blogs being created per day. By March of 2008, the rate had fallen to 120k blogs created per day. The topic of whether blogging is dead is an interesting one I want to explore.

I think that it has become clear that blogging is not easy. It is not easy to sell a blog or create a sustainable business around one. There is not really a quick buck to be made here. You almost need to blog daily to have a shot. You need commitment. It can be very difficult to get any sort of discussion going on a blog.

The long term question is whether blogging is a fad. Will people stop updating the majority of blogs causing them to die? Some existing blogs such as TechCrunch so no sign of ever slowing down. And they seem to be profitable as well. Perhaps the authors of blogs such as these have already determined that with hard word, and with a high quality blog, that results will follow.

I have some things to say about my personal take on this topic, since I dream of getting rich by blogging. I have a number of blogs that I have started. But my story is a topic for another post.

Who Else Likes Blogger

Every once in a while I like to find people on Blogger that share my interests. So I go to my Blogger profile which is set up to list my interests. Then I click on one of the words I list as interesting. Blogger automatically shows me me a list of other Blogger profiles which also list those interests. I found 751 other Bloggers users who like "Blogger" as an interest. Here are blogs by 5 other Blogger users who list Blogger as an interest.

Check out PCWizKids Tech Talk. I think his motto is "You don't have to be geek to tweak". The blog appears to be 2 years old. And there are a number of videos that teach you how to do tech things.

There is a neat layout on Lily Yessss' Majoring in Economics blog. It looks like there is only one blog post per page. But the page itself has an inner scroll bar on the left. It looks a little weird next to the brower scroll bar.

Random Me is a blog that seems to concnetrate on pictures of animals. That may seem like a strange description. But the animals all seem cute. Some of them are pictures of stuffed animals. Do you get the picture? If not check out the blog.

If you want to see a lot of fashion models, head over to That's Fashion. There are a lot of pictures on this blog. Watch out though. Like some cutting edge fashion, there is the occasional nude picture.

Finally I enjoyed reading The Dummies Guide to Google Blogger. It has a nice layout. And it seems to try to teach you the ins and outs of Blogger.

That's all for now. I encounrage you to check out other people on Blogger who share your interest. You will be surprised at the kind of variety you will find. Sure there is some chaff. But you might discover some treasure if you look carefully. Happy blogging.

Proper Layout

Recently I opened a blog post about writing a build system. This was a very apt post as my team is working on porting our build system to use new versions of our tools. We are encountering some pain and developers are looking to improve the build system. I knew immediately after looking at the blog post that something was wrong. There were a bunch of links aligned down the left hand side of the page. This by itself is not a huge problem. However the link text appeared on top of the blog text. The effect was that I could not read the text of the blog post.

Now I am not sure why this was happening. I am running Internet Explorer version 6. Perhaps the blog author is using some complex HTML tricks that are not supported in IE6. Or maybe there are some bugs in IE6 preventing the correct display of his pages. I don’t know. But I do know that it was very difficult to view the blog text. I had to carefully copy just the blog text to the Windows clipboard, then paste it into something like Microsoft Word to read it. This author was lucky that I was so hungry for his blog topic to go this far.

I think my experience points to two very important lessons. 1. If you topic is hot, readers will go far to read your post. 2. For maximum exposure you will want to make sure that everybody can correctly view your blog.

Now I cannot say for sure, but I suspect that my blogs hosted on Blogger are easily viewed on most browsers. I will confess that I only tester my blogs using Internet Explorer version 6, and sometimes Netscape Navigator and Mozilla FireFox. But my instinct tells me my stock Blogger layouts are safe for the viewing public.

The State of Blogger

I am totally paranoid about Blogger now. Every time I write a post to one of my blogs, I copy and paste the text into Notepad before clicking the Publish Post button. Been burned too many times with Blogger errors that caused me to lose all my data.
Today I thought I would write about a less serious but still telltale problem I have with Blogger. I like to add images to many of my posts. It gives them a fresh and interesting looking. However when I click the Add Image button in Blogger, I get a window that looks like the one shown above. Notice anything strange about the Cancel and Upload Image buttons? Yeah they are cut off. And it is not that the rest of the buttons are visible if I scroll the window down further. The window is scrolled all the way down.
Yes. I can still make out the text on these buttons. And when I click them, the upload to Blogger usually works. However in my mind this is typical of the state of Blogger. It is always seems a bit broke down like a 3rd rate blogging site. Why do I stick with it? I got a bunch of blogs with many posts already entered. It would be a huge pain for me to move them somewhere else. And I have invested in getting a lot of links to my Blogger URLs. All the work getting those links would have been wasted if I switch now.
Blogger rant off, for now.

Blogger Acting Up Again

Just when you think you are out of the water, the shark known as Blogger comes up to bite you. Today I submitted a post to my IBM Tools blog on Client/Server and DB Objects. Prior to publishing this large post, I saved the text to a Notepad file. The post published fine. So I assumed all was well with Blogger.

Then I tried to follow this post up with another one about DB2 storage, SQL, and security. I did not bother to backup the text prior to publishing. Big mistake. Blogger choked and gave me an error message. My text was lost. This is all too familiar of a horrific experience. Can't Blogger remain stable for even one day? What kind of buggy system are they running over there at Google?

I might have to start copying and pasting the text each time before I submit a post. Because I don't like losing my data due to Blogger hiccups. Or maybe I should write up my posts in another editor, then copy then to Blogger. This only works if the post is just plain text. It is not as easy when you have images and URL links in the post. I just wish Blogger could be stable enough to not lose my data. Yes I understand it is a free service. But at this point, if it keeps losing my data, it is worth less than free to me. Know what I mean?

P.S. While I am ranting about Blogger, does anybody else find the auto complete function in the labels edit annoying?

GMail Conversations

I have Gmail accounts that correspond to my Blogger accounts. And I recently noticed something strange. Today I received a number of e-mails from Ad Engage. But when I went back to check some of the details, it seemed like there was only one e-mail on my Gmail page.

Then I figured the number in parentheses next to the sender must have had something to do with it. It turns out that Gmail automatically bunches e-mails in the "same conversation" together on one line. You have to open the e-mail and choose the stacking tabs to see each separate e-mail message.

I searched all over the Gmail settings, but could not find a way to turn this feature off. It was very annoying. This is not intuitive in my opinion. Judging from the number of questions posted to Google Groups about this very feature, I guess a lot of other people share my opinion.

If you use Gmail, be aware that messages from the same sender can "stack" in your Inbox.

Spell Check Option

I thought I would take the time to praise the "Check Spelling" option available in Blogger. Most of the time this button works. And when it does, I usually have some misspellings in my posts. Blogger has a good user interface for the spell check. They highlight potentials misspellings in yellow. Then Blogger provides alternate spellings it thinks that I meant. Not having correct spellings can make a blog look unprofessional. This is a nice touch that helps my blogs look crisp.

One funny think about the spell checker is that it often marks competitor names as misspellings. However all things Google appear to be in their dictionary. I am not sure if this is something of a joke with the developers of Blogger, or a business decision to subtly take down the opposition. Either way it has me LOL.

P.S. This post alone had 5 items flagged as misspellings.

Note to Blogger Team - Please add "LOL" to your spell check dictionary.

AdSense Code

In the past, I used to monetize my blogs with Google AdSense. It provided me with Javascript code that I pasted into my web page HTML. Google seemed pretty good in matching up ads to the content in my blogs. However I got kicked out of the AdSense program. They did not mention any real reason. I have read about a lot of other people who got banned as well. I did not even bother to protest the ban.

Since then I have added BidVertiser ads on all of my blogs. We shall see how that works out. In the mean time, I thought we would have some fun with Google AdSense. One of the primary rules of AdSense was that you were not allowed to change the Javascript code that they provided. You had to cut and paste it into your HTML. Otherwise they might kick you out of the program. I have never messed with this Javascript code before, carefully following the AdSense rules. However now that I am out of the program, I say let's have some fun.

Here is a piece of some AdSense Javascript I copied from Digital Point Forums:

script type="text/javascript"
google_ad_client = "pub-5676236325709660";
google_ad_channel = "4467843311";
google_alternate_ad_url = "";
google_ad_width = 468;
google_ad_height = 60;
google_ad_format = "468x60_as";
google_color_border = "63513F";
google_color_bg = "63513F";
google_color_link = "A9B7E7";
google_color_url = "A9B7E7";google_color_text = "CF815C";

This is the type of code we are not supposed to modify. However I actually already did some modifications to it. I tried to remove the publisher name "pub-5676236325709660". This causes the ads to not show up. That name uniquely identifies the publisher who gets paid when somebody clicks on the ads. When I substitute my old banned publisher ID in there, the ads don't work either. I think part of the problem is that the rest of the JavaScript has to match the publisher. It also does not help that I am banned from Google AdSense.

One change I found that does work is that I modified the color choices who various objects in the code. I can control the color appearance of the ads. I think I am going to play with this Google AdSense code some more. I imagine there is no downside to this. I have already been kicked out of the program. If I find anything else that is interesting, I will keep you posted.

Blogger is Up

Just checking in to say that Blogger seems to actually be working fine recently. I am always still very cautious and paranoid. Blogger has not been stable long enough to forget all the times that the darn thing made me lose my latest post.

However it seems I can spell check and post without error now. Not sure how long things have been well. Maybe about a week. You only notice the state of Blogger when it goes down. And when it does go down, it goes down hard.

As always I cannot complain too loudly when problems arise. This is a free service. And it does a whole lot for me that would be painful to do by handle. Keep up the good work Blogger team, or Google, or whoever you are that have fixed the recent bugs. I dream of the day when I don't have to worry about Blogger bombing out on me.

Black of Hat Blog

I have started a new blog entitled Black of Hat. Of course I used Blogger since I am very familiar with it. This blog's purpose is self contained in its description: "Writing progs to achieve questionable ends."

So far I have already posted one free program to Black of Hat. It is a program which launches Internet Explorer and navigates to web sites of your choosing. This program can be used for a number of purposes. See the blog for some initial ideas I had.

Right now I have another idea for a program to write and release under the Black of Hat blog. It will be a type of web crawler that strips link information from a web site. I intend to run all my blog URLs through this program. Should make for some interesting tests.

Information Reformation

I continue to aggressively read all print books I can find on blogging. My latest read is one entitled "Blog - Understanding the Information Reformation That's Changing Your World". Wow that was a long title. The book itself is long as well. I am not talking about the number of pages in the book. But there is a lot of reading that is not really all too interesting. But there were a number of interesting points in the book I want to talk about here.

The book states that there are 2 main reasons for blogging: (1) to persuade, and (2) to leave a record. LOL. I think they forgot about (3) to make some money. Yes I know that if that is your only goal, it may be difficult to succeed. However we cannot overlook a major reason why some people such as myself blog. Its not that I don't want to persuade or leave a lasting legacy. But I really want to make some dough.

There were some interesting blog statistics given in the book. These were collected from a study done some time ago. I suspect these numbers are still valid today though. 66% of blogs get less than 1 post every 2 months. And over 92% of blogs are authored by people under the age of 30. The first statistic is not so hard to understand. People start up blogs and either through them away, or don't stick with it. While I know a lot of young people who blog, I know a few older folk who do too. However worldwide, maybe it is the younger generation that is heavily into blogging.

My favorite part of the book were a number of rules for blogging success:
  • Post often
  • Link freely
  • Keep it brief
  • Avoid profanity
  • Keep titles short

This all sounds like good advice to me. I will try to practice these in this and my other blogs. In fact, I have noticed that I am starting to post more frequently on All Things Blogger. And I am really trying to get myself to be less stingy with outbound links. I am still in the beginning stages of that effort. Maybe I can give a shout out to Blogger whose generosity makes this blog possible. Thanks people.

Blogging Business

Today I finished the book "Start Your Own Blogging Business". Although the book had less than 100 pages, it was chock full of good information. I want to share some of the highlights from the book. However I recommend that every reads it for themselves.

Some of the book was dedicated to starting up a blog. The book cautioned the reader to choose a blog topic carefully. The topic should be one that can hopefully last forever, and not fade like a short term fad.

The book recommended you post to your blog under a pseudonym. I fully agree with that. My birth name is not Blogger Chief. It is not that I am not proud about what I write. And I am not ashamed of it either. But there could be some information shared which might be kept relatively anonymous. Some of my blogs talk a lot about my day job. As long as my real name is not tied to those blogs, I can sleep soundly without worrying about getting in trouble or fired.

A final highlight from the book was to be careful in developing your blogger voice. In particular, it warned against sound too preachy. Perhaps I need to work on this myself. This blog in particular sometimes accuses Blogger (and Google) of falling down on the job. Hey. They are a big company with big profits. So they should be able to take it. However I should maybe tone it down a bit. This does not mean I will water down posts on serious topics that affect my life. But rather I should watch the tone to ensure what I write is communicated the best for the sake of my readers.

I do have some other blogs which are truly accuse guilty parties. And in these cases it is hard not to preach. Maybe I can take it easy a little bit, while not letting the guilty get away with murder. How is that for a plan?

Books on Blogging

I decided to read some actual print books about the topic of blogging. Specifially I wanted to look at books geared towards making money through blogging. Previously I had purchased some books for this topic. But that was getting a big expensive. So I went to the local library. The librarian pointed me to a couple general sections. Here are the books I went home with:

  • Startup - Start You Own Blogging Business
  • BLOG - Understanding the Information Reformation
  • blog! - how the newest media revolution is changing politics, business, and culture
  • HOW TO publish AND promote ONLINE

Interests on Blogger

You can list your interests on your Blogger profile. This allows others with the same interests to find you. In addition to blogging, I am really interest in Google AdSense. There were 163 other people on Blogger who listed that as a keyword in their interest. I visited each and every one of these users. I also checked out all their blogs. This was a monumental tasks since some of the bloggers had 20 or 30 blogs each.

One common pattern I found was that there are a lot of blogs that are light on content. By this I mean the blog has exactly 1 post which is only 1 paragraph long. Perhaps I can understand this. I created a test Blogger account once and old added one blog post. But I did not enter in a lot of interest in that Blogger user profile.

There was another interesting thing I found on quite a few blogs. Many blogs were hosting Google AdSense ads. But some of them had their pages arranged so these ads had the label "Ads by G". The rest of the label got cut off (it should say Ads by Google). I am not sure if this was intentional on the part of the blogger. I have found that when choosing a wide ad that will just not fit on my web page, the resulting text will often get clipped. I emailed some of these blog authors to ask whether this was an intentional move or not. We shall see what they say.

P.S. Blogger is marking the word "bloggers" as a misspelling. LOL.

Blogs with AdSense

I started out in my main blog of Software Maintenance. Then I kept clicking the "Next Blog" in the navigation bar, checking out each random blog I arrived at. It seems like only 1 in 10 blogs are monetized with AdSense ads. I guess a lot of people just want to put up blogs to share information with other people. I was surprised that most of the blogs looked pretty good and had nice pictures.

There are a number of goals I have in blogging. One of them is to make some extra cash using Google AdSense. But I also wanted the experience of being a Blogger. I wanted to learn about blogging and web publishing in general. Delving into the AdSense world has only given me more things to learn. When you publish a blog for fun without ads, you probably don't care how much traffic comes to your blog. And you are not concerned with how many people click through on your links.

All Systems Go

Just thought I would take a moment to report that Blogger is actually working recently. When I publish a post, it gets published. And when I click Spell Check, my text actually gets spell checked. It is a shame that this comes as a surprise to me given my bad prior experiences. But I am a happy camper for the moment.

Another nice thing is that my "All Things Blogger" blog appears to be getting served up relevant and interesting ads from Google. I think I even saw a Google ad for Blogger itself on my blog. People are visiting, and a small percentage are clicking through. The price per click that I earn is smaller than other keywords and sites that I run. But that is OK. At least the ads are interesting.

A couple of my blogs have high paying keywords. But when I look at the ads that are served up, I can't imagine anybody actually clicking them. Maybe this just means I like the subject of blogging better than those other niche markets I write about. I do not know. The good thing for me is that some people out there are reading my other web sites, and are clicking on these boring ads. I guess that is a win, right?

Weird AdSense Ads

I author a number of blogs. Currently they are all hosted on Blogger. And for the most part, I have Google AdSense ads displayed on these blogs. A nice ad format is the 160 x 600 shown directly to the left. This format is a tall one that lends itself to the right or left of a blog nicely.
However I have been noticing that sometimes one advertiser takes up the whole 160 x 600 ad like the one shown on the far left. I really don't like that. It does not look as good, since there is a lot of empty space. It also provides less ad options for the user to click.
So far I have been adding the URLs in the weird ads to my AdSense competitive ad filter. Google will then prevent these ads from displaying on my blogs. But this is still a weird effect. I also think this is wasting my slots in the competitive ad filter list.
This is really more of an AdSense issue than a Blogger one. I just wish there was another way to eliminate this weird ad distribution of one in a 160 x 600 ad format.

Spell Check Broke Again

This morning I tried to work on a new post for a new blog. Got a couple paragraphs of text. Hit the spell check button. All that happened was that I saw a couple strange messages in the Internet Explorer status bar. And the text of my post was not spell checked.

The funny thing is that this did not stir me up. These days I fully expect Blogger to bomb out on me. When I tried publishing my non-spell checked post, it actually worked. My expectations are getting really low for Blogger now. Just sharing the state of Blogger in my mind with you.

The Google motto is to do no evil. This is supposed to be in direct contract to Microsoft. However I have found that most Microsoft products I use are mature and seldom have blatant bugs like I have been experiencing in Google. Come on Google. Don't be evil man.

P.S. It appears the spell check worked for this post. Ironic.

Blogger is Broken

Had a couple of blog entries to write this morning. Blogger refused to work. Could not even start the blogging process. I don't think this was limited to just adding new entries. Some blogs that I have served up by Blogger were unavailable for viewing this morning. Maybe that is why I have not clicks on my ads.

This is very frustrating. Why is this happening? Blogger should be a mature product. And Google should have the resources to maintain it. Maybe it is not a high enough priority for Google? Maybe all of the original Blogger staff has retired. I do not know. When things go wrong, users like me who get the shaft start thinking all kinds of crazy thoughts.

Yeah. Blogger is a free service. Nobody is forcing me to use it. I guess the question I have to ask myself is how important is up time and working functionality? Or more directly, how much is this worth to me a month? I don't have tons of data or viewers for my blogs and web sites. So I imagine it would not cost me a lot to get good service from an ISP.

P.S. I have just discovered the Blogger known issues page. Maybe Google will let me know what the heck is going on with this service.

Falling Apart

Blogger is really starting to fall apart on me. One of my blogs is starting to get some good content. So I decided to add a blog roll to it. I chose to add a page element from the layout view. Clicked on the Link List item to add. Nothing happened. I tried clicking a few more times. Finally I got some error page. This kept happening. Luckily my latest changes to the layout were saved. But this was still a pain in the neck.

Finally I decided to get out of all my Internet Explorer sessions. Closed down all my windows. I even killed any process that was "iexplore.exe" on my machine. When I logged back in to Blogger, I no longer had the problems. The crazy thing is that, when I got the errors, Blogger gave me a unique error code to help the Blogger Team identify the problem. But there was no link on the error page to contact the Blogger Team. WTF is up with that?

When I am blogging or making changes to my page layout, I don't want to worry about when Blogger is going to bomb out on me. I want the focus to be on content creation. What is a blogger to do? I am starting to think that Blogger needs to be renamed Bugger.

Lost my Entry

I had this great idea for a blog post. So I sat down and typed my thoughts into Blogger. I went back and made sure my thoughts were well organized. I even clicked the spell check button. Should have known something was not right when it took a long time for spell check to complete. Then when I thought I was done, I hit the publish button. Blogger just gives me an error message and code.

Apparently I had lost my entire post. This can't be happening to me. OK. So I just hit the "back" button in my browser. It brought me back to the post in edit mode. But all my text had disappeared. I am starting to really dislike Blogger. I have heard about this happening to other people before. But I thought that was some type of personal problem. Well now the problem has found me.

So what is a blogger supposed to do? I for one typed this current blog entry in Microsoft Notepad. Then I copied the text to Blogger. I cannot afford to lose another whole post to some Blogger type error. I thought Blogger was supposed to save my draft automatically. Guess when it rains it pours. If spell check has troubles, and publish post does not work, of course auto save is going to be broke down too. If the current trend continues, I'd say it might be time to experiment with another blogging solution like Wordpress. My time is money. And I don't like people stealing my money.

P.S. I had to LOL when Blogger spell check decided that "Wordpress" was a misspelling.

HTML by Mistake

There is one nuance of Blogger that gets me frequently. I write a post about some facet of HTML. And I include the actual HTML markup in the text when I am in Blogger Compose mode. It all seems to go well until I try to Publish the page. That's when Blogger complains that I have invalid HTML.

The problem is that Blogger is treating the text itself as HTML. And when there is HTML in my text that is supposed to be just text, Blogger treats it as markup. I guess there must be some way to quote out the text to indicate that it is indeed quoted text. But shouldn't that happen by default? I am in Compose mode to start with, not the Edit Html mode.

I have had some hangups with Blogger in the past. However I need to keep my perspective. This is a free service. And overall I would say the service is pretty good. I would hate to think about the pain if I had to roll my own blogs by hand with HTML. Ouch. Hopefully the people who invented Blogger are rich and celebrating out there somewhere.

Blogger Problems

Recently I have been noticing more and more problems with Blogger. For quite a while I had been unable to to Check Spelling. When I clicked the button, I would just get some error message in the status bar of my Internet Explorer window. This is not a huge deal. But spell check helps my posts look more professional.

Another problem that Blogger seems to have is that I cannot always use the Add Image functionality. I click the button, but nothing happens. My work around has been to publish my blog entry without images. Then I would go back, edit the entries, and add images later. This is a pain.

I am not sure why Blogger has been degrading in quality. These guys are owned by Google after all. There should be resources that are working to increase quality. This is troubling because I have a number of blogs that are hosted on Blogger. I have invested a lot of time on these blogs and don't want to start over on a new domain. I plan to carefully monitor Blogger before I make my final decision. And I guess if I was a good user, I would open trouble tickets with the Blogger Team. But I have a business to run. My goal is to use a tool that works which does not require my help in debugging the product.

P.S. Thankfully the error check functionality worked for this entry.

AdSense Payments

I have AdSense ads on my main blog. Instead of using the Blogger support to put generic ads on my blog, I paste in custom Javascript that I get from AdSense. This gives me the advantage of being able to track profits from different sources easily.

So I watch as my earning grow. However a recent annoyance is that Google appears to be cracking down on AdSense accounts. I had to go through 2 separate confirmations that I live at my address and have the phone number I listed. Guess they are combating fraud.

This was just an annoyance though. I will jump through a number of hoops to get my AdSense paycheck. In fact, I thought the phone verification was pretty cool. I chose a time when Google should call me. An automated system call me and asked for my confirmation info. I guess Google has a bunch of programmers working on projects like these.

The bottom line is that, even though blogging is fun, I plan on having even more fun getting paid through Google AdSense.

Subtitles in Templates

Many times I like to have a subtitle section that spans many lines with Google Page Creator. However a number of templates (specified using the Change Look link) do not support multi-line subtitles. I figure the problem must be with me. Maybe subtitles by definition are supposed to be only 1 line deep.

Luckily a couple templates adapt nicely to the multi line subtitle. My problem is that I have many web sites. And I getting to the point where I keep reusing the templates that support mutli line subtitles. I want to be able to create web sites with all the templates. What is a web site developer to do?

A radical plan would be to switch to a web site generator other than Google Pages. But I have invested a lot of time creating domains and content with Google Page Creator. Could there be a way to start with the stock templates, but modify them to accept multi line subtitles?

Perhaps the true solution is staring me in the face: Don't use multi line subtitles. Alas. This will make my job harder. I like to edit the one subtitles and put a lot of stuff in there at once. Other schemes will seriously slow down my web page (and web site) generation speed. My goal is to publish a lot of material. So speed is of the essence. Any ideas?

HTML Tables

I have not been doing much blogging lately. Instead I have been working with Google Page Creator to put together a web site. I often find the need to display tabular data. And at first I tried putting the items in a list and spacing them apart manually. However this turned out to be a bad idea. The spacing got messed up.

So I turned to HTML tables. This required me to click "Edit HTML" to code my own markup. But it was worth it in the end. Which of these two tabular data displays looks better:

Software Maintenance Oracle Development
Software Management Surfing the INTERNET

Software MaintenanceOracle Development
Software ManagementSurfing the INTERNET

The second one is better, right? It just seems neater. Alignment is clean. You know exactly where the end of each link is. And this effect is more pronounced for tabular data with more rows and columns. Simple tables are easy to code up in HTML. I wish I had thought about this before I started doing my web site without tables. I know I will be smarter when I start my next web site.

Trip to Page Creator

For the most part I use Blogger to do a lot of blogging. But sometimes you really need a web site and not a blog. Being partial to Google, I have used Google Page Creator to make some sites. But I think something must not be right with Page Creator. After I have created about 20 or so pages, the thing seems to really slow down. My work around has been to close Internet Explorer and start it up again to do the rest of the pages.

Another thing that irks me about Page Creator is that sometimes I want to embed some Javascript in a field. Page Creator lets me edit the raw HTML. However there is some logic built in that detects that there is no static text in a field and deletes my Javascript. Not nice. As with most things, I have a work around for this. I ensure the first item in each field is some static text. But this limitation is cramping my style.

All in all Page Creator is pretty good. The price is right (free). Free use of the tool. Free space to host pages on Google. What more can you ask for? Wait. Don't answer that.

Adsense Channels

The latest blogger allows you to easily add Google AdSense to your blog. You just go to your template, click "Add a Page Element", and choose "Add To Blog" under AdSense. This will bring up a dialog with many options to customize the AdSense ads.

I did this for a while. However I have a number of web pages and blogs which take advantage of AdSense. And I like to track which pages and ideas are generating me the best money. So I use Google channels to track each ad type differently. The method previously described does not allow you to choose an AdSense channel.

However you can use channels with your blogger blogs. You still click "Add a Page Element". But instead of choosing "Add To Blog" under AdSense, you choose it under HTML/Javascript. Then you paste in the AdSense HTML code from your AdSense page. The normal AdSense ad configuration page has the option to choose a channel for your ads. And this HTML code has the channel information built in.

In it to Win it

I read a story about the founder of whateverlife, a web site to help you spice up your myspace page. This was a high school girl with a rags to riches story. It was very inspiring. After reading about her I decided to blog myself. So far I have been experimenting.

Now I am reading my third book about blogging. The first book I read was Make Easy Money with Google. That was a little too simplified. I am a programmer by trade and can handle deep topics. The second book I read was the Adsense Code. This one was more exciting and much deeper. Currently I am getting near the end of Blogging Heroes. This one is very interesting.

I plan to chronicle my experience with blogging in general here. Let it be known that I use Blogger exclusively for my blogging needs. And so far I am using just the basics of blogger. Once I tried to host my blog at another sight but still use the blogger software. That experiment failed because my web host was weak. But that is a story for another post.