Sunday, September 19, 2004

How to not get links to your site

There's a blog out there that's building a good reputation during the current Rathergate scandal. I went to add it to my Peoria Pundit blogroll. Because I use Bloglines, I need to know the URL for site's RRS feed. I couldn't find it, so I shot off a quick email.

This was the reply:
We do have an RSS feed, though not linked on our site. I think if you look where it "should" be you'll find it.
Well (as Dana Carvey used to say, isn't that special.

Needless to say, no link for those guys, who shall remain nameless.

For those unfamiliar with RSS feeds, it's a stripped down version of a blog that can be read in a newsreader -- even Outlook Express. There are several advantages to keeping upto date with the Blogosphere through newsreaders. The first is that you can set your reader to notify you of new posts on your favorite sites, so that you don't have to visit every site on your blogroll to see if anything new has been posted.

Blogger uses an "Atom" feed, that users can activate in their settings tab. It's also a good idea to post a link to your RSS feed URL somewhere in your template.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Account suspended!

One of the drawbacks of paying for a domain name and paying a company to host your site is that occasionally, they screw up.

Sometime between 10 and 11 p.m. on Sept. 10, the company through which I host peoriapundit.com decided that I didn't pay my bill and they suspended my account.

Funny. 'Cause It took me all of 10 seconds to find email confirmation of payment in mid July 2004 of one full year of service from them.

I know from experience how these ******s work. They suspend the account late Friday night, and there is no one in the office who can fix it or respond to email and trouble tickets until Monday.

That's not acceptable.

I've saturated the company with complaints as well as hints -- Hell, I made outright threats -- that they better fix the problem or there will be more bad publicity than they can handle.

I got treated like dirt by my last hosting company, but it was partially my fault, so I didn't devote daily posts for one full month that linked their name to the words "idiots" and "moron."

This time I am in the right. 100 percent. So there will be daily badmouthing by me -- using their full company name -- if this isn't fixed very damn quickly.

I'll roast their nuts over an open fire if this isn't fixed. Quickly.

Eventually, PeoriaPundit.com will be back up and getting more than 1,000 hits a day. It's not much, but imagine what will happen with people type this company's name into Google and they see what I will be writing about them.

BWAHAHAHAHA!

Until then, I will be posting full-time here.

UPDATE: I awoke to find my site restored, and letters from my hosting company saying: 1. I need to resinstall my site because it's making their server crash, and 2) It may be do to higher than normal hits.

Well, the server was workign fine at 10 p.m., yet it was removed an hour later because of server problems? Sorry, it doesn't scan.

And how is reinstalling the site going to solve problems caused increased hits? I'm paying for 50 gigs of bandwidth a month, and I'm up to less than 3 gigs about one-third of the way through this month.

Sorry, none of this scans.

BTW, the contradictory reasons came from the same person in the billing department.

And I will say this, the next time they yank my site, and direct my readers to a default message saying that I have BILLING questions, I am going directly to court and file a lawsuit.

That's libel.

I work in customer support. You do NOT tell strangers that someone hasn't paid their bill, especially when they have certainly have paid their bill.

And thanks to Acidman and other other person who answered my request for a heads up to readers.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Reciprocal linking

Living as Trinity gave me a shout-out, providing the first intentional inbound referral to this site. I get dozens a day through the Blogger nav bar atop the page.

This brings up what should be standard practice: When someone intentionally links to your site -- either in their blogroll or in a post -- courtesy demands a reciprocal link. A mention in a post works when someone mentions you. Most of the time, when I am added to a blogroll, I will add them to line, unless the blog has questionable content to which I do not want to be associated, or I am limiting blogroll links to a specific category. This site's blogroll only links other Peoria blogs.

"But, Bill," you might ask, "how do we know when someone is linking to my site?"

Simple. Get a decent hit counter and add it to your blog. Site Meter is the one I use because set up is simple. You just paste the code in a spot on your siderail or at the very bottom of your template, before the [/html] tag.

If using Site Meter, be sure to select the cops that allows for you -- and even readers, if you prefer -- to see a list of sites that are responsible for inbound links.

Also, Blogrolling has a feature that allows you to see what sites are linking to you.

And here is another tip: When signing up for these free or even pay-for-use third-party services, be sure to save your user name and password. I can't tell you the number of times, I've had to create an entirely new account for a hit counter because I lost the password that let me make necessary changes.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Journal Space beats LiveJournal for features, extras

I spend a lot of time teaching people how to use Blogger. I do this for a reason: Blogger and its free Blog*Spot hosting is easy to use and reliable. And it has some very pretty templates.

But it is far from the only free blogging service out there.

On a lark, as if don't have enough to do, I spent part of an unexpected day off work testing out two of them. I now have a LiveJournal site and a Journal Space Site.

Of the two, I'd have to say that LiveJournal is better known (perhaps just because I've heard of them). Journal Space is perhaps not as well known. Truth be told, I went to Journal Space thinking it was LiveJournal.

The results are here; Peoria Pundit at LiveJournal and Peoria Pundit at Journal Space.

Of the two, I like Journal Space better. I found the set up easier and less intrusive. I also spend more time tinkering with the layout, because the basic template is very spartan. LiveJournal users have two basic template designs, one called old style and one called new style. I don't like either one. Users can pick and chose size, style and color for various fields, but they cannot get at the actual HTML of the template.

It actually has some advantages that Blogger does not. The first is that Journal Space has a built-in blogroll feature. Users must type or paste the URL and the site's name into a field, then save the entry. The other is a category feature. I have it set for five different type of entries.

Both are features I miss in Blogger and that I could not find available in the free version of LiveJournal.

Journal Space sets up users with a subdomain. Mine is "peoriapundit.journalspace.com." LiveJournal gives its free service users one of those long URLs: "livejournal.com/users/peoriapundit/" or "livejournal.com/~peoriapundit/." The difference is that the first is easier to remember and easier to type into the address field on a Web browser.

Both these services are designed for diary blogs, people who write about their cats and who-said-what during recess. They are set up for groups of friends who want to visit each others' blogs. Blogger can do that to, but it's also still popular among people who write about news and events.

That's a no-no

Tempted to embed music onto your blog, so visitors can listen to "Eye of the Tiger" while your massive image files load?

Don't.

Think animated buttons can liven up your boring old blog?

Don't.

Want to use as many fancy, little-used fonts as possible?

Resist the urge.

There are sites where you can learn to do all these things. There are sites that do all these things. This is not that site.

Gimmicks don't work. Remember to leave some white space to give readers a chance to rest their eyes.

More HTML advice

I cannot stress enough the need for any blogger interested in more than writing about his or her cat to learn a thing or two about HTML (hypertext markup language).

I've scoped out a site, called Webmonkey, that might help explain some tricks a bit more intricate than simple image tags.

Blogger and some other blogging tools allow for HTML editing, so you can get by with basic HTML skills. But anything serious requires some skill.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

What did you mean by that?

The Blogoshere. Barking moonbats. Fisking. Meme. Dowdification. Ping.

Blogging has it's own language. Luckily, the good folks over at Samizdata have compiled a glossary. When I use a blogging term here, I'll permalink to the definition.

Freebies and courtesy

Notice the button at the bottom of my right siderail? It's a link to Photobucket, the service that lets me host images and put them on this site.

It costs me nothing.

I could make a $5 donation -- and I just might do that later -- and increase the bandwidth and image storage I am allotted.

Until this, I am giving them a free link.

It's just simple courtesy.

Courtesy goes a long way in the Blogoshere, although sometimes it doesn't seem that way.

Everything I know about blogging and the Internet I learned from other people giving me free advice. These people learned from other people, and are simply giving back.

The Internet is like that. Don't believe me? Log into Usenet and subscribe to a few newsgroups. Post a technical question and you will likely get an answer. No charge.

I guess that's one reason I created this blog.

Blogrolling

A vital part of any blog is the blogroll. It is simply a site of other blogs you visit often. Bloggers who know html* will write these links by hand. Others -- include some tho know how -- prefer to use Blogrolling.com to maintain a list of blogs. The site provides bloggers with a simple snippet of code that is inserted into the template (usually above of below the archives code) that generates the list ever time the blog appears in someone's Web browser.

There are advantages. Blogrolling allows user to add a button to their browser (it works in IE and Firefox) that lets them click and add the site they are currently visiting to their blogroll. Remember, make sure your browser has loaded up the actually front page of the blog, not to a specific post. Otherwise, the link won't post to the newest post every time, it will instead bring up that old post.

Remember, the more your link to other blogs, the more others will link to you.

* New bloggers often don't understand HTML -- hypertext markup language -- which is needed to creates links on a page and inside posts. If that describes you, you had best get yourself to a site that teaches the basics. Unless you have a very patient friend, you won't be able to make significant changes to your template, or include links to other sites in your site.

Ginger


Don't let her innocent face and sissy haircut fool you. She's a hunter and the lawn is littered with dead squirrels to prove it.

Anyway, this is a post originally made with Hello!

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Free photos on a free Web service

One of the most frustrating aspects of using Blogger or some other free Weblog service used to be the lack of ability to use graphics and photos.

Those days are over, thanks to two totally free services.

The first I'll address is Photobucket. This is a free donor-supported service that gives users up to 100 MB of storage space and 2,500 MB of bandwidth. That's pretty good for a free service, but not a huge amount, so users have to be a little careful.

It's great for low-resolution images that are not associated with one particular post, such as buttons and banners.

One example:



I would not use it for anything that is ripe for hotlinking by other people. For example, if you upload a picture that other bloggers might be tempted to swipe by copying the image tag, then your bandwidth might get used up and then all your imaged will be lost and won't appear on your blog.

The other free service is called Hello! It's available from Google, the same people who run Blogger. It allows people who post through Blogger to upload one single image in the form of a Blogger post.

There are limitations. First is that the images must be used in a post and there only one post. Users must download a small program from their Website, and there are some that consider the program to be spyware. The interface allows for words and HTML to be uploaded either above or below the image. The interface is very clunky, in my humble opinion, and posts require some tinkering and fixing later by logging in directly to the Blogger site.

The upside is that I cannot find that there are any limits on image storage or on bandwidth, and the images are stored on Blogger's services. Also, Photobucket doesn't allow adult content while it appears that Blogger has any objection. So if that is your thing ...

Blog*Spot or not to Blog*Spot

I originally created this Blog*spot site as a back up to my pMachine site, now located at PeoriaPundit.com. That later proved unnecessary.

But I didn't take it down because it gave me a few extra links in my then quest to become a Large Mammal in the Blogosphere Ecosystem.

I gave up the ghost on that a long time ago, too.

But I've found myself spending a lot of time getting friends, family and acquaintances onto the Internet.

Most of the time, I've used Blogger.com.

Think is: I hate Blogger. Actually, I used to hate Blogger. I hated it because it was the only option for me three years ago when I first started blogging. I cannot describe how frustrating that was. This was soon after blogging first started taking off. Blogger, a free service that gives everyone the power to get published on the Net, was responsible for a lot of that growth.

Unfortunately, it overwhelmed the tiny little start up company. They couldn't keep their services up and running all the time. Archiving went haywire without notice. The system didn't come with a lot of freebies, and users had to get third-party commenting and blogrolling.

Generally, I found I was having a sick love-hate relationship with them. I eventually moved to my own server and pMachine as a blogging tool.

No sooner than that happened when blogger completely revamped and upgraded. Suddenly, it's easier to use, has more features and its archive system isn't screwed up.

I used to say "friends don't let friends use Blog*Spot." I don't say that anymore.

Oh, back to the purpose of this blog. I've decided to set this up as an example of how folks can use Blogger to set up a pretty-good totally free blog of their own. I'll be referring to this site quite often.