Monday, October 18, 2004

Debbie does the blog*

It's Debbie Adlof, the very capable editor and publisher of the Community Word. She has just one post up now, and it's kind of introductory. Be sure to go over and say "hi."

Chase and Rob, you two play nice now.

* I'm not going to explain the pop culture reference behind this headline. No. I am not.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Comment your way to hits and visits

"You have to write 'em to get 'em."

That's what they told soliders ... back in the days before email and cell phones, anyway.

The same advice holds true for bloggers.

If you are being a good blogger and maintaining your own blogroll -- a list of frequently visited blogs, sometimes maintained via -- you have a ready-made way to drive hits to your site. And, have fun doing it.

You should regularly visit the blogs on your blogroll. And you need to let them know you are reading and appreciating what they have to say by leaving comments. Virtually every commenting system has a way for a visiting commentator to include the address to their Blog sites.

Many include a check box that says "remember info" so that you don't have to retype the information the next time you comment. Of course, for this feature to work, your computer has to be set to accept cookies (don't worry; most computers are set to to accept them unless told to do otherwise).

Some rules of thumb:
1. Don't write long essays. Keep it brief and to the point. If you have a lot to say, write your own post on your own blog, and imply include a link to the post about which you are writing.

2. Don't be a troll. The phrase comes from Usenet -- a form of Internet bulletin board system still in use -- and it refers to people who use fowl, degrading and insulting language, or who post about unrelated topics. Basically, you will know one when you read one.

3. Be careful with HTML. Most bloggers decide on their own whether or not they want posters to be able to use HTML. If you try to post a link, it might not show up at all. Even if a site allows HTML, that doesn't mean its appropriate to flood someone's comments section with links. If the site owner allows HTML, use it sparingly.

This is where blogging becomes a community. This is how bloggers communicate, not through email.

UPDATE: And here is a clue when leaving the address for your own blog: Use the complete URL, such as:


Do not use just the domain name, like

Trust me, it won't work and it will not bring new visitors to your site.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

A few words about those pesky image tags

This is a standard image. This is the IMAGE TAG you would use on your blog:

‹img src=""›

It's always in the form of a URL address, unless the image comes from the top directory of your Web host, then it could be shorter. If you are using an image hosting service like Photobucket, you will use the address they give you.

Remember, hotlinking -- the practice of using the URL of someone else's images without permission -- is considered theft of intellectual property and theft of bandwidth. No one will throw you in jail, and it is ubiquitous, but it can cause you all sorts of grief.

This is the exact same image except for one difference. Roll your mouse over the first image, than the second. Notice that the IMAGE TAG shows up on the second, and not the first. That's because I added an ALT attribute to the tag:

‹div align="center"›‹img src="" alt="" border="1"›‹/div›

It's a good idea to use these because it tells readers that the image is yours. It also is what shows up on your site if the image fails to load properly, making it easier for you to track down what is wrong. You don't have to make the title the same as the IMAGE TAG. For example:

‹div align="center"›‹img src="" alt="Peoria Blog Bash 1" border="1"›‹/div›

Also note that I centered the image with a DIV tag.

It's always a good idea to store on image on your server in the exact same size you wish the picture to appear. Sometimes, that's not possible. If that is the case, you can change how the wise appears on your site. The above picture normally would appear 400 pixels in width. I lowered it to 100 for layout purposes. It would have been much better to have simply stored a separate image on my server that was smaller. You can change a pictures' WIDTH or it's HEIGHT in this manner. NEVER CHANGE BOTH unless you know the exact proportions. Browsers will read one, and adjust the other to keep the image from distorting.

Also note that I used an ALIGN tag to flush the image to the left of the test, and that the text flows around the image. Also, notice the tiny amount of white space between the text and the image? That's there because I added a VSPACE tag. Without it, the words would be touching the picture. It looks unprofessional and ugly.

Notice, how the border has a color now? That's because I LINKED the image to a URL for a full size, original image. Click on it to see. It will open in a completely new browser window.

Why do this? Because the full size picture might be wider than the width you have reserved on your template for posts. Huge pictures take longer to load, and people who host their sites using their own domain name -- like -- are allowed to transmit only a certain amount of data on their Web pages. Large pictures send more data, and take up bandwidth. Not everyone is going to click on and view the larger picture, but a Webmaster might want to make it available anyway for those who want to see it.

Notice that I took out the ALT attribute from the IMAGE TAG. That's because the LINK TAG now includes a TITLE that shows readers where clicking the link will take them. That's more important than knowing where the image is stored. Readers want to know if they are are visiting a safe site or not.

‹a href="" title="" target="_blank"›‹img src="" align="left" vspace="6" align="left" width="100" border="1"›‹/a›

Monday, October 11, 2004

Good advice ... follow it

Someone is not following my advice about blogging about work.

Oh, well. It seems innocuous enough. But you never know, which is my point. You never know what is going to set your boss off. Or your boss' boss. Or the board of directors.

Trust me on this. I know.

Repeat after me: "I will not blog about work. I will not blog about work. I will not blog about work."

Unless, of course, it's your job to blog about work. But even then, you can get in trouble.


Oh, and thanks for the kind words, Kevin.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Save your templates

Speaking of Alex and his vanishing templates, there is a simple solution.

Whether you use Blogger or some other tool like pMachine or Movable Type, you simply *must* save a copy of your template on your own computer.

Alex suffered a crash of his site and Blogger lost his template, forcing him to use one of their prepared versions.

Unfortunately, he wasn't using Blogrolling or some other outside linking server. That means he lost his entire blogroll as well.

New Peoria bloggers

We now have Prairie Lawyer, who says that I am to blame for inspiring this new blog.

Just three posts so far, and I can't say I find much there with which to disagree.

Seems like a fine start.

I'll be adding it to my blogrolls soon.

Also, Alex is hurling expletives at Blogger for trashing his original templates, which caused him to lose his links to other sites that were hard-written into the template's html.

Alex also has a new site.

And FINALLY, this guy showed up in my referrer logs. He's a central Illinois blogger who also has IlliniGirl and several others blogrolled. I consider the linkage a compliment.