Friday, May 18, 2012

Planning how to use your blog VS your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, G+, etc: what is each one for?

This article describes working out how your blog relates to the other communication tools that you use (sometimes called your "social media strategy"), and how members of a community-group can work together to so that their blog, Facebook page are used well. 

It includes a template that you can use to record your own group's decisions about how to use these tools, and a worked-example.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Docs research panel beats Zemanta gadget

Google Docs now has a research pane available while you're writing.   Basically this is a quick way to access google-search results.

To use it:

  • Select a word
  • Right-click the word
  • Choose Research from the tools menu.

Or just select the word and hit the key-combo ( Ctrl+Alt+R on Windows or Cmd+Alt+R on Mac) if you think mice are evil time-wasters.

This is a far better than the Zemanta gadget that was offered to Blogger users back in 2010; research is done only on the words you want researched, not everything that you're writing. My experience was that the latter approach  slowed my machine down horribly, and mostly added no value because it just distracted me from what I wanted to write. Other people seemed to feel the same way, and for a while How to disable Zemanata in blogger was popular reading.

Personally, I'm not sure research-pane will be enough to convince me to write my posts in Docs and load them to Blogger from there: a lot of my research is about "how does Blogger handle this", which I can only find out my testing it.  But it will be a very handy tool for bloggers in some niches.

A couple of things to be aware of:  the pane  offers you imagees that you can "drag into your document", and it add footnotes saying where the image has come from. But the last time I loooked, documents loaded from Docs to Blogger didn't maintain footnotes. And even so, if the image is copyright, you can't get permission to use it in your blog just by linking to the source.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Six simple subscription buttons for Blogger

This article shows how to make a very simple row of subscription buttons for your blog or website, using image files that you host yourself.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Spam links can be invisibly embedded in comments

The pseudonymous John of Gordon's Tech reports that spammers have found a way to put links into comments so that they don't look like links when we're doing moderation.

Now he mentions it, I've been seeing a lot of comments lately that are something like  
"Nice info, thanks for sharing.   Facebook developers" 
all in plain text.  And the "signature" has often been something that's even less relevant than this.

I had been thinking that they were naive, and didn't know how to put links into comments, so was deleting them rather than marking as spam.   Time to change the comments moderation policy, I think, down the spam-shute they go.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Result-sorting and better filter queries in Google Custom Search Engines

Google's have added result-sorting and compact queries for filtering-by-attribute options to their Custom Search Engines (ref: Adding a custom search engine to your blog).

These are most relevant for people who use a CSE over their own blog/site, rather than over other sites which they don't control the markup.


If you have specificd PageMaps, rich-snippets or meta-tags for your posts, you can add them as an option that is available to people who use your custom-search-engine. Do this in CSE by

  • Enable sorting ( > Control Panel > Basics)
  • Adding the key.


The language that is used to state a qeury against defined attributes now supports "and"-ing values together in a more compact way.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Putting scripts behind Google Docs

I'd never really thought about whether there was a scripting language with Google Docs spreadsheets (the same way that there's VB scripting with Excel).   But really it makes sense for there to be Javascript there.  (I have no idea if it's a new-ish feature, or has been there all along.)

This article from Blogger Xpertise not only got me thinking about the possibilities, but also has a useful script for making embeddable custom forms created in Docs a good deal more useful

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Google's guide to HTML and CSS styles

Google have released their own style guide for HTML and CSS code.

It will be interesting to see how much of it they apply in future changes to Blogger templates

But for Bloggers who do a lot of modifications to their own template, there might be some useful tips. I especially like the one about putting CSS rules into alphabetical order for maintainability.

Doing this would mean adding CSS rules manually rather than than through Design > Customize > Advanced > Add CSS

And it will be harder to do a code-compare to see the difference between our customized template and the current standard-issue ones.  But storing like-named rules together appeals to me more than just tagging new ones on the end.

Use Image Search to research picture ownership

If someone shared a cool photo with you on Facebook or Pinterst, you might want to write a blog post about it.

The post will be a lot more interesting if you can actually include the image. But you're not allowed to put copyright material onto your blog without permission - and how do you know if the picture that was shared with your is copyright or not, and who owns it.

Google Image Search may be part of the answer. Find out about it.

It won't tell you if a picture is definitely avaiable or not - but it gives you information from you can make some judgements based on when it first appeared, and what sort of web-sites it has appeared on..

Remember - although you're not allowed to publish copyright material, you will only get "caught" if a copyright owner spots something on your blog and takes action by filing a DMCA report. There are a great many items which are fine to share, even though they're not technically in the public domain, because no one is actively claiming ownership - and image search gives a way of validating ownership claims made by chancers.

Crop and re-size photos stored in PIcasa, without HTML

Some very interesting info from David of Blogger Xpertise about controlling the display of photos from Picasa by manipulating the URL.   What he's found is nothing that we couldn't do with HTML, but I have a feeling that it might point to some other possibilities using Picasa's URLs.   Ref:

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Becoming a Google Trusted Photographer

Previously I described Google's Trusted Photographer's programme, which could be a nice business opportunity for serious photo-bloggers.

At that time, Google were selling business-owners the idea of using a TP to take photos of your business and upload them to Places/Maps. But they were pretty vague about how to become a TP.

Today, they've given links to far more info about how it works and how to to sign up as a Google trusted photographer.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Designing blogs for mobile devices - liquid design and image-width-maximisation

Today I read a very interesting article from the Webmaster Central blog about the challenges of designing websites for mobile devices, and a concept called liquid design.

For bloggers who have enabled a mobile template for their blog, the overall site design is handled by Blogger: you can add gadgets to your mobile template easily enough, and if they're in the sidebard then Blogger decides where to show them instead.

But the design inside posts is our own responsibility. I've been pondering this for one of my blogs that definitiely needs a mobile-template view, but which has a number of side-by-side images.

I'm not certain yet, sure, but the article's suggestion to add this CSS rule to my template
img {
max-width: 100%;

might just be a very good one for me to apply.

Adding gadgets to your mobile-template makes your blog better for smartphone visitors

This article shows how to add gadgets to the mobile version of your blogger template.