Monday, July 26, 2021

Plug the holes in Blogger's widgets

USE THE POST EDITOR FOR FORMATTING

Formatting tools formerly found in widgets
Former formatting tools

Inexplicably, Google has rolled out new widget dialogs lacking basic functionality.

These dialogs are the versions you get when you create or edit a widget from the Layout page of the Blogger dashboard.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Another shoe drops, crippling widgets and disrupting flow

Shoes falling through the air

This week Google is removing the quick-edit tools from sidebar widgets in a way that cannot be reversed.

The removal is rolling out as I publish this report.

The only remaining option to edit these widgets uses the dumbed-down versions that are available from the Layout page of the Blogger dashboard.

The move suggests that the days of some other Blogger features that remain may be numbered.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Tame Your Snippet

A cat. Poling its head through a big hole in a slice of bread.

Some bloggers (and I am one of them) are not too happy with the snippitization of their posts by the most recent crop of themes from Blogger.

Older themes (like this one) render the entire post on the home page or end at your jump break.

But the new responsive themes suck up the first few sentences, strip them of all formatting, hyperlinks, and paragraph breaks, and add a "read more" link that goes to the post's post page, automatically.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Neverending Blogger.com changes

Those busy beavers at Blogger never rest! And, one is tempted to add, unfortunately.

Icons for batch operations in Blogger

This week's change involves the batch controls, with special implications for managing labels.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Flow: blogging in the creative zone

A painter is focused as his hands flick the brush over the canvas

If you blog regularly enough that your tools become an extension of your mind, you may experience flow

the mental state in which a person performing some activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. (Wikipedia)

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who invented the term, says flow is characterized by a sense of timeless absorption. 

So, what happens when the tools break?

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Three Ways to Follow Your Blog

Three balls of twine
Photo: Frantisek Krejci/Pixabay
By default, your blog has three different ways to tell readers when you publish a new blog post.

Only one of them is called "following."

These methods are not the same, though they accomplish similar things.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

In search of subscribe-by-email

Mail pieces on a clothes line
EDOARDO TOMMASINI

The impending demise of Feedburner's subscribe-by-email service (July 2021) has many of us weighing our options.

The service is a valuable way to connect with regular readers. Its loss will further erode what is left of Blogger's frayed social layer.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Which Blogger service shall I kill next?

Hooded, axe-carrying executioner
Image: Pixabay
The pixels were barely dry last spring on my seven-part tutorial about inserting images into blogs when Google flipped the board and scattered the pieces to the wind.

All that work, all those screenshots and animations, became obsolete.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Subscribe-by-email will end in July

POPULAR SERVICE CONNECTS BLOGS TO READERS

Cancelled
Image: Pixabay         
The automated subscribe by email service, which is part of Feedburner, will shut down in July, Google announced on Wednesday.

The move leaves users of Blogger with no clear choice for how to continue to offer a subscribe option to readers, though many third-party solutions exist.

The "subscribe by email" gadget will also stop working that time.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Don't drop photos into your blog

USE INSERT INSTEAD

classical nude man falling helplessly through space

At the moment, though I hope things will change, do not add images into your posts by dragging them from your device or from another web page.

This method kind of works and looks okay, but there are side effects that are not immediately obvious.

Insert images from the edit toolbar instead.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Your blog in a feed reader

LIKE A BROADCAST


Woman wearing headphones and speaking into a large microphone

Unless you disable the option, your readers can subscribe to your blog in a feed reader. 

Feeds are the open-source alternative to subscribe-by-email and to following.

Here's how they work.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Following, and followers

woman in an orange dress leading a flock of white geese across a barren ground
Max Pixel photo
"Following" is one of three ways that your readers can opt to be notified when you publish a new post on your blog. 

Followers are those who have added your blog to their reading list at www.blogger.com.

Google provides a Followers widget where anyone with a Blogger account can sign up as a follower. The widget also shows who your public followers are. 

However, there are other widgets, and other ways to follow.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Subscribe by Email

Mail pieces on a clothes line

"Subscribe by Email" is one of three ways that readers can elect to be notified when you publish a blog post. 

Update: Google is canceling this service effective in July.

"Subscribe by Email" is also the name of a sidebar gadget in Blogger that will present this option to your readers.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Hipster interface design

BIT OF A RANT HERE

Wayfarer-style black rimmed eyeglasses
Websites should be clean and simple. Also, they should be transparent and functional. 

These two criteria do not always dance well together. 

Furthermore, the optimal mix of simplicity and functionality might be different if you are viewing and interacting on your phone versus a computer with a large monitor.

In my view as a desktop user, The New Blogger often strikes the wrong balance. (But in many respects, the legacy UI did too: I am a critic from way back).

Saturday, February 13, 2021

New and Improved? Unsung Features of The New Blogger

Statue of Justitia, goddess of justice, holding sword and scales
Let's be fair.
Blogger is hard to use, and it is not your fault.

Google could have done so much better when it revisited the "back end" of Blogger—the tools we bloggers use to create blogs and posts.

I've been critical (and, I hope, helpful) on this blog. 

But to be fair, I'd like to put the criticism aside and remind everyone of things that are new and improved. Of benefits from the change.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Third-Party Tracking Cookies

PAIN FROM BLOGGER'S COMMUNICATION PROBLEM

A tin-can telephone connected by an ethernet cable

Third-party tracking cookies (tiny files that your browser downloads from just about everybody, unless you block them) are facing legitimate concerns about privacy.

Apple started blocking these trackers in its Safari browser by default in the spring of 2020, and now others, including Google, have come around.

That's good—but also a problem for Blogger. We felt the pain for five days in January.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Fixing the Broken "Delete" Option

A PROBLEM YOU DIDN'T KNOW YOU HAD

Want to delete a comment you left on someone else's blog?

Finger pressing the "delete" key on a keyboard
Photo: Auaan, cc by-sa 4.0

It just got more difficult.

Blog comments are affected by the same issue that recently disabled the quick-edit tools.

A workaround "fixed" that issue. It also has the effect of fixing comments.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Restoring the 'Quick Edit' Tools, Version 2.0

A green young plant sprouts from the dirt

The removal of the quick-edit tools has made Blogger harder to use.

Here's how to get them back, at least for now.

Update: Google has reversed course on this—at least for the present.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Blogger Gets Harder to Use

AND IT'S MY FAULT

figure straining to push a huge boulder
Sam Beebe/Ecotrust (CC BY-SA 3.0)
The latest casualty in Google's War On Usability is the class of Quick Edit tools that many of us use to maintain our blog and perform other editorial functions.

Crossed wrench and screwdriver icon These are little icons—a pencil, or a wrench crossed over a screwdriver—that linked directly from a post or widget to its respective editing window. Very handy!

So, why did this happen? And, can anything be done about it?

The answer to why is this.

It is my fault.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Which Blog Theme Is Best
for You?

A CRITICAL APPRAISAL

wine taster
Creative Commons attribution below
Even the very oldest Blogger themes (also called "templates") still work, in that they faithfully render their contents on the World Wide Web. 

Beyond that, any of the three families of themes from the past decade are broadly  functional. Each family has advantages and drawbacks not offered by the others.

So, a reasonable question is, what theme should I use today? 

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Don't Make Me Click

The new Blogger user interface is a boon to hand surgeons everywhere.


Why: All the extra clicks, distributed over hundreds of thousands of users, must surely translate into more cases of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Don't Make Me Think

Rodin's The Thinker"

The title of this blog post is

  1. the name of a book by Steve Krug
  2. a fundamental principle of website and app design
  3. a yardstick with which to measure the new Blogger user interface