Saturday, December 29, 2007

Backing Up Your Blog

I've been blogging with Blogger for quite a while. I've never had any problems with it, but there is always that possibility. I hate to admit that I had never backed my blog up until very recently. I had more than a year's worth of posts and comments that I would hate to lose. I saved each archive page to my computer, which will give me the posts but not the comments.

Recently I found out about another option. I can import all my Blogger posts and comments to my blog. I had signed up for a free account and created a blog a while ago, but I'm not really using it, so tonight I imported all of the posts from this blog. It was really simple and quick - of course, I don't have nearly as many posts on this blog as on my other one, so that one will probably take a bit longer. I will also have to change it to the New Blogger, at least long enough to get it backed up.

To back up your own blog - first, if you haven't already done so, sign up for a free account at Go ahead and create a blog there. You can have as many as you want - all for FREE. (I love free stuff!) Once you have a blog, select your blog from the "My Dashboards" drop-down menu. Once on the blog dashboard, select "Manage" and there will be an option called "Import" - choose that. There are several options, for our purposes, and because that's what I did, choose "Blogger" and it will ask you for permission.
Howdy! This importer allows you to import posts and comments from your Blogger account into your WordPress blog.

To use this importer, you must have a Google account, an upgraded (New, was Beta) blog, and it must be on blogspot or a custom domain (not FTP).

The first thing you need to do is tell Blogger to let WordPress access your account. You will be sent back here after providing authorization.

Hit the "Authorize" button and grant access when Google asks. Once you authorize it, you will be taken back to where you will see a list of your Blogger blogs. Select the blog you wish to import, and hit the "Import" button. Magically, all the posts and comments from that blog will be imported to your blog! In the future, when you want to do a back-up, any posts and comments that have already been imported will be skipped.

How cool is that? Now, since it's a back-up, I will probably eventually set my Wordpress blog to private, because I don't really need duplicate content out there. What I do need is the peace of mind I get from knowing everything is backed up - just in case.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Words and Pictures

One of my favorite sites, and one I don't spend nearly enough time on, is Tabblo. It's a great site for sharing pictures, but that's just the beginning. The idea behind Tabblo is that you can easily put together photos and words to tell a story. They have plenty of pre-styled templates, and they can all be customized to give you the exact look you want. When you are finished, you have your very own tabblo, or web page. You can share them with other members of the Tabblo community, invite your friends via email, share them on a blog or website, or even order printed versions of your creations. You can also download a high quality pdf version and print it on your own printer.

Here's one I did about a year ago:

Tabblo: As We Begin a New Year

“If every year is a marble, how many marbles do you have left? How many sunrises, how many
opportunities to rise to the full stature of your being?”

Joy Page

... See my Tabblo

Tabblo generates the code and makes it easy to share. Even if you don't share your tabblos on another blog or web page, it's fun to share them with the rest of the Tabblo community. There are groups to join, people to meet, other tabblos to comment on. There are some really talented photographers using Tabblo. I'm always amazed at what I see.

If you haven't tried Tabblo yet, go ahead and give it a try. It's a lot of fun, and it's FREE!

Tabblo is part of Hewlett-Packard.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Secure HTML

This week I had to create a password protected web page. I'd never done that before. I had some vague idea that I'd seen some javascript somewhere that would ask for a password, but I had never tried it. I hadn't really paid that much attention.

So, I started searching and found Secure HTML 1.5. I downloaded it, and tried it today. It works really well. It's a very small download and doesn't even require an install. Simply double-click on the downloaded file to open the program. It's really quick and easy. Here's how it works:
  1. Press the button Input File and select the desired HTML file.
  2. Correct the path and name of Output File, if needed. If you want to overwrite the input file, you can use the same name.
  3. Enter Password (not less than 4 characters).
  4. Check the box View Output File if you want to view the password protected HTML file in your default browser.
  5. Press the Encode button.
That's it. You now have an encoded file that can only be read by entering the password. If you don't enter the password or enter it incorrectly, you just get a blank window.

The program also works in reverse. If the file is already encoded, you can decode it by entering the correct password and clicking the Decode button. I haven't tried the decoding option because I've been editing one file and then encoding it to a new file.

If you don't want to download Secure HTML 1.5, there is also a free online service. Just copy the code of your page into the box, set your password, and hit Encode. Your browser opens in a new window, asks for your password, and shows you your page. Then you can save it to your computer.

Both the download and the online service look like very handy tools to have. You never know when you might want to create a secure password protected web page.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Blogger and OpenID

The comments on Blogger have changed recently, making it harder for bloggers without a Google/Blogger account to leave a link to their blog. Before they could select the 'Other' option and leave their name and link. Now, there's just a 'Nickname' option with nowhere to put the link in. Yesterday, I read on LadyBanana that there is a fix for this:
I have just set up the facility on this blog for commenters to sign in using not only their Google/Blogger account but also their own sign in from Wordpress, Aol/Aim, LiveJournal, Typekey or any OpenID.

This option is currently only possible to set up through Blogger in Draft

I'm not sure exactly what Blogger in Draft is, and that's a question for another day, but I went in and set it up. It looks just like your regular Dashboard. Go to Settings - Comments, and you have these options, allow comments from:
  • Anyone - includes Anonymous Users
  • Registered Users - includes OpenID
  • Users with Google Accounts
  • Only members of this blog
Select 'Anyone' and save your settings. Now, you should have a drop-down box for comments that lets people sign in with a Blogger/Google ID, or Wordpress, Aol/Aim, LiveJournal, Typekey or any OpenID. Please note that, if you edit your comment settings in your regular Dashboard after doing this, the drop-down box will go away and you will have to edit again in Blogger Draft.

I thought that would solve things and let people go back to commenting and linking back to their blogs all in one step. That works fine for people with blogs on those services, but what about the ones with their own domains and their blogs hosted elsewhere? What exactly is this OpenID, and can that solve the problem? I started looking and found this list that says, if you use one of these services, then you already have an OpenID. Some of them are already on the drop-down list for comments, so it looks like Blogger has taken some of them and made it easier to sign in with that ID. For instance, instead of typing in:, a LiveJournal user can simply select 'LiveJournal' in the comment drop-down and type in their username. Once their comment is submitted, the username will link to their LiveJournal blog.

My question is still - what about those who have blogs hosted elsewhere? If they're not on the list? One option, if they have a Technorati account, is to choose 'any OpenID' and type in: - This will leave a link to their Technorati profile, which isn't bad. From there, anyone who is interested can find all of their blogs.

Still, I'm not sure that's the best answer, either. I ended up signing up for ClaimID - a free, easy way to manage your online identity with OpenID. There I found an option for setting up your blog or website as an OpenID. I'm not sure if you can view this page without having an account and being signed in, so I'm going to quote it here:

How do I delegate my OpenID...

With OpenID, you can easily set your webpage or blog up as an identity URL using delegation. For example, say your blog is "", and you'd like to use this URL as your OpenID rather than your claimID URL (we promise not to be too offended). By inserting a little bit of code into your blog or website, you can easily make this blog or website your OpenID.

Rather than logging in with, you'd log in with Of course, claimID will still be providing the backend (no need for you to install your own OpenID server!) so you'll be asked for your password by claimID. However, when you show up as a commenter on a Livejournal thread, for example, your blog or website will be your OpenID url.

To set your blog or website up as a delegate, simply add this snippet of code into the of your page. It will need to go between the and elements on the page.

Brilliant! And now you can log into all of the great OpenID sites with your blog or webpage.

Of course, your code will have your username. ClaimID generates it for you. I had to add some extra spaces in the code for Blogger to accept it in a post, but you get the idea.

Hopefully this has given you a few options for commenting on Blogger and being able to link back to your blog. Let me know if you have any questions, and I'll see if I can find the answers.

Free Online Learning

Would you like to learn to build a web page? Would you like to learn to take better digital pictures? How about convert your video tapes to DVD, or record your favorite TV programs onto DVR? Check out the free online courses at Sony 101. When you find a course that interests you, all you have to do is sign up. When the course starts, and when each lesson posts, you will get a reminder email letting you know it is available on the site. Each course lasts approximately a month, and you can complete the lessons at your own pace. Usually there's a lesson to read through, then an assignment to complete, and a quiz to take, to be sure you understand what you've learned. You can always go back and re-take the quiz if you don't like your score. The point is to learn the material. You can also join in on the message boards to interact with the other students and ask the instructor questions.

I've taken several courses this way, and I always come away feeling that I learned a lot. My mom has taken a few classes, too, and she's the one who reminded me of the site. She's signed up to take the Intermediate Photoshop course. I probably should sign up, too - or she'll know more about Photoshop than I do. I've only taken the beginning Photoshop course.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Technorati for my Blog

I just pointed one of my other blogs to a Custom Domain today. Now, I have to start all over again, building Page Rank, lowering my Alexa score, increasing my authority in Technorati. If I had known I could use my own domain back in the beginning of the year when I really started using that blog, I would have done it then. Of course, that means I would have had to come up with a good domain name back then, and who knows what I would have come up with.

I ended up using, and while I was updating my Technorati Profile and claiming that blog - even though it's the same blog as before - I realized that I hadn't added this one. So now I'm doing it. I really like Technorati. It's a great way of keeping track of who links to you, if you care about things like that. I do. I think it's fun to see who is linking to me and then being able to visit them.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Learn Firefox

I finally downloaded and installed the Read it Later extension I mentioned earlier. After I downloaded, installed, and restarted Firefox, I got a box asking me to drag the 'read later' and 'reading list' buttons to my toolbar. I hit OK, and it opened a box for me, but I didn't see those buttons to drag. I ended up closing the box, and then I couldn't figure out how I got it. I finally figured it out - right-click on the toolbar, and select 'Customize' - so that was pretty easy. When I reopened it, the buttons I was looking for were there. I simply dragged them to the toolbar, and they are waiting for me to use them.

Somehow I found this page that explained it all. I'm looking through the pages I was on, and I still can't figure out how I got there. One of these days I am going to keep track of my path through the Web. It would be quite interesting. I did pay attention to the main site that this page is a part of, and I think it should be quite useful. It's called Learn Firefox, and it's a visual guide to the Firefox browser. I just jumped in, downloaded, and started using the browser, but I don't think it can hurt to go back and see if there's something I can use here. For instance, there's a page here called Rearrange the Order of Your Tabs. I wish I had read this earlier, because I was using Firefox for ages, and loving the tabs, before I realized I could rearrange my tabs.

Learn Firefox has different categories such as themes, extensions, bookmarks, news, and more. It's nicely organized and easy to read, and it just might help you learn something you didn't know about Firefox.

DVD Copy Software

I was reading the comments for today's Giveaway of the Day, which is a DVD copy program. There was a lot of discussion about the legalities and illegalities of copying DVDs. However, I believe that, if I have a copy of a movie on DVD, then I should have the right to make a backup copy of it. Disney has a program that lets you register your DVDs, so that, if anything happens to them, you can get a replacement, for a nominal fee of $6.95. It's not free, but it is cheaper than you can usually go out and buy the DVD in the store. I don't know that any other DVDs can be registered and protected that way, so having a backup seems to be a very good idea. We already do it with all of our music CDs so we don't have to carry the originals in the car.

In the comments on the Giveaway of the Day program, several people mentioned DVDFab as good DVD Copy software that is always available for free. So, if you miss today's Giveaway of the Day, and you have some DVDs you'd like to backup, you can try this. I think I'm going to try the one from Giveaway of the Day, just because today is the only day I can get it for free. If I don't like it, I can always go back and and download DVDFab.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Design and Layout for Your Site

#2 from the list I mentioned before, 75 Ways to Increase Your Site's Traffic is:
  1. Have a good design and layout. If your site or blog’s design is messy, sloppy, hard to navigate, a rainbow of colors that don’t match or are hard on the eye, or full of errors, you will instantly go down the drain.
We certainly don't want to go down the drain, do we? I keep an eye out for nice looking blogs and websites. When I find one, I look to see if I can find out where they found that design. Some people pay to have a professional design their site. I'm cheap, and I look for the free designs and layouts. I know they say you get what you pay for, but I have found quite a few very nice FREE layouts.
  1., where I found the layout for this blog, has some really nice ones with all kinds of themes.
  2. Blogskins, layouts and designs of all kinds. Not all of them are good as far as being easy to read, but there seems to be something for everyone.
  3. Pyzam also has a whole bunch of free Blogger templates. The hard part is picking one.
Once you find a layout you like, it doesn't hurt to know a little html and css so you can tweak it and make it yours. Just watch that rainbow of colors!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Comment Pop-Ups

For a while now, I've had problems with the comment pop-ups on Blogger. If someone has selected 'show comments in a popup window' in their blog settings, whenever anyone clicks on the comments link, it opens a pop-up window with all the comments and the comment form. While I don't know why someone would want this option, it wouldn't cause a problem, except - the pop-up window is this tall, skinny box. It can't be resized or maximized, and only about three words show up on each line. Actually trying to type a comment in? Practically impossible. If word verification has been enabled? Completely impossible, because none of the letters can even be seen, let alone typed into the box.

Now, I'm not willing to go away without commenting, so there must be a way to get around this. Yes, there is. First, I mouse over the comments link. If the link ends in 'Popup=true' I right-click and select 'Open Link in New Tab'. Then I go to that new tab to submit my comment. It opens full size, and I can read all the comments and type my comment in easily.

Now, if someone can explain to me why so many pop-ups, and not just in Blogger, are popping up in such strange sizes, I would really appreciate it.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Where Do You Host Your Images?

That was the question in a forum I visited the other day. Since I haven't settled on any one place or service to host my blogging images, I was interested in what people had to say. Several people mentioned Photobucket and ImageShack. I had heard of both of those, but there was a new one I hadn't heard of called Shareapic.

I started using Photobucket recently when Yahoo discontinued their photo hosting so they could focus on Flickr. One of the options they gave me was to transfer the photos I had on Yahoo Photos to Photobucket, so I took them up on it. I haven't been too disappointed with Photobucket except for the time I was trying to use one of my images as a background for my blog. No matter what I did, it just didn't look right. Then I realized Photobucket had resized the image when I uploaded it, so it wouldn't work the way it was supposed to. One of my favorite things on Photobucket is that I can add an image I find on the Internet without downloading it to my computer first.

I've never used ImageShack, though I have seen their logo around the Internet. You know the one I'm talking about - the little yellow 'bandwidth exceeded' frog that takes the place of the image you really want to see. It doesn't give me much faith in the service. I'd be worried that an essential image wouldn't be available all the time. If you've had good results with ImageShack, go ahead and let me know.

The image hosting I hadn't heard of was one called Shareapic. This one sounds really promising, so I ran over and signed up. They say you can upload unlimited pictures with no size restrictions. They also say they'll pay you when other people view your pictures. Hopefully that means no 'bandwidth exceeded' messages. They also claim one click posting to Blogger, Xanga, MySpace, and more. It sounds like I should be able to use this for all of my blogs. Why no image here? Well, I haven't figured out exactly how it works yet, but I will.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

What Browser Do You Use?

I've been using Firefox for quite a while now. Before that I used Netscape, and I still use it when I need to create or edit a web page. I'm linking to the Netscape Browser Archive because, when they came out with version 8, I think, it was just a browser. I like the complete Netscape package - browser, email, and composer. Those people who never create or edit a web page don't need the composer, so they don't really miss it. I haven't upgraded since version 7.1, and I probably won't. I appreciate that they keep the older versions available here so that you can download and install the version that meets your needs.

I know there are people who use that browser that comes with their Windows operating system, but I refuse to use it. There are a few times I have to open it to see what a web page looks like in IE, but I even try to avoid that. Usually I can assume that, no matter how nice the page might look in any other browser, it is going to be messed up in IE. I don't know why that is, but it irritates me to no end, and I usually don't know how to fix it.

In Firefox, I have the IE Tab extension installed so that I can check things, without opening that other browser. That's pretty handy. There are over a thousand useful add-ons for Firefox, making it easy to customize your browser and make it do what you want. Usually I just start browsing and installing the ones that interest me, but today I found this list of the Best Firefox Extensions - compiled and broken down into categories. Each one has a brief description of the extension and what it does, and the link to download it. Instead of having to browse through endless extensions trying to find the right ones, you might appreciate starting with this list. I'll be going through it to see what great extensions I've missed and don't have yet.

Also, in the future, I will be listing my favorite extensions here, too. Maybe I like some that haven't made this list.