Blogosphere: June 2005 Archives

It appears that the problems with BlogRolling's recently-updated feature have been corrected, as about half of my blogroll is now showing a reasonable last-updated time.

UPDATE: Here's what BlogRolling has to say:

We had a temporary issue with the blogrolling database. It seems the table had been abused and resulted in it beeing a little battered. We have made repairs to the table and things are back up to speed.

Also please be advised that we are experiencing difficulties in regards to some blogs not receiving proper updates and notification of these blogs are not been displayed within your blogrolls. We are currently implementing a better way to keep a hold on updated blogs.

Cheers!

My earlier entries on BlogRolling's problems (and a workaround) are here and here.

Series-ous blogging

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Got in late tonight from a work-related day trip and am in no shape for heavy posting, so I'll highlight three blogs from the blogroll which feature several posts in a series on the same topic:

David Sucher of City Comforts has been wondering why the Council on New Urbanism gave an award for urban design to starchitect Frank Gehry, whose work is notoriously pedestrian-unfriendly. Was it just a cheap ploy to get him to show up at a reception?

Jan the Happy Homemaker has great photos of the elaborate decorations she created for her church's Vacation Bible School, of prom costumes made entirely with duct tape, of some of her fab '70s fashions, and of some shoes that remind me of that Steve Martin short story. It's all in her June archive.

Dennis Schenkel has been blogging about his summer at language school in Guatemala -- here are his May and June archives. Lots of great pictures and cross-cultural observations!

Ron Coleman, intellectual property attorney, general counsel of the Media Bloggers Association, and defender of this blog against the threats of the Tulsa World, has moved his blog on intellecual property issues from Blogger to Movable Type and to a new domain, www.likelihoodofconfusion.com. A couple of recent entries of note:

  • New York's Metropolitan Transit Authority is trying to enforce trademark rights on icons like its alphanumeric subway line symbols. (Transport for London has a detailed Intellectual Property Rights policy to protect its trademark roundel and the copyright on its maps and the New Johnston font. An earlier version of the font is available for purchase and public use. And for what it's worth, the BatesLine logo, while inspired by the London Underground map, uses different colors and a different font -- Gill Sans -- and makes no use of the roundel. I don't believe there's any -- ahem -- likelihood of confusion.)
  • In a post about a new law that has the merchants of filth panicking, he asks a pointed question about the Supremes' recent use of foreign jurisprudence and moral standards in their opinions: "Query: The next time the Supreme Court decides to look at worldwide contemporary legal and moral standards in interpreting the Constitution of 1789, maybe it will explain why it only looks to 'enlightened' (i.e., liberal) views and not the benighted regulation of speech and pornography experienced by probably most of the people on earth (i.e., all Muslims and those in China and in much else of Asia). I'm not suggesting we adopt the Saudi approach, but I would like to know the rationale whereby we don't." Wouldn't it be nice if they stuck with our own Constitution as a basis for their opinions?

Update your bookmarks, and go pay Ron a visit.

The advent of the blog has made it easy for ordinary people to write about and publish their opinions on the news gathered by professional journalists. Blog publishing software has also made it possible for ordinary folks to publish original reporting, but because we're ordinary folks, we bloggers are usually not familiar with the legal issues involved in reporting and publishing.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published a helpful and thorough "Legal Guide for Bloggers," which covers anti-SLAPP laws, intellectual property law, privacy rights, defamation, reporter's privilege, media access to public records and government meetings, election law, and labor law. In some cases where state laws vary, there are links to state-by-state information. (Hat tip: Sandhill Trek, via the Media Bloggers Association mailing list.)

On the other side of the traditional journalism / blogger divide, mainstream media outlets are just beginning to explore how to make citizen journalism a part of what they do. Steve Outing has put together an 11-layered hierarchy of citizen journalist involvement in traditional media, with links to examples of each layer. The lowest level of the hierarchy is allowing readers to comment on news articles on the web, much the same way readers comment on blogs. Bluffton Today is an example of a newspaper at the higher end of the hierarchy -- using reader-submitted online content to drive the content of the daily print edition. Smart publishers of traditional newspapers will eventually realize they have more to gain by opening themselves up to collaboration with citizen journalists and the online world than by walling themselves off. (Hat tip: Bob Cox at The National Debate.)

A couple of days ago, I wrote about Stacy of Not a Desperate Housewife and her effort to display both HaloScan and Blogger comments. I saw on that blog today that she's also a participant in a fairly new group blog called Meet the Bloggers, which consists of interviews with bloggers. So far the four interviewers have interviewed each other plus two other bloggers.

One of the interviewees is Tina of Corner Chair, who writes about her journey from driven perfectionism as a minister and counselor, to a breakdown and two months in prison for a felony, to the slow rebuilding of her life by God's grace. It is powerful stuff. A sample from one of her early entries, "Being Recreated":

Iíve been doing some reading about brokenness and humility. Recently, someone suggested that I needed to be more humble. My first response was one of incredulity. How could I be more broken, more humbled? I felt like my life had been pulverized. I felt less than useless. I had squandered my purpose. God could no longer have a plan for me.

I had been an achiever. I was driven to produce and to perfection. Failure was unacceptable and yet I made choices that resulted in the loss of my position. I went way beyond disappointing people. I betrayed trust. I behaved in a manner that was despicable. The only thing I deserved was rejection and to live a life of despair. ...

I had lived a life so full of myself. I worked to earn approval from everyoneóincluding God. I proclaimed a message to others that I hadnít fully taken into my own life. I was willing to admit that I was imperfect. I didnít like it, but God said he would even use a ďcracked pot.Ē What he was doing now was grinding the pieces into powder.

I kept asking how I was going to put the pieces back together. At some level I hoped to return to life as I knew it. I imagined that the process of healing would result in a restoration, a giving back so that I could move past what had happened and get on with my life and living out my purpose for God.

God had, has, very different plans. There will be a restoring of sorts, but his greater desire is to recreate me. That means I have to give up control. That means I have to truly trust him. That means what was, wonít be again. That brings tears to my eyes right now because I really donít know what that means, or how it will look. What I do know is that I think Iím coming to the place where Iím willing to accept it and to open myself fully to it.

Thanks to Meet the Bloggers for introducing me to Corner Chair. Both have been added to the BatesLine blogroll.

It's a blogging anniversary for three sites on my blogroll:

Happy first blogiversary to syndicated columnist and incredibly prolific blogger Michelle Malkin, and a special thanks again to Michelle for calling attention to the Tulsa World's legal threats against this blog, for hitting my tip jar at the time, and encouraging others to do the same.

Happy third blogiversary to Karol Sheinin of Alarming News. It was a pleasure to get to meet Karol last August, when she was a credentialed blogger to the Republican National Convention. Alarming News is a fount of common-sense conservative insight on world events, national politics, and pop culture, leavened with tales of poker nights and New York City, and an occasional bit of sparring with friend/nemesis Dawn Summers. If you aren't reading Alarming News every day, you should be. Karol is host (with Ace) of "Hoist the Black Flag," a weekly one-hour talk show, which you can hear live at 4 p.m. Eastern Tuesdays at rightalk.com. And if you're conservative and in the New York City area, check out Karol's Right Events blog for a list of places and times to fellowship with like-minded folks.

Happy belated first blogiversary to Don Danz, patriarch of the Danz family and a conservative Tulsa-based blogger. I had the pleasure of meeting Don at the Okie blogger bash in Oklahoma City back in January. DanzFamily.com is a beautifully designed and photo-laden blog, and Don has a comprehensive page of useful links, too. Be sure to read his recent entry on the recent controversy over adding a display on the Biblical account of creation at the Tulsa Zoo.

Many happy returns of the day!

I've done some more investigation into why most blogs on my blogroll don't ever show up as recently updated. BlogRolling.com's FAQ on how it determines which blogs have recently updated mentions that it relies on two RSS feeds in addition to direct pings. The two feeds are:

http://www.weblogs.com/changes.xml http://www.blogger.com/changes.xml

When I tried to add these feeds to Mozilla Thunderbird's RSS aggregator, both showed up as invalid RSS. I wonder if there has been some change to BlogRolling's method of reading and aggregating these feeds, so that it no longer tolerates deviations from the RSS standard, or if there have been changes to the Blogger and weblogs.com RSS feeds so that they are no longer compliant. Either way, this appears to be the broken link -- updated blogs are notifying Blogger and weblogs.com, but BlogRolling no longer can extract information from those sources and only reflects updates from the blogs that ping it directly.

The solution then is to add http://rpc.blogrolling.com/pinger/ to the list of sites that are automatically pinged when you post. You can do this in Movable Type, and I imagine b2, WordPress, and any other advanced blog software has the capability to add to a list of standard sites to ping.

If you use Blogger, you can go to the Blogrolling update form and submit a ping manually.


Ping-O-Matic
may be an easier method for Blogger users, if it works as advertised. On the home page, you can check boxes for up to 14 services to ping, enter the name and address of your blog, and click submit. You'll see a results page, which you can bookmark. Clicking that bookmark in the future will submit a ping for your site to the same set of services. I tried this about 10 minutes ago (with and without the trailing virgule on the URL), and the results said the ping was accepted, but I have yet to see BatesLine's updated status change.

While I'm waiting to see if that changes, I'll tell you about some other odd technical matters. I checked my site stats yesterday through awstats, which is provided as part of my hosting package, and it reported over 6,000 visits for Sunday, which is usually the lowest-traffic day of the week. A look at the raw log revealed that awstats must have counted wach visit yesterday as 8 or 9 visits. We'll see if awstats recounts everything correctly when it runs tonight.

Here's the other weird thing -- in a couple of days' time, I've had two dozen referrals from iaea.org -- the International Atomic Energy Agency. Something like this happened last August, too, but at the time I didn't think to examine the raw log to see where those visits come from and which pages are being hit. All the hits came from 201.138.5.158 (apparently a server in Mexico City), started with the article about the legal threat I received from the Tulsa World, and then visited all the pages linked from that page. I suspect what I saw was a test run for a referrer, trackback, or comment spambot. I've banned the IP address from accessing the site, just to be on the safe side.

All right: It's been nearly an hour, and the ping via Ping-O-Meter still isn't reflected by BlogRolling, so I'll assume it doesn't work. Some clever person out there must have developed a one-click bookmarklet to ping BlogRolling, as an alternative to filling in the form each time. Let me know about it, and I'll link to it.

Recently updated?

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I probably shouldn't write about this, as it will remove a competitive advantage I currently enjoy.

I have my blogroll sorted in most recently updated order, and I use it for my own reference to see who has new material posted. Other bloggers use italics, an asterisk, or some other special mark to highlight recently updated blogs. A websurfer visiting a favorite site is more likely to follow a link to another blog if it stands out in some way. In looking at my referrer logs, I know I've received some visits simply because I show up on a site in the Blogs for Terri, League of Reformed Bloggers, or Wictory Wednesday blogrolls, and BatesLine is highlighted as recently updated.

How does Blogrolling.com determine when a blog has been recently updated? When a new entry is posted on a blog, most blogging software will automatically ping Technorati, blo.gs, weblogs.com, and other sites that track blogs. Blogrolling.com takes information from these sources and determines when a blogroll has been last updated.

Over the last few weeks, the number of recently-updated blogs in my blogroll has dwindled noticeably. At first I thought it was because people were going on vacation, but it seems that some blogs are never showing up as recently updated at all. If you hover your mouse over a blog name in the blogroll, you'll see when Blogrolling.com thinks it was last updated. For example, it thinks Instapundit hasn't been updated since May 25. Instapundit had seven new entries today. The problem is not specific to a publishing engine -- Movable Type, WordPress, and Blogger blogs are all affected.

My blog (yes, I've blogrolled myself) almost always shows up as recently updated when it is. That may be because, rather than relying on Blogrolling.com to get update info from the other services I ping, I directly ping Blogrolling at the following address:

http://rpc.blogrolling.com/pinger/

In Movable Type, on the weblog config preferences page, under Publicity / Remote Interfaces / TrackBack, you can add sites to ping automatically with each new post.

I also found this FAQ on the subject. If you're a blogger on my blogroll, and you aren't showing up as recently updated even if you are, take a minute to read it. If you're on my blogroll, it's because I like what you write, and if you've just written more of it, I'd like to know about it, and I'd like my readers to know, too.

UPDATE: Stacy emailed to say that she never could get the fix I found on Bad Example to work -- a link to the old comments appeared, but they showed up at the beginning of the entry, and she couldn't get them to show up in the normal spot at the end of each entry -- and she went with another suggestion that after much trial and error did work. The solution that worked for her was found in this entry on HaloScan's support forum, and Stacy writes that she "had to place the first code in twice at different places in the HaloScan codes." As always, your mileage may vary, but it is possible to display both kinds of comments.

Today I found an answer for a blogger with a technical problem [or so I thought -- see above], and it's a common enough situation that I thought it would be worth writing up for general perusal.

BatesLine has always been, and probably always will be, a Movable Type blog, but many bloggers, maybe most bloggers, use Blogger to power a blog at blogspot.com or for a self-hosted blog.

Starting a blogspot blog has the advantage of not costing any money, but it does have its limitations. At one time, Blogger had no comment capability, so most Blogger users used a comment service by HaloScan. Blogger then began offering comments, better in some ways than HaloScan, more limited in others. HaloScan also offers trackback, which isn't yet built in to Blogger. So it's a fairly common thing for a blogger to enable Blogger comments, get frustrated with certain limitations, and decide to switch to HaloScan.

The problem is that in making the switch, all the comments created in Blogger seem to vanish. Some theoblogical [sic] speculation posits that the Blogger comments have gone on to their eternal reward. In fact, it's more like "Honey, I Shrunk the Comments." They're still in the database at blogger.com, but after converting a blog to HaloScan comments, all links to the comments have disappeared, and they can't be seen.

There is a way to fetch the old comments back from the Great Beyond, and I'm happy to report that Ouija boards and un-shrink-rays are not involved. When I saw the plea for help on the HaloScan-beset blog (an entry on Not a Desperate Housewife), I remembered having seen both types of comments displayed on some other blogs, and a bit of googling came up with the QUICK AND PAINLESS GUIDE TO ADDING HALOSCAN COMMENTS WHILE KEEPING YOUR OLD BLOGGER COMMENTS VISIBLE on Bad Example, a blog which offers many other helpful blogging tips. I posted a comment with that link, and after a certain amount of template tweaking, non-desperate-housewife Stacy has everything working beautifully. [UPDATE: See note at top -- the Bad Example solution did not work for her.] If you visit her blog, you'll see links to the old Blogger comments and the new HaloScan comments side-by-side. (See above to see what was actually involved in getting it to work.) She should be able to go into Blogger settings and set the default Blogger comment policy to "New Posts Do Not Have Comments," so that new posts will only show links to HaloScan comments and trackbacks, while Blogger comments on old posts will remain accessible. Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be an easy way to close off all old posts to new Blogger comments -- you have to do it one entry at a time.

The Bad Example tip sheet carries an important warning which applies to all bloggers, regardless of which content management system you use: Always back up your template before making changes. In fact, you'd be wise to back up your template even if you aren't making changes. (Blogger has been known to make templates disappear without warning.)

Discoshaman, Blogger of the Orange Revolution, is back blogging at Le Sabot Post-Moderne after a three-month hiatus and a change of scenery from the snows of Kyiv to the white sand beaches of the Florida Suncoast. He's off to a fast start, with four posts in three hours: What he's reading, listening to, watching; DNC chair Howard Dean's first 100 days; the "outrage" over Koran mistreatment that doesn't extend to the desecration of Christian symbols; and a wee technical problem with Movable Type's comments -- he could use some help.

Very glad to have him back tossing clogs. (TulipGirl -- Mrs. Discoshaman -- has been back and blogging for nearly two months.)

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Blogosphere category from June 2005.

Blogosphere: May 2005 is the previous archive.

Blogosphere: July 2005 is the next archive.

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