2015 Is Here


My One Resolution For 2015 –

I want to write one thank you letter each week.

People are always quick to make a complaint when items purchased do not perform as expected but how many of us take the time to write positive notes to the companies who make the reliable products we use constantly?

I won’t be posting all the notes here as I write them – 52 letters of mine might be a bit boring for everyone to read. However I will take the time to keep you updated on who I have written and any replies I might receive – maybe once a month. If I do that as a thank you gratitude style link up, then anyone else reading who feels in the mood can join in too..

On The Blog In 2015

I’m not sure about the amount of time I’ll have to blog in 2015 so I’m not going to make any firm commitments – I will try to keep to my Mon – Wed – Fri schedule. I am not sure if I will keep doing Shoe Sundays but I do intend to spend some serious time in January writing posts here and on Rewatch Breaking Bad for the next few months, so I may well write and schedule Sundays for 3 months in advance and then see how I feel in March/April and how busy things will be.

Why Will Things Be Busy?

I’ve made the decision to go back to school this year. I’m not going to give you any of the details today – I will post a protected post next week for those who want to know more and the password will be available to anyone who emails me asking for it, as I will put in some details which I do not want made public.

What About This Blog?

I do want to keep the blog going and I will be making a very determined effort to write things ahead and schedule them out. That worked really well for me in November and if I can get some blog posts written and scheduled before school starts.. well, I know myself, and I know I’ll do a lot better if I don’t have the pressure of having to write something 3 or 4 times a week

What About A Blog Redesign?

This has been on the cards for a while now. The Other Half and I just have to find a spare weekend to sit down and make it happen. I still love the current design enormously and any new design will keep the same colours. However the base template is really old now, and I am wanting to move in another direction.


I’m loving the Adaption theme which I am using over at Rewatch Breaking Bad. I’m hoping we can take that and bend it to suit my purpose. We’ll give it a good try, anyway. I am not sure when this will happen – I’d love to see it in the first 3 months of this year.

One Thing I Will Not Do

I will not allow the blog to go dark for a long time again. Blogging is important to me. The friends I have made via blogging are important to me. Even if I cut back to posting twice a week or take a couple of weeks off, I will make an effort to have something scheduled at least once a week, and I will try to make that something worth reading. :)

Over To You?

Is there anything you would like to see here? Any subject you would like me to write about? More recipes? More chickens? More links to things I am reading? Book or movie reviews? Food reviews?

Would you like me to do (or would you mind if I did) a week of Lite N Easy food posts – I still get a lot of traffic for those posts and I feel a bit like a 2015 update might be in order. Plus, I miss those Fishermans Pies.

You can’t get Fishermans Pies in the supermarkets at all – once upon a time you could. I even wrote a letter back in the day to the company that made them, saying how much I loved them. An actual letter, on paper! I’d eat those things for dinner every day of the week for an entire year, without complaint. Seriously they are that good. :)

I’d maybe try making Fishermans Pie myself though I am not much of a fan of cooking fish. I’d probably use leek and onions, a boneless form of fish – Check out Good Fish Bad Fish – Barramundi might work – and use my white sauce which I make for Chicken and Bacon pasta, then bake it with a cheesy potato mash on top..

I’d like to do some Jane Austen adaptation reviews this year. I am a huge Jane Austen fan and I know I have some readers who are also big fans.

blog design, blog housekeeping, blog template

About Templates – Moving To WordPress

A few days ago Lightening sent me an email asking about making the move to WordPress. We had quite a lot of discussion back and forth, I asked Lightening to go and look for a template which had the layout the way she wanted it and then we would be able to change the colors to suit. The template she came back to me with was almost identical to the one I had, so I suggested we use the template base that I had used – Freedom Green – and change the colors. Freedom Green looks like this –

Freedom Green

Hard to believe that forms the basis for Life In The Country which looks completely different, no? We had also used Freedom Green as the basis for the scam warning website –

Scam Warning

I asked Lightening to visit the Visibone Color Lab, and come back to me with 5 colors that she liked. The only other work she had to do was say yes or no to what we came back with. The other thing we did was create a new header graphic. I asked Lightening to find an image she liked, which she did. I then emailed off and got permission to use the image. We also changed the color of the graphic bar that goes across the page to suit the site. It ended up looking like this –

Lightening Online

Lightening now has a site that I actually like the look of better than mine. ;) I love that subscribe button, by the time you read this I’ll probably have changed mine too. And it has inspired me – I think I would like to make versions of this in different colors now. In particular I’d like to make a black one. Make sure you go over and check out Lightening Online.

All of this work is included in the $5 per month hosting price. I think it is a pretty good deal. :)

blog design, Blog Friends, blog template

Spam, Spiders And Do Follow, Oh My!

Today on Think Tank Tuesday I’m taking a look at No Follow and Do Follow and how these relate to blogs and spam, and Sephy is going to let you know how to turn no follow off on Blogger, WordPress, and various other kinds of blogs. It is a lot easier than you think, you’ll be glad to know!

So what is NoFollow All About?

Most blogs come with no follow installed on the comments section automatically. This was originally done to prevent link spammers gaining anything from their spammy efforts. Unfortunately nofollow does not work – nofollow blogs still get spam comments.

That means anytime someone comments on your blog their link is not followed by the search engines. The commentor does not receive a link back on either Technorati or Google or Yahoo or any of the other search engines.

Is It Fair To Your Commentors?

By making a link no follow, you’re effectively saying to the search engines – I don’t trust this link. Given that most of us do actually trust the links of our commentors, this is not a Good Thing.

Choose Not To Give Link Juice –

When you have a blog, you can choose to make certain things no follow. For example, if I wanted to link to someone in a post but I did not want the search engines to see that link, I would put in a bit of code that turns the link into a no follow link. Why would I want to do that?

Link Bait –

Sometimes bloggers post controversial things in order to get links back to their blog. I can name a few who do this regularly. If you feel a blogger is link baiting but you still want to discuss their post there is an easy way you can make the link no follow.

Sephy has shown you how you can do this in his post on this topic – Say No To NoFollow, it is simple and easy to do.

You will still be giving their blog traffic if anyone clicks on the link, but it is better to do that than leave your readers wondering what the heck you’re talking about – and much better than giving the blogger what they are looking for by being controversial, which is backlinks to their blog. Don’t reward them by giving them link juice.

Links Mean $$$ To Some –

Why do bloggers link bait? To some bloggers, backlinks can mean money. The more back links your blog has, the higher ranking you get on Technorati, the higher your page rank, the higher price you can charge advertisers.

What Is Do Follow?

The Do Follow movement is basically people who have decided they want their commentors links to be followed by the search engines. These Do Follow bloggers have taken the time to remove no follow from their comments sections. Depending on what kind of blog they have this can be an easy task or a difficult one.

Sephy has explained how to make your blog do follow with instructions for Blogger, WordPress, Typepad, Movable Type and some others.in his companion post to this one, make sure to read it. Here is the link again if you have not already opened it in a new window or tab – Say No To NoFollow

Will This Increase Spam?

In a word, no. I was getting spammed before I became do follow, and I have been spammed since. What will add to your chances of being spammed more often is by joining one of the Do Follow link lists that exist on the internet. These are targeted often by spammers looking for a way to build backlinks fast.

The Bumpzee Community –

There is a No Nofollow | I Follow | DoFollow Community at Bumpzee. Being a member of this community is worthwhile if you are a do follow blog because your posts go out on the RSS feed for other do follow readers to view. It has meant more traffic to my blog.

I believe three times since I joined the community, which was some months ago now, I have been spammed by people who came directly here from the Bumpzee community. These are the paid commentors. Their comments are easy to spot and easily deleted. So as far as I am concerned the issue of being spammed by people who know you are do follow is not much of a problem for me.

What If I Get Spammed?

You can easily turn no follow back on – but that won’t stop the spam. Spam is a problem we all have to deal with here on the internet. We just have to be adults about it, set a comments policy for ourselves, and then follow it.

Since I put in a comments policy on the page where people leave a comment, I have only been spammed once. The paid comments people seem to have got the message – it is a waste of their time to comment here and they won’t get paid for the comment because I delete it quickly. If you can do the same thing, you can keep your blog spam free.

How Can I Tell When It’s Spam?

The number one give away is the link they are using. When I see a comment that is possibly spam, the first thing I do is copy the link and take the link over to Technorati. For example, this is one of the comment spammers that has been here recently – on Technorati and another one – and as soon as you search for the URL you can see they have a lot of recent reactions with different names – Tom Paine, Lais Edwards, Richard Andrews, Clebsch Gordon, etc.

Why It Works –

Looking at the backlinks, some of the bloggers I most respect got caught out by these spammers. There’s a lot of familiar names and blogs there. I didn’t have the time to email or comment on all the posts, otherwise I would have.

The two blogs mentioned above now have medium level authorities on Technorati – (one has an authority of 51) (two has an authority of 65). You’ll note I am not linking to the blogs themselves, only to Technorati. I do not want to give them any link juice.

Team Up With Fellow Bloggers –

The major mistake these spammers made was – they visited Sephy’s blog not long after visiting mine, and left similar comments. Sephy and I discussed them on Skype and figured out it was spam, and then deleted them.

Don’t be afraid to contact a fellow blogger who has received a comment you suspect is spam and ask what their thoughts are on it. Sephy posted about it here – Paid Comments Not Allowed

Search The Name or URL-

If you search the name or URL you may well find both listed in the search engines as spammers.

Post About It Yourself –

If spam has become an issue on your blog, it could be worthwhile posting about it so that other bloggers can be aware of it. When they google the names you keep seeing as spam, they will find your post and then they can delete the spam as well – and if they read your post, when those names turn up on their blog they can hit delete fast.

Just make sure not to give any link juice to the spammers – you can make individual links no follow easily (See Sephy’s Post for info on how) so please do so when referring to the links spammers leave, or use the name only, don’t put a link in..


From time to time all bloggers find themselves switching to moderated comments. I’ve had to do it here, when trolls have arrived. Using moderation takes all the fun out of it for them. You usually don’t have to leave it on for too long before they give up and go somewhere else to troll.

You can also use moderation to combat spam and this is a tactic some bloggers are trying out recently. If you are available most of the time to moderate comments, you may wish to try this but be aware – it tends to stifle discussion. And what happens when you sleep? Comments stay unmoderated for hours at a time. ;(

Moderation After The Fact –

I tend to stick with a moderation afterwards policy here. If I spot a comment which is inappropriate, unacceptable or spam, it is quickly deleted. Sometimes not quickly enough because the search spiders are here fairly often. So they may get a some link juice if I’m not on the ball.

Trusted People –

If you have a couple of people you really trust who live in different timezones to you, you may choose to make them an administrator on your blog. This gives them the power to moderate comments. You discuss with them what is unacceptable, and they keep an eye out, deleting anything which would be against your policy, or anything which is clearly spam.

What About Captcha?

Blogger users will be familiar with Captcha word verification, it looks like this –


The reason it is exists is to stop spam bots posting comments on your blog. However it could be stopping regular human people from posting on your blog. You only need to turn word verification on when you’re being targeted by a spam bot – as in you’ll be getting a boatload of comments in a very short amount of time – and this will stop the spam bot from posting more comments. May I recommend you turn it off in the meantime?

Julie Pippert recently posted about Captcha and if you read her post you will see you might be missing out on comments if you’re using it. I have turned word verification off here for now, we’ll see how it goes..

The Bottom Line –

Spam is an issue for all of us. We get it in our email. We get spammed in our comments section. Unless you are being targeted in a major way and receiving hundreds of spam comments a day, it’s not that big a deal to hit delete. Have a good comments policy, make sure it is visible on the screen where people leave comments (blogger users – find out how to display your comments policy) and be vigilant in deleting anything you suspect of being spam.

Further Reading –

13 Reasons Why NoFollow Tags Suck I agree with the points, especially points 2, 3 and 5.

Give a little link love say no to nofollow remove the link condoms Rob, I love the concept of link condoms! ;) This post contains some very interesting quotes from people at Google and Yahoo – worth reading.

I Follow Randa Clay created the Do Follow logos that you see around the place, here you can get them in different colors to suit your blog.

Over To You –

If you liked this post, give it a stumble so other readers can find it. ;)

What are your thoughts on spam? Have you been spammed on your blog? Are you a Do Follow blog, and if not will you become one after reading this? Feel free to leave any comments – as long as they’re not spam!

blog design, blog template, blogging tips, commenting on blogs, spam

Blog Design – Open Your Eyes.


Do you blog for you, or for your readers?

This is a serious question that every blogger needs to consider carefully. If you blog for yourself, you will choose a blog design that appeals to you, not caring what your readers think. If you blog for your readers, you probably will think about what your readers would like to see when they visit your blog.

If you blog for your readers and you chose your design for you? You might be upsetting potential new readers without even thinking about it.

Some Food For Thought

Light Is The Norm

If I could design my blog to look how *I* want it to look, the background would be dark instead of light because I find dark backgrounds easier on my eyes. I design this site for the readers, which means light is the best choice. Not everyone has an LCD screen yet. Dark backgrounds on a CRT screen (the older style of monitor which is more like a TV) are difficult to view.

Dark text on a light background is what the majority of Internet users are used to. It is what they see on most websites they visit. They are so used to it that when you make a site with a dark background color, they react negatively without knowing why. If you want to appeal to the broadest range of people, you have to take things like this into consideration.

Everyone Sees It Differently

On a forum I used to visit – it is no longer in existance sadly – they had a very dark blue color scheme.. People reading the forum on the older CRT screens often had to highlight the text with their mouse in order to be able to read it.

Users had been doing this regularly for some time BUT NOBODY TOLD THE SITE OWNER they were having so much trouble with the color scheme until the owner was considering making a change to the site themselves. I cannot imagine how annoying it must have been for those people to read the forums.

The Psychology Of Color

When designing a site it is important to consider the psychology of color. When I was a part of the team putting together a scam warning website – which also no longer exists – we looked into what would be the best color for a website designed to support scam victims.

The three colors we considered using on the site were blue, lilac and green. These are calming colors. You’ll note these are colors I tend to use a lot here, too.

For more info on color psychology, check out Color_Expert.

Color Is Important

When you’re putting colors together on your site you need to stop and think – do they work together? Do they look good together? They may look ok on your screen but be sure to check how they look on other kinds of computer monitors too.

Take A Moment

If you visit a blog and something about the design truly puts you off, you may want to consider taking a moment to let the blogger know. Politely, of course. If you are a blogger, you may also want to ask your readers.. but..

Will People Tell You The Truth?

Ah, there’s the difficult part. If you have been blogging for a while, you have a little community of people who love your content. If you made your background red with pink text (take a look, I made it especially for ya’all), they’d possibly still read it anyway, or they might seek out an alternate way to read – perhaps via a feed reader or subscribing by email.

Did you like the clashing red and purple title? How far could you read before you thought hell no, I gotta go! If you ask your readers what they think of your site design, they will tell you what they THINK you want to hear. They will be loyal. They will be polite. They will be friendly. They are the equivalent of men telling their wives “No honey, I don’t think it makes you look fat”.

That’s all well and good – and wise on the part of the man and on the part of the bloggers who read you – by now you are probably reading them back and they do not want to risk your readership by being brutally honest.

Unfortunately it does not help you as a blogger who wants to improve your blog design. It does not help you capture new readers. It does not help you to know what they find annoying. Even if you ask them to be brutally honest, some readers will struggle to do so. Not me. ;) Just so you know. ;)

Brace Yourselves Now

I am about to tell you a harsh truth. New readers coming to your blog for the first time? They will hit the close button in that top corner without reading ONE word of your content if they are put off by the color scheme or your header graphic.

If your blog makes their eyes hurt. If it looks like fingernails on a blackboard for the eyes. If your header graphic is poor quality. If your font is unattractive. There’s a multitude of design mistakes you can make as a blogger which will send potential new readers away quicker than you can blink.

Whether You Like It Or Not

There are many blogs out there – and the majority of blog readers will take a blog with good design but lesser content over a blog with bad design and good content EVERY time.

You work hard on your content so you owe it to yourself as a blogger to present it to potential new readers in a way they can see it. Especially given how difficult it is to get people to visit your blog in the first place.

Ask Someone Impartial.

If you want a fresh set of eyes to take a look at your blog the way a new reader would look at it, use my contact form and ask me. I will tell you the truth. I won’t be nasty about it. I’ll just be honest. It might be hard to hear but you may need to hear it. I also will give you ideas for improvement, which is useful.

Resolution Matters

If you are viewing my blog with your screen resolution set to 800×600, you have a vertical scroll bar at the bottom of your screen. My template width is 1000. That means there’s 200 extra pixels you have to scroll to see. In fact that is my entire right sidebar. Not a good look, right?

When I designed the template, I knew about this. I looked at my site stats and saw the majority of my readers (90%) were viewing the site in 1024×768 – which is becoming the new standard these days. It used to be 800×600 but as people change to LCD screens and larger screens they can’t use 800×600*. Unless they are my parents, in which case they will use 800×600 for everything because it makes the text bigger – they are too lazy to wear their glasses!

Make A Decision

So the first thing you need to do when considering a blog re-design is make a decision about resolution – and you need to take into account what your readers screen resolution is in order to do it. This means looking at your counter – bearing in mind counters are unreliable. 800×600 is one way you can go, 1024×768 gives you a lot more space.

If less than 85% of your readers use 800×600, you could go with 1024×768 but know that you run the risk of annoying people who use 800×600. On my site, they’ll miss out on seeing the right sidebar but they get the full main text and the left sidebar. That’s an OK compromise.

I found these excellent articles which are worth a read before you make the decision – How Tall and Wide Should I Design My Website? and also Understanding Monitor Resolution

Don’t Change

There is a blog I removed from both my reader and my links. The reason I removed it is simple. Each time I went to the blog, they were using a new template. They had changed it many, many times over the last couple of months. I feel like they are never going to make up their mind and stick with one template and frankly, I was tired of watching the indecision in progress!

If you want to try out a new template don’t do it on your actual blog that readers visit. Test it out on a test blog first. Blogger makes this easy for you – you can have as many blogs as you want. So does wordpress.com though that is tougher as they make you pay to customise templates.  When you are sure you’re happy with it, install it on your actual blog – and stick with that template for at least 2-6 months.

Change is Hard

People do not like change. We bloggers are constantly tweaking, moving things around, adding things, removing things, making new blocks in our sidebars. I am as guilty of this as the next blogger. I am not saying never change anything, I am saying keep in mind the impact it has on your readers.

Your readers may know where to find something right now. If you move it and they are looking for it, they will be frustrated unless they can easily see where you moved it to. If you feel the need for change (as I recently did with my sidebars) pick one day, post a note to your readers who may turn up mid-changes to “bear with me, I’m changing some things around”, mess with it till you have it as you like it, then let your regular readers know what you have changed or removed via a blog post.

Above The Fold.

The instant first impression a user has of your website is what loads onto their page that they can see without scrolling. This is called “above the fold” – you know those broadsheet newspapers which have a fold on the front page, about halfway down? They know what is above the fold is what people see – and why they buy the newspaper.

It is no different on your blog. Decide what you want people to know about you when they first look at your page, and put that above the fold.

Browser Matters

Most people only use one internet browser. It might be Internet Explorer. It might be Mozilla Firefox. These are the two main ones you will see on your site stats. Do you know how your site looks in the one you don’t use? Do you know how it looks in different versions of the one you don’t use? A lot of people don’t use the latest version of browsers – when they find a stable one they stick with it like super glue.

Do you know how it looks in the rarer browsers like Opera, etc? Make a blog post where you ask people using those browsers to take a screen shot for you. Your readers using those browsers will generally be happy to help out.

IE NetRenderer allows you to check how a website is “rendered” (how it looks) when using Internet Explorer – several versions of it. I am still looking for a version of this for Firefox. Anyone know where to find it?

Flashing is bad

People associate flashing things with advertisements, which are becoming more prevalent on all the websites we visit these days. For Firefox users, you can get an extension called Ad Block Plus – and let your inner self be at peace without ads interrupting your internet. For your personal blog, I do not recommend anything be flashing. It’s annoying to many people.

Template Blend

Blogger has a standard set of templates which people can use. It is easy to just pick one of those and leave it at that. You would be making a major mistake as a blogger if you did, though. Anyone else using that same template can be mistaken for you. It is sort of like walking into a room where everyone is wearing the same outfit. How do you find the people you know, among the apparent clones?

The least you should do is change some of the colors and the font – Sephy’s post will explain how to do that. You can check it out here – Demystifying Blogger Template Editing.

Good Templates Are Out There

You just have to know where to look. Try searching the name of your blog platform combined with free templates and see what you get.

Not Everyone Agrees.

Good design is not easy. There is no one size fits all. If there were, nobody would want it because all our blogs would look the same. As a blogger, what you need to do is make sure you are not turning off new readers by making bad design decisions. Unless you’re writing your blog just for your friends and family, who will love you regardless.

New readers won’t have a chance to love you. They’ll be leaving skid marks with their mouse in order to close your site as quickly as they can, and move on to another blog – where the content may not be half as good BUT they aren’t offended by the design, or the flashing ads, or the music that starts playing without them asking for it, or the myriad of other things you can get wrong as a blogger.

Further Reading –

15 Design Decisions That Annoy Readers – Some seriously annoying things that bloggers do are listed here – do YOU do any of them? ;) I do – I need to look into that Google Ajax search box, adding it to my todo list for tomorrow.
45 Excellent Blog Designs – Inspirational stuff!
Blog Design at ProBlogger – This is the category for Blog Design which contains quite a few useful food for thought posts.
Top 10 Weblog Design Mistakes – I disagree with number 2 – sometimes I think putting a photo of yourself on your blog is a terrible idea and some of the ones I have seen scare me greatly. Number 5 I think a lot of bloggers miss out on. Your top 5-10 posts should be shown above the fold – give readers the chance to access your best posts as soon as they land on your blog. You’ll note I have moved mine to be above the fold now.

Useful Things –

VisiBone Webmaster’s Color Lab – You can test colors against each other here.
Non-Dithering Colors – Gives an explanation of why the 216 color palette is better for use generally, and also all the color codes you may need.
HTML Goodies – Lots of HTML goodness to help any blogger.

Over to you

What are your thoughts on blog designs? Do you like yours? If not, do you want to change it? Do you need help to change it? Sephy is writing a companion post to this one which can help you with a few things.

If you liked this blog post, feel free to Stumble it. :)

*Unless they are my parents, in which case they will use 800×600 for everything because it makes the text bigger – they are too lazy to wear their glasses! This drives both me and the other half absolutely up the wall. They have a wide screen laptop. I’ll take a photo of what a webpage looks on it for ya’all sometime, but in the meantime it looks bad. Trust me. ;) It’s truly fingernails on a blackboard for your eyes.

**Cybercelt left me a great comment about that a while back, letting me know that you can go into your Blogger profile (on your profile page when you are signed in, click edit my profile, then Show my blogs, then Select blogs to display) and choose which blogs are displayed in your profile. If you have more than one, I suggest you choose one to be the main blog, and link to your other blogs from that blog page rather than have them all listed in your profile to make it easier for people to find you, but it’s your profile. ;)

blog design, blog housekeeping, blog template, blogging tips

Assorted Blog Tip Goodness For Bloggers

Google, heatmaps, comments and spiders, oh my! There’s so much to know when you’re a blogger, so I keep putting together some of the little tips I am picking up to share with you. Blogger users take note, I have a couple of great ones for you here.

Have You Googled Your Blog Lately?

In order to get specific results for your blog put the following into the search box – site:www.snoskred.org – just replace the www.snoskred.org with your site URL.

If you want to search your own site only, you can also use Advanced Search and put your site in where it says Domain – Only return results from the site or domain. I use this all the time when looking for past things I wrote here.

For those of us getting frustrated with Technorati, it may be time to consider a Google search widget instead. I’m going to be checking further into this later today and may put a how to together for ya’all for future blogging tip goodness posts..

Find Out What Your Readers Click On

I read Create a Heatmap of Where Readers Click on Your Blog at Problogger and thought it might be something interesting to try. I put it on less than 24 hours ago and it is already showing me interesting information.

If you want to know more about your blog readers, this is an absolute must do. It is also really simple to do – and completely free!

Don’t Forget

I added a new section to my sidebar called Bloggers Are Helpful. It contains some of the best articles I have found about blogging. It is also constantly updated and in the weekly wrap up I will let you know what new articles have been added to it over the week.

If you have a helpful article which should appear in Bloggers Are Helpful, please email me or leave a comment linking to your article.

Blogger Issues.

Comments Policy.

Did you know you can add your comments policy to Blogger? It will show up just above the box where people enter their comments. Here’s a quick screenshot guide on how to do it.

From your Blogger Dashboard – click on settings.


Click on Comments.


Find the box that looks like this.


Type your comments policy into the box – and don’t forget to click save when you’re done!


Now when your blog readers want to comment, they will see what you typed into the box directly above the comments box. It will look like this –


Or perhaps like this if you have your comments appear in a pop up box.


With Blogger you have a choice between a pop up comments box and a comments page – I prefer the comments page myself, which do you prefer as a commenter? and if you want your comments to be do follow I believe you can’t use the popup box. I’m not 100% sure on that one – anyone?

Where’s That Spider?

You may have read this post by Sephy where he talks about Blogger messing with the search engines. If you did not and you are using blogger, you need to know that Blogger has added a robots.txt file to your blog – without asking you, and without giving you any options of changing it.

What is a robots.txt? It simply tells the search spiders what to look at and what to ignore.

Blogger users are not able to submit a sitemap to Google – something ALL other bloggers can do, because it has to be on your site itself in .xml format and blogger does not allow you to upload .xml files to your blog. Blogger is telling the search spiders to read my feed as my sitemap. That means my feed read becomes my site map. Not an ideal situation at all. :(

Bloggers on WordPress and some of the other blogging platforms have a huge advantage over us – they can tell Google what pages to look at, what pages to ignore, and also get their labels listed.

Get Smart

Therefore we Blogger users will need to become smarter about how we do things. That is what the Snoskred Is section is about.

I only had 297 of my 500 posts on google for some strange reason. Some of my much older posts which I used to get hits for on certain search terms seemed to stop getting those hits.

What I chose to do was take the time to go back through my posts and make a links list with keywords appropriate to the post. I put it in my sidebar. It is long and nobody may ever actually look at it other than the spiders. However I do hope that my readers find it useful as well, if they want to know more about me it’s pretty much all there.

You may want to consider doing something similar yourself. It’s your blog. :) At the very least my thought is that you should have your favourite 10 posts available in your sidebar for your readers to check out and get to know more about you.

Consider WordPress.

I am working on learning a bit about WordPress. I have it installed on another domain I own, and Sephy and I are just messing about with it, learning how it works.

I had been getting mixed messages on WordPress. Some people told me WordPress was difficult to use and for more technical type people. Some people told me it was the best thing since sliced bread. Having now messed about with it I can say both are true. It does require some technical knowledge, but it is also is the best thing since sliced bread.

Blogger is great for most bloggers, I completely agree with that. It is easy, simple to use and you can now get templates for Blogger that look fantastic.

For those of us who want a little more control – who want to be in charge – who don’t want Blogger making decisions on their behalf without asking them – WordPress may be the better option. Will I be moving this blog to WordPress? Probably not at the moment, but maybe in the future. I am going to use WordPress for the business blog, though.

blog template, blogging tips, commenting on blogs, how to guides, wordpress

Take a look at my blog..

I have a brand new title bar graphic which I spent hours working on, and I’ve changed a few of the blog colors to suit it better. I would really appreciate it if ya’all could let me know your thoughts on it. :) Be honest now, I won’t be offended. I’m not sure about the colors but we’ll give it a try for a bit.

All the images in the title bar are our own photos, and you’ll see these and other photographs of ours from now on with the daily thought posts, I’ve gone through and sorted a bunch of them all ready to post.

So what do you think? Leave a comment, don’t leave me in the dark. ;) Is it an improvement, or did you like the old photo and color scheme better? Do you like the blue date and the dark purple post titles, or did you prefer the pink date and burgundy post titles? What do you think of the new title bar photo at the top?

blog housekeeping, blog template

Blog Housekeeping Update 5th August

I’m in the process of adding a few sections to my sidebars. Is there anyone reading this who has an article or post which would be useful to other bloggers? Would you like me to link to it in my sidebar? Just drop me an email or a blog comment with the link and the title of the post and I will add it to a new section I am creating over the next week – designed to help bloggers find useful posts that can help them blog better or do things they don’t know how to do, like how to guides etc. There’s so much bloggers need to know!

So on the right hand side bar you may spot a new scrolling list titled Bumpzee No-No Follow Faves. This list is slowly coming together as I read through the RSS feed. It will contain some of my favourite blogs from that community, the ones I am learning a lot from, the ones that I enjoy reading, the ones that make me think and challenge me. Please note I won’t be adding blogs that are already listed in other sections of my sidebar – some blogs belong to many communities on Bumpzee.

I’m feeling a bit restless with the blog template again. I found some today that are flat out incredible however I’m not sure they work with the new blogger. If you don’t like the current template I have here, please let me know in the comments section and if enough of you agree it needs changing I’ll look at changing it. Any new template would still be 3 column, hopefully. I am hopeful I might be able to talk Sephy into creating a clean 3 column template which the rest of us can build on. ;)

What I want to do right now is make a new title bar graphic, so I’m going to focus on that for the rest of today. I have an idea of what I want to put there, we’ll see how it goes. ;)

I also have an idea for a business, and I can’t really think straight right now, my head is whirring and yet somehow still managing to play Hotel California which has been on repeat in there for a couple of days now – you can all hear the whirring, right? HUGE thanks to Meg from Dipping Into The Blogpond for posting this brilliantly helpful post The Business Of Blogging which has got me all fired up and thinking of business names and to do lists and next steps.

So what is this great idea I have? I’d love to tell you. But not just yet. I’ll let you know when I know more.

blog housekeeping, blog template, blogrolls

Please bear with us – technical difficulties

If you are viewing this with Firefox, it will all look fine. That’s because Firefox rocks. If you are viewing this with Internet explorer, you will see one entire sidebar missing which is now at the bottom of the site somewhere. That’s because Internet Explorer is pure evil.

Let me not get into my.. hmm, how can I word this.. prejudiced view of people who use Internet Explorer. I’m not racist or sexist or any other ist, except for *browserist*. ;) It’s wrong of me to think like that, it is unfair and I know I’m a browser snob but I can’t help it! I just don’t know how anyone could use Internet Explorer when Firefox exists. I know a lot of people end up using it by default and switch over when they know more about the interwebs.

I know a lot of workplaces make people use Internet Explorer but damnit, people, RISE UP and fight such stupidities! It’s pure discrimination in the work place, forcing you to use one kind of browser. In my opinion, this is just as bad as saying “you have to be heterosexual to work here”. But they’re saying “you have to use an evil piece of software to work here, and compromise everything you know to be right and good in the world”.

And no offence intended to you if you’re using it by choice. But if you are, this site will look pretty bad until Sephy and I figure out how to fix this. May I recommend..

Mozilla Firefox – get it here.

blog template, internet, work

Not a complete disaster..

I think the new blog template looks ok. What do you think? Drop by and have a look, and let me know. The three column layout is something new to me and it did take a bit of getting used to but the advantage is..

<---- everything over there is about Snoskred
The other stuff is over there —–>

Thanks to The Blogger Workshop where I found the theme. I have to say it was really easy to install and then customize. The entire process took about two hours but that is because I went through all of my sidebar stuff bit by bit and decided what I wanted to keep and what to get rid of, I went and got a few new things and then I went off to have lunch and watch TV in the middle of it.

Major lesson learned though – anyone on blogger reading this, I recommend you don’t use the links list blogger has. Always do your links in proper HTML (which looks like this). It will save you a nightmare. At least, it would if you don’t have a Sephy to give you a little secret tip. If you’re using Mozilla Firefox, highlight your list of links, right click, choose view selection source, and you’ll get the HTML. Thanks Sephy, that saved me a ton of time.

The more I look at it the more crazy about it I get. I really love it. The one downside is the sidebars load before the main window and that slows things down a little.

blog template, no doom happened, yay