Notes from underground

يارب يسوع المسيح ابن اللّه الحيّ إرحمني أنا الخاطئ

Archive for the tag “Blogger”

Twitter vs Facebook and blog stats

This blog got the biggest number of hits over the last 30 days on 21 February, when I re-announced an old post on Home Schooling and Bigotry on both Facebook and Twitter.

I just checked the blog stats for that day, and the home schooling post was the most popular. It was interesting, though, that 45 visitors were referred from Facebook, and only 2 from Twitter.

I’m not a great one for stats, and don’t often look at them, though I have noticed that since I moved this blog from Blogger to WordPress the number of visitors dropped drastically and still hasn’t recovered. I moved it because the Blogger editor became more difficult to use.

But another blog I read, A Pilgrim in Narnia, had an article on blogging stats, and so I thought I’d take a closer look at them. And it seems that that blog, too, gets far more hits from Facebook than from Twitter.

Perhaps as a result of this, Twitter has started trying to imitate the Facebook way of doing things, and I suspect that that will cause them to lose a lot more ground a lot more quickly. Instead of doing what Twitter did well, the people at Twitter are trying to do what Facebook does, and doing it badly.

To start with, Twitter was a quick and concise way of sharing information, if necessary with links to where one could get more detail (so great for announcing blog posts). The 140 character limit ensured that. But then they added pictures, which made nonsense of the 140-character limit. Now, like Facebook, they are deciding what to show people, which means that big organisations get more exposure than individuals, and eventually the individuals will leave Twitter to the big organisations to tweet to each other.

There were other tools that enabled one to fine related material on blogs, but they’ve all killed themselves off, perhaps by trying, like Twitter, to emulate the Facebook model instead of doing something useful and unique. There were Technorati and BlogCatalog, which killed themselves off in that way.

So statistically, at any rate, Facebook seems to be one of the best ways of announcing blog posts at the moment



10th Anniversary of Notes from Underground blog

It’s ten years since I started this blog, which I’ve kept going more or less continuously since then.

It was the day that we got an ADSL broadband connection to the Internet, instead of dial-up, with a whole 2 Gigabytes monthly allowance, so for the first time I browsed the Web instead of just going to a specific site, looking at what I needed to look at, and logging off. And in doing that I encountered the Blogger site, and so started this blog on a whim, because Blogger looked easy to use.

I already had three online journals, so I thought starting a new one was an extravagance, but Blogger looked easier to use than the others — you could just start typing stuff. The others had a much clunkier user interface. The LiveJournal one is still there, though I don’t use it much any more.  I was introduced to that by Bishop Seraphim Sigrist, who still blogs there, and what he writes is always worth reading. One of the nice things about LiveJournal is that you can have “friends”, whose journals can be presented to you in a continuous feed, so you can see what they have written. You can see my LiveJournal friends feed here. The other online journals were on Yahoo 360 (long since killed by Yahoo), and something called MyDiary, which had the clunkiest user interface of all.

But Blogger had a streamlined user interface that made it easy to just write thoughts down — ideas that you wanted to share and discuss with people, half-baked ideas that you wanted other people to help you bake by commenting on them, adding to them, or even shooting them down.

When I started this blog on Blogger I didn’t even know what to say, but a blog is supposed to be, first of all, a web log, a log of web sites visited, so I wrote about a site for finding old friends, and you can see the first post here Notes from underground: Seek and ye shall find, And yes, the “Reverse People Finder” I wrote about is still there, and you can still use it.

You may have noticed that this post is not on the original site., and that is because quite soon after I started blogging there, Google, who had taken over Blogger, began messing with the blog editor, and it suddenly became a lot more difficult to use, and lots of things didn’t work any more. In 2006 there was a mass migration of bloggers from Blogger to the WordPress platform, and I started a blog on WordPress, called Khanya, just to be on the safe side. At first it was there as a kind of emergency fallback, in case Blogger became completely unusable, but then I began using it for different things, so the two blogs continued side by side. Eventually the Blogger editor stabilised, and I continued to use it for quick ‘n dirty posts. One major difference was that WordPress allowed you to use captions on pictures, but Blogger made it easier to add pictures without captions.

So it continued until Google began messing with the Blogger editor again, which you can read about here Notes from underground: Blogger’s new user-hostile interface and other atrocities. So I moved the whole blog over to WordPress, and all was well until WordPress began messing with their editor and introduced the new Beep Beep Boop one, which I found completely unusable, and at one point, when they hid the old editor so I could not find it, I began using the old site again. Bad as the new Blogger editor was, it was still better than the new WordPress one. Eventually I found where WordPress had hidden the old editor, and though it is a schlep to find, at least it is still there.

Unless your a dedicated blogger, you probably haven’t got this far, because of all that boring stuff about blog writing software. One result of the deterioration of blogging software is that people have been abandoning blogs and prefer to use sites like Facebook. It’s a pity, because there are many things for which blogs are a much better medium than sites like Facebook. For one thing you can easily find stuff again, even years later, whereas on Facebook you can spend half an hour looking for something that was posted five minutes before, and anything more than 3 days old is gone forever.

There was something else to record on this day 10 years ago. We were visited by an old friend, Trevor Stone. I didn’t blog about that at the time, so I’ll add it here. I knew Trevor from Namibia in the early 1970s. He had come from the UK as a volunteer to work at the Anglican mission at Odibo in Ovamboland as a mechanic maintaining the church  vehicles.

Monday 28 November 2005

Trevor Stone, Pretoria, 28 Nov 2005

Trevor Stone, Pretoria, 28 Nov 2005

Trevor Stone came to see us. He brought news of people from Namibia that I had not heard, and has remained active in support of the work of the Anglican Church there. I learned that Nestor Kakonda, who in the early 1970s had been secretary of St Mary’s Mission, had been killed in a South African raid on Cassinga in Angola, during the wars there. Trevor collected books about Namibian history, and collected information especially about the Kwanyama people and their history. He was arranging for collections of Kwanyama artifacts in Britain to be photographed, so that they could be sent to the University of Namibia and schools there, to be available to students so they could know their own history.



Google+ and Blogger profiles

Google are asking people who use Blogger to merge their Blogger profile with their Google+ one. I think this is a bad idea, and am resisting it as long as possible.

The Google+ profile is inferior to the Blogger one. In the blogger profile, you can click on “Interests” to find other people interested in the same things. So I clicked on “missiology” as an interest, and found a lot of interesting blogs. That doesn’t work with Google+ profiles.

Also, when I go to blogs that have switched to the Google+ profile, the commenting system is linked to Google+ and I find that I cannot type any comments in the comment box. Perhaps it’s just me, in which case I’ll have to develop a conspiracy theory that Google have developed a bug to target me personally.

Last time they seriously messed up Blogger (by crippling the editor) I moved this blog from Blogspot to WordPress. I still have one remaining Blogger blog, my genealogy one, but if they mess with it any more I’ll probably abandon that one too.

Are Google out to destroy blogging?

Google seem to be determined to drive their users away to other platforms. I moved this blog from Blogger to WordPress when they forced their new dysfunctional editor on me.

Now Goggle have been inviting Blogger users to switch their Blogger profile to a Google+ one. But the Google+ one is inferior, from a blogging point of view. On the old Blogger profile you can click on your own, or someone else’s “Interests” and find other bloggers who are interested in those things, and thus find interesting blogs to read. The Google+ profile lacks this feature, so I resisted Google’s blandishments and didn’t switch.

But they punished me for it, because when I wanted to comment on blogs that have switched, I found that I could not do so — you could type anything you liked in the comment box, but nothing would appear on the screen.

One of the blogs on which this happened has now moved to WordPress, and another has gone back to using Disqus for commenting.

And now Google have decided to call their online chat thingy “Hangouts”. Well, I don’t care what they call it, I never do online “chatting” anyway. Watching someone remotely typing on my screen and correcting spelling as they go (or not) is as bad, if not worse, than watching paint dry. But for those who do like such chatting, beware. Now there is this: nourishing obscurity — Hangouts is an analogy for Big Brother.

Actually, all this is probably part of the war between Facebook and Google for market share. They are trying to lock users into believing and acting as if their site is the Internet. They want to force everyone to communicate with other people only on their site. That’s why Facebook changed everyone’s e-mail address to a Facebook one, without telling them, and without telling them how to use it either.

Never forget that you are not the customer. You are the product that they are selling to advertisers.





Is blogging doomed?

One of the blogs in my blogroll is Aquila ka Hecate, which had an interesting (to me, anyway) discussion on the changing seasons. I wanted to comment on it, and found that I could not. Google had somehow linked the commenting facility to their Google+ (which becomes more clunky by the day), and it would not let me enter a comment. I could type the comment, but nothing appeared on the screen.

It was because of such things that I moved this blog from Blogger to WordPress several months ago. And the last thing I posted there was some negative comments about their trying to link blogs to Google+. In that case it was because of the reduced functionality of the Google+ profile, which they wanted to substitute for the Blogger one. But now they have included the commenting system as well, which doesn’t merely have reduced functionality, it simply doesn’t function at all.

And Aquila ka Hecate tried to move her blog to WordPress, here, and that doesn’t seem to have been too successful either? Is blogging doomed? It seems that the major blog hosts are out to destroy it.



This blog has moved from Blogger to WordPress

This blog was hosted by Blogger from 2005 until 20 September 2012.

The foisting of the new user-hostile Blogger interface on users was the last straw, so I’ve moved it to WordPress. 

Not only was the new interface harder to use, but it seemed that a lot of the old functionality has been lost. WordPress was always better for posting graphics than Blogger, but now it seems that the graphics capabilities of Blogger have been reduced still further, so it doesn’t seem to be worth continuing.

I started this blog towards the end of 2005, when Blogger was much easier to use than LiveJournal, though I still occasionally post stuff at LiveJournal.

Then when they began messing around with Blogger on a previous occasion a lot of people moved to WordPress, and I started another blog on WordPress, just to be on the safe side. It was called Khanya, and it has now become my main blog, as it gets about twice as many readers as this one.

For many years I posted to both blogs, depending on the requirements of the post, and the relative strengths of Blogger and WordPress — each one had its own strengths and weaknesses.

But the latest changes are just too much, and it doesn’t seem to be worth continuing.

I’ll leave the old Blogger version of this blog there for as long as Blogger is willing to host it, because there are links from other blogs and web sites, and I’d prefer not to break them. Broken links are one of the annoying things about the web, and I don’t want to add to them.

But any new posts will be added here, or on my Khanya blog, once I’ve worked out how to distinguish them, now that they are on the same blogging platform.

Postponing the inevitable

I see the message about the new Blogger interface has been reduced from months to mere days. How dreadful!

The old Blogger interface will be removed in the coming days.

We’ve made many improvements to the new Blogger interface. Learn more

You can upgrade to the new interface at any time.

I did try the new interface, and found it much harder to use, much less versatile. So I went back to the old one. So I’m not switching to the new one until I have to.

Old Blogger interface – a huge improvement

Recently my Blogger dashboard switched from the old interface to the new one, which I’ve been struggling with for the last few weeks.

Now someone has explained to me how you can get the old one back.

If you have had the new and degraded Blogger dashboard foisted on you, you can (at least for the time being) get the old one back.

There’s a little cogwheel thingy up in the top righthand corner of the new and degraded Blogger dashboard.

Click on it and among the options that are revealed is the option to revert to the old and improved Blogger interface.

Hat-tip to a commenter on nourishing obscurity | Google/Blogger/WordPress’s kindergarten coders

Ah, bliss!

If the new interface is foisted on us, I predict another huge move to WordPress.

Google revamps Blogger — is it worth it?

The last time Google revamped Blogger, it was dysfunctional for 6 months or more, and thousands of Blogger users packed it in and moved to WordPress.I myself started a WordPress blog, and got ready to move completely if Blogger got any worse, but I kept this one open, and eventually Blogger was more or less fixed, and most of the stuff that was broken started working again. But my WordPress blog quickly passed this one in the number of readers, and still gets about twice as many readers a day as this one. 

Now they’re at it again. According to their hype, “Introducing the completely new, streamlined blogging experience that makes it easier for you to find what you need and focus on writing great blog posts.”

Does it live up to the hype?

Not really.

It actually makes it harder to find what you need. Perhaps some of that is unfamiliarity, and we’ll get used to it, but the main change is that they’ve put everything into a smaller type in order to make it harder to read, and they’ve hidden a lot of functions behind cryptic symbols so you have to hover your cursor all over the screen to find what you’re looking for. There used to be a clear and unambiguous label “Edit Posts” and you would get a list of recent posts and drafts that you could edit. Now they’ve hidden it away behind a cryptic symbol, but I can’t remember what it is. In the past (and still on blog posts) they’ve used a pencil icon for “Edit Post”, but now they sometimes use it for creating a new post, so it gets very confusing.

On improvement has been the linking. You can now, when you add a link, choose if you want it to open in a new tab or page by ticking a box, instead of editing it afterwards and typing in ‘target=”_blank”‘. That’s a definite improvement.

Another improvement has been in simplifyingt their HTML code. Now if you click on the i for italics it uses the code , which is better than the nonsense that the older editor produced, but is still not as good as WordPress’s use of the standard HTML .

It seems to put pictures where you want them in posts, rather than putting them at the top and leaving it up to you to move them down if you didn’t want it at the top. But its picture placement is still not as easy to use as the one in WordPress. Where it scores over WordPress is in the same ways as it did before — the use of Javascript widgets, for example.

And then there’s some weird stuff:.

On the new Blogger dashboard they say:

Connect Blogger to Google+ and get a suite of new features that will help you build and engage your audience. Learn more.

Well, I clicked on the “learn more”, and learnt nothing, zilch, nada.

All it does is that it gives you some hype about Google+. It tells you nothing about what happens when you connect your blog to Google+, which is what I wanted to “learn more” about. It also doesn’t tell you if you can disconnect it if you don’t like what happens.

And this seems to lead into and link up to this: Can We Still Trust Google? – Danny Brown

Notes from underground: six years old today

Today is this blog’s blogiversary, six years old today. I called it Notes from underground because I’d just re-read Dostoevsky’s novel of that name, and thought it would be rather nice.

Here are the first couple of posts, rather experimental Notes from underground: November 2005.

The world has changed a bit since then.

Back then I was saying that our President Thabo Mbeki, for all his faults, was a lot better than George Bush and Tony Blair.

Now I would say that our President Jacob Zuma, whatever his good points, is no better than Barack Obama and David Cameron, and in some respects a lot worse.

I don’t know how many posts I’ve written in this blog over the last few years, but different statistics report somewhere between 110000 and 138000 page reads, and visitors mostly come from:

United States – 45,166
United Kingdom – 9,163
South Africa – 6,393
Germany – 4,645
Canada – 3,004
Russia – 2,267
Denmark – 2,045
Australia – 1,836
Netherlands – 1,673
Slovenia – 1,394

The puzzling one there is Slovenia. Why Slovenia, I wonder?

Before starting this blog I used LiveJournal, but it was a bit clunky and difficult to use. It was intended more as a journal than a blog, and after seeing quite a lot of Blogger blogs I thought I’d try it out, and I was impressed with the ease of just sitting down and writing something.

What was most impressive was tools like the “Blog this” one, which made it easy to save the URL of a web site and comment on it, which is what blogging was originally all about.

At that time Blogger had just been taken over by Google, and about three months after I began using it Google decided to “improve” it, which meant that many features that I liked most, including “Blog this”, stopped working. Google seemed to be taking their time about bringing in the replacements for the missing features, and at that time many bloggers switched from Blogger to WordPress, because Blogger was broken for about 18 months.

Eventually I too started a WordPress blog, mainly to see how it worked, in case I too had to switch, but quite soon after that Blogger was fixed, and so I began using both in parallel. Each of these blogging platforms had its strong points. WordPress was better for graphics, and also used straightforward HTML markup, whereas blogger used about a lot of commands just to display something like italic text (what it puts behind the scenes for that is italic text, whereas WordPress uses the straightforward italic text).

But Blogger is much better at displaying third-party Javascript widgets, some of which are quite useful.

So where I posted something would depend largely on which features of the blogging platform I wanted to use. If I wanted pictures with captions, I’d use WordPress, while for pictures without captions, Blogger would do, though if there were many pictures you would have to move them individually to where you wanted them, whereas WordPress puts them where in the post you want them to go.

Blogger remains better for quick and dirty web-logging — using “Blog this” to post a link to a web page and comment on it.

I’m not sure why, but my WordPress blog, though started later, gets about twice as many visitors as this one.

And for quicker and dirtier stuff I’ve found Tumblr even better, so both this one and the WordPress one feed into Tumblr to be summarised.

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