Category Archives: Tech

Blogger Commenting Update

Well, I figured out what’s going on with the Blogger commenting issue. It isn’t a bug; it’s intentional. The Blogger team has added OpenID support for commenting in their Beta (or Draft) version of Blogger, to replace the manual name/URL option–hoping to encourage the use of OpenID and maybe reduce comment spam, I think. See their post about it here. In the meantime, for some crazy reason they thought it would be a good idea to take off the name/URL commenting not only in the Draft version, but also the current version, which does NOT yet have OpenID support. So, basically, they completely screwed everyone who isn’t using the Draft version.

I don’t think it’s a good idea, anyway, to get rid of the name/URL field…it took me more than half an hour to get an OpenID account and get it set up with my blog URL so I could comment and air my complaints about the whole thing. Now, granted, that’s a one-time thing, but it’s still a barrier of entry to the casual commenter, who will probably decide not to comment at all rather than go through the hassle. If I hadn’t been really angry about the implementation of this “feature” which seems to be actively trying to keep me from commenting on my friends’ blogs and wanted to let Blogger know how angry I was, I probably wouldn’t have bothered either.

In any case, the hassle I just went through doesn’t really do me much good, since the feature isn’t available in the current release yet. If you do want to implement it, you can log into your Blogger blog using draft.blogger.com instead of www.blogger.com, go to your dashboard settings under comments and select “Registered Users – includes OpenID” under “Who Can Comment?” Note that if you do this, there won’t be an option for anonymous commenting anymore. edit: Actually, you can set it to “Anyone” and OpenId is included. I swear it wasn’t when I checked a second ago, but I tried it again and it was. end edit I’m not necessarily suggesting you do it, just saying that you can. So basically, you can allow anyone to comment but they’re unable to leave URLs, or you can limit commenters to people with OpenIDs or Blogger accounts (which link to their profile rather than their blog, even if their blog is on Blogger, which can lead to confusion if they have more than one Blogger blog). Talk about exponentially increasing the barrier of entry for commenters, especially for those of us who have a strong mixture of casual readers without blogs (and probably without OpenIDs) and bloggers who don’t use Blogger. edit: So this complaint is mostly moot, though I still think forcing people to sign up for OpenID if they want to leave their URL is a bit heavy-handed. end edit

I like the support for OpenID; eventually being able to have one ID across many platforms is going to be almost necessary in the fragmented online world, but that time is not really here yet, and there needs to be an option for allowing traceable comments without forcing people to sign up for OpenID. I’m sorry, but even though I know what the issue is now, I still think Blogger dropped the ball on this. Anyone who wants to switch to WordPress.com or a self-hosted WordPress blog (or other blog platform, but I haven’t found one as easy to use and full-featured as WordPress yet, plus OPEN SOURCE, so I always recommend it), the time is right.

Did Blogger Just Get More Annoying?

Sorry, brief rant about Blogger. I hate Blogger. I love Google. How is it that one of my favorite web companies owns the blogging software that gives me the most grief? (That’s probably partially because EVERYONE USES IT, but that’s a different thing.) I used to be able to choose to post comments with my name and a link to my blog instead of to my defunct Blogger account. Now I go to post a comment and I can still do the Google account, of course, but I can no longer use another name/URL. Well, I take that back. I can put in a name, but there’s no place to put in a link back to my blog, unless I put it in the body of the comment, which is just tacky. That’s how you get new traffic, people! You comment, people like your comment, want to know what else you’ve written, so they click the link back to your blog. (At least it’s one way…I do that all the time.) Blogger accounts barely manage this even if you do have your blog on Blogger because of the silly way they have it link to your profile instead of to your blog, and if your blog is somewhere else you’re apparently now screwed. I realize Google wants to own the world, but seriously? Seriously.

Is this true of everyone’s Blogger blog, or is the one I’m trying to comment on set up strangely?

More importantly, would someone please explain to me the attraction of Blogger over WordPress.com?

edit: I hope this post doesn’t sound too narcissistic. Not that the blogosphere in general isn’t narcissistic. But comments, links and trackbacks are how it all works.

Paper-Writing Season = Time for a Layout Change!

We’re coming down to the wire on this semester; only two weeks left to finish up (aka write) those final papers and do those last projects. And we know what that means! Layout change! It’s like a Pavlov’s dog scenario, for serious. Anyway, I’ve actually been messing around with the layouts for a while, but I kept getting roadblocked from what I really wanted to do by my lack of PHP knowledge. But mostly what I wanted was to be able to do was highlight video clips, and I finally found a layout template that had enough space in the sidebar to manage. I can never decide how many columns I need, so this one that lets me sort of have both two and three at the same time is perfect!

Of course, the real reason I needed to move to something with wider sidebars is so I could display my brand spanking new Xbox Live Gamertag. I tell you what, the thing is eating my life. In a good way. Mostly. I’m now addicted to getting achievements, which is encouraging me to replay Call of Duty 2 at the highest difficulty to get more. I never do that. I used to just play games through on Normal difficulty once and then quit; yay for increasing replay value! I also finished Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, which was so great I’m very close to naming it my new favorite RPG, even over Knights of the Old Republic. And that’s saying something. It’s saying a lot, actually. Now I’m lusting after Mass Effect, but I’m going to wait and give it to myself as a post-semester reward. In any case, if you have Live and know me, add me! I don’t know very many people on Live, so I need friends.

It also lets me put last.fm‘s radio widget in there instead of the playlist one; I no longer have full control over the songs, but they’re all recommended based on my musical taste and they’re the full songs rather than the 30-second preview. I think that’s better. Plus I don’t have to feel guilty that I haven’t changed the playlist for months.

Let’s see, anything else new and interesting? Or at least new? Nope, not really. Back to last week’s Grey’s Anatomy. It has Seth Green! I swear, I’m getting to the point where I recognize half of the guest stars on TV. Eliza Dushku was on Ugly Betty last week, which was awesome. I miss her. Did I ever post about the show she and Joss Whedon are working on? I don’t think I did. But they’re working on a new show, and I’m so excited. Okay, rambling now.

New Subscription Stuff

This post is now out of date. Please see here for more recent information on the site layout and subscription information.

I just moved the RSS Subscription box around on the main page again, putting it closer to the top on the left, and adding fancy orange RSS icons. Yay for figuring out how to modify the code for widgets! (I have a love-hate relationship with the WordPress widget system; don’t even get me started.)

Anyway, I’ve been using Tumblr for a while now to post videos, pictures, quotes and other random stuff I find around on the web that I don’t really want to bother writing a whole post about, but want to share. I tried for a few weeks to redo my whole layout to be able to incorporate a sort of Tumblr-esque sidebar or section within WordPress (so that both regular posts and tumblelog posts would show up in the same RSS feed), but gave up due to my near-complete lack of php knowledge. I have had the RSS feed from Tumblr showing in the sidebar, though. Similarly, I’m getting more into Twitter lately, now that I’ve got my phone set up with it. Twitters show up in my sidebar too, but again with the lack of integration with this blog.

So here’s the current compromise. With the help of FeedJumbler and FeedBurner, I have created individual and combined feeds for these three areas of my online life. You can:

  • Subscribe to the blog only. This will get you all the entries you see on this page, as well as the short asides on the top right.
  • Subscribe to the tumbleblog only. This will get you everything on this Tumblr page.
  • Subscribe to the Twitter feed only. This will get you everything on this Twitter page.
  • Subscribe to the blog and the tumblelog. Then you get all the entries here as well as the video and photo posts on Tumblr.
  • Subscribe to all three. Then you get it all.
  • There is another option, not for the faint of heart. You could subscribe to my Friendfeed, which includes not only the three things above, but also my Flickr feed (photos I post), my del.icio.us bookmarks, and my last.fm listening log, my GoogleReader shared items, and other things. So if you’re trying to stalk me, here ya go.

edited 3/29/08 to include the FriendFeed option

Networking confuses me :(

I’m having it up to here with networking right now. Not the interpersonal kind of networking that gets you jobs and things, though I have issues with that as well; the computer kind.

My laptop has a wireless connection to the internet via the cable modems scattered throughout the apartment complex. I can connect my Xbox360 (yes, I bought one) to my laptop via an ethernet cable, which works fine for sharing media between the two (i.e., I can play songs and stuff from my computer through the Xbox360 and thus through my stereo system). It seems to me that I should thus be able to get to the internet from the Xbox360 to take advantage of the Xbox Live stuff, right? Wrong. I figured maybe I had to tell my laptop to share the internet connection, so I went into network connections and did that, but I get an error message saying that there’s an IP address conflict.

I’ve tried Googling the error message, and everything I get has to do with messing with the router. But I don’t HAVE a router. I don’t have a working modem. (I’m not leeching, if that’s what you’re thinking; the apartment complex pays for everyone’s internet, so it doesn’t matter who connects to which modem throughout the complex.) So I can’t do that.

Really bringing this to a head was my desire to poke around on the Xbox website, but they won’t even let me IN unless I sign in with my gamertag. Problem being that I signed up for Xbox Live about two and a half years ago, and apparently that was before the one time my credit card went missing and I got a new one, so it won’t recognize that I’m me (because you have to give the last four digits to identify yourself when you forget your password, which I also did). Helpfully, it says that I can find out the information I used to sign up by signing into Xbox Live on my console. Which I CAN’T DO, because I can’t get it to connect to the internet.

So, someone who knows more about networking than I do, is there any way to fix this in my current setup? Or do I need to try AGAIN to get Time Warner to fix my modem (something I have tried to do unsuccessfully, and it was an incredibly painful phone call just trying to get someone who knew what the hell they were talking about, and even then, as afore mentioned, it was unsuccessful).