Google’s Blogger is apparently now a little more okay with more risque blogs, enacting a warning before users visit a blog that contains objectionable content. Previously, if users marked a blog as such, Google would disable public access to the blog, but now it puts up a warning, but ultimately lets them visit if they want to. With all the censorship going on, its nice to see little reasonable action to let people view what they want to.
When commenting on a Blogger blog, you don’t want to have to leave the page open in your browser, refreshing until someone replies to your comment. Instead, subscribing to those comments will let you leave and get a notification when someone talks back, but until now, Blogger only offered Atom feed subscriptions, which are a bit much for a one-time thing.
Now, you can tell Blogger to send you comment replies via email, thanks to a feature added late last week. You’ll need to leave your comments via a Google Account (no help for anonymous cowardly commenters) and you’ll get a notification whenever someone leaves a new comment after yours, so no worries about keeping track of your latest flame war.
(via Jordan McCollum)
Google Gears, Google’s platform for running online applications while not connected to the internet, has been a ton of potential that wasn’t being realized, since Google launched it with Google Reader and then did nothing for five months. For Gears to be successful, it has to be more useful than a one-app pony, and Google wasn’t using it for anything.
The other service which is getting actual Gears integration is Google Calendar, as spotted by Andy Beal. Some slueths at Blogoscoped discovered you will be able to view and edit the next three months of your calendar after a Gears-enabled browser logs onto Calendar and syncs up. Presumably, you’ll be able to view a decent number of past appointments as well. No idea when this functionality goes live, but its promising.
I’m going to go speculating and say that it appears Google has decided to leave the job of integrating Gears with the various Google services to the actual product teams, which could be why its taking so long. Most Google teams have a lot of work on their plates, and might not have time to do this. I can’t imagine the Google Docs guys having a lot of time, with the high visibility and pressure of their products, which is a shame since Docs (and Gmail) are the most anticipated products to get Gears eventually.
The Blogger guys have released a fun site that shows the latest photos being uploaded to Blogger. Check out Blogger Play to see continuously running slideshow of photos on Blogger blogs. You can read up on the site at the Blogger Buzz blog, which explains how this was a cool thing they used in the Blogger offices, till someone asked the obvious “so, when are you launching this?” question.
Video uploads to Blogger have left Blogger In Draft and become a feature of the full-fledged Blogger, meaning users of Blogger can now upload video while writing a post. The videos use Google Video’s player (customized with a Blogger logo and not available in Google Video search, for privacy reasons), and they do not count against your limited free storage space for images.
Videos are also automatically added as enclosures in posts, so every blog using them is also a video podcaster and compatible with most podcatchers. In other words, people can subscribe to your blog in software like iTunes and automatically download the latest video.
Last Thursday was Blogger’s eighth birthday, with the world’s first real blogging service surviving for an amazing number of years. This months is also the one-year anniversary of when we found out a new version of Blogger was coming, and thank god for that. If you’d told me before then that Blogger would last ten years, I’d call you crazy, but they’ve done a real good job the last year, guaranteeing the service survives at least a few more.
Can Blogger ever become number one again? I doubt it. Windows Live Spaces proved that users like their blogging as part of more of a social networking experience, so unless Google plans on making Blogger more of a communications platform than a publishing one, Blogger will be successful, but never have the place it used to.
Google’s Blogger has added to its interface the ability to place ads between blog posts, known as inline ads. Using Blogger’s Dashboard, users can click a check box to “Show Ads Between Posts”, which gives them the option of spreading the ads after every one or more post (for example, selecting to show every 2 posts would show an ad after the 2nd, 4th and 6th post), up to three ads per page, and customize the size and color of those ads.
While this was always possible with complex code and sometimes some bad or genius hacks, Google is bringing this to the blog dashboard so even beginner’s can do it with ease. Features like this are extremely important if Google wants to win back many of the users it lost to Windows Live Spaces, but it’ll also need more of the MySpace/Facebook-like social networking features many younger users demand.
Blogger’s control panel added an area where you can submit a message to show to visitors when they try to comment on your blog. Just go to Comments on the Settings Tab and you’ll see an area for “Comment Form Message”. Whatever you enter in there will be displayed as a message to commenters above the commenting box. If you want to tell them of your policy, instruct them not be to be idiots, or just say something cute, here’s your opportunity.
Twitter is like Blogger’s cousin, considering both were started by the same guy and several Blogger employees left Google to work on Twitter. So, it’s only natural that the “relatives” would work well together. The team at Twitter have released a new web badge you can click to add to your Blogger sidebar and show your latest Twitter updates. It can show the most recent 1-20 Tweets, and you can customize or remove the title.
(via Blogger Buzz)
Blogger In Draft has a new page element feature, a search box that uses both the Google AJAX Search API and Google’s Custom Search Engine to deliver a great search experience for your blog. The search box uses the linked CSE feature to search all the posts on your blog, everything you’ve ever linked to from your blog, and any sites listed in your blogroll or any other sidebar lists. Adding it is as easy as choosing the widget and adding it to your template, so check it out.
The search results appear on-page, without the page loading. They just push the blog post down. There are at least two tabs, one for results from your blog, one for sites linked to from your blog, and one each for every link list in your sidebar (like one for blogroll, one for favorite posts).
One of the most important (and not very easy) things to do when you start using FeedBurner is to redirect your RSS feed to FeedBurner so that all your subscribers use it. I’ve heard it involved a complicated process requiring a shaman or black magic, but I’m not entirely sure. Now that Google’s bought FeedBurner, its Blogger service has simplified the procedure. All you have to do is enter your FeedBurner RSS URL into your Blogger Dashboard under Settings > Site Feed > Post Feed Redirect URL, and you’re done. That easy.
(via Ionut Alex)
Jason Shellen, one of the Blogger six who came over to Google four and a half years ago, has left the company. Jason announced the move on his blog, giving the whole story of how he joined Pyra Labs as an unpaid consultant because he really liked the company, and was working hard there three years later when they were the first company Google acquired along with its staff.
Jason worked hard on Blogger for years, especially after Blogger’s founder, Evan Williams, left to start Odeo, and eventually, Twitter. Jason later came into his own, developing an outright hit in Google Reader, the most popular RSS reader on the web today. With his pedigree, he’ll probably be able to get good funding for a startup, which seems like his plan after some well-deserved time off.
Congratulations, Jason, on making the big move! I don’t know if he got a bunch of Google stock from the Blogger acquisition, and he certainly deserved some sort of bonus or Founder’s Award for Google Reader, but even if he’s not stinkin’ rich, I’m just glad to see him moving on because he’s “got that entrepreneurial/start-up bug”. I’m sure whatever comes next, it’ll be real exciting to try out. Good luck in the future, Jason, you certainly deserve it.
Jason published this infographic with his announcement; click it to see some notes at Flickr:
Most interesting is the note over the “acquisitions closed” box, which lists Picasa, Dodgeball, MeasureMap, and Feedburner. Now, we know Google acquired dozens of companies the last 4.5 years, so why is Jason listing those specifically? Is it possible he was instrumental in closing the acquisitions, and is thus listing personal accomplishments? That’s some good work!
Although I’d like to know why Dodgeball was acquired, and whatever happened to it after all this time. Maybe Jason can answer that questions someday.
The first feature has graduated from the Blogger In Draft test platform to become part of the regular Blogger. Blogger now has a poll feature, letting you create a poll widget for your sidebar and ask your readers questions. Here’s a video of the feature in action:
Here’s a post about the feature when it was put in testing, a long time ago. Oh, what a tedious 15 days it has been…
Also graduating from Draft is the feature that lets you include enclosure links in your posts for things like podcasts.
You Gotta love the Webware 100 Awards. With ten winners per category, every multi-billion-dollar corporation can win multiple times, often in every category! Gee, it’s just like the Oscars!
Here’s what Google won:
Google Reader won in the Browsing category, Gmail won in the Communications category, Google won in the Data category, YouTube won in the Media category, GOOG-411 won in the Mobile category
*, Gmail Mobile won in the Mobile category, Google Maps Mobile won in the Mobile category, Google AdWords/AdSense won in the Productivity and Commerce category, Google Calendar won in the Productivity and Commerce category, Google Docs won in the Productivity and Commerce category, Blogger, won in the Publishing category, Feedburner in the Publishing category, Google Analytics won in the Publishing category, and Google Maps won in the reference category.
My Yahoo - Browsing; Yahoo Mail - Communication, Yahoo Messenger - Communications; Yahoo Search - Data; Flickr - Media; Yahoo Video - Media; Yahoo OneSearch - Mobile; Yahoo Maps - Reference.
Internet Explorer - Browsing; Windows Live Hotmail - Communications; Windows Live Messenger - Communications; Windows Live Search - Data; TellMe - Mobile; Microsoft Office Live - Productivity and Commerce; Silverlight - Publishing; Microsoft Virtual Earch - Reference.
Everyone else makes an appearance, and in most categories, every major player is a winner. I love award shows where everyone wins. It’s like those Little Leagues where everyone gets a trophy and no one learns to be an adult.
(via The Google Analytics Blog)
* - cough, bullshit, cough. It’s a brand new service, and unless it feeds the homeless, it deserves nothing yet. Category filler.
Hey, Biz Stone got married over the weekend! Welcome to the club, Biz!
Biz is co-founder of Twitter, a Google refugee from the Blogger team, and helped build a bunch of great an innovative websites, including Xanga, Blogger, Odeo and Twitter. I met him once, briefly, at Digital Life three years ago when I had no audience, and he’s a really cool guy who gave me the time of day. Congrats, Biz! Hope you enjoy being married as much as I do, there’s a lot of joy you don’t even know existed until after you tie the knot.
Blogger has launched a new platform for beta features they are testing, calling it Blogger in Draft. Blogger in Draft is how they can release new features that aren’t quite ready yet, giving users a chance to try out what they are working on. Not only is it cool, it shows us that indeed Blogger has grown up and is again a live platform with active development and new features. Thank god, because a little while back, I was calling Blogger dead and chastising Google for letting it happen.
The first Draft feature (announced on the Blogger in Draft blog) is video uploading, letting you hit a button while writing a post to choose a video and upload it to Google Video.
Philipp points out one ridiculous thing, not that there’s Blogger in Draft:
*To recap, when a Google product or feature is in early status, it’s called: Labs, Experimental, Draft, Test, or Beta.
Jeez, that’s crazy.
If you haven’t looked at Google Labs in a while, check out Mashable, which has a feature on all the Labs products, including quite a few we haven’t heard from in a while.
The Blogger Buzz blog has added a sigificantly improved autosave feature, that automatically saves what you are typing every minute. It’s even smart enough to save more often if you type a lot very quickly, auto-saving every time you stop typing, and auto-saving every post you write as a draft. The old feature was a bit of a hack, saving posts in a cookie, which was very limited and unreliable.
They’ve also changed the keyboard shortcuts so they make more sense. Read about it here.
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