Category Archives: Blogs

Google Blogger loses links and blog lists: what to do next

Google Blogger has done it again. A major update to the service was rolled out at the end of September and many users woke up to find that the links and blog lists they had so carefully created had gone.   See the Blogger Help Forum for some of the postings and comments on the incident.  Blogger engineers are supposedly working to restore the lost information  but it “may take up to several days.” Or never! This is not the first time that blog content has gone missing after an update. A few years ago an update somehow removed the most recent posts from people’s blogs. Most of them were eventually recovered but a few disappeared without trace.

The lesson learned from that experience was back up your blog. In Blogger the import and backup tool is under Settings, Other and at the top of the page. Note, though that this will only backup the text of pages, posts and comments. It does not backup any changes you have made to the template, or the content of the gadgets in your sidebars such as links lists and blogrolls. For the  template click on Template in the lefthand sidebar and then on Backup/Restore. This will save the general layout of the gadgets but not the content. For that you will need to copy and save the content for each gadget or save a copy of the content and HTML of your blog.  Back up your Blogger blog: photos, posts, template, and gadgets has details of what you need to do.

And don’t forget your photos. For those use Google’s Takeout service at

If you don’t have a copy of your lists of links then see if you can access an older cached version of your blog  via Google or Bing and save the whole page, or take screen shots. If you try this several days after the event you may be out of luck. Mine were still in the cached page for up to 2 days but have now gone. In Google, use the ‘cache:’ command, for example:

An alternative is to search for your blog and next to your entry in the results lists there should be a small downward pointing green arrow. Click on it and then on the ‘Cached’ text to view the page.  This works in both Google and Bing  and, again, the sooner you do this the better.


If none of that works then try the Wayback Machine. Type in the URL of your blog and see if they have any snapshots.


Still no joy? Then either hang around a while longer to see if the Blogger engineers manage to revive your lists or start rebuilding them from scratch. If you haven’t looked at them in a while, maybe now is the time to review the content anyway.

Batten down the hatches on your WordPress blog

“Install a WordPress blog on your own site and you’re asking for trouble” someone once said to me. I went ahead anyway and switched my blog from Blogger to WordPress. I knew that I would need to keep the WordPress software updated: hackers are quick to spot and share vulnerabilities in php and MySQL, which are used by WordPress.

The first time I didn’t do this was because a major upgrade was due in a couple of weeks so why go through the hassle of installing minor bug and vulnerability fixes? The answer came as I was demonstrating my blog’s features to a very public workshop. Sniggers from some of the participants indicated that something was awry.

“Do you really recommend those viagra sites listed in your blogroll?”

“Oh s**t!” I thought. It was a good example, though, of the dangers of not keeping your software up to date. It was not a major disaster and quickly sorted. I removed the offending links and upgraded as soon as I made it back to the office. I also swore that I would never let that happen again, but easier said than done.

I have been pretty busy lately and doing a lot of travelling. That sometimes makes it difficult to download and install the WordPress updates. Version 2.7.1 had been announced but I was up in Glasgow for a couple of days. A couple of days was enough for the hackers to do their work. As soon as an update is announced, WordPress very kindly tells you and the rest of the world which vulnerabilities the update deals withs. If  the hackers did not know about them before they do now and target blogs usiing the previous version. And they targetted mine!

As a visitor to my blog, you would not have noticed anything unusual because the toe rags managed to add a couple of extra files that added invisible links to the template for my category pages. The first I knew about it was as I was sitting in Glasgow airport waiting to board my flight back home. I checked my email and there was an email from Google saying:

“While we were indexing your webpages, we detected that some of your pages were using techniques that are outside our quality guidelines….. Specifically, we detected hidden text on your site. For example…”

Then they dropped the bombshell:

“In order to preserve the quality of our search engine, pages from are scheduled to be removed temporarily from our search results for at least 30 days. We would prefer to keep your pages in Google’s index. If you wish to be reconsidered, please correct or remove all pages (may not be limited to the examples provided) that are outside our quality guidelines. When such changes have been made, please visit to learn more and submit your site for reconsideration.”

It had only taken the hackers 2 days to identify my blog as using the older, vulnerable version of WordPress with the result that I was consigned to the Google sin-bin for at least a month.

Once I was back I tracked down and removed the offending files and code – the hackers  had modified the template for my blog category pages – and updated WordPress. I then changed  my user name and password and did something I should have done months ago: added the new security keys. There are now four of them and they make your site harder to hack and access harder to crack.

Having done all that I toddled off to Google, abjectly apologised and, as they requested on the appeals page, explained what had happened and what I had done to prevent it happening again. Then I sat back, viewed the 30% drop in traffic to my site, and sobbed into my G&T as I contemplated at least another 25 days of the Internet equivalent of being sent to Coventry.

Good news this morning, though. I am back in Google’s index! The security on my blog is now tighter than the proverbial duck’s posterior but I shall make sure that I shall

a) update “as soon as” and whatever it takes

b) install all additional security features that WordPress recommend
c) regularly check my web site and blog for files that weren’t there yesterday.

I might not be so lucky next time.

WordPress introduces tags

At long last WordPress supports tags. It has always had categories, but you have to set these up beforehand and they are only really useful as broad subject headings. They are usually displayed in a side bar on your WordPress blog, and the list becomes far too long and unusable if you treat categories as index terms or very specific, one-off tags. One of the problems I had when converting my Blogger blog plus tags to a WordPress blog with categories was the huge number of categories the conversion generated. I spent about half a day pruning the category list. Now, as well as assigning categories to a posting, WordPress lets you assign tags on the fly. I am not sure how this will affect the Blogger to WordPress conversion programs, so would be interested to hear from anyone who tries it with the new system in place.

Blog Bling

Phil Bradley has already reported briefly on the double act that he and I performed at the Web 2.0 Forum at the Library and Information show in Birmingham last week. There are no Powerpoints because we made it up as we went along – OK, not strictly true. We discussed via email the areas of web 2.0 ‘stuff’ we would each cover, and decided to adapt our presentations depending on what the other person had just mentioned. It worked! And it was great fun. Phil kicked off with his favourite Web 2.0 stuff (Pageflakes) and instead of going straight into social bookmarking I found myself talking about My Yahoo and Google’s personalised home page (about which there is a warning post from me later). Towards the end, Phil waxed lyrical about all the widgets and gizmos that can add pizazz to your blog, calling them “bling for your blog”. It is barely one week on from that presentation and I am already reading and hearing people call it ‘Blog Bling’.

So what is your favourite blog bling?

RSS, Blogs and Wikis – Woking Library

I am doing a repeat of my Basingstoke RSS, Blogs and Wikis presentation at Woking Library on Tuesday, 20th February. It is being organised by the Surrey Library & Information Group and kicks off at 6 pm. All those who work or have worked in Library and Information services in Surrey and the surrounding areas are welcome.

If you are interested in attending please contact Hilary Ely, Surrey County Council Libraries & Culture, East Area Office, Omnibus, Lesbourne Road, Reigate, Surrey RH2 7JA by Wednesday 14th February 2007, e-mail: Tel: 01737 737687 Fax: 01737 737649.

As an aside, I am delighted to see that the Hampshire and Isle of Wight sub-branch of CILIP’s South East Branch, and who invited me to give the talk at Basingstoke library, now have a blog at The Blog – Another Tool in Your Arsenal

This is a very useful article by Janet Peros, legal reference librarian and co-chair of the Law Library Association of Greater New York’s education committee. It outlines the use of blogs and RSS feeds in several US legal firms, and how they have been used to replace newsletters for keeping partners and clients up to date. In some instances the mini case-studies mention the software and services used to publish the blogs and generate feeds. The motivation and reasoning behind the decisions to switch from conventional alerting services that are discussed in this article are relevant to any type of organisation in any country. The article is a good source of ammunition for those of us in the process of persuading colleagues and managers that blogs and RSS are a good idea!

One day in history

Take part in the biggest blog in history!

Found in Peter Scott’s Library blog:

“The heritage organisations involved in the “History Matters – pass it on” campaign are asking every UK resident to take part in a mass blog event, which will record how we lived on one single day: Tuesday, 17th October 2006. The aim is to create a massive electronic treasure chest of diaries showing everyday life at the beginning of the 21st century, to be kept as a social history archive by the British Library. The date is chosen deliberately as an ordinary Tuesday, with no national importance. But with your help, it will become truly “One Day in History”: by logging on to and taking part in this mass blog everyone will be contributing something valuable to the historic record a fascinating resource for future generations to explore. Uploading can be done until 31 October 2006″

Google Blog Search

Google is the first of the major web search tools to launch a dedicated Blog Search – in beta of course. It does not search the full text of the postings, only the RSS and Atom feeds generated by the blog. Older posts that were generated before Blog Search started crawling or are not in a current feed are not included. Google says that it covers “every blog that publishes a site feed (either RSS or Atom).” When I ran my test searches, it picked up several pages that are not blogs but do have RSS or Atom feeds. For many of us this is not an issue. I am often looking for feeds on a topic or industry sector and do not care whether they are generated by a blog or by some other means. There may be times, though, when one does want to limit a search to blogs so one needs to bear this in mind.

The indexing is fast. Blog Search picked up one of my postings just 22 minutes after I had published it. Results can be sorted by date or relevance.

The Advanced Search has the usual ‘all the words’, phrase, ‘at least one of the words’, and ‘without the words’. Additional options include ‘words in the post title’, ‘words in the blog title’, ‘at this URL’, ‘blogs and posts written by’, limit by date and language.

You can also set up alerts. Go to the bottom of your results page and you can ask to have 10 or 100 results as an Atom or an RSS feed.

You can access Google Blog Search at for the Google style interface, or at if you prefer the Blogger style.

Gigablast Launches Blog Search

Gigablast Launches Blog Search

Gigablast has added a blog search to its home page covering nearly 16.5 million pages. I have not had time to test it thoroughly and compare results with tools such as Feedster and Technorati, but it seems worth adding to my blog search toolkit. There are the same advanced search features as in the web search and the usual Giga Bits that suggest related terms and searches to add to your strategy. For example, I typed in ‘climate change peak oil’ and it came up with quite a lengthy list including ‘oil production peak’, ‘oil depletion’, ‘action on climate change’. You click on a suggestion and it adds it to your existing search string. I find this a very quick and easy way of coming up with different pages of results on a topic.