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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Upgrade to New Blogger template from old classic template

I would recommend bloggers still using old classic Blogger template to a New Blogger template. They are so much easier to use, especially for those not comfortable with HTML, CSS, etc., more robust, etc. I will try to discuss some of them below:

Advantages of New Blogger templates compared with old classic Blogger templates

Publishing a post is much faster. New Blogger templates uses dynamic pages versus static pages for old classic template. New Blogger templates have drag and drop LAYOUT with which you can easily customize your blog without having to get into the actual template and wade through long list of codes and perhaps not knowing where to place some codes for some customization or hack. You can easily add and move Page Elements (widgets) like New Blogger Link List (blogroll) or Label List, advertisements, etc. Below is a screenshot of a New Blogger LAYOUT:

New Blogger LAYOUT with cross cursor highlighted with red arrow

If you want to add something, just click "Add a Page Element" and select from a list of various Page Elements. If you want to move something, just hover your mouse over the Page Element you want to move, the normal "white arrow" mouse cursor normal white arrow mouse cursor will change to a "cross arrows mouse cursor" cross arrow mouse cursor (highlighted by a pointing red arrow in the screenshot of the LAYOUT above), and all you need to do is to right-click on the mouse, drag and drop the Page Element to wherever you want it, click "Save" at the top right of the LAYOUT. No need to edit the template. No need to know anything about HTML, CSS, widget codes, etc.

And Google Blogger is increasing the number of list of Page Elements with time plus other third party developers are adding more widgets (same as Page Elements) for you to use. I will publish another post regarding the advantages later as this post is about how to migrate from old classic Blogger template to New Blogger template. If you are worried about losing your customizations, I will write about it later.

How to upgrade blog using old classic template to New Blogger template

Go to blogger.com, sign in to Dashboard, click TEMPLATE for the blog you want to upgrade to New Blogger template. This will take you to the template editor. The very first thing you should do is to backup your template. Click on the inside of the template editor window, right-click and choose "Select All" (or press ctrl+A) to highlight the whole template, right-click again and select "copy" (or press ctrl+C) open a Notepad file, paste the old classic template into the Notepad file by right-clicking and choosing "paste" (or press ctrl+V), save it in a suitable folder with a descriptive file name, including as much details as possible, possibly including the name of the blog plus the date, etc. Make full use of the ability of Windows to use long file names. This will save whatever customization you may have done and help you put them back into the New Blogger template plus give you the chance to get back to your old template if you changed your mind. Actually this may be a superfluous step if you just want to revert to the old classic template as Blogger save it for you, but if you choose to continue with the New Blogger template, this backup template can easily help you extract various customizations you have like visitor counter, advertisements, etc., if you can recognize them.

Next step - at the top, you will see some tabs and sub-tabs:

upgrade to New Blogger template

Click the "Customize design" sub-tab, then click UPGRADE YOUR TEMPLATE. You will then see a list of New Blogger templates. If you can decide on one, fine. If not, choose anyone and don't worry. You can always change later. Click "SAVE TEMPLATE". Don't worry. You can easily change later.

Sources of New Blogger templates

If there is no standard Blogger templates you like, there are third party New Blogger templates at FAQ: 3 column New Blogger templates.

If you want to know why I use this template for all my main blogs, surf over to Best template for my blogs. Template choices are obviously a very personal thing, so you may not agree with me. However, you are free to choose from the templates tested and demonstrated in FAQ: 3 column New Blogger templates and more will be added as I have the time to add them.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Business Blog: Online Pharmacy

Sometimes bloggers request help for setting up online business with minimal expenses. It is possible to make money online by setting up business blogs. A good example will be Good Pharmacy Online. It is planned, among others as an affiliate for Online Canadian Pharmacy Escrow Service.

When you set up a business blog, you should pay particular attention to the template such as things like having a fast page loading time. If a page takes too long to download, visitors will just surf away to another site. It should also have a navigation bar to assist in getting around the website easily and finding the information they are seeking. This business blog uses a sub-domain of Blogger, that is, its URL is something like myblog.blogspot.com. Registering your own domain that have a URL that is something like www.mywebsite.com may command more respect and may be more suitable for a business blog. Good Pharmacy Online may be converted to a New Blogger custom domain, which will use a similar URL minus the .blogspot.com soon. However, even after conversion to use own domain, the original blogspot blog URL will automatically redirect all visitors to the new (own) domain. I will post more about this, how to do it in the easiest and best way possible hope I will remember to update this post with a link to the new post about using custom domains. In the meantime, you may read about the Advantages of New Blogger custom domain (click BACK button to get back to this page).

If you would like to set up something like this, you may contact

to discuss the possibilities.

The Good Pharmacy Online currently have been set up to assist online purchase of medications like acne medications. It has just been recently set up and currently you will not see much there, but now mainly set up for demonstration, but it will be updated and improved slowly as one don't want to set up the whole thing all at once. If you do that, and then just leave it without updating, as time goes by, the search engines will start ignoring (or ranking lower) your website. I think it is better to go slowly, update it frequently. Search engines love websites that are regularly updated.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Blogging services and web hosts

There are many blogging services, also referred to as blogging platforms, which can enable anyone to quickly start a blog. Some are free, some you have to pay, some have both free and paid versions. Also, blogs are used for different purposes of which I will be writing about later, but I just want to mention one of them - business blogs.

Google Blogger blogging platform

Blogger is a blog publishing system. It was created by Pyra Labs, which was bought by Google in 2003. Before Google bought it, there were both paid and free versions. After the purchase, there is only free version. Recently, Google Blogger introduced a more robust system with features long requested by their bloggers, and the most interesting one is custom domain (click BACK button to get back to this page). With this, you can register your own domain and use it for your Blogger blog and Blogger will redirect traffic from your old blogspot sub-domain to your own domain. Not only that, Blogger will even host your custom domain blog for FREE!!!!

However, for reasons of their own, some bloggers prefer to host the blog on their own. Blogger is still free, but they will have to find a web host like Personal Website Hosting. You will of course have to pay hosting fees the quantum of which depend on the package you choose and other things like bandwidth needed, etc.

Google Blogger is one of the most user friendly blogging service around and a complete beginner will be able to get a blog going very fast. However, if he is more fussy and want extras, there are always sites like Blogger Tips and Tricks which gives very useful and easy to follow instruction to do various thing with your blog.

Wordpress blogging service

Wordpress offers both free and paid versions. I tried the free version and was not impressed. They are not as generous as Google Blogger. The paid version of WordPress is a blog publishing system written in PHP and backed by a MySQL database. The free version is very limited and does not attract me. Many says Wordpress has better and features, but that must be referring to the paid version. To use that you MUST host the blog yourself. However, business blogs may be attracted by the better features and may then opt for Business Website Hosting.

Other blogging services

There are many other blogging platforms including LiveJournal, TypePad, Movable Type, Vox, etc., all with different characteristics and features. I have no time to check them all out, but I am pretty sure they would not be as generous as Google Blogger which is owned by the Internet giant and cash rich Google who therefore can afford to be generous.

The above linked web host Burton Hosting offers website templates which I doubt can be used for blogs, but which offers interesting stuff like Flash templates, Flash Introductions, PHP-Nuke Themes, Logo templates and Corporate Identities, all of which may appeal to business websites.

Friday, December 07, 2007

All about graphic Header for your blog, also grahic post title

I get lots of questions about graphic Headers for blogs as bloggers seem to like graphic (image) instead of plain text blog Header. Here is where I put links to all posts connected to graphic blog Header and also one on graphic post title.

Whatever it is, I for one is very reluctant to delete a text Blog title as to me, it is very important from SEO (Search Engine Optimization) as search engines uses the text blog Header to try to figure out what your blog is all about and can help surfers searching for topics you put in your blog find your blog. I for one will never remove the text blog Header, but will find other means to add a graphic blog Header.

Posts related to graphic blog Header

Add graphic to blog Header for New Blogger

Add graphic background to blog Header

Another way to add graphic to blog Header

Graphic blog Header the easy way

Active (hyperlink or clickable blog Header (click BACK button to get back to this page)

Graphic post title

Graphic post title in place of a text post title

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Report Blogger TOS violation

TOS is short for Terms of Service which you should read before you use any services for your own security or getting into problems with the service providers. Refer to Google Blogger TOS (Terms of Service).

If you have problems with

  1. Defamation/Libel/Slander

  2. Someone stealing your content

  3. Spam (Learn more.

  4. Adult or pornographic images

  5. Hate or violence

  6. Impersonation

  7. Illegal/Other

  8. You need to contact another user

  9. Someone is posting your private information

Go to Report a Google Blogger Terms of Service Violation

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Advantages of Custom Domain for New Blogger

I have used Google Blogger (blogspot.com) for years and have been very happy so far. Google Blogger is extremely generous. Now Google Blogger have become even more generous by introducing New Blogger Custom Domain which allows you to register your own domain names so that you can have a URL which is your very own property (not a sub-domain of Blogger) and do not have the .blogspot.com at the end of the URL of your blog. Not only that, Blogger will host the blog for you for free!!!!

Of course you can chose to host your blog on your own, probably using a third party web host, but you will have to pay hosting fees, worry about getting a reliable web host with proper security, etc., getting enough bandwidth and if not sufficient for the amount of traffic your blog receive, pay for more bandwidth, get a FTP (File Transfer Protocol) software to publish your posts via FTP, forced to use the old classic Blogger template and not the New Blogger template and thus miss out on all the new features that New Blogger has to offer, and a host of problems I would like to avoid.

I have stuck to using Blogger's sub-domain for up till now and you can read why at Why I never use custom domain (click BACK button to get back to this page). However, a recent discussion with another blogger budge me into registering some domain names.

Reasons:

1. I have been struggling with the question as to what happens to my blogs and all the hard work I put into them when the time comes when I am no longer able to update and maintain my blogs. None of my children has indicated any interest in taking over, and if they had, the interest was lukewarm.

2. With my own domains, they can choose to either continue with it or put it up for sale if it has good PageRank, have regular visitors and drawing good traffic. I was told John Chow's blog was either offered or sold for millions. I am not exactly aiming to become a millionaire, but becoming one is not going to hurt.

3. People have more respect for a top domain like

bloggerfordummies.com

rather than a sub-domain like

bloggerfordummies.blogspot.com

It is rather like using your home address rather a real business address for your business. Now the PageRank of this blog is a very respectable PageRank 6 at the time of publishing, but the problem is the PageRank belongs to blogspot.com rather than to me. With your own domain names, the PageRank will belong to you and not to Blogger.

So don't be surprised when you start seeing my blogs using my own domain names rather than sub-domains of blogspot.com. When I do so, I hope to remember to put a link here to how I did them.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

HTML Color Codes, color charts and color tools

If you are a blogger fussy with appearance of your blog, or you get involved in activities like Blending colors of your advertisements with the colors of your website or Blending color of your search box with the colors of your website or Change main background color of Rounders template blog, you will have to be familiar with hexadecimal HTML color codes. HTML color codes are codes with a # in front of either 3 or 6 alphabets or numbers or combination of them. An example is #FFFFFF which is the HTML color code for white. It can also be written as #FFF. Of course those with 6 alphabets or numbers or combinations will have a greater range of colors than those with only 3. There are various ways of getting the HTML color code you want.

HTML Color code chart

One of ways is to refer to HTML color charts of which there are many on the web. The URLs of the websites given below are not active (clickable). You will have to copy the URL and paste it into the web browser address bar. The best is to use a web browser like FireFox with tabbed browsing. Then while you are doing whatever you are doing, you can open a new tab and paste the URL into address bar in the new tab. After you get the HTML color code you want, just go back to the original tab and do whatever is needed:

HTML color charts with the # already added in front of the hexadecimal codes:

http://www.webmonkey.com/reference/color_codes/
http://www.computerhope.com/htmcolor.htm

HTML color charts without the # in front of the hexadecimal codes. You will have to add the # yourself:

http://html-color-codes.com/
http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Network/2397/
http://www.immigration-usa.com/html_colors.html

HTML color code by clicking on a chart

These works slightly differently from a color chart displayed on the web page. Some of them are:

http://www.colorpicker.com/
http://www.asahi-net.or.jp/~FX6M-FJMY/java09e.html

To illustrate, let me show you a screenshot of how the first one works:

HTML color code by clicking on a color chart

The red arrow shows where I clicked on a color on a color bar. The HTML color code is highlighted by a red ellipse #815D19. Not that the large square display slight variations of that range of color (all various shades of brown) and the tiny circle which is the shade of brown you selected. The actual color represented by the HTML color code #815D19 is shown in the small square on the left.

Now if you want a different shade of brown, what you can do is to click on a different area of the large square to the left. To illustrate, I will show below another screenshot:

get HTML color code of a different shade of a range of colors

Note that this time I clicked on a different area of the large square on the left indicated by a tiny circle plus the arrow representing the mouse cursor and further highlighted by a red ellipse. The HTML color code is now #595143 (highlighted by another red ellipse and again the actual color chosen is displayed in the small square on the left.

There are still more choices for you. Suppose you don't want any shade of brown, by you want blue instead. What you can do is to click on the blue section of the color bar in the middle, again I will illustrade with a screenshot below:



Note that I have clicked on the lower (blue) section of the color bar (cursor shown as a white arrow highlighted by a red arrow. This time the HTML color code is #434558 and the shade of blue is shown by a tiny circle in the large rectangle on the left and the actual color displayed again in the small square to the right.

Just as above, if you are not happy with this shade of blue, just click on the appropriate point in the large rectangle on the left and you will get a different shade of blue, and so on.

Using color tools

Instead of selecting a HTML color code from a color chart, there are also tools to help you pick the HTML color code from a website which might be your own or others. Some of them are:

http://iconico.com/colorpic/
(free and the one I use)

http://www.adesdesign.net/php/products_color_picker.php
USD 9.90 at time of publishing

Peter Chen's nice graphic signature

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Haloscan commenting system: Problems

I used the Haloscan commenting system in one of my blogs Natural Remedies because someone asked and I need to get some experience so that I can respond. However, I have been having problems because I set the comments for moderation, but each time I get an email notification, click on the link, I get to a page to post a comment. This has been going on for some time, but I got another 3 Haloscan comments to approve. This is the last straw, and I will have to take time off from my other tasks to take care of this one first.

Maybe it is because I am quite satisfied with the Blogger commenting system and don't care so much for the Haloscan system, and probably there is something I don't know. If any of you happen to be using Haloscan system, and you can provide some useful feedback, will highly appreciate you leaving them in the comments (Blogger commenting system for this blog).

Meantime, I will just show what is the problem I am facing. I get an email from Haloscan:

New comments have been posted to your account. To manage these posts
visit:
http://www.haloscan.com

XXXXXX (******@gmail.com) wrote the following:
http://www.haloscan.com/comments/foodasmedicine/7297772000829228166/
Thanks for Papaya Tips.

I have Posted a comments It was not published yet.

This comment is awaiting moderation

To unsubscribe from these email notifications, click the following
link:
http://www.haloscan.com/members/settings.php

Regards,
The HaloScan Team


I click on the link to approve, and this is what I see:

Haloscan comment moderation problem

This is for me to post a comment, not to approve or reject a comment!!! I don't have much time to go learn how Haloscan commenting system works, so I give up. If you have some good tips, please leave them in the comments (Bloger, not Haloscan). Will be highly appreciated by me plus this blog readers.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Does meta tags need to be closed? (or do meta tags occur in pairs?)

The majority of HTML tags occur in pairs, an opening tag and an closing tag. Example, the opening tag for an unordered list is <ul> will be followed by a list, and at the end of the list, you must have the closing tag </ul>.

However, some tags do not need a closing tag. Examples are the line break tag (to force a line break) <br /> and the image tag <img src="photo URL" />. These tags do not need a closing tag, but they have a space followed by a backslash / at the end.

Now do meta tag need a closing tag? Or putting it another way, does meta tags occur in pairs? Look at this PDF book:

http://practicalbooks.org/pdfs/META%20TAGS.pdf

In HTML, Meta Tag definitions do not need to be closed with </ (Added by author of this blog: I believe when is meant by </ is a closing tag </any closing tag>), however you should not include any line breaks in your declaration of the Meta Tag as this can cause your web page to be incorrectly read by the search engine spider programs.


So what the author of that PDF book is saying is meta tags do not need a closing tag. However, please not that there is a difference between HTML and the newer XHTML (we should all try to follow XHTML now). In HTML the <meta> tag has no end tag. In XHTML the <meta> tag must be properly closed by putting a space followed by a backslash /, that is <meta />. Note that if there are other attributes after meta, the space and backslash must come after all the attributes and should be at the end of the tag.

Example:

<meta name="keywords" content="blog, blogger, blogging, blogger tips, blogger tricks, Blogger templates, Google Blogger" />


and

<meta name="description" content="Google Blogger tutorials and useful information, tips and tricks for bloggers" />


My take on tag without a corresponding closing tag in XHTML kind of close itself by add a space followed by a backslah / at the end of the tag.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

AdSense ads below post for old classic Blogger template

There are still bloggers who use the old classic Blogger template, some because they have too much customization and too attached to it, and some because they choose to use custom domain and host on their own. Got a guestion on how to add adsense text link ad in below some specific posts.

You cannot add AdSense ads only below the post you choose. There is a way to add ads below the post, but you cannot pick and choose. Blogger will choose for you.

REMINDER: This is worth repeating because it is important. Backup your template before you make any changes to it. Refer to Backup and edit old classic Blogger template

Here is an example of a blog with AdSense ads below the post: Test old classic Blogger template

Anyway, here is how to put ads below Blogger posts. Sign into blogger.com (Dashboard). If you are using the old classic template, you will see a link TEMPLATE in the section of that blog with the classic template. Click on that and you will be taken to the template editor. Look for this block of codes:

<div class="post-body">
<div>
<$BlogItemBody$>
</div>
</div>

Generate the script from your AdSense account and copy-paste below this block of script. Preview, and if satisfied, click "Save template".

If you have any difficulties in finding those codes, copy part of the codes, press CTRL+F, then paste them into the "Find" field in the task bar at the bottom of the page.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Homepage, archive pages and individual post pages (permalinks) of a blog

Responding to a blogger question "What is a homepage?"

The homepage (index or main page) of this blog is Dummies Guide to Blogger (click BACK button to get back to this page) and a surfer will get to the homepage by clicking on the above link or by typing or copy pasting the blog URL of this blog which is

http://bloggerfordummies.blogspot.com

into the address bar of a web browser like FireFox, my favorite web browser, Internet Explorer, Opera, Flock, etc., and pressing the ENTER key.

What is displayed in the homepage of a blog is a number of the most recent posts (Blogger display the latest posts first and this chronological order cannot be changed to display the oldest posts first, but can be done with other blogging platforms). Then number of the most recent posts displayed in main page is by default 7 posts, but can be changed. See Changing settings of New Blogger blog.

The characteristics of a blog (or weblog) is the existence of the main page, the archive pages and the individual post page of a post (permalink). You can click on the archive of any particular month in the ARCHIVES in the right sidebar to see all the posts published in that month.

The individual post page or permalink is a web page that has only a single particular post. Click on the link to see an example of an individual post page (permalink) which hopefully I have somemore information on permalinks:

How to make permalink more prominent.

The URL of that individual post page or permalink which is about permalinks is given in the scroll box below:

http://blogger-tricks.blogspot.com/2006/05/tip-how-to-make-permalink-more.html


That post originally exists in 3 separate pages - the main page, the archive page of that current month during which the post was published, as well as its individual post paage (permalink). As you continue to publish new posts, they will displace the older posts from the main page until they no longer exist on the main page, but only in an archive page (of the month it was published) and the individual post page of the post. Hopefully this post will make clear to you what are the characteristics of a blog or web log.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The fastest way to get indexed by search engines

The fastest way to get indexed (to have information about your site in the search engine database) and to be "findable" or "searchable" by search engines is to get a link from a website that already has been indexed and regularly spidered (crawled or having a kind of robotic program that enables search engines to read what is in your website), preferably by a high PageRank website like this one whose main page (home or index page) (click BACK button to get back to this page) has 6 (at time of publishing. There is such a thing as what they call Google Dance, that is, PageRank of a site changing with time.) If you want to know how to get the PageRank of your own and other sites, refer to How to get the PageRank of your blog or any other website. Note that the actual PageRank used by Google search engine may not be exactly the same as what you get via this method as Google takes some time to update it, but it is a very good guide.

If you want to find if your website or blog is indexed, type

site: website or blog URL

into the search box in the Header of this blog, tick the radio button (.) Web (currently the search box is configured to search this blog only by default. By ticking the radio button beside WEB, the Google search engine will search the whole web. To make it clearer, type or copy paste

site: bloggerfordummies.blogspot.com

into the search box above, tick the radio button ( ) beside WEB and press the ENTER key and you should that there are results. If you see no result, please alert me by leaving a comment and I will have to check what is wrong.

If you are not knowledgeable regarding What is URL and how to get it, click on the link and learn more about it. Substitute bloggerfordummies.blogspot.com with the URL of your own website or blog in site:

site: yourblog.com

into the search box above, tick the radio button for WEB and search. No result - not indexed yet. If you get some results, your site is already indexed.

I have many blogs, and if you are in a hurry, you can contact me via the "Click here to contact me" link near the bottom of the left sidebar and I will see if I can help.

Note that normally your blog or website will eventually be indexed even if you do nothing, but your site may rank very low in search engines. When surfers search for topics relevant to your site, that is, whatever they are searching for is contained in your site, the link to your site in the SERP (Search Engine Result Page) may be buried so deep in it you will not see it, but it is there.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Page Source: How and why

A blogger asked, so here is the answer.

How to view page source (source code of a web page

This part is easy.

FireFox browser

For FireFox browser, my favorite browser, at the top of the browser, click on VIEW > PAGE SOURCE in the menu bar. To make this clearer, see screenshot below:

Firefox browser view page source

When you click "Page source", a new window will open with the source code used to display that web page. Actuall, the option says "Page source ctrl+U" which tells us that there is a keyboard short-cut. When you press the control plus U keys simultaneously, you will get the same result, but I prefer the above.

Internet Explorer browser

For Internet Explorer, it is VIEW > SOURCE but in the case, the source code is in a Notepad file. In this case, there is no keyboard short-cut. See screenshot for clearer picture:

Internet Explorer view page source

Flock browser

Same as for FireFox browser. Not surprising as Flock is based on Mozilla FireFox.

Opera browser

For Opera browser, it is VIEW > SOURCE from the menu bar or ctrl+F3 (keyboard). Page Source code will open in new tab or window depending on your settings. See screenshot below:

Opera browser view page source code

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Polls for Blogger

Polls for blog direct from Blogger

The New Blogger (formerly Blogger Beta) has a new feature recently - polls. In the LAYOUT (Update: Layout is now DESIGN), you can click "Add a Page Element" and select "Polls", then click "Add to blog" and you will see the following "pop-up" for setting the poll:

New Blogger poll setup

Note that you can allow either only single vote or multiple vote, plus you are not limited to just 4 answers (choices), but by clicking "Add another answer" you can add one more choice. I haven't tested it, but I assume that it would be possible to add an unlimited number of choices. You can also set the date when the poll should be close, but because the year is limited to 2 digits, from experience with setting post dates, you probably cannot go beyond 31st December, 2009. Plus it don't look like you can have an open dated (no closing date) poll.

Also, you can only put the poll in the sidebar, Header (if you follow the instructions at Add graphic, poll, ads, etc,. to New Blogger blog Header, in the footer, or above (or below) the main column (post) if you follow the instructions in the post Add search box, poll, ads, etc., to the top (or bottom) of the main column (posts). However, you will never be able to add as poll direct into a post with New Blogger. You can see an example of a poll at the bottom of the left sidebar of Testing Blogger Beta (now New Blogger or just plain Blogger).

The would be how the poll will look like before anyone has voted in the poll:

Poll added direct from Blogger before anyone has voted

However, note how the poll looks like after someone has voted:

Poll added direct from Blogger after someone has voted

Note that part of one long answer (choice or text) is hidden by the result.

These are the deficiencies with the New Blogger latest feature - polls.

Polls using third party sources

If you find the above too limiting, you will have to turn to third party sources. One of them is online polls. I am not clear if the poll is free and there is an extra or upgrade and polls are only a 30 day free trial. However, I believe the poll is free, since the link say "sign up for FREE POLL" and the "Next step" have is a link Get a Free Trial of EFM Feedback (second thought: this mention of "Free Trial" blur the picture a little and now I am not sure if I signed up for a free trial or signed up for something free with option to upgrade at extra cost).

Anyway, I have set up a demonstration poll at Poll: Should Blogger make Autosave an option?. But please don't let the word "demonstration" discourage you from voting, as I genuinely am interested in the result. You will know why if you surf over to the above post. The only question is whether it is an open ended poll or it will stop working after 30 days.

I hope you will take the time to vote as it only take micro-seconds and if I get enough response, I will try to submit the result to Blogger as I have been pestering them go give us the option to turn it off when the circumstances require it. I have given some reasons why Blogger should give us that option to help you decide how to vote. Really hope you vote because if I get enough response, I will submit the result to Blogger and hope that if enough bloggers want it, they will give us the option.

I also have set up another demonstration poll at Poll: Raw garlic is the most powerful antibiotic plus health food. The difference between the two is that one allow multiple vote (choices) and the other only a single vote (choice).

By the way, Free Online polls for blogs only works with Internet Explorer 6.0 SP1 or later, or FireFox 1.5 or later, so if your visitor counter (click BACK button to get back to this page) shows many visitors using other browsers, you may want to think hard about using the poll. Another thing I don't like is that I have used up a lot of my time testing, and have found this irritating thing about this free poll. They use a double opt-in and you must use IE or FireFox to be able to opt-in. Further, after opting in I created a poll, then log out. The next time I tried to sign in again, I get the message "You do not have access to this content at this time" and I have to opt-in once more to get access. It is a great utility to create poll, but I regret to say this, you are likely to meet a lot of irritations along the way. Maybe it is because I was not using the utility the right way and you may have better luck. I suppose if this interest you, you will have to try it out yourself. I may have got my facts wrong.

However, the thing I like about Free Online Polls is that you get very much more flexibility and choices than the poll available from New Blogger. You can add your poll anywhere including the post or the sidebar. This is because you can change the dimension of the poll/results to make it narrow enough to fit into practically the sidebars of practically alls templates. See screenshot below:

vovici poll setup page

By using the drop-down menu, you can change the width to fit the width of the sidebar of your blog. Of course, you will have to know the width of the sidebar. If you don't know how, refer to How to find the width of the blog Header, main column (posts) and sidebar. After setting the width you want, you will probably see a poll/result box like the one below, which uses the default 150 pixels width:

Vovici poll voting box

Friday, October 12, 2007

Apple Quicktime to make MP3 player work

I have previous published a way to add an MP3 player to your blog so that you can have music for your blog at Adding Music to your blog. I received one comment from a blogger: "hey peter thanks for posting these topic...but i dont know why it doesnt work for me!...i have tried a thousand times, and i cant make it work!"

One of the problem may be you do not have the proper plugin in your computer, in which case you may see in place of the MP3 player, something like the screenshot below:

plugin missing

What you may need is the Apple Quicktime plugin. Click on

plugin missing

and if nothing happens, you will probably get a yellow bar at the top of the browser saying pop-up block. Click on option and select allow for relevant site. Click on

plugin missing

again and install Quicktime. Hope this will solve his problem.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Why I never use custom domain

I have published a post Custom domain for New Blogger, however, I myself never use it for my blogs.

Reasons: In the first place, I don't want to bother myself with renewals. More important, I am now 57 years old, going on to 58. If I am lucky and live to 100, there will be still 42 years for doing the things I enjoy. But I know there must come a time when I will no longer be around to renew domain registrations and hosting fees if I use custom domain. When that happens and I use custom domain, my blogs will go 404 (page not found). I have hope that my blogs will still be on the web when I go to a better place and am now doing some testing to see how it can be done. I used Gmail addresses for most of my blogs which may be a mistake as Gmail policy is that if you don't sign into your Gmail Inbox for 9 months or more, your Gmail address will be deleted. Refer to the following for more details:

Are blogspot.com URL forever?

Will Blogger blogs be deleted? Test.

I will however have to accept the risk that my blogs get marked as a spam blog (splog) and get deleted by Blogger. But if I am still around, I can try to do something about it.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Save money on tools you need for blogging

For simple blogs, you don't need much - a basic computer, a modem for access to the Intenet and a suitable blogging platform. I use the free Google Blogger and use sub-domains of blogspot.com and Blogger host my blogs for free. Very generous of them. I use free photo editors like Irfanview in conjunction with Paint that comes with Windows for screenshots and for editing photos and creating images. Photoshop would be better if you are prepared to pay for it.

For taking photos, I use my son's compact digital camera. We somehow lost the cable to upload photos to the computer, so had to buy a card reader to transfer the photos. However, I am not too happy with his camera so intend to get one for myself. However, I am just going to use it for putting photos on the web, so I don't need a high resolution camera. I am not falling for the megapixel trap.

I very occasionally make video to upload to Youtube and then use the script to embed into my post. For that, I use a webcam and a headset with microphone and the Windows Movie Maker that comes with Windows. You may want to take outdoor videos, away from the computer. For that, you will need a webcam.

You may already have all the items needed for blogging mentioned above, or you may not. Even if you already have them, you may need to upgrade or some of them may become unworkable. I do multitasking and have many browsers opened at the same time (see Why you should have more than one browser and in each browser, have many tabs opened. While I am typing this post, in addition to 4 browsers, I have 38 Notepad files, Irfanview, Paint, calculator, 4 Excel files opened simultaneously. I have recently upgraded to a dual core processor computer as it is said that such computer is better for multi-tasking usage like these. I need to get a digital camera.

Comparison shopping is easier online. Having a chance to save some money on the purchases will be great, and Coupon Chief says they can help you do that. There is a search box on their site. Since I am in the market for a digital camera, I typed "digital camera" into the search box and click Coupon Chief search button to search. I got the search result page for digital camera. There was a long list, and the last one was "Clearance Deals". Being a sucker for bargains, I clicked on that link and saw "Canon Sure Shot 65 35mm Point & Shoot Camera - Clearance! - $69.95 Now $32." That $32 was actually a discount and the final price was $37.95. That looked interesting and I proceeded to check out. There were a few choice of payment methods including "Begin Checkout", "Canadian Checkout", "PayPal Checkout", "Google Checkout" and "Bill Me Later® Checkout". Since I have a sizable PayPal balance, I selected "PayPal Checkout". Found out that shipping was "Ground, 3 - 7 Business Days, $16.90" and a message "Guam, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, military APO/FPO and PO Box orders are shipped via USPS only. Please note, not all items can be shipped via USPS to these locations, and in some instances, we may be unable to fulfill your order, based upon these restrictions." Based on these information, I did not proceed to complete the purchase, but those who are US residents or residents in one of the locations mentioned may find such deal attractive and a good way to save money.

There are other possibilities including Ritz Camera - Digital Cameras & Accessories which list many cameras and accessories and another page Ritz Camera Software for pictures. There is one software which may be f interest to bloggers, and that is "ArcSoft Slide Show Maker Digital Picture Software" selling for $19.99. The page says "Free Shipping (orders over $100*). No Sales Tax" but it will be unlikely I will be purchasing software totalling over $100 unless that statement include items other than software.

I will be writing to them to enquire about delivery to my country and hope to remember to update this post if I get a response.

Update: I checked their Help section and there was only a toll free line which I suppose is toll free only for US residents. Others will have to pay International call charges. But I found this:

We work with Access USA to allow our overseas customers to forward any order to their International address.

1. Sign up for your own U.S. mailing address through Access USA.

2. Use your new U.S. Address, provided by Access USA, when placing your order.

3. Access USA will forward your order to you. ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, whenever you want!

Sounds like too much trouble for us non-US residents unless we find something irresistible or unobtainable elsewhere.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Content Management Systems and blogs

Blogging platforms for blogs

Blogging platforms like Google Blogger, Wordpress (free version), etc., makes it easy for anyone to start a blog irrespective of background. He or she may know nothing of HTML, CSS, etc., but with the easy interface provided by such blogging platforms, can start a blog under 10 minutes and immediately start publishing posts to the web. If you are a complete beginner, Dummies Guide to Google Blogger can probably help you get started very quickly. It was intended to be an "online book" for beginning bloggers, but I just don't have the time to finish it. However, whatever is already there should be enough to start a beginner off.

You can do a lot of things with blogs using such blogging platforms like Google Blogger if you know what to do, but there are limitations. For greater flexibility, you will have to use a suitable Content Management System (CMS).

Content Management Systems

A Content Management System (CMS) is a software system used for management of content including computer files, image media, audio files, electronic documents and web content. There is a whole bunch of Content Management Systems including Alfresco, Apache Lenya, b2evolution, BLOG:CMS, blosxom, Bricolage, CMSimple, Cyclone3, Daisy, Dokuwiki, DotNetNuke, Drupal, e107, eZ publish, Fedora Java, jAPS, Joomla, KnowledgeTree Document Management System, Lyceum, Mambo, MediaWiki, Midgard, Nucleus CMS, Nuxeo CPS, OpenACS, OpenCms, phpCMS, PHP-Fusion, PHP-Nuke, phpWCMS, phpWebSite, PhpWiki, Plone, PmWiki, PostNuke, Post Revolution, Scoop, SilverStripe, SiteFrame, Slash, SPIP, Textpattern, TikiWiki, TWiki, Typo, TYPO3, WebGUI, WordPress, XOOPS and Zope. Note that WordPress is included in the list. The above are free and open source CMS. There are quite a number more, some of them costing more than $15,000.

Content Management Systems for blogs

Some bloggers uses CMS for their blogs. This allows more flexibility like adding a forum to the blog. I had a blog reader who have to do her blog twice, once in Polish, then again in English. She asked me if there is a possibility of somehow "mirroring" her blog of something. The best I could think of is adding a translator to her blog (click BACK button to get back to this page), but problem is, Both AltaVista Babelfish and Google Translator don't include Polish.

Perhaps a solution for her would be to use Joomla for her blog, but she would have to abandon Google Blogger and be prepared for a steep learning curve. With Joomla, one of the most powerful Open Source CMS, you can run multi-lingual websites. Joomla can determine a visitor's operating system and automatically display the site in the visitor's language if it is available. You can also give the visitor a choice. An example is Grande Real Villa Italia Hotel and Spa

Search Engine Optimization for blogs created using Joomla

If you use Joomla for your blog, Joomla SEO may be able to help you easily do Search Engine Optimization for your blog to bring more free organic traffic to your blog. If you are into e-Commerce or making serious efforts to earn from your blog, you can use their comprehensive e-marketing services which include Search Engine Optimization web design, Search Engine Marketing, Blog advertising and marketing, Social media optimization and Training, either on an ala carte basis or as a package.

For more information, refer to their Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and help notes.

Are static pages or dynamic pages better for search engines?

Blogger Beta (now New Blogger) touted its major improvement over the old classic Blogger as New Blogger being dynamic. This means you don't need to republish each time you edit something in the template or change some setting. Just save and the changes will be immediately be reflected on the web. No more having to save and then republish and get that dreaded rotating arrow that sometimes really last forever.

Let us get back to the subject matter in this post title. Are static pages or dynamic pages better for search engines? Google Webmaster Guideline has this to say: "If you decide to use dynamic pages (i.e., the URL contains a "?" character), be aware that not every search engine spider crawls dynamic pages as well as static pages." So does this mean that New Blogger blogs are not so search engine friendly as the old classic Blogger?

The majority of bloggers, including me want their blogs to be search engine friendly except for a very few minority who don't want their blogs to be found. The authors of Google Webmaster Guidelines should know what they are talking about since that is an official site of Google, the creator of giant most used search engine. This thing about static pages being crawled easier than dynamic pages must imply that while New Blogger have made life easier for bloggers, they may have made their blogs less search engine friendly.

Search engine optimization software may have a solution. Their software help create static pages from dynamic pages. So is it feasible to create static pages of New Blogger blog pages which are dynamic pages to make them more search engine friendly? Let us have a look at their Frequently asked questions (FAQ). It appear to me from my understanding of what is stated there, that IF that static pages software is applicable for New Blogger blogs, I will probably have to register a domain and host it myself. But one thing is assuring. They say they are not practicing Black Hat Optimization, something that can get a site banned from search engines.

Unfortunately, I am unable to figure out from there if creating static pages from New Blogger dynamic pages is feasible to put on the web, and if feasible, whether it will create duplicate content. After all, Google Webmaster Guidelines says "Don't create multiple pages, subdomains, or domains with substantially duplicate content." I can't figure all this out by myself. I think I will contact Static Page Builder and see if they can help me.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Change blog background color and others

With New Blogger, it is very easy to change colors of various thing, and that include the blog background color. All you need to do is to sign into blogger.com (Dashboard) where you will see a list of all the blogs you have in your Blogger account. Click on LAYOUT for the relevant blog, then click on the "Fonts and colors" New Blogger fonts and colors sub-tab sub tab. You will then see a page to change the colors of various things as seen in the screenshot below:

New Blogger change fonts and colors options

The first choice is to "Change Page Background Color" and that has already been selected for you. You can select the color you want by one of the boxes that contain "Colors from your blot", "Colors that match your blog" or "More colors". If non of the colors given there is what you want, you can get a wide range of color by typing in the hexadecimal color code (highlighted by a red ellipse) of the color you want. For this purpose, I normally uses ColorPic or Color Blender, the use of which have been described in these posts:

Blending the colors of your ads to the colors of your website and

Blending the color of your search box to the colors of your website.

After you have made a selection, click "Save changes".

You can see from the scroll box in the left section that there are other things whose color and font you can change.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Attract non-English traffic to English language sites

I have previously published adding site translator to blogs (and normal websites as well) at Add translator to your blog (or website) (click BACK button to get back to this page). One reader also wants to know if she publish a blog in English, how can she attract non-English visitors. The only thing I can think of is to ping non-English as well as English servers each time the blogger creates a new post or updates an old one.

My favorite is Pingoat which includes non-English services. See screenshot below:

Pingoat pinging service include non-English services
Pingoat


Amazon products on SEO (increase visitors)

Unfortunately, for the past few weeks, I have got the error message "Warning: mysql_connect(): Too many connections in /var/www/pingoat.com/web/db_mysql.php on line 34. Too many connections." I have contacted Pingoat about the problem and now waiting for a response from them. When I get that problem I have to resort to Ping-O-Matic. However, as you can see from the screenshot below:

Ping-O-Matic


they do not include as many services as Pingoat and they don't ping non-English servers. That is unfortunate as they were the first to start this pinging service. I think I will contact them and suggest they add that to their list

There is one more pinging service and that is Blogflux Pinger. This one include non-English blog pinging services as you can see below:

Blogflux Pinger


Unfortunately, my screen is not big enough to display the other non-English services. You can just see "Japanese" at the bottom of the screenshot. The other non-English service that is not shown is Spanish. It seem to be faster than Pingoat and Ping-O-Matic, but there is no provision to include the feed URL for your blog. I will have to think about which one may be better, Ping-O-Matic or Blogflux Pinger.

There are many other pinging services I have yet to check. When I find the time, I will either update this post or more likely post about a different aspect of pinging to include those pinging services.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Add translator to your blog

Got a question from a reader who is now doing her blog twice, once in English and once in her language. She asked if it is possible to do it only once, and have something to click on to read the site in another language. I know of 2 reputable possibility - AltaVista Babelfish and Google Translator widget. You can see example of implementation of this at the bottom of the left sidebar of these two blogs:

Natural Remedies

Good Health Information

It is not difficult to do.

Google Site Translator widget

Google Translator widget was added to the first blog above. To get the widget, first make sure you are signed into your Blogger account (it may be possible to do it while not signed in, and then sign in when getting the widget. I haven't tested this as I am always signed into my Blogger account when I am online and don't want to waste time to sign out and test this possibility). Then go to Google Site Translator widget. You will see the following:

Google site translator widget

The "Name" (Title) is already added as "Google Site Translator" for you. You can change this to whatever you want or even make it blank. It does not do anything. There is also a drop down menu to select the language of your blog. There are only 5 choices, English, French, German, Spanish and Italian. You can also change the text color. The default is #000000 which is the hexadecimal color code for black. If you want, you can change it to other colors to blend with the colors of your site. For this purpose, I find ColorPic to be an indispensable tool (and it is free). If you want the tool, just type or copy-paste "ColorPic" into the searchbox above and tick the radio button beside WEB and search. The site to get ColorPic should be the first result in the SERP (search engine result page).

When you are ready, click "Get widget" and you will get a "pop-up" where you can select what application to add the widget:



In our case, we should click on "Add to Blogger" and the "pop-up" change where you will see a button "Install Panel". Click on that and you will get a new window "Add Page Element" with a "Select a blog" drop down menu, and when you click the down arrow, you will see all your blogs in that Blogger account. Select the one you want to install the widget in. There will be a box for you to enter the Title. You can make this blank if you want. In my case, I change the default title to "Translate this page". On second thought I think leaving it blank or making it "Translate this site would have been better. Then just click "Add widget"

Google site translator add widget button

The Google site translator widget will be added to the top of your sidebar. If you don't want it it that location, hover your mouse over the first Page Element in the sidebar (the cursor will change to a cross) and drag it to wherever you want. In my case, I dragged it to the bottom of the left sidebar. Click "Save" at the top right of the LAYOUT and when saving is complete, you can click "View Blog" to see the result.

Update 15 September 2007: A reader asked about the possibility of changing the dimensions of the Google Site Translator widget. Unfortunately, this widget in not given in the usual way, that is, a script is generated for you to paste into your Page Element. If it is done this way, you can try to alter the dimensions before you paste it into a HTML/Javascript Page Element.

However, not all is lost. I tried to look for a blog which has sidebar width different from Natural Remedies and found one at World Traveller Guide. This blog uses the Rounders3 New Blogger template modified to 3 column by Blogcrowd

By opening the template editor window of this blog, I found this block of code

.sidebar-wrap {
width:240px;
floatleft;
margin:15px 0 0;
font-size:97%;
line-height:1.5em;
word-wrap: break-word; /* fix for long text breaking sidebar float in IE */
}

which tells me that the width of the sidebar 1s 240 pixels.

I first installed the Google Site Translator widget into this blog. While logged into Blogger account, I went to the blog World Traveller Guide and clicked on the screwdriver & wrench quick edition icon (highlighted with red circle) for the Google Site Translator Page Element (it is at the bottom of the left sidebar).

Google site translator with quick editing icon

This opened the HTML/Javascript Page Element containing the script for the Google Site Translator widget. The script is shown in the scroll box below:

<script src="http://widgetserver.com/syndication/subscriber/InsertPanel.js?panelId=ea12d58e-3938-4835-997d-d5493b7d8080" type="text/javascript"></script><noscript>Get great free widgets at <a href="http://www.widgetbox.com">Widgetbox</a>!</noscript><img border="0" style="visibility:hidden;width:0px;height:0px;" width="0" src="http://runtime.widgetbox.com/syndication/track/ea12d58e-3938-4835-997d-d5493b7d8080.gif" height="0"/>


This looks like a problem to me because the dimensions are specified as width="0" which is strange. Just as a test, I tried to change the width by replacing "0" with width="230" (slightly less than 240 pixels) and ended up with the script:

<script src="http://widgetserver.com/syndication/subscriber/InsertPanel.js?panelId=ea12d58e-3938-4835-997d-d5493b7d8080" type="text/javascript"></script><noscript>Get great free widgets at <a href="http://www.widgetbox.com">Widgetbox</a>!</noscript><img border="0" style="visibility:hidden;width:230px;height:0px;" width="0" src="http://runtime.widgetbox.com/syndication/track/ea12d58e-3938-4835-997d-d5493b7d8080.gif" height="0"/>


This made no difference to the dimension of the Google Site Translator. I tried once more time by changing the height from height="0" to height="500" as well, but this still didn't change the dimension of the Google site translator. So I am afraid I have to disappoint that blog reader and admit I don't know how Google Site Translator controls its dimensions. I believe it will be a different story with AltaVista Babel Fish Translation which give you the script to paste into a HTML/Javascript yourself rather than adding it direct into Blogger.

AltaVista Babel Fish Translation

The blog, Good Health Information demonstrate this. To add this translation, go to Babel Fish Translation. You can translate a block of text or translate a site by typing in the URL of the site. However, if you want visitors to your blog to be able to just click and translate your blog, you will have to click the "Babel Fish Translation" link in AltaVista Babel Fish Translation link.

In the resulting page, there were 2 choices - "Translate any text or pages" and "Translate your page". I know what the second one will do, so I tried clicking button in that section. Nothing happened. In the second section, you will first have to select the language of your site from the drop down menu. I click the same button as above in this section. Got a pop-up with the script to add to the blog. Copied the script. Actually, this script can be used in any blogs. So if you have multiple blogs where you want this translation feature, you can paste the script into Notepad file, get the script whenever you want, click ADD A PAGE ELEMENT, select HTML/Javascript Page Element and click "Add to blog", paste the script into the box and click "Save changes". The Babel Fish Translation tool will be added to the top of the section where you click ADD A PAGE ELEMENT, normally the sidebar. Again, if you want it elsewhere, hover your mouse over the top Page Element. Cursor will change to a cross. Drag the new Page Element to wherever you want. Click "Save" at the top of the LAYOUT. When saving is done, click VIEW BLOG to make sure everything is as you want it.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Embed Powerpoint presentation into your post

There is a site Scribd that will enable you to embed PowerPoint presentations into your post. An example can be seen at Malaysians have to change attitude to succeed.

I shall now describe how I did it. First, you must have a PowerPoint (ppt) file stored in your computer. At Scribd, you can either register first before you upload the ppt file or register first. The advantages of registering is you can edit and delete your uploaded files, view the statistics, make a Profile pages with links to your sites which may help you get more traffic to your sites plus improve the link popularity and PageRank.

Browse to your file, click "Upload", then "Publish". After a while, your file will be successfully uploaded and on the left, you will see a box with the script for you to paste into your post editor to display the PowerPoint presentation. Highlight the whole script (ctrl+A), copy to clipboard (ctrl+C) and paste it into the post editor window (ctrl+V). Now you will have to do a bit of tweaking to get the presentation to fit into the post.

First find out the width of the main column (posts) of your blog (How to find the width of your blog Header, main column (posts) and sidebar/s. Click BACK button to get back to this page).

Now the width of the main column (posts of Guide to Malaysia is 400 pixels while the script generated by Scripd will display a presentation 450 pixels. I will have to do a bit of tweaking to make the presentation fit the width of the post.

The script generated is

<object width="450" height="500"><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="SameDomain" /><param name="movie" value="http://static.scribd.com/FlashPaperS3.swf?guid=28hdkelx2skr9&document_id=273703" /><embed width="450" height="500" src="http://static.scribd.com/FlashPaperS3.swf?guid=28hdkelx2skr9&document_id=273703" type="application/x-shockwave-flash"></embed> </object>


Note that there are two places where the width and height (highlight in red) in the script.

What I do is to open Irfanview and create an empty image by clicking on IMAGE > CREATE NE (EMPTY) IMAGE in the menu bar at the top, type in the width and height for the empty image (see screenshot below. Click to enlarge):

Irfanview resize empty image

Make sure that the "Preserve aspect ratio" is ticked, then enter a new width for the image. The height will automatically change to keep the image undistorted. In my case, I chose to use the new width of 399 pixels, and the height was automatically changed to 433. I then edited the two places for the width and the height in the script and it became

<object width="399" height="433"><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="SameDomain" /><param name="movie" value="http://static.scribd.com/FlashPaperS3.swf?guid=28hdkelx2skr9&document_id=273703" /><embed width="399" height="443" src="http://static.scribd.com/FlashPaperS3.swf?guid=28hdkelx2skr9&document_id=273703" type="application/x-shockwave-flash"></embed> </object>


This edited script is then pasted into the post editor, and as you can see from Malaysians have to change attitude to succeed, the PowerPoint presentation fits nicely into the post.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Relocate to Alabama and continue to blog from there

I am an avid blogger, and spend most of my waking hours in front of the computer, connected to the Internet. However, I have complained about adverse developments in my country, including threats by the Government to use the Internal Security Act (ISA) which allows detention without trial, against bloggers. I am unsettled by creeping Islamisation with the former Prime Minister and now the current Deputy Prime Minister declaring that our country is an Islamic state despite what is written in the country;s Constitution, plus the Chief Justice talking of abolishing the common law and replacing it with the Syariah (Islamic law).

I am feeling highly insecure. I have considered relocating to Hawaii, but the cost of living is very high there. I have also considered Florida where the cost of living is lower. However, I was told the state with the lowest cost of living is Alabama, which is just next to Florida, and whose climate is not that much different. Alabama has a temperate climate with the southern part of the state which is close to the Gulf of Mexico having a warmer weather, while the northern parts of the state, especially in the Appalachian Mountains in the northeast, tend to be slightly cooler. Cost of living is important to me as I am from a low cost of living country and is retired. I understand the median cost of a home in Alabama is about $130,000, which is affordable to me.

If I decide on Alabama, I may use real estate to help locate a suitable home at Alabama Real Estate. If I need help in moving, I can help in moving. And if I want to be flexible and keep my option open, I can always look for houses for rent.

Sounds viable if only Uncle Sam will allow me to get in.

Blogger wants to visit United States of America

While I was still working, I visited United States of America. The flight ticket was courtesy of MAS (Malaysia Airlines), so I had only to take care of my food, lodging and internal transport. For transport, I used Greyhound buses. The ticket was to Los Angeles. I will like to visit United States again, Previously, I had to fly to Los Angeles via Tokyo Narita International Airport. Now there is direct flight to Los Angeles. I would want to visit United States again.

However, there is nothing much to attract me in Los Angeles except perhaps Disneyland Los Angeles. But if it is Disneyland, I would very much prefer Walt Disney Resort World in Orlando, Florida, for they have Epcot there. Furthermore, I was warned about violent crimes in Los Angeles downtown. However, I hear that Los Angeles Downtown has one of the lowest crime rates in the city now. Anyhow, San Diego, not far from Los Angeles, sounds like a more pleasant city to visit with its 70 miles of beaches and a gentle Mediterranean climate. The University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and the affiliated UCSD Medical Center plus research institutes in the Torrey Pines area of La Jolla are very active in biotechnology research, a hot field of study and technology these days. Plus I can just hop over to nearby Tijuana for shopping and end up visiting 2 countries. There is San Diego vacation rentals to help me find accommodation.

Florida with its sub-tropical and tropical climate plus Walt Disney World Resort attracts me too. Epcot with its simulated space mission will be of particular interest. Hope I don't get sea sick though. However, there is more to Florida than just theme parks. There is Miami, the cruise capital of the world, plus Miami Beach City and South Beach plus something that should attract my architect brother-in-law who may accompany me - Art Deco architecture. We will need to look for accommodation at Florida vacation rentals.

From Miami Port, the largest cruise port in the world, I may take a one way cruise to Hawaii, the paradise of South Pacific. I can partake of the Hawaiian culture and perhaps see Hula (dance) performed in real life. Maybe even get a lei (Hawaiian garland) round my neck. Maybe even find out how the Hawaiian luau is like. Enjoy the beautiful beach and sparkling clear ocean, watch spouting humpback whales, see what a volcano is really like. One way cruise means I will need to get accommodation from Hawaii vacation rentals.

After experiencing paradise on earth for a brief period, I will have to fly back to my country, probably across the Atlantic Ocean this time, tour Europe before coming back to my daily routine of sitting in front of the computer practically all my waking hours.

Blogger wants to take vacation

I have previous written a long post about my frustration on what is going on in my country and not being able to do much about it except blog. I have talked of my dream about retiring to paradise Hawaii and blog from there. However, that is likely to remain just a dream, for relocation is not an easy thing.

I have been sitting in front of my computer nearly all my waking hours since my retirement as associate professor 2 years ago, blogging mainly and doing other stuff. 2 years in front of a computer is a long time. Maybe rather than purchasing a retirement home in paradise Hawaii, I should try to look for suitable vacation accommodation via Hawaii vacation rentals.

However flying distance round trip to Honolulu airport is 13620 miles and getting a visa to enter United States is now a real hassle after 9/11. If I take all the trouble to go to Hawaii, I might as well visit other US states of interest. What look interesting to me is Florida, particularly Orlando, the world capital of theme parks with Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Studios, etc., located there. There is also Miami Beach, made famous by the TV show Miami Vice, with its South Beach and its Art Deco architecture. Florida too has a sub-tropical and tropical climate, like my country. No need to bother with winter clothing either. I will book my accommodation online at Florida vacation rentals.

I have previously been to San Diego, not far from Los Angeles. It too have mild, sunny weather throughout the year. No winter clothing needed. And it is a short hop to Tijuana, the Gateway to Mexico. I can shop for cheap stuff and tequila there. I don't need to stay in Tijuana as it can be just a day trip from San Diego. I will get my accommodation in San Diego via San Diego vacation rentals.

To visit all these places will take quite a number of days. Wonder if I really can stay away from blogging and the Internet that long. Maybe there are cheap Internet cafe I can use.
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