Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Citebite direct quote linking tool: review, issues

To link direct to a particular bit of text on a webpage, look no further than Citebite. With this very handy free tool, you can add a link direct to selected text on any public webpage you like (with that text shown highlighted yellow), and share it by emailing that link to others or putting it in your blog or webpage. Or you could save the link for your own future reference, for research purposes. I've been playing with Cite Bite for a couple of weeks now.

Here's an example, screenshot below:

It's simple to use, and now works not only with Firefox and Safari but also Internet Explorer (6, certainly).

To use Citebite you can either:
  • grab the bookmarklet or favelet shown on this page (bookmarklets what and how), or
  • install this Firefox extension (if you don't have Firefox: . On how to install Firefox extensions - about Greasemonkey but the same principles apply. You'll have to restart Firefox to complete the installation), or
  • (the manual way) on the main Citebite page, copy and paste the text you want to quote and highlight into a box plus the URL of the webpage it's on - rather more laborious so if you're going to use it more than a couple of times I'd recommend getting the bookmarklet or extension.

Then on the webpage you want to link to, first select the words you want to quote or highlight (minimum 2 words or it won't work), then:
  • bookmarklet - click the bookmarklet, or
  • extension - rightclick the selection, then choose "Cite Bite (N)".

You'll get a popup window showing a Citebite link with an iframe containing the highlighted bit underneath it, as a preview of what clicking the link would produce:

Just rightclick that Cite Bite link at the top of that window, and copy the link for pasting into an email, blog post or webpage.

When someone clicks the pasted link they'll be taken direct to the text or quote you highlighted, on a Citebite copy of the original webpage, as shown in the first screenshot above. You'll notice that the title bar of the browser window is identical to the original webpage's, but the URL is different - it's a address.

At the top of that page you might notice there's what they call a "shade", a superimposed ghostly section with a link to the original webpage from which you highlighted a quote or text.

If you hover over the shade, the shade and source link becomes a lot clearer:

And obviously you can click the source link to go to the original source webpage.

It's a good solution to the inability to link direct to specific text on a webpage because the webpage designer didn't insert enough anchors, or anchors at the exact words you want to link to (and why should they; indeed it would be downright impossible for them to do that).

Note however that you can't highlight and link to pics or photos - it only works with text, not images. But you could select text just before or after the pic you want, e.g. a caption. It looks like they're working on the ability to select images and videos, though.

You also can't link to password protected pages or sites requiring login, you'll just get an error message.

Citebite is clearly getting used. You can see this on Technorati. If you search for you don't get back many blogs that review Citebite, but mainly blogs that have posted Citebite-generated links. Not so many yet, but I'm sure it'll increase as word spreads. The service is now also integrated with Amazon S3 to preserve the Citebite links created by users: "you don't have to worry about them breaking or expiring."

Comparison with PurpleSlurple

Now the closest tool I've tried to Citebite is PurpleSlurple, which has been around for a while, but its site is not quite so userfriendly. In some ways it's similar - you can grab a bookmarklet or enter the URL of the page you want to link to, for instance.

The difference is that PurpleSlurple tries to analyse the HTML structure of the webpage you're looking at, then produces a different page which is a copy of the original page, but with numbered anchor tags inserted at the start of paragraphs, headings, and each line of a list.

You can then rightclick the link to a particular number and save that for pasting in an email or blog. Clicking that link, as expected, will take the user straight to that number on the PurpleSlurple copy of the original webpage.

Unlike Cite Bite, it doesn't let you link to the exact spot you want (and doesn't highlight the spot either). If you're happy to link to one of the set numbers, of course, that doesn't matter.

Personally, I prefer Citebite because of the greater flexibility and their attempt to make it more userfriendly to install and use. But still, you could do a lot worse than try PurpleSlurple as an alternative.


There are 3 issues that I can see with Citebite:
  • possible operational points?
  • copyright?
  • search engine rankings, advertising

Operational points

There's only a couple of operational issues I've seen with Citebite so far.

On trying to link to code enclosed in pre tags, the resulting Citebite page either highlighted the code without the initial open angle bracket >, or else didn't highlight the code at all, just the character (a colon) immediately before the code. I couldn't get it to highlight the full code WITH the open bracket. It's only a small niggle though. The former does the job well enough.

When I tried to highlight some text and a pic (to test linking to pictures), the preview showed something entirely different being highlighted. But the link itself did when clicked take me to the correct highlighted text, and I was trying to see if it would work with something I don't think it was designed to do, so this isn't really an issue. The moral probably is, don't try to highlight pics yet, just text.


The major potential issue I see with both Citebite and PurpleSlurple is copyright.

In both cases, they're taking a copy of the original webpage without the webpage owner's permission, and adding a little to it (editing by highlighting or inserting numbers, and linking direct to a particular spot or number on the webpage).

Doesn't that violate the original website owner's copyright? I'm not a copyright expert but I wonder if it might.

If the original content is licensed under Creative Commons (as this blog is), then maybe it's OK as long as the original author is credited - and the link in the Citebite shade to the original site may be enough for that. But if Citebite profit commercially from it (most CC licences don't allow commercial use), then maybe not...

For non-CC sites, I suspect copyright cculd be more of a problem. If it's a breach of copyright, is there a get out for "fair use" or private use or similar? It depends on the country, and the view taken of what is "fair use" or personal use. In the USA thereis a concept of "fair use", but it's a lot tougher to say that copying is "fair dealing" in the UK (although good ol' Gower, sensible man that he is, recommended in his review for the UK government that "private copying for research" should be allowed for all forms of content).

If Citebite, PurpleSlurple and the like are breaking copyright laws, should we users be worried? Maybe, if we are considered to be involved in that breach by dint of using their services. I just don't know enough about copyright to answer that. Can we say we're safe because of fair use or personal use? I don't know. It's certainly something to think about.

Search engine ranking and advertising issues

There are a couple of other issues arising from the fact that the highlighted page which a Citebite link points to is on the Citebite site, not the original website.

Blogs and webpages that include Citebite links are boosting Citebite (not the original site) in the eyes of search engines that count links. So the original site's ranking could be affected.

If the search engines don't factor that in, and if I were the original site owner, and found that too much of my potential inlinks and traffic were going to Citebite instead, I wouldn't be too happy. I'd be even less happy if I had ads on the original webpage which of course wouldn't display on Citebite's copy. It's not the same issue as copyright exactly, but I can well imagine a siteowner trying to cite copyright law to stop Citebiting.

I wonder if something could be done with Greasemonkey to link to the original webpage, but rewrite it on the user's own computer with added highlighting and direct link to the quoted text - rather than linking to Citebite's version of that page? I don't know enough to know if that's technically possible.

Overall though, I think Citebite is a very useful tool indeed. There's certainly scope for more improvement - e.g. it won't link to PDFs or large webpages yet (I tried to highlight a quote from a large PDF which I'd "converted" to HTML via Google's ability to view PDFs as HTML, but it didn't like it) but it's clearly developing fast, e.g. the Internet Explorer support was added just a few days ago (they've started a blog and are working on localisation for different languages, highlighting multiple quotes on a page and a commenting feature for quote objects as well as highlighting images). We'll just see what transpires as regards copyright and other issues.

(With thanks to the pal who pointed me to this post.)

Monday, 29 January 2007

LG Shine: 2G & 3G models but no 1 GB version

The LG Shine, scheduled for launch in the UK on 7 February 2007 (see previous post), will come in two versions.

The model to be released on 7 February will be a 2G model with 50MB internal memory. I think that will be the KE970, which is the version I have on loan. Apparently it will be available on several networks.

Later this year (not sure exactly when, but I suspect relatively soon) a 3G model will be released which will have a nice big 560MB of internal memory, yes that's 10 times more than the 2G model. I don't know what its model number will be yet.

But there isn't going to be a 1 GB model. Apparently the rumours about a 1GB version are because the 3G version has a 1GB chip - but much of this is taken up with software, preloaded content and network settings, leaving 560MB for the user.

However, I am told that both 2G and 3G models of the Shine will accept 2GB microSD memory expansion cards. I've not tested the KE 970 with a memory card yet, but I'll do so once I've had the chance to get one.

This is good for multimedia fans, obviously - the internal memory of the KE970 seems to fill up all too quickly if you load a few MP3s and shoot just a couple of videos.

I've updated my original post with the above, and also with this pic I took (with a Shine) to demonstrate the mirror finish. Yes that's an LG Chocolate reflected in the mirror!

Thanks to LG Mobile, via Gaylene Ravenscroft of Hill & Knowlton, for the info.

Friday, 26 January 2007

Blogger: enlarge template editor box - Greasemonkey script

You like 'em big? So do I. In the Edit HTML tab, the template editor textarea box in the now feature complete fancy new Blogger, formerly known as Blogger Beta, is a bit narrow for my taste:

No one else seems to have produced something to enlarge New Blogger's template editor yet that I've seen, as Jasper did for classic Blogger.

So I've whipped up a simple Greasemonkey userscript for Firefox (; and how to install Greasemonkey and userscripts) which makes that template editor box wider - hope others will find this tool useful:

Install the Blogger Template Editor Enlarger (there's an extra copy at Google Pages in case is slow or down)

(It would have been an Ugly BTEE but Kirk corrected my grammar, thanks as always!)

Jasper's large post editor script does the same thing for the Compose or Edit HTML boxes when you're creating a new post or editing an existing one. In case you wonder, it will work with New Blogger if you just tweak it a bit (here's how), so no new script needs to be written for that.

Google: new Google testing blog; added to Google Blogs search

Google have recently launched a new blog on testing software called, naturally, Google Testing Blog. (If you're wondering about the references to "Testing on the Toilet", well yes, apparently those peachy keen Googlers actually plaster printouts of software testing secrets inside Google toilet stalls for, ummm, in-loo reading. Presumably those printouts would also very efficiently serve a dual purpose if Google ever become parsimonious with toilet paper, or decided to take eco-friendliness to extremes...)

Interestingly, unlike other Google blogs (including the Google Code blog), they've not disabled commenting on that new blog. Perhaps it's in the spirit of encouraging interactivity with external developers? Cynically I wonder how long it'll be before spam comments drown out the legit ones. I suspect it won't take spammers long to find it (has anyone bothered looking at the comments on Delicious's blog recently??), but maybe I'm a pessimist.

Anyway, I've added the shiny new Google Testing Blog to the custom search engine I put together, so you can search all Google blogs and Google press releases together in one go. (See search box in my sidebar, or get the code for your own sidebar.)

Email spam: UK companies and your electronic privacy

Earlier this month a survey by data and marketing specialists CDMS found that 31% of the top 200 UK companies are still not complying with the EU Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications, which says that companies can only email unsolicited sales messages to non-customers who have actively opted-in or actively consented to receiving them. Non-customers include people who respond to the company's money-off promotions or competitions, or who simply make an enquiry of the company.

Simply offering someone the opportunity to opt-out of receiving unsolicited emails (or indeed pre-ticking an opt-in box) is not enough to comply with the Directive, CDMS said.

They urged companies to take steps to ensure they comply "before finding themselves the subject of a highly public complaint, or a test case prosecution such as that successfully pursued by a Guernsey businessman at the end of last year."

I covered that test case in a previous post, and also some thoughts on how we as consumers could try fighting spam by suing the spammers if we get spam from companies who breach the Directive.

If you want to know more about your rights under the Directive, see the helpful info on privacy and electronic communications on the Information Commissioner's site.

As well as basic FAQs for consumers/general public and FAQs for organisations on the UK's Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations, the ICO have also issued detailed guidance for subscribers (i.e. consumers) on marketing by electronic means and guidance for companies/marketers including on security, confidentiality, traffic and location data,
itemised billing, CLI and directories

Their regulations cover not just email but "direct marketing messages by electronic means such as by telephone, fax, email, text message and picture (including video) message and by using an automated calling system" i.e. junk texts, junk faxes and the like. They're helpful and well worth a look if you're a consumer suffering from unwanted e-spam, telemarketing or junk email, or a company trying to keep within the law.

Blogger: is a blog on new Blogger or old?

I think most people should already know whether they're on New Blogger or the old version of Blogger as they have to actively choose to switch, but for those who forget, or - more likely - if you're looking at a blog hosted by Google/Blogger and you're wondering if it's a Blogger Classic or New Blogger blog, a new Blogger Help page provides a hint on how to tell.

Many people will have noticed this already, but you can figure it out from the navbar:
"The old Navbar has "Search This Blog," "Search All Blogs" and "BlogThis!" on the left, and "Get Your Own Blog," "Flag" and "Next Blog" on the right.

For the Navbars on the new version of Blogger, "Search Blog," "Flag Blog" and "Next Blog" are on the left, while signing in and posting options are on the right."

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Monday, 22 January 2007

LG Shine phone: pre-launch mini-review

Note: on how to connect your Shine KE 970 to your computer to download tunes, ringtones, music MP3s, sync your contacts, transfer pictures and photos to and from your phone etc, see this post.

LG's droolworthy new Shine multimedia slider mobile phone (model KE970 for the UK version) will launch in the UK on 7 February 2007 (LG press release) (UPDATE: here are some launch party photos plus lots more pics of this phone). The rest of the world ought to be able to get their mitts on it by the middle of the year. (It was released first in South Korea in late 2006.)

It's the second in LG's premium Black Label series and while the first Black Label cellphone, the iconic Chocolate phone, is a tough act to follow, the Shine doesn't disappoint. Indeed, it beats the Chocolate hands down and makes it run off wailing to cower in the corner. With this phone I think LG firmly cements its lead over other manufacturers in the physical handset design stakes.

A full review will follow. For now, I wanted to give you a short preview with my first impressions based on the pre-launch phone which Gaylene Ravenscroft of Hill & Knowlton, LG's PR people, kindly lent me under their blogger relations programme. There was no manual and no CD of software. I don't know what will be in the final package. But here are my first impressions.

Looks and form factor

Real designer looks, classier and better looking than the Chocolate, if that were possible - if you think it looks good in the photo, well it looks even better in real life; and it's only a tad taller than the Chocolate, and about the same width. Any case for the Chocolate ought to be able to fit this phone.

To be frank, this is the most elegant phone I've seen since, well, the Chocolate (as long as you can keep it smudge-free, see below!). The Chocolate's black and red combo was great, and the Shine's silver and blue works equally well, if not better. Yes, the numbers/letters on the keys are backlit a tasteful blue when the phone is on.

UPDATE: For more pics of the Shine KE 970 phone, see this post.

Innovative features

Rightly trumpeted by LG, as you can see from the photo above (from the LG website):
  • robust stainless steel body (so it's not as light as the Chocolate, but not too heavy either - just reassuringly solid)
  • mirror screen (when it's off or on standby, the screen acts as a mirror)
  • clever "scroll key" for navigation (more like a scroll bar).
UPDATED 29 Jan: here's a demo of the mirror, pic taken using a Shine, and yes showing the Chocolate in the reflection!

Functionality and usability

Much better than the Chocolate. The bright crisp colour screen is sheer delight. You have to see it to believe it, it is so beautifully clear, the best I've seen on a phone.

The scroll key (which also clicks in the middle, and on the left and right) and non-heat sensitive buttons either side of the scroll key are a vast improvement over the Chocolate's temperamental heat sensitive "soft keys", and the scroll bar is so quick and easy to use it beats non-LG phones too. Other handset manufacturers ought to adopt a scroll bar like that.

A lot of the niggles and many not so niggly usability points with the Chocolate have been fixed on this phone, e.g. the location of the End key is now where it is on most other phones so you don't accidentally cut yourself off when holding the phone up to your ear. Texting's a lot quicker and easier, which was my main beef with the Chocolate (the T9 implementation wasn't very good on the Chocolate).

This mobile phone is much more intuitive in use generally: menus and displays are much more sensibly organised than on the Chocolate. Clearly the Shine's user interface has been well thought through.

Chocolate owners will be relieved to know that it's a lot easier to associate someone's pic with their phone number in Contacts (it was too particular and took too much work with the Chocolate).

Multimedia and memory

Plays MP3s, with good sound quality though it's a little tinny at higher volumes.

You still can't organise your MP3s into subfolders, but as with the Chocolate you can have your own MP3 ringtones. Though you still can't use MP3s for text alerts.

It has an excellent 2MB camera with Schneider-Kreuznach lens, and also records voice and video. A very cool feature is that you can close the slider and then hold up the phone and use it just like a compact digital camera. Much easier to take photos/videos that way too (your thumb can get in the way of the lens if the slider is open and you're righthanded).

The image viewer handles Flash files; and you can even view Powerpoint, Word, Excel, PDF documents (if not too big/complex - it restarted trying to view a Word doc, froze or died with a PDF - ironically, the Chocolate user manual!).


UPDATED 29 Jan: The model to be released on 7 February will be a 2G model with 50MB internal memory. I think that will be the KE970, which is the version I have on loan. Apparently it will be available on several networks.

Later this year (not sure exactly when, but I suspect relatively soon) a 3G model will be released which will have a nice big 560MB of internal memory, yes that's 10 times more than the 2G model. I don't know what its model number will be yet.

But there isn't going to be a 1 GB model. Apparently the rumours about a 1GB version are because the 3G version has a 1GB chip - but much of this is taken up with software, preloaded content and network settings, leaving 560MB for the user.

However, I am told that both 2G and 3G models of the Shine will accept 2GB microSD memory expansion cards. I've not tested the KE 970 with a memory card yet, but I'll do so once I've had the chance to get one.

This is good for multimedia fans, obviously - the internal memory of the KE970 seems to fill up all too quickly if you load a few MP3s and shoot just a couple of videos.

Other things

A major point is - how easy will it be to transfer your music and photos between phone and computer and use your own ringtones and wallpaper, as well as sync with Outlook etc? That is a bit of a nightmare with the Chocolate.

The Shine does get recognised as an external drive when connected to my Windows XP PC via the supplied USB cable, and you can transfer files e.g. MP3s between the computer and certain folders on the Shine (accessible from the My Stuff menu).

But I don't know yet how well it will work with the LG Contents Bank software, and to what extent you'll be able to transfer Java games and other Java apps from computer to phone. I'll report back once I've been able to test that.

UPDATE: you can now download the PDF manual and the software (but I haven't had the time to try it out yet).

UPDATE: want to access your Gmail on your Shine phone? Here's how to do it (and how not to do it!).

Any minuses?

Sadly the Shine won't stay shiny for long. It gets all smeary and smudgy all too soon. Luckily the Chocolate came with an effective cleaning tool at the end of the carry strap. I hope there'll be one for the Shine - I think LG really ought to supply one, and then you can let your friends greasily paw it as much as you like and not worry.

Don't bite your nails if you want a Shine - the numeric keys are flat, so you do have to use your nail, but very usable. Unlike on the Chocolate, where it was very hard to press the equally flat alphanumeric keys one-handed. Not sure why, it could be because the weight is better distributed on the Shine.

Oh, also I think the Shine's muggability factor is going to be higher than the iPod's!

How much, where?

I haven't got details yet but I notice from Froogle that it's already being advertised and may even be free on contract. UPDATED 29 January: There will be a 2G and, later, 3G version. Of course the latter is bound to be more expensive but who knows what deals the networks will be offering. I'd probably wait for the 3G version, personally, but some people may not want to wait!

I think a lot of people are going to want this phone. It combines absolutely fabulous looks with great build quality, and decent functions and features. There are a few minor things that could be improved on the usability front, but it's so much more intuitive than the Chocolate (and people were more than willing to live with the issues with the Chocolate because of its gorgeous hardware design, so I can't imagine most people will have many complaints about the Shine).

If LG sort out the software/PC connectivity problems that plagued the Chocolate, and if they could just improve a tiny bit more on the usability and features of the phone, I think the Shine would be well nigh unbeatable as a multimedia phone.

Saturday, 20 January 2007

Outlook email links: open links in Firefox automatically

UPDATE: if you want to make links in Word, Excel & other Microsoft Office documents open in Firefox, see this post.

I use Outlook 2003 for my email. When you click a link in an Outlook email, it opens in Internet Explorer. After some hunting I found a way to fix it so that Outlook email hyperlinks open in Firefox instead, at least with Windows XP.

If you're a Firefox fan (and if not, do consider trying it sometime: ), try this:

1. Launch My Computer or Windows Explorer.
2. Choose menu 'Tools' -> 'Folder Options'
3. Click the 'File Types' tab.
4. Scroll down to find 'URL:HyperText Transfer Protocol' (under the File Types column) and make sure it's highlighted.
5. Click the 'Advanced' button.
6. In the 'Actions' box make sure that 'open' is highlighted (click on it if necessary)
7. Click the 'Edit' button.
8. Uncheck 'Use DDE', click the Browse button and browse to Firefox.exe on your system, and click OK. [Updated for clarification, sorry about the earlier omission.] If you get a "file not found" message, browse to Firefox.exe and click OK.
9. The path to Firefox.exe should now appear in the 'Application used to perform this action' box.
10. Go to that 'Application used to perform this action' box, and add '-url "%1"' at the end, without the single quotes, so that it reads e.g. (on my computer at least) "C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe" -url "%1" - with the double quotes!
10. Click OK again.
11. Repeat the process with the file type 'URL:HyperText Transfer Protocol with Privacy'

(Found at Experts-Exchange.)

New Blogger: expr - how to convert template tags to data tags for social bookmarking badges etc

(A.k.a. Data tags, and what's all this "expr:href" stuff in my New Blogger template??)

In the now feature complete fancy new Blogger, formerly known as Blogger Beta, old Blogger (classic Blogger) template tags are no more.

Template tags representing the current post's title, permalink or direct URL, date, unique ID, or your blog's title or blog URL etc, are often used in code to help people add your posts to, Furl and other Web 2.0 or social bookmarking sites like Digg or track who's linking to your post according to e.g. Technorati or BlogPulse or Bloglines, or appear in other add-ons like Haloscan trackback etc - that sort of code seems increasingly to be called "badges" or "widgets".

With new Blogger "layouts" you have to use "data tags" instead. E.g. <data:post.title/> instead of <$BlogItemTitle$> for a post's title, and <data:post.url/> instead of <$BlogItemPermalinkURL$> for its URL.

But they don't work in the same way as the old template tags. If you look at the data tags help you might be forgiven for thinking for instance that instead of [corrected mistake!] <$BlogItemTitle$> you now just substitute <data:blog.title/> or <data:post.title/>. Well that's not strictly correct, and if you try to do that it may not work.

Now, you could just copy and paste codes or follow instructions which others have kindly provided for New Blogger (e.g. Vivek's for social bookmarks and Logical Philosopher for Haloscan, or Web Messenger for Technorati link count). Or you could just quickly add a third party page elements widget that someone else has created, like my Technorati link count widget.

But if you want to understand how the new equivalent of template tags now works, and how to convert old template tags for New Blogger so that you can sort out for yourself other codes not already covered and add new badges or widgets to your New Blogger blog for other websites or services in future, here's my explanation and step by step howto, as Blogger still haven't documented this fully at the time of writing this post.

What and how: step by step howto

First, note that it matters whether the data tag e.g. <> is PART OF an HTML tag, inside the angle brackets (like <a href="templatetag">), i.e. whether it's part of an attribute's value - or whether it's outside of the HTML tag's angle brackets.

If it's not inside the HTML tag (i.e. between the angle brackets, the <> of the opening tag), you can just use the data tag as is - see further example below.

If it is inside an HTML tag, forming part of the value of an attribute like href (meaning it's included in the "stuff" part of href="stuff"), then you have to rewrite the tag, or rather any bit inside the tag that says something="somethingelse including template tag" (e.g. href="<$BlogItemURL$>").

Example for adding to Delicious

<a href="<$BlogItemPermalinkURL$>
&amp;title=<$BlogItemTitle$>" target="_blank"></a>


<a expr:href='"" + data:post.url + "&amp;title=" + data:post.title' target='_blank'>Add to</a>

Here's a howto, and trust me it's a lot simpler to do than to explain!

1. Change href= to expr:href= (the added bit is in bold black).

2. If it originally read href='stuff' using single quotes, that's fine till the next step. But if it's surrounded by double quotes, e.g. href="stuff", change those to single quotes i.e. href='stuff'. Marked bold red in the example above too. Change any double quotes you see inside 'stuff' to single quotes too. (Note: it might say href="stuff" target="somethingelse". You can ignore the target="somethingelse" bit, except to change the double quotes to single quotes (and any single quotes within the "somethingelse" to double quotes, confusing I know!). We're mainly concerned just with the stuff within the first set of quotes.)

3. You now have to look at what's inside the single quotes and separate out the old Blogger template tags. It's easiest to add a space before or after each old template tag as appropriate, so that you have separate blocks inside the single quotes. So

<a expr:href=' <$BlogItemPermalinkURL$> &title=<$BlogItemTitle$>' target='_blank'></a>

(don't put any spaces between the template tag and either the starting or the ending single quote, though).

4. Now make sure each block inside the single quotes which is NOT a template tag has double quotes surrounding it, by inserting double quotes in the right places. Marked bold purple below - don't forget the one just after the opening single quote. So now it's:

<a expr:href='"" <$BlogItemPermalinkURL$> "&title=" <$BlogItemTitle$>' target='_blank'></a>
Repeat after me: No curly quotes. Never ever ever. Kill all curly quotes (yes I'm talking to you, Microsoft Word). Curly quotes are the work of the devil and will mess up your code and template, stop things from working, and make you cry and tear out your hair. Eradicate them immediately and never, ever, ever let them darken your HTML/XML again.

5. Finally, change the old template tags to their equivalent data tags, but WITHOUT any angle brackets round them, and with + signs between them and the other blocks in the href. So, if, in the bit surrounded by single quotes, the data tag is at the start, add a + sign after it; if in the middle with other blocks, add a + sign before and after it; and if at the end just before the closing single quote, just add a + sign before the data tag (it's much easier to see/follow than explain!). Be careful not to accidentally delete the existing single quotes, and there should be no spaces between the single quotes and what they surround. It then becomes (in bold orange):

<a expr:href='"" + data:post.url + "&title=" + data:post.title' target='_blank'></a>

(note there's no space between the ending data:post.title and the closing single quote ').

6. Rinse and repeat (i.e., do that again for all the other attributes in the HTML tag whose value includes a template tag, such as somethingelse="morestuff". If there's no template tag inside the morestuff you don't have to do anything to the morestuff except change the double quotes to single quotes and vice versa. As we did with target='_blank'.)

(Note: yes maybe you can swap the double and single quotes and get it to work, but as New Blogger uses them in the order/way I've stated above, best to follow that.)

Another example - data tag not within HTML tag; escaping quotes

Remember that I said if it's not inside the HTML tag, you can just use the data tag as is? Here's an illustration, for Haloscan trackback code:

<a href="javascript:HaloScanTB('<$BlogItemNumber$>');" target="_self"><script type="text/javascript">postCountTB('<$BlogItemNumber$>'); </script></a>

now becomes

<a expr:href='"javascript:HaloScanTB(" + "\"" + + "\"" + ");"' target='_self'><script type="text/javascript">postCountTB('<>'); </script></a>

If you want to work through that further example to try it out, using the steps explained above, you should end up with the same thing too - with a couple of twists I'll now explain.

You will note that there's a <> with angle brackets around it (in the context of postCountTB('<>');). That's because it's inside a Javascript script as required by the Haloscan code, but that script is not actually inside an HTML tag within the value of an attribute (i.e. between the <> angle brackets of the a tag), so that's fine - and in fact, in a new Blogger template, if you use a data tag outside of an HTML tag, generally you will have to use the angle brackets or it won't work.

Here's a further twist. I included that example to point out something else you may need to do. It's bad enough fiddling with single and double quotes, but what if the code you are converting, which was originally inside the double quotes (i.e. inside the "stuff" bit of href="stuff"), itself contains quotes? Like the single quote ' in the Haloscan example above, which is bold green in the old Blogger version. Well, remember you have to first change that to double quotes ". Then, you have to do what programmers call "escape" it. Which in simple terms means that you separate that double quote " from the other stuff using spaces (like when we were splitting out the old template tags), then you change it to "\"" - note the backslash and extra double quotes around it - and again you have to insert + symbols as necessary to separate those quotes from the other blocks inside the overall single quotes. I'm running out of colours so the whole of that lot is bold green again in the final version.

Finally, note also that when you separate out the blocks that aren't template tags and surround them in double quotes, that really does mean you should separate out literally everything, even little snippets. Like the close bracket and semicolon in ");" above (and, of course, the green single quotes that got converted to double quotes and then escaped).

I'm not providing converted versions of code for displaying links to your posts e.g. on BlogPulse - I'll leave it to you to try that, and other code you might want to try to convert.

Recap or cheatsheet for new Blogger data tags from old Blogger template tags

In summary (particularly for aspiring coders):
  • In HTML tag attribute values, you use data tags without angle brackets. Elsewhere, use them with angle brackets and the closing /
  • New Blogger uses single quotes for attribute values, and double quotes within, so best change your code as necessary
  • If you include data tags in HTML tag attribute values, you must insert an "expr:" - i.e. change e.g. href="stuff" to expr:href='stuff'
  • This is the case for data tags used in any attribute values, not just href. I've seen expr:title, expr:id, expr:onClick and so on.
  • Change the old template tags to data tags
  • Within the attribute value, if there are extra single or double quotes as part of the original code, e.g. Javascript, you need to escape them.

Where can you put the new social bookmarking etc code?

You could put it in the top of each post, the bottom of each post, or your sidebar.

Bottom - post footer

The easiest is bottom. Find the line in your template that reads

<p class='post-footer-line post-footer-line-3'></p>


<p class='post-footer-line post-footer-line-3'/>

and change it to

<p class='post-footer-line post-footer-line-3'>YOUR NEW CODE HERE</p>

Obviously you can tweak the surrounding text etc as you wish and style it - different font size, etc.


You should be able to put it at the top of the post too - find the bit that reads:

<div class='post-header-line-1'/>

and change it to:

<div class='post-header-line-1'><p class='post-header-line-1'>YOUR NEW CODE HERE</p></div>


For the sidebar it might be easiest to use a HTML page element widget (how to add page elements widgets) then drag it around. For the title enter anything you want to describe the link, and paste the code into the Content box of the widget.

But beware - remember a lot of the code relates to the post body of individual posts, so it may not work in a sidebar and you may have to change the data tag to something more appropriate for that location.

Similarly you could put the code in the page footer section or the top of the page as well or instead of each individual post, and use variations on the code for that - but I won't deal with that here.

Wednesday, 17 January 2007

Free tutorials: Microsoft Office, OpenOffice, HTML, CSS, Dreamweaver

Last week In Pictures launched 12 free online computer tutorials on how to use applications such as Microsoft Office,, and Dreamweaver 8. (Last year I blogged about their free computer book PDF downloads, no longer available on their site now unfortunately.)

The key feature of these tutorials for beginners, which were developed as part of a US Department of Education study, is that they are based mainly on pictures and illustrations rather than text - which is much more helpful for lots of people. The focus is on how to do common tasks with mini-projects (the "learn by doing" via "howtos" approach), with clear simple screenshots.

The bias is more PC than Mac and some examples clearly use Internet Explorer rather than Firefox, but the principles should still be easy to grasp.

Currently available are pictorial tutorial guides on:

Microsoft Office

Web layout

More free tutorials are scheduled for release by In Pictures later this year on Microsoft Office 2007 programs, Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Fireworks, plus Web programming tutorials for non-programmers on MySQL, PHP, and Perl.

You can join their mailing list to be notified when their new tutorials are released.

You can even suggest topics for them to produce more introductory tutorials on.

Useful stuff. If you want training on the above computer programs then you could do a lot worse than try these tutorials. I can't wait for the programming tutorials for non-programmers, myself!

New Google Librarian Central Blog

Google have just launched a new Google Librarian Central blog which will contain Google news, updates, and tips relevant to the librarian community.

Although aimed at librarians, it will hopefully provide information of general relevance to those of us interested in Google products or services, information management or knowledge management (KM).

I've added that blog to my Custom Search Engine for searching all Google blogs in one go. (You can use that search engine in my sidebar on the right, or get it for your own blog sidebar using the code in my post about my Google blogs custom search engine).

Sunday, 14 January 2007

Google: hit clustering, related searches

Last week Google announced the introduction of "a new spin on" Results Hit Clustering for their Google Search Appliance for enterprise search, which will enable "Enable users to drill down on a specific subject and more easily refine their searches with automated grouping of search results by topic" - i.e. it produces:
"groups of dynamically formed sub-categories based on the results of each search query. These clusters appear at the top of search results and help searchers refine their queries from possible ambiguous terms. For example, if an employee searches for "customer" on the company network, a set of categories could appear at the top of the results with groups of topics such as "customer support" or "customer contacts" to help guide the search. Administrators can customize the location and appearance of Results Hit Clustering within search results."

I wonder when they're going to introduce this feature for standard Internet searches? I noticed something earlier this month, which might be it, when I searched on Google for ".mmf" (with the dot):

See the horizontal lines across, separating the results into sections, and the "See results for: .mmf files" heading up the second section? I hadn't encountered that before, I wonder if they're separating what might be different clusters?

The top section isn't so good, granted - I think it's trying to be the "music" cluster but there's a mobile result in there too. The second is obviously stuff to do with the mmf file format, and the final is on money and finance (though another music result crept into it too). I'd be interested to know if Google really are introducing clusters in this way.

If anyone has got their enterprise search with clustering, does it look similar to this? I do wonder why Google are rolling out clustering for Enterprise Search first, before doing it generally. I'd have thought they would want to test and tweak the clustering functionality extensively first (and on who better than their zillions of general Internet searchers, an army of free beta testers), before unleashing it on businesses, who normally don't like being guinea pigs and want features that are robust and have been thoroughly tested. But who can understand the mind of Google?

(As an aside, another interesting thing I noticed is that the search results are different depending on whether you search on or do the same search on - an attempt at localisation, maybe?)

In trying to see if this kind of clustering or at least section separation when doing other searches, I tried to search on Google for .doc (another dotted search term) and noticed something else, namely a section at the end headed "Searches related to.." (this "related searches" feature, as already noted, started cropping up in Google searches in December - and of course also involves a kind of clustering of search results):

Interestingly, when I did the same search on there were no "related searches" links at the end.

Looks like Google are definitely going to be rolling out "related searches" generally. I wonder if they'll be doing the same with clustering? Or are they the same thing? If so, what's the horizontal line separation feature about then?

Saturday, 13 January 2007

Blogger: popup comments window unresizable in Firefox, IE7 - fix

I've posted before about the popup comments window in New Blogger blogs not being resizable in Firefox and Internet Explorer 7, which is a problem for those of us where the text doesn't get sized down to fit the comments window but the fixed window size means you can't scroll right to see the rest of the cut off text.

The ideal solution would be for Pete, Lexi and others in Team Blogger to change the scripting for the popup comment windows in New Blogger to add "resize=1" to the list of attributes.

I'm not the only person who has this problem, e.g. so does Activista.

Until Blogger do that (and I sure hope they will one day, but I can guess this isn't high on their list of priorities!), what can we do?

One possibility - maybe some Greasemonkey Guru like Kirk, Jasper or Aditya could whip up a script to rewrite New Blogger blog pages so that "resize=1" is added to "Post a comment" links in New Blogger blogs. (I'm learning stuff - s-l-o-w-l-y - but I ain't there yet myself, or I'd have a go.)

Another possible fix - DIY, this one - is this tweak for Firefox which I found after some hunting. (Sorry, I don't know what the fix might be for IE7). (If you don't already have Firefox: )

This tweak will make popup windows resizable even when they're not meant to be. Good news for me, at least, as I hate having that control taken away from me by the designer.

The downside is that it does this for ALL popup windows, not just New Blogger comments, and it may stop text from wrapping properly within the window when it would have without the tweak, so that effectively you HAVE to maximise the window in order to read the text (e.g. after I did this tweak, I had to maximise the popup window for uploading photos to Blogger with a post).

Here's how to do that tweak:
  • In Firefox, type "about:config" in the address bar (without the quotes) and hit Enter or the Go arrow
  • Scroll down to the line that reads "dom.disable_window_open_feature.resizable" (or paste or type that phrase into the Filter line, without the quotes)
  • It should look like this (with "false" under the Value column):

  • Just doubleclick on that line (or, making sure that line is highlighted, hit the Enter or Return key) to change the Value to true. And that's it, you can close that tab.
It's not ideal, and as I said it will effectively force you to maximise all your popup windows in Fox, but personally I'd rather that than not be able to scroll across. Use it if you want to. (And to restore the position if you decide you don't like it, just repeat the above process, resetting the value to "true").

Technorati bug: multiple word tags - should you be tagging differently?

[Deliberate repost - the multiword tags with quotes around them in my previous post haven't been picked up by Technorati AT ALL though they've clearly crawled that post. Do NOT use quotes round your tags until you hear further! This post has no quotes in the tags. So let's see if this one gets picked up... was it the quotes or was it the usual longstanding Technorati bug that prevented the previous post from appearing on tag pages? ANSWER: it was the quotes. See update at the end of this post. So, do NOT use quotes in tags. We'll just have to live with the inaccurate tag searching.]

Either Technorati's tagging system or their tag pages (and tag page searches) can't handle multiple word tags properly.

Is this a bug?

They should be able to cope with multiple-word tags, i.e. tags that consist of more than one word (like "A Consuming Experience").

Their tags help page says:
"Please note that two word tags should be joined by a "+". For example:
<a href="[tagname]" rel="tag">[tagname]</a>
<a href="[tagname]+[tagname]" rel="tag">[tagname tagname]</a>
<a href="" rel="tag">global warming</a>"

The official page on the rel-tags microformat also confirms this.

So far, so good. (And the Magical Sheep tagger for Blogger users therefore follows that format in constructing multiple word tags).

But it doesn't actually work properly when you go to Technorati's tag pages, or try to search for tags.

Let's take an example.

If you want to tag a post with "Brian Robertson" you would use the tag <a href="" rel="tag">Brian Robertson</a>

Go to the tag page you get on clicking on that tag: (screenshot below, click on the pic to enlarge it, but click that link if you want).

At the time of writing anyway, you'll see the Technorati tag page says there are 7 posts with that tag. It's exactly the same webpage you'd get if you did a search in tags on Technorati and entered as your search term Brian Robertson.

Now, search in tags on Technorati for "Brian Robertson", and this time put quotes around the words:

You only get 4 posts this time. Look at the address bar, and it says (%22 is just what quotation marks get turned into in URLs).

What on earth's going on? You should be getting exactly the same number of posts, indeed exactly the same posts, returned in both cases - i.e. all the posts that have been tagged Brian Robertson, quotes or no quotes.

The answer is, it's down to how Technorati have set up their search syntax.

Yep. You guessed it. Their system is such that if you search for:
Brian Robertson

it does exactly the same thing, which is an "AND" search for Brian AND Robertson.

In other words, it finds all posts which have a tag with the word Brian in it AND which also have a tag with the word Robertson in it. Here's a prime example: it's been tagged with "brian urlacher", and also with "tyna robertson", and that's why it appeared on that tag page.

That's no good of course for anyone who wants to find only posts that have been tagged with the full phrase Brian Robertson (rather than posts tagged "brian urlacher" and "tyna robertson". or indeed - another real example - with "brian springer" and "pat robertson").

If you want to find a multiple word tag exactly as it is, you will have to insert quotes around the phrase you're searching for, i.e. use "Brian Robertson" with the quotation marks - or else you'll get extra hits that aren't really true hits at all.

Tag searching

For tag searchers, the moral is this:

When you're doing a tag search on Technorati or you're just entering the appropriate URL to go straight to the tag page you want, and you are interested in a multi-word tag, you must make sure you put quotes around the search words (or %22 in place of quotes in the URL, though I think quotes entered in the address bar of common browsers do get translated properly).

That's the only way to find exactly what you're looking for. Otherwise it may get confusing!

Bloggers and tagging

But what if you're tagging your posts? What should you do?

Well you've been doing nothing wrong in using the + symbol to separate tags that consist of two or more words. That is after all what both Technorati and the rel="tag" microformat spec say. It's absolutely correct to do that.

I think the ideal solution really is that Technorati should fix their searching syntax so that a multiple word search term entered with spaces between is automatically interpreted as a phrase search with quotes. And that the + symbol between words in URLs going to their tag pages, as well as in their tag searches, should be treated in the same way.

In other words (see my previous post on the search syntax) they should sort it out so that searches (and corresponding URLs) for
and for
are treated in the same way exactly as a search for
"A B"
is at the moment.

And, for those who do want to be able to do proper "AND" searches, they should introduce the ability to use search terms like
and ensure that using that syntax will perform that function.

Are Technorati really going to do that, when after nearly 2 years they still haven't even fixed the bug where properly-tagged posts don't show up on their tag pages at all? (which I've been banging on about for ages, as Zo and others have noticed!)

I doubt it, somehow.

So, should we be tagging our posts with %22 for multiple word tags? E.g. using the format (I've put the extra bits in bold):
<a href="" rel="tag">Brian Robertson</a>

UPDATED AGAIN: That ain't what the rel-tag microformat says to do, and I've now found that the answer is, NO, you should NOT do it if you want your posts to be tagged properly. Sure, on Technorati anyway, it will enable people who click on the tag to find the exact tag pages they want, listing posts with the exact words appearing in the same tag in the exact same order in which they appear. Not some random posts where the words in the tag happen to appear in different tags in those posts. But really, what's the point of that if your post doesn't appear on Technorati's at all, because the use of quotes is not recognised by the microformat?

Putting quotes in tags will muck up how your posts appear on the tag pages or tag searches of Technorati as well as other blogosphere search engines. The post of which this is a repeat has been crawled by Technorati yet its tags haven't been picked up by Technorati AT ALL. However, this repeat post of that post, which is virtually the same (with a different intro ("[Deliberate repost..."and some minor text edits) BUT, crucially, which has NO quotes around the tags, DID get picked up on Technorati's tag pages - see this screenshot:

So DON'T try using quotes round your tags or they won't get picked up properly as tags (which makes sense, as per the rel-tag spec which doesn't require or allow for quotes round multiple word tags). Basically it looks like Technorati should be fixing their searching in the way I suggested above, or something similar, and we'll all have to live with multiple word tag links on Technorati doing "and" searches on tags instead of a proper phrase search in the meantime. But I wouldn't hold my breath.

(With thanks to Rev. Brian Robertson for spotting this issue, and yes I've deliberately used his name for the examples in honour of his discovery!)