In common with many other bloggers, I use Google‘s Blogger service to generate the code for this blog. There are alternatives (like WordPress) but Blogger has been working well for me up to now (especially compared with the mixed experiences I had with Scott Watermasysk‘s .Text and Community Server engines whilst I was blogging at Conchango). There are some things I wish Blogger could offer – like a post calendar, post categories, the ability to control the number of recent posts shown on the sidebar (I can only set the number of posts on the front page) and a choice between RSS and Atom syndication – but on the whole it’s pretty good.
What’s especially good is that the guys who look after Blogger admit its shortcomings and even post Blogger hacks in the help system, publicising tweaks to make the system better meet users’ needs.
I’ve implemented a couple of these on the site recently, so I wanted to give the script authors some credit for helping me make this blog a better place (I hope).
- Firstly, there’s the archive list reversal (i.e. most recent first) and drop-down combo. For this I have to thank Roveberg, whose script worked a treat for me when I added it to my template today.
- Secondly, there is the on this day script from New Links, which I’ve added to provide links to the BBC, EncyclopÃ¦dia Britannica and Wikipedia pages for any given day in history (you can see these below the date for each new entry).
I’ve also implemented a few hacks from Blogger’s own help system, like the e-mail this post link at the bottom of each post (next to the comment count).
Combined with an assortment of applets in the sidebar, I hope these help to improve the user experience. If there’s anything missing that would really help you to use this blog more effectively, leave a comment and I’ll see what I can do.
In something of a pre-emptive response to a comment that I might realistically expect to receive, I know that web site advertisements are a pain, but they are also a sad fact of life for many of us who are trying to cover our hosting costs on a site which is essentially a spare-time hobby (hence the reason for the wide variations in post frequency and quality around here). I finally sold out last summer and since then I’ve tried to keep the ads as unobtrusive as possible (whilst hopefully remaining effective). I hope never to have to resort to pop-ups or similar mechanisms and your support is gratefully received.