September 21, 2008

Site issues and updates

There could be no worse time for things to go wrong than when I am preoccupied with other important projects! Unfortunately, many of you may have experienced some issues using the site this week. So please allow me to explain what's going on, and why I haven't been around as much as I would like.

Issues with the Top Commenters and Popular Posts widgets

The biggest issue so far is that my Top Commenters and Popular Posts widgets have suddenly stopped working.

Both of these widgets are configured using the Yahoo! Pipes service, and due to their popularity and extensive use, the pipes used for these widgets have been putting a strain on the pipes service (causing them to be temporarily disabled).

Unfortunately, this is going to become a regular issue. I don't think it is possible to host pipes on my own servers (to bypass the bandwidth issue) and while these widgets use the same Pipes to output the widget contents to the many bloggers using these widgets, there will continue to be a strain on this service.

The best all-round solution would be for individuals to make a personal copy of the pipe for their own blog and change the pipe URL within the widget to match that of their own Yahoo! pipe. Luckily, I made "back-up" copies of the pipes used for these widgets, so I will get turorials for this method uploaded as soon as possible.

I do sincerely apologize to all affected by this issue! Before I had created these widgets, I had thoroughly checked the documentation for Yahoo! Pipes though was unable to find any information regarding limitations of use or bandwidth. In essence, I had thought it was safe and reliable to use these pipes to deliver content for your widgets. I am glad that the Yahoo! team were able to explain this situation, and hope we can get your widgets working again soon by helping you create pipes specifically for your own Blogger blogs.

Blogumus widget issues

The Blogumus animated tag cloud widget is without a doubt the most popular widget delivered on this site!

For most users, this widget works without a hitch, though some readers reported that the widget is blank and does not display tags at all.

After much trial and error, Roy Tanck helped me create an alternative method of installation for this widget which embeds the widget as a flash object rather than generating it through JavaScript.

This new version works well in most Blogger templates, though unfortunately not for everyone. I really don't understand why this works for some blogs but not for others, and so far have been unable to find a definitive solution to this problem. The only other possible method would be to hand-code the widget for your own blog, which would require you to add each url for your labels individually. However, even this method is not guaranteed to work.

If enough people are interested in this method, I will write up a tutorial to help you install Blogumus by hand-coding each link, so please let me know if you would like to try this by leaving your comments below.

Comment moderation for older posts

For the first time ever, I had to enable comment moderation this week.

Generally I feel confident that Blogger's anti-spam systems will pick up on *most* comment spam before it ever reaches the post. But when spammers disguise their comments, they seem to slip past the radar.

So I have temporarily enabled comment moderation for older posts (as in my experience, recent posts are rarely targeted by spammers). This means that if you leave a comment on an older post, it will be held in moderation until I have had the chance to review it. Of course, when the main spamming culprits have ceased their unwanted comments, I will lift the moderation ban and your comments will appear immedietly after posting.

Why I've not been around much this week

While blogging is my passion, there will often be times when I am unable to be online as much as I'd like. As many of you will already understand, I'm also a full-time mommy so when I take on occasional work, this means I have much less time to spend maintaining Blogger Buster and replying to all my emails.

Now that most of this work is completed, I can concentrate on blogging and also on some other interesting projects which I hope will allow me more financial freedom in the future (in other words, more time to blog!).

I will be offline from 9/28 to 10/5 as we're going to visit family abroad and it's doubtful I'll be able to get online. Thanks to Blogger's scheduled posts feature, I can still provide updates while I'm away :)

Any other issues?

Have you experienced any other problems using Blogger Buster which I may have missed? If so, please let me know about this so I can fix the issue as soon as possible.

I hope you all continue to enjoy reading my posts despite the occasional hiatus! Thank you to all Blogger Buster readers for your support and continued readership!

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