Blogger Hacks, Categories, Tips & Tricks

Saturday, April 30, 2005
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The rear wheels come together once you start moving... Excellent.

Why am I reminded of the pop-up spoilers on the VW Corrado and the Chrysler Crossfire? See the story on CNN. via E.

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Posted at 3:59 PM by John.
Following on from the buzz & hooplah about Philadelphia putting wireless in the streetlights (see Freshblog Sept '04 here and here) comes the news that L.A. are working on wireless too. Now for a while I thought this was all a bit far-fetched and exclusive, but two things have helped me to be a bit more dynamic.
  1. Some friends have a wireless connection in their house, and so for them, a lap-top is truly that. They can browse, work, play all whilst cuddled on the couch
  2. I am taking a course for work & we get a 3 month loaner Dell Axim so that we can complete one of the tasks. I have no connection at home, & have checked my e-mail a couple of times in the coffee shop on the corner. I could see this catching on, esp. once all our 'phones are browsers too.
Here 'tis, then, my conclusion that the sooner we're all in the bubble, the better. I will be somewhat heartbroken when I have to give my Axim back, & if I had a tip jar (and / or regular readers) I would be fundraising so that I could buy one!!! via Blogging.LA

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Posted at 3:33 PM by John.
Tagsurf is a network of message boards that "uses tags to help organize subjects instead of threads or channels." The line between blogs and boards blurs once again, I think. In conventional navigation world you can view recent posts, but in tag navigation world you can jump between posts based on how they have been tagged, as well as jumping to posts for the same tag on Flickr,, and Technorati, and viewing a list of recent posts with your chosen tag as well as a series of related tags. As one of the contributors says, "it shows how we could move away from posting to toward posting about.

Now you put your ideas in the infospace by posting to a blog or to a mailing list. Of course the problem is that the reader must know which blogs and mailing lists match her interests. I subscribe to many feeds, blogs and lists but I am sure I don't see even a 0.1% of all the posts I would wish to read. Instead of posting your thoughts to a list, you should be able to just post it and rely on the ability of the global infospace to direct the reader to everything that match her interests.

Wow!! An ambitious goal, but one that is greatly enhanced by the technology of tagging and the available engines for searching, sorting and displaying tagged posts.

Here's some thoughts on the notion that the "global infospace" will be enough to direct the reader:
  1. People tag their own posts any way they choose to, so there's no guarantee that two posts about the same thing will get tagged the same way, and therefore found by the same search.
  2. Some form of filter will still be required to catalog & sort the posts in the infospace, just as search engines are used now. Sorting issues of reliability, popularity, accuracy & ranking will continue to be important.
  3. If an engine is required, a question will be required. "Show me everything about Shakespeare" will be insufficient, because someone will have a dog called Shakespeare & will have a tagged commentary on all the dog's recent vet visits. The volume of returns will also be huge.
I'm sure that the web will handle information with greater capacity & veracity as technology develops. There will also be more information out there. I think we'll always need maps & guides to navigate the infospace, even if some innovations bring the infospace to us.

Since I've been bolder about throwing in my 10 cents of late, you can also see this post cross-posted in the relevant thread at tagsurf.

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Posted at 12:49 PM by John.
and James Lileks is a long way from impressed!!
The Bratz are now Baby Mommaz. Yes, the hooker-in-training dolls have children. Bratz are the main reason I do not keep a supply of bricks around the house, because everytime the commercials come on I wish to pitch something kiln-fired through the screen so hard it beans the toy exec who greenlighted these hootchie toys. The Baby Bratz are as bad as you can imagine: “Bottles with Bling.”
Insanity planet. What do you do when your kids get to the age where they see these things on TV, want them, ask for them, and chuck all manner of fits if they don't get them? Shouldn't the message underpinning the toys be socially responsible & positive even if the toys aren't?

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via Instapundit
Posted at 12:07 PM by John.
I'm almost sure the McDonalds across the parking lot from my former place of work is a nuevo retro facility like the ones under discussion by Rick Lee & Virginia Postrel... An interesting attempt to take us back to the feelgood '50's?

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Posted at 11:52 AM by John.
May 1st Reboot: The 5th anniversary effort to encourage a May 1st makeover on as many web-sites as possible. Excellent in that a lot of sites look outmoded quickly as the style of the internet changes, but as Robert comments at A Welsh View, not much time to develop a new look. Maybe next year?

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Posted at 11:37 AM by John.
and liking the look of the be-hubcapped architectural marvel that is Selfridges. I saw it myself when I was at home for Christmas, & thought that the whole thing was excellent. Certainly a big improvement over the concrete collar that used to be there.

I had a hard time trying to figure out "where I was" because all the streets point in different directions, but the shopping center is excellent and Selfridges makes a splash. I have, of course, picked the whackiest, most UFO-like image of the thing that I could find, but hey....

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Update: Turns out that my 5th blog post ever was a link to an awesome gallery of Selfridges pictures. Check it out and send some traffic the way of my dated and under-visited crimsonblog!!
Posted at 9:56 AM by John.
Price check in aisle three. Oh, no, wait.... I have a light pen & a Dell Axim. All will be well, and informative, and private.
RFIDs are placed beside works in the gallery, and visitors use a pen-shaped tag reader in combination with a Dell Axim handheld to read a piece’s unique ID number and call up its owners hope to convert more visitors into customers by removing the often uncomfortable act of having to ask curators or staff about pricing.
via Engadget
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Posted at 9:51 AM by John.
Fly a jet pack, James Bond Thunderball stylee, in Microsoft Flight Simulator. But just how practical are these things?

via boingboing

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Posted at 9:43 AM by John.
Thursday, April 28, 2005
Bob Rowlands is how-to-ing the categories in blogger from my How-to. Good to know it was helpful.
Posted at 1:42 PM by John.
Monday, April 25, 2005
This time some red rocks and bright blue sky, all made infinitely lovelier by the reflections.

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Posted at 8:12 PM by John.
Unsold Rovers in creditor limbo at an airport. See pics at A Welsh View

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Posted at 6:42 PM by John.
Thursday, April 21, 2005
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It works. Do a Technorati tag search for "britnews"... Well...go on then!!

Watch for a "how to put categories on blogger" post next week when I'm back at my regular PC.
Posted at 4:38 PM by John.
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Blogger does not provide users with a way to sort or categorise their posts by keyword, but this is a useful additional tool for sorting posts, especially on a general (rambling) blog like this one. Keywords (or Tags) are also increasing in popularity as a way for web authors to self-categorise material that they post. (photographs on flickr, for example, or webpages that are added to a bookmarking service like This process is referred to as folksonomy.

Technorati also uses "tags" to graphically indicate the relative popularity of a topic at a given moment, as well as to provide users with a different way to sort & search posts that are on the service. Simply type tag: in the technorati search box with your keyword to see all posts that have been tagged with that term.

After adding trackback & link cosmos features to this blog to make it as interactive and search friendly as possible, I considered adding keywords, categories or tags. I looked for a way to add this feature without using bookmarklets, since I don't always blog from the same machine, but bookmarklets seem to be the most speedy and efficient way to get this done - although there is still room for increased efficiency.

In "2 birds with one stone" mode, and thanks to Ted Ernst, I'm generating my tags using a bookmarklet that writes tags with two properties. They link to del.ici.ous (where I have an account and can bookmark blog entries) and are written in a form that can be read by technorati. Theoretically, then, my posts should appear by keyword on my page and be added to technorati's search results using the same tags.

The page opens with a list of every post that I've bookmarked. To use categories, select a keyword from the right-hand column to go to a page listing all the posts that I've tagged with that keyword. To narrow your search or combine terms from this page, choose the "related tags" column second from the right. Select a related tag for a new list page, or select "add" to build a list of posts containing both tags.

I hope this is a useful additional freshblog tool!!

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Posted at 6:47 PM by John.
Update 8/11: See other posts in Blogger Hacks: The Series

Update 6/25: Please read my newer post first. I'm aware of three methods for categorising with now, & you should see which of the three would work best for you!!!

How-to 4/20:

I've wanted to add categories to this blog for a while, and I was able to do it this week thanks to and a couple of bookmarklets. Since this is a great addition to any blogger blog, I've been inspired to write my first How-to.

This will tell you how to add categories to your blogger blog using, and have the tags that you choose appear in the Technorati tag search.


1 blogger blog
1 desire for categories
1 account
1 technorati account (optional)
2 bookmarklets as follows:

the post bookmarklet allows you to bookmark pages to your account using keyword tags of your choice. It will already be configured to post to your account on a page at [], and when you sign up for you'll be encouraged to drag it to your link bar!!

The tag creator bookmarklet from Ted Ernst's blog automatically builds HTML tags for given keywords that do two things at once. They point to the page for that keyword in your account [] but they do so in a form that makes them valid technorati tags too.

Disclaimer: I didn't write the bookmarklet, and I'm not trying to take credit for it. Here's a link to the blog of the man who did.

You will need to edit this script to delete Ted's username and insert your own. You can also customise the text that introduces your tags. Right click the bookmarklet in your link bar after you've dragged it there, and edit the script properties.

Now the method:
Get a account

Activate the account by confirming your "lost password" e-mail

Install the post bookmarklet on your browser

Install Ted Ernst's tagmaker bookmarklet as follows: [Update added 9/12/05]

Visit Ted's tagging post. Click his bookmarklet link in the post, & you'll be taken to a second (non-blogger hosted) page that allowed the script to be posted as a link. The URL for that page is:

On that page is a link called

"technorati bookmarklet"

& that's the link you want to drag to your links bar.

So...Once the script-link from the second page is on the bar in your browser, you should see a different set of properties? Right-click the bookmarklet, select properties and scroll through the code 'til you find Ted's signon at the end of the URL.******

You don't want your posts to appear on his page, so change the signon (in asterisks above) to match yours. Then exit the properties window, & you'll be able to click the bookmarklet to generate tag-code when you're writing a post.

Edit your blog's template to include a sidebar link to your account,, labelled "categories" or whatever...

When you write your next blog post, click on the tagmaker bookmarklet, enter keywords that refer to the post (separated by a space only), click OK when you're done. The bookmarklet will automagically select the code for you to copy, & then you can paste the resulting code into your post.

Your post is tagged. Now publish it & go to the permalinked post page for your new tagged post.

Copy the keyword tags out of the post and then select the post bookmarklet. Add the same tags that you put on the post to the form, removing the commas if necessary, and save your blog post on

Two things just happened. First your post appeared on your account page with the tags you assigned to it in the right hand column. This page will list all the posts that you upload and all the tags that you use. This is, in effect, your list of categories for readers to pick from.

Second, if you click one of the keywords in your blog post, you'll go to a page in your account for that tag. This allows your readers to jump directly to a list of all of your posts that are tagged with that term. This page also puts up a second column of "related tags" & allows readers to either combine search terms to crawl your tagged posts or jump to a related tag.

Your blogspot blog now has categories!! Excellent. Simply add tags to each new post that you create and cross-post the link to

These tags can also be seen by the technorati tag search, & will be included in their tag search results if your blog is listed on their service. If it isn't, you should go over there & add your site today. Interactivity City!!!


I don't know if it is possible to display a list of your tags directly on your blogspot blog. I have linked to my account very prominently and am relying on readers to use the category feature and then come back to my blog to read more.

There doesn't seem to be any way to include older posts in this process, other than opening them up in your blog editor & adding the tags. Who has time for that?

This is a very narrow use of, since instead of posting and tagging any page that I think is interesting, I'm only posting & tagging my own. I'm missing out on a lot of the "stuff it in your back pocket & save it to read later" functions.

Otherwise I think this is pretty darn cool, and a great workaround since blogger doesn't include categories. This is, actually, even better than categories, because you can invent new tags on the fly all the time and use them to sort your posts in both and Technorati's tag search.

Cool. Let me know if this works for you or if I've missed a step in my how-to.

See also: What's this?, Ted Ernst, Marnie Webb.

Update 6/2/05:
I have added a comment to this post to clarify the installation and use of the tag-generating bookmarklet that I'm using. As Melly points out in the comments, I wasn't as clear as I could have been. I hope the new addition helps.
I have also discovered a spectacular add-on and side benefit of this process. is a service that provides a graphical representation, or map, of a user's tags. A signon is all that's needed to get a page that maps your tags. Check out my page, and my recent post explaining what the map is and what it is good for.
Update 6/23/05:

Got Firefox? Get Greasemonkey and make the process much more straightforward.

Update 8/11:
See other posts in Blogger Hacks: The Series

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Posted at 6:44 PM by John.
A landlord wants to make an 8ft wide flat in a larger multi-unit property... Breathe in there...
"In this day and age of chronic housing shortage, if you do not maximise the use of a site, you are a negligent landlord and property owner. This is a long, narrow rectangular space which should not be wasted."
via Mo's Musings and This is Local London.

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Posted at 5:56 PM by John.
Again with the photos that you could walk right through the screen and into.... Abberley Dawn is an amazing "trees in the mist" shot, & this untitled rowboat & reflection is wonderful too. See some other favorites in a previous Freshblog post.

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Posted at 5:45 PM by John.
Instructions to make a wi-fi bubble for your wheels, powered through the lighter... via boingboing.

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Posted at 5:24 PM by John.
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
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I've had my account for all of about an hour, & used the bookmarklet once, & I haven't activated or posted to my account, because the service is down. Figures that the night that I finally decide to try this out is the night that all is broken in webworld. Hey, at least blogger works!!


Update 4/20: is up, and we're rocking.... (I wonder if technorati is finding these posts....)
Posted at 7:10 PM by John.
or at least I think they are. Thanks to help from Ted Ernst and Marnie Webb I'm going to try a bookmarklet that will generate tags for technorati and delicious. Apparently Technorati doesn't always see blogger tags but will see tags on delicious that link to blogger. Let's see.

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Posted at 6:11 PM by John.
Sunday, April 17, 2005

How do your opinions compare to the rest of the population? How will you vote? Take the survey and see a ton of breakdowns of your opinion related to other people's. According to the survey staff,
there are two different axes which are important in describing British people's political views.

The first and much more important axis descibe's people's views on crime and punishment, Europe, and other transnational issues including immigration and international law. This is an identifiably left-right axis, but it is not the traditional left-right scale of economic views.

The second axis, which is much less important is about economics — among other things. People who believe in free markets are also likely to support the war in Iraq and prefer an American to a European model of government. This too might be called left-right, but questions about international relations and other issues are mixed in with the economic issues.

Interesting to separate these things out this way. I, for instance, am an internationalist / rehabilitationist with centrist economic views, whatever that means...

via A Welsh View.

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Posted at 3:42 PM by John.
Lisa Salem is inviting websurfers to walk LA with her, & encounter the city on a human scale at a human pace. There'll be videoblog entries accompanying the walk thanks to a mini-DV camera duct -taped to a baby stroller (OK, I might be lying about the duct-tape....) What is it about L.A. that brings out all these innovative people and exciting projects? via Blogging LA.

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Posted at 2:55 PM by John.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
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A recommendation from a friend & colleague:

Unshelved is a comic strip about life in a public library. Here's the primer for new readers, the blog of unshelved-related news, and the archive of previous strips. You can also buy the book... and I might.
Posted at 9:43 AM by John.
Monday, April 11, 2005
I am out of touch this week (even more than usual) and so it might be a week 'til there's anything new on this blog. This is my first experiment with the bloggy time-travel of a post dated to auto-publish. Anyway. More next Sunday, with luck.
Posted at 8:30 AM by John.
Sunday, April 10, 2005
"Due to comment spam we can no longer accept links from livejournal or blogspot."
I was all set to mark up the finger post too. I'll have to be content with the trackback & cosmos, which it has to be said bring a more than adequate level of interconnectivity to the situation. Is commenting going to be yesterday's news?
Posted at 4:36 PM by John.
Space & Culture: ""Dressed as a British pensioner, over the last few days Banksy entered galleries [in The Brooklyn Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum of Natural History] and attached one of his own works, complete with authorative name plaque and explanation."

Why should the curators have all the fun?
Posted at 3:58 PM by John.
I've always been interested in the history and culture of spaces, especially in cities. There's something about a visit... the chance to occupy a space where something significant occurred, that is much more visceral and interesting than simply reading about it. Here's some places that are gone....

New York Times via Archinect & Space and Culture:
Here are a baker's dozen of [lost architectural treasures] - all in Manhattan, which has suffered the greatest loss of architectural treasures - that are forever etched in the city's collective memory. All have disappeared since the demise of Penn Station, and most were subjects of controversy at the time of their destruction. They are just a sample of what has vanished.

Taken together, these lost buildings and rooms form a kind of ghost city, an island of memory that hovers above the real, evolving Manhattan. It is a shadow New York that once was and might have continued to be, had the economic and political forces that shape the city been different. It is also the only New York that is a perfect New York, for as Marcel Proust wrote in "Remembrance of Things Past," "the true paradises are the paradises we have lost..."
Posted at 3:53 PM by John.
Bill Gates' image licensing potential is growing hugely. When the Microsoft valet droids roll off the production line a decade from now (or next week?) guess who they might look like?

"Gates now controls...Boris Karloff, Rod Serling, the Marx Brothers, Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Isaac Asimov and yes, Bucky Fuller. As far as I know, this is the first time an image licensing company has integrated with a personality licensing company." via BoingBoing
Posted at 2:21 PM by John.
"Ma'am, we can run a DNA test on the finger....." via blogging.LA
Posted at 2:12 PM by John.
an impulse that I understand very well..... from Postsecret:

Posted at 1:29 PM by John.
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Wake up. Go vote!!

Voice of America: British Prime Minister Tony Blair Tuesday has called the parliamentary election for May 5. The anticipated announcement starts a four-week campaign to inspire the increasingly apathetic British voting public. The date of the election in one month came as no surprise, but it was not official until the Prime Minister met with the Queen.

Tony Blair then broke the news outside of his official London residence at 10 Downing Street. "I have just been to Buckingham Palace to ask the Queen to dissolve parliament, which she has graciously consented to do. And, there will now be a general election in Britain on May the 5," said Mr. Blair.
Posted at 7:31 PM by John.
I smell drama manufactured for ratings, or perhaps for magazine sales?

ABC News: NEW YORK Apr 5, 2005 — They may appear sultry and ready for summer on the May cover of Vanity Fair, but according to the magazine, the stars of ABC's "Desperate Housewives" were actually steaming angry.

Vanity Fair's cover proclaims: "You wouldn't believe what it took just to get this photo!" The article acknowledges that the poolside photo-shoot, in which the five women appear in different colored bathing suits, was manned by an ABC representative who was to make sure that certain demands were met including that Teri Hatcher didn't select her wardrobe first or appear in the center of any group photo.

"Whatever you do," the ABC rep, who wasn't identified by name, said when he arrived on the set, "do not let Teri go to wardrobe first."

Here's the thing. Teri Hatcher isn't in the center of the picture, but she's in the center of the cover once you fold the picture. Anyway. Funny how TV drama needs real-life drama to keep us all interested, isn't it?
Posted at 7:13 PM by John.
only don't ask anyone first!! The flatiron has been giftwrapped by H & M, but I think it is costing them more than they imagined. I wonder how much more? via Gothamist.
Posted at 7:08 PM by John.
Monday, April 04, 2005
Hmmmm. Apparently Little Britain is going to be remade U.S. stylee. As we've seen, I'm a fan of the Office in both original and remade forms, although of course there's only been 2 episodes of the remake on this side of the pond. But hey... Little Britain? I really can't see that working. Let's wait & see. via A Welsh View

As for The Office - see a critical reception on
Posted at 7:06 PM by John.
Oil = More money than sense. "A developer near Dubai is building a supervillain lair straight out of the funnybooks -- a collection of private islands arranged to look like a map of the world, with African game preserves, luxury hotels, McMansions, condos, etc etc etc." via BoingBoing.

Palms, world islands, whatever next?
Posted at 6:27 PM by John.
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BoingBoing says that Star Wars geeks in line at Grauman's will answer payphone calls. Jess sez, "Star Wars fans are already lining up at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles for the Episode III premiere in six weeks. Perhaps more interesting, however, is the fact that they are apparently answering the payphone outside the theatre. Give them a ring at (323) 462-9609 and see who answers." Go ahead. Interact with the phenomenon!!!

Update via BloggingL.A: The line has a website, and the website is Go. go, go!!!
Posted at 6:25 PM by John.
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From Boing Boing:

"Richard Kadrey is one of the original guard of cyberpunk authors; his Metrophage is a classic of the genre. He's just posted the full text of his latest novel, Blind Shrike, to the web as a free PDF download."

Here's the page to download the book.

Here's the opening of the book as HTML.

I haven't read the book, but since I have to experiment with e-books for work I think I might!!! Maybe I was ahead of my time, as well as ahead of my ability to round out a plot!!
Posted at 6:14 PM by John.

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