Blogger Hacks, Categories, Tips & Tricks

Wednesday, May 31, 2006
The Retrospector has taken the 80 submissions to Darren's Habits of Highly Effective Bloggers series, and run the numbers to see what advice is most common and which of the habits are the most widespread. V. interesting.... What is your percentage of effectiveness?

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Posted at 7:55 PM by John.
Another great new way to add inline comments to your blog comes our way from Azer Koculu. The download is a *.rar file, which is not the most accessible format in the universe (witness my inability to open it.... I'll have to go download winrar!) but there's all sorts of goodies wrapped up in the zip file, including a script. Sound familiar? More work for Stephen's, methinks!

Judging by the application on Azer's blog, the comment entry form is neat, & it looks to work great. For other inline comment submission forms, see the Comment Submission Hacks section of Blogger Hacks - The Series.

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Posted at 5:25 PM by John.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Looks like the latest cool formatting tool to arrive on the scene is the offset text box, which lets you pull out a choice quote, format it for maximum impact, and offset it within your post to catch your readers' eye. I noticed this first a few weeks back with a how-to at Mandarin Design, You can see the hack or one just like it in action on Annie's Blogger University.

Well, Al points out a similar hack, by the ARC90 lab, this one designed to put footnotes in the text boxes instead of choice selections of prose. Very cool, & you can, of course, include any text that you want to, whether footnote or not. Some barriers to getting this to work on blogger, most notably the fact that this hack requires you to host the script, but this how-to ought to get it going, Blogspot style:
  1. Backup your Blogger template. Copy it & save it as a text file, e-mail it to yourself, whatever. Just please keep a copy that you haven't messed with....
  2. Download the zip file from the ARC90 site, & save to your hard-drive.
  3. Extract the contents of the folder, and view the files. There's a webpage, a javascript, and a jpg of a duck... yup, a duck... quack! (This hack's for you, Julie!)
  4. Check out the index.htm file for a demo of the hack (So that's why there's a picture of a duck in there....) Pretty good, isn't it?
  5. Go back to the script file. Upload that file to some free web space somewhere. As Stephen points out in the comments, you might like to try his
  6. Make a note of where you saved the file. You'll need to know in a sec.
  7. Back to the example webpage. View the source of the webpage, and note the CSS in the head of the template. Copy and paste everything from the opening script tag to the closing style tag into the head of your template.
  8. Edit the opening line that you pasted (that begins with a script tag) so that the SRC link in that line of code points to the file that you just hosted, like this: src="http://mywebspace/myfolder/arc90_sidenote.js"
  9. You kept a template backup, right? Good. Save your modified template and republish.
  10. Write a post, and wrap the text that you want to highlight in span tags with the class "sidenote" and a title attribute. The title text will become the text that appears in the offset sidenote box. To streamline the process of inserting these tags, you might consider saving the code in the Blogger post template, so that it will appear automatically each time you write a post.
  11. If you want to, you can modify the new CSS in your template head to change the colors, sizes or float positions of the text boxes.
That ought to be it. As they say at arc90, you can even use HTML formatting within these spans. You just use single quotes not double quotes for links and such.

As the frosting on the cupcake, at least potentially, there's a very nice show/hide option for sidenotes on the online demo page that doesn't seem to be in the original packet. Is that feature available & I'm just not seeing it? That would be very cool!
Posted at 8:09 PM by John.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Philipp Lenssen points out the changes on the frontpage. Any thoughts? While clearly designed to make things appear more dynamic over there, with a short list of 3 "hot links every hour" appearing at the top of the page, I'm not sure that I like it as much as the long list of random frontpage goodies that you could browse to see what's going on across the whole site. I liked the color coded "how many people have bookmarked what" list, and the longer list of random goodies.

Phillipp also makes a great point that is suggestive of the future of social bookmarking. The list as it stands is tech oriented, and the next great "revolution" in the field has to be the adoption of these technologies by less geeky people, doesn't it? How long 'til there's recipes and horoscopes on the hot list?

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Posted at 2:22 PM by John.
Here is the latest in my "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should" series of bloghacks. In this one, I build on Adi's excellent Native Blog Search hack (incorporating Singpolyma's rss2json service). The idea is to replicate more-or-less Blogger's Backlink feature, but with a twist.

For starters, it's dynamic, so it will always get the freshest links out of Google's blogsearch. You also get the first paragraph in the tool-tip when you move your mouse over the link. And - here's the recursive bit - when you click the ~> at the end of each backlink, it will run off to fetch the backlinks for that backlink and insert it amongst the others as a nested list. This can continue ad infinitum as readers explore the web of backlinks (back-backlinks? meta-backlinks? ancestor-posts?) to your blog.

My Speccy blog isn't particularly well-connected, but if you jump off from this post, scroll half way down the sidebar and look for "Posts that link here". Then, click on "Shock! AFL ..." link, you'll get a taste for what's going on.

If you'd like to get this happening on your own blog, then add this to your header:

<ItemPage><script type="text/javascript" src="">

Then put this in your sidebar or wherever makes sense for you:

<ItemPage><h2 class="sidebar-title">Posts That Link Here</h2>
<div id="backlinks">
   No backlinks found.
<script type="text/javascript">

Note that I suggest wrapping both parts in Blogger's ItemPage tags, since you probably don't want to see this on archive and main pages.

At the moment, I'm using ~> to indicate "there may be more backlinks ... go on, give it a click!" and ] indicates "no, I've looked and this is a dead end". If anyone can suggest more natural/obvious symbols/icons to use, I'd love to hear from you.

Source code is viewable here. I've just modified it to use the window.location.href as the initial search query, and prettied up the output as a (nestable) unordered list. Oh, plus some housekeeping around retaining/swapping elements around.

So is the world ready for recursive backlinks? Probably not. But still, there's gotta be plenty of other uses we can put this integrated search hack to work on.

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Posted at 2:30 AM by Greg.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Not content with blogging my comments from other folks' blogs, I'm blogging my comments from my own blog. Ron has added Freshtags to his blog, & has asked for a bit more info about the option for an archive menu with post count. Here's the (hopefully comprehensive) scoop:

This hack uses a bookmarklet and menu combo that allows you to bookmark your archive pages on with a special tag, and a post count. That way you can pull these pages out of and into a sidebar menu that includes a post count & gives your readers a sense of how much stuff you're writing & what's happening on your blog.

To get it working, you need to install Freshtags, & add the code for the archive menu into your sidebar, at whatever point you'd like the menu to appear. You can keep the blogger menu going too, if you like, as I do here for some unknown reason!

After installing the menu, drag the archiving bookmarklet from the bottom of the Freshtags Build Page onto the links bar of your browser. Edit the bookmarklet (by right-clicking & selecting properties)

1. Change the title if you'd like
2. Replace both instances of the word "Vent" in the location field with the name of your blog, so that the bookmarklet reads

...'&description=blogname: '+tidy(document.title)+'&tags=blogname_archive&extended...

Now you're all set for a mammoth session of archive bookmarking.

Visit each archive page in turn. Count your posts, and select the bookmarklet to bookmark them to & add a post count. You'll be prompted to log in to if you haven't already, & asked to enter the post count for the month on a pop-up form. When you're done, the menu will list all of your archive pages with a post count. Check it out on the sidebar here....

As an additional incentive, this archive hack plays very nicely with the Blog Navigator, as long as you bookmark your archive page to at the beginning of the new month with a bogus post count, and then go back & correct the count at the end of the month.

If you're new to Freshtags, check out our introduction to the service.

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Posted at 7:45 PM by John.
As Tags become widespread and well-used, is it time for a dedicated and feature rich tag-site designed especially for bloggers? John T thinks so, and is chasing up the possibilities. He's shooting for auto-detection like Technorati, with an exportable tag cloud like, and a slick appearance, perhaps customiseable so that it would match your template. So what would this service look like, and what would we need it to do? Perhaps it could have
  1. The ability to generate tags w/ custom URL's that were visible in all other tag search services.
  2. Automatic aggregation, & no need to bookmark
  3. Personal accounts for subscriptions to certain tags / users
  4. An exportable and custom-formattable sidebar tag cloud
  5. Feeds for tags, and combos of tags
  6. Output that shows both your blog content and the wider topical content in the blogosphere
John also suggests a tag landing page & points to a demo @ Joho the Blog. I'm sure there are other goodies that you'd like to see such a service include. What would they be?

Such a service could also become a data source for Freshtags, and for Tag Overlay, & provide a central location for tags to become truly interactive features of your blog, rather than set-aside search words.

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Posted at 6:26 PM by John.
<     >
On Blogrolls
Great post by Denise that comes via Full Circle. Discussion of the blogroll as a feature of the blog, and 5 questions about the role of your 'roll. Here's my 10 cents:

1) why do you have a blogroll?

I had a blogroll because most of the blogs that I read when I started to blog, and most of the blogs that I read now, do. I had a blogroll before I knew what RSS was, or had an account with a reader, and so I used to find stuff to write about by hitting up my favorite reads in turn, and cutting & pasting where necessary into a new compose window. In my case, RSS killed the Blogroll show, and I don't even click out of my own blog that way any more.

2) what do you hope to gain or provide by having a blogroll and is that working for you?

I think at this point that a blogroll is a statement of community... Either "I am one of these people" or "I'd really like to be one of these people..." Your blogroll is a statement of the community that you see your blog as being part of. Is it working? Who knows! Is it even a significant part of the statement? Who knows. I imagine that post content and sources weigh more heavily on the minds of blog readers at this point than blogrollage, but being on a blogroll is still a weightier link in terms of search results, and is one of the good things you can do for the sites that you like.

3) why are you thinking about doing away with it?

I'm not, really, but I've thought about sticking it in a drop-down box!

4) what would you do instead? (if anything)

I'd like to eventually add a little muscle to my blogroll. As a taster, Stephen's version of Freshtags makes the blogroll a living, breathing element of your blog again, with an expandable blogroll that will display post titles from the rolled blog that are relevant to the post that you're viewing on the host blog.

Other options for showing which community you belong to? Provide a link to a public feed digest, and a link to an OPML file of subs. That way, anyone who wants to can plug in to the community that you're sharing ideas with. If the two originate in the same place, the OPML would update with the subs, and so the two would stay synchronised.

5) you care about community and providing link love, I know you do, so how can you let go of that blogroll and still provide the love?

Can engines still see drop-down links? The love is important, and blogroll-love appears on every page of your site and so is mightily fortified with Google juice. I have the idea, though, that OPML and feedreaders are on the way to making the blogroll a cosmetic rather than functional part of your blog.

So, question 6... How can we rehab the blogroll to bring it to front & center once again? (& should we?)

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Posted at 6:16 PM by John.
This is the question posed by Marshall Kirkpatrick. Marshall wonders whether the features added by the buttons are worth their aesthetic downside. The great stuff is in the comments, where he goes on to
wonder whether all of these “easy connection” tools are just little levers that only some people will use as part of a blog’s larger connection to the world? Hmmm…
My response is in a comment over there... but a lil' repost never killed anyone. Part of my hack-addiction (and part of what is so great about blogs in general) is that they make information as interactive, adaptable and accessible as possible.... moving beyond the book, if you like. So to my comment on Marshall's blog:
the more levers, the more connections… Easy sub buttons for feeds, easy bookmark links like these, comments, trackbacks, one-click backlinks, these are all tools that integrate a site more tightly into the conversation… The more of these tools you have, the easier it is for the individual reader to make use of the information that you provide in a way that makes sense to them. More levers, I say!
Different readers want to do different stuff with your content. Some want it delivered to their e-mail, others to a reader, & still others want to tag it & stick it on so that they can come back to it later. Some want to see how authoritative it is by checking out the backlinks. Some are moved to respond to it directly with a comment, or to trackback their reaction from their own blog. None of these things are easy (or possible) with a printed page. Bloggy "levers" open up your content to different users and spread your thoughts as widely as possible. To echo myself... More levers!

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Posted at 5:08 PM by John.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
3Spots keeps on top of the bookmark buttons issue, presenting a great new tool for generating your button code which will also keep that code in a bookmarklet for you, so that you can retrieve it & paste easily. There's also a link to a show/hide hack for the buttons. Now that keeps your template tidy! Excellent.

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Posted at 5:14 PM by John.
If you change your URL, or move to WP even, DON'T DELETE YOUR OLD BLOG! Leave it there for the links, and the goodness, and the memories of the old times, and so that your subscribers don't have to put up with sploggers poaching your URL and delivering their spam-infested crapulousness to your feedreader.

There were some good blogger hacks over there... I guess they're gone now, replaced w/ advertisements for assorted herbal remedies and quackery. At least now we know where to go for Viagra...

Perhaps this calls for a "migration" how-to?

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Posted at 4:56 PM by John.
Anyone else notice a change in Feedburner stats over the weekend? Both my comment feed and post feed are up by 100 subs since Friday, which is v. interesting. Post feed only, & I would have thought I'd had a bump from a big inbound or something... but both together can only be a change in the reporting @ Feedburner, can't it?

or is there a nefarious splog deployment occurring?

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Posted at 4:43 PM by John.
Monday, May 22, 2006
Visit The Last Word and Bloggeratto to check out Aditya's excellent output options for the "tags as categories" blogger hack. It's all asynchronous, & so loads up after your page, & isn't a drag on the whole blog. Very nice indeed, especially the way that it is set up there, w/ a pop-up sidebar and a table of post titles that appears at the top of the main frame. This is a great use of space on the page, & allows for a post preview to be included in the category search results. Excellent.

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Posted at 7:04 PM by John.
More good stuff at Library Clips, this time some thoughts about courtesy, notification and what John is calling "homepage trackback..." the ability to "push" a post to a reader whom you know will be interested in the content.

If you've talked about an issue of interest to a blogger, but you don't have a post to ping, what should you do? Blogger has an "e-mail this post" feature, which will let you e-mail this post (duh!) to anyone who's interested. This requires that you've got the address of the person, some sense that you'll get past their spam filter, and that you can find the e-mail icon on your blog.... It's there somewhere....

John explores other ways of doing this... Interesting to think of the blogosphere as "pull" vs. "push," and to address new ways of "pushing" content.

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Posted at 6:26 PM by John.
Darren @ Problogger has set up a "group writing project" on the habits of effective bloggers. You let him know you've written a post, & he'll link to it this week. An interesting way to collect the wisdom of the blogosphere & to share the love / influence. I'm trying to decide on a definition of "effective" that will justify a contribution!

Update: I think I was getting at effective blogging with my list from last November, so I submitted that!

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Posted at 5:28 PM by John.
Saturday, May 20, 2006
John T @ Library Clips revisits the network page to see that
if you go to "your network", you will see a section on the sidebar called "your fans". These are people who have you in their network (you can set your network to private, so no-one can see which users you subscribe to).

Great use of the network feature! People who are interested in your stuff will be interested in other, similar stuff that is bookmarked by other people, & so will lead you to new resources.

To see the network of a user, simply log in, view the user's bookmarks at

then select "view network" from the greyed-out bar at the top of the page.

How long 'til Technorati does the same thing & lets you see a list of the users who have "favorited" your blog?

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Posted at 12:21 PM by John.
A reader e-mails to ask how to hack the blogger comments code to make the post count grammatically correct... Comments (0), Comment (1), Comments (2), that sort of deal. Now, I'm pretty sure I've seen this somewhere before, but I can't recall where, which is why I'm opening the floor & hoping you'll remind me!

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Posted at 11:49 AM by John.
<     >
Another way to track the status & traffic of your blog comes our way from This is a neat little sidebar widget that queries search engines for your most recent inbound links and outputs them in a list. The service is currently free, although the "what's this?" link at the bottom of the box flashes an ad when you select it. For a review of the service, (and an interesting "marketing" challenge w/ a cash prize attached) see Technology Evangelist. Two ways to look at this, of course.... it tells you who linked to you, and tells your readers how authoritative you are based on how authoritative your inbounds are, but it also serves as an automatic backlink on your site for anyone who links in, including those ever creative "marketers"...

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Posted at 11:26 AM by John.
Over at The Last Word, Aditya has come up with a great blog-search hack that displays the search results in your template. As regular readers know, one of the things that adds value to a hack & makes it worth implementing is the nature of the output. Are you taken offsite / to a 3rd party to see search results, category lists &c, or can you pull those goodies back into your sidebar (or a fake post) for maximum integration and slick-looking professionalism?

So... This hack takes Google Blog Search results, converts them to a JSON feed and lets you format them any way that you please on your blog. Cool. The code is alll available at The Last Word. Once again, there's instructions on wrapping the inserts in rarely-used tags so that the special parts of the template are easily seen by the script. The hack is also working wonderfully over there in the sidebar, so you can test it before you install it!!

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Posted at 11:10 AM by John.
Friday, May 19, 2006
Hot on the heels of Singpolyma's Tagging Thesaurus project comes new taggy goodness in the form of a webservice from knallgrau, boldly dubbed (These guys are seriously

This is a simple webservice that helps you in tagging textual content on and off the web. There are two ways of using it:

1. by simply pasting a URL or a text in the fields below or uploading a file
2. by using the REST API then returns a set of tags based on the textual content you specified.

The algorithms is far from perfect, but it's exciting enough to warrant attention from bloghackers and tagerati everywhere. They send results back as an XML document, which is fine for grownups. Those of us splashing about in the shallow end need a JSON(P) feed. Impressively, within 8 hours of my polite enquiry, they had a documented JSON feed up and running. That's what I call agile development!

This service could be a boon for people tackling the arduous task of retro-fitting tags to their blogs. It also has applications in helping you choose which which tags to apply with your social bookmarking buttons.

Of course, by way of quid pro quo, I've provided a version of my earlier TagOverlay experiment that uses as the source for the overlaid tags. It's somewhat stripped-down, in that it doesn't incorporate tag counts and the pop-up box thingy has been dropped since I'm still figuring out what that should do. Anyway, check it out (give it a click):

TagOverlay (

Why not give it a roadtest too? Just drag this link onto your browser's toolbar and you'll have a handy taghunting bookmarklet to aid websurfing.

Here's the human-readable source.

For completeness, I've thrown together another version of the above, this time instead of (for generic tags) or (for your/someone else's tags), it just trawls through the current page looking for rel="tag" in the links:

TagOverlay (rel="tag")

Hardly rocket science, but it seems to be effective in picking up the publisher's tags. (And, as usual, the human-readable source is here.)

So, we've got no end of methods for finding tags on the page. If you've got any bright ideas about what to do with them, please share on the earlier post. We'd love to hear your brainwave, wishlist or taggy fantasies!

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Posted at 1:51 AM by Greg.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
In a move that pushes last week's discussion of tag-passing to the next level, Stephen has come up with Tagging, a great new Ning application to enable the consolidation of similar tags. Tagging has an API that will enable applications to poll for "virtually synonymous" tags, and then output a broader range of results based on the accessed pool of synonyms and not just the individually searched tag. Stephen explains:
Virtually synonymous means that two tags mean the same thing in practise. Variant spellings (web2.0 and web20, or colour and color) and plurals (hack and hacks) are usually virtually synonymous. Siblings are not virtually synonymous (cars and trucks).
Very cool. This might allow Freshtags to pull synonymous content from multiple blogs, or enable TagOverlay to overlay synonyms as well as tags onto the site you're processing, & that's only the beginning. Great work!

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Posted at 8:23 PM by John.
Leveraging the information that passes through their hands in an interesting new way (which came to my attention via Micropersuasion) Technorati have started representing the info about your blog on an index card. (Kinja plaques, anyone?) Interesting compound view of relevant info, w/ the innovation that you can see how many people have "favorited" your blog. Another metric to start losing weight / sleep / hair over! Great to have all the goodies on one page! Consolidation is surely the future of the blog-tracker market, & the one-stop stats page seems to be the latest frontier in the battle....

Update: There's a bookmarklet in the comments at Micropersuasion that will open the index card for the blog that you're reading... Cool!

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Posted at 7:24 PM by John.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Emphasising mobility, Stowe Boyd blogs on the death of the browser, and has good stuff to say:

The browser will explode into a thousand fragments, will spawn a thousand specialized offspring. They will share common DNA, and many of the components will remain common, but I predict a huge surge in this form of innovation, especially as we move toward mobile, ubiquitous, handheld, always on computing. Like the dinosaurs, the browser will apparently become extinct, but in fact will live on, as in the form of modern day birds, a thousand times lighter, faster, and smaller than their lumbering ancestors....

What will this look like? What sort of files will we store? Where will we keep them, and how will we view them? Is universal wi-fi required to make this leap fully functional? I'm thinking of all the new Google products that bridge the gap between the hard-drive and the web. Are there benefits of accessing information through a single portal (browser) ? What are the key benefits of fully interactive "every application online all the time" computing? Are we also talking about signal integration here? Tivo / TV On-Demand? Is this the world of the refrigerator that can tell when you're low on milk & automatically order some more? Interesting & provocative piece. For sci-fi hi-tech we first have to abandon the browser and network all of our apps...

Some of these questions may be answered in this Oxford University webcast lecture that I (coincidentally) saw today on Resource Shelf.

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Posted at 12:44 PM by John.
Monday, May 08, 2006
Have found the time (despite having many other things that ought to have been done) to throw out my old "Sticky Posts" sidebar box, and come back with the rockin' dynamic Freshtags "Highlights" post-title list. The sidebar now lists what I consider to be the 15 most critical Freshblog posts by default. Cool! More to come too, I think...

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Posted at 7:54 PM by John.
Singpolyma mashes up two of the coolest comment hacks available to allow you to add profile photos for your commenters, and to enable you to highlight your own comments. All good stuff w/ code and instructions available!!

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Posted at 5:49 PM by John.
After experimenting with bookmarking buttons and seeing 3-spot's impressive array, it occurred to me that there's a helluva lot more ways of getting tags in to your social bookmarker than getting them out again. Hence, TagOverlay was born.

It's a pretty straightforward idea: you click a magic button on your browser (bookmarklet) that will suck down an arbitrary user's tags, trawl through the current page's text looking for matches, and throws some highlights around them. For additional fun, you can also toggle a pop-up box full of links via a mouseover.

OK, let's see this working. How might Freshblog look through the eyes of Aditya (of The Last Word)? Maybe something a little like this ...

TagOverlay (Aditya)

(Click the link. Should take about 10 seconds. If it threw an error, try right-clicking and copy/paste the URL into your address bar. Mouseover the orange highlights - a cyan box should pop up with links to delicious, technorati and wikipedia. These popups will close themselves in 15 seconds, or you can click on them or re-mouseover the orange tags. Click the link again and it will restore the page.)

You should be able to drag this link onto your browser's toolbar to make it a bookmarklet that works on any page. If you're not Adi (and let's face it; chances are, you aren't), you may wish to edit the delusr and anch fields to reflect the target username and anchor (ie common) tag. Alternatively, you can use this version which will prompt you for that info each time:

TagOverlay (prompt)

Right about now, you're probably asking yourself ... okay, what's this for? The answer is: I don't know. It's a "pure hack" ie entirely driven by curiosity and enthrall to the geekiness. There is no intended beneficial use ... yet. That's where the Freshblog readership comes in. What should this thing do?

Here's a couple of ideas to get the ball rolling:

  • With your own tagspace, use button to quickly scan pages for likely reading material

  • With your own purpose-built (sub-)tagspace, use button to highlight content or task-specific words. Eg navigation words (next, previous, search, comments), headings (abstract, methodology, bibliography), ego-related terms (Greg, Gregory, Hill), profanity (well, you get the idea).

  • With someone else's tagspace, pick up on their tags for a particularly rich "reference" (ie dictionary, translation, encyclopedia) service.

  • With your own tagspace, use it on someone else's social bookmark page, to see which tags overlap

And what should happen in the pop-up?

  • Fetch a list of related tags

  • Links to various tag-oriented places

  • Bookmark the page yourself (with this tag)

  • Fetch a list of bookmarks with this tag

  • Use the tag for some sort of Yahoo! web service (mapping, search, music etc) mash-up

For ego-searching, ecmanaut has done some very interesting work. I was thinking about fiddling with the tabindex so you can tab between highlighted tags - Johan has taken it to another level with keyboard shortcuts and other hacky goodness. Something to chase up later.

I think the really interesting use for this could be around using another person's tags; for social bookmarking to develop, there's got to be a way to reward (ie give attention to) people who are gifted and diligent about generating a well-crafted set of tags on a particular topic. Perhaps this button could provide some encouragement. For example, Koranteng's "crush" on Meryn's tagspace could be acted on by using Meryn's tags for Tagoverlay purposes?

A couple of technical points:

  • Will match within words, but only at the start. Hence, tag "sun" will match text "Sunday" but not "bosun".

  • Case matters. Will match try to match your tags with and without the first-letter capitalised. This is to stop tags "IT" and "SUN" matching all "it's" and "Sunday" on the page.

  • Uses a gnarly regular expression to find matches outside of HTML tags. This is likely to be buggy (in particular, bad interactions with inline scripts), and is very slow. It can take up to 20 seconds to crunch a heavy tag-rich page like Slashdot with John's 100 top tags.

  • Doesn't seem to work in IE. This is not a result of my very limited scripting knowledge, nor a reflection of the hassle of cross-browser coding. It it is, in fact, a cunning scheme to ensure that only real bloghackers and Web2.0 types get to play with this. Consumer version may support non-standards-compliant browsers.

  • I was hoping to use the transparency (ie alpha) of the highlighting to indicate how frequent a tag is. More solidity equals more frequency (like the pink highlight on delicious). Unfortunately, controlling colour with hsla doesn't seem to work as advertised on my browser. Tried playing around with tweaking the saturation and lightness levels too, but it looked naff. Might be okay with some decent range-limiting code.

  • Lastly, here's a link to the source code. Suggestions and improvements welcome.

Okay, time to open up the floor and see what other ideas for TagOverlay are out there. Next time you're browsing the web or posting an article and you think "Hmmm, it'd be handy to ..." make a mental note and tell us about it below!

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Posted at 12:59 AM by Greg.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Improbulus highlights Craffter's new venture, a blog-hacks and add-ons blog called Blogeratto. He's started strong w/ a very cool hover-over show/hide navbar hack. Now you can have your Navbar and hide it too! Looks like there's plenty more good stuff to come over there. Subscribed!

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Posted at 3:14 PM by John.
The latest at 3 Spots is a how-to for the category method which is in use there. A 3-part how-to for a 3-part hack. You'll need a collapsible sidebar, bookmarked posts in the social-bookmarking service of your choice, and the ability to pull linkrolls or content feeds from the service that you select in order to build the collapsible sidebar. All explained very clearly and in a way that encourages customisation / application to your favorite social bookmarker...

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Posted at 1:46 PM by John.
Saturday, May 06, 2006
So Phydeaux3's revised category method, promoted prematurely on this blog last week, is now live and ready for use. The system has a new name and a new website on Google Pages! D2B! Very cool!

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Posted at 3:58 PM by John.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
I just noticed that finally features audio word verification for sight-impaired users. Click the accessibility icon and you'll hear some digits that you need to type into the form to verify that you're human.
Posted at 1:44 PM by Yokota Fritz.
Hmmm. Interesting, debateable and provocative category hack at Stupid Stuff. Ionut categorises his blog posts by changing their publication dates once they fall off the front page so that they appear in the archive for a day/month of his choosing. He has hard-coded links to those archives in the sidebar, and they're labeled as categories. "Hall of Shame" posts, for example (including a classic series of photographs in which two recovery cranes follow a white car into a harbor) are all made to seem as if they were written on January 1st, 2001.

Upside: This is all happening within his blog, and is very possible w/ existing blogger features.

Downside: (You're already screaming them at your monitor, aren't you?) Permalinks get broken / reset when the posts get moved, Archives & chronological navigation through the blog is lost, & the site structure that the reader expects is not present when they visit. When is a blog not a blog?

Conclusion: This might work for you if your blog is a "scrapbook" and having your posts dated / consecutively ordered is not important. It might work if you want categories / chapters to be your only means of navigation. It might also work for you if people read your blog but don't link to it as often.

Anyway. Addressing the broken links / main page problem, Ionut wonders if it is possible to write a script that will allow him to control which posts are on the main page. That way he could "archive" everything w/ the appropriate pub date at time of writing, and then pick some "greatest hits" to appear on the homepage. Thoughts?

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Posted at 1:40 PM by John.
Three Spots' list of social bookmarking icons, that contained the code for 30 services when I blogged about it in February, now contains add code for 87 services and counting. Wow! Great service. Makes me wonder how soon it will be before there are ratings for these services to make it easier for new users to decide which one to use. Makes me wonder how many more of these services the web can reasonably support.....

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Posted at 1:32 PM by John.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
3-Spots rolls out some very fine looking categories. Not only is there a very nifty pop-out sidebar, but a "Freshtags" style menu that calls the post titles for each tag into a list under the tag, and all done with Netvouz instead of Very cool! Now there's a hack that's in need of a how-to... If you write it, Yuri, I'll link to it for sure!

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Posted at 7:35 PM by John.
Chorus Line points out a new feature that will enable blogspotters to verify their sites on sitemaps. As an alternate to the frustratingly impossible file upload method, you can use a special meta-tag for the purpose. Pretty cool. For more, see Google's "claiming your site" help page.

Claiming was a snap. Log in to sitemaps with a Gmail or Google account, enter your URL to add the site, and then select verify as an option. Open your blogger template in another window, because you'll paste in the new tag while you're on the verify page, and republish. It looks like you can get away with republishing the index only in the first instance, to get the ball rolling,

Sitemap construction on the site is not difficult, but it isn't immediately transparent for Blogspot users either. Enter the URL of your blog's atom feed in the box to identify your sitemap file, and check the radio boxes next to all 3 of the questions...

So, Freshblog has now been "verified," and comes equipped with quality sitemappage. Let's see what we learn.

To ping for updates, which is required so that the sitemap reflects the latest situation on your blog, you can use either Johan's Sitemap Pinger (which generates the URL for you, and shows you the status report for your ping) or any of the 3 methods suggested by Improbulus in her comprehensive Sitemap how-to.

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Posted at 3:51 PM by John.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
It's your blog, after all...

If you'd like your comments to stand out on your blog, Aditya at The Last Word has a hack that will get the job done for you. This is a level 2 (or 3) hack, and requires that you first format your blog to have inline comments. These pop out from under your post on the main page, and don't require your reader to visit the bizarre nether-world of the tan n' orange blogger comments page, or your post page, before they see the comments on your blog. Spiffy, but only the beginning!

Inline comments enabled? Groovy! Now wrap the whole comment code, including the comment author info, in its own special tag that doesn't see much action elsewhere on your page. Aditya recommends paragraph tags for this purpose, perhaps highlighted with their own class name. That way, the script can tell which references to your profile ID are in the comments, and which are in your sidebar & should be ignored.

Install the javascript (in your template head, and inside script tags) and customise it with your profile number and comment author tag. Aditya's post tells you how to find your profile #.

Modify your template's body tag by adding the onload="author_change()" attribute, so that your template looks for the script. Finally, use CSS to style your comments so that they stand out, and leave yourself a juicy comment.

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Posted at 7:01 PM by John.
Mario from Caso Pathologico sends word of two new hacks for Blogger. The first reverses the order of the posts listed on your main and archive pages, so that the early stuff is at the top of the pile and the new stuff is at the end... This also allows for a very slick "change the post order" link at the top of Mario's main page.

Mario's second hack uses to add "Random Post" links to your blog. This requires that you bookmark all of your posts there... so I know a couple of hundred bloggers who have a leg-up!

There are translation links in the post footers, but if you read English, you may be better placed if you click the [English] links that follow each paragraph on Mario's blog. is consistently rendered as in the auto translation, which tends to confuse the heck outta ya!

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Posted at 6:13 PM by John.
Tarun e-mails to point me to Mandarin Design. Pretty cool. I think I've been there once before & haven't made much of it, but there's plenty of good stuff there to see, including some mighty-fine layout tricks for your template, not the least of which are magazine style pullquotes. Very cool, and perhaps a way to make use of Blogger's post template to add a little spiffiness to your blog?

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Posted at 5:53 PM by John.
Monday, May 01, 2006
Phydeaux3 has reworked his category script to boost the features and functions. Check it out:
New features are the ability to use one
account for multiple blog categorization, or just to use the same
account to categorize your blog and still use it normally for other
bookmarks. Also added the option to include a link to the RSS feed for
each "category", figure since offers it why not use it.

The major benefit of this method (the kick-ass sidebar tagcloud) seems to have made the transition between versions too. Very cool!!

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Posted at 8:04 PM by John.

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