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Neil @ Lunch

A few of us got to have lunch with Neil Gaiman today — he's on tour and stopped by to give a short talk about (and reading from!) his new book, Anansi Boys. Apparently it'll soon be taking the top spot on the NYTimes Bestseller list, and Neil attributes this largely to his Blogger blog. In his talk he mentioned how his blog helps him overcome increasingly-small marketing budgets for his books, and connect directly with his readers and fans.

*

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CNBC's Morning Call has now started The Morning Blog. It's brand-new still (just announced this morning) but here's what they say it's going to be like:
What you'll get when you log on to TheMorningBlog are the insights about the business news of the day, and more importantly, how we put our show together. [...] You'll find out about our decision-making process: why and how we choose and book guests and segments, what happens when news breaks and how we make sure you get all the market information that's important at that very moment.

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If you don't yet have a song stuck in your head, be sure to check out Rocketboom today for the remedy.

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On Saturday, the Blogger team squared off against our good friends from Flickr in the sport of kings ... kickball. (Well, it's the sport kings played when they were in grade school).

We're happy to report that the Blogger side emerged victorious with a score of 24 to 17.

Pictured here: Chris Wetherell records the final out while Eric Case gloats over our fallen foes (Cal being one of them)

Photo credit:Jason Sutter.

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Jason Goldman demoing Blogger during the blogging tool dance-off.

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Reporters Without Borders just released a "Handbook for bloggers and cyber-dissidents:"

"Reporters Without Borders has produced this handbook to help them, with handy tips and technical advice on how to to remain anonymous and to get round censorship, by choosing the most suitable method for each situation. It also explains how to set up and make the most of a blog, to publicise it (getting it picked up efficiently by search-engines) and to establish its credibility through observing basic ethical and journalistic principles."

[Via BoingBoing]

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We've just made it a lot easier for Blogger users to make money using their blogs.

Our new integration with AdSense lets you signup from within Blogger. And we've added a tool for inserting the ads in your blog (so you don't have to mess around with the HTML).

There's even built-in options that will analyze the colors on your blog and choose a recommended color scheme. Check out the mad science, why don'cha.

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Sorry for the late notice, but there'll be a brief outage (~15 mins) at 4pm PST today, for a server memory upgrade. Details are on Status.

Update: This is complete.

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If you’re looking for ideas for meddling with your blog’s template, take a look at how Derek Powazek focused on the bottom of the page when he redesigned his blog. Try it as the new home for your profile or your previous posts, and see if you can give your visitors somewhere nice to go after they’ve finished reading one of your entries. Also, read Derek’s follow up emphasizing how content at the end of a page rewards your committed readers — exactly the people you should be sucking up to! (I’ve admired Derek for a while for the storytelling and the book, but I recently learned that he designed our original logo, too.)

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A bunch of us Bloggerfolk will be at Webzine 2005 this weekend in San Francisco. If you're in town, please come by and check us/it out.

Judging by their commercial it should be an unmitigated hoot.

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w00t! The Billboard Liberation Front is now blogging.

[via BB]

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This sounds like a fantastic program:
"New Voices is a pioneering program to seed innovative community news ventures in the United States. Through 2006, New Voices will help fund the start-up of 10 micro-local news projects with $12,000 grants; support them with an educational Web site, and help foster their sustainability through $5,000 second-year matching grants. New Voices is administered by J-Lab at the University of Maryland and supported by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation."
(we aren't affiliated with these folks in any way, just helping spread the word)

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Here's one for the audiobook and podcast fans out there. LibriVox is a project that "harnesses the power of the many to record audio versions of books in the public domain, and 'free' them in podcast form." Volunteers can claim chapters, record them, and send them in to be added to the site's podcast, where anyone can listen to them for free. Right now they're working on Boyhood, by Leo Tolstoy and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Check out their blog to see what other books they've made available. According to TeleRead, "this is the birth of an audio book publisher, and everybody gets to witness it."

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Both of the Blog Search issues mentioned the other day have been resolved.

(Also did you know we had advanced operators? It's true.)

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Have you ever played the Exquisite Corpse game? Well, take a look at Unblokt, a collaborative writing experiment. They're taking the same basic idea, but aiming for an entire novel, written by anyone on the internet who wants to participate. Given two adjacent sentences, you get to create a new sentence to go in between them, so the whole project expands outward as you go along. Crazy, but fun (not to mention addictive). There are over 60 pages up already (and you can even read them if you want a peek). This might be a good warmup for NaNoWriMo, for those of you who are already starting to think ahead to November.

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I just noticed that the main news column on Alexa is powered by Blogger!

Looks like the Alexa team is digging Blog Search:
"I don't know about you, but I have been waiting for this feature for about a year now and am glad that it is finally here. Why do we need a blog search? Simple. Blogs are a quick way to get a feel for what people are thinking on any topic. Just type in your term and whammo! You get blog entry after blog entry from people like you and me spouting their opinions. Try it for yourself. Search for "ipod nano", the newest iPod, and see what people are saying. You'll get 17,840 blog entries of people talking about it."

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The great thing about launching Blog Search is that it's very easy to find out what people are saying about the product. And the feedback has been great. Plus, it means that we find out about potential issues right away.

Here are a couple questions we've seen:
  • "After clicking on a result in Blog Search, I'm being passed through a redirect. Why?"

  • Sadly, this wasn't part of an overly clever click-harvesting scheme. We had the redirects in place during testing to prevent referrer-leaking and simply didn't remove them prior to launch. But they should be gone in the next 24 hours ... which will have the advantage of improving click-through time.

  • "I included a robots.txt or <meta> tag to prevent the indexing of my blog. Why does it appear in Blog Search?"

  • As covered in the FAQ, Blog Search was designed to respect robots.txt and NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW meta tags. Unfortunately, we discovered a bug which caused some of these blogs to be indexed despite the presence of the meta tags.

    We are already in progress on removing from the index those blogs that were affected and apologize for the unintended exposure.

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How often do you update your blog? Weekly? Hourly? Secondly? Hundreds of new blog posts go through Blogger every minute of every day. That’s a lot of updating! We definitely have something to learn from you, because we seem to update our homepage 16-monthedly. (Which is a shame; it tends to be a good time.)

We think our homepage is great if you want to sign up or sign in, but what if you just like to watch? Tonight we’re changing things up to add a bunch of new ways for you, either deliberately or serendipitously, to find new and interesting blogs to read.

There’s the new Blog Search (which searches more than just Blogger). Type in a word or phrase to see people talk about it, or type in a URL to see people link to it. We’ve moved Blogs of Note from the depths of the dashboard to front-and-center, so you can see our selection of the most interesting Blogger blogs in zippy, side-scrolling goodness.

You can jump right into Next Blog, the I’m Feeling Lucky of the blogging world, and embark on an insightful journey (or just kill some time), and do it nearly spam-free. And, to top things off, we harnessed the power of the latest buzzwords to create a list of updated blogs that always stays fresh and new, no matter how long you leave your browser window open.

Poke around and enjoy the sites, but don’t forget to login and post something of your own. As Puffy McBlogsearch says, “my banner is teh rox0rs.”

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Jason Goldman saying goodbye to Blogger Buzz's founding father.

Good luck at Odeo, Biz!

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Photo-A-Day is a picture from each day of Tim Halberg's life from August 31, 2005 on. (Via being jennifer garrett - yet again, I know). I'll make this a blog of note tomorrow from the office if I can remember.

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Katrina Thanks is a public forum to express thanks to individuals, organizations, and countries that have assisted with relief efforts. They've got mail-to-blogger set up for easy posting and they're also using audioblogger if people prefer to phone in their posts. Here's their web feed.

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The UK newspaper The Guardian recently underwent a complete redesign and now the editors there are letting us behind the scenes with their Editors' Blog.
Welcome to the Editors' blog, where senior Guardian staff write about the decisions they make, and the reasons behind them. Today, Victor Keegan is following the production of the first Berliner edition of the Guardian, to be published tomorrow.

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A while back, Jen Garrett made a pledge to visit 100 blogs in 100 days. That is a bold endeavor and only the most stubborn among us could possibly honor the commitment. So, I thought we should check in on her. So far, this is the impressive list she has so far come up with.
  1. The Complex Mind by Mr. Ortiz
  2. Pencil Revolution
  3. Number 4 of 5
  4. The Swashbookler
  5. Pamie: Pop Culture Princess
  6. Las Fashionistas
  7. A Strip A Day
  8. Watch Out for Falling Debris
  9. The Call of the Green Monster
  10. Absolutely Ordinary
  11. It's Raining Noodles!
  12. Foreign in Frankfurt
  13. Life Is Sweet, Baby
  14. Journal of the Unintelligent
  15. A ... my name is Allison
  16. All Out of Angst
  17. Edify
So far so good! You can read her archive pages from August and September to see why Ms Garrett has picked these particular blogs. Jen, are you going to make the full list of 100 blogs with your notes available when you're done? Feedster 500, you will meet your match when the Jen Garrett 100 is finally released.

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MobMov is a grass roots guerilla drive-in movie event type of thing. They represent the future of going out to watch movies with friends. Do they have a blog? Of course they do, they're revolutionaries.

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Matt Haughey has inspired other bloggers to organize an official day to help us find spam blogs. This is such cool idea! In addition to helping Blogger find and delete spam this will also help us fine tune our spamless nextblog algorithm. Ultimately and hopefully, finding spam blogs by clicking nextblog will be a challenge. Please note that flagging a blog doesn't mean we'll delete it. Spam blogs are unique in that we have no qualms about rooting them out and bringing them to a desperate and violent end. Maybe we should attach a bloodcurdling scream to our spam-deletion scripts? Something to think about. If you're not sure what the flag button does, you can read more about it here. Thanks Matt!

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Check out these Writing and Blog Prompts, Topic Generators, and Photo Inspiration: "Need an idea or a writing prompt or two to get you going? Try out these resources and generators featuring free writing prompts, photo inspiration, daily writing exercises, journal and blogging prompts, visual art prompts, and other imagination prompts." The Next Prompt Button is kinda neat too.

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Michael Homan shares his personal account, One of the Millions of Hurricane Katrina Stories. "There was a group of officials going around and taking people’s animals away. It was then that I decided to try to escape." He's safe in Omaha now after sneaking out of a refugee camp to escape New Orleans with his dog.

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I am sure that many of you enjoy clicking the "Next Blog" button on the Blogger Navbar and browsing the fascinating blogs of fellow bloggers. As of late, annoying spam has managed to spoil this experience. The more you clicked "Next Blog" the more you saw automated zombie-like blogs often filled with link spam. Today, we put some artificial intelligence to work in an effort to make "Next Blog" fun and useful again for readers of blogspot blogs. This is the first of several steps we are taking to root out spam blogs from
Blogger and blogspot. What we learn from cleaning up "Next Blog" spam can eventually be applied to other areas such as our changes file so that services which depend on this file will also enjoy less spam. Okay, back to my nextblogging.

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Eugene Smith is posting a monster a day over on his new blog, Monstercake.

Spooky.