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by Talin, Software Engineer, Blogger

As a blog author, you've probably spent more than a little time getting exactly the right "look" for your blog. A blog is an outlet for creative expression, and how your blog looks says as much about you as what is written on it. And we at Blogger are committed to giving you the tools to make a great-looking blog.

The Blog*Spot navigation bar ("navbar") is one area where we realized that there was some room for improvement. Our four traditional color scheme choices — Blue, Black, Tan, and Silver — are somewhat limited, especially if your blog's background color is lime green or hot pink.

That's why we have added two new color schemes — "Transparent Light" and "Transparent Dark." These new color schemes take advantage of the ability of modern browsers to render transparency (a technique known to web designers as "alpha blending"). This allows the navbar background to blend together with your blog's background color and pattern. The "Transparent Light" color scheme has a semi-transparent white background, producing subtle pastel colors, while the background of "Transparent Dark" is a semi-transparent black that produces a shaded look.




In addition, we've simplified and slimmed down the look of all the navbars, so that they will be more likely to harmonize with the aesthetics of your blog.

To enable the Transparent Light or the Transparent Dark navbar, go to Layout | Page Elements, then click Edit next to the navbar widget:



We had a lot of fun adding this feature and hope you like it too. Try it out!

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As we close the chapter on the first ten years over here on Blogger, the team couldn't be more excited about the possibilities that lie ahead over the next ten. And while we've got some great things planned already, we know that the ideas and passion of the Blogger community will inspire us further. So in that spirit, we're going to once again ask for some help writing out the next chapter of Blogger. Only this time, we mean it quite literally :-)

We'd like you to take a second to think about where Blogger is today, and then where you'd like to see it in the future. What are some words that come to mind? How would you describe it?

Specifically, we're looking for six adjectives—three to describe the present, and three to describe hopes for the future. And when you've come up with them, please take a second to let us know what you are thinking. Once we've heard what everyone has to say, we'll follow-up here to share the results.

Once again, we really do appreciate your words!

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Guest post by Robin Beck, Blog Action Day


This is Robin Beck here from Blog Action Day central, and I want to thank Rick and the Blogger team for helping support Blog Action Day 2009.

For those of you who don’t know, Blog Action Day is an annual event held every October 15th where bloggers across the world unite to write about a single issue on a single day.  We like to think of it as one big blogfest for good, and our goal is to spark conversation on an issue of importance across the web.

This year’s topic is climate change, and we’ve thus far had more than 4,000 bloggers from 123 countries register, including many of the world’s largest blogs.

Our aim is to make Blog Action Day 2009 the largest social change event on the web as a demonstration of global concern about the climate crisis. To achieve this, we want to invite the entire Blogger community to get involved and commit to writing a single post about climate change on your blog on October 15th.

You can register your blog here.

In addition to joining thousands of other bloggers, you’ll also be supporting the work of the dozens of leading nonprofits who are also participating – including Oxfam, 350.org, The Nature Conservancy, Greenpeace, The United Nations Foundation, and more than forty organizations affiliated with the TckTckTck campaign.

You can learn more about the issue of climate change and see sample topics you might write about at www.blogactionday.org.  There you can also find additional ways to get involved by taking action with leading nonprofits and posting a snazzy widget to your blog.

Thanks so much for your support – we hope to have you all as part of the event!

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While October is to many a month of candy and costumes, it also happens to be National Cyber Security Awareness Month in the U.S. In that spirit, we thought we'd take a minute to look at a few different things you can do to make sure both your content and account are secure on Blogger.

Third Party Code

Adding site counters, templates, and other third-party code to your blog can be a great way to add some flare to your content, but can also leave your blog vulnerable to malicious activity if you aren't familiar with its source.

Over the years we've seen a number of third party scripts disguise themselves as helpful add-ons, when in fact they are performing a malicious operation behind the scenes. For example, a site counter widget may indeed be providing your blog with helpful tracking data, but at the same time may also be discreetly sending that information to advertisers for the purpose of collecting the online habits of your readers. A blog template you downloaded from a third party site might include pop-up ads or links to dangerous sites that install malware on visitor's computers.

The good news though is that most of the add-ons you will run across are perfectly legitimate. To protect yourself from the small minority of add-ons that are nefarious, we've put together a few tips to keep in mind when adding third party code to your blog:

Take a moment to review the code and look for anything that seems out of place. For example, if you are adding a weather gadget to your blog and notice in the code that there are links pointing to unrelated sites, take that as a red flag and keep searching for another weather gadget. There is no reason that a weather gadget should include a snippet like <a href="http://completelyfreemoney.com">Make Money Online!</a>

Before saving new template code, always preview first. Malicious template designers may sometimes include pop-ups or other unexpected ads in the template code, which will usually be revealed with a quick preview. If anything unexpected shows up in the preview, go ahead and discard the new code by clicking Clear Edits.

Backup your template! Whenever making significant changes to your blog's template, it's always a good idea to backup your content beforehand just in case you need to reverse changes.

You can easily do this from the Layout | Edit HTML tab by clicking the Download Full Template link and saving the .XML file to your hard drive. You'll then be able to revert back to this downloaded version by clicking the Upload button, also right under the Layout | Edit HTML tab.

Look first to 'trusted' code repositories for a new template or widget. There are probably thousands of places across the web where you can find widget and template code, but it may be helpful to first check out some of the more widely known and trusted sources.

For templates, we've actually done a bit of scouting work already and collected a handful of great resources laid out in this Buzz post from earlier in the year. That collection comes from a number of well-established designers, and should provide plenty of secure template options to dig though.

For widgets and other scripts, there are a handful of places worth your time. Mashable's 50 Great Widgets for Your Blog is a very nice compilation that covers a broad range of categories. Widgetbox is another great portal to countless widget creations, all organized into easily browseable categories. Finally, Blogger's own Gadget Directory has hundreds of gadgets to look through. Simply click the Add a Gadget link under the Layout | Page Elements tab to access them all.


Permissions

Finally we thought it's worth touching on another security area which has proven problematic for some bloggers in the past, and that is your blog's Permissions settings.

Almost every day our support team receives reports from users who've been locked out of their own blog, the result of giving admin privileges to an unfamiliar blogger. Remember, you can always add more authors to your blog, but only extend admin privileges if you absolutely trust the person.

For more information about National Cyber Security Awareness Month, please check the StaySafeOnline.org page as well as the security series on the Official Google blog.

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Last week, Google Sidewiki launched to the world as an entirely new way to share information across the web. This new Google Toolbar feature allows you to contribute your own insight to any webpage, as well as read information shared by others right in your browser's sidebar.
Google Sidewiki uses a special relevancy algorithm to display the most helpful entries first, and also has built-in technology to display your entries on other sites which contain the same snippet of text. For a more in-depth look at how it all works, as well as a full overview of all the features that Google Sidewiki has to offer, the team put together a very helpful page which you can check out here.

One feature in particular did catch our attention here on the Blogger team, and that is the ability to post your Google Sidewiki entires directly to your blog. You can watch a quick video tutorial of how it all works below:



So if you haven't already, download the Google Toolbar and give Sidewiki a try. As you come up with new ideas, submit them on the Sidewiki product ideas page!