November 28, 2014

Have you backed up your Google, Blogger, Picasa assets?

Do you know that you can take a take a back up of all your web properties on Google: Gmail, Blogger blogs, Google Plus, Google docs, YouTube, Google drive, customized Google maps etc in a single click?

Yes, you can, using a lesser-known tool provided by Google itself. To access the tool, you need to go to the Google Takeout page.

Here we'd brief you on how to 'take out' all the posts of one or more (or all) of your Blogger blogs.
  • Go to the Google Takeout page linked above. Be sure that you are logged into your Google account.
  • Scroll down to the section 'Select data to include'.
  • Unselect all properties and then select 'Blogger'. There is a small 'down arrow' next to the selection link (green button) to select specific blogs or all blogs. 
  • To archive photos associated with Blogger, click 'Picasa' in addition to 'Blogger'.
This tool archives data in various types of Google accounts in different formats. Blog posts are archived in a zipped file which opens into a file in Atom format.

The Atom file that you get using this tool is same as the file you get when you export your Blogger blog using 'Export Blog' tool inside Blogger. You can import the Atom file directly into most blogging platforms including Blogger and Wordpress.

November 25, 2014

Clean India Campaign: we'd review blogs in coming days

Thanks to all who joined our short Clean India Campaign. 

It was a good diversion from our core activity, Yet, we received some good pledges. We'd review all blogs associated with the campaigns and review those with the best pledges in detail. We'd keep the reviews confidential.

In the meantime, we got busy surveying the blogosphere and checking the existing blogs in the Directory of Best Indian Blogs, for mid-year review of the Directory. So, the blog reviews might take some time to reach some bloggers.

As we did not receive many pledges, we'd not announce 'best' pledges etc.

Best of blogging, friends!

November 22, 2014

Blogger features: search, language, feed and contact form

This is the last post in this series on Blogger's great features. The complete list of these posts is given at the end of this post. This has been updated in Feb 2016.


Create a customized search engine for your website


Have you seen a simple search box in the right column of IndianTopBlogs.com? You can easily put similar or a more complex search gadget (=widget) on your Blogger blog. In addition, you can customize this gadget to search only your website, linked sites or the entire www. You can make the search gadget here. You can put this gadget on any website or blog if that platform allows you to place an html gadget on the blog.


Want to have blogging tools and tips in your own language?


On the top right hand of your Blogger dashboard, there is an option to change language from the standard English. If you change that to Arabic, Bangla, Hindi or Russian, you will then get tools, tips etc in the language that you selected. However, if you want to write posts or pages in a particular language, you will have to change the language in the editor for that post/page.


Adding feed on your blog and taking it elsewhere


Feed in internet terms refers to updated information coming from web-sources, e.g. post updates from blogs, and news headlines from a news portal. 

If you want to automatically list 'latest posts' from your blog on that blog itself, you have a gadget for that. However, if you want to take your blog's feed elsewhere or bring another blog/ website's feed to your blog, paste the feed URL in a widget that allows linking (on Blogger, you have 'Feed' and 'Html' gadgets for that).  

The URL of a Blogger blog's feed has the following structure:

For feed of blog posts (It will give list of latest posts):
http://blogname.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default?alt=rss
e.g. http://indian-blog-list.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default?alt=rss

For feed of comments (It will give list of latest comments):
http://blogname.blogspot.com/feeds/comments/default?alt=rss
e.g. http://indian-blog-list.blogspot.com/feeds/comments/default?alt=rss


Why not have an instant contact form on the blog?


Blogger has a gadget for putting a contact form on the blog. This gadget has a text box where visitors can leave their identity and message, and you get the messages in your email!

Some third-party contact forms are reported to steal your identity for their purposes, so we advise you to use Blogger's inbuilt contact form. At present, it comes as the top gadget when you go to 'Layout', click on 'Add a Gadget' and then on 'More Gadgets'.

In February 2016, we at IndianTopBlogs stopped receiving comments on posts and pages; the contact form is coming handy to receive instant comments.

All posts in this series:
1. An introduction to common features of Blogger platform 
2. Some Blogger features explained
3. Labels, widgets, themes and blog permissions
4. Export, import and back up your blog
5. Blog's html, and money making from Blogger blog

November 19, 2014

Modi keeps ahead of others in use of social media, once again!

Indian politicians have adopted social media in a big way in the last few years. People and parties critical of socially active politicians have also seen the benefit of connecting with people, especially the youth, through Facebook and Twitter. 

And while these newbies and old ones who are not too popular on social media thought they'd catch up with Modi one day, he has taken to a platform they all hardly considered of any use for politicians. Last week, Modi joined Instagram!

Modi shared his first photo on Instagram from the ASEAN Summit held at Nay Pyi Taw in Myanmar. Before that, he has used Flickr and other social networking, bookmarking and sharing platforms to promote his programmes such as the 'Clean India Campaign'.

Back to Modi's Instagram account. In the last six days, over 120 thousand people have already followed the account though Modi has posted only one photo on this account. Indian youth and people of Indian origin abroad seem to be very much enamored of Modi's persona, otherwise Modi's largely one-way communication goes against the basics of social media.

By the way, Modi first took to blogging and still maintains the blog well. (Noticed that Modi's blog is now part of a biggish portal?) We have come to know that while Tweets etc going out in his name are proposed and drafted by his backend team, he likes to particularly read and re-do his blog posts. 

Shibu Soren and JMM online? Yes, you heard it right.

Just to give you an update on how Indian politicians are faring online, we found that Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, the present ruling party of Jharkhand, has recently launched its website and they have made it rather well, borrowing some points from BJP. It is also reported that the mentor of the party, Shibu Soren, 70, is being encouraged by his grand-daughters to use social media. But we do not see good engagement as of now on his or Hemant Soren's (Sibu's son and Chief Minister of the state) Facebook accounts and they do not seem promising. 

It is interesting to know how politicians have been using social media for connecting with people. We earlier carried many posts around this topic including this one that surveys the entire spectrum. 

November 16, 2014

Parents beware! Your children might be at grave risk online.

McAfee, the well-known computer security firm, has come out with a survey on social media behaviour of Indian children.

In its report issued last week, McAfee reveals that one-third Indian youngsters (8-19 years) have been cyber-bullied. It also says, while over two-thirds of Indian parents seem confident about their kids' online behaviour, more than half of the kids say they visit inappropriate content on the web and they are smarter than their parents in hiding their activities. What a disconnect!

The details should make parents worried, and they must take note and guide their children about what is right and what is wrong about online activities.

EARLY AND TOO MUCH EXPOSURE

52% of India’s youth of tween (8-12 years) and teen (13-19 years) ages access their social media accounts while at school and 27% on smart devices. Not much check on their browsing, it seems.Though the minimum age to register on social networking sites like Facebook is 13,  57% kids of 10-12 year age report daily access to internet!

SHARING IDENTITY, RISKING OWN LIVES

While 80% of Indian youth are aware that their online activity can affect their identity, 92% have done something risky online. Out of these, 70% have posted their contact details like email ID, phone and home address online. This puts them at great risk from cyber criminals. 

But read further to see how they don't stop at that.

ENGAGEMENT WITH STRANGERS

Youth are increasingly trusting unknown people in the virtual world in spite of being aware that it is risky. 53% have met someone in person after getting acquainted online. 63% of youth do not turn off their location or GPS services across apps, leaving their locations visible to strangers.

There does not seem much restraint chatting with strangers: 52 % respondents admitted chatting with strangers during online gaming and 49% on TV show fan pages. 42% tweeted live during chat shows by celebrities and others.

In trying to be more acceptable, about two-thirds of these youth re-invented their online personality, got bold and were ready to put themselves in danger to see more engagement. They felt more accepted online than in real life, especially when they got 'likes'.

CYBER-BULLYING AND ITS IMPACT ON KIDS' LIVES

About 50% of these online youth had some experience with cyber-bullying. This led to anger and embarrassment in the real world. Can we infer that cyber-bullying and other forms of deviant online behaviour might lead to a vicious cycle in which the young ones get more prone to such online and offline problems?

PART OF IT IS DUE TO IGNORANCE

More than half of the kids surveyed claimed that online risks did not apply to them: 55% thought they were not old enough to worry about their identity being stolen and 51% didn't care about having privacy online. 

WHAT DO THEY BROWSE?

Facebook was found to be the most popular site used (93%), followed by YouTube (87%) and WhatsApp (79%). Interestingly, 10-12 year olds reported higher daily access to Snapchat, Pinterest, Tinder, Tumblr and Vine than their teen counterparts. (The minimum age to register on these social networking sites is 13 years.)

PARENTS IN BLISSFUL IGNORANCE!

Only 46% say their parents have had a conversation with them about online safety. 52% said, their parents simply didn't care. About 64% hid their personalities so as not to be discovered by parents. Not only that, nearly the same percentage of youth thought their parents couldn't keep up with them when it came to technology.

In this survey, 711 male and equal number of female respondents from Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Pune were asked questions about their online behaviour. You can see more details of the survey here: internet behaviour of Indian tweens and teens

WHAT MUST PARENTS DO FOR ONLINE SAFETY OF THEIR KIDS?

Parents (and if they find themselves not up to the challenge, they must assign this job to a trusted guardian) must take care of at least the following so that children are not exposed to inappropriate content and cyber crime.

  • Try to learn technology and gadgets that your kids are using or are likely to use.
  • Know the risks of online presence. Before you can discuss these matters with kids, you must yourselves know the risks in using email, apps, chat and other tools for online presence.
  • Discuss things out with children. Do not pontificate; do not advise on matters in which they will not value your wisdom. 
  • Have supportive attitude when talking to them about such matters, especially when they are under cyber attack or they admit to having done something wrong.
  • With small kids, engage when they want to do online and even offline computer-related activities such as playing games. 
  • Try to understand the risks; promote activities that are interesting but safe if not educative too.
  • Disable harmful apps, settings etc on computers, laptops and other devices. Depending upon the child's age and understanding, do this after you have discussed these aspects with the child. The least, install a malware filtering firewall and block pop-ups. Enable parental control and safety settings on the browser.

Do visit our two-part series on kid blogging, which, we are sure, you will find relevant to this discussion.

November 14, 2014

chaiandcheese

Indian Fashion and Beauty Blog
www.chaiandcheese.com


"A fashion blog that covers everything fashionable... It has reviews of lifestyle products, emulates latest fashion trends and carries interviews with upcoming designers. It also showcases such designers' talented products, thereby giving them access to to a larger audience. 
It is a one stop shop for everything in vogue."

- Ragini Varma

November 11, 2014

A small blogging tip to remain focused: find your goal

One life-changing advice I received long back, when I was a student, that for success in any project in life, you need to write down the goal in no more than a short sentence. I forgot this dictum soon but when it came back to me during a management training, I took it to my heart. It has helped me focus my energies to the task in hand more than anything else. 

So this is my personal advice to bloggers. Write down in one short sentence why you are running your blog(s). Try to zero in to the single most important reason out of many that might come to your mind. Try to find a real (not imagined) reason. Try to make it as specific as possible. Re-check to make sure you are not fooling yourself. 

Your goal need not be a complicated corporate goal but if you intend to blog to make a big impact in the society or in your personal life (including making money out of it), it will have to be powerful statement. A great number of bloggers who have opened a blog as a hobby are likely to find it difficult to find a goal; but a blogging goal you must have. Maybe, the blog acts as a punching bag and helps you relieve tension OR it is a place where you jot down your ideas that you cannot express elsewhere OR it helps you share ideas with your friends… In each of such cases, you can still have a clear goal. If you did not have a goal till now, you can look for a new goal. 


Making your goal specific helps even when you think you have a general goal. Fine, you want to have a general goal that sums up your vision. Distill this to targets against which you can constantly check your progress. Set a number of specific targets within that overarching general goal. For example, if your blog seeks to help alcoholics quit drinking, a definite goal will help you retain focus and give you energy to reach as many alcoholics as you can and help them choose the remedies best suited to individual addicts.


Now analyse how achievable that goal is. Even if it is achievable, will you be in a position to put the resources (money / time / attention / knowledge and expertise / …) in use that it requires?


Draw a timeline for achieving the goal. Have short, medium and long-term milestones that you will like to reach, and with the required effort you WILL reach. Setting timeline-linked targets makes the job more achievable. 


Also analyse whether that goal will, if achieved, fit in your overall scheme of things. For example, your goal is to turn the blog a full-time business and as per your plan, the blog will earn you a hundred thousand bucks every year after two years from now and grow at 20% a year thereafter. Suppose your research shows that you WILL achieve this goal. You must now ask such questions: Will the effort be worth it? Will that money be enough to let you leave your current job and engage in blogging full time? Will the activities (e.g. in the case of food and fashion blogs, participating in public activities) crucial for blog's success take more of your energy than alternate activities? Etc, etc. 


I'm sure that at the end of this small exercise, you'll have given a direction to your blogging and found where you stand. Believe me, it helps to remain focused. In blogging, as well.



- a personal take by Prabhakar

November 8, 2014

Singapore HC finds blogger guilty of defaming PM

Singapore High Court has found a blogger guilty of defaming the island nation's Prime Minister. 

In his blog 'The Heart Truths', Roy Ngerng Yi Ling, had alleged irregularities in the management of Singapore's mandatory retirement savings scheme, the Central Provident Fund. 

PM Lee's lawyer has written to Roy Ngerng asking him to take down the original article and links posted on his Facebook pages and to offer apology. 

"My articles have been calling for greater accountability and transparency, and instead of acknowledging these issues, the prime minister has decided to sue me,'' Ngerng says, the news agency AFP has reported, "I am quite disappointed and at this point. I am still in discussion with my lawyer on my next course of action.''

With mainstream media generally supporting PM Lee, critics find the social media suitable for raising their voices. Some media watch groups and social media platforms have come out in support of the blogger and criticised this attempt to silence criticism. 

November 5, 2014

Blog jointly for great blogging performance

Are you, as a blogger, suffering from any of these?
  • Pressure to keep writing week after week.
  • Initial thrill of blogging declining.
  • Difficulty in finding new topics.
  • Blogging feels like a drag on your time and energy.
  • Poor interactivity: few visitors and few comments.
  • No money coming though the blog was meant primarily to make money.

Don’t worry; this happens to most bloggers. However, the successful among them find ways to overcome such blogging issues.

One very effective way to successful blogging is to blog together. You can make your friend or spouse or children or office colleagues or any other person whom you trust and whose views resonate with yours on the blog’s theme. You will agree that in such collaborative efforts require trust and commitment to support each other much more than anything else.

Blogging platforms allow you to have a number of ‘authors’ of a blog, each with same or different roles. You can allow this on a self-hosted blog in different ways. There can be many ways you might like the co-bloggers to collaborate.

Based on the heirarchy the bloggers follow among themselves, the collaboration may follow either of the two models (or a mix of these):

The equal peer model

One common way to have joint blogging is to open a blog (or work on an existing blog) in which many members are equal (or near-equal) partners. All write posts in their own names or anonymously. They can also have an author list in the sidebar in which names are linked to all the posts created by that author.

The leader and team model

In this type of joint blogging, one blogger takes the lead in maintaining the blog while others just contribute their posts. This style would suit a blog maintained by a school or an official group in which there are leaders / bosses and team members. The real team leader may not be the leader (=administrator) of the blog but may assign this role to a person comfortable with blog design and technology or subject expertise.

You can also look at blogging collaboration from the point of what each member contributes. You can have different models of cooperation here too:

The complementary model

Bloggers can take up different roles that complement each other. There can be one dealing with content, one with design and commenting, another with research and monetisation, etc etc. In IndianTopBlogs, we have given the role of social media interactions to one of our team members and blog showcasing to another, while compilation of directories etc is done by all (four) together.

The complimentary model

This is not joint blogging but supporting each other’s blogs. This support can be in the form of linking with the other blog’s content, commenting, writing critique about the other or directly promoting each other's blog. 
Sometimes we overuse this and sometimes we use our own multiple blogs to promote each other. This is not appreciated and so doesn’t pay in the long run.

There are many other types of collaborative blogging that you can try for a better blogging experience and benefits. Some examples:

You become member of a blogging community and contribute. A large number of such communities exist on the web. But you will have to follow the community's rules.
Closed communities allow you to register and publish blogs. But your blog is seen within the community only.
Less closely woven and more open communities allow you to register and publish blogs that are as public as independent blogs. However, members have certain advantages in terms of commenting etc.
You can open a multi-author blog and invite like-minded bloggers to contribute. Many literary blogs run this way.

There are many ways you can maintain your own identity and yet collaborate with others. Complimenting one another's blogs as mentioned above can be one way. Commenting helps in coming closer to other bloggers. You can submit your blog to blog aggregators. That too helps in blogs coming together. However, nothing beats joint blogging in terms of gains.

JOINT BLOGGING PAYS IN MANY unseen WAYS


Depending upon how you collaborate and how you synergise one another's strengths, you can multiply the effectiveness of the blog. At the same time, your weaknesses are compensated for. You now has someone with whom you can discuss the theme, the design, the prospects... You now have your in-house critic so that what goes out is of high quality; you also have an in-house mentor / supporter / encourager. You can jointly think of taking the blog to the heights that you alone might not have dared to. Joint blogging helps greatly if you get busy for some time; others keep the blog going on.

Whichever way suits you, joint blogging is a great way to go. However, as we said before, trust and commitment to support each other are the first and foremost requirements for success of any collaboration.

November 3, 2014

thesecretlifeofabeautylover

The Secret Life of a Beauty Lover
http://thesecretlifeofabeautylover.blogspot.com
beauty-blog

A blog about beauty, makeup, fashion and styling tips.

Product reviews to help people make informed decisions about products ... post that analyze fashion trends ... posts with styling tips ... info on unique fashion pieces from specific stores or online.

I will soon start a YouTube channel linked to my blog which will help people get information through videos. 

- Tanaya Jadhav