Saturday, September 15, 2007

Blogger Play can hook you on images

Blogger Play is a site that shows a slide show of photos uploaded to Blogger blogs. According to an entry on The Group Blog, the slide show can be addicting.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Problems with Blogger's RSS feed for comments

There seems to be an issue with the RSS feeds for Blogger comments. I wrote before about how to embed a blog's recent comments into a blog widget, displaying recent comments for your front page readers.

It worked when I put it on this blog before. Now the blog date and author are the only elements showing up.

I thought I was doing something wrong, then I saw there were several Blogger users with the same problem on Google Group for Blogger.

I'm not sure what the issue is. Blogger has done something to the API that is killing the comment feeds. I'll just leave the widget up to see if it gets fixed.

While I'm at it, I do have a gripe with Blogger's comment RSS feed. I've received some comment spam on this blog. I deleted the spammy comments, but they still show up in my comment RSS feed. The only solution to get rid of them is to have newer comments push them out of the immediate posts.

If anyone has a solution to these issues, feel free to comment or email me.

Google Facebook Application - Share your searches with friends

Steve Rubel posted a link on his Twitter feed to a Google Operating System about a new applicaion for Facebook.

You perform a Google search through Facebook and it is shared with all your Facebook friends.

I'm not so sure if I want all my Facebook chums to see what I'm searching for, and I can't see the immediate benefits this would have.

I could see sharing a Google search where you use a whole arsenal of advanced search operators, showing off your mad Google skills.

It is cool to see Google and Facebook starting to integrate.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Search this blog with the new search feature

Blogger In Draft now offers a search box for Blogger. As usual, adding it to my Blogger page took only a few clicks.

The part I like is how the results appear at the top of the blog content without taking you to another page. You can search all you want without leaving the article you are reading.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Digg and my Google Reader Feed added to the Blog Laboratory

I added my Google Reader Feed and RSS content from on the far right column.

I share stories using my Google Reader account. If you are unfamiliar with Google Reader and RSS, you should check it out on your Google Account. It is the best RSS reader around. The share button adds selected stories to a page and an RSS feed that can be used on your blog or other page.

The stories from come from the Digg Widget that I added to the sidebar. While there are ways to dress up a Digg feed, I kept it simple to blend in with the design of my blog and to keep the headlines from pressing on the sides of the column.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Ray Bradbury on the art of writing.

I found this video on YouTube of Ray Bradbury talking about the art of writing. I posted this on my other blog, but it's such a great video clip I am posting it here too.

Ray Bradbury is in his 80s and still passionate about his craft. He's an amazing writer and an inspiration.

Another template change!

I made more changes to this blog template. I was not totally happy with the topper and made some more tweaks. Now the test tubes look like they are filled with luminous substances.

I found the test tube images on StockXpert, a great resource for photos for blog headers.

Charles Gnilka is now on Twitter

I just started a Twitter account and added the Twitter badge to this blog. It took less than a minute to get it running. Twitter did an excellent job of creating an easy-to-add badge to Blogger.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

New template with two columns and wide background

I just uploaded a new template with two columns. I also made a new topper graphic and made the background continuous. Uploading the new header was easy with the template editor.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Using the new Flock 0.9 Web Browser for blogging

I'm writing this post from the Flock 0.9 Web Browser.  Flock is based on Firefox and described as "The social web browser", meaning it interfaces easily with Blogger, Flickr, Photobucket and other (WARNING! Buzzword ahead!) Web 2.0 websites.

You can see from this screencap the extra buttons meant for specific services.  Instead of having to log into Blogger to write this post, I pushed the feather button on the tab (second from the right) to open a posting window.

All the features are there:  image placement, fonts...even tags. 

I used an earlier version of Flock and found it useful for updating several blogs on different Blogger accounts. You can type your posts while your browser stays on the same page.

The downside was Flock was a bit slow and ended up bogging down on my machine. That may not have been Flock's fault, I was using it on a Windows 2000 machine that could use some more RAM. I use Windows XP Professional now on a more powerful machine. I also like Flock's new interface, which is more organized.

Now the real test. Will I learn to love this browser, or will I find that Flock makes my life more complex? After looking through Flock's capabilities, I see features designed to make accessing RSS feeds, video, blogs, and other web services smoothly.

I'll keep you posted. (No...that was not meant to be a pun.)

Blogged with Flock

Google News Bar and widget overload

I have just added the Google news bar to this blog. I found the code on Google Code for the Google AJAX Search API - News Bar.

I picked topics for the news bar to search: blogging, blog marketing, RSS, Google, and more.

Then I chose if I wanted a horizontal news bar or a vertical one. If you get the horizontal news bar, it flashes headlines in a space using AJAX. If pick the vertical one, you get a bar with selector buttons for the stories your reads want to see.

Now I have so many widgets on the side of this blog that the widgets are longer than the content. I either have to add more content or start pruning widgets.

Let's see what happens after I post a few more entries.

- I found that the vertical stretch of the news bar was too much for more content to overcome. So I made it a horizontal element at the bottom of the page.

The book bar and the news bar are nifty tools, but I don't think they are quite ready for prime time. They make great eye candy, but I think they would be too distracting for readers. When they are docked on the bottom of the blog, they aren't too offensive.

I've noticed that the YouTube widget seems to be having trouble. I wonder how many widgets you could cram on to a Blogger blog before it slows to a crawl and widgets start canceling each other out?

Added the RSS feed to comments and a search box

I just added an RSS feed for the comments of this blog. I used the directions from Dummies Guide to Blogger Beta to find the feed address of my blog.

According the article, the feed for comments from Blogger blogs reads like this...

I took that feed address, modified with the name of this blog, and put it into an RSS feed widget from the Blogger dashboard. Now I have feed of all comments.

I signed into my blog from the Blogger in Draft page and found a new search widget. The widget allows reader to search my blog and displays the results at the top of the page. I can search the posts on this blog without being redirected to a new page. If you have a blog with many posts, this should come in handy for your readers who are looking for specific information.

Friday, July 20, 2007

YouTube widget added

You can now search YouTube from this blog with the widget I found on Google Gadgets. The space is kind of small, but it works.

Google Book Bar is back

The Google Book Bar is back. I removed a while ago because it was interfering with my template. Now that my template has white background again, it fits in nicely.

I wish Google had a way to edit the style and background colors of the book bar and other tools to make them mesh seamlessly with any blog.

Installed the Blogger video bar

Just installed the Blogger video bar in the lower right corner of the blog. I put in the keywords Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Planets, and others.

Every time you press refresh on your web browser, new videos should appear in the bar.

The videos play at the top of the blog page, keeping reader on the front page instead of a redirect to YouTube or Google Video.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Recharging the batteries..this blog lives again!

I'm finally posting here again. I've been away for a while, reading up on WordPress and other blogging platforms. There are new features on Blogger to play with, so I'm back.

Blogger now allows you to use a graphic for your blog header without having to get your hands dirty with that icky CSS code or HTML.

Now if you can make a topper in Photoshop and Fireworks, you can install a new header and to your blog as cute and purdy as you wish.

Blogger has also created Blogger In Draft, which features new tools like video upload and polls.

I'm going to get back to work on adding some more widgets and repairing some of the mess that switching templates caused.

Back to the lab.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

This is a test post from the Flock web browser!

I wrote this blog post using Flock web browser. 

Blogged with Flock

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Find books using Google Book Bar!

I just installed the Google Book Bar on the top of the blog. I used this page to set up code for the top of my Blogger template.

You can set up the book bar to be either horizontal or vertical, and then tell Google what kind of books to show on the bar.

The Blogger template editor let me copy/paste the code I made into a space, just like the news feed I added.

I have set up my book bar to display books on blogging, CSS, web usability, writing, and other subjects.

Try it out on your blog!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Custom search engine added - Search my RSS feeds!

Blogger lets you put HTML in your sidebar
I added my own custom search engine to the sidebar. Blogger's template editor lets you drop code into your blog.

I used a tutorial from Google Operating System to create a search engine that uses the RSS feeds from my Google Reader. Google Reader does not have a search function. If you want to search through your RSS feeds, you have to create one yourself.

I've narrowed the list of feeds down to sites that focus on technology, web design, blogging, SEO, and marketing.

The list of includes feeds from A List Apart, Google Operating System, Slashdot, Digg, Blogger Buzz,, ProBlogger, Boing Boing, and many others.

If I am looking for a solution to a problem, I turn to this search engine first. I'm always finding new feeds to add to it.

Have a web design problem? Want to know how to market a website? Want to know about the latest episode of Battlestar Galactica? You can probably find the answer here.

The ability to create a custom search engine is a great feature that Google has given their users. If you want to try it out for yourself, check it out here.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The news feed is now open

I just added a link to my RSS news feed on the sidebar. I read dozens of sites on web design, marketing, blogging, and graphics. The best articles I find are shared through my reader's RSS feed.

Adding it to the page was easy. I added a new section to the template, then copy/pasted the feed URL into it.

I wonder how many feeds I could add to the side of one blog?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Using Blogger's labels feature

The labels feature, which you can find in the lower part of the posting section, is a great new feature on Blogger.

Blogs can grow quickly if you post every day. If you cover a wide variety of topics, giving your readers the options to focus on one subject allows them to find the posts that matter most to them.

Welcome to Charles Gnilka's Blog Laboratory

LOOK OUT! BLOGGER AT WORK!Hello there. I am Charles Gnilka, and this is my blog on Blogger.

I am setting up this blog because I want to experiment with Blogger's new interface and its new features. Since Blogger Beta became the new and improved Blogger, I wanted to try out the new features for myself.

This blog is a testing ground. I plant to experiment with blogging, SEO, and other skills I have learned.

If you have stumbled across this blog and wonder who I am, check out my official blog at

This is my laboratory for things I learn about web design, CSS, and blogging. Don't worry, there are plenty of safety goggles to go around. Just make sure you don't step on any live cables.

I've always wanted to be a mad scientist and have a lab with lots of bubbling test tubes and electrical gizmos that make noises. Now I have one.

Web design and blogging are so new that most of the practices and skills of the trade are learned by doing. You can read books, magazine articles, and listen to industry experts. To become an expert yourself, you have roll up your sleeves and get to work.

So put on your goggles and your lab coats. Let's play with all the new toys that the wonderful people at Google have given us to play with.

Welcome to my lab!