Tuesday, June 01, 2004

NEW-BLOGGER GRUMBLES: There's nothing more annoying than "upgrades" that are less flexible and useful than the previous version. These seem to be increasingly common � MacIntosh is certainly egregiously guilty of them. I'm sorry to say that Google/Blogger is now guilty as well. Consider the following disimprovements (if that isn't a word, it should be) in the new Blogger:

1. In an in-progress message you can no longer check your links under the "preview" option. Moving away to another link without saving the draft erases your message.

2. Saved drafts no longer reset their date and time when you change them and save them again. If you publish the draft, it is posted with the date and time you created it, even if that was many days ago.

3. Previews of messages now do not register paragraph divisions. All the paragraphs appear together in an undifferentiated lump.

In addition, the new Blogger forced me to upgrade both my browsers for no good reason, marking it as part of the Evil Upgrade Conspiracy that foists ever more unnecessary software and machine upgrades on users.

I don't see any marked improvements over the quality of the old Blogger which would outweigh these glitches (although, to be fair, I haven't wasted spent a lot of time looking through every feature of the new Blogger, so readers may want to point out any glorious improvements I've missed). The new layout is reasonably esthetically pleasing, but the old one was fine. There's no good reason for these glitches, which make the day-to-day use of Blogger less easy. Google can do better than this.

UPDATE: Rub�n G�mez e-mails:
I agree with you. However, notice that under point 1, you CAN check your
links if you press the Shift key while clicking. As for point 3, I do see
paragraphs (if I hit Return twice) when I use the preview option.

BTW, You may be interested in reading my last blog entry, where I elaborate
a little bit more on some of your concerns about "useless upgrades".

Thanks Rub�n. It appears that I was wrong about #1: if you move away from the post, the changes are not erased. But the the warning message to the effect that "you have unsaved changes" is misleading.

Regarding #3, I can't get the paragraphs to appear at all on my Mac IE 5.2.3, which the highest upgrade they make for the Mac. Hitting return doesn't help. However, I see that my Netscape 7.1 does show the paragraphs. But that's not good enough: I have my own reasons for preferring to blog with IE, and it did leave up the paragraphs under the old Blogger. Rub�n tells me that he is using different browsers from either of these, so that must be the difference.

Do have a look at his post on upgrades. The world would indeed be a better place if the Fuller Brush were the model for computing software.

UPDATE: Mark Goodacre comments:
On one of Jim's points, the date and time one, you can make an adjustment manually by clicking "More Post Options . . ." at the bottom of any given entry and then adjusting the time. I find this useful because I often write half a post, get disturbed and can't get back to it for some time, sometimes after I've published others in the mean time (e.g. now I have one pending on the Open Scholarship issue). In fact I tend to think of there being broadly two types of blog entry, the one notebook style entry which goes up quickly in five minutes or so and the other the mini-essay post, which takes a little longer and has more of one's own prose in it.

Yes, I know you can adjust the date and time manually. My point was that with the old Blogger you didn't have to do that: when you reopened the post and started making changes, the time would reset itself to the beginning of the new session. The current system is a disimprovement.
A couple of things I like about the new blogger: the archiving is greatly improved by separating off posts into single pages with single URLs, which means that when one searches for a given post you can go straight to it rather than getting to the page on which it appears.

I'm confused by this: for me the individual posts always came with their own URLs in the old Blogger. I had to configure the Atomz search engine to reflect this, but that only involved an extra line or two of code.
I've also noticed that other users of Blogger are now using its Comments function. I still have comments from Haloscan which date back to the time before Blogger provided their Comments system. Ideally I'd like to move to that too, but it will mean losing all the Haloscan comments.

That's a fair point. If people like to have a comments facility, it's more convenient to have it as part of the Blogger package. Me, I don't want to have to bother with policing them. Back when I ran e-mail lists for online courses, I had the problems with both overenthusiastic amateurs and people with agendas dominating the list discussion, and these became sufficiently trying that I gave up on running e-mail lists. Although I welcome comments on my blogging (e-mailed to me at the above address), and often I post them, especially if someone has a substantive disagreement with me, I want to maintain control of what goes up here.

For that reason, and this is as good a time as any to mention this, when I next do a course with an online component � to wit, in spring semester 2005, when I teach my honours course on the Dead Sea Scrolls again � I'm planning on opening up a new Dead Sea Scrolls blog, for the duration of the course only. More on this in due time. You can access my previous Dead Sea Scrolls course by following the link, and there are similar course materials on Divine Mediator Figures in the Biblical World and the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha.

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