Tag Archives: Blogger

Viewing your Blogger Blog on a Phone

Viewing my Blog on a Computer Viewing my Blog on a Phone
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I use Blogger for my personal, travel blog. I’ve been using it since 2003,  long before smartphones came on the scene. In the screenshots above you can see how my Blog looks when viewed on a computer vs on a phone. This is one of the many things I like about Blogger.com – it handles formatting for different devices automatically. I did nothing to make this happen. Just because I use Blogger, and a standard Blogger template, a small screen view is created for me with the following characteristics:

  1. It has shrunk the top banner photo to fit
  2. Collapsed each post to just one photo and the opening paragraph  with an arrow to view more
  3. Changed the horizontal menu to a vertical drop-down list (just tap where it reads Personal Blog and you’ll see Our Maps, Our Photos, etc.)
  4. Eliminated the sidebar

Wait … “eliminated the sidebar?” What if I need something that is on that sidebar? I use the archives a lot to find past posts. How can I see that on my phone?

Here’s the fix:

  • Chrome browser: tap the 3-dot menu at the top right, then select “Request Desktop Site”
  • Safari browser: touch and hold (longpress) the refresh arrow image at top right, then select “Request Desktop Site”

That’s it. You should now be seeing the blog just as it appears on a computer. It will be tiny, but you can use two fingers on the screen and spread them to zoom in on whatever you want to see.

Adding Maps to your Blog Posts, using Screenshots

imageI really like the daily maps that Google makes of my whereabouts. It’s called my Timeline and it’s all done automatically as long as I have location services turned on. A few days ago, we took a cruise around Manhattan, and I think the timeline map will add a lot to my story. Don’t you agree?

Any map (or anything at all!) that you can see on your phone, or on your computer, can be captured as an image. Then it can be used in your Blog, just like any other picture.

To take a screenshot on a cellphone:

  1. View the screen you want to capture
  2. Phones with a physical home button: press and hold power button and home button at the same time, then let go
  3. Phones without a physical home button: press and hold power button and down volume button at same time, then let go
  4. You should hear a click and see a blink on your screen to indicate it has been captured
  5. Now go look in your photos/gallery app and you will see the screenshot along with your photos
    If you’re using Google Photos on Android, be sure the Screenshot folder is checked in Menu, Device Folders
  6. See this demonstrated as our tip of the week on our weekly show #81 about Location Services Here’s the part on
    How to take a screenshot
    image

To take a screenshot – of part of the screen – on a computer

  1. View the screen that includes a part you want to capture
  2. Windows: launch the Snipping Tool app (Start, Snipping, Enter)
    click New, then drag a rectangle around the portion of the screen you want to capture
    click File, Save As to save your picture in the My Pictures folder (or wherever you want)
  3. Mac: Command-Shift-4 – you should see a crosshairs on the screen
    Use the crosshair to drag a rectangle around the part you want to capture
    When you let go, you’ll hear a click and the image file, a .png, will be saved on your desktop

F Instructions above use techniques built in to the computer’s operating system. To get more functionality with your screen captures, we recommend Snagit.

Use Screenshot in a Blog Post

You can now use the captured image like any other photo. For example, if you use Blogger, you can insert the camera screenshot

  1. Click the Insert image button
  2. If you’re using Google Photos: choose “From my phone,” Select the desired screenshot, Add Selected
  3. If you’re not using Google Photos, the image will need to be on your computer, then choose Upload to get it, select it and Add Selected

Example: here’s a blog post of mine using a computer screen capture of Google Maps in Satellite view. Click on the image below to go to the Blog post and see the whole thing, including 2 maps.

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Save your Blog! Get a Printable Copy

Get your blog printedIt’s important to understand a little bit about how the web works as it affects our personal websites and blogs. Although you see text, pictures, videos, and links all on the same page – behind the scenes, all the pieces can be ‘hosted’ on different servers. Everything on the web is ethereal, one pulled plug or broken server and things can disappear. Images are especially vulnerable. Thru the years, I’ve made blogs and web pages with different systems that have come and gone. Sometimes the text stays, but the images disappear. It’s a fact of web-life. That’s why we make so many backups!

Keep that in mind the next time you look at your blog. How do you have that backed up? If you love your blog, get a printable copy! You don’t want to see red X’s where the pictures should be!

Here’s how I do it. I use Blog2Print.com and get a .pdf file of each year of my blog. All you have to do is give the address of your blog (Blogger, WordPress or other) and list the range of dates you want. There are a couple of options to specify, like photo size and page breaks. That’s it. Click Order, enter your credit card, and you’ll get your .pdf books emailed to you.

I also like them to print a hard cover, 4 color book, but that can cost up to $100 depending on how much content I have in the year. The .pdf file of the same book is a flat $8.95. So I get a .pdf of every year and I get the hardbound books whenever I can. When I see my blog pages in a printable format, complete with text and pictures, I can breathe easy.  My life’s story is safe. Now, even if the entire Internet should crash and burn (I do worry about these things), I could show you the .pdf file instead. For example, here is 2006’s blog book

A .pdf file of one year of our blog

Do it now, before August 1

Realize that a printed book can’t show any videos, or slideshows. For that reason, I always post some regular photos on blog posts where I have videos or slideshows. I’ve been using Blogger for my blog and Picasa Web Albums, now Google Photos as the host for all my pictures. Picasa Web Albums is retiring on August 1. I’m confident (95% ?) that the pictures will still show in my blog. But …. it still seems like a pretty good time to make that backup, don’t ya think?

Add Video to your Blog

We’re writing this article to commemorate the 100th issue of our Geeks on Tour Newsletter! The first issue, back in July of 2007 included an article on Adding Video to your Blog. This article today is an updated version of that same topic.

Geeks on Tour Newsletter started in 2007 and covers tips on using technology.

Blogger and Google Photos

We use Blogger to make our Blog, and adding video is quite easy. If you took the video with your smartphone or tablet, and you use Google Photos to upload that video to your Google account, it’s as simple as 1-2-3:

  1. clicking the Insert Video button on the toolbar: image
  2. Choose “From Your Phone” (this doesn’t mean directly from your phone! It assumes you have your phone’s photos and videos backed up to your Google Photos)
  3. Click the video you want and click Select

Blogger and Youtube

Every method of displaying video is subject to some quirks and problems. Since Youtube is the biggest provider of video worldwide, we find it has the least problems. Therefore we recommend uploading your videos to your Youtube account and using that for your blog. What’s that? You say you don’t have a Youtube account? If you have a Google account (a __@gmail.com address), then you have a Youtube account! If you really don’t, then it’s easy and free to get a Google account. Just go to Accounts.Google.com and click “Create Account.”

Upload to Youtube: go to YouTube.com and make sure you are logged in with the account you want to use for your videos (it should be the same as you use for your photos.) Click the Upload button in the upper right corner of the screen. Now you’ll have two choices

  1. Upload from your Computer
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  2. Import from Google Photos
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Insert into Blog: Here also you have two choices, the super simple way is to use the Import from “My Youtube Videos.” The other way is to view the video in Youtube, click the Share button and then Embed – here you have some options if you click on “Show More” right below the video preview.
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This shows you some HTML code, copy that code and paste it into the HTML view of your Blog. That’s it! When you publish your Blog, you will see your video.

Here are some tutorial videos that go into more detail. You must be a Geeks on Tour premium member to view them.

 

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Blogger and Live Writer

imageGeeks on Tour teaches that Every Traveler Needs a Blog! We teach how to use Google’s Blogger program to write your blog because we think it is by far the easiest, and most reliable system out there. We’ve been keeping our travel blog on Blogger since 2003 and we are still very happy with it. Its main competitor is WordPress. We use WordPress for our entire business website (what you’re looking at right now) and it is a wonderful system, but way more complex than is necessary for a personal travel blog.

Blogger is Online

Blogger.com is entirely web-based, you don’t need any software on your computer in order to use it, just browse to Blogger.com, log in to your Google account and start blogging. Hey! You don’t even need a computer! We were teaching our Technology for Travelers seminar at an RV park last week (Thousand Trails, Peace River) and we spend, at most, 15 minutes on teaching Blogger. After showing this video: Create a Blog in 3 Steps with Blogger #036 *FREE we asked the audience, “How many of you think you can make a blog now?” Everyone in the room raised their hand, and we heard one voice from the back saying, “I just did!” Using her smartphone, and watching the video, she created a brand new blog while she was sitting in the class!  … and that happens often.

Live Writer can be used Offline

What you do need for Blogger is an Internet connection. Lots of people, especially travelers, tell us they want to write a blog post when they are offline and upload it later. The native Blogger.com has no facility for that, but there is a free software from Microsoft, called Live Writer that can. Rather, there was a free program from Microsoft. That program is now obsolete, at least for using it with Blogger blogs. Microsoft decided is was not a priority and they discontinued support and upgrades. So, when Blogger.com changed the way logins work, the Live Writer program no longer works to upload to Blogger. Oh No! Some people depended on Live Writer to the point where they really did not want to use Blogger.com’s native facility for writing their blogs.

Luckily there are some dedicated, volunteer, programmers out there willing to take over the project and Open Live Writer (OLW) was born. It was released on December 9, 2015. You can go to the link to download it. Please notice that Open Live Writer is a project by volunteer programmers, you know what volunteer means right? They’re gluttons for punishment! There have been many problems since it was first released, but it seems to be clearing up. I used the new OLW and consistently got errors trying to publish to my Blogger blog. Today, I uninstalled OLW from my computer, re-downloaded the installation file from http://openlivewriter.org/, installed that and everything is working just great.

Watch these Videos (Premium membership required)

Blogger.com is Good

Open Live Writer is Windows software, so if you have a Mac, it won’t work. There are alternatives (ScribeFire, MarsEdit, Article on Desktop Blog Editors for Mac) but I haven’t used any of them and cannot recommend. Blogger.com can be used directly from any computer, phone or tablet, and Google is updating it all the time. Blogger.com works really well with pictures in Google Photos. I can take a picture with my phone, open Blogger.com on my computer and add the picture to my blog that I just took by using the “Add Image … from Phone” option. SO quick and easy.

It appears that Google is very committed to Blogger, there are important recent updates such as HTTPS support coming to Blogspot, and Highlight the posts that matter the most.

Use them Both!

Bottom line: there is no reason why you can’t use them both. I use Blogger.com when I want to use my Google Photos that are online and not on my computer, I use Open Live Writer when I want to work offline, or I need one of the special features like making tables.

The Way We Learn

For the last year or so, I had been using the native Blogger.com for making my blog posts, so I was blissfully unaware of the problems with Live Writer. Thank you to Sharon DelRosario and her blog, Gypsy and the Mariner, for alerting us to the Open Live Writer launch, and to  Rick Doyle for – all sorts of Tech news and advice, but specifically for getting Sharon’s blog back up and running with Open Live Writer!

 

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Can I use my Google Photos Pictures in my Blog?

imageIf you’re like me, you are using the amazing capabilities of Google Photos as a home to your lifetime of photos. Also, if you’re like me, you have a blog and you want to add photos to your blog posts. I’ve been getting a lot of people lately asking the question, Can I use my Google Photos pictures in my Blog?

The answer is Yes! But, the process differs depending on what you’re using for your Blog. The most common blogging platforms are Blogger.com and WordPress.com. I’ll cover each of them separately.

Using your Google Photos Pictures in your Blogger Blog

This better be simple! After all, Blogger is also made by Google. Well, even though it is easy, it’s not exactly simple because there are 6 ways that Blogger can insert pictures, and all but the last one involves Google Photos for hosting the picture. When you are creating or editing a post in a Blogger blog, you click the “Insert Image” tool to get a picture.

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Then you will see several choices. I almost always use option #3.

  1. Upload: this option gets a picture from your computer (it doesn’t work on mobile devices.) It uploads that picture to a special Web Album just for that Blog. For example, if your blog is My Excellent Adventure, then you will have an album with the title My Excellent Adventure. This album is hidden from view in Google Photos, but is still visible using the Picasa Web Albums interface. www.picasaweb.google.com  When you view that album, you will also see the image Blogger logo, and a link to View Blog.
  2. From this Blog: This refers to the special Web Album for this blog. It contains all the previous pictures used in this blog that were either uploaded from your computer, or copied from your phone. I have never felt the need to add a picture that was already on my blog somewhere else, so I don’t use this option.
  3. **From Picasa Web Albums: This option gets any picture from your Google Photos library that has been collected in an Album. It is misleading that the name is from Picasa Web Albums. It does not need to be an album created by Picasa. An album created strictly with Google Photos will be available here. This is the option I use most often, because the first step in my photo process is deciding which of my photos are the best and putting them into albums. Those albums then become my source of pictures for my blog.
  4. From your phone: This does not mean directly from your phone. This assumes that you have Google Photos installed on your phone and you have the Backup and Sync turned on. If that is the case, then all the pictures you take with your phone are in your Google account, and you can use them in your blog with this option. If you do pick a photo using this option, it will be copied to the special photo album for this blog – so you need not fear it being deleted from your main photo library.
  5. From your webcam: This means to take a picture (or a video) with the camera built into the screen of your laptop. If you use this option, the picture will be stored in the Web Album for your blog.
  6. From a URL: This means that there is a picture somewhere on the Web, maybe even one that does not belong to you, and you want it to show up in your blog. URL stands for “Uniform Resource Locator” – it is simply the Internet address for any given picture. For example, I have a Facebook friend who is a great photographer. If I want to talk about him and put one of his pictures on my Blog, I can go to where he posted a picture in Facebook (he must have posted it publicly, or this won’t work) using Chrome I can right-click and Copy image URL. Now I come back to Blogger, Insert Image, From URL, and paste what you just copied. You should see the picture, then click OK.

Using your Google Photos Pictures in your WordPress Blog

imageWordPress can host your pictures directly, unlike Blogger. When you have a WordPress blog, you have a media library folder. You can use the “Add Media” button and the “Upload Files” to add a picture, from your computer to your media library. But that’s not what we’re covering here. What this article is covering is how to use a picture that is already uploaded to your Google Photos library. WordPress is not owned by Google (WHAT?!) so it doesn’t work directly with Google Photos. There may be plugins that can do this, but that’s another topic.

To insert a picture from Google Photos to a WordPress blog post:

  1. Click the button for “Add Media”
  2. Choose the option to “Insert from URL.” it’s located in the left sidebar
  3. In another Chrome browser tab, visit www.Photos.Google.com click on Collections, then click the down arrow and choose Albums. It is very important that your desired picture be located in an Album, otherwise only you will see it.
  4. Once you’ve found the album, locate the picture and click it so you are seeing just that one picture. Now right-click the picture and choose “Copy Image URL”
  5. Go back to the WordPress tab that you just left and paste the URL. Then click “Insert into post” – it’s a blue button in the lower right corner. When you do this, the picture will show up in your blog post, but it will not be taking up any space in your blog’s server structure. It is just referencing the photo in your Google Photos Library. If the picture should ever get deleted from Google Photos, or moved from the Album it is in, then the picture disappears from your blog post.

Note Aug 2016: this technique no longer works! see this post: embedding photos from Google Photos.

Do you have any other techniques for inserting pictures into Blog posts? Please leave a comment – we’d be happy to hear them.