Sunday, June 11, 2006

A kidnapped blog!!

A kidnapped blog! Doug Burns blog on blogspot has been kidnapped. Fortunately, he got himself up and running again here (and is using one of my favorite words in his URL). A spammer is camping out on his old blog, which caused not only the disappearance of Doug’s content but also the spam to hit the feeds that subscribed to his blog.

Made me wonder if this was entirely isolated – but it is not. It has happened before.

This got me thinking, I have no backup of my blog entries. And a quick google around turns up that there is no “export” from blogspot. The only workaround is to create a template and publish on the home page every post and all of the comments. I tried that but at 300+ posting with 5,000+ comments – blogger “broke”. No joy.

If the blog got kidnapped – I would lose all of that. Makes you think. It took a bit of work to put it together. But I always just used either the blogger edit screens or the word plugin to post with. I have a couple dozen blog entries on disk – but they are mostly incomplete/pre-final versions as I tend to refine the words/format after posting.

As the blogger above whose blog was kidnapped pointed out “you get what you pay for, blogger is free”. So, my plan is to investigate “real” blog sites (typepad maybe)? And start pdf-ing my blog entries, the contents + comments page – in order to have a backup.

So, couple of questions. Anyone know of any blogspot utilities that can connect and retrieve each post to disk locally? Better yet, one that will save the comments and post.

And recommendations for a hosted blogging service? I don’t want to run the infrastructure, but I don’t mind paying for it to be done for me. Especially if that hosted service has a process to automate the export from to itself that would be great. I’m looking for simplicity – I don’t want 1,001 cool features. The more simple the better.

Quick Update:

I found "blogCollector [Lite]" - free to test with. It downloaded my entire blog and made a nice pdf book for me in a couple of seconds. I can get on the plane tonight feeling confident that my blog entries will not just "disappear". It might take work to put them all back but it could be done.

And, for anyone that is interested, you can use this tool to point at various blogs/RSS feeds and make a pdf book out of them in seconds. Pretty cool.

Also, blogger is now making me use word verification to publish posts. My guess - someone wrote an automatic "let's try some username/passwords and see if we cannot modify blogs". With the word verification - that is not possible (not feasible would be a better way to put it I guess). But it does break the posting tools! I had to save as draft and then log into blogspot to publish this content.

Progress, that is what it is all about :)


Anonymous Francois said....

Have tried blog collector.
Nice product, but it does not recognize my blog url...

Sun Jun 11, 12:02:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Niall said....

Well I went with Lunar Pages largely as a result of Howard mentioning it. It gives you a choice of blog software + content management + reasonable bandwidth (though I'm guessing someone with your profile should definitely check the bandwidth allowance) for very little money. They do free phone call support in the states (and indeed the UK which was a nice bonus).

Don't Oracle have some sort of service for in-house folks which ends up at

Sun Jun 11, 12:43:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Niall said....

oops. no http:// before each of the url's how sad is that.

Lunar pages is here

Howard is here

Sun Jun 11, 12:45:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Aman Sharma said....

Yes I read it too that Blogger got hacked.Thats so terrible!And Blogger has turned word verification now for my blog which doesnt let me use my editor:-(.
Blog collector is nice!Thanx for it sir.
Why do people do these kind of things?I have no idea!!

Sun Jun 11, 12:58:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Doug Burns said....

Thanks for the tips, Tom

"The only workaround is to create a template and publish on the home page every post and all of the comments. I tried that but at 300+ posting with 5,000+ comments – blogger “broke”. No joy."

I had the same experience. I persevered far longer than I should have bothered. In the end, it was just case of selecting 'View Blog' with the template etc. modified and then use source viewing in the browser plus a cut and paste. The problem seems to be in firing the export file out to another server, rather than creating it.

I ended up with a valid import file that I could use at the other end. It included comments, too, which is essential - some other people have also put a lot of work into it!

I still have quite a bit of tidying up to do, but it's comforting to know that I've captured everything and it's under *my* control now.

"If the blog got kidnapped – I would lose all of that. Makes you think. "

It most certainly does.

"Progress, that is what it is all about :)"

Mmmm, different outlooks, maybe - but I just see this as a complete pain in the neck that's stopped me doing more interesting things :-(

Sun Jun 11, 01:14:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

"Progress, that is what it is all about :)"

Mmmm, different outlooks, maybe -

that was entirely tongue in cheek on my part. Sarcasm was dripping from my fingertips as I typed it in.

Progress indeed.

Sun Jun 11, 01:34:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Eddie Awad said....

the disappearance of Doug’s content

You can still see it here. Don't you love Google!

recommendations for a hosted blogging service?

I recommend Wordpress as the blogging platform. I have been using Wordpress for a year now and I have found it to be easy to use and manage. And most of all, all of my "data" is stored in a MySQL database that I can easily export and import. Wordpress also has an option to import your Blogger blog.

Here is a list of Wordpress web hosts.

Sun Jun 11, 01:38:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

see, but I specially do not want a "blogging platform"

I want a blogging service - software as a service. I don't want to run software on my machine.

I want to be able to blog from anywhere, anytime, without any infrastructure.

That, and I just don't feel like installing, maintaining and upgrading infrastructure like that - I just want to have it be done for me.

Or have I misunderstood how wordpress works.

Sun Jun 11, 01:42:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Eddie Awad said....

Wordpress is not a software you install on your local machine. Wordpress is installed on a server (that's why you need a web host).

Most web hosts offer auto-install/upgrade of Wordpress.

Since it's installed on the server, you will be able to blog from anywhere and anytime, as long as you have an Internet connection.

Sun Jun 11, 02:09:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Doug Porter said....

You don't have to host wordpress yourself if you don't want to, they also host blogs on their server at

Sun Jun 11, 03:11:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Doug Burns said....

Tom said

"that was entirely tongue in cheek on my part. Sarcasm was dripping from my fingertips as I typed it in."

Sorry I misunderstood - I'm a little touchy at the moment ;-)

"the disappearance of Doug’s content"

The interesting thing is that, as far as I'm aware, *none* of the underlying content has disappeared - it's just the front page that's been kidnapped. Go to an individual blog or month page and you'll see it fine.

As for hosting, I was so hasty with my last reply, I forgot one of the focuses of the original blog here. I made the decision to move to a properly hosted platform so that I would have control over what software I run, what features I enable and can see all of the underlying files (including being able to back them up!). I've arranged the hosting through a friend but I think the key decision is - do I want access to my files or let someone else worry about it for me? (But have to trust them with it!). I suppose you're looking for a good paid-for blog service, but I'm not sure how that would be better than Blogger?

For what it's worth, I know Andy C has been very happy with the support at (in fact he seems to enjoy laughing up his sleeve at Blogger and I'm afraid I've decided he may have good cause)

It's a bit like email - I was very badly let down by Hotmail a couple of times - lots of lost mail, so I stuck with Yahoo and they haven't let me down. But, ultimately, if you don't control it yourself, maybe you can never trust it.

Anyway, for what it's worth, Serendipity took me 30 minutes (max) to download and install and I'm very happy with it. Once you have a LAMP setup, there are lots of options out there. Although I have to say I'm still getting over the fact I'm dependant on a MySQL db, which might be a step too far for you ;-)

I'm also very worried that I might have to spend too much time playing with it all, but we'll see.

On the bright side, if better infrastructure software is released, I can move to that without changing where people visit and where my files are. That's twice I've been burnt by blogging providers now (Tripod were much worse) and I can't keep changing providers.

I really need to chill out and let this go ;-)

Sun Jun 11, 04:55:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Howard J. Rogers said....

Just a couple of things.

First, Lunarpages (as mentioned by Niall) has 400GB per month bandwidth. I would have thought that would have been enough, even for you, Tom!

It will cost you money, though: US$8 per month.

Second: I have no shares in them, but WordPress is about the only other viable option out there. (I notice Linux Format magazine just rated them 9/10, too, so it's not just me). WordPress is extensible, flexible, wrappable (i.e., can be wrapped inside a larger site if you ever want to).

Third: you can use WordPress exactly as you use Blogger as Eddie pointed out. Free blogging accounts are made available from

Finally: WordPress is perfectly happy with emailed blog entries, and I seem to recall an SMS option, too.

Sun Jun 11, 05:54:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Stefan said....

Hi Tom,

on blogger you can use any external webhost you like to host your actual files (I for one, use my own webserver where I can easily control the backup of the data).


Sun Jun 11, 06:12:00 PM EDT  

Blogger tony said....

hi tom
i use pagesucker - not quite post per post but it does suck your content so if you absolutely had to, you could recover... but it would take a bit of work.
still better than nothing i think.

Sun Jun 11, 07:38:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Roderick said....

BlogCollector is pretty cool. Doesn't seem to include comment capture though.

Mon Jun 12, 04:04:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Chris said....

You could also try to use wget to mirror the blog:

wget -m

Mon Jun 12, 06:49:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Robert said....

made a nice pdf book for me in a couple of seconds.
you going to put that one up for download ?

Mon Jun 12, 09:32:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

you going to put that one up for download

No, not really - blogcollector lite (free) does it automatically for anyone that wants - for any blog they support.

It'll let you download the blog, create the book or just have the plain text or html version of the entry as well.

Mon Jun 12, 09:40:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Aman Sharma said....

Hi sir,
Have you also encountered the word-verification before publishing your posts because Blogger detected the blog as spam?

Mon Jun 12, 11:59:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Andy Rivenes said....

Hi Tom, you might also want to look into Site5 for blog hosting.

Mon Jun 12, 12:31:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Joel Garry said....

How do we know this isn't just a bug in the blogger update routines and/or a corrupted pointer in the database? I have an easier time believing that than believing some PBS radio intern hijacked Doug's blog. And I also find it a bit scarier.

Mon Jun 12, 01:41:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Doug Burns said....

Joel said...

"How do we know this isn't just a bug in the blogger update routines and/or a corrupted pointer in the database? I have an easier time believing that than believing some PBS radio intern hijacked Doug's blog. And I also find it a bit scarier."

What it looks like to me is that there is a bug in the blogger update routines, in that it will allow another blogger to publish to a * URL when I momentarily publish to another site via ftp. However, I think it's an enormous coincidence that the resulting blog was a page full of spam links. More interestingly, it's now been replaced with a slightly more subtle page of spam. Trust me, there's a bug that allows someone to do it, but in my opinion it was malicious and deliberate.

Mon Jun 12, 05:47:00 PM EDT  

Blogger David Aldridge said....

+1 for -- I just switched over myself and their import from Blogger appears to be almost flawless, with the exception of ...

i) Some formatting loss -- Bold/Italic sub-headlines seem to have gone vanilla

ii) Intrablog links haven't been updated to the new URL

iii) My name against my own comments still links back to my Blogger profile.

Not perfect, but easy to do.

And you can upload text files and whatnot and link to them ...

Mon Jun 12, 10:14:00 PM EDT  

Blogger abhijit said....

BLog Collector is a nice tool.
Thanks for the link.

Mon Jun 19, 10:01:00 AM EDT  

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