diamond geezer

 Sunday, June 29, 2003

Blogger Mean Time

I got converted to new Blogger during the week. It wasn't a painful physical operation, but the mental scars of the operation are still visible.

New Blogger is blue, or at least the interface you get to type into is. It's a simple two-screen window, one for editing and one for saved messages, just as before. In fact, Blogger is a wonderfully simple system that allows you to concentrate on what you write, not how you write it. If you're a blog-reader but not a blog-writer I can heartily recommend signing up and giving blogging a try, just to see how it works. There's no pressure to write for an audience, you don't even have to make your blog public if you don't want to, and it's a great way to pour thoughts out of your head onto virtual paper. Other blogging websites are available, for example Moveable Type or Greymatter, but Blogger's certainly the simplest way in for the less technical amongst us. I like Blogger, please remember that as you read on. But they're not perfect, and they've just got a little more imperfect.

Blogger first announced that they'd be updating our user interfaces one-by-one about about six weeks ago. By the middle of last week I was beginning to wonder if they'd missed me out, but oh no. They were just waiting to convert the last batch of us all at the same time, which I guess must be why they had to take us all offline for about 12 hours to do so. Which was annoying. But, like root canal work, I assumed it would be worth all the hassle in the end. I'd heard tales from early adopters that new Blogger was still slightly bug-ridden, but I was sure that they'd have fixed all those bugs before they updated the rest of us. Wouldn't they? After all, if it's not broke, why fix it? But they fixed it anyway. Which was also annoying.

I can cope with new Blogger's insistence on checking the HTML code of everything I type and telling me off if it's not perfect. I will eventually learn to press the new buttons in their new positions in the correct order without accidentally deleting or over-writing something I wrote three months ago. I'm confident that somebody will eventually update all the Blogger help pages to tell me how the new system works, not the extinct one that disappeared last week. I may even get used to using <strong> and </strong> instead of <b> and </b> for bold text, and using <em> and </em> instead of <i> and </i> for italics. However, unless somebody at Blogger HQ sorts out their timezones soon, I am likely to get mighty pissed off indeed.

Last week, I was registered in the Blogger GMT timezone, which was good because this was indeed the timezone in which I live. All the posts that I posted did indeed appear in my blog at the correct time when I posted them. (Actually that's not true, because the server clock at Blogger HQ is currently running about four minutes fast. This means that to get this post to appear on my blog at exactly 19:00. I have to press the 'Post' button at exactly 18:56. But I can cope with that.) When I reappeared on Thursday in new Blogger, I was still in the GMT timezone, which sounded about right. Unfortunately the new GMT timezone is one hour behind the old one, because the new Blogger coders have managed to completely forget about British Summer Time. This may not sound disasterous but, by moving all my posts exactly one hour earlier, Blogger managed to shift everything I'd ever posted between midnight and 1am back into the previous day. I post a lot of stuff during that particular first hour of the day, and I was not at all pleased to discover, for example, posts specifically about the 25th moved back into the 24th instead. Which was very annoying.

There is a way round this timezone problem, thankfully. I'm currently pretending I live in France. Not only is the weather warmer and the food better but all the clocks in this timezone are one hour in advance of those in Britain too. By this sleight of hand, Blogger is now posting my current posts at the correct time, even if for all the wrong reasons. However (yes, there is another however), this doesn't work for anything I posted between last November and last March. It may be British Summer Time now but it wasn't then. So, if I update any of my winter archives, Blogger will change the all the times of all those posts to French time, shifting them one hour forward and into the wrong days again. Which would be very annoying. Which is why I haven't dared to republish my winter archives since Blogger got upgraded. Which is why the archives on those pages are now completely buggered. Which is very annoying.

There's one more timezone problem with new Blogger, namely that the internal operating system now works only on Californian time. No matter that I'm sitting here in London, my Blogger interface thinks I'm sunning myself in San Francisco instead. According to the Blogger operating system, all days start at 08:00 GMT, which is midnight Pacific time. When I try searching for anything I posted on a particular day, Blogger only shows me anything I posted between 8am GMT on that day and 8am GMT the following morning. When my main blog page updates each day, anything posted before 8am on the very last day on the page no longer appears. And my republished monthly archives also now run according to Californian months, so anything I posted in, say, the early hours of April 1st, has disappeared to be shifted into March instead. Which is exceptionally annoying.

I have of course emailed the technocrats at Blogger to ask them what the hell is going on. Surely it can't be that difficult to publish blogs according to the timezone we actually live in, taking any daylight saving into account. No reply as yet. Which is more typical than annoying, to be honest.

Update: As you'll see below, there is one more unexpected problem with new Blogger. I know this is a big post, but I've just had to rewrite large parts of it from memory because apparently it was too big and Blogger just completely lost it. Hmmm, what was that I said earlier? Moveable Type? Maybe...


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