Friday, November 28, 2008

Blogging For Dummies Me

Okay, so I like to think that it's been established that I am just not tech-savvy. I am able to continue thinking that I am solely by the fact that I am surrounded by those who are even more technologically lame than I am- people who blink their eyes in confusion at words like 'server', 'HTML', and 'blogging'. "You're so awesome!", they proclaim as I show them my website or find a solution. And yet, compared to the real experts, I am lamer than lame. I've even chosen the simplest blogging medium, Blogger/Blogspot, made particularly for newbs like moi.

But despite Blogger being pretty easy-to-use (just register and start posting!), any time you want to get the littlest bit sophisticated, you WILL be bombarded with strings of code and talk about CSS and javascript and other words that make me cringe. It took me about a week to figure out how to create expandabe post summaries- you know, that nice feature that shortens my ridiculously long posts to a little sentence with a clickable link to read the rest, because I graciously want to keep my page short, easily navigable, and with short load times. And that was with a lot of help from Internet sources and Googling to try to get it down. Even now problems plague me- you've probably noticed the "Click Here To Read More" link appearing even at the bottom of posts where there is no more to read- but I'm satisfied enough to not tinker with it, lest it all fall apart.

So, having said that, I don't know why I thought I could even attempt Google Analytics. The service is free, provided by Google, and it basically allows you to track who visits your site, when they do, how long they stay, what patterns they follow through your hyperlinks, and how they stumbled upon your site. Sounds pretty cool, right? I'd enviously read someone else's blog about the funny search terms that would lead people to their blogs (and more serious discussions about how Google directs web traffic can always be found at Tony Comstock's blog). And while I suspect most, if not all, of my traffic is the result of Jiz Lee graciously linking me, I still wanted to know for sure.

It might sound like an exercise in vanity, but gosh darnit, I would also like to brag about how people looking for "goat ball sack" get me as a result. And maybe I'd even figure out how to get some better traffic and more visitors (not that I'm obsessed with it . . . I'd write this even if I had no readers, although it'd probably become less about promoting cool sites/stuff and more about whining about my life). So I set about applying it to my blog . . .

. . . and wouldn't you know it- I run into problems. converts the quotations marks in my HTML code into &quote notations. I'm told there is no way around this. I soldier on, find a loophole dealing with javascript and HTML and XML and Google's code and all other sorts of things I barely understand. I'm still told that things are going wrong- tags left floating, something not closed, I'm not sure. Sigh. Why must I always come up against the problems, the bugs, the troubleshooting?

But I triumphed- as I always do, yay!- and finally got it to work. Or rather, got it to say it's working. It will still be another 24-48 hours before I know if the whole shebang is functioning correctly and accurately reporting. But I finally transformed the "Error" message into "Receiving Data", which means Google is at least recognizing the HTML I've put in. Success!

So, because it took me forever to figure it all out, and it was in different places, I want to put up what I did for anybody else to use. Hopefully it helps my fellow Luddites.

1) Get your Google Analytics profile and code, as described here.
2) If you follow all the directions and have no problem, well, lucky you. If, however, you click "Save Changes" and the new code has transformed the quotation marks in your template to &quote, and your Google Analytics account says your status is anything other than "Receiving Data", here's what ya gotta do:
3) Go to, a.k.a. your Dashboard.
4) Click "Layout".
5) Click "Add A Gadget"; it can be anywhere, but near the bottom is preferable, for some reason (not that I tried it elsewhere).
6) Choose "HTML/JavaScript".
7) Leave the title blank, and in the text area, copy and paste the following (presuming I've transcribed it correctly):

<script type="text/javascript">
var gaJsHost = (("https:" ==
<script type="text/javascript">
var gaJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ? "https://ssl." : "http://www.");
document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src='" + gaJsHost + "' type='text/javascript'%3E%3C/script%3E"));
<script type="text/javascript">
try {
var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker("UA-6495752-1");
} catch(err) {}</script>

<script type="’text/javascript’">
var + \><script src=" http://www. );
//]]" type="text/javascript">\<\/script> : https://ssl.
?" gajshost="((" gajshost
+ );

<script type="’text/javascript’">
var pagetracker="_gat._getTracker(" ua-6495752-1 );

8) Be sure to change the Blog # (designated by the UA-6495752-1 on mine) to whatever yours happens to be. Otherwise it won't work- it'll be reporting on my blog, not yours!
9) Click "Save", which should close out the small window.
10) Click "Save" on the main page, and check to see if it's working with Google Analytics.

And it if doesn't work, well, what can I say . . . I'm horrible at this stuff! But maybe, just maybe I'll help one person, and that's enough for me.

Oh, and if you want to repost these instructions, or better ones you've found elsewhere, remember that all you have to do is replace < with &lt; and > with &gt;. It should all come out right!

So here's to hoping I'll be reporting back to you with all sorts of info from Google Analytics!

Oh, and you might have noticed some new "Digg" buttons at the bottom of my posts. Yeah, I'm trying it out. I'm still not sure if Digg is cool or has gone the way of the dodo, to be replaced by stuff like Stumbleupon or Reddit. I'm just not up-to-date on this stuff. But there it is. If you use it, and like what I've written, please, click away. Otherwise, ignore it. I won't be offended, I swear!

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