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Bloggers Beware: The FTC is Watching You


As if our government didn't have more important issues to address, now the FTC may crack down on bloggers who receive freebies for promotions via their blog. Check this out.

From Everything TypePad:

The Federal Trade Commission is keeping an eye on blogger freebies

Just as a heads up for everyone in the blogging community: the FTC is planning to start checking on the freebies that you might get from promoting someone or a company on your blog. Taking a cool camera for writing about the awesome snaps it takes? Better read this AP wire story first.

The practice has grown to the degree that the Federal Trade Commission is paying attention. New guidelines, expected to be approved late this summer with possible modifications, would clarify that the agency can go after bloggers — as well as the companies that compensate them — for any false claims or failure to disclose conflicts of interest.

It would be the first time the FTC tries to patrol systematically what bloggers say and do online. The common practice of posting a graphical ad or a link to an online retailer — and getting commissions for any sales from it — would be enough to trigger oversight.

How do you feel about blogger "perks"? If it's clearly labeled as pay-for-play and taxed appropriately, does that make you feel more trusting of the blogger and the company?


My Blackberry Curve + TypePad is the Bomb!

OK, I'm trying the new mo-blogging feature from TypePad that allows bloggers to effortlessly publish blog posts from their cell phone. I can be a lot more responsive and connected to my readers. I am writing this post while I'm stopped at the red lights in traffic. Now, if I can just figure out how to insert a paragraph break...

My Blog Upgrade

I've been a TypePad user for a number of years. I'd signed up once before and later canceled my account and then came back to TypePad again. Now I have three blogs through the service. Yes, I pay for the privilege to blog.

With the popularity of free services such as Wordpress and Blogger, paying for TypePad may seem like a waste of money. Well, for me, nothing could be further from the truth. The fee for TypePad is actually a convenience fee in that I pay for the simplicity of access to great professional design templates and other features on my blogs. I crave simplicity, ease of use and anything that will save time. Some folks may be so advanced at CSS, HTML, and the like, that simplicity is not an issue for them but I'm not one of those folks.

One of the features that kept me with one of my blogs on Blogger was their ease of navigation that TypePad lacked. Now, with a beta version of TypePad's upgraded features, my readers can navigate from page links at the bottom of each page. That is a small but significant improvement as I am convinced many readers did not avail themselves of blog posts beyond the first page. The navigation upgrade is also available for comments,

Speaking of comments, TypePad allows for comments to be disabled on a post and to be closed. The upgrade allows a global blog feature of closing comments after one week up to one year. You can also subscribe to comments to keep up with conversations that may develop within the comments.

Those are just a few of the features and upgrades on TypePad and I love them. It's important to know that these upgrades are strictly for the users like me that don't use advanced templates or mixed media layout.

Since the TypePad folks also added new design templates, you never know what my blog will look like because it so easy to change to a new template. Anyhoo, I'm loving TypePad again. Now, back to blogging!

The TypePad Roller Coaster Ride is Over --- I Think

The last few days have been a rollercoaster ride of emotions. I didn't realize how much this blog has become a part of my routine until I couldn't get it to function the way it did before. Reading the TypePad Knowledge Base for assistance and other research on the web didn't correct the problem although there were a couple of moments of premature celebration.

I deleted my Veteran's Day post, which I will add back, because I thought that post was the culprit. I also made other adjustments via the 'DNS Manager' on Network Solutions. I still don't have an answer as to why this blog was down and not my other two blogs, also hosted by Network Solutions and using the TypePad platform.

Unfortunately, I think I lost the ability to link to this blog without the 'www' in front of vanessabyers.net. Although the TypePad Knowledge Base indicates that it's not possible to configure am address that way through Network Solutions, I was able to do it with some tweaking and use of webforwarding. Anyhoo, all the links appear to work on this blog again and the photos are back so I'm not doing anything else to the guts of Vanessa:Unplugged!.

I do know that TypePad should reconsider its options for offering support to its customers. The help ticket system only helped me practice my patience lessons. I'm disappointed in my reactions in that I cussed a few times, threw things against the wall and ate a frozen Snickers --- not the ice cream bar, an actual frozen Snickers candy bar. It should not take twelve hours between responses on a help ticket. That's just not good customer service. If the help ticket system is the only option, then the response to the tickets must be faster --- much faster.

I'm not leaving TypePad just yet but I gave it serious consideration. I figured I could switch to WordPress and outsource my blog design and technical assistance for the money I'm paying now. Anyhoo, I'm back in business, I think.

The funkiness is back!

No sooner than I'd written the last post and the blog funkiness returned. I'm really losing my patience. I'm waiting for staff response. I may be calling on my friends that use WordPress or I may go back to Blogger.

Don’t be fooled, this blog is still broken. What’s up TypePad?

I was feeling better since the TypePad customer service folks corrected my blog's display issue and then I clicked on a few links and…

Not Found

The requested URL /2007/10/california-wild.html was not found on this server.

Okay, now what's this all about? That's just one of the error messages. I don't know what's up but do I have to wait another 12 hours to get a staff response?

These emotional extremes are a bit much. I just want the damn blog to work the way that it used to. Is that too much to ask? Hello? I pay to use TypePad so I expect a much faster response to customer service issues; this ticket thing is not working for me. If I have to fix the blog issues then I may as well take my time and learn WordPress or outsource the WordPress blog design and setup. Hmmm…that doesn't sound like such a bad idea.

What Happened to My Blog's Design?

As you can see, there is much funkiness going on with the dispay of this blog and I don't mean that in a good way. I've submitted a ticket to the folks at Typepad so let's see how quickly this is resolved.

I have no idea how long this has been out of whack but I hope it's not the beginning of the end of my love affair with TypePad. I have two other blogs using the TypPad format and thay are fine. This blog looks fine in "Preview" mode but when published, it's messed up. I thought the problem could be the custom theme but that's not it; I had the same problem when I switched to one of the pre-designed themes.

When I used the W3C Markup Validation Service as suggested by the TypePad Knwledge Base, I got a message about 8 errors --- (no DOCtype found). The response quickly leads to other totally geeky stuff that I don't understand how to fix. I used a custom theme but not that advanced CSS stuff. The problem may be with one of the posts but I'm not sure.

Anyhoo, I must leave for the office within a couple of hours, unless this is corrected by then, I'm not gonna be a happy camper for most of the morning.

Exploring TypePad: Did you know that TypePad has a new 3-column Blog layout design? Check it out!

There are 20 more days left on my trial period for TypePad. I’ve sat down at my computer to write that comparison post on Blogger vs. TypePad several times but can’t seem to finish. I learn something new and great about TypePad every couple of days.

This morning I developed a combination graphic/narrative layout of my comparison. As I was beginning the narrative portion, I checked the TypePad home page and saw that they’ve developed a 3-column design with two columns to the right. Cool, that seems to be a popular layout and my current layout was a little boring to me. Yup, another sign of my ADD kicking in.

Of course I changed to the new layout and I love it. I had to reselect some of the content and reorder them on the layout but that was a small price to pay IMHO. I’m loving the TypePad move although there are a few shortcomings I’ll point out in future posts. Perhaps, the Six Apart team is already working on them. I’ll let you know.

Link: http://everything.typepad.com/blog/2007/06/a_new_layout_op.html

Vanessa: Unplugged! has moved to TypePad...There goes the neighborhood!

J0430674_2 Okay, I've moved Vanessa: Unplugged! to the TypePad blogging format. I really like the professional look of the templates and the flexibility in customizing them without using TypePad's more complicated "Advanced Templates". I'm trying to do "stress-free" blogging, you know. I'm sure I'll move to Advanced Templates soon, y'all know I have ADD when it comes to my blog design. LOL

There are some things that Blogger still does way better than TypePad; I'll blog about that later. If I had more readers and made different decisions on the front end, this move may not have been so attractive. For me, and my limited HTML, XML and CSS knowledge, TypePad definitely has its advantages. Anyhoo, there are a few things that I must do today, hopefully I can get back to this blog with my pros and cons on TypePad vs. Blogger.

I'm still tweaking an issue with changing the CNAME records of my domain name over at Network Solutions so that the "www" prefix is not necessary. I was using web-forwarding of "vanessabyers.net" to "vanessaunplugged.blogspot.com". Web-forwarding was not a good idea. Thus far, two phone calls have not resolved the problem. I'll let you know how that turns out too.

One last thing, I need help with code I can add over on Blogger to automatically redirect readers to this new address. If you can help, please leave info in comments. Thanks.