important blog stuff plus recommendations

And so the saga concludes. After all this back here, I realized one more thing (here). No choice was perfect, but at this point I saw that Blogger was now the choice with the least negatives.

However... Blogger, as usual, has announced a new feature that they aren't really ready for, and don't fully support. If you are trying to use New Blogger with your own domain name, the instructions are here. But they don't work.

First I had the usual tremendously frustrating experience trying to get good information from the Blogger Help Group. Some of the volunteers are patient and persistent, but, as they themselves admit, they're only guessing, learning as much from your experience as anything else. I got some blatantly wrong information - at one point someone told me I could either publish to www.wmtc.ca or wmtc.ca but not both! - plus there's a huge lag time between call and response. Eventually I gave up.

I then worked with tech support from my DNS server, et voila! They fixed it.

In case you want to go for this option, here's how I got it to work.

1. We'll assume you've already registered your own domain and have a DNS server.

2. Have a blog with a blogspot.com address. If you don't already have one, create one. I created wmtc.blogspot.com for the occasion. (That's where wmtc was hiding all weekend!) Don't try to go from FTP publishing to custom domain publishing on Blogger. I don't think it can be done.

3. When your blogspot URL is working properly, change your Blogger publishing settings to custom domain.

4. Then, at your DNS server, Blogger tells you to create a CNAME record pointing to ghs.google.com. Don't. Use URL forwarding to forward your old Blogspot domain to your custom domain.

It will look like this:

A record (host): [your new custom domain, with the www.]

Forwards to URL: [your blogspot.com address]

A record (host): [your new custom domain, without the www.]

Forwards to URL: [your blogspot.com address]

For each, check "stealth".

That's it. You should now be able to publish your own domain name to Blogger and use all the New Blogger features.

* * * *

I also want to recommend two excellent companies that I found during this ordeal.

One is Laughing Squid, recommended to me by Matt the Nurse. Squid is a small, friendly hosting company with fast, responsive, personal, friendly and knowledgeable customer service. Their rates are extremely reasonable, their turnaround time is speedy, and their service is reliable.

Unfortunately for me, they don't offer DNS-only hosting, so I reluctantly left. But they were great, and I recommend them highly.

The other is easyDNS. EasyDNS is a Canadian company that can register a dot-ca domains* and offers both full hosting and DNS-only hosting.

Over the weekend, frustrated beyond belief with Blogger, I noticed easyDNS had customer service phone support. I called the 800 number - and was shocked when a tech support person came on the line in less than a minute! He worked with me more than once, and although he was unfamiliar with Blogger's needs, he tried several different options to try to get my site up.

He also offered to put my payment on hold, so that if I couldn't get what I needed, I could leave without being charged. Is that cool or what?

The problems with Blogger continued into the night and the following morning. By noon I was super frustrated. On my lunch break, I called easyDNS again, again got through in under a minute, and after a ten-minute call, my problem was solved.

The tech person told me that the service doesn't advertise, and depends on word-of-mouth. So here is some word-of-blog for them: use easyDNS.

* Only certain companies can do this. And only Canadian companies, citizens or residents can get a dot-ca address!

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