Thursday, July 19, 2012

OK Blogger/HTML Experts - Any Ideas?

This week, I've experienced a very peculiar problem reading blogger (blogspot.com).  Many, but not all, blogs display incorrectly on my work PC while they're fine on my home machine. Troubleshooting the problem has led to a lot of confusion.

I read several blogs over my lunch break at work.  The easiest way for me to get places is to load this page and click the reading list links over there in the right column. This has always worked and I've never had an issue reading blogger from work, although our net-nanny seems to block Wordpress sites most of the time (I've gotten to them sometimes, but not in a consistent pattern).

On Monday, when I loaded this blog, everything in right column was "gone".  It's just a wide margin of translucent gray to the right of the text.  It took a while, but I eventually figured out the right column was being printed below the posts, left justified.  It's as if the HTML was interpreted not to form two long columns, but as one long screen.  Rather than go through what I did, let me tell you what I've seen and what I've ruled out.
  • Blogs with a wider text display like mine, Borepatch, Brigid, Keads, Guffaw, and others display incorrectly.  On Borepatch's blog, there is just uniform yellow bar at the top, no title bar, and the top of the uppermost post is gone.  On mine, the maroon box-shaped banner and its text is there.  I think Brigid's HOTR displayed the picture and title properly, but the right column was below the posts. 
  • Narrower blogs like "Confessions of a Street Pharmacist" and Gunslinger's Journal do not suffer from this and look normal.
  • Text size, screen resolution, and font size have no effect.  I can vary text size (with <CTRL> mouse wheel) and reduce the page drastically, or spread it out, and the right column never appears.  I made my fonts smaller (reboot), larger (reboot), and changed the display resolution of the monitor with no effect.
  • Thinking that perhaps Google changed the page HTML code and it was somehow incompatible with IE8, our "officially supported" browser at work,  I downloaded and installed Firefox in the same version that works fine here at home.  No difference, so it's not browser specific.  Note: this was complicated by the format suddenly looking correct while I was playing in Firefox.  Once it was correct, I opened IE8, and suddenly it was normal there, too.  A couple of hours later, I reloaded the page in Firefox and the problem was back.  I reloaded it in IE8 and the display was wrong there, too.  
  • As a final experiment, I talked with a friend at work and sent him a link to Borepatch's page.  I explained how it looked on my machine and how it should look.  His computer displayed it the same as mine.  He is in a different building, a mile away, but behind the same firewall and security.
At this point, the only explanation I can come up with is that our security firewall (Hardware? Software?) is somehow removing some attribute in the HTML that formats the display.  I know that some of the right column items can be removed from the display because the "followers" block  has not been there for months.  It used to try to load and the "page loading" indicator would spin and spin, until you told it to stop.  Now it doesn't even try.

Any thoughts, Borepatch?  Any experts have any ideas what can be messing up displays?  Does anyone else see this anywhere else?


5 comments:

Grog said...

I haven't noticed this, so the only option I can suggest is to check your security/privacy settings, it's in the tools menu under internet options.

Borepatch said...

Tried the Chrome browser? Not sure it would make a lot of difference.

Francis W. Porretto said...

As a fellow proprietor of a Blogger blog, I can confirm your observations. The wing of Google that maintains the Blogger system is continuously at work on it...but it's not always clear what they're trying to accomplish.

I've found that certain backgrounds cause a blog's content to be made illegible; that from time to time one cannot post to a Blogger blog using IE7, 8, or 9; and that editing a post using any version of IE is extremely difficult. If these things are bugs, I pray they'll soon be fixed, as I'm stuck with IE; if they're features, tell us now, Google, so we can all move to Wordpress.

armedlaughing said...

Interestingly enough, when I tried initially to comment here, the comment box wasn't visible (?) Reloading solved the problem.
I switched to FireFox some months back, and now only have an occasional glitch viewing Blogger. Of course, I did change to WordPress.
Now just The Smallest Minority and Look, A Baby Wolf! give me trouble. I have to leave FF and use IE9 to view them.
OH! and thanks for mentioning me in the same sentence as Borepatch, Keads and Brigid. I'm humbled.
gfa

Graybeard said...

Thank you all for the comments.

Francis, I have to say yours is the most interesting and most useful. At first I thought that Keads and I were using the same template, but I looked at the bottom of Keads and Borepatch, and we're all using different templates. Keads has a similar background, though, a photo.

I say the same tell us now. Google is a mess, but the main reason I've stayed with blogger instead of Wordpress is that I can read it from work.