Friday, December 21, 2012

OK Google, You Can Keep My Ten Bucks

With apologies to the blog Give me Back My Five Bucks, I say to Google, give me back you can keep my ten bucks! That’s how much they charged me for a service that I can’t get finally got to work.

This all began with the many complaints I get from people who say that their employers block all blogspot links, so they can’t see my blog. I’ve been trying for a while to figure out how to fix this, but the only advice I ever get is that I should move to WordPress. However, I get frustrated enough fixing problems that come up with Blogger. My family would disown me if they had to endure my ranting about having to fix WordPress problems. Besides, I don’t want more features; I just want some simple blogging features to work without constant attention from me.

I poked around in Blogger settings and noticed a publishing option to “Add a custom domain”. This seemed too good to be true. Clicking on it led me to an offer to sell me my own domain for only $10 per year. So I pulled out my credit card and plunged in. Google quickly sent me a link to set up an admin account. What do I need that for? I just want all my blog pages to have a custom address instead of a blogspot address. This was my first clue that this process wouldn’t be as turnkey as I had hoped.

The link in Google’s email brought me to a page to set up an account, but all attempts to create the account ended in a server error. A few online searches gave me a suggested workaround involving requesting a password restore. This seemed to work and I now have an admin account.

Unfortunately, logging in to the admin account brought me to a set of controls that allowed me to do just about anything except connect this new domain to my blog. So, I headed back to my Blogger settings.

After going to advanced settings, I was offered a chance to type in my new domain where my blog would be redirected. This led to the error message “Another blog or Google Site is already using this address.” Handy.

Another message said “Your domain must be properly registered first” and offered a link to some “setting instructions”. These instructions began with getting into DNS settings to add some “A-records” and a “CNAME”, whatever they are. I finally located a reference to DNS settings in my admin account which then directed me to log in to some GoDaddy account, but once in there I found no reference to A-record or CNAME.

Time for another approach. The Google email ended with “At any time, if you get stuck or if you want to tell us about your experience with this service, you can find more information and get in touch through our help center (https://www.google.com/support/a).” Unfortunately, “get in touch” didn’t mean that I could direct a plea for help to an actual human. I poked around in the support area for a while but didn’t find anything useful.

It should be fairly obvious at this point that if I tried WordPress, the first time anything went wrong there is little chance I’d have the patience to fix it. I’m good with math, algorithms, and money, but not this stuff.

Update: I solved the problem.  It turns out that although I didn't need to type the "www" part when I purchased the domain, I did have to type it in the advanced settings.  Without the "www", the CNAME strings were all wrong.  I'm not proud to admit that it took me about 8 hours of work across 3 days to finally fix this.

So Google, give me back you can keep my ten bucks.



6 comments:

  1. This seems to be your fault, not Google's. Try to learn first how to do DNS advanced editing in your GoDaddy account. For example, http://support.godaddy.com/help/article/7921/adding-or-editing-cname-records might help. I do not have experience with Godaddy -- my sites are in DreamHost and BlueHost so far --, so I can not help too much there.

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  2. @David: Thanks. I've been to that link. They ask me to find "launch", but the string "launch" is nowhere to be found on my GoDaddy account.

    The question of who is at fault is very subjective (and mostly pointless). I'll happily take all the blame if I could then fix this.

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  3. I host a small blog on Blogger with a custom domain.
    All I needed to do was to use my DNS provider's admin page (I use name.com) to setup a CNAME - blog.mydomain.com - pointing to ghs.google.com and then add the name under Publishing settings on Blogger.

    This was a while ago, but seems to be working just fine.

    let me know if I can help with anything/

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  4. @Fernando: Thanks. I thought I was headed down the wrong path when I was trying to do the CNAME stuff. After another try, I think I've got the A-records and CNAMEs set up correctly. It's still not working and I still get an error message saying "Another blog or Google Site is already using this address," but I also read that the changes I made can take up to 24 hours to take effect. So, I'll try again tomorrow.

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  5. I just bought a new domain and redirected my blogger site to it and it only took about five minutes. I didn't have to change any A-records.

    Only changed the two CNAME entries on godaddy and then in blogger settings pointed to the new domain.

    Let me know if there's any questions I can answer or help with.

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  6. @Miiockm: As I understand it, my last step after adding the CNAMEs is to go into Blogger settings under publishing, select "Advanced Settings", type in my new domain name and click save. However, when I do this I get the error message "Another blog or Google Site is already using this address." I only have one blog and one domain. So, I have no idea what the problem is. When I try to go to my new domain, I get a 404.

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