Problems With Reading This Blog

In the last couple of weeks, I have now had four people report difficulties with this blog. The latest is Peter Kirk, overnight. Previously, Mary Roberts had difficulties, but solved them by changing from Internet Explorer to Firefox. However, although I dislike Internet Explorer due to its lack of standards compliance, the blog should still be readable. Another person has emailed me privately, and a fourth has said something to my wife. I have checked with Typepad, but no major general faults have been reported in the last fortnight that would explain any of these problems, although they did acknowledged something was awry three days ago.

So, as a first step to recognising a potentially large problem, I thought I would put up this post and invite you to describe in the comments section the problems you are having. (That is assuming you can log onto the site and read it in the first place, of course! If you can only read this in a feed reader and not get onto the site, then email me: dave AT davefaulkner DOT co DOT uk.) If there is a clear pattern, I shall raise a fault with Typepad, if appropriate. Alternatively, it could simply be that I have made the blog bloated with all the graphics and widgets.

Peter recommends WordPress as an alternative. There are two versions of it. One needs the blogger to install it into web space. At the time of setting up this blog, I couldn't do that, because I was using existing web space with my ISP for my old website. I could go that route now, because I no longer use that site. I could take it down, assuming I can access the site, and I've been having trouble on that front. However, the main disadvantage I anticipate would be the time needed to install and learn the WordPress software. What do WordPress aficionados think about the time required to master it? Richard, do you have any wisdom here?

The other is that WordPress also have a slightly less well featured hosted service. This wasn't available when I set up this blog. That would be an attractive alternative, especially as it is free, unlike Typepad. The disadvantage might be the shortage of features. Again, if any users would like to share their experiences, I'd be very interested to hear from you.

I don't want to contemplate Blogger. I tried using it once, in parallel to my old blog, but at the time it was unreliable, and messing about with templates was horrendous. Perhaps it has improved. Pam, Katherine and others, any thoughts? Is it better these days?

Of course, Dave might be on hand to keep me in the Typepad fold and explain everything! But I think, given the number of recent contacts with me about the problem, the question needs raising, so I await your thoughts eagerly.

UPDATE: The main text loads properly in Internet Explorer, but not everything appears in the left-hand column, and the right-hand column is completely blank. This, declares IE, is 'done'. Safari can't open it at all, but I find that's a regular enough problem with Apple's hopeless browser not to use it. Opera displays the page quickly and perfectly.

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  1. I don’t have any problems reading your blog, but mostly I read it through my feedreader anyway.

    There’s a lot you can do with WordPress, and therefore alot of potential to learn. But in my experience you can simply install the script and get going. It works a treat. The hosted service is also well worth looking at.


  2. Richard,

    Thanks. No-one has reported problems through feed readers (perhaps I should have explained that), rather it has been when they have surfed to the site, perhaps to leave a comment.

    Thanks also for the positive words about WordPress.


  3. Hi David,
    I check your blog along with a number of others every day and I have had no difficulty at all – I am currently using firefox 2 (not got round to downloading 3 yet).
    I also hav Safari and Internet explorer on my computer and have just tried both of them with perfect results in both.
    I am posting this comment in IE.
    Hope this is helpful.


  4. Let me clarify my problem. It was with the very latest Firefox 3, and previously with Firefox 2, on Windows XP. The problem is basically very slow access to the site. Sometimes what happens is that I see the header and three column structure immediately but have to wait 20-30 seconds typically for the main text and the sidebars to appear. During this time Firefox informs me “Waiting for”. The other and more serious problem is most common when I have just posted a comment, although I also sometimes get it at other times. In these cases I get nothing at all from the site and it times out with an error message. Typically after 2-3 minutes of retrying the post does come up, usually including my comment.

    I wonder if it might make a difference that I am not actually signed into Typepad. Maybe I will try doing so and seeing if that makes a difference. It might also stop me having to retype my name, e-mail and URL for every comment. I note that “Remember personal info?” doesn’t work.


  5. Peter,

    Thanks for the clarification. To be honest, you’re not experiencing anything much different from me, using FF3 and previously FF2 under Vista. I have also been signed in, but since upgrading to FF3 Typepad no longer remembers my name, email address and URL. I tried signing in via Typekey to no avail. Other sites have sometimes been slow to load or load properly since going to FF3, e.g., Facebook.


  6. I have spent the last 40 minutes trying to get back into this blog with a follow-up comment. Whenever I click on “Sign in” to log into Typepad I get a “Page Load Error”. This is still happening.

    But the problem is not only with this blog but apparently with many Typepad blogs. Both 42 and Ruth Gledhill were offline, OK now. Other sites were fine, so the problem must have been with Typepad. I wouldn’t complain if this was occasional, but it is not, it is a regular occurrence.

    The problems are not with Firefox 3, I was getting exactly the same symptoms with Firefox 2 a few days ago.


  7. Hi Dave,
    Just tried to come back on using firefox 3 and xp and the page loaded very quickly with all graphics etc. Incidentally I came via the link to you from my blog with no problem at all. When I tried safari and ie earlier I typed your address in and it worked no problem. Hope this might be helpful to you and others having difficulties.


  8. Peter,

    Thanks, that’s very helpful. I think I was just trying to say that the problem had worsened with FF3. It had certainly started to appear before then for me.


    Glad to hear you’re still having things easier than some of the rest of us!

    To all,

    From Peter’s comments, this might well be Typepad-specific. But while I don’t think this is a contention ratio problem since I hit the difficulties morning, noon and night at present, I wonder whether another complicating factor might be ISP. Mine is PlusNet. Is anyone else who is having trouble also with them?


  9. As to using blogger, I couldn’t give you a comparison as I have not used anything else. But, the template part has not given me much in the way of problems. But my site is not terribly complicated…;)

    Also, I would like to add that I use Safari (The Mac Browser) and have not experienced any difficulties with your site… In fact, I have not had much trouble with safari … maybe it is the version?


  10. Hi Katherine,

    Thanks for your contribution. The whole problem remains something of a mystery! I am having better luck today viewing the blog in Opera, but it remains largely unco-operative in Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer. I’m flummoxed.


  11. I have been looking at your blog using Opera for the last few months and have always had to wait ages for the pages to load (partly slow Broadband speed, but relatively much longer than with other blogs I follow like 42 and connexions). Disincentive sufficiently great to make me a less regular reader of your blog I’m afraid!


  12. Thanks for the honest feedback. The left and right hand columns had become cluttered with all sorts of things that interested me at the time. I’ve removed a few this morning. (E.g., I think most people who read blogs know how to add a favourite to their feed reader, so I’ve removed all those chicklets. I’ve also deleted the ‘Books that changed my life’ section, because that referred to a series of blogs I wrote several months ago.)

    I’d be interested to know if you find this improves loading time. If not, I’ll think about whether there are some others to remove.


  13. Dear Dave,

    Ever since you suggested I changed my browser to Firefox, your site has loaded in double quick time anyway, so I don’t think I’d really notice any improvement caused by removing the side bits! Thanks for trying to improve it though for all the poor souls who still use Internet Explorer!;-)


  14. Dave,

    For speed problems I might well blame widgets that load using javascript. If the javascript runs immediately then nothing else can load until the widget has loaded from a remote site.

    If you look at the source of your page the whole left column is loaded by the browser before any text from the main content.

    Lots of your widgets in the left column use javascript to load from external sites. It gives cool content but slow page loading a lot.

    For example Peter said he sees waiting for a4.typepad… if you use the Web Developer toolbar in Firefox, then choose information/view page information/media and you will see some images for “Currently Listening” come from that server.

    I found moving bigger/slower widgets to the right column should speed display of the critical parts of the page.

    Ideally the javascript to load widgets would only run once the whole page is loaded and rendered, but most don’t work that way.

    For me I found my bloglines blogroll was very slow at times.

    Hope this helps, sorry it is rather delayed.

    PS I find Firefox 3 slower, but not sure if that is the culprit as I have upgraded the whole OS, plus the thin client server as well as Firefox.


  15. Dave,

    I’m just grateful for your response – don’t worry about the delay! I don’t use the Developer Toolbar for Firefox, because I wouldn’t use it that often, but thanks for looking. I may well move the javascript stuff around and see what that does.

    Once that’s done, it’s back to trying to solve the mystery of Ubuntu 8.04 not wanting to install properly as a second OS on the PC. I might be asking for more tech support!


  16. “Once that’s done, it’s back to trying to solve the mystery of Ubuntu 8.04 not wanting to install properly as a second OS on the PC.”

    I always blame the first OS 🙂


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