Lottery Post Journal

Inserting Images Into Messages at Lottery Post

After receiving several requests for information about how to insert images into a message at Lottery Post, I have decided to write this tutorial.  It provides very basic information, and is in no way the definitive source for Web information, but should be a good place to start for the uninitiated.

Feel free to comment and/or ask questions, and I'll do my best to update it, if necessary.

The Member Home Pages feature for premium members is a largely untapped resource for most people, and maybe this tutorial will also help premium members to understand that which they are not taking advantage of.  (And a very unique feature unavailable at other lottery web sites.)


URLs, Web Servers, and Inserting Images

First things first, a URL (stands for "Uniform Resource Locater", if you're interested) is the web address of what you're looking for.  Every piece of data that comes off the Internet — including web pages, the images within those web pages, music, video — has a URL that identifies where it is stored and what the name of the file is.

The word "resource" is important, because it is a generic way to refer to any type of data on the Internet (file, image, music, etc.).  So when you see the word "resource", understand that it means "a file of some type on the Internet."

Your PC has a sort of URL for organizing stuff too.  For example, you may store a document called "mailinglist.doc" on your hard drive in the "c:\My Documents\" folder.  Therefore the complete "URL" to that file would be "C:\My Documents\mailinglist.doc".  Notice how the URL has three parts to it:  the hard drive it's located on (green), the folder where the file is stored (red), and file name (blue).

The Internet works basically the same way, but has a little more information in the URL, because there's a lot more information to organize on the Internet than there is on your hard drive.  The URL to find something on the Internet has four components:

  1. The method of finding the resource, which is normally "http://".  Think of that being the same kind of thing as when you indicated "C:\" above for finding the document on your hard drive.  (If you're interested, "http" stands for "hyper-text transport protocol", and instructs your PC to get the information from the Internet, instead of looking for it on your hard drive.) 
  2. An indication of which computer the resource is stored on, which is known as the domain name.  For example, everything on Lottery Post — all web pages, images, etc. — are stored on the domain name "www.lotterypost.com".  That is the one piece of information that is not included in the document example above (C:\My Documents\mailinglist.doc), because your computer doesn't need to know the name of the computer the file is stored on — because it knows the file is stored on your computer.
  3. The folder on the computer that the resource is stored in.  Unlike your hard drive example which uses backslashes (\) to indicate folder separators, the Internet uses forward slashes (/) between folder names.  Many web sites store their images in a separate folder from the web pages.  For example, the Lottery Post web site stores its images in a folder called "/images/".  It is possible to have a folder structure just like your PC hard drive does, so another web site may use a more complex folder structure like "/newsite/2004/august/images/".  It's up to the person storing the files what kind of hierarchy of folders they wish to create.
  4. The name of the file.  That's pretty self-explanatory.  For example, the file name of the Lottery Post logo image in the top-left corner of this page is "lp_logo.gif".

You put all four parts of the URL together to form a complete URL.  Using the example of the Lottery Post logo image above, the URL is:

http://www.lotterypost.com/images/lp_logo.gif

As you can see, I've color-coded the different parts corresponding to the numbered sections above.

If you click the Insert Image  toolbar button and type (or paste) the URL listed above into the Image URL entry space, the Lottery Post logo will be inserted into your message.

Hopefully you're with me at this point.  If you're still scratching your head about what I've said above, then go back and re-read and try it out until you get it.  You'll only get more confused later if you don't understand these concepts.

Now, you want to insert your own image into a message.

Let's say the image is on your PC's hard drive, and it's called "C:\My Pictures\myimage.gif".  If you clicked the Insert Image toolbar button and typed "C:\My Pictures\myimage.gif" into the Image URL line, and then clicked OK, do you know what would happen?  You would see the image in your message!

But there's a big unseen problem there.  Although you would see the image, when you posted your message to the forums, nobody else would be able to see the image, although you would continue to see it just fine.

The problem is that nobody but you has access to your PC's hard drive.  When you look at the message you posted, your computer goes to the C:\My Pictures\ folder and finds the myimage.gif file just fine, so it displays it.

When somebody else pulls up the same message, their computer goes to their C:\My Pictures\ folder, and does not find any file called "myimage.gif" on their hard drive.  Or, if they did happen to have a file called "myimage.gif", it would display the image on their hard drive, not yours.

What you need to do is to place the image file on a computer that everyone has access to.

There are many, many ways to put an image on a computer server on the Internet so that everyone can see it.  (A "server" is a computer that is used primarily for storing and distributing files for people to use.  They are not really anything special — they're just computers tasked to sharing files, not running applications.)

Some popular ways to store images so that anyone can access them:

  • Storage space provided by your ISP (Internet Service Provider — the company that gives you access to the Internet through dial-up, DSL, or cable modem).  Some ISPs call this your "Home Page" space.
  • Photography web sites like HP or shutterbug, or a thousand other ones.  They allow you free storage of your digital pictures, with the hope that you will use their printing service to make prints.
  • Rent space on a shared web server.  Web hosting companies set up servers with the sole purpose of renting chunks of storage space on them.  For example, the www.netconnect.biz web site shown on the left side of this page has web hosting space that can be purchased.

I have devised another method of storing files at Lottery Post, and all Gold and Platinum members have access to it.  It is called the Member Home Pages.  (It is located at https://members.lotterypost.com)

When someone becomes a premium member, I set aside a certain amount of storage space (depending on what level of membership they have) and I create a login to access that storage space.

When someone becomes a premium member for the first time, they get two e-mails from Lottery Post: (1) the order confirmation e-mail, and (2) the account creation e-mail, which gives the login name and password to the new Member Home Page storage space.  If someone were to lose their password, there is a password reminder feature there, which will e-mail their password to them.

It's a little beyond the scope of this tutorial to get into great depth about navigating throughout the Member Pages system, but suffice to say that once you login, there are point-and-click tools there that allow you to create your own storage folders and upload files from your computer into the folders you create.  (The term "upload" means to send a file from your computer to another destination.  The term "download" is the opposite — taking a file at another location and making a copy of it on your PC.)

Once you have stored files in your Member Home Page, you can start to post them in your messages at Lottery Post.  The URL of the image will be http://members.lotterypost.com/<Your Member Name>/<Folder Name>/filename.xxx

For example, on my Member Home Page, I have an image of my Corvette exhaust system, which I chose to store in a folder called "images".  Therefore, my image's URL is http://members.lotterypost.com/Todd/images/DSC_0005.JPG

Note how I've colored the URL so you can see the different components of it, like above.  If you click the Insert Image toolbar button in the editor and precisely enter that URL in the Image URL entry space, you will see my car's exhaust system before it was installed.

If you see an image on the Internet and you want to get its URL so that you can insert that image in your messages, simply right-click on the image in your web browser and select Properties.  The Image URL is listed among the other other properties, and you can easily highlight and copy the URL to the clipboard, and then paste the URL not into the message itself, but into the Image URL entry space after clicking the Insert Image toolbar button.

Hopefully this brief tutorial will help, and I'll certainly edit it with more information if there are questions about it.

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