Free Web Site -- Blogger.com -- Part 2
Adding Images to Your Blog
Adding images to a blog creates visual interest. I tried using a freeware program called Hello to add images to my blog. I discontinued using it because it made the images slightly blurred. I did like the way it added a small image to the main page of my blog and then produced a larger picture when you click on the image. I suspect the blurred images are probably caused by artifacts that result from resizing the image. The blurring is not quite as noticeable on digital photographs, although it is very noticeable on the screen shots that I post in my blog.
Blogger recently added a new option to add images to your blog. This is definitely the easiest way to add images and it works pretty well. The only limitations are that you must images in the JPG, GIF, PNG, TIF or BMP formats and you can keep posting images until you fill up to 300 MB of server space with images. I’d write a procedure on how to do it but Blogger’s own directions are as good as anything I can write. The procedure is similar to attaching a file to an e-mail. To access Blogger’s directions, just click here.
I found another alternative when I started using a free image hosting web site called Flickr. Flickr is a photo sharing service that allows you to upload any image to their site and then link to the images from your web site. It is free to upload photos up to a certain amount each month (although I have never gotten close to the limit). Flickr has a method of adding images directly to your blog. Unfortunately, I didn’t like the way it did it using the default method. I figured out a way of changing the layout so it is matches the way the Hello program does it so that a small image is saved to the main page of your blog and a larger picture is produced when you click on the image. If you are computer challenged, I have also written set by step directions on how to set up Flickr to send images directly to your blog. Even if you already have a Flickr account, you may be interested in how I changed the layout. To open the directions which includes the layout, click on the link below:
When you upload an image to Flickr, it saves the image in four different sizes; thumbnail, small, medium and large. The large size is the original size of the image that you posted. There is a fifth size option called “square” that crops off part of the image to make it square and is comparable in size to the thumbnail. You can actually use any free image hosting site where you can upload images and then link to them from your blog using the methods I describe below. I like Flickr because it is the only site I have seen that resizes the images for you. I have found Flickr does a very good job of resizing; in fact it does a better job of resizing images than most image editing programs I have tried. I have discovered that no matter what image format that I post, the resized images are always in the *.jpg format. Anyway, I have figured out some html code that imitates the way the Hello program posts images. I believe this method is a bit more difficult than the step by step method I outlined in the above link; however, it will work in your blog template or with any free image hosting site (if you choose to not use Flickr). I also included html code that you can use to create a clickable button that brings you to a web address. For this method of adding images to your blog, click on the following link:
I have posted several sample images so that you can compare the same image posted using Hello and Flickr. I think you will notice the images posted using Hello are slightly more blurred. I also posted a non-clickable image and a sample button for which I provided the html code in the link above. To see the examples, click on the following link:
For web pages, you will find that *.jpg and *.gif formats are the best. The *.jpg format is a very high quality image of reasonably small file size. The *.gif format has lower resolution but has the advantage of being able to set the background of the image to be transparent on a web page (the background of the image adopts the background of the web page so it appears seamless). Most image editing programs will allow you to convert an image from one format to another easily. If you want the most capable but not especially easy to use freeware image editing program, try the GIMP (note that you must install GTK+ 2 for Windows before you install the GIMP – links to both programs are on this web page). If you want a freeware program that is almost as capable and easier to use, try PhotoFiltre. Most digital cameras save images in the *.jpg format so you can post them directly to Flickr without changing anything.
There are numerous web sites that offer free image hosting in addition to Flickr. I have had some difficulty finding a good free site to host the Macromedia Flash files that I have created using a program called Wink (see previous review). It seems that after a period of time the Flash files stop working, at which point I must find another free hosting site. A good resource for finding free web hosting is Free Web Hosting. You can actually find free hosting for entire web sites here, but you won’t need it with your blogger site. The Free Web Hosting site has an option on the right hand side of the main page called “Free Image Hosting” where you can find a list of free image hosting sites. If you want to add Macromedia Flash files to your web site, the hosting site must allow “hotlinking”. Hotlinking is basically where you link directly to another website's files. I have found that some hosting sites would allow me to upload my Flash file but it would work because the site did not allow hotlinking. The “Free Image Hosting” web site will usually tell you if the host allows hotlinking. I have created an article on how I add Flash files to my web site. To open it, click on the following link:
I discovered that Google has a web site where you can submit video for free at the Google Video web site (although I haven’t tried it). It is currently in a beta form (meaning it is not fully developed) and they are just now starting the gathering phase. If you want to submit video, it requires submitting an application, installing a video upload program and Google must approve content before it will be posted. This should be interesting to see how it develops. You might be able to post video to Google and create links to it from your blog. Blogs that have video are often referred to as “vlogs”. I suspect they will become more popular in the future. But if you want to create a vlog, your can do it right now and you don’t have to wait on Google. The folks at Free Vlog provide tutorials that have a step by step process of creating a free vlog! Even if you are not interested in uploading video to a vlog, step 1 includes directions to set up a blog. Step 3 was of interest to me because it provides directions on how to use a free hosting site for your video. This is of interest to me because I may use it to host my flash files in the future. You should be able to follow these same directions to add audio to your blog with the exception of Step 2. This step shows how to make a screen shot of your video in a player so that visitors can tell there is video on the blog. Instead of performing this step, might look for some clip art of an image of an audio player or use some other image that implies audio. I sent a message to an e-mail address on the site and received a very prompt reply from Michael Verdi who is one of the folks that maintains the site. My question was why does he advocate the use of the Feedburner web site when you can add a button for an RSS feed directly from Blogger’s pages? A simplified version of his answer is that Blogger.com uses a type of RSS feed that do not support media files for video or audio. The Feedburner web site has an option called “SmartCast” that converts the Blogger.com RSS feed to something called RSS 2 with enclosures (in other words a media friendly RSS feed). If you are not familiar with RSS, the folks at Wikipedia provide a pretty good explanation. Anyway, I highly recommend the Free Vlog tutorials.