Sharing your life online via computer

In This Chapter

Using Facebook
Tweeting your thoughts
Locating an image hosting Web site
Putting your pictures on the Internet
Signing up for YouTube Publishing videos
Once upon a computer time, the rage was to create your own Web page.
Doing so made you part of the high-tech in-crowd. You could use that Web page to tell the Internet what was going on with your life and perhaps even share some pictures. It was a technical thing, but still many people decided that they couldn’t live their lives without their personal Web pages.
The days of needing your own Web page are long gone. Sure, you can still have one, but most likely all the things you planned to do with your own Web page are now possible by sharing your life online using social networking, as well as online photo- and video-sharing Web sites. How all that is done is this chapter’s topic.

Social Networking

The bulk of what you would consider to be your digital life on the Internet — sharing your photos and thoughts and such — is handled by the variety of social networking sites available on the Internet. These sites allow you to share your electronic self with friends, family, and coworkers. The good news: They’re free. Well, for now. This section highlights some of the stuff you can do with social networking Web sites.

Sharing your life on Facebook

The most popular social networking Web site is Facebook. It’s a place where you can connect with friends, share your thoughts, send messages, post photographs and videos, play games, take quizzes, waste time, and generally keep up to date. Isn’t that why everyone has a computer?
The information in this section may change as Facebook occasionally changes over time.
You can visit other social networking sites in addition to Facebook, such as the popular MySpace Web site,, as well as the more business-oriented LinkedIn network, at

Sign up

You start by signing up at the main Facebook page, Enter the required information, which includes an e-mail address. You have to confirm your e-mail address, which completes the sign-up process.

Find some friends

The next step is to look for people you know on Facebook. Based on your e-mail address, some friends may already be waiting to be added.
Facebook may also want to scan your e-mail account for matching e-mail addresses. It needs to know your e-mail password for this step. That’s okay; nothing is being stolen. In fact, I recommend the e-mail scan to find friends because it really helps you get started.
After finding friends, you complete your profile and other settings. Don’t fuss over anything; you can always come back later and choose a picture (or a new picture) and change other information about yourself.

Publish your thoughts

Most of the places you visit in Facebook let you type your thoughts using something called the Publisher. You see a text box saying, “What’s on your mind?” or something similar. There you can type a wee bit of text or a missive or just mention what you’re doing at the moment.
The stuff you publish can be viewed by all your Facebook friends. Likewise, you can see a news feed of all the comments your friends publish. It’s a way to keep in touch, pontificate, or make people laugh.
You can also send your Facebook pals personal messages or write on their Walls. Clicking a friend’s name or picture allows you to do that.

Upload a picture or Video

To share photographs or videos with your Facebook pals, click the Profile heading, near the top of the Facebook window. You then see a Photos tab for your account; click it. Click the button to create a new photo album, and then start uploading pictures.
To upload the pictures, you use a Browsing-type dialog box to find the pictures on your computer. You then choose which ones to upload and click the Upload button to complete the process. Figure 28-1 illustrates how it’s done.
Uploading pictures to Facebook.
Figure 28-1:
Uploading pictures to Facebook.
Uploading videos works pretty much the same way: Locate the Video tab in your Profile. (You might need to click the Plus tab to find the Video tab.) Then browse your PC for a video file to upload and share.
You may have to install an ActiveX control in Internet Explorer to upload images. That’s okay: Follow the directions on the screen.
Uploading pictures is relatively simple using Facebook, if the images are already on your PC’s storage system. See Chapter 25 for more information on digital photography.
Also see the section “Share Your Photos Online,” later in this chapter.

Tweeting your thoughts

Another quite popular social networking Web site is Twitter. On Twitter, you share your thoughts with others and follow their thoughts as well, where a “thought” is composed of 140 or fewer characters of text. Those little bursts of text are tweets.
Sign up for Twitter by visiting Configure your profile, and then I recommend using the e-mail scanning tool that Twitter provides to help you quickly locate some Twitter friends.
Twitter can be used to watch or follow others, to gather useful information or just keep tabs on your buddies. In addition to people, things tweet, such as weather stations, sports tickers, even robots on Mars. And, in addition to being a harmless distraction, Twitter is relied on by many people for news because various news organizations tweet as well.

Share Your Photos Online

There are a few things you need to do to share your digital images with the online universe. First you need to have the digital images to share. Second, you set up an account at a free site. Third, you post or upload your images to the site, which is a lot easier than it sounds. Finally, you let the world know how to find your images on the site, or you use the site to post your images in an e-mail message, on a blog, or elsewhere on the Internet.

Finding a free site

It’s not a problem to find a free image-hosting Web site. There are dozens of them. Here are a handful I can recommend:
Image Shack:
Picasa Web:
Each of these services lets you set up an account, create an online gallery, and post images stored on your computer to that online gallery. There’s no charge, though some of the services offer specials and discounts on related products. All the sites have advertising.
You might also be able to use an online hosting service with a traditional photo developer. For example, Kodak features the Kodak Easy Share Gallery at And, WalMart has an online photo service at

Signing up for the site

To begin your online photo-sharing journey, visit one of the many free photo galleries on the Internet, such as those listed in the previous section. Most of them work similarly, though for the following steps, I use the Photobucket service as an example.
You start with a photo sharing Web site by setting up your account. I recommend doing this first, even though some of the services may let you upload an image without first creating an account. To create an account on Photobucket, follow these steps:
1. Open your computer’s Web browser.
2. Type the online photo sharing service’s URL.
For Photobucket, it’s
3. Click the link that says Join Now.
It might also say Sign Up or Create Your Account. If you choose to use Flickr or Picasa Web, you can sign in using your Yahoo! or Google account, respectively.
4. Fill in the blanks: Type a username and then choose a password.
Some sites may ask for more information, such as your e-mail address, gender, or birth year. If you feel uncomfortable answering those questions, choose another service.
5. Continue working through the steps as necessary, clicking the Next button as you go.
Be mindful that you don’t accidentally sign up for a service you don’t need: Many free hosting services offer special partner deals and options that aren’t necessary to using the service. You can skip those offers if you don’t want them.
6. If prompted to create an initial album, do so.
After you sign up, I recommend that you immediately log out and sign up again. That way, the Web browser can more easily recall the photo sharing Web site in the future, and maybe even remember your username and password.
7. After signing up, sign out or log out.
8. Immediately after logging out, go back to the main page of the image hosting service.
9. Bookmark the image hosting service’s page: Press Ctrl+D in your Web browser.
Click the Add button to add the hosting service to your browser’s list of bookmarks.
10. Log in to the hosting service.
11. If your Web browser prompts you to remember your username and password for the site, do so; click Yes or OK.
Now you’re ready to add some images to the Web site. Keep reading in the next section.

Uploading images

The sending of an image from your computer to the Internet is known as an upload. Yes, it’s the opposite of download, which is when your PC receives a file from the Internet. The steps to upload your digital pictures work similarly for most online image-hosting services:
1. Log in to your account on the image hosting service.
2. If necessary, click an Upload link.
Not every photo-hosting service features an Upload link. Some services let you upload directly from your account’s home page. The clue: When you see a Browse button, you can upload right away.
3. If necessary, choose or create an album in which the images will be saved.
Some online image-hosting services, such as Picasa Web, may want you to install an upload control. Do so when prompted.
4. Click the Browse button to locate a digital photo on your computer.
Use the Choose File dialog box to locate the digital photo you want. At this point, you’re merely choosing a file; the sending part happens later.
5. Go to the folder that contains the digital image.
Remember that the My Pictures or Pictures folder is where those images are usually kept, though you can also use the dialog box to visit a removable storage device, such as your digital camera’s media card.
As with anything dealing with images, it helps if you know where the image is saved on your PC’s storage system and the image’s filename. So, it helps to know the image’s filename and the name of the folder in which the image is stored, as well as where that folder is located in your PC’s disk storage system.
6. Choose from the list the file you want to upload.
7. Click the Open button to select an image.
8. Repeat Steps 4 through 7 as necessary to choose additional images.
Most online image-hosting services allow you to “batch” upload images by selecting several at a time to upload.
9. Choose an album, specify whether the images are public or private, or specify the image’s size, if such choices are available.
10. Click the Upload or Start Upload button to send to the Internet the images you chose.
The procedure may take a few minutes as the images are sent and then processed by the hosting service.
11. If prompted, add tags to your image or complete whichever additional steps might be presented.
12. You may need to click a Save button to save the options you set.
13. Enjoy your image on the Internet.
In some cases, you can use companion software to the online photo hosting service to help manage your uploads. For example, Google’s Picasa application integrates seamlessly with the Picasa Web hosting service. To upload images using that program, choose Tools Upload Upload to Web Albums, and you’re on your way.

Sharing your images

There’s no point in having images floating around the Internet if you can’t brag about them and share each one with your friends, family, co-workers, and anyone else on the planet who can use the Web. The online image hosting services are set up to meet those sharing demands.
Most of the image hosting services mentioned in this chapter sport buttons that let you quickly and easily share your images with popular social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, blog sites like Blogger and Twitter, or any of a number of popular places that people frequent on the Internet. You also see buttons for adding links to e-mail messages.
The basic procedure involves viewing the image and then finding the Web page address, or link, to that image. You then select the link and press Ctrl+C to copy it. After that, open your PC’s e-mail program and start a new message. Press Ctrl+V to paste the link. The image doesn’t appear in your message, but the recipient can click the link to see your image in their Web browser.

Here are some specific tips for using the image-hosting sites mentioned in this chapter:

If you’re using Image Shack, after shooting an image, click the link Get Code for Email. Select the link, copy it by pressing Ctrl+C, and then paste it into a new message in your e-mail program.
For Photobucket, click the Share link, found directly above the image you want to share. Click the tab labeled Get Link Code, and then select the check box beneath the heading Direct Link for Layout Pages. Copy the link’s text, and then paste it into an e-mail message.
When you use the Flickr image hosting site, double-click the image you want to share. Then from the right side of the window, click Share This. The second item down, Grab the Link, contains the text you should select, copy, and then paste into an e-mail message.
In Picasa Web, click to select the image, and from the right side of the window, choose Link to This Photo. Click the mouse in the text box beneath the word Link, and then press Ctrl+C to copy the link. Paste the link into an e-mail message.
These photo hosting sites may change their Web page layouts and methods from time to time. The information here is specific as this topic goes to press, but may change subtly in the future.

Your Video Life

Unlike photos, videos are just too large to send in e-mail messages. Even when the videos aren’t that large, it’s just better to send a link to your video on the Internet than to send huge files to your friends, which can be slow and confusing.
The video-hosting service of choice seems to be YouTube, Just about anyone and everyone uploads videos to YouTube, some of them professional but many of them amateur. You too can join their ranks, as long as you heed the advice found in this section.

Creating a YouTube account

You can’t post a video to YouTube until you obtain a YouTube account. That account is the repository for all your YouTube videos, the main way you share your moving pictures with others on the Internet.
It helps to already have a Google account to expedite setting up a YouTube account. Go to Google’s main page,, and click the Sign In link to get started or to connect to your Google account.
To set up your account on YouTube, visit and click the Sign Up link, found near the top of the page. Fill in the blanks and follow the steps to confirm your account. You then need to identify your Google account to complete the process. After your account is set up, you can start putting videos on the Internet.

Uploading a video to YouTube

After you have a YouTube account and you’re all logged in (see the preceding section), the next thing you need in order to put a video on the Internet is the video itself. You can refer to Chapter 26 for information on video and your PC. You need to get the video into a final state, ready for sharing.
After connecting to your YouTube account, locate the large Upload button. Clicking that link takes you to a page that describes the upload process and offers some tips and suggestions.
Eventually, you click the Upload Video button, which lets you browse your PC’s storage system for the video you prepared.
You need to supply a title, a description, tags, and other information about the video. Be mindful of what you type because the information there is used by others to search for video on YouTube. Click the Save Changes button when you’re done.
YouTube takes a few moments to process your video, and takes more time for longer videos. You might have to come back and visit your account’s area on YouTube later so that you can share the link.

Sharing your videos

It’s easy to share your videos with others using YouTube. Basically, you simply send your pals a Web page link to your video. Because the link consists only of text, the e-mail message doesn’t take an eternity to send and receive, nor is there any worry about infected file attachments. It works like this:
1. Visit your account on YouTube, at
You may have to log in first, but eventually you see a list of all your uploaded videos displayed on the Web page.
2. Right-click the title (link) of the video you want to share.
3. Choose the command Copy Shortcut from the pop-up menu.
4. Start a new e-mail message in your PC’s e-mail program.
5. Press Ctrl+V to paste the YouTube video link into your e-mail message.
YouTube videos all have a similar-looking link or URL:
That’s it! Clicking that link is how others can view your video on the Internet.
Yes, the address is the same for everyone who has a YouTube account. However:
To share your YouTube account’s main page with your friends, choose your account name from the left side of the Web page. The URL format for a YouTube account looks like this:
where account is the name of your YouTube account.
When you view a video on YouTube, you see sharing options listed on the Web page. You usually see two options: URL and Embed. Use the URL option as the direct link to the video’s Web page. The Embed option is used to stick the video into a blog or another Web page.

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