Building a WEB Ministry
-- the "Nuts n' Bolts"

By Total Love In Christ Ministries

This column will deal with creating
and maintaining an Online Ministry
.

Vol. One-5 --- "Placed the lights in the expanse"
* Click for Volume Index *     June 15, 2006

1:14 God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them be signs to indicate seasons and days and years, 1:15 and let them serve as lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” It was so. 1:16 God made two great lights – the greater light to rule over the day and the lesser light to rule over the night. He made the stars also. 1:17 God placed the lights in the expanse of the sky to shine on the earth, 1:18 to preside over the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. God saw that it was good. 1:19 There was evening, and there was morning, a fourth day. **** Genesis

Publishing Your Site:

Welcome back to Volume 5. We are now ready to place one of YOUR luminaries (lights) into the dark abyss of the WEB !! Today we will discuss publishing your site (making it "Live" on the WEB), "FTP", Internet providers, and other such "mysteries" of the initiate.

We are going to start this column with a topic that is not DIRECTLY related to publishing your WEB Site, but is nonetheless VERY important. That is the issue of your ISP (Internet Service Provider). There are three (really four) methods in current use. There are two speeds associated with data transfer -- DOWNline and UPline. Downline means FROM the net to your computer. Upline means FROM your computer out to the net. Upline is always considerably slower, though NOT of that much importance since the bulk of the data moves downline, EXCEPT when you are UPloading files TO your site

The first is your standard 56k (or slower) dialup connection. This is accessed through your standard telephone line. It uses the conventional (and inexpensive) analog modem. You usually pay for a monthly service plan through an ISP of $5 to 20/month. AOL is one of the best known (and the one that I LEAST recommend). There are SOME free ISPs. Check [ HERE ] for provider selection. This is the slowest of the four. There is a technology being offered as a "Dialup Accelerator" for $3-5/month. This improves dialup access considerably. Read about it [ HERE ].

The second is DSL, a system also provided by your telephone company. It is the fastest, with common speeds ranging from 768k to 3mbps downline. It is ALWAYS on -- no need to dialup a connection. It still uses your standard telephone connector (though the phone company will provide special circuits). BOTH DSL and voice come through the same phone connection. The DSL provider will usually provide a DSL modem (or router) as part of the service plan. Today you often get a Wireless Router, which allows multiple computers to access the same DSL modem via a wireless RF connection. There is also a new DSL technology using fiber optic cable with a downline speed of up to 15mbps. This requires special installation by the DSL provider.

I am NO fan of the Telephone Companies, but in the current market, they seem to have the best prices on DSL. They do, however, generally require you to also carry your voice service with them. Verizon is currently offering a 768kbps line at $14.95/month, 3mbps at $29.95/month and a 15mbps fiber optic line at $49.95/month. These ARE ONE year contracts --- check availability in your area. With DSL, you only need ONE phone line. If you make very few LOCAL outgoing calls, strip you voice service down to minimum with NO prepaid outgoing local calls and get a super low cost long distance provider like Enhanced Communications Group. If you currently subscribe to an ISP, you may find that you can get DSL and stripped down voice service for LESS than your current ISP and voice phone bill combined (DSL includes an ISP at no extra cost).

The third type of service is cable, using the same cable and provider as your cable television. Some provide a special cable modem as part of the package. Beware, however, if they are "renting" the modem to you by the month. You could end up paying 100's of $$ for a $50 modem !! You can also get GREAT deals on a cable modem at stores like Circuit City, Staples, OfficeMax and Office Depot. Cable is slower than DSL (around 768kbps to 1.5mbps downline). Speed also tends to vary depending upon how many people are currently using the cable (watching TV, using modem). Check availability in your area at the same link as DSL above.

The fourth desperation choice is a standalone satellite dish modem. As far as I know, the services offering the giveaway deals on TV dishes ARE NOT offering any type of Internet service. The drawbacks of satellite are cost and speed (lack thereof). The plans are VERY expensive, you pay a steep installation fee, and often have to purchase the hardware upfront. Speeds are in the cable range. This is a last ditch resort ONLY if you can't get DSL or cable.

Note that you CAN NOT send and receive FAXs from your computer with a DSL, cable, or satellite modem as you CAN with an analog (dialup) modem. You would need to also retain the analog modem to provide this function.

My recommendation is that BY ALL MEANS you subscribe to a DSL service. If you are serious about running an Online Ministry, you can't afford NOT to. The slowness and aggravation of a dialup connection will grow to unbearable magnitude as you spend L-O-N-G hours trying to manage your site, especially uploading files, at about 3-5kbps upline with dialup !!

The Day has come !! You are now ready to publish your WEB Site. This simply means to make it active on the Internet so that people may visit it. Right now, your files should exist in one or more directories on your hard drive. You either have everything in one large directory, or, if you are more organized, you separated the HTM files in the main directory and the image files into a directory names "images" (or some such). As your site grows, you WILL want to separate related files into different directories for the sake of order. Just make sure that the directory structure AND names are EXACTLY the same as they will be online. It WILL work fine to just put everything into one directory, but that will ultimately make maintenance and upkeep slower and harder.

Make sure when you are writing the HTM code that you write ALL file names (htm, image, etc.) in ALL lower case letters. DO NOT mix case !! It may work OK off-line, but online upper and lower case are differentiated. Files are usually (preferably) all changed to lowercase names when they are uploaded. If you mixed case during creation, some of the files WILL NOT be accessible.

The opening file (the one your site opens with) needs to be called "index.htm" (or .html). That enables a person to access your site WITHOUT specifying a page (just type "www.yoursite.com" {.net, .info, etc}). If you haven't done so already, go to the directory and double-click on the "index" file. This should open your site in your WEB browser EXACTLY as if you were accessing it online. Go through ALL of the pages and make sure that everything is working correctly and looks as expected. If it does NOT, you will need to fix it !! Do this each time you make a change to your site, before uploading the changes online.

This is one of the advantages of designing your site off-line using an HTML editor as opposed to those sites that require you to use their online editing program. It is MUCH easier and faster to work, and you always have the latest copy of your site off-line on your hard drive. You will REALLY appreciate this if your host server should crash or go out of business, or you just want to change hosts. IF you decided to design your site using MS Frontpage or one of the other Site Design Systems, you will have to consult their instructions for uploading the files. They usually have their own uploader. I will be discussing how to use an FTP program here.

I will assume at this point that you have registered your domain, acquired your hosting service, setup the Nameservers of your domain at the host, have received the access instructions from the host, and are ready to FTP your site files. If this is not true, you will need to contact the domain provider or hosting service (or both) to get these set up correctly.

An FTP Browser is similar to your Internet Browser, except that it's purpose is ONLY to transfer files. There are two that I recommend. The one that I use, called "WS_FTPle", can be obtained [ HERE ], and it is FREE. Two other good ones with a free trial download can be obtained [ HERE ] and [ HERE ].  One benefit of the LeapFTP is that it will delete FULL remote directories, whereas with the free one, files need to be deleted BEFORE directories. This CAN make a big difference if you need to delete a complex remote directory structure. Both use two file windows - on the left you will see the files on your computer hard drive displayed. On the right is a window displaying the files located at your hosting server. To transfer from computer to host, you merely select the correct files and click a button. Easy as that !! If needed, you can also reverse the process to transfer from the host server to your local computer.

Another FTP option is a program called "Total Commander". It is not strictly an FTP program, but is rather a "File Manager". It is a "two pane" replacement for the native "Windows Explorer", which is a giant "one pain" (pane, ha-ha!) program. However, it has fully functional, built in FTP and network transfer protocol. When connected, the respective location functions just like another hard drive (partition) as far as file manipulation is concerned. It is a REALLY outstanding program !! It is free to use as long as you don't mind a "nag screen" upon initial startup (start at windows launch and leave active). If you want to register and get rid of the "nag screen", the fee is $34. You may download a copy [ HERE ].

Refer to the respective FTP user's guide/help to enter the settings that your should have received from your chosen hosting service. There is an Online Help site at [ HERE ]. The "Initial Remote Site Folder" is usually "/" or "/www". "Host type" should be set to "Unix" or "Automatic detect". If you experience problems transferring files, try selecting "Passive transfer". Use "Auto Detect" for "Startup Transfer Mode", and enter the extensions: ".css, .csv, .htm, .html, .js, .php, .pl, and .txt" as ASCII file transfers. It is best to setup a separate directory (like "upload") into which you will copy files to be uploaded. It will make it easier when you are doing site updates. Enter this directory into "Initial Local Folder". Don't forget to select "Save Password" (DO NOT use "Anonymous login") . One point to stress again: Make sure that you select the setting in "Options" to "Force lowercase remote names".

Congratulations --- You are now the proud owner of a piece of  "Realestate on the World Wide WEB" !!! I wish you great success in your ministry efforts, and that multitudes will be impacted in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Next column we will begin looking at various tools, services and "add-ons" to further enhance the functionality and effectiveness of your site. We will also be exploring tools and techniques to drive visitors to your "fishing hole". After all, you can have the best designed and most beautiful site on the WEB, but without traffic, what good is it ????

Just a brief word about my background. I am and have been a Computer Consultant for over 30 years -- 15 of them with IBM mainframes and 15 of them with PC hardware, software, and WEB design. I am also an ordained minister and hold a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies. I am the director of Total Love in Christ Ministries, located at:   [ www.tlchrist.info ].   My consulting site is at:   [ www.totlogcon.com ].

Yours in Christ till
our next meeting;

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