Geeky Tools to Help Keep Your Resolutions

2013oagdHappy New Year! I hope everyone had a great (and safe) New Year celebration. I stayed home and was in my PJs by 4:30. We did make steaks and twice baked potatoes, and stayed up til midnight, but that was the extent of our festivities. Just the way I like it. Did you make resolutions? I have a good friend who years ago resolved to not make resolutions. She also gave up giving up things for Lent. She’s kept to both of those. I admire her dedication. If you have made resolutions, getting a little help along the way is always good, so here’s some suggestions on tools and resources.

Lose Weight

This one is popular. So what’s a geek to do? Quite literally yesterday someone told me about Nerd Fitness. It’s quite literally a weight loss site for nerds. How awesome is that? They are also working on gamifing weight loss with Rising Heroes. Not sure how that’s going to work out, but I’ll be keeping my eye on it.

Get in Shape

This one sometimes goes along with losing weight and a lot of these resources can be used for either or both. Sites that can help you keep track of fitness (or calories) include My Fitness Pal and The Daily Plate. There’s also quite a few fitness trackers you can use. Popular ones include the Nike Fuelband and the Fitbit. There’s also quite a few smartphone apps out there that will do similar functions, depending on the features of your smartphone. I don’t have any, not sure if my smartphone would work with any of them, so I haven’t tested them out, but if you have, let me know!

Get Out of Debt

The classic computerized help for managing your finances is of course Quicken. It’s been around for years and has been very popular. Another popular option is Mint.com which is pretty similar. Both have mobile apps, but Mint is free. Another free and somewhat new option is Manilla, which allows you to keep track of accounts and bills like utilities, credit cards, subscriptions, and loyalty programs. If you’re looking for help managing your healthcare bills, there are two options that I know of. Simplee and Cake Health which both work like Mint for your health care expenses.

Read More

In 2014 I’m hoping I’ll be able to participate in one of GoodReads challenges. Once I no longer have textbooks to read. If you don’t have that problem, check them out. LibraryThing is also a good book collection management site. If you’re interested in eReaders, I can’t recommend a Kindle enough. I have a 3rd generation, which came out the year before the popular Fire, but it’s still pretty cool. I love it. Another popular option is the Barnes & Noble Nook, but of course I’m partial to Amazon’s option.

Get Organized

This is something I’m constantly trying to do. Not even at new years. Like all the time. So maybe I’m not the best person to give you tips on this, but two things that I find that help me are to do lists and a note organizer. For these two tasks I use Astrid and EverNote. Astrid can sync up with your Google Tasks and Calendar and there’s an app you can download for your phone. Plus it gives you funny reminders to do things. For note taking, EverNote is awesome. I save blog ideas, recipes, sources for school papers, and everything else I can think of in it. They have web and mobile apps.

There are plenty other resolutions that people make, but these are some popular ones. I hope you find something that can help you. If you have any website, tools, or suggestions, please share, I’m always looking for helpful websites!

Winter & Mid-Season TV Line-Up

Game of Thrones returns Sunday, March 31

Game of Thrones returns Sunday, March 31

After a bit of a hiatus, I am back with your winter television shows that you’re dying to now are returning when now? Well, soon. Sooner than you think. I mean you’ll survive Christmas, the end of the world, and New Year’s and be thinking “Shit, here’s Valentine’s Day hot on it’s heels” but before it hits, all your free time will be sucked up by new episodes of your favorite shows and you’ll be stuck buying your significant other a gift certificate to ThinkGeek. Again. Well whatever, here we go. All times are Eastern.

Being Human – Syfy, Monday, January 14 at 9PM

The Big Bang Theory – CBS, Thursday, January 3 at 8PM

Castle – ABC, Monday, January 7 at 10:01PM (yes, really, 10:01, WTF?)

Community – NBC, Thursday, February 7 at 8PM (I’ll believe this when I see it!)

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation – CBS, Wednesday, January 16, at 10PM

CSI: New York – CBS, Friday, January 4 at 8PM

Doctor Who – BBCA, Tuesday, December 25 at 9PM (This is likely just the Christmas special, I don’t think this is a regularly scheduled time, or that this is a start of a new season or mid season. I’m REALLY FAR behind on my Doctor Who episodes. Like three years. It’s quite shameful.)

Face Off – Syfy, Tuesday, January 15 at 9PM

Fringe – Fox, Friday, December 21 at 9PM (This didn’t really take a break, but it is the final few episodes)

Game of Thrones – HBO, Sunday, March 31 at 9PM

Girls – HBO, Sunday, January 13 at 9PM

Ghost Hunters – Syfy, Wednesday, January 16 at 9PM

Grimm – NBC, Friday, March 8 at 9PM (OMGWTFBBQ I HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL MARCH????)

Here Comes Honey Boo Boo – Are you fucking kidding me? If you keep watching that shit, they keep putting it on TV! Bad geek! BAD!!!

How I Met Your Mother – CBS, Monday, January 14 at 8PM

Modern Family – ABC, Wednesday, January 9 at 9PM

The Office – NBC, Thursday, January 10 at 9PM

Once Upon A Time – ABC, Sunday, January 6 at 8PM

Parks & Recreation – NBC, Thursday, January 17 at 8:30PM

Revolution – NBC, Monday, March 25 at 10PM (I’m sorry to say this one sucked me in. CURSE YOU J.J. ABRAMS!!!!)

The Walking Dead – AMC, Sunday, February 10 at 9PM

Did I miss anything? Let me know. Or check out TheFutonCritic.com’s guide.

Female Geek Heroes

Boudica and Her Daughters statue near Westminster Pier, London, commissioned by Prince Albert and executed by Thomas Thornycroft.
© Copyright Oxyman and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Sally Ride, the first US woman to go in to space, died at the end of July this year after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 61. Her name being in the news reminded about why I started this blog. In part it was to speak up for those of us women who appreciate things that are supposed to be the interest of men. Space travel, science, math, science fiction, video games, fantasy books, all these are things women and girls aren’t supposed to like. But yet, here we are. I thought I would highlight a few women who have inspired the rest of us throughout history.

Sally Ride

Sally Ride was an astronaut, the first woman in space. NASA, from its inception, was a boys club. I don’t doubt that The Right Stuff was an exaggeration at all. Yet she broke the barrier, made it in, and made it to space.

Elizabeth Blackwell

The first woman in the United States to receive a medical degree.

Dian Fossey

An American zoologist who studied gorillas in the jungles of Africa. She was famously portrayed by Sigourney Weaver in the movie, Gorillas in the Mist. Sadly, she was murdered in 1985, possibly by poachers she tried to protect the gorillas from. The case remains open.

Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall is a British scientist, considered by most to be the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees.

Boudica, Queen of the Iceni

There’s several different spellings of Boudica’s name, but her history is this: In the mid 1st century A.D. Queen Boudica lead an uprising against the Roman empire. Unfortunately, she lost, but her memory lives on to inspire other women to fight on even when the odds are against you.

Ada Byron

Daughter of the poet Lord Byron and born in the early 19th century, Ada was the world’s first computer programmer. No, really.

Felicia Day

The geek woman, though in pop culture. Created, writes, and stars in the web series The Guild, and created her own Geek video channel, Geek & Sundry. Now, I am by no means saying that Felicia Day’s accomplishments are the same as the other women on this list. Yes it’s awesome that she’s done well for herself, but as awesome as that is, she’s not curing cancer, and I’m sure even she would agree on that count.

There are many, many other women out there that inspire the rest of us every day. It’s important to remember that there are many sources of inspiration and that we should continue to encourage women and girls to not let anyone tell them they can’t do something just because of their chromosomes.

What woman, living or dead, inspires you?

Trek & Wars: Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off

Original image by Brian Nielsen

OK Folks, we need to talk. I’m sure you’re aware that there’s this whole Star Trek vs. Star Wars and which one is better and why thing. Horsefeathers, I say! It needs to stop. You can not compare the two, it’s like apples and oranges.

Yes, that’s right. Two different things. Star Trek is Science Fiction. And yes, I’ll say it. Star Wars is not.

I will pause while you recover.

Don’t start thinking that this is some sort of secret ploy to draw you in while I bash Star Wars and tell you how much better Star Trek is, it’s not. I simply hold the opinion that Star Wars, while set in space, is not Science Fiction. Yes, it is set in a universe that is more technologically advanced than us, but that doesn’t make it Science Fiction. No, instead I believe that Star Wars is in fact a fantasy tale.

Have you heard this story before? A young man, orphaned, is living a very modest life. One day something happens and he learns the true identity of his parents. He leaves home and goes on an adventure meeting new friends, and eventually leads the fight against a supreme evil. Sound like Star Wars? Yeah, well I also just described Wheel of Time, A Sword of Truth, and Harry Potter. Among others, I’m sure. Along with that plot line Star Wars also has a princess, a pirate, several wizards, and bumbling comic relief. Still sound like Science Fiction?

Star Wars being Fantasy and not Science Fiction isn’t a bad thing, it’s just a genre change. A paradigm shift. Nothing more.

Star Trek, on the other hand, is Science Fiction. It’s set in a possible Earth future where we, as humans, have overcome problems and united for the betterment of all. Eh, for the most part. There’s no Force or other magical system, it’s entirely science based. Except for Q, but we can file that under “Science we haven’t figured out yet.” Star Trek, in fact, like most good science fiction, is a parable. Except for most holodeck episodes. It’s a story to helps us learn right from wrong, though usually at the expense of some other hapless and less enlightened race.

Thus, other than personal preference, there’s no reason to argue over which is better. If you liked apples better would you argue with an orange enthusiast? No, because it would be stupid to argue over the virtues of two different kinds of fruit when the only reason you like one over the other better is taste and texture. Neither of you is right and neither of you is wrong. The same is true for Star Trek and Star Wars. You can like both of them equally for what they are separately, or you can choose to like one over the other based solely on preference. But really, fighting over it is just silly.

How To Find A New Web Host

Courtesy sxc.hu

Last week there was no post here at Oh, A Girl Dragon because I was moving the site to a new host. Setting up new hosting and transferring a site to a new host is something I’ve done more times than I care to admit to. Thus, I thought I would put together a how-to for anyone who is thinking of setting up a new website or transferring their current one.

Decide What You Want & Need

Sit down and list this out. If you’ve never had a website before, this part can be very tricky. If you tell this to a sales person at a large hosting company, they may direct you to a larger package than what you really need. Think about what kind of site you’ll have. A business site that will offer things for sale needs to be a lot more robust than a business website that just has company information on it. A personal blog even less so. The top two things you need to keep in mind are bandwidth and storage space. You will also need databases, the amount of which vary based on what you will be doing with the site. Most hosts will let you upgrade your package mid-contract. Ask how this is done, if there are fees involved, and what you’d be looking at if there’s bandwidth overages. Underestimating your needs can be just as expensive as overestimating them.

Get Recommendations

Chances are you know a few people that have their own website. Ask them who they have and if they like them. Generally you’re locked into a contract for a year or two when you set up hosting so just because someone is using a host, doesn’t mean they like them.

Bigger Is Not Necessarily Better, But Neither Is Smaller

I’ve had large web hosts, the kind you see TV commercials and billboards for, and I’ve also had smaller “mom and pop” hosts. I can’t say one is better than the other. I’ve had good and bad experiences with both kinds. Each host needs to be evaluated individually, and not just on their size. In theory a large host has a large staff, possibly available 24 hours a day, and can fix things fast. On the other hand a small host might be more willing to do “hand holding” with setting things up. Even when you know how to install a copy of WordPress, sometimes it’s nice to let someone else do it. There’s trade offs for both types. A large host can afford to have very cheap packages, which makes them appealing. Small hosts might charge a little more but might be willing to work with you on your budget or even sometimes have a free options to those truly in need.

Register Your Own Domain

I am currently not following my own advice here but hear me out. Many moons ago I had a personal blog and I hosted on a site that catered to blogs and was quite popular. I paid quarterly because it was cheaper than monthly, but I couldn’t really afford to pay a whole year at once. One morning I woke up to an email from the head of the hosting company saying that they had gone out of business. They were very sorry, would work with new hosts to get our sites transferred, and would try to refund money. Like other bloggers I scrambled to get new hosting. Some hosts even had “refugee sales” for people who were left in the lurch. I was able to move my site within a few days without too much problem. A big part of this, I was the registrar of my own domain. (There’s a Seinfeld joke in there somewhere, I just know it) People who had let the now defunct host register their domain had to wait not just for help transfering their data, but also their domain. It added a layer of headache they didn’t need, and it could have been worse if the host had gone belly up and not been willing to help at all. They could have lost their data AND their domain. Anyone who’s tried to search for the “perfect” domain name knows how hard it is to get just the right one. Imagine finding the right one and then losing it.

As I said above, I’m the contact for my domain, but my host registered it for me. It’s part of the package. I’m not overly concerned because he seems like an honest person who would not screw me over. Plus I know the area he’s from and I bet if I asked around I could find someone who knows him and could rough him up. 😉 Just kidding. Kind of.

Don’t Ignore The Free Options

You can have a blog at MyWhateverDomain.com and not pay for hosting. As I said above, some “regular” hosts have free options, but you can add a domain to other blogging websites like Blogger.com or WordPress.com usually for a small yearly fee. You give up some control with this such as what kind of plugins you can have or sometimes templates. However, it’s a cheap option if you want to have your own domain name but don’t want to take the leap into full time “real” hosting.

Educate Yourself And Research, Research, Research

Lastly, this is something I would recommend for just about anything. Whether you’re planning a wedding, buying a car, or setting up a web host. Research what you want and what hosts offer. Educate yourself on terms. Don’t know what bandwidth is? Don’t know your Apache from your SQL? Aren’t sure what a virtual host is? Google it! You don’t need to be an expert, but I would suggest figuring some of this stuff out so you aren’t going in blind. You can buy a car without knowing how to rebuild an engine, but you should know how the steering wheel is used.

Did I miss something? Thinking about setting up a host and have some questions? Leave a comment and let me know.

Fall Geek TV Line-Up

One of my favorite new shows from last year, Grimm, started up season 2 this past Monday. I was totally taken unawares. I thought I still had time. Alas, I did not. So I decided to write up a guide to return dates of shows that might appeal to my fellow geek. Please let me know if I missed any. All times are Eastern, please check your local listings.

Being Human – Syfy, Returning in 2013, probably January that’s when last season and season one started

The Big Bang Theory – CBS, Thursday, September 27 at 8PM

Castle – ABC, Monday, September 24 at 10PM

Community – NBC, Friday, October 19 at 8:30PM

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation – CBS, Wednesday, September 26, at 10PM

CSI: New York – CBS, Friday, September 28 at 8PM

Doctor Who – BBCA, Saturday, August 18 at 9PM

Face Off – Syfy, Tuesday, August 21 at 9PM

Falling Skies – TNT, Sunday, August 19 at 9PM

Fringe – Fox, Friday, September 28 at 9PM

Ghost Adventures – Travel, Friday, September 14 at 9PM

Ghost Hunters – Syfy, Wednesday, September 5 at 9PM

Grimm – NBC RETURNED!!! Mondays at 10PM

How I Met Your Mother – CBS, Monday, September 24 at 8PM

Keeping Up With The Kardashians – HAHAHAHAHA Just kidding.

Modern Family – ABC, Wednesday, September 26 at 9PM

The Office – NBC, Thursday, September 20 at 9PM

Once Upon A Time – ABC, Sunday, September 30 at 8PM

Parks & Recreation – NBC, Thursday, September 20 at 9:30PM

Revolution – NBC, Monday, September 17 at 10PM – NEW SHOW

Robot Chicken – Adult Swim, Sunday, September 9 at 11:59PM

The Walking Dead – AMC, Sunday, October 14 at 9PM

If you’re wondering about other shows I might not have listed, check out The Futon Critic’s Guide.

Wish I Was Going: Geek Girl Con 2012

If you are going to be in the Seattle area this weekend, check out Geek Girl Con. As one might assume, this is a Con for Geek Girls, and this is their second annual Con. Don’t dismiss this event as sewing lessons and pink Millennium Falcons. Actually there are sewing lessons, but do you know any of us that would really want a pink Millennium Falcon?

GGC is put on by a group of volunteers and “celebrates and honors the legacy of women contributing to science and technology; comics, arts, and literature; and game play and game design by connecting geeky women world-wide and creating community to foster continued growth of women in geek culture through events.” Not only do they celebrate the female geek, but they don’t ask for geek cred at the door. They aren’t going to make you prove yourself or put up with catty bullshit that has cropped up in some geek circles lately. And just because they are Geek Girl Con, doesn’t mean that they are going to be burning effigys of males to symbolize throwing off the yolk of oppression or whatever. Or maybe they are, but it’s not on the programming list.

Speaking of the programming list, there is an array of panels over the two day event. Special guests include Ashley Eckstein, the voice of Ahsoka Tano on Star Wars: The Clone Wars. If I were going, I’d be making sure I went to Expressing Your Creativity Through Audio, “Go Make Me A Sandwich”: Barriers to Women’s Participation in Online and Fan Spaces, Gender and Race in the 74th Hunger Games, and Tech Jobs You Never Knew You Wanted. The list of cool stuff happening goes on. I would probably be loathe to figure out which to go to and which to skip and also how to eat with so much cool stuff happening. Dammit I really wish I was going.

It’s a ton of awesomeness wrapped up in two days in the Pacific Northwest. While there are hopes of having other GGCs in other areas, right now they are just in Seattle. Last year I couldn’t go because they made the unfortunate mistake of putting the Con on my anniversary. This year they scheduled it while I have other plans. Seriously they need to consult my schedule for next year so that I can go.

Geek Girl Con is this weekend, August 11-12, 2012 at The Conference Center (most boring name for a conference center ever) in downtown Seattle, WA. If you would like more information on ticket prices, hotel, directions, or how to help out or maybe get involved for next year, visit their website at GeekGirlCon.com

Pain, Pain Go Away

Wong Baker Pain Scale

I have talked a bit here about how OAGD was delayed due to pain issues I had last fall. Correction. Continue to have. Last October I woke up in the middle of the night with a thigh cramp. I jumped out of bed to stretch and in the process caused a disc in my neck to bulge and hit a nerve. Likely it was already bulging and the quick jump up just sealed the deal.

At first, and for a few months afterwards, I was in searing pain all the time. Narcotic pain relievers do nothing for me. The only thing that worked, really, was ibuprofen, and I was taking 800 mg of that 3 times a day. Even so, that only took the edge off. I stopped taking it regularly in January as it can mess up your stomach if you take it long term. My pain is still present, though not as intense, and most days I don’t take anything for it. I have seen a few doctors, am in my third round of physical therapy, and am trying acupuncture. So far, nothing is working. If you have experienced chronic pain, you know my frustrations. If you haven’t, I hope you never do. It’s a constant thing that never leaves you and people don’t believe you, including sometimes people that are close to you and your doctors. Imagine being in pain 24 hours a day and your doctor thinks you’re just trying to get drugs out of him. Frustrating, no?

But my point here is not to complain and whine about my pain problems. There’s been a study done on chronic pain. And it’s shown that there’s something different in the brain of people who experience chronic pain over those who have similar injuries and who’s pain goes away. The proximity of two regions in the brain basically train the brain to feel pain. Which goes along with my personal theory that pain begets pain – the more pain you are in, the more pain you will be in, it’s like it feeds off itself and if the cycle of pain is not interrupted, it will simply continue.

So what does that mean for pain sufferers? Well for chronic pain sufferers, not much at the moment. But it does mean that Science has not forgotten us and that they are researching ways to hopefully, eventually, make things better.

Comic Con 2012 Roundup

I would love to tell you that the reason you didn’t hear from me last week was because I was at Comic Con, rubbing elbows with the Nerd Elite. Sadly, it’s actually because my computer crashed. So what did I, and the unable to get a ticket masses, miss? Here’s a run down.

Game of Thrones casting for Season 3 has been announced (was this at Comic Con? I’ m not sure but it happened)

Game of Thrones Season 3 will return March 31, 2013

The Walking Dead Season 3 Trailer. AWESOME.

Not at Comic Con: The Walking Dead Issue 100 is the best selling indie comic

Fringe is coming back for its final season, September 28 and also released a trailer. It does not want me to embed it, so here’s a link

If you’re like me, you enjoyed Once Upon a Time last season but wondering just what the fuck they were going to do with Season 2. I mean how many curses can there be? Well apparently they came up with something and released a teaser trailer for that as well.

Firefly cast members had a 10 year reunion (yes, it’s been 10 years since that Fox cock up, the programming and eventual cancel, not the show) and if you’d like to watch the panel you can do so here. It’s also supposed to be showing on the Science Channel in a couple of months.

Felicia Day announced that there WILL be a Season 6 of The Guild. No word on when, she tweeted earlier today about writing the first episode, so I’m guessing it will be awhile.

And about a gabillion other things. What was your favorite item to come out of Comic Con? Anything that didn’t get covered? I was hoping Blizzard would surprise us all with a Mists of Pandaria drop date or maybe we’d get a Grimm trailer. Sadly, neither happened.

404 Not Found: Hot Geeky Men

A lot has been said about the hot geeky chick. Blog posts, commercials, Barrens chat, you name it. It seems like guys seem to think we are all sitting around in our underwear playing video games while quoting Monty Python. OK well, maybe we are but it’s not lacy thong underwear, guys, it’s Hanes Her Way grandma panties, and likely they have pizza stains on them just like yours do. Anyway. Hot Geek Chick aside, where the hell are all the Hot Geek Guys? Why isn’t more being asked about this elusive creature? Is the hot geek guy a near mythical being like leprechauns, unicorns, and jobs that both pay well and don’t suck out your soul? WHERE ARE THEY? I need me some geek eye candy of the male persuasion.

Nathan Fillion from Firefly Wiki

Sure we have Nathan Fillion. He’s adorable. Who doesn’t love Captain Mal? I don’t watch Castle but I’m pretty sure his shirt isn’t off nearly as much as it should be.

From The Guild

Then we have Wil Wheaton. Wesley Crusher??? You might be saying. Stick with me on this one. I was watching Next Gen as a teen girl who was a little younger than Mr. Wheaton, and here’s this young smart kid on TV who’s showing up all the adults? Hell yeah I liked him. And now he’s just all kinds of awesome, writing, starting in webseries, guest starring on TV shows. He’s all that and a bag of chips.

But where are the scantily clad hot guys we all want to drool over? Guys get chicks to drool over, why can’t we? And why can’t they be geek guys. Is it so much to get a photo of a hot geek guy wearing nothing but nerd glasses and a laptop? We need to do more to objectify our geek men and find enough of them to make a calendar out of.