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?

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.

Introducing: The Microsoft Surface

I am not an iPerson. I don’t own an iPhone, an iPod, or an iPad. I don’t have a Mac Book, and other than the Apple IIe I learned to type on in high school and the Mac whatever it was I used on the college newspaper, I really haven’t used their products. I don’t camp out in front of the Apple store. You could say I’m not a fan. I’m not going to get into what’s better, PCs or Macs, I’m just telling you this so that you know.

Over the weekend Microsoft invited a few people (ahem, my invite must have been lost in the mail) to a “big announcement” coming late Monday. There was a lot of speculation over it, everything from a new XBox to a Barnes & Noble tablet. Well it is a tablet, but nothing to do with B&N. Whom I don’t like but that’s a whole ‘nother post. Anyway. The new tablet is called The Surface and can operate as a tablet and as a laptop.

I personally think two key points will decide if Microsoft’s new tablet can make any inroads in the iPad market. 1. It needs to be affordable. iPads are not, if you haven’t noticed. I find it interesting that so many “cool” people say that they all about saving money and living within their means while short selling their house and buying several really expensive Apple devices. But what to I know? 2. I needs to have a Draw Something app. I’m tired of having my ass kicked because I’m fat fingering “Volcano” on my Droid phone. I mean WTF. Seriously, though it needs good apps and for developers to want to develop apps for it so people will use it. Hear that, Android folks? WE NEED MORE APPS.

Going back to the price, so far, Microsoft isn’t talking turkey on that point. I’m sure it will be out in time for Christmas.

[Source: Mashable]