Archive for the ‘Geek Me!’ Category

RSS? What the heck is that!?

January 17, 2009

Okay so it looks like the first subject I will begin to discuss, from the “techy-side of tabby” (some may refer to as “the dark side”), will be RSS feeds.

What the heck is an RSS feed? Well! It’s a big pink ball!!! Just kidding! An RSS feed is a wonderful little tool that helps avid blog or news readers stay on top of the latest and greatest all from one single place.

Imagine a world where you want to keep up with 20 different blogs and three major news sites and four local news sites and your local animal shelter’s pet list. In this world, you might have to go to 27 different sites every single day just to catch up on things. Oh wait! That’s what most of us do! HEHE. Well, as you know, that’s GREAT for the advertisers of the site and for the unique views/visits and click-throughs (yay business!) but really time consuming for the end-user.

Now, imagine a world where you create a space where you log in and go to ONE SINGLE web page and see the latest blog entries, latest news posts from your major news, and latest local postings? Well, that leaves plenty of time for you to traverse your local animal shelter site to see their listings, doesn’t it!? (Hint: Local animal shelters, please get an RSS feed soon!)

Okay so here’s what you do. Find what they call an “aggregator” which sounds like alligator but its not an alligator, at all. The good news is that many of us have access to an aggregator without knowing it. Firefox has a built-in tool for you to add it to what is called a “Live Bookmarks” folder. Then you can go to your bookmarks and see a menu item for the blog. Try it out using the steps below:

1: Using firefox, click here
2: In the top of the page, you should see “Subscribe to this feed using” and then a drop down selection showing “Live Bookmarks”. Select “Subscribe now.”
3: Now go to your Bookmarks menu and navigate down to “Bookmarks Toolbar” and you should see “Girls by Design: This is a Blog.”
4: Hover over that and you should see a list of the latest blogs.

Spreadfirefox Affiliate Button

Easy, hey? So! What if you don’t have Firefox? Well, firstly you might want to ask yourself why not but then if you really don’t want to get Firefox and make your web browsing experience more enjoyable, then you can use as a reader as well. Do this by signing up for a account and then going to Then you see a control panel with lots of options. In the top left, click “Add a subscription” and paste the following into the box that appears: et voila! Now you can see the latest blog entries in your feed.

Now, getting back to “its good for unique views and click-throughs if you visit the site.” That’s true. So, while RSS feeds are a beautiful tool, please be sure to come back to the site and participate as often as possible!

There is one other note as well. RSS in and of itself refers to “Really Simple Syndication.” Many blogs and newsites provide several different methods to syndicate their material such as ATOM (which is the same thing but just a slightly different delivery method). In this case, you can use the same two methods above to syndicate ATOM for most cases.

Post here if you have any questions or additional comments to add about the world of The Pink Ball.



Tunable Glasses

January 15, 2009

A Zulu man wearing adaptive glasses. (photo: Michael Lewis for The Guardian)

You ever notice how water in a glass will distort things?  Like this…


…so that things will look closer or bigger than they really are?

Well, a physicist has finally figured out how to use that property of water to make “tunable” eyeglasses.  Starting back in 1985, Josh Silver embarked on a mission to help the world’s poor see better.  He knew that many areas of the world didn’t have access to optometrists or couldn’t afford prescription glasses.  So he invented glasses that let wearers adjust their own “prescription.”

How?  The plastic lenses have clear circular sacs filled with fluid.  The wearer uses a syringe to add or remove fluid.  Adding more fluid increases the power of the lens (in the same way that thicker lenses are stronger in regular glasses).

Can you imagine what this means?  Think of all the things you need good eyesight for.  To be able to see is a tremendous improvement in quality of life.  People can read, thread needles, mend their clothes, make a living, support their families.

So far, about 30,000 pairs have been distributed in 15 countries, but Silver hopes to offer these glasses to a billion of the world’s poorest people by 2020.  Within the next year, he and his team plan to distribute 1 million pairs in India.

See?  Science is cool!  🙂

You can read the article here.

What I Learned

January 14, 2009

(A picture from the NASA website, showing the distortion of space-time around a neutron star.  Or something.  It’s pretty.)

You already know that I learned Brasília is the capital of Brazil.  The other thing I learned is that WordPress (the software-whatever-thingie we use for the blog) gives me the option of bending the space-time continuum.  I’m not really sure what the space-time continuum is exactly, but it sounds impressive.

Anyway, it turns out that I can make posts and schedule them to publish AHEAD of time!  I can make it so that things will post IN THE FUTURE!  I don’t have to go to a computer to click “Publish” when I want to post something.  Things will publish, in the future, without me sitting in front of a computer.  THIS IS AN AMAZING DISCOVERY.  The things you learn by randomly clicking on things, wondering, “Hmm…what does this button do?”

So are you excited GBD?  Today is the test.  In fact, if you’re reading this post, it means that it’s working!  I scheduled a few other posts to publish after this one, a few hours apart.

So that’s what I learned in the past 24 hours.  What did you guys learn?

Okay Okay!

January 10, 2009

Oh my god I got SOO many emails in the last few days! I thought I’d drop a quick post! Not at 208 pounds yet! :-D. But I HAVE been working on the wicked awesome new FORUM for you all and I am so so excited to share it with you! I am estimating that it’ll be about 6 more days or so before the release of the new forum and you all are gonna so so love it!

I may post more later today! Or not. You’ll never know until I do…. or … don’t. MUwAHAHA!

Video Game Awards

January 7, 2009


So apparently, there’s an awards show for video games.  I did not know this.  And the VGAs are apparently a big deal judging by all the famous people that showed up (hosted by Jack Black, performances by 50 Cent, All-American Rejects, etc.).  You know what else I don’t know?  What the heck any of these games are:

Best Shooter: Gears of War 2 (Epic Games)
Best Xbox 360 Game: Gears of War 2 (Epic Games)
Best Indie Game (voted by fans): World of Goo (2D Boy)
Best RPG: Fallout 3 (Bethesda)
Best Music Game: Rock Band 2 (Harmonix)
Best PS3 Game: LittleBigPlanet (Media Molecule)
Best Driving Game: Burnout Paradise (Criterion)
Best Game Based on a Movie or TV Show: Lego Indiana Jones (Traveller’s Tales)
Best Fighting Game: Soul Calibur 4 (Project Soul)
Best Multiplayer Game: Left 4 Dead (Valve)
Best PC Game: Left 4 Dead (Valve)
Best Portable Game: Professor Layton (Level 5)
Best Wii Game: Boom Blox (EA Casual)
Best Individual Sports Game: Shaun White Snowboarding (Ubi Montreal)
Best Action Adventure Game: Grand Theft Auto IV (Rockstar Games)
Game of the Year: Grand Theft Auto IV (Rockstar Games)

I’m assuming the object of the game in Grand Theft Auto IV is to steal cars?  That sounds socially constructive.  I’m afraid to ask what the goal is in Left 4 Dead.  And what the heck do you do in World of Goo? And what’s the “game” in Rock Band 2?  Do you beat up musicians or something? And Lego Indiana Jones?  What…you try to build Indiana Jones out of Legos as fast as you can?  I don’t get it.

You know what I know how to play?  Solitaire.  Oh!  And Tetris.  I’m not good at either, but at least I know what they are.

I am so hip and happenin’ it’s nauseating. 😉

You can read the full list of nominees and winners here.

WTF: Mammoth Clone

January 7, 2009
Scientists are very close to completely sequencing the genome of a mammoth.  You know, a mammoth…huge prehistoric animal, starred in fine animated features such as “Ice Age” and “Ice Age 2.”
ice-age     ice-age-2
Since they’re so close to figuring out the entire genetic code of the mammoth, people have started talking about cloning a mammoth.  The ability to clone a mammoth isn’t quite here yet, but will probably arrive sooner rather than later given the rapidly improving pace of cloning technology. 
Why on earth would anyone want to clone a mammoth?  Well, there are already efforts to bring back extinct or endangered species through cloning.  They already cloned a gaur (sort of like an ox), which is currently on the endangered list.  (The cloned gaur only survived for a couple days though because it came down with an infection.)  The other reason for cloning is to figure out how to prevent the extinction of currently endangered species by studying extinct species.
The downside?  Well, cloning anything is really expensive.  The cost of cloning a mammoth is estimated to be at least $10 million.  There is also the ethical issue.  Where do you draw the line at cloning?  Scientists have successfully sequenced the mitochondrial DNA of Neanderthals (our closest ancestors) and are currently working on sequencing the full genome. If they’re successful, should we clone a Neanderthal?
You can read more about the Mammoth Genome Project here.  And here’s another interesting article about cloning in general.  And another one specifically about cloning a mammoth.
So…cloning a mammoth…Win, Toss, or Fail?

Geek talk

January 4, 2009

In my world there seems to be a certain amount of pride that comes along with holding that special title ‘geek.’ I started my induction into geekdom through ‘the lord of the rings’ over at and found myself really rockin’ the geekcard as I learned tolkein’s elvish language. It, alongside livejournal, was my first real sense of an online community.

Are you a proud card-carrying member of geekdom and if so, what is the thing that you feel is the geekiest about you?


January 3, 2009

Okay, I failed in posting last night! So today, I was thinking… I think we need a different forum. How does the current forum work for you? Is it confusing? What parts do you like over other forums? What parts do you not like?


10 Activities to Help You Make a Change in 2009

December 29, 2008

Hey Ladies,

As promised a few weeks ago, here is a post from Sparkle Soup enjoy!

2008 was a year of many changes for everyone. GBD co-founder Kristin went through much personal and professional growth as she transitioned from her show Smallville to becoming a businesswoman. She also cut her hair short (link to Kristin’s blog on cutting her hair), which was a very bold move for her, but beautiful. If you have long h air and you’ve never tried a short hairstyle, try it – it feels wonderful, and your hair does grow out. Co-founder Kendra went through physical, emotional, and hormonal changes as she discovered she was pregnant with the most adorable baby. She went from superwoman to superwoman mommy of Marcus. Websurfer Kathy was minding her own business surfing the internet, subscribing to RSS feeds, procrastinating, and watching television shows other than Smallville to taking over the GBD blog in a one-woman domination and enjoying the power. In her own words, “Mwahahaha!” 20 Answers

So, I’m contributing this little article for GBD, just to add a bit of a change to Kathy’s blogging and to fulfill my obligation as a contributor since it was announced through the GBD newsletter that I (sparklesoup) will be “contributing in the near future”, and yes – to hopefully get those of us still afraid to make a change to finally stand up and say, “Yes, I will make a change this year,” to do it.

Here are 10 Ways to Get You Started:

1. Volunteer – If you live in the US, here are some formal opportunities to give you an idea.
If you actually fall into the GBD demographics (13 years old to 19 years old), there are opportunities just for teens. (

You can also find volunte er opportunities at your local organizations such as your hospital, animal shelter, active adult (senior) centers, library, church, or school.

2. Express Yourself – Get creative. Get expressive.
Make music (

Make memories and capture it on scrapbooks (

Make over yourself (

3. Get Healthy
Start or continue exercising (
Learn how to eat a well-balanced nutritious meal (
Learn how to relax and fight stress (

4. Try Something New
Have you always been too shy to meet someone new? Go out there and say “Hi.” Here are some tips to get over shyness (

Have you always been afraid to brave the wilderness? Challenge yourself by going on an Outward Bound ( expedition.

5. Learn Something New
If you always wanted to learn how to make a Crème Brulee, take a cooking class.
If you always was too afraid to go scuba diving, get certified.

6. Embrace Your Friends and Family

Want to know how to become a better friend? Click here. (

Want a better relationship with your parents or caretaker? (

Want a better relationship with your siblings?

7. Embrace Your Community

Like it or not, we all live in a community. Whether or not you want to be a part of it is up to you, but if you want to make a positive change for the world, it starts little at a time. It starts in your own backyard, your neighborhood, your community. Here are some suggestions on what you can do (

8. Get Organized

Save time, save space, and save your sanity by getting organized! With a new year approaching, now is the time to look at what you have and decide whether to keep, donate, or sell. I’ve been a professional organizer so I know it does take some hard work to organize and to stay organize. There are also tons of emotions involve. It is harder than it looks for most people, so here are some words of advice to help get you started. (

9. Get Happy!

10. Enter a Contest (If you fall within the age range and live in Los Angeles, CA, apply for the GBD Timeout Retreat). It sounds like a great workshop for girls, and the facilities where it takes place sounds inspiring. I may stop by (since I’m like o nly an hour or 2 away) just to say “hi” from Auntie Kailin or get a room just to finish writing some books I’m supposed to finish in 2009.

So GO ahead. Seize the Day!

Contributed by Kailin Gow

Author of The Gifted Girls Guide to 365 Days of the Year: Fun Things to do for Kids and Grown-ups That’ll Develop Creativity, Social Skills and Self-Confidence! (

Sparklesoup – Providing sparkle and nourishment to the mind, body, and soul with over 150 titles.

Thought Images

December 18, 2008

Check this out…Japanese neuroscientists have created images of thoughts.  What they did was show a bunch of images to people (for example, the top rows above, with the black & white squares), and recorded the brain activity when people looked at these images.  Then later on, the scientists had the people think of those images (without actually looking at them), and were able to decode the brain activity as images on a computer screen (the bottom rows above, with the grayish fuzzy squares). In other words, they were able to see what people were thinking.  You can read more about this here and here.

What could this possibly be used for?  The researchers say that it may be possible to one day record and replay dreams.  I can think of quite a few other things people might use it for, especially as a sophisticated lie detector of sorts.  In fact, a few months ago, India was the first country to convict someone of a crime using brain scans as evidence.  This, of course, has caused a lot of controversy because it raises many questions about the invasion of privacy and the ethics of accessing people’s thoughts.

So what do you all think?  Cool or scary or both or neither?  Can you think of any other uses for this technology?