Archive for October, 2011

Steve Jobs (1955-2011)

October 5th, 2011

Here’s a great video tribute giving an overview of the contributions of Steve Jobs:

Think different.

HTML: Day 1 – Simple text formatting and inserting a picture

October 5th, 2011

Objective: We will be creating an HTML file with basic code and then previewing it in a web browser.

HTML code used in this lesson:

<strong> bolds text
<em> italicizes text (“em” is short for “emphasis”)
<p> shows where a paragraph starts and ends
<br> starts a new line
<img src> brings in a picture
<a href> creates a link

The HTML file we’ll create is going to be extremely basic. Later we’ll add information that meets the standards of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and is coded better.

1. Open up a text editor like Text Edit or Notepad.
2. Save it as sample.html. If you don’t put the .html as the file extension, it may not load properly in the browser.
3. In your new text file, type:

This is the sample file. How exciting.

4. Let’s make that “exciting” really exciting. We can make the word “exciting” bold by adding the <strong> tag around it.

This is the sample file. How <strong>exciting</strong>.

<strong> lets the browser know that what follows will be bold. </strong> lets the browser know where to stop. If you leave off the </strong>, the rest of the page will be one big, bold mess.
5. Preview the HTML file in your browser. Open up Safari/Firefox/Chrome/Opera/Whatever . Choose File->Open and then select your HTML file. Check to make sure “exciting” is bold.
6. Now let’s add emphasis to the word “this” using the <em> tag.

<em>This</em> is the sample file. How <strong>exciting</strong>.

Notice how, just like with <strong>, you need to close out <em> with </em> or else it never ends.
7. We’re going to insert a picture, but I don’t want it to be on the same line as the text. Mark the text that we have as a paragraph by adding the <p> tag to the text.

<p><em>This</em> is the sample file. How <strong>exciting</strong>.</p>

You can also use the <br> code to start a new line, but when we get into CSS, using the <p> will allow you to do cooler stuff with the paragraph.
8. Insert a photo using the <img src> code. After the src part, you’ll be telling the browser where the file is stored online. For the sample, we’ll use an image from my site that’s found at

<p><em>This</em> is the sample file. How <strong>exciting</strong>.</p>
<img src=””>

Pay attention to the equals sign and the quotation marks. Whatever’s inside the “” is the direct address for the image. = tells the browser that what’s coming next is the source (src) of the image.
9. Save the HTML file and run it in your browser to check if the HTML file is working.
10. The last thing we’ll go over in this lesson is the <a href> tag. <a href> stands for “anchor hypertext reference”. Anchors are placeholders within a document. <a href> lets the browser know that a reference, a link, is coming.

Make the word “sample” a link to by adding the <a href> tag.

<p><em>This</em> is the <a href=””>sample</a> file. How <strong>exciting</strong>.</p>
<img src=””>

Like with the <img src> tag, we use the =”” to point to a location. Just like the <strong> and <em> tags, we close it out or else the rest of the document will be a link.
11. Save it and run sample.html in your browser.

Naming the GRAIL

October 5th, 2011

NASA launched two lunar probes in September as part of the GRAIL project to create a gravity map of the moon. The two probes are called GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B, but NASA wants help changing the names. Here’s more information about the writing contest. It’s cool because the Spirit and Opportunity rovers were named by students.

Kizuna: Fiction for Japan – A Charity Anthology

October 5th, 2011

In March of this year, Japan was hit by an earthquake and a tsunami. Rebuilding efforts are still in progress. One of the easy ways that you can help is by picking up a copy of Kizuna: Fiction for Japan. It’s an anthology of short stories from 75 different authors. The royalties from the sale will go towards care for children orphaned by the disasters.

After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick

October 3rd, 2011

If I told you that a book about cancer patients was funny, you might call me disturbed, crass, or several versions of inappropriate. But After Ever After is funny despite the very serious subject.

This is a sorta sequel to Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie. Jeffrey, the younger brother from the first book, is now the main character. He is in remission and has been labeled a cancer survivor. Even though he’s a survivor, cancer could still come back and that’s a fear Jeffrey and his family deal with each day. He makes friends in elementary school with a boy named Tad who also survived cancer. This is part of what sets After Ever After apart from other books that deal with cancer.

The two major players in the book deal with cancer through humor but have very different attitudes towards others. Tad is extremely defensive to the point of being downright mean to everyone in the school. Jeffrey is constantly coaching him on how to be nicer while Tad pushes Jeffrey to never give up.

Cancer is the big force of the book, yet standardized testing is the looming conflict. Jeffrey is doing better in Math, but his efforts could be meaningless if he doesn’t pass the state test and is held back. Methotrexate treatments have made it tough for Jeffrey to stay focused for extended periods of time. The fact that his girlfriend could go on to high school, and high school boys, without him adds to the distraction.

None of this sounds funny, right? What balances the book is a sarcastic narrator. Sonnenblick took a risk making his main character so flippant about life-threatening decisions. It reads as if Jeffrey has truly endured and learned what to take serious and what is out of his control.

Like how Okay for Now made me want to go back and read Wednesday Wars, After Ever After makes me want to read Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie. This is a must-have addition to any library.

Here’s another reminder of HopeKids, an organization that helps families with life-threatening illnesses. Good friends of mine run one of the branches. It’s definitely worth checking out.