Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Sexist TV for children

Listening to:

Beethoven, piano concerto no. 3 in C minor. Played by Ashley Wass and the BBC Philharmonic, conducted by Vassily Sinaisky.

Shows for girls

Having had my daughter recently become a fan of Octonauts, I’m a bit depressed at the terrible low profile the female characters get. In the episode we just watched earlier, a female briefly gets to start everything off, only to be swallowed by a whale shark and then need rescuing by the active male characters. Another of the female characters seems to have responsibility for the engineering, but is very much a bit part.

My daughter is also keen on the program Busytown Mysteries, with two male principals (Huckle and Lowly Worm) and one relegated female (sister Sally). Gack.

There’s an obvious contender show, that being Dora the Explorer, but this hasn’t been as successful, and really rubs the parents the wrong way too. The whole program seems to consist of the voice for Dora yelling in an extremely unappealing way. The character is not yelling, but her voicing is, and this is really grating.

Given how gender-identity seems to be a big part of being a three-almost-four year old, I don’t want her diet to so relentlessly treat females as marginal. While I can definitely recommend Olivia and Charlie and Lola, these are also totally domestic shows. If she is to see drama and adventure, the options seem to be yelling Dora, or shows where the girls are after-thoughts.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Computer Notes

Listening to:

Dodge the Dodo, by the Esbjörn Svensson Trio.

This and That

iTerm2: Having had a number of spinning beach-balls of death occurrences on my macbook lately, I started to worry that I had a dying disk, and that the machine (or at least the disk) was going to need replacing.

But now I'm beginning to suspect that the terminal program iTerm2 is the cause. If this was running when the laptop went to sleep, I’d often find that I had a seriously unresponsive, beach-ball filled machine on waking it up.

I’m going to try running without it for a while, and see if the hangs go away. (I’d earlier suspected Firefox of being the culprit, and its Master Password+ add-on in particular, but I’ll soon try reenabling the latter.)

Upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04: This version of Ubuntu still has a particularly ancient (=2009) version of its TeX distribution. If I replace it with a more recent version manually, then I have to then install my own copy of the emacs AucTeX mode because Ubuntu’s package management sees its own TeX package as a prerequisite for AucTeX. Grrr.

Another minor problem is that the cursor mask used in my xpause program doesn’t seem to work properly anymore: when I get the big “Stop” appearing as my cursor, the containing rectangle’s background is all messed up. Given that I’m supposed to be stopped at this point, not doing anything with the mouse, and generally having an RSI-preventing break, I don’t suppose this is such a big deal.

Still, perhaps I can find a replacement for xpause. It’s a TCL/Tk program written by Jules Anderson in 1993 or 1994. I may well be the only person on the planet still using it. I’m sure others will have tried to scratch this itch before.

I will soon upgrade to 11.10 I think, but before doing that, I may get a new desktop machine entirely. The current one has too little memory, and a disk that is getting a bit close to full (across all its various partitions).

Firefox: Oh yeah, I also have to look into Firefox synchronisation options. My current solution is SyncPlaces + Dropbox, but this seems to break browser restart.