Category: Society

Computer Woes (by )

My poor too old to update laptop is once again thwarting me - Etsy is still not working (prob. due to laptop this time), Pinterest is shaky, LinkedIn is crippled, drawing programmes cause regular crashes, FB keeps balking, garageband is now not working and the speakers are crackling like they have half the Sahara in them :/ This is really frustrating as today was the day I was going to finish off the Spoogy Collection on Bandcamp i.e. finally upload the story and the song but that is a def. no go 🙁 Thanks to Patreon and working all the worky stuff I should be able to get a new desk top that can do the graphics and sound stuff in November but.... ARRRRG!

I'm actually pretty hacked off about this - the laptop still functions (bar the speakers which either have got something in them or are on their way out due to Mary liking My Little Pony Thrash Metal mashups and playing them loud and repeatedly in the mornings) but due to the way Apple work it is now obsolete and has been so for ages now. It is too old to get updates so though it works it steadily can't work as it can't support stuff anymore - you'd think this would only be a problem for the web stuff which indeed it is a big problem for - I am slowly watching everything not work quiet right, work a bit and then die or just not work in the first place. I have no GIF bar on FB, I can't have Pinterest buttons installed...

But actually I could get round most of that with my phone interface though it is perilously old now two and is getting to the edge of obsoletion too and that is a great shame because again it works fine!

However my frustration is the automatic updates mean that all the applications are slowly dying on my laptop - iTunes was the first to go, this meant that last year when I put the poetry up for The Book of Spoogy onto Bandcamp I had to do some techno wizardry to get the files I had already made out of iTunes and into a programme my computer could still use and then put it all up on Bandcamp - a simple job that I had already laid the ground work too thus was a complete nightmare and took ages. This year I can't even do that... there is no work arounds that me and Al can find this time - I just can't upload or record new things at the moment 🙁

To me this is horrendous, it is part of driving a wedge between the rich and poor (it is the Robots movie, it is iRobot (yes I know the film wasn't true to Asimov I think we'll be waiting a long time for such a film but I still look forward to it!) but it is also bad for the environment - it is forced obsoletion, it is taking tech and making it not work so that it has to be scrapped - this electronics with their increasingly rare metals making up their components and the chugging fume costs of the PCB factories. They are often sealed units so that when there is a hard ware failure they are almost impossible to fix....

If I was starting from scratch knowing what I know now - I would go Open Source I would go for some sort of UNIX thing... but I am content locked... my stuff is in apple programmes, and due to head injury stuff I kind of want to stick with stuff I know how to use. One good point about the apple stuff is I've always found them far more intuitive to use than Windows machines. I will I think try and have some sort of duel system going so I can wean myself from apple dependence but the next machine is still going to have to be some sort of Mac.

I am highly frustrated at the moment especially as it has basically taken me two years to save up with help (bitcoin yummiiness) for this damn new computer - I still have stuff stuck on an old out of date drive as well - but I had to choose between paying for data extraction on that and getting a new computer so I can continue to work. And that is another rub - there is potentially something we can do to the laptop to make it work nicely again but it might break the laptop and as it is currently my only computer that is most def. a no go. Once I have the desktop we can attempt to salvage the laptop and then I'll have a mobile computer again I can take to coffee shops and write ins and meetings and hackathons and so on - right now I don't really like moving it incase I drop the damn thing - this completely negates the point of it being a laptop!

Yes I've tried using tablets - even with external key boards I think my eyesight just isn't up to long data/word entries on such small screens.

Anyway - just finding the whole damn thing a little chaffing right now! There are so many projects that just need that final push and I can't do the final push because of tech problems!

Me Too… and Jean (by )

Ok so seriously are there going to be any women who wouldn't be eligible to write "Me Too" on their statuses?

For those who don't know there is a Status meme and has tag going around social media to highlight the amount of sexual harassment and abuse that women get (including trans etc).

And there is a lot of it - especially if you include catcalling - that's kind of it as soon as you walk down a street on your own and as for public transport at night... I've lost count of the number of willies that have come out for a waggle. And these are not "serious" things, then there is crowd groping, the old rubby rubby which again are kind of hazards of travelling, followed by school yard bar pings and skirt lifts and then we are into the deathly serious rape area which if it hasn't happened to you tends to be a thing you fear will happen to you - hence all the special kits given out to female students when you start uni and the "rape" alarms put in the toilets in the student unions though obviously you aren't officially allowed to call them that though all the staff do. And why bus drivers give me warnings about which stops to get off at at night and so on.

There are reasons that we considered self defence to be a high priority to teach to our kids and that Jean knows protocols for being followed on her way home from school or being approached etc... and the issue doesn't end at us letting her out on her own - I am a small woman - last summer saw us being surrounded by teenage boys and having verbal sexual and horrible (mistaken) racial slurs thrown at us (shortly before they covered our van in shit). Initially they hadn't seen Alaric, and from a distance he is often mistaken as a women anyway and you can see peoples body language and aggression levels change when they realise he is a man and one who is not going to back down - interestingly it didn't even occur to me to report the intimidation and verbal abuse it was only because we called in to report the poo incident that it got reported.

But even when she was much younger we were getting catcalled resulting in me having to explain certain words to her.

When laid out bare like this it makes our society look pretty sick and ill at ease with itself and quiet frankly not very advanced.

Recently I discovered that some universities in this country only started admitting women in 1987 and that was protested at! I was six years old in a country being led by a female PM and a Queen - I still need to chase the facts up but between that and single mothers still forcefully having their babies removed in the 70's it is a rather slower march to equality than I had envisioned.

Kitten Technologies and OhBot Supporting Ada Lovelace Day (by )

Robo Rob part of the programming board game designed for Cuddly Science

Really wonderful news, the Cuddly Science event Ada Lovelace's Coding Time at the Museum of Gloucester on Saturday 14th Oct 2017 is not only having a wonderful OhBot Robot but also Simple Graphics by Kitten Technologies 😀

Kitten Technologies

This event is aimed at kids and is ticketed at £5 per child, there is puppet story telling, colouring in sheets, Robo Robs Jobs the board game as well as the OhBot programmable robot head and the simple graphics programme. I am very excited about how this event is shaping up 🙂

Oh Bot programmable robot head at the Cheltenham Fun Palace 2017

Ada Lovelace Day 2017 – Dr Rebecca Wilson (by )

Today is Ada Lovelace Day - an annul celebration of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM), named after the Victorian mathematician and visionary Ada Lovelace.

Each year we try to do a little write up on women who have inspired us in the sciences. There are many entries for previous years - in fact later today I am going to make a special category for them all 🙂

This year I have chosen my friend Dr Rebecca Wilson.

Broken lift

Rebecca started off in Geology studying at Imperial College's Royal School of Mines, where she not only excelled in her own studies but helped me with some of the more advanced GeoChemistry elements, lending books and explaining things in multiple ways.

She was part of the posse that went with me to the Natural History Museum London to get work experience and helped me get into the meteoritics department. A PhD at the Planetary and Space Science Institute looking for organic material in micrometeorites.

She went on to post doc and research and science outreach at Leicester University and the associated Space Centre. During this time she developed some pretty awesome out reach kits. Those that can be available to the public/teachers are downloadable here.

Rebecca also won an science journalism internship which took her to Ireland, she has in fact been all over the globe studying, researching and presenting.

She has side stepped into medical data visualisation realm where she is pushing the frontiers of science ever forwards as well as highlighting the issues of accessibility on her various travels.

Rebecca has rubbed shoulders with the top people in both space and planetary science as well as within the deep data computering spheres not to mention the odd science communicator such as Brian Cox! Becca he is highly versatility and extremely dedicated and she is also a hell of a lot of fun to be around 🙂

She was even chosen by Jean for a school project on role models and heros!

Ada Lovelace’s Coding Time (by )

11 am to 1 pm Saturday Oct 14th 2017 I shall be taking Cuddly Science along to the Museum of Gloucester for an Ada Lovelace Day celebration tix £5 - the event is aimed at kids and will contain:

Ada the puppet explaining about herself and the technologies of the victorian era leading to modern day computing.

Ada Lovelace the puppet reading Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett

Colouring in sheets I have drawn of Ada, computers and other sundries - the photo is of the currently finished ones but there will be more before the weekend 🙂

Ada Lovelace Day Colouring in

Ada's friend Oh Bot Robot - a programmable robot head which the kids can complete programming tasks on including composing poetry!

Oh Bot programmable robot head at the Cheltenham Fun Palace 2017

Robo Robs Jobs - a board game that teaches children about the fundamentals of programming with out any scary numbers or computers 🙂 Very important to help engage all levels of understanding and expertise and the game can get a difficult as the players want!

Robo Rob part of the programming board game designed for Cuddly Science

Other bits and bobs 🙂 We are very excited about this Ada Lovelace day is an annual celebration of women in science, technology, engineering and medicine (STEM) and has events going on both nationally and internationally. These range from talks to shows to interactive events - check out where your nearest event is on the Ada site.

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