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The Almighty Buck

Barbie and Hotwheels PCs for Kids 139

Teflon writes "Patriot Computer Corp has just launched two styled/themed PCs (for kids) -- The Hotwheels PC and the Barbie PC. These two PCs seem to be targeted at kids. I'd have liked to have had the Hotwheels PC as a 10-year-old." A Hot Wheels PC is surely better for a kid than hotwiring a kiddie car, but I find the sexulal differentiation a little depressing, even though I know that's how toys are sold - and that there are strong sexual differentiations in toy preferences. (sigh) I suppose this was inevitable.
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Barbie and Hotwheels PCs for Kids

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  • Is it nature that cause little girls to play with toy kitchen while little boys play with toy cars and toy guns? I would like an evidence of that.

    Get married and have a couple of kids. Or just spend some time working with the very young. Sexual differenciations start at the same time personalities start. It's hardwired in the brain.

    I think destroying the myth that you need testicles in order to understand how a computer works is good for society as a whole.

    You can try to force gender neutrality on PCs, but that won't make girls* any more interested in them. Instead of trying to create a neuter utopia allow individuals to advance in whatever field they want and stop worry about the relative numbers of boys and girls.

    *Note: The above is discussing generalities, there are overlaps in both sexes in both directions.

  • The Barbie Digital Camera is pretty damn sucky. I think you can get it for about CDN$50 or something like that.. I've seen them in stores. The quality is worse that Kodak's DC20, the entire selling point of which was it's small size. It ain't worth getting a pink PC for :)
  • Sigh... yes, there exist natural differences between men and women. Men, for example, have penises, whereas women have vaginas. There also exist socially constructed differences between men and women. For example, boys like Hot Wheels and girls like Barbie in the United States.

    Take a sociology class. They're interesting. One thing you'll learn: "politically correct neuter philosophy" is not the product of stupid people complaining about nothing. It is the product of smart people complaining about a social system that they feel separates and devalues a class of people unfairly.
  • First of all, you cannot explain to kids that computers are expensive tools: they have not mastered some abstract concepts required to understand what this means. The closest thing they do unserstand is "things which, if you break, dad gets really mad". Unless they're looking for trouble (or sometimes just for attention), they will stay away from such things, to reduce wear on their tushes. This is not the attitude you probably want them to have toward computers.

    Second, why Furby or the Tonka truck with voice commands is a toy, and a computer should not be? Because it has 100 times more gates on the chip? There is one other difference, the PC can be programmed to do many things, while the embedded chips in the games accept limited programming, if any, and only through the game's "interface". The difference is also superficial: the designers have imposed restrictions on those embedded chips by basically hiding or restricting the inputs (inside they could be quite complex). Why is it wrong to dress up a Pentium in the same manner? Kid does not know that this game is powered by a dedicated chip and that by multipurpose one.

  • Hell by that measure, it sounds like you had it too easy as well! My first computer was a ZX81 with 1Kb of RAM, black and white blocky (4 bit?) graphics and a membrane keyboard. And I'm sure there are people reading /. who can go all the way back to Altairs and beyond.

    It's not so much the computer though as what you do with it. Sure, Win 98 is a lousy tool for kids to learn much about programming, but there are thousands of kids out there who are having just as much fun with their machines as you and I had with ours. They are downloading Linux and reformatting their hard-drives and playing with beta software and building websites and making music and all sorts of cool things that we *couldn't* do in our day and age because our computers ran like treacle ;-)

    Sure, there's great nostalgia value in our first computers, but what wouldn't I have given for a Celeron 333 in those days...


  • Do these things have any sort of expansion slots for a network card? It seems to me that a PC like this would be a lot better sharing an internet connection rather than requiring it's own ISP and maybe phone line.
  • I'm really getting disgusted of where the industy is going. Barbie/Hotwheel computers for kids? Young kids are going to treat this as a toy just to play racing games. Spend XXX$ just for an over-hyped game machine? I hope these same kids don't grow up thinking that computers are toys.
    Same thing with all of these new machines: iToaster, iMac, iBook, etc., computers need to be used as TOOLS, damnit!

    This new trend makes computers just overpowered calculators with flashy designs. Computers need to be used the way they should: a device which can accomplish anything (providing that it has enough power) that can be programmed. We should be teaching kids to treat computers as expensive tools, not some hotwheels car to roll across the floor.

    Flame away.
  • Sure seems nice, but they couldn't resist throwing in Cyber Patrol and 250 hours of AOL... Cyber Patrol I can understand, to most people it looks good ("it's even child-safe"), but why throw the kids in AOheLL?
  • Yes. I noticed there is a 'hotwheels' computer.

    The marketing people claim they answer people's needs. So boys want to fantasize about driving fast cars( car accidents cause more death in the US yearly than the whole Vietnam war) and shooting others while girls want to fantasize about getting pink dresses, a cute house and a nice kitchen.

    Maybe that is natural and marketing is only answering natural needs of the customers. I prefer thinking these are artificial needs created by the marketing people. Just my optimism?
    Laurent
    ---
  • Well this is a really nice idea. But you are talking technological innovation here. I do not think a marketing trained brain can go all that far. These people are not Steve Jobs, they won't introduce a shared net connection for a family sized network of computers. They will only change the colors when the airport gains market shares.
    Laurent
    ---
  • It seems to me, then, that we can split the phenomenon into two parts:

    1) the company wants to make a computer marketed towards girls
    2) it chooses to do so by decorating a normal computer with Barbie decorations and bundling Barbie-themed software

    The first part is good, or at least indicative of a good social trend: it means that there must be a reasonably-sized female market for computers, and for females as primary operators of computers.

    The second part is bad, as is obvious. On the other hand, since preteenaged girls are used to being marketed to with flowers, pink, and Barbie anyway, it strikes me that the marginal extra damage of this particular instance of marketing is small.

    I say that not to imply that it is okay to continue to sexually bias toys the way they are, but to make the comparison of the good of part 1 versus the bad of part 2: it seems to me that given those two parts, the sum message is that computers are moving away from being entirely male-associated, as they have been up until very recently, and are moving toward being gender-neutral.

    After all, if a Hot Wheels computer is for boys, and a Barbie computer is for girls, doesn't that make my beige box with no decals genderless?
  • by jflynn ( 61543 ) on Sunday October 03, 1999 @05:49AM (#1642718)
    Well, naturally speaking, we're predators too. Perhaps we need better rituals to blood the children. Or maybe reason should prevail over instinct in rational beings?

    I really don't see how you can consider males' attraction to cars intrinsic. I mean, there weren't a lot of cars around when we were evolving, you know. Nor many mechanical devices of any kind. It is just as bad to program little boys to love cars as it is to program little girls to be homemakers or fashion accessories. This is done by thousands of little signals of approval or disapproval by adults and peers that children are extremely sensitive to -- and which influence their choice of toys and careers.

    Do we need computers for different races and gays too? Then what's so special about the differences between boys and girls?

    The truth is that parents buy these computers, and that is where the gender bias is present and well formed. There was a study about Christmas toys about 10 years back that was quite interesting. They put a group of children in a room with several boxes containing all the greatest toys that year. After a few hours all the children, boys and girls, were having a blast with the boxes the toys came in and ignoring the toys completely. So much for the children's choice.
  • by pen ( 7191 )
    I wonder how long until Kellogg's joins the club...

    Hmm... so THAT's what that poll was about...

    --

  • I just wonder if these will sell well, if at all. First off, they'd be a pretty damn expensive toy for a young kid, and it seems like kids old enough to really use a computer want more powerful computers rather than ones that look like a hot wheels racer. But with the age of many computers per household, it is possible that some parents will have computer for themself and one computer for the little tykes, with all the fun decals that they want. Most of my friend's parent's are obsessive about how their computer looks (desktop et al), so I can't really see many parents sitting down at the barbie machine to get some real work done. There's another thing too -- the kids who would probably really like these are probably too young to really use them. I'm not sure how many older kids are going to want a hot wheels pc for when their friend's come over. I supposed it's the natural extension, though, marketing PCs with endorsements from toys, movies, etc, etc. Maybe we'll have an Episode II style comp coming out from Lucasfilm. This is all IMHO, of course.

    -rob

    ps. this was mentioned a long time ago in pc magazine, and they had some little commentary for it.
  • well..for those who wondered why there are so few girls in the geeky side of computerland and thought there was a biological/neurological/ whatever cause, I think it shows who is operating the patriarchal gender formatting process.
    Laurent
    ---
  • Great, wonder if I can get my boss to let me replace our current server with one of these babies. :-)
  • Hmm... let's see... 333Mhz celery... 32 MB of RAM... 15" monitor... four USB ports... WAAIT A SECOND.... FOUR USB ports?

    I think that we're in for a storm of $50-$200 accessories, no? ;)

    --

  • by froz ( 69551 ) on Sunday October 03, 1999 @03:00AM (#1642727)
    Hopefully someone will release a kiddie puter with a Mr. Potato-head theme so the ankle-biters can learn how to connect their hardware.
    Just watch out for the kids who tend to make a picasso of the normal Mr. Potato-head: "No billy, the coax doesn't connect directly to the main power output..."
  • Yeah I remember the GoBots. They were the inferior competitor to the Transformers. Heh. They should make a PC out of that huge transformable Gobots station they had(the one that had legs that were collapsable.)
  • My first PC was a TI-994/A. I used it for a VERY long time faithfully.


    Let me put it to you this way. When I stopped using the TI, Star Trek: The Next Generation was on the air.
  • by blogan ( 84463 ) on Sunday October 03, 1999 @06:04AM (#1642731)
    • Comes in gender neutral colors (no pink or black) like blue, red, and yellow.
    • Typing software
    • Option of either picking a modem and NetNanny or proxy software and ethernet card. Proxy software would be for Win9X and it would take care of filtering content. If you have Linux, then you can get proxy software for free.
    • Kesington Lock compatible, so they don't open it up and damage it. If you think your kids are smart enough to play inside, and won't hurt themselves, have no lock.
    • Full Armor. Basically so they don't screw up the OS. Once again, if they know better, disable it.
    • Perhaps a program that limits the amount of time they spend online.
    • Option of TV Tuner card. If they have a small room and you don't want them to have a TV and computer in there.
    • Non-integrated parts. Maybe components, like video and sound, but not the speakers, CD-ROM, floppy, and monitor all in one piece.

    And the not so good ideas:

    • Has BackOrifice, so you can monitor your kids.
    • Ergonomic Dvorak keyboard.
    • gcc. No programs included because you can make your own.
    • Digital camera, so the pedophile in the chat room can say, "Hey, send me a picture of yourself."
    • Processor serial number, modem serial number, video card serial number, keyboard serial number. Remember, young people have no rights.
  • Yes it will. When we perfect cloning technology, and learn how to mix and match genetic traits in the loboratory, the male will become obsolete. Tornado by the tail indeed. :P
  • How long before the girls computer is slower and doesn't have as much RAM because girls don't need as much power as boys.

    Why do companies seem so reluctant to have products targeted to both boys and girls? I really hate the way they take fairly normal toys and make them girls toys by making them pink.
  • For ports, they list 4 USBs and a serial, but no parallel. When they take you to the printer order page, the specs on the printer say it comes with a parallel printer cable. Anyone else see the problem?
  • Not necessarily nature. In fact, this mostly depends on the intellect and environment.

    When I was a young child, had my parents bought me the Barbie PC, I'd probably have wanted the Hot Wheels one instead, although the Barbie one is intended for my gender.

    Why? I HATED dolls! They bored me to no end. (In fact, in my early teen years, the few Barbies that I did own became target practice...but that's another story for another day...) I would have rather played with Micro Machines with my brother. (The system of my youth was a plain, small beige box with 64k of memory and a BASIC cartridge, so pink or blue wouldn't be an object anyway.)

    Anyway, my point is, when a child is allowed to choose whether they want to play with toys labeled "for girls" or "for boys", it doesn't make them homosexual. It develops minds.

    Thirty years from now, the girl who plays with Lego Technic sets or the boy who plays with a toy kitchen may just be more suited to doing more tasks of everday life than the children forced into the cookie-cutter mold of pink and blue.

    I say get the kid the computer they want. Let 'em look at specs of other computers, help them understand what they mean, and maybe get them something better than Win98 crawling along on 32MB of RAM...

  • And when I was five, I was programming silly little things in BASIC on my C64. Big whoop.
    ---
    "'Is not a quine' is not a quine" is a quine.
  • Of course we all know that everything taught in sociology classes is absolutely scientific and factual (/tim collapses in hysterical laughter).

    Of course there are mental differences between men and woman, on the average. However, this does not mean that one is better than the other, only different.

    Why is it so difficult for some people to imagine that if men and woman have physical differences, their might be differences in how their brains are wired?

  • This is only half-joking: I thought that Apple was the only company allowed to make any computer with colors that captures any press attention.

  • I agree wholeheartedly. Some of the best chefs in the world are men, as are some of the best figure skaters and fashion designers (and no, they're not all gay). Some of the best programmers and IT professionals in the world are women. Then there's plenty of people who don't care for being overtly male or female, or some people whose genders are vasty different from their sex; as far as anyone should be concerned, between their ears they're female instead of male (or vice-versa - it does go both ways, contrary to popular belief). One of the most important game programmers of all times (in terms of sum total of influence, at least), the late Danielle Bunten Barry, was a transsexual; if you don't know who that is, she was credited as Dan Bunten in MULE.

    Sex != gender, gender != role in life. Toy ads sicken me; they'll always show bunches of boys playing with cars that you can crash and destroy, then they'll show bunches of girls wearing nail polish and helping Barbie make clothes. Among the kids I grew up with, few of them had any natural inclination for either, andthe only ones who fell into their cliche toy groups were boys. I didn't know a single girl who liked dolls, and most of the girls I knew were heavily into video games. Most of my friends when I was young were girls, too.

    *sigh* I guess it's been too long since the last pointless sex/gender argument on Slashdot, no?


    ---
    "'Is not a quine' is not a quine" is a quine.

  • I would like to suggest that the typing software would be one of the bad ideas, actually. I learned to touch-type at age 8 on my C64 (I had typing software) and managed 35WPM on that system (no mean feat, considering how crappy that keyboard is), and I've only touch-typed since, which has led to many wrist problems. I'm 21, have had wrist pain and recurring carpal tunnel problems since I was 19, and think that if it weren't for touch-typing, it wouldn't be nearly so bad.
    ---
    "'Is not a quine' is not a quine" is a quine.
  • Buying a special computer that is 'only for the girls' is acknwledging that girls can not use 'normal computers'. I do not think that is anywhere near a good idea.

    And a special computer that is 'only for the boys' is saying what?

    Jumping to assinine conclusions like that is exactly why this world is caught in this crazy-ass Politically Correct downward spiral that it's in.

    These computers gender-targetted because that's what parents are doing to the kids, and what the marketdroids are seeing as a cash cow.

    Ferinstance:
    My three year old stepson has his dinky cars running across the floor every day. He's into my tools and electronics every time I'm using them. He wanted a Barbie when he saw it on TV and played with a friends' doll for about three minutes before giving up on it because it didn't interest him. He's also got a playpen FULL of stuffed animals. Does he ever ask to play with them? No. I don't discourage him, he decided for himself that cars and tools lego and mechanics were cooler. Is that because his father figures are gearheads? Perhaps. His mom spends a lot of time on her computer though, so maybe our daughter will turn into a geek. :-)

    The point is that he made his choice for whatever reasons. I buy him cars and male-targetted toys because he simply has no interest in the female-targetted ones; I've learned this from experience. Simiarly, those who are trying to sell as many computers to kids as possible will target them the same way they maximize their toy sales. Gender-neutral toys don't sell as hot as gender-specific ones. Period.

    (an aside -- that strikes me as odd... they can make more money making two different toys than they can by making one gender-neutral toy and trying to sell twice as many... weird)
  • Holy smokes, that barbie 'puter looks AWESOME (I am NOT being sarcastic). The coolest thing would be to run Linux on it. Then I would truly reach freakhood.
  • There's a big difference between *can* not and *will* not. Clearly, *can not* is bogus, and Patriot isn't really saying that. What they are betting is that some (parents, presumably -- hopefully *not*, say, day-care operators) people will buy these in the bizarre hopes of enticing kids.

    Targetting clearly often *does* work. IIRC, a CBS report lately focused on a schmuck who deliberately constructs bands specifically targetted at female [pre-]teeny-boppers, the sort that tends to coalesce in front rows at concerts and shriek their heads off, and (far more importantly) spend money to do so. That's capitalism.

    If their bet is right, they profit; otherwise, they lose. {shrug}
  • {shrug} It's largely cultural, rather than biological methinks. After all, there have been matriarchal societies that were just as vicious as the more belligerent patriarchal ones...

    Bah. There was a student in my high school, slightly older than me, who completed, with flying colors, the full high school mathematics curriculum (i.e. including calc, at the BC level) before most students finish pre-algebra. Her parents contributed a LOT to her motivation, methinks, and presumably did not raise her to think math was hard...
  • playing devil's advocate here:)

    I'm a girl and I'm 21 now, and we had our first home computer when I was 7. I was lucky just how much my parents and teachers encouraged the use of computers. We got a modem when I 16 and I went crazy mad with the BBSes. Most often, I was the only chick in the user lists.

    Many girls are discouraged from using computers, either by straight out "girls can't do it" or by the lack of software aimed at girls. Only certain kinds of geekygirls ever used to get involved in computer life. There is a huge group of girls (the kind that do play with Barbie) that are at a disadvantage. Barbie has and probably always will be a major influence in the lives of little impressionable girls. Recently, people have criticized Barbie and blamed her for anorexia and for encouraging the stereotype of girls finding math difficult. This is a type of redemption. Using Barbie to encourage girls to develop computer schools, I think, is a good thing.

    Also, there is a major lack of female-friendly software out there. Just by using the programs that they enjoy, it will encourage girls to discover and learn.

    Whether parents recognize and/or are willing to admit it, they do encourage gender-sterotyped toys. And with a product aimed specificly at girls, parents might give at least a fleeting thought to purchasing a computer for their girl. Most decisions to buy a computer for children are because boys want the games. There's often no reason for MOST girls to want one. (Of course, there's always exceptions to the rule:)

    From my point of view, the Barbie label and girlishly designed box will make more girls become interested in computers. These are the girls that wouldn't go near a computer otherwise (possibly). Because sometimes it's the final result that's more important than the path it takes to get there.

  • >>It does indeed. But boys actually do not need an incentive to crave computers. Someone said it was positive to make computers that would attract girls. I do not think it is a good way to attract girls.

    Boys don't need any incentive? Isn't that just as sexist? These machines are targeted at children young enough to be attracted to the "Toy tie-in" provided by the Hot Wheels or Barbie brands. It's the parents who buy them, not the kids. Kids old enough to care about the hardware specs aren't going to worry too much about what color the case is, or whether it comes with Hot Wheels Racing, Barbie's MakeUp Kit, or Quake II. They'll get hardware they like and install what they want.

    If it gets them into using the machine at an early age, why not? As for "Gender Neutral" maybe we can start selling a mid-range box, with a slate grey case, and a big penguin on the front...

  • ...has anybody designed a machine that's *completely* black? Not only black paint everywhere, but...

    * black keycaps with ridges instead of paint
    * almost-black LEDs (or, perhaps, a sufficiently evil-looking red glow might be permissible)
    * the big thing, and perhaps impossible:
    a monitor that looks completely jet black (even when on) unless one uses, say, a special pair of goggles.

    Might make for a fun showpiece; best placed in a completely black work station, for maximum omninousness.

    :)
  • You know, it never ceases to amaze me... All these people who have the answer... who know what makes kids act the way they do...

    For some reason, they never seem to actually HAVE any kids of their own. I'm not talking about nieces and nephews, I'm not talking about the neighbors kids, I'm talking about being around your own kids 30x7 (yeah... 30. Try sleeping around a newborn and you'll understand).

    I have three. 2 girls and 1 boy. Boys and girls are different. Not maybe, not a little.... they are completely different. You can tell from the minute thay are born the difference in the way they act. In most cases, the mother can tell the difference before the child is even born.

    Toy manufacturers do not determine how a child acts.... the child's brain does. They are wired different.

  • This is an interesting point of view. I completely agree that computers are tools. But we have to face the fact that most people just don't have the ability to program things themselves. Or, if they have the ability, they're in the kind of job where they need to use the tools, not produce them. Plus, if everyone produced their own tools we'd have a lot of wasted skills all over the place. No, computers are tools, but you need to be able to buy flashy computers with better tools so that you can a) create a good image and win the business (say) and b) work faster.

    Just my tuppence worth.

    Jack
  • Of course the Barbie PC does not have slots. Instead, the place where the slots would be is covered by unremovable panties.
  • Though not intended as flame-bait, I fear this post might act as such...

    I don't think this is an issue. These computers are no more inherently sexist than Lego, Barbie, Hot Wheels, "Plastic Tool-Chest", etc. (all tm someone or another). Its the children themselves who are sexist.

    "Social Engineering" and other silly notions will not change the root-cause: human beings have conformity hard-wired into their brain stems, just like most other community-based organisms. Of course (thankfully) there are always exceptions.

    The little boy with 200 HotWheels cars sees this computer and his heart leaps into his throat. He'll be proud to show this to his friends. If his parents buy him a "Barbie-Box" and he comes to school with "Bridal Barbie", he won't fit in.

    To me, it just looks like these "Compu-Toy" manufacturers are just trying to grab a slice from an existing market.

  • Well, naturally speaking, we're predators too. Perhaps we need better rituals to blood the children. Or maybe reason should prevail over instinct in rational beings?

    Naturally speaking we are prey, not predators. Don't believe me? I'll put you naked in a box with a starving real predator(tm) with half your mass and we'll see who survives.

    Human beings have instincts, and they influence every aspect of our lives. From how we structure our families to the sports we play. The more we deny our instincts the more trouble we get ourselves into (as a society). Reason shouldn't pervail over instinct, it's not a one or the other situation. And yes we need rituals, we've been abandoning rituals left and right and look at the dysfunctional mess we're in.

    One of the best toys ever invented is the box your fridge came in (toy manufacturers would have a hard time making money selling boxes). If you want to try an interesting social experiment give some large boxes to a bunch of kids and watch HOW they play with them. Given a large enough sample you will see a clear distinction in the playing styles between the boys and the girls. The difference crosses all races, religions and cultures.

    If you are going to propose that the difference between boys and girls is totally nurture, show me one culture where the roles are reversed.

    The real truth is there are measurable differences in the way the brains of boys and girls function.

  • Computer are no longer simply tools. Were they mere tools, we would not be reading Slashdot right now (there are other sources of news, some much more in-depth). The truth is that computers both tools and toys. They stimualte both sides of the brain, they engage both logic and emotion. This is a Good Thing(tm); Western thought has given short shrift to emotion for far too long now.

    The rise of computer games which require more power than aught else on the computer is a demonstration of just how important the toy aspect of computers. In time we may have a first-person computer interface to a library of files. I don't know if it would an improvement over a standard file manager (I have a feeling that it would, if only because a three dimensional visual representation can hold more information than a 2D icon), but it is now possible. But for now we have some dashed good games.

    On the tool side, we now have almost more than enough power for what we need to do. The days of batch-processed Fortran jobs are well behind us; even an Excel spreadsheet can do more than most of those old systems (not that I like Excel, but it does have a certain amount of ill-constructed power).

    The world wide web demonstrates this: in it you may find everything from information to entertainment. More and more the two are the blended into one whole (/. is an excellent example). This is a very good thing; maybe we are at last close to rejoining emotion and thought and harnessing each for its proper use.

    This is not to say that I don't sometimes thing that a computer is only for work. But then I start using my Mac or my Linux box and I realise that there is a more than intellectual stimulation here.

  • Why is integrated stuff bad for the consumer?

    Is an AIWA stereo system with CD player, FM tuner, 4 speakers, and equalizer bad for the consumer?

    Or is another issue that I'm missing?

    -AS
  • Don't you want to stimulate kids with a challenge? Nothing gets young kids so motivated to know how their PCs work as well as that damned censorware. Some kids I know one time asked me how to get around the copy of "Net Nanny" their mother had inflicted on them, for example; while I gave them some general technical advice, I refused to tell them directly - they wouldn't learn anything if I did it all for them - but I was pleased to see later that they finally figured it out themselves. When they did that, they ceased to be mere lowly users and graduated to the first rung of being hackers.

    And unlike when you break into someone else's machine, those kids can't get into legal trouble; it's legal to hack your own box!

    The down side to installing censorware is that they if the parents go out and buy the censorware themselves, the kids, reasonably, take it as a demeaning insult issuing from a close family member. You know how hypersensitive adolescents are, that's got to have a bad effect on family feelings. But with these new preloaded PCs, it ain't Mom-n-Dad's fault, it comes that way from the factory. So this sounds all good to me.

    Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

  • Hmm...
    1. My computer is my favorite toy. I like to play GCC.

    2. All computers are basically overpowered calculators.

    3. It's VERY cool to get kids on computers. And there's nothing wrong with them using it for games only to start: that's how most of us got here in the first place.

    Especially the Barbie: computers have been all male for too long. Sure they'll use it for toys, but that's how most of us start. Gaming first, then we find a scripting language that takes our interest. Imagine 5 or 6 year olds learning a macro language.

    --
    Insanity Takes Its Toll. Please Have Exact Change

  • The Barbie printer, at least, already exists. Take a trip to your local Best Buy.
    By the way, the printer is crap.

  • Hmm? That's not what I meant at all... I certainly don't think that there are necessarily no differences, biologically, between men and women even as regards their thinking. I mention sociology because it seems very implausible to ascribe the characteristic of liking metal figurines of cars to a genetic predisposition, nor does it seem likely that you can show a biological root to wearing high heels or skirts. All of these things are culturally based. Reading what sociologists have to say about the differences between men and women is very insightful. For example, the very notion that men and women are different physiologically is not an idea without cultural charge- check out Making Sex by T. Laqueur, particularly ch 5, "Discovery of the Sexes." According to Laqueur, before around the 18th century, women were viewed physiologically as "defective" men.

    My point is that even the premise that started this thread out- that men and women are "separate but equal" biologically- can't be fully understood without taking culture into account. Not that there can't be gender-based differences in the way that people think, but that one should not assert that as an explanation of a phenomenon before thinking about gender roles in a given culture.
  • It should be mandatory for all PCs aimed at kids to have at least one programming language installed. My first computer was a BBC Micro. It came with a very good dialect of BASIC and a 6502 assembler as standard. It got me hooked on programming aged 12. Amazing what you could do with 32KB of RAM, some (Up to 20KB) of which was needed for video.

    If you give a kid a computer that just does games and net access, how are they ever going to find out how the technology works?

    The question is, which language.

    ToonTalk (It's not a proper language but it's a lot of fun for younger kids)
    BASIC - fairly easy to learn, even if it rots your brain.
    Java - steeper learning curve, but has a lovely library
    Perl - probably a bit weird for most kids
    Python - I think Guido is actually pushing Python for this sort of thing
    Pascal - A really good 'learning' language, but largely brain-dead libraries
    C++ - don't be silly.
    C - that's even sillier.
    SmallTalk - It'd be great for teaching, but nobody uses it any more.

    Failing to include a programming language is an insult to the creativity of children.
  • So boys want to fantasize about driving fast cars( car accidents cause more death in the US yearly than the whole Vietnam war) and shooting others while girls want to fantasize about getting pink dresses, a cute house and a nice kitchen.

    Well, I never had any sisters, but I have three younger brothers. My parents never let us have toy guns (my Dad was a career naval officer and didn't want us to go into that line of work), didn't let us watch much television, believing it a bad experience and generally tried to bring us up to be civilised.

    For the most part part they succeeded; we were much more polite and well-behaved than other kids our age (not ego here; people use to come up to us in restaraunts and compliment my parents). But in one area they failed rather miserably: keeping us from being violent. My first brother and I made rubber band guns and swords from Construx, but the younger two really took it to a whole new level; they would take sticks from the trees and the grounds, grind them against the sidewalk ar stones to put a point or edge on them, and would attack each other with these improvised spears and swords. They would bombard each other with pine cones and pebbles.

    Fortunately for my brothers, they never actually hurt one another and Mom and Dad didn't notice it most of the time (when they did, they put a stop to it, of course).

    Little boys love fighting and being soldiers and probably always have. Grown men tend to as well. There's soemthing about running around, fighting, feeling important and heroic, chasing one's foe, defeating him and celebrating that is just fun. I can't say that any of the girls I was a friend of back then were into any that.

    Vive la difference (or is it le difference?). Boys and girls are different. The one is not better than the other; in fact, they complement each other. The ideal man is one who is fierce and warlike when needed and civilised and polite otherwise. C. S. Lewis wrote an excellent essay on the need for men to be like Launcelot, who gloried in battle and shed tears in the baquet hall, in other words who combined the masculine and the feminine in a masculine manner. The same goes for women, which is why excessively 'girly' women are as annoying as excessively masculine men. The ideal woman combines the masculine and the feminine in a feminine manner. The two sexes complement; one without the other is lacking something.

    Personally, I think that much of these problems are due to the over-emphasis that the 'male' traits get in our culture (note that I have no idea whether or not these are actually in-born; I do tend to think so). Few bother to exalt the feminine to the degree that they exalt the masculine. That's the real problem.

  • "Obsolete" is a word you use to describe an object, a thing that exists for someone else's use. A human being, whether male or female, is the subject, and can not become obsolete.

    Sexism arbitrarily treats members of one sex or another as objects. Capitalism, of course, treats us all, excepting only the owners of capital, as exploitable and disposable objects. That is why you owe it to yourself and to humanity to overthrow them both.

    Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

  • I agree, to a certain extent. Children should not be taught that cmoputers are toys. Instead, as you said, they should be taught that computers are tools. However, as soon as you impress on them that computers are expensive tools, you've just taught the to fear their machines. They will never tinker inside the computer, or even think about installing a different operating system, because they'll be too afraid of breaking that expensive tool.

    Yes, I realize that computers aren't exactly cheap. But as soon as you live in fear of breaking your own computer, you've become shackled to it. It becomes your master, rather than the other way around. Yes, computers are tools. But computers are also for tinkering, for learning. If you're afraid of breaking that expensive computer, then you'll be too afraid to learn because you fear the consequences.

    You cannot learn without making at least a few mistakes.

  • Does the Barbie PC come complete with a Pink-Screen-O-Death?


    --

  • Actually, studies have answered that question a
    few times: Yes, boys will prefer soldier type
    toys and women household simulation type
    toys.

    Makes sense, gender roles are _really_ strongly
    related to genetics. If it were different, then
    societies would have evolved more gender-homogenously.


    Women/Men have about the same IQ (which, btw & IMO, is too subjective to mean a damn thing) but
    men are more rationally centered, so it is
    easier for us. But after a little start, most
    women I know have had little problem working
    with computers. Actually some I know are damn
    good EEs.

    --
    Insanity Takes Its Toll. Please Have Exact Change

  • by emac ( 43771 )
    I think I remember a story a while ago on /. about a "security" monitor that could only be viewed with polarized glasses... maybe that would fit the bill.
  • almost wndering what the local psychos will read into this one...
    (teehee!)
  • You do know that the physical description you gave is almost an iMac?

    5 fruity gender neutral flavors/colors
    Integrated speakers, CD-ROM, and monitor. Unless you meant that video and sound should be integrated? Your statement was confusing. Did you intentionally mean a double negative? Non-integrated parts but not the speakers, CD-ROM, floppy, and monitor?

    Apple may actually have most of that planned in the iMacII, right?


    -AS
  • they had the black cubes, monitors, and keyboards
  • Does it seem to resemble an SGI O2 machine to anyone else? Wow, now I can impress my geeky friends for the low low price of $599! Kinda like those fake pagers they sell in the Johnson-Smith catalogs...
  • Macdude dun said:

    Get married and have a couple of kids. Or just spend some time working with the very young. Sexual differenciations start at the same time personalities start. It's hardwired in the brain

    Then either I must have been born miswired or am a closet gay man in a woman's body who doesn't know it. :)

    I am a woman physically, last I checked, and straight to boot. I also have never--not once, nada, NEVER--had any interest in baby dolls or Barbies other than mutilating them by shaving their hair off, drawing tattoos on them, or generally disassembling them to see how the wetting baby doll or the arm-movement Barbie worked. :) (Had I thought of this at the tender age of four or five, I could have started that whole darn Feral Cheryl thing and made a minor killing in Australia. :)

    My favourite toys have generally always been in the realm of a) stuff I can take apart and put together again (loved Legos and Tinkertoys, am damn tempted to get a Mindstorm set Just Because [tm], still like to assemble my own computer boxen by hand, still like Slackware Linux because I can muck about with it and take it apart and put it back together, still like to compile straight from source rather than use a damn RPM or binary :), b) toys traditionally considered "boy toys" (like Tonka trucks or Matchbox/Hot Wheels cars, or toy guns, or train sets), or c) toys I made by my lonesome (like pipe-cleaner animals an' whatnot)...I could make my own playsets with the tree out back and a dirtpile and a water hose, which was always great fun, and I've liked stuff I can build m'self.

    My sister liked trains and Hot Wheels cars as much as Barbies (she used to get furious when I converted her Barbies to proto-Feral Cheryl dolls :) but my parents refused to get her "boy toys". They finally broke down with me because boy-toys were generally less destructible :)

    Then again, I've NEVER really fit in the traditional "girl" mode anyways...I liked maths and sciences in school, read the Physician's Desk Reference for fun (and STILL do along with other medical stuffle...it's a damn pain trying to find sites on the Internet what have prescribing info for new drugs or investigational drugs, though *sigh*), think Harlequin romances are so boring as to drive me to tears, and I tend to be the fixit person about the house. :) (My husband is a better cook than I; he brought cooking supplies whilst I brought a toolbox when we moved. :) Then again, he likes to do a lot of his tinkering in the kitchen too.)

    Some might be nature, but I think some of it is nurture too...in any case, if a girl wants to play with a Lionel train set or Matchbox cars, or a boy wants to play with Barbies or an Easy-Bake Oven, I don't think they should be discouraged from that...give 'em chances to play with both an' see what they like.

    (ObWhinge--I just wish Mindstorm sets an' Erector sets weren't so darn expensive...ah well. This is what I get for spending money on silly things like food an' Internet accounts to suck down tons of ham-radio homebrew radio plans and make the occasional post to Slashdot...as it is, I'm rather surprised Tandy Corporation hasn't asked me to purchase stock in them, I've bought enough from 'em over the years... :)

  • I saw a bunch of Barbie HP InkJets at BestBuy a while back. (They're pink, come with stickers, and on sale!) So full fledged PCs couldn't be that far behind.


    I wonder howmany families will buy 2 printers because Jimmy simply refuses to use a "Girls's" printer.
  • Buying a special computer that is 'only for the girls' is acknwledging that girls can not use 'normal computers'. I do not think that is anywhere near a good idea.

    And a special computer that is 'only for the boys' is saying what?

    Ahh, but the Hot Wheels PC wasn't described as 'only for the boys', it was described as 'for your kids'. The Barbie computer was described as 'for girls'. Why is it that if you advertise something as 'for boys' someone will sue you for being sexist, but if you describe something as 'for girls' nobody minds and the product sells well?

    *soapbox mode*

    My personal opinion is that females are still considered somewhat lower, smething to guard against being. There's nothing wrong with females doing traditionally male things, from wearing jeans to programming computers, but there are still very strong taboos on what males are not 'supposed' to do, from carrying purses to teaching kindergarten. A (male) friend of mine has a satchel-type bag that he carries his stuff around in. On a school field trip, we went to some museum and of course they made us all check our schoolbags, but they had one of those 'ladies' handbags exempted' policies. So when the security guard asked my friend to please check his bag, he said something along the lines of "If a lady may keep her purse, why can't I?" At which point the guard very quickly walked away. Very funny. But to be serious for a second, I personally think that it's a similar attitude that makes lesbianism much more socially accceptable than male homosexuality.

    */soapbox mode*

    Back to what I was saying: There're also differences between the software. One of which being that, other than the 'Let's dress up happy little Barbie' software, the only game was Myst. While, on the other hand, the Hot Wheels box had several games including Oregon Trail. And I'm not going to get onto the rant of why Barbie is such an awful icon for young girls. (Said rant involves giving girls dolls with outrageous proportions and telling them that this is what constiutes being pretty)

    Thre are kids out there who are blatantly anti-gender-marketing. For example, I liked Barbies - until about age five. Same for my sister. My other sister liked them longer, but she got all the mainstream-ditz genes in our family and we tend to more or less beat it out of her. My little brother used to collect Matchbox cars, but it was really a whole-family thing that we females were embarassed to admit to having anything to do with. He plays house with my sisters and their American Girl dolls, and helps me build forts in the woods with all the traps and secret spy systems that forts require. Me? I'm fifteen and good at math (taking precalculus in tenth grade, which is as far ahead as I can be given my schools system), took Honors Chem as a freshman, like computers and am starting to play with Linux, usually don't care about what I wear - jeans and a t-shirt - but sometimes get drssed up and enjoy all the fun of trying to look as nice as possible, have stuffed animals that I still play with and love, and spent yesterday afternoon taking apart a broken radio.

    (an aside -- that strikes me as odd... they can make more money making two different toys than they can by making one gender-neutral toy and trying to sell twice as many... weird)

    The reason they can make more money is that now you can't have one computer and a couple of user accounts if you have two kids, one boy and one girl, 'cause they're never going to agree on which one to get. You'd have to get each kid their own.

    Abby's $.02

  • just noticed that, pretty soon i bet we'll be seeing the barbie decal maker, and the make your own clothes for barbie printer, and the..well, you know what i mean. i guess the real profit in this is the additions that people who have it will just *have* to buy. maybe it isn't such a bad idea after all.
    *shrug* only time will tell

    -rob
  • No amount of targeted marketing is going to stop me buying a Barbie PC. It is what people would expect of me anyway...

    Or maybe I should confound everyone by buying the product that is actually intended for my gender? Nah.
  • Looking at the specs though, the Barbie PC comes with a Digital Camera, whereas the Hot Wheels simply comes with more games...

  • It certainly does have a pretty cool case

    But as was said before you do have to wonder about the 4*usb ports, also look at say the software that comes with the "Barbie(TM) PC"

    Barbie® Sticker Designer(TM) ,Barbie® Totally Tattoos(TM), Barbie® Storymaker(TM), Barbie® Print 'n' Play(TM),Barbie® Party Print 'n' Play(TM)

    Would these require some sort of printing device, i wonder which big company is gonna offer a special deal for this ? and will it be in the same style of the computer ?
    1. Will these run Linux?
    2. I wonder if we can put these suckers into a Beowulf cluster.
    3. I wonder if Microsoft is behind this?
    :)

    --

  • Well, at least this may cause the geekgirl population to grow... even though it's only Windoze and AOL, it's already an improvement if there is a computer "especially for the girls"

    --

  • Get ready for the official:
    • Barbie Printer
    • Barbie Nail Polish Designer
    • Barbie Makeup Mixer
    • Barbie Recipe Search & Create
    • Barbie Ice Cream Studio
    Batteries not included...

    --

  • I would go for the Barbie one myself. All those trippy flowers and that superb silvery plastic...

    Someone should make some money from repackaging those babies with a bunch of cool dust-head software titles-

    Kai's power goo
    Fractint
    A bunch of trancey MP3's
    MAME with all the ROMs
    that old DOS drug dealer game
    etc..

    I liked the inclusion of Myst though!

  • More importantly can you get Barbie themes for e and gtk?
  • I can see it now...when you press CTRL-ALT-DEL on the Barbie PC, it exclaims, "Computers are HARD!"

    Heck with that...just make a regular laptop a little more rugged (keeping in mind that nothing is kid-proof). I think my daughter would prefer racing stripes, or a black widow, painted on hers...we'll paint it together.

  • A few years later, kids will reach that funny age where they try and act very grown up -- imagine their embarassment when their friends see a toy PC...

    Throw the $600 computer away?

    Spray-paint it white and remove the kiddie software bundle?

  • I agree that colors and flowers *shouldn't* have sexual connotations, but in fact in our culture they do. If you did a study asking which of the two pages was more masculine and which more feminine I think you'd get close to a unanimous response.

    Marketing people know what they're doing when it comes to things like that, and using such stereotypes strengthens them. Women are now comfortable wearing pants, but Dvorak still has insecurities about carrying a laptop that might be mistaken for a purse. Men are more afraid of sexual stereotypes than women. I can easily imagine a young girl with a "Hot Wheels" computer, I have a hard time imagining a young boy with a "Barbie" computer. This issue should be important to both sexes.

    Perhaps more worrying is the difference in descriptions. The "Hot Wheels" computer will enable a boy to "go to the head of his class". The "Barbie" computer will help a girl "learn new things." There's a small but significant distinction between those. If you look at the software titles pre-installed on each you can also see a subtle bias, two math packages for the boys, one for the girls, etc.

    Worst, IMO, is yet another victory of form over content. The color of a computer, and the decals on it's case are terrible reasons to select a computer for purchase. But that is obviously what this company expects will differentiate them from other boxes.
  • LOGO is a nice language to learn. All the turtle commands are fairly easy to see results from. I remember writing a simple paint program that used a touch pad on an apple IIe in a few hours...
  • I've been watching the progress of these for sometime now. You should have seen my 10-year old daughter's eyes light up when I showed her the Barbie PC on the website. Heck, *I* want one of those Hot Wheels models :-). I have two kids, and there's a good chance I'll end up one each of these boxes.

    That having been said, I'm a bit dissapointed that I can't get my son a camera to match his PC, and my daughter a steering wheel to match hers. "Uh, here son. Here's a hot-wheels PC, and Daddy bought you this Barbie camera to go with it."

    Jonatahn
  • I hope these same kids don't grow up thinking that computers are toys. ... computers need to be used as TOOLS, damnit!

    Computers are at once the most complex and most "changeable" device humanity has created. To borrow from a famous quote, computers are like a Swiss Army Chainsaw that has attachments which allow you to craft your own blades. (Perl, gcc, xxgdb...) You can even use 2 or more blades at once. I think it's good that the cases for these machines are becoming more expressive/decorative, but I don't think it's good to make the case the thing. (*cough* iMac *cough*)

    Upthread, someone said that computers marketed to kids should include a programming language. Hear hear! A decent programming language is both tool and toy--ask any 3rd grader who's playing around with Logo. I hope Logo still exists in some form; it'd be just the thing for these PCs to include. Unfortunately, today's kids won't really care much for Logo since it's too hard to use it to draw really cool 3D-rendered stuff...

    We should be teaching kids to treat computers as expensive tools

    Erm, hang around kids for an hour or so, and you'll see them treat powerful, expensive tools like toys. ("Johnny, no! Don't use that electric drill on the coffee table! AAAAH!") It's just in the nature of humans--we need to play with things to figure out what they're capable of.

  • While we are on the subject of evil PC's I would like to suggest a back light keyboard, like lots of those portable arm pc keyboards have.

    You could choose between alien green and evil red lighting.
  • Hmm, how much do you want to bet win2k has Barbie and Hot Wheels desktop themes?

  • A friend of mine bought his daughter one of those Barbie Camersa for her birthday (hey, $60.00, why not?). It's a piece of crap. Horrible pictures at really low rez. You need a huge amount of light to get color pictures.

    Take the games.
  • No. The monitor, speakers, should be separate from the CD-ROM and floppy. Sure, it's cheaper to put everything in one, but I personally think it's bad for the consumer. This isn't a bash on the iMac, I think the Compaq's that do this too are bad. I will admit the G3 cases are really nice, but I don't like the Apple as a whole.
  • I don't think this is an issue. These computers are no more inherently sexist than Lego...

    Maybe not deep-down, but superficially, they're definitely more sexist than Lego. Think about it. Legos come in white, black, blue, red, and yellow. There aren't separate-and-inequal glittery pink Lego sets for girls, that don't have any of the blocks with wheels.

    Its the children themselves who are sexist.

    That's as may be, but the question we should be asking is how did they get that way? Is it genetic? Were they born that way? Or is it something they learned early on? Is playing with toy cars or hitting things with sticks treated differently when a boy does it ("What a little trooper! You'll grow up to be a race-car driver, wontcha?") than when a girl does ("That's not very lady-like... now straighten up that blouse!")?

    The other question we should be asking is what should we do about it. Getting young girls to show an interest in computers is certainly a laudable goal, but somehow I don't think glittery pink computer consoles are the most effective way to go about it.

    It is a very effective way to boost toy-company profits tho'.
  • From my point of view, the Barbie label and girlishly designed box will make more girls become interested in computers. These are the girls that wouldn't go near a computer otherwise (possibly). Because sometimes it's the final result that's more important than the path it takes to get there.

    I too am 21 and female. Right now I'm finishing up my BS in CS and painfully obvious that the Computer Industry is male dominated. DOn't get me wrong, I love the occasional game of Star Craft just as much as the next guy, but that's not the case for everyone. I'm also not a big fan of Barbie, but millions of little girls are. Girls who are intelligent and could go very far computing world if they are given the chance and the reason to sit in front of a computer.

    Maybe this is a step in the right direction, a computer which appeals to the softer sensory needs of a young female. With time they could move on to the sterile beige boxes just waiting to be attacked with spray paint (mine has the half finished sketches for a grateful dead mural on the side right now).

    But at this point the small numbers of women interested in computers is enough to justify the Barbie computer. In this case the ends do justify the means, even if the means are sexist and silly

    The big question is why the unbalance in software?

    (oh yeah, when i first saw this computer it didn't have any reference to barbie on the image -- it looked like an attempt at a 60's hippiesh style thing)

  • AOL has a very good family-friendly reputation. Which is the reason I'm using it now, it's what my mom's willing to pay for, she won't be talked out of it, and I'm to cheap to pay for a better ISP.

    Abby

  • ...But no, the industry wants a boy/girl computer, one blue, one pink, of every conceivable spinoff of every movie and cartoon to pile up on the living room floor.

    Why not give the kid(s) your old PC when you buy a new one? Scrub the insides clean (you don't want the precious tots to stumble onto your old porn library), preinstall a bunch of age-appropriate games and educational software, and a web browser. If the kids are old enough or savvy enough, put some programming languages in there too. Then haul the whole mess into the workshop for a makeover. Paint it (nontoxic paint only please), slap some decals on, or just give the kids the paint and decals and let them do the decorating. Daughter like Barbie? Give her a homebrew BarbieBox. Or let her design her own. Son into HotWheels? Let him apply his own racing stripes. Maybe they're crazy about something less gender-specific, like Pokemon or ScoobyDoo. The possibilities are endless, and you can bet the kids will get a better computer than Mattel would have offered them. Merry (religious or secular holiday of your choice), kids! It's just like mom and dad's computer, only it's not beige!

    Now all we need is MisterRogers' Network.
    "Can you say man page? I knew you could!"
  • Integration only sucks then if you know better, obviously. Me not being an audiophile/entertainment freak, I'm not missing much by not having a DVD player, an LP player, B&W speakers(whatever they are), and sticking with the trash amplifier, etc.

    Likewise for an iMac, it's actually better on *all* counts than my current PC, so it's actually an improvement.

    Still, I can appreciate your statement because I've torn apart and upgraded my system 4 times now, but it's hit the limits of what I can pop in there.

    So for me, at least, and I suspect for others, the iMac is not a bunch of crap you never wanted. About the only thing that I don't have a choice over is the fact that I get both ethernet and a 56.6k modem.


    -AS
  • "sexual differentiations" started in nature. if anyone thinks man or woman is superior to nature go try to grab a tornado by the tail to tame it. rather than dweling on the politically correct neuter philosophy, let's put our energies in the betterment of society. this betterment ain't gonna happen with "neutering" the social order.

    right on toy makers.
  • I would go for the Barbie one myself. All those trippy flowers and that superb silvery plastic...

    Of course. Video cam vs. steering wheel. Hmmm... For me, a refugee from NASCAR tyranny, the choice would be obvious.

    The real question, though, is what people who buy the Barbie computer will *do* with the video cam. I can see it now, Barbie's S&M Cam...

  • Buying a special computer that is 'only for the girls' is acknwledging that girls can not use 'normal computers'. I do not think that is anywhere near a good idea.
    ---
  • Nature?
    Is it nature that cause little girls to play with toy kitchen while little boys play with toy cars and toy guns? I would like an evidence of that.

    You can excomunicate me because it is 'political corectness' but my opinion is it is culture rather than nature.
    I think destroying the myth that you need testicles in order to understand how a computer works is good for society as a whole. Technology is good when you can master it, and keeping 53% of the population with lower technological skills won't help.
    Laurent
    ---
  • You sound like my college tutor; I think you managed at least three of his buzzwords in that post :-)

    It beats beige, though.

    --
    Matthew
  • Sell well? That's the whole point! If you have two kids, say a boy and a girl, buy toys, it would be an advantage to the toy market if you bought into toys that were incompatible between sexes. In other words, when you bought a masculine pc, you had to buy a feminine pc too, for your daughter. You would feel proud of your children's sexual identity and they would feel proud of the profits. To them, its marketing at work. To me, its more junk in the house.

    I like the idea of a server and a few terminals for the kids to play with. But no, the industry wants a boy/girl computer, one blue, one pink, of every conceivable spinoff of every movie and cartoon to pile up on the living room floor. I'm up to my neck in crap and need to have a yard sale. Help. Free stuff. Get a good deal. Today only. Trash man comes tomorrow.
  • Quite so!

    OTOH: games are very male-orientated, especially the shoot-em-ups, some strategy, football... etc.
    How many programs are designed to make anyone have 'softer' feelings like wanting to cry?
    (Wuss alert! :)

    There's got to be a compromise though, somewhere - I think if women want to be as clued-up as guys in the computing field, they should clue-up, not blame the IT world though - as long as the IT scene exists independent of any sex bias (which it should).
  • Well my cousin, when she was five, was capable of using a computer to some extend. She could turn it on, start solitare and play it. She also had some of those kiddie-programs and was quite capable of entertaining herself for an hour or so without much supervision. And this wasn't just random clicking and banging the mouse on table while screaming "the mouse doesn't want to come out". You are seriously underestimating the capabilities of small kids when it comes to computers. Her little sister, also when she was five, started using the same computer with now the 7-year-old big sister teaching her how. I'm sure they would have liked the barbie-computer much better than their dads laptop-computer with a docking station.
  • by Ater ( 87170 )
    Personally I think Patriot made a bad choice by deciding to have all these "toy" computers run Windows. I can just picture the shouts of all those little tykes: "Mommy, Mommy why's the screen all blue?"
  • Everything in the Universe is toys, packaging or meat. If I wasn't intent on having fun in everything I do, I'd be a lawyer.

    If you want to tell your kids that computers are "Tools, not toys," go ahead. Don't forget to add that sex is dirty and drugs are bad m'kay?

    -trp
    P.S. You're a tool [tuxedo.org] (See #4).

  • ...but men are more rationally centered...

    What th'?!?! Are you going to define rationality now? I agree that there are differences in the way the average man and the average woman (not to mention the average boy and girl) behave, but rationality ain't one of them. Gender-based differences in rationality have more to do with when, why, and for how long individuals behave irrationally, not with overall rational behavior. IIRC men are more prone than women to go into "fight-or-flight" mode at minor provocations (it's the testosterone, and it's got NO EFFECT on whether the choice is to fight or flee - only that a sudden choice is made, accompanied by certain physiological events like rapid heartbeat). While this might have been a "rational" and life-saving response in the stone age, today it makes men act irrational more frequently than women. How often is it rational to fight or flee ones problems today? Women get irrational too, but they tend to need more provocation before they get that way (and they take longer to calm down afterwards too). Keep in mind this applies to the "average" man and woman. Who among us is average? Your mileage may vary.

    Yes, boys will prefer soldier type toys and women household simulation type toys.

    Uh-huh. Poor boys. It's a wonder any of them ever grow up to become programmers. Programming a computer is about as stimulating as working at a sewing machine for hours at a stretch. And have you noticed that sewing is a very visual/spatial skill? Mapping out how a flat cloth, while still in pieces and unsewn, will fit and drape over a 3D body as it moves and stretches... And those visual/spatial skills are exactly the ones they keep telling us women and girls are deficient in. I detect an agenda.

    No, computers are not "soldier type toys". The girls have all the advantages... or they would have, if they weren't convinced early on that (to quote Barbie) "math is hard", and computers are for boys only.

  • As a 20-year old female who would have wanted the Hot Wheels computer (or better yet . . . Transformers!), I find those two computers quite sexist. (Go back and read the descriptions of the computers -- each is targeting a specific stereotype, with both the computer itself and its description.) There's not even a neutral middle ground for say, a family with a few children.

    Instead of two separate computers for boys and girls, why not one design, with rockets and spaceships on it? That would be something that boys AND girls would find cool, and it could have space-related games, and educational packages about space flight, the solar system, the universe, etc. That would be a great way to get youngsters (boys AND girls) interested in science and technology, rather than some crappy dress-up Barbie software. What's the point of trying to encourage a young girl to use a computer if she'll just be making decals? Couldn't the darn thing at least have some math and science packages? (I once asked my mom why Barbies didn't have red hair, as I do, and she snorted, "Because Barbies can't do math.")

    Of the toys listed above (Lego, Barbie, Hot Wheels, Plastic Tool Chest), only one is inherently sexist -- the Barbies. None of the others are specifically aimed at one gender, or only played with by one gender. None try to promote an unattainable ideal, or any kind of conformity -- except for the Barbies.

    Or maybe I'm just lucky in that my parents encouraged me to be active, and learn about the world around me (thus sparking my interest in science), instead of sending me off with my mother's old dresses to play dress-up.
  • by Hobbex ( 41473 ) on Sunday October 03, 1999 @04:44AM (#1642839)

    Both come with Cyberpatrol software installed, to keep your poor child safe from all the horrible terrophiles on the net.

    I wonder if they want to make a freethinkerpc.com for those of us who wish to teach the next generations the true values of freedom.

    And to think: they probably only need one version of such a computer...

    -
    /. is like a steer's horns, a point here, a point there and a lot of bull in between.
  • I've been wondering exactly that.

    I wonder if there's some kind of biological / neurological / whatever cause.

    Did you perchance notice that there's a "Hot Wheels" computer too?

    I'd say the adults, the marketing people, and the parents would be operating the patriarchal / matriarchal gender formatting process here...

    I liked my Commodore 64, I liked my XT, but I had to get my 386 with a black case. Why? It looked *cool*! Kids are very smart, they'll get what they like. If they think the Barbie or Hot Wheels PC is cool, they can have it. If they look at the specs and want a different computer, that's fine too. If they want to paint the case...

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN

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