Sunday, December 25, 2016

The hidden secrets of Microsoft Bob

The last time I investigated and tried to unlock the secrets of obscure software from the mid-1990s, I mentioned at the end that I wanted to get Microsoft Bob. Anyway, for Christmas, my dad, who's a computer programmer, managed to find Microsoft Bob. Don't worry, he scanned it for viruses. Once we managed to install it and get Bob to locate UTOPIA.DLL, I could begin. I gladly told the adorable dog my name, address, and anything else he needed.

Because who can say no to that face?
I immediately got to playing around, deciding to create a sun room for myself. I spent happy time angling perspective, size, and everything to make the perfect room. At the end of it all, I felt much more satisfied than I perhaps should have.
Admit it. You want to live here.
I noticed something very interesting. Bob, from 1995, has an eerie grasp of the future. First, here's Bob's "Postmodern" computer. Look familiar?

It probably runs Windows CE.
And also, the big, boxy, tan-colored plastic, big enough to wear out your back, good old 1990-something CRT monitor is listed as Retro. Think about that.
Computers looked like this back then. Unless you were a hipster with an LCD.
This was my first whiff of a breath of an inkling that something was horribly, horribly wrong. But before that, I designed two more rooms, namely a bedroom and a garage.
My dad wants that convertible.

Don't ask how the clock is on the easel.
Then, I went to design another room and explored the decorating options. I found something that quite disturbed me and did not belong in the happy, friendly, virtual dollhouse I thought Bob was. Namely, this. Those dark red pixels you see? That's blood.
Is that Bill Gates's blood?
I investigated further with the rooms in the same decorating style as the guillotine and found some quite eye-opening descriptions implying something has happened in the Bob house that Bob and Rover are trying to cover up.
Click to enlarge.
I decided to interrogate Rover.

Most of these are just comical non sequiturs, but the last two interest me. Ruby, eh? A mysterious woman? Using bribes of alcohol to get in? She's probably got Hopper under her complete control. In fact, she's probably the mistress of the whole thing. And Orby's mountain moving powers? Wouldn't they be good for say, burying the body of somebody Ruby guillotined? But then I realized, "No. It's not Ruby. It's the whole thing." That's why I've developed this theory. Microsoft Bob contains secret subliminal mental messages in its primitive graphics that slowly kill the user. Eventually, Microsoft discovered these and pulled the product. But in the meantime, Bob was very unpopular because anyone who used it died. And the blood on the guillotine? That belongs to Bob. And who did it, you may ask? I'm going with Ruby. She just doesn't seem trustworthy. Merry Christmas, people. And if this is my last post, I love you all.

Update:Apparently my Ruby theory is backed up by canon.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Pokemon Pulse:Observations in the Launch Distance of Pokemon

This was done by Team My Little Python members Chris and Ashlyn, with some help from me. Don't expect it to be nearly as good as my original content.

Pokemon Pulse:Observations in the Launch Distances of Pokemon
Ashlyn K. Bilderback|Allison J. Metler|Christopher B. McSwain


In this study, we launched Pokemon and figured out their distance. We set to figure out which Pokemon flew the farthest when launched from a miniature catapult. We launched 11 small Pokemon toys and measured the distance of each one with a tape measure.


Spearow|230 in.
Surskit|242 in.


We noticed that Pokemon with a generally round body shape, such as Elekid, Torchic, and Surskit, traveled the longest distances wheras larger, more linear Pokemon such as Zebstrika and Dialga traveled the least distance.

Pokemon and its associated characters, trademarks, and logos are copyright Nintendo and Game Freak 1996-present.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016


Lately I've been checking out who's following My Little Python and I've realized that we're getting a lot of different people with different views, many of whom are involved with PETA in some way. So, I've been checking out places like PETA's website and social media pages to formulate these views. But, first there are some rules. I understand that these views may contradict yours and that's okay! But, for commenting:

  • No pictures. A lot of the people who view this blog are from My Little Python and I don't think they want to see depressing animal pictures.
  • Treat others as you want to be treated.
  • Don't post anything you wouldn't want a hypothetical little sister to see. As in, no profanity and be kind.
All right. Let's talk about one of the things that PETA has shown that they want. This is for the entire population of Earth to go vegan. This is a pretty good goal, okay? And it's a great thing to work for! But, even if PETA were to replace the land occupied by slaughterhouses and animal farms with purely plant farms, we'd still need a lot more farms because by nature, the plant life cycle is slower than that of an animal at a slaughterhouse. And some of those farms would have to be on animals' habitat so animals would die and it would still be at the hands of humans. Now, in the long run, it would mean fewer animals would be killed. But animals would die in the process. Also, if these farms use pesticides, not only would insects die, but so would amphibians and other animals. All right? Also, for people: There are many people who couldn't go vegan. And I'm not talking "but bacon tastes so good" can't go vegan. I'm talking people who can't afford vegetables or whose area is in a drought so they can't grow vegetables. These people literally need to kill animals to survive. Now, I hope that PETA will only do the "entire population going vegan" thing for people in fairly wealthy countries who can afford to go vegan. But, we'll have to see.

Another thing that PETA has shown they want is for all captive animals to be freed. Now, not only would this be a sad day for all pet owners everywhere, but also, I can probably, without thinking that much, name at least 3 species that have been saved from extinction by captive breeding. Also, in many cases, their premise is acting on a logical fallacy. After showing the example of one roadside zoo or unauthorized aquarium, they seem to be assuming that all zoos and aquariums are like it and that's just plain not true. Also, if they're dealing with endangered species, any zoo where animals are being treated badly is actually illegal and shouldn't be running to begin with. But any good, authorized zoo has fairly natural diets for animals and naturalistic habitats where the animal can hide and exhibit other natural behaviors. Also, a lot of zoos have outside enclosures for animals like big cats and tortoises where they can get sunlight and natural food. Also, the animals probably don't want to be freed. They're pretty happy where they are, if they have good habitats and easy access to food. I'm going to cite my pet cat, Mamba. Mamba sometimes tries to go outside, but we always catch her and bring her back in. But I expect that if Mamba were to go outside and we couldn't catch her, within a couple of hours she'd be clawing and yowling at the door. Why? Because as an indoor cat, food appears. And she likes food. Also, an animal that has never been in the wild probably can't survive in the wild! And in many cases, a well-cared-for animal in a zoo will live longer than it will in the wild. Now, let's say it were you. So, you probably have easy access to food and water and a roof over your head. You have a pretty good life. (If you're not in this situation, I admire you and hope things look up for you soon.) Now, let's say a bunch of people you don't know go to your house, take you out, and destroy it. Then, they put you in the wilderness, miles away from any human habitation. How long do you think you could survive? Probably not that long! All right? Also, PETA has stated that they want a generation that doesn't do anything with animals other than leaving them in the wild. They want a generation that loves all animals. But for many children in urban areas, an encounter with a pet or an animal at a zoo or aquarium is their first experience with animals, that spark that gets them to loving more animals. And how are we supposed to get a generation that loves all animals when this generation never sees them?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Tennessee Herpetological Society 2016 #THS16 #herpetology #PokemonGO

Last weekend, I was in Knoxville for the 22nd annual meeting of the Tennessee Herpetological Society, a meeting filled with salamanders, Pokemon, wonder, and new experiences and heights for My Little Python.

The salamanders
After the last session on the last day, we went into the Great Smoky Mountains for a field trip. Many salamanders were found, including the Plethodon jordani mimics, black-bellied salamanders, dusky salamanders, and more. I never managed to catch any and mostly I confirmed which rocks didn't have salamanders underneath them and carried the highly scientific Ziploc bags that contained other people's finds to Lisa Powers. Until, near the end of the trip, I flipped over a rock. There was a salamander under it and I alerted another nearby member. With difficulty, she managed to catch it and I brought it down to Lisa Powers. I looked at its cheeks and assumed it was another one of the mimics. Until Lisa and Chris examined it. It was confirmed to be P. jordani or the red-cheeked salamander, the species we had sought on the trip and it was the first one of the trip. I never actually caught anything, but I had made a mark on that trip. That jordani fixed the trip for me and pleased the other members. But not nearly as much as it pleased me.

The Pokemon
Yes, I did play Pokemon Go during the conference. Obviously not during the tour of the zoo, the herping trip (there's no cell coverage in the Smokies anyway), or sessions, but there was some spinning, fighting, and catching going on in times when there weren't talks or special experiences. Anyway, so on the day we got to Knoxville, THS had not yet started so we decided to do a short walk of UT. I was inspired by a Dratini that was supposedly somewhere in the area and used an Incense. The Dratini never showed up, but a Tentacruel did. This attracted a college student who mentioned that he didn't have one. I managed to catch it after going through several Great and Ultra Balls. The conference hadn't even started, but I already had a new species. Then, on the first day, after we had registered, conference stuff didn't start for a while, so my mom and I walked around the zoo. There were several Clefairies and Nidorans, along with the Pidgeys and Rattatas that are everywhere. I owned a Gym for a short while. Anyway, when trying to get to that Gym, we ended up going the wrong way. There was a Snorlax. It wasn't in Nearby. It didn't show any signs of being there-until it showed up. This temporarily lured away a kid who was on a school field trip to the zoo and as far as I could tell, would be perfectly happy abandoning the school field trip altogether and just hunting Pokemon with me. Another new species. Anyway, I also managed to evolve several species we already had, meaning that during the trip, we gained a Rhydon, a Nidoqueen, and a Ninetales. We got really close to a Wigglytuff and Clefable but that last Clefairy or Jigglypuff didn't show up. Hopefully we'll catch some in Memphis fairly soon :)

The wonder
On the first day, we went on a tour of the zoo. I didn't play Pokemon Go during this, the aforementioned Snorlax and gym battle were after the tour. We got to look behind the scenes at Zoo Knoxville's turtle and tortoise breeding facilities. I got to pet an over 100-year-old Aldabaran Tortoise and see huge numbers of adorable, critically endangered turtles, especially bog turtles, as evidence of a highly successful and thriving head-starting and rehabilitation program. The snake facilities could have used some work, though. They were Plexiglass, and severely scratched and fogged up. The snakes seemed perfectly fine, but the facilities they were in could be better for human viewing. Although, those scratches and that fog are evidence of decades of those facilities educating kids about and introducing kids to snakes. It's like My Little Python before the Internet. 

The new experiences and heights for My Little Python
As typical for THS, almost all of the talks focused on disease, but they were more positive than 2015's, due to the fact that many of them involved taking skin swabs and not harming the animals involved, unlike some of last year'd disease sessions involving exposing animals to disease and then killing all survivors. Many talks about Bsal were present, and there were fewer about ranavirus and Bd, probably due to the meeting being in East Tennessee. This year, I reused the My Little Python talk from the Texas Rattlesnake Festival with some modifications, like a new outline and a slide on reptilian and amphibious Pokemon along with the other slide on the shockingly low number of positive reptiles and amphibians in the media targeted at children. The talk went over very well. Also, at the auction, My Little Python donated many items, including a proof copy of Stripie Snakie's Guide to Serpentville and a copy of What About Snakes?, two plastic frogs with homemade Pokemon cards of the species they were based on, some reptile and amphibian-themed jewelery, and a Tennessee Herpetological Society mini-pillow I made from a scrap of felt. These items went over very well, raising almost 100 dollars by themselves. Overall, THS was an incredibly good meeting (and good for Pokemon). Also, for trainers:If you need a Wigglytuff, Clefable, or any Nidoran evolutions, go to the Knoxville Zoo. Also, don't look for Onix in the Great Smokies. There's no cell coverage.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Target's Animal Skeletons:Anatomical Review

Since 2015, Target has sold various plastic models (designed for decoration) of many creatures, including cats, dogs, alligators, fish, geckoes, and even spiders and scorpions. Yes, you heard me right. They have spider and scorpion skeletons. Here are some images.
Why, Target, why? Spiders don't even have skeletons. THEY'RE INVERTEBRATES, for crying out loud!
Anyway, in this Anatomical Review, we selected the alligator skull and bony fish skeleton because we could say that it's somewhat related to this year's aquatic biology focus since fish are aquatic and alligators are reptiles that prefer to be in water. Anyway, here is a review of how accurate these skeletons are. As in, which bones are in there? Are they in the right spots? Here we are.

Alligator Skull
Reference source from Emporia College. Alligator Skull - Vertebrate Structure and Development. Web. September 9th, 2016.

Let's start with dorsal view, shall we?

Basing it off of Emporia College's beautifully labeled photo of an alligator skull, we were surprised to find that all the bones were there and at least close to being in the right spots. It tested up to our source. Now, for the ventral view.

I think we see a fairly obvious problem here. Sure, at least some of the bones are there, but THE INSIDE IS HOLLOW. We assume this to be for the purpose of it being a fairly good, lightweight decoration and meaning that it can be exposed to water without fear of mold getting inside. But it's still a shocking inaccuracy that wasn't entirely necessary for the product to do what it's designed to do.

The jaw contains the bones that were mentioned and the arrangement and placement of the teeth in the alligator skull is up to par. The bones are there and in the proper place. Overall, aside from the hollow interior, Target's alligator skull is a good decoration and rather spooky for Halloween, but is also fairly accurate in its crocodilian anatomy. 4/5 stars to this! ★★★★ (I looked up how to do a Unicode star.)

Fish Skeleton
Reference Source from Moor Park College. CLASS OSTEICHTHYES - Jawed with bony skeleton - 96% of all fishes. Web. September 9th, 2016.

Most of the bones may be there, but there's one huge and very, very noticeable problem. For purposes of stability of the model and having something for the fins to be going off of, the fish has two spinal cords, one on the top and one on the bottom. This is horribly inaccurate, although it may be necessary for the model. You might want to accuse me of overreacting because it's designed to be a spooky plastic Halloween decoration, but in case you haven't noticed, with toy bugs, models, and all sorts of stuff, a good part of this blog is scientifically overreacting to trivial stuff not designed to be taken seriously. However, the top vertebra is accurate with the ribs going off of it. The jaw is accurate. In general, everything is rather good and well except for the second spinal cord. To this one, I give 3.5 out of a possible 5 Unicode stars.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Aquatic Biology:Snails

General Information about Snails
Snails or gastropods are small to medium sized mollusks that can be found on every continent on Earth except Antartica in almost any wet habitat, especially those with a lot of vegetation. Snails are famous and easily recognized due to their hard, coiled shells. If a snail doesn't have a shell, then it's a slug. Snails are usually herbivorous and eat vegetation like leaves, stems, and algae. Some larger snails are omnivores or carnivores. Snails are easy prey for any animal that can get through the shell, since they're small and slow. As a result of this, snails are eaten by rodents, birds, amphibians, and fish. Snails are hermaphrodites and are neither male nor female and can breed with any other snail of the same species. About a month after mating, one of the snails lays small eggs, which hatch after a few weeks. Baby snails become adults in up to two years. Unfortunately, in some areas, snails are suffering due to pollution, habitat loss, or changes in the food chain. Since this post focuses on aquatic snails, we'll shift our focus to them. Aquatic snails, like their name sounds like, are found in almost any wet environment, in many cases in water. These habitats include ponds, lakes, swamps, ditches, ponds, springs, and slow rivers. Substrates include rocks, sand, mud, vegetation, and decomposing plant matter. There are usually more snails in hard water which contains large amounts of minerals because snails require calcium carbonate to form their shells. Snails usually aren't found in acidic water like bogs, cold water like high mountain streams, or really any water that gets above 30 degrees Celsius. Some species of aquatic snails migrate to better habitats on the basis of temperature. All snails, including aquatic snails, glide on their substrate on a film of mucus that their feet secrete. Aquatic snails rely on oxygen within the water to breathe or periodically come to the surface to breathe. Most aquatic snails feed on algae and other aquatic vegetation or decomposing animal or plant matter.

I did a sketch of the anatomy of a land snail based off of this model.

Voshell, Reese. A Guide to Common Freshwater Invertebrates of North America. The McDonald & Woodward Publishing Company, 2002. Print.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Yeast, Coke, and Sugar Water

I'm taking a high school biology class, and one of the assignments for this class was to design an experiment involving yeast and three liquids with three different sugar concentrations. For the first experiment, I chose Diet Coke, regular Coca-Cola, and the real-sugar Coke Life and put 1/4 ounces of yeast into each soda. There was a balloon attached to each bottle and at certain intervals, that balloon was measured to get an idea of how much carbon dioxide the yeast had produced. Now, I know that a lot of people who follow me on the Twitterverse are strongly anti-Coke because they use plastic. I know that plastic and Coke bottles are really, really bad for sea life. After liquids were emptied out of the bottles, the bottles were put in the recycling bin. Anyway, here's my data.

Diet Coke
Regular Coca-Cola
Coke Life
Anyway, my hypothesis was that Coke Life would have the most growth, even though regular Coca-Cola had more sugar because, as I theorized, the yeast had evolved to eat sugar, not high-fructose corn syrup. I was wrong. Diet Coke seemed to produce the most gas before it stopped, but in the graphs, regular Coke was pretty much identical to Coke Life. And I had not expected Diet Coke, which contains no sugars at all, to have any growth. As it turns out, the balloon was being inflated by residual carbon dioxide from the soda and not from the fermentation. And about the extreme jumps in Regular Coca-Cola and Coke Life, it's because until 1 hour, I was recording the radius of the balloon, not the volume. OOPS! But the radius was correct.

To try to remove the external variables involved in doing Coke (like artificial colors, caffeine, and carbonation), I did a second experiment with just water and the same concentrations of sugars as the Coke. It worked much more as I had expected the Coke experiment to work. Here is my data from that experiment.

0 grams of sugar
7 grams of sugar
11 grams of sugar
Apparently it isn't more sugar that impacts the yeast growth. Apparently there's a "sweet spot" (pun intended) around 7 grams that seems to provide optimum yeast growth. Stay tuned for experiments including stuff like how yeast react to artificial sweeteners, brown sugar, and other sweeteners.