Sunday, May 22, 2016

Fun with ancient software

Recently, I was investigating the Free Book Bin at McKay's in Nashville and the CD section of Bargain Hunt and I found some quite nice software. The only problem was that it was kind of ancient. At Bargain Hunt, I had stumbled upon Microsoft Encarta 95, designed for Windows 3.1 because it's actually from 1994 and predates Windows 95. In the McKay's Free Book Bin was the 9-CD set that made up PrintMaster Platinum 7.0 (designed for Windows 95, 98, and NT 4). One CD to install stuff, another to run the program, and 7 clip art CDs. It also installed a really awesome drawing program (better than Microsoft Paint from 2009) which had a lot of really cool gradients and the option of installing AT & T WorldNet and Internet Explorer 4. These programs would not install on my 64-bit Windows 7 PC which showed an error message that basically was the computer equivalent of "That's a 16-bit program, you idiot! What the @#$% are you trying to do anyway?" But luckily, I have a 32-bit Windows 7 laptop that can run 16-bit programs. Let's start with Encarta 95.

Welcome to the no-gradient, Windows 3.1 dialog box, Windows Write README file, .avi multimedia and fairly well-synthesized speech jungle, Windows 7. I couldn't actually play any multimedia content because of the fact that nobody, not even Microsoft, has .avi drivers for Windows 7! Seriously! #ProblemsAnybodyWithSemiModernSoftwareDoesNotHaveToWorryAboutAndProbablyDoesNotCareAbout. I believe that qualifies as the longest hashtag ever. Another one that might work would be #AncientSoftwareProblems. And, do you want to know something weird? There were no error messages. No objection because I didn't have a Program Manager to stick program groups in. The groups were in the Start Menu and it installed without trouble. Admittedly, that might have been because I was staring at it the entire time, making sure it behaved.

Now, we venture into the land of PrintMaster Platinum 7.0. First thing first, it seems like it came from Middle Earth. Seriously.
Three Discs for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Windows system where the setup lies.
One Disc to rule them all, One Disc to find them,
One Disc to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Windows system where the setup lies.
With deep apologies to J.R.R Tolkien.

The program had a male synthesized voice cheerfully guiding me through it. It sounded like one of Cortana's friends, or maybe an undercover Clippy. And it seemed that Cortana or Clippy had been talking about me to it, considering the program seemed to know me very well.
And I actually didn't search for reptile clip art! I just opened the clip art gallery without searching for anything and that turned up. Anyway, it didn't actually install, so I needed the CD to find them, not to be confused with the install CD to rule them all, to run it. It's actually a really awesome program, which can save stuff as its weird format as well as images, including .pcx files for Windows 3.1 Paintbrush. The drawing program that came with it can do 3D, gradients, and pretty much everything Microsoft Paint can't. And it, like Encarta, had no error messages! Which is weird. All the programs you never thought could run running without issues. I'm hoping that soon I'll find Microsoft Bob, because I've heard he/it has some reptilian assistants. Plus, he/it is adorable. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Hermit crabs and the accuracy of kids' menus

For the weekend, I was in Nashville for a cheer competition. We went to Opry Mills and had dinner at the Aquarium. I was looking at the kids' menu and noticed Herman the hermit crab. So, this post is about hermit crabs and the issue of whether or not Herman is accurate.

Actual hermit crabs 

Hermit crabs are crustaceans in the family Decapoda, along with shrimp, prawns, lobsters, other crabs, and other things you might have eaten for dinner. Unlike other crabs, they don't have a hard exoskeleton, but a thin, soft exoskeleton which is twisted to fit the snail shells most hermit crabs reside in. They'll eat just about anything, including small fish, invertebrates, and plankton. They are predated on by fish, sea stars, and water birds like gulls. To get snail shells, they don't kill the snails that inhabit them, but rather sense dead or dying snails. But, there is combat and potential death in a hermit crab's house hunting. The crabs may fight to the death to get a shell, and as the crabs grow, they continually seek new shells. Despite their name, hermit crabs are fairly social creatures, sometimes found in the wild in groups of 100 or more. Before the crabs mate, the male may touch the female's claws or sometimes even pick her up and carry her around.

Hermit Crabs Fact Sheet. Seattle Aquarium, 2016. Web. 17. May 2016.

Herman the Hermit Crab from The Aquarium Restaurant

 This is Herman, the hermit crab character from The Aquarium's kid's menus. He looks like a perfectly fine hermit crab, with two fairly large claws, eyes sticking out above his head, and a twisted snail shell as his home. Next up is an actual hermit crab.

This is a photo of an actual, wild hermit crab from Shutterstock. You might notice some features that Herman left out, including far more than two claws, and also the fact that the snail shell isn't purple. So, obviously, Herman isn't an accurate wild hermit crab. But, however...

This is a photo of somebody's pet hermit crab. Notice that its shell is purple. With the rise of plastic hermit crab shells or painted snail shells, Herman could be a fairly accurate hermit crab, but more precisely, an escaped pet with a custom shell. So, on accuracy, I give Herman 3 out of 5 Unicode hearts (I don't know how to make Unicode stars) ♥♥♥ for not being accurate for the wild, but potentially being a fairly accurate escaped pet.