138: Pointers

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Every computer, at the unreachable memory address 0x-1, stores a secret. I found it, and it is that all humans ar—SEGMENTATION FAULT.
Title text: Every computer, at the unreachable memory address 0x-1, stores a secret. I found it, and it is that all humans ar—SEGMENTATION FAULT.

[edit] Explanation

This comic is about a play on the dual meaning of the word "pointer". Cueball is playing a video game in the comic, but he seems to be stuck. So he asks Black Hat for a few tips ("pointers") to get unstuck again. Black Hat wants to be annoying, so he spits out a couple of (seemingly random) 32-bit hexadecimal addresses, which are "pointers" in a programming language. These pointers are used to access a certain location in the computer's memory in order to fulfill a task. Cueball is then annoyed at Black Hat for not answering his question.

[edit] Alternate Explanation

Pointers are often used to cheat in games and do things like change the amount of money you have. The pointers Black Hat spits out could also be cheat codes giving an extra reason to Cueball to hate him.

A segmentation fault, as referred to in the title text, is a result by accessing invalid memory addresses. If you define a pointer to an invalid address, then try to access the memory location associated with it, you could end up with this exception. The hexadecimal address 0x-1 is definitely invalid, because it's out of range. If you treat pointers as signed numbers, it points below the lowest address, 0; if you treat them as unsigned (meaning the numbers wrap around, so -1 is the same as the highest address - 0xFFFFFFFF on a 32-bit system), if it's pointing at any object larger than a byte, most of that object is past the highest address. So, this is a "hidden location", but as soon as you try to read more than one byte at that location, you will get a segfault.

The ending letters of the pointers are spelling, reading top to bottom, the word ACE. As Cueball is playing a game Black Hat could be additionally saying he's an ace of that game.

[edit] Transcript

[Cueball is playing a video game, with Black Hat standing behind him.]
Cueball: Man, I suck at this game. Can you give me a few pointers?
Black Hat: 0x3A28213A 0x6339392C, 0x7363682E.
Cueball: I hate you.

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Rikthoff (talk) The issue date is definitely off. Can anyone fix this?

--done (yes, anyone can fix this.) Divad27182 (talk) 18:49, 23 February 2013 (UTC)

Wait until he finds out they're codes for that old saving system. 21:42, 3 June 2013 (UTC)

Or perhaps the Black Hat _is_ answering the question but in an obscure way. The addresses might be pointing to the locations where the game keeps its important information (such as the score count or the level), so it can be cheated by changing the data at these locations.

The problem with 0x-1 is not that it's missing digits, it's that the memory in the computer is represented as a closed loop. So if you try to go back to the cell "before the first cell", you will really access the last cell, 0x-1 really equals to 0xFFFFFFFF in the 32-bit address space. Evidently, Cueball had found a way around this only it didn't quite work out. (People deeply interested in the workings of the pointers should also read about the memory protection modes and alignment requirements, both of which might interfere with reading from the address 0xFFFFFFFF.) 00:33, 28 January 2014 (UTC)

Cueball could be playing a card game (e.g. Solitaire), and Black Hat could be telling him to play the Ace. In a rather obscure way, though. -- 17:46, 25 August 2014 (UTC)

Hidden message?

The three pointers spell, in ASCII:


Does this make any sense? The last line looks like German. -- 07:01, 8 October 2014 (UTC)

The last one is German. It means "I". (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

No, you got the ASCII wrong. 73 is "s", not "I":


Jorgbrown (talk) 19:49, 4 February 2015 (UTC)

I think that the title text is a Matrix reference. All humans are- being kept in a dream world so that their (erm, our) comatose cadavers can be used to generate electricity? RedHatGuy68 (talk) 02:55, 18 October 2015 (UTC)

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