1965: Background Apps
Title text: My plane banner company gets business by flying around with a banner showing a <div> tag, waiting for a web developer to get frustrated enough to order a matching </div>.
Background apps (apps in the recently used list) on both iOS and Android are in one of several paused states and do not usually consume much battery power; they only take up some memory. Closing them means that if you want to use the app again later, it will need to reload fully which likely uses up "very slightly" more battery. Wired had a detailed article on this topic a couple years ago. However, a much better reason to close the apps is to free up RAM/memory to make the programs run faster or even prevent them from crashing. Ultimately, whether or not you should close your apps depends on whether you prioritize battery lifetime or performance. (In Randall's case, low batteries tend to be something of a problem, and he references this in other comics as in 1373: Screenshot, 1802: Phone and 1872: Backup Batteries.)
The joke at first is that the misconception is so prevalent and irritating that a person would go to the trouble of renting a banner plane just to dispel it. However, the reasoning behind such an extreme action is then questioned by a second person, not only for the extreme measure of renting a plane but also for feeling the need to correct the misconception at all; however, following the internal logic of the comic, the second person also communicates via banner plane. (This is arguably hypocritical, as they themselves are chartering a plane for an equally, if not more, inane reason. Obviously, this would not happen in real life.) The first person responds, again via plane, once again just to apologize to the second person and explain their actions.
At this point, the comic has left the initial joke about battery use entirely behind, and becomes a commentary about the logic of a world where people can converse via banner planes. In the final panel, the second person rents the plane yet again to respond to the first person's response, being no less smug or hypocritical than before. Meanwhile, four more people have chartered four different planes:
- One to urge the first two people to have their conversation somewhere private instead of flying planes with banners
- Another to comment on how surprisingly cheap the banners are to rent, thus explaining how the logic of the comic is possible in the first place
- A third just to show off their own banner
- A fourth displaying the opening part of the HTML <marquee> "marquee" </marquee> tag, a proprietary non-standard extension to HTML, now obsolete and deprecated tag that many web organizations advise against using, which is used to cause a message to scroll across the web page, much as the plane is flying across the sky.
The fairly obvious parallel here is to using various Internet forums for "unsolicited tech advice to strangers," smug responses, comments on others' advice, off-topic rejoinders, and all the other things that go on there constantly. It seems ludicrous to rent airplane banners for such trivial purposes, but there are non-trivial resources involved in the global distribution of electronic communication, as well, and their use for purposes such as this seems ludicrous once Randall makes one think about it, and underlines that none of what is written on the banner may have anything to do with Randall's own opinions.
Participants in online discussions sometimes become so focused on pointing out the perceived mistakes of others that they neglect good online practices and their computers crash.
In the comic, the third plane is pointing at the second plane. The fourth plane is pointed at the third plane. The third and fourth plane have no vertical separation and far less than the three miles of horizontal separation normally required for uncoordinated airplanes flying without vertical separation. It seems likely that the planes may also be about to crash because their operators are more concerned with pointing out each others mistakes and participating in a silly discussion than they are with safety. In other words, they are like the computers used for the discussions.
The title text is spoken by a plane banner company owner, who uses the insidious tactic of flying around with a banner of an unmatched HTML, just to compel obsessive people into renting banner space to make it syntactically correct. This may be a reference to 859: ( or 1144: Tags.
The theme of the (mis)use of airplanes and banners has previously been explored in 1355: Airplane Message.
- [A small airplane with a trailing banner is flying across the panel from left to right with four small clouds spread out beneath the banner. The long banner reads:]
- Banner: People! Closing background apps when you're not using them makes your phone battery drain faster, not slower! Stop it!
- [A beat panel without a plane, but just the sky with two birds to the left and three clouds.]
- [The same airplane flies back from right to left, trailing a new banner with clouds both above and beneath the banner/plane, and a bird to the right.]
- Banner: What kind of person charters a plane to give unsolicited tech advice to strangers?
- [A second beat panel follows without a plane, but just the sky with three clouds.]
- [The plane returns once again from the left with another banner. Two clouds are in front/below the plane and two birds can be seen.]
- Banner: OK, fair. Sorry. I guess I'm just angry about other stuff and it's coming out here.
- [Without a beat panel the original plane returns at the top of the panel, once again returning from right to left with another very long banner. But no less than four other planes, each with smaller and smaller banners are also shown flying beneath it among three clouds and three birds. The planes alter direction so the second plane below the original planes banner is flying to the right, the third plane is right below the second flying the other way towards left, and just beneath that is the fourth plane flying to the right. A final plane is flying to the left, beneath the third planes banner, at the same height as the fourth, they look as if they are on a collision course. This last planes banner is very short and the bottom end is partly beneath the panels frame, partly obscuring the text. All five planes are clearly different types, thus making it clear that the plane from the first three panels and the top one in this panel are the same plane, hired by two different persons.]
- Banner 1: No worries. Just maybe spend as much time reflecting on your own motivation for correcting people as you have on theirs for closing apps.
- Banner 2: Can you two please have this conversation somewhere else?
- Banner 3: Wow, these banners are surprisingly cheap to rent.
- Banner 4: Haha, I got one, too!
- Banner 5: <Marquee>
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