2194: How to Send a File

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How to Send a File
Note: How To will teach you lots of cool stuff about technology, data storage, butterfly migration, and more. Also you will never see your files again.
Title text: Note: How To will teach you lots of cool stuff about technology, data storage, butterfly migration, and more. Also you will never see your files again.


Similar to 2190: Serena Versus the Drones, this is another teaser ad for Randall's new (at the time the comic came out) book, How To, due to be released a week from this comic's release, on September 3, 2019. This also prompted a change to the header text.

The comic shows an image from of one of the chapters, and containing being a link to a larger piece of that chapter, or perhaps the entire chapter.

This comic discusses transferring files, previously discussed in 949: File Transfer and in what if 31. The snippet from his book that is shown in this comic shows scissors cutting off the (top) screen of a laptop, presumably as a way to give the "bottom" portion to someone for file transfer. While it is true most laptops house their hard drive in the bottom half of the machine, you would probably never need to prove it in a destructive manner. Tearing the screen off any given laptop is not a good idea.[citation needed]

It has not been unknown, in times past, for someone to take their 'computer' somewhere to be repaired and arrive with just the monitor (and perhaps the keyboard and mouse) unplugged from the 'box' (desktop or possibly under-desk tower case). This is because the owner has considered the latter to be little more than the 'disk drive' thing that reads the occasional floppy-disk, rather than being often the only absolutely necessary piece of equipment needed to be looked at – the cumbersome CRT screen may well be far less necessary to take to a computer repairer, despite it being where "all my files" are commonly seen. The comic example may parody the above example with a more updated twist, but does also overlook that a number of slimline devices have touchscreen technology, and all the most important bits are included within the part with the screen, yet may also have a 'bottom half' keyboard that is optional and indeed removable (scissors not required!) while not actually including any of the relevant data.

The chapter linked to shows other methods of getting your files to another person and, in fact, explicitly states that breaking a computer to send files is not a good idea.

The title text hints at other amazing content in the upcoming book, including discussion of butterfly migration (does it cause predictable tornadoes in Kansas? Can they carry coconuts to England?). It also threatens that using the book's idea for file transfer will make sure you will never see those files again, i.e. they will be lost for good if you try the book's method at home.

The chapter preview, that the comic links to, discusses using butterflies as a method of sending files from one person to another on the form of flash media attached to butterflies, or encoded in DNA, and goes pretty in depth into these particular methods of data transmission as opposed to the more traditional methods that are detailed in traditional computer science books.


[Randall, depicted as Cueball, stands with his arms spread out]
Randall: It feels weird that it's 2019 and yet I still sometimes find that the easiest way to move a file around is to email it to myself.
[Randall has raised a hand to his chin,]
Randall: If only there were a better way...
[A picture of Randall's new book is shown to the left of the text. The book is black with large blue text and smaller white text. On the book cover, in white drawings, are seen Megan with a ladder and White Hat. Both are looking up on Cueball who is floating in the air with a quadcopter drone beneath either leg, trying to plug in an electric light bulb in a naked lamp hanging down near him. It seems he has already removed the broken light bulb, as he has one in both hands. And now he tries to put in the new one. The blue text stating title and author can be read but not the white text. The "blog.xkcd.com" link is in link blue color.]
Book: How To
Book: Randall Munroe
My new book How To is out next week! If you want to learn how to send data, you can visit blog.xkcd.com for a sneak preview of Chapter 19: How to Send a File
[Beneath a heading are three pictures next to each other of a laptop computer. The first picture shows a regular laptop computer, with a labeled arrow pointing to the lower half of the computer. The second picture shows the laptop in a lighter outline, with scissors instructing to cut horizontally on a dotted line across the middle of the laptop. The third picture shows a laptop in two pieces cut over between the screen and the rest. There is a very jagged edge on both parts, which has been moved away from each other.]
Exclusive advice from How To:
When sending a file, it helps to know which part of your device the file is stored in.
Label: Files are usually in this part

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Anyone else find it annoying to have the regular comic co-opted for advertising a book? Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 20:30, 26 August 2019 (UTC)

There probably are, but I'll excuse Randal because he provides* such entertaining comic for free.
*usually and arguably RIIW - Ponder it (talk) 21:00, 26 August 2019 (UTC)
I don't mind. If it was a frequent occurrence perhaps, but this is, what, twice in over a dozen years? And he includes humor in the ads, so it's not like we completely miss out. -boB (talk) 21:08, 26 August 2019 (UTC)
Me, to an extent... It's his prerogative, of course. It's more disappointment at not getting a real comic (the remaining joke being "meh" at best, because the majority is either in the linked page or/and the book). I feel certain this is at least the third comic "preempted" for this particular book, though I can only remember the Serena Williams Drones one for sure. Though my mind might be counting the temporary comic - which by definition WASN'T a preempting but rather shortening the Friday comic's "air time".NiceGuy1 (talk) 05:07, 31 August 2019 (UTC)

Pedantry section: If you have a dockable tablet computer - I do - then the files are in the screen part, and the keyboard and trackpad probably can't contain files. Also, you don't need scissors to separate them, there's usually a button to press or magnets or something. And technically you probably could mail the tablet... but I usually wouldn't. [email protected] 21:54, 26 August 2019 (UTC)

If you start being pedantric... Google the meaning of the word "usually". Let's talk again afterwards. Also you do not need to (but I guess you are allowed to) put your email as a signature. If you want to be reachable/track your comments/etc. You can just easily register to this wiki, and then have your profile added instead of that random IP. I personally never recieved spam, etc. from this site. --Lupo (talk) 07:18, 27 August 2019 (UTC)
I don't get it. according to the usual or ordinary course of things : most often : as a rule : customarily, ordinarily according to Webster, seems to match the sense it was used in the comment.

I annually have to send several terabytes of data to a co-worker who needs to analyze and then retain it for some months. We snail mail SS hard drives around since we own them, and the data is originally accumulated on them. Short of switching to SD cards I am not sure there is a better way even in 2019.... 02:20, 27 August 2019 (UTC)

Depending on how the data is accumulated, ongoing data synchronization is often how it's done in 2019, at least for businesses. Every time data changes at point A, those changes are automatically (either immediately, or possibly nightly) sent (over an Internet connection, usually encrypted) to point B, so Point B is always close to being a clone of Point A (and the converse is also possible). That way over a long period of time, terabytes worth of data can be transferred, because you are not trying to do it all over a short period of time, and only what's changed is transferred. The initial transfer might still be done using a hard drive mailing, though, and this requires special software running on both sides, something the average user probably doesn't have. On the other hand, rsync is free, as is ssh with encrypted tunneling. -boB (talk) 14:51, 27 August 2019 (UTC)

It is important to know which part of the computer your files are in. Mine are usually in the little rectangular prism stuck in the side. No need to cut up the computer, as I can just pull out the rectangular prism after telling the operating system I am going to do that. Nutster (talk) 04:49, 27 August 2019 (UTC)

If you read the linked chapter, he does show an example of just handing someone a thumb drive. For the comic he chose to show a more amusing method.Barmar (talk) 20:07, 27 August 2019 (UTC)

Missed the obvious chance to make a pun: butterfiles. 13:32, 27 August 2019 (UTC)

The linked chapter ends with sending the butterflies with pouches of DNA. That's not optimal. If you instead put your data inside butterflies DNA, they will take care of redundancy and error recovery as well. -- Hkmaly (talk) 23:27, 27 August 2019 (UTC)

A cell contains a few picograms of DNA. Relying on reproduction limits a butterflies capacity to a fraction of one cells DNA. Using the pouch of DNA increases capacity by at least a billion. 06:55, 28 August 2019 (UTC)

Try the python script specifically designed to do this easily172.68.70.34 13:46, 3 September 2019 (UTC)