722: Computer Problems

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Computer Problems
This is how I explain computer problems to my cat. My cat usually seems happier than me.
Title text: This is how I explain computer problems to my cat. My cat usually seems happier than me.


Cueball explains to Megan that he is having computer problems. Normally, he is able to manipulate a "pattern" on his "metal rectangle full of little lights" (a reasonable, if oversimplified description of generated images displayed on a monitor). Today, however, the "pattern" is "all wrong". Megan suggests that he might be able to fix it by pressing more buttons, but following her advice doesn't seem to have the desired effect.

According to the title text, Randall uses a similar technique to explain his computer problems to his cat. Some cats have the habit to walk over or lie on keyboards (pressing a lot of buttons) or to lie on it (because keyboards of notebooks are designed to dispense heat, which many cats enjoy sleeping on). This is, however, not to fix a "pattern" which they usually don't care about but rather to get the same attention the keyboard receives from the cat's owner. "My cat seems happier than me," implies that "pressing buttons to make the pattern [of the 'metal rectangle full of lights'] change," makes a person less happy. Randall's cat is happier than he is because Randall's cat does not have to deal with computer problems.

As evidenced by both past and future comics, Randall likes to make an effort to explain things for simple minds.

Speculatively, Randall may be commenting on the abstract nature of events that effect Cueball's happiness or well being. While the work Cueball does on the computer seems very important to him, the deconstructed version as discussed by Megan and Cueball make his resulting distress seem out of proportion. This interpretation is further supported by the title text in which Randall's cat, unaware of more abstract representations of activity on the computer, enjoys greater happiness overall. 889: Turtles explores a similar theme.


[Cueball and Megan are looking at his computer, on the desk.]
Cueball: You know this metal rectangle full of little lights?
Megan: Yeah.
Cueball: I spend most of my life pressing buttons to make the pattern of lights change however I want.
Megan: Sounds good.
Cueball: But today, the pattern of lights is all wrong!
Megan: Oh god! Try pressing more buttons!


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I think this might be also a joke on how computer programming and/or hacking is presented in action movies. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I think the explanation of "explaining in simpler terms" should be expanded as how interactions with computers can be so complex (i.e. trying to make something specific work in Linux) but at the same time look absolutely pointless if observed by someone who understands little to nothing about computers. 13:56, 11 January 2014 (UTC)

I've thought a similar thing about video games. The way you win is by moving the controls in a precise sequence, which if you knew, you wouldn't need to look at the screen to be victorious. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I'm a software developer and have this comic hanging up by my desk. It helps keep things in perspective when things get a bit too overwhelming. 21:49, 20 October 2014 (UTC)

Cue the rubber ducking. 03:20, 4 September 2015 (UTC)

I was under the impression that cats gravitated to keyboards less for the warmth and more for the "Hello you are paying attention to that thing and not me, which is ridiculous because I am obviously the most important thing and now I will remind you of that." factor. -Pennpenn 05:23, 19 October 2015 (UTC)

Does Randall Munroe have a cat?[edit]

Can someone please confirm this?


I cannot confirm this, But is likely that Randall has a Friend Named Catherine, This might be a reference to that comic, but I highly doubt it, So he could be saying that his friend Catherine could be the one he's explaining this to 18:58, 26 March 2019 (UTC)

That comic came out WAY later. Either you didn't think that through when you posted it, or you don't know how time works. I'm fine with either, really. 19:56, 26 November 2019 (UTC)

I have no ideal if this is intentional humor, or someone who forgot they had the plugin installed, but either way it’s hilarious, thank you! PotatoGod (talk) 00:31, 3 August 2019 (UTC)

I don't think so, no. Z1mp0st0rz (talk) 19:02, 23 April 2024 (UTC)