Talk:1796: Focus Knob

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Too much existential paralysis can often lead to fiddling with email. Less frequently, too much time spent fiddling with email can lead to those existential crises. The knob can turn all the way around - there aren't stoppers on either side of the rotation... -- 14:20, 8 February 2017 (UTC)kb

Well since the two ticks at the end points are larger than the other 35 I would say that it cannot go past these. That would make sense and is also like on several knobs I have seen. This is also like the speedometer in my car, which does not shown anything below 0 or above 240 km/h... --Kynde (talk) 22:05, 8 February 2017 (UTC)

Maybe Randall is implying that he has issues with keeping the big picture in mind while doing detail work and gets lost in the details of implementation and vice versa. This means that for him the knob is more of an on/off or selection switch. Pulse Width Modulation would then allow him to use this on/off switch more like the knob in the picture shown. (... or whoevers voice Randall is speaking in as many people probably have issues with this, myself included.) I wonder if he obsessed over how to implement this comic: 1. As an on/off switch? 2. As a knob with limited none-usefull settings with "ideal" labeled between the actual settings available? 3. Like this, for simplicity, keeping the big picture in mind and not obsessing over the details of how it may under some circumstances be viewed? -- 10:19, 8 February 2017 (UTC)cdm

Since the knob clearly is set at the 13th tick he does not use it as an on/off which invalidates most of the arguments in this comment. But since he goes in e-mail mode left of the healthy balance and in panic to the right there is some kind of on/off behavior. But still he can focus more an more on the big picture even though he stays with his settings, until he goes past tick 25. --Kynde (talk) 22:05, 8 February 2017 (UTC)

If the knob only has discrete positions, none of which lies within the balanced region, he could use PWM to simulate that position. Let's say the focus variable goes from 0 to 10, the knob can only stay on integer values and the "sweet spot" is around 7,38. He can make a cycle that rests on 7 62% of the time and at 8 38% of the time, and repeat this cycle with a high enough frequency so that his mind wouldn't know the difference from actually being at the knob's focused on the approximate mirror location of the "healthy balance" section. I don't really have anything to suggest based on that though :/ 12:55, 8 February 2017 (UTC)

IMHO it's just a visual thing to balance the whole image. If you search for watch ads on google images, you'll see that the analogical ones pretty much always show an hour close to 10:10. Beside being balanced, I think those positions are chosen to look "random" (which is paradoxical), or "without a specific meaning", when a 0°, 45° or 90° would seem to have been chosen on purpose. 13:19, 8 February 2017 (UTC)
IMHO Randall has placed it there on purpose a long way from looking at the big picture because he do not wish a panic attack by reading the news on Trump. --Kynde (talk) 22:05, 8 February 2017 (UTC)

I noticed 2 things that are not already mentioned: 1) The dial is currently set to somewhere along the left side, which suggests that Randall is overly detail‐oriented. 2) Randall misspelled existential as existental. 16:55, 8 February 2017 (UTC)

An "existental" crisis is what happens when you are so focused on the big picture you forget details like how to spell "existential." 18:40, 8 February 2017 (UTC)
I have added explanation on where and why the knob is turned to tick 13, and also a trivia about the spell error, and thanks, I had corrected it in the transcript, but now turned it back, as it should be as in the comic. Maybe Randall updates it, as he has done so often when he makes bland mistakes like this, but that has not happened so far when I post here. If he does that should be noted in the trivia along with the reason why. --Kynde (talk) 22:05, 8 February 2017 (UTC)
Randall has indeed updated the comic with the correct spelling of existential - I have no idea how to update the comic graphic properly from this type of correction! --Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 06:03, 7 June 2017 (UTC)

There is no mention of the term "existential crisis" in the comic, and I don't see how any of this is related to "current world events". Existential paralysis means that when you only think about the biggest picture possible, nothing seems to matter anyway - it's just us tiny insignificant humans on this planet that will eventually turn barren wasteland when the sun expands etc. This doesn't help instill motivation to act, hence paralysis. 06:57, 9 February 2017 (UTC)

Could we please go back to simply explain what we see instead of trying to get our political views into the interpretation? I don't see any connection to "current world events", either. The theme of being paralyzed by seeing/realizing the big picture ist nothing new or even closely related any specific (current or past) event. Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 09:10, 9 February 2017 (UTC)
In any case focusing on the activities of Trump is NOT looking at the big picture 16:41, 9 February 2017 (UTC)
"Getting to deep into all this could cause ..." someone to level accusations of trolling. 23:42, 9 February 2017 (UTC)
Well I disagree. My reasoning is based on the the fact that Randall lately has included several comics that could be seen as being caused by a sad/negative state of mind. All these comics (five so far) have come out since Trump got elected, with no similar comics like these coming out in the year before that event! And that he did not wish Trump as president was made clear in I'm With Her, which I expect everyone agrees on! If Randall can only either be focusing on his e-mails (or Stardew Valley, see also Sad for that) or else panic and end up paralyzed because he reads the news and think about what may happen then that is quite a negative view of the world and your own level of sanity. And it is not just about Trump but also about the global warming we know for sure Randall fears (which Trump may increase with his executive orders, but which where already really bad before he entered the political scene) and all the other problems (wars, famine, pollution violence etc.) right now as he referred to indirectly in 2017. So maybe there is no mention of crisis, but I did not insert that link originally. (Actually I rather changed thew word crisis to paralyzed in the explanation). But it is not true that a existential paralysis would only come about because you see your self as a dot on a small insignificant planet. But that could also cause it though. Randall has been quite explicit in the comic by not mentioning Trumps name even once in any of his comics. That is not the same care he has taken with other politicians earlier in other elections. So in it self that could also be seen as a statement. And all these comics could be interpreted differently than this, which is goo. And had they appeared separately over a few years, rather than three months, I would have agreed with you. But there are already now as many comics with such a sad interpretation possible (or inevitable) during the last three months as there are sad Cancer comics over the two years where he posted 12 of these around the time his wife got cancer. Yes only five of those 12 could seriously be interpreted as being sad on Randall's behalf. (The other 7 only if you generally thought it was sad to joke about cancer, or a joke was sad because cancer was mentioned, even if it was the cure). So for sure something different has happened to the type of comics coming out on xkcd since Trumps election, and that is an important fact to behold on a site like this, just like we keep track of comics about the climate, and about time travel etc. --Kynde (talk) 15:42, 10 February 2017 (UTC)

A new what if?, Coast-to-Coast Coasting was released on the day this comic was released. There seems to have been no connection between it and the comics released before or after. --Kynde (talk) 14:07, 15 February 2017 (UTC)

Picture update
Help Wanted -
I downloaded the updated png image file from xkcd and visually confirmed it was the corrected image. However, I've tried to upload the new file twice now from two different systems using the File screen shown by clicking on the comic image, and both times the resulting file is still the original! I don't have a clue what I'm doing wrong but suspect it's 'cause I'm dumb!!! I obviously need help. :-( --Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 17:08, 8 June 2017 (UTC)
I don't know if an admin fixed the problem or it resolved itself with enough elapsed time. It's correct now, but I'd like to know if I was doing doing it incorrectly! --Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 20:51, 8 June 2017 (UTC)
Everything was fine and no admin has fixed anything. The problem is the damn cloud cache, you don't see such an update for a while. But after an hour or maybe more the cache is expired and everything is fine. I've also answered here: Ianrbibtitlht talk. --Dgbrt (talk) 12:41, 12 June 2017 (UTC)

"He thus seems to try to avoid seeing the big picture right now, since it is his personal knob to set as he wishes." - Haaa. Whoever wrote this does not have ADHD, as Randall clearly does. We who do, know it is essentially impossible to "set" our focus level as we wish - we are either easily pulled away from "big picture" things (like the flow of time or our own hunger) to hyperfixate on minor details, OR we freak out over the sheer number of tasks that are to be done without being able to concentrate on any of them, and also frequently feel the weight of existential dread that looms over everything we do like a giant dark cloud. --mezimm 16:51, 23 November 2021 (UTC)