Difference between revisions of "1506: xkcloud"

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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:[A zoomed view on Cueballs head.]
:[A zoomed view on Cueballs head.]
:Cueball: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr— they all struggle to protect privacy and user data...  
:Cueball: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr— they all struggle to protect privacy and user data...  
:Cueball: And ''we'' offered a solution.   
:Cueball: And '''''we''''' offered a solution.   
:Cueball: I forget what it was, though.
:Cueball: I forget what it was, though.
:[Cueball is standing with his arms up.]
:[Cueball is standing with his arms up.]
:Cueball: Anyway, long story short, we screwed up ''immediately'' and lost ''tons'' of their data.   
:Cueball: Anyway, long story short, we screwed up '''''immediately''''' and lost ''tons'' of their data.   
:Cueball: Also a bunch of stuff is literally on fire?
:Cueball: Also a bunch of stuff is literally on fire?

Revision as of 22:17, 1 April 2015


NOTE: The above is the first panel of an interactive comic.
To actually experience the interactive content you need to go to this comic on xkcd (click on the date above the comic, which, as always, takes you to the xkcd comic).


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: This is one of those complicated interactive entries, more like reviewing a video game than explaining a normal comic.
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

In this interactive April Fools' Day comic Cueball, presumably representing Randall, admits to the readers he built a flimsy cloud services company using spare computers and parts. Included in the cloud hardware are (from left to right) a Macintosh Classic, several old laptops, an Alienware tower, a Nintendo VirtualBoy, some sort of radio transmitter, and an Atari Pong Console.

He named the company after xkcd, by just inserting lou between the last two letters XKClouD, although here it should be pronounced XK-cloud.

After providing his services to various (very big) companies (Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr), that are very concerned with securing the users data, his setup failed (some portions may even have caught fire? He is not sure). This has caused him to lose the data he was required to preserve as part of his service. He thus requests the readers help to make up and re-imagine the lost data by pressing the large red button at the bottom of the comic. Preferably before Facebook & Co notice we lost it.

Pressing the button links to one of two interactive survey pages. One asks the reader to indicate which of several line-drawings best matches a given caption, or the reader can create their own drawing in a simple web-based "paint"-style app. The other asks the reader to indicate which of several captions best matches a given drawing, or the reader can create their own caption. The content of the "surveys" appear to come from reader submissions, and are different upon every click.

In either case we are given the reason for the data loss. And there are many different reasons (all by account of Randall), a list (with some explanations) can be found here.

This is thus both an interactive and a dynamic comic with the first picture shown on top of this page. By inviting the xkcd readers to add content that will be displayed in the comic later, the result of all the interactions leads to the generation of crowd-sourced content.

Below the "survey", the reader is presented with a listing similar to a Facebook news feed, listing three "posts" of the line-drawings apparently tagged with the captions as paired up by the survey results. The posts are made by apparently fictional randomly-named readers (see examples of names here). These posts are accompanied by a button similar to Facebook's "Like" button which is labeled with words that are synonyms for "want".

After completing the survey, the page refreshes with four new "posts", the top one being the one you just helped create. Each box has a button in the top-right corner that leads to a permalink for that post. On this page the red button asking for help is at the top. The only difference if you click this (rather than when you start at the front page) is that there now are four posts below the one you need to fix. This is the same four post as those you had on the previous page, including your own at the top.

It is possible to go back to the front page at any time by clicking the picture of Cueball behind his desk. He is always present to the left on all pages after the front page. But if you go back to the front page like this, then when you again click on the "original" red button it will always take you back to the same page you came from (with the same post and the same post to fix.) You can thus only get to a new survey page by finishing the current task.

It was not immediately clear if the reader-created drawings or captions are, in fact, being cycled into the surveys and feeds, or if the displayed items were all created by Randall and the reader-created content is simply discarded. It seems likely though, with the huge amount of different comments and drawings. And especially the drawings looks like they are created in the simple paint app. (i.e. not by Randall). But since there are now so many inputs, it is very unlikely you will by chance see your own drawing again. Maybe it will even be kept away from a computer through its IP address.

An earlier comic that was related to problems with cloud computing 908: The Cloud.

This comic resembles last years Aprils Fool's comic 1350: Lorenz where user input also generated a very complex comic.


[This transcript only transcribes what can be seen in the first picture shown at the top of the explanation here. For more see link below]
[One large frame with a five part comic and a large red button at the bottom.]
[Cueball sitting behind a desk.]
Cueball: We've made a huge mistake.
[Cueball points at a bunch of computers]
Cueball: I figured starting a cloud services company would be easy.
Cueball: After all, I've got tons of computers!
[A zoomed view on Cueballs head.]
Cueball: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr— they all struggle to protect privacy and user data...
Cueball: And we offered a solution.
Cueball: I forget what it was, though.
[Cueball is standing with his arms up.]
Cueball: Anyway, long story short, we screwed up immediately and lost tons of their data.
Cueball: Also a bunch of stuff is literally on fire?
[Cueball standing behind a desk.]
Cueball: We can fix this.
Cueball: But we need your help.
[Below the above is a large red rectangular clickable button, that will take the reader on to the interactive part of the comic. On the button it says in large white letters:]
To help us recover user data
before Facebook & Co notice we lost it.
[The standard text for the next possible pages can be seen on the link to the continued transcript. Also here will be a list (which may not be possible to make complete) with possible text for the lost data.]


  • Since being originally posted the words "Click here" have been added in large text to the top of the red button followed by the word "to" being added to the beginning of the existing text.
    • The original comic can be seen on the link where the text was just two lines:
    • Help us recover user data before Facebook & Co notice we lost it.
    • This was obviously not an error by Randall. He probably found that too few visitors to his page understood that they should press the button to continue.
  • It's the first comic without a title text.
    • This is most likely because it is an interactive comic. Since it is not an image it is not possible to have one title text for the entire comic. Thus Randall decided to not have any.
    • Maybe he knew this would give trouble, here on April 1st, for some of his adherent followers - like us.
    • Also note that this may be the first comic, where you are able to cut and paste some of the text from the comic.
      • This is not possible on the front page, but on the other pages all text that are not part of an image can be selected and copied (into a transcript for instance.)
  • From time to time, instead of the interactive page there is a page with three dots only. This might be due to access problems while xkcd fans all over the world try to submit graphics and text.
  • Source code of elements in the drawing interactive contain the attribute "data-reactid", indicating it is written using the React JavaScript library, developed to use with Facebook & Instagram.

comment.png add a comment! ⋅ comment.png add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!


The lack of a hover text breaks all sorts of things :) e.g. Floern's unofficial xkcd browser linked here via the hover text but it won't display the link or the lack of give text if there's no hover text! We may get a few less visitors for this comic as a result... 08:42, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

Still getting swamped, it's business as usual for April 1st. Davidy²²[talk] 09:06, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

Why is "literally on fire" a question? 09:52, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

It indicates uncertainty. He's not really asking a question, but making a statement hesitantly. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Indeed, see also uptalk. Pesthouse (talk) 10:03, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

How does i work? Does it work? When i click the "Help us"-Button i just get a blank comic with "..." written at the top :( 10:14, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

same here. any hint? -- 22:58, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

Oh boy, time to find out if mediawiki does imagemaps.--Henke37 (talk) 10:31, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

The image was updated on xkcd.com the button now reads "Click here to help us recover user data before facebook & ca notice we lost it ẞ qwertz (talk) 10:48, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

Can someone update the picture without just making a screen shoot? It is not like you can save it the normal way. --Kynde (talk) 14:39, 1 April 2015 (UTC)
I have never understood how this works. I did try to change to the new version, but it somehow keeps loading the old version, even though I know that I did load a new version up. Even on the file page my file loads as the wrong one. I have tried this more than once... Previously the image has updates to the new version later without a new upload appearing. But I have no idea why...? --Kynde (talk) 19:39, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

I decided to man up, get the train rolling and submitted the first revision of the explanation. Do expand, retouch, overwrite, format and correct my simple explanation. I didn't know if the 3 already existing posts, the ambiguous text posts or the drawings are user-based, so I avoided saying so in the explanation. I'll just add something about the covet/thirst/hanker/crave in a moment, and I'm done. 11:11, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

This comic has an empty alt text. See http://m.xkcd.com/1506/. 13:50, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

  • There's a silent character limit (no error message, just non-acceptance; You can still comment the image again, but the text is lost unless you copied it first) somewhere between 222 and 298 chars. I tried to make a start at playing Identik with an image, but only came half way through. Guess, I have to write shorter...
  • Someone figured out, how to copy&paste some grayscale image.
  • I managed to submit a color image, but haven't seen it coming back yet. Tell me when you find a red one.
  • There is at least one image that is too fine to have been drawn in that minimal editor (squirrel+football). I guess, it's one of the initial images that Randall provided. -- Xorg (talk) 14:00, 1 April 2015 (UTC)
    • There's also an image of Buzz Lightyear that appears to be copy-pasted in. I'm not sure how someone would have accomplished that. How did you mange to get color, user 2 above me? If anyone seems a stick-figure comic titled 2006 in which one character says to the other "You're never going to achieve anything if you spend all your time on that web comic ... Now back to my Zune research", that's mine. Post here and let me know! TheHYPO (talk) 14:33, 1 April 2015 (UTC)
Here is the Buzz lightyear permalink http://xkcd.com/1506/#post/c5e85bbb-6757-5912-91d1-b51e2703144d Below is a description on how to "copy paste" a picture in. Although it has nothing to do with copy. --Kynde (talk) 19:17, 2 April 2015 (UTC)
      • I used the web console to get a drawing context on the canvas object. After submission the image was actually transferred to the lower area, but now, I suspect that it wasn't really the data that got uploaded... -- Xorg (talk) 15:00, 1 April 2015 (UTC)
        • I used a similar method (injecting modified base64 directly into the stream) to submit goatse :) --Okofish (talk) 22:41, 1 April 2015 (UTC)
Yes although I'm certain that most of the images are from users, it would be nice to hear from someone who can confirm that one of their images has been spotted -- Kynde (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
I can at least confirm that one of my texts has been spottet by someone else. I got the black image and wrote "I finally managed to disable the flashlight of my camera". Later I saw an image combining a hammer, a nail and a camera to depict my description. -- Xorg (talk) 15:00, 1 April 2015 (UTC)
(I'm not sure if I'm doing this commenting thing right, but) on the "Pictures posted by users" page here I saw a drawing I did in response to text along the lines of "Sauron, stop staring." 21:02, 3 April 2015 (UTC)
The last computer device at the far right is a first generation SNES. 15:12, 1 April 2015 (UTC)X
I keep reading the unidentified computer (second to rightmost) as a SunSPARC (that could kinda be the Sun logo) or a NEXT cube (right shape but no match to the logo) or something. Not sure where someone got 'radio transmitter'. Ijkcomputer (talk) 19:56, 1 April 2015 (UTC)
My first reaction to the second-to-rightmost was some kind of homebrew like an S-100 CP/M system with open-air cards in slots and a cased power supply or maybe a storage device, and a CRT with a graphic shown on it.Taibhse (talk) 04:45, 2 April 2015 (UTC)
  • I think the general idea is based on a game that I think is called the fax machine game? 15:29, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

I really, really, hope that some people have seen my contributions. They're pretty damn funny. The Goyim speaks (talk) 17:20, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

There's a link(Don't contact us) at the bottom of the list on the left that leads to a chatroom.Foldark (talk) 22:29, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

Seems like the comic stopped working right now? --Kynde (talk) 22:46, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

It is also not working for me. I had assumed I was personally blocked for polling the server too often... but maybe we DDOSed it. -452 (talk) 22:55, 1 April 2015 (UTC)
It's working for me again. -452 (talk) 22:56, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

I believe the 'Don't contact us' button is slowly fading away. 02:18, 2 April 2015 (UTC)

I believe the chat has been removed, I just got booted with a "This room requires a passcode", and now it won't load: https://euphoria.io/room/xkcd/ -452 (talk) 02:33, 2 April 2015 (UTC)
The contact is fading, but I can still see the text by tilting my screen. The link is still there. Maybe this is for the reason mentioned above in the explain. So only those who keeps coming back will remember eventually... And they can have the kind of chat forum that Randal talks about in 1305. I have just been at the chat. Maybe "452" just tried at a time when there were to many users on-line`--Kynde (talk) 19:17, 2 April 2015 (UTC)
Since being disconnected from the caht with the "This room requires a passcode", I have tried multiple times to rejoin, and it never connects. -452 (talk) 13:01, 3 April 2015 (UTC)

Looks like something Randall drew originally... https://xkcd.com/1506/#post/d6e6524c-80a5-5672-a539-8076c5c0342f -- 06:01, 2 April 2015 (UTC)

Yes it sure does. Of course if someone used the method mentioned below they cold draw better than most can on the xkloud app. --Kynde (talk) 19:17, 2 April 2015 (UTC)

For people who wonder how to insert a picture that is not mouse-drawn. Follow these steps:

Find the picture you like.
In a grapical editor (such as GIMP) on your computer, make sure that the image only has two colours: black and white. in GIMP this is the 'posterize' option under the 'colors' menu. Save and export the image.
Go to http://base64online.org/encode/ and upload your image there. Tick the 'format as Data URL' checkbox.
In the following script, replace the 'BASE_64_ENCODED_IMAGE_HERE' for the dataURL you've made in the previous step. Copy this to your clipboard.

 function draw_custom_image(){
   context =  $('canvas')[0].getContext('2d');
   base_image = new Image();
   base_image.src = 'BASE_64_ENCODED_IMAGE_HERE';
   base_image.onload = function(){
     context.drawImage(base_image, 0, 0);

In Chrome or FireFox (open on the xcloud page where you can draw an image), press Ctrl+Shift+I to open the Developer Panel.
Go to the 'Console' and paste the script from step 4 here. Press Enter.
If all went well, you'll see the image appear on the canvas, and you can submit it by clicking 'Upload Image' on the xkcloud page.

For the best results, ensure that your images are 451x338 pixels in size (as this is the size of the canvas). Good luck! 13:27, 2 April 2015 (UTC)

Does clicking the "want" ("hanker", etc.) button do anything? Like, increase the chance that the picture/caption pair will be reused for other viewers? Djbrasier (talk) 20:18, 2 April 2015 (UTC)

Clicking the "want" button first requests a token from http://c0.xkcd.com/xb/csrf/token then sends a POST request to "http://c0.xkcd.com/xb/praise/c794eb88-5cde-5024-8301-c7e261b3ae11" where the final segment is the comic ID, and the token is send as x-csrf-token in the request. Response from server is "Good taste!" on success. Whether or not this makes the post more popular is unclear. But Randall does appear to be recording the button presses. -452 (talk) 21:57, 7 April 2015 (UTC)

I have created a table out of the names listed in the extended transcript. I have started explaining the more obvious names. Maybe someone can have a look at some of the others. I'm sure many of the names I haven't touched yet have an obvious explanation. Good luck ;-) By the way at this moment 205 different names are listed... --Kynde (talk) 23:26, 4 April 2015 (UTC)

The eraser does not actually erase, it paints over it in white. The PNG is saved with a transparent background, so the erased portions can be clearly seen when displayed over a non-white background. -452 (talk) 03:31, 11 April 2015 (UTC)

Look at the main image for xkcloud. Up in the top right corner.... is that... what I think it is? http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-x0ybZk68wk0/ULgs9fEPRKI/AAAAAAAAHP4/WsZx6N0euxY/s1600/TeleGames+Pong+Console.jpg.. A pong console? --JayRulesXKCD (talk) 16:20, 26 September 2016 (UTC)

It's broken for me. I get the three dots right now. Does this happen to anyone else? 23:01, 18 December 2019 (UTC)

Also broken for me, same three dots. Persisting for every refresh after pressing the red button on the first panel. Comic now broken? 19:44, 21 April 2020 (UTC)

The page is working, but none of the images load. Help. 03:12, 8 December 2020 (UTC)

That's happening for me as well. Goodbye, world! (talk|contributions|wikilink of the day) 20:47, 13 May 2021 (UTC)