530: I'm An Idiot

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Not to be confused with 68: Five Thirty
I'm an Idiot
Sadly, this is a true story. At least I learned about the OS X 'say' command.
Title text: Sadly, this is a true story. At least I learned about the OS X 'say' command.


Cueball, locked out of his dorm/apartment, is trying to get his roommate Megan's attention so that she'll unlock the door. He tries various increasingly obscure ways of contacting her: calling her cell phone, IRC, the window, and finally remotely logging into their Mac computer (via SSH) to make it shout at her, which involves working out a way to turn up the computer's volume. Ponytail informs him of the most obvious solution—the doorbell—which prompts a moment of realization. The content of this realization—"I'm An Idiot"—is stated in the title of the comic. The humor of the comic derives from the rhythm of the panels: a long buildup followed by a short quip, then a sudden, silent pause for the implied realization moment.

Additionally some readers will be familiar with the behavior shown in the comic, since most every person who likes solving problems has experienced a moment of realization similar to Cueball's at one point or another. They, like Cueball, get distracted by solving an interesting problem because solving problems is fun, and fail to notice that the problem has an easier solution that they haven't considered. This same issue of getting lost in a sub-problem [in this case, the-sub problem of how to remotely control text-to-speech in OS X] at the expense of overall problem-solving ability is further covered in 761: DFS.

The title text states that this is a true story, so Cueball must represent Randall. It also mentions that, although missing an obvious solution can be humiliating, one often learns a lot from trying new solutions, which would explain why the behavior persists.

This comic follows a similar storyline to 349: Success and 1518: Typical Morning Routine, as Cueball and Hairy respectively in these comics, encounters an issue and attempts proceedingly more absurd solutions to the issue.


[Ponytail approaches Cueball, who is sitting on porch steps, laptop in lap and backpack open.]
Ponytail: Should I ask?
Cueball: I'm locked out, and I'm trying to get my roommate to let me in.
[Unplugged cell phone on table.]
Cueball: First I tried her cell phone, but it's off.
[Cueball sitting on steps, laptop in lap and gesturing.]
Cueball: Then I tried IRC, but she's not online.
[Cueball standing in front of house and looking up at window.]
Cueball: I couldn't find anything to throw at her window,
[Living room with couch easy chair and computer set up.]
Cueball: So I SSH'd into the Mac Mini in the living room and got the speech synth to yell at her for me.
Computer: Hey I'm locked out downstairs
[Megan sitting at table with laptop open.]
Cueball: But I think I left the volume way down, so I'm reading the OS X docs to learn to set the volume via command line.
[Ponytail facing Cueball, who is still sitting on the porch with his laptop.]
Ponytail: Ah.
Ponytail: I take it the doorbell doesn't work?
[Beat panel.]

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Does this count as a self-nerd-snipe? 02:44, 9 February 2014 (UTC)

Anyone have an idea how he made his Mac Mini speak? 19:46, 24 September 2014 (UTC)

Yes. Read the title text. 03:36, 29 January 2015 (UTC)

osascript -e "set volume 7", if anybody is curious --Okofish (talk) 17:34, 1 May 2015 (UTC)

I like how the doorbell pops out real obviously in the last panel. like 0_0...

Explanation seems a bit complicated for such a simple joke. Even the description of a beat panel seems convoluted. flewk (talk) 02:44, 4 January 2016 (UTC)

Why is this comic confused with Five Thirty? Halo422 (talk) 05:16, 18 December 2017 (UTC)

Because it's comic five hundred thirty or "five thirty". 20:50, 9 March 2019 (UTC)

I could be wrong, but to connect to something via SSH, it needs a static ip, right? Why would their laptop have a static ip? 23:10, 5 August, 2020 EST

No static IP necessary. A name will work just fine. However, if the device is on a LAN that is hidden behind a router, finding it could be hard.
Continuing my string of really late comments: Luckily it is not a laptop. As mentioned above, it's a Mac Mini. Nitpicking (talk) 17:32, 29 August 2021 (UTC)