1360: Old Files
Title text: Wow, ANIMORPHS-NOVEL.RTF? Just gonna, uh, go through and delete that from all my archives real quick.
| This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: The file explains are better now, but still need work. The concentric layers need a much better explain.|
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.
Cueball is digging through a pile of old files, which the comic represents as literally digging into the depths of his filesystem. The files are in concentric layers because each directory contains files moved over from an older system, so his "Documents" folder contains an "Old Desktop" folder from an older computer, the "Old Desktop" contains files recovered from the drive crash of the system before that, which had its own "My Documents" folder, which contained files saved from a Zip Disk in high school. The result is that files from all the way back in high school have survived to his present-day machine. He discovers several files he is embarrassed about, including a poetry file that surprises him, since he does not remember writing poetry, and an "Animorphs Novel" mentioned in the title text, most likely a fan fiction of the Animorphs series, although possibly a copy of one of the original books. These layers are arranged much like geological rock formations where older strata is deeper down than younger layers. The subtly of this joke is that old files, formats and systems are analogous to the fossils and artifacts found in lower, older rock layers. Notice how filesizes get larger the newer they are. Older systems and smaller files are found in lower layers, as they are hadn't been developed yet; AOL, NYET, Kazaa are older than Facebook, and MP3s. In the days of AOL, 94 MB was reasonable disk space whereas current computers require larger file storage, hence 47 GB. In other words, digital artifacts have the same structural hierarchy as physical, geological ones.
The folders and files in detail:
- Documents (47 GB) - A large folder containing many of Cueball's personal files.
- misc.txt - A miscellaneous text file of unknown size. Quite likely, no one except Cueball will know what's in it.
- Video projects - Video files can take up a lot of space, and likely make up a significant chunk of that 47 GB.
- Old desktop (12 GB) - A backup from a former computer.
- Facebook pics - Because Facebook started in 2004, his old computer must have been functional by that time.
- Pics from other camera - No mention about the content, only the creator will remember.
- Temp - Old temporary files. Quite likely, even Cueball won't know what's in here.
- Misc PDFs - PDF files are often used for documentation on programs, but this could be also a collection of digitized books or other scanned documents.
- MP3 - Probably mostly music. MP3 is a widely-used format for digital audio files.
- Recovered from drive crash (4 GB) - When a hard drive crashes, sometimes part of that content can be recovered.
- Temp - More old temporary files.
- Work misc - Only the creator knows what's inside of this folder.
- Audio books - Audio books are recordings of a text being read.
- My Documents (570 MB) - This is a typical folder created by Windows XP for your documents.
- Downloads - A common default location for downloaded files. Its content can be anything.
- Kazaa shared - Kazaa was a peer-to-peer file sharing program, defunct in August 2012. The "shared" folder was open to other people on the internet for downloading.
- AYB - All Your Base is an internet meme based on a famously bad translation of the video game Zero Wing. Probably a reference to 286: All Your Base.
- EV Override - Escape Velocity Override is an Apple Macintosh video game, released in 1998.
- Angband - Angband is a game named after a fictional stronghold created by J. R. R. Tolkien.
- GIFs - GIF is an old image format widely used for small, often animated images.
- FIGHT CLUB.wmv - Fight Club is a movie from 1999. Nobody knows if this download was legal. As feature movies are typically compressed to 700 megabyte or more when shared over the Internet, it seems Cueball's file is either compressed in some obscure, irregular format; uses a small screen size; or is not the Brad Pitt movie - either way strongly in keeping with the original movie's themes of subversion.
- Elasto Mania - Elasto Mania is a physics-simulation game released in 2000. It claims to show real physics on this game, but there is still a dispute on this.
- AIM Direct Connect files - This may have to do with files transferred via AOL Instant Messenger.
- 4chan - 4chan is an imageboard where users can upload pictures anonymously; we know from a previous comic that Randall impulsively saves pictures from there.
- ICQ logs - ICQ is an instant messaging program introduced in 1996. It is no longer used much in North America.
- High school Zip disk (94 MB) - This refers to the Zip drive, the most popular form of superfloppy, introduced in 1994 with a capacity of 100 MB. These have long since given way to writable CDs/DVDs and USB flash drives. These files are from when Cueball was in high school (i.e., a teenager) or earlier.
- Korn MIDI - Korn is an American nu metal band formed in 1993. MIDI is a protocol for communication with electronic musical instruments. By using that protocol, only the music information (notes, tempo, pitch, etc.) is transmitted. .mid files are files that contain music stored using that protocol. Since the MIDI format does not store the actual sound of the instruments, the file is really small (a song can take only a couple of kilobytes). However, since the interpreter is up with the task of converting each note to the sound of each instrument, unless the user has, either quality music hardware to interpret it, or a software-based converter that uses high-quality soundfonts (samples of instruments of each note), the result of interpretation tends to be sounds of low quality. That was most of the time the case in the 90s when, for saving storage space, it was used on computers with cheap sound cards, which resulted in low quality sound. It was very common to use that format for music in old computer games.
- Photos3 - This is a folder of old photos from when Cueball was in high school.
- Prom - A prom is a kind of semi-formal dance held every year by students at most US high schools. These photos were presumably taken at one.
- lovenote.txt - An old text file of a love letter, probably to a classmate in high school.
- Gorilla.bas - Gorillas is a video game first distributed with MS-DOS 5 and published in 1991 by IBM. The suffix "bas" indicates a BASIC program; the game was included with copies of QBasic (see below).
- Dream.txt - Some private dreams.
- James.txt - Who is James? Is our user addicted to him? Perhaps James is a friend of Randall, and the same as the one who came up with xkcd #107?
- AOL - AOL is an early online and internet service, founded in 1985 and popular in the 1990s.
- QBasic - QBasic is an old MS-DOS program (an IDE), released by Microsoft in 1991, which was used to write and run computer programs in the BASIC language.
- NYET - NYET was a Tetris-like game for MS-DOS, released in 1988.
- Jokes.txt - An old text file of jokes.
- AAAFILES (9.4 MB) - some of Cueball's oldest documents, likely prefixed with "AAA" to put the folder at the top of an alphabetically-sorted list.
- TXT (850 K) - old text files, which include the poetry he didn't remember writing.
The Animorphs at the title text refers to a fiction series released between 1996 and 2001. This is also content more than ten years old.
- Megan (on top of stack of files): You OK down there?
- Documents (47 GB)
- Video projects
- Old desktop (12 GB)
- Facebook pics
- Pics from other camera
- Misc PDFs
- Recovered from drive crash (4 GB)
- Work misc
- Audio books
- My Documents (570 MB)
- Kazaa shared
- EV Override
- FIGHT CLUB.wmv
- Elasto Mania
- AIM Direct Connect files
- ICQ logs
- High school Zip disk (94 MB)
- Korn MIDI
- Photos3 (Prom)
- AOL (Citadel)
- AAAFILES (9.4 MB)
- TXT (850 K)
- Cueball (deep inside the AAAFILES section looking at his txt files): Oh my god. I wrote poetry.