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Revision as of 17:59, 4 March 2014

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!
We have an explanation for all 1 xkcd comics, and only 24 (1%) are incomplete. Help us finish them!

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Refresh Types
The hardest refresh requires both a Mac keyboard and a Windows keyboard as a security measure, like how missile launch systems require two keys to be turned at once.
Title text: The hardest refresh requires both a Mac keyboard and a Windows keyboard as a security measure, like how missile launch systems require two keys to be turned at once.

Explanation

Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by a BOT - Please change this comment when editing this page. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.

This lists five different ways of refreshing a page. The first three are real ways to refresh a page. The last two are absurd options that would give an ordinary user the power to make large changes to the places where data is hosted and/or the internet as a whole.

The difference between the first two options: "soft refresh" and "normal refresh," is that Gmail (Google's email service) allows a user to "refresh" (update) their inbox with a "refresh" button accessed while at a web address, while a "normal refresh" involves pushing the browser's refresh button. The latter option is basically equivalent to closing the web page, then opening up a new window/tab in the browser and going to the same IP address; different websites would handle retaining a user's "logged in" status differently when this is done (often based on options the user selected), while any well-designed webpage would probably not log a user out for using a "soft refresh" on something like an e-mail inbox.

The third option, "hard refresh," refers to a keyboard shortcut to "refresh" their cached files associated with a webpage (now discontinued in many browsers?)

The fourth option, "harder refresh," exaggerates the trend to a silly level by suggesting that a web page user would be allowed to press an increasingly implausible combination of buttons on their keyboard (including the non-standard 'HYPER' key, a feature of the Space cadet keyboard) to reset the power at the entire data center where the web server for the page they are viewing is hosted.

The fifth option, "hardest refresh," implies that if the user activated it, somehow the entire internet would start over from ARPANET, a network funded by the United States Department of Defense that predates the World Wide Web and is important when studying the early history of the internet. (ARPA stands for Advanced Research Projects Agency.) Obviously, this is impossible.

The title text envisions a security measure for the hypothetical godlike power of the "hardest refresh" that is like the security on missile launch systems. It references the comically long keyboard shortcut for listed for the "hardest refresh" that involves both the Windows key and the Apple key, which would not normally be located on the same keyboard.

Web page developers must keep in mind an ever-increasing number of shortcuts to force a page to refresh more or less thoroughly, i.e. causing cached local resources to be deleted and re-set.

The first option (soft refresh) uses the "refresh" button present as part of the Gmail interface to retrieve new messages from the server without reloading the whole webpage itself.

The second option (normal refresh) uses a browser refresh button which causes the entire page to reload. This will inherently retrieve new messages from the server, but also must do other tasks required to present the page for the first time.

Randall jokingly proposes a fictional "harder still" refresh option is a fictional refresh that sends a command to the Google Gmail server causing the entire data center where the server lives to power down and reboot everything, the Gmail equivalent of "turning it off and on again." This command would be extremely inconvenient for other users, who would be locked out of their emails until the datacenter reboots.

He goes on to propose a "hardest" refresh with a key combination resembling a 'cheat code' that causes the entire internet to be build anew from its origins in Arpanet.

Transcript

Ambox notice.png This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.
Refresh Type Example Shortcuts Effect
Soft Refresh Gmail REFRESH Button Requests update within Javascript
Normal Refresh F5, CTRL-R, ⌘-R Refreshes page
Hard Refresh CTRL-F5, CTRL-⇧, ⌘-⇧-R Refreshes page including cached files
Harder Refresh CTRL-⇧-HYPER-ESC-R-F5 Remotely cycles power to datacenter
Hardest Refresh CTRL- ⌘ÿ⇧#-R-F5-F-5-ESC-O-0-Ø-⏏-SCROLL LOCK Internet starts over from Arpanet



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