596: Latitude

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Jump to: navigation, search
The G1, especially with the new Android upgrade, is way better than I originally thought.
Title text: The G1, especially with the new Android upgrade, is way better than I originally thought.

[edit] Explanation

Black Hat shows his friend Cueball that he has made a mobile phone application to log and find addresses and business names for the locations of his "friends" using data from Google Latitude which was a location-aware feature of Google Maps that allowed a mobile phone user to allow certain people to view their current location.

The reason it is worth doing so for him, is that most of those that use Google Latitude, haven't learned the habit to turn it off when engaging in "discreet" activities. And then Black Hat can access their whereabout which he then uses in his app.

The second panel shows the screen of Black Hat's smartphone with the logs for his two friend in table form showing activity for Megan and Robert, the latter log is partially cut off. (Regarding the use of these names see the trivia section).

Robert's log is fairly innocuous: home at 12:30 PM, school at 2:00 PM and in a Subway restaurant at 3:30 PM. This log shows that Robert did nothing interesting for Black Hat. There are also several holes in the table compared to the other column. This could either indicate that he stayed this long time those three places, but it could also indicate that Robert has already learned to switch off Latitude when he is not actively using it. This would fit with Black Hat's comment about a narrow window in which people haven't learned this. His friend Robert (which could be the Cueball shown here, see the trivia section), may already have thought of this himself, or maybe Black Hat has mentioned it to him before getting the idea for the app thus warning him about the problem (without meaning to).

The reason Black Hat states that there only is a narrow window of time that people forget to turn Google Latitude off, is because people like him will make other people, who forgets this, miserable. And then everyone will soon learn to turn the feature off making Black Hat's app useless.

Megan's log appears to prove Black Hat's point: She was home at 11:00 AM, at a sex toy store at 12:30 PM, home again at 1:30 PM, at another sex toy store at 2:00 PM, home again at 2:30 PM, then at Fry's Electronics at 3:00 PM, and directly at a power tool store at 3:30 PM, finally home again at 4:00 PM only to be at the hospital burn ward at 4:10 PM. The last entry is the only one where the interval is not half an hour indicating how fast Megan had to get to the hospital after getting home with her new power tools and electronics (note that Fry is a name, as in Charles Fry, so this was not why she was fried...)

This suggests that Megan first tried the sex toy(s) from the first store, found them insufficiently satisfying, purchased additional sex toys from another store, was still unsatisfied, and then purchased some electronic devices and power tools (either to improve the performance of her sex toys or to apply directly for additional stimulation). The results were apparently more painful than pleasurable, necessitating a quick visit to the hospital burn ward. Overall, Megan has had an at first unsatisfying day and then finally a rather bad day, considering where the burn is most likely to be... She would almost certainly not be pleased to learn that Black Hat has been tracking her whereabouts and sharing this with their mutual friend Cueball.

The title text shows that Randall liked the T-Mobile G1, also known as the HTC Dream, especially with the new Android upgrade, more than he previously thought because it allows for more capabilities and the interface is clean and easy-to-use when compared to other "smartphones" of that time period (because the G1 was the first phone to introduce Android) and it allows for special Google networking, allowing for apps like Maps to run better (making it easier to run apps like Latitude). From what able to be gathered in the comic, it is Black Hat who says this, because he is the one who uses the app and shows it off to Randall. He would be the most likely one to benefit from this kind of phone running this kind of OS/app.

[edit] Transcript

[Black Hat is holding a phone up to Cueball.]
Black Hat: We're in a narrow window in which people are using Google Latitude, but haven't learned the habit of turning it off when they're doing something discreetly.
Black Hat: I wrote an app to log friends' locations and work out addresses and business names.
[A timetable is visible. The first column gives the time and splits the day in the half hour intervals starting at 11:00 AM, except for the last entry at 4:10 PM, where the time only jumps 10 minutes. The next two columns represents two persons activities during this time period. In the second column the last letter shown in the comic is partly cut off more or less. This last partly shown letter is written in the transcript, but no guess is made here. See the explanation. Above the table, over the two names, there is a caption:]
Time Megan Rober
11:00 AM Home
12:30 PM Eastview Adult
Toy Store
1:30 PM Home
2:00 PM Laketown Sex
Toy Shop
2:30 PM Home
3:00 PM Fry's Electronics
3:30 PM Ed's Power
Tool Emporium
4:00 PM Home
4:10 PM Hospital
Burn Ward

[edit] Trivia

  • This is one of the handful of times that the name Megan has been used in xkcd, in this case without actually showing Megan, so there is actually no indication in this comic how she looks. But that has been shown in several others.
    • Despite her not being shown, the comic should be listed as featuring Megan, as her name is used.
  • Given that Black Hat has sometimes interacted with the Cueball called Rob, it seems likely that the Cueball in this comic is actually Rob (for Robert), and it turns out that he has either forgotten to turn off his Google Latitude, or only has it turned on when he actually uses it. He has in either case only used it in inconspicuous places, and would not be alarmed at seeing the table of his own activities.
    • Maybe this is why Black Hat shows it to him, so he can share Megan's event log which is much more interesting.
    • That Rob has been at a school could mean he was a teacher or for some other reason needed to go there. It is such a short time span in the afternoon that it does not seem like something a school kid would do.
      • Some have, using the school as argument, suggested that this Robert is actually Little Bobby Tables.
      • But Black Hat has never interacted with the Roberts family so this seems unlikely, and he has never been called Robert, but he has been drawn like a kid looking like Cueball.
    • Given that it is unclear if it is either Rob or Bobby neither should be credited as part of this comic.

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


I thought the sex toy shops were unrelated to the last two shops - that she just did something re-e-e-eally stupid with the gizmos and power tools that landed her in the burn ward. Also, who's to say Robert didn't turn off Latitude? His schedule has some pretty big blanks. Anonymous 06:51, 4 December 2013 (UTC)

If Megan was buying a drill so she could put up shelves, that kind of destroys the joke. Why should she need to be discreet about that?
Also, I think that Robert's simple schedule of home / school / subway is a small joke about reversed expectations. A usual joke about how men spend their time (while on the internet, for example) might show a preponderance of sexually-related activity. Here, Randall has attributed the sexual experimentation to Megan instead. 00:48, 24 December 2013 (UTC)

My take on this is that Megan went to the two last stores to improve her toys, as several xkcd comics deal with DIY stuff. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I was thinking that as well: she was trying to "Tim Taylor" her sex toys, and got about the same results he would. --Aaron of Mpls (talk) 10:59, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

Perhaps the title text is a reference to the previous comic about the android girlfriend? 21:29, 13 May 2014 (UTC)

Fortunately for him, Black Hat knows how to avoid SQL injection, so he didn't lose his database when he added Little Bobby Tables ;-)
--Lou Crazy (talk) 09:39, 7 September 2015 (UTC)
Probably this did not happen because there is no real reason to assume it is Bobby, rather Cueball and Robert in this comic is the same and thus making Cueball here = Rob. But that is also just guess work. Have corrected explanation and removed Bobby category. (But not added Rob) --Kynde (talk) 16:26, 26 July 2016 (UTC)

According to the explanation (and logical spelling), Robert's schedule is clearly "Home, School, Subway". So why does the explanation say "Home, Schoo, Subwa"? --JayRulesXKCD (talk) 17:48, 12 September 2016 (UTC)

And yes, before you say it, I know that's where it ends in the comic, but still. Oversight, I guess? --JayRulesXKCD (talk) 17:50, 12 September 2016 (UTC)
I'm not sure if you mean in the transcript, because in that only what is actually written should be there. The full words are used above in the explanation, but should still be cut off as they are in the transcript. --Kynde (talk) 13:16, 30 January 2017 (UTC)

I added this comic to Category:Comics featuring Rob because it mentioned Robert in the app. Undo this if it should not be. 625571b7-aa66-4f98-ac5c-92464cfb4ed8 (talk) 22:41, 7 March 2017 (UTC)

Why is it assumed he was at a Subway Sandwich shop and not an actual subway, which would also give reason why the time after is blank for a longer time as especially back then signals in underground Subways were non existent, not that they are any better now especially for GPS. Even the transcript on the original xkcd.com page does not specify which it is. 12:01, 27 July 2017 (UTC)

Personal tools


It seems you are using noscript, which is stopping our project wonderful ads from working. Explain xkcd uses ads to pay for bandwidth, and we manually approve all our advertisers, and our ads are restricted to unobtrusive images and slow animated GIFs. If you found this site helpful, please consider whitelisting us.

Want to advertise with us, or donate to us with Paypal?