Countdown in header text

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Countdown in header text
The countdown will probably last 21 days. After February 1st 2022 it is likely to have disappeared. See this 2022-01-10 archive version.
Countdown in header text.png
  • Go directly to the list of images.
    • The images can also be found here on munvoseli's page where comparison of two images and an animation can be seen.


Explanation[edit]

  • On January 10th 2022, Randall added a countdown in the top right corner of the xkcd Header text on xkcd .
    • This happened while the comic 2565: Latency was up.
      • First the xkcd Header text was changed back to the standard text for the first time in almost three years:
        • xkcd updates every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
      • But already while this Friday-comic was still up on the following Monday the countdown was added.
  • The first archived version from 2022-01-10 read 20d 20h 27m.
    • It looks like it started on 01-10 17:00 UTC.
      • At that time it would have read 20d 21h 59 min. Just two hours and 1 minute short of 3 weeks.
  • This countdown will reach zero on Monday 2022-01-31 at 14:59 (2:59 PM) UTC, or 9:59 AM in Boston, Randall's home town.
    • If seconds will be added towards the end, it seems likely that it may end exactly at 15:00 UTC (10:00 AM in Boston).
      • However, if it's using EST, introduced in comic 1061: EST, it would count backward for four hours before reaching zero, and end only at 2022-01-31 23:59 UTC
        • This is extremely farfetched though!
        • Though either way, it would fall on Monday 2022-01-31, and therefore the day comic 2575 should be released.
  • The next day on 2022-01-11 a diagonal black bar appeared in the lower left-hand corner of the countdown box and started to move further into the image on following changes to the image.
    • This development called for the creation of this dedicated Countdown in header text page.
    • The line had already moved further into the image at this time, but the latest version will never be available in the web archive.
      • This development is reminiscent of the huge comic 1190: Time.
  • As mentioned above, Munvoseli is keeping track of the changes to the image on the countdown.
    • Although there are (at 2022-01-12 12:35 UTC) thirteen different frames we know of, the first three looks the same (because the diagonal bar was not in the frame yet) and the seventh and the eighth also seems to be the same, even though the bar had already begun moving across the frame from the fourth. This is either on purpose, a slipup or means that The FrameTM might not be zooming out of a larger image.
      • However, the images that look the same all have individual addresses on the xkcd server. See more under Images below.

Randall has previously made a comic simply called 1159: Countdown. However, in that the roles are reversed. There we know that the countdown is for (Super Volcano) but not if it will happen soon or very much later. Here we know when, and it is rather soon, but not what.

Images[edit]

  • Images will be put on this separate page.
    • The images can also be found here on munvoseli's page.
      • It is possible to compare two images, chosen between those released, on that page!
      • From 2022-01-14 it has also been possible to see an animation.
    • See more details at the top of the image page.
  • After a few days the black lines forming the image came into conflict with the clock, which has a rounded white frame around it. This can be seen in one of the earliest examples here:

Countdown in header text Clock Cover Black Lines.png

  • Also at this time a new development happened after the "plane tail" moved forward it stopped on 2022-01-18 and started moving up (or zooming in). See for instance these two comparison from munvoseli's page showing the difference from the 8 pictures before today, and then after three out today:

Countdown in header text Compare 40 to 48.png Countdown in header text Compare 48 to 51.png

Ongoing description[edit]

    • Frames 1-12: A diagonal line.
    • Frame 13: A curve seems to begin at the top left of the line.
    • Frame 18: The curve connects the diagonal line with a horizontal line.
    • Frame 27-28: A new line appears in the bottom left corner.
    • Frame 40-42: The new line turns out to be connected to the horizontal line, forming a corner which is not attached to any other line.
    • Frame 49: The "camera movement" direction changes, while the object is still moving upward it stopped moving towards the left side, moving towards the right instead.
    • Frame 54: A slight upward curve seems to appear in the right line, the left line seems to have a small bend downwards, though that could at that point just be a straight line that randall drew without a ruler.
    • Frame 60-62: A new line appears in the bottom right corner, it turns out to be a continuation of the first original line which curves upward and has a positive slope at that point of the picture, between about 2 o'clock and 3 o'clock. The downward bend of the left line continues on straight in the same direction, it was probably an intentional bend and not an irregularity in drawing a straight line by hand.
    • Frame 63: In the minimum of the right curved line a new line starts appearing, way thinner than the others (which were up to this point all rather part of one line) and going slightly downwards and very much to the left, at an angle somewhere between 8 o'clock and 9 o'clock.
    • Frame 67: A possible feature becomes visible at the bottom edge of the image that might resolve the exact nature of the (currently presumed) aircraft, e.g. which particular aerodynamic surface we have been seeing and thus from which particular orientation we are viewing it.
    • Frame 68-69 makes it clear this must be an airplane. Still uncertain if it is the tail or the wing. Could still go either way, but seems most likely that it is a wing.

Theories[edit]

  • Here different theories for what the countdown is for and what the picture is going to reveal can be added.

The picture[edit]

  • Theories about the picture:
    • It seems after two days and 12 pictures like either something is moving into the frame or that it is a zoom out from a white area of a large picture. Maybe it is the arm of Cueball that will come into view.
      • That turned out not to be the case!
    • The second line makes it look somewhat like the tail fin of an aircraft.
      • Or the wing of an aircraft (left if looking down at it). Perhaps the plane is towing a banner that will fly through the frame.
        • After almost a week this looks like the most promising suggestion so far.
          • Now that the direction of the camera movement has changed, we might get to see the rest of the aircraft soon.
            • From picture 63, it more and more seems like it was the tail fin of a plane and now we can see the body.
              • It's almost certainly the tail (and now a bit of the rear fuselage) of an aircraft.
                • It could just as easily be the left wing and part of the fuselage (showing windows on the right side of an airliner), with the tail fin out of view to the rear, as being the tail fin from an angle where the left wing is out of view behind the fuselage.
                  • judging by the relative size of the (presumed) windows, I think it's more likely to be the left wing than the tail fin.
                  • Based on the way planes are drawn[1][2][3], plane wings have a point on their edge and tail fins have a flat side, and (if a line is present) a thick line separates wings from the body, whereas thin lines or no lines separate tail fins, so this is a tail fin.
                  • Appears to be a door to the left of the windows
        • Tail of a space shuttle, perhaps?
          • While I think Randall would've also drawn in the signature black part of the rudder, the shape fits perfectly
          • Timing is close (though not exact) to the Columbia disaster anniversary (2003-02-01 1359 UTC)
        • I'm thinking the tail of a Zeppelin.
          • Although those normally have longer tail fins.
    • Maybe it is some kind of vehicle rolling into frame, like a car?
      • No
    • Or the word xkcd? (or xkcd 2?)
      • No
    • Could have been "Hangman", but it looks like it's zooming in on the diagonal instead of continuing to make a gibbet.
      • No
    • With the new second line appearing in the corner as of frame 28 it looks like it's definitely zooming out of an image. It looks like it could be someone's arm in a running position.
      • No
    • I think it could also be two legs of a reclining stick person.
      • No
    • The lines suggest a shark fin and the movement would suggest it swimming across the frame.
      • If it was a shark fin, then the most likely candidates would be the first dorsal fin and the pectoral fin, but both end in points rather than edges like in the pictures of the header puzzle. An aircraft tail fin still seems most likely.
    • Maybe it's a two-dimensional shape viewed from a weird angle?
      • Like a rectangle viewed from a floating, tilted perspective
        • No
      • Or the top of the k in xkcd
        • No
      • Or a boat dock?
        • No
    • It's certainly a plane! Passenger plane. Door and windows are visible

Countdown[edit]

  • Theories about the countdown:
  • Several have already been mentioned in the discussion:
    • Randall's next book, either the countdown is counting down to the start of promotion or it is released when the countdown ends.
      • Usually Randall has made month long book promotions before release. So if it is the release day it is a new way to do it. But he will get a lot of attention. If it is just the start of promoting it, people might get disappointed…
        • For instance he began promoting his new book Thing Explainer in the header text. That was in May 2015 and the book was first released late November 2015. Most of this time the header text was promoting the book.
    • James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) going into orbit about L2 Lagrange point.
      • Randall has already made several comics about the telescope. The latest 2564: Sunshield was released just five days prior to the countdown was started.
      • But the telescope will not reach the point but rather go into a large orbit around it, so a precise timer counting down to it seems a bit farfetched.
      • On NASA's page on JWST it seems like it will go into orbit 29.5 days after its December 25th Launch, on Christmas Day, so it should have already started the orbit by the 23rd or 24th of January - 8 days before the countdown.
    • Lunar New Year
      • In China it starts on February 1st and a countdown for China is 8 hours behind.
        • The South Korean time zone is UTC+9, hence 14:59 UTC = 23:59 in South Korea, one minute to Feb 1.
          • But it's weird if Randall that has basically never mentioned this holiday suddenly makes a three week countdown for it, and why choose South Korea when most would think of China in this context…?
    • Randall will stop making xkcd (Goodbye in the image).
      • Hopefully not.
      • It might be a temporary stop (hiatus).
    • National Backward Day
      • This is not a day mentioned on Wikipedia at the time of release of the countdown, so seems unlikely.
    • Maybe it will be an announcement of xkcd 2, a new and improved version for… some reason?
      • Seems unlikely…
    • Black History Month. The Greensboro sit-ins started on Feb 1 1960. Black History Month also begins on February 1st, also in 2022.
      • But this countdown stops early on January 31st so seems unlikely.
      • However, before changing the Header recently it was about Black Lives Matter for more than 1.5 years, first ending on December 20th 2021, less than a month before the countdown began. In between that there was a short Christmas sale reminder until a week into 2022. So it could just be another way of reminding of us the issues faced by black people in the US.
        • If this was true, I feel like it would be simpler to just change back to the Black Lives Matter text at the top of the screen. Also, it seems increasingly likely as of Jan. 20th that the image is some kind of plane, which doesn't really have much to do with Black History Month (that I know of?)
    • The accompanying header says specifically "xkcd updates Monday, Wednesday, and Friday"--maybe the countdown is to the reveal of a new update schedule?
      • Very unlikely. This was the standard header for a long time. It was used when Randall had nothing better to say. But with all his books and the trouble in US with elections and BLM, he has used the header as a platform most of the time many years now. So the standard text is rare. But he did return it for two days before adding the count down, making it seem just like normal.
      • A guess is that it returned to this, so the header text did not take any focus away from the countdown.
    • Red spider attack?
      • Un-Likely
    • He will become a father - could be a planned C-section.
      • As this is unpredictable, and could go wrong, then this would be a dangerous countdown, people can be very superstitious, even if scientist.
    • As it currently looks (after a few days into the countdown) it may be a trip he is taking by plane.
      • Maybe going somewhere people could meet him.
        • Book tour?
      • Moving a long way from home (down under or the like).
        • Maybe he's moving to Japan? Could be a plane, and the time zone would fit, at least.
          • Then the countdown would be until when the plane lands, not to midnight.
            • What has time zones to do with this clock? It counts down to the same time all over the world, and will reach zero at the same time no matter what time zone you are in.
            • Time zones have to do with where it will be midnight when the countdown reaches zero. If it's a countdown to when January ends (a moment before February begins), then it's until that moment in the time zone where the countdown reaches zero at that time.
        • If it is a plane, then maybe it will land in a new city Randall moves to when the counter ends, and the skyline will be visible...
    • Perhaps it's a start to a new series like 1190: Time.
      • It is already a series that works like Time, so seems unlikely.
    • Zero-G flight, really looks like plane to me.
      • Could be time he will first go weightless which could be fairly well known except for bad weather
    • How about the new series of Picard?
      • Star Trek: Picard (season 2) is set to run from March 3 2022, which both Wikipedia (link before) and IMDb agrees upon so bad to miss by more than a month, and what would the plane in the image have to do with this anyway?
      • So No!

count-wimRikmef[edit]

  • The identifier of the script contains what is probably an acronym, but for what?
    • count / wim (?) / Rik (name) & me f(light)
    • Or it's just the output of whatever js minimizer was used.

Archived Versions[edit]

Seems like the links are (currently?) not working properly?
  • Here is a list of the versions that has been saved to the web archive during the countdown.
    • The counter in that version is written behind the date of the web archive.
    • Note that the counter is active on the archived version counting minutes down from the start. Some of the versions almost changing the minutes just after loading. But it will always count from the time given here:
  1. 2022-01-10 20d 20h 27m
  2. 2022-01-10 20d 17h 18m
  3. 2022-01-11 20d 13h 48m
  4. 2022-01-12 19d 14h 1m
  5. 2022-01-13 18d 10h 14m
  6. 2022-01-14 17d 13h 51m
  7. 2022-01-14 16d 19h 3m
  8. 2022-01-15 16d 9h 32m
  9. 2022-01-16 15d 7h 10m
  10. 2022-01-16 14d 16h 7m
  11. 2022-01-18 13d 9h 57m
  12. 2022-01-18 12d 19h 6m
  13. 2022-01-19 11d 17h 26m
  14. 2022-01-20 11d 0h 33m (not from header page)
  15. 2022-01-21 10d 4h 36m


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Discussion

The talk on from 2565: Latency and 2566: Decorative Constants has been moved here by me when I created this page --Kynde (talk) 11:01, 12 January 2022 (UTC)

From Latency

What is happening around Feb 1st, there is a countdown that appeared a few hours ago in the upper right corner of the xkcd index. There is also the directory xkcd.com/count-wimRikmef which might be an acronym, if it isnt a countdown package? 172.70.130.57 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Damn you beat me to it ;-). But I have made a Trivia here on this comics page and links to more detail on the xkcd Header text page. I belie you are a day of, but someone will likely correct me if I'm wrong. As I can see it will be January 31st, 9:59 in Randall's home town Boston.--Kynde (talk) 20:06, 10 January 2022 (UTC)
But damned if I can wait. Sure millions will watch the page when it goes to zero! At least it is no April 1st. :-D --Kynde (talk) 20:10, 10 January 2022 (UTC)
From Decorative Constants

Any idea what's going on with the clock that's counting downwards in the banner? Currently counting down from 20 days 16 hours? 172.70.214.95 22:08, 10 January 2022 (UTC)

(Simultaneous edit) What is the days-hours-minutes in the box above the comic referring to? The image itself is dated yesterday, as you can see by saving it. Worst-case-scenario, is this a countdown to the end of XKCD? 108.162.245.223 22:11, 10 January 2022 (UTC)
It's going to hit zero at around midnight on Jan 31st 2022 CST? SteveBaker (talk) 22:16, 10 January 2022 (UTC)
Posted this on the previous comics discussion. But lets take it here where there will be more traffic: --Kynde (talk) 22:44, 10 January 2022 (UTC) -- Copy paste from previous comics discussion:
Damn you beat me to it ;-). But I have made a Trivia here on this comics page and links to more detail on the xkcd Header text page. I believe you are a day of, but someone will likely correct me if I'm wrong. As I can see it will be January 31st, 9:59 in Randall's home town Boston.--Kynde (talk) 20:06, 10 January 2022 (UTC)
But damned if I can wait. Sure millions will watch the page when it goes to zero! At least it is no April 1st. :-D --Kynde (talk) 20:10, 10 January 2022 (UTC)
Yeah - you're right - I messed up. So as I type this, it's Jan 10th 2022 at 4pm - 1600 hrs Mountain time - which is 1800 hours EST. At this moment, the countdown reads 20d 16h 0m - so Jan 30th + (18+16) hours = which is Jan 30th + 34 hours - which is Jan 31st + 10am in Boston (EST). SteveBaker (talk) 23:05, 10 January 2022 (UTC)
Hey great, can see they agree in the link to reddit below. So happy I got it right both in UTC and Boston. It will be 15:59 here in DK. Not 16:00. ;-) --Kynde (talk) 23:44, 10 January 2022 (UTC)

Counting down to Backwards Day? --162.158.91.88 23:28, 10 January 2022 (UTC)

There's a reddit thread discussing it: https://www.reddit.com/r/xkcd/comments/s0oynl/xkcd_countdown_timer_20d_21h_49m_remaining_until/ I think the most likely guess is that Randall has a new book coming out. Barmar (talk) 23:40, 10 January 2022 (UTC)
Would still seem strange if it came out that day with only promotion before being a count down. But then again, he will have the xkcd communities boiling if he gives no other hint. So every one will see if he promotes a book. Also as they wrote at the time I looked at reddit I do not think it is the end of xkcd, or Webb related. Although Webb was the first I thought about. But I mean even if it came to L2 at that day, it is not going to any specific point but just in orbit. --Kynde (talk) 23:47, 10 January 2022 (UTC)
The date fits the idea of it being Backwards Day (https://nationaldaycalendar.com/backward-day-january-31) but what about the choice of time? SteveBaker (talk) 03:38, 11 January 2022 (UTC)
Backwards day... Never head of it until now. Is it big in the US. I mean when looking after dates so obscure they are not mentioned on wikipedia then there are probably lots of things happening on that day? But maybe it is a think in the US? --Kynde (talk) 08:48, 11 January 2022 (UTC)
I haven't heard of it until now either, so it is probably one of the bajillions of holidays no one actually cares about, and is unrelated to the countdown. 108.162.221.163 13:22, 11 January 2022 (UTC)Bumpf

Someone has noticed the image is changing with pixels added at the bottom left corner and is keeping track of it here: https://munvoseli.github.io/xkcd-countdown/ 198.41.238.107 05:49, 11 January 2022 (UTC)

Looks like an image is "moving" into the frame because at the moment you can see some white pixel in the lower left, i.e. the black part might end up as a line as part of some comic. 162.158.89.8 08:31, 11 January 2022 (UTC)
Thanks used that to pinpoint the start of the countdown. Have added this info to the header text page, and the original trivia. Also just added a line of trivia to this explanation with the link. This was when this comic came out most people noticed the count down. But it did came out while Latency was up. --Kynde (talk) 08:43, 11 January 2022 (UTC)
Speculating on what it could be, the only thing that makes sense at that angle is a character's arm. 04:47, 12 January 2022 (UTC)
As of 7 PM PST, the two lines appear to be disconnected from anything else, which rules out a lot of the theories put forth here. Hmmm… I can’t really think of anything it could be other than the wing of an airplane. Maybe it’ll zoom out after it moves into view?Szeth Pancakes (talk) 03:17, 17 January 2022 (UTC)

The header changes page says that it's forcing "Friday" to move down to the next line. Not for me. Did he fix it, or is it browser-specific? Barmar (talk) 14:58, 11 January 2022 (UTC)

It must be browser specific. But i have tried bot the old Internet Explorer, Edge, Chrome and Firefox, and it does it in all cases and zooming does nothing.. Which browser do you use? I have corrected to in some browsers though, in the explanation you refer to. --Kynde (talk) 15:31, 12 January 2022 (UTC)

This is much more likely a count down related to the James Webb Space Telescope. At approximately the day the count down indicates the telescope will be orbiting the L2 gravitational spot.Perhaps most of the mirrors will be approximate place to allow for months of fine tuning. An example of a slightly similar idea is https://www.space.com/nasa-james-webb-space-telescope-next-steps Punchcard (talk) 15:35, 11 January 2022 (UTC)

I really do not think so. There is nothing special about a specific moment for reaching L2. It will go in orbit around it, but when to day it is there or in orbit is hard to pinpoint. --Kynde (talk) 11:13, 12 January 2022 (UTC)
And after I looked at it, it seems it will reach L2 several days before the countdown. See Countdown in header text#Theories. --Kynde (talk) 15:31, 12 January 2022 (UTC)

I think the Countdown should get its own entry. What do we think? Sure (talk) 16:25, 11 January 2022 (UTC)

I think it should! What with the count itself, the speculation about what it could mean, and now the slowly arriving image (?) this seems like something beyond either of the two comics since it started! 108.162.219.49 18:00, 11 January 2022 (UTC)
I'm surprised it doesn't have one already. This is one of the more unique situations in a long while, more speculation could happen. Thisfox (talk) 22:26, 11 January 2022 (UTC)
I have now created this page and talk page for us to continue the discussion and make dedicated changes about this countdown here. And have moved all discussion from the two pages that had some already (except a few on the first talk page that was also mentioned here. --Kynde (talk) 11:13, 12 January 2022 (UTC)

If you take a look at this [[4]] it displays this: {"img":"72cb154b23f959f908f5dc8eb03069c6df3f0f54aae896a0e7ed27befb2ee639.png","start":"2022-01-10T17:00:00Z","target":"2022-01-31T15:00:00Z","until":"2022-01-11T20:55:38.205303701Z"} Hoodiesandboba (talk) 20:58, 11 January 2022 (UTC)

To correct your link:
"...If you take a look at this link it displays..."
As to where the "72cb154b23f959f908f5dc8eb03069c6df3f0f54aae896a0e7ed27befb2ee639.png" is rooted, I haven't dug into that (or what transforms might be being applied), but it looks like a manipulation of browser states might be able to prematurely reveal it. (I'm on mobile at the moment, and it's significantly more fiddly to poke into the page-scripting and markup than I can be bothered with this moment, but I know what I'd do with a good acreage of screen, mouse control and a proper keyboard to rattle away at. And the combined minds here surely can do even better than myself.) 172.70.91.116 22:38, 11 January 2022 (UTC)
The filename is a random number long enough to prevent brute force guessing to find future images. The state-file looks like some information for the javascript script where this URL comes from. I haven't looked into the script that much but from the values I'd say that it's telling when to start doing refreshs (2022-01-10T17:00:00Z) and when to stop doing that (2022-01-31T15:00:00Z). While these values are constant, the third value changes and is ten minutes after the time the page has been requested. I suppose this is telling the script, when to do a refresh of the image load. 141.101.77.16 11:05, 13 January 2022 (UTC)
After some fiddeling, I've found the origin of the filename: It's the SHA-256 hash of the image 141.101.77.16 11:05, 13 January 2022 (UTC)
There's already a note that it would be impossible to brute-force the filenames. But as the images are very similar to each other, would it be feasible to programmatically generate images similar to the last one (extending up and to the right, different variations of the line shape), hash those files, and test to see if they match images on the server? I'd expect it to reduce the number of possibilities by orders of magnitude, but not sure if that's enough to make brute-force attempts feasible and non-destructive. (Also don't know the PNG format well enough to know if an image with the same pixels in it is guaranteed to produce the same bytes in the file across different implementations) -- Angel (talk) 11:16, 14 January 2022 (UTC)
Hmm… if it was pure black and white, the total number of possible images would be within the realms of sanity to brute force. But add antialiasing and the numbers rapidly become silly. Even if you only allow pixels to change within a certain distance of the previous image, and restrict greys to places between a black and a white, the numbers quickly become absurd. Although that makes me think about making 1-bit versions of all the images so far, predicting a set of "next frame" possibilities at each step, and training a CNN to pick the correct next one; and if it gets accurate enough by the time we get to the present… hmm. How predictable is antialiasing? Do we know the software he's using to create the images; and if so is there a relatively predictable algorithm applied along the edges? Angel (talk) 11:41, 14 January 2022 (UTC)

I think it counts down to Lunar New Year (the Year of the Tiger), as measured in Korea (the earliest timezone where that is celebrated). Actually, it reaches 0 one minute before the New Year, so maybe it will switch to seconds for the last minute. 172.70.98.75 05:10, 12 January 2022 (UTC)

Could be, but why. Randall has never to rarely? mentioned this new year... --Kynde (talk) 11:13, 12 January 2022 (UTC)

I think we are seeing a zoom out of some image. Perhaps it is the arm of Cueball? --Kynde (talk) 11:36, 12 January 2022 (UTC)

It looks like there's a little curve at the top left of the line entering the frame! This makes the Cueball arm hypothesis more likely. Sure (talk) 14:18, 12 January 2022 (UTC)
I also noticed that (and moved your comment up here, as it is kind of a reply to that). Seems like the picture updates every four hours, and that it happened last time at noon UTC today. And thus it will also be at midnight. So 4, 8, 12, 16, 20 and 24. But it is not certain yet and not sure it happened like that the first day or two. --Kynde (talk) 14:46, 12 January 2022 (UTC)

I have added the first 12 images on this page: Countdown in header text/images - anyone may help uploading the new ones there. --Kynde (talk) 11:43, 12 January 2022 (UTC)

Thank you! 173.245.52.194 12:44, 12 January 2022 (UTC)

Does anyone mind if I make a few spelling/grammar corrections to the article? It feels like the kind of thing that could be interpreted as rude, so I wanted to ask first. 172.70.114.167 13:00, 12 January 2022 (UTC)

No no please help me with my poor spelling. I'm Danish and not very good at spelling in English. Also anything I write is up for debate and can be changed. Just because I started this page do not give me ownership over it. As long as relevant info is not deleted the entire layout maybe changed. But better to get the page going sooner rather than later.--Kynde (talk) 14:46, 12 January 2022 (UTC)
Alright!! Thank you so much for all your great work on this page! 172.70.110.151 18:02, 13 January 2022 (UTC)

I originally put this (without realising it wasn't the Talk page) in the Images sub-page, in response to the revelation it was (very probably) the SHA256 of the image data that was used to name the file:

  • When I first looked at it and decided it was an obvious hash (yes SHA256 sounds about right, but nice to know someone's tried it) I personally had hoped it would be a hash of the datetime (plus a salt, maybe, to give it that extra little frisson of difficulty in reverse engineering... ;) ). But if it's as you say I think I'll refrain from getting any rainbow-tables set up and bashing through the possibilities in the rather huge phase-space it could represent. Of course, there must be a look-up table used by the server. It'd be too much to hope for that it's publically exposed though, and totally a rookie-error if it is. (That Randall, and maybe anyone he actually drafted in to implement it to save himself the worry, is surely not going to commit.)

...anyway, bringing it here, as being more conversational than informative. Still thought I should say it, but stupidly long as a comment so maybe I needn't have repasted it again! 172.70.85.79 03:39, 13 January 2022 (UTC)

(Put this in here as it was before in the explanation --Kynde (talk) 12:02, 13 January 2022 (UTC):) Was going to say it's Hangman, but it looks like it's zooming in on the diagonal instead of continuing to make a gibbet. Thisfox (talk) 06:37, 13 January 2022 (UTC)

I read the javascript of the countdown and noticed one thing that i didn't see mentioned anywhere on this page: the countdown text is moving upwards. When the countdown started the text was exactly in the middle of the image and at the end of the countdown the text will be at the top (you can see how it will look by changing the time in your system). The code will also make the text disappear and leave only the image after the countdown goes to zero. 162.158.90.41 23:52, 13 January 2022 (UTC)

Uuuh thanks that was interesting. Maybe to make more room for the image? --Kynde (talk) 12:09, 14 January 2022 (UTC)

The Greensboro sit-ins started on Feb 1, though the time is different.. But black history month? 172.70.135.48 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Thanks to Theusaf for helping with putting the images up on the image page. --Kynde (talk) 12:09, 14 January 2022 (UTC)

Anyone here that can make an animation out of the images and put it in the explanation? If it is "easy" could it be updated some times on the way towards the final image on January 31st... Like the one on Time. That would be really nice. --Kynde (talk) 17:02, 14 January 2022 (UTC)

I made an animation: [5] (Now i realize it wasn't needed because there already is automatically updating animation linked from the page...) 162.158.159.105 18:18, 15 January 2022 (UTC)
Not if you would let us use it here on xkcd. I have no contact to munvoseli. But if you made one we could upload here on xkcd on this page and then update it a few times, until we have a final version, then that would be much better than having one on a private persons page. Which may be deleted at any time. So cool you made one. If it is possible I would like to have one like the one at Time. --Kynde (talk) 13:41, 18 January 2022 (UTC)

There's something else moving into the frame... We'll have to see what it is. Sure (talk) 19:12, 14 January 2022 (UTC)

To even find this page, I had to page backward through the comic to get to Decorative Constants, go to the discussion, and come across the link to this page from there. I suggest that there be a direct link to this page from the explanation of every comic that existed while the countdown was in progress. A second question: has anyone determined for sure whether the ‘camera’ is zooming out from a blank spot in the final image, in which case we can expect other stuff to come into view from above and right, OR is it panning onto an image that is not changing size, in which case nothing will appear except from the direction it’s moving toward? And if it’s panning, has anyone tried estimating where the current stuff will end up?108.162.246.76 07:42, 15 January 2022 (UTC)

I agree with you and have now changed the four comics that was active while the count down was active so far, so the link to this page is above their explanations. If people keep updating like this for new comics, there will be a link to the countdown page from the front page. --Kynde (talk) 14:40, 15 January 2022 (UTC)


Does Randall already have kids? If not, maybe his wife is expecting? That's something you'd announce and the last two comics are about kids. Another idea: he's going to space 🚀. --162.158.233.115 20:47, 15 January 2022 (UTC)

I’m sure he would have a birth announcement afterward, but I doubt he would try to predict it to the exact second, 21 days in advance.162.158.106.105 22:36, 15 January 2022 (UTC)
Maybe it's a C section? Those are usually scheduled. lol but yeah that's unlikely.Wouldn't rule it out though.Sure (talk) 13:58, 17 January 2022 (UTC)

I noticed that it almost appears to be the tail fin of an airplane. I don’t know if it is, or if an airplane even makes sense? --172.70.230.57 22:11, 15 January 2022 (UTC)

There's not enough time for it to make the several passes necessary, before the big 'reveal', but I'd have suspected Randall capable of parodying the Airplane! in-title parody of Jaws. Would have somewhat been a shaggy-brick joke, but wouldn't put it past him... 172.70.85.79 00:18, 18 January 2022 (UTC)
I actually think, after watching the animation so far on musoveli’s page, it looks more like a main wing of a swept wing commercial aircraft. If it is, and the pattern continues, we should be able to see the main body or an engine nacelle at least. --162.158.62.108 13:39, 18 January 2022 (UTC)
I agree now. First I was sure it was the tail of an airplane, but the way it moves into the image now, makes me think of the wing, with the plane body soon coming into view. That was at image 59... --Kynde (talk) 17:48, 19 January 2022 (UTC)
I think at the time of posting the body has just come into view! I may be wrong, as it is only a tiny sliver, but I am hopeful!--172.70.110.151 01:59, 20 January 2022 (UTC)
I'm still more mentally-prepared for it being a tailfin (seen from the side, the 'new' line being the mid-dorsal surface of the main aircraft hull) than the port wing (the new bit being of the lateral airframe surface forward of the wings and perhaps just behind the cockpit point). But this POV will doubtless be overturned by the revelation of the next frame(s), which will make many of us look just as misdirectedly creduluous as each other. ;) 172.70.86.22 02:50, 20 January 2022 (UTC)
I can see the tailfin too, but because I am a human, and we dont shift our opinons easily, i still think its a plane. We might all be wrong though! This makes me think of a game from elementary school where on kid would draw a line, we would guess what it was, then the would draw another, and so on, until we guessed it. (I just realized that I wasnt logged in for my previous few posts here). --BlackBeret (talk) 13:34, 20 January 2022 (UTC)
(Me again, 172.70.86.22, whatever this signs as.) In case you read me wrong, I was meaning a tailfin of a plane (rudder surface, vertical stabiliser, whatever), so I think we have agreement. Or had. Not seen the latest picture update(s), so my views may imminently change in a few moments when I actually do, and/or yours also will by the time you read this. ;) 172.70.90.173 16:18, 20 January 2022 (UTC)
I understood what you meant by tail fin. I also now think you are right, becuase I think I can see a tiny little line poking out from the bottom corner that could be the vertical tail fin. (Is there a better word for it?)--BlackBeret (talk) 00:46, 21 January 2022 (UTC)
Once again, my opinion has changed. I now once more believe that it is a wing, now that we can see the windows of the plane. It almost looks like spaceshiptwo, which in my opinion is the coolest rocket in the industry right now. But it isn’t, because it doesn’t have the right wings. That was unrelated.--BlackBeret (talk) 02:54, 21 January 2022 (UTC)
On a second look, it could be SpaceShipTwo in “shuttlecock” formation for reentry. Wouldn’t it be cool to see Randall in space? --BlackBeret (talk) 15:23, 21 January 2022 (UTC)
SpaceShipTwo is not really looking at all like this commercial plane I believe it is. A passenger plane is my idea of how it looks now. I cannot tell if it is the wing or tail we see, but is inclined to sat that the thin line is the top of the passenger hull, and thus it is a wing, as the tailfin would not need this extra line as it is fused with the planes body. I also now begins to think the plane will land somewhere we can recognize (sky line) when the counter ends, and Randall is going there. But if he can actually land somewhere that precise seems farfetched. --Kynde (talk) 16:07, 21 January 2022 (UTC)

I believe it looks like he would draw the arm and upper "body" of a person running to the left. 172.68.50.107 01:11, 16 January 2022 (UTC)

Am I the only one thinking it'll be another extra long comic like 1190? 108.162.241.91 02:52, 16 January 2022 (UTC)

Randall is secretly in space, having launched a few days after JWST, and the countdown is to when NASA will see the fruits of his elaborate plan to create the most epic photo bomb of all time. 162.158.187.220 20:59, 16 January 2022 (UTC)

Surprised no one has linked to the xkcd comic called Countdown. It centers on the problem of having a countdown to something and people not knowing what it is (and also not being able to see all relevant information). Seems relevant in a couple ways. https://xkcd.com/1159/ 172.70.230.157 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Yes but there we don't know when the count ends, but we know what it is about. So kind of the reverse of this countdown. But I think I will add a line about it in the explanation. Also a search for Countdown goes there so maybe I also add a link here from that comic. (Remember to sign you comment) --Kynde (talk) 13:32, 18 January 2022 (UTC)

Did anyone calculate the speed/acceleration of the object moving in the frame? We can predict future positions if nothing changes 172.70.162.155 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

It just changed direction so nothing will come from that now. (Remember to sign you comment) --Kynde (talk) 13:32, 18 January 2022 (UTC)

Randall's new comic is about hyposthesis genration (Sound familiar?), and the title text makes a lot of sense if you think about it from his perspective. Sure (talk) 13:06, 18 January 2022 (UTC)

I really do not think this comic is a comment on the countdown. But I can see why it could be funny for us here at explain. But I'm quite sure that Randall stays away from all these fora discussing his comics. We put way to much importance to this site if we think he actually comes here... ;-) --Kynde (talk) 13:14, 18 January 2022 (UTC)

What do the comments in the explanation above that say "the timer may be using EST" mean? The timer is just counting down days, hours, and minutes. We should all see the timer reach zero at the same time even though that may be morning for some readers, afternoon for others, and night for other readers. Randall's living on Eastern Standard Time isn't going to make the countdown run any faster or slower than it would if he lived in a different time zone. --172.70.126.87 16:00, 18 January 2022 (UTC)

Agreed have removed all ref to EST. It is UTZ that is interesting and of course Randall's local time zone in Boston. --Kynde (talk) 16:29, 18 January 2022 (UTC) 172.70.115.20 03:54, 19 January 2022 (UTC)
Guys put that back! It's referring to comic 1061! Not that I think it's likely, butlet's not dismiss that out of hand. 172.70.115.20 03:54, 19 January 2022 (UTC)
That is ridiculous! --Kynde (talk) 07:42, 19 January 2022 (UTC)

I think the image entering the frame is a boomerang! Sure (talk) 12:53, 20 January 2022 (UTC)

Well Randall has sure been fond enough of those that we have the Category:Boomerangs. However, in none of those have he drawn that extra line that have appeared before you suggested this. So I would say, it is not!--Kynde (talk) 16:24, 20 January 2022 (UTC)

Yay, started by the new development with the counter in the xkcd Header text, I was inspired to continue the work I started back in June 2019 when I created the page regarding changes in the header. When I began adding the countdown at the top I became aware that I had left a period of more than a year with Changes not documented yet 2 from September 2015 to November 2016 (Changes not documented yet 1 is anything earlier than March 2014). And today I finished documenting the gap so now Protip on Garden is suddenly also here, just below where the undocumented section was, which I deleted today. And thus the protip is now not just mentioned in the trivia on the 1663: Garden page. Of course it would be great to continue backwards, but it is a hughe project. But there where some important changes in the now closed gap, among other the longest running book promotion for Thing Explainer. Of course I cannot say it is complete back to march 2014, but anything staying longer than two weeks in the front page header I believe I would have found. But I have not walked through every archived version ;-) They load terribly slow. --Kynde (talk) 16:39, 20 January 2022 (UTC)

I guess when more windows come into view, we’ll finally know whether the windows continue far to the left of the wing, or stop well short of the tail fin (which the two currently showing already seem to me to be too close to). 162.158.107.188 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

That is true. Wonder if the plane will land in a city that can be recognized when the counter runs out? --Kynde (talk) 16:07, 21 January 2022 (UTC)