Talk:Countdown in header text

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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 [[1]] 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: [2] (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 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)