2221: Emulation

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 03:23, 29 October 2019 by (talk) (Transcript)
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I laugh at the software as if I'm 100% confident that it's 2019.
Title text: I laugh at the software as if I'm 100% confident that it's 2019.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by an OLD SOFTWARE THAT DOESN'T KNOW IT'S BEING EMULATED. Please mention here why this explanation isn't complete. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

In this comic, software that Cueball is emulating is having a conversation with Cueball, who is bemused by the fact that the software still thinks that it is the 1980s.

The first Personal Computers in the 1970s didn't have local storage, and indeed, even when it became common practice to include storage, it was often very limited for the everyday user's needs until the 2000s. Because of this, large programs such as games or specialized editors had much of their code reside on an external disk such as a floppy (traditionally drive A: on IBM-compatible PCs) or a CD-ROM (traditionally drive D: or E: on IBM-compatible PCs). However, the speed at which data could be loaded from such devices was very slow, requiring anywhere from ten seconds to ten minutes to load a level or an advanced dialog box. Software, for this reason, had to be built around these limitations, incorporating some feedback mechanism to let the user know the program was proceeding as intended. These included animations or minigames which were sometimes timed to the exact time the loading took, since external drives were fairly consistent across manufacturers.

Emulation is a method to allow programs designed form one computer to run on another. In some cases, emulation is used to recreate much older computing environments. When emulating programs that assume their information is stored on external drives, the emulator requests the user to specify where the file is located (Cueball's click). However, on a modern computer with hundreds or thousands of Gigabytes of space, users of emulators often just keep those files locally (often even in the same directory), which makes them load near-instantaneously. This can lead to the loading feedback appearing to be comically sped up, which Cueball interprets as the program expressing surprise, and reads as the program remarking on the speed of his disk drive.

Cueball decides to not burst his anthropomorphized program's bubble and responds that the file loaded quickly because of a new floppy reader from Memorex, the industry leader in floppy disks and drives.

Programmers of the era often assumed either that conditions of the time would last longer than they did (such as representing a year with two characters) or that the program wouldn't be used for long (such as a game portraying the president in the likeness of whoever was president at the time the program was made). In this case, the program casually asks how President Reagan is doing, further anthropomorphizing the program into a being that believes no time has passed since it was compiled (in contrast to 2189: Old Game Worlds).

Ronald Reagan was the President of the United States from 1981-1989, when early PCs were on the rise. He passed away in 2004, 15 years before the publication of the comic. This is why Cueball seems slightly uncomfortable with noncommittally telling the software Reagan is "fine."

In the title text, Cueball references the living in a simulation trope, mentioning that it is not fully clear that he is actually living in 2019.


Ambox notice.png This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.

[Cueball sits in a chair at a desk, using a laptop computer.]

Software: Loading... please insert disk into drive A:
Cueball: *click* There you go.
Software: Thank you. Wow, this disk is incredibly fast!
Cueball: Yeah, uh, it's the new model from Memorex.
Software: Amazing. And how is President Reagan?
Cueball: He's... he's fine.

[Caption under the panel]

I feel weird using old software that doesn't know it's being emulated.

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This reminds me of Miii's "world.execute(me)" song. 05:06, 29 October 2019 (UTC)

Does everyone else also see adds in the middle of the explanation now? It is extremely annoying. :-( Ahh yes, they do, there is a section in the previous comics discussion. Take further grievances there --Kynde (talk) 10:40, 29 October 2019 (UTC)

My first time seeing it: Right under your comment, LOL! I closed it, wish I could explain that it's because this is a really inappropriate place for an ad. They used to appear unobtrusively on the side, as they should be. NiceGuy1 (talk) 04:56, 1 November 2019 (UTC)

I don't see any adds anywhere. ( I also don't see any ads in the middle ;^) 11:34, 29 October 2019 (UTC)

There's an ad (for me, on this device, just before I came in to edit ((now gone - post-posting edit)) ) directly between Kynde's contribution and's. Nothing in the wikicode, but I haven't looked at the HTML source yet to see what was inserted post-wikimarkup. But that wasn't what I came here to edit in.
I was going to say that I've just bought a brand new mouse because my old wired optical mouse is flickering and failing, and I decided not to bother attacking it with a soldering iron (or at least seeing if I should). But I was disappointed to find no direct PS/2 replacement in any store, so this is USB instead. Going to try to dig up an inline USB-to-PS/2 dongle, though, and see if that works with this one's USB pinout, 'cos it's a total waste to put it through my actual USB hubstacks which are overoccupied with anything but HIDs, and asnlong as it passes the clicks and mickeys through I'd prefer my hardware to read it through that otherwise wasted venerable old port. (And if I can find a serial-to-PS/2 dongle, first, I think I have an even older device I can try, in the few days it'll take to get to the workshop where I know I'll find a proper replacement or three to try out..) So, yeah, old hardware too, was my point, somewhere in tht ramble. 16:42, 29 October 2019 (UTC)
I note that this comment section ends with a wiki tag (i.e. inside two sets of curly brackets) that says the comic's name and "/Ads", I suspect that means "Ads are allowed here in this section". Probably ExplainXKCD trying to make more revenue. As for your thing, that's what I've always hated about USB mice and keyboards, especially when they first came out. There used to be a dedicated place to plug in the mouse and keyboard, without needlessly using up a far more versatile and useful USB (the U standing for Universal, after all), and it's not like either is really optional. Though my current motherboard has USBs in that location, so I guess I can treat them as dedicated, but it doesn't feel the same. NiceGuy1 (talk) 05:05, 1 November 2019 (UTC)
Ad blocker? :) NiceGuy1 (talk) 05:24, 1 November 2019 (UTC)

SNES9x is one of the main emulators of SNES hardware; since plenty of people running it are younger than an SNES would be, it seems appropriate to be the "created by". Thank you to people making emulators everywhere for helping prolong our shared childhood. (Also thanks to Vimms lair for unrelated reasons) -- (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Actually, today's computers can take not just multiple floppy disks, but multiple CD-ROMs into RAM. Which itself is faster than it used to be. Talk about "near-instantaneously load" ... -- Hkmaly (talk) 19:26, 29 October 2019 (UTC) 20:18, 29 October 2019 (UTC) also related with these news https://www.c4isrnet.com/air/2019/10/17/the-us-nuclear-forces-dr-strangelove-era-messaging-system-finally-got-rid-of-its-floppy-disks/

Is the date on this comic accurate? A Tuesday release?

Not officially (the archive says 2019-10-28), but it did come out awfully late. The bot created the page at 11:04 pm on the 28th, but I don't which timezone. UTC. --Ycthiognass (talk) 14:39, 30 October 2019 (UTC)
I fixed the release date in the comic header to reflect the actual Monday release instead of Tuesday. Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 14:53, 30 October 2019 (UTC)

I think the title text is just a feel-old joke and not a reference to science fiction or living in a simulation. 05:56, 26 November 2020 (UTC)

Note: This topic is contained in a separate Talk page and was transcluded into the talk pages of new comics. This is to maintain a single discussion on the ads which affect all of explain xkcd. Click the "[edit]" button above to add comments about ads. --NeatNit (talk) 22:20, 3 November 2019 (UTC)

explainxkcd ads.jpg
When looking at the article page, I'm seeing several Google ads splashed across the full width of the article space, breaking it up randomly and making it more difficult to read (it sometimes interrupts the Transcript, for example, and also randomly crops up in the already-hard-to-read Discussion box). It looks awful. Is anyone else seeing them? I understand that ads are needed to pay for Explain XKCD's server costs, but they're really detrimental to the article. Hawthorn (talk) 13:13, 28 October 2019 (UTC)
Yeah, I'm seeing them, too, and I agree. ExplainXKCD is one of the few pages on my AdBlock white list. Please don't make me reconsider my decision. Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 13:47, 28 October 2019 (UTC)
Thank you for creating the new section. Yes, not only am I seeing them invade the text, but invade the text three times with the same advert. Perhaps we need a new tag to make room for advertising 13:59, 28 October 2019 (UTC)
I've added a tall screenshot of this to the right. Just from the thumbnail it's easy to see how disruptive it is to the page. --NeatNit (talk) 21:06, 28 October 2019 (UTC)
Oh, yours have images? Mine don't - they're just big white blocks with some text in them (which I think is even more disruptive since they are harder to distinguish from body text). But still, yeah, absolutely not a fan of this at all. It makes the site feel incredibly tacky. Hawthorn (talk) 21:34, 28 October 2019 (UTC)
Yes I also see them with pictures and it is horrible. :-( Will try to see if making a Admin requests will help... --Kynde (talk) 10:34, 29 October 2019 (UTC)
I'm not seeing them in the explanation - Maybe they fixed that? - but like FOUR times in the comments, which seems excessive. It seems less obtrusive than as described here - and shown, thanks NeatNit - but it still seems disgusting. They should keep them unobtrusive, like they've always been on the side. NiceGuy1 (talk) 05:17, 1 November 2019 (UTC)
I find it interesting that this Ad topic block is appearing on multiple comics (I saw it on 2221, where I added my other comments, then 2222, now this is 2220, and I see the same comments, including mine). I also find it interesting that after I left each comment on 2221 - between the comic's comment section and this one, like 8 edits or so, I kept finding things to say or corrections to my comments - I refreshed the page to see my edit show up, and after a couple I stopped seeing ads. Either there's a daily quota or it remembered that I closed each ad? Maybe a combination? NiceGuy1 (talk) 05:51, 1 November 2019 (UTC)
The topic showing up in multiple comic discussing is my doing - because this topic affects all of explainxkcd, I want to make sure it's always visible in the latest comic. I used wiki transclusion to do this. The discussion is actually held in Talk:2220: Imagine Going Back in Time/Ads and is inserted (transcluded) in all the other talk pages. --NeatNit (talk) 12:50, 2 November 2019 (UTC)
Oh, then may I say Way to go! I completely concur, this is an ongoing topic. (Though the ads seem gone now, at least for me) NiceGuy1 (talk) 05:11, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
Since the ads seem gone now, it seems like this section can stop being added to every new comic (though in my opinion it should remain on the relevant comics that were published during this dark time, I think 2220 until like 2225 or so...) NiceGuy1 (talk) 05:35, 10 November 2019 (UTC)
I'm only seeing 1 ad, always (regardless of which comic's explanation I'm seeing) after the second paragraph, always with pictures. The existence of the ad doesn't annoy me as much as the fact that it'll sometimes load after I've already read past that point, pushing the text I am reading down. -- 16:47, 29 October 2019 (UTC)
Click the X and report the ads for reason "Ad covers content". Maybe they'll even do something about it! 16:54, 30 October 2019 (UTC)
The thing is, that looks more like a complaint against the particular ad. Even picking "covers content" I get a response "Okay, we'll try not to show this ad any more". My objection isn't to the particular ad, it's to the EXISTENCE and PLACEMENT of the ad. I don't care what's IN the ad, it shouldn't be there at all! I accept the evil necessity of ads, just don't shove them down my throat, encouraging more people to use the ad blockers the obnoxious sites always whine about. NiceGuy1 (talk) 05:17, 1 November 2019 (UTC)
NiceGuy1 is correct. The complaint button is against a single advert, not against the advert block placement. It's not unlike filling a complaint against a business renting a billboard because you have a problem with where the billboard is placed. The business renting the space has no control over where the billboard is. 04:35, 2 November 2019 (UTC)

I'm not seeing these ads right now, have they been removed entirely? --NeatNit (talk) 12:41, 2 November 2019 (UTC)

I don't see them anymore either. Only the one on the left below the navigation bar remains, which has always been there and doesn't bother me. Bischoff (talk) 07:42, 4 November 2019 (UTC)
Ok, never mind. After I posted this and went back to the page the ads are back as well. Bischoff (talk) 07:42, 4 November 2019 (UTC)
All I see are the letters "Ads". Seems my Firefox blocks it. -- 13:57, 5 November 2019 (UTC)

I do not see any additional adds, but some additional linebreaks in between the pages, which fit the places described by those, seeing adds. Using Chrome on a company computer... So I do not know what exactly the settings are, but generally it does not block adds. (I even see the lunarpages add on the left) --Lupo (talk) 12:26, 6 November 2019 (UTC)

Last Wednesday (6 to 7 days ago), according to the time stamps on my previous comments above, I was seeing 4 or 5 ads in a rather short comment section (which went away after a few refreshes after a few comments). Now I see none. Maybe whoever turned them on saw the negative reaction and turned them back off? Or maybe they only needed a quick cash injection and turned it off after they got what they needed, LOL! NiceGuy1 (talk) 05:07, 8 November 2019 (UTC)

They indeed seem to have vanished. Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 14:42, 8 November 2019 (UTC)

I'm going to stop adding this conversation to new comics for the time being, because it seems like the ads have gone. It's weird though; no admin has commented on this. If you still see ads, let me know! --NeatNit (talk) 05:37, 10 November 2019 (UTC)

I removed this from the talk page for all but the first comic after it was first posted (as on that page there where also discussion on adds) --Kynde (talk) 15:04, 12 November 2019 (UTC)
Seems like there are no admins active at the moment... --Kynde (talk) 15:04, 12 November 2019 (UTC)

I still have areas on parts of some pages (e.g. in the discussion part of 1109 from time to time, which are according to the inspect tool, frames for google adds. They either cover part of the text, so I cannot click/mark it (what I often do to find the line I am reading in easier, or just to have my hand busy), or they create big interuptions of the text. --Lupo (talk) 10:57, 14 November 2019 (UTC)

December return of the ads

xkcd ads dec12.png
The horizontal ads are back. Noticed some on 2227 and decided to report back to this thread that the issue has not fully ended. ChessCake (talk) 13:47, 4 December 2019 (UTC)
Yes, I got them too. Also in the past weeks I got containers/placeholders in some places, which, according to the inspecting tool, where also for adds. Since today or yesterday they are fillign with adds again. --Lupo (talk) 13:52, 4 December 2019 (UTC)
I'm seeing them too.
They're back.
Ahiijny (talk) 14:48, 4 December 2019 (UTC)
The top-level div for one of those ad elements has class google-auto-placed ap_container. Possibly related: https://techcrunch.com/2018/02/21/google-debuts-adsense-auto-ads-with-machine-learning-to-make-placement-and-monetization-choices/ https://wpadvancedads.com/adsense-in-random-positions-auto-ads/ https://stackoverflow.com/questions/51183831/prevent-adsense-auto-ad-from-showing-ad-in-specific-area Ahiijny (talk) 14:56, 4 December 2019 (UTC)
Yup, they're back... I've transcluded this page in the latest comic's discussion page, and I've added a new screenshot here (more disruptive than the one Ahiijny showed). I've also made a comment on User talk:Davidy22, hopefully he'll receive an email about that. This stinks. --NeatNit (talk) 23:35, 11 December 2019 (UTC)
Yes they are back with a vengeance. Sadly it seems neither Davidy or Dgbrt are active anymore or replies to any messages written on their pages. They are the two last admins that have been active here. But Davidy has not been for more than two years (2017) and it has been some times since Dgbrt was active (march 2019)... PS I'm not an admin, just very active ;-) --Kynde (talk) 14:35, 12 December 2019 (UTC)

As of today, I am seeing fullwidth ads, but only in the talk page space. Aside from the usual sidebar ads, the rest of the explanation page doesn't have any. --Aaron of Mpls (talk) 21:45, 17 January 2020 (UTC)

After being fixed again, it now appears that users are seeing the erroneously placed ads again. Not a very nice April Fool's joke... ProphetZarquon (talk) 14:20, 3 April 2020 (UTC)

I've just started to get some huge ads that basically take up my entire screen. Have we gotten any updates at all? Opalmagpie (talk) 02:59, 23 September 2020 (UTC)