2601: Instructions

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Happy little turtles
Title text: Happy little turtles

  • To experience the interactivity of the game, visit the original comic.


This is the 12th April fools' comic released by Randall. The previous April fools' comic was 2445: Checkbox, which was released on Thursday, April 1st, 2021. The next became 2765: Escape Speed released on Friday April 19th, 2023 (a regular release day, but 18 days late).

The comic displays just a small radio button (or option button). Usually, there would be more than one to give the user options. Once it has been selected it cannot be deselected. Once pressed the button turns blue and this starts the real part of this April fool's comic.

The comic consists of an audio file. The speech is a mix of facts about turtles and coding instructions in LOGO. When executed, the instructions draw an xkcd comic. The audio file is 9 hours and 7 minutes long.

Click to view the animation of the code running to create the picture, sourced from the GitHub.

Once the voice begins to describe the instructions (hence the title) it is possible to mute the audio by pressing a muted button at the bottom right of the screen. This fades into view when the radio button is pushed. Pressing it will change the button to a non muted loudspeaker. These were the same buttons that were in the previous April fool's comic 2445: Checkbox. That was the first xkcd comic with audio, and thus these were two April fools' comics with audio in a row, and these are the only comics with audio. In the Checkbox comic, the mute buttons meaning are reversed, so the sound is on when the loudspeaker is shown and muted when the mute button is shown. It could be another layer to the April fool's joke or just an error by Randall.

The image originally displayed on this page was of a small turtle crawling in the center where the radio button is in the real comic. That was the image that would be downloaded by web crawlers like explain xkcd's bot, as it is what was placed here on xkcd: https://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/instructions_2x.png. This is of course not the real comic, which cannot be downloaded in that manner.

The "turtle" is a key concept in Logo, a programming language especially designed to teach programming to children in an easy way. The turtle in the logo is the cursor. Programming commands move the turtle, drawing a line as it goes. Of course, listening to hours of instructions, including the speech-synthesized reading of source code, is not an easy way to code or draw a picture.[citation needed]

In addition, at the end of the audio the voice says:

"I even talk to turtles at times, but you need to understand LOGO to appreciate the great, great things that have been created. We spend so much of our life typing, looking, but never ever seeing."

The title text alludes to Bob Ross's catchphrase "happy little trees" in The Joy of Painting, a PBS TV show in which Ross leads the viewer through the painting of a nature scene. The audio file itself is also presented in the style of The Joy of Painting; it begins with greeting the viewer and introducing the color palette to be used (just one color, in this case, as Logo and all computer monitors of the time were monochrome). The speaker then reads out some helper functions to be used in programming the scene, which is more analogous to Ross's palette of paints (titanium white, carmine red, etc.) along with words of encouragement as each is completed. The functions are DIST, to calculate the Euclidean distance between two points, LERP, to perform linear interpolation, MIX to average two numbers (with LERP), and CUBIC to draw cubic Hermite splines. From there, the speaker alternates between sketching parts of the scene and offering more words of encouragement, mixed in with turtle facts.

Transcribing the audio into text was organized as a project on github.

This is not the first time that Randall made an interactive comic where turtles played a big part, see 1416: Pixels. In this, he jokes with the idea of turtles all the way down, which is also mentioned in the audio file. He also made a comic simply called 889: Turtles.

Unique header text[edit]

This comic has a unique header text, see the details here. The header is:

"Today's comic was created with Patrick, Amber, @chromakode, Michael, Kat, Conor, @zigdon, and Benjamin Staffin."

The header had not changed since the promotion of the new what if? 2 book.

The resulting image[edit]

xkcd 2601 finished picture.png

Explanation of the image[edit]

The image drawn by the Logo program is a depiction of Bob Ross standing in front of a canvas, on which he has painted "a happy little tree, holding up a happy little world". However, unlike his usual "happy little trees", the tree depicted is not a small pine, but rather a gargantuan World Tree growing from the back of a giant World Turtle, on which a Flat Earth rests. (The "happy little world" does bear several small pines more typical of his style.) Several ornaments hang from the World Tree, referencing the common practice of hanging ornaments on Christmas trees.

Near the middle of the world, a Cueball sits while listening to the radio, perhaps tuning in to the same transmission that generated the image. Closer to the reader, a turtle is shown walking around, leaving dotted-line tracks behind it, suggestive of the Logo turtle. The dotted-line tracks spell out "TY", shorthand for "thank you" (presumably directed to the readers).

At the far top right, a dotted line is shown past which the words "vacuum decay" are written. This is a hypothetical effect in which the universe, being in a metastable state, decays to a true vacuum, and the resulting annihilation of everything expands at the speed of light. As such, humans would have no idea if there were an approaching false vacuum until it arrived at Earth.

At the far left of the image, a robot and human are drawn next to a turtle which has flipped onto its back. The robot declares, "Poor thing!" while the human says "I'll help". This is a reference to the "empathy tests" employed to distinguish humans from androids in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and its film adaptation Blade Runner. As part of the test, the listener is asked to imagine being in the desert, flipping a tortoise onto its back, and refusing to turn it back over, while their eyes are monitored for signs of emotional response (or lack thereof). In this case, the robot expresses sympathy for the turtle and the human declares that he will turn it back over. (In this case, however, the robot is very clearly distinguishable from a human being.)

Transcript of the image[edit]

[A man with large hair and a beard, meant to resemble Bob Ross, is holding an artist's palette with five patches of paint in one hand and a paintbrush in the other. He looks upon his canvas, where he has painted a large painting.]
Painter: A happy little tree
Painter: Holding up a happy little world.
[The painting contains lots of stuff. Most notably, an enormous tree with a large, flat top grows on the back of a similarly large turtle at the bottom of the painting, the top of whose shell has been replaced with soil. On the tree is a robot that sees Cueball bending down to lift a turtle that is on its back. They talk:]
Robot: Poor thing!
Cueball: I'll help
[In the top right corner, there is a dotted line forming a semi-circle around the corner. Inside this are the words:]
Vacuum decay
[There are no other words in the image. The image includes:]

In the sky:

  • Mars, including:
    • A Mars rover (appears to be Curiosity or Perseverance), which is examining a turtle
    • A small rover (appears to be Sojourner)
  • The JWST (James Webb Space Telescope)
  • The ISS and what appears to be a TIE fighter transiting the sun
  • Saturn
  • A small planet with a man and a flower (Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry)
  • A moon of Saturn, with both Cueball and a tiny turtle
  • A constellation in the shape of a turtle
  • A constellation in the shape of a kite (or a tetrahedron)
  • A constellation that appears to be the little dipper (Ursa Minor) stacked inside the big dipper (Ursa Major), resembling a lemon squeezer, next to an object that appears to be half a lemon.
  • Cueball playing tennis with incoming meteors
  • A rocket
  • Three birds
  • Two galaxies
  • A star which appears to have teleported

On top of the tree:

  • Cueball listening to a radio
  • Ponytail holding a balloon
  • Megan looking over the edge
  • A turtle who may have walked a path in the shape of the letters "T" and "Y"
  • A squirrel
  • A rabbit
  • Two happy little trees
  • Eight scattered tufts of grass and five scattered rocks
  • Mountains in the background, one of which seems to have a gigantic Egg on its top and stairs leading to it, which is likely a reference to the video game The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening.

Under the tree:

  • Beret guy looking out of a window in the tree
  • Blondie standing at the base of the tree
  • One happy little tree on top of the turtle
  • Ponytail in a balloon, throwing out an anchor towards the turtle
  • A helicopter with a stegosaurus tail (thagomizer)
  • Three glass ball ornaments hanging from the tree


[The comic consists of one radio button, a small circle in the center of a large white panel. It is interactive. When pressing the radio button (selecting it), it turns blue. The second the radio button is pressed a more than 9-hour long audio file of coding instructions begins to play, and a mute button appears in the bottom right corner. It fades slowly into full opacity. Pressing this button will change it to a loudspeaker. It toggles whether there is sound playing or not. It is not possible to shut down the audio by pressing the radio button. Once selected it cannot be deselected as there is only this one option.]
[Covered by the radio button is an image of a turtle crawling from left to right, with a dotted line trailing behind it, indicating its movement. This image can only be seen by looking in the place where images for xkcd are usually placed on xkcd.]
[To read a transcript of the audio file go here: 2601: Instructions/Audio Transcript.]


  • If you have scripts disabled, you will just see a picture of a little turtle which is not interactive.
  • The Tree being atop a turtle in the finished comic (as well as the general turtle theme) could be a reference to the programming phrase "it's turtles all the way down", which is used to describe infinite recursion. A world atop a turtle (albeit with elephants between) is also a Discworld reference, derived by Terry Pratchett from the same mythic roots, and something Randall is known to have occasionally referenced.

Index of facts[edit]

Merriam-Webster defines a turtle as a noun. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=569
Here are some interesting notes from interesting facts about turtles. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=962
Over a great many years, I have taken a great interest in the land turtle. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=973
One of the interesting points about turtles is their great variety of foods. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=1415
in the pen and in five minutes it is surrounded by the turtles, https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=1976
when I found one of the large turtles had caught and disemboweled, the very large toad, https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=2648
I have seen turtles eating at 11:00 at night https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=2655
the youngest of turtles I have ever had seems to take to the same food as the adults https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=3506
I made friends with a turtle yesterday and he gave me his phone number. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=4283
Running away is slow as compared to this turtle propulsion. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=4522
Occasionally one can see a turtle dragging another one along https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=5370
I have never known a land turtle to bite https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=5382
Some people have turtles in their cellars believing that they catch rats and mice. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=5853
I believe that these turtles died because they were exhausted https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=5879
and mice might be kept away by the noise made by the turtle making its endless https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=6151
But doubt whether a turtle could catch a rat or a mouse https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=6158
In this, the turtles would enjoy themselves https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=6437
How about some interesting things in 10 facts about marine turtles from the WWF UK. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=6622
There are seven species of marine turtle. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=6628
Marine turtles were around more than 100 https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=6632
These days, scientists recognize seven species of marine turtle, https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=6638
turtles do not have teeth. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=6890
Turtle shells are made of over 50 bones fused together. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=7064
The first few years of a marine turtle's life are known as the lost years. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=7352
Marine turtle species vary greatly in size. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=7654
Wales holds the world record for the largest marine turtle ever found https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=7675
1000 marine turtle hatchlings make it to adulthood. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=8216
turtles seem to prefer red, orange, and yellow food. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=10106
I'm beginning to suspect it's turtles all the way down https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=10403
marine turtles can migrate incredibly long distances. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=10623
Marine turtles. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=11365
move the turtle https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=11788
Here are some more interesting bits from interesting facts about turtles. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=11913
several occasions with the turtle still in c. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=12612
there is an artist in the bottom of everybody https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=12934
The number laid by a turtle varies https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=15403
I have also observed one turtle laying its eggs https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=15411
I had the pleasure of seeing six little baby turtles come out https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=16167
The turtle commenced to dig at six p.m. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=16753
Five days later a second turtle dug these eggs out arid, https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=16760
personally. I do not believe that the turtle digging out. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=16768
turtles a year factoid. Actually just statistical error, https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=16972
average person paints zero turtles per year https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=16976
turtles. Georg who lives in cave and eats over 10,000 each day https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=16980
The young turtles when they make their emergence at the end of three months, https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=17234
Do you know what A sea turtle's favorite sandwiches? https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=17526
Just ask the next sea turtle you meet. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=17536
Here are some interesting observations from odd facts about turtles. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=17639
It has been said that the turtle, https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=17647
In many ways. The turtle is one or the strangest of living things, https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=17943
But the turtle in all his varieties in all his ways is a most mysterious animal. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=17961
Your turtle is neither fish, flesh nor fowl. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=17979
a little turtle https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=18667
there is none so tenacious of life as the turtle https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=18986
Leave the turtle apparently undisturbed https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=18992
Just as soon as a baby turtle emerges from the egg off he scuttles down to the sea. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=19273
The young turtle feeds unmolested while his armor undergoes the hardening process https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=19306
whatever the young sea turtle eats and wherever he eats it https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=19628
the turtle is free from all danger https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=19915
interferes with the turtle https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=19924
Cool facts about turtles from Deutsche Welle. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=20499
There is a reason why turtles look a little prehistoric. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=20506
Luckily for the turtles, they're burrowing and water-dwelling habits. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=20527
While a turtle's lifespan largely depends on the species, https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=20926
A typical pet turtle can make it to anywhere between 10 and 80 years. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=20935
Researchers think some turtles could even be hundreds of years old. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=20949
There are currently 356 known species of turtles. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=21629
There are sea turtles, leatherback turtles, snapping turtles, https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=21642
pond turtles, soft-shelled turtles, and of course tortoises, https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=21646
Not all turtles or tortoises https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=22175
but all tortoises or turtles. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=22177
technically all tortoises are in fact turtles. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=22181
But the main difference between turtles and https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=22192
while most turtles live in or near water https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=22198
Some turtles are vegetarians https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=22405
Most turtles are actually omnivores but a few species https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=22409
Not to the fearsome-looking alligator turtle https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=22421
Even water-dwelling turtles will dig their nests https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=22805
No species of turtle sticks around to raise their young. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=22814
A turtle's gender is determined by temperature https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=23005
A turtle's gender is determined after fertilization. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=23010
If the turtles eggs incubate below 27.7 degrees Celsius, https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=23015
turtles tend to give birth to more females https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=23037
Sea turtles are known for their amazing ability to return https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=23182
turtles can navigate their way at sea by https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=23190
turtles have strong underwater eyesight. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=23618
Although sea turtles are famous for their internal GPS https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=23629
Six out of seven turtle species are classified as https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=23919
How about some interesting facts from turtle facts by Alina Bradford. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=24214
turtles are reptiles with hard shells that protect them from predators. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=24221
Turtles live all over the world in almost every type of climate https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=24233
the turtle order https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=24479
turtle, https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=24874
turtles spend most of their lives in water. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=25251
Sea turtles rarely leave the ocean except to lay eggs in the sand. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=25260
Freshwater turtles live in ponds and lakes https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=25266
With so many different types of turtle. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=25760
The largest sea turtle species is the leatherback turtle. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=25765
The largest freshwater turtle in North America is the alligator snapping turtle. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=25788
The Yangtze giant softshell turtle is the largest softshell turtle. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=25799
A turtle's shell is a modified rib cage and part of its vertebral column https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=26177
All the thoughts of a turtle are turtles and of a rabbit rabbits. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=26401
So let's try to think like a turtle https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=26406
Many turtles are able to retract their heads and feet into their shells, https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=26450
turtles are placed in the two sub-orders based on the method of retraction. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=26455
Sea turtles have lost the ability to retract their heads https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=26472
turtles are very adaptive and can be found on every continent except Antarctica. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=26676
Most turtle species are found in southeastern North America and South Asia. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=26681
sea turtles can be found in the coral triangle. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=26844
what do you get if you cross a turtle with a giraffe, https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=26976
a turtleneck https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=26981
The African helmeted turtle is the most common turtle in Africa, https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=27157
roti island. Snake-necked turtles are found only on Rhode island. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=27221
turtles are not social creatures https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=27393
while they typically don't mind if there are other turtles around them, https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=27396
Most turtles are active during the day, https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=27405
turtles are not silent creatures. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=27537
Most turtles are omnivores. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=27961
musk turtles eat mollusks, https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=27968
The cooter turtle is mostly vegetarian https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=27973
and the green sea turtle only eats grasses and algae. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=27976
The alligator snapping turtle lures in fish with its tongue https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=28293
crayfish and other turtles. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=28313
All turtles lay eggs. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=28483
No species of turtle nurtures their young https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=28493
turtles reach the age to mate at different times. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=28762
Male and female turtles intertwined their tails so https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=29117
sea turtles travel from the ocean to lay eggs on beaches. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=29387
sea turtles lay around 110 eggs in a nest https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=29392
Though the flatback turtle only lays 50 at a time https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=29396
the temperature of the sand affects the sex of the turtle. https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=29661
Too many sea turtle females are being born https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=29673
according to the sea turtle. Conservancy https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=29679
Many turtle species are listed as threatened, https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=29984
I even talked to turtles at times https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=32815

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Turtle graphics

So these are instructions for a turtle graphics program. The audio is drawn from https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3, a 9 hour 7 minute 12 second long audio file It's generated by feeding turtle code into a text-to-speech program, but idk which language or which program. If you can convert the speech back to text, somehow without ruining the formatting (or just do a lot of editing with regex until it looks right), you could feed it into a turtle graphics program and get the resulting drawing.

If you're not familiar with Turtle and Logo, look at this [guide]. The short version is that these commands move a little cursor, called a turtle, which draws a line as it moves and turns. At this time, contributors have applied a few different computer transcriptions to the entire audio. There are quotes about turtles from a variety of sources intermixed with Logo code. It is expected that some correction to the code is needed, such as adding parenthesis that are not spoken in the audio. Standard Logo commands found in the audio are: PENUP, PENDOWN, SETHEADING (N) (N), SETXY (N) (N), and FORWARD (N). Some custom functions are defined, including DIST (N) (N) (N) (N), LERP (N) (N) (N), MIX (N) (N), CUBIC (N) (N) (N) (N), and SQUARE (N) (N). The next steps are to test the transcripts of these custom functions in a Logo interpreter, at which point we can begin drawing the picture. Mannerisky (talk) 02:45, 2 April 2022 (UTC)
The picture indeed will be Bob Ross. The first hour of radio has him saying, "A happy little tree - holding up a happy little world." We can coordinate transcribing this code at GitHub Repository. Credit for this progress goes to the GitHub owner. Mannerisky (talk) 04:55, 2 April 2022 (UTC)

I don't know what the current image on this page is. Is that the drawing you get by following these instructions? 20:58, 1 April 2022 (UTC)

Wait I see now, that is the actual image for the comic. It just gets covered up by the button so I can't see it. 21:03, 1 April 2022 (UTC)
Ah, it looks like someone realized it's actually longer than that. After downloading it, I found it to be 131,329,389 bytes. The Windows Properties viewer claims it is 8h41m08s in length, but that's wrong. It is actually 9h07m06s. By the way, the code is in the Logo language. He seems to have copied this from a book, but I don't know which one. 21:12, 1 April 2022 (UTC)
Worth taking a look at? I can start looking for books that contain that text162.158.107.52 21:39, 1 April 2022 (UTC)
The automatic speech system is using standard punctuation processing, meaning that critical marks for the code aren't being announced. You can't get the code from the samples without filling in the blanks after getting a transcript. N (talk) 22:19, 1 April 2022 (UTC)

The MP3 file ends with this text: "I even talk to turtles at times. But you need to understand LOGO to appreciate the great, great things that have been created. We spend so much of our life typing, looking, but never ever seeing." 21:17, 1 April 2022 (UTC)

april fools' comic? GcGYSF(asterisk)P(vertical line)e (talk) 21:18, 1 April 2022 (UTC)

I think it's an April Fool's joke. 21:20, 1 April 2022 (UTC)
Well is it 2022/04/01 21:26, 1 April 2022 (UTC)

Broken Version

I think mine's broken. I don't get it. 21:29, 1 April 2022 (UTC)

You press the radio button, it selects it, then you can press it a zillion times in any pattern and all it ever does is blink the entire image. Nothing else ever appears other than the radio button, and there’s never any sound so pressing the speaker in the corner to supposedly turn it on or off is also completely pointless. 23:31, 1 April 2022 (UTC)
Alright, it’s April 2nd now, so if all of you have been LYING about it actually doing something, just playing along with the joke, you can admit it now. 18:40, 2 April 2022 (UTC)
Did it only work on American April 1st, or only for some people? It's the third of April here now, and it's still a boring button that clicks on once and does nothing else. Have I missed it? 20:38, 2 April 2022 (UTC)

Given the alt text "happy little turtles" and the tone of the narration I assume we're supposed to pretend the narrator is Bob Ross guiding us to creating an artistic masterpiece with Logo 21:31, 1 April 2022 (UTC)

Guys, it's been HOURS and the transcription is still incomplete. Step it up! 21:37, 1 April 2022 (UTC)

Not even sure what the transcript should be. I did my best162.158.107.52 21:41, 1 April 2022 (UTC)
I have a feeling this might be one of the longest transcripts on the site. 21:57, 1 April 2022 (UTC)
Wanna bet? 1608: Hoverboard/Transcript... --Kynde (talk) 20:35, 2 April 2022 (UTC)
Or 980: Money/Transcript --Kynde (talk) 21:59, 2 April 2022 (UTC)

Up until someone automates the process, I'll be working on the transcript and saving it in exkcd in parts (: Don't worry too much about edit overrides, I'll be transcribing in a google doc to avoid that! --Wielder of the Staple Gun (talk) 21:53, 1 April 2022 (UTC)

The sections about turtles between the code blocks seems to be from

Interesting Facts About Turtles A Little Nature Study by a Scientist that will Interest Old and Young Naturalists Alike By Randle C. Rosenberger M. D., Professor of Hygiene and Bacteriology, Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, Pa. https://archive.org/stream/foreststream861916newy/foreststream861916newy_djvu.txt

The uni.xkcd version of this comic also just shows the turtle like this article. So much for uses two April Fools comics against each other ;) 22:44, 1 April 2022 (UTC)

I ran the MP3 through Amazon Transcribe. It can do only 4 hours at a time, so I had to split the original file. I went from start to 03:59:59, 03:59:59 to 07:59:58, and 07:59:58 to end. Amazon Transcribe also gave me some subtitle files (index 1). They have time codes in them. So if someone wanted to note the times of the little quips, and host the audio file somewhere where links to the middle of the file can be generated (like YouTube), that could be cool. Below are the transcriptions for analysis. Replace X with 1, 2, or 3; and replace Y with json, srt, or vtt. Pgn674 (talk) 23:15, 1 April 2022 (UTC)

No need to host anything special. Let's say we want to jump to time code 02:35:14.840 from the vtt subtitle file #1 (line 7084, subtitle 1771). 2*60*60+35*60+14=9314. Subtract a few seconds, and make a link like this. Click here to learn about turtle noises: https://xkcd.com/2601/radio.mp3#t=9310 Pgn674 (talk) 23:48, 1 April 2022 (UTC)
I went and found all mentions of "turtle", extracted those lines, and generated links to them. Programmatically. If anyone wants to go through and do some manual review and fine tuning, go ahead. Pgn674 (talk) 00:57, 2 April 2022 (UTC)

I threw Adobe Premiere Pro at it: https://anonfiles.com/pbYfK7Sax4/radio_csv; and https://anonfiles.com/35YbKeScxe/radio_txt are the results. Note: these transcribe until 07:01:28:19. I am currently in the process of making APP suffer more and churn out the last two hours. --ẞ qwertz (talk) 23:54, 1 April 2022 (UTC)

So... what language is this? I'm hearing: PENUP, PENDOWN, SETHEADING (N) (N), SETXY (N) (N), FORWARD (N) - all of which are standard LOGO commands. But I'm also hearing something that sounds like CUBIC (N) (N) (N) (N) (N) (N), though it could also be QBIT, or text-to-speech for something like "^3". Either way it's NOT a standard LOGO command, so suggests it's a variant. Does not seem to be KTurtle, POOL, UCBLogo. QLogo, FMSLogo, and then I got bored searching. -- 00:37, 2 April 2022 (UTC)

In the automatic transcription it has "Two cubic colon X one colon Y one colon X two"... which would be TO CUBIC :X1 :Y1 :X2 ... so it is defined above. 01:15, 2 April 2022 (UTC)
Yes, some of the commands seem to be defined at the top. CUBIC at the top, SQUARE maybe somewhere else. So a shortcut to decyphering it might be to just extract and render all the cubes from the "CUBIC" and "SQUARE" commands, given their values. But what format are the cubes? Are they even the coordinates of cubes? For both commands, the six numbers seem to be in the format A B A B A B where the As and Bs are similar or even in some cases identical, which seems a strange thing for a cube:
SetXY -443 412
Square -443 405 -443 397 -444 390

The definition seems to be something like:

ToCubic : X1 : Y1 : X2 : Y2 : Ex : Ey --- Parameter definitions?
local Make " X0 XCor  --- Local variable definitions?
Local Make " Y0 YCor
Local Make " ErrX1 Lerp : X0 : X 0.25
local Make " ErrY1 Lerp : Y0 : Ey 0.25
Local Make " ErrX2 Lerp : X0 : Ex 0.75
Local Make " ErrY2 Lerp : Y0 : Ey 0.75
    LessP : picks error Dist : ErrX1 : ErrY1 : X1 : Y1 
    LessP : picks error Dist : ErrX2 : ErrY2 : X2 : Y2
    Local Make " Qx0 mix : X0 : X1
    Local Make " Qy0 mix : Y0 : Y1
    Local Make " Qx1 mix : X1 : X2
    Local Make " qy1 Mix : Y1 : Y2
    Local Make " Qx2 mix : X2 : EX
    Local Make " Qy2 mix : Y2 : Ey
    Local Make " Lx0 mix : Qx0 : QX1
    Local Make " Ly0 mix : Qy0 : QY1
    Local Make " Lx1 Mix : Qx1 : Qx2
    Local Make " Ly1 Mix : qy1 : Q
    Local Make " PmX Mix : Lx0 : Lx1
    Local Make " PmY Mix : Ly0 : LY1
    Cubic : Qx0 : qy0 : Lx0 : Ly0 : PmX : PmY
    Cubic : Lx1 : Ly1 : Qx2 : Qy2 : Ex : Ey
    SetXY : Ex : Ey

Least, that's what it sounds like, but I suspect round brackets and suchlike are not spoken aloud :( -- 01:54, 2 April 2022 (UTC)

Maybe it's implementing a cubic spline interpolation, not a tridimensional cube. 11:08, 2 April 2022 (UTC)

Feels like the speech processing is lossy, so generating the code will be a lengthy labor of love transcribing it, then debugging it, trying to fill the gaps. The code may also have been fed through an automated "Bob Ross filter" which may have lost even more data. -- 00:37, 2 April 2022 (UTC)

About a quarter of the way into the text is the line "You know, I'm beginning to suspect it's turtles all the way down!" 00:46, 2 April 2022 (UTC)

it's concerning that the only real way we'll be able to figure this comic out is to compile the entire 9 hour computer-generated voice speech. youtube.com/watch?v=miLcaqq2Zpk (talk) 01:40, 2 April 2022 (UTC)

Anyone actually doing any transcribing of this audio text is a true April Fools' fool, hence the reason to release this on April 1st. But I'd still like to see what the Fools' come up with :-D --Kynde (talk) 21:26, 2 April 2022 (UTC)

I'm moving all things about audio transcription here: 2601: Instructions/Audio Transcript, both the real transcript and peoples very long comments in the main discussion, to keep the main page short and keep loading time down. The comments from here go in the discussion for that page --Kynde (talk) 20:35, 2 April 2022 (UTC)

OMG, fond memories of LOGO! I'm in a loud bar at the moment so I can't listen, and I'm not listening to NINE HOURS anyway, LOL! Everybody DOES realize, someone needs to extract the program and run it in LOGO, right? I would guarantee this draws something interesting and/or stupid. :) NiceGuy1 (talk) 03:27, 2 April 2022 (UTC)

I found a GitHub Repository for transcription. May be of use to you guys for adding more info and citations to this Wiki. By the way, I didn't know this wiki existed. I don't want to create an account for it right now so good luck guys ;-; 04:12, 2 April 2022 (UTC)

I tried running some code through "ucblogo" on a Linux distro, but didn't get very far with it. ---Tim 04:16, 2 April 2022 (UTC)

Given that the audio is generated by text-to-speech, could a source-aware speech-to-text work better (fewer errors and less manual correction) than a generic one? For example, finding the right text-to-speech, extracting a sound for each phoneme, and then searching for near-identical snippets of waveform, seems like it could potentially be more reliable than the generic neural nets which are primarily trained for real human speech. Or even training a neural net on the same text-to-speech source, with a big block of sample data, if that would help distinguish homophones. Presumably someone here is good enough at this sort of thing to try that? Sqek (talk) 10:05, 2 April 2022 (UTC)

I think that the original comment at the top is the best approach. Using the speech-to-text data posted yesterday, and doing some simple regsubs, I can get it into good enough shape that I can proceed to transcribe the whole program by editing the file while listening to the audio, in real time. "In real time" means nine hours to correctly transcribe the whole thing. So any other approach would have to do better than nine hours. Plus if somebody put a little effort into organization, the transcription can be parallelized and so completed in nine hours / N transcribers. ---Tim 13:10, 2 April 2022 (UTC)

I was helping with this last night, and here are the major steps we've done to interpret the code and who has helped, I think.

  • Pgn674 Used AWS to make a transcription of the audio, which we have been building from
  • Transcribed the critical functions at the top of the transcription
  • theinternetftw Found a working interpreter and set up a collaboration space at a GitHub repo, and has since been maintaining the code
  • theinternetftw Also transcribed the first hour and got us our view of a partial picture
  • somebody1234 Got a messy but runnable version of the entire transcription and a view of the entire picture with errors
  • Many people are transcribing bits of audio and submitting to GitHub. Here is the list of contributors

Mannerisky (talk) 15:06, 2 April 2022 (UTC)

I have changed the image to that which is seen on xkcd when loading the comic. It has not been updated on this page yet as of when I write this. But the turtle is of course not the comic, but a placeholder for those webcrawlers that would fail when trying to download the radio button. I have also added info on this in the current explanation. As I have made a link to a new sub page for the looong audio transcript and removed all of that from this page and discussion and put it here: 2601: Instructions/Audio Transcript --Kynde (talk) 21:38, 2 April 2022 (UTC)

I started planning to write some code to figure this out, but moved on to other things after a few hours, due to psychological issues I have. The draft just runs the audio through the start of a random speech to text model. I trained a tokenizer around the logo code but didn't move farther. There are a lot of possible next steps, some of which others have mentioned. A simple approach would be to finetune the model around the hand-transcribed data. https://colab.research.google.com/gist/xloem/4310a26b6c9d13adac14307b948157d3/untitled4.ipynb 23:04, 2 April 2022 (UTC)

Any plans to exkcd the "real" comic that gets drawn by the LOGO code in the audio? I mean, I recognize, e. g., the Mars rover and Ursa Major, but what's the significance of the vacuum decay here, for instance? Nitpicking (talk) 01:18, 3 April 2022 (UTC)

Now that the project is complete, we should add the resulting image on this page (not just a link to github). It'll be what folks are looking for first. And then we can start identifying the many references in the picture and turtle quotes. Mannerisky (talk) 04:26, 3 April 2022 (UTC)
well, i added the picture. youtube.com/watch?v=miLcaqq2Zpk (talk) 08:08, 3 April 2022 (UTC)
Vacuum decay is the total annihilation of the observable universe, which (in theory, depending on details we don't yet know) could happen at any point and at any time and would expand at the speed of light to clobber any space it reaches. Since it's limited to the speed of light, I guess it wouldn't affect regions of the universe that are receding faster than that. So, it's a bit of irony contrasting the happy picture. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_vacuum_decay . For an even better explanation, try Katie Mack's excellent book, https://www.amazon.com/End-Everything-Astrophysically-Speaking/dp/198210354X 14:13, 6 April 2022 (UTC)

It was wonderful watching all of this unfold. Great work everyone. I don't have an account here, nor on github, but I thought I'd mention that the makesvg.py uses the ':=' operator which was introduced in python 3.8. Not all of us have it on our creaky old machines. Maybe add a comment in the usage at the top of the file? Or better, refactor the .py? -- 14:39, 3 April 2022 (UTC)

Is there a trick to making it work? I've tried both Firefox and Chrome. I hear the narration and can toggle the mute, but it never draws the picture for me. I have enabled JavaScript and I have disabled Privacy Badger, NoSCript, and uBlock Origin and still no joy. I did find the final drawing so I've seen the animation via GIF. --

Signing with triple tilde puts the WRONG IP address for me! My IP is NOT, my IP is What gives????
Just FYI, your registered IP (like mine) is probably from the (regional?) gateway that mediates between you, at your true and current internet-facing IP, and the serving server. It's not something for you to really worry about, but you asked.
i'm trying to find a way to say this that doesn't sound condescending, but do you actually think the comic draws the picture or are you using https://benediktwerner.github.io/xkcd-2601-drawer/ ? if it's the former, the comic does not draw the picture. if it's the latter, you have to click the "use the latest code" button and *then* click draw. again, i know that sounded super condescending, pls don't think i'm trying to be mean. New editor (talk) 05:24, 4 April 2022 (UTC)

does this comic *technically* feature beret guy, ponytail, etc or not. they're not *in* the comic, but it could be said to feature them. New editor (talk) 05:31, 4 April 2022 (UTC)

What is
? GcGYSF(asterisk)P(vertical line)e (talk) 05:45, 4 April 2022 (UTC)
A function defined above (both in the transcript and, partially, in this Talk page) that is there to define certain smooth lines via a cascade of interesting LOGO procedural code, including branch-tests, that I wasn't even aware could be done until I started to read it.
(I mean, I didn't even know LOGO used Polish Notation, having last practically dabbled with it on the probably vastly more limited interpreters that ran on BBC Microcomputers at school, back in the early '80s. You could define procedures with params, but I can't remember this syntax, nor any tests available that seem to suggest recursive tests until the finest changes do nothing.)
That was at my first glance, I've avoided the pages until most of the fuss died down because I could see a lot of work being shovelled in, by others, and I knew I couldn't add much but confusion. But I now think I can take leisurely ride through the code and see what I can personally pick up from it. (Cheers to the army of volunteers that mobilised to make this possible, BTW!) 20:56, 4 April 2022 (UTC)

The inserted comments don't seem to just be facts about turtles - they also include 'Rossisms' - e.g. "I've just covered the entire canvas in a layer of light." 08:35, 4 April 2022 (UTC)

The explanation should reference the World Turtle (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Turtle) in regard to the finished image. 08:46, 4 April 2022 (UTC)

I hope that's Cory Doctorow in the hot air balloon. 13:35, 4 April 2022 (UTC)

I don’t have an account, but I wanted to add that if you are subscribed to email updates (by clicking email on the xkcd website) the update reads: “Sadly today's comic is best views on the web”

Narrative vs. code[edit]

There should be some statement that there's code and narrative mixed within the transcript; you can't just hand the whole thing to Logo and expect it to work.

(Unless, of course, there's some way of telling Logo to ignore a block of text that wouldn't be spoken when you actually read the annotated block. In which case, the transcript needs to be so-annotated. I doubt it, though.)

-- Dtgriscom (talk) 10:25, 4 April 2022 (UTC)

The transcript on GitHub prefixes narration by `;` which turns it into a comment that is not parsed by LOGO. It would be cool to have this read out loud like it seems to have been designed: "Bob Ross" talking about painting while "painting" using logo. It'd be something like "Narrate, execute code snippet, narrate, excute code" until the entire picture is done. I noticed, for example, that he talks about drawing a "happy little tree" in between a section of code that, surprise, draws a tree. 11:23, 4 April 2022 (UTC)
Good thing to notice, and now we have two topics:
1. What the transcription page should show. Big, big bonus points if we could have a transcript that, when fed to a "text to speech" tool, would produce exactly what the comic's audio track includes (e.g. no "semicolon Happy Little Tree here")
2. What the output animations should include. What if you'd see a blank canvas, and hear the AI-Bob-Ross narrate, and then watch the code execute and draw? Then, more narration, then more code executing? You could even have the code sections be read out loud, and see the results in real time, It would take a lot of patience to watch the results. (I ain't gonna do it, though...)
-- Dtgriscom (talk) 12:14, 4 April 2022 (UTC)

One line in the narrative, "I read in the L.A. Times this morning that 42,000 Mazda cars were recalled because of a spider problem. Really makes you think doesn’t it?" could be refering to https://xkcd.com/2600/, namely "Will I have to start worrying about spiders after Tuesday?" 13:55, 4 April 2022 (UTC)

No, it actually references a thing that happened in 2014, because Mazda's cars are for some reason spider magnets. 06:58, 5 April 2022 (UTC)