Died in a Blogging Accident has lived up to its name and died... in a blogging accident. That is to say it has concluded. You can still re-live the magic by clicking here to start at chapter 1. For genuine criticism of XKCD, please click the top link to the right (XKCD Isn't Funny).

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Comic 1354: My Heart Bleeds for XKCD

Comic title: Heartbleed Explanation

Alt text: Are you still there, server? It's me, Margaret.

I've been stalling for a month because some idiot asked me to review a documentary comic, rather than an actual, y'know, comic comic. But alas, we all make mistakes.

Honestly, I'm scratching my head and trying to think of something. But I can't find any obvious mistakes in this comic. It actually explains the issue quite well. It explains Heartbleed much more concisely than anyone else, barring perhaps Wikipedia's diagram, which seems directly influenced by the comic.

Looking familiar?

First of all, let me bemoan the fact that XKCD is literally everywhere on the internet, and you can't get away from it, ever. But this also raises the question: why not just upload the comic to Wikipedia servers and use that in the Heartbleed article (like certain XKCDs have previously been licensed for Wikipedia)? Maybe it's not as informative as we thought.

Now, Wikipedia's version dispenses with the stick figure, in favour of coloured circles. We can also see that how blue is good and red is bad (which I feel is unfairly racist against red people). I'm ambivalent to the loss of stick figures. At least the XKCD version had some human interest.

The Wikipedia version cuts down on the panels from six to just two. Again, I feel it lost something here. The XKCD version had four panels that built up to something that provides a payoff. Could it be... a punchline?

Yes! So this is a 'funny' XKCD comic after all. Both of the changes that make the Wikipedia version more concise and informative make it less funny and entertaining. So surely the original had to be funny and entertaining in the first place?

Now that I see it this way, 1354 actually has quite a strong punchline, the joke being that this is actually how servers actually behave, in real life, at least until they're patched. This comic could have made the mistake of making it look like a wholly fictional situation. But it didn't.

The text at the top makes it very clear that this is "how the Heartbleed bug works" because this is what it says in big all-caps. You may argue that this is redundant, but keep in mind that the repostings of this comic around the internet typically don't include the title. Thus it was rather thoughtful of Randall to anticipate this.

Lastly, it had none of the preachiness of a usual XKCD. I know this shouldn't be considered praise, but when you consider the knee-jerk "END IS NIGH, CHANGE ALL THE PASSWORDS NOW" that the tech press ejaculated, this was remarkably restrained of Randall.

I fear I am losing my touch with XKCD. So please request a really bad comic for me to review. Or draw your own, and make me review them. I don't care. I just need something to haaaaaate.


  1. NotFunnyNameThatYouShouldMentionInThePostJuly 10, 2014 at 4:23 PM

    Do comic 68 (get it? like 69 but one less?). Because they were written at 5:30AM and you published you're post at 5:02? Just write something, it's entertaining either way!

  2. I agree with the guy above me, you should definetely do comic 68.

    1. StillTheSamePersonJuly 10, 2014 at 4:25 PM

      Me too, what a coincidence!

  3. You once asked us to post more comments.

  4. Jon, did you get a girlfriend or something? You write like someone whose standards have recently lowered remarkably.

  5. Top notch sarcasm, mate.

  6. I believe 1390 is a landmark comic that deserves comment regardless of the unanimous demand amongst sockpuppets for a review of 68. Megan Sue is wrong about something.