Thursday, April 22, 2010

Comic 730: Feel The Electricity

Circiut Diaghram

This comic, like others before it, is basically throwing everything possible out there and seeing what sticks. Don't like some of the jokes? Read the other 15, maybe you will like those better. I didn't really like that many of the jokes, while I have never taken electrical engineering, they seem like the sorts of things that a half-clever student would doodle in his or her notebook while bored.

Note well! While I am not an electrical engineer, this does not prevent me from understanding many, if not all, of the jokes in this comic! For example: I can tell that "place tongue here" is funny because while it would complete the circuit, it would also electrocute you. HA! Also, "open and close door real fast" is a hilariously cumbersome way to simulate the switching of the circuit from off to on (if my terminology is wrong, fuck you, i still get the idea). Many jokes based on the broad category of "electronics work by black magic" variety.

There's not much else there; it's not a comic that tells a story or has a punchline, just a long series of little (supposedly amusing) doodles. I did note with some degree of pleasure that there was only a single self-referential meta joke, and that was contained within the alt-text. We are not always so lucky.

Three other notes- I shall vanish over the course of this weekend and may not post till very late, perhaps as much as a full day late;

I will post the finalists in the contest on Friday April 30th (i have still not worked on it yet but by promising that I will do this i make it far more likely that I will),

I know this is real late but if you aren't reading Axe Cop yet, then why the crap not? It is wonderful, unless you have no soul. Do you?


  1. Those were basically my thoughts: a lot of half-assed jokes put together.

    To explain the few weirder ones:

    The digital circuit next to the sandal text is a circuit with two stabile states, such circuits being called "flip-flops".

    The symbol that has a triangle with a line in the end stands for diode. Diode is a component which lets current to go only to the direction of the triangle; hence the arena with two diodes leading to it and only one leaving.

  2. Bottom: "Not a resistor, the wire just does this". I had always assumed that the resistor symbol is that way because since real wires have resistance, the simplest way to add a resistor would be to make that section of the circuit very long, folded in a zigzag for compactness.

    Also, this is not funny. Circuit diagrams are not prone to being incomprehensible. The magic ritual joke works with code, but somehow I'm just not seeing it with a circuit. The only way I could is if I was a frustrated student, maybe.

  3. I actually kind of like the discovery channel one. I've seen a number of bad ripoffs of that song, but Randall gets the rhythm correct and actually knows how to rhyme, and I appreciate good construction when I see it.

    Alas, they've been doing funny circuit diagrams since 1972, so this one doesn't ring as true with me. Which is to say it's a terrible crock of shit. Although, I keep looking back at the one switch which is labeled "glue this open" and wonder if there isn't a fully realized joke just waiting to be fleshed out there. Yknow, like it's the "press here to be funny" switch on Randall's back, but it's glued open so nobody can press it.

  4. The alt text was the only worthwhile thing about this. The comic itself looks like a really bad doodle, only it's made as if RM is trying to pretend he put a lot of thought into it.

  5. The circuit diagram comic is lame. It would've been a lot funnier if he would've put the effort into making a circuit that at least makes some sense, or is similar to a real-world circuit. Say, a textbook amplifier, but with jokes substituted for some/most of the parts. Instead we get random crap and lame jokes connected together making absolutely no sense.

  6. Not one single part of this made me laugh.

  7. Reminds me of this:

    except less funny and FOR NERDS LOL!

  8. I have to say, I'm sort of surprised at the minimally savage treatment of this comic. I am a sometime xkcd apologist, since--although I have noted and lamented the undeniable decline of the comic-- I think he still comes out with something good every few weeks or so. But I thought this comic was the absolute worst xkcd of all time. It's a big wash of bad jokes that take time to sort all the way through, and with absolutely 0 payoff (not a single joke is actually funny,) and the chart has no particular organizing principle to justify the mess of jokes. 482 could be characterized as something quite cool with a few jokes arbitrarily tacked on, but there's nothing about this circuit diagram interesting outside the jokes--which are not interesting. Basically this is an xkcd so awful that I have just commented here, which I have never done before, and will probably never do again. Good day.

  9. @Ayn Rand

    Comprehend this, bitch.

  10. I'm sorry, Anon, I must have given you the wrong impression. The most complicated electronics I've ever done was an oscillating LED with a 555 chip, and that was years ago.

    That said, that computer appears to have a perfectly reasonable circuit layout. I'm sure anyone with actual experience in micro controller circuits would have little trouble interpreting the details of its workings. The Casette PCB looks like a bit of a mess though.

    My point was that I haven't really heard of anyone complaining about "spaghetti circuits" or a "circuit obfuscation contest" or "self modifying circuit" or excessive goto usage or people deciding that just redesigning a circuit would be easier than understanding and fixing an existing design.

    There ARE very difficult to understand circuits. I remember reading about somebody running a genetic algorithm to design a circuit which would require 140 or so transistors at least if designed by a human. The algorithm spat out a working solution with only half that, which was downright bizarre in structure, including some unconnected transistors which would break the circuit if they were removed.

    Anyway, whatever the reason may be, it seems people make confusing circuits less often than they make confusing code.

  11. Dan (we can share the name!)April 24, 2010 at 9:59 PM


    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Mr. Munroe may have messed up the flip-flop joke... in that what he drew was a latch, and not a flip-flop (a flip flop being clocked that is)

    ... but whatever, we all understood it anyways...


  12. All those slangy words are imprecise by their nature. It's perfectly acceptable to call a latch a flip-flop; I'm pretty sure that if you look at a semiconductor retailer, a number of their "flip-flops" will be latches or optionally clocked.

  13. Well, the only thing that I've gathered from this comic is that at some point, Randall took a basic 'Intro to EE' course somewhere (probably high school). As an electrical engineer, I found the comic wholly unfunny, and painful to look at. He basically threw in a bunch of random nonsense, peppered with the most rudimentary of EE components; which of course works for him, because he's pandering to the lowest common denominator. Hell, if you wanna be a real snob, he didn't even do a good job of representing circuit components. Notice there's all of ONE capacitor, no transistors, and no opamps - three of the most commonly used and crucial circuit elements. Fucking unfunny high school pandering. Die in a fire, Randall.

  14. Bottom line is: he will sell it as a poster soon enough, "by popular demand".

  15. @Haup I assume the BJT was pandering to high school students as well?

  16. I don't get the second paragraph? Was it a criticism that you could understand most of the jokes, or was it a redeeming quality to this comic? This part of the review seems rather pointless.