To lie or keep in hiding, as for some evil reason.  To move or go in a mean, stealthy manner.

Tuesday September 14, 1999

WebSkulker Newsletter
'cause we skulk it that way

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Never trust a Skulker, part 2

Two jr. skulkers pointed out an error in yesterday's edition: the word "millennium" in the first paragraph about the frequency of "9999" parties should have been "century".  Mistakes like this will happen from time to time because this newsletter is actually written by WebSkulker's cat who dictates the text in a trinary code consisting of sequences of meows, purrs, and silences.  When finished, WebSkulker holds the cat up to the screen for her approval which she gives by a long, complex, series of purrs followed by two meows that she wants to be fed.  This system isn't perfect and misunderstandings can occur, so please forgive us.

Reverse Skulking

One of our jr. skulkers has a web page that makes it easy to do reverse lookups through various web directory services.  He has six different ways to find the name and address of a person or business from their phone number (but generally only if the number is listed) and three lookups of information about area codes and prefixes.  The greatest one is the form for MapQuest which is the second form from the bottom.  Enter an area code and prefix and MapQuest will draw a map showing the location of the central office that serves that prefix!  Warning: this should work for the Bell System or other traditional phone company serving an area, but may fail for prefixes assigned to competitive local carrier companies.

WebSkulker figured this out; can you?

This web page has a very weird puzzle for you.  There is a picture at the top which will be of a dead elephant or a smiling cow depending on which web browser you use.  Big deal, you say, they can easily have some script code that determines which browser is contacting the page and sends back a different picture file when it sees Netscape than it does when it sees Internet Explorer.  But no, they do not use any script whatsoever.  You can look at the source html for the page to see how simple it is and that there is nothing interesting on the client side.  They could be hiding script on the server side, but they promise they aren't and WebSkulker can confirm this because he has figured it out.

Hopefully you have both Netscape and IE on your machine so you can try this.  Go to the page with each browser and confirm that you get a different picture.  Then figure out how this works and be the first to email WebSkulker with the answer to get your prize: a mention in the newsletter.  If no one can figure it out, WebSkulker will tell you next week. 

Skulking who uses which browser, etc.

Speaking of script code to determine which browser visited a web page, WebSkulker can explain why few Internet facilities bother to write Mac versions: Mac users account for only 2% of hits to the average web page.  We know this because keeps global statistics about which browser programs on which operating systems contacted the thousands of web sites that use their service for a page hit counter.

Web page authors often want a hit counter on their page, but may not know how to do it, or their web hosting service may not allow running server-side programs to keep the count.  There are many counter services that can be used, but is the only one WebSkulker knows about that doesn't charge anything and doesn't force you to put an ad on your page.  Look at the bottom left of the home page and you will see a hit counter that has no ads; this is actually a piece of JavaScript that links back to where the counter is kept. not only keeps track of each hit to a page, but also captures information about the brand and capabilities of the web browser, the operating system, and the screen color and resolution settings of each visitor.  The web page author gets a report once a week by email with this information.

Better yet, there is a global statistics page which accumulates this information for all of's clients and this is valuable information for web authors because it shows what percentage of the audience you will lose if you insist on some particular operating system or machine capability.  Go to the Global Statistics page, click on a month, then click on the type of information you want.  Choose "OS" to see that Mac's are only 2%.  Choose "Browsers" to see that Internet Explorer has 72% of the hits nowadays (you must add up the percentages for the different versions of IE and Netscape).

Long, but worth skulking through to the end

An ambitious young man finally decided to take a vacation. He booked himself on a Caribbean cruise and proceeded to have the time of his life until the boat sank.  The man found himself swept up on the shore of an island with no other people, no supplies, nothing. Only bananas and coconuts.  After about four months, he is lying on the beach one day when the most gorgeous woman he has ever seen rows up to him. In disbelief, he asks her, "Where did you come from? How did you get here?"

"I rowed from the other side of the island," she says. "I landed here when my cruise ship sank."  "Amazing," he says. "You were really lucky to have a rowboat wash up with you."  "Oh, this?" replies the woman. "I made the rowboat out of raw material I found on the island; the oars were whittled from gum tree branches; I wove the bottom from palm branches; and the sides and stern came from a Eucalyptus tree."

"But-but, that's impossible," stutters the man. "You had no tools or hardware. How did you manage?"  "Oh, that was no problem," replies the woman. "On the south side of the island, there is a very unusual strata of alluvial rock exposed. I found if I fired it to a certain temperature in my kiln, it melted into forgeable ductile iron. I used that for tools and used the tools to make the hardware."

The guy is stunned.  "Let's row over to my place, " she says.  After a few minutes of rowing, she docks the boat at a small wharf.  As the man looks onto shore, he nearly falls out of the boat. Before him is a stone walk leading to an exquisite bungalow painted in blue and white.  While the woman ties up the rowboat with an expertly woven hemp rope, the man can only stare ahead, dumbstruck.

As they walk into the house, she says casually, "It's not much, but I call it home. Sit down please; would you like to have a drink?"  "No, no thank you," he says, still dazed. "Can't take any more coconut juice."  "It's not coconut juice," the woman replies. "I have a still. How about a Pina Colada?"

Trying to hide his continued amazement, the man accepts, and they sit down on her couch to talk. After they have exchanged their stories, the woman announces, "I'm going to slip into something more comfortable. Would you like to take a shower and shave? There is a razor upstairs in the cabinet in the bathroom." No longer questioning anything, the man goes into the bathroom. There, in the cabinet, is a razor made from a bone handle. Two shells honed to a hollow ground edge are fastened on to its end inside of a swivel mechanism.

"This woman is amazing," he muses. "What next?"  When he returns, she greets him wearing nothing but vines --strategically positioned -- and smelling faintly of gardenias. She beckons for him to sit down next to her. "Tell me," she begins suggestively, slithering closer to him, "we've been out here for a really long time You've been lonely. There's something I'm sure you really feel like doing right now, something you've been longing for all these months?  You know... "  She stares into his eyes.

He can't believe what he's hearing: "You mean...?", he swallows excitedly, "...I can check my e-mail from here...?"


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