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

Friday September 17, 1999

WebSkulker Newsletter
No shirt / No shoes / No skulking

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Skulking inside the elephant/cow picture

In the 9/14/99 issue we issued a challenge: go to web page, read the instructions, and figure out how the weird effect shown there is possible.  Two jr. skulkers figured it out: John Cunningham and Bob Gudgel.  John's entry was first so he is the winner of the contest.

So why do you get a picture of an elephant when you access this site with Internet Explorer and a picture of a cow when you access it with Netscape?  The secret is in the picture itself; there is something very weird about it.  Before you read any farther, click on this link to get the picture file directly into your browser with no html code to confuse the issue: .  DO IT NOW!

Notice that the picture is twice as wide as it is high, and that you actually see both the elephant and the cow stretched out and superimposed on each other.  If you download the picture to your hard drive and look at it with a picture viewer that allows magnification, you will see that there are alternating vertical stripes of each picture: a stripe of cow, a stripe of elephant, etc.  These stripes are one pixel wide.  The entire picture is 300 pixels wide and 150 pixels high.

Now view the source of (go to that page with your web browser and use it's function to view the page's source) and you will see that the picture is placed with height and width both set to 150 pixels even though the width of the picture is actually 300 pixels.  When a web browser is instructed to show a picture with a height and width different from that of the picture itself, the browser will stretch or compress the picture to obey the instructions.  This process can be mathematically complicated, but when the compression is only on the horizontal dimension and the amount is exactly half of the picture size then the math gets easy: the browser just throws out every second column of pixels.  If you throw away the first column of the koolefant picture, keep the second, throw away the third, etc. you end up with an elephant.  If you keep the first column, throw away the second, keep the third, etc. then you end up with a cow.  It just so happens that IE does it one way and Netscape does it the other.  Which method wouldn't matter for a normal picture.

Can you skulk around the ads?

Yesterday we told you how to get a free 877 number to receive voicemail messages and faxes toll free.  Today we tell you how to make long distance calls for free -- legally -- thanks to a tip from Jr. skulker Diamond Dave.  Broadpoint  runs a long distance service called "FreeWay".  From any phone (including payphones) you dial 1-877-FREEWAY, enter your PIN, and make your call.  The catch: before the call goes through, you must listen to short advertising messages.

Go to the Broadpoint site to register.  They will assign your PIN immediately, but it won't actually work for several weeks because their system is overloaded with new subscribers.  They will send you an email when your account is set up and ready to use.  This really is completely free.  The registration process does not ask for a credit card number or any other way to bill you.

Skulking what sucks and what rocks

Jr. skulker Tom McWilliams is one of them Mac lovers.  He dared to challenge WebSkulker's article in the 9/14/99 issue with statistics taken from showing that Mac users only account for 2% of hits to web pages.  To refute this, Tom submits a statistics page called "Operating System Sucks-Rules-O-Meter" which is pretty funny.  It shows the popularity of operating systems by doing a periodic AltaVista search for the names of several operating systems directly followed by the word "sucks", "rules", or "rocks".

Sorry Tom, this page only proves once again how insignificant the Mac is.  You must understand this:  in the publicity game, it doesn't matter what they say about you as long as they spell your name right.   Yes, the "suck" count for Windows is 522 while the "rules/rocks" count is 160, but who cares about the breakdown.  Total these and you get 682.  The total for Mac is only 159.

She used to skulk around the White House

Yes, it's true, that women, Ms. Lewinsky, has her own web site.  Is she telling her side of the story?  No.  Is she putting down the president?  No.  She is selling knitted purses and tote bags that are made especially for you by her.  Or at least are designed by her. 

"Keeping busy and creative was the biggest help in getting through a time of high anxiety and difficulty, and I started by learning to knit.  Once I survived the frustrating stages of dropping every other stitch, it became a new form of relaxation.  However, I lacked a fundamental tool essential to every knitter the knitting bag.  Having always been interested in fashion, I wanted to create something different and special. . . so I set out to find the perfect bag to carry my yarn.  After an exhaustive and unsuccessful search, I decided to put my creative abilities to use and make my own bag...."

This made WebSkulker laugh

After watching sales falling off for three straight months at Kentucky Fried Chicken, the Colonel calls up the Pope and asks for a favor.  The Pope says, "What can I do?"  The Colonel says. "I need you to change the daily prayer from, 'Give us this day our daily bread' to 'Give us this day our daily chicken.' If you do it, I'll donate $10 million to the Vatican."  The Pope replies, "I am sorry That is the Lord's Prayer and I can not change the words." So the Colonel hangs up.

After another month of dismal sales, the Colonel panics, and calls again. "Listen, Your Excellency. I really need  your help. I'll donate $50 million if you change the words of the daily prayer from 'Give us this day our daily bread' to 'Give us this day our daily chicken.'"  And the Pope responds, "It is very tempting, Colonel Sanders. The church could do a lot of good with that much money. It would help us to support many charities. But again, I must decline. It is the Lord's Prayer, and I can't change  the words." So the Colonel gives up again.

After two more months of terrible sales, the Colonel gets desperate. "This is my final offer, your Excellency. If you change the words of the daily prayer from 'Give us this day our daily bread' to 'Give us this day our daily chicken.' I will donate $100 million to the Vatican."  The Pope replies, "Let me get back to you."

So the next day, the Pope calls together all of his bishops and he says, "I have some good news and I have some bad news.  The good news is that KFC is going to donate $100 million to the Vatican." The bishops rejoice at the news.  Then one asks about the bad news.

"The bad news is that we lost the Wonder Bread account."


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