Dilbert Widget leaks data

January 22, 2008 | Comments Off

Scott Adams blogged about the new Dilbert comic widget which is great and I’m pleased with. The problem is (assuming United Media cares about not pre-releasing comics) that the comics are named predictably in sequence and are available on the server ahead of time. For example here is the comic for Sunday February 3. Oops! Now I don’t have to wait. I imagine they’ll solve this problem pretty quickly when they find out. While I’m on the subject of people who have solved this differently, Penny Arcade has an interesting system where http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/ always points to the latest comic and there are absolute paths to get to a specific date. They have a particularly odd problem where the absolte URL doesn’t work, but /comic/ does. I get bitten by that problem fairly frequently since their RSS points to the absolute location. Another comic strip solves this problem in a decidedly low-tech way. Something Positive names each comic strip (image) with a descriptive title of the strip. Also, he releases comics unpredictably, and near as I can tell, maintains no buffer unlike Dilbert.

Back on the Dilbert side, interestingly at 400 it loops back to 2005, althought comic 1 is Jan 1 2007. It makes me curious about how the numbering sequence progresses, but invariably it will be deterministic. The easy way to solve this problem is to put something on the server side that prevents images from being served before their publish date. The wrong way to try to fix this is to try authenticating the widget (which, by the way, is now possible with FMSv3, but that’s for another day).

Update (Jan 23, 12pm): Just checked this today and the hole has been fixed. Now the actual gif seems to be an hash of some data, although apparently not the comic strip itself. Good turn around time!

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