Metafilter, Android, nginix or NSA bug? September 25, 2014 3:08 PM   Subscribe

Occasionally metafilter articles are garbled on my Android phone, although it happens very rarely on my Linux desktop chrome as well. Here is a sample screenshot, in which the discussion on the shellshock /bin/bash bug takes a very ominous turn. Reloading the page fixes it, although I do lose my place. Most frequently it happens with the inline updates.
posted by autopilot to Bugs at 3:08 PM (31 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

Yeah, that is very bizarre. I have no idea what could be causing that. Maybe running low on memory so the browser can't render things properly?

I'm not sure we can do from this end.
posted by pb (staff) at 3:09 PM on September 25, 2014


Given how infrequent and unrepeatable it is, the bug would be very hard to track down. Oh well. Enjoy the robot barf poetry!

Ver gene to me.t vermyst stuters, see if the envnerable.
If I td abouupled t the Poscurlmaand
Oide y dsed tecause ilauncing abnew strocess
ctually itwo if aourre nlauncing aash
posted by autopilot at 3:15 PM on September 25, 2014 [9 favorites]


woah, definitely conspiracy-inducing. Is it any different when you're on 3G/LTE vs wifi? I wonder if your provider has a busted proxy somewhere in the middle.
posted by GuyZero at 3:18 PM on September 25, 2014


Have you considered Vogons as a possibility?
posted by zombieflanders at 3:37 PM on September 25, 2014 [19 favorites]


If you load the page backwards, does it say anything?
posted by Going To Maine at 4:41 PM on September 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Definitely Ñšå bug. definitely.
posted by hal_c_on at 5:02 PM on September 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


Congratulations, your phone speaks Esperanto.
posted by arcticseal at 5:16 PM on September 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


Wait--isn't that from The Silmarillion?
posted by sock me amadeus at 5:51 PM on September 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


The new theme is "modern". You clearly clicked "postmodern".
posted by NoraReed at 7:17 PM on September 25, 2014 [35 favorites]


Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn
posted by brundlefly at 8:16 PM on September 25, 2014 [8 favorites]


Oh well. Enjoy the robot barf poetry!

I read that as "robot barf party," and my immediate reaction was "Well, it was bound to happen sometime, it being the future and all."

What's weird is that a "robot barf party" could mean either a innocent cleaning party, or something more dirty and hedonistic.

But back to the matter at hand. It could be a shared bug with the Linux OS on the two devices. Possibly some sort of a memory or cache bug shared with the Linux OS on the two devices. I've never seen or heard of what you have happening anywhere else though. If it was something outside your devices, I figure it would probably have been kicking around a few tech support forums as a curiosity at least. So that leaves some bug, or combination of bugs both inside your devices and out that does this.

Has it only happened at the same location for both devices, or can it happen anywhere? When did it first happen?
posted by chambers at 9:34 PM on September 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


Looks like the best laid plans of both mice and men gang aft agley, if you ask me.

An' lea'e us not but grief an' pain for promis'd rendr'n'.
posted by notyou at 10:03 PM on September 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's that 2:3Dark th ve> at hea4 PM guy making trouble again. Just ban him already.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:17 AM on September 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


> Reloading the page fixes it, although I do lose my place.

This doesn't fix the issue, but if you want to reload a MeFi post page without losing your place, just click on the post time link of the comment you're reading and you'll reload the page and get right back to where you were reading.
posted by bjrn at 4:04 AM on September 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


Oh. I just thought of something, but only if it's about New Metafilter and this didn't happen on Classic.

New Metafilter uses Source Sans Pro as the font, which is loaded as a web font. I've had an issue with web fonts in Chrome during the development of a website once. This was on Windows and a number of releases back, but I remember that Chrome showed garbled text as if it had randomly replaced the characters with different ones. I figure something similar might be happening here, that the web font isn't parsed correctly for some reason.

I don't know how much control you have on your phone, but on your desktop you could use Stylish (or a similar extension) and make the text show in a font you know you have installed on your computer and see if that helps.
posted by bjrn at 4:10 AM on September 26, 2014


Wait--isn't that from The Silmarillion?

Chaucer, I'm pretty sure. From "The Sysadmin's Tale," which was left out of The Canterbury Tales because none of the other travelers would listen to it.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:41 AM on September 26, 2014 [12 favorites]


THE GEEK'S PORTRAIT

A Geek there was, a lad from the isle of Eire,
Who when called upon, his countenance would never be fairer.
Upon a request of help from his fellow peasantry
Never granted them any sort of pleasantry.
Instead he merely responded to every question
"Hast thou tried turning it off and on again?"
posted by zombieflanders at 7:01 AM on September 26, 2014 [5 favorites]


The only time I've seen something like that, replacing the network card fixed it. Are the machines on the same network when you see this, or is the phone using the carrier connection?
posted by Horselover Fat at 7:13 AM on September 26, 2014


I just make sure the monitor is plugged in and reboot as per instructions from the help desk.
posted by 724A at 8:14 AM on September 26, 2014


You're not running the William-Burroughs-Cut-Up Greasemonkey plug-in, are you?
posted by carter at 8:39 AM on September 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'm sorry you haven't managed to get a definitive answer, OP, but this thread is making me laugh, so thanks for posting.
posted by marienbad at 10:25 AM on September 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


I have no idea what would cause that but it is a really awesome bug. There appears to be some "collation" of regular page content along with some other error condition. Like every Nth substring is from another error source.
posted by odinsdream at 11:49 AM on September 26, 2014


Are you using a proxy or a VPN on your phone?
posted by odinsdream at 11:50 AM on September 26, 2014


THE GEEK'S PORTRAIT

A Geek there was, a lad from the isle of Eire,
Who when called upon, his countenance would never be fairer.
Upon a request of help from his fellow peasantry
Never granted them any sort of pleasantry.
Instead he merely responded to every question
"Hast thou tried turning it off and on again?"


This tale you should know is a tale of woe.
The Geek sighed, he knew how these struggles go.
The peasant's frustration would lead to blame
not of their own cause, they always would claim
it must be the Geek, his sage wisdom evil,
and their thoughts turn to tortures medieval.

"When did this first happen" the Geek would ask,
"Maybe last Tuesday or the Tuesday past"
"So only now you come, to me for aid,
it's too far gone, it can no longer be sav'd"
"I hope you were wise, to back this stuff up,
Your folly was dawdling, you done fuck'd up."

Pause a minute and think of the meter,
five lines should there be, you call me a cheater.
"I see your game, you think you are special,"
"No," I said, "It's just hexadecimal"
For five is no number of use to me here,
want iambic pentameter? Give me more beer.
posted by chambers at 11:55 AM on September 26, 2014 [6 favorites]


Posked froicle

Definitely a feature.
posted by euphorb at 12:44 PM on September 26, 2014


This is Agent Howie of the NSA. We have hijacked borrowed Effigy2000s account to advise that we are not responsible for this error. Continue your sanctioned activities within your daily life, citizen.
posted by Effigy2000 at 2:31 PM on September 26, 2014


Effigy2000: "This is Agent Howie of the NSA. We have hijacked borrowed Effigy2000s account to advise that we are not responsible for this error. Continue your sanctioned activities within your daily life, citizen."

That's a lie. It's crucial to the NSA that you never find out about sjanfakjsdflksdjakfllkn asjdna
posted by double block and bleed at 3:07 PM on September 26, 2014


It is unwise to impersonate the NSA.
posted by NSA at 6:40 PM on September 26, 2014 [10 favorites]


autopilot: Are you on AT&T somewhere in Texas?

If so, try accessing Metafilter through https and see if the problem goes away.
posted by ardgedee at 8:30 PM on September 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Speaking of proxies, it could be something like adblocker software intercepting some of the packets and corrupting them somehow. It would be fairly easy to disable any such apps for a while to see if that makes a difference.

Since we're sharing our ancient history stories related to this, I'll just mention that it could be something like a power cord or cable that is just barely hanging in the wall socket, and when your foot or leg inadvertently jiggles it a bit, causes micro-interruptions to the power.

Oh, wait, that was what happened to my Apple ][ way back in 1980 or so. You might not have that some problem nowadays with your smart phone.

But boy did those micro power interruptions scramble my Apple Basic programs in some astonishingly bizarre ways, all without creating even a flicker in the display. You'd do a program listing and everything looked fine, then another one two seconds later and 3/4 of the program had been replaced by random gibberish.

We spent like 45 minutes troubleshooting this completely bizarre problem until my buddy spotted the power cord just barely hanging in the outlet, and my foot just brushing against it at random times.

My first lesson in the out-of-the-box thinking necessary to do real troubleshooting . . .
posted by flug at 10:00 PM on September 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


autopilot: If not Texas, by any chance are you in southern California and using AT&T? If so, try the same thing: https rather than http to reach Mefi.

On a site I administer, people are complaining about garbage characters being injected into the page, too. It's only repeatable (and not always consistently) by people using http over AT&T Wireless in certain regions of the U.S. The garbage goes away when the site is accessed over https instead.
posted by ardgedee at 6:11 PM on September 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


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