Slashdot Easter Egg

October 11, 2008

Did you know that every time you view a page on slashdot, you’re given a random Futurama quote? Most people don’t, since they’re hidden away in the HTTP headers, so you’ll never see them via normal web browsing. I discovered this one time when I was playing around with cURL. Here’s a sample HTTP trace:

adam-rosenfields-computer ~$ curl -I
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Date: Sat, 11 Oct 2008 04:16:23 GMT
Server: Apache/1.3.41 (Unix) mod_perl/1.31-rc4
X-Powered-By: Slash 2.005001224
X-Bender: Boy, were we suckers!
Cache-Control: private
Pragma: private
Connection: close
Content-Type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1

-I is the option for doing a HEAD request instead of a normal GET. So, a quick and dirty script to generate a random Futurama quote is:

curl -I 2>/dev/null | grep '^X-' | grep -v '^X-Powered-By'

This works since all of the quotes are under a header name beginning with X-, e.g. X-Bender, X-Fry, or X-Leela. I’m not sure how many total quotes there are in the database, but you could probably get a good estimate by sampling a large number of times and counting how many unique quotes and how many duplicates you get, and then extrapolating.

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