13 October 2011

The Longest Sidebar

Here's a little quiz to test your knowledge of chess blogs. What do the following three blogs all have in common?

If you answered, 'They're all pretty good blogs', no points for you. I wouldn't have listed them if they weren't a cut above your average chess blog.

If you answered, 'They're all administered by women', you get one point. Even if you'd never heard of Alexandra Kosteniuk and Susan Polgar, both former Women's World Champions, their first names should be a strong clue. The third blog is a little more challenging, but it doesn't take a genius to guess that a blog with the word 'Goddess' in its title isn't run by a 'dude' (as the blog's webmistress likes to call us guys).

If you answered, 'They all have incredibly long sidebars', then you win the jackpot. Their sidebars -- if you're not up on the lingo, that's the bar on the side -- go on and on and on and on and on and on and on...

I've long been curious which of our three women's blogs had the longest sidebar, but couldn't figure out how to measure it. Counting the number of times it takes to 'Page Down' from top to bottom doesn't seem very scientific and wouldn't be accurate enough to break a close contest. Then I found the program Web Screen Capture, and knew that I had the answer. This program doesn't just capture the part of a web page visible in your browser -- that can be done in many ways -- it captures the image of the entire web page from top to bottom. All you do is feed it the page's URL and the rest is magic.

Armed with my new tool, I pointed the software at a recent post in each of the three blogs and captured the full page image to a file. Then I loaded the images into image processing software and recorded the number of pixels in the vertical direction. Then I reduced the width and height of the images by a factor of a 1000 100 and displayed the images side by a side to get a visual comparison. That's the picture you see on the left.

Blog no.4 is the 'Chess for All Ages' blog that you are currently reading. At 4487 pixels long, my blog's sidebar isn't even in the competition. Blog no.3, at 11770 pixels, is more than two and a half times as long as mine, but no.3 is less than half as long as no.2, at 25623 pixels. The winner, as can clearly be seen in the picture, is no.1, a whopping 30532 pixels long!

Which of the three women's blogs is the winner? It's not hard to work that out for yourself, so I'll leave it as an exercise. And what's the longest sidebar managed by a 'dude'? I have no idea, but if you know of a candidate, leave a comment or shoot me an email at the address under my profile (located on the sidebar, of course).

No comments: