The Throwaway Special Effect

Yesterday, I ran across a link on Smashing Magazine‘s twitter feed to an article entitled The protocol-relative URL. This is a rather esoteric topic that will be of extremely limited interest to most (all?) of my readers (it provides a technique for avoiding certain warning messages that occur when a browser calls up a secure website that contains an element from a non-secure source. See. I told you.).

I still had the article in an open tab in my browser and I was idly considering whether there was anything there worth blogging about. I happened to move the cursor off of the main content and onto the page background, which has a rather mundane dark-to-light gray gradient. Well, it’s mundane until you move your cursor onto it. I’ll wait here for a moment while you go try it.
[Update: An alert reader notified me that this doesn’t work in Firefox or Internet Explorer. It only works in Chrome and Safari, or, I suppose, any other WebKit-based browser. Sorry about that.] 
*finger tapping*
Back already?
The website’s creator, Paul Irish, is a front-end developer currently working on the Google Chrome team. He’s implemented a couple of scripts that turn the background into a playground, thereby validating his website’s tagline: “I make the www fun.”
I love these throwaway goodies, added without apparent documentation for the benefit of anyone who might stumble across them. If you scroll all the way to the bottom of the page, you’ll see that Paul intentionally left a huge bottom margin, giving us plenty of space, and one simple instruction: “play.”
Good advice. Good website.


  1. My internets must be broken. Nothing happened when I moved my cursor onto the background. (WindowsXP/Firefox 3.6xx) Also tried IE8 and still nothing. I left the cursor on the background and just watched for awhile and still I saw nothing change. I thought for a moment I heard sound though. I could just make out “Paul is dead”. Then again, maybe that was the spice my wife used on the baked chicken tonight.

  2. Meh. Methinks this works only in Google Chrome (which makes sense, considering the guy’s job). Sorry I made you do the heavy lifting and debugging work.
    It’s almost worth it to download and install Chrome just to play with this page. 😉
    I’ll update the post.

Comments are closed.