Thursday, December 17, 2015

Norfolk Island's Phantom Browsing

This might just be a very subtle troll, and if it is then huzzah's are in order to whomever put it together.

I was checking out the browser usage page on Wikipedia and noticed they have a map showing the most popular browser for each given country.

That's pretty neat but wait... is that PhantomJS at the bottom?

PhantomJS, for those unfamiliar, is a headless webkit implementation which means it's sort of like a browser but doesn't have a display. Not having a display makes it great for things like automated testing but super difficult to use as a day-to-day browser.

Initially I didn't see any countries with that brown color indicating PhantomJS but upon closer inspection I saw this:

Can't see any land under the dot, but there must be something there... let's check the area in Google Maps

Hmm, nothing there, let's zoom in...

I think I see something there...

Norfolk Island is something like 10km across with a population a little over 2200 people. You might not have heard of them because they seem to be trying to use PhantomJS to browse the internet ;)

I'm curious how they found the PhantomJS project in the first place, does it come pre-installed on computers in Norfolk? This is what I call internet hard mode, kudos to them.

Note: I'm assuming there is just a server farm here that runs lot of automated tests (maybe bots?) but it's just so much more fun imagining a bunch of confused people fiddling around trying to browse reddit with PhantomJS.


L1ttl3J1m said...

Very small sets skewing the results,maybe? Check out the wild variation every month;

Also, this result for June is a standout, too.

Brent Smith said...

Yes, it's almost certainly an anomaly. Someone running a boatload of unit tests or a server trying to bot pageviews or something strange like that.