Is that what the brown icon was supposed to be? I couldn't figure out the new one until I opened the file in another program and zoomed massively. Now it can't be unseen-- but initially all I saw was inexplicable blobs.
The one nice thing about the eighty-three varieties of apple-touch-icon is that they're big enough* that you really can make a recognizable picture.
* How big seems to vary by year. I found one site that had "144x144" crossed out -- I mean, literally strikethrough -- and replaced with "152x152". And let's not even get into "precomposed" ...
Neil, you've spoiled the puzzle now by telling us what it is ;) ...but thanks for the clue and thanks for the changes.
It's amazing how accustomed I'd gotten to the old brown favicon that I saw as often as I did (the little man with a tin-foil hat growing out of his ear?), so I'm still looking for the same color-smear when I've got a lot of tabs open, but I know I'll get used to it.
There are more important changes too, which I leave for you to tell us about, and many thanks for those as well.
I couldn't initially, and had to download the file (yes, by navigating to webmasterworld.com/favicon.ico) and open it in an application that allowed zooming. At around 500% I finally saw "Oh, is that what it's supposed to be!"
Now, me, I'd have made a bitmap by hand rather than anti-aliasing a larger image, but that's me ;)
the little man with a tin-foil hat growing out of his ear?
A very useful fixture, though I never understood why it was brown. Seems like it should have been greyscale.
Most of the time when a site changes its favicon, I like the old one better. (I do hope this doesn't apply to me, because I've changed my own at least twice :()
Seems like the favicons are changing back and forth... dark blue during the day, brown with the tinfoil hat in his ear late at night. Maybe they're being A-B tested.
One of the important things about a favicon, IMO, is that it stand out from other favicons in a row of tabs. Familiarity most definitely helps. For these reasons, I'm growing to like the old brown one more, even though a blue map of the world may make more sense.