April Fools roundup

As many of you probably remembered at some time yesterday, it was April Fools Day. Here's some of the best pranks and jokes I saw (many of these were listed in this Lifehacker post). Don't miss the ones that I was personally involved in!

First, quite a few from the various parts of the Google empire:

Dust off your 1980s Nintendo Entertainment System and connect to Google Maps via a proprietary dial-up modem inside the Google Maps cartridge.
You can actually go to Maps and click on Quest in the upper right-hand corner of the map and it will switch to the 8-bit version.

Gmail Tap (video on site)
An app that replaces your normal keyboard with two keys: a dot and a dash. This one is Ali's favorite, and definitely worth checking out!

Chrome Multitask mode (video on site)
"We realized that anytime you're browsing you're only using 50% of your hands. Why? Because you only have one mouse. Chrome multitask mode changes that by giving you access to not just one, but two mice at the same time."

Google Racing
"Our autonomous cars have now been test-driven (or rather, test-ridden) for more than 200,000 miles without a single machine-caused mishap. And today we're moving the project one great leap forward with Google racing, a groundbreaking partnership with NASCAR to help self=driving vehicles compete in the world of stock car racing. We think the most important thing computers can do in the next decade is to drive cars-and that the most important thing Google Racing can do in the next decade is drive them, if possible, more quickly than anyone else. Or anything else.
Google Voice for pets
"The secret is in our special Voice Communication Collars. The collars fit around your pet's neck and use a series of sensors to record audio directly from your dog or cat's vocal cords, using technology originally developed for NASA spacesuits. With a little training, your beloved Fluffy will be able to let you know exactly what she wants every minute of every day. Wherever you go."

Gmail Tap (video on site)
Reviving the technology of Morse code, Google Tap allows you to quickly text even if you have fat fingers since there are only two keys.Once you're up to speed you can compose separate messages with each hand!
This one is Ali's favorite, and definitely worth checking out!

Non-Google pranks

Improv Everywhere
If you haven't heard of them, they are a prank group that go around New York City doing various (harmless) pranks on the unsuspecting public. But every year on April Fools, they turn the prank on their readers. This year's: Quadruplets Prank (watch the video first, then read the description).

Virgin Volcanic
"Only 500 people have been to space, only three people have been to the bottom of the ocean, but no one has ever attempted to journey to the core of an active volcano. Until now."

Adblock becomes Catblock
The popular Chrome extension to block ads today replaces those ads with photos of cats. This is so popular that they're actually making a subscription version of Adblock to do this after April Fools'

Shapes by Toshiba (video)
Toshiba is announcing a new line of oval, rhombus, and heart shaped tablets.

The YouTube Collection"When my Internet went out, I used to have to wait until it came back on to watch my favorite videos. NO MORE." Receive one truckload per week of pallet-stacked YouTube videos on DVD.

Kodak Offers 'Print Your Own Live Kitties' Kiosk:"Select a breed...wait 90 seconds...and fall in love."

Reddit TimelineReddit Timelines let you see what the popular memes were in the late-Creataceous period and allow communication with peoples of distant lands and times.

Kube X15TigerDirect gets in on the April Fools' Day action with the Kube X15, the world's first home mini-nuclear generator.

Not last, but also not least: I pulled two April Fools stunts this year - one on my own blog and one on the joint blog that Ali and I share.
The "Download the web" one I posted is a hoax that someone did a year or so ago. I sorta stole the idea and the website he made and pretended that I had just found out about this dubious service. In reality, the web is not "93% porn and gambling related" and it would be ridiculous to try to use the internet offline from a bunch of files, which would also add up to a good bit more than their quoted size.
The Haircuts post on our joint blog was only partly a hoax - I really did get a haircut, but Ali's hairstyle was a result of me playfully (or buggingly) pushing Ali's ponytail over the top of her head and finding that it looked pretty funny and slightly realistic if arranged just right.

And last, but definitely NOT least:

The XKCD webcomic
This is by far the most elaborate April Fools stunt I've seen all day - in fact, I spent most of my free time today exploring it. Let me explain. If you click the link above, you will be taken to the comic for that day. But, what you don't know is that the comic is variable. What you see depends on the referrer (the site you came from), and/or geographic location, what browser you're using, your internet service provider, and your operating system. So, basically, he made a huge number of comics all specific to one or more of those things. Furthermore, many of the comics display differently depending on your browser window size or how zoomed in you are - they expand larger and larger if you make your window bigger or zoom out, and they become smaller and smaller (i.e. actually drawn differently, not just shrink) if you reduce the size of your window or zoom in.
There are so many variants that it would be cumbersome to show them all to you here, but there is a comment on reddit.com that has *most* of them linked in images. The more I learned the more my mind was boggled thinking about all the work he put into it.
Here's an animation of one of the big comics, showing all the different size combinations that are possible. Following, I'll give a few examples of the different comics that show up depending on all those variables:

This is what shows up if you're from Alaska:


The UK - this is one of the ones that varies by width (mostly changing the ocean, probably)

There are many variations on a different comic that has a swear word in it, all for different states/regions of America, that you can find by looking at the link I posted to the Reddit comment. I'll skip those here.

Some different browser examples:

Chrome (referring to browser plugins):

Internet Explorer (because it's so behind the times so much):

Firefox (in incognito mode):

Verizon mobile browsers:
(There are others for some of the other service providers, but they're very similar)

For military ISPs:

And finally, as an example of referrers, if you click the xkcd.com link from it's Wikipedia article, you get this:

There are many other unique comics that I'll let you find on that reddit comment page if you're interested. The attention to detail and amount of thought and effort that went into this is really pretty incredible - he must have been planning this for quite some time.

Well, I hope you had a great April Fools - I know I did - and congrats if you made it all the way down here on this very long post!

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