Top 10 April Fools' Pranks for Nerds

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  1. By Jose Fermoso
    03.28.08 | 5:30 PM

    Here are the top 10 tech-related April Fools' jokes to play on friends and co-workers. The best geek pranks make a gadget or a co-worker's computer appear "broken." Watch with glee as the unsuspecting victim goes mental trying to figure it out.
    The list was compiled mostly from reader submissions to last year's April Fools' widget.
    Remember, jokes are supposed to be funny, so don’t really break anything.

    1. Re-map the Keyboard of Your Excitable Co-worker Every company has a sales rep who uses exclamation marks excessively ("C'mon guys!! We can do better this quarter!!!"). Use a program like KeyExtender, a registry hack that re-maps their keyboard so that exclamations and question marks are switched. They may begin to question their sunny outlook in life: "C'mon guys?? We can do better this quarter??? Guys??"
    As they paw helplessly at their keyboards, sidle up and 'fix' their problem. Don’t forget to smile.

    2. The Speech-to-Text Platform Joke You'll need a wireless keyboard for this. Set up a meeting with a colleague to teach them a speech-recognition program (you'll need a plausible reason why the company needs this). Then, right before the meeting, connect your keyboard wirelessly to the victim's computer. Explain to the victim that the program will have to be trained to recognize their voice, and give them a sample sentence to try out. As they do this, have a co-worker a few desks away type gibberish into the program page ("Boomshakalaka!).
    The poor guy will make a fool of himself talking louder and changing his pronunciation to try and make it work.

    3. Desktop Havoc on the Mac A London design firm called Troika has produced video of an amazing computer "virus," which may or may not be publicly available. It's probably just a clever art project, but it's too good not to mention here. Nonetheless, Troika's Newton Virus is a Mac bug that rearranges the desktop icons using the accelerometers built into recent MacBooks. When the unsuspecting user picks up their laptop, all the icons and menu items fall to the ground as though under the influence of gravity. Watch it here:

  2. 4. Optical Mouse Confusion This is an update of the old mouse-ball-removal trick: A small piece of tape over the laser sensor on an optical mouse will cause it to go haywire. Just color the nonstick side of the tape with a Sharpie and then tape it over the lens.
    A reader last year reported that someone at a major tech company (it rhymes with 'Frisco') was fooled by this trick four times in a single day. Sometimes the simplest pranks are the most enjoyable.

    5. Change the Language Settings on Google When a co-worker leaves her computer unattended for a minute, quickly go to Google's home page and click on "Preferences." There, you can choose the interface language of the search engine. Klingon, Hacker and Yiddish are all excellent choices, but Elmer Fudd is our personal favorite. As Elmer, you can use the Google Diwectowy, perform a Google Seawch or find out if you're ‘feewing wucky.'
    You'll be amazed how few people realize you can do this. The change-the-language trick also works well on cellphones.

    6. The BlueScreen of Death Screensaver The BlueScreen of Death error in Windows has driven lots of users to the fringe of computer homicide. Tap into the river of pain by installing the BlueScreen of Death Screensaver on a friend's machine. It's available at Microsoft's IT website Technet, but there are several others out there. Just make sure it doesn’t have a real virus.
    What’s likely to happen? The victim will reboot his machine by hitting the restart button. Hopefully, they didn't save their work!

    7. Splitting Monitor Cables This is one even software geeks won't easily figure out. Open up their monitor cable (don't worry, it's safe) and wire the RGB lines to different colors -- this will totally warp the image on the screen. Everyone will assume it's a software problem. You're so clever. You can thank us later.

    8. The Old Screenshot-as-Desktop-Wallpaper Gag This classic is as good as gold. Take a screenshot of your friend's desktop and make it their desktop wallpaper. You'll have to minimize applications, hide all of the desktop icons, and set the Windows task bar to auto hide. Pull up a comfortable chair and pretend to feel their pain while they click like mad and rail at the gods.

    9. Change Autocorrect in MS Office People are too reliant on some common programs that help them cheat, such as the Autocorrect feature in MS Office. Capitalize on their laziness by adding a few of your favorite "alternative" spellings.
    Common words like "about" or "together" work well. Even better, try subtly adjusting the spelling of your victim's name. It's so hard-wired into most people's fingers, they hardly look at it. Right, Mr. Dumass?

    10. Remotely Monitor a Friend's Webcam Spy on your best buddy at work through his webcam (think American Pie), record the feed, then show a compilation of his brow-furrowing and nose-picking at the next staff meeting. This is why they like you.
    You can do this through remote-monitoring programs, such as WebCam Monitor on Windows; and even do it through an iPhone using Telekinesis, an iPhone app that allows you to take pictures on a Mac laptop using its built-in iSight camera.

  3. funny! thanks for posting.

    at MIT the Blue Screen of Death prank was popular. so funny when ppl freak out over that!