April Fools!

April 1, 2011 by . 0 comments

Every Friday here at the SuperUser Blog is WTF Friday and what better way to start this one out on April Fool’s.

Super users love a good practical joke. Ever since BOFH came on the scene there have been bids to out-do each other with practical jokes. A while back we were asked what a few of our favorites are, and here some of them are. Since it’s April Fool’s day we hope you find them useful! Just remember that some of these may cause significant problems for people, so use discretion when tricking your friends and colleagues. We don’t want something like this:


What’s Your Favorite Harmless Computer Practical Joke?

A couple of months ago, I returned from lunch to find that typing any key launched a random application. As I always lock my machine before walking away from it, my first thought was that a co-worker was playing a practical joke on me. As it turned out, the cause was random computer wonkiness. But just in case there’s a need :), what’s your favorite harmless computer practical joke? For example, would you alter host file entries to direct google.com to a random site or would you put tape over the optical sensor of a co-worker’s mouse?

So here they are. We must say that hilarious as some of these are we would never advocate actually doing any of these.  We’ve separated them into 6 sections with the last being the best.

#6 Being evil with code

Make the developer spend the day debugging their code. Slipping any one of these into an unsuspecting programmer’s code can make them scratch their head all day long.

  • #define if while
  • #define cout cou
  • #define true false or #define false true
  • #define int float or #define float int
  • #define continue break
  • Change the switch from more magic to magic
– mamama & GameFreak

#5 Toying with their hardware

The trusted mouse that has always worked so reliably that suddenly starts doing strange things, or the keyboard that sprouts a mind of its own is always good for a laugh…

My coworker tells a story of a long term practical joke on a non-technical user. Every day, at the end of the day, he’d pick up the mouse and squeeze the mouse cord following it up back to the computer when she was watching – but not when anyone else was around. Eventually her curiosity got the better of her, and she asked about his habit. He explained that he was pushing the electrons back up into the computer so the mouse wouldn’t get bogged down with extra electrons every day and eventually get slower and slower. She soon took up the habit, and hilarity ensued when her boss asked her about it. – Adam Davis

One morning before anyone got in, I switched the M and the N keys on a co-worker’s keyboard who I knew was a hunt and peck typer. He called me over later that day to look at his computer because, “the keyboard typed the wrong letter” when he typed. I sat there a minute, tried it in Word and Notepad then went into control panel and acted like I was checking on things. Finally, I pulled out my car keys popped the letters off the keyboard and switched them back (to their correct original positions). I looked at him and said, “Use it like this, you will get used to it” and I walked away. He threw a fit about that not being a valid fix. He was so mad — it was awesome. – SpyderDriver
I have to admit, this is one of my dad’s – and I’m a little rusty on details. On a colleague’s Unix machine, he injected some code into something related to the keyboard – a driver, or some handler for the input somehow. Basically, any time this person typed beyond about 45 words per minute, subtle typos kept being added; only keys added would be close to the key being hit. A would become an S or a Q or a Z, a Y may become a U. The cruel part was that it would only happen if you typed quickly – if you backed up and typed it again slowly it would work perfectly. The faster one typed, the faster the errors came. – Unknown
If you’re sitting near them (opposite or along side), plug a USB mouse into their PC and every now and again move their mouse pointer. The two mice share the pointer, so done well you can fight their attempts to move the pointer left/right by moving your mouse in the other direction. You can do the same with a second keyboard too! – Ray Hayes

#4 Network Fun

You can have such fun with the network – remotely accessing people’s computers, modifying or redirecting their traffic…

This guy was tired of his neighbours using his wifi-network, so he made a setup that flipped all images upside down when they browsed the net: – csl
My wife hogs our macbook all the time, so I set up a static IP on our router for it which allows me to SSH in from work (or anywhere else) and use the say command to have random messages read out. She still doesn’t know it’s me – it’s getting hard to keep a straight face when she complains that the macbook announced that “the radish only floats on one side” in a sing-along jaunty voice this afternoon. I also used to enjoy SSHing onto newbie unix users boxes and randomly ejecting the CDs they were listening to. – codeinthehole

#3 Goating

Goating is doing silly things to someone’s computer when they have walked away from it without locking their screen. Don’t ask where the name came from…

Adding the words “teh”, “adn”, and “fro” to someone’s Word dictionary. – Bill the Lizard
A coworker of mine once left her computer unlocked when she went home for the day. We created an email in Outlook, addressed it to a boss she couldn’t stand, wrote a love letter to him, then used Paint to make a desktop-sized image with the email positioned to the right of where her desktop icons were. Then we set it as the background and locked her computer. So the next day she sees this loaded gun of an email, can’t figure out why she can’t close it, and is freaked out that she might click it wrong and send it. Bonus hilarity points ensued when she rebooted in panic and it came back. (this was someone who was a really good friend of ours so we all had a good laugh over it – it wasn’t like we randomly picked someone) – Schnapple
I remember installing a Blue Screen screen saver on a friend’s computer at the time he was writing his Master’s thesis. Worked – Knut Elduset
At work we once put on an unattended computer: Outlook rules that went something like this: when receive email with subject ‘duh’:
  1. Delete email
  2. Launch the calculator
  3. Play a Homer Simpson audio click ‘lets do some calculating’
It caused a lot of laughs during team meetings. – Unknown

#2 For you Mac Users:

There are so many other great things you can do to freak out your unsuspecting targets.

This works on any militant Mac user
  1. Ask to borrow their Mac
  2. Install Microsoft Terminal Server Client for Mac (Free DL)
  3. RDP into a Windows machine using full screen mode
  4. Give the Mac back to the militant Mac head and say, “Here – I fixed your Mac”
– Unknown

And the best of them all goes too…

#1 Cuckoo Clock Madness

My all time favorite was a small application I wrote and installed on a colleagues computer. It silently ran in the background and chimed every hour by opening and closing the CD tray and playing a “cuckoo” sound, Effectively turning their PC into a cuckoo clock.Martin

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