March 31, 2006 4:00 AM PST

April Fools' Day is coming--beware of your browser

On April 1, 2004, Google announced it was launching Gmail, a free e-mail service featuring an unheard-of gigabyte of free storage.

Given the timing and the fact that Yahoo Mail and Hotmail then offered less than 10MB of free space, most people laughed off the Google news as a funny April Fools' joke.

Of course, we know now that the Gmail gambit was for real. But in the Internet age, April 1 has become a day when dozens upon dozens of good-natured online hoaxes are perpetrated each year. Thus, people would be wise to smell-test just about everything that pops into their browser on and around April Fools' Day.

"For new users especially, it's hard to tell the difference between legitimate sites and the hoax copies."
--Andy Baio, blogger

"People tend to believe things that sound plausible or appear to come from a credible source," said Andy Baio, who writes the popular technology culture blog Waxy.org and who each year tracks the best April Fools' pranks. "For new users especially, it's hard to tell the difference between legitimate sites and the hoax copies."

Baio also coined a term for April Fools' Day, "Internet Jackass Day," which some fans of the tradition think is pretty apt.

"That's what the gang at Waxy.org have termed April 1," wrote Networkworld on its blog on April 2, 2004, "and we couldn't agree more. Welcome to April 2, where it's safe to turn on your monitors and believe once more--but if you're like us, your paranoia won't subside till Memorial Day."

Another compendium of Internet April Fools' jokes comes from the site Urgo.org. On the site, its author, Jason Pearsall, lists the best of 2005 and 2004, as well as a more complete list. The site will be updated April 1 to include the best of 2006.

"It's something anyone can do, and it lets people be creative," said Pearsall. April Fools' Day "is something people get drilled into them starting when they're young, and it's a real creative way that anyone can do something on the Internet."

Smell-tests aside, there are always those people who fall for April Fools' Internet pranks, even those who should know better.

A case in point was 2003's iLoo from Microsoft, purportedly an Internet outhouse replete with a flat-screen plasma display, broadband access and a wireless keyboard. The software giant's MSN UK unit waited a whole month--till May 2 of that year--to set the trap.

Among those to get sucked in by the iLoo was CNET News.com, which took company representatives at their word and ran a story on the design--and then a subsequent one acknowledging the ruse.

Some Internet observers aren't surprised people fall for the pranks. Pearsall thinks the issue might just be that people don't remember the date.

"A lot of (people) don't remember," he said, "until their first (prank). These days, you have to get to (people) really early in the morning. So the first one of the day really does fool them."

CONTINUED: Cheesy spoofs…
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6 comments

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My Favorite April Fools Joke...
Ambrosia Software developed a great new application and
released it on April 1:

"Over time, your LCD or CRT monitor will gradually fade in
brightness and contrast. This fading is inevitable, because the
backlights for LCD screens eventually fade, and the photo-
reactive substrate on CRT monitors eventually degrades.
ScreenCleaner Pro rectifies this situation by altering the gamma
of your monitor to compensate for monitor degradation, so it
will look as good as new. Don't toss out that old monitor, just
run ScreenCleaner Pro on it, and watch your old monitor gain a
new life."

What it really does is dim your brightness very slowly over a few
minutes, then changes back to what it was before...Many people
fell for it, even MACWORLD!!
Posted by Microbreak (61 comments )
Reply Link Flag
My favorite...
happened back in early 80's, back when to use a computer you had to login and logout. (some of you have systems that share a computer... back then EVERYONE shared)

I was working for the University of Michigan (Flint Campus) at the time and the Computer Center in Ann Arbor always put five or six "fillers" in the first issue of April(but they could be anywhere from a single paragraph to a full article taking half the front page with a continued on page (whatever) for the other half.(consistent with their style of publishing major articles) a middle sized "side bar" article had a build up something like this:

CHANCELLOR PRESSURES COMPUTER CENTER TO CATER TO NEW USERS
Due to the complaints of some new users that the login and logout procedures are sometimes confusing and mixed up, the chancellor has requested that the computer center cater to their confusion. Since the budget crunch has no money set aside for user instruction it has been decided to change the login and loguot procedures to fit these users beliefs.

Therefore starting tomorrow the logout command will log you in and the login command will log you out.

Since this is a major change for those of us who have been using MTS{stands for Michigan Terminal System) all along, the computer center has decided to phase this in in a two step process. Phase one will be implemented tomorrow and consists of changing login to logout. then, if all goes as planned, phase two will commence on April 7th, consisting of changing logout to log you in.

-------

They had more detail making it seem plausible explaining why it is the only solution... until you remembered the shortcut...

the login and the logout commands on the MTS could be shortened to the first three letters of each which is LOG for both... the system just assumes that weather your status is in or out, you want the other when you type log.
Posted by qazwiz (208 comments )
Link Flag
Dolphins Surfing the Net with Opera Mini
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://my.opera.com/djysrv/blog/show.dml/203690" target="_newWindow">http://my.opera.com/djysrv/blog/show.dml/203690</a>
Posted by djysrv5 (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Windows Vista April Fools Story
Here's a good April Fool's news posting about the recent delay of
Windows Vista:

<a href="http://www.sharpened.net/">Windows Vista Delayed
Indefinitely</a>
Posted by matt6331 (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Windows Vista Delayed Indefinitely
Here's an April Fool's news posting about the recent delay of
Windows Vista:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.sharpened.net/" target="_newWindow">http://www.sharpened.net/</a>
Posted by matt6331 (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
April Fool's Launch of PalCalls ? Call your family and pals for FREE
PalCalls ? Call your family and pals for FREE

Make FREE calls to Land-line or Mobile Phone in (U.S.A &#38; Canada) and landlines to U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Mexico and many other countries

PalCalls ? SiliconScript, Inc. is very proud to introduce PalCalls as their new addition to products and services. SiliconScript, Inc.?s PalCalls will allow users to make FREE Unlimited Long Distance Calls to landline and mobile phones in U.S.A &#38; Canada) and landlines to UK, Australia, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Mexico and several other countries.

PalCalls is totally FREE and there are no hidden surprises. Don?t believe us! Try it out yourself! With PalCalls, users can make unlimited long distance calls to family members, pals or any other user.

PalCalls will be launched on April 1, 2007 at midnight. No, this is not a fool! It?s real, but you will be fooled if you don?t try it out. First 1000 users who use PalCalls will be entered to win a mega prize.

PalCalls is based on a proven technology. There is NO CATCH, NO GIMMICS AT ALL. It?s totally FREE to use. When we say FREE, you don?t pay a penny for its use.

How PalCalls can offer FREE CALLS?
Thanks to our advertisers, who enables SiliconScript, Inc. to provide this service at NO charge. Please contact us if you would like to become our Advertiser. palcalls@SiliconScript.com

Please visit www.SiliconScript.com to download your PalCalls and for more information about our services and products. Send inquiries, comments and/or suggestions to info@siliconscript.com
Posted by palcalls (1 comment )
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