|Coded Easter Eggs|
|Written by Historian|
|Sunday, 24 April 2011|
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Starting in the late 1990s Easter Eggs have been concealed in Nintendo systems. The following list is from Wikipedia and hasn't been tested by us.
Jokes in Operating Systems
Easter Eggs aren't always elaborate and some just display a gently sense of humour. For example, Berkeley Unix 1977 countered "why" with "why not", a reference to The Prisoner TV series. Easter eggs found in some Unix operating systems caused them to respond to the command "make love" with "not war?". The TOPS-10 operating system (for the DEC PDP-10 computer) had the "make love" hack before 1971; it included a short, thoughtful pause before the response.
In older versions of MS-DOS (prior to DOS 6.2) if you pressed F1, the Help function key while in the Help, About menu you were greeted by a dialog box that read "No Help Available (so leave me alone). This wasn't a particularly funny joke and was removed from later versions.
One long-lived Easter Egg was in all Windows systems prior to XP. In the 3D Text screen saver, entering the text "volcano" will display the names of all the volcanoes in the United States.
Despite Microsoft's policy of Easter Egg removal for security reasons Windows XP still has several. For example, in the Notepad if you type "bush hid the facts" and save the document under any name when you re-open it you will discover a row of 0s have replaced the text.
Another unexpected behavior occurs in the voice preview of the Speech Properties box of the Text-to-Speech facility. With Microsoft Sam (the default voice) selected type in "crotch" - he reads it as "crow's nest". If you type in "soy" you hear what can only be described as a squawk.
Google is famous for hoaxes and April Fools so it is hardly surprising to find that it is a rich source of Easter Eggs. One of the simplest is if you search for "anagram", you are prompted "Did you mean nag a ram".
In a similar vein if you search for "recursion" you'll see "Did you mean recursion".
The Google calculator also has some surprises in store. If you type into search "answer to life the universe and everything" the calculator returns:
a reference to Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy".
It returns = 1 to the search "number of horns on Unicorn" and also to "the loneliest number" - from the song by Harry Nillson. Type in a baker's dozen and you'll see = 13, "once in a blue moon" equals "1.16699016 × 10-8 hertz".
The more surprising thing is that you can perform arithmetic with these results:
One of the most famous Google Easter Eggs was the discovery that a combination of Ctrl + Alt + A in Google Earth took the user into a basic flight simulator that let you fly above the Earth's surface. This was later incorporated as a feature. One that was only temporary was that viewers who zoomed in close to the Moon's surface found it transformed into a piece of holey cheese.
Google Maps also has a sense of humour although many of its former Easter Eggs have also been removed. At one time if you asked for directions from New York to London you were told to swim across the Atlantic. There are similar jokes currently left in, however. If you try Tokyo to Los Angeles the route takes you via Hawaii and includes two instructions to "Kayak across the Pacific Ocean". These are made funnier by being interspersed among the "normal" instructions we are used to seeing in Driving Directions.
(Click to enlarge)
Similarly, if you ask for directions from Japan to China the advised method is to "Jet ski across the Pacific Ocean".
The tradition continues
Software Easter Eggs continue to be incorporated in programs and to be hunted for and found by users. There is an active web site, The Easter Egg Archive, devoted to disseminating information about Eggs discovered in software and also in movies, music, TV shows, books and art and of its total of 13998, 18 were New in the previous two weeks.
Programmers will always try to add some personality to their code even if it is counter to the idea of code security. The need for self expression within a over controlled and under rewarded situation is going to ensure that Easter Eggs continue.
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