April Programmer Fools 2013
Written by Lucy Black   
Monday, 01 April 2013

Yes its that time of year again - it's Google Fools Day - no, I mean April Fools day. A day when the tech industry has the right to publicize what ever stupid idea it cares to invent - so much like any other really. Let's see what this year brings in side-slapping laughs...

One of the big problems of listing April Fools pranks is that you can't always be 100% sure that they are pranks. This industry sounds like magic most of the time, so detecting the extra thrown in for a special occasion isn't easy or always possible.

Twitter has come up with an idea that might even catch on it plans to charge tweeters to use vowels - but Y is currently free.




Hmmm charging sounds good from their point of view, it might even give them a way to monetize their operation at long last. The best part is that when more revenue is needed they can just add some more letters to charge for. As well as charging for vowels the blog suggest that for that special promoted message you could bid for an extra letter - yes a 141 character tweet. 

Google probably deserves a page all to itself, so enthusiastically does the whole company throw itself into the fray. You can't help but wonder if there isn't some interdepartmental rivalry that drives different groups to produce ever more elaborate spoofs. But as the saying goes, you don't always get what you deserve.

First off we need to make clear that the ridiculous dumping of Google Reader isn't an April Fools joke, even though it would have made the best ever. If Google announces some time today that it was, just imagine how much laughter and back slapping there would be... 

Google Maps is always a good source of jokes, second only to Apple's original attempts at mapping software. This year we have treasure map mode on Google Maps which is sort of "bring a pirate day" gone bad.  It has "fun" for everyone as you search for symbols and of course treasure. As the blog announcement  tells it:

The map was found on a recent expedition in the Indian Ocean, as part of a deep-water dive to expand our underwater Street View collection. Captain Kidd was rumored to have buried his treasure around the world, and tales of a long-lost treasure map have lingered for generations. 



Then there is the YouTube effort. The announcement was made that YouTube was simply a competition to find the best video and now that video has been found the service is closing down to be replaced by just the winning video. Well you can see the advantage in that and consider the time and effort saved in not watching all those cat videos:



Ah, a future without YouTube, it sounds nice. This is not what April Fools jokes are supposed to achieve. Perhaps this one and a few others backfire on the perpetrators.

Next up is Google Nose - you can smell your searches. Well, if Google's search engine gets much worse it can simply use a single scent.  



And of course as YouTube is about to close the Nose people, I hope they don't mind me calling them this, created a video:


One joke that might not be a joke - it really could prove to be successful is Google+'s add “stylized emotions” to your photos. The software analyzes your photos and adds icons according to the mood detected





Then there is Gmail Blue ... well it's all blue what else do you expect? A better April Fool might be that going blue is a prelude to closing the service ... oh no they can't try that one, too many people might believe it. 

There are probably lots more Google jokes but lists have to be finite or at the very worst unbounded...

So what about Microsoft? 

Well obviously it takes aim at Google. If you go to the Bing site, making sure your region is set to the USA, and type in "Google", you will see a really good joke. The Bing search engine in Google style. There are also some comments that reinforce the idea that Google's basic style is bland, plain and vanilla. There is an old saying about people in glass houses and it has to be said that Microsoft's preference for flat gloomy design could be faulted along similar lines. 


At the moment there is just one slim non-Google joke on the Microsoft Blog. Fast track to fashion introduces us to the Do Not Tracksuit. Well you can guess the rest but just in case you can't:

Using a combination of NFC, RFID, Bluetooth 5.2 and infrared emitter technology optimized in our labs, the Do Not Tracksuit is smart enough to detect specific device/app vectors and neutralize them in accordance with the wearer’s intent. It doesn’t simply block all social media behavior in its proximity. Using proven SmartScreen technology, the suit can tell the difference between your mom tagging a great churro in Foodspotting and a frenemy tagging your photo in Foursquare.

With fuzzy logic algorithms  it can identify an attempted tracking behavior within a 100th of a second and select the precise frequency needed to neutralize it, blurring an image, garbling a recording, or jamming an upload in near real time.

The problem with this joke is that there are already thousands of orders for the early experience kit - which must be another joke as no one would pay to use beta hardware, not even Google Glass. 

Do we even class the BBC's tech April Fools as technical enough as it involves bar codes, well it could be worse they could have picked QR codes. Does anyone at the BBC know what a QR code is we wonder. Anyway the idea is that railway engines have their numbers replaced by bar codes which is upsetting train spotters.  The idea is that we can crowdsource railway stats by getting people to snap said engines with their mobile phones using a special app. Who knows, it could work.

So what about real programmers April Fools jokes? Well I suppose I could write a news item that NP=P or Python has had to change its name to Monty or ... but we are programmers. What  do we do? We implement algorithms for any task that is before us. Hence fool.js a fully functioning jQuery addin for the 1st of April. Download fool.js, install it and sit back and forget about the problem of thinking up jokes.... 


Check back for any "breaking pranks"

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Last Updated ( Monday, 01 April 2013 )