April Fool’s gags back with a vengeance

It’s that day of the year again: the online world is full of tech-related April Fool’s jokes. And once again, far too many of them are a little too credible to really work.

Google is usually king of such gags, with the notable exception of 2004 when it launched Gmail for real, the date apparently chosen to create more coverage as journalists debated whether or not it was a joke.

This year it’s come up with Gmail motion, in which the user can control their e-mail message organization simply by using hand gestures. Anyone who didn’t pick up on the gag at first should work out what’s going on at the point in this promotional video when the viewer learns that you must lick your finger (as if it were holding a postage stamp) to send a message.

The problem with this gag is that at a time when the Kinect technology is being adapted by computer users for all manner of purposes, it’s almost guaranteed that somebody’s going to create a motion control Gmail system before the weekend is out, just on principle.

Another Google creation, less of a gag and more of a novelty feature is a 1911 button on YouTube: press it and the video you are watching turns into a grainy monochrome picture with silent movie-style piano accompaniment.

Among the other Google offerings: search for Comic Sans and you will get exactly what you ask for, while this man explains the shocking truth about how Google Autocomplete works.

Hulu has a similar tactic, presenting the site in the style of 1996, complete with TV clips of that time and even the beloved Geocities “under construction” animated GIF. While it’s an amusing effect, it’s not really an April Fool’s joke either unless the idea is that it has enough visitors that one person will be confused they think there’s been a blip in time.

PCMag has created a spoof site “PostPCMag” filled with stories parodying the success and hype of the iPad, my favorite being “HP WebOS Event Attracts 3 Reporters.” Unfortunately one of the jokes falls flat: the spoof headline is “iPads Account for 99.9% of all tablets bought.” Not only is that not enough of a spectacular exaggeration to really work (the actual figure is at least 83%), but one estimate this week says that given the high price of the iPad, Apple is genuinely taking a 99.6% share of total spending on tablets.

The Pirate Bay’s claim to have won an eBay auction for the domain name ebay.com.

We saw that eBay was up for sale on their own site and since we have a long going law suit against them for abuse of our trademark name “pirat(ebay)”, we wanted to be pragmatic and just use our immense profits to buy them. This will hopefully make us spend less time with the lawsuit.

TPB will use the tools from eBay to make a better rating system for torrents. Then TPB will divide eBay up into smaller companies and sell to the highest bidders. We see no use for an auction site since most stuff is available for free.

The Huffington Post lands something of a suckerpunch by announcing it will now be integrating a paywall — for New York Times employees only. (It’s apparently previously been tested on readers in Winnipeg, which I admit isn’t a reference I understood.) Instead of a word count-based preview, Times workers will only be able to see the first six letters of any word without paying up.

Wikipedia pulls something of a doublebluff, with the featured article of the day being a seemingly ludicrous entry about “fanny scratching” (which comes across very differently to English speakers on either side of the Atlantic) that is actually true. There’s also a very clever set of “Did you know” facts that are true but misleading: for example, the claim “Batman is half female” links to the page for the Turkish province of Batman where the gender demography is indeed evenly split. There’s also a mature audiences only joke involving a particular form of earwig.

Toshiba has come up with the Toshiba Spectacle 3D, an electronic monocle that lets you see real life scenes in three-dimensions using only one eye. There’s a safety warning against wearing two such monocles at once, as doing so could produce double 3D images, “resulting in an uncomfortable and infinite loop.”

(Personally I prefer comedian Richard Herring’s speculation that the reason movie-goers must return 3D glasses at the end of the film is that they aren’t specifically 3D glasses, but simply +1D glasses and thus wearing them outside the cinema would cause people to see in four dimensions, a prospect that terrifies the authorities.)

But my pick for the gag of the day? Two words: Angry Nerds.

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