How I spent yesterday


We all know that yesterday was April 1.

Carbon tax day in Ontario or a chance to play tricks on people as part of April Fool’s Day.

Last week, I had read that Microsoft had indicated that there would be no jokes played on April 1.  But, we can always count on Google…

Screen Cleaner

This was kind of a cool way to spend a couple of minutes.  Allegedly, there was an external screen cleaner built into the Files application.  Not only now could you keep your Android device as clean as possible, you could clean the outside.

It’s a little bit of fun, to be sure.

But, what a great way to get people to download this application if they hadn’t already and use it to keep things clean on the inside.

Snake

Now, this was considerably more time sucking and rabbit hole-ish.

snake

The classic game of “Snake” comes to Google Maps.  Play in your favourite city, if it’s included, or wander around the world.

Snake was started from a special addition on the main menu on the side.  The promise is that it will be around for a while.

There are a few more from Google for 2019.

And, Google isn’t the only one.

Check out this article for more April Fool’s gags.

And here is a list of all of the Google April Fool’s gags over the years.

Beyond the gags, though…

Easter Eggs and unexpected actions or mystery levels in games have been around for a long time.  It was the source of inspiration for a discussion with students about the ethics of doing it.

Sure, it can be fun, but if you’re using an application for its serious intended use and the prank actually makes it fail should be a cause for concern.  Google products, since they largely live on the web can get away with it since they’re not changing anything to your computer and can fix things once and it applies to everyone.  But, suppose that Microsoft decided to get cute with Microsoft Word in the name of a joke and you ended up breaking functionality – then it gets serious.

Lest I get too serious, I’m back to the Snake game.

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April 1


One of the days that you really have to be on your toes as a teacher is April Fools’ Day.  You never know what your charges will be up to.

In reality, it’s not all that terribly difficult to know that something is up.  First, there’s the distraction in the hallway before class when you get asked a few dumb questions while whatever is going to happen gets set up.  Then, when you enter the classroom, all of a sudden every set of eyes in the class is watching you quietly.  You know that never happens – there’s always that student or groups of students that are otherwise occupied.  On April 1, they’re all watching, watching, watching.  So, you look for the tack on your chair, check the blackboard for writing, look for buckets of water on the doorway, and so on…

The very best “gag” that was done was actually very well done.  Two students had written a computer program that looked like the log on screen to the network.  It had the details down to the last pixel.  Then, they would walk away from the computer with their program running.  The unsuspecting victim comes along and enters their userid and password (nicely done with * to mask the characters just like in real life).  This information is then piped to a text file before sending the message to the victim that they had entered an incorrect password.  In the background, the computer would close the text file, log off, and the victim would next be presented with the real login screen – they enter their details, get logged in and life goes on as it’s supposed to.  Alas, their credentials had effectively been stolen.  Of course, when the teacher found out about it, a discussion ensued on two levels.  First to the authors to indicated that this activity had risen beyond the level of a joke and to the others about the importance of being tech savvy when a computer displays unexpected behaviour.

This year, April Fools’ Day activities started to appear on March 31 locally.  Of course, it already was April 1 in other places.  There were some interesting gags this year.

What makes these so effective is the time spent by the authors making them look just like everything else is a company’s product line.  You’d have to look awfully close to see if there’s any indication that you’re looking at something bogus.  To that end, I’m going to add a number of these to my wiki resource “Sites that should make you go Hmmm“.  Their is an educational value to these.  In addition to enjoying the efforts of the creators, just like the password snagger program, students need to be able to read and discern what they’re seeing on the internet.  It’s so important to be able to assign a truth value to what you’re reading.

I couldn’t trip up my friend Alfred Thompson with this announcement.

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One of the better collections of April Fool’s Jokes can be found here on this Rebelmouse Page.  Mashable has a great summary here.

Did you find a gag or joke that was particularly noteworthy yesterday?  If so, please let me know in the comments.