We’re big fans of April Fools Day, so much so that we’ve been writing an April Fools issue since 1991. This year, however, the holiday fell on a Sunday, and the joke is usually lost when people don’t experience it on the day itself. So instead of doing an April Fools issue for 2012, we want to share some of our favorite online pranks, mock sites, and otherwise entertaining fare from yesterday. If you saw other good jokes that we missed, please share them in the comments!
Apparent Adds Shreddie to Doxie Line -- TidBITS sponsor Apparent Corporation has announced in a press release the upcoming Shreddie, a battery- and USB-powered mobile paper shredder that’s bidirectional. Flip the switch from FWD to REV, and Shreddie reassembles documents. Because, as Apparent says, “doesn’t every shredder need an undo option?” We hope to see Apparent work on merging Doxie and Shreddie so you can scan and shred in a single step.
ThinkGeek Outfits the Empire -- It’s a problem. You’re Darth Vader. And you have a rumpus room. How do you decorate? What about an Admiral Ackbar singing fish? ThinkGeek has just what you need. And what sort of games might you want to outfit your rumpus with? How about Hungry Hippos for iPad? Snacks for in between games? Don’t miss ThinkGeek’s Keurig K-cup 5-Star Meals and Minecraft Marshmallow Creeps.
Google Maps 8-bit Version -- Bowing to market pressure, Google has ported Google Maps to the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), producing an NES cartridge with a modem for connecting to Google’s servers and providing an intro video that provides valuable troubleshooting advice (blow on the cartridge to remove bugs). Be sure to give it a try — Google Maps for NES is fully functional!
Flickr Homage to Bill Atkinson -- Bill Atkinson didn’t just invent QuickDraw and HyperCard. He’s also an accomplished nature photographer and is well known for the Atkinson Dither, a method of representing a color photograph in individual black and white pixels. Flickr has now announced that the Atkinson Dither will be the default look for all photos on Flickr. If you’re dubious about the aesthetic value of the Atkinson Dither in today’s megapixel world, check out this page of a few of the best dithered photos.
Goodreads Looking for Reviewers -- The social reading site Goodreads has posted a job description looking for hyperintelligent pandimensional mice (they’ll also consider qualified dolphins) to take charge of the Goodreads Recommendation Engine, the third greatest supercomputer in the Universe of Space and Time designed to answer the Ultimate Question of What People Like to Read Next. We recommend applying only if you are not prone to panicking.
Gmail Tap Brings Back Morse Code -- Having trouble typing on tiny smartphone keyboards? Google engineers have looked back in time for a solution — Gmail Tap — that lets you type with only two keys, a dot and a dash. That’s right, it’s Morse code for your phone: simple to learn, easy to type, and you don’t even need to look at the screen. Most impressive though, is hearing the engineers talk with straight faces in the intro video about Gmail Tap Multitasking, which gives you four buttons so you can carry on two text-based conversations simultaneously.
Twillio Telegram -- “Wait,” you say, “Morse code is so last-last-century. What about telegrams?” An excellent point, and Twillio, a firm that helps companies build cloud-based voice and text messaging apps, has announced Twillio Telegram, which lets you move beyond Morse code to real-world telegrams, hand-delivered through an agreement with the individual outsourcing site TaskRabbit.
Google Chrome Multitask Mode -- Multitasking must be a meme at Google, where the Chrome team announced the new Multitask Mode for the Chrome Web browser. With Multitask Mode, you can browse the Web with two (or more) mice, each working independently. No more waiting for a page to load; just keep working in another one with the other mouse! Multitask Mode even enables multiple people to browse the Web simultaneously on the same computer — see the video.
Conan O’Brien Buys Mashable -- It’s a frustration that we’re all too aware of:
“I’m sick and tired of scanning the Internet looking for any news about technology: Devices, gadgets, what’s coming up, maybe even a rating system for gadgets that are out there. It doesn’t exist on the Web and it’s high time it did.”
To scratch that itch, television host Conan O’Brien has purchased tech news site Mashable for $3,500, ousting previous CEO Pete Cashmore. We mostly wonder how much more than $3,500 Mashable had to pay Conan O’Brien to record the video.
Google Really Advanced Search -- We wonder if April Fools is a competitive event at Google, where the search team decided to give us the Really Advanced Search interface. Forget simple searches, where you enter a few words and Google returns the pages most likely to be what you’re looking for. With Really Advanced Search, you can search for “words almost, but not quite entirely unlike,” “rhyming slang for,” and “subtext or innuendo for,” and then narrow your results by “font,” “content that is true,” and “embarrassing grammatical faux pas,” among much else. Alas, it’s just an interface and doesn’t actually provide results, so our vote for best Google joke goes to the fully functional Google Maps for NES.