It’s that time of year again when our favorite websites try to pull the wool over our eyes with elaborate pranks. No matter how aware you are of the fact that it’s April 1st, you’re likely to fall victim to at least one prank on the funniest day of the year. That’s because Sunday was April Fool’s Day and the Internet has essentially become lighter fluid to the old school April Fools’ pranks: ratcheting up their scope, intensifying their collective awesomeness and, you know, making it all too easy for people to get burned. The Wall Street Journal surfed the Web and compiled their favorites below.
Few companies dish out more fake products on April 1 than Google. It doesn’t disappoint today with more than a dozen jokes, including a “Really Advanced Search” option that supposedly lets you search pages with “embarrassing grammatical faux pas,” and a fiber bar endorsed by the mayors of both Kansas City, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo. (Find all of Google’s jokes here.)
But its pièce de résistance is a new product called Quest, which uses Google Maps to transport us back to the 1980s with maps in the style of 8-bit Nintendo video games. This isn’t just a funny video that takes us back to the Nintendo days (watch the video below) — Google actually overlaid the map of the United States in this 8-bit format. Search for your hometown here. What is phony, of course, is the cartridge that Google says you can plug into the Nintendo console — just be sure to blow on the cartridge first!
We love this one for its unexpected wit. The Criterion Collection, a video-distribution company that sells important classic and contemporary films, re-released the latest masterpiece: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 1990 classic, “Kindergarten Cop.” Check out the “disc features” and make sure to watch the video for three reasons why Criterion selected this “children’s film with enough violence to please even the most cold-hearted bastard.”
This is geek humor at its finest. Even if you don’t understand what the heck code-hosting site Bitbucket does, you’ll still snicker at this video. It demonstrates how to write software in pairs by spooning.
Cat lovers, rejoice. Adblock, which offers software that removes online advertising from Web browsers, has a new feature that replaces ads with photos of felines. You can’t beat that two-for-one deal.
Finally, you can buy an “Admiral Ackbar Singing Bass.” That’s thanks to ThinkGeek, a marketplace for people who love technology which, among other things, is also selling “Keurig K-Cup 5-Star Meals” and “Edible Gummy iPhone Cases.” (We didn’t think “Angry Birds Pork Rinds” were much of a stretch, though, given that the licensing of the popular “Angry Birds” mobile game seems to be invading everything, including fruit gummies.)
Those of us curmudgeons wish this was real: Child-free flights! WestJet introduced Kargo Kids, a new program that keeps children out of the cabin and into a “special VIP” area of the aircraft. The video is a must-watch.
Who needs “the cloud”? Amazon will deliver an EC2 computer server straight to your house in 15 minutes or less, if you live within 45 degrees North or South of the equator. Extra points for the “actual conceptual diagram by genuine artist” that shows how the server is powered by satellite.
Sony may be giving Apple a run for its money with the world’s smallest ultrabook. It sits comfortably in the palm of a toddler’s hand. (This reminded us of that old Saturday Night Live skit when Will Ferrell holds a tiny cellphone to his ear.)
Why did Microsoft fork over $8.5 billion in cash to acquire Skype? Because of innovation like this: Skype for String, which lets people make audio and video calls by handing them a cup connected by a string to yours.
The brains behind the hit game Minecraft announced its newest title under development, “Mars Effect,” which will include “a game ending that makes sense,” “hard science fiction” and “abandoned ships full of loot.” For you non-gamers, Minecraft is taking a jab at competitor Electronic Arts, publisher of sci-fi action role-playing game “Mass Effect.”
Brooklyn, N.Y., and Portland, Ore., now have something else in common besides food co-ops and bearded men wearing girls’ jeans. Brooklyn start-up Etsy has taken over Portland “to turn the city’s troubled economy around” by putting the “unemployable hipsters” to work “making our famous knit iPod cozies.”
Conan O’Brien buys Mashable. We didn’t think Conan even knew what Mashable was, but we should give him more credit given his past social-media wizardry. So what’s Conan’s motive? “I go to Mashable to see the atrocious job they’re doing. So I decided it’s time for me to take it over.” Not the best we’ve ever seen from the sprightly comedian, but at the very least fast forward the video to the 45-second mark to watch him scream, “You’re through Cashmore!”
Is flying to the center of the Earth on your bucket list? Richard Branson and Virgin will help you get there, with Virgin Volcanic, the first expedition “plunging three people into the molten lava core of an active volcano.” Leave it to Virgin to go all-out. Virgin Holiday launched a new currency—the Branson, while Virgin Atlantic started up onboard pet therapy (the cutest April Fools airline prank ever?) and Virgin Active began “Bare and Burn” workouts , but it was Virgin’s global brand that took the cake by launching an entire new division: Virgin Volcanic.
Virgin Volcanic banks on the success of Virgin Oceanic and Virgin Galactic to explore yet another mysterious edge of the earth: the interior of it. A drill-like capsule—named the VVS1—will take travelers deep into the magma core of a volcano, only to emerge out another one, on the other side of the globe: “Experts predict that one could travel from Hawaii to Naples in a couple of hours via the molten lava flows, with passengers boarding and disembarking from a network of ‘Earthports’ close to the world’s volcanoes.” Catch the full “press release” for Virgin Volcanic here.
Buying a house is such a pain. But Redfin makes it easy with its new “2-Click” option. Forget all the hassle of securing financing, negotiating a deal or completing a title. Now you can buy a home in two clicks. This one really made our list for the Seinfeld reference: The portion of the commission that Redfin typically refunds to home buyers goes straight to the Human Fund.
Who says Yahoo can’t innovate? Its Flickr photo site can now transform any photo into “a glorious black and white Atkinson Dither.” Flickr says: “Welcome to 2012, via the 1980s.”