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Tue 8 Apr 2008 11:03 AM

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Reality bytes

Some big names in technology land celebrated April Fool's Day earlier this month by playing some quality tricks on global netizens.

Every year on 1st April technology firms use the web as their playground for harmless pranks, which come in the form of news stories, websites, e-mail blasts and more. The worst part of this day I reckon is when you read about a service or piece of kit you know is a joke, but really wish was true. Here's my top six for this year:

1. See-through maps. The Google Sightseeing blog reported that an anonymous user had stumbled upon two ‘secret' Google Earth satellite modes: X-ray and Thermal Imagery, both of which ‘can let you see inside buildings'. (The blog posting even included pictures of the Pentagon to make the announcement more believable.) Now how cool would that be?

2. Killer Xbox 360 accessories. A promotion page entitled, ‘What's popping this spring?' on the official Xbox website touted four new Xbox 360 accessories. These included the Xbox 360 Wireless Helmet, Xbox 360 Vintage Edition, Xbox 360 Recon Edition, and Xbox LIVE: The Boardgame.

My favourite accessory is the rather sexy-looking wireless helmet. On the website, Microsoft states: "With revolutionary in-sight display menus and multi-dimensional rumble settings, the new Xbox 360 Wireless Helmet brings first-person shooter gaming to the next level."

Now tell me you wouldn't want this accompanying your Xbox 360 at home.

3. Time-tweaking e-mail. Gmail unveiled a new Custom Time feature which lets you time stamp an e-mail in the past, meaning you'll never find yourself sending a late e-mail again. Here's an example from a beta user's testimonial: "I just got two tickets to Radiohead by being the ‘first' to respond to a co-worker's ‘first-come, first-serve' e-mail. Someone else had already won them, but I told everyone to check their inboxes again. Everyone sort of knows I used Custom Time on this one, but I'm denying it."

4. Youtube-friendly taser. Yes, you read right. Last Tuesday unveiled a ‘geek's best defense' in the form of the $100 YouTube Tazer. How does it work? Simply shoot a ‘non-lethal' 60,000V charge at your attacker and then use the intergrated camera to record a video of the incident and upload it to via the device's Bluetooth connection. According to the site, this ensures "you have video evidence (with a time/date stamp) of your encounter stored in a secondary location, which can be used in court." Priceless.

5. Reuniting with Orkut. Google's social networking site Orkut turned into ‘Yogurt', complete with a brand new logo. A completely new social networking name equals a new website URL, which means I could have reunited with my long-lost networking friend - if only for a few days - in the land of one-too-many blocked sites.

6. Spruced-up retro Apple rig. Apple co-founder Steven Wozniak and Benj Edwards -editor of Vintage Computing and Gaming - joined forces to create a very clever prank this year. This Vintage Computing blog posting claimed that Steve Wozniak recently announced that he would be marketing a new-age version of the Apple II computer for $1666.66. The souped-up retro rig would include a 64-bit CPU, PCI slots, up to four Gbytes of RAM, as well as a spanking new case. My other half is a huge Apple fan, so imagine how horrible I felt when I had to tell him it was all a big bad lie. He'll get over it...I think.

Did you enjoy this list? Let me know which tech-related pranks you wish were true by e-mailing me on In the meantime, point your browser here for some inspiration for next year's April Fool's Day.

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