Now more than ever, April Fool's Day has evolved past Whoopee™ cushions and prank calls. What's to blame? You guessed it, technology! For one, social sharing has popularized pranks, leading to more that are executed or duplicated in hopes of going viral. Anyone else remember when Rickrolling blew up? Secondly, when so many of us rely on technology - be it our desktops or mobile devices - to function properly, the slightest hiccup can be aggravating. Prankers love to get underneath our skin! Between easy pranks that expose weaknesses in or violations of corporate security policy and lighthearted tricks involving office equipment, are you aware of the year's ultimate IT pranks?
We were curious ourselves and again reached out to your fellow MSPs and technicians through online communities like Reddit and Spiceworks, asking them to share some of their favorite IT tomfoolery. Here are the top responses!
First thing's first, never leave your computer unattended. Some of you have a couple of tricks up your sleeves to knock the socks right off your coworkers' feet, come April Fool's Day. One Reddit user plans to put "help_decrpyt.txt" on his boss's desktop. As you all know, these are the files commonly dropped on to your hard drive when you get Cryptowalled. Yikes! Do you think this is cruel or going too far? Sound off in the comments below! Here's one of the responses from Reddit:
There is very little work to be done when it comes to playing around with desktops, but the results are hilarious. One entertaining prank shared by a fellow technician is to hit CTRL + ALT + Down. When you do this on most computers, the screen flips upside down - seemingly for no reason! You and your co-workers will definitely enjoy a laugh. This same prankster, who shall remain anonymous, shared that most people will "try to power through it by tilting their heads sideways, or flipping their actual monitor." When they still can't figure it out, have them watch the explanatory video by Glenn Pieper at eHow below. Along the same lines, another Reddit user shared his prank to take a screen shot of someone's desktop, hide all icons & taskbar, then make the screenshot the desktop background.
How to Fix an Upside Down Computer Screen -- powered by ehow
Voice Activated Printer
This was my personal favorite response from a Reddit member who shared an article on Geeks are Sexy, April Fools' Day Prank: Voice Activated Printers/Copiers. How do you convince your co-workers that the office has upgraded to voice activated printers? This article comes complete with helpful, phony instructions for the most common brands of printers/copiers. Just download the custom PDF meant for your office printer, and advise your peers to use it when they can't figure out how to operate the machine. Hopefully, your seat is near the company printer so you can see and hear your colleagues talking, possibly yelling, at the equipment in true Michael Bolton style, without it printing any paper.
image source: billsmovieemporium.wordpress.com
This next prank idea comes to us from How-To-Geek's The 10 Most Ridiculously Awesome Geeky Computer Pranks.
Some techs out there are familiar with the DVORAK alternate keyboard, but most of you aren't. This prank involves switching the keyboard layout. Without installing anything, you can enable this alternate keyboard and make everything illegible. Check out a screen shot below to see an example. You can also try adding funny words to the MS Word's dictionary or AutoComplete. Instead of assisting your co-workers typos and grammar mistakes, it will transform into your own version of AutoCorrect.
For Mac users, an unresponsive application results in what is most commonly referred to as the "spinning wheel of death" or the "rainbow spiral" (for the patient people out there). For PC users, it's a blue circle. Either way, receiving this delay in service is incredibly frustrating. Want to aggravate that peer that never cleans the kitchen microwave or demonstrate the loss of productivity created with downtime? You can make the pointer look like it's always busy or "hanging" (visual below). You can also play with the mouse pointer's size and make this wheel gigantic! Another funny trick you can pull is to connect a wireless mouse or keyboard to your co-worker's computer. This only works if you are near their desk of course, but you can either randomly type or move the cursor to throw them off.
image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mevs/5306313081/
We recognize that these pranks are all harmless and lighthearted, and don't aim to make light of the more serious, cybercrime schemes that you all deal with. We also don't advocate loss of employee productivity. Quite the opposite, actually! By disrupting someone's device and demonstrating the costly implications of downtime, you can more fully appreciate the need for a fully managed BDR solution. Can your clients afford to lose customer data? Better yet, how long do you think they can afford to go without it? Similarly, if these pranks shine a light on the dangerous security habits practiced by your IT company, imagine how often your clients leave devices unattended and vulnerable to attack!
These April Fool's Day pranks can serve as comedic relief for a day, but a data disaster can be be devastating and business-crippling for you and for your clients. The average cost of data-loss incidents is approximately $10,000 and 1 out of 5 SMBs will suffer a major disaster causing the loss of critical data every 5 years. In order to avoid these mishaps, it's important to ensure sensitive data is secure.