All Geeks' Day: The Best and Worst of April Fools 2009

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New Orleans has Mardi Gras, San Francisco has Halloween, and for those of us who spend too many of our waking hours on the Net, the biggest party of the year happens on April Fools Day.

Infoworld certainly did its part to add to the foolishness. It's always a treat to see how ticked-off some readers get about these stories, despite having "April Fools" stamped all over them. (FYI, I don't recommend the humor bypass surgery -- it has some nasty side effects.)

As for the rest of geekdom, it was a mixed bag.

I thought Google's jokes were lame, mostly. Then again, it's under a lot of pressure to top itself each year, and you know that can't go on forever. The concept of unleashing an Artificial Intelligence engine on the Web that immediately transforms into anime-inspired Japanese tween with a fondness for pandas and unicorns is a funny concept, but doesn't really work in a ha-ha sort of way. Ditto for flipping YouTube videos upside down, Chrome 3D, and Gmail Autopilot, which automatically composes responses to your e-mail.

On the other hand, the preview for Microsoft's Xbox 360 title, Alpine Legend, was a hoot, despite the game's "technical problems." Don your lederhosen, grab your tri-horn, and party like it's Austria in 1899. (Microsoft finally proves it can do something better than Google. Who'd a-thunk it?)

I also liked the UK Guardian's decision to publish the newspaper exclusively via Twitter, boiling every story down to its 140-character essence and tweetifying all the stories in its 188-year history. To wit:

A mammoth project is also under way to rewrite the whole of the newspaper's archive, stretching back to 1821, in the form of tweets. Major stories already completed include "1832 Reform Act gives voting rights to one in five adult males yay!!!"; "OMG Hitler invades Poland, allies declare war see for more"; and "JFK assassin8d @ Dallas, def. heard second gunshot from grassy knoll WTF?"

Opera's new face gesture browser interface is also pretty damned funny.

Meanwhile, Qualcomm has a plan to spread wireless coverage to the most inaccessible regions of the earth using wolfpigeons, sharkfalcons, and crocodeagles.

I also have a warm spot in my funny bone for the Fake Obama White House site. Technically it's not an April Fool's gag -- the site appears to have been posting since the inauguration -- but it's one of the rare Obama jokes with actual humor included (though more wryly amusing than laugh-out-loud). Today, for example, the president's blog talks about Obama's faux pas when he lifted the Queen of England with one hand. The best bit? The obligatory privacy policy link on the home page leads directly to the Web site for the NSA.

Want more April Fools gags? Check out PC World's Top 10 April Fool's Day pranks, Wired's Finest Internet Jokes for 2009, and Harry McCracken's look at the "first 45 years" of publishing his Technologizer blog. (Note to Harry: You need to get out more, dude.)

This story, "All Geeks' Day: The Best and Worst of April Fools 2009" was originally published by InfoWorld.

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