Story Tools: PRINT | Text Size: S M L XL | REPORT TYPO | SEND YOUR FEEDBACK

April Fools' Day gag roundup

by Saleem Khan, CBC News Online

Once a year, technology companies and some outlets that cover them exercise their license to publish a hoax story (or two, if you're Google) on the advent of April 1. This year was no exception – and in one case the gag may have been so good that it could be viewed as backfiring.

Google is probably the best known company that has a little fun with odd or unusual stories. This year – in a play on speculation about the volumes of optical fibre the internet search giant has been buying for about two years – the company announced it would be providing free, high-speed wireless internet access through its Project Teaspoon:

Google TiSP (BETA) is a fully functional, end-to-end system that provides in-home wireless access by connecting your commode-based TiSP wireless router to one of thousands of TiSP Access Nodes via fiber-optic cable strung through your local municipal sewage lines....TiSP is available today in the U.S. and Canada. Google has formed an international consortium of utility companies, sewage system experts, toilet manufacturers, and plumbers to develop solutions to the many problems facing all "dark porcelain"-based data-delivery innovators....To offset the cost of providing the TiSP service, we use information gathered by discreet DNA sequencing of your personal bodily output to display online ads that are contextually relevant to your culinary preferences, current health status and likelihood of developing particular medical conditions going forward.

The company also announced it would be launching Gmail Paper, which promised to print and snail mail Gmail messages to you with the click of a button:

Everyone loves Gmail. But not everyone loves email, or the digital era. What ever happened to stamps, filing cabinets, and the mailman? Well, you asked for it, and it’s here. We’re bringing it back.

A New Button
Now in Gmail, you can request a physical copy of any message with the click of a button, and we'll send it to you in the mail.

Simplicity Squared
Google will print all messages instantly and prepare them for delivery. Allow 2-4 business days for a parcel to arrive via post.

However, not everything Google says on April 1 is a gag. The company announced its popular Gmail free, web-based e-mail service on the day in 2004, and in 2005 began testing Ride Finder.

I called Sunny Gettinger, the media contact listed on the Google TiSP press release (yes, that's her real name; I have spoken with her on other occasions about Google's activities) and her outgoing voicemail greeting said she is out of the office for a few days – doubtless to avoid the inquiries of credulous callers.

UPDATE: Google responded to my inquiry late Monday night and said they will not offer any further comment:

As a company, Google thrives on new and innovative ideas. Some of these ideas end up on Google Labs and maybe even eventually come out of beta, and some of these ideas end up in the hands of our expert April Fools team. TiSP is one of the latter category of ideas, but that doesn't mean it's out of the realm of possiblity. Larry Page dreamed up TiSP, and we believe it can be done, but probably not on April 1. Happy Flushing!

But Google wasn't the only company that had a prank.

Voice over internet service Skype – whose founders are now focusing their efforts on TV/online video chimera Joost – changed its home page to announce it was introducing Skype for Cows, featuring "Unlimited calls to any cow worldwide free. Calls to people for chicken feed"

The press release, which has been removed from the site quoted U.S. general manager Don Albert:

With more than 100 million cows in the United States alone, it is a market opportunity we could no longer ignore. One in four Americans is a cow and now they can use Skype.

And social networking site du jour Facebook (whose intermittent reinforcement reward system has been sucking members of the Canadian media and related people into its Skinner box of late) said it was going to dispatch people to turn the Poke feature into a physical experience, introducing this blurb into users' news feeds:

Facebook introduces "LivePoke"

Introducing LivePoke™!
Facebook will dispatch a real live person today to poke a friend of your choice.*
*offer good for only the first 100 pokers in each network.

But in the year's weirdest and possibly most effective hoax – in part because buzz began before April Fools Day as part of a serious sales bid – startup blog TechCrunch announced it was buying F---edCompany.com (FC), which chronicled the dotcom bust and has since evolved to track corporate screwups.

FC founder Phil "Pud" Kaplan explains the chain of events in his blog.

And finally, in an April Fools joke for hardcore techies that sucked in Wired, a document purported to show the iPhone's OSX software architecture was "leaked" to a document sharing site.

Oh, those wacky technophiles!

« Previous Post | Main | Next Post »

This discussion is now Open. Submit your Comment.

« Previous Post | Main | Next Post »

Post a Comment

Disclaimer:

Note: By submitting your comments you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that due to the volume of e-mails we receive, not all comments will be published, and those that are published will not be edited. But all will be carefully read, considered and appreciated.

Note: Due to volume there will be a delay before your comment is processed. Your comment will go through even if you leave this page immediately afterwards.

Privacy Policy | Submissions Policy

Story Tools: PRINT | Text Size: S M L XL | REPORT TYPO | SEND YOUR FEEDBACK

World »

CBC in Japan Survivor of Nagasaki bombing hopes Obama's visit brings acknowledgment of victims' pain and suffering audio
Masako Wada, 72, was only 22 months old when the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on her city, Nagasaki, but the effects of that tragic event have never left her. In an interview with the CBC's Kimberly Gale, she shares her hopes for what U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Japan could mean for survivors like her.
Gawker Media mulls sale, hires bankers in wake of Hulk Hogan lawsuit and Peter Thiel revelations
Gawker Media has hired bankers and is reportedly considering selling itself after losing a high-profile defamation lawsuit from wrestler Hulk Hogan and his well-financed legal backers.
Donald Trump vows to green-light Keystone XL if elected
Republican presidential contender Donald Trump said on Thursday that he would approve TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline proposal if elected, reversing a decision by the administration of President Barack Obama to block it over environmental concerns.
more »

Canada »

Analysis Liberals in Winnipeg to celebrate party's dramatic return from the scrap heap
​The most remarkable thing about this weekend’s Liberal convention in Winnipeg might be the mere fact it is happening at all. Though it might seem like a strange and fleeting moment now, the Liberal party of Canada was, with the election returns of 2011, seen by some to be dead, or at least dying.
Updated Fort McMurray re-entry dependent upon last-minute safety review
The re-entry plan for Fort McMurray residents will be reviewed up to the last minute to ensure it's safe for people to come back, says Mayor Melissa Blake.
CBC Investigates Justice Department re-examines Delisle murder conviction after fifth estate story
The federal justice minister is taking a second look at a controversial murder conviction as a result of an investigation by CBC's the fifth estate and Radio-Canada's Enquete.
more »

Politics »

New Stephen Harper prepares to say goodbye as Conservative convention kicks off video
Conservatives will honour Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen as the party kicks off its convention in Vancouver tonight. It's the first - and perhaps final - chance to hear from the man Canadians voted out of office last October while he is still an MP. CBCnews.ca will carry his remarks live.
New Canadians won't see price tag for navy frigate replacement until 2019
Procurement Minister Judy Foote says the Liberal government will not release the cost of the navy's new frigate replacements until it has a signed contract with Irving Shipbuilding.
Ambassador Kevin Vickers, former House sergeant-at-arms, tackles protester in Dublin video
Canada's ambassador to Ireland, and the onetime sergeant-at-arms who shot Ottawa gunman Michael Zehaf-Bibeau after he stormed Parliament Hill in 2014, tackled a protester at a ceremony in Dublin this morning.
more »

Health »

Sorry - we can't find that page
 
CBC.ca

Sorry, we can't find the page you requested.

  1. Please check the URL in the address bar, or ...
  2. Use the navigation links at left to explore our site, or ...
  3. Enter a term in the Quick Search box at top, or ...
  4. Visit our site map page

In a few moments, you will be taken to our site map page, which will help you find what you looking for.

more »

Arts & Entertainment»

Toronto mansion linked to Drake gets green light to be built
A Toronto municipal panel has unanimously approved the construction plans for a mansion linked to Drake slated for construction at 21 Park Lane Circle.
Montreal's Fantasia film fest to honour director Guillermo del Toro
Programmers at Montreal’s Fantasia film festival says Mexican-born film director Guillermo del Toro will be in attendance this year.
CBC unveils fall-winter slate: Kim's Convenience, Steven Sabados returns, digital comedies
A lifestyle show featuring Steven Sabados, a comedy inspired by the hit play Kim's Convenience and a crime thriller called Shoot the Messenger are among a diverse slate of new offerings from CBC coming this fall and winter.
more »

Technology & Science »

Mars is coming out of an ice age, study shows
An analysis of radar images that peered inside the polar ice caps of Mars shows that Earth's neighbour is coming out of an ice age.
A Mitsubishi fit for a queen. Why 20K bees couldn't leave this SUV alone
After 20,000 bees swarm an SUV for two days straight, the culprit is revealed: they were just trying to follow their Queen Bee, who had snuck under the car's windshield wiper.
NASA hits snag while inflating new room at space station
NASA hit a snag while releasing air into an experimental inflatable room at the International Space Station on Thursday and put everything on hold for at least a day.
more »

Money »

Gawker Media mulls sale, hires bankers in wake of Hulk Hogan lawsuit and Peter Thiel revelations
Gawker Media has hired bankers and is reportedly considering selling itself after losing a high-profile defamation lawsuit from wrestler Hulk Hogan and his well-financed legal backers.
Canada Goose to open its first retail stores in Toronto and NYC
Iconic Canadian brand Canada Goose, known for its popular parkas, plans to open its first retail stores this autumn in Toronto and Manhattan.
Donald Trump vows to green-light Keystone XL if elected
Republican presidential contender Donald Trump said on Thursday that he would approve TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline proposal if elected, reversing a decision by the administration of President Barack Obama to block it over environmental concerns.
more »

Consumer Life »

Sorry - we can't find that page
 
CBC.ca

Sorry, we can't find the page you requested.

  1. Please check the URL in the address bar, or ...
  2. Use the navigation links at left to explore our site, or ...
  3. Enter a term in the Quick Search box at top, or ...
  4. Visit our site map page

In a few moments, you will be taken to our site map page, which will help you find what you looking for.

more »

Sports »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Steven Stamkos returns to Lightning in Game 7
Steven Stamkos will be in the lineup for the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Recap Jays inch closer to .500 with 3-1 win over Yankees video
J.A. Happ pitched seven strong innings, Edwin Encarnacion and Devon Travis had two-out RBIs, and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Yankees 3-1 on Thursday to win the three-game series.
Preview Penguins fighting demons, Lightning fighting injuries going into Game 7
Sidney Crosby is in no mood to get caught up in his own personal narrative, the one eager to attach whatever happens to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals on Thursday against Tampa Bay to the superstar's legacy.
more »

Diversions »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
more »