2012's top ten tech. April Fools' Day stories

There were some great April Fools' Day tech. stories this year, The grand champion this year though was a political blog post claiming that Mitt Romney had dropped out the Presidential race... that was taken for fact by the Google News algorithm.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Welcome to 8-bit Google Maps and other tech. April Fools' jokes.

Welcome to 8-bit Google Maps and other tech. April Fools' Day jokes.

Here at ZDNet, we love April Fools' Day stories as much as anyone but we don't write them ourselves. Why? Well, because no matter how sure you are that no one will take your story seriously, some one will. This year's example that proves the point was a political blog in Forbes that claimed that Mitt Romney had dropped out the Presidential race! The tale promptly shot to the top of Google News. Sometimes trusting an algorithm to pick the top "news" story can blow up on you.

The story, which claimed that “Mitt Romney [had] announced today that he is ending his presidential campaign and throwing his support behind Rick Santorum.” was a fake. On a completely non-funny note for the author, blogger Len Burman, promptly posted a “retraction” to his tale, writing, that “Forbes [had] pulled down because of an unannounced ban on April Fools' Day humor.” Forbes' editors have since pulled both of Burman's pieces. I strongly suspect that this is one April Fools' story, where the ending won't be funny at all for the writer.

Meanwhile over in pure technology, here are my  top April Fools' stories  for 2012.

10. Google Canine Staffing Team.

Yes, just like at my office, you can bring your dog to work at Google... if he or she has what it takes. Woof!

9. Gmail Tap

Gmail tap Introduces the height of the 19th century Internet—Morse code telegraphy—to the 21st century smartphones. Now, you too can dot and dash your way to your friends instead of relying on mere words, VoIP, or video-conferencing! This is funny, but as any old ham radio person knows, Morse code and the Internet have long gone together like bread and butter. You've long been able to e-mail Morse messages if you really wanted to.

While Morse code will live on, I'm not sure though that there will ever be that much demand for GoRo , aka Google for rotary phones.

8. Google NASCAR Racing.

The truth is that Google really does have self-driving robot cars. Heck, the laws are in place in Nevada to put Google robot cars on the road. But, no, “Google is NOT working closely with NASCAR nor have they has formed a racing division, Google Racing.

Not yet anyway. Is this story really that much of a joke? The cars do exist, they seem to run well.... except for that little five-car accident last year and Google swears that one was human, not computer, error. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if as soon as this year there's not some kind of demo race with professional race car drivers taking on robot cars. And, then, in a few years, they'll be beating NASCAR, Indy Car, and Formula One's best.

Science fiction? Ask any serious chess player about how well computers are doing against chess grandmasters these days.

7. Google Really Advanced Search

So, Google's Advanced Search and Scholar aren't powerful enough for you are they? Well, Google has a new search interface just for you: Really Advanced Search. With it you can search for rhyming slang, subtest, and the essential “ this exact word or phrase, whose sum of Unicode code points is a mersenne prime.” Fair warning: None of this actually works, it just looks like it should.

6. Flikr like it was 1985!

This one will appeal to anyone who used to work in newspapers or played with Macs when HyperCard was state of the art hypermedia technology. Flikr has made it possible to reproduce your photographs in beautiful black and white Atkinson Dither! No more need to view the chaos of millions of colors or MegaPixels of distracting details. With “flickrdither,” you can get back to your black-and-white, low-resolution roots!

5. The YouTube DVD Collection

Who needs the Internet when you can watch YouTube whenever you want in the privacy of your own without the government watching over your shoulder? I feel like this should be advertised on some cut-rate cable channel at 2 in the morning. Heck, someone would probably buy it! After all, look what YouTube was offering  way back in 1911...

4. Skype for String

Who needs computers for voice! Skype doesn't! “With two cups and a piece of string with a minimum bandwidth of 5mm. Skype for String will work with any cup and string, but for the best results, we suggest using a Skype certified set.” Mind you, Skype for String's range makes it a personal area network (PAN) technology and thus isn't really suitable for Internet use.

3. World's First Home Mini-Nuclear Generator

Thanks to the good mutants at Tiger Direct, the Kube X-15 MiniNuke, which can power a city the size of Dayton Ohio for 50-years from your basement, will soon be on salel. It even includes the Plutonium! True, the first shipment of fuel seems to have been hijacked first by some terrorists and then by a Doc Brown and his assistant Martin “Marty” McFly, but we are sure Tiger Direct will soon have everything you need for all your home city's electrical needs.

2. 8-Bit Google Maps

My eyes! My eyes! It's hard to believe we actually used to use 8-bit graphics and liked it, but we did. It's a long, long way from this to the iPad 3's Retina Display!

1. xkcd: Umwel

My personal favorite this year comes from the always funny xkcd. What I like about this one is that it's really one that only geeks will get, and even then they need to look for it. Umwelt is the concept that all living things perceive “objective” reality in different ways. In the case of this cartoon, what you actually see in its middle panels depends on which Web browser you use, the size of your Web browser on your screen and on and on...

Funny funny? Maybe not. Funny, interesting? Oh yes. I think so. I hope you will too. Enjoy!

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