Secret Easter eggs in DVDs and software

Easter eggs--those little surprises squirreled away in your software programs by rascally programmers--have made the leap from PCs to DVD. In my second annual Easter Egg Hunt, I show where you can find them in both media.

COMMENTARY--It's time for my second annual Easter Egg Hunt. Like last year, you won't have to crawl around in the dewy grass or tear out the knees in your pants. You won't even have to leave your chair. In fact, you won't even have to hunt, because I'm going to tell you where the eggs are hidden.

Which is a good thing, considering how well concealed some of these treasures are. The Easter eggs I'm talking about are the little surprises crafty programmers sneak into their software products. Typically, you access them through arcane sequences of keystrokes and menu selections.

THESE KEYSTROKES often produce nothing more than a list of the people who built the software. I think programmers should get such credit--I'm just sorry they have to hide them so thoroughly.

Like last year, I've enlisted the help of David Wolf, creator (with his wife Annette) of the Easter Egg Archive. David and Annette set up the site in 1995 as an experiment in HTML programming. Their little experiment now gets 5 or 6 million hits every month.

Last year, when I included a link to the archive in my first Easter Egg Hunt, AnchorDesk readers--hundreds of thousands of you--went there and crashed it. This year, Wolf assures me he's beefed up his server and is ready for the onslaught. We'll see.

Wolf says the biggest change since last year has been the explosion of Easter eggs in DVDs. Like the eggs in software programs, these are little (or big) surprises you can access by going to specific points in the movie or user menus, then hitting specific key combinations.

"These extras go even beyond the traditional 'special features' that are advertised with most DVDs," Wolf tells me. "Almost every DVD that comes out nowadays has a few eggs in it." For example:

  • In "Memento," you can watch the whole movie in correct chronological order.

  • An infomercial plays throughout "Requiem for a Dream," in which a spokesman refers to "three things" that changed his life. But you hear only about the first two--"no red meat" and "no refined sugar." An egg on the DVD lets you watch the whole infomercial--and find out what the third thing is.

  • "Mallrats" contains a concealed clip in which director Kevin Smith flies into a tirade at you for wasting your time trying to find Easter eggs on DVDs.

  • In "Snatch," you can find a hidden montage of all the swearing in the movie, cut together into one big sequence--makes you realize how much swearing there really was!

BUT THIS ISN'T a movie column. It's supposed to be about computers. Since that's where Easter eggs got their start, I've asked David Wolf to offer his Top 10 software Easter eggs. Here's his list:

Click on any of these links for a description of the hidden goody and directions for finding it. You can also browse the site for Easter eggs for Macs and non-computer media. And if you'd like to know more about Easter eggs, listen to my interview with eeggs.com's David Wolf from Thursday's radio program.

Know of any great Easter eggs that I haven't mentioned here? Which ones are in your own all-time Top 10? TalkBack to me below.