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April Fools' 2012: Pranks from around the Web

The chances are, if you surfed the Web on April 1, you may have been duped by a prank or two. Here are the best of the day.
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By Zack Whittaker on
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1 of 17 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

Reddit takes a leaf out of Facebook's book, by almost poking fun at it. With its new Reddit Timeline feature, you can browse "news" stories from as far back as 1066 for the Battle of Hastings, or even the 1776 U.S. Declaration of Independence. You can even head back to see what the dinosaurs were talking about. Having said that, if you are feeling adventurous, you can always go forward in the future and see what your future self is submitting -- though, it's probably the same old memes we see today (because they are.)

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2 of 17 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

Skype goes back to version 1.0 with its regressive communications technology: two cups and string. Dubbed as an "experimental version of Skype" that doesn't even require an Internet connection, you can use Skype for String using nothing but standard household items. It's also free, so why not give it a go?

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3 of 17 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

Even if you're not a power-user of the Web, the chances are you are using some form of advert-blocking tool. For Chrome and Firefox users, you're probably using AdBlock. Not on April 1, you're not. For one day only, it has transformed into CatBlock, where adverts, which would normally be displayed are replaced with cats. Don't worry, your favourite sites haven't been hacked or had cat images injected into them. It's just your ad-blocker having a laugh at your expense. 

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4 of 17 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

At long last, Google-owned YouTube allows you to download videos from the site through its new exclusive one-day only YouTube Collections page. Click a few buttons and there you have it, an order for a dozen DVDs with your content on, at a cheap price of only a few thousand dollars. What could be simpler, and more convenient? 

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5 of 17 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

One of the most famous on April 1 this year, and will surely go down in history as possibly Google's best April Fools' joke. Introducing an old-school Google 8-bit Maps which gives you a blocky, mostly green experience of the same old Google Maps you know and love, with a few differences. It surely surpasses Google's old trick of turning the Street View experience into 3D (glasses not included), by bringing a retro-experience right to your computer screen. 

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6 of 17 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

Imagine having an Ultrabook the size of a dime? Sony claims it brought one out, dubbed the VAIO Q, or the "World's Smallest Ultrabook", which includes 8GB RAM and a full-HD 1080p screen. Despite it being able to fit squarely in the palm of your hand (and it being an obvious joke), its battery will still last you all day.

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7 of 17 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

Popular Dropbox alternative Box.net's Quantum Sharing adds a completely extra dimension to how you share your files across "space and time". Who needs a 'Time Machine' or a backup solution that keeps edits based on updates and timestamps? Box will hold your files in a weird dimensional cyberspace to keep your files up to date and available from anywhere in the world.

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8 of 17 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

Who needs hardware keyboards and tricky on-display touch-screen keyboards? They're fiddly and tricky to use at the best of times, which is why Google has introduced Gmail Tap for your tapping needs. With only two buttons -- a dot and a dash -- you can easily tap out your messages in Morse code. The only prerequisite is that you studied in the armed forces or Scouts to know how to do this.

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9 of 17 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

Popular meme-sharing site Imgur changed for one day to become Imguraffe, with -- you guessed it -- the giraffe being the company's mascot. It will be "integrated throughout the site, from the logo to the background." Complete with its own green fez, the Imguraffe will become an icon for all meme and image sharing users across the world.

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10 of 17 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

Hot on the tails of Google with its new user-interface spectacles, Ubuntu for Eyewear introduces its brand new "inter-FACE". Described as a "groundbreaking face-mounted productivity solution", it replaces PCs and smartphones with a handy, always-on set of glasses that are also fashionable and in season with the current fashion trends. 

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11 of 17 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

iFixit, famous for buying gadgets as soon as they hit the shelves, has a new one-day only gadget on sale. Introducing the New iPad Opening Tool which replaces the need for a heavy-duty 1,500 watt heat gun, plastic spacers, and suction cups, along with "an hour of careful heating and prying". The new iPad has a stuck-down screen making it almost impossible to put together, so this tool will come in great handy.

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12 of 17 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

Instead of the usual interesting facts, Wikipedia replaced many of its front-page elements to include some interesting facts under "Did you know..." and a slightly tweaked "Featured article". For April 1, Americans bombed the Mr. Men-icon "Mr. Grumpy", and one railway station could transport people from England to California in only 15 minutes. Check out yesterday's piece on "pigeon photography"; inconspicuous enough to go unnoticed, but barmy enough not to be taken too seriously.

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13 of 17 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

Flickr brought out its "dither switch" allowing all pages and photos on the image-sharing site to become a melancholy monochrome of black and white. The results were impressive, and were noted on Flickr's blog. Just one button away, and your beautiful, colourful snaps become completely transformed, and can even be downloaded in the hazy, fuzzy black and white contrast Flickr offers.

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14 of 17 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

The Register took to its usual tricks on April 1 by denouncing Apple's recent thought-to-be settling movement in its ongoing Android litigation suits, and instead actually "dropped a thermonuclear patent bombshell" on the mobile operating system. At first glances, it may not have taken many as a surprise, but looking through the story, there's no way they could have gotten a quote from Apple like that. I mean, nobody outside the "Mossberg collective" even gets close.

You can find the story at The Register.

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15 of 17 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

TechCrunch went a slightly different way, claiming that the Google co-founder Sergey Brin was going to quit to take up playing the blues guitar. But those who were around for more than 15 years will remember that, if U.S. President Bill Clinton can continue his love for playing the saxophone whilst running the country, then Google can survive if Brin wants to spend a bit more quality time with his Fender.

You can find the story at TechCrunch.

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16 of 17 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

Engadget went back to its roots and took to reviewing an old favourite, the Nokia 7110 mobile phone. While the review was genuine and the piece was compelling, with many minds regressing to those summer days with their shiny new brick-sized gadget, it was clearly a tug at the leg of those reading, now used to colourful and touch-screen devices. Oh, how the world has changed in 10--15 years?

You can find the review at Engadget.

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17 of 17 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

For a mere few hours, one website fooled website goers into thinking that the site had been seized by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Lo and behold, after the unofficial 12-midday rule, the site was back up and running as though nothing had happened. Instead, a "trollface" meme appeared in the website's logo, continuing the theme for the day.

You can find the review at Engadget.

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