6 sneaky April Fool’s tech pranks to try at work

You know what day it is today. And if there’s ever a Jim Halpert wannabe in your office you better be on your guard.

The workplace desktop can be a goldmine of hilarious tech tricks for April Fool’s Day and while we here at ITBusiness.ca always appreciate a good joke, we also know it could be a pain for the IT department staff to go around rushing from one machine to another to undo some silly tech prank.

So instead of providing you with instructions about how to lay these sneaky pranks, we’re warning you about them and giving you instructions on how to undo them.

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Here are seven classic tech pranks that for one reason or another have linger in the memories of ITBusiness.ca and IT World Canada staff members:

1. Keyboard chaos – Dave Webb, editor of IT World Canada, remembers this as one of the many jokes they played on a former ITBusiness.ca colleague. Altering the languages setting and keyboard layout will bring some not-so-subtle changes to your colleague’s prose.

  • Go to the Windows Control Panel. Click on Regional and Languages icon. Open up Languages and pick a language. Then click on Language, click on Details, click on Key settings and then chose the key settings you want and click Apply
  • Certain European configurations appear similar to the English (US) layout except for the placement of some letters. This is certain to create some confusion when it’s time to edit the target’s work
  • To undo, simply go back to the Control Panel and reset it to English (US)

2. AutoReplace – This trick using Word’s AutoReplace, is my favourite because it’s very simple and gets immediate results. It involves setting the computer to automatically change a certain word every time the user types it in.

  • Click on the Word’s Tools bar. Scroll down to AutoCorrect Options
  • At AutoCorrect, go to the Replace window and type the word you want to be replaced. In the With bar, type the word or words you want to replace it with. Click Add, the click OK
  • Each time the target of the prank types in the chosen word it will be replaced with the word or words you’ve chose to replace it.
  • To undo, just go back to AutoCorrect Options, select the Replace and With combinations you just made and click the Delete button.

3. Disappearing desktop – This classic is a favourite of Jeff Redecki, lead designer for new businesses at IT World Canada and ITBusiness.ca. “It really freaks out a lot of people when the icons on their desktop suddenly refuse to respond no matter how many times they click n it,” he said. That’s what this trick is about. You essentially hide the desktop icon and replace the screen image with a screen shot copy of the desktop. Only this time the icons won’t work.

  • Go to the unattended computer of your mark. Minimize all the windows on the screen
  • Hit the PrintScreen key
  • Paste the captured image onto any graphic editing program like Microsoft Paint. Save the file and set it as the desktop background
  • Hide the actual icons on the desktop. You can create a folder for them
  • When your victim comes back he or she will start clicking in vain on the useless icon on the screen
  • To undo, just delete the desktop background you created and restore the original icons

4. Google gibberish – Set up Google to spit out Google pages in a different language.

  • Go to a target machine’s Google Preference page
  • On the Interface Language option, pick out a language that tickles your fancy
  • Be playful, try out Elmer Fudd or Bork Bork Bork – language of the Swedish chef in the Muppet Show
  • To undo, just go back to Google Preference and reset it

5. Mouse trap – Rafael Ruffolo, award winning writer of IT World Canada, likes this one. It involves hijacking your co-worker’s machine by disabling the victim’s mouse.

  • Disable your victim’s mouse by disconnecting it from the PC
  • Connect an extra mouse to the machine through an open USB slot. Or you can use a wireless USB mouse
  • When your colleague comes back and begins working, move your mouse around and wait for his reaction when he realizes that his mouse pointer is going berserk
  • To undo, just reconnect your co-workers mouse and disconnect your mouse

6. Bluetooth hijack – Grab control of your colleague’s mobile phone.

  • You’ll need a Bluetooth ear piece for this prank
  • Sneak up to your friend’s unattended cell phone, make sure the phone’s Bluetooth feature on the phone is activated
  • Pair your earpiece to your friend’s handset
  • When your friend starts talking on his or her mobile phone, feel free to start talking on your Bluetooth device and watch the confusion ensue
  • Be sure to disconnect your Bluetooth connection with your victim’s phone afterwards

A few words of caution make sure your intended April Fool’s victim will find the joke you play on them as funny as you think it is. Know when your colleague has had enough and when to stop. Apologize properly if you think you’ve hurt someone and always undo what you’ve done.  And also be a good sport when it’s your turn to be on the receiving end.

Nestor is a Senior Writer at ITBusiness.ca. Follow him on Twitter, read his blogs on ITBusiness.ca Blogs and join the ITBusiness.ca Facebook Page.

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