Easter eggs: Proof that programmers have a sense of humour

Nov 19th, 2013

We all love the chocolatey goodness that gets passed around each Easter, but there is a different kind of Easter egg that is far more fun in my opinion.  The chances are that you see them every day, every time you turn on your computer or load up a website, but you just don’t normally notice them

Easter eggs are a hidden message/joke/feature programmers build into their projects mainly to entertain but they have also been known to display credits or promote a political agenda.

Easter eggs have been reported in software from as early as the 60’s.  Using the TOPS-10 operating system launched in 1967, if you entered the command “MAKE LOVE” the software would return “NOT WAR” before completing the real task it was given.

In every Windows product preceding XP, if you entered the word volcano on the 3D text screen saver, it would display a list of every volcano in the United States and in Microsoft Excel ’97, there was a hidden flight simulator.

Like most things, there is some controversy surrounding Easter eggs.  Certain companies and government offices will not use software that contains Easter eggs.  They consider the software as potentially dangerous as it will have undocumented code.  But Easter eggs are normally taken as a bit of fun.

Google is well known for its pranks, including Easter eggs.  They include:

  • Searching for “do a barrel roll” will make the screen rotate 360 degrees.
  • Searching for “tilt” or “askew” will make the screen appear tilt to the right a touch.
  • Searching for “zerg rush” will display many O’s eating the search results.
  • Searching for “binary” will display the number of results in binary.
  • Searching for “recursion” displays “Did you mean: recursion?” meaning you can recursively run searches for “recursion”.
  • If you ask Google Maps for directions from China to Japan, one of the steps tells you to “Jet ski across the Pacific Ocean”.
  • If you go to the rear of Google Headquarters in Mountain View on Google Street View, all of the production team were captured stood outside awaiting the cameras and giving it a welcome.
  • When trying to get walking directions using Google Maps from “Rivendell” to Mordor, you are wanted to “Use caution – One does not simply walk into Mordor.”
  • And many more

Here is a list of Easter eggs you can find using software that you may use:

  • Window Vista/7 All Tasks Folder – Although Microsoft disagree that this is technically an Easter egg, bloggers found the tool that when it was not in the official documentation of Windows Vista/7 and became known as God Mode.  To access it, you need to create a folder with the extension of “.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}”.  For example “god.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}”. This will give you access to many of the operating systems settings.  Since its discovery, it has been added to the Windows documentation.
  • The default picture for a contact in Outlook 2010 is a silhouette of Bill Gates taken from a mug shot from when he was arrested for a driving offense in 1977.
  • Google Earth contains a hidden Flight Simulator allowing you to simulate flying a selection of planes over the terrain.  To access this press CTRL, ALT, A (CTRL, OPTION, A on a Mac) simultaneously on your keyboard.
  • Typing “about:mozilla” into a Firefox browser will return a verse from “The Book of Mozilla”.  There is no real book with that title, but the verses appear to be taken from Apocalyptic Literature.
  • Typing “about:robots” into a Firefox browser will return a page with a statement from the robot population.  Don’t hit “Try again” or you might upset them.
  • If you use uTorrent, load up the help menu and press T.  You will then be presented with a game of Tetris.

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