The quirkier Easter eggs

Tags: Knowledge

Delve into the world of embedded programmes for some good old fashioned fun

Easter may have come and gone but in the tech world you can relish an Easter egg any time of the year. Before we tell you about what all this is about, try this ancient trick. Fire up Microsoft Word. Open a new document. Type ‘=rand(200,99)’ (minus quote marks). Hit Enter, and see what happens. Try another one: Launch your browser on your Windows PC or Mac -- or your Android or iPhone handset. Go to google.com. Type the word ‘tilt’ and press enter. On desktops and laptops, the whole page will slip off-centre and appear to have a slight tilt. On smartphones, it will simply appear off-centre.

What you’ve just tasted are known as Easter Eggs. These eggs are hidden bits of code intended to provide unexpected, pleasant and entertaining little surprises. You will find them concealed in operating systems, software apps, browsers, websites, games, and even movie DVDs. Officially they don’t exist as they are undocumented applets or events that are implanted by programmers. An Easter egg can be anything from a message, a scroll of names, a sound, an image, unusual program behaviour in a game. They pop up in response to a set of secret, non-intuitive commands, mouse clicks, keystrokes or other analogous stimuli.

Programmers embed Easter eggs into programmes usually as a signature to get credit, or as a tribute to someone, or as a joke, or for plain kicks. They are meant to provide a delightful little burp of thrill when you discover them.

Here’s another evergreen egg to try: Go to www.google.com, Type ‘elgoog’. Then click on the first link and show the world your white and pearlies! You can have some more fun if you try the links on links on this page (Underwater, Gravity, Terminal etc.). Since we are onto funny stuff, maybe you should also try Google’s other interfaces as well: Klingon (www.google.com/intl/xx-klingon/) Elmer Fudd (www.google.com­/intl/xx-elmer/), Pig Latin (www.google.com/intl/xx-piglatin/). Ofcourse there’s always wikipedia if you don’t know what Klingon, Elmer Fudd and Pig Latin are all about.

Look what the cat dragged in

Download the free Ookla Speedtest.net from the app store on Android or iOS device. Did you know there’s a cat hidden in there? To find it load the app and run a speed test. After its over, press the speedo and pull it down. Out pops the cat -- each time with an assorted and amusing messages.

Here’s another: If you have Firefox, go to the address bar, key in ‘about:mozilla’. Obviously, without the quotes. What you will generate is a page with pseudo biblical sounding quotes from the mythical Book of Mozilla. Interesting, eh? If you type ‘about:about’ in the Firefox address bar, you’ll see a list of all the menus on offer. Hit ‘about:robots,’ for a little chuckle.

Next, go to www.youtube.com on your laptop and search for “beam me up scotty”. Watch how your results start appearing on the page henceforth. Similarly, search for “do the Harlem shake” and see the YouTube logo as well as the whole page boogie. Ensure that your audio is on for this one.

Wassup for Macs?

Launch Terminal, OS X’s text-based interface. It should be inside the Utilities folder. Type ‘emacs’ and press enter. Then type ‘x’ and type ‘doctor’. This will get you a response that goes: ‘I am the psychotherapist. Please, describe your problems.’ Now you can actually have a zany and inane conversation with your machine! Don’t expect much, it’s all for fun.

Likewise, if you were ever found Tetris, Pong or Snake, those ancient games with crude graphics, you can use Terminal to summon them on your 2014 vintage MacBook Pro! Again, launch Terminal, type ‘emacs’ and press enter. Type ‘x’ then ‘tetris’ or ‘snake’ or ‘pong’ alongside (minus the quotes and all lowercase letters).

More? To view a calendar full of fun trivia for every day of the year, in Terminal type ‘cat/usr/share/calendar­/calendar.history.’ And to a get the recipe of Mrs Fields’ famous California Cookies, key in ‘open/usr/share­/emacs/22.1/etc/cookies.’

Mind it, a recipe often sounds delicious until you try it — and then the air is only full of feathers. Before you head for you PC, keep in mind that what worked for me may not work for you. Yet, don’t assume it’s a rotten egg and this is a lousy article. It’s only because the trick was meant for a different software version. And you just managed to scramble the egg. zz

(The author is a freelance

personal tech writer)

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