From the Editors
There ought to be a name for the time period between April Fools' Day and Friday the 13th. At least we survived the annual rush of elaborate online pranks, which, in the current silly season, were pretty cool. Finalists for best online spoof? Google has a strong entry with its throwback 8-bit version of Google Maps, supposedly designed to run on the Nintendo Entertainment System (and also online in a working demo). Says TechCrunch: "The best part? Google didn't satisfy itself with a blog post and video. The team actually built the damn thing, and it's kind of gorgeous." Engadget (and the hilarious Google video) explains that the application purportedly works via "a special NES cartridge that can connect to the internet via dial-up. This apparently allows most of the heavy lifting to get done on Google's servers, where the maps are rendered to 8-bit form in real-time." Because it works, there's a whole 8-bit world to explore. "We've checked it out and found some goodies, including an alien at Area 51, so let us know what you come across during your journey in the comments," Engadget says.
YouTube joined in the old media fun with its bogus introduction of The YouTube Collection on DVD, a gigantic box with every video "Hilarious," says The Tecnica. "This changes everything, forever," blogged Michael Humphry at Forbes. "I mean, why do we even need the Internet anymore? If YouTube emails us all a DVD each month, we can enjoy all the user-generated video hilarity we need without the inconvenience of streaming via our PC, phone, tablet, BluRay, gaming system, Smart TV, dumb TV through our computer, set-top box, robot, WiFi, 3G, 4G, OG, ethernet or brain chip. (Not available on Blackberry.)" The webcomic XKCD did an amazing, elaborate comic strip, masterminded by a former NASA engineer, that was different depending on how you looked at it. People in Toronto saw a different version than people in North Carolina. And "it turns out there's more," says WebProNews. "Upon further investigation, users on reddit and the xkcd forum found that which comic you were seeing varied by a whole lot more than just where you live. They found variations based on referrer, browser, ISP, and more." WebProNews declared xkcd "wins April Fools Day." Kodak, of all bankruptcy-battling companies, came up with a possible game changer with its amazing Live Kitten Printer. "No company could use a good laugh more at the moment than Kodak," says Click Whirl Photography. "Personally, I am waiting for their puppy upgrade," says All About Images.
In Philadelphia, Mayor Michael Nutter did a video introducing
special lanes for pedestrians who text while they walk. "The E-Lane is a
safe and convenient option for those distracted walkers and should make
sidewalks safer for the rest of us," Nutter said in the video, which
also included "apparently sincere man-on-the-street interviews with duped passersby - many of whom thought the E-Lane wasn't a half bad idea," according to Philly blog Rittenhoused.
Elsewhere, Conan O'Brien "took over" Mashable, with full cooperation of everyone involved. Explains Mashable: "Conan's Team (or TeamCoco) and Mashable got together to create a zany story line that included Conan buying Mashable and even pushing aside site founder and CEO Pete Cashmore. The heart of the prank was four videos featuring Conan: introductory takeover rant, two faux product reviews and the resignation." Elsewhere, Gadunky says, "AdBlock announced that it's now expanding its services to block cat pictures. And Sony's debuted a quarter-sized "Ultrabook" in the hope that it can forever shut the door on the miniaturization race among laptop manufacturers (assuming one figures out how to type on the thing)." And there were loads of other pranks, which are diligently curated by Techcrunch and Quora and Pocket-Lint, among others.
Google needed to get a couple days of separation from April 1 to launch a prototype of something that only looked like a practical joke: Project Glass, "the company's first venture into wearable computing," explains the Bits blog. "The prototype version Google showed off on Wednesday looked like a very polished and well-designed pair of wrap-around glasses with a clear display that sits above the eye. The glasses (not for sale yet but being tested) can stream information to the lenses and allow the wearer to send and receive messages through voice commands. There is also a built-in camera to record video and take pictures." A video that Google has futuristically titled "Google Glass: Some Day" shows a guy walking through lower Manhattan with a constant heads-up display that makes him look like a hipster RoboCop. "It's your smartphone, right in your eyes," says FastCoDesign, which offers four problems Google glasses need to solve before becoming a hit. ("Finding the perfect level of obtrusiveness within an omnipresent internet connection could be the largest challenge."). Critics are divided. While The Verge wonders if the technology could be put into contact lenses, Daring Fireball says that with its "fancy-pants sci-fi concept video to promote stunningly awkward augmented reality glasses...Google's transition into the new Microsoft is now complete."