All the April Fools' news that's fit to print

From bloggers to the BBC, there's no shortage of prank stories--Internet outages, mock outrage, time travel--to mark the high holiday of hijinks.

Here's a view of some of the headlines gracing Techmeme on the morning of April Fools' Day. Techmeme.com

The word of the day is "prank." Unless maybe you're one of the ones who got taken in hook, line, and sinker, in which case it's "doh!"

If you haven't already noticed, today is April Fools' Day, but you probably have, since most pranksters seem to get an early start. No single April 1 hoax may have the heft of Orson Welles' War of the Worlds stunt the night before Halloween in 1938, and there aren't usually chores involved like the ritual post-Halloween clean-up of splattered egg whites, but nothing comes close to the sheer volume and frivolity of the April day named for tomfoolery.

And so it is that we turn to the Web.

The earliest jump on April Fools' may well have been at Sun Microsystems, where CEO and uber-blogger Jonathan Schwartz fessed up about having been duped way back on Friday: "Do I Still Have a Job?" We're still waiting on the video that Schwartz half-promised.

Another eager beaver was TechCrunch's Michael Arrington, who on Monday afternoon posted "Why We're Suing Facebook For $25 Million In Statutory Damages."

Click for gallery

Google proved itself no slouch. The overlord of search put its spin on the sci-fi concepts of time travel and expeditions to other planets: " Google does April Fools': 'Custom time' and a Mars trip ." The company also rocked on with its "Rickrolling" prank. Meanwhile, Wikipedia offered up Ima Hogg, the country of San Serriffe, and 670,000 gremlins: " Wikipedia fudges the truth for April Fools' Day ."

Another company with a sense of humor is Canada's WestJet Airlines, which the National Post says issued a fake press release describing a "sleeper cabin" where the carry-on bags usually go: "WestJet, Ryanair have a little fun with April Fools." The Ryanair angle? The Irish carrier said it appointed Bond heroine Pussy Galore as the head of let-your-imagination-run-wild Ryanbare.com.

Our colleagues at ZDNet UK told us we'd all be offline for a wee bit today: "ICANN to shut down Internet for one hour."

Jokey April Fools' Day news stories are a long-standing Fleet Street tradition. The BBC took the opportunity to remind us of one of its favorites, a 1957 account of Switzerland's "annual spaghetti harvest." The hoax program "showed women carefully plucking strands of spaghetti from a tree and laying them in the sun to dry."

But not everyone has a sense of humor. Wired reports that "some environmentalists are trying take all of the fun out of the first of the month," though at least the eco-types came up with a good pun: "Activists Try to Rename April 1 'Fossil Fools Day'."

Maybe what they're looking for is what blogger Bob McCarty is pitching: "Scientists Harness Kinetic Energy from Keyboards."

The mythical sleeper compartment promised by a jovial WestJet. WestJet

Tech industry publication InfoWorld played it very close to the chest with its nearly straight-news account, "Microsoft, Yahoo agree on buyout price." One of the hints of a hoax at work: "(Yahoo) Employees that Microsoft decides to retain will be offered an Xbox 360 game platform and a Zune music player as tokens of appreciation."

For those who follow open-source matters closely, there's this from "a sparsely attended media conference held in the Madagascar capital, Antananarivo," via IT Wire: "Mono to be renamed as Duo."

And because no day may pass without some news of the iPhone, Engadget on April Fools' eve gave us: "iPhone Dev Team claims to be dismantled, Pwnage tool dead for good? Update: nope."

News.com made its own contribution to the festivities. You've got a three-fer from us:
• Live, from New York, it's...Mark Zuckerberg?
• TechCrunch acquires Tiger Beat, will rename it CrunchKids
• Edit wars come to spy agencies' Intellipedia

For a further compendium, see Slashdot: "Geeky April Fools' Day Prank Roundup."

Some of our readers have spotted April 1 amusements not listed here. Be sure to check out our TalkBack section below.

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About the author

Jonathan Skillings is managing editor of CNET News, based in the Boston bureau. He's been with CNET since 2000, after a decade in tech journalism at the IDG News Service, PC Week, and an AS/400 magazine. He's also been a soldier and a schoolteacher, and will always be a die-hard fan of jazz, the brassier the better.

 

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