The Best of April Fool’s Day Pranks on the Internet

Yes, it's April 1: roundup of April Fool's Day pranks from around the web


Screengrab shows the mock Google Nose website. For April Fool’s Day, Google videos promoted new services such as Google Nose that allowed users to scan the web for smells and a new feature on Google Maps that allowed people to search for pirate treasure. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO

TORONTO – Don’t believe everything you read on the web today.

In case you hadn’t clued in yet, it’s April 1 on the calendar — April Fool’s Day.

Some of the web’s heavy hitters — including Twitter and Google, which always goes overboard with pranks — have posted a slew of phoney stories designed to trick and amuse readers.

A list of some of the best:

— Google Nose: It’s billed as “the new scentsation in search,” the “sharpest olfactory experience available.” Google allows search by smell AND has come up with technology to transmit scents over the Internet. This gag runs deep. Search for “belly button,” “diaper,” “fresh baked bread” or “Grandmother’s closet” today and you’ll see a box at the right of the screen with details from the Google Aromabase (diaper’s smell notes are: baby powder and poop).

— Google Blue: Gmail like you’ve never seen it before. Blue, all blue. “You click on Compose, the button Compose: blue. The word Compose itself: blue. You write in the body of the email, the font comes up blue. You don’t have to make it blue. It just is blue,” says a Google employee in a slickly produced video for the product. “We tried orange, brown — brown was a disaster.”

— Google Maps treasure maps: Search for something on Google Maps today and look for the “Treasure” layer, which transforms the screen into sepia-toned graphics replete with cartoon trees and local landmarks, including the CN Tower, Niagara Falls and Montreal’s Olympic Stadium.

— Can I buy a vowel, Twitter?: In a bid to make communication even more streamlined and efficient on its social network, Twitter announces using vowels is now a premium service. Those not willing to shell out $5 a month for A, E, I, O and U (Y is always free) must instead log on to Twttr.

— Bigfoot sighting in Canada: Banff National Park announces an “amazing observation” made, a new species caught on camera near Lake Louise.

— “Star Wars” director J.J. Abrams recruits George Takei: The actor best known for playing Hikaru Sulu in the “Star Trek” franchise says he’ll play Master Ceti Maru, a member of the Jedi High Council, in the new upcoming “Star Wars” remake.

— HBO announces “Game of Thrones” star Peter Dinklage is being replaced by British actor Warwick Davis.

— TTC’s “personal car”: Toronto’s transit service announces it’s sectioned off a subway car where there are no holds barred, riders can exercise all their annoying habits — wear bulky backpacks, eat slovenly, crank their music, clip their nails — with no regard to common courtesy.

— WestJet, the pet-friendly airline: Any animal that can fit on one of its planes can now travel with WestJet, in the passenger cabin, without being confined to a kennel. It’s the airline’s new “furry family” program.

— Sony’s Animalia tech: Headphones for cats, TVs designed just for dogs? Tech toys marketed to pet owners who want the very best for their furry friends.

— YouTube has seen enough videos: YouTube announces that after nearly eight years of collecting videos, it’s nearly ready to stop accepting uploads and name one clip the best of the Internet.

Offline, others were also looking to get in on the April Fools fun by sending out fake press releases.

Bob Rae said he would run for the leadership of the federal Liberal party after all, noting: “I’ve changed my mind. That’s a lot easier than changing parties. So I will be Crazy Uncle Bob after all.”

And Swimming Canada sent out a release saying that two-time Olympic medallist Ryan Cochrane would be giving the bobsled chute a try for the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

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Underwater Internet Attack Almost Succeeds

 James Bond Type Villains Caught Trying to Cut Through The Internet’s Undersea Cables

Eric Limer / Gizmodo

405While the Internet at large was freaking out about an apocalyptic attack that wasn’t really happening yesterday, something nefarious was going down at the bottom of the sea. Egyptian authorites found a trio of divers down there attempting to sever a crucial submarine communications cable.

Yesterday, Egypt’s Coast Guard stumbled upon a suspicious fishing boat off the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria. There’s no word on what tipped them off, but upon investigation, they caught the team of divers up to no good and apparently mid-cut. The cable in question is owned by Egypt Telecom, the country’s monopoly landline provider, making it sort of an important link in the vast network of undersea Internet connections.

These guys were slicing away right here by node #5:

Three Crazy James Bond Villains Were Caught Trying to Cut Through The Internet's Undersea Cables

The Official Military Spokesman of the Armed Forces of Egypt put it this way in a statement on Facebook (translated):

[The] Navy today successfully foiled 3 divers, while they cut submarine cable for connection to the Internet, the company’s Telecom Egypt, near the coast of Shatby in Alexandria … [The] Navy chased Bnas fishing which was launched from three divers, and arrested all crew members and handed them over to the border guards to take the necessary legal action against them.

southern_cross_cable_cross_section1280.pngAnd whatever they were up to, it was a good first step to serious Internet destruction. If you were out to really cripple the beast like some cartoon mastermind, cutting the cables would be your go-to first step, second only to destroying more guarded land-based nodes. The ‘net’s web of undersea cables is a verifiable weakness, considering they’re both hard to effectively guard and necessarily act as chokepoints.

So far, there’s no explanation for what the divers’ nefarious plan was, but it’s possible they also had something to do with previously unexplained disruptions to undersea cables serving Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia over the past several days. And coordinated cable cutting—if that was the plan—could seriously cripple the Internet for quite a while.

So worry all you want about DDoS attacks, but there are physical targets for Internet attacks as well. You just have to be sort of a James Bond-style villian to get to them.

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