Lame April Fools

This year I was away from a computer on 1st April so I was unable to take part in the riproaring hilarity of announcing that I’d just been hired by Microsoft or that scientists have created a sentient banana.

However I was able to review other people’s efforts, and I must say, what a load of banal old tripe! The best April Fool jokes should, well, fool people! For a moment, at least. They should make you stop and think “Whoa, really? Oh… wait a minute…”. Good examples include the classic BBC “Spaghetti Harvest” from 1957 and last year’s Economist article about the California-based company GeneDupe (owned by one Paolo Fril) which had discovered a way to genetically engineer pet dragons.

Alternatively, if you can’t manage believability, then general funniness combined with lots of effort will make up for it. For example, Google’s toilet-based ISP this year was about as plausible as their earlier PigeonRank, but both were well written and hilarious.

So what do you do if you just can’t be bothered? Technology bloggers have a well-worn fallback: simply announce, in a writing style that you desperately hope makes you sound like a real journalist, that some company X has been acquired by or merged with its sworn enemy, company Y. For bonus points, one of those companies should be Microsoft. Unfortunately I think the formula is getting rather stale… witness some of this year’s lamest announcements:

Of course, people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. If I had been near a computer I would probably have gone with something like one of these:

  • Sun gives up trying to make Swing apps look like native apps on Vista. Romain Guy was quoted as saying: “C’est trop difficile!”. NetBeans to be rewritten using SWT.
  • Borland decides that the core business it refocused on isn’t as core as the core business it spun off. Refocuses (again) on building lunar habitats. Finally votes on a JSR.
  • Microsoft to banish all mutable variables from the .Net platform. (oops, somebody actually did that one!)

Yeah, I know. Lame.