April Fools’ 2012 Around the Web
Ah, April 1st. The day when nothing on the Internet can be believed, even if it’s real. This year we’ve been treated to a number of April Fools’ gags, including fake ThinkGeek products begging to be made into a reality, Blizzard games targeted at a younger demographic, the return of Toonami, and so much more. We’ll keep you updated with what’s happening throughout the day, so check back often!
Google Maps Quest
Google maps was the first out of the gate yesterday with an 8-bit overhaul of the popular online map application. Complete with sprites and surprises throughout the map (hint: Check out Google offices, but watch out for slimes) the redesign was ostensibly made to reach NES users. Finally, a fun way to navigate for the whole family.
Just head on over to maps.google.com and click on the “Quest” button on the right hand of the screen. It’s still fully functional, but be sure to look at streetview.
Careful followers of @notch, the Twitter account of Minecraft creator Markus Peerson, have probably noticed he’s been working on some kind of secret Sci-Fi game. Yesterday, Notch “revealed” it to be a new project called Mars Effect. Hopefully he won’t run into the same naming issues like he did with Scrolls, right? You can see the page for yourself here.
Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Travel to the Center of the Earth, Through Time
Sir Richard Branson already plans to take humans into space and to the bottom of the ocean, but that is simply not enough for him. His new travel plans include the center of the Earth and the endless expanse of history with Virgin Volcanic and Virgin Time Travel. The volcanic scheme will take Branson, Tom Hanks, Will.i.am, Seth Green, and others to the very heart of the world. Meanwhile, Sir Richard just got back from a trip to 1972 so he could pick up a copy of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells.
Cartoon Network Brings Back Toonami
Last night Cartoon Network reaired their anime block called Toonami instead of Adult Swim. For those of you with insomnia and were in highschool in the early 2000’s, this was surely a startling wakeup call. According to Nerd Reactor, the block featured classics like Dragon Ball Z, Gundam Wing, Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki, Outlaw Star, Big O, Yu Yu Hakusho, Blue Submarine #6, Trigun, Bleach, and Astro Boy. T.O.M., the robotic host of the show, even made his triumphant return, and reviewed Mass Effect 3 while he was at it.
Blizzard Goes After a Younger Demographic
Popular game studio Blizzard revealed their plans to go after a younger gamer with their slew of educational games, young adult novels, a tomagachi-style login authenticator, and mobile gaming. For edutainment, there’s the Blizzard Kidzz series, which has such classics as Where in Sanctuary is Deckard Cain and a fully-functional Zerg typing game. So many consonants!
Hoping to go after the mobile crowd, the game studio also debuted a mobile game called Supply Depot 2, where the player takes control of a Terran supply depot — it goes up and down; that’s the game. Similarly mobile is the Zergotchi, which hatches an infested Terran that you must love and care for — or else he won’t give you a complete authentication code to log in to Battle.net.
Lastly, while Blizzard has always had a number of officially licensed novels they’ve finally warmed up the Young Adult category and are launching a slew of new titles like: The Anger Gauntlet, Ross Harrison and the Secret Academy, and Appetite. Here’s a sampling:
Spend time with then-Warchief Thrall and Archmage Jaina Proudmoore in the warm summer days after the fall of Archimonde, when the mistrust between Alliance and Horde seems destined to fade away, and anything—anything—can happen.
ThinkGeek Stuffs and Mounts Admiral Ackbar, Among Other Things
ThinkGeek has a lot of cred when it comes to April Fools’ gags, and this year they delivered some worthy additions. While the singing Admiral Ackbar wall-fish is a real show stopper (see above), other fine products include Marshmellow Creeps, Electronic Wizard Hoodie, coffee maker meals (now where have I seen that before?), a screaming Skyrim hoodie, Game of Thrones perfume, a Barbie styling head complete with iPad face, and a physical Hungry Hungry Hippos controller for the iPad. There’s also an inflatable Star Trek captain’s chair but that’s actually a legit product.
Speaking of legit products, ThinkGeek has a page where shoppers can vote on which if their April Fools’ products should be made a reality. I’m gunning for the singing Ackbar, myself.
Adblock Replaces Ads with Cats
Did you notice more sprawling felines than normal on the web today? Are you running AdBlock? Well, today AdBlock is CatBlock. Instead of just making ads disappear, the distraction-reducing software is replacing ads with cats. Pretty straightforward. To dismiss said cats, simply hover over the image and you’ll have the opportunity to go back to normal AdBlock.
Amazingly, the creator of AdBlock writes on his blog that many people are clamoring for CatBlock to stay. If enough people support his efforts monetarily, he’ll make it a standalone product.
Reddit Extends Into the Distant Past and Future
Taking a page from Facebook’s new Timeline layout, Reddit has decided to make it easier for users to find old entries. Very old entries. Like, from the beginning of time. They’ve also seen fit, perhaps borrowing from Sir Richard’s time travel device, to provide news from tomorrow. And the next day. And all the days extending until the heat death of the universe.
YouTube is now offering all of its video content, including a bajillion Minecraft videos, available in a physical format. At long last, you can have all those cat videos on DVD. There’s even interactivity by mail, letting you send a message directly to the video’s creator (I wish this was real, actually) and Trending Videos available on LaserDisc. The future is physical media!
Google Fiber Bar
We were all completely wrong about what Google Fiber was up to. I guess I have to go back and re-write all those posts now.
Google Tap Brings Morse Code to Smartphones
In an effort to increase efficiency while writing emails, Gmail introduces a new Morse Code input. Using only dots and dashes you can “dash off” a quick email to a friend, or even two friends as writing in morse code only requires one hand. The furutre is dots and dashes, people!
Pad & Quil’s Super Tiny iPod Nano Case
The company famous for producing high-quality, hand-made cases of Apple products goes after the smallest touch device of all: The iPod nano. Now, with their “Littlest Black Book,” you can hold your tiny music player like a book. If you’re into that, or whatever.
Tom Tom Navigation Goes After Babies in Backseats
Tired of crying babies interrupting your GPS navigation instructions? According to Tom Tom’s research, the problem is that the toddlers just want a better voice to be issuing the turn-by-turn directions. After hours in a lab full of babies, the results may surprise you!
Warby Parker Introduces Glasses For Dogs
After shaking up the eyewear industry with their glasses by mailorder scheme, Warby Parker is now expanding their operations to not only cover man but also man’s best friend. The new spinoff company Warby Barker is making glasses for dogs and yes, there is a monocle. It’s called the dogocle. Because it’s for dogs.
Flickr Goes Retro
With retro-styled photo apps like Instagram getting all the attention, Flickr decided that they would cast us all back into the past with a new ultra low-res viewing option. Simply click the little button on the bottom right of a photo page and you’ll be treated to what Flickr would look like on a Macintosh ca. 1980. Forget megapixels; just forget them.
Google Chrome Multitask
Tired of trying and failing to do more things at once? Google Chrome thinks that the problem isn’t you, it’s because you don’t have two mice.
Google’s Driverless Cars Coming to NASCAR
Seems like a good idea to me, but a better one might be to make those track driers driverless.
Google’s Really Advanced Search
For when you really, really need to find exactly one thing and nothing else there’s Google Really Advanced Search.
Google Street Roo
While Google street view is already letting us go inside places and even explore the Amazon, it still cannot cover most of the Australian wilderness. In order to rectify that is Google Street Roo, which straps 360º cameras to the heads of wild red kangaroos.
Text-based ads may be the cornerstone of Google’s business, but how outdated are ads in this modern age? So outdated. That’s why the Google AdWords team is introducing a new teleportation ability, so you can zap yourself right over to wherever the ads may point you. What could possibly go wrong?
Google Analytics Goes Interplanetary
By 2030, Google Analytics figures that we’ll be hopping around space as easily as we go to the corner store. In preperation for that glorious day, the company is planning to unfurl an interplanetary view to let you know from which moon of Saturn most of your website is originating. Combine this with Google’s AdWords teleportation and we might really be on to something!
If there’s two things that the Internet loves, it’s bacon and cats. FreshStep, the purveyors of fine kitty litter figured why not bring the two together? (via Sarah from Facebook)
Airbnb Adds the International Space Station
Billed as a “Loft-shared room” in Nevada, those hoping to see the glories of low Earth orbit for less than 30 Alterean dollars a day can couch-surf their way to the International Space Station thanks to Airbnb. While the price per night is astoundingly reasonable, getting into orbit is up to you.
Rock Band Wilco Offers New Album on Player Piano Roll
Considering that Wilco recently released their new album The Whole Love on cassette tape for charity, this one had me going for a minute. What gave it away was that it was being released at “Player Piano Store Day.” From the tongue-in-cheek announcment:
“Wilco pride themselves on authenticity and a respect of the American musical tradition, so what better way to honor that heritage than to listen to The Whole Love on a barely functioning piano in a dusty antique store,” writes Chief Wilco Strategist Lucy Lillabee. “Besides, these things cost like $1 to make, and hipsters are going to eat this shit up.”
Jack White Releases New Album Via Balloon
Former White Stripes founder Jack White has been having a lot of fun with his record company Third Man Records. In addition to selling vinyl from a car, the enigmatic auteur has released a bunch of balloons with unreleased tracks from his forthcoming solo album via balloon. While this is silly, it looks like the balloons were actually released so keep an eye out!
NPR Finds Beethoven’s “Lost” 10th Symphony
George Takei Announces New Star Trek Spinoff Starring Him
George Takei, who played the role of Sulu on the original run of Star Trek, announced today that he will be appearing in a new motion picture directed by J.J. Abrams called Excelsior. The film takes its name from the cutting-edge spacecraft seen in The Search for Spock that Takei commands during the events of The Undiscovered Country. A shame that this new film only exists in Takei’s mind. I’d happily see it! (Thanks to our Facebook fan Jennifer for pointing this one out!)
XKCD Comics Differ For OS, location, and browser
From our comments section, we were pointed to today’s XKCD comic, which apparently is different depending on which OS or browser you’re using, as well as your location. Sometimes the entire comic is different, sometimes only key words. For instance, in the comic above, it says New York but a reader from Oregon saw his or her home state instead. Hit the forums to see some of the surprising permutations!