Everybody enjoys a good laugh and there are some fun simple things that can confuse your co-workers, family or friends for a few minutes.
Here’s a few tricks that may… or may not cause some amusement. Just make sure you step in before they need to call their IT support guy!
Simulated operating system crash
An operating system crash sends a shiver up the most confident of spines.
Windows Blue Screen of Death
Install the SysInternals teams BlueScreen Screen Saver complete with genuine looking reboot sequence.
Mac OS X Kernel Panic
Try out Doomlaser’s Kernel Panic Screensaver although be prepared for genuine confusion at their first exposure to an operating system crash ;-)
If they are a hunt-and-peck typist confuse them by swapping a few keys around on their keyboard (make sure it lets you pull the tops off, some of them don’t and leaving them with a broken keyboard isn’t fun at all).
An alternative if the keyboard doesn’t allow you to remove the key tops or if they’re a touch-typist is to change the keyboard map to one similar but not the same. Favourites include US for Brits and and British for Americans if you want something very subtle that may take a few hours to be noticed (when they hit some symbols, pound signs etc.) or German for something a bit quicker (W and Z reversed).
Head to the Windows Control Panel or Mac System Preferences to activate.
Permanent hourglass (Windows)
A simple trick that just involves heading into Control Panel > Mouse Properties then choosing the Pointers tab and double clicking on Normal Select. From there choose hourglas.ani
Google goes abroad
Google remembers which language you you last used so simply head to something like http://www.google.com/ru (Russian), http://www.google.com/cy (Welsh) or http://www.google.com/fr (French) then close the Window and walk away.
Any further visits will show in that language, even searches made from the built-in boxes of Internet Explorer and Firefox. To set back head to http://www.google.com/en (English) or whatever language you normally use.
Swap short cuts (Windows)
Choose properties on either the desktop, start-menu or quick launch icon they use to launch their favourite applications and change the target to a different but perhaps similar application. i.e. iTunes and Windows Media, Word and WordPad, Excel and PowerPoint. They’ll probably think they hit the wrong icon or that something has messed up the file associations.
Change the display gamma
Head into Control Panel > Display (Windows) or System Preferences > Display (Mac) and adjust the gamma or colour profile for their display. No amount of fiddling with the displays brightness or contrast settings will get it quite back to how it was.
Jeff Atwood has futher suggestions for people who don’t lock their machines. Remember kids, Windows Key + L is your friend.