Welcome to the weekend just before all the chocolate goes on sale at reduced prices, and here at Costa Connected we want to celebrate by exploring the world of digital ‘easter eggs’.  These won’t rot your teeth or give you a sugar high, but they might make your online life a little more exciting or amusing now and again.

Easter Eggs are secret messages, in-jokes or undocumented bits of programming, hidden inside digital media. The term is credited to Atari, who introduced a secret room in a videogame back in 1979, that was obscured from users not ‘in the know’.  Of course there are lots of parallels with earlier media, such as fleeting cameo appearances of renowned directors in their movies, or the ‘Masquerade’ adventure book, but the name makes sense in many ways – something surprising, hidden, and hopefully tasty!

Many people are aware of the idea of easter eggs on DVDs, often in the form of hidden menus with additional extras – which might be accessed by pressing cursors in odd directions.  Of course back in the Atari days, knowledge of such miracles spread by rumour and word of mouth, you couldn’t just Google them and find out, which takes the fun out of things to an extent.  Yes, to anyone under 25 there was once a world which contained some real mysteries, such as how to access a hidden outtakes file on your favourite movie.  And of course some genres and titles lend themselves more particularly to these kind of little games – there are entire forums devoted to discussing easter eggs in the Lost DVD box sets for example, some of which the publishers probably don’t even know about…

In software terms, easter eggs are often text expanders, or cheats in games (want to beat Windows solitare? Press alt+shift+2 to force a win, *apparently*).  Nineties versions of MS Office Excel had a hidden flight simulator game, which livened up no end the spreadsheets of anyone in the know.  Nowadays a lot of software manufacturers are wary of including easter eggs because undocumented effects of their programming can often be regarded as a security threat, certainly Microsoft doesn’t do them any more – theoretically they could contain malware of some kind, and most large organisations prefer to know and be able to track exactly what every line of code is going to do when executed.

Online though it’s possible for more fun to be had.  Google loves easter eggs – try typing ‘do a barrel roll’ into the search bar, or ‘let it snow’.  Google Earth also has some crackers – try this in the search bar  44°14’39.35″N 7°46’11.53″E, or else ask it for driving directions from Tokyo to New York (well, I guess you cannot be expected to drive across the Pacific Ocean anyway so Google loves to show its sense of humour).  Try putting ‘answer to life the universe and everything’ or ‘once in a blue moon’ into the main Google search bar for further examples of Google Wit.

By the time you read this there should also have been the usual seasonal crop of April 1st jokes from the big G – whilst not strictly easter eggs in the sense that everyone knows to be looking for them, they are often very clever and funny. Like on their jobs page last year they advertised to hire for their team of autocompleters “Are you passionate about helping people? Are you intuitive? Do you often feel like you know what your friends and family are thinking and can finish their thoughts before they can? If you have “good typing skills (at least 32,000 WPM)”, you’re willing to “relocate to obscure places likeNauru andTuvalu to develop knowledge of local news and trends” and you have a “certificate in psychic reading”, then you can get a job at Google…

I wonder how many applicants they got?

However you are celebrating have a great Easter break, from all of us at Costa Connected.

Facebook Training:

We are going to leave Facebook for a while, having caught up with a lot of the recent changes which affect us as users.  But if you are using or planning to use Facebook as a business tool, and want to take things further, there is a great-value seminar taking place in Javea on 20th April which may interest you – please visit http://bit.ly/CasslarFB  to find out more and secure your place in our ‘Business Success with Facebook’ training, specifically designed for local expat businesses in Spain to take social media to the next professional level.

Published in Costa Blanca News, 05 April 2012

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