Editorial: Why I hate April Fool’s Day
By Peter Cohen,
When I was growing up, April Fool’s Day was a hotly anticipated holiday — it was a chance for us put-upon schoolkids to even the scores with our teachers, parents, and any other authority figure that crossed our paths. And as a father, I now see my kids engaging in the same sort of shenanigans that marked April Fool’s Day when I was young. Sorry to sound like Ebenezer Scrooge before his visit from the three Christmas spirits in Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol , but to April Fool’s Day now, I say, “Bah, Humbug!”
April Fool’s Day is an absolute nightmare for a news guy like me, because it’s become a grand tradition for some companies that use the Internet as one of their primary methods of communication to send out phony press releases announcing products that don’t really exist or new services they have no intention of offering. By the end of the day, I’m usually shell-shocked at trying to figure out the real stuff from the hoaxes. And I always wake up on this day just a bit gunshy.
Often times, it’s easy to see through the ruse. The products are so outlandish, so bizarre, there’s no chance that they will ever see the light of day. ThinkGeek’s
iCopulate, a naughty-looking iPod-to-iPod transfer device, is a great example from this year’s roundup. PodGear got in on the joke with their introduction of the PodShave and PodShaveLady iPod shaving attachment. And curse him, our Christopher Breen
got in on the joke too.
Other times, though, the companies hold their cards close enough to their vests that you can be fooled into thinking that the announcement is legitimate, only to find out later it was a hoax. A good example of that this year came from German software firm Equinux, who announced
iJuice and Movie mini, a widescreen LCD display and portable power pack for the Mac mini that is actually a really good idea. When I called Equinux’s press contact to find out the real story, she told me that she’s received enough queries about it to suggest to her boss that they should get into the hardware business.
2Good, which they billed as free software that would let you run any Windows application on your Mac. The tiny file size was the first giveaway, but the fake installer made it pretty clear it was a joke, as it reported that it was installing Windows viruses, trojan horses and other garbage on your Mac as well. 2Good, by the way, is short for “2Good to be true.”
I’ll admit that Ambrosia Software had me going this morning with their release of
ScreenCleaner Pro, which purportedly “alters the gamma of your monitor to compensate for monitor degradation.” But the giveaway for me was the info on their Web site that Macworld had rated the application “4.5 gems.” (We use mice for our ratings system, not gems.) It didn’t help that our own Dan Frakes was complicit in the prank.
Your Mac Life host and producer Shawn King seems to have gotten at least one Mac news source to fall hook, line and sinker for his news that he was closing up shop, so you can see even those of us who should know better sometimes get fooled.
And in some cases, companies announce real products on April Fool’s Day. Google is a practical example: Today is the one-year anniversary of
Gmail, Google’s Web mail service. When we ran the story about Gmail’s launch last year, several incredulous readers were convinced it was an April Fool’s Day prank — after all, what company in their right mind would give away 1GB of e-mail storage for free?
Well, today Google announced that Gmail’s capacity is expanding, and it ain’t no joke. The expanded capacity comes along with a host of other enhancements, including font support, bullets, highlighting, expanded browser support and more. But their timing could be better.
As it is, Google did get into the spirit of things by announcing
Google Gulp, a new “smart drink” that purportedly changes your brain chemistry, presuming you’re willing to risk “hideous genetic mutation.” Of course, in traditional Google form, the spurious Google Gulp is a beta release.
As much as I hate these shenanigans sometimes, every so often, I must take my hat off to the writers and editors that come up with particularly funny and clever hoaxes. In that spirit, my award for this year’s best April Fool’s Day prank has to be The Mobile Music Blog’s
World Exclusive! First Look at iTunes Phone.
Analysis: Apple’s incomplete legal victory
Search through the coverage of Apple’s two lawsuits involving Mac rumors sites, and you’re bound to come across commentary about the First Amendment and freedom of the press. But a closer examination of the actual judge’s ruling that Nfox, the e-mail provider for Jason O’Grady of O’Grady’s PowerPage, must turn over information O’Grady received about an unreleased Apple audio product reveals that court considers this case really an issue of property rights.
Review: iPod Camera Connector
When Apple first announced the iPod photo, many digital photographers believed their prayers had been answered: At last, a compact storage solution that would allow you to snap pictures with a digital camera, dump the camera’s contents to the device, and then preview your pictures on that storage device. Regrettably, these dreams were dashed when it was revealed that the iPod photo would display pictures only after those pictures were processed by a computer and delivered to the device via iTunes.
iTunes Custom Cards details emerge
Apple details WWDC sessions
Apple’s 15-in PowerBook adds value
Free app suite bundled with FileMaker Pro
FileMaker 7 ODBC Client Driver released
Casio president talks digital camera strategy
One of the first companies you think about when purchasing a digital camera is probably not consumer electronics giant Casio Inc., but the company intends to change that in the future. With a strong brand and almost 50 years experience in the consumer market, Casio executives understand the challenges that lie in front of them and are executing their strategy, making innovation a top priority.
Hands on with the Sony PlayStation Portable
Sony Corp. on Thursday released its US$249 PlayStation Portable (PSP) to the North American market. There’s no question the system packs a lot more versatility under the hood than an equivalently-priced iPod mini, though the PSP comes with some drawbacks of its own.
Hilton alarm clock features MP3 player jack
iPod shuffle clone returns as Super Tangent
Diskology shrinks Disk Jockey hard disk duplicator
Nikon to release new range of digital SLR cameras
QuickerTek offers Mac mini Airport antenna
Griffin ships AirClick Remote for iPod, iPod mini
DLO offers Cool Caps for iPod shuffle
Google to increase Gmail’s inbox to 2GB and more
Google Inc. on Friday plans to increase the in-box storage of its Gmail Web mail service from 1GB to 2GB, and it will continue to raise that ceiling in coming weeks and months, on a rolling basis, to unspecified heights, according to a Google executive.
SuperCard 4.5 improves performance, more
Lasso Studio 8 for Dreamweaver & GoLive released
CS Odessa offers Project Documentation Suite
PocketMac for PSP debuts
Guest PC emulator improves G5 performance, more
America’s Army returns to the Mac, sans GameSpy
ChronoSync 3 adds new sync options, more
Archway Systems ships VersaCAD 2005 for Mac
Freeverse speeds up BumperCar 2 kid’s Web browser
Around the Web
Hollywood seeks iTunes for film
A Sony vice president says his group plans to create an iTunes-like service for digital movie distribution. There are hurdles to overcome, however.
Sony loses PlayStation patent case
Phishing attacks rose in February, says group
ATI, Ontario Securities Commission reach settlement
HP taps NCR’s Mark Hurd as new CEO
Microsoft files 117 phishing lawsuits
What’s next for Apple?