I believe that April Fools’ pranks should be benign violations of expectations, and that they are best when they have a physical reality. If they don’t have a physical reality, they should be targeted to amuse a small group of peolpe. While I had thoughts about one for this year, they fell apart under the pressure of fulfilling Kickstarters. But for my own reference and perhaps your minor amusement, here are the Internet-relevant pranks I’ve pulled in the past.
2021: I know that people read my tech books for the footnotes, so I released a collectible hardcover collection of them.
Smart books have footnotes. Smarter books are only footnotes.
2020: The Networknomicon.
Abdul Alhazred’s infamously rumored Networknomicon, or SNMP Mastery, has long been blamed for the Spanish Inquisition, the Second World War, and Cleveland. While nuclear “testing” was thought to have eradicated all copies of the manuscript, an astute student with a baggy shirt and considerable mob debts recently liberated one tattered survivor from the Miskatonic University Library of Computer Science.
2018: I took sponsorships on a book, but refused to say what the book was. 1 April, I released Ed Mastery. The Standard Text Editor. “ed Mastery.” It has a blurb from Ken Thompson himself.
Let me be perfectly clear: ed(1) is the standard Unix text editor. If you don’t know ed, you’re not a sysadmin. You’re a mere dabbler. A dilettante. Deficient.
Ed Mastery also comes in the Manly McManface edition, because some men can’t handle feminine pronouns in their tech books. Part of each sale goes to the Soroptimists, because screw you, that’s why.
Any third-person singular pronouns that appear in the standard edition, for normal people, are female. Those who believe that women don’t belong in tech books may purchase this special “Manly McManface” edition, where all third-party singular pronouns are masculine.
To compensate for this edition’s much smaller market, though, the Manly edition is unfortunately pricier than the standard edition. That’s basic economics.
For added “what the heck” I also wrote a scathing review of Ed Mastery, personally attacking the author, which Dan Langille generously published on his blog. I stand 100% behind this review, by the way.
Before that? Joke blog posts, aimed at the BSD audience. Basically intended to give a small group of folks a chuckle.
2014: Dan Langille and I coordinated on Oracle buys BSDCon and me responding by starting DetroitBSDCon. For the record, I think DetroitBSDCon would be amazing but, you know, pandemic.
2011: The Great Committer was to honor John Baldwin in the most embarrassing way possible.Apparently some of his cow-orkers started calling him the Great Committer and genuflecting when he approached, so that’s a plus. I still think that the BSD community adopting the pinky-and-forefinger-horns salute would rock.
2003: Dan Langille and I posted on how the UN was forcibly merging the BSD projects under the FretBSD banner. The OpenBSD paragraph still makes me giggle.
Theo de Raadt could not be reached for comment. While Theo’s home has been surrounded, UN peacekeeper troops have yet to storm the building and heavy casualties have been reported in the surrounding countryside. UN spokesmen insist that the siege is going according to plan, however, and Theo is expected to be available for integration in the new combined BSD at some date in late 2023. Of the two hundred eighty-nine casualties suffered by the UN troops at this time, the commanding officer insists that they were caused by a rampaging Canadian moose. Daniel Hartmeier, previously of the OpenBSD Project, insists that OpenBSD has no weapons of moose destruction.
Also: we caught a news reporter. That was fun. Sadly, my more substantial pranks of later years failed to catch… anyone. Apparently I have everyone’s expectations. If I want my next prank book to attract attention, I’ll need to bind it in penguin hide.