Office Pranking: A Photo Essay

Ah yes, April Fools Day.  A cheerful (or nerve-wracking) time of  false pretenses, tomfoolery, and a few good gags at the expense of others.  And why not?  This day is all about giving the laughs out and taking them in; a constant ebb and flow of pranking and being pranked.

The April Fools veteran knows that pranks are not as easy as they look.  Pranks need to be planned efficiently and appropriately for April Fools Day to be considered a great success.  So to help that process start off on the right foot, here are a few harmless computer related pranks to try out on your peers.  Enjoy!

The Pranks

The Blue Screen PowerPoint Prank

Scotch Tape and the Optical Mouse

A New Keyboard Layout

Note: Windows 7 Users: Changing the keyboard layout is under Start -> Control Panel -> Region and Language -> Keyboards and Languages -> Change Keyboard.

Images on Computer Start-Up


Final Thoughts

Obviously this list is far from complete (getting the right camera shot, printscreening all the computer related steps, and setting up a photo series is not a trivial thing to do, mind you), but it is a list of pranks nonetheless.  Before you run off with these, though, I just have one final reminder…

…revenge is an irritated friend with a large, orange bat.

[Many thanks to Brian Lemke and Kara Laframboise for their photogenic talents and abilities]

How Microsoft PowerPoint and Excel Can Help You Pretend to Work

Procrastinating at work.  We’ve all done it at some point during the five day work week.  Whether it be surfing the blogs, catching up on favorite shows, or playing the unprecedented amount of free online games out there, we have all found different ways to break from the insanity called the eight hour workday.

Subsequently, it is a known fact that when we do take a break from working, there is a good chance that our boss or IT department will stop on by and (in my case, 9 times out of 10) catch us in the act of inactivity.  Such is the battle of the workplace.

Since the boom of the internet, some IT departments have been at the forefront of this activity/inactivity war, blocking most websites and internet freedoms from their corporate populace.  For some procrastinators and internet junkies, this restriction is called therapy.  But for others, it is just a reason to adapt and evolve.

Because I am a journalist first and foremost, I (for now) will not take sides on this “IT vs. Employee Internet Rights” clash.  But what I can do is report on what the suppressed procrastinator has done to work around their woes.  And here it is.

That pie graph has a hedgehog in it

Does this image look familiar?  It appears to be Microsoft Excel, but yet there is a Sonic the Hegdehog game embedded inside of it.  This is just one of the countless games available for download that use the standard Microsoft Office tools to get themselves running.  The games are created inside the Microsoft Office programs, use any normal Microsoft file extension, and retain all the normal Office tools and features when opened or saved.

Thanks to Flash plug-in functionality and the program Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), Excel and PowerPoint allow these games to exist inside of them and function with the help of a mouse and keyboard.  Most PowerPoint or Excel games can be found by a quick Google search, but I have a few websites below to check out for starters.

This site has a few traditional games (Battleship, Tetris, Chess, etc) for the Microsoft spreadsheet powerhouse, with some even formatted to not look like games at all.  What I like best about this site is that it has a mission statement on why they support these games and their development.

Another site for this genre, GamesExcel has both flash-based and VBA-based games available.  They have some more popular games available and appear to update their lists daily; this is where I found the flash version of Sonic.  They also have games like Monopoly, Super Mario, and Space Invaders available for download.


Sister site to, GamesPowerPoint applies the same flash embedding opportunities to…well, Microsoft PowerPoint.  With name brand titles like Castlevania, Metal Slug, and Megaman, how can one resist?  These games, though, are basically in fullscreen presentation mode when they run, so I recommend exercising caution with these ones if they end up at the workplace.

Develop Your Own Games

One final note on the subject: if one is interested in how PowerPoint allows some of the simpler games to be created, check out this article here on Dynamic PowerPoint and the interactivity features that allow if/then hyperlinks, action settings, triggers, and more.  Game on.

Image credit: The Marmot

Curious About Google Docs? Now You Can Try It Without a Google Account

Instead of purchasing expensive office suites like Microsoft Office, many people are using free online services like Google Docs to do their word processing, presentations, and spreadsheets.  The best thing about Google Docs is that your files are available anywhere you have an internet connection, and they can be instantly exported into common formats (including Microsoft Office formats).

To use Google Docs, you were previously required to log in with a Google account – but not anymore.  If you want to check out Google Docs to see if it’s right for you, simply visit and you will have full access to the Google Docs word processor, spreadsheet, and drawing applications.

While using the demo version, you have the ability to collaborate with others in real time by sending them the link at the top of the document.  If you make a change to the document, your collaborators will see it instantly!

Documents you create using the demo version of Google Docs will only be available for 24 hours, so if you think it could be a sufficient replacement for your current office software (or you just want to have the opportunity to use it in the future), you should create a free Google account.

Google Docs is a great way to create, manage, and share your documents, and you can check out the video below for a brief introduction.

Microsoft Office 2010 Beta Now Available

office-2010-betaMicrosoft Office 2010 has recently been released as as a public download.  The download weighs in at a fairly light 685 MB and includes Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, Excel, OneNote, Access, Publisher, InfoPath, SharePoint Workspace, and Communicator (which is an instant messenger for Outlook).

If you’re working in the IT field and want to prepare for the future, I would suggest downloading this software and testing out the new products (especially if you or your clients use them every day).

The system requirements for Office 2010 are relatively low so you won’t need to perform a serious computer overhaul to install it:

  • Processor: 500 MHz or higher
  • Memory: 256 MB of RAM or higher
  • Hard Disk: 3 GB
  • Operating Systems: Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7
    • Supports both 32- and 64-bit versions of Windows

My initial impression of Office 2010 is that the software is very promising.  Although it looks similar to Office 2007, I can see that the program is much more customizable to an individual’s needs and wants.

office-2010-screenOne new feature that I think most people will enjoy is a line preview for cutting and pasting.  This lets you view what the paste would look like before actually performing the paste, which can save you a lot of undoing.

Word 2010 now comes with built-in photo editing tools which is great for users that have to edit pictures in their documents.  PowerPoint has much better support for videos in presentations (which I wish was available when I was going to school).

That’s my two cents on the new version of Microsoft Office, I’ll have more to come after I’ve used it some for longer than the time it took to write this article.  Cheers!

[Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010 Beta Download]

How To: Create, Edit, and Share Documents Online with Google Docs

I feel like the guy who showed up late to a really good party.  Google Docs has been around for quite awhile now, but it wasn’t until last week that I actually tried it for the first time and I can’t believe I had been missing out on this fantastic service.

googledocs_createGoogle Docs is a web-based office suite that contains applications for word processing, spreadsheets, form creation, and presentations that can easily be shared anywhere in the world.  No software (besides a browser) is required to use Google Docs, and since your files are stored online they can be opened anywhere you can access the internet.

googledocs_offlineIf you don’t have an internet connection, Google Docs is available offline using Google Gears.  Simply click the Offline link at the top of Google Docs, install Google Gears, and you will be able to access your documents offline.  There are a few limitations, however: word processing documents can be viewed and edited offline, but spreadsheets and presentations will be read-only.  Obviously, group collaboration and sharing features are unavailable offline as well.

googledocs_sharingAny document in Google Docs can be shared with anybody around the world with easy sharing features.  All you have to do is select a file and click the Share button, then send it to any email address.  You can choose whether the recipient can modify or only view the document you are sharing.

Another landmark feature of Google Docs is the ability for a group to view and edit documents simultaneously in real-time.  Documents keep a revision history so you can see who edited a document, when it was modified, and what was changed.  Unlike editing a document shared on a network drive, you will never have any file ownership conflicts or mulitple copies of the same file.


Most importantly, you can open and save documents in most popular document formats.  Google Docs supports DOC, HTML, TXT, RTF, XLS, ODS, CSV, TSV, TSB, PPT, PPS – and as of recently the Office 2007 formats DOCX and XLSX.


While Google Docs may not be a complete replacement for desktop office suites such as Microsoft Office or, it does provide a surprisingly robust way to view, edit, and share your files worldwide.  Unlike some web-based applications, Google Docs supports drag-and-drop as well as right-click functionality in certain areas which makes it just as intuitive as desktop software.

Google Docs is a free (account creation required) web-based office suite.  Check it out online, view the official tour, or watch the video below.