Technorati mark April Fool's with gags

For Google and others, the prankster's holiday is an annual ritual of "gotcha" product and service announcements.

By Michael V. Copeland, senior writer


SAN FRANCISCO (Fortune) -- The tech world loves a good prank. Today is the day when the world's propeller heads show us what they've cooked up in their secret April Fool's labs and it turns out that the funniest "gotchas" circulating online happen to come from companies that typically don't have much of a sense of humor at all.

One is Qualcomm (QCOM, Fortune 500). The wireless giant served up "wireless convergence" today, announcing a new ubiquitous wireless network enabled by implanting tiny base stations in thousands of pigeons that have been spliced with wolves. The "wolfpigeon" not only flocks and migrates, it can defend itself from feral cats and the cold of winter. Check the video for the crocodeagle army response to Qualcomm's new creatures.

Amazon (AMZN, Fortune 500) poked fun at itself and cloud computing with the launch of Floating Amazon Computing Environment or FACE. Cloud computing, as the memo announcing FACE detailed, has simply been a metaphor for a bunch of computers somewhere else. Amazon's newest offering uses solar powered blimps to run a bunch of servers literally in the clouds.

"Until now, somewhere else meant good old terra firma, the Earth itself," Amazon chief Jeff Bezos wrote. "After extensive customer research we found that this rigid, antiquated way of thinking just won't cut it in today's post-capitalist world. They need locational flexibility, the ability to literally instantiate a cloud where they need it, when they need it."

"Derivative funds and large government-subsidized entities will be especially interested in FACE's transmodal operation," Bezos added. "They can allocate a dedicated FACE, load it up with data, and then send it out to sea to perform advanced processing in safety. The government will have absolutely no chance of acting against them, because they will be too busy trying to decide which Federal Air Regulation (FAR) was violated, not to mention scheduling news conferences."

Microsoft asked the question, "Are you ready to blow?" in the trailer highlighting "Alpine Legend" a new game that combines yodeling and the popular video game Rock Band. The limited edition "goat pack" is worth the online detour itself.

And then there is Google (GOOG, Fortune 500), a company that has a sense of humor throughout the year. Google is famous for its April Fools efforts, a past highlight being an internet service provider housed in your toilet. This year they introduced CADIE, "a singular upgrade to your online life." CADIE, which translates to Cognitive Autoheuristic Distributed Intelligence Entity, turns out to be an esoteric artificial intelligene bot that loves pandas a lot and has a homepage that looks and sounds like a bad MySpace page. Funny? In an irritating way.

Other Google properties devised their own hilariousness. YouTube videos play back upside down and backwards. YouTube's helpful tips for viewing the new layout include: turning your monitor upside-down, tilting your head and moving to Australia. Gmail offer the new "Autopilot" by CADIE feature.

Wikipedia, Twitter, Facebook -- all have their own little April Fool's potholes to step into. But perhaps the biggest joke of the day, so far, has been the acquisition of Silicon Graphics by Rackable for $25 million. Who's going to believe they paid that much for a company that a decade or so ago threw off billions in revenue.  To top of page

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