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3/31/2006
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April Fool's Day Starts Early On The Web

April Fools' Day started a day early on the Web as anxious Internet pranksters couldn't wait to lure the gullible into buying the almost believable.

April Fools' Day started a day early on the Web as anxious Internet pranksters couldn't wait to lure the gullible into buying the almost believable.

ThinkGeek, a retail site for the technology passionate, launched its annual line up of April Fools' products on Friday, offering such must-haves as the USB Desktop Tanning Center, complete with "eyeball cover thingies;" and the RFID Blocking Kit T-shirt.

For people who find coffee isn't enough to jumpstart their morning, ThinkGeek is offering the Buzzaire inhaler. "One puff and you'll have about two cups of coffee's worth of caffeine zooming through your blood stream."

The Register, a technology Web site based in the United Kingdom, got a jump on the Web's traditional tomfoolery by offering readers a custom-built version of the site called "Pix'n'Mix Reg."

Besides offering the option to block a particular author's stories, readers can chose their own font, including Wingdings; chose whether they want U.K. or U.S. English; and chose stories they don't want to read, such as those containing sex, shameless product plugs for security companies, Web 2.0 and Microsoft.

For readers looking for a safe-for-work version of The Register, a single click will give them their "IT news completely stripped of controversy, polemic, humour and colour."

Following April Fools' Day, people looking for some of the best Web pranks can visit the blogs Waxy.org, which prefers "Internet Jackass Day" to April Fools' Day, and Urgo.org. Both provide annual lists.

Among the pranks on last year's list from Urgo.org were Slashdot.org's report of a Google imaging satellite in which, "if you stand outside and wave you will supposedly show up as a blury fleck," and Habitablezone.com's report that the United Nations had voted to close down the Internet.

Microsoft also made its contribution to prankster day with its Coding4Fun April Fools' Day Special. Among the how-to articles listed on Microsoft's developer site, MSDN, were setting up a PC for the randomly opening CD tray, and creating persistent error messages.

"See how many fake, and progressively ominous messages it takes before your victim figures out it's an April Fools' prank," a description of the article says.

So the Web on Saturday won't be for people who lack a sense of humor. For others, it should be lots of fun.

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