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Pranks on people's computers

Say you can run an .exe on someone's computer, and you are a good programmer and can find out how to do anything...

What kind of stunts could you pull?  Let's get creative... not just deleting important files.  And it should be undetectable, not something like deleting their windows directory which would be clearly a trojan thing.  I am not looking for virus/trojan ideas.

Maybe something like disabling their right mouse-click button, but only intermittently.  Or making it do 2 clicks for every click.

Maybe making a key not work one out of every 20 times, and switching the key periodically... they might keep switching out their keyboards that way.

Or make their monitor freak out every 10 hours so it looks like it's going...

How could I slow down the computer indetectably?  Fragment the hard drive by inserting millions of temp files in a temp folder?

Other ideas?

Is there a way to hide a memory resident process so they can't find out?  Or I could just give it a name like mscxrt or something and they would probably never notice.

No I am not trying to write a virus, I just want to have some fun, play some tricks on a coworker...

Saturday, June 26, 2004

"Other ideas?"

- Flesh out your resume.
- Check your bank account to see how much you can afford to...
- ...Hire a lawyer.
- Get your suit cleaned. Judges appreciate if you dress up.
- Plea bargin down to a midemeanor. You can still get a job that way.
- Don't worry, they'll still let you see the sun.

But that aside, my friend swapped his mom's desktop out with a flash movie that started moving the icons around. After a few seconds, they all grew legs and started walking around on their own.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Make a screenshot of a desktop. Then delete (move to backup folder) all shortcuts and place your image as wallpaper.

Icons will be still there but not clickable. Very confusing even for experienced users.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

There are a bunch of apps to do these kinds of things out there. has a lot to choose from. We used one on a coworker that allowed us to remotely eject the CD drive and reverse the mouse buttons once. It was pretty awesome listening to him experimenting to figure out what was causing the CD to open on it's own. Eventually he determined it was interference from his cordless phone.

We also turned on mouse trails on a non-computer literate coworker and when he asked what was wrong we told him that happens sometimes, but if you move the cursor fast enough and in the right type of path you could "lose" them. I think he wore out his mouse pad that day :).

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Another one is a screen saver that displays a blue screen and when you alt_ctl_del the blue screen, it simulates rebooting.
Google it

Saturday, June 26, 2004

<>Maybe making a key not work one out of every 20 times, and switching the key periodically... they might keep switching out their keyboards that way.<>

Switch keyboard layouts to something non latin script (thai, japanese) and that only every x minutes and for x seconds.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Reminds me of what we used to do to the college profs.

We sat in a room full of computers and the profs comp which was attached to the slide projector was on the same network.  So we would download "nuke" programs and flood his Win 98 comp which would choke and crash his slide show and most of the time force him to reboot.  All in all good fun.  Don't know if the poor profs ever figured out what we doing or if they just played ignorant.

Then of course we would exploit the schools IIS server because it sure as hell wasn't secured.  We could connect from home or anwhere for that matter and do as we pleased.  It was kinda fun to change your grades or put up a new home page for the school.

In the computer lab we would "nuke" random peoples computers which of course would crash them.  Sometimes it took a lot to keep from laughing.

One time I tried to write a pong game for the AS/400 in RPG.  I almost pulled it off but I sent the AS/400 into an infinite loop and locked up the whole system for the college until one of the profs with sys admin rights terminated the process.

Well I'll stop now.

That was not a very intelligent thing to do.
Saturday, June 26, 2004

Hmm.  99.99% of people are desperately trying to make software reliable.

Meanwhile, a small group of yahoos are taking this desperately important tool, and trying to make it look even LESS reliable than it really is.  All in the name of 'fun'.

Dumb idea.  They used to make error messages say stupid things like "Idiot, you made a mistake."  That was another dumb idea, with I believe the same impulse behind it.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

"No I am not trying to write a virus, I just want to have some fun, play some tricks on a coworker..."

Better check with your manager on what the company policy is for doing little pranks like this, usually it's grounds for firing the asshole.

Anony Coward
Saturday, June 26, 2004

A coworker of mine once recounted how some folks had installed a program on their boss' computer (back in the old DOS days) that would capture keypresses and return a character offset one key to the right or left or the keyboard. The insidious thing was that they set this so the behavior was triggered only when typing faster than a certain speed. So if you pressed each key slowly and monitored the results, everything would seem fine. But as you resumed typing at a normal speed, the shifting would kick in. Just the kind of thing to make you question your sanity.

John C.
Saturday, June 26, 2004

> Make a screenshot of a desktop. Then delete (move to
> backup folder) all shortcuts and place your image as
> wallpaper.

This one is a classic. 

A nice variation is to take the screenshot with a small application like Notepad open. The unwitting user then spends ages trying to close the application by hitting the close button, inspecting the task manager, rebooting etc. Hours of fun!

Matthew Lock
Saturday, June 26, 2004

You guys sound like a scream to work with. Remind me again, where do you work?

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Crazy Clown Computing.

Matthew Lock
Saturday, June 26, 2004

Crazy Clown Computing.


Made Up Name
Saturday, June 26, 2004

My personal favorite is replacing they debugger with IEXPLORE to some "whacky" site . . .

Saturday, June 26, 2004

One favorite subtle one of mine is to go to the Orientation section of the mouse control panel settings, where you're supposed to move the mouse straight up toward the balloon or whatever, and move it straight down instead, so the mouse moves in reverse.  (Or you can move it straight left or right so the mouse moves at 90-degree angles, or whatever.)  You probably have to have the latest IntelliPoint software for this.

Bonus points if you have good hand-eye coordination, and can move and click (backwards) with no problem when your coworker calls you over to see for yourself how his/her mouse won't move properly.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Best one a <cough> friend of mine </cough> did, was to use the built-in Intel Screen Rotation settings and set a default to to "rotate 90 degrees to the right". It was fun for a while, until  someone just hosed the system and re-installed the OS

Sunday, June 27, 2004

This is not on the computer, but tape down the "thingy" on their phone so when the person lifts the receiver, the phone will keep ringing...

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Can someone still call you when the "thingy" is down? I tried it here, and it doesn't work for me... :-S

Funniest thing I did was when a friend of mine was away, while his computer showed the w2k login screen. Say his login name was Adam, I typed A c l a m, and tab-bed to the password field again. That's very hard to see - he thought he was typing a wrong password all the time...

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Or what to do if you find someone has left a terminal logged on to their account in the terminal room?

I like to cat their mbox with a fake mail they sent threatening the president, and then I can their inbox with a fake mail from the secret service saying they are coming to get them. Then I send a mail to themselves from their own account that says "Just a friendly note to remind you to always log off when leaving the terminal room."

Sunday, June 27, 2004

>>Icons will be still there but not clickable. Very confusing even for experienced users.

Yeah, until you try the right-click, heh.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

"This is not on the computer, but tape down the "thingy" on their phone so when the person lifts the receiver, the phone will keep ringing"

You need to be more creative. On older ATT phones, you can take the cover off and remove a plastic link to do the same thing, except the external "thingy" still pops up.

We did this in college to a guy and he ripped his phone off the wall. Pretty stupid in retrospect...

Why am I posting this?
Sunday, June 27, 2004

Amusing QA tricks:

"Hmm, it's an error message. Wow, I can highlight the text and do the copy/paste thing. Cool. Oh. I really can do the 'paste' or even 'type' thing. Call out to the developer responsible - hey, why are there swear words in this error message?"

They let him in on the joke after he apologised  :)

pranks actually can be amusing
Sunday, June 27, 2004

Or use two pieces of tape on the "thingy", so that when they figure it out and pull off the tape it will still ring...

Make sure the top piece is obvious to see with a corner sticking up...

Removing the ball from the mouse is a good one too.

Tee hee.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

I'm surprised no one has mentioned another classic, the "black screen of death".  Set the colors for everything to black.  Black background, black borders, black menus, black text, black desktop background.  Looks like the video card flaked out.

Should be working
Sunday, June 27, 2004

I pulled this one some years ago on my fathers computer on his birthday (April 1).  When they were out to dinner, I removed the rear cover of his display and reversed both connections to the CRT yoke, resulting in an upside down reversed image.

I think I manged to keep a straight face on the resulting "support call" for about 15 minutes . . .

John Murray
Monday, June 28, 2004

In high school we had a bunch of apple II gs computers in the lab.  One day while we were supposed to be working on learning how to use the word processor (joy) I switched keyboards with the person right across the table from me.  He typed slow enough that I was able to copy what he was typing so he didn't suspect anything. 

After a while, he made a typo and the computer started berating him for it. 

John Wilson
Monday, June 28, 2004

The old "net send" is hard to beat for annoying people. Take heed though:

Matthew Lock
Monday, June 28, 2004

the net send trick is priceless; it takes you 5 minute to cook up a name-spoofing goodness in the language of your choice.

Nothing like getting a message from SANTACLAUSE telling you to sod off.

Monday, June 28, 2004

"Or use two pieces of tape on the "thingy""

What you do in your own time is your own business, but this just sounds painful.

Monday, June 28, 2004

"Removing the ball from the mouse is a good one too."

On April 1 before work I went to a co worker and stuck a little sticky note on the bottom of the mouse covering the LED. I made it fairly obvious so that turning over the mouse would quickly lead to a  resolution, but it was still fun seeing him try and move the mouse/reboot for a few minutes before figuring it out.

Monday, June 28, 2004

I like the pop-up that says, "I agree that I have a small ****."  and then the no button moves around when you try to click it, so you have to click "yes". 

I believe some Motorola engineers took apart their boss's porsche and put it together in his office, it worked. He laughed, then said, OK now take it apart again and put it back out there & make it work again.

reluctantly, they did.
I remember seeing the picture -- the yellow porsche barely fit in there, and it was a NICE one too, not one of those boxsters.

Monday, June 28, 2004

We had to replace 46 mouse ballls out of 90 last January after just three months.

More vandalism than a joke though.

Incidentally, where can you buy mouse balls from. We had to replace the mice.

Stephen Jones
Monday, June 28, 2004

I had a couple back in college. 

The first was when a group of 8 of my mostly non-tech friends were living together in an apartment and were sharing a gateway / router running linux which I was granted root access to.  They were all using it for DNS, and were also all using hotmail as their primary email.  Well, I tweeked the DNS so when they typed ""  it sent them to an alternative spelling, which, shall we say, is NSFW.

Second, in the dorms I had a linux box running samba, which supports wildcards for various settings.  I setup a share called "%n's private data" which no one could get into (where %n was the netbios name of the browsing computer, for example).  Then I setup a "upload" dir where people could put stuff.  I would get txt files left in there with people ranting at me for hijacking their data, and various conspiracy theories.  Very amusing.

Monday, June 28, 2004

I bicycle past a high school on my lunch hour some times. There is a scrolling LED sign outside the high school that displays happy birthdays, club announcments, etc. I am surprised that it hasn't been hacked...

Monday, June 28, 2004

Clearly computer pranks can be divided into the "acceptable" and, "will get you fired / prosecuted" categories, with some obvious grey area cases.

I was in a class on troubleshooting where the instructor gave an example of a guy who, fresh from a COMP110 class at the local college, decided to apply his new knowledge by setting default color for text to white... on the CEO's PC.  The description of the problem the CEO reported to the helpdesk was that all his documents were still there, but they had all been "emptied" out.

Incidently, that's one you would get fired for (as did this guy).

On the other hand, there's a harmless classic of installing a wireless USB mouse and taping the receiver under the desk where the coworker can't see it; then have fun with the mouse at your desk while watching her reaction.  I don't think anyone should get fired for that one, assuming the perpetrator doesn't let it go on too long.

Monday, June 28, 2004

sd, what does NSFW stand for?

Monday, June 28, 2004

NSFW - Not Safe For Work

Monday, June 28, 2004

Not Safe For Work?

Bruce Perry
Monday, June 28, 2004

NSFW -- got it; thanks.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Yes, NSFW == Not Safe For Work, as in there are pictures of naked ladies, which if seen on your work computer, will merit you AT LEAST a raised eyebrow, if not a pink-slip.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

I've programmed a "screensaver" that displays an error message saying something like "Fatal error in File System data - click ok to proceed". Then, after clicking the ok button, a second error saying "Failed to recover, file system will be reformatted". And the finale is an exact copy of the disk format dialog, with the progress bar running slowly and a temp file being written over and over again to make the HD led flash...

I scrapped it, though, because it was too scary to actually use as a gag. Showed it to couple of guys at the office, and they agreed, it would have been just a bit too much. But now that I think about it, there's this one guy I don't really like... Hmmmmm...

Antti Kurenniemi
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

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