Easter’s secular trappings are over for another year. Sally Forth has bitten the ears off the chocolate bunny in her comic strip, baskets have been put away, and the plastic grass has just about all come out of the carpet.
And Easter eggs are nowhere to be found, except on the Internet and in your entertainment center.
What? Yes, there is another kind of Easter egg — ones that allow you to enjoy all sorts of messages and inside jokes. And adults are often as delighted as children to discover unadvertised gems lurking in familiar places.
Some Internet examples to try:
• Type “about:robots” (no quotes) in Firefox and press enter, you get a special message.
• On the photo-sharing site Picasa, press Ctrl-Shift-Y for a fun image.
• Listen when you click the exclamation point on yahoo.com.
• Google offers quite a few diversions, such as the Elmer Fudd or Pig Latin search. Look carefully around the page and results at google.com/intl/xx-elmer/ or google.com/intl/xx-piglatin/.
Websites are not the only place to look. Inside jokes and extra features included in software and DVDs also abound:
• Alfred Hitchcock made cameo appearances in many of his movies.
• Open a document in Adobe Acrobat or the free Adobe Reader, press Ctrl-Shift-Y then Ctrl-Shift-B (then when you need it, Ctrl-Shift-E).
• In Microsoft’s Solitaire game, pressing Alt-Shift-2 forces a win.
• In Mac OS X, go to Applications > Utilities > Terminal, type “emacs,” Enter and then Esc-X to find a hidden game.
• Press Ctrl-Alt-A (or Command-Option-A on a Mac) in Google Earth for a flight simulator game.
• Are you a VeggieTales fan? On “The Ultimate Silly Song Countdown” DVD, go to the “Chapters” selections. On each set of chapters, press 9 for bonus songs, including a favorite song in Japanese.
• On the main menu of Star Wars Episode I, II or III, type 1138 for outtakes and more.
There are sites dedicated to collecting and rating Easter eggs. (Keep in mind these are secular sites.) Eeggs.com has the most to offer, along with the “Easter Egg” tab at dvdeastereggs.com. About.com has graphic program extras at tinyurl.com/Abouteastereggs and you can find DVD eggs at hiddendvdeastereggs.com. One site of note is EggHeaven.com. It not only has a Computer Eggs tab, but also features a lot of interesting gadgets as well.
Want tips to find your own? Look on the Eeggs.com “FAQ” page or search on “find Easter eggs” at eHow.com.
Not all Easter eggs are helpful. An old hoax e-mail about the sulfnbk.exe file, no longer on operating systems after Windows ME, instructed you to remove the file, noting the unique icon as proof it was a harmful virus. A newer version now targets the jdbgmgr.exe file and its teddy bear icon.
Viruses, bloatware (software that includes unneeded and space-consuming applications) and trapdoors written into software are often nothing more than Easter eggs with a malevolent purpose. That’s why many software developers officially frown on hidden code for security purposes.
We become fascinated with Easter eggs because we like unanticipated surprises and secrets that our friends do not know.
Ken Satterfield is Word& Way’s advertising/marketing coordinator.