Software Easter eggs

How to unlock the unseen extras in computer programs and games.
 
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02.Browsers and games

OS developers aren't the only ones that know how to have fun with their software. Browsers, games and even computer components have been known to contain an Easter egg or two.


Browsers

Firefox

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Somewhere deep within Mozilla headquarters is a small group of robots that program away into the night. Hidden in the latest version of Firefox is a message from these mechanical men, who take a somewhat light-hearted approach to human-cyborg relations by promising peace and goodwill. To read their communication, type about:robots into the address bar and press Enter.

Once you’ve completed your transmission with the Mozilla robots, we recommend taking some time to familiarise yourself with the Book of Mozilla. This ancient text details the birth and formation of the web browser, chronicling the significant events in biblical form. To begin your spiritual journey, type about:mozilla into the address bar and press Enter. There’s also a detailed Wikipedia article that chronicles the long history of the book called The Book of Mozilla.

 

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Google

os-tricks-google-gravityIf you type certain words or phrases into the Google search bar, your browser will begin to act strangely. These will work in any browser and the effects aren’t permanent, but some won’t work while Google Instant predictions are turned on. To turn these off, click Settings in the bottom-right corner of your browser followed by Search settings. Next click the circle adjacent to Never show Instant Results. Click Save and you’re ready to go.

  • Search tilt or askew to make the browser lean to the right.
  • You can even tell it to spin 360 degrees by searching do a barrel roll.
  • Or maybe you just want to watch Google collapse in on itself? Type in Google gravity and hit I’m feeling lucky to watch the home screen come crumbling down.
  • A few pop culture references are hidden in there as well. Type in what is the loneliest number and Google will of course tell you that it’s one. Ask Google, what is the answer to life the universe and everything? Douglas Adams fans should know the answer.

Video games

Video games are a treasure trove of Easter eggs, some fairly easy to find and others hidden rather cryptically deep within the code. Some of our favourites include:os-tricks-grand-theft-auto

  • RollerCoaster Tycoon: This theme park simulation game let players give custom names to park attendees. Some names would give these attendees special characteristics or cause them to act in a certain way. If players named an attendee “Chris Sawyer” the attendee >would walk around the park taking pictures. This is special because the game’s main designer and programmer was called Chris Sawyer.
  • The Sims  Livin’ Large Expansion Pack: With the right combination of items, it was possible to summon Santa. All you had to do was put a Christmas tree and a plate of cookies in the same room as a fireplace. Provided every Sim in the house was asleep before midnight, Santa would visit around 3am and place gifts under the tree.
  • Grand Theft Auto - San Andreas: At the top of the suspension bridge that connects San Fierro to Las Venturas is a small sign that reads “There are no Easter Eggs up here. Go Away.”

The Cr-48 Google Chromebook

Out of all the Easter eggs out there, this hidden message from the software engineers behind the Chromebook rates as the geekiest of them all. On the back of the Cr-48 is a small switch that turns the consumer computer into a developer model. This opens up a range of unique features including a command line that developers can use to enter special codes while the Chromebook is booting up. As you may have guessed, this gave the engineers behind the Cr-48 the opportunity to have a bit of fun with the command line.

A few nerd history buffs found out that Bill Richardson, one of the main engineers of the Cr-48, had worked on the Integrated Lights Out Management (ILOM) project for Sun Microsystems. The ILOM project boasted its own list of easter eggs and among them was the secret command xyzzy, known only to hardcore Easter egg hunters. Xyzzy has a long history as a source of cheats and Easter eggs in video games, which prompted the geeks to enter it into their Chromebook as it was booting up. Behind the code was a hidden hexadecimal message, which translated to a greeting from the development team, a few jokes and an invitation to join the Chromium Project (chromium.org). This Easter egg is pretty unique, as it’s built into the BIOS rather than the operating system or software.

 
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