Let’s talk about harmless office pranks. I don’t really talk about the hard core BOFH stuff here – just harmless fun. I’m sure everyone has at least one or two of these things to share. Whether you were the one doing it, or if you were the one it was done to or if you just heard about it from a friend. Let’s hear them. Here are few sample pranks to start this thread:
This is a classic – simple to accomplish but effective.
- Take a screen shot of your victim’s desktop
- Hide all the desktop icons
- Set task bar to auto-hide
- Set the screen shot you took as their wallpaper
When you hear frantic annoyed clicking and swearing you are allowed to laugh.
The VNC Prank aka The Ghost in the Machine
Also known as “ZOMG! Someone is hacking me!”. I actually did this once but since my victim could pretty much see my monitor from her desk, and I couldn’t stop myself from giggling she quickly figured out what was up.
- Install some sort of VNC server/client on your victim’s machine – any remote control software will do really
- When they leave the computer unattended, quickly initiate connection and run back to your desk
- Wait for the victim to start working again and then once they get back into their rhythm start messing with them.
You can make this as subtle or as crazy as you want but I found out that less is more. For example, when your victim is trying to click on an icon, simply move the mouse out of the way. Don’t jerk it away – just nudge it so that they will miss the icon. When they type something just randomly type a key or two here and there to throw them off. Inserting the last letter your victim has back-spaced is fun too.
If you do something obvious like start moving windows around, or type full sentences or open websites the victim will either catch on or assume they are getting “hacked” and run to get the IT and the FBI.
Keyboard Layout Swap
If you have a hunt & peck style typist in your office, you can simply pop out 2-4 keys and swap them around. Try to leave the QWERTY line un-changed because that’s the one everyone knows about. I did it once, long time ago but it was unintentional. I simply had to retrieve some paper clips that got underneath the keys, and put the keys in the wrong order. I never noticed it but the next person using that machine was totally befuddled. :P
There is updated version of this for touch typists – simply switch their keyboard layout. Obvious choice is to use Dvorak layout but that one is easy to figure out. It’s probably best to pick one that is basically QWERTY but with 2 or 3 keys in off positions. German layout is a good one since it is essentially QWERTY but with Z and Y swapped around, and German letters placed where you would expect brackets and punctuation marks to be.
The Fake BSOD
One word: BlueScreen Screen Saver. Ok, it’s actually 3 words. Or 2 words and a compacted word, so theoretically 4. But you get the idea. Install it, configure it and wait for the screams of agony to begin. Personally I like to set the timer to 15-20 minutes so the BSOD only happens when people leave their computer unattended for a long time. It is a good way to drive home the point about saving your work before leaving your desk. :)
Desk To The Wall
This one I learned from a cow-orker. Never tried it but it sounded hilarious and it can be applied to just about anyone. It affects both the clueless and cluefull the same way. Note that this is a long term project which requires commitment and staying at work late (or coming in early). Your victim should have an office with an old-fashioned desk. This doesn’t really work well in cubicles.
Here is the procedure: wait till your victim leaves (or come into work before they do) and sneak into their office. Most people like to sit with their back to the wall, and the desk facing the opposite door. This is the setup you are looking for. Each day push the desk about 1/2 and inch towards the wall effectively squeezing your victims space behind it. Don’t move it to much or they will notice it immediately. Small incremental changes are what counts.
You and your friends can now bet on when the victim will notice that the change took place. Once this happens and the desk gets adjusted back to a normal position you can start over. This time push it away from the wall.
The Magic of Number 3
Another long term, low tech project that may require some commitment. Every day sneak into your victims office/cubicle and do any or all of the following:
- Remove all but 3 staples from their stapler
- Remove all but 3 pages from their printer
- Take away all but 3 paper clips from their desk
- Remove all but 3 led inserts from their mechanical pencil
Important note: if the item you routinely take away is missing (ie. the stapler is empty, there is no paper in the printer) make sure to re-stock the supplies with exactly 3 items (ie. 3 staples, 3 pages, etc..).
I do not claim I invented any of these. In fact I’m sure I didn’t. Few people can probably claim to have “invented” an original prank. These things are sort of like algorithms or scientific laws. You discover them rather than invent them. :P
Now it’s your turn! Have you ever done any of the above? Are you planning to? Have you used a modified/better version? Do you have an awesome prank that is not listed here? Let us know!