Our Toy Inventor’s Notebook columnist, Bob Knetzger, produced this whimsical parody of MAKE for April Fool’s day. He says he was inspired by a 1963 issue of MAD magazine that lampooned Popular Mechanics: “One article was a how to on improvising one household tool from another, e.g., how to make a chisel out of a screwdriver, then how to make knife into a a screwdriver (now that you need one to replace the one you turned into a file), and on and on until it looped back into the first tool again. Perfectly clever and idiotic MAD writing.”
In addition to Bob’s perfectly clever cover, we received several quality ideas from our readers when we asked for April Fools’ pranks. As we suspected, our readers are pretty good pranksters, and these are our favorites.
A fairly good prank
I found an old MacBook in the recycling at my university. Its motherboard was fried, its screen was cracked, and the rest had been pillaged for parts, so I didn’t feel bad solidifying its demise. A close friend of mine had the same model, so I knew I could play a switch on him somehow. I waited til he had a particularly big night at the bars and snuck into his house. (His room mates were in on it.) Using a hair dryer, I removed the stickers from his laptop and placed them on the dummy. Then I drove a spike through the middle of the computer and beat it up a bit with a hammer. Using a giant Sharpie I wrote an ominous message: “you had it coming.”
When he returned from the bar, he was so stunned that he thought it was real, even after his roommates explained it. It lasted til the morning when I returned with his unharmed computer. – Noah Gostout
The “your mom” generator
This dongle is an Arduino Micro combined with a small radio receiver. The Arduino is programmed to act as a USB keyboard, so you plug it in to the rear of the unsuspecting co-worker’s computer, then just wait until the right moment to push the button on the key fob remote. The Arduino will then type one of 250 random “Your mom…” jokes. Since the computer recognizes it as a keyboard, there is nothing to install that might give it away, and it’s compatible with anything that can receive a USB keyboard.
It was originally programmed to just randomly hit backspace and enter now and then, but this was deemed too cruel for a friendly workplace. – Adam Raugh
Of course, the true prankster doesn’t let little things like the date get in the way of her exploits. It’s a year-round hobby, so keep sending us your best: firstname.lastname@example.org.