March 12, 1999

I should really wait until Easter is upon us, but I really just couldn't wait.

I've been hunting for Easter Eggs.

Easter Eggs are small coded programs that are secretly hidden in hardware and software by the programmers responsible for the product. Mostly they act as a means for programmers and developers to get their names listed in a set of credits.

Some are cute. Like the Magic Eight Ball easter egg in Microsoft Access:

1. In the Database window, click on the Macros tab.

2. Press the New button to create a new, blank macro.

3. Press the Spacebar (to register a change to the macro), then save the macro with the name "Magic Eight Ball" (without the quotes).

4. Choose the Toolbars command from the View menu. In the resulting dialog box, click the Customize button.

5. From the Commands tab, choose "All Macros" from the bottom of the list box. This causes the Magic Eight Ball macro to be listed in a second list box.

6. Drag the macro to the toolbar, to assign it to a toolbar button.

7. Ask a question in your mind that can be answered with a yes or a no.

8. Click on the Magic Eight Ball.

And some are just plain loopy.

There's an entire FLIGHT SIMULATOR contained in the bloat of Microsoft Excel 97:

1. On a new Worksheet, Press F5

2. Type X97:L97 and hit enter

3. Press the tab key

4. Hold Ctrl-Shift and Click on the Chart Wizard toolbar button

5. Use mouse to fly around: right button forward left button reverse

This sort of thing is also embedded in hardware. I remember reading about some engineers at Hewlett Packard who planted an easter egg in a scanner so that after the correct sequence of commands were given the scanner would "play" 'Ode to Joy'.

A good list of easter eggs can be found here but you can check Yahoo for others.

Easter eggs are silly. But they also bring a refreshing human element to our technology: it reflects our general desire to be acknowledged for our work, to be playful and sneaky, and to express the right to spend time on that which is not profitable or efficient or with any real purpose.

(not unlike an online zine, I may add).