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Post updated on 12th September 2015
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Harmless Office Pranks – Part 2

Ok, so here is the second installment of office pranks (see first one here), except that these are not computer based. I have done a couple of these, and like I have mentioned in my previous post, make sure your target is a sport! You do not want to (a) get caught, (b) get fired. Most of these can be done, or rather should be done, when there is no one around – like after hours or so. In some cases, get a teammate – more the creativity, the better it is! So here’s my list of (almost) harmless office pranks – that are not computer related.

1. Photocopier needs to be fixed
Most of you office goers have access to a photocopier. That means you also know how and where the paper is loaded! Now, keep an object like a key or a pen on the glass, and make 50 copies of the same. You will have 50 pages that have a key/pen marked on the glass. Replace these 50 papers in the copier tray. Whenever people make copies the next day, there is going to be a black key/pen on the paper and they will think there is a key/pen in the copier. Tech support is going to be puzzled for a while.
Extremely funny/risky variation: Keep an annoying person’s narcissistic photo instead of the key/pen and make 50 or more copies. Everyone’s photocopied paper is going to have that photo as the background of their document!

2. The small time altruist
This one is a tip from Ankur, and it totally cracked me up. For every single day of the year (365 days), keep a penny (or a 5 paisa coin) on the desk of your target. Every single day. Unmistakeably. He will come in every day at work and find this coin and will not know where it came from. Initially he will be amused, then perplexed, and towards the month end he will be frustrated like crazy. Don’t worry, the fun continues for 11 more months! It costs you $3.65 or Rs 19 the whole year. Totally worth it.

3. Label everything. EVERYTHING.
If you have a label maker, then great. If not, gather around a troop and label everything on your target’s desk. Pens, paper, monitor, button, book, chair, arm rest, dirt, mouse, mouse pad, mug, glass, photos… everything! It’s fairly amusing. If possible, keep doing it every week. Pranks keep getting funnier if no one knows who’s behind all of it!

4. Wrap it all up!
This is fairly time consuming, but if pulled off, it is HILARIOUS. I did this with newspaper – but it is much much  better if you can do it with aluminum foil or saran wrap. Wrap everything in sight… and definitely don’t forget the chair. Monitor, mouse, wires, phone, stationery, books even the table itself. Make sure you are there to see the look on your target’s face!

5. The lewd mug
This is a definite favorite of mine. Very harmless but can cause a laugh riot. Your target should be someone who really loves his mug for drinking coffee or water. Even better if your target is somewhat obsessed with the mug. You will need a somewhat revealing photo of a scantily clad model. In the absence of your target, take the mug, and draw out a circle the size of the base of the mug on the photo. Pick a region that is most sexy – like the shoulders to the thighs. Cut out that part, and paste it to the bottom of the mug. Whenever your target drinks out of the mug, the other person clearly sees the racy picture stuck to the mug. Funnier if the boss is around, or in a conference meeting!

6. Vaseline on the toilet seat
Copious amounts of Vaseline. Oh it becomes so slippery and stays invisible… enough said.

7. Crime scene
Get police crime scene tape (toy stores typically have it). On the floor, draw the outline of a dead man with chalk, or colored tape, whatever permits. Cordon off the entrance with the tape. Not hilarious, but definitely fun!

8. Watery
Get a team with you on this one. Purchase about 200 paper cups and arrange them densely on the floor of your target’s cubicle. Fill water in all of them, one by one. Make sure you don’t fill upto the rim – it will spill when moved. The only way your target can get through to his chair is by drinking all of it! Want to make it even more fun? Staple all the cups together! It is important that it should be paper when you are stapling them together – plastic or styrofoam will not survive staples!

9. Kidnap, but don’t ask for ransom
‘Kidnap’ a precious item of your target. Take multiple photos of it in different forms of torture. At different times, drop one photo in his cubicle – never ask for a ransom. If he never tries to retrieve it, do the same with another object and continue! Pick an object of extreme importance to him… a soft toy from a girlfriend is ideal!

Remember: Always always keep a straight face. Try to solve the mystery with the target. You must be the last person he suspects!

Harmless office pranks

Ok. So today is another somewhat-partially-semi-productive day at work. It is at these times that it is absolutely essential that I tug at my brain cells that are designed for pranks. Ok, tugged. I am not going to play any pranks on you, my reader (or am I? :D) because I love you so much. Here are a few harmless pranks you could play in your office, and whom you should make your target. Now, I have played some of these before – but I must warn you – make sure your target is a good sport – so that a fun war starts between the two of you. Or try your level best to be completely anonymous, so that NOTHING is traced back to you. That’s your call. 🙂 Just make a judgment call before you do anything – you don’t want to get fired, right?

This feature might be a two-part post – the first is computer related pranks and the other might be cubicle related. If I work on the latter, it will be out sometime later this year. My colleagues are great sports and it is great fun playing pranks on them. It always starts a playful war which we remember for years to come.

Computer pranks are fairly simple to execute – I have played these pranks myself. For most of these you need your target’s computer at a time when he/she is not around and has left it unlocked. It is more fun if you are around to see it happening – depending on the level of  ‘sinisterness’, get more people involved. Also, some of them will make them think their computer has been hit by a virus. Make sure you are around to tell them that they have been pranked upon – and to undo the prank too! 😀 You don’t want the computer administrators to come over and reprimand you when they figure out YOU did it!

1. The shutdown prank
This is a not-so-famous prank and it’s really unnerving for whoever’s sitting at the computer. It configures the icon to shutdown the computer with a given time limit and a message. Warning: This does not quite work as expected in Windows Vista. It works great with XP.
Someone who plays games on their work computer. Too much.
> Pick an icon on the desktop or the start button (wherever the game is)
> Right click on it and go to properties, go to the Shortcut tab on top.
> In the Target field, remove the existing one and type in [shutdown -s -t 90 -c “Your message here”] without the parentheses. The number 90 is a 90 seconds timeout. Try it once on your own computer before going ahead with it.
> To abort the shutdown, go to Start>Run and type “shutdown -a” without quotes.
> Get creative with “Your message here” – you could write an official like message that “This computer has shown increased activity in facebook/orkut/sleazy websites and is shutting down to prevent further misuse” or “This computer has shown increased activity in games and is shutting down to prevent further misuse”
Variation: You can also modify the IE/Firefox buttons and watch that person freak out whenever he/she tries to open the browser! Make sure you are around to savor the panic! 🙂

2. The keyboard/mouse swap
This one is hilarious if it happens right. It requires two coworkers who sit close by. Wait till your coworkers have left office after shutting down their machines. Swap the keyboards and/or mice. Enjoy your day the next day.
Variation: Add a USB mouse to your one coworker’s desk and have access to that mouse at your desk. Works with USB mice. At the oppportune moment, nudge it or close a harmless window!

3. The sluggish mouse
If an optical mouse, take a small piece of clear tape and stick it over the laser. The results are hilarious!

4. The Microsoft Word AutoCorrect prank
This is my all time favorite and I have done it so many times! What you need is an unlocked computer. Open Microsoft Word and go to Tools > AutoCorrect options. Select the AutoCorrect tab and towards the bottom, you will see Replace and With.
Under Replace, type “the” and under With, type “that damn”. For example, “the fiscal year” becomes “that damn fiscal year”
Every instance of “the” will be replaced with “that damn” as and when your target types it. You can obviously make so many variations – parallel to pyarelal, someone’s name like mine – Kokonad to coconut etc.

5. The frozen desktop
Anyone who has been dumb enough to leave their computer unlocked in a workplace!
Probably the oldest prank. But fun nevertheless.
> Close ALL open windows.
> Take a screenshot of the desktop (hit PrintScreen button on keyboard).
> Open MS Paint and hit CTRL+V (to paste). Save the file.
> Now change the wallpaper of your target to this saved image.
> To make it more fun, hide all icons so there are only images remaining. Right click on desktop and go to “Arrange icons by” and uncheck “Show desktop items”. Your target is going to think the icons are supposed to work, but they never do!
Optional: Auto-hide the taskbar as well. To do this, right click on the taskbar, go to properties, check the option for “Auto-hide the taskbar”

6. Mousing around
Go to mouse settings in control panel and make the cursor speed very fast or very slow. Watching someone drag their mouse across the office to move it an inch on screen is funny! Or you could go to pointer settings and make the default one an hourglass, so they will be left wondering what is keeping the computer busy.

7. Remap the keyboard
This is extreme fun because the keyboard no longer types what is written on the key. All keyboards are typically QWERTY keyboards – there is another standard – called the DVORAK keyboard. Change the keyboard layout to DVORAK and sit back to enjoy all the fun.

You must practise these at home a couple of times to make sure you know how to undo them, and also to be fast at it when you are actually executing them. Again, it is important to make a judgment call – you DO NOT want to get fired for this!

A sneak preview on cubicle related pranks: Use sticky labels for everything on your colleague’s desk – pen, mug, monitor, mouse, book, board etc. It’s amusing to see reactions! Or, wrap everything in aluminum foil. Everything.

Kya mara Camera!

Photo SHOOT!
It is with deep regret that I hereby announce that I have damaged my own camera – and it will cost $240 to repair it!
In an attempt to clean it, I ended up leaving lots of microfiber inside the image chamber, and thanks to static electricity, they wouldn’t come off. Then I decided to go brute on it, and ended up scratching one of the screens and it all went downhill from there. 🙁
Anyway, I recalled my camera without having it repaired and I have decided to try to fix all of it myself. I hope I do something good at the end of it…
Here are a few pics I had taken during a trip to rural West Bengal… there are many more photos taken, but I will be putting them up on a separate post.

Photography contest

I had submitted this photo for a Penn State international Programs organized photography contest – Picture Your World.
Yay, it won the first place! 🙂 The category was “The human element”

“Of good times to come

It is of Boudi, taken during the wedding in Feb 2005.

Research Group Website

After a lot of … repeat – LOT OF effort, I finally finished designing and got my research group website up and about. 🙂 In the next year or so, lots of changes are going to be there, I suppose.

4th of July Fireworks – 2008

I had decided way back at the start of my PhD that I am going to see 4th of July fireworks in a different city every year. While the first year was in State College, the second happened to be here too. I have been traveling like crazy over the last 7 weeks, and I REALLY needed to rest. While my friends went camping and white-water rafting for this weekend, I decided to stay back. Sigh. Not the best of my decisions.
Thanks to having owned a (digital) SLR for the past year, I have been trying my best to take shots that are more and more difficult to capture… I must confess, with all lack of modesty, that I have been lucky a few times. But yesterday, there was large black cloud so low that it was obstructing the top right quarter of all the fireworks – 🙁 Bummer. Most of the climactic show was missed, because of where I was standing.
Nevertheless, State College fireworks rank among the top few in the entire nation. The WOW feeling gets somewhat “goosebumpy” with the climax setting off over 40 shells a second. Anyway, here are a few of the shots. Hope you like them!

July4th Fireworks © Kokonad Sinha, 2008

Back then in 2007, I had no fancy camera. But I did happen to record the last 1:25 min using a friend’s camera.

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