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! :D 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.