I do like to be topical from time to time so as it is Easter this weekend I thought should write an article on the subject of ‘Easter Eggs’. These are not your usual chocolate eggs but rather a pet name for a function or feature that is hidden within a finished product by the creators in the design stage. Most often this will be a small segment of code hidden in a computer program but ‘Easter Eggs’ can also be found as features on DVD’s, CD’s, websites and so on.

I hear a couple of you at the back of the class who are commenting on the fact that article #116 published over two years ago was on the subject of Easter Eggs and you would be right although if I’m honest I should say that I’m not particularly bothered by the fact I’m about to repeat myself. This article is going to focus on a different angle as my previous article so that it can educate both those that read my first article along with those who haven’t been reading long enough to catch the previous one.

The primary reason for hiding such features is that the majority of the time a production team is completely anonymous and this is especially true in the case of programming team – For example, I would imagine you can’t name a single person (Bill gates aside) that worked on the Windows Operating System. By including an Easter Egg in the finished product the programmer has added his own name or personal touch to the software he has created and this in turn this will be distributed to millions of homes and offices. It is of course entirely possible that the programmer would also inserted an egg into the program as a joke or simply because he felt like it. It is very rare that a publisher will know about the egg until it is too late and they have already run off thousands or even millions of copies so it would be too late to remove it and recall the product.

One site that I discovered that documented the discovery of Easter eggs in everything from calculators to Windows applications is www.eggheaven2000.com. This site is split up into around 20 different sections so that you can decide which time of egg you want to search for (DVD, computer game, Operating System) etc. and then the results are listed in alphabetical order. If you click on one of these results you will receive full instructions on how to discover the egg along with a rating of how good other users of the site consider the find.

I also have had a quick glance at the site www.eeggs.com which seems to include many more eggs although to be honest I did find that many of the suggestions hadn’t actually been checked and either didn’t work or were submissions from people who didn’t quite understand the principle of an ‘Easter egg’.

It is worthwhile noting that the killjoys at Microsoft have decided that any programmer found inserting eggs into their software will not only be fired but also sued for deformation of the program so you are unlikely to find many eggs in newer Microsoft products. In sharp contrast, programs competing against Microsoft (especially those which are open source) often have some quite obvious references – one of my favourite is to type ‘about:mozilla’ into the address bar of Firefox. Firefox is the browser I recommended you download several months ago and a thorough overview of what this egg means can be found by heading to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Book_of_Mozilla

I hope you have a couple of days off. I would like to take this opportunity to say that once again prices at www.refreshcartridges.co.uk have been reduced substantially so if you’re looking for a new printer cartridge, printer paper or perhaps some DVD’s then do check it out before you go elsewhere!

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