06 April, 2009

Holy Week! It's Easter Egg Time!

Now that we're into the week leading up to Easter, the time seems right to examine the old programmer's exercise, the software Easter egg. Once upon a time, these little hidden treats were tucked away in most programs, and revealed little jokes or snippets of information for enthusiasts to swap. Microsoft vocally stopped including them in the late 1990s, and all their competition on the PC platform seems to have caved in and gone corporate on us too.

Well, thank goodness Mozilla still operates like a real software company. Their Firefox 3.0.3 has some lovely bits of vintage hacker humor stuck away, and they're easy to release.

In a new browser window, enter the address about:mozilla and press Enter. You'll be treated to pseudo-biblical verse touching obliquely on money-grubbing companies that make other browsers, and how the old Mozilla browser became Firefox:

Mammon slept. And the beast reborn spread over the earth and its numbers grew legion. And they proclaimed the times and sacrificed crops unto thefire, with the cunning of foxes. And they built a new world in their own image as promised by the sacred words, and spoke of the beast with their children. Mammon awoke, and lo! it was naught but a follower.

from The Book of Mozilla, 11:9(10th Edition)

A more recent and funnier Egg touches on a few science fiction nerves. In the Address bar, type in about:robots and press Enter.

The dialog box that pops up touches on robot lore from The Day the Earth Stood Still, I Robot, Blade Runner (are replicants really robots?), The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and Futurama. And it doesn't get much better than that.

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