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The browser that destroyed my April fools joke: IE

"Your website has ben hacked! Everything is turned upside down!". One of the more common e-mails that I found in my mailbox today. I think many people actually forgot which day today was: April Fool's day.

For those people who have contacted me with the message above (or a like), a big thanks for you. You're showing some real appreciation for my website. But let this be a lesson for everyone: Be aware of and don't believe everything on April 1st. And which hacker / defacer would take the time to turn all article upside down & add a nice CSS floating corner?

April Fools 2008 on

I got the idea of this joke from flip and the upside down ternet router hack. It wasn't that hard to make, but the results were pretty funny. I used some unicode characters that has upside down characters that replaced the original ones.

There was just one problem with this: The more commonly used web browser Internet Explorer 6 couldn't handle Unicode and only displayed boxes / squares. I had to check the browser the visitor was using and if it was using IE, showing upside down images of characters instead of the Unicode. Thanks again Microsoft! And for those visitors who indeed are using IE6, please save the developers by getting another web browser.

I missed the joke

For those of you who missed out my joke (You'll need to visit every day!), here's a screen shot from one article. Don't forget: All of my articles are really placed upside down. April Fools
Click to enlarge

Here's an example where you can see the article is really placed upside down. Rotate your head or just place your monitor upside down to read.

How did you do it?

To achieve this, I needed to replace all characters in the article with an upside down character. I checked the source of flip and it showed me a couple of upside down characters I could use on my website. I searched for the correct Unicode alternative and replaced the original character with this.

Here's the (uncomplete) PHP code..

$article = "String that will be placed upside down";
// Full article to lower characters
$article = strtolower($article);
// Revert the string to make it read-able upside down
$article = strrev($article);
// Replace characters with upside down characters Unicode Characters
// Reference:
$article = str_replace("e", "ǝ", $article);
$article = str_replace("f", "ɟ", $article);
$article = str_replace("g", "ƃ", $article);
$article = str_replace("h", "ɥ", $article);
$article = str_replace("i", "ı", $article);
$article = str_replace("j", "ɾ", $article);
$article = str_replace("k", "ʞ", $article);
// Time to show the upside down article
echo $article;

You can download and learn from the full script in the download section. You can also view the demo page (Note: Doesn't work in IE6).

But for the CMS I'm using (Joomla!), I needed to make some customizations in components/com_content/content.html.php. You can find the modifications in the script that I placed in the download section beginning on line 528. This one does check the browser and displays images when the visitor uses IE6. Please take note this it for J! 1.0.x.

Other April fools pranks

Many websites did try to pull a prank on the visitors. Collegehumor created a MySpace looking layout, showing a girl which is the new owner of the site. MyMac placed an article of Steve Jobs leaving Apple.

Google actually had several jokes: Google Calendar Wakup Kit, Google Australia now can look in to the future, Gmail Custom Time and Virgle. The last one is Virgin combined with Google to explore the planet Mars. Don't forget to fill in the application form (I am a world-class expert in -> Guitar Hero II).

YouTube had a rickroll, linking all their featured video's to Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up". Shoemoney placed an article on how to make $100000 in 1 hour. I think there's something with the sound...

For the most complete list on April Fool pranks, you can check aprilfoolsdayontheweb.

Hope you liked it folks! Next year, new prank, I'll try to be creative. Now I just hope I didn't screw up my Google ranking with this joke.

Tags: april fools joke browser internet explorer

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