Google Guffaw: High-Speed Internet John
Presiding over a company with a market value of $143 billion apparently gives
Silicon Valley's most famous billionaires a good sense of humor -- and a case
of corporate potty mouth.
Senior executives at Google Inc. launched their annual April Fools' Day prank
Sunday, posting a link on the company's home page to a site offering consumers
free high-speed wireless Internet through their home plumbing systems.
Code-named "Dark Porcelain," Google said its "Toilet Internet
Service Provider" (TiSP) works with Microsoft Corp.'s new Windows Vista
operating system. But sorry -- septic tanks are incompatible with the system's
The gag included a mock press release quoting Google co-founder and president
Larry Page, a step-by-step online installation manual, and a scatological selection
of Frequently Asked Questions. On some Google sites, the company's official
logo -- a multicolored "Google" that changes according to the season
and on holidays -- substituted a commode for the second "g."
"There's actually a thriving little underground community that's been
studying this exact solution for a long time," Page said in the facetious
statement. "And today our Toilet ISP team is pleased to be leading the
way through the sewers, up out of your toilet and -- splat -- right onto your
Marissa Mayer, a Google vice president, called TiSP a "breakthrough product,
particularly for those users who, like Larry himself, do much of their best
thinking in the bathroom."
TiSP is the latest April Fools joke at the Mountain View, Calif.-based company,
where hijinks pervade cubicles all year long. In blogs, Google employees joke
about the recent injection of green dye into milk in the cafeteria, while another
talks about zany underlings filling the vice president of engineering's office
Eric Raymond, a software developer in Malvern, Pa., and author of the New Hacker's
Dictionary, said TiSP nailed several important tenets of hacker humor.
The concept of free wireless access parallels a legitimate, four-year deal
between Google and EarthLink Inc. to provide free wireless Internet service
throughout San Francisco starting in early 2008.
As part of the spoof, Google said TiSP would be offered in three speeds: Trickle,
The No. 2, and Royal Flush.
"The leitmotif of hacker humor is precise reasoning from utterly bizarre
premises, and once you're in that groove, you're absolutely fearless about going
deeper," Raymond said. "We also have a tendency to deliberately zigzag
between highly intellectual humor and utter slapstick. The more zigzags you
can manage in a single spoof, the funnier it is."