I’m Old, Part LXXVII: Easter Eggs

While working on Acrobat, there was a tradition of putting in Easter eggs into the about box. For example, in early internal releases on the Mac, if you brought up the Acrobat about box and did an option-click on the contents, it would put up a picture of Homer Simpson play a sound file of Homer saying “D’oh!”.

When I was working on Search for the mac, I did the something similar. When you brought up the about box for the search plug-in and typed ‘homer’, it replaced the contents of the about box with a picture of Homer and played a very long sound file of Homer saying, “I am so smart. I am so smart. I am so smart. S-M-R-T. I mean S-M-A-R-T.”. QA enjoyed this, as I heard it playing more than once.

When it came time for release, we were told that the existing Easter eggs had to go. Fine. I had plans. Evil plans. First, I put in code that if you option-clicked with the about box up would do a slide show of small icons the entire search team with their names. I felt it was important to put this in because so many people worked on the product. When my picture came up, I made my name flash in red and yellow (a la Defender). I removed the picture of Homer and the sound file which were both huge, and replaced them with an implementation of Break Out, but only if you typed in my last name in lower case. Because I cared, the implementation worked in black and white or color and if you moved the window to span multiple monitors of different bit depths, it still looked great. And here’s the kicker: I got all of that to work in under 2K. The beauty of this approach was that the old Easter egg took something like 100K. Removing it and replacing it with 2K was completely invisible as far as the final output was concerned.

Wait a minute – Steve, didn’t you violate the directive from management? They told you to remove the Easter eggs, didn’t they? Why yes. This is true. I did remove the Easter egg. The directive didn’t say “…and don’t add more.” So as far as I’m concerned, I followed the directive. If you’re looking, this Easter egg is in Acrobat Search in version 2, 3, and 4.

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