April 02, 2012, 4:21 PM — Prior to the era of 24/7 irono-sarcasm, which began about 10 minutes after the web made the Internet accessible, April Fool's jokes had integrity, or at least inertia.
Some pranks or prank stories might fool you, even with a dateline of April 1. You might believe Microsoft is buying Yahoo or that Microsoft is suing Saddam Hussein for violating Microsoft's copyright on evil or that hackers change 3 million end-user passwords to "password," (but only 38 percent notice).
Even if you were fooled, you'd catch on pretty quickly and recover by trying to get someone else to fall for it.
No one went out and tried to make the stories true. Pranks stayed pranks; jokes stayed jokes. No one tried to verify with Bill Gates whether he actually did own evil.
Yesterday the makers of the AdBlock Firefox extension extended their mission to selectively block unwanted Internet online advertisements with CatBlock, a version that replaces online ads with images of oh-too-cute kittehs and commentary spelled as only a LOLcat can.
It was a good prank present in the software but easy to turn off; ridiculous enough to be funny, but not realistic enough to get even the most gullible to believe their AdBlock installations were going to start marking up their screens with big, colorful markups and painful spelling.
But some people liked it.
Actually a lot of them like it – so many that Adblock developer Michael Gundlach updated the April 1 blog with a terrible offer: Due to "overwhelming demand," any AdBlock customers willing to fork over $10 per month to support AdBlock will get a standalone copy of CatBlock.
CatBlock will work only on April Fools Day "and a few days afterwards;" the rest of the time AdBlock will block ads without replacing them with something worse.
Of course it does.
Gundlach made the huge leap of quitting his day job to work full time on the Chrome and Safari versions of AdBlock, in the hope payments for the shareware will make up the difference.
Far be it from anyone to stop a shareware author from trying to make a living from his work.
Contributing $10 to help fund AdBlock is a good thing regardless of any objectionable cat content on one pranky day of the year.