April 01, 2010, 7:34 AM — It's April 1st and that means sites you can normally rely on to provide news are suddenly more interested in playing pranks on you.
I'm not a fan of April Fool's Day. I spend a lot of my time dispersing interesting tech and IT articles that I read to friends and colleagues, and this is the one day of the year when I really hesitate to do that. This year things are worse than ever as the shenanigans began yesterday (well technically it was April 1st in some parts of the world) with posts like TechCrunch's Exclusive: Google To Go Nuclear, Introducing The Do-It-Yourself CrunchPad Kit and All The Cool Kids are Coming to Disrupt. Are You?. What's that? You say that last one is real? I dunno, I don't think you can trust anything TechCrunch is saying around April 1st. This whole Disrupt event might be some kind of trick.
TechCrunch's jokes are pretty obvious, but once you get that April 1st suspicion in your head, it's hard to know who or what to trust. Let's look at a couple of posts over at CNET. First up is Towel-folding robot won't do the dishes. Read the text and the story sounds plausible, but watch the video and it appears obviously fake. However the videos were posted on March 17th and have titles like "Autonomously folding a pile of 5 previously-unseen towels (50X)" with the 50X indicating, as my best guess, that the footage is sped up by a factor of 50, which could account for the stop-animation look to the video. The source is an assistant professor at UC Berkeley. So, prank or real? I'm thinking this one is real. Here's the other CNET post: Introducing the pill that snitches on you, about a pill laced with microchips and a digestible antenna that reports to caregivers that the pill has been ingested. Whaa...? That has to be a fake, right? Well, maybe I'm just being gullible but based on the sources linked to in the body of the article, I think this one is real too.
The point is, thanks to the stupidity of April Fools Day, rather than just accepting everything I read at face value I'm spending a lot of time and energy trying to decide how accurate the stories I'm reading are... wait, hold on a minute. Shouldn't I be doing that anyway? Hmm, maybe these pranksters are on to something. If April Fool's Day teaches people to read critically, check sources, and question what they're reading, then maybe it's a good thing after all.
Enough of that. In other tech news, Google has announced a new app that's pretty cool:
PS: The app really does exist on the Android Market!