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Let's talk about April Fools' Day jokes. Are they ever really harmless?

Friends don't let friends mock up Windows dialogs

On Call Hurrah, the weekend is here! And with it comes the promise of two days free of work and filled with joy. Calm your excitement with another tale from those at the coalface in our regular On Call feature.

Today's cautionary tale comes from "Edward", who began (and almost ended) his IT career in the late 1990s with what can only be described as a self-inflicted call-out.

The story begins with Edward having successfully navigated the first six months of his new job. "It was," he told us, "one of the better banks in my tiny nation."

Clearly, he had time on his hands, and as that notorious festival of fun, 1 April, rolled around, "I decided to do something funny, but harmless."

Harmless? I think we'll be the judge of that, Edward.

Using the tools of the time (Visual Basic or perhaps Delphi, anyone?) Edward knocked together "a quick program that would output a 'Warning' dialog window with 'A critical fault in the system' message."

He then snapped a screenshot, pasted into an email and sent the thing to the bank's global distribution list in the morning. What larks!

Edward then promptly forgot about his japery and got cracking with the day's work.

The inevitable call came that afternoon. The vice president of the bank was attempting to present to clients, but the computer was not cooperating. Edward was called to lofty heights of the VP's office to fix the problem.

To his horror: "My stupid email is on the screen and he told me he'd clicked the OK button for the past 15 minutes to no avail."

Because, of course, it was a screenshot.

Faced with the choice of confessing to his crime or playing the hero, Edward did what anyone would do: "I closed and deleted the email and told that the bug is now fixed and PC should work fine."

Instant hero!

Amazed that nobody had rumbled his not-so-subtle crime, "I then left gingerly, hoping I won't get fired. And I wasn't!"

Edward also told us that, amazingly, "I didn't conceal anything and sent email from my name."

As for what Edward took away from his brush with the redundo-gun: "I learned not to send mass emails, for any reasons, even if at the time it seemed reasonable."

And the bank? It should be grateful that the events of this story took place before a certain shock internet image first seeped out.

As an epilogue, Edward also shared some code (reproduced below by the amazing Reg-o-matic source-anonymiser) he left in one of the bank's apps to show that while he may have learned something about mass-mailing humour, other lessons eluded him.

if a > 0 then
elseif a < 0 then
elseif a == 0 then
  MsgBox('Go hit Edward in the head');

Because, after all, there is no way that MsgBox will ever get reached... right?

Unsurprisingly, after a year of use in the bank's branches, Edward got the call: "Multiple people reported 'a strange message inciting violence against you'."

Oh dear.

Ever been the office joker or, worse, had to deal with the fall-out? Send an email to On Call and tell us all about it. ®

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