A Guide to Computer Pranks - How to Freak Your Friends Out
Sometimes friends and room mates deserve a little scare, and what better way to accomplish that than by pranking their computers. Computers are frustrating enough as it is, so imagine how much more frustrating it will be to them when you've intentionally sabotaged their computer.
The following pranks are pretty harmless, but I must caution you that the following is provided for informational purposes only. Do not perform these pranks on computers you don't own, and especially not on any computer used for business purposes.
Anyway, there's two types of pranks I'll cover, pranks that you download and pranks that you perform directly.
There are plenty of programs out there to prank your friends, and a few I've written myself. I've made two, one that emulates the blue screen of death, which I've lamely entitled the Blue Screen of Jeff, and another program which makes a transparent window always on top of the whole screen (transparent.exe) Both of the programs are easy to kill from Task Manager, but a computer novice will be lost. The programs come with an installer (2.05MB) and can be downloaded here:   (Note: You'll need to visit the page in order to download the file, since I'm using file uploading services. If anyone would care to host the file just let me know.) There is no spyware/viruses in the file, and the Delphi 7 source code is available upon request.
To use either the Blue Screen of Jeff or transparent.exe simply place them in the Startup folder on your start menu. Another good prank is to copy one of these programs into another applications directory. As an example, lets say Photoshop. Now rename Photoshop.exe to Photoshop2.exe and then rename the Blue Screen of Jeff or transparent.exe to Photoshop.exe. Next time your friend tries to start Photoshop, they'll be greeted with a surprise. You can apply that trick with many of the programs I'll cover in this article.
Next up are some awesome prankware from Lizard Works. My favorite is Drifting Windows which makes your open windows move a pixel or two every 5 seconds. It is definitely noticeable, but still a good prank. Mean Swapper is another good one. It causes your left and right mouse buttons to switch roles. The warning on their website stated that upon closing the program the buttons may still be switched around, which can be remedied by going to the Control Panel > Mouse, and unchecking the Switch Primary and Secondary buttons checkbox. I personally experienced that problem when I closed the program myself, so be prepared to fix whatever computer you install that on.
Browse the rest of Lizard Work's pranks on their website at http://www.lizardworks.com/pranks.html
One of my favorite pranks is to change my friends boot screen to something weird, using Stardock's free Bootskin program. Below are a few of my favorite prank bootskins:
[Download it here]
[Download it here]
[Download it here]
Of course Bootskin is made mainly for customizing your own computer, but I've personally done this to a few friends and it freaked them out, so what they hell. Speaking of Stardock products, another great customization program that can be used as a prank is Stardock's WindowBlinds which can be download here. The program is shareware, but the limited version should be enough to install a skin that will leave your friend wondering wtf happened to his computer. Installing a skin like this horrible one:
is sure to make them cringe. I've wanted to make a WindowBlinds skin out of tubgirl and gay pr0n, but I just can't justify spending money on SkinStudio just to do that.
Speaking of changing Window's theme, there's an easy way to prank them using control panel, which leads us into our discussion of
Pranks You Perform Directly
One of the easiest pranks to perform is to right click on the desktop and select "Properties", then click on the "Appearance" tab. Click on the drop down box labeled "Windows and Buttons" and click on "Windows Classic" and click "Apply". Click directly below on the "Color Scheme" drop down box. There are several horrible color schemes to choose from, with High Contrast Black being one of the worst. It looks like this:
If that's not bad enough for you, click on the "Advanced" button. From there you can turn almost everything to the same color. Good luck fixing that though. While you're there you can also make the text huge, the icons tiny, and general tweak the system to unusable.
One of my favorites that I've been using for years is to modify the legal notice that can display when Windows starts up. To do this click on the Start menu, click on "Run" and type "regedit" to load the registry editor. From there, migrate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\ Double click on legalnoticecaption and enter in the name you want for the window, then hit OK and double click on legalnoticetext to enter in what you want the body of the window to say. Here's an example:
Well, that's about all I've got to say on the subject for now. If you'd like some more pranks check out the following links:
UPDATE: Due to popular demand I am writing a sequal to this article with even more pranks and techniques. Stay tuned for it within the next few weeks.