back to article Fancy knocking off early? Just run our fake computer crash 'virus', say admen

A jokey US ad agency recruitment campaign encouraged users to stage fake computer crashes so that they might be able to ditch work early. The Happy Hour virus from Colorado admen TDA_Boulder came with a series of screensavers that allowed users to claim they were unable to work because their machines had gone wrong, creating a …


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  1. BongoJoe

    Ah, but...

    ...this doesn't really work with BYOD, does it, as you'll have beetled off home with the evidence.

  2. Rich 2 Silver badge


    Love it.

  3. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

    I'm not saying I have a kernel driver that does this for real, but I did once pick up my coat before the computer crashed; it's was almost as if the computer read my mind...

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

      I sense a little student project with webcam and computer vision software coming on. Detect hat + coat = crash system.

      Hat and coat please!

      Deary me, the computer cra...

  4. Andrew Jones 2

    In the good old Windows 95 days you could download a lovely program that allowed you to drag a bomb onto any running application and it would immediately crash. That was useful in my college days. And then of course.... there was this site: hours and hours of fun!

  5. Anonymous Coward

    If you are using Windows

    You don't have to fake a virus crash.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If you are using Windows @rm -rf/

      Did you work hard to come up with that predictable response?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If you are using Windows @rm -rf/ @AC

        A predictable problem gets a predictable comment.

    2. Gav

      Re: If you are using Windows

      Zing! LOL! Genius! Call the doctor, Windows, cos you just got burned!

      You should be doing stand up comedy, or writing sitcoms for TV.

  6. Natalie Gritpants

    All fine and dandy until the screensaver kicks in

    Then communicator/lync tells everyone you've gone home.

    That's why you need running before you flee.

  7. Crisp

    This can be solved with proper Reverse Management.

    Delegate upwards, and they wont have time to notice that you've slipped out for a quiet beer :)

  8. IT Hack

    Utter Bastards

    Oh sure it's hilarious to fake something like that...ha ha ha...of course the poor bastards in tech support...oh they DON'T get to clock off...oh no...they'll be there dealing with this infantile prank while the laggardly laggards are out wanking about as well as most likely getting blamed for it happening or derided by the staff for "not being able to take a joke" when the tech staff so much as make a comment that actually its not that funny.


    1. joeW

      Re: Utter Bastards

      Anyone in tech support who couldn't see through this one in under three seconds should be thinking about a career change. Maybe go into toilet cleaning, or middle management.

      1. IT Hack

        Re: Utter Bastards

        @ joeW

        Anyone in tech support able to read "derided by the staff for "not being able to take a joke" when the tech staff so much as make a comment that actually its not that funny." as not being able to see through this one in under three seconds should not be touching a keyboard.

        Suggest mucking out as a possible career choice. No need to think and even keyboards. A veritable win win.

      2. Gav

        Re: Utter Bastards

        Anyone from tech support with half a brain would be telling management that this is a particularly serious virus that will require an all nighter on overtime, and that it could only have been caught through the user porn surfing.

        Then remove screen saver and go home/pub/whatever. You're getting revenge and paid for doing nothing.

        1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

          Re: Utter Bastards

          The UTTER bastard is the one wielding the cattle prods and sending abusive e-mails in your name to the CEO to get you fired. Oh, and his PFY would put you on some most-wanted (armed and dangerous) list to give you a well-deserved wake-up call by armed police.

          Isn't that about right, Simon?

        2. IT Hack

          Re: Utter Bastards

          @ gav

          Now we're talking! I approve this. And the overtime. Which of course I charge to the department responsible for the fucking around in the first place.

          And make sure that the next time they get uppity I make comment that they seem to have not been involved in any pron related incidents recently. Especially around budget time.

    2. Moktu

      Re: Utter Bastards

      Anyone in Tech Support worth their salt should have arranged a vendor meeting, or offsite emergency, and pissed off down the pub hours ago.

      1. IT Hack

        Re: Utter Bastards

        @ Moktu

        Indeed the manager would. The support staff though...tasked with incident management....not so much.

        1. Moktu

          Re: Utter Bastards

          You take the manager with you..... After all they have bigger wallets.

          If you haven't found your manager's secret porn stash / dodgy web browsing history within a week of starting a new job, find another (Job / Manager).

          1. IT Hack

            Re: Utter Bastards

            @ moktu

            This is true. In fact as a manager I take my manager...who has an even bigger wallet, a brain only out done by the lesser spotted newt and a bizarre eagerness to please.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Utter Bastards

      Don't get mad, get even…

      Get in touch with the system admins, get them to set up a mirror of the site, with internal DNS pointing the site hostname to that in-house mirror.

      Then on the mirror, tweak it to come up, stay there for maybe a minute or two, then print the word "BUSTED!" in big letters across the screen.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Utter Bastards

        A (ex) mate of mine asked for my help to get rid of a virus on his PC. He'd spent days trying to do it, not wanting to admit that I might know more about computers than him.

        A short investigation revealed that something had simply changed his desktop picture (possibly one of his kids).

        Needless to say I didn't get any thanks and then he proceeded to tell everyone how he managed to fix his computer. Dickhead.

        Still, the image was a good one and it looked genuine, but the giveaway was the desktop icons sitting on top of it!

        1. Myvekk

          Re: Utter Bastards

          I always liked the option of taking a screenshot of the desktop, then placing it as the wallpaper & hiding the actual icons...

      2. M7S

        Re: Don't get mad, get even

        If the beancounters, or similar, play this one too often, print a few creative financial statements on headed paper showing their outrageous expenses at Spearmint Rhino, etc etc, shred them to only halfway down the page and then leave a sheaf of them in the dumpster and "let" some hack find them. Or maybe the puritan spinster from HR.

  9. phil dude

    while we're on fake...

    isn't there a KDE/X screensaver that does just this....?


    1. Alistair

      Re: while we're on fake...


      its friday

      Changing screen saver, ......

      Oh -- damn I'm WFH.

    2. Not That Andrew

      Re: while we're on fake...

      Also several fortune(6) fortunes in the default databases, which is one reason why most distro's package the so-called "offensive" database seperately .

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: while we're on fake...

      Yep, it's one of the Xscreensaver suite. And I have it enabled in my screensaver rotation.

      Which was pretty funny the other day. I have two laptops on my desk. My own personal one, which is my actual workstation, dual-boots Gentoo Linux and Windows 7. Spends most of its time in the former OS.

      The other is employer-supplied, dual boots Ubuntu 12.04 and Windows 7, spends most of its time in the latter OS.

      I front up to work, look across at the work-supplied laptop, and notice a nasty BSOD. The others had seen it, but didn't know if it was the genuine one or not — until I pointed out that the fake ones, tapping the Shift key would prompt Xscreensaver to ask for a password.

      1. Myvekk

        Re: while we're on fake...

        As above, on my work PC, I'm running the Sysinternals Bluescreen screensaver.


        Bluescreen cycles between different Blue Screens and simulated boots every 15 seconds or so. Virtually all the information shown on Bluescreen's BSOD and system start screen is obtained from your system configuration - its accuracy will fool even advanced NT developers. For example, the NT build number, processor revision, loaded drivers and addresses, disk drive characteristics, and memory size are all taken from the system Bluescreen is running on.


    4. Adam 1

      Re: while we're on fake...

      Or if you are running windows, at least some parts of MS have a sense of humour about it

  10. Stephen 2

    My computer crashed

    What's the more likely reply from a manager:

    Okay you should just go home


    Turn it off and on

    Use another computer

    Call the tech support guy

    Go do some manual job out the back of the office that doesn't need a computer

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    work-life balance

    sigh, cause I can't be asked to apply abusive language

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Sophos makes the obvious point that the downloads available from the Happy Hour virus site might easily be abused by the workshy. Trivialising computer security is no good thing"

    Sanctimonious twats.

    1. Benjol

      Re: Sophos

      Monetising it however...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "We are all better employees if we achieve something called work-life balance"

    Try punting that one in the UK and see how long you last before you're quietly knocked off by the armed wing of the CBI.

  14. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Er... "download our virus" is a good advertisement tactic?

    For downloading a virus, you probably will indeed be excused attendance at the office for an indefinite period of time.

  15. Miek

    "A jokey US ad agency recruitment campaign encouraged users to stage fake computer crashes so that they might be able to ditch work early." -- How do you bunk off early if it is your job to fix crashed PCs ?

  16. TRT Silver badge

    Is there not...

    a simple URL you can use to trigger these? Quickly slipped into the DNS... and the whole department goes down one by one as they use their browsers. And with suitable headscratching and umming until they look away where you can press the escape key and your reputation score increases.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I used to run the Sysinternals BSOD screensaver on a Friday afternoon with the mouse and keyboard unplugged. After the fourth consecutive week the IT bod finally rumbled me.

    1. NogginTheNog

      Re: BSOD?

      I had that one running on a departmental server in the corner of the office many years ago. Very amusing, until the day it crashed for real and I spent most of the weekend fixing it! The screensaver just didn't have the same comedy value after that, and got removed.

  18. swschrad

    not the first time

    I've had a screensaver stashed for a decade that rotates various BSODs, the spitting image of a paranoid motherboard. but it got old fast. in a real crash, the phone queue system would go away on the desktop, and without a proper logout. so that is no dodge.

    in my old TS days, I would just put another yet another VT240 keyboard under my arm, adopt a stern expression, and walk quickly out of the building for a little calm and reflection ;)

  19. Scroticus Canis

    Back In Ye Olde Daye.....

    Ah memories of night shift operations on old ICL System 4 kit back in the late '70s. 4 HB pencil, line drawn between two exposed pins on PCB in controller cabinet and call the hardware techs. 3 hours across the road in the Station Inn downing hose pipes* whilst the board swap/hunt was under way. All solved with a soft eraser, great surprise when it worked again! Ah the days of big components and hand assembled PCBs.

    * pint of Guinness draft with enough sipped of the top to insert a triple brandy - five of those and you knew you'd had a drink.

  20. druck Silver badge


    I populated all 4 slots of my Intel motherboard, and now I get that BSOD at no extra charge.

  21. Nifty Silver badge

    plenty of other things to do

    I used to work for a co in a semi rural area that got several long power cuts per year.

    An excuse to go home?

    Nope, we had to prepare the jumpers on PCB boards in the semi darkness instead, just in case the power returned.

    Don't know they're born, youth of today!

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