Friday Fun: The Infamous BSOD

BsodThe Blue Screen Of Death (BSOD) sends shivers down the neck of anyone who sees it. Even the best computer technicians know that a BSOD error will not be quick or easy to fix. That is why it makes such a great screen grab to use in a practical joke.

There are a number of things that we can do with the BSOD, including one of the few practical jokes you can play on yourself, but have the effect of it seen by others in the room.

The BSOD Screensaver:

I was surprised that the BSOD screensaver was hosted at Microsoft. It isn’t really a great thing to be promoting, but it does show they have a sense of humour. Head over to Technet to get it.

The BSOD screensaver works the same as any other screensaver. Once downloaded and installed, you can select it in your screensaver settings. It will load up after the default 10 minutes your computer is idle. This screen saver also shows the machine reboot in an endless loop. It looks very realistic.

I used this on my work computer in a previous job. It was a fairly laid back atmosphere so I could get away with it. The screensaver would show up during meetings and presentations. People were quite concerned about the stability of my computer. They would tell me that I needed to have my computer looked at. They were also amazed at how quickly I brought the machine back from this crashed state.

You may have known about this already and you may be thinking I have nothing more to offer you. I assure you, that there is some value after the link.

Practical Joke 1: Basic

If you have somebody in your office who has a photo screen saver (fairly common) operating in full screen mode, you can copy the BSOD screen grab into their Pictures folder. In the general cycling of their photos, eventually the BSOD will show up. Hopefully, this will happen while they are near their computer.

Of course the computer will move to the next photo after a few seconds, but by that stage the damage has been done. The shivers have already gone down the spine. It’s good if you can stay quiet for this one and play it out for months.

To remove it, simply delete the file.

Practical Joke 2: Complex

This one is a little more nasty – in fact, it is very nasty. It takes a little bit of setting up. What we want to do is make the BSOD show up in full screen at a certain time. We do this by creating a scheduled task which will launch a full screen image viewer showing the BSOD screen grab.

Note that this doesn’t look great on dual screen setups. Saying that, the appearance is probably close enough to fool most victims. On a single screen, it will work flawlessly, and undoubtedly fool everyone.

Instructions…

Get your hands on the freeware Pictview. I use this as it is small (100k) and DOS based.

Create a folder in the root of C: and place Pictview into it.
Click on the BSOD image above for a full size image. Right click on it and save it into the same folder.
Create a Batch file with the following command in it.

Start "" C:\BSOD\pictview.exe C:\BSOD\BSOD.gif

Save it

Otherwise…

If you want to cut out all the above steps, you can download this file and extract it to your C Drive. I thought it would be best if you knew what steps we were taking to make it all happen.

Finally, open up Scheduled Tasks and create a new task which will point it to the batch file. You can set up how regularly it should launch, and at what time. I think the joke will only need to be run once though.

You can test it out by running it 1 minute ahead of time, before switching it to a certain time. You could even make it happen each time the computer starts up, but that is taking it too far.

Make sure that around the time of it being launched, you are nearby. You will have to fess up as they might try to restart their computer. They won’t know it is a joke, and they may lose unsaved work. Pressing Esc will bring back the desktop.

To remove it completely from your computer, delete the scheduled task and delete the folder you created from the C drive.

Conclusion:

You probably didn’t learn much in this article, but I hope you have enjoyed it in any case. Use it with caution. If you want some less stressful practical jokes, check out some earlier ones here.




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