10 Google Hangouts Easter Eggs

Rudie Obias, Mental Floss
Rudie Obias, Mental Floss

The development team at Google hides fun little Easter eggs in almost all of the company’s products and services—including Google Hangouts. Here are 10 fun tricks you can use to amuse yourself and your friends the next time you chat.

1. /corgis

If you need more dogs in your life, simply type “/corgis” into Google Hangouts and watch a short-legged pup strut across your chatbox. There are two different corgis, so keep typing the command for a chance to see each dog.

2. /ponystream

Rudie Obias, Mental Floss

Are you bored at work? Type “/ponystream” (with the forward slash at the beginning) into Google Hangouts and watch a never ending stream of My Little Pony ponies prancing across your chat window. You'll notice that some have hats, sunglasses, and even flaming manes.

3. /ponies

Rudie Obias, Mental Floss

If you're overwhelmed by the endless stream, type in “/ponies” and only a single pony will appear on your screen.

4. /shydino

Rudie Obias, Mental Floss

Type “/shydino” into Google Hangouts and a small green dinosaur will slide onto the screen and hide behind an even smaller yellow house in the middle of the chat window. Typing it again will make it go away. "We had Hangouts users mistaking one of our emoji (the house with the tree) for a shy dinosaur hiding behind a house," Sanjay Mavinkurve, Google's Lead User Experience Designer for Hangouts, told HuffPost. "It seemed a shame to not have such an emoji, so we added the Easter egg."

5. /roll

This trick’s perfect if you’re playing any sort of online game that involves rolling dice. Simply type “/roll” into Google Hangouts, and you and whoever you’re chatting with will see a message saying you’ve rolled the die. You aren’t limited to traditional die, either. If you’re playing a virtual group game like Dungeons & Dragons that calls for a 20-sided die, type /rolld20.

6. /shruggie

If you want to respond to someone’s message with the classic ASCII shrug emoji but don’t want to type all the different characters, type /shruggie into Google Hangouts and the internet’s favorite symbol of ambivalence will appear.

7. /bikeshed

Rudie Obias, Mental Floss

Are you sick of the simple white background in Google Hangouts? Type in “/bikeshed” and your chatbox will change to a random color. If the hue doesn't quite match your desktop, type it again for a new color.

8. /pitchforks

Rudie Obias, Mental Floss

Angry at someone’s comment, but lack the words to say so? If you type “/pitchforks” into Google Hangouts, villagers with fire and pitchforks will run back and forth across your chat window.

9. Konami Code

Rudie Obias, Mental Floss

Google programmers love the Konami Code, which originally appeared in old-school video games like Contra and Castlevania. You can tell how much they love it because they’ve included the special code in many services, including Google Hangouts. Leave your cursor open in Google Hangouts and click the following keys: Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, and then hit Enter. This will change your background from dull white to a lively mountainside setting with green trees and blue skies.

The Konami Code also works with Google Now (it unlocks “unlimited free” searches), Google Chromebook Pixel (it starts an exciting light show with its LED lightstrip), and Google Play Games on a touchscreen device (it unlocks trophies).

10. /8ball

Need answers for life’s important questions, but don’t have a trusty Magic 8-Ball on hand? Type “/8ball” into Google Hangouts and see what your future holds. And, if you don’t like the answer to your question, just type “/ball” again and again until you get the response you’re looking for.

8 Great Gifts for People Who Work From Home

World Market/Amazon
World Market/Amazon

A growing share of Americans work from home, and while that might seem blissful to some, it's not always easy to live, eat, and work in the same space. So, if you have co-workers and friends who are living the WFH lifestyle, here are some products that will make their life away from their cubicle a little easier.

1. Folding Book Stand; $7

Hatisan / Amazon

Useful for anyone who works with books or documents, this thick wire frame is strong enough for heavier textbooks or tablets. Best of all, it folds down flat, so they can slip it into their backpack or laptop case and take it out at the library or wherever they need it. The stand does double-duty in the kitchen as a cookbook holder, too.

Buy It: Amazon

2. Duraflame Electric Fireplace; $179

Duraflame / Amazon

Nothing says cozy like a fireplace, but not everyone is so blessed—or has the energy to keep a fire going during the work day. This Duraflame electric fireplace can help keep a workspace warm by providing up to 1000 square feet of comfortable heat, and has adjustable brightness and speed settings. They can even operate it without heat if they just crave the ambiance of an old-school gentleman's study (leather-top desk and shelves full of arcane books cost extra).

Buy It: Amazon

3. World Explorer Coffee Sampler; $32

UncommonGoods

Making sure they've got enough coffee to match their workload is a must, and if they're willing to experiment with their java a bit, the World Explorer’s Coffee Sampler allows them to make up to 32 cups using beans from all over the world. Inside the box are four bags with four different flavor profiles, like balanced, a light-medium roast with fruity notes; bold, a medium-dark roast with notes of cocoa; classic, which has notes of nuts; and fruity, coming in with notes of floral.

Buy it: UncommonGoods

4. Lavender and Lemon Beeswax Candle; $20

Amazon

People who work at home all day, especially in a smaller space, often struggle to "turn off" at the end of the day. One way to unwind and signal that work is done is to light a candle. Burning beeswax candles helps clean the air, and essential oils are a better health bet than artificial fragrances. Lavender is especially relaxing. (Just use caution around essential-oil-scented products and pets.)

Buy It: Amazon

5. HÄNS Swipe-Clean; $15

HÄNS / Amazon

If they're carting their laptop and phone from the coffee shop to meetings to the co-working space, the gadgets are going to get gross—fast. HÄNS Swipe is a dual-sided device that cleans on one side and polishes on the other, and it's a great solution for keeping germs at bay. It's also nicely portable, since there's nothing to spill. Plus, it's refillable, and the polishing cloth is washable and re-wrappable, making it a much more sustainable solution than individually wrapped wipes.

Buy It: Amazon

6. Laptop Side Table; $100

World Market

Sometimes they don't want to be stuck at a desk all day long. This industrial-chic side table can act as a laptop table, too, with room for a computer, coffee, notes, and more. It also works as a TV table—not that they would ever watch TV during work hours.

Buy It: World Market

7. Moleskine Classic Notebook; $17

Moleskin / Amazon

Plenty of people who work from home (well, plenty of people in general) find paper journals and planners essential, whether they're used for bullet journaling, time-blocking, or just writing good old-fashioned to-do lists. However they organize their lives, there's a journal out there that's perfect, but for starters it's hard to top a good Moleskin. These are available dotted (the bullet journal fave), plain, ruled, or squared, and in a variety of colors. (They can find other supply ideas for bullet journaling here.)

Buy It: Amazon

8. Nexstand Laptop Stand; $39

Nexstand / Amazon

For the person who works from home and is on the taller side, this portable laptop stand is a back-saver. It folds down flat so it can be tossed into the bag and taken to the coffee shop or co-working spot, where it often generates an admiring comment or three. It works best alongside a portable external keyboard and mouse.

Buy It: Amazon

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McBroken: This Website Saves You a Trip to McDonald's By Telling You If Their Ice Cream Machine Is Down

McDonald's ice cream remains an elusive treat.
McDonald's ice cream remains an elusive treat.
Mike Mozart, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Fast food is about indulgence, and there are few menu items that promote cravings more than the soft-serve ice cream cones and McFlurry treats at McDonald’s. These pseudo-dairy desserts have an ardent fan base despite the fact that the machines dispensing them are frequently out of service for maintenance or cleaning.

Now, a new website can inform customers when a McDonald’s ice cream machine may be down. It’s called McBroken, and The Verge reports it was created by 24-year-old software engineer Rashiq Zahid. The site maintains a map that displays in real time which restaurants are able to offer ice cream and which aren't.

How does Zahid gather this information? A program attempts to place a McSundae order at every McDonald’s location in the United States via their app. If it’s added to his cart, the location gets a green dot and is prepared to dispense ice cream. If not, a red dot indicates there will be no ice cream forthcoming.

McBroken also keeps a running tally of the percentage of all restaurants without a working machine. At last glance, it was at 10.93 percent.

According to The Verge, Zahid was inspired to create McBroken after failing to retrieve a McSundae while in Berlin, Germany, over the summer. His program, or bot, originally attempted to order a McSundae every minute, but the McDonald’s app declared the activity suspicious. Now, he has set it to attempt an order every 30 minutes. The system works, Zahid said, because he verified the results against locations he visited in Berlin in person.