Ever wish you could fool your boss into thinking your workplace computer had been infected by malware?
Now you can. The Happy Hour Virus won't fool the tech-savvy, but if you're very, very lucky, you may be able to use it to knock off work a bit early.
The handy bit of "malware" comes courtesy of TDA_Boulder, a Boulder, Colo.-based ad agency with a clever (albeit not-that-likely-to-work) method of maintaining a work-life balance. The Happy Hour Virus is a website that takes over your computer's screen to make the computer appear, to an untrained eye, completely unusable.
The instructions are as follows: Get the word of your imminent departure out via Facebook or Twitter, choose how devastated you want your computer to look and get out of Dodge.
"Make frustrated sigh," advises the Happy Hour Virus website. "Exit building."
In terms of "bricking" your system, you have one of three options: Kernel Panic, Broken Monitor and the infamous Windows Blue Screen of Death.
Kernel Panic is the simplest of the three, but also the most likely to backfire. It displays a Power symbol with text reading, "You need to restart your computer. Hold down the Power button for several seconds or press the Restart button" overlaid on it. The warning also appears in French, German and Polish.
While such an image is also a warning sign of a busted kernel (the deepest part of an operating system), it's extremely easy to repair: Simply following its instructions would leave your computer in pristine shape once again.
A little more convincing is the Broken Monitor. This displays a constantly changing mess of squiggly black-and-white static and colored zigzags, making it seem as though a monitor is completely wrecked. Of course, any tech-savvy manager would simply hook the computer up to a different monitor.
If all else fails, you can try the old standby, the Blue Screen of Death. This displays a blue screen with a mess of white text, including "DRIVER_IRQL_NOT_LESS_EQUAL" and a Dump HEX sequence. While the animation is convincing, the font is not quite right.
These gags could theoretically work on an employer who's absolutely clueless about computers, but the odds are against it. For one thing, the old standby of turning the computer off and on again would work just fine in any of the three cases. Pressing Escape will also end the prank.
To be clear, it's unlikely that TDA_Boulder actually wants anyone to try to fool their bosses using these techniques. The Happy Hour Virus is mostly just a clever way to promote the fact that the company is hiring, and are seeking people who want to balance productivity with a healthy social life.
If you're really dying to get out of work early, you could give it a shot, but don't be surprised when your boss reboots your system and seems very satisfied with him or herself for fixing such a complicated technological problem.
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Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.