The Boss Key

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This weekend I was enjoying some performance from Coachella via AT&T Blue Room and noticed something fun: their online video player has a Boss Button. Pressing the Boss Button pops up a fullscreen fake Excel spreadsheet (pictured at left), designed to fake out your boss or coworkers if they happen to walk by while you're, uh, not being productive.

This feature brought me back to video games from the 80's, where a Boss Key (often F10 or some other generally unused key) was a common feature. Where did the Boss Key go? Why haven't we developed a modern equivalent -- there are over 100 keys on my keyboard; surely they could have assigned one to the Boss Key function by now.

Wikipedia has some historical info about the Boss Key. One implementation I remember is from Leisure Suit Larry, where pressing Ctrl-B would bring up a fake word processing document.

Reading the Wikipedia article, they suggest some alternate mechanisms for implementing your own Boss Key -- including the simple notion of hitting Alt-Tab (or Command-Tab for us Mac users) to switch to another application. In Mac OS X, you can also hit Command-M to minimize the current window. In the upcoming Mac OS X Leopard, Apple will implement Spaces, which allows you to quickly shift the entire contents of your screen to another set of applications -- I look forward to having an entire Space just for goofing off.

Have you figured out your own version of the Boss Key? Let us know your strategies for keeping your nonproductivity a secret!

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June 11, 2007 - 7:00am
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