The Musical Easter Egg Hidden in Windows 95


by James Hunt

Developing software is difficult and often thankless work, so it's hardly a surprise that many developers take it upon themselves to have a little fun by inserting Easter eggs—or unofficial messages and content—into software. The first example dates back to 1979, when software programmer Warren Robinett snuck a secret code into the Atari 2600 game Adventure that revealed his name, sneakily circumventing Atari's policy of not crediting its developers.

Since then, Easter eggs have become relatively common in large software packages, particularly Microsoft Windows. And maybe the greatest Easter egg of them all was "Clouds," the secret Windows 95 theme song which was accessed in an near-impossible-to-discover way.

To access the "Clouds," simply load any version of Windows 95 (we suspect that's easier said than done in 2015) and perform the following actions:

1. Right click on the Desktop and select "New..." then "Folder."
2. Name the folder "and now, the moment you've all been waiting for" then press Enter.
3. Rename the folder to "we proudly present for your viewing pleasure" then press Enter.
4. Rename the folder one last time to "The Microsoft Windows 95 Product Team!" and press Enter again. Then open the folder.
5. Instead of the empty folder contents, you'll see the Windows 95 product team credits animation with the secret Windows theme tune—a piano-based ditty—playing over the top.

The music for the animation was written by Brian Orr, an intern on the Windows 95 team who was instructed to create music that would evoke images of "floating" and "peace" (to remain on-brand with Windows 95's marketing) and to make sure it retained these qualities on even the most standard sound cards of the day.

The result is surprisingly catchy, especially given the technical limitations—making it a shame that so few people ever got to hear it when you consider how many people used Windows 95 and that it was hidden on every PC on which the OS was ever installed.

If you don't have access to Windows 95 right now, you can view the entire process—and hear "Clouds"—in the video below.

If you enjoyed that, why not visit composer Brian Orr's SoundCloud page for more behind-the-scenes details.

Big Questions
Why Are the Keys On a QWERTY Keyboard Laid Out As They Are?

Why are the keys on a QWERTY keyboard laid out as they are?

C Stuart Hardwick:

What is commonly called QWERTY (more properly, the Sholes layout) was designed by Christopher Lathan Sholes, then modified through a series of business relationships. Sholes's original keyboard was alphabetical and modeled after a printing telegraph machine. The alphabetical layout was easy to learn, but not easy to type on.

For one thing, all practical typing machines of the day relied on mechanical levers, and adjacent letters could jam if struck with rapidity. There has long been a myth that Sholes designed the QWERTY layout to slow typists down in order to prevent this. Nothing could be further from the truth, but Sholes’s first customers were telegraphers. Over several years, he adapted the piano-like alphabetical keyboard into
a four-row keyboard designed to aid telegraphers in their transcription duties.

This new layout mostly spread out commonly struck keys, but also placed easily confused telegraph semaphores together. This layout was sufficient to permit telegraph transcription to keep up with transmissions and created a growing market.

During this time, Sholes teamed up with several other inventors to form a typewriter company with assignment of all related patents. An association with Remington led to increased sales, at which time another company acquired the shift platen patent that permits a typewriter to type in mixed case, and they seem to have made a few essentially random changes in order to avoid the original typewriter company patents.

So that’s it then, right? QWERTY is crap?

Well, no. QWERTY was based mostly on the needs of telegraphers in transcribing Morse code, and Morse had been scientifically designed to make transmission of English language messages as efficient as possible. The result is that the QWERTY arrangement is pretty good—efficiency-wise.

In the 1930s, John Dvorak used modern time-motion study techniques to design his own keyboard, and around it had grown up a whole cult following and mythology. But the fact is, it’s much ado about nothing. Careful scientific studies in the 1950s, '70s, and '80s have shown that choice between the Sholes and Dvorak layout makes no material difference in typing speed. Practice and effort are what yields rapid typing, and studies of professional typists have shown that however well we may perform on timed trials, few typists ever exceed 35 words per minute in their daily work.

So relax. Take an online typing course, practice a little, and relax.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

Afternoon Map
Monthly Internet Costs in Every Country

Thanks to the internet, people around the world can conduct global research, trade tips, and find faraway friends without ever leaving their couch. Not everyone pays the same price for these digital privileges, though, according to new data visualizations spotted by Thrillist.

To compare internet user prices in each country, cost information site created a series of maps. The data comes courtesy of English market research consultancy BDRC and, which teamed up to analyze 3351 broadband packages in 196 nations between August 18, 2017 and October 12, 2017.

In the U.S., for example, the average cost for internet service is $66 per month. That’s substantially more than what browsers pay in neighboring Mexico ($27) and Canada ($55). Still, we don’t have it bad compared to either Namibia or Burkina Faso, where users shell out a staggering $464 and $924, respectively, for monthly broadband access. In fact, internet in the U.S. is far cheaper than what residents in 113 countries pay, including those in Saudi Arabia ($84), Indonesia ($72), and Greenland ($84).

On average, internet costs in Asia and Russia tend to be among the lowest, while access is prohibitively expensive in sub-Saharan Africa and in certain parts of Oceania. As for the world’s cheapest internet, you’ll find it in Ukraine and Iran.

Check out the maps below for more broadband insights, or view’s full findings here.

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site

[h/t Thrillist]


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