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OpenLearn Live: 21st March 2016

Updated Monday 21st March 2016

The easter eggs you can't eat, but can enjoy all year round. Then more free learning across the day.

OpenLearn Live brings free learning into the heart of your world. This page will be updated during the day.

On Friday, we wound up a week of sporting surprises; heard about a new HIV vaccine and explored energy efficient houses

See the complete collection of OpenLearn Live

Today's posts

World Poetry Day

OpenLearn, a site from the O. U.,
For World Poetry Day offers a 'to-do' -
Try poems for moods;
Or a poet who broods;
Or bring out the poet inside you.

Listen over lunch: Pavilion Blues

It's been a while since we last brought you something to listen to while you eat your lunch (you don't have to eat lunch while listening, it's a suggestion.) So today, we're bringing you an episode of Radio Reverb's Tuesday Live programme. There's a lot of interesting stuff about Brighton and Hove's arts scene in the programme, but we're highlighting it for its extended feature on the Pavilion Blues. This new exhibition at Brighton Museum tells the story of how Brighton's pleasure palace became a wartime hospital, and the experiences of those who found themselves away from the Western Front, just away from the seafront.

Discover more about the exihibition at Brighton Museum

Want to know more about Brighton Pavilion? Try our free course

Egg week: Easter eggs

This week, we're heading towards the Easter bank holiday, and when better to explore some fascinating eggs?

We're going to start with Easter Eggs - not the chocolate kind that are distributed by rabbits, but the digital type. The type you'd find somewhere like this:

1984 Macintosh 128k Creative commons image Icon All About Apple under Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0 license A 1984 Macintosh

Digitally speaking, Easter Eggs are small, hidden features that you find on DVDs and in software. On DVDs, they're often ways of hiding extra material for fans to stumble across when they've tired of the original film, and the official extras, and the commentary. For example, if you buy The Rutles Anthology, and press your 'left' button while on the extras page, you get a deleted scene. If you've got the right copy of Batman Begins, there's acres and acres of extra items of, shall we say, variable quality and interest.

They even got an entire episode of Doctor Who out of the idea.

Softaware easter eggs are a bit more interesting. The original motivation for including a hidden feature called by certain keystrokes was simply a way of sneaking personality into a product - the first Apple Mac operating system hid silicon valley inside itself. Steve Jobs, on his return to Apple, put a ban on such frippery. When they returned in 2012, they included a reference to that first Apple Mac; subsequently, the feature that Jobs hated so much would pay tribute to him by including one of his speeches as an egg in Pages.

Apple isn't the only software developer to include Easter Eggs. Even Microsoft joins in the fun - Excel 95, notably, had a hall of tortured souls waiting to be discovered.

Google has perhaps the most familiar Easter Egg - if you use Chrome, and can't reach a page online, you'll have seen the dinosaur appear. But that dinosaur is actually waiting to play with you. And if you've never typed 'do a barrel roll' into a Google search box... well, strap yourself in and take a second to do it now.

So is it all fun and games? Well, no - the ability to hide things in code can have a downside. Not least the way developers can circumvent App Store standards on content by simply hiding them inside a shell - as Jelle Prins showed by sneaking swears into a iOs lyrics app as an egg.

And are Easter Eggs really so modern? Maybe not - for centuries, people have been hiding messages inside other documents. Lewis Carroll's dedication at the front of Hunting Of The Snark hides the name of one of his young friends in the first letter of each line. Maybe the Easter Egg is little more than a updated take on Sibyl's acrostics.

Want to build your own Easter Eggs? Learn to code!


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