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Monday, April 2, 2007 - Page updated at 02:01 AM

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Google's Internet potty joke may have found April fools

The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Presiding over a company with a market value of $143 billion apparently gives Silicon Valley's most famous billionaires a good sense of humor.

Senior executives at Google launched their annual April Fools' Day prank Sunday, posting a link on the company's home page to a site offering consumers free high-speed wireless Internet through their home plumbing systems.

Google said its "Toilet Internet Service Provider" (TiSP) — code-named "Dark Porcelain" — works with Microsoft's new Windows Vista operating system. But sorry — septic tanks are incompatible with the system's requirements.

The gag included a mock press release quoting Google co-founder and President Larry Page, a step-by-step online installation manual, and a scatological selection of frequently asked questions.

"There's actually a thriving little underground community that's been studying this exact solution for a long time," Page said in the facetious statement. "And today our Toilet ISP team is pleased to be leading the way through the sewers, up out of your toilet and — splat — right onto your PC."

Marissa Mayer, a Google vice president, called TiSP a "breakthrough product, particularly for those users who, like Larry himself, do much of their best thinking in the bathroom."

TiSP is the latest April Fools joke at the Mountain View, Calif.-based company, where hijinks pervade the cubicles all year long. In blogs, Google employees joke about the recent injection of green dye into milk in the cafeteria, while another talks about zany underlings filling the office of the vice president of engineering with sand.

Eric Raymond, a software developer in Malvern, Pa., and author of the New Hacker's Dictionary, said TiSP nailed several important tenets of hacker humor.

The concept of free wireless access parallels a legitimate, four-year deal between Google and EarthLink to provide free wireless Internet service throughout San Francisco starting in early 2008.

As part of the spoof, Google said TiSP would be offered in three speeds: Trickle, The No. 2 and Royal Flush. That's a reference to "Net Neutrality," a big political battle over tiered pricing that Google and other e-commerce companies are waging in Congress against cable and telephone companies.

"The leitmotif of hacker humor is precise reasoning from utterly bizarre premises," Raymond said.

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