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Story Time: The Rickroll Trap

When a coworker became immune to my frequent rickrolls, I had to get creative...
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Back when there was a deployment team, we built a metrics collection system to monitor the in-house performance of our rather complicated installer. Every installer kit reported back to this central metrics server interesting data such as  the time and date of the install, how long it took, all the logs, overnight test results, etc. Really useful — we often caught bugs in the installer and fixed them before our internal users found and reported them. The deployment team checked the metrics website every morning to see if there were any test failures, or failures installing or uninstalling the product throughout the company.

Let me introduce Bob. At that time, Bob was responsible for all the virtual machines and templates we used to run our automated test suite. He’d periodically need to create new snapshots of each vm to create a new base image to be used for upgrade testing. Tedious but necessary work. He’d create a new snapshot, run a subset of the automation, and check the test results on the metrics server.

Now, you should probably know that  I rickrolled Bob on a regular basis. This took place before URL previews became commonplace so it was pretty easy — just write some text that would catch his interest and send a disguised link to the video. Easy-peasy. As a reward,  I’d get his signature reaction of clenched fists pounding the air and hear the low growl of anger and dismay emanate from the cube across the aisle.

At some point google chat started showing URL previews even for tinyurls so I had to get creative and up my game.

Bob was supposed to check on the metrics server daily or close to it and since I was the one on the team that wrote the metrics server and no one else on the team worked on it, I had my attack vector.


I embedded the video for Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up in the metrics server, anchored outside the viewport and invisible, set to autoplay. I even disabled the playback controls. You’d get to hear it but not see it. You couldn’t tab to it either.

Of course this was only embedded if the logged in user was Bob; I’m not a monster

And then I waited.

And then I realized, much to my dismay, Bob only listened to music at work from his phone, never on the computer. It was rare that he plugged his headphones into his work computer.

So I waited.

And waited.

And wai…well you get the idea.

One night, about six months later  he finally logged in from home to do some work, puts in his earbuds and opens the metric server.

The sweet strains of “Never gonna give you up” fill his ears.

The next morning at work Bob dumps his stuff on his chair and turns on me: “Damn it Jeff! How long?! HOW LONG has that been in there?!”

It was worth the wait. 
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