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Christmas Cheer

Christmas is Coming 190

Couple of Christmas bits to get ya in the spirit: We have a link to Planet Christmas as well as the tech details and even some danger. This thing features 96,790 miniature Christmas lights, 7.2 miles of wire to connect everything, 110 strobe lights, the 8' inflatable snowmen, handled by 425 computer controlled circuits. A slightly less ambitious project was submitted by apago. This project lets winamp control christmas lights, complete with schematics for the serial interface and source code for the plugin.
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Christmas is Coming

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  • by Dancin_Santa ( 265275 ) <DancinSanta@gmail.com> on Friday December 21, 2001 @04:21PM (#2738789) Journal
    Actually, it really helps me when people put these things up. I use them as navpoints.

    Dancin Santa
  • by Rude Turnip ( 49495 ) <valuation&gmail,com> on Friday December 21, 2001 @04:22PM (#2738795)
    Does that mean all the lights turn blue during crashes?
  • by Dimensio ( 311070 ) <darkstar@noSpam.iglou.com> on Friday December 21, 2001 @04:22PM (#2738797)
    All this talk of finding new ways of being flashy and new during the holidays and so little talk of the important birthday celebrated on December 25. Really, would it kill you to pay some respect to the very important individual whose birth is celebrated yearly on that one day of the year?

    I mean honestly, you all give each other gifts but I, the birthday boy, don't get so much as a card from you!
    • >Really, would it kill you to pay some respect to
      >the very important individual whose birth is
      >celebrated yearly on that one day of the year?

      I pay respect to that person every day of the year.

      I talk to him and wait for the day he says something back.

      I figure it'll be sometime this year, since he turns one year old on the 25th...

      Oh, you weren't talking about my nephew?

    • Considering that December 25th really isn't the big JC's birthday, and only a marketing plot by early Popes to draw in more members, I would think that Christmas is *the* time to be flashy.
    • Stop spending. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nuxx ( 10153 ) on Friday December 21, 2001 @04:29PM (#2738847) Homepage
      Even though this is the US, likely the most overtly Christian nation in the world, December 25th (Christmas) is no longer about celebrating the birth of Christ (which didn't even happen on December 25th). Christmas is now about buying kids (people in general) things that they want, spending money because you feel obligated, and generally being a good little consumer. Even though it is a very hard (nearly impossible) thing to do, everyone should think about not buying gifts for people next year. Instead, make something or do something nice for them. (I'm rebuilding my mom's PC for her for Christmas, parts excluded.) It'll save everyone money, stop the agony over what to buy, give you more free time, and allow you to generally make each other happier.

      Stop spending, start sharing. Christmas shouldn't be about gifts and money, it should be about family and helping each other and being nice to each other.

      • Re:Stop spending. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Levine ( 22596 ) <levine@noSPAm.goatse.cx> on Friday December 21, 2001 @05:35PM (#2739165) Homepage
        What exactly is wrong with buying gifts for the people you care about? I'm not trying to argue that Christmas hasn't been commercialized to a point of abstraction, because it has, but is there something fundamentally wrong with contributing to the economy?

        It seems that some people spend so much time complaining about the commercial nature of the holidays that they too, like the people they complain about, miss out on the good parts of the season.

        And certainly now, more than ever before, it would do the country some good to have some money put into it, yes?

        • It's not the gift giving I object to, it's the obligated gift giving. "Oh, it's [X-Mas, Valentine's Day, Birthday, etc.], I need give a gift to X."

          If I want to give someone a gift, I give them a gift. I don't like feeling obligated to do so.
      • Re:Stop spending. (Score:2, Informative)

        by doc_traig ( 453913 )

        I totally agree with you, but consider a couple of things:

        1) It's very hard for the average person to quantify "what's enough." People have a hard enough time deciding how much to spend on who. Imagine the stress involved when those same people feel like they have to do good deeds and the like to fulfill obligations.

        Of course, you could argue that those obligations are figments spawned by an overall need to "return the favor", a spinning wheel happily propelled by the retail establishment and the advertising of all the parties involved.

        2) Many retail businesses live and die by Christmas. If there were an overall attitude adjustment in our culture shifting away from purchasing gifts (turning 12/25 into a holiday more like, say, Thanksgiving or July 4), a whole lot of those businesses would have to close their doors... which leads me to wonder just how many stores and mail order outlets get year-long revenue of levels sufficient to maintain operations.

        - Traig
      • Two points: (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Galvatron ( 115029 ) on Friday December 21, 2001 @06:11PM (#2739335)
        1) I like giving presents.

        2) I like getting presents.

        So fuck off.

      • Re:Stop spending. (Score:3, Informative)

        by eander315 ( 448340 )
        I imagine there are A LOT of people who read /. who won't be spending money on gifts this year: the unemployed.

        All I want for Christmas is a freakin' JOB!

      • December 25th was the day when the prevailing Pagan Roman religion (something to do with sun worship I think) had their highest feast / orgy day. It was decided to place Dec 25 as Christmas to easily nudge people to accept Christianity. So if you look at it from this point of view - materialisim is a long way from orgies. Maybe Christmas isn't so bad after all?

        All kidding aside.. I don't get your argument either

        "Stop spending, start sharing. Christmas shouldn't be about gifts and money, it should be about family and helping each other and being nice to each other."

        I think people I know and love buying me things is being nice - and likwise I feel I am being nice when I buy gifts. No doubt people give gifts under false pretenses, and most likely everyone has accepted a gift that they knew was given to them for a purpose (be it business, avoiding real contact, forgiveness, envy, blah)

        The hushed overtone is "Spend money it is good for the economy" and the dissenters will yell "Don't spend for you are materialistic" - if the situation was one of great prosperity, the same dissenters would probably proclaim "Spend your money on others - What do you need it for"

      • overtly christian?

        Brazil is like 88% catholic, 98% Christian.

    • Hey man, this guy *is* paying respect.

      The birthday boy (Santa Claus) is right there [planetchristmas.com], in *the helicopter*, you can't get much more respectful then that!
    • That's right ... And by golly people ... we need to go back to our churches, and our religious leaders, because we've forgotten what christmas is really all about!!!

      The birth of baby santa claus

    • I don't think I need to spend too much time paying respects to Barbra Mandrell.
    • Really, now, you know people won't really pay attention to the real meaning oy Christmas until they have a Mr. Hanky rubbed in their face to remind them.
    • Happy birthday, Sir Isaac Newton!

    • Why should we celebrate a fake birthday? Do you celebrate your birthday on the actual day or another day during the year?
    • Do you still believe in the easter bunny too? Fantasies are great & all, but why not keep them to yourself, if you must cling onto them into adulthood? Yeesh.
  • A cheery suicide story [planetchristmas.com] for Xmess - Thanx slashdot! .. I'll be hanging out at the mall jabbing sharp products in my eyes if anyone wants to get ahold of me..
  • Wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by daeley ( 126313 ) on Friday December 21, 2001 @04:22PM (#2738803) Homepage
    Imagine a Rudolph cluster of those!
  • Xmas code (Score:4, Funny)

    by TeleoMan ( 529859 ) on Friday December 21, 2001 @04:22PM (#2738804)
    Don't forget:

    better !pout !cry
    better watchout
    lpr why
    santa claus town

    cat /etc/passwd > list
    ncheck list
    ncheck list
    cat list | grep naughty > nogiftlist
    cat list | grep nice > giftlist
    santa claus town

    who | grep sleeping
    who | grep awake
    who | grep bad || good
    for (goodness sake) {
    be good

    Merry Xmas, everyone! :-)
  • by Flarners ( 458839 ) on Friday December 21, 2001 @04:23PM (#2738807) Journal
    Why do computer users always confuse Christmas and Halloween?

    Because DEC 25 = OCT 31.


  • so, is it bright enough to be seen from the international space station? That's one cool project, but I wonder that the MTBF on the lights are? He must have his kids continuously running around replacing bulbs!
  • Boy, there are a lot of Clark W. Griswalds out there!
  • Has anyone though about this:OVERKILL? We have some people in our neighborhood who I think can be aressted for disturbing the peace. But these people... they take the (fruit)cake! The computer-controlled lights are kind of cool, though.
  • Is that part of the GameSpy network?
  • "Ohhhhh it's beautiful clark ..."

    In all honesty this is a bit of overkill ... and I would like to quote this site from http://words.mg2.org/ [mg2.org]

    (It's since been over posted ... but I'll quote what I remember)

    It has come to our attention that there is a huge epedimic crossing the entire nation that strikes right after Thanksgiving and can last till almost Labor Day in some cases.

    No know cure for this disease has been found yet, but researchers are working hard everyday to try and find a cure.

    The name of this epidemic is "Turning your house into a mini godamned Las Vegas", and can be found everywhere.

    I dunno ... I thought it was funny, but I also just got done stringing 4,000 bulbs for my family ... erm ... better go to the doctor I guess.

  • I ended up making a 0.3 mile paper-chain. It went sub-critical and fell off the wall.
  • 4 North Forever (Score:3, Interesting)

    by (startx) ( 37027 ) <[moc.snoitcudorpnupsnu] [ta] [todhsals]> on Friday December 21, 2001 @04:28PM (#2738845) Journal
    My floor in the dorm, Thomas Jefferson 4 North [umr.edu] at the University of Missouri-Rolla, has done this for years. 16 control boxes controlling a total of 96 strands of lights individually. They are also controlled by the serial port of an old 486 running slackware. This year we even played pong. We'll have pictures and a video up soon hopefully at this [umr.edu] page. Okay, so the video won't be that high quality, but the lights kick ass.
  • by Restil ( 31903 ) on Friday December 21, 2001 @04:30PM (#2738854) Homepage
    But you can turn my Xmas lights on/off via the internet. Check out the interactive webcams at []

    The Xmas lights are in the living room. Now I've got motivation to do something more impressive for next year. :)

  • That, and I wonder what happens to TV reception in the area once they plug that sucker in? I only have 2 strands on my tree and the cable guy told me today that that's what's been screwing up the picture.
    • That, and I wonder what happens to TV reception in the area once they plug that sucker in? I only have 2 strands on my tree and the cable guy told me today that that's what's been screwing up the picture.

      You've gotta have pretty crappy cable wiring if a couple strings of Christmas lights give your TV problems. What did they use for the installation, speaker cord?

  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Friday December 21, 2001 @04:33PM (#2738869)
    > This project is definitely NOT limited to controlling christmas lights. The triacs specified in the parts can handle up to 400V, 4A, and can also drive inductive loads (like florescent lights) and don't generate any noise on the digital side because they are isolated.

    D00d, j00 r0ck!

    I built an (analog) gadget like this in college, but this kicks vastly more ass.

    When I saw the story I originally thought of stringing a room full of ultrabright LEDs or doing some case mods (hmm, all the holes in my case glow and pulsate in time to the beat, changing colors as lights mix), but as soon as I saw "triac", I immediately thought "xenon flash lamp", a.k.a. strobe light.

    You've just given the hardware-geek contingent of Slashdot something to build over the holidays, and that's the kind of Christmas present that we've always wanted, and that our relatives never get for us ;-)

    • Just drive the 15 kv transformer with an open collector circuit and generate the frequency with software, unless one kick will do it (it might). Put a diode between the emitter and ground if you need some bias.

  • Damn, that was quick! :)
  • Those pictures on the Danger page are very entertaining. I wish there was a video. Oooo that would be great!
  • by ciurana ( 2603 ) on Friday December 21, 2001 @04:35PM (#2738883) Homepage Journal

    From the "danger" article:

    At that instant 16,600 volts shot through his body.

    There is no way for 16,600 volts of electricity to shooth through anything, even copper wire. We are talking about amps at this point, i.e. the flow of electricity (coulombs/second) depending on the guy's resistance when he touched the other wire. Volts are a measure of "potential energy" not of current, which is what shot through this guy's body.

    I wonder if PCP made him more conductive than the average person. After all, you can really say this guy was pretty wired...

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!


    • I'll admit I didn't read the danger article yet, but from a side not V=IR if the resistance is high (as it would be for a person) and the amps are high. Then the voltage would also be high. This is simple high school physics. Though yes I'm over simplifying it a bit, its the general point.
    • Well, the 16,600 volts is really the *difference* in potential between the two points of his body in contact with the electrodes. Unlike kinetic energy, which is absolute, and dependent wholly on the velocity of the energetic body, potential energy is relative - to what I'm not too sure.

      Of course, there is also the law of conservation of energy, and one often notices that a large potential differential when applied to a body of human origin tends to induce significant amounts of kinetic energy, often manifesting itself into vibrational energy.

      Current in the end, is the rate of flow of charge, and charge as we all know, is measured in Coulombs, or electron Volts.


      • Unlike kinetic energy, which is absolute, and dependent wholly on the velocity of the energetic body, potential energy is relative - to what I'm not too sure.

        Potential energy is measured relative to some point which is designated as zero. For gravitational potential zero is likely the floor of whatever frictionless, airless room the physics problem in question is taking place in. For a system of two charged particles, zero potential is generally chosen to be when the two particles are infinitely distant. Of course, what zero is doesn't matter when you're dealing with potential differences.

        I belive I got that right, but someone please correct me if I'm wrong.

  • And don't forget to listen to Christmas music at my website nopants.org [nopants.org]
  • by TeleoMan ( 529859 ) on Friday December 21, 2001 @04:36PM (#2738890)
    Top 10 things I wanted for Christmas ... but didn't get :(

    1. triple caffeinated penguin mints

    2. semis@slashdot.org ;)

    3. A Hemos action figurine

    4. "Fear the Penguin" T-Shirt signed by bill.

    5. one of them things from fufme.com

    6. a new hotmail exploit on Bugtraq

    7. my shell to say "Merry Christmas - jackass" when I logged in

    8. "slashdot me, baby" boxers.

    9. a /dev/null that gives - and not takes

    10. A Picachu voodoo doll

  • This is a great monument to geek inginuity! However, it would be even better if it could be controlled through Linux! Anyone got a patch or directions to switch over from windows winamp? Thanks!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    You know, I used to think this way too, and then something occurred to me. I figure there's at least three (* somebody pointed out to me years ago that there's a fourth) stages of looking at Christmas (or gift giving in general): Greed. Give me everything. Anti-greed. "No, no, nothing for me...I just want to get everybody else things." Other-awareness. Realizing that when you tell your mom not to buy you anything, that makes her *unhappy*, and that if you really want to concentrate on other people's happiness it won't kill you to make a Christmas list. Anybody that tells me that having a christmas list means not thinking about other people's happiness, i point them to state 3. If it's evil to receive, then there's no point in giving.

    P.S. The fourth state is "Now go do something nice for a total stranger, like volunteer at a soup kitchen, instead of thinking that your friends and family are the only ones that merit your help this year." Not a lot of people get to this one, unfortunately.
  • I wonder if all those lights blinking in sequence causes elliptic seizures in passers by? Possible Lawsuit anyone.
  • I have a get-rich-quick scheme. First, I make a crappy PC game. Second, I title it "Christmas." Lastly, I sign a deal with those "PlanetFreakingEverything" people and have them sue this site for stealing my domain name.
  • If you were a soviet citizen, you'd be enthusiastically crying for the deporation to labor camps of the stupid people who bought *icing* on their *cakes* when they could be using their resources to build more powerful hydroelectric plants, or better tractors. Just think of all the stupid people in california who waste energy using electricity to play silly 3D games, or watch stupid sitcoms on TV (non-productive use of electricity), or huge movie theaters showing silly moving images that don't produce anything.

    Yeah, have sympathy for a company that can afford to shell out a few million dollars to the local congressmen (of course, they are not expecting anything in return), and can afford to hire PR reps who whine about turning off the lights so their employees can make chips in the dark.

    Guys like you need your heads rattled to see if they make a hollow sound. Sheesh. Check your temperature and see if you're alive.

    I bet you probably snitch on your co-workers if they are playing games or reading email jokes, just to boost that 0.0000013 % improvement in the economy.

    Andy Grove himself would send you a personal generic christmas greeting card.

    I bet you're a bundle of fun at Christmas. :)
  • by cdrudge ( 68377 ) on Friday December 21, 2001 @04:46PM (#2738927) Homepage
    Go here [jenningsos...family.com] to see what a real light display can look like. I visited this one year a while back. Rumor had it that his neighbors put complained enough about him putting up 1 million lights on his property that he bought the houses on each side of him and put 1 million lights on each of those properties. After the supreme court wouldn't hear his case, he was forced to shut down his display. Disney ended up getting in contact with him and now he does the Specticle of Lights down at MGM Studios (I think).
  • X10 (Score:5, Funny)

    by cnkeller ( 181482 ) <cnkellerNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday December 21, 2001 @04:46PM (#2738929) Homepage
    Now we know whose been clicking on all those X10 pop-ups....
  • Quick, get the videos before the site goes down. It's probably too late already.
  • I guess thats one way to do it.. but when I was a child I made my christmas lights blink in time to my stereo by just cutting the wires and then plugging it in to my second speaker channels on my stereo.

    It worked and the overall brightness matched how loud I was playing the music.. heh.. hrm.. wonder if I was hurting anything...
    • Rather than connect my lights to my speaker, I connected a tubelight starter to a bunch of 230V bulbs, and kept the starter in front of my woofer.

      The starter naturally causes strobing through thermostatic effect, but the speaker caused extra vibrations, which made the contacts touch, and separate with the beat. The result, lights to the music while the music was on, and plain old blinking while the music was off.

      Just had to be careful that no one touched those bare 230V wires.

      Oh, yeah, encased the whole thing my lego police station.


  • Here's [google.com] Google's [google.com] cache of planetchristmas.com
  • For the morbid.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Xzzy ( 111297 ) <sether AT tru7h DOT org> on Friday December 21, 2001 @05:11PM (#2739037) Homepage
    This link [tripod.com] appears to be the "internet source" of the guy who fried himself on the power line. Criteria being, most pages I found relating to this event pointed to this link.

    I seem to recall seeing other pictures from this event at some point in the past, but they're turning up really hard to find.

    Turns out the guy that did this ended up surviving.. crazy stuff. Wish there was more info on it cuz these sorts of things always facinate me. ;)

  • the 8' inflatable snowmen

    That must be for the real lonely people at christmas i presume?
  • by Bonker ( 243350 ) on Friday December 21, 2001 @05:18PM (#2739064)
    Today is one of the most astronomically, planetary, and mythologically important days of the year, and yet I have heard no one mention the fact that today is the Winter Solstace... the Shortest day of the year in the Norther Hemisphere and the Longest in the Southern.

    The Winter Solstace was one of the most important days of the year for the Celts, Germans, Normans, and other European pagans. As a matter of fact, there is significant evidence that Christmas Day was placed where it is now in the calendar in order to supplant the pagan solstace festivals.

    So, in honor of the Solstace, I'd like to propose a few changes!

    Let's hang sausages from the trees this year instead of garland or glass balls, in remembrance of the ancient warriors who strung the entrails of animals and their enemies (if they were good in battle) all around the ice-covered forest.

    Let's build some ripping big bonfires in order to warm the body and get the blood to boiling.

    Let's see some virgins 'sacrificed' (nudge nudge, wink wink, if you know what I mean) live on the internet!

    Let's also bring out all the old Solstace carols that time has forgot, like these old favorites:

    -"Oh, Come all ye Pagans!"
    -"Deck the halls with well-tanned Goatskins!"
    -"It's beginning to look a lot like Samhain" (A little out of season, but still in the spirit)


    "Let's all Dance Naked 'Round the Old Bonfire"

    Any excuse for a party, right?
  • Looks like he stripped the site off all the content.. got slashdotted a little to hard..
  • Do you guys ever wonder how long the site you just linked will last? I always find it amusing how a site goes down five minutes after it gets Slashdotted.

    Merry Christmas.
  • The Tasmanian Wilderness Society [wilderness.org.au] has decorated a 80 metres (262 ft) tall Eucalyptus tree as a way of attracting attention to the plight of their tall native forests.

    And here's link [lycos.com] more likely to survive the slashdot effect.

  • as Danger is 404.
  • A slightly less ambition project was submitted by apago


    Maybe someone should get CoyboyNeal a grammar checker for christmas.

    On a note related to the article: Got these cool lights at Target for like $5, have 8 different modes and it's a huge strand of them. Check them out for cool lights.

    • Or maybe I should not be a dumbass and notice that CmdrTaco posted the article, not CowboyNeal. I dunno wtf I was thinking.

      I should stop reading the polls, warping my mind.

  • by Jebediah21 ( 145272 ) on Friday December 21, 2001 @06:35PM (#2739428) Homepage Journal
    Nice to see PlanetChristmas gets the wonderful gift of a /.ing this year.
  • It's been slashdotted!
  • by PlaysWithMatches ( 531546 ) on Friday December 21, 2001 @07:32PM (#2739672) Homepage
    ... forgetting the true meaning of Christmas: The birth of Santa?

  • Great.... (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    You've slashdotted Christmas.
  • I've tried several times throughout the day to access the site, and it's STILL /.'ed as of 18:56 PST.
  • bah (Score:5, Funny)

    by ghostshadow-tec.net ( 544343 ) on Saturday December 22, 2001 @12:05AM (#2740231)
    Only kick I get out of xmass is making the kids behave by saying "Now Behave Otherwise Santa Will Eat One Of His Reindeer." Well it works till the 25th
  • http://www.noradsanta.org/english/index.html [noradsanta.org]

    Other than Troll Tuesday, it's my favorite web-based holiday theme.

  • well i do it every year, and most everyone has probably seen it, but this is a scientific article (dont worry, it's hilarious-- from the online "hitchhikers guide to the galaxy) into the existence of a santa claus.
    http://www.hawo.stw.uni-erlangen.de/~asheiduk/pgg/ 02R/02R055.html [uni-erlangen.de]

Happiness is twin floppies.