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Build Your Own Cityscape 251

Hoagy writes "Many friends think I've moved when I show them this picture. I've constructed a lit model of midtown Manhattan to fill an otherwise unspectactular view out of our kitchen window. The website details the construction process and how to design and build your own. The city lights also automatically turn on/off via an X10 cronjob on my home Linux server." Nice hack job.
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Build Your Own Cityscape

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  • When the new towers are erected, will you update the cityscape?
  • by Fantanicity ( 583135 ) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @11:55PM (#3657638) Journal

    I live in a city ... I'd like a view of trees and fields and stars at night please.
  • Late night TV Like David Letterman, Jay Leno, and
    Conan O'Brian. Not an original idea, but
    nice to see it in practice.

    • extra decorations (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Friday June 07, 2002 @01:04AM (#3657878) Journal
      Late night TV Like David Letterman, Jay Leno, and Conan O'Brian. Not an original idea, but nice to see it in practice.

      What he needs now is something like a small model airplane or a ufo to go across every once in a while. or maybe a monorail or other futurama type decoration.

      Or cutouts from magazines of small people to put into the windows of the sky scrapers. all kinds of little details that make it come alive.

      • He should have used lego. That stuff is the sh#t.
      • What he needs now is something like a small model airplane ... go across every once in a while

        Well, it *is* model of midtown Manhattan, it'll take some fancy work to have the plane vanish in a fireball every once in a while without damaging the model.

        Before anyone flames me for my sense of humor, I live near NYC and the fighter jets that orbit the city fly right over my house. I even witnessed a pair of fighters zoom in on a passenger jet, one at point-blank range, and escort it to the airport. Freaky.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 06, 2002 @11:58PM (#3657654)
    It would last about 5 minutes. Little kids find a little city just perfect for sight-seeing. The problem is that they like the godzillia view...
  • Nice work, impressive and well-thought out. Kudos for showing us the steps you took.

    One thing, you need some better color. For a second I thought it was real, then I noticed how black and white it was, and how all the windows were exactly the same size.

    Anybody know what other colors the lights should be? More yellow-ish?

  • Would there be any way for /. to have an indicator on the story heading to indicate that the site being linked in the story is currently slashdotted?

    And maybe keep track of the slashdot effect in terms of intensity and duration...

    I bet this would really help the poor souls out there whose sites are brought down by the barbaric hordes...
  • by Anne_Nonymous ( 313852 ) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @11:58PM (#3657659) Homepage Journal
    1. What ugly view did it cover up?


    2. What did the neighbors build to keep from having to look at the back of the project?
  • Ha (Score:4, Funny)

    by cascino ( 454769 ) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @11:58PM (#3657660) Homepage
    The city lights also automatically turn on/off via an X10 cronjob on my home Linux server.
    Methinks they'll be off for awhile under once the /. effect's been unleashed on that poor server.
  • This guy... (Score:5, Funny)

    by phillymjs ( 234426 ) <> on Thursday June 06, 2002 @11:59PM (#3657668) Homepage Journal
    ...gets my vote for the "Too Much Time On His Hands Award of the Week."

    Bonus points for bringing a Slashdotting upon himself.

    • And also an award for 'Optimist of the Year'.

      From a page in the how-to:

      ... and conveniently the graphics startup I was working for was soon going to lay me off ...[emphasis added]

      I bet he sees a lot of glasses as half-full.

    • Well it's a sure fire way to test a server. I can see it know:

      Guy1: Hey can you help me. I need to load test the server.

      Guy2: Sorry I don't have the time. ( Jokingly ) Heh, why don't you submit your city line model to Slashdot, it's a pretty cool hack.

      Guy1: ( Thinking to himself) That's not a bad idea...

      The next morning...

  • by PrimeWaveZ ( 513534 ) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @11:59PM (#3657671)
    Also have a setup where it would look like cars were in front of my house, put shadows in my windows, and have cron job play music on Friday and Saturday nights to make it look like I have a life. Now THAT would have to look convincing.
  • My Window? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Peridriga ( 308995 ) on Friday June 07, 2002 @12:04AM (#3657697)
    My window is covered by a big black peice of fabric to block out light....

    What's so great about the outside...

    What day of the week is it?

    Weatherbug says it's really nice outside...

    Hmm... lemme check to see if it's gotten cloudy again so I can get my mail without getting sunburned....
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 07, 2002 @12:06AM (#3657707)
    How to blow 5 months of your life.

    What is it?
    Approximately 7 feet past the window is a large (Your mother's been talking about me again has she?) single plane of wood with windows cut into it. The 7 x 11 foot plane of wood is actually two layers of wood with a ~1" air gap where xmas lights are mounted to light up the inside. The front plane is thin (1/8") and has the 1540 windows cut into it while the back plane of wood is 1/2" sheets of plywood. The xmas lights (about 700 lights) are mounted behind the front plane so that the light bounces off of the plywood (back plane) to scatter the light so that pinpoints of light are not visible. The models of the Empire State and Chrysler buildings consist of multiple layers in order to simulate the effect of having lights shining on their own roofs.
    Most of the display is painted in light grey latex paint for both weather-proofing and tinting of the light coming from the inside. However the front is painted dark grey to make it blend into the night sky above.

    How Did You Build It? - Background

    Last summer (summer of 2001) I thought of this idea to make the view out of our kitchen window more interesting. Previously the view only consisted of the backs of some tall bushes but did allow lots of sunlight to enter in the mornings. The bushes were approximately 10 feet away which provided ample room to be creative. Very near that time we saw a video for the song "This Isn't Maybe" by Waldeck on Mtv2 which had a model of a city outside a balcony. The buildings were swaying to the music... this provided an example of what such a thing might look like.
    Then America had a really bad Tuesday morning in September and all of my fond memories of New York City were resurrected. The cityscape project became much more interesting and conveniently the graphics startup I was working for was soon going to lay me off which meant lots of free time.

    I started looking into photos of NYC in detail.. noticing the perspective effects on windows and rooftops of skyscrapers. Part of me wanted to do a realistic model, but at the same time a surrealistic (idealistic?) (stylized?) approach was attractive. Then I found "the one" (see photo right).. a photo online of the view that I had in mind. I wanted a view of midtown Manhattan at the 40-60th floor level. Distant bridges and the street level would be even more difficult to simulate, so this photo conveniently and naturally occluded these troublesome features of the real NYC.

    From here on, I had a much more concrete idea of what I wanted to create.

    How To Design Your Own Cityscape
    1. Find A Photo

    Start by collecting photos of the city that you're interested in. Building details as well as overall city layout are important. The internet is a vast resource for this and I found lots of good pics at . Find a photo that is at least close to the view you are looking for (see pic right). This is where you start your design.

    Then, using this picture or set of pictures as your basis, you'll want to tailor it to your needs. Some things that you'll want to look at are scale, size, perspective, and complicated details.

    Scale is important because you want to simulate the proper distance to the skyline. For example, if the model is too small, it will appear as if your house/apartment is too far away or too high up.

    When considering size, realize that as you approach your window, your field of view widens. So you actually need to make the city larger than the window if there is going to be any distance between the city and the window. Distance between the city and the window increases realism in two ways. When walking past the window, you want the city to shift in relation to the window frame just like it would with a real city view. This is a natural effect called parallax that your brain uses every day to judge distance. The other reason for placing the city out several feet, is to minimize your ability to use stereo vision to see the distance to an object. Human stereo vision is only effective to 12-18 feet.

    Perspective is the feature that will really sell your city as a realistic view. Notice top to bottom perspective as well as depth perspective. Top to bottom is pretty easy.. mount the city so that the average person's eye height is going to be level with the floors of windows that do not slope up or down. Mine is slightly off center top-to-bottom in order to fit more skyscrapers in, but it isn't obvious to most people. You'll need to make a judgement call on how much depth perspective to use. Was the original photo taken with a really wide angle lens?

    You will also want to choose a photo without complicated details or edit them out. If you're an expert model maker, then by all means build a Brooklyn Bridge. It would look fantastic! But the rest of us will probably want to tone down the complication. This project is going to be laborious enough as it is. Avoid street-level views because the streets of a city are usually very animated and a static street scene will look odd.

    How To Design Your Own Cityscape
    2. Edit Photo

    Use your favorite image editor (GIMP, Paintshop Pro, etc) and adapt your chosen photo to your needs. For example, I needed to make the sky black and experiment with placement of the Chrysler building. For a while, I was experimenting with placement of the Twin Towers closer to the foreground. And ultimately I inserted a building very close to our viewpoint for an added depth effect.

    I suggest that you do *all* of your experimentation on the computer. It takes way more time to re-carve out all those windows if you screw up on wood.
    With modern editing programs you can assign buildings to layers and easily move them around to get the arrangement just right. Make some features more obvious.. such as windows in the photo that aren't very clear. You'll need to use your eye and imagination to create any detail that may be missing from the photo. Notice that I added more floors below those featured in the original photograph.
    By creating a crude cardboard cutout of the city outline, I determined that I needed to model the lower floors for when my guests would approach the kitchen sink and look down.

    Finally, place a grid over your final design. I imported the image into AutoCAD, scaled it to be actual size, and then placed a grid of 2" x 2" lines over it. You'll use this grid to transition the design to wood.

    How To Design Your Own Cityscape
    3. Design Your Skyscrapers

    I learned the hard way that I could not create a good (detailed) model of a skyscraper without a very detailed design. The Empire State and Chrysler buildings have features lit up by flood lights on their exterior. You can't simulate that effect with windows. I started out making a prototype of the Empire and it turned out awful (see pic right).

    So I created a detailed design in Autocad and then printed out the design on 11x17 paper at full-scale. I could then cut out the various pieces of the Empire State from the paper and use them as stencils on the wood. Use 1/32" tolerances on everything for a much better fit. 1/16" turns out sloppy.

    Because of limited room in my skyscapers, I cut holes in the back support and inserted the xmas lights deep into these holes. I used particle board because I could cut holes for xmas lights much closer together in particle board whereas plywood would just splinter apart.

    Each skyscraper probably won't need a whole 50 or 100 lights, so if you take lights out of the strand, you'll need to insert a resistor so that the remaining lights don't burn brighter and burn out quickly. I've found that a string of 50 lights usually consumes about 10 Watts, so since I only needed 23 lights on the Empire State building, I removed the unneeded lights and inserted a 5 Watt 127 Ohm resistor.

    How To Design Your Own Cityscape
    4. Build A Small Prototype

    With this prototype, you will be testing paint colors, window sizes, some perspective, light placement, practice cutting the materials, and skyscraper details. I made my prototype to be approx 1 foot square and used some of the window sizes that I knew I would be using. In addition, it had the beginnings of an Empire State building on the top.

    Some of the things I learned from this: 1) Natural wood color would look very warm and artistic, but also looked a lot like a jack-o-lantern. 2) I could not build an Empire State building that looked good simply by free-hand drawing the pieces. Calculated CAD work was called for instead. 3) The smallest windows would need to be punched out because no jigsaw blade is small enough to cut out a 1/8" window.

    How To Design Your Own Cityscape
    5. Build Skyscrapers

    Your skyscrapers are going to bring a lot of detail to your model. So spend the time to make them look good. Your prototype gave you the opportunity to screw up all you wanted without it being the real deal. Notice the big difference on the photo to the left between when I was at the prototype stage and when it came time to make the Chrysler Building.

    My Chrysler and Empire State buildings needed to consist of several layers in order to simulate the effect of spotlights shining up on a building's rooftop. AutoCAD helped me immensely in deciding how the various layers were going to fit together. Then the best part was that with AutoCAD I could plot out my design in real world (1" = 1") scale and use it as a stencil.

    I didn't have room to fit the lights on the inside of the model, so I just cut holes in the support board and inserted the lights perpendicularly. But here, too, I needed to insert a resistor in the string of lights because I was only using half of the strand.

    How To Design Your Own Cityscape
    6. Build The Support Framework

    The framework is pretty easy.. If you're not expecting much wind, it only has to be a couple feet deep. You can use 2x4s and wood screws. Be sure to run the back supports up a significant portion of the back of the display. If your skyline has dips in it, you'll want to keep the framework from showing through. Once the city is built, just run 2" wood screws into the supporting 1/2" plywood back.

    The Cityscape Project

    7. Build The City

    7a. Draw Out The Design
    This step takes a surprisingly long time to complete. On a large flat surface, take your 1/8" hardboard 8' x 4' sheet and with pencil draw out the grid that you placed over your city design and label the rows/columns. Then begin drawing the window grids. You'll want to draw out an entire building's window grid using straight edges and then X out the windows that are going to be cut out. This keeps all your windows straight and even. Also draw out the skyline that will be exposed on the top. Mark everything clearly so that there are no mistakes with the jigsaw!

    7b. Cut Out Windows
    Another tedious task; place your hardboard sheet on sawhorses and begin by cutting out the unneeded skyline area. On small windows, you'll have to just drill one 1/4" hole in them and use the jigsaw blade to cut out the corners. On larger windows, drill two holes per window in opposite corners, then use the jigsaw to cut inside the lines. I went through 3 jigsaw blades very easily on the 1540 windows I had to cut out.

    7c. Draw And Cut Support Backing
    Place your 1/2" x 8'x4' plywood sheet on the sawhorses and then lay your cut out hardboard sheet on top. Trace the outline of the skyline onto the plywood and cut it out.

    7d. Glue On Trim And Spacers
    Now you need to measure, cut, and paste the trim pieces. The trim creates a gap between the hardboard layer and plywood layer where the lights can do their magic. Do all of the measuring and cutting before you begin gluing. Leave the bottom open for any water to drain out. Also place a trim piece (remember to cut notches out of it for later wiring) horizontally halfway up the display for support.
    You will also want to put 2"x2" spacers scattered through the design. These spacers will be the attachment points for the plywood support panel. With mine I used 1/4" x 1+3/8" trim and conveniently 3 2"x2" cuts of plywood stacked created the perfect 1+3/8" spacer. Glue everything well and use weights to make the various pieces of trim make good contact with the hardboard. This step isn't too time consuming compared to everything else. Don't use Elmer's Wood Glue, it will melt in the rain!

    7e. Paint Everything
    This takes forever. Paint the plywood backing and hardboard / trim pieces completely. You want to seal the wood from the elements outside. This means you need to paint the edges around each and every window. Ugh.. painful. A large (4") paintbrush works for most of the plywood, but the edges of the plywood and window panel needs a tiny brush and a 2" brush. I've found that it works best to paint a small area of the back side first, then move to the front to paint and clean the paint out of the corners of the windows and then move back to the back to touch up any runs back there.
    After the whole panel is painted, you may want a different color on the front of the display. An easy way to do this is to use a paint roller that has only a light amount of paint on it.

    7f. Mount Lights
    Place your hardboard/trim panel (frontside - down) on a flat surface and glue the lights to the back. Hot glue seems to work the best and is cheap but don't glue the actual bulbs down; you'll want to be able to replace the bulbs as they burn out. Try to keep the lighting even, although you might apply more for close buildings and less for far away buildings. Keep in mind any angle that the viewer will be at and hide the lights / wires from sight.

    Construction Tips
    I used 1/8" hardboard for the front panel, 1/4" x 1 3/8" door trim strips as spacers, and 1/2" plywood for the back support. The frame that holds this large thing upright and at the proper distance off of the ground is made of 2x4s. 1" countersunk screws connect the back support to spacers glued to the front hardboard panel.
    Laying out the design onto the hardboard is as tedious as cutting out the windows. Don't draw the windows free-hand. At least in my experience, the best looking windows are produced with measurement and proper angles. Remember that the windows on a building are usually very aligned and your eye picks up on this alignment very easily. The few windows that I tried to eye-ball or free-draw turned out much less acceptable. So usually you must draw out a grid of windows for each building and then "X" out the ones that are going to have lights on inside.

    Glue: don't use Elmer's Wood Glue since it melts in the rain. I've been using Franklin International's Titebond II weatherproof wood glue but haven't had a rainstorm to test its durability.

    Jigsaws: The Bosch 1587AVSP is a fantastic jigsaw. It's very balanced for a smooth cut and design features like the quick change blades are very handy as well. I used this saw for most of the project and while cutting out the windows I went through three 1/4" blades that cut on the up and down stroke.

    Some of the windows on far away buildings are too small to use a jigsaw. I ended up using a 1/8" screwdriver (like the ones used to repair eyeglasses) and a hammer to chisel out these windows.

    Collect your xmas lights during the xmas season. It's very difficult to find inexpensive xmas light strings off-season.

    If you have trouble with seeing the pinpoints of xmas light out of the windows of your skyscrapers, try covering the inside of your windows with wax paper. It will diffuse the light a bit.

    When designing the city, use a large piece of cardboard as a rough approximation for what you're thinking. Mount it to a light-weight frame and see if it looks like you imagined.
    TOTAL: $394.31

    Special Thanks To:
    These people helped the project out either with loaned/donated equipment, patience/understanding, or just plain cash.
    Dave and Mary
    Uncle Scott
    Mom and Dad
    Both Grandmas
    Dan, Stacey, and Rich

    Direct Access Index
    What Is It?
    How Did You Build It? - Background
    How To Design Your Own.
    1. Find A Photo
    2. Edit The Photo
    3. Design Skyscrapers
    4. Build A Small Prototype
    5. Build Skyscrapers
    6. Build The Framework
    7. Build The City
    7a. Draw Out The Design
    7b. Cut Out Windows
    7c. Draw And Cut Support Backing
    7d. Glue On Trim And Spacers
    7e. Paint Everything
    7f. Mount Lights
    Construction Tips
    Equipment List / Cost

    © 2002 Ryan Hoagland
  • I wonder who's going to come up with the idea of making a cover for a 40 in plasma screen that simulates a window and have a stationary webcam hooked up to it... That way, the office lights on the 17th floor turn on to follow the janitors.
    And no need to break out the jigsaw when another buiding goes up.
    • Heh. Neat idea, but I prefer his approach. The nice thing about his is that it is stereoscopic. It's easier to settle into the illusion because even at a distance, the Plasma Screen will be noticable.

      However, what I really do like about your idea is that I could play with different ideas, like have stars streaking by like my house is at warp. I know, that's pretty geeky, but it'd be a fun project. :)
  • by tcd004 ( 134130 ) on Friday June 07, 2002 @12:07AM (#3657713) Homepage
    Do you charge $11.95 for tiny grilled chese sandwichs in your kitchen now?s

    Buy your fav baseball player's steroid-merchandise! []
  • Pretty cool looking, I think it's a shame that the 'cityscape' isn't visible from the 'bay window beside the dining table' (hypothetical, I haven't been in this man's house. :)
    The view is a little less impressive coming from the inside of a homely looking kitchen window. (No disrespect!, I'm currently living at home with my mother after losing my job in the i-net/.com debacle, So I guess I don't have room to talk about living in a classy place :)
  • Cronjob. That sounds so dirty.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 07, 2002 @12:09AM (#3657720)
    you added Godzilla rampaging through...
  • Nice..... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tiwason ( 187819 )
    I'm glad folks take the time to document these projects so nicely...

    I always imagine nothing will come out right and no one would want to look at anything i do....

  • Realism? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by ludey ( 302445 )
    Well you should light that ESB up red white and blue like they do here for real. In honor of our fallen 9/11 heroes. If you're REALLY into it you can turn it off at 11:59 pm every night like they do as well.

    BTW 10 karma points to anyone who could give me an exact location as to where that view would be from!
    • Re:Realism? (Score:3, Interesting)

      The view is on Park Avenue looking south, somewhere in the low to mid Fifties, on the east side of the street.
      • You can't see the Chrysler Bldg from that point on Park. The Met Life bldg blocks your view, as do all of the other tall bldg's along Lexington Ave north of the Chrysler. I seems a view like that would only come from an upper floor in a bldg on a side street between Lexington and Park.
        • Re:Realism? (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Well that's what I meant by the east side of Park Avenue. The right hand side of the view is taken from the picture on the right hand side of I think I may have been to a party in the spot where the photo the view is based on was taken. There is a condo in a pretty tall building at around 57th street. Notice you can see almost to street level of the building on the west side of Park Avenue with the multiple setbacks. I'm pretty sure you would be able to look straight down on the avenue there. There is a big black area that is the top of a building on the east side of Park Avenue. Maybe I'll take a walk over there this weekend. I know I recognize the building with all the setbacks The photo is from at least 30 floors up, probably more. The upper left hand side of the model is pretty much made up from the imagination. The Chrysler building is too short and close for one thing.

          Anyway the "Met Life" building ( I still call it the Pan Am building ) straddles Park Avenue and in both the photo and the model you can see it and the silhouette of the New York Central building (some people refer to it as the Helmsley Building ) in front of it, right about where you would expect to see them from the east side of Park Avenue.
  • by nadaou ( 535365 ) on Friday June 07, 2002 @12:13AM (#3657738) Homepage
    Seems wasteful, expensive, hazardous to do all of this with 700 Xmas lights. Why not use LEDs?

    mA on the dollar.
    • 700 xmas lights: about $30

      700 white LED's: about $2100

      And 700 xmas lights are hardly hazardous; we had over 1500 of them in our dorm room. It was just right
      • > 700 white LED's: about $2100

        No one says you have to use high output white LEDs.
        1,000 amber LEDs from DigiKey: $122.23, p/n P365-ND. Or about $85 for 700 if you can move the other 300.

        > we had over 1500 of them in our dorm room.

        overly simplified:
        60mW * 700 LEDs => 42 watts.
        5w * 700 bulbs => 3,500 watts. (if only 1/2w bulbs, still 350w)

        It the real world, you have to pay (directly) for power. If you spent five months putting the skyline together, I'd assume you would be in it for the longer term; recurrent power bill negates higher initial layout.

        > And 700 xmas lights are hardly hazardous

        700 hand wired bulbs on a 110v line (solder*1400 chances to fuck up) vs. the 5v line off an old PC power supply...

        well, the main danger with xmas lights of course is when they are bunched up over dried out xmas trees. Ask your local fire dept how many family homes go poof! every mid-jan. Of course this doesn't apply, and it is outside with lots of ventalation, but a munching squirrel could conceivably burn down the city in a raging holocaust.

        Not to mention the 3 year upgrade cycle the bulbs introduce into the TCO.. ;)
  • Remember in BTTF 2, the "Scene Screen" or whatever that was in the McFly's living room of 2015 that was tuned to the Scenery Channel? I might buy one of those, and it would look a lot better from the outside. Let's see this guy take some business initiative and crank something good out!
  • Well, my city scape would be the free beer truck pulling up to my driveway, the girls gone wild partying in my front yard, and the cops hauling off the asshole neighbor I have who always wants to tell me about his work for the 'cia' investigating Intel amd their link to the former USSR(This ain't no lie, his day job is locksmith).
    Oh yeah, and before I forget 50 foot Penguin scaring the shit outta all the Windows users I have to support on a daily basis. Life would then be good.
  • by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Friday June 07, 2002 @12:22AM (#3657771) Homepage Journal
    C'mon guys, he did something artistic to his place that's kinda cool. I'm seriously disappointed with the negativity that I have read so far.

    "Oh it's unoriginal because it's done on the news" -- Amusing logic considering that a news station can hire a crew of professionals to build something like that.

    "Waste of time!" -- Yah, like there aren't people out there who think posting stupid comments like that on Slashdot isn't a waste of time. Never mind that he did it during a period of unemployment. I'll tell you something, I know a few people who got laid off in the last year or two, and they turned into total bums during that period. Frankly, I think it's cool that somebody used his artistic skill to improve his living conditions instead of sitting around, playing Quake, and behaving as if the world shit on him/her.

    Before you make your negative post about what this guy did, ask yourself: What independent project have YOU taken on? Did you do anything remotely as ambitious? Did you release information about how you did it?

    Consider this: When you say "this isn't original because something like that's been done before...", how much did you oversimplify your idea before you came to that conclusion? There was a post earlier that said "Nothing new, they do this on the news all the time." To make a comment like that, they had to filter out conditions like 'News stations pay extra money for stuff like that to appear local.' and "It's an uncommon thing for home-owners to do something like that." That's a lot of information to throw out, and what is the benefit? "Oh, I'm unimpressed. That makes me sound like I've seen more than most people."

    When somebody works to create something like that, it really hurts to have people not like it because they're unwilling to put more than a moment's thought into it.
    • I for one am very impressed. If not for just the project that he completed but the fact that he has somehow managed to keep his server up. I didn't think it was even theoretically possible one a home sever to stand up to the /. effect, much less do so while quickly loading large jpegs!!
    • I know a few people who got laid off in the last year or two, and they turned into total bums during that period.

      Are you implying that is a bad thing? Its my dream! (except for the no money part)

    • Oh, I'm unimpressed.

      For some reason geeks have a bad habit of criticizing everything. It goes with the culture. See definition 4 of this entry in the jargon file [] for more information.

      My favorite example of this is: whenever I explain *anything* that I've done to a coworker, the first thing they always say is "Why don't you just..."

      Yes, that's just the way geeks are. I'm waiting for Katz to pick up on this!
      • the first thing they always say is "Why don't you just..."

        The worst part is when they pick the most obvious, first thing you thought of... as if you're a moron! They never stop and think "Hmm he probably already thought of that and found a problem.". Instead, they try to roll it up into a ball of mud and sling it at ya.

        There is a sizable chunk of the Slashdot population (that ever responded to my posts...) that I wish would learn some etiquette. Is it really that hard to phrase it like this:

        "Did you try doing this?" Instead of "WTF didn't you do it this way? God, you must be thick!".
        • Not trolling:
          As a geek, I hang out with a few other geeks, but most of my interactions are with more normal people. When they come to me with a problem, I have learned to start by the "Have you tried [most obvious solution]yet?" and work my way up, because an amazingly surprising amount of times they haven't tried what I thought was obvious. Is the "did you turn on your monitor?" syndrome.
          It's not self-sufficiency, it's an acknowledgment that even the best of them sometimes forget the obvious, and that troubleshooting starts from the simplest. And, in many cases, they don't really know if your just another luser in need of a LART-inflinged lesson....
          • Hmmm I probably wasn't very clear, my apologies. I don't mind when ppl suggest obvious stuff, it's when they suggest it, assume it's the right answer, and then treat you like you're a moron over it.

            I had a guy call me a twit the other day because I said Slashdot doesn't parse posts. I thought it didn't, but there was something I failed to notice: When somebody creates a hyperlink, you can see the domain name added after it. Oops!

            I made the mistake because I post quite a bit on other forums. VBulletin, for example, automatically parses http lines and makes them into hyperlinks. Simple mistake! One guy didn't think so, though. "You are so a twit." Was the response I got.

            Was that necessary? Nope. He could have been polite. He could have said "Actually, /. does parse posts, you can tell because..." and I would have agreed that he's right and all's well.

            I am soooooooooooooooo sick of that.

            I'm happy, though. Everybody who's responded to this thread has been quite polite and it is *very much* appreciated. :)
  • Why not try doing what this guy did []? (Not me, btw).

    He put up a wallpaper mural in his living room. Seems like a lot less work, and it still looks pretty cool.

  • The city lights also automatically turn on/off via an X10 cronjob on my home Linux server

    You know what? Tell your X10 cronjob to take a break. I think we're gonna turn off your lights for you tonight... no no, don't thank us. It's our pleasure.

    .... in fact, you don't really have much of a choice now, do you :)
  • David Letterman had better watch out, we're going to replace him with another clown sitting in front of another city backdrop, and we'll throw in Hanson to replace Paul Schaffer.
  • by nihilogos ( 87025 ) on Friday June 07, 2002 @12:48AM (#3657841)
    Well, if that site is also hosted on his "home linux server" then it wont be running any cron jobs for a little while.
    • Introducing task priorities, or whatever Linux calls them. Thats right, you can now have stuff that wants to use all available CPU run without severely impacting other stuff, unless the scheduler is whacked, or something, dude.
  • A couple of points (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mosch ( 204 ) on Friday June 07, 2002 @12:51AM (#3657849) Homepage
    Firstly, that site seems to be getting slashdotted, so here's a mirror. []

    Secondly, to the people who say it's a waste of time, there are those who would say that posting on slashdot is a waste of time, yet you clearly enjoy it. Leisure is incredibly important, yet far too many people do anything other than sit on their couches, and watch TV. This, to me, is a really interesting artistic project, not only improving the view, but also improving the soul.

    Thanks for sharing your project with the world!

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Right out of Resident Evil (the movie), as soon as I saw the pic, I thought; How many stories below ground do they live? =)


  • Good thing I saw the site before it was posted. Maybe adding a superhero swinging between the building would be a nice touch. :)
  • cron job? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mech9t8 ( 310197 ) on Friday June 07, 2002 @01:06AM (#3657887)
    Pretty damn neat. ;)

    But I'm wondering what exactly the cron job does... is it just a highly complex substitute for a light timer, or does it do things like turn off lights in sequence or something?
  • exactly how does the cron job make the lights turn on and off? i didn't see it in the tutorial.

    otherwise, cool.
  • I have to admit, the basic ideas of doing it, reguardless of what you want to look at, is quite innovative for home use. I'm sitting here in my basement pondering to myself, 'Hey, is this something I could do in the little window wells I have down here?'

    While I might not choose a cityscape to gaze up at in my tiny window down here, I'm sure about anything is better than looking up at my neighbors house!
  • by moniker_21 ( 414164 ) on Friday June 07, 2002 @01:38AM (#3657968)
    this is just one of the coolest hacks I've seen in a long long time. Besides the fact that he designed it in a cad program, you actually (well, I do at least) get the feeling that I'm looking out of an apartment window many many stories up. What an unbelievable feeling! Kudos to this guy for "thinking outside the box" and doing something really new and cool!
  • Hrmm... (Score:2, Funny)

    by T3kno ( 51315 )
    Would it be in bad tase for the kid next door to fly his model airplanes into this?
  • I thought I saw a music video on unplugged or amp where they guy did this and they girl he had over to show it off to tipped a building over or something.

    Regardless of its origins, its a hell of alot cooler than the nasty grass and 8-month-dead marigold I have in the flowerbox outside my kitchen window.
  • Having this view is proof that you are hardcore bridge and tunnel. The only people who have this view are from brooklyn,queens or new jersey. The view to have in manhattan is of central park and you won't have it for under 10 million.
  • by Uberminky ( 122220 )
    I don't want to be yet another annoying loser on this site (hah!), but.. Yes, usage of words change, and all of that. But when I hear most people use the term "hack job", it is usually meant in a derogatory manner. I myself use it all the time: "It's finished, but it's a real hack." By that I don't mean "It's really cool and geeky", rather I mean "It's a piece of crap but it was cheap and fast and it does the job".

    It doesn't necessarily float MY boat, but this guy seems to have put together a pretty cool little project that he's clearly proud of. I congratulate him, and thank him for his contribution. But I think the word "hack" (used by the editor) is extremely overused on this site, and at the risk of sounding like a pedant and inviting the hoards of /.ers to pick every nit in my post, this seemed like a downright incorrect usage to me. "Nice hack job"... I'd rather have insightful commentary than me-too jargon slinging and elitism. "Cool hack" would have been more appropriate, but even then the term "hack" (in this sense) grows so tiresome.

  • He picked a crappy view if you ask me. I mean, if you can pick anything you want, wouldn't you build a view from the top?

    Heck, mine would be a view out of the window of the ISS. Hm. That might get a bit expensive, though...
  • I have a room with a view of a garage, I was going to install a light box with a transparency of some thing interesting. I haven't decided what yet. But this is really a cool idea I wish I had clearance behind the window for some thing like it.. It would also be cool if some how the lights changed, like some turning on and off at random to simulate people.
    Over all, very cool!
  • by Nathdot ( 465087 ) on Friday June 07, 2002 @02:59AM (#3658125) got yourself one fucking ugly view of cardboard cut-outs!!! Way to go.

  • Isn't that a bit overkill tech-wise for a task that could probably be performed by a cheap programmable timer (such as this one, for 9 bucks [])? Especially since low tech programmable timers tend not to be vulnerable to slashdotting.
  • by l810c ( 551591 )
    I'm going to do something similar. Here's the photo I'm startin wit.

    TrailerScape []

  • box cutter (already had)

    Hmm, terrorist in training?
  • by Inoshiro ( 71693 ) on Friday June 07, 2002 @11:18AM (#3659717) Homepage
    Is someone to change his cronjob so the city scape flashes "CRASH N BURN" across a few adjacent buildings ;)

  • I can see why he used a jigsaw to cut the edge of the skyline, but to cut out all those windows he would have been better served with a Roto-zip tool. Cutting out 1,540 windows with a jigsaw would take forever!
  • I have a view of uptown manhattan from my window... only cost me $1350 a month. I guess your way is cheaper. And I can't see the Empire State or Chrysler Building.

    I can see the Frederick Douglas Houses tho.. ;)
  • Total Recall (Score:4, Informative)

    by gol64738 ( 225528 ) on Friday June 07, 2002 @03:08PM (#3661285)
    in the movie Total Recall, an entire wall was devoted to a landscape scenic view (using 3 panels) that turned into a television (using 1 panel).

    i think that this portrayal is a very real indication of what we will have in the near future.

I've looked at the listing, and it's right! -- Joel Halpern