Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Christmas Cheer Toys

Alek's Christmas Lights: Humbug 327

g00set writes "Alek's Christmas lights story was previously covered on Slashdot here, however the Denver Channel is now reporting that it was all a hoax: 'The Lafayette man said he accomplished the trickery by taking 12 "base" photographs of the house with lights on and off and then constructed a Web page that appeared to show lights going on and off when the Web visitor clicked.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Alek's Christmas Lights: Humbug

Comments Filter:
  • No fooling (Score:3, Informative)

    by eigerface ( 526490 ) on Monday December 27, 2004 @07:20PM (#11195273)

    I discovered the same thing at 12 noon Denver time when a night time shot of the house was listed as "live".

  • Alek Comments (Score:5, Informative)

    by xmas2003 ( 739875 ) * on Monday December 27, 2004 @07:30PM (#11195369) Homepage
    Hey /.'ers ... it was all fun ... I'm SLAMMED ... will say more later ... but be SURE to read MY story of the events [] and also what Wall Street Journal guy wrote [] ... and then if you want, go to that Channel-7 site [] and cast your vote if I was naughty or nice!
  • by Takyn-U-RUN ( 803154 ) on Monday December 27, 2004 @07:36PM (#11195424)
    Read what Alex himself has to say about the hoax. [] Pretty interesting to hear it from the man himself instead a news agency ticked off at him for fooling them.
  • by CanSpice ( 300894 ) on Monday December 27, 2004 @07:38PM (#11195444) Homepage
    Google doesn't pay per view, Google pays per click. If you can make some kind of guess as to his clickthrough rate then you can guess at how much money he made.

    But that payment rate also depends on the kind of ad clicked on. Sometimes I get 3 cents a click, sometimes I get 75 cents a click. Over the past month and a half I've averaged just under 17.5 cents per click.
  • by CarnivoreMan ( 827905 ) on Monday December 27, 2004 @07:45PM (#11195492)
    did you read the FAQ? []
    How do you verify the accuracy of Slashdot stories? We don't. You do. :) If something seems outrageous, we might look for some corroboration, but as a rule, we regard this as the responsibility of the submitter and the audience. This is why it's important to read comments. You might find something that refutes, or supports, the story in the main."
  • Re:LOL (Score:4, Informative)

    by JUSTONEMORELATTE ( 584508 ) on Monday December 27, 2004 @07:49PM (#11195530) Homepage
    Well, he lives about a mile from me, so I did consider driving by to play with it "live" before Christmas. Turns out, his house is in a gated community.
  • by morcheeba ( 260908 ) on Monday December 27, 2004 @08:03PM (#11195623) Journal
    I tried to visit his house [] when he had the haloween lights up, but found it was in a gated community that was closed to visitors after 7pm. His house is a bit out of my way & I was a bit annoyed that this heavily-promoted house wasn't on public display, so I never returned. I wanted to see how often people where flipping the lights -- the webcam didn't refresh often enough to show that.

    His response [] to my post was interesting.. it seemed legit and appropriately paranoid about strangers knocking on his door (which I would never do!!).
  • His explanation... (Score:5, Informative)

    by josh3736 ( 745265 ) on Monday December 27, 2004 @08:10PM (#11195687) Homepage
    Who actually read his explanation? [] (Yes, I know this is Slashdot, but you can try to RTFA)

    It seems like for all the trouble he went through to set up this hoax, it would actually have been easier to hook up the X10 to his computer and plop a real webcam outside.

    What it took for the hoax:

    • Taking 12 pictures for the various "on/off" states
    • Taking those 12 pictures in varying amounts of snowcover
    • Dynamically inserting airplanes overhead
    • Dynamically changing the position of the garage door by superimposing the garage on one of the 12 pics.
    • Dynamically adding stars in the sky that move over the course of the night
    • Occasionally Adding "cars" driving by
    • When the local news crew took him up in the helicopter, his wife stayed at home flipping the lights on and off.
    • Putting a real (but disconnected) webcam in the neighbor's tree so snoopers would see the webcam.
    For all that trouble, he might as well have just done it up real.

    I guess at least now we know who is really responsible for the moon landing video.

  • by xmas2003 ( 739875 ) * on Monday December 27, 2004 @08:25PM (#11195790) Homepage
    BOY - you'd wonder if anyone reads the FAQ - good for you. First, Google Adsense hasn't been around for 3 years ... and I just added this to my hoax explanation []

    Several media folks are slamming me for running Google Adsense and saying I cleaned up on it. That is simply not true ... but unfortunately, I can not comment on this due to Google's Program Policies ... but let me just say that the Google Adsense Revenue for the month will just about pay for my wife's 40th birthday party and I would have made a LOT more if I had taken that Radio Station's $10,000 offer. I invite the media to contact Google for the actual numbers and they have my permission to release 'em.

  • Re:Well... (Score:2, Informative)

    by tekiegreg ( 674773 ) <> on Monday December 27, 2004 @08:41PM (#11195897) Homepage Journal
    Generally you don't get much of a choice, it's a condition of you buying a house in that given neighborhood.

    However yeah I'd agree with you and at least attempt to make sure any house I bought was a non HOA area. Granted I really don't care what color the house is painted, and noise issues are often handled by the police, etc...
  • by DogsBollocks ( 806307 ) on Monday December 27, 2004 @10:14PM (#11196482)
    For the past number of years I have had computer controlled Xmas lights at my house in Edmonton, Canada.

    Although not controlled via the internet it would be relatively easy, just some software mod's and a web server required.

    The computer is a Pentium 90 stuck out in the garage, running a hand coded C' program to sequence the lights. The program checks the state of the real time clock in the computer and the light show is automatic between 18:00 - 22:00 nightly.

    The C' program runs under DOS (although this year it's now under Win98, because I was going to use VNC for control over the house LAN.)

    The program controls the printer port which is connected to 4 solid state relays, I currently have 4 channels with 4 strings of 5W bulbs on each channel (4*4*5*25=2KW) all these strings are strung around a 20' spruce tree. The lights fade in/out and the sequences have variable delay times and some random sequences so each time it runs the output is slightly different each time.

    Sorry no video or stills of this yet.
  • by SpacePunk ( 17960 ) on Monday December 27, 2004 @10:36PM (#11196577) Homepage
    Considering how much coverage this thing had, the numbers of visitors would have been huge. It's ridiculous to think that a display like that would be stable with the large number of visitors/hits/controllers he 'would' have had. 1500 people trying to control one webcam simultaneously is a ridiculous thought.

  • by dcigary ( 221160 ) on Monday December 27, 2004 @10:38PM (#11196587) Homepage
    Mine is much simpler and less geeky, but I just bought a few of the grounded X10 applicance controllers, hooked them up to the extension cords for all the lights outside. I have a Firecracker X10 dongle on my RedHat box, and the lights are controlled via a self-modifying cron that determines sunrise and sunset. I have my regular outside lights also controlled by in in-wall X10 controller that way. The Xmas lights turn on at sunset, and go off at midnight. The outside lights then come on until sunrise, then they turn off.
  • by siliconjunkie ( 413706 ) on Monday December 27, 2004 @11:53PM (#11196931)
    Ah yes...the Subservient Chicken []. Even funnier was the list of stuff it would actually do []!
  • by Technician ( 215283 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @01:24AM (#11197358)
    I questioned the website when there was no explination of how the video got cross the street.
    Most webcams don't do Christmas light very well. I know, I've tried. Most webcams don't do dark very well (high video noise). His shots were low noise and long exposure (evidance by streak of car headlight and tail lights). From the beginning the webcam photos were questionable to me. They were just too good for the conditions. They were not NTSC over a wireless link. An X10 cam does not do long exposures in low light.

    Generaly only a Digital cam can produce the photos as displayed by the site, not a webcam.

All Finagle Laws may be bypassed by learning the simple art of doing without thinking.