Internet Controlled Christmas Lights in Fairbanks, Alaska, USA.
This project started in 2010, when Ken and Rebecca-Ellen connected their Christmas tree lights to the internet and allowed vistors from around the world to turn the lights on and off.
The lights moved outside in 2011, as it was quite annoying to have the lights blink on and off ALL THE TIME inside the house.
The 2012 season offered the ability to control the lights surrounding the windows and the roof.
Christmas 2013 brings more lights. You can control the lights along the roof, windows, columns, door, and the lights in the wreath. We also updated the page with our current outside temperature.
Feel free to play with them as much as you like, you won't break anything. Also, send us an email if you see us outside. The joy in this project is knowing that there are thousands of people around the world getting a glimpse of our lights!
Some of the popular frequently asked questions include:
Q: "Is this for real? When I click the link, do the lights turn off at your house?"
A: Yes. The lights actually turn on and off. If the timestamp on the image isn't enough proof, check back throughout the day and night, you'll see the amount of sunlight change.
Q: "How in the heck do you make this happen?"
A: We live fairly close to North Pole. (No, really, look it up.....) Santa is moving into the digital age, and I'm helping him with some experimental electronic magic. Unfortunately, I've signed an NDA with Santa, so I can't really disclose how it's done.
Q: "No, really, how does all this work?"
A: It involves a couple of perl scripts, an Axis camera (with dry contacts to trigger the power switching), and a power strip that looks like something out of Frankenstein's laboratory.
Many thanks to Chris for hosting the image.
Q: "Can you make a map of the locations of all the people that have viewed this page?"
A: Yes. View the map in another tab.
This map is updated at random intervals every couple of days.
Last updated at 8:00am (Alaska time) Dec 25
Q: "This thing is broken. I can't see anything!"
A: Internet Explorer is the worst web browser ever created. Use Firefox or Chrome.
Q: "Isn't it super cold in Fairbanks?"
A: Funny you should ask. Current outside temperature: -6.6 degrees fahrenheit. If you're from Canadia, you can convert that by subtracting 32 hockey sticks and multiplying by 5/9th of a maple leaf.
Q: "Why does it take so long for the lights to turn off and on when I click the links?"
A: Santa's mad at you. If it takes more than 2 seconds, try again.
Q: "I can't see anything but a black image!"
A: It's dark in Fairbanks most of the time. Try turning on the lights. Ken's bah-humbug friend Josh in Seattle likes to turn them off.
Q: "I don't see an image at all."
A: It's quite possible the system is overloaded. That hasn't happened yet in 2013, but there are literally hundreds of people looking at the camera at any one time. Be patient and wait your turn or Santa will skip your house this year.
Q: "I'm in Fairbanks, where can I come see this?"
A: It's actually much more entertaining over the internet.
Q: "HEY, I SAW YOU GUYS!!!"
A: That's not a question, but that's cool. Turn the lights on and off and we'll wave.
Q: "How many people visit this page over the holidays?"
A: In 2012, there were 315,829 *unique* visitors from the beginning of December through the end of January.
Q: "What kind of trucks do you guys own?"
A: Rebecca-Ellen owns both of them. They're Toyota Tacomas.