This Alaskan family’s home allows you to control their Christmas lights from your browser
Not done yet with post-Christmas holiday fun? Want to have some more fun from the comfort of your own home, look no beyond: You can control the Christmas lights in this Alaska family’s home from your browser.
Like many, Ken and Rebecca-Ellen, have been decorating their home with Christmas lights for the past many years. However, the Alaskan couple have a unique approach to choreographing their decorative lighting that allows those on the Internet the ability to control them.
They run ChristmasInFairbanks.com, a simple website that offers you a live view of the outside of their home. It allows literally anyone play with their decorations as they see fit. Visitors are greeted with a live webcam of the Fairbanks, Alaska house as well as a set of simple “on” and “off” commands that will allow you to control a variety of lights.
The wreath on the garage, the kids’ bedroom, the lights strung across the railing – it’s all changeable. It works out as more than 4,000 different potential combinations for the house.
A special “Christmas Cam,” which is fastened to a nearby tree, films the changing light show and broadcasts it over the site, reports the BBC.
According to ABC News, it’s the sixth year that information technology professional Ken has handed control of his lights over to the public. And his display is getting bigger and better each Christmas, reports the Alaska Dispatch News.
“The very first year we did it, we did one string of lights on the tree,” he told ABC News.
“It was cool, but then we added a web camera pointing at the tree and then [the reaction] blew up,” he continued. “A week into it, my wife turned to me and said, ‘Next year, these are going outside.’ It was super annoying in the middle of the night.”
The Woods family is protected from flashing lights outside while they are inside their house, and they don’t have any neighbours living close by.
They also ask that people don’t turn up at their house to watch it in person: In an FAQ, the couple say, “It’s actually much more entertaining over the internet. If you don’t already know where we live, it’d be kinda weird for you to just show up and sit in our driveway. Please don’t be that guy.”
In order to keep the lights running, Ken needs 16 electrical ports. He has written specific webcam software that uploads the latest image online to the Amazon cloud, which is then reproduced on his site.
“Basically, it’s a box that has a tiny computer running inside of it,” Ken explained to ABC News.
“Whenever anyone clicks the link, it sends a specific signal to that Web server that then interfaces with a power strip and turns the individual ports on and off.”
The Christmas in Fairbanks website notes that the sheer number of people logging on to it means it can sometimes take several seconds to change a light.
The site suggests trying again in the event it takes more than five seconds for the lights to change. It also tells to make sure that you are using Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.
Another explanation for delays?
“Santa is mad at you because you were bad this year,” the site reads.
The couple say they have no plans to stop the project anytime soon. They are currently trying to look for sponsors for 2016.