Tag Archives: decorations

Christmas Window Decorations

Christmas Window Decorations

I drew these last night (reverse, indoors) with Window Chalk Markers. You can barely see the bulbs in the lower portion of the window since we have the blinds open at the moment. I did my best with Ponzi’s caricature. At least I didn’t make her look like Abe Vigoda again! Oh, and apparently, I can’t draw a snowflake to save my life.

What kind of Christmas decorations do you usually put up? That is, assuming, you don’t keep them up year-round (please, please don’t be THAT person).

Are You Using LED Christmas Lights this Holiday Season?

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I’ve had this particular light string on for the past three days. Each of the bulbs is still cool to the touch. It’s also highly energy efficient! If you’re going to string lights inside or outside your house, this is what you need to use. The reason why is that these are LED Christmas lights. The cost isn’t as bad as you might think, either. You can find just about any color/shape/size of LED holiday lights over at Holiday LEDs.

You’ll save money and get more for your money using LED lights. You’ll be saving energy, as well! If you haven’t upgraded your Christmas lights yet… do it! Donate the old lights to someone else, or even retire them. Get yourself some LED lights today!

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How to Control Christmas Lights Over the Internet

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I received an email a few weeks ago, telling me about a very cool interactive website. I have the site owner on the phone with me, so he can tell us more about how we can interact with his holiday decorations.

By going to Komar.org, you can control the various decorations around their home and yard.

First, you put a bunch out and folks drive by to look at them. Then you put pictures on the Internet and people surf to look at static images. Then you add a webcam to provide a real-time view. And finally, you then integrate that with web_control to not only allow web surfers to pan/zoom the webcam, but also turn the lights on and off!

Since the lights are all controlled via X-10, it’s not difficult to integrate a web interface that takes inputs from the user, sends X-10 commands to toggle the lights, and then update the webcam to show the results.There is a rate-limiter at the web server that throttles the requests since X10 is capable of at most one update/second. I’d also add that the system is fully automatic and can (and has) started itself up and shut down by itself when I have been out of town. There are dozens of outlets (with X10 SR227 Super Sockets) and Appliance & Lamp Modules which are all in eight zones.

I used a Sony F828 and (borrowed) Canon DSLR (10D and 5D) in 2004 and 2005. For 2006, I used a Canon Rebel XTi with 17-85IS lens. For 2007, I used a Canon 40D with the 17-85IS, 10-22, and 50/1.4 lens. I just put the camera on top of a ladder across the street at dusk, use about 1/2 second exposure at around F4.0 with ISO 100. There’s about a 5-10 minute window when the light is “just right” … also helpful is if there is some clouds that evening.

The reason Alek is doing all of this is for a reason other than just loving Christmas lights. Both of his children have Celiac Disease. He is trying to raise money for the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research. So far, they have raised just over $20,000.00 for this wonderful cause. So stop by, play with the lights, and consider making a donation to the University.

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Christmas Safety

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I love this time of year: the music, the weather, the sights, sounds, and good shopping deals! I also find people tend to be in better moods, as well. However, there are extra hazards during the holiday season that you need to watch out for.

No matter what holiday you may or may not celebrate, all of us here at live.pirillo.com certainly hope you have a safe and happy one. Over 60% of house fires during the winter are caused by decorations and/or Christmas trees. That is a scary statistic. Here are some tips to help keep you safe, sent in by cb14 from our chat room.

  • Unplug the lights and decorations when you are not home, or they are otherwise not in use. Heat + a pine tree = house fire. The trees are highly flammable. Also, be sure to check all cords and plugs prior to using them for the year, for wear and tear. Throw out and replace any that look as though they are starting to fray or show bare wires. The smallest spark can possibly result in a very large disaster.
  • Make sure all external electrical decorations are well protected. Keep them away from moisture, and especially keep them away from moisture and salt. Salt and water together can also cause a fire very quickly when they come in contact with something electrical. Again, turn them off when not in use. They look great at night, but turning them off at bedtime will keep you safer… and keep your electricity bill down.
  • If you don’t have any rock salt handy, you can use table salt to keep your walkway and driveway ice free. This can help keep a lawsuit from landing in your lap, due to someone falling and becoming hurt on the ice. Try it yourself: place an ice cube in a container, and cover it with table salt. It works wonders!
  • Santa comes down the chimney, not through the door or windows. Keep those locked, and your blinds drawn when you aren’t home or are sleeping/otherwise occupied. Most home burglaries happen this time of year, and it would be awful to have the presents stolen, along with your other treasured possessions.
  • Go ahead and indulge in EggNog, but stay away from fruitcake. Fruitcake is an evil that should be avoided at all costs.

Have a wonderful holiday season, wherever you are.

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