2004 Emails about the HOAX

All of these Emails were received AFTER I went public with the fact that the webcam was a hoax. Pls note that my web page says "send me a public Email" and I have I anonymousized these (no Email or last names), but if you recogize one of yours and want it removed, just let me know. I'd enourage you to read the heart-warming things people wrote before the hoax became known - I truly did succeed in bringing some christmas cheer to a lotta folks ... and also provided some good after-Christmas humor. I'd also strongly encourage folks to my comments on the media reports since there are a few inaccuracies - they weren't too happy about the whole thing and hammer me a bit - so read my two cents and then form your own opinion. A number of folks have written saying they changed their minds after doing so and are now upset at the media rather than me! ;-)

Here is a sampling of the various Emails that I got - both good and bad. BTW, Denver ABC-7 News ran an online "poll" where they ask "Are you mad to find out the Christmas lights were faked" with the possible answers being "No, because it's funny" and "Yes, because he duped me" and after a week and over 4,000 votes, 84% folks thought it was funny ... this is even though the Denver ABC-7 story was probably one of the most negative ones about it. And the Emails I have received have been overwhelmingly "that was funny, nice job Alek" but I did get a handful that could not be printed on a family web site. Here's a summary of the former:

   I haven't laughed so hard in a few months
   It was great getting to vote for The Hulk and "controlling" the lights.
      Really well done. Add me to that 83% who like a good joke.
   Dude ... that was freaking awesome
   I fell for it 100% and can only say "good on 'ya"
   You brought cheer and laughter to myself and many others - all I can say
      is Thank You...Please...dont stop being ingenious or sharing your
      wonderful sense of humor with the world.
   Thank You. . for investing the time, energy and money to 
      spread a little bit of joy around the world
   This was a great hoax... nobody was hurt, everyone (should have) laughed, 
      and you inspired creativity!! 
   I firmly believe media people, even I, need to "lighten" up. 
      I only wish I thought of it.
   It is a real joy to see someone use technology for honest jest 
      when so many use it for selfish or malicious reasons. 
   The whole deal was funny. Hope you don't let the whiners get you down.
   First, let me congratulate you on having some hysterical fun with the media!!!! 
      You really got 'em, hee-hee!!! I agree that you did NOT harm anyone, 
      and actually brought joy to many people.
   I just have to say that the fact that your site was fake made me laugh 
      for a good 5 minutes. And here I voted for Kerry and Hulk
   I have to say that it is probably the best laugh that I have had in a long time.
   Mark me taken and loving it! Laughed my butt off, 
   thanks santa for the most creative and fun spoof this millenium 
   That is HYSTERICAL!!! I'm laughing so hard I can hardly type!
   Damn Alek - You crack my s*it up! This has got to be the funniest story 
      of 2004. Absolutely loved it. Nice job. 
   Forget what all the negative people are saying about you - the site is great - 
      tons of fun to read - and inspiration for me to have my own family one day
      and hopefully be such a cool father/husband as you are. 
There were a variety of forums discussions - so in an attempt to present both sides, I'll first mention the the Fark guys who thought it was hilarious (warning: some risque content on this site) and the Slashdot crowd who, despite having "controlled" my lights 4 times since xmas/2002, got a good chuckle out of it. However, the folks over at PlanetChristmas.Com didn't find it as funny although the PC folks take christmas lights very seriousely and they do have some nice displays with animation and webcams - yes, you CAN do what I did in real life ... although it would be extremely difficult for the individual homeowner to demonstrate to the degree that I did, plus you'd need one heck of a webcam to match the (faked) excellent image quality displayed on mine. I might add that one Planet Christmas person actually sent me an Email a few days after all of this - they ended up asking me a series of questions - read that Q&A plus a handful of comments.

Date: Mon Dec 27, 2004 3:28 pm       From: SW       Subject: Your Lights - Words to Live By
This really was the first Emailed response - oh well ... there were actually very few of these type of Emails (some not printable on a family web site), but I knew I'd get some.

Date: Mon Dec 27, 2004 7:44 pm       From: JessicaS       Subject: HaHa Alek
I just finished reading your admission that the lights setup was a hoax. Very very funny stuff :) And very inventive perl you did there. I use GD to make graphs at work and know how tedious that can be. And for all those people who are angry, perhaps we should remind them that this is no different than local news stations around the country "tracking" santa every Christmas eve for the kids. Anyways, take care, and happy holidays. I haven't laughed so hard in a few months
Glad you liked it and thanx for the technical compliments. Sorry I'm just too busy to say more.

Date: Mon Dec 27, 2004 8:06 pm       From: PaulF       Subject: Ha!
Hey - Just saw the stories about the lighting hoax. BRILLIANT !!! I saw the Halloween lights this year, the first time I had heard of your site. It was great getting to vote for The Hulk and "controlling" the lights. Really well done. Add me to that 83% who like a good joke :D
The Hulk thanks you for supporting the Green Party Candidate and is confused why he isn't being inagurated since he "win" the popular vote on komar.org. And Alek is glad you took this the right way!

Date: Mon Dec 27, 2004 8:45 pm       From: ColinH       Subject: Yes!
Dude ... that was freaking awesome
I've gotten a few Emails from folks using other "a" words (not printed here since it is a family web site ;-), but glad you enjoyed.

Date: Mon Dec 27, 2004 8:57 pm       From: MichaelK       Subject: Light Hoax
Man, what you actually did was FAR more impressive. Anybody can run a mess of X10 controllers through a PC based controller. This is really a work of art.
Yea, it was a lotta work - sorry I'm too busy to say much more and glad you enjoyed my "art" ;-)

Date: Mon Dec 27, 2004 9:03 pm       From: NickH       Subject: Awesome hoax!
Alek- People at the office got a big kick out of the lights. I'm not so sure if it was just because of the Hulk or not. But still, the idea of something this geeky made a lot of people smile and now that it's a hoax, it's still pretty funny. Perhaps you can be the worthy successor to Joey Skaggs. Good work! Happy New Year! -Nick from Chicago and Zurich (sometimes)
After this hoax, I doubt I could EVER pull anything off since the media is not too happy with me ... but yea, a little bit of fun that makes people smile is a good thing.
I actually received an Email from Joey himself two days later saying "Enjoyed your piece" - looking at his website, he's done some pretty funny stuff - but this was enough for me.

Date: Mon Dec 27, 2004 9:06 pm       From: ScottJ       Subject: Good Job!
Hey, Alek; Tell the media to go screw itself. I thought your "hoax" was priceless and am laughing even more at how idiotic the news media is. I fell for it 100% and can only say "good on ya!" Thanks for the laugh and I wish you well in the future!
I was pleasently surprised that that the media didn't show up with a lynching mob at my house, and they have done a decent job, although there are few inaccuracies in some of the stories; but I'm provided a play-by-play that covers all of this. Thanx for having a sense of humor and glad you enjoyed the laugh.

Date: Mon Dec 27, 2004 9:42 pm       From: JohnC       Subject: Christmas Cheer
WONDERFUL !!!! I dont know the right word, but it would not be a HOAX.. you have brought cheer and laughter to myself and many others and all I can say is Thank You... Please.. dont stop being ingenious or sharing your wonderful sense of humor with the world..
Boy ... I'd love to put a "PR spin" on things and not call it a hoax, but it really was, so I gotta be honest about that part of it! ;-) Enjoyed your note - thanx for writing.

Date: Mon Dec 27, 2004 10:18 pm       From: AldenS       Subject: Thank You
There are honestly only 2 words that can begin to suffice, and those are indeed, .Thank You. . for investing the time, energy and money to spread a little bit of joy around the world. Wishing you and yours only the best
Thank you for taking the time to write me and glad you enjoyed the show.

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 2:56 am       From: TeresaM       Subject: Great Idea!!
Merry Christmas to you and your family!! This was a great hoax... nobody was hurt, everyone (should have) laughed, and you inspired creativity!!
The good news is the overwhelming majority of people feel this way. Bad news is I got a handful of nasty-grams ... but oh well!

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 3:34 am       From: TroyC       Subject: Loved the webcam hoax
Just read about the webcam hoax and loved it. As the inventor of the now-defunct hoax "Sock Drawer Cam", I congratulate you!
Needless to say, I love other folks with a sense of humor who pull off pranks too - nice work and thanx for writing.

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 3:44 am       From: JoeP (from a mid-west TV station Email address)
Alek, I use to work for television stations in Denver and I know people at 7News. I firmly believe media people, even I, need to "lighten" up. I only wish I thought of it. I'm guessing that TV management is probably ticked off but I think a good portion of "desk workers" find it amusing. I'm dying to see what you come up next year. Joe
Roger all that - if you get a chance, ask your old co-workers at ABC-7News how they feel about the story - I've love to know! ;-)

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 3:45 am       From: DaveL       Subject: Great Hoax
Just read the story about your computer generated Christmas lights. Read about it a couple weeks ago and wondered "How did he do that?" Great joke. And I appreciate a great joke. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Dave
While there are a few Grinch'es out there, I'm glad to hear that you (and almost everyone who has written) can take a joke!

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 3:49 am       From: BarryD       Subject: Christmas Lights Hoax
Dear Alek, I just wanted to drop you a line congratulating you on pulling off quite a successful harmlessly fun hoax. To be perfectly honest, I find the design of your image-serving software just as interesting as the idea of having web-controllable Christmas lights, if not more so. Ingenuity and a bit of subterfuge can make for a great prank - but you'll have to work hard next time to top this one ;) Take care, Barry
Thanx Barry ... yea, I'm going to have a real tough time topping this one next year! ;-)

Date: Mon Dec 27, 2004 4:07 am       From: ArtW       Subject: Thanks for the smile.
Thanks for helping put a smile on my face. It is a real joy to see someone use technology for honest jest when so many use it for selfish or malicious reasons. Also as an added bonus pulling a good one on those who think they are always in the know.
Glad I could put a smile on your face ... and a lotta other people!

Date: Mon Dec 27, 2004 6:16 am       From: ChrisR       Subject: Whiny "you tricked me" people
Alek, the whole deal was funny. Hope you don't let the whiners get you down. If somebody is mad because some guy they've never met tricked them using digital photography, well, they just need to lighten up.
Thanx Chris for the note - yea, reality is stuff is spoofed/faked all the time, so maybe this will increase people's skeptism - a good thing IMHO.

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 6:20 am       From: JohnW       Subject: Wonderful, wonderful
Grinning from ear to ear, here in the north-west of the UK, where Christmas lights are becoming obscenely popular..
Glad I brought a big grin to 'ya ...

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 7:01 am       From: LynnT       Subject: You are AWESOME!
This was so much fun!!! My kids had a blast "turning the lights on and off". Merry Christmas to you and I hope you and Wendy and the rest of your family has a wonderful New Year!
I'm especially glad I could provide some cheer for the litte ones. You are welcome to tell 'em the webcam isn't real, but they may not want to know that Santa isn't! ;-)

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 7:30 am       From: JenniferC       Subject: Your Web Page
I followed the FoxNews.com story to your web site. First, let me congratulate you on having some hysterical fun with the media!!!! You really got 'em, hee-hee!!! I agree that you did NOT harm anyone, and actually brought joy to many people. Sounds like you have some terrific neighbors, too -- LOVED the one who compared you to the Griswalds!!! Also wanted to compliment your real web page. I especially enjoyed the charts providing the guesses on your baby's weight! I love stuff like that! In my office, I am known to organize polls such as those. A recent one was "Guess how many e-mails Karen will have in her inbox when she returns from her maternity leave?" (feel free to use that one, or offer it to others). Best wishes to your family and future! With a sense of humor like yours, great things are definitely ahead.
Thanx for writing ... and yea, you can just call me Clark for short if you'd like. Sorry I can't write more ... a whee bit busy! alek

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 7:30 am       From: JulianC       Subject: Bravo!!!
Your Xmas hoax was GREAT! There is nothing wrong with bringing the cheer and I think you did great! You even fooled a bunch of so called smart techies (me included) on slashdot! Not only have you brought joy but you have brought the arrogance of me and my fellow techs down a few notches! (Oh yeah, like we can really see a hoax!) Happy Holidays to you and your family. There are not enough people like you my friend!
Thanx for the note Julian - while a few people have called me arrogent (and other "a" words), the response has been overwhelmingly positive and it all all good clean fun.

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 7:42 am       From: ChesterB       Subject: So it was a hoax?
I must say, this is a bit disappointing, given that I was helping to hype it.
I had been doing it for 3 years and as I have noted on my site, it just spun outa control this time with all the national press. It was all good clean fun and I thought it best to end it rather that perpetuate it.

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 8:02 am       From: GeorgeH       Subject: Hoax
When I read, about two hours ago, that your Christmas lights were a hoax, I was a bit disappointed/embarassed, because I recommended your site to my friends/relatives. But now I think it is hilarious, and I want to thank you for giving me some diversion this past week or so. In retrospect, I should have been suspicious, but was too caught up in the excitement to recognize what should have been obvious. Well done, Alek (if that is, in fact, your real name).
Enjoyed your note George - I suspect that some of the folks who wrote me the handful of nasty-grams also thought about it as you did, they too would see the humor. Glad you found it pretty hilarious which and enjoyed messing around with it beforehand. And yes, my real name is alek ... ;-)

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 8:09 am       From: BradB       Subject: well done!
to combat the detractors, i had to email you. what a howl! that was brilliant. that was real community spirit including the neighbours, and that is what the season is all about. ignore the naysayers, for they are green with envy and warrant not even pity Punch it in, Dig ya later! bad broose beerforbreakfast.org Saturday mornings 10 am to 11:30 am on CKUW 95.9 FM
Glad you enjoyed it - the handful of people that were "in" on it did too. BTW, your beerforbreakfast.org web site is pretty funny too.

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 8:17 am       From: MikeW       Subject: Weatherize the X-10 Modules
Alek - I just heard about the ruse from /. Frankly, I think it was a blast. Moreover, I think you performed an excellent service. Channel 7 news was all too eager to report it. You would think trained journalists would have asked better questions. Perhaps they will be a little more skeptical... Happy New Year! Hope the whole thing goes well for you!
It was kinda interesting how the press picked up on this - yea, once the ball started rolling, everyone wanted to report on this ... even though the webcam was "broke" and nobody really asked about that and other stuff. The ABC-7 guys called me about the heli ride - heck, who would have turned that down?!? I wasn't out to perform a service, just have some fun.

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 8:48 am       From: BobO       Subject: You can make it computer controlled with a board from Velleman
I read with some dismay your hoax article in the Camera this morning because I know how you can actually make your lighting display computer controlled and it really isn't that difficult. I have hooked up remote controlled cars and scientific equipment and easy isn't exactly the word to use, it really was fairly simple. There is a company called Velleman out of Belgium that makes boards for ~$135.00 (from radioshack) that you solder together and they run off of the parallel port. Each has 16 I/O switches, as well as analog input and output for variable controls. These come with libraries for interfacing to C or pascal or basic. I bought three of them from Radioshack.com a few years back. I believe they are at Velleman.be. I think it is honorable that you have come clean. You might save face if you actually do implement your original claim and call it a hardware upgrade fro phase II. Full web based control should not be that difficult to implement, though coding the server side of who actually has control will be a different matter. Best of luck to you! I'd be happy to help if you like. Your fellow citizen of Boulder County,
Yep, it certainly would be doable - the best hoax stretches the imagination, but doesn't break it. I actually talk about how this could be done on my hoax page but as noted, the degree that I demonstrated would be a challenge for the individual homeowner. I have joked that maybe in 2005 I'll put a real webcam out there - think anyone would believe be.

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 8:54 am       From: MarkM       Subject: Christmas Lights
BRAVO!! Good job with the Christmas Lights! So what if Internet users can't turn them on or off. In the end, I really believe that you put a smile on everyones face. The daunting task of putting up 70,000(?) lights and showing them on the Internet would have been enough. But you went the extra Km and added a touch of originality. I am surprised that you didn't get (or maybe you did) any nasty-grams from Xcel regarding the power usage of all of the Christmas Lights. In the end, you did spread a lot of Christmas cheer around the world, and you did manage to give us a chuckle at the same time. Best wishes, MarkM P.S. Can't wait to see what you do next year. I wonder if your Christmas lights are visible from the ISS??
Thanx for writing Mark - BTW, it was actually 17,000 lights, not 70,000; but yea, it was a lot. Xcel never contacted me - although I'm sure they'll send me a bill for my December electricity usage. I completely agree with you that in the end, the cheer and fun was done. For next year, maybe I'll do a REAL webcam - do you think anyone would believe me?!? And while I joke about the ISS being able to see 'em, I doubt they can.

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 8:57 am       From: Mick Jagger       Subject: Christmas Lights
Instead of wasting everybodies time making it look real, you should have done the real thing or not at all. Taking advertising money for hits on your website due to all the publicity you garnered over this sham is especially deplorable. Hopefully the advertisers who paid you money (no matter how small) sue you to get it back. You ought to be ashamed of yourself and your lack of judgement concerning this. Not impressed...
While most of the responses were overwhelmingly positive, I knew there would be a few like this. The media was a bit inccurate in some of their reports - for instance, Paul Mclellan, who was quoted in the AP article as saying I was "unethical" put out his own press release the very next morning saying "my words were misconstrued to mean something entirely different" and continues to say "I sincerely appreciate his intent of spreading Christmas cheer!" Read more here I don't disgree that one could do this for a real - although it would be difficult for the individual homeowner to do so to the degree that I did as I discuss here. So ... if you are so inclined, I'd encourage you to read my side of the story and form your own opinion - you may still frown upon it (and you are certainly entitled to your opinion), but I've had a number of folks change their minds after getting all the facts. BTW, is "Mick Jagger" really your name?!? ;-)

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 8:58 am       From: EdA       Subject: "Webcam" Christmas lights hoax
Hey, Alek. I just wanted to say that I read about your hoax via a link on fark.com, and thought it was the cleverest bit of good-natured hacking I've heard about in a long time. Before I read your explanation, I started thinking, if I were going to try to trick people, what would I do? And I immediately came up with the idea of taking several photos with the lights in various configurations and switching based on what the user selected, but couldn't figure out how to explain the lack of vehicle traffic, or why lights inside the house never went off or came on. Your ideas for the garage door, airplanes, stars, etc., were simply genious. I stand in awe of you, sir. As for those people who may be expressing outrage at what you've done, all I can say is "Scrooge 'em, if they can't take a joke."
Thank you for the note and I'd say rather than be in "awe" of me, just have a good chuckle as just about everyone else did too.

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 8:58 am       From: ScottR       Subject: HOAX
You should be ashamed of yourself for the Christmas lights hoax. As a computer savvy person, you should have realized how easy it would have been to use X10 technology to REALLY control the lights. Maybe next year you will have an honest, honorable web site. ScottR, a real computer expert and a big fan of Christmas
I have never disagreed that one would use X10 technology to really control the lights (I actually do - just not via the Internet) but it would be a real challenge for the individual homeowner to demonstrate it to the degree that I did take a look at my writeup There have been a few inaccuracies in the media reporting, so if you are interested in my side of the story, pls take a look at what I wrote and form your own opinion. Am I ashamed ... welllll ... no (boy, I bet if the media does a follow-up story, they'll grab that quote). It was a way of spreading christmas cheer and once it got too big, I felt I had to "come out" ... and at the same time, provide a chuckle for everyone. Happy New Year

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 8:58 am       From: TomM       Subject: great job---
What you and your family did was great! By viewing the site I must say you must me a great Dad and good husband. I was married for 25 years w/2 boys so I know what kind of joy you bring them. I totally agree with you in the fact that it was all in fun.And that all that matters What's wrong with that! In the meantime some people that complained are the same ones who will search the web for the savage beheadings. Thank you for doing what you did. And I'll stickup for what you did -anytime. By the way nice job on the table (as well as other projects). I used to love to work around and in the home too.It's easy to see you and your wife put all your efforts into whatever you do. Well Thank You Again and have a great New Year, PS: do more of the same just to keep the complainers stewing- they'll get over it!
Thanx for writing Tom - yea, the two boys are a handful, but a lotta fun. Appreciate the kudo's on the other projects - I actually get quite a few Emails about those since it appears other people find 'em useful too. I gotta think about the PS ... maybe for next year I'll put a real webcam out there!

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 9:10 am       From: TracyA       Subject: Saw your story on Fox News
Hi Alek and Family, I just read your story on Fox News, so I had to check out your site. I thought the story was funny. The media is always so eager to pick up on anything and run with it. So you had ads on your page (according to Fox), so what! I bet you didn't receive as much advertising revenue as the media who ran your story.
Glad you enjoyed it. Yea, the media wasn't happy about the whole thing, so they made a prettty big deal about the ads - and you are exactly right that the Google $$$ were not bazillions as they might lead you to believe and in fact, I would have been much better off taking that $10,000 offer from the radio station. I have a whole page where I talk about the media and among other things, the guy in the AP articlee, Paul Mclellan, issued his own press release the very next morning where he says "my words were misconstrued to mean something entirely different" when he was quoted saying Alek was "unethical" and he continues on to say "I sincerely appreciate his intent of spreading Christmas cheer!" Glad you enjoyed it as did just about everyone else did.

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 9:18 am       From: KenS       Subject: Your lights ...
Genius!! Pure Genius!! I only wish I had known about it earlier. Spreading Christmas Cheer through an elaborate hoax... Honestly, that's my style. Always make 'em laugh and if they don't laugh, it's ok as long as you're still laughing. Anyway, I do hope that you don't get hit hard with any backlash because it's the funniest thing I've heard this Holiday Season! Good Luck and Well Done!
Thanx for your note - minimal backlash - vast majority are notes like yours - glad you enjoyed it - Happy New Year!

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 9:27 am       From: ChristopherO       Subject: :(
Dear Alex, You're a narcissistic con man who thinks he's doing the world a great favor by fooling all of them. Your whole site is dedicated to how great you are. I just read the story on CNN on how you fooled the masses, and fooled your advertisers. As if that wasn't bad enough, I find your website and the whole thing is about how "great" Alex is. I love the article on CNN, especially the line where you told someone "I tell my kids to always tell the truth". Maybe you should listen to your own advice. Even CNN is making a mockery of you. You think you're going to become popular by this. In fact, you have. But unfortunately for you, you have now become popular as a scam artist. Everyone I have shown this story to believes you to be a pathetic human being who is more concerned about stroking your own ego then about spreading Christmas cheer. If you were any good at being a computer specialist, you could actually do what you instead decided to scam everyone on. It shows that you are incompetent and lazy, and are nothing more then another common scam artist. I hope your advertisers sue you and you become the laughing stock of the country as is already happening. Funny, you obviously started this venture to make a name for yourself, and you have. As a con artists, a liar, and a jackass. Good job.
I realize this may not change your opinion, but I'd encourage you to read my side of the press reports (there were a few inaccuracies) and then form your own opinion - it might (?) change (or maybe not) - see: First, I doubt that advertiser will sue me since Paul Mclellan corrected the evening AP story the very next morning with his own press release that said "my words were misconstrued to mean something entirely different" when the AP quoted him saying Alek was "unethical" and Paul continues on to say "I sincerely appreciate his intent of spreading Christmas cheer!" here is the context of the "truth" statement I felt I gave an appropriate answer to someone Emailing Santa ... who himself is a hoax ... but I'm sure the press was estatic to find that quote! ;-) While certainly doable for real, it would be challenge to do so to the degree I demonstrated as I have written. My 15 minutes of fame are fading (which I'm happy for), so I'm catching up on all of the notes that people sent me. While the overwhelming majority were very positive, there were a few like this, but I do try to respond to all of 'em. Happy New Year.

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 9:27 am       From: Santa Claus       Subject: Fake?
I just have to say that the fact that your site was fake made me laugh for a good 5 minutes. And here I voted for Kerry and Hulk! [They are referring to my Halloween Webcam that allowed you to turn off the lights and cast a vote for Bush, Kerry, or the Hulk]
Glad I provided a laugh for you ... and rest assured the Green Party Candidate will be back in 2008! And ummmmm ... are you really "Santa Clause" ...

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 9:34 am       From: Char and Jer       Subject: Your site
I read about it on CNN. I think it is relatively harmless and a cute idea. Seems tyou have made some children smile and they found your site fun. I hope you will continue the fun, even if it is a hoax! :)
I've actually left the "webcam" running so people can enjoy playing with it; quite a few have ... even though it's even running during the day and, needless to say, it shows a dark picture outside - Happy New Year,

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 9:45 am       From: DeeG       Subject: BAH HUMBUG!
I have to say that it is probably the best laugh that I have had in a long time. What a great way to spread holiday cheer. My vote for BAH HUMBUG of the year, goes to Paul McLellan, general manager of servicelighting.com that stated the following - " Paul McLellan, general manager of Minneapolis-based ServiceLighting.com, which had an ad on the site, said Komarnitsky's actions were unethical. 'Finding out he's making a buck off of something that costs us a buck, it's not very cool,' McLellan said." Now it is alright for him to make a buck off something, but not okay for anyone else. Especially when you actually were doing something to spread the holiday cheer, and to help people with their Christmas Spirit. Keep up the good work! What a great thing to be doing.
Glad I could provide a good laugh to 'ya. Actually, the person to vote for the BAH HUMBUG award would be the AP Reporter, since Paul Mclellan corrected the evening AP story the very next morning with his own press release that said "my words were misconstrued to mean something entirely different" when the AP quoted him saying Alek was "unethical" and Paul continues on to say "I sincerely appreciate his intent of spreading Christmas cheer!" - read more on my media page which is debunks several of the media comments - I encourage folks to read that to see my side of the story and THEN form their own opinion. Paul actually got a LOT of nasty-grams directed his way - once again, don't believe everything the press says ... although I guess argueably the same thing could be said about me! ;-) Thanx for the nice note and Happy New Year to you too,

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 10:21 am       From: RobinE       Subject: It made me smile!
To Alek & (his Very Supportive wife) Wendy: It is so nice to see that there is still someone out there with a good sence of humor! It made me smile when my kids got such a big kick out of "controlling" your lights! I am sure that many adults got a great joy out of it too! So don't let anyone take away from the many smiles and all the enjoyment that you brought so many over the past several weeks! I only wish that your site could still be used because my kids really had a blast! So keep spreading smiles and hope that next years Xmas lights will have even more lights and be even more controlled by your viewers! And kuddos for you Wendy for supporting your husband in making so many children smile! S Sincerly, (and smileing from many happy memories of my childrens laughs of joy)
Thanx for the nice note and glad I was able to bring some holiday cheer to 'ya. Actually the site is still operational ... although I have some "goofball" options turned on ... plus it works during the day, yet the picture is ... dark! ;-) Yea, my wife is awesome (I'll forward this to her) - I could not ask for more.

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 10:26 am       From: JeffS       Subject: WE LIKED THE WWW SITE
We liked your site, please have it on again next year, the kids enjoyed turning your lights on and off... (hey, they still believe in Santa...)
Glad you (and your kids) liked it ... I've actually got in on right now, with some "goofball options" turned on ... but yea, "something" will be up next year ... maybe a REAL webcam - do you think anyone would believe me? BTW, I have let the press know that you are still perpetuating the myth that Santa is a hoax - shame on you! ;-)

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 10:28 am       From: RobertP       Subject: Alek, you ROCK!
Mark me taken and loving it! Laughed my butt off, even though I was never able to actually get to the controls... I have to agree that this was an 'art project' more than a technological hoax. Three hearty cheers for preparing and performing a conceptual art piece that will go down in internet history; and for brigning cheer both before AND after the details were revealed. For those who complain they were 'taken'; just remember that you get 'taken' every day - by drug companies, by advertisers, by your government. Rarely, if ever, is it done with such style, grace, good humor and good intent. If you learn anything from this, learn to smile gracefully rather than mistrust the world...
Thanx for the nice note Robert - I notice from your signature that you are a member of the Photoshop Professionals (never heard of them), so the compliment on my "art" is especially appreciated - glad you laughed your butt off - needless to say, that's a little more than a few of the media folks did! ;-)

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 10:39 am       From: RobM       Subject: spooferic
thanks santa for the most creative and fun spoof this millenium
Glad that Santa (remember, he's a hoax, but don't tell the press! ;-) could make your day! ;-)

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 11:06 am       From: DougD       Subject: Boo! apologize for lying to the public during Christmas
Why didn't you just do what you said on your web page and control the lights through X-10 relays? The only problem I could see is that if you had a ton of visitors toggling the control input, their could be some kind of delays or the lights might never have time to really change state. Of course, that could be pretty easily solved by a timer loop that just looks for an input signal every 1 sec or so and ignores the other input clicks. Everyone would not get to turn the lights on and off in busy periods, but it is a very reasonable work around. You are either a poor engineer or an unapologetic liar by telling the WSJ that this would be complex to do. Mr. Komarnitsky says that actually controlling the lights via the Web would be possible, but would require a complex hardware setup to process the requests and keep up with the constant on-and-off cycles. "The systems integration is a real challenge," he says. I read you work for a defense contractor. I hope your lousy ethics are not employed on SDI missile tests where tricks are used to make the targets more visible. You really ought to be ashamed of yourself for lying about your accomplishments with this web cam/Christmas lights web page. You could have done everything you did and just told the truth about how you did it and people would have enjoyed it and you would have not been a liar. What goes around comes around and someday you will have bad luck and only have yourself to blame for needlessly lying and misleading others during the Christmas season. The first thing you should do to atone is to apologize for lying on your web page instead of glibly rationalizing that people enjoyed your lying stunt.
I've said all along Doug that controlling your lights via X10 is doable - i n fact, they actually are ... but the interface to the webcam is not - although that to would be doable. But doing it to the degree I demonstrated would be a challenge for an individual homeowner - read my two cents about this and in actual fact, the webcam HAD an (advertised) "one second throttle" that did exactly what you suggest above - a dose of realism, eh?!? ;-) BTW, I personally agree that the SDI missile stuff definitely has some issues; heck, how they can declare it "operational" is beyond me, especially when they just had a test where the kill vehicle never launched. Happy New Year.

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 11:06 am       From: EricS       Subject: Great site man
With all of the bad news on the internet this week browsing your site has actually put a smile on my face. Great work on the site and please for the rest of us out here keep the young at heart mind-set alive! My only real question is does your wife go along with all of the pranks or do you have to beg? Have a great day.
Yea, the situation on the other side of the world is very, very tragic; I actually felt pretty bad about my story coming out at the same time, since this is soooo much more important. However, I'm glad that I was able to put a smile on your face. My wife reluctantly goes along with my pranks ... ;-)

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 11:20 am       From: NanP       Subject: What a breath of free air
I'd just heard about this whole thing this morning, I'm sure this is probably just a duplicate of many e mails you have and are going to receive, but...with all the evil things people do to each other, and all the trickery,deception, on and on and on... when i saw that beautiful picture of your family.. all i can say is THANK YOU, for only trying to spread some silly smiles through this dark world of ours. What a blessing you are! Sincerely, A california mom...
Actually, yours is the first to say "fresh air" on it ... but yes, I've gotten a TON of EMails like this, and still trying to catch up. Thanx for writing and Happy New Year,

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 11:48 am       From: MelodiK       Subject: HeHeHe
Well about the only thing I can find I don't like is your email address but being raised Catholic may have a little to do with it! HAHAHA I am glad you put so much cheer and happiness into people's lives as much as you could. I am only sorry that you have run into some zealot grinches who cannot chip the ice off their hearts enough to celebrate or allow others to wallow in the celebration you created. I am not unhappy, mad or disappointed. Either way for the moment I was happy enough with what I did and hoax or not my happiness cannot be removed. Thank you for what you have done and may the joy of the holiday season continue to grow in you and your family.
Actually, I was raised catholic too ... sorry about the email address, but xmas is easier/quicker to type that christmas. Yea, there are a few grinch'es out there, but response has been overwhelmingly positive. Thanx for writing and Happy New Year,

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 1:25 pm       From: DaveM       Subject: Hooray for you
I think your work is an epoch statement of the time we live in. Sure, the site gives me a chuckle and I had cheer spread all over me to the point of drooling while laughing, but the timeline of peoples reaction makes it a much more important piece of art. Thanks for the entertainment and Happy Holidays to you and yours. I hope to see your site in a museum of modern art some day! no need to respond
It has been interesting to see how people react - good news is overwhelmingly positive, even with some of the inaccuracies of the press reporting ... and even some of the Grinch's have changed their tone once they read: media commentary/correction page. Glad to provide some entertainment to you and many others. I don't know about the museum - my writing and web site design leaves a LOT to be desired. I am actually catching up on responding to everyone who took the time to write to me, so sorry for the delay in writing you a reply - Happy New Year,

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 1:55 am       From: BenS       Subject: The Hoax
Hey Alek I mailed you earlier about the X10 interface. After I learned of your site being a hoax, I was a little ticked off... Not at you though. But I don't care, because thinking about it, your site served its purpose. It didn't really matter whether the lights were turning on and off, people saw it. Having said that, why not try to do the real thing? You've had this up for several years now, but it couldn't be that hard to actually set up Web control of the lights. Of course, with all the traffic you seem to be getting, the lights would probably just dim due to the intense flickering, but it's worth a shot. Just my $.02. I'm planning on setting up some Web controlled lights over at my site, so I'll let you know. Good job with putting the whole thing together. Ben
Yea, people really did have a fun time with it. I have always said that what I do is doable ... but there are some real challenges for an individual homeowner to do as much as I demonstrated - see my writeup on this. Having said that, drop me a line when you got yours set up and I've love to check it out - thanx for writing and sorry about the delay in getting back to you - I've been a bit busy! ;-) Happy New Year,

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 1:58 pm       From: RhondaT       Subject: Atta boy
I thought the Xmas light joke was funny. I sympathize. A couple of years ago I designed a web card trick where the player "chooses" a card, etc. Of course they really were not choosing a card. I had Yahoo and a newspaper and all sorts of people actually calling me, and listing the site, and blowing my allowed bytes through the roof. People were shocked when they found out it was pre-programmed. I said "Hey it says its a card trick." Happy New Year. Rhonda
Yea, a FEW people haven't had much of a sense of humor, but the vast majority have enjoyed it - BTW, send me the URL where I can check out the card trick! ;-)

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 2:06 pm       From: Name       Subject: Hoax
Awesomely funny! This was one great job well done. Especially funny was the fact that you duped the media. Excellent and thanks for the holiday cheer!
Thanx for the kudo's. The media attention just kept rolling in, so I had to "come out" eventually - it was crazy ... but it was good clean fun and the only thing hurt were a few media ego's - oh well!

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 2:15 pm       From: BenW       Subject: It was pure genius
That's all I can stay, pure genius...well done! Even though these days its not too hard to fool the American public (i.e. reality television). But again great fake, it brought a smile to my face! Forget the people who talk down to you like you did something wrong. Have fun returning to your normal "boring" life. Better bring it back next year!
Thanx for the genius comment - I guess that makes me a "Smart-Alek" ;-) Yea, life is returning back to normal which is good ... and maybe for next year, I really WILL put a webcam out there - do you think anyone would believe it?!? ;-)

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 2:55 pm       From: DarrylG       Subject: Christmas Lights
I read about your little joke only minutes ago, and thought I would like to take a moment to let you know how utterly hilarious I found it to be. As the world follows the news of yet another major disaster, your little bit of humour has given me a moment's chuckle in what otherwise is a very gloomy day. Cheers, and have a great 2005.
Yea, the situation on the other side of the world is very tragic. I'm glad that in those dark times I was able to provide some humor for folks unaffected, but my heart goes out to those folks over there and their friends and families.

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 2:06 pm       From: PhilM       Subject: Just a little note ...
Hello my name is Phil And I heard about your little christmas thing an the news the other week on our local news station Q13 Fox. I thought it was pretty cool because im a computer geek and well you get it. When I came hto the site the christmas control panel was never on so I just usually browsed through all the pages on the site and I found the one on the google compute and how your kids have that desease I can't remember the name of at the moment. And im a fan of google and I have the toolbar on every pc i own which is about 6(my room hums from a mile away). So I got the google compute up and running and even sent a message to Q13 about this nefty little tool that can help to find cures for deseases. So I guess Im emailing you to just say hi im here, I think that the whole hoax thing was funny and I got a chuckle out of it, Im kinda disappointed, I hope they find a cure for your kids soon, and have a good and happy life and I hope the press isn't annpying you too much. I hope you have the christmas lights up next year I'll come check up on you then thanks.
My kids have something called celiac disease, which is an intolerance to wheat and gluten. I'm a fan of Google Compute since I think it will help find cures for diseases ... so while there is a bit of "geek glory" having the powder2glass team rank high, more importantly, we all win if people contribute their idle CPU cycles to medical research. Thanx for mentioning to Q13, but this isn't a "flashy story", so I doubt it gets any press. Glad you enjoyed the whole christmas lights saga and happy new year,

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 3:30 pm       From: MarionB       Subject: About the fake lights, of course
That is HYSTERICAL!!! I'm laughing so hard I can hardly type! I only wish that I had either thought of it myself or that I lived on your street. Only thing is, now we'll be waiting to see what you come up with next. No pressure, though. Have a great holiday. You sure brightened mine! Thanks.
Glad I brightened your (and many, many others) day. Yea, this will be hard to top for next year - maybe I'll have a real webcam - do you think anyone would believe me?!?

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 10:11 pm       From: RandyR       Subject: Great Job!
I couldn't believe my eyes at first when I tried to show a friend your webcam today. Just finished reading all of the follow-up and I have to hand it to you. That was a great piece of work to put together the whole thing. I'm laughing along with most of the others, and also wishing that I had the skills to pull of something like that. You get to wear the crown of the King of Geekdom at least for the next day or two. Thanks for adding something extra special to the holidays, and best wishes for a Happy New Year to you and your family (and your neighbors for playing along)
I don't know about that crown, but yea, I had my 15 minutes of fame, but happy to report it's all fading. Glad I could provide a chuckle to you and lots of other people. Happy New Year, alek

Date: Tue Dec 28, 2004 10:24 pm       From: MyraN       Subject: great idea
As i already read ur e-mails are bombarded. I just wanna let you know that actually reading ur site made me laugh! I didn't know about ur site till i read ur story off the net, so i didn't get to enjoy it! I do agree with the cheer behind it, and all that unethical stuff some people r saying, well, they're just taking life too serious! I'll create one with people turning on and off my computer and let u know what people do :p :p Hope you had a Merry Christmas!!
Glad I could make you and many other laugh. Please note that some of the press reports haven't been that accurate - I encourage people to read my side of the story and then form their own opinion. Christmas was pretty crazy with all this Press, but New Years was wonderful as I just spent a quiet night with the family.

Date: Wed Dec 29, 2004 12:16 am       From: BradM       Subject: Santa's Flight Test
Damn Alek - You crack my s*it up! This has got to be the funniest story of 2004. Absolutely loved it. Nice job.
I'm not sure it was the funniest, but a lot of people enjoyed it - thanx for the note and Happy New Year.

Date: Wed Dec 29, 2004 4:16 am       From: PaulB       Subject: Hoax
Very good - I had been puzzled about what would happen when 10000 people try to control it the same time! This video on your site: http://www.komar.org/christmas/faq/electrical_overload.mpg Is that a hoax as well? If not, do you have more info? Merry Christmas and a Happy New year!
I never had 10,000 people at the same time, but it was often over a 100 and pretty crazy. Someone sent me that video - besides the words associated with it, I have no idea what it is and/or the validity ... but looks real to me.

Date: Wed Dec 29, 2004 6:05 am       From: Mudgie
You really fooled me! It was one very good hoax - you're truly a genius :) I had fun - and to those who are complaining - get a sense of humour!
Don't know if I'm a genius, but glad I could bring a laugh to you and a lotta other folks.

Date: Wed Dec 29, 2004 7:51 am       From: MikeD       Subject: Thank You
I live in Chicago and was taking the el train home last night. I had read about your story before christmas in the tribune. Last night I was not in the greatest mood coming home and was reading your story in the tribune and I laughed out loud on the train. Thank you for putting some perspective on a bad day. You seem to be a great family man and that is awesome to see. Have a happy new year.
Sounds like I made your evening and gave you a pick-me-up on a tough day. While I gave a lotta people a good chuckle, I especially appreciate Emails like this one. I had a GREAT New Year - just spent a quiet evening at home with family - I hope you had a nice one too.

Date: Wed Dec 29, 2004 9:43 am       From: The Moodys
I think your website was brilliantly done. It's amazing the details you put in there. If people are offended by it then its their problem, no sense of humor I guess. Good job!
The response has been overwhelmingly positive - a few media ego's bruised, but they will get over it. Thanx for writing and Happy New Year,

Date: Wed Dec 29, 2004 10:44 am       From: AlK       Subject: You Rock!!
Dude, you had me fooled. I tried nightly yo control your lights. Great job!! Happy New Year to you and your family. Al - London Ontario Canada
Sounds like you were having such a great time changing the lights every night that you could be dissappointed it turned out to be a hoax ... but sounds like you have a sense of humor and thanx for the nice note - Happy New Year to you also.

Date: Wed Dec 29, 2004 1:25 pm       From: Sarah       Subject: your christmas hoax - good job
I'm not a computer geek, so I couldn't figure how if you had so many hits that everyone could turn off and on your lights, I mean, think of the blown fuses with everyone doing it at the same time. So it didn't come as a surprise it was a hoax. I just liked how cool you decorated your house and that you took so many pictures. It was fun turning on and off the different lights. It's too bad that a few people don't see it for the fun it was.
Even for the people that didn't "believe" (in the webcam ... or perhaps Santa too), I think it was quite a bit of fun and entertaining, so glad you felt the same way. Vast majority of folks thought it was fun too - thanx for writing,

Date: Wed Dec 29, 2004 8:46 pm       From: CharlesW       Subject: so cool
just was checking out you website to see if lights are still up and found out it was a hoax, man here i thought i won on rock paper sissors to control the lights, thanks for the xmax cheer
Yea, the lights were a lotta fun ... as was playing RPS. Glad you enjoyed it - Happy New Year,

Date: Wed Dec 29, 2004 9:58 am       From: DanM       Subject: Lights Request
Thanks for the "hoax" we all loved but I have a question? Would you please keep and turn your ligts on on Januaru 6th and 7th? It is Orthodox Cristmas and we all would like to "play" with your lights and enjoy the holidays one more time. Thanks for fun, Dan Belgrade, formerly Yugoslavia and now Serbia and Montenegro
You betcha - while I took my lights down on January 1st, the "webcam" is running right now for 'ya! ;-)

Date: Thu Dec 30, 2004 4:55 am       From: BrandonC       Subject: Hey how about ... ?
first thanks for a great holiday laugh !! i was wondering if the reciepe for the shrimp is real ... i was going to make it and send you a picture of mine! please let me know before i embarasse myself. peace, brandon
The BBQ Shrimp Recipes are "real" and pretty darn tasty if you ask me - try 'em and let me know what you think. Glad you got a good holiday laught out of it.

Date: Thu Dec 30, 2004 8:23 am       From: Chris H       Subject: If you had the X10 why not have it control the lights
I have read your bio and clearly you are capable, so I don't understand why you didn't make the lights control-able from the web. As a X10 person myself I have had my unix box control my X10 lights for years and yes they can be controlled from the web,, I use "heyu" and "bluelava". Which even includes controlling the window candle lights and the Christmas tree inside. Of course the first year I had the X10 and sat back while some friends helped decorate the tree was pure fun. They must have checked the bulbs 10 times while the strings of lights kept going on an off. Anyway just wondering why you needed to do a hoax vs. just do it? Just to save on the cost of a web cam? Of course I do admire the elaborate means for generating some of the images. Chris
The lights actually were X10 and yes, the remote was great fun - I got quite the chuckle out of you "messing" with your friends - I'm kinda curious if after the fact, they laughed with you or were angry?!? ;-) I've said all along what I did was doable - the best hoax is one that stretches the imagination, not breaks it ... but I think the individual homeowner would have a tough time duplicating for real what I demonstrated - s read my two cents here. Thanx for writing and Happy New Year,

Date: Thu Dec 30, 2004 2:00 pm       From: WayneX       Subject: Interested place webcam ads at your website
I read about you from google.com search Hi, Happy Holiday!!! My name is Wayne Xu, I'm writing to you from USA, I'm tries to promote and market my website at [URL-DELETED]. I sell Ocuview WEBCAM LD - is a fun and cool webcam at a very good price. This is a high quality web camera you can see our comparison at [URL-DELETED] I'm wondering if you're interested in promote my webcam at your homepage. I also have an affiliate program that keep track the sale and traffic from your website to [URL-DELETED] . I give out $5.00 per webcam (sold from your website) If you're interested, I can set up the affiliate account for you and send you the links and photos Thank your time and consideration Wayne Xu / wayne@smbcgi.com (MAILTO added to the spammers pick this one up! ;-) SMB Technology Inc An Internet and Marketing Consulting Company
No thank you ... and please take me off of your Email list,
I wondered when we would see the first of these type of messages - I'm sure I'll see more - always happy to add a MAILTO link for 'em! ;-)

Date: Thu Dec 30, 2004 4:50 pm       From: JohnC       Subject: Happy New Year
As if the November election wasn't bad enough! Now you remind us again as to how gullible the average American is. Thank You! We need these reminders more often. You gave us an "exhibition" worthy of Barnum. See you next year, John
While my intent was to provide some christmas cheer, the media attention just got outa hand so I felt I had to go public with it. It has been interesting to see how some of the Emails I've received have been a bit biased due to the media coverage that was subsequently corrected. Good news is that this was just good clean fun ... unlike politics where all sorts of mud is slung.

Date: Thu Dec 30, 2004 8:50 pm       From: DwaneH       Subject: Simply Outstanding!!!
I bow to the master! I suspected something was wrong, but I fell for it! I "changed" the lights several times, and even "panned" the camera. If anyone is pissed off about your hoax, screw them. They don't understand that the complexity of what you fooled us with is equaled by the complexity of the actual web site. Very creative programming ... and convincing!!!!! Let us wait and see how many copy-cat sites go on-line now. WELL DONE!!!! DwaneH MCSE
Glad I provided some entertainment for you - overwhelming majority of people agreed with you that is was fun. And yea, I suspect we'll see a number of sites crop up in 2005 that really DO allow people to control their lights - they may find that while doable, it will be a challenge to do things to the degree that I demonstrated.

Date: Thu Dec 30, 2004 10:24 pm       From: BenjaminP       Subject: Great Site!
Forget what all the negative people are saying about you - the site is great - tons of fun to read - and inspiration for me to have my own family one day and hopefully be such a cool father/husband as you are. You know, with your brains, am sure you could make a real webcam/lights site next year this site was amazing this year so know that you could really do it Keep up the great work, and keep posting more fun stuff for us fellow nerds to read about. Have an awesome new year!!!
While there have been a handful of negative comments, the overwhelming majority are positive ... and glad you enjoyed the site and saga. While certainly doable to allow folks to control your lights, it would be a challenge for the individual homeowner to do to the degree that I demonstrated - here is my two cents on that. But I welcome people to give it a shot - heck, maybe I'll put up a real webcam next year - think anyone would believe me?!? ;-) Happy New Year to you too,

Date: Fri Dec 31, 2004 7:25 am       From: LindayM       Subject: Worthwhile Hoax
I plan to use your story to tell my kids that they need to be skeptical, to think for themselves and question, question, question. It's far too easy to soak up "info" through the preponderance of media and let it affect your thoughts, values and judgements. Yours was a harmless proof of the chicanery possible with media and technology. Thanks. Sincerely, LIndsay.
Yep - my situation was good clean fun (versus some of the stuff that went on in the last presidential election) ... but yep, I certainly think it is a good idea to actually "think" about what the media writes as I'm having first-hand experience that it's not always accurate. I've been encouraging folks to read my side of the story and then form your own opinion.

Date: Fri Dec 31, 2004 4:09 pm       From: KellyC
First, Myke's brother's prank is freakin' hilarious. I particularly love his devotion, duping the news folks (helicopter ride!), etc. Ridiculous that some folks are upset about it, but not suprising--lots of folks out there with zero sense of humor. Great job, Alek!
It just spun outa control - heck, it was ABC channel-7 that called me and asked if I wanted a heli ride; would you have turned that down! ;-) Response has been overwhelmingly positive and less than 5% negative - thanx for writing.

Date: Fri Dec 31, 2004 5:13 pm       From: Alan       Subject: Kudos and Bravo
Brief note to say Kudos and Bravo on your hoax Great coding ~ brilliant idea and concept Applaud the bravery in inviting the Slashdot guys to watch. Idea for next year DO the actual coding and hard work of making a real internet user controllable lights; then have the same "hoax" page up for 2005 except this time it's real and NOT a hoax. /grins/ the media all we care about are ratings folks will be happy to be fooled once again. And I agree WSJ and (imo) the BBC are indeed real news people. Happy 2005
The Slashdot crowd actually came by 4 times starting in xmas/2002; I'm actually surprised they didn't sniff it out. Yea, it would be pretty funny to do a webcam for real in 2005 - think anyone would believe me?!? ;-) Thanx for writing and happy new year to you too,

Date: Fri Dec 31, 2004 8:28 pm       From: Gaileen       Subject: don't take your lights down
Don't take your lights down keep them for about a week or so Keep up the great spirit of christmas and the rest of the holidays From Gaileen in Yorkton, Saskatchewan Canada
I actually took the lights down on January 1st ... BUT ... have left the webcam operational ... so you and everyone else are welcome to surf on by and have fun with it! ;-)

Date: Fri Dec 31, 2004 10:21 pm       From: DonP       Subject: Xmas Stuff
Well Sir, I guess I missed the hoax. Just found out about it. LOL! I guess this sort of makes you the 21st century version of H.L. Mencken. It's classic. It does sort of make you question just how easy it is to manipulate the news services though, doesn't it?
While my intent was to provide some christmas cheer, it did spiral outa control as the media just ran with it; so I finally had to go public ... but YES, while this was good clean fun, we saw some real crap go on for the recent presidential elections, so it does make on wonder how reliable the news media are. In case you are interested, I've tracked the coverage on this story and it has been less than steller IMHO.

Date: Sat Jan 1, 2005 8:09 pm       From: RobG       Subject: hello
I read about your Christmas lights in my Lowell, Mass newspaper. We need more people like you in this world!
Thanx for that compliment - I'll take it! ;-)

Date: Sun Jan 2, 2005 1:28 am       From: EllenC       Subject: Your lights
Alek: Atta-Boy!!!!!! So what if it was a hoax. As someone who lives in Alaska and is somewhat bored because of the long amounts of darkness and cold, I totally enjoyed trying to keep the lights on while others turned them off. I haven't laughed like that all this winter. So I hope you have a wonderful new year and come up with some new hoaxes or jokes. Keep your house, trees and lawn well lit on all of the holidays. What can you come up with for Valentine's Day? Thanks for the Xmas light display. I have that picture on my slide show screen saver. Ellen in Palmer, Alaska.
Having visited Alaska in the winter months, I have first hand knowledge of how cold and dark it can be up there ... so glad you had some fun with it and I brought some laughter to you. I am kinda curious which picture you took - the one with the cars driving by with my kids in the driveway, or the one at sunrise ... I can't decide which one I like best - Happy New Year,

Date: Sun Jan 2, 2005 11:46 am       From: Daniel       Subject: hello
[in response to the fact I had millions of hits on my web page] Cool. You would have made even more money if you put banners on your site. Google links aren't that bad, except you only get paid for clicks. Banners pay you for both clicks and per every 1000 page views on your site.
Yea, except my intent was never to make money - the Google stuff has been there since 2003 and is everywhere on my web site. As noted on my web site, I would have made a LOT more money taking the $10,000 offer from the radio station.

Date: Tue Jan 2, 2005 1:34 pm       From: KathyD       Subject: Christmas Lights
WOW, what a great idea. I so bought it, and I had everyone I know checking it out too. I am still not sure what my hubby thought, pretty sure he bought it too. I was SHOCKED, I could not stop laughing and reading about the hoax I think it was a clever idea. I just hope you do something like this next year, you site is now on my fave list. You made my family smile and my hubby go out and buy lots of lights. I hope you had a great holiday season.
Glad you enjoyed the "light show" and I could make you smile. Smart move on your hubby's part to go buy lights now; I get all of mine at the after-holiday sales when they are 75% off. I'll have to think of "something" to do next year! ;-)

Date: Tue Jan 4, 2005 9:34 am       From: JonathanB       Subject: This is NOT a nastygram
I agree that you didn't hurt anybody, and I'm not going to flame you. Having said that, I'm really disappointed in your self-righteousness and childish refusal to accept the fact that no matter if somebody gets hurt or not, dishonesty is not exactly a good quality. When you.re in a helicopter lying to the press, that.s when most moral people.s alarm would go off that the whole thing.s gone too far. I guess I can understand how once it got started, it was hard to stop, but you don.t even seem to think you need to be excused for wasting so many people.s time and money. (Note that the 95% of the people who seem to love you probably weren.t the ones who were affected at all. Moreover, 95% of the people these days have just as shallow a sense of morals as you do, so don.t get too smug about it.)
Ummmmm ... I'd call that a nastygram ... but everyone is entitled to their opinion. Yea, it definitely spun outa control - it was a media frenzy with 'em all calling me up including the ABC-7 guys asking if I wanted a ride in their helicopter - sounded a like a fun time to me (would you have turned that down?), so yea, it became problematic when to go public with it ... and didn't think it would be right to do so before Xmas. Thanx for writing,

Date: Tue Jan 4, 2005 2:26 pm       From: SandyO       Subject: Hoax
Enjoyed the lights alot, you really had us duped! Amazed at the lengths you went to to provide a little fun for all. In todays world, we could all use a little cheer! For those who have issues, get over it and worry focus your attention on something that is TRULY wrong with the world. Hope to see the "lights" again next year, your site will definately remain bookmarked for us! Sincerely, The Olsons in Florida, who just enjoyed seeing the snow! - while remaining toasty warm! :o)
Glad you enjoyed 'em and YES, something (!) will be back next year. Do you think if I did it for REAL anyone would believe me?!? ;-)

Date: Tue Jan 4, 2005 4:28 pm       From: Daniel       Subject: Hello Alek
$10,000? Why didn't you take that offer? $10,000 is a good money.
As noted on the web page (and even if it has not been a hoax), I was never in it for the money (despite the press reports that would lead people to believe otherwise) and it would not have been "right" to be an advertising page for a radio station.
Yeah, you are right. They probably wanted to get millions of your visitors for only $10,000. Anyways, what is your next plan? You told me your fame is fading, but still, you have a high traffic website. What do you plan to do next?
Go back to my normal life of being a husband, father ... and a geek! ;-)

Date: Wed Jan 5, 2005 10:08 am       From: JamesB       Subject: was Alek naughty or nice ...
I looked over many of the docs that you had linked together. It's an interesting story! Beautiful lights, by the way! I have no problems w/ the hoax and think it's funny and clever. I'm glad most people got a good laugh out of it, as they should. It was harmless, good-natured fun. My guess is that the media would probably be more upset with you than the public, because when they run a story as seemingly true, and it turns out false, because they're in the credibility game, they don't want to lose that game. Was there some resentment about it from some in the media? Sometimes too, I think people like enough clues to determine on their own that something might be fake. Then, they can build a healthy suspicion, and not be later totally surprised to find they were gullible with a big "G." Yet, I think most people can laugh at themselves and how easily they can be fooled. It's probably the insecure ones that can't (and we're certainly not like those people, are we? :>) ). Plus, instilling a healthy skepticism in poeple and having the public do some critical thinking, surely can have more positives than negatives. Thanks again for an interesting web story!
Glad you like the lights - those WERE real and there really was about 17,000 of them! ;-) Needless to say, the media was NOT happy about having to run a correction and I think that may have caused some of the inaccuracies and negative tone in how the stories ran - I encourage people to take a look at: my two cents on that and form their own opinion. Yea, I'm somewhat still amazed that NONE of the media swung by at night to look at the "wildly flashing lights" ... when in real life, they were never changing (except when I was in the helicopter). Thanx for writing,

Date: Wed Jan 5, 2005 10:33 am       From: EileenL       Subject: HULK behind bars?!??
Heheh. I had actually randomly seen the article on CNN.com right when this happened and thought the headline (right on the cnn.com home page I might add) looked fun and popped it open. Don't you worry, I sent it to everyone I knew and sent them a picture of you in your hulk car on your site. Fun to have a celebrity in the city. Ha! Still cracks me up. I can completely see how this got to the point that it did. It's hard to know when to tell people Santa isn't real.... or Christmas lights for that matter. Best of luck. Stay out of the news! :-)
While my 17,000 Christmas lights were real, the webcam was NOT, but Santa ... welllll, I'll let you figure that one out! ;-)

Date: Wed Jan 5, 2005 1:21 pm       From: Doobie-Won       Subject: Christmas Lights Hoax
Honestly, Hats off to you. You brought joy and entertainment to millions. You showed that with imagination, technical ability, and a little bit of luck, you can make anyone in the world a believer. I hope that this "project" was everything you hoped to be and more. We all look forward to your next big idea. Your famous, Congrats! V/R Doobie-Won
Yea, while there was some work involved in doing this, I certainly had some luck in that nobody from the media ever came by in the evening and wondered why the "wildly flashing lights" (on the web) were just sitting there, not changing at all. I brought a lot of christmas cheer to many people ... and after that, provided a good chuckle, so I guess I succeeded there. Next big idea is to spend more time with my family.