Media timeline on 2004 Christmas Lights Webcam before the Hoax was Revealed

Since I kept track of the media coverage (with corrections) after I approached the Wall Street Journal to break the news that my christmas lights webcam/webcontrol was a hoax, I've had several people ask what happened before then. So I've cobbled togather things from some various Emails, notes, and memory. There is inbound traffic data for most of the online resources listed below. As with anything, Email me with any corrections.

2004_11_05: The Halloween "warmup" is over and it was outa control as there were over a million hits from almost 150,000 web surfers - I'm a little worried about what is going to happen at Christmas. I've taken all the Halloween stuff down and packed it away for next year, but starting work on my Christmas Stuff - come back after Thanksgiving to see that extravaganza!

Thanksgiving: Happy Turkey Day! My folks flow into town (and brother Myke surprised 'em) today. Fed 'em a buncha turkey and fixings ... and after a walk, they all decided football/naps were "better" than putting up Christmas Lights ... so hopefully I can put 'em all to work tomorrow - looks like the weather will stay decent for a few more days. Here's a picture of the christmas helpers ... and SOME of the lights! ;-)

2004_11_28: Got the lights up before the big cold front came in ... so my Pink Flamingo's are a bit chilly in the snow. Webcam was turned on.

2004_12_01_2017: The folks at MajorGeeks.Com (true recognition!) have linked to the site. The admins over there think it's a great story, and even funnier when they find out it is a hoax. I was wearing a MG T-shirt in the photograph that ended up (literally) going around the world in the AP story.

2004_12_02_0806: The USA Today Hot Sites Crew like it too - maybe because The HULK was caught reading USA Today by Christmas Lights? These guys did a followup after the hoax broke that was pretty funny and seemed to get a chuckle out of the whole thing.

2004_12_04: Kim Komando mentioned the christmas webcam to her (claimed) 3.5 million fans.

2004_12_07_1520: Ernie's House of Whoopass (mature content) mentions "See the Hulk and other cool sh*t on Komar's controllable Christmas webcam!" which sends a ton of visitors.

2004_12_11_0312: Wil Harris from the British Inquirer wrote a funny article about my Christmas Lights/Webcam. He does a followup story on 2004_12_29_0336 where he expresses his displeasure with the hoax.

2004_12_11_0730: Al's Morning Meetings mentions that it is pretty cool. This is actually a "feed" for media folks, so maybe this is what stirred the Boulder Camera to action the following Monday (?)

2004_12_11_1032: Heise.De from Germany has a short piece that sends a bunch of visitors over.

2004_12_12_1735: Slashdot writes "Alek's Christmas Lights Webcam is back that sends a ton of people over. The 4th time it's in Slashdot - Xmas/2002 , Xmas/2003 , and Halloween/2004. And the 5th time is when Slashdot posts about the hoax itself two weeks later.

Up until now, most of the reporting had been in the new/online media, but things were about to change as the story crossed over to the old/traditional media. Back in 2002, the local Boulder Daily Camera newspaper had written a front page article about my lights/webcam, but it hadn't gone any further. This time, Associated Press sent it (inter)nationally and there was a media frenzy for the next 36 hours or so as it was mentioned in bazillions of print outlets, I did over 30 radio station interviews (over a dozen the morning of 12/16 alone - phone was ringing non-stop), and 4 TV interviews that cumulated in the ABC-7 guys taking me up in their helicopter for a live report of the flashing lights

2004_12_13: Tech TV Video has a one minute snippet about my lights/webcam - I found out about this the next day from a co-worker.

2004_12_13_early_afternoon: Boulder Camera reporter calls over about the lights. I asked if she has looked at my web page - nope - and she starts asking quuestions all answered there. I'm kinda busy with work stuff, so I suggest she look at the web page and call me back if any questions.

2004_12_13_4'ish: I wonder outside to wait for my wife and kids to come home and notice a women talking to the neighbor Traci - after a few minutes, I notice the small notebook she is writing in - and it dawns on me that this is probably the Boulder Daily Camera Reporter. We end up chatting for a while before/after my wife and kids show up. It's not dark, but I gladly demonstrate how the remote control and turn the lights on and off. A photographer comes out to shoot a picture, but neither stick around until 6:00 when the "show starts" plus they don't ask to look at the webcam. BTW, I ask Traci (who knows the webcam is a hoax) how the interview went and she says she was never asked a "difficult" question and answered truthfully to everything - she ends up being quoted: "I just think he has a lot of Christmas spirit ...He is entertaining." and her daughter Jordon is quoted saying: "They are the Griswolds of our neighborhood" - I do have that rep! ;-) I had told a handful of neighbors that the Press might come knocking (and informed 'em about the hoax), but did not put any "pressure" on them besides to say answer however you want to answer. Despite all of the media attention which then ensued (including 3 on-site TV stations), no other neighbors were quoted until after the hoax was revealed.

2004_12_14: Boulder Camera article shows up on front page with nice picture of the kids ... and then the AP sends it out and EVERYBODY picks it up around the world (CBS and 9News links) and the media tornado begins late that morning. I leave work early. I end up trying to track if the Associated Press (traditional media) is "stronger" than Slashdot (new media) in terms of traffic generation.

2004_12_14: Fox and NBC-9 video interviews on my front lawn - but I had previousely noted that the webcam was "broke" and informed them of this ... but I offered to do a show-n-tell with the remote control which I did. ABC-7 wants to take me up in their helicopter but I'm too busy on Tuesday, so I say lets do on Wednesday.

2004_12_15_morning: Dozens of live radio call-ins to various stations around the country and subsequently in other countries. The guys over at Alice 105.9 offered me $10,000 (on-the-air!) to put an ad up for them on my site - I said I'd prefer to keep Christmas commercial-free (except for the targetted/helpful Google stuff I put on all of my pages) but it did get me thinking - that would buy a LOT of Christmas Lights ... and as I've said publically, this is a LOT more than I ended up making from the Google Ads - so money certainly wasn't the motivator here; despite some of the press reports to the contrary! ;-)

2004_12_15_evening: ABC-7 takes me up in their helicopter for a live report on the 6:00 Evening News - hey, they were itching to do it, so I wasn't going to turn down a helicopter ride! ;-)

2004_12_17_0600: Today (Friday, December 17th) is my wife Wendy's 40th birthday. Instead of making her breakfast in bed, we did a live interview for the Channel 2 Morning Show on the front lawn - yea, where are my priorities, but she insisted. She is truly wonderful to put up with the Christmas extravaganza and I love her dearly - she's a great mother and wifeee ... and without her, I'd just be a ... buncha Christmas Lights!

2004_12_18_1915: And after a month+ of planning and work, my wife and I are walking out the door to the "Book Club" Party ... little does Wendy know it will be a SURPRISE party (was a HUGE success!) for her ... heh, heh! ;-)

2004_12_20_0943: David Pogue from the New York Times has a short complimentary writeup in his technology blog. His followup piece on the 30th is not so complimentary as he does not appreciate the hoax ... although I got a chuckle out of reading his bio that describes how he is an accomplished magician ... and don't they hoax people?!?

2004_12_22: The folks over at EarthCam.Com have informed me that I made their list of 25 most interesting webcams of 2004 but despite this new fame, my wife reminded me that Wednesday is again trash day, and that it is still my job to take out the garbage. I continue to do radio interviews (although not as crazy as before) including not one, but two down in Perth, Australian - turned down the morning shows in England, since that's 0230 here here - sorry chaps!). I ended up getting Email from every continent including Antarctica. And some major web sites in England, Finland, Germany, Hungary, and Norway are talking about it.

2004_12_23: Initial contact with Wall Street Journal - I Email 'em there's a side to the story that everyone has missed and I'd like to chat with 'em over the phone about it - they give me a call, and when I explain that despite all of the media attention, the webcam and controllable lights are as real as Santa, they are interested. Discussions are ongoing the next couple of days with the biggest "problem" being how do I prove that the hoax is really a hoax! ;-)

2004_12_27_1423: The Wall Street Journal reports High-Tech Holiday Light Display Draws Everyone But the Skeptics.

Click here to read about the second tornado of media interest!