2009/2010 Halloween Decorations Webcam Updates

2009_09_03: For reference, here is the halloween 2008 webcam updates and it should be a ton of fun again in 2009. I've re-enabled commenting on the Halloween Blog which has more extensive play-by-play than the summary here.

2009_09_10: As noted at the top of the page, the Controllable Halloween Decorations for Celiac Disease raises awareness and encourages people who enjoy the light show to donate to the University of Maryland. My two kids have Celiac so this is personal for me. Read more here and consider adding to the over $35,000 raised so far.

2009_09_15: I continue to use Wind Power for my electricity - wonder how many times I'll be asked this year where the windmill is on my property! ;-) What actually happens is you pay an extra surcharge (about $1 per 100 KWH) on your electric bill which goes to Colorado wind farms. My electric meter spins pretty fast when my thousands of holiday lights are on, so I hope those windmills can keep up! ;-) Along those lines, the holiday display will again be carbon neutral (Al Gore would be proud!) to offset the estimated 2 MegaWatt-Hours of electricity that will be used.

2009_09_20: My holiday webcams have been fairly popular over the years, so for the geeks out there, the configuration this year is three dedicated servers running Linux/Apache2/mod_perl. One web server will handle the main halloween decorations webcam (and X10 control panel) with the other web servers handling image refreshes for each of the three webcams. Each web server has a 100 Mbps connection, so the combined throughput is 300 Mbps powered by a total of 14.4 GHz of CPU power with 10 GBytes of RAM - bring on the slashdot effect!

2009_09_27: I didn't get much done this weekend since tons of family stuff. Some highlights were attending the Colorado Rockies baseball game on Friday night and stopping by the gluten-free stand with Kyle so he could get a hot dog - he said it was "yummy, especially the bun!" And among various family events on Saturday, we stopped by the Lafayette Street Fair and a couple of neighborhood kids had a "YoYo's for Celiac" booth which raised over $200 for charity - how cool is that.

2009_09_28: I've put up the Skulls visible on webcam2 and installed the first strand of lights - the upper roof icicles. Lots more to come, but I'm a bit behind schedule, so probably won't have everything up by October 1st.

2009_10_01: The winds have been gusting at over 50MPH, so I've been delayed in putting out the Halloween Decorations - only about a third of them are out there so far. But I've turned on webcams 2 & 3, plus turned on the X10 controls so people on the Internet can start turning stuff on & off.

2009_10_05: I turned on webcam1 in the morning since people were interested in watching the halloween setup ... but then the Comcastic Internet service at my house went down at 11:03AM - D'OH! Fortunately, it came back online a few minutes before the 6:00PM, just in time for the halloween show! ;-)

2009_10_10: Despite Global Warming, we easily broke the all-time record low temperature for October 10th and even had a couple inches of snow - an early, chilly, and white Halloween. Some gusty winds sent the inflatable skull into the neighbor's yard - it's now staked down better. Just about everything it setup with some final touchups/adjustments in the next day or so.

2009_10_16: Since the Colorado Rockies lost to the Philly's in playoffs, it's time to say goodbye to the monster baseballs - watch time-lapse video. And speaking of the Rockies, some friends had an extra ticket and took Dirk to game #3 of the playoffs last Sunday. It was darn chilly for baseball but Dirk was excited about scoring a practice ball and watching the game in person.

2009_10_21: I've had to replace a couple of X10 Super Sockets that started acting erratically - remember that these units are designed for much lighter duty cycles such as just turning stuff on at dusk and off at dawn - needless to say, Internet surfers from around the world just pound on 'em! Along those lines, I am trying a USB CM19 X10 controller from the laptop as a replacement for the serial CM17 Firecracker. There is some anomalous behavior that crops up under heavy usage that I'm trying to figure out. Also had a 9News TV crew out here shooting some Halloween footage.

2009_10_29: My "hack" solution to the USB CM19 X10 strangeness is to plug two of 'em, and randomly choose one to send commands too. This seems to have only failed once, so probably a strange race condition that is getting triggered in rare circumstances. Speaking of challenges, Colorado had a couple feet of snow, so while this adds a Wintery touch to the Halloween display, it does bury the lights and the inflatables struggle to get up. But after quite a bit of shoveling and sweeping, everything continues to work pretty well. Had a nice mention on THE TODAY SHOW about the Controllable Halloween Decorations for Celiac Disease. Web traffic continues to climb as we approach Halloween night when it is just crazy ... plus hundreds of trick-or-treaters!

2009_10_31: The weather warmed up and the sun came out, melting a lot of that snow. So the trick-or-treaters were out in force as probably close to 300 people came by. I almost ran out of candy for the kids but had plenty of libations for the adults. As typical, massive amounts of web traffic - screenshot here - and you can relive the entire evening in one minute time-lapse videos from the webcams on the Halloween Movies page. Fun for everyone and especially me seeing all the smiles.

2009_11_06: All the Halloween stuff has been taken down and put away in the basement crawlspace so Halloween/2009 is over ... and time to start getting ready for Christmas! ;-)

2010_09_21: Because of various personal reasons - my wife just had breast cancer surgery and my Dad recently passed away - I'm taking a break on Halloween for 2010. Hulk, Frankenstein, Pumpkin Jack, and the Witches/Skulls/etc. will be back next year for Halloween 2011. But I do plan to put up Christmas Lights this year along with the Christmas Webcam ... HO-HO-HO! ;-)

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