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Chuck

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Posts posted by Chuck

  1. After much consideration, I've come to the conclusion the PlanetChristmas forums will be around as long as I am.

    I ventured over into the world of Facebook.  Good gosh... what a black hole of time.  It's so easy get get distracted.  I found the never-ending ads especially irritating. 

    Sometimes the latest is not the greatest.

    Maybe the new Planet Christmas tag line should be: "Say hello to the gold old days!"  

     

     

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  2. I'm thinking anything pre-pandemic is like... ancient history.  😂

    The early editions of PlanetChristmas Magazine were based on Adobe Flash to get the page flipping animation.  Most browsers now disable or don't allow Flash features to work because of security issues.

    Let me add this request to the to-do list and see if the old magazines can be regenerated with newer technology.

    • Like 1
  3. Twinkly lights are pretty cool, especially when controlling them from your smartphone.  Twinkly's are addressable yet still look like typical LED Christmas lights.  The only downside might be they use a proprietary communications protocol meaning you can't mix and match them with typical RGB smart pixels.

  4. We did our annual Christmas Eve light tour and I couldn't help but notice more people had outdoor Christmas decorations... typically some minilights in the bushes.  A step in the right direction but still a long way from the magic of a Hallmark Christmas movie.

    I'm going to blame the over-the-top decorators.  They've intimidated the typical decorator into not even trying.  😲

    Christmas 2020 is so.... last year but I'm already looking at 2021 and how to get more people decorating.

    I'm thinking some sort of smart props.  Dancing wreaths, snowflakes, candy canes but plug and play.  (secret code for meaning you don't have to be a nerd to create an exciting display.)

    I stumbled onto this video.  Jump to the 1:20 mark to skip the intro.  For the record: I have no financial link to this company.

     

    I get kind of excited with this concept.  Mix and match the props any way you want, provide a source of music and you're done.  Easy to expand in the future.

    Whatdoyathink?  

    What other ways can we make decorating easier for others?

     

  5. I constantly get the question about switching to smart pixels.  They're great eye candy BUT expensive, complicated and can be power hogs.

    I got to watching a lot of the customer-submitted videos on the Light-O-Rama website.  What struck me with the RGB pixel displays was how cars would speed past... totally ignoring what was built to stop them in their tracks.

    Hmmmmmmmm. 

    Now when I talk to others about switching to smart pixels I ask them where they live.  If there's not a place for people to park and watch I recommend sticking with traditional lighting where you're lucky to get one second of eyeball time. 

    • Like 1
  6. When I was a teenager our neighborhood sponsored a Christmas lighting contest.  As I remember I spelled NOEL in giant block letters on the roof and animated them a bit... but there was plenty of competition.  I walked away with a $10 check and was soooooo proud.  Now that I think about it, that was 50 years ago...

    Maybe a way to stimulate more outdoor decorating is to get with your neighborhood homeowners association and convince them a lighting contest is needed for 2020.  Heck, in my area I'd even donate $50 in prize money just to get participants 'motivated.'   I'm thinking "Great Christmas Light Fight' at the super-local level.

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  7. When I was a teenager our neighborhood sponsored a Christmas lighting contest.  As I remember I spelled NOEL in giant block letters on the roof and animated them a bit... but there was plenty of competition.  I walked away with a $10 check and was soooooo proud.  Now that I think about it, that was 50 years ago...

    Maybe a way to stimulate more outdoor decorating is to get with your neighborhood homeowners association and convince them a lighting contest is needed for 2020.

    I think I'll start a new topic on this idea.  Thanks!

     

     

     

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  8. GFCI and outdoor Christmas lights were never designed to be a good match.  Lights are outdoor and in dampness... exactly what GFCIs are designed to prevent.

    One hack the professionals use is to elevate all electrical connections off the ground with a wooden stake.  Now electricity can't sneak to ground and pop the GFCI.

    Don't try to waterproof the connections... it just ends up retaining the water causing even more grief.  If you're in a cold climate then repeated freeze/thaw cycles will end up pushing the connection apart.

    You might also consider repurposing that GFCI circuit to something a bit more indoors and power your outdoor lights another way.

     

  9. COVID-19.  Social Distance.  Wear a Mask.  Think twice about extended family gatherings.  

    ... all phrases I never even thought about until 2020.  But I now see opportunity.

    The vehicle has become the only safe bubble where families can get away from home.  

    Decorate the outside of your house.  It doesn't take much to put a smile on a face!  You'll be making lifelong memories.

     

     

    • Like 1
  10. I built three different versions of my animated trees display  I added an ammeter to monitor how much electricity each was consuming.  Interesting.

    The setup:

    4 trees, each with 150 lights

    1 tree with 170 lights

    ... so 770 lights total.

     

    Using incandescent minilights from Walmart

    Total cost (including a new LOR 16 channel light controller): $291

    All lights off: 5 watts of power (I assume that was for the light controller electronics)

    All lights on: 234 watts of power.

     

    Using LED minilights from Walmart

    Total cost (including a new LOR 16 channel light controller): $349

    All lights off: 5 watts of power (I assume that was for the light controller electronics)

    All lights on: 29 watts of power.

     

    Using LED based RGB smart pixel lights from Light-O-Rama

    Total cost (including a new LOR pixel controller): $655

    All lights off: 36 watts of power (I assume that was for the light controller electronics and the chip on each smart pixel)

    All lights on: 430 watts of power (when all lights were 100% white).

     

    I'll admit the LED based RGB smart pixels are pretty darn cool.  Any light, any color at any time, but I was more surprised by the amount of power consumed... almost twice as much as incandescents when everything is full on..

    In years past I closely watched the people watching the display.  I saw the same reaction no matter what lighting technology was being used.

     

    Chuck's conclusion:

    Don't get carried away with all this lighting technology.  You might be feeding your own ego by having the latest (and expensive) cutting edge lighting stuff... but your viewers could care less.

    • Like 2
  11. The PlanetChristmas Forums was quite the thriving community years ago... until Facebook took over the world.

    I'm not a social media person and admit I've struggled trying to figure out why Facebook, Twitter, TicToc, etc. have so changed the world.

    ... until I watched the Netflix documentary called the Social Dilemmahttps://www.netflix.com/title/81254224

    Scary stuff.  What started as lofty ideas to make the world better has been corrupted by... well you should really watch the show.  It will put things in perspective.

     

     

  12. We have a new Classifieds section in the PlanetChristmas forums.  The old one had become dated and was no longer supported by the vendor.

    The new Classifieds module is a bit different but the goal is simple: you can place a 'Christmas-centric' classified ad for no charge.  If you find a buyer then the financial transaction must happen outside of PlanetChristmas.

    Now I just have to figure out how to configure this monster.

    • Like 1
  13. This time of year I always start seeing used Christmas equipment changing hands.  We currently have a Buy/Sell/Trade area in the PlanetChristmas forums but it's pretty crude.  Can't help but think there's a way to make this easier.  I need to keep pondering this.

    My goal is always to keep PlanetChristmas pertinent to today's decorator.  Facebook has certainly made that challenging when it comes to posts. To me the hundreds of thousands of old PlanetChristmas posts are a real treasure trove of information but the newbies seem to care less about how we solved a problem a year ago... much less 20. 

    I do like Ted's idea of reducing the number of subject forums to something less threatening. 

    • Lights, lights, lights
    • Blowmolds
    • Heads Up

    Any other suggestions?

  14. PlanetChristmas used to be the hip and happening place for Christmas decorators.  In the early days it wasn't unusual for the site to trip off-line because of too much traffic.  The stories I can tell...

    Then along came Facebook.  Now anyone can create their own version of a Christmas group and Facebook handles all the behind-the-scenes heavy lifting.

    I'm considering changing the PlanetChristmas website to a Christmas-centric classified ad site.  I'm seeing a growing need for Christmas decorators to have an easy way to move stuff between themselves.  The classified ads, as usual would remain free on PlanetChristmas.

    Whatdoyathink?

     

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  15. Well... we're finally back on-line.  Behind the scenes, PlanetChristmas needed to switch to a more robust host which is normally not a big deal but the PlanetChristmas forums include a huge database and about a zillion files that become challenging to move around.  There were also some significant DNS issues.  I'm now in the process of bringing some of the old website pages done in another format to our new site.

    Stay tuned.  There's more stuff on the way!

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