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Hardware Hacking Entertainment

Geeky Gadgets for Halloween Parties? 306

Posted by Cliff
from the they're-here dept.
Neurotoxic666 asks: "Like many others, my friends and I are going to hold a costumed party for Halloween, however we do not want it to be the typical haunt. We have some talent in computers and electronics, but we're short of ideas. Are there any good gadgets and props that the average geek can build to spice up the party? Of course, there will be the usual ambient sounds and decoration, but we're looking for more interactive, dynamic and techie stuff. One idea I've had is to use the living room computer on the TV and have white noise, ghosts and other creepy effects appear throughout the night. Does anyone have some suggestions, ideas we could build, effects that worked well in your parties? Anything from heart-beating books to special lightning to mad science devices is welcome!"
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Geeky Gadgets for Halloween Parties?

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  • by AppHack (622902) on Saturday October 22, 2005 @06:38PM (#13854320)
    But you could setup a computer running Windows and hook it up to the Internet.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 22, 2005 @06:56PM (#13854409)
      But you could setup a computer running Windows and hook it up to the Internet.

      Every Hallowe'en party needs a zombie.
    • Windows ME and AOL 9.0 Super-Dee-Duper Turbocharged Dialup-on-Steroids!!1!eleven

      Guaranteed to scare the most seasoned geek:

      You: "How are you, Grandmother?"
      Your Grandma: "Why do all these nekked women keep popping up? Could I have a phish? 'Cause I read that Bill Gates tries to get everyone sick by adaware-ing that clickety-click-thing."
      You: <begin shaking in terror>
      Your Grandma: "Oh, and how come my computer doesn't fax? You said it could send faxes, so I jammed what I wanted to fax into the cu
    • Actually, it might be possible to do the following.

      There was a hack awhile back for using MS write in Windows to edit the flying through space screen saver, using something like smiley faces or frowny faces instead of flags. There is also the ability to get the windows 3.1 driver for a hercules monchrome orange and black screen with adapter and make it run in on Windows 95.

      The combinmation of the two will give you a screen saver with orange frowny faces cascading through the black of space. On two phase t

    • Oh NO...! (Score:3, Funny)

      by uberdave (526529)
      Oh NO! It's the blue screen... of DEATH!!
      • Oh NO! It's the blue screen... of DEATH!!

        Get some poster-board, paint it blue, put some hex on it, tie it to your chest, and go to a party as the BSOD.
                     
  • by Jugalator (259273) on Saturday October 22, 2005 @06:40PM (#13854329) Journal
    Just undress and let your own bodies do the trick? ;-)
    A method free as in beer, showing what's full of beer. Yay!
  • EL Wire! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ChrisKnight (16039)
    Everything looks cooler when lit with EL Wire [coolneon.com] from Benny at Cool Neon [coolneon.com]! -Chris
    • Re:EL Wire! (Score:5, Informative)

      by ChrisKnight (16039) <{merlin} {at} {ghostwheel.com}> on Saturday October 22, 2005 @06:45PM (#13854351) Homepage
      Almost forgot... Cool Neon [coolneon.com] sells an audio sensitive EL Wire [coolneon.com] driver that will let you create responsive designs. I'm using EL Wire [coolneon.com] to decorate our pumpkin this year and some audio sensitive drivers to make it respond to trick-or-treaters.

      -Chris
    • Re:EL Wire! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MoonBuggy (611105) on Saturday October 22, 2005 @06:56PM (#13854410) Journal
      UV lights are also good. Anything drinkable that glows is very cool, and extra geek points are achieved if you can drink said glowing liquid from a conical flask or a test tube. Even without the UV, Aftershock (preferably green [thedrinkshop.com]) in a conical flask looks very mad scientisty. The markings on the flask let you see how many shots go in there too.

      Dry ice rocks, you can do all kinds of mad scientist effects with that stuff. A cool one is to put some pH indicator in water and then add the dry ice - lots of bubbles, thick white smoke rolling down the sides and the liquid changes colour as it becomes acidic. Lots of flash from a very simple reaction. You might need to do some creative googling to find sources of dry ice, but last time I was looking it was fairly cheap; in the region of £15 for 10kg of pellets.
      • Re:EL Wire! (Score:4, Funny)

        by ChrisKnight (16039) <{merlin} {at} {ghostwheel.com}> on Saturday October 22, 2005 @06:59PM (#13854425) Homepage
        Red Bull glows in UV (black lights). :)

        -Chris
      • Well... you could have a blacklight at the door of one of the back bedrooms so when a chick exit everyone can look and check for "glow in the dark liquids" around around her mouth ;-)
      • Re:EL Wire! (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Xaroth (67516)
        Something I did at a convention while running a Tron-themed room was to create some glowy drink. The magic ingredient is Tonic Water, but you have to mask the horrible, horrible aftertaste.

        My solution was this:

        Blue Raspberry Kool-Aid, unsweetened - 1 packet
        Tonic Water - 1 cup
        Water - 7 cups
        Sugar - 2 cups

        Prepare the Kool-Aid per normal, only with the above-listed ingredients. Blue Kool-Aid tends to look pretty bright on its own, bu
    • Offtopic? (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by ChrisKnight (16039)
      I'm guessing the moderator didn't read the original post? You know, the one where the guy asked for geeky gadget ideas for halloween. Or is the monkey who modded my post as 'offtopic' saying that EL Wire isn't a geeky gadget? Too mainstream for him?

      -Chris
  • multichannel audio (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BlueJay465 (216717) on Saturday October 22, 2005 @06:40PM (#13854331)
    if you have a multichannel setup (4+ speakers) you can always try and produce some creepy 3D audio, making it seem like it's from a moving source.
    • by po8 (187055) on Sunday October 23, 2005 @12:29AM (#13855876)

      Endlessly rising or descending tones using Shepard tones [uni-bonn.de] can be pretty creepy when done slowly and coupled with a distraction.

      One of the creepiest effects I know of is Libet's Experiment [wits.ac.za]. It turns out that you can measure a brain signal called the "Readiness Potential" on an EEG that appears about 0.5-1.5 seconds before you consciously decide to push a button! Hook the EEG up to a light, and the light will come on when you're about to push the button; you can't fool it. It's possible these days to rig an audio card EEG [sourceforge.net]; a skilled geek should be able to build a Libet machine to leave lying around for folks to play with. Let us know if you achieve OpenLibet, as we will all want to build our own.

  • by fuzzy12345 (745891) on Saturday October 22, 2005 @06:40PM (#13854334)
    You can build a theramin with a handful of parts, it's got the geek/cool factor and the proximity field/creepy factor for Hallowe'en. Ideal!

    Want your party to be a cut above your average geek party? Get some real live girls to come. Bonus if they're geeks!

    Ooh, a third thought: How about a real geek - i.e. someone who bites the heads off live chickens???

  • Singing Buck (Score:2, Interesting)

    by JohnPerkins (243021)
    I'm having a major fight with temptation about the Singing Buck [dennicasplace.com], which K-mart has for $120 and is supposed to go on sale for $100 even. I had them get the Mr Microphone part out and held it up to my pda. It was nice getting to see the buck read Andromeda Strain to me in the middle of K-mart.
  • Linux CDs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 22, 2005 @06:43PM (#13854346)
    Thankfully, I was able to get 200 Ubuntu 5.10 "Breezy Badger" LiveCD+Installer CDs well before Halloween, so in addition to the delicious cheezy treats that I'll be handing out, I'll also be giving out the gift of open source. Is anyone else doing this?

    -- @T4C
    • Bad Idea (Score:2, Insightful)

      by keithmo (453716)

      Would you run anything from a CD you received on "trick-or-treat" night?

    • by Mad_Rain (674268)
      I'm doing the same thing - except, the thing I'll be doing differently is I'll be handing them out from my neighbor's house, so he'll be the one cleaning egg off his house and riced-up car.

      Mwahaha!
  • by Omnieiunium (872399) <canadiancanuckNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday October 22, 2005 @06:49PM (#13854375) Journal
    getting some girls there, but since you posted this on slashdot...
  • Visit Parallax EFX [parallaxefx.com]. They now have a line of controllers made especially for Halloween special effects.
  • by Vario (120611) on Saturday October 22, 2005 @06:53PM (#13854390)
    We had several low- and high tech things at our Halloween parties. Just to give you some ideas I list some fun stuff:

    • infrared motion detector in the bathroom, no other lights working and when a person enters a small light in the shower goes on and an mp3-player starts playing music from Psycho
    • a stuffed animal sitting in the washing machine with a led light and a pen. The animal wrote "help me!" on the inside of the glass door
    • something like this here http://cgi.ebay.de/STERNENHIMMEL-LED-Sauna-LAMPE-D esign-Leuchte-UVP-499_W0QQitemZ4408536089QQcategor yZ107585QQcmdZViewItem [cgi.ebay.de] and then using the individual lights to create ghosts, bats, etc.
    • a dancing skeleton as a screensaver on the tv
    • the obligatory spider coming down from the ceiling on a string

    Just google a bit to get plenty of other ideas. Liquid latex is also a very nice thing to make fake body parts, that you can stick between a door or something.

    • Bad Idea (Score:5, Funny)

      by EZLeeAmused (869996) on Saturday October 22, 2005 @08:57PM (#13855019)
      If your parties are anything like mine, a bathroom with no lights might be a little scary during the party, but will be absolutely horrifying the next day.
    • by forkazoo (138186) <wrosecransNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday October 22, 2005 @09:16PM (#13855113) Homepage
      I've decided to go a little nuts this year. At the office, we are decorating the conference rooms, and allowing kids to come in for trick or treat. Our room's theme is "dialogs in the hall of the pumpkin king."

      Since we work with kids who have developmental disabilities (and children of parents with developmental disabilities), we can't do anything with strobe lights (a lot of the kids would go into seizures.) or anything very scary. (Where "very scary" literally means anything that would bother a mentally hadicapped five year old...)

      So, I decided it would be fun to write a "performance animation" program. Basically, there will be a 3D pumpkin character projected on one of the walls. He will have a background that appears perspective-correct to a person standing in the right spot, thanks to a two-pass rendering algorithm. The character will have a set of triggerable animations and gestures for his hands, and several facial morphs so that he can appear to talk. I will be in another room controlling the animation of the pumpkin king over VNC, and doing the voice, while I watch the kids on a hidden web cam in the room.

      It should be pretty slick as soon as I get afew more things finished. It parses and displays the hand animation just fine - still need to add image loading, get texture coordinates from the object files, and add a bit of extra glue for my facial morphing code.

      When all is said and done (friday), the kids will be able to have a complete interactiveconversation with a large friendly vegetable.

      Of courtse, I would like a chance to work on the "soul stealing vertigo inferno" that I would do if this were for older, less challenged people. I wouldn't want to do it alone though. It would be way more work.

      For the vertigo inferno, I wanted to have a few cameras, and some image processing code tied into the renderer, so that it would track the approximate position of the head of the person, and screw with the perspective projection. Given enough projectors to cover most of the visual field, and enough time, I'm pretty sure I could get just about anybody to lose their balance apon entering the room, if they kept their eyes open. Then the zombies would start to get mean...

      Oh, the things I could do with a massive budget and a team of ten graphics programmers, modellers, and animators!
    • Another neat little thing you can do is get some kind of laser (brighter is better) and then affix a mirror to the cone or dustcap of a bass speaker (one that you don't particularly care about) so that it projects onto the ceiling. Get spooky patterns with your spooky music as the vibrating mirror projects moving light onto your ceiling or wall.

    • ...the ultimate Halloween strange brew/jungle juice dispenser:

      Get a milk crate and a metal vat/trough/recepticle of some sort to stick inside the milk crate.

      Next mount a skull dangling over this vat, attached to the top edge of the milk crate, dangling over the top of the vat.

      Install a recirculating pump which pulls liquid out of the vat and shoots it out the skull's mouth, back into the vat.

      Fill the vat with jungle juice and dry ice.

      You now have the ultimate Halloween drink dispenser. People just hold the
    • Just google a bit to get plenty of other ideas

      Yup. Been there, done that. There are indeed lots of neat ideas for halloween parties. But they're either childish or cost an arm and a leg. Thank you for your suggestions! I'm also looking for new things to do, fun ways to use that dusty webcam, cool computer-assisted games, totally geeky special effects with a simple LEDs-and-AA-battery setup, DIY motion detectors, sound effects for that logitech sub-woofer, sounds activated by something, toys to interact wi
  • Get this... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Frogbert (589961) <`frogbert' `at' `gmail.com'> on Saturday October 22, 2005 @06:54PM (#13854396)
    A lifesize Jack Thompson complete with fangs!
    • Or, for that matter, a Jack Valenti (how come that all these people are called "Jack", BTW? We know that there's an Eric conspiracy - could there also be a Jack conspiracy?)
  • by Richard W.M. Jones (591125) <rich@NoSpAm.annexia.org> on Saturday October 22, 2005 @06:55PM (#13854399) Homepage
    Head in a Jar [madhauscreative.com] anyone?
  • by aarku (151823) on Saturday October 22, 2005 @06:55PM (#13854401) Journal
    You're going to need a carved pumpkin with a lit candle in it, a hose of some sort, and some flour. Boar a hole in the back base of the pumpkin just big enough for your hose. Stick a small amount of flour in one end of the hose and insert the end into the hole of the pumpkin. Now stand back and blow into the other end of the hose and witness the fireball. Experiment with things to get maximum plumage. The hose can be pretty long, so you can really freak out kids while in the cover of stealth.
  • by G4from128k (686170) on Saturday October 22, 2005 @06:55PM (#13854403)
    If you have an old (pre-USB) computer and an old dot matrix printer, then you can use it to create two axes of motion control for moving dismembered hands, dangling spiders, etc. Sending the right bytes out through the serial or parallel port will cause the print head and feed rollers to move on command. For extra credit, one can wire switches into a keyboard so that the system detects when a door opens, etc. With a bit of programming, the system can be quite interactive.

    The modern stuff is not as easy to hack in this way because its hard to talk directly to the hardware -- too many drivers, libraries, and embedded smarts between the CPU and the printer's motors.

  • by Slashdiddly (917720) on Saturday October 22, 2005 @06:59PM (#13854423)
    you could dress as a RIAA lawyer.
  • Smoke machine sensor (Score:2, Interesting)

    by itscoldhere (851838)
    I bought a cheap smoke machine for $15. It comes with a switch on 6 Ft of cable. Press the button, you get smoke. So fine if your going to sit beside it all night but a not very useful otherwise. You can get a timer for $25, It will trun the smoke machine on and off for a set time ever so often.

    But I came up with a much better idea. A montion sensor switch to trigger the smoke machine when someone approches.

    I picked a "tomb stone" for $6 that has has a montion sensor. When the sensor is tripped it makes
  • Jacobs Ladder (Score:3, Informative)

    by notb4dinner (558244) <matthew.blyde@st ... e.TWAINedu.au mi> on Saturday October 22, 2005 @07:03PM (#13854441) Homepage
    For the complete cheesey mad scientist effect build a Jacobs Ladder.
  • Pumpkin projector (Score:4, Interesting)

    by proverbialcow (177020) on Saturday October 22, 2005 @07:03PM (#13854443) Journal
    Cut your design in the pumpkin backwards, and set the pumpkin facing the wall. Insert a lit candle, and the silhouette is projected.

    Kind of low tech, but cool nonetheless.
  • Time Machine (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mathgenius (526070) <simon&arrowtheory,com> on Saturday October 22, 2005 @07:05PM (#13854450) Homepage

    Get a strobe onto some dripping milk. When the strobe is flicking at the same frequency as the driping it looks like the drops are suspended in time. Adjust the strobe frequency and you can watch the splashes form back into droplets and move back up into the spout they came from. I built something like this at a party once, in a darkened room, it was a big hit. Called it a "time machine".

    Simon.
  • by delirium of disorder (701392) on Saturday October 22, 2005 @07:10PM (#13854467) Homepage Journal
    There are all kinds of electric devices you can make that look like they are straight out of an old horror movie. Jacob's ladders [demon.co.uk] are quite simple to build. You can find all the parts on ebay [ebay.com]. If you are more ambitious, you might want to try a tesla coil [amasci.com].
  • by antdude (79039) on Saturday October 22, 2005 @07:14PM (#13854480) Homepage Journal
    You don't need gadgets for this. Dress up as Steve Ballmer and do these things:

    1. Monkey dance and sweat!
    2. Say "Developers, developers, developers, etc.
    3. Cuss and throw chairs.
  • I have Steve Ballmer's PocketPC, and I'm prepared to use it. It is authentically coated in layers of mid-level executive blood. Mmmmm .... bludgeony.
  • Why not just put on some quantum dots and go as a white LED?
  • by heller (4484)
    Scary? You want scary? I've got scary. . .present yourself as idiots who can't use google, that's pretty damn scary! Sheesh, I've been reading Halloween haunting sites for years, all of which I found from google. . .

    So, to *actually* help you, here's an idea: go use google.

    ** Martin
    • Where have you been for the 5,781,923,524 posts that actually *needed* a GIYF response?
      • I was off googling for halloween stuff to build and building it. . .a bunch of automated stuff and some air ram powered effects run off a small keychain remote, a fog chiller for low lying fog, and some other fun stuff. . .amazing what google and a very small bit of creativity can accomplish.
  • You can get exactly the right freaky-geeky musical ambience for Halloween from the seminal German electronic music group Kraftwerk. Try to get the tunes "Kometenmelodie 1" and "Mittelnacht" from their "Autobahn [amazon.com]" album.

    Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be on iTunes.

    -ccm

  • Watch some movies through Mythtv or something or other... THen, at some random point in the movie, overlay a dripping blood effect over the movie... Or random "redrum redrum" inserted in to the audio..............

    Never tried it, but it sure would be cool......
    • It'd probably work best if you did that with some uber-cutesy Disney movie or something similar. Same as how red queen in Resident Evil is all the more creepy because she sounds like a little girl.
  • http://cockeyed.com/incredible/incredible.html [cockeyed.com]

    Especially check out the "papparazzi" costume
  • by shawb (16347) on Saturday October 22, 2005 @07:29PM (#13854532)
    I've done a mad scientist costume a couple years, and my favorite prop starts with one rubber chicken.

    Add fake eyeballs [sciplus.com] with LEDs wired through them. Flashing LEDs or wiring up a bread board to make them flash is extra points. A knife switch [sciplus.com] wired to turn the eyes on and off is a delicious addition. Resistors may need to be placed in series with the LEDs depending on the batteries used. Batteries are of course placed inside the body of the chicken.

    Decorate liberally with old serial/parallel ports from old computers, scraps of wire, resistors and other interesting looking electronics equipment. I've even had a serial cable running from the chicken to an old defunct laptop.

    Electronic gizmos, such as a cheap box from Radio Shack or similar which can record a couple seconds of sound and playback always add to the fun.

    I have rigged the chicken with coathangers and fishing line so I could move the head around puppet-like.

    Frankenstein bolts in the neck are easy to accomplish... a bolt can easilly be held on with a nut inside the neck and one outside the neck.

    Stitch the whole thing up coarsely with thick black thread, possibly leaving a hole to be able to get to the battery/make spot repairs.

    Best accompanied with a labcoat, miss-buttoned white or light blue shirt, rubber chicken tie [crazyhatsandties.com] poorly tied. Brown dress pants or curdoroys, one leg tucked into the socks. Bright yellow chuck taylor's make good shoes, although clunky dress shoes work too. A pair of welding goggles (don't have to be worn on eyes... up on forehead is good enough) is good. Having poofy hair which can be costume painted white/gray is great, although a white wig from a costume shop does the trick too (better if gray/bluish highlights are added with costume paint.) And of course, an Erlenmeyer flask or graduated cylinder to drink from (Red Bull works well, with or without liquor.) Pocket protector, comically large syringe (preferably real 60cc syringe with no needle) stethescope, doctor's head reflector, and other medical trinkets always a plus. Black facepaint/ash to simulate explosion leaving clean goggle lines is good for effect, but seems to be counterproductive in actually talking to people.
  • by oneiros27 (46144) on Saturday October 22, 2005 @07:29PM (#13854535) Homepage
    I don't have any myself, but I typically rig up various moving things from assorted bits I have laying around the house.

    A quick search pulls up books like Animatronics: Guide to Holiday Displays [amazon.com], which seems to be right on target.

    The problem is, you don't even have two weekends left to get stuff done -- if you need to look for odd parts, or mail order something, it's really, really, late to be planning anything big. (yes, we typically do a conversion the day of halloween, so no one sees it too far in advance, as it's outside, but we've been doing it for years, and already have the stuff, and plenty of people to help.)

    Oh ... if you're looking for a durable fog machine, you might want to look at a music store -- they're intended to be lugged about, etc, as opposed to the cheap ones that show up in Target and the like at this time of year.
    1. Rasterbate [homokaasu.org] an image over a large wall or ceiling.
    2. Get a cheap fog machine, which heats the fog juice so it tends to fill the whole room, not just the floor. Then build a cooler system for it to chill the fog down and keep it on the floor. Plans [hauntedillinois.com] abound [gotfog.com]...
    3. Create spooky mixes for an iPod or laptop that involve lots of silence. Put them with mini speakers locked under the bathroom sink, or behind closed closets to periodically make creepy sounds. Having a sound go off 15 seconds after someone enters
  • Disclaimer: I've only heard about this one so I have a vague description at best.

    Take a big sheet of plexiglass and put it at a 45 degree angle behind a garage window. Mask off the area behind it with dark cloth. Put a tv with spooky images facing up at the plexiglass and put fake bats/spiders/etc behind the plexi. Apparently what it looks like is a bunch of floating images moving around right behind the window, depending on the video that you put on.

    I'm feeling lazy so I'll let someone else search a
  • A Few Ideas (Score:4, Interesting)

    by miyako (632510) <miyako.gmail@com> on Saturday October 22, 2005 @07:43PM (#13854580) Homepage Journal
    I have a good friend who is a geek and at times a bit of a bastard who is always comming up with things like this (not just for halloween) mostly because they live in a really creepy house anyway- but here are some ideas mostly from him.
    Get a Y shaped fiberoptic cable and place it out of the way in a dark corner with two of the ends pointing away from the corner. Set up a red LED at the other end of a timer...instant glowing red eyes from the darkened corner.
    You can set up a ghostly appirition by taking a box with a 1-way mirror facing into the box, fill it with some smoke from a fog machine, and have a projector shining in from the back. The image bounces off the mirror and hits the back of the box and the smoke gives an interesting halo effect to the whole image.
    Edit a video file to include random static and ghostly images and burn to DVD or stream from your computer- pretend like it's just a regular movie (The original Night of the Living Dead is available as public domain from Archive.org if you don't want to worry about copyright infringement and was a good scary movie). This can work even better if you record a movie off the TV with commercials and all so that it may be less obvious what you are doing.
    Set the Air Conditioner on a timer so certain rooms can develop "cold spots".
    A lot of digital video camers will pick up Infra Red light from things like TV remotes- this is a good way to create fake "orbs" in photos or videos to spook out your guests.
    A good, edible fake blood can be made with corn syrup, corn starch (to thicken it and make it less transparent) and red food coloring.
    A few more general notes, remember that things are often a lot more freaksom if there is less of a setup, include some really hokey and poorly done tricks to put your guests at ease, this can make the good stuff more effective. Also remember that panick spreads- so make sure to act freaked out and assure your guests that you had nothing to do with your tricks- this can make the entire thing much more effective. Also try to make sure that things are less predictable, if a spooky noise sounds off every time someone walks down a hallway it can ruin the illusion.
    Try to get a couple of other people "in" on the setup before hand- that way you have a pool of people who can set things up so that your guests don't learn to expect something every time you excuse yourself to the kitchen or bathroom.
    Above all, keep in mind that the scariest things are generally unseen or heavily veiled, props that are too goesh (grammar nazis, I tried to find the correct spelling of this word to no avail, anyone care to help?) often turn out to be humerous instead of scary.
    • Get a goldfish bowl (or regular fishtank) with a few goldfish. Cut some thin slivers of carrot the same size as goldfish. When kids call, you have a slice of carrot concealed in your hand, and you dunk your hand in the tank and bring it out with the slice of carrot flipping from side to side between your fingers. Rapidly put it in your mouth and eat it. Really freaks the kids :-)

      If the water is clean and fresh, it probably won't poison you :-)

    • a bit of a bastard

      What, was he born halfway through the wedding?
    • goesh

      Gauche? Not exactly sure what you were trying to say nor what "gauche" means (in English), but I've seen the word used in a similar sense.

      I sat there for half a minute trying to figure out what the two-syllable word "go-ESH" meant.
      • oddly enough, it comes from the french for "left," near as I can figure. I don't know exactly how it came to have the current meaning, though.
        • Perhaps it took a similar path to that of Latin "sinister" ("left")? And the English homonym "right" took the other path? People back then didn't seem to like the left, apparently.
  • A true geek isn't invited to parties. They don't have enough friends.

    A true geek doesn't like such silly traditions anyway, so it doesn't matter.

    A true geek probably is home on their computer at halloween, avoiding those annoying kids who keep coming to the door begging for candy, disturbing us at a time which could have been well spent hacking.

    But, what do I know? I hate halloween.
  • I'm pretty sure the Alive Chimpanzee [sharperimage.com] is this years must have haloween accessory.
  • Any of the Penn & Teller books, "How to play with your food", "How to play in traffic", "Cruel tricks for dear friends". I highly recommend the lighting pickle, the bloody heart-cake, the card trick w/ pizza delivery punchline, etc. You'll have more twisted ideas than you can implement in a single week. Try not to get arrested.
  • Halloween for me always means the start of the annual Nethack Tournament! [devnull.net] So hook it up to your big screen TV and put on your +5 Amulet of Geekiness!
  • If you have an old tv around (No LCD or flat screens, have to be the old school rounded front). Try Boo Tube DVDs (http://www.frightcatalog.com/Halloween-Special+E f fects/DVDs/Boo+Tube+DVD+Volume+2-1408002/ [frightcatalog.com])

    Basically you put your TV on the floor so the screen is pointed straight up. Then you hang a piece of plexiglass at a 45 degree angle above the TV. The image will be projected on the plexiglass and look like a floating head that you can see through.
  • The classics are good:
    • VanDeGraf generator
    • Tesla coil (drive it at the skin-effecf voltages...
    • Jacob's Ladder

    Just make sure to keep it far enough away from the computers :-)
  • Shock Photos (Score:2, Interesting)

    by flashnode (580559)
    In my old house I hooked up a camera, speakers and a strobe light to my front doorstep. When guests arrive the speakers would blast a scream and the strobe would go off. The camera would take a photo that resulted in a unique souviner that costumers could take home - a photo of themselves scared s**tless!
  • build women with your technology - the natural kind will surely be missing, so you might as well try to bridge the gap.
  • What are the best party tricks for the geeks ?

    One I remember we did was to swipe (british: steal) loads of flashing roadworks lights and spend a while synchronising them to an in sequence strobe effect along the lnegth of the halway..

    Dry ice and liquid nitrogen were good ones with my chem. eng. room-mates but I'm a computer guy.. I don't see too much of that these days.. mh Cray XMP is still in the posr...
  • by serutan (259622) <.snoopdoug. .at. .geekazon.com.> on Sunday October 23, 2005 @01:08AM (#13856037) Homepage
    A couple years ago I built a fog machine based on plans I found somewhere on the web. It was very simple to make and cost under $10. I've always meant to put up my own web page showing how to do it, but you know how that goes. It's not that hard though, especially if you are a true geek. Basically you get a used electric iron and mount it upside down in a shoebox-size box, with a drip mechanism that drips a glycerine and water solution onto the iron, and a computer fan at one end blowing in. Needless to say, you wire the fan and iron to a switch.

    For me the hardest part was making the drip mechanism and getting the drip rate right. You want a drip rate of several drops per second but not a running stream. I bought a used aquarium pump but it ran WAY too fast. So I ended up using gravity. I mounted a 2-liter pop bottle upside down on top of the box, with a piece of plastic tubing epoxied through a hole in the cap, extending down into the box. I fused the end of the tubing shut with a candle flame and poked several pinholes in it until it flowed right. Initially the thing stopped dripping after just a few seconds, so I had to poke a hole in the pop bottle's bottom end (which was at the top) to allow air to enter. Then the drip rate was too fast, so I heat-sealed some of the holes in the tubing. It was trial and error, and it ran a little too fast when the bottle was full and too slow when it was low on juice. Some sort of slow pump would work better. But what the hell, the parts were free.

    The drops of glycerine instantly boil away to dense white fog when they hit the hot iron, and the fan blows the fog out the other end of the box. Commercial fog juice is a 25% solution of glycerine in water. A 12-oz bottle of glycerine costs about $8 at the drug store. Mix it with 3 parts water and you're there. This quantity will last a couple hours.

    The fog machine emits steam, which rises. To make the fog float along the ground you need a chiller, which you can build with an old styrofoam cooler. Cut a 3-inch hole cut in each end, with a tunnel of wire mesh connecting the two holes. You fill the cooler with ice and put the fog machine up against the hole at one end. When the hot fog passes through the chilled tunnel it will stay close to the ground. You don't actually need pieces of plastic pipe or anything, unless you want to duct the fog somewhere.

    Instead of using my fog machine to fog up the living room I made a cemetery in the front yard. I had various slabs of styrofoam lying around from who knows what, in thicknesses ranging from 1/2" to 2". If you don't have any just get a 2x8 sheet of rigid foam insulation an inch or two thick. I cut out tombstone shapes with a scroll saw, and for good measure cut a few cracks and other defects into the edges with a serrated kitchen knife. Then I used a soldering iron with a large tip to carve out lettering on each one. The foam melts away at the touch of the iron, and the result has a nice deteriorated look. Then I spray painted the tombstones gray and then sprayed lightly over with black in a haphazard pattern to distress them.

    I mounted the stones in the yard using a coat hanger stuck in the bottom of each one and into the ground. Lighting fog from the side looks really good, so I hung a lawn spotlight in a large bush about 15 ft away, downwind of the graveyard, shining through the leaves at the tombstones. The tombstones themselves were standing at an angle to accentuate the shadowing inside the carved letters. It made the lettering really visible. On the upwind side I set up the fog machine and aimed it toward the sidewalk. As the fog came out the slight breeze blew it gently across the yard, through the graveyard and toward the light. My wife hung small stereo speakers in the same bush as the spotlight and we had creepy organ music playing. All in all it was a really cool effect.
    • Not to be a killjoy, but overheating glycerin can potentially create toxic fumes - probably more gruesome then you want your party to end up...

      A pre-built fog machine costs about US$20 at most larger stores and is temperature regulated so you don't poison anyone, making it a wiser investment then strapping your clothes iron, a drip mechanism, and a small fan together (quieter and easier to work with too!). Also keep in mind the fine glycerin smoke can trigger asthmatics & other folks with breathing pr

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