Reblog: Video gone viral – the Grinch that stole our Christmas



Reblog: Video gone viral – the Grinch that stole our Christmas

The joy of online shopping versus trying to find a parking spot at the mall

Just like many other people do around the holidays, we decided to order some items online to avoid busy shopping lines at stores and get some really good deals.
We decided not to procrastinate and actually get our packages delivered on time, to avoid having to miss out on actually getting the package before Christmas.


[This is a reblog from a blog published in January 2014]
So in the week of December 16, 2013 , it was rather busy in our community, with package delivery trucks going on and off, delivering packages to our neighborhood.
One of the things I was surprised about, was that a package didn’t get delivered so I turned to the seller’s website to figure out where my package was.

And it claimed: Delivered on Dec 18, which also happened to be my birthday.

No problem right, it would be rather easy for me to validate the delivery, since we have a Logitech Alert security camera that enhances our home security system by monitoring the surroundings of our home.

The great thing about this system is that it has motion detection, super night shot, and it actually offloads the recordings that it first captures internally to storage sitting on my desktop computer.

So while reviewing the camera status and series of events:

  • Dec 18, 9:17 AM – First Package gets delivered – a box of real estate flyers that my wife ordered with updated price sheets
  • Dec 18, 1:09 PM – Second Package gets delivered – a box with two jumbo remote controls that I was planning on giving to my wife for Christmas due to the fact she never is able to find our TV remotes
  • Dec 18: 2:07 PM – A blue Mitsubishi Endeavor stops at my door and an until now unidentified lady walks up to our doorstep, grabs our packages and leaves.

Based on that discovery I did on Dec 20, I contacted Snohomish County Sheriff’s department, a deputy was dispatched to our house.
After filing my case, the deputy asked for a copy of the video which I put on youtube as well,  to inform our neighbors and ask them if they “saw” this lady.
Pretty soon we figured out that some other neighbors were also missing packages.

So our packages did get stolen, and I have it on video…(and it was not a HOAX as according to some comments, actually the lady is known to Snohomish County Sheriff but I am not sure what happened to her)

The video that, at that time was posted on YouTube, was broadcasted on the 11 PM news that night by KiroTV.

Now, I thought – that’s where it ends — maybe the thief will get caught, maybe not, and we started preparing for our well deserved family trip to Disneyland.

This unfortunate event is really getting some traction…

Dec 21 , around 10:00 AM, my security camera gives an alert, indicating that someone was at our doorstep, turned out it was KiroTV‘s reporter Maria Guerrero, asking me if I wanted to do an interview for the 5 PM news.

I agreed to the interview, and the video was broadcasted on the 5PM news, and also featured on other news stations.

The day after we departed for Disneyland and my phone was receiving emails, text messages and notifications, as well as comments on the Youtube video.
The afternoon of Dec 22, that the video hit 300,000 views, and by the end of the day it was over 900,000 views.

So I was curious on what made this video go viral, since there are certainly other videos out there on how people got their packages stolen.
People also told me that I should ‘monetize’ on the video, now despite to some iPad lovers taking their iPads all over the place in Disneyland, or the well versed “It’s the happiest place on earth software developer” taking his laptop with him

I didn’t have anything with me that would connect me to Youtube and assign monetization and set up an account for paid advertising. After all, our trip was family time and it was a joy being with them.

Next morning when we woke up, my mailbox was filled with over 200 messages and requests from people if they could use the video in their blog, which security system I was using and so on..

Should I be thankful for the Data Insights the grinch gave me?

A week later, the “Grinch” has not been caught yet, but I should be thankful for the great data insights she brought me having the video gone viral.
The data insights she gave me are quite impressive especially if you drill down into usage, demographics of the 1.45 million viewers of the video.

Some data points:

Countries with over 10,000 views:


Not totally surprising, the majority of the views (+950K) came from the United States, but Croatia landed 3rd place with over 38,000 views.

As Data Nerd and techie, I was of course also interested into some of the data exposed through the API, and wanted to find out a bit more about the operating system usage by Youtube users.
Turns out that the majority of users are Windows users, with Android surpassing IOS primarily in the mobile phone usage. It was also interesting to see that XBOX scores significantly higher than Playstation.

Operating System Usage:


Amount of views per US State:


Summary of facts:


I wouldn’t recommend taking packages from our doorstep again…

Without realizing herself, the “grinch that stole our Christmas” truly gave me some interesting data insights, and as I announced on the news I would go even further by putting out a “tracking package” in case she or another package thief were to return to our neighborhood.

As a matter of test I put out a package on which we validated the tracking functionality by simulating a potential thief.

Here’s what we did:

  • Installed the Windows Phone application “Here I am”
  • Installed the Windows Phone application “GPS Track Recorder”
  • Added a powerful external battery to the cellphone
  • Secured it all in a boxed package and put it on my doorstep
  • Simulated the package getting stolen by a package thief
  • Followed the tracking on a second windows phone using “Here I am”
  • Fetch the package back from the location we identified it was at
  • Loaded the data in Excel 2013 using Power Query and visualized using Power Map

The result of our tracking and route can be seen in the following video, so no more stolen packages for us


Now how did the video go viral?

It’s really hard to determine on what makes a video go viral, but he fact that it got picked up by Reddit, got featured on the news thanks to KiroTV that surprisingly ended up unannounced on my doorstep, and the so many links on several media sites
actively contributed to the huge traction that the video had. After being the top most watched video on YouTube it showed up on people’s landing pages, and how did it all get started? By a simple message on twitter.
Shortly after the video got picked up by many other new sites, and got also featured on MSN.COM through an agreement with Jokeroo.

My learnings?

Well of course it will be better to have someone home when packages get delivered, but it’s been an interesting and fascinating experience seeing a video go viral and learn all about different media channels, news sites out there.
It certainly provided me with great insights into “how videos go viral”.