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Household Hacker
HouseholdHacker.jpg
Background information
Born
Other name(s) "Traveler and Frosty Brain"[1]
"Spencer and Dylan"[2]
Nationality American
Period active November 5, 2007–present
Host service(s) YouTube
Genre(s) Educational
Subjects How To Demonstrations/Hoaxes, Technology
Notable work(s) "How to Charge an iPod using electrolytes and an onion"
Official site http://householdhacker.com

Household Hacker is a YouTube channel and website that posts videos of various "hacks", or quick solutions, to common everyday problems. They are known for their high-profile hoaxes, especially "How to Charge an iPod using electrolytes and an onion." As of July 2009, the channel was the second most subscribed "guru" channel on YouTube, and the 27th most subscribed overall.

Contents

Background

The Household Hacker YouTube channel is dedicated to making "videos about everything geek".[1] The videos, which are cross-posted at householdhacker.com, are the work of two anonymous editors known as "Traveler and Frosty Brain" or "Spencer and Dylan" who reside in San Jose, California and Peachtree City, Georgia.[1][2] Each video features a simple hack, or "a quick and/or clever creation for a method of solving of a problem."[1] Household Hacker makes money by offering subscription downloads and T-shirts, but the duo told the LATimes that they do not make enough money to "live off comfortably at this point."[2]

Household Hacker was launched in November 2007 and quickly attracted interest, becoming YouTube's most subscribed channel for the month of December 2007.[3] By January 2009, Household Hacker was the 22nd most subscribed YouTube channel.[2] The channel's popularity began to wane and by July they had fallen to 27th place overall.[1] As of July 2009, Household Hacker is the second most subscribed "guru" channel on YouTube.[1]

iPod Onion

In November 2007, Household Hacker released a video entitled "How to Charge an iPod using electrolytes and an onion." The video, which claimed to demonstrate how one could recharge an iPod using little more than Gatorade and a white onion, was an overnight success. The video drew the attention of the Unofficial Apple Weblog, which reported it as fact,[4] and hundreds of other blogs. Within its first week, the video had been viewed over 4 million times.[5]

The Household Hacker setup for charging an iPod

By the following November, the video had been viewed more than 7 million times and attracted the attention of ABCNews.com, who asked "Can an Onion Charge an iPod?"[6] ABC put the video to the test, but failed to obtain the promised result. Reporter Emily Friedman remarked "this appears to be an iFraud."[6]

MythBusters also put the onion video to the test in 2008. In a segment dubbed "iOnion", Grant was unable to get any charge from the onion setup found in the Household Hacker video.[7] He explained that the setup lacked the crucial anode and cathode that would be required to get the electrolytes found in Gatorade moving and concluded the video was a complete hoax.[7] In an interview with ABCNews, Adam Savage called the video "complete horseshit."[6]

Appeal

The iPod onion video fooled a number of normally savvy folks, or at least had them trying the technique out for themselves,[8] which has led to several theories as to why it was so appealing. Farhad Manjoo of Salon.com speculates that it is the style in which the video was delivered. "He's got a friendly, helpful voice, but he's not casual – he speaks in the formal, confident manner of a TV how-to guy," says Manjoo.[8] Anna Solana of La Vanguardia, on the other hand, speculated that it was the "science" itself that attracted the viewers, remarking that something so magical "freaks" people out and makes them want to believe.[5]

Follow up videos

Following the iPod onion success, Household Hacker has released a number of videos that have generated some attention, but none that have risen to the level of the iPod onion. A March 2008 video entitled "How to Cheat on any Test" has attracted 4 million views and the ire of some school teachers. While a video entitled "How to Create a High-Def speaker for under a buck" again drew the attention of MythBusters. Tory followed the instructions in the video, but when it came time to plug in the speakers nothing happened. In addition to disproving the video, he pointed out that the "under a buck" part of the claim was also false, noting that a single minijack alone typically costs about $10 retail.[9] However, it is possible to get minijack cables for under a dollar online.[10]

In addition to high profile hoaxes, the Household Hacker channel hosts a number of less provocative videos such as "How to Prank your Roommate on April Fools" and "How to make a secret, disguised safe."[1]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Household Hacker YouTube channel". http://www.youtube.com/user/HouseholdHacker. Retrieved July 14, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d Milian, Mark (January 11, 2009). "YouTube video creators make money, but not a fortune". Technology: The Business of our Digital Lives. LA Times. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2009/01/make-money-yout.html. Retrieved July 14, 2009. 
  3. ^ Sayer, Peter (December 26, 2007). "British monarchy makes YouTube debut". Mobilize. InfoWorld. http://www.infoworld.com/d/mobilize/british-monarchy-makes-youtube-debut-271. Retrieved July 14, 2009. 
  4. ^ Schramm, Mike (November 14, 2007). "Charge an iPod with an onion". TUAW: The Unofficial Apple Weblog. http://www.tuaw.com/2007/11/14/charge-an-ipod-with-an-onion/. Retrieved July 14, 2009. 
  5. ^ a b Solana, Anna (November 29, 2007). "¿Es posible cargar un iPod con una cebolla? [Is it possible to charge an iPod with an onion?]" (in Spanish). La Vanguardia. http://www.lavanguardia.es/premium/publica/publica?COMPID=53414326676&ID_PAGINA=22088&ID_FORMATO=9&turbourl=false. Retrieved July 14, 2009. 
  6. ^ a b c Friedman, Emily (November 26, 2008). "Can an Onion Charge an iPod?". ABCNews.com. http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/Science/Story?id=6339986&page=1. Retrieved July 14, 2009. 
  7. ^ a b "MythBusters: iOnion". Discovery Channel videos. August 13, 2008. http://dsc.discovery.com/videos/mythbusters-ionion.html. Retrieved July 14, 2009. 
  8. ^ a b Manjoo, Farhad (November 21, 2007). "How to power an iPod with an onion (not really)". Machinist. Salon.com. http://machinist.salon.com/blog/2007/11/21/householdhacker/. 
  9. ^ "MythBusters: Homemade Surround Sound". Discovery Channel videos. April 29, 2009. http://dsc.discovery.com/videos/mythbusters-homemade-surround-sound.html. Retrieved July 14, 2009. 
  10. ^ "Cinchkabel 2x Cinch St an 3,5mm Klinke St 0,5m". Planet4One Technology store. http://www.planet4one.de/planet/wbc.php?sid=37091237225c&pid=25045&tpl=pdetail.html. 

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