As far as I could tell, my strands were defective. I worked with the company I bought them from and I sent them back and got a refund.
I got my first Arduino and 3 pcs WS2801 pixels last week.
I was following this guide however only the LED at the output side of the string glows white.
while running the colorswirl program posted on above link sometimes the led does flash between the colours but only if i start wiggling the cable at the LED side a bit.
I already changed the cables between the led strip and the Arduino, and tried another LED strip but it has the same issue.
When I connect the led strip to power only it also only glows 1 led.
If you ever have this problem, also try to switch the Data and Clock wires.