Scott Hanselman

Saving Money on Lighting the New House

November 15, '07 Comments [25] Posted in Musings
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Our final move into the new house is this weekend. We did a three phase, three week move. First week - anything small not nailed down. Second week, medium-sized stuff...basically everything except a week's food. Third week, all furniture. This has allowed me to keep working and 9-month pregnant Wife to be relatively relaxed about the whole process.

Aside: If you're moving to Portland, or want to rent a house, let me know! I'll put a Craigslist listing up soon.

The new house is larger to accommodate a family of four as well as a guest room for overseas relatives and my home office. The builder put in incandescent lights in all fixtures, which was a bummer. I spent a few hours last weekend replacing all the lights with Compact Fluorescent (CFL) Lights.

There are usually three kinds/colors of these all depends on what their view of "white" is. We got natural-light (more blue-colored) full spectrum compact fluorescent to minimize that "office look." These are very natural-colored and produce a clean, crisp white that isn't depressing.

The total bill to replace every single light in the house was $205 from Home Depot. I saved up a bunch of coupons and waited for a 2 for 1 sale on some of these lights. Why spend so much on new lighting? Here's why, using a custom spreadsheet with some formulas from this very good article on lighting:

This spreadsheet shows EVERY light in the house that was replaced (all of them). There's "can lighting" in the ceiling in many cases, as well as closet lights, etc. This spreadsheet was originally aggressive, assuming each light was on 8 hours a day (usually from about 4pm to about midnight) when more realistically less than one half of them is on. Ideally each light would have a separate "hours on" number, so I put that they were all on 4 hours a day, which is more representative when averaged across all lights, but you get the idea and you're welcome to mess with the numbers.

(Yes, I realize that this table doesn't wrap well...sorry)

Location # LightHrs OldW Total kW Cost/Day Cost/Mo Cost/Year NewW Total  kW Cost/Day Cost/Mo Cost/Year Savings
Downstairs 27 108 60 6480 6.48  $       0.97  $29.16  $349.92 13 1404 1.40  $       0.21  $6.32  $75.82  $274.10
Kitchen 7 28 150 4200 4.2  $       0.63  $18.90  $226.80 23 644 0.64  $       0.10  $2.90  $34.78  $192.02
Office 4 16 100 1600 1.6  $       0.24  $7.20  $86.40 16 256 0.26  $       0.04  $1.15  $13.82  $72.58
Upstairs 18 72 60 4320 4.32  $       0.65  $19.44  $233.28 13 936 0.94  $       0.14  $4.21  $50.54  $182.74
Outside 5 20 75 1500 1.5  $       0.23  $6.75  $81.00 16 320 0.32  $       0.05  $1.44  $17.28  $63.72
Misc 6 24 60 1440 1.44  $       0.22  $6.48  $77.76 13 312 0.312  $       0.05  $1.40  $16.85  $60.91
Total 67 268 505 19540 19.54  $       2.93  $87.93  $1,055.16 94 3872 3.87  $       0.58  $17.42  $209.09  $846.07

It's not a very controversial spreadsheet. Certainly when you replace a 120W light bulb with a 23W one and start adding multipliers like hours*lights*etc, you will save money. The only question left is when will you break even on the initial capital expenditure?

For us, our outlay was $200 and we'll recoup that easily within a quarter to half-year. That will multiple again, as in my personal experience CFIs will last 3-6 years. After almost exactly 5 years we just had 3 of 6 CFL lights in our kitchen all die within a week of each other. That's a lifetime of about 10,000 hours for me compared to a 1,000 hours for a standard light. My outlay of $200 will last ~5 years and I avoid replacing every light in the house at least 5, if not 10, times in that 5 year period.

We've kept the old bulbs and will either give them to relatives or save them for a rainy day. Unfortunately this builder wouldn't omit the bulbs which seemed a silly thoughtless thing to me.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Dynamic Language Translation Widget from the Windows Live Team

November 12, '07 Comments [16] Posted in Internationalization | Musings
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I'm playing with a dynamic translation service from the Windows Live Team. The user interface and implementation is incredibly clean and as with all computer based translation it's definitely questionable.

Here's the translation of my AboutMe page into Spanish. The part of what was the most fun was where it's that I worked in my "interior ministry" for Microsoft as a translation for "working out of my home office."

Here's an example:

"Mi nombre es Scott Hanselman. Me resuelvo de mi Ministerio del Interior para Microsoft como program manager mayor, apuntando separar la buena información sobre software que se convierte, generalmente en el apilado de Microsoft. Antes de que éste yo fuera el principal arquitecto en Corillian Corporation, ahora una parte de Checkfree, por los años 6+. También estuve implicado en algunas cosas del revelador de Microsoft durante muchos años como el MVP y los programas y yo del RD speak sobre las computadoras (y otras pasiones) siempre que escuche alguien."


My name is Scott Hanselman. I work out of my home office for Microsoft as a Senior Program Manager, aiming to spread good information about developing software, usually on the Microsoft stack. Before this I was the Chief Architect at Corillian Corporation, now a part of Checkfree, for 6+ years. I was also involved in a few Microsoft Developer things for many years like the MVP and RD programs and I'll speak about computers (and other passions) whenever someone will listen.

Still, you can get the jist. It's pretty nice and compares well against the Google one I blogged about in March of this year. Both have really nice UIs. All I had to do was add this script:

     <script type="text/javascript" src=""></script> my page. It's currently on the right side under my contact information. I encourage you to try it out. I wonder if it's useful to international readers?

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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The Weekly Source Code 11 - LOLCode DLR Edition

November 11, '07 Comments [11] Posted in ASP.NET | Learning .NET | Microsoft | Programming | Source Code | Speaking
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During my Friday Keynote at the PNPSummit I did a silly 30 minute PowerPoint that ended with some LOLCats and a few examples of LOLCode. If you're not familiar with LOLCats, they are basically silly pictures of cats that speak a l33tspeak-like language, like IM IN UR BASE KILLIN YUR D00DS.

This language has turned into a Programming Language called LOLCode for which there are already at least TWO .NET implementations. The first implementation of LOLCode.NET is up on Google Code and is by Nick Johnson.

During my talk, unbeknownst to me, literally that minute John Lam was uploading the DLR team's own implementation of LOLCode implemented from scratch on the DLR. The amazing Martin Maly of the DLR team implemented LOLCode on his plane ride to Spain for presentation at TechEd.

I invited John up on stage spontaneously to give a demo of LOLCode and he did...he showed a Fibonacci implementation.

This is great code to read for two reasons. It's two completely separate implementations of the same general idea - an LOLCode compiler. However, they are implemented completely differently. Of course, the DLR team images this as a Dynamic Language so their implementation is a great primer on how to make your own language on the DLR.






VISIBLE "Fibonacci: "



    LOL A R B


CAN HAS System?

VISIBLE CurrentDirectory ON Environment ON System
NJU Hashtable ON Collections ON System

LOL DT R DateTime ON System

COL Add ON HT WIT "LolCode" AN "Rulezz!!"
VISIBLE COL get_Item ON HT WIT "LolCode"

COL Concat ON String ON System WIT "LolCode " AN "Rulezz!!"


In order to get the DLR Team's implementation running on your own machine, you need to do the following:

  1. Get the LOLCode sources
  2. Get IronPython 2.0 Alpha 6
  3. Get the Gardens Point Parser Generator (GPPG) 
  4. Get the Gardens Point Scanner Generator (GPLEX)
    These are kind of Lex and Yacc for C#. Open up the Parser.y and Scanner.l to see the language grammar details.
  5. Confirm the PostBuild steps point to the right locations and make sure the Microsoft.Scripting.dll reference points to the Microsoft.Scripting.dll from the IronPython download.

Enjoy! If you don't think this is fun, go play with the MVC Demo Source Code from DevConnections and the PNPSummit.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Baby Sign Language - Update at 2 years

November 11, '07 Comments [13] Posted in Musings | Parenting | Z
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UPDATE: Check out for more info on Babies and Sign Language!

My son is nearly two years old. He's 23 months. I suspect we'll stop counting months after he's second birthday.

It's always fun to be recognized at a conference and have folks ask about technology, but more and more people want to talk to me about Baby Sign Language. Most often they're folks from outside the U.S., which I think is great. I blogged about Baby Sign twice previously:

Often parents concerns are that a baby who is taught sign language will speak later or will be developmentally slowed in some way due to "confusion." Are they supposed to talk or sign?

I have found this with my own child, my brother's child and all my signing friend's children to be totally false. If anything the child begins speaking with more sophisticated phrases than one would expect.

My belief is this (remembering that I'm neither a doctor, nor a parenting expert, just a Signing Enthusiast and current father of one):

There is a window in a baby's development when they have needs, wants and feelings to express. This window might be from 6 months to 18 months or from 12 months to 2 years. It's usually at least a year long, and it's that time when your baby is "in there" but isn't able to express themselves verbally. Our goal with my son was to get involved in his head for that "missing year" and see what he had to say. For us, it prevented a lot of tantrums and early confusion about what he needed. Instead, he simply told us what was on his mind.

However, they haven't got the tools. If you listened carefully to their cries, posture and other thing I'm sure you'd find that the child was trying to get their need out, but it was either too subtle or unclear for us to see. Using Baby Signing - which is simply American Sign Language or ASL - is a way of formalizing this easily communication with your baby and letting he or she know that we're here, and we're listening.

When a child discovers that they are seen, that their opinion matters and that their parents understand them, I believe it enables and extends so many other interactions with our kids.

How To Start

A gentleman at the PNPSummit from Europe approached me to ask about Baby Signing for his 6 month old. This is the ideal time to start. The baby is just starting to get their bearings and realize that they are not alone and that there's a whole world to interact with.

Pick some basic signs, no more than 4 or 5, since you're going to be learning Sign Language as the child does. Plus, the baby's ability to learn signs will surpass your own very quickly.

To start with, we taught him: Milk, More, Eat, Dog, Mommy and Daddy. We did this from 6 months to about 9 months before we got anything. This is tip #1 - be patient. You'll do it for literally months before it'll POP one day. One day he or she will sign and they won't shut up until they move out of the house 20 years later.

He signed More one day, and the others quickly followed. The key was that we always signed while we spoke. This is important Tip #2 - teaching your child sign language doesn't mean you don't talk to them. Always talk and sign at the same time. Eventually the child will learn that talking is easier and abandon most signs. At two, my son rarely signs as he's not go the words for everything he had previously learned the sign for. However, the signs are still in his head if we need them someday.

You can buy an ASL Dictionary online, or get an inexpensive subscription to a site like that includes a video dictionary of over 2800 words. There are photo sites, but they don't quite capture the jist as the images are static. (There are also some free sites like the one at Michigan State University although it requires Quicktime and for you to click twice on the video to get it to play.)

There's also a great FREE "Signing Success Guide" here as a PDF on the Baby Signing Time site.


Many of my friends and family have taught their kids sign. For many, including all the non-American's, they were teased by family and friends - especially concerned mother's-in-law. But they stuck with it. My friend Daniel "Kzu" Cazzulino had a great experience with Baby Sign Language in Argentina:

"Just after a couple weeks signing 3 words to her (duck, drink and milk), she signed the duck! I was blown away by how fast she started with the first one, but it took another month for her to start picking up more and more signs. When she was exactly one year old (about a month after we started), I got a couple of books which tought me more techniques and approaches to signing to make it more effective. Three months later, she's able to sign: duck, drink, milk, cookie/cracker, eat, more, baby, take a bath, need heulp, hot, dog, cat, monkey, flower, shoes, hat, pain, water, sleep, silence (and clip, which Agustina uses at the kindergarten to also mean silence), dance (this one she made it up and we learned what she meant!). That's 22 words for a 15 months-old baby that can barely say Mom and Agus (her sister's nickname and the first thing she learnt to say :)). And there are many more that she understands but she's not signing yet.

Just like Scott felt, it's not just a matter of teaching her something to make her "smarter" early on. There's a new kind of connection that you can make with your baby. Aylen's face shines when she sees that we can listen to her needs and help her. She no longer cries when she's hungry or thirsty, or when she wants to take a bath. That's huge. "

Daniel as a native Spanish speaker also got an interesting sign benefit when we recommended Rachel's Baby Signing Time videos:

We bought a couple DVDs from the Baby Signing Time collection (awesome stuff) which both Aylen and Agustina love. It's playing on my TV almost every day for at least a couple hours. It teaches new signs through songs and showing other babies doing them, and it does so while pronouncing the words in english. That may sound obvious to you, but we live in Argentina, so english is not our primary language. However, both girls are now learning the words in both english and spanish at the same time! So my baby signs "baby" when you say the word in english AND spanish too! It's simply amazing.

Another good friend emailed last week when his daughter announced with sign that she needed to have her diaper changed:

"perhaps it's too soon to tell -- but we think we've had good consistent responses on the hand sign for "change me" today.
Great stuff!! [she's 9 months old now]"

Craig Andera is also huge Baby Signing Fan. He had to have patience early on though:

Just like Scott, it was initially like signing to a wall. She didn't seem to care, and she certainly didn't sign back. But I knew from my brother that it was just a matter of time, and sure enough, at about eight months, Ellen was able to mime the sign back to us. It's pretty amazing to get any communication whatsoever (other than smiling and crying) from an eight-month-old.

And Craig also sees Sign to be a good complement to an already bilingual education. ASL is recognized here by colleges as a legitimate foreign language:

It's funny for me to hear resistance to the idea. The one that really puzzles me is the "it'll slow down their speech" one. Not only is this contrary to clinical evidence (IIRC - we did the research but I no longer have the citation), but my personal experience has been the opposite. Ellen, like Z, is bilingual in verbal languages (Chinese and English), and despite that seems to have verbal capabilities comparable to her contemporaries.

Does Ellen still sign? Yes she does, but not to communicate. She communicates exclusively (and nearly endlessly :) ) verbally, but there are about five signs she still makes even when speaking. For example, she still signs "sorry" even as she says it - in English or in Chinese.

I'm really interested to hear in the comments from anyone else whose had success with teaching their infant Sign Language. It's worked great for us. We're going to teach Un-named Son #2 sign lanuage. He's due in less than two weeks!

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Hanselminutes Podcast 88 - Writing FaceBook Applications with .NET - Interview with Mel Sampat, author of OutSync

November 10, '07 Comments [5] Posted in ASP.NET | Microsoft | Podcast | Programming | Speaking | Tools
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My eighty-eighth podcast is up. In this episode, I talk to Mel Sampat of the Windows Mobile team. He's written a desktop Facebook application called OutSync (link on Facebook) that brings your Facebook photos to Outlook and Windows Mobile. We also talk about how you can write your own Facebook apps with .NET and managed code. (This is the show that was almost lost but was rescued from the brink!)

Subscribe: Subscribe to Hanselminutes Subscribe to my Podcast in iTunes

If you have trouble downloading, or your download is slow, do try the torrent with µtorrent or another BitTorrent Downloader.

Do also remember the complete archives are always up and they have PDF Transcripts, a little known feature that show up a few weeks after each show.

Telerik is our sponsor for this show.

Check out their UI Suite of controls for ASP.NET. It's very hardcore stuff. One of the things I appreciate about Telerik is their commitment to completeness. For example, they have a page about their Right-to-Left support while some vendors have zero support, or don't bother testing. They also are committed to XHTML compliance and publish their roadmap. It's nice when your controls vendor is very transparent.

As I've said before this show comes to you with the audio expertise and stewardship of Carl Franklin. The name comes from Travis Illig, but the goal of the show is simple. Avoid wasting the listener's time. (and make the commute less boring)

Enjoy. Who knows what'll happen in the next show?

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.