Blog Redo

My old blog hosting site was hacked a while back and I lost a lot of content I had out there, especially focused on PhoneGap, which is a bit of a bummer.

I am slowly bringing it back to life......


Going Green for Earth Day

Earth Day, which happens every year on April 22nd, was started by former Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson and is celebrated in over 175 countries. The purpose of Earth Day is to spend time focusing on environmental issues, so let's look at a few ways your organization can implement some IT elements to go green for Earth Day, but also get some green for your company.

Two-Sided Printing Many companies have printers in their organization that are capable of printing on both sides of a piece of paper, but they are not taking advantage of it. The reality is, the majority of the printing that happens at organizations is for internal use, and not for presentation to customers. By setting your default print mode to be on both sides of the page, you can greatly reduce your paper usage and costs.

Don't Print or Print Less Two-sided printing is one way to reduce paper consumption and save money on things like toner and ink. Another way to save money is to not print at all. Services like will take a web page and save it for viewing later on a tablet or Kindle. This is especially handy for long form articles you don't want to read in front of a computer screen, simply save them and read them later on your eBook reader of choice.

If you still want to print an article, something like Instapaper is great because it grabs the content of the article, and not all of the ads the populate today's web pages. This will save paper and expensive color ink if you do decide to print an article.

Go to the Cloud One of the main costs for organizations with large Infrastructure is the energy costs associated with server rooms. Not only do IT managers need to be concerned, with the energy costs associated with the power consumption of their servers, but also by the costs associated with cooling the servers.

One of the big benefits of the virtualization of hardware enabled by software vendors such as VMWare and Microsoft has been the ability for organizations to reduce power consumption by consolidation numerous servers to a single server.

Another, even bigger way to drive down these energy costs, is to move your application servers out of your local IT infrastructure totally, by having them run in the cloud. There are, obviously, many times when this would not make sense. However, for times when it does, moving your infrastructure to the cloud can be doubly green. Cloud providers like Amazon, Google and Microsoft are hyper-focused on minimizing the power consumption of their data centers. The more efficient they can be in cooling and powering their data centers, the greater their return on environment. By moving your organization to the cloud, you will also see a reduction in costs for power and cooling within your own organization.

Sleep Mode Both Microsoft and Apple have sleep mode available for their systems. After a period of inactivity, the state of the computer is essentially saved and it goes to "sleep". In this mode, the computer is still on, but it uses much less power than it normally would. If you are a large organization with many computers, setting them to automatically go into sleep mode when they are not being used, especially when employees are at home, can result in a significant reduction in energy consumption.

If you have users who access their computers remotely when they are out of office be sure to enable Wake-On Lan for them. Wake On Lan allows a user to access the computer, or a file on the computer, remotely when the computer is in sleep mode. It will, as the name implies, wake it up from sleep mode.

Recycle Old Computers Be sure to recycle your old computers since they are full of heavy metals like cadmium, mercury, and lead that are bad for the environment. A great way to recycle computers is ask your area school districts if they would be willing to receive a donation. Many school districts are running very long computer replacement cycles and would appreciate the donation. Better yet, your organization will appreciate the tax write off. Just be sure to wipe your hard drive before donating.

These ideas are just a few of the ways your organization can be greener and save a little money in the process!


HTML 5 Markup

Here's another post in my series about the technology for the Riverview Gardens Give Camp Skyline held recently. One of the great things about the Give Camp was the learning opportunities for our associates.

The emerging HTML 5 standard has many new and interesting pieces that make it a great tool for developing web based applications. Let's take a look at some of the new tags.

New Input types HTML 5 introduces many new input types, that make it easier for end users to enter data. Here is a quick list:

In general, the new input types will validate that an input is in the expected format (i.e. email or url) and display a message to the user.

All of these attributes are implemented in various shapes and forms across the browser vendors. For example, IE 9 does not, at this point support any of the input types, though many are supported in IE 10. They also are implemented differently across the various browser vendors. The good news is your pages will still render as generic input boxes if it does not recognize the new types.

Some of the inputs are not things that can be validated, like tel, which indicates a telephone number, because of the many different phone number formats across the globe. So why use it at all? Because by explicitly identifying the input type, we are better able to describe the purpose of the input. It becomes useful on things like mobile websites where a mobile browser can immediately display a number pad rather than an alpha keyboard.

Another slick feature is the introduction of the placeholder attribute. When creating an HTML form, the placeholder will display information about the text. Once the user places focus on the input, it disappears. In Chrome, the following markup:

<input type="email"/>



Semantic Another focus of HTML 5 is the introduction of new sematic elements. The semantic elements exist to more explicitly identify what your document items are. This is helpful for web pages which need to be used by screen readers, or to search engines in trying to parse the content of your document. The first part of semantic is the introduction of several new tags that define your HTML document structure. They are:

There are several more semantic elements, but you get the gist of it. It is important to remember these elements don't really DO anything for presentation on the page. You are still responsible for styling your header or footer, or providing navigation elements each time you render the page into the nav element. What it does do is describe your document.

A second part of semantics is the use of microdata to even further describe your document. More can be learned about microdata in a previous blog post.

More elements There are new video and audio tags to explicitly play, wait for it... big surprise coming, video and audio files in your browser without requiring plugins. The reality however gets pretty complicated pretty quick. All of the vendors have a "preferred" video format, the reality of which results in you having to encode your video to support these various vendor specific implementations.

<audio src="StuckBetweenStations.mp3" controls autoplay /> 

<video src="WhiteSoxVsBrewersWorldSeriesGame1.mp4" controls height="200px" width="400px" />

The canvas tag purpose in life is really a drawing surface. You can draw and animate using JavaScript and style elements across the canvas tag. This is another way of saying, let's make some games. The canvas obviously serves other purposes, but it is a deep topic we will just introduce here.

There you go ... a high level introduction into some of the new HTML tags that are part of HTML 5. Next we will discuss some programming items, such as persisting data.


John Ptacek I'm John Ptacek, a software developer for Skyline Technologies. This blog is my contains my content and opinionss, which are not those of my employer.

Currently, I am reading Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

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