If you are like most of us, you would have heard things like, ‘Never turn off your computer,’ or ‘Screen savers save energy.’ Alas, these are but common myths relating to desktop computers, frets Marty Poniatowski in ‘Foundation of Green IT: Consolidation, virtualization, efficiency, and ROI in the data center’ (www.informit.com/ph).

“Your computer is designed to handle 40,000 on/off cycles. If you are an average user, that’s significantly more cycles than you will initiate in the computer’s five-to-seven-year-life,” the author explains. When you turn your computer off, you not only reduce energy use, you also lower heat stress and wear on the system, he adds.

A related myth is that turning off and then back on uses more energy than leaving it on. Poniatowski reasons that the surge of power used by a computer to boot up is far less than the energy your computer uses when left on for more than three minutes.

Again, it may come as a shock to many to know that screen savers were originally designed to help prolong the life of monochrome monitors which are now technologically obsolete. “Screen savers save energy only if they actually turn off the screen or, with laptops, turn off the backlight.”

And if you are worried that network connections are lost when computers go into low-power or standby (sleep) mode, the author informs that the newer computers are designed to standby on networks without loss of data or connection. “CPUs with Wake on LAN (WOL) technology can be left in Standby mode overnight to wake up and receive data packets sent to the unit.”

LCD monitors are often found to be on, because users tend to feel comfortable in the fact that these monitors use less energy than CRTs. The average 17” LCD monitor uses 35 watts of electricity an hour, and in a business environment where hundreds to thousands of LCDs are in use simultaneously, this adds up in cost, Poniatowski instructs.

“Remember, LCD monitors are considered to be ‘vampire energy users,’ meaning the display will still be drawing power, even in Standby mode. If the size of the monitor isn’t necessarily a factor, consider purchasing a 14” LCD. You generate 40 per cent less energy as opposed to a 17” LCD.”

Also remember that, given the capacity of a tree to absorb between 3 and 15 pounds of carbon dioxide each year, we would need 500 trees to offset the annual emissions of one computer left on all the time, as the book alerts.

Ready takeaways.

Ancient wisdom for today’s problems

Making IT (information technology) green, enabling green to happen through IT, and creating green warriors are some of the recent initiatives of the IT industry body NASSCOM, cited in ‘Human Values and Professional Ethics’ by S. Kannan and K. Srilakshmi (www.taxmann.com).

The authors affirm that IT can play the role of a catalytic change agent for firms to make entire value chains green; and they hope that focusing on green IT pro-actively will create ‘blue sky’ business innovation opportunities for firms. “As IT adoption increases in India, we also need to ensure that green IT is inculcated right from the beginning in order to avoid a situation where the nation gets saddled with a legacy and obsolete infrastructure.”

In a chapter titled ‘harmony in nature’ the authors explain that ‘pranic order’ comprises trees, plants, insects and so on. There is also a mention of how ‘vastu sastra,’ an age-old practice dealing with architectural aspects, has practical guidelines on location and direction, with a view to nurture natural harmony and alignment among the residents.

The book, written as per the UP Technical University syllabus, directs readers to the URLs of many global IT companies – such as Google, Infosys and Wipro – for insights on codes of conduct.

Helpful read.

Art of slicing

Know Julienne, Batonnet, Baton, and Allumette? Lest you gasp for long, let me bring up the ‘guide to slicing and dicing’ from Calgary Herald, posted on www.canada.com, where the author explains these as the names for stick-shaped slicing techniques. “Think small, big, bigger, biggest. Julienne is short and slender, as in celery sticks on a vegetable platter, the other three are increasingly longer and thicker, as in French fries.”

Then there is the Brunoise, the dicing into “smallest possible cubes, 1 to 2 millimetres wide. Use for root vegetables or firm fruits”; the Lozenge, “purely ornamental, these are diamond shapes cut from a firm vegetable that’s already been thin-sliced. Pretty in clear soups. Sweet potatoes and turnips are good candidates”; and the Rondelle, used for carrot coins, zucchini or any vegetable with a rounded or long shape, where you cut at 90 degrees!

In golf, I learn, there are three basic types of slices, beginning with the Pull Slice, which starts to the left and then curves back to the right side, as www.nethandicap.com helpfully educates. “The Regular Slice starts out straight and then curves to the right. The Push Slice starts to the right and then curves further right.”

Ask Stacy Cates, Simon Abrams, and Dan Moughamian, and they’d talk about four types of slices, viz. user slice, layer based slice, no image slice, and auto slice. “To create a slice, select the Slice tool and draw a rectangle around the portion of the image that you want to treat as a distinct region,” they write in ‘Photoshop CS4 Bible’ (www.wileyindia.com).

“Use the Shift key to constrain the slice to a square shape. You can reposition the slice on the fly as you’re drawing it by holding down the spacebar and moving the slice to its new position. Release the spacebar to drop the slice and continue drawing.”

But why slice? Because slice makes it easy to divide your Web page layout into rectangular sections containing images, text, headers, footers, and navigation elements, each of which can be saved using different optimisation settings.

The authors remind developers that while Web browsers – which were originally designed to display information in a tabular format – have come a long way since their origins, the underlying structure of Web pages remains the same.

It’s a good practice to divide your image using as few slices as possible, as this creates the cleanest HTML code, the authors advise. “Avoid having slices overlap each other, and try not to leave gaps between slices, as this forces Photoshop to draw additional auto slices to fill in the gaps.”

For the hands-on techie.

Laboratory for learning

If the nature of your job at any time is defined by problems and challenges facing the organisation as a whole, you can pat yourself on the back that you are in a learning organisation. In such a place, every member is involved in suggesting problems and solutions, and there is concern coupled with respect for persons with high expectations of performance from them, as P. N. Rastogi describes in ‘Management of Technology and Innovation,’ second edition (www.sagepublications.com).

“It is characterised by a wide distribution of information throughout the system and its rapid diffusion across horizontal levels. Wide and open flow of information in the company promotes equality of relationships and mutual interaction among its people, and facilitates informal systems of sharing knowledge.”

The author cites Senge for the view that learning organisations are places ‘where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free…’

The concept of the corporation as a ‘laboratory for learning’ is related to the fact that knowledge constitutes the most basic economic resource today, argues Rastogi. “Its importance far exceeds that of capital or raw materials. Technology, for instance, is essentially only knowledge of know-how only. Productivity and innovation similarly represent basically the application of knowledge to work.”

Widely researched.

Tailpiece

“Our workstations are so hi-tech that if an employee sneezes more than thrice…”

“A whiff of ointment will douse the operator, offering immediate comfort?”

“No, the sensors trigger the ERP to generate a leave application for the employee, even while summoning a stretcher from the sick room!”

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