mrc's Cup of Joe Blog

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Save Time

Turn procedural character based programs into event driven web apps (in 3 minutes)

Save TimeIs your company still using those outdated character based programs? If so, here’s a short video you’ll want to watch. It explains the limitations of character based programs, a couple of different approaches to modernizing those programs, and even walks you through the process of turning a character based program into a modern web app. All that in under 3 minutes! I hope you find it useful.

Note: This video is best viewed in 720p(HD) resolution at full screen. Click the “gear” icon below the video to change the resolution.

This mobile strategy might inspire you

Save Time“But…how can we use it in our business?”

That’s the biggest question surrounding every major tech trend. How can it help my company? Smart companies know that while big tech trends may get a lot of press, that doesn’t make them useful. They must understand the business value before jumping on board.

Rather than try to explain how certain tech trends can help your business, I prefer to take a look at real-life examples. Today, let’s check out a company that’s using a major tech trend (mobile) to save time and money.

What are they doing? They’re using off-the-shelf gadgets (instead of expensive business equipment) combined with simple mobile web apps to dramatically reduce the time it takes to log inventory. If you’d like to read the whole story, you can find it over on

Here’s a new way to save time on development (and more)

Save TimeWhat if you could save time on development, gain more control over your applications, and make your users happier…all at the same time? Sound interesting? Let’s learn how you can make this happen.

I’m going to tell you about a relatively new feature called “user rights and privileges”. It might sound technical (and a little boring), but it’s insanely useful. What is it? Here’s a basic definition: It lets you assign custom variables to any user, and then use those variables in any application.

Does that sound too technical? Here’s another way to look at it: Think of it like a data table or a spreadsheet that contains a list of user names. You can create and assign any variable to any user, and then access those variables anywhere. For example, take a look at the image below:

Are legacy applications holding you back?

Save TimeCloud computing and mobile are getting all the press these days, and with good reason. These two trends really offer businesses some great benefits: Mobile devices can improve employee productivity and let businesses reach more people than ever before. Cloud computing promises to cut costs and improve business flexibility.

What company wouldn’t want all of that?

Unfortunately, many companies are in no position to take advantage of these trends and the benefits they offer. These companies are still stuck using outdated architecture and legacy applications. Before they can even consider the latest trends, they must first address their outdated systems.

If your company is stuck in that situation, here are a couple of things that will help: First, here’s a free white paper that outlines the modernization basics and explains your modernization options. If you’re considering modernization, it will get you started in the right direction.

Secondly, if you’d like to learn how to replace your legacy applications with cloud-ready web (and mobile web) applications, we can help. Our development platform, m-Power, will let you create modern web (and mobile web) apps that can be deployed to the cloud, or hosted in-house. To get started, just fill out this short form and let us know what’s on your plate.

How one IT department completed a 1,000-hour project in 300 hours

Save TimeHere’s an inspirational story for any IT department facing impossible project deadlines. It’s about an IT department that had a huge web development project with an immovable deadline…but faced one big problem.

They weren’t sure how they were going to do it.

They estimated that it would take 1,000 hours, but with only one web developer on staff, completing the project on time seemed impossible.

What did they do? They found a way to let the rest of their staff develop web applications, and managed to complete the project in just 300 hours. To learn how, you can read the whole story right here.

One way to use CSS3 in your web applications right now

Save TimeIf you’re an application developer, you face quite a dilemma. You must somehow build applications that are functional, attractive, and work across all browsers.

The problem is, while CSS3 brings some great new styles that can improve nearly any application, it’s not supported by every browser. What does that mean? It means your applications may look great in some browsers, but awful in other browsers.

What can you do about this problem? You can ignore the newer styles until the use of older browsers declines, but that probably won’t happen for years. Besides, this leaves you with ugly and outdated applications, which I know you don’t want.

A quick way to modernize with a small IT staff

Save TimeWhat’s keeping your company from modernizing those legacy applications? If our 2011 survey is any indication, the answer is “There’s not enough time.” In fact, the survey results show that modernization is the biggest need, but a lack of time keeps most companies from addressing that need.

If your company lacks the time required to modernize your legacy apps, you’ll certainly want to read this story. It explains how one very small IT staff with limited time and resources managed to modernize their legacy green-screen interface quickly. You can read the whole story here.

How to build a secure customer portal in one day

Save TimeBuilding a customer/vendor portal (also called an extranet) is a tricky task. Typically, one portal must display different data to different users. If one user logs in and sees data that they shouldn’t see, you’ll have a big problem on your hands.

For example, suppose that your product pricing varies by customer. If one customer logs in and sees pricing meant for another customer, you’ll have problems. Or, suppose that your customers have different levels of users which require different permissions. For example, the CEO must see different data than the salespeople, and the salespeople from one region must see different data than those from another region, and so on…

All in all, it’s an extremely complicated application. Fortunately, extranets are actually easy to create with the right process. If you’re planning on building an extranet/portal, this video explains how to build a secure extranet in one day.

How application architecture can save time and money

Save TimeA few months into owning our first house, we learned something: The builder took some short-cuts. Unfortunately, you don’t recognize architectural defects when you buy the house. They become apparent after you’ve lived in it for some time.

Business applications are the same way.

If you’re building/buying new business apps, or buying software to build new business apps, be careful. It’s easy to fall in love with the interface and features without paying any attention to what really matters: The architecture. …

Meeting immovable deadlines

Save TimeDepending on which research firm you believe, anywhere from 50-90% of IT projects are completed late. While I could rattle off any number of reasons for this, I think that (much of the time) it boils down to one problem: Being late is an option. The deadline is viewed merely as a suggestion…it’s not the end of the world if it’s missed. We’ll just inform management that the project is running behind schedule and then set a new deadline.

But, what if being late wasn’t an option? …