Author Archives: Robert McKay Jones

Robert McKay Jones

I have spent more than 25 years working hand in hand with clients in creating custom software applications that improve and enhance their operation, productivity and visibility.

Organizing Photographs

I had a meeting with a local photographer (Everett Heller) and as we were talking about photography (a hobby of mine, a passion of his) he mentioned that photohe used Adobe Photoshop Lightroom for managing and developing his digital images.  So I downloaded a free 30 day trial and began to play with it on my Mac.  I love working on my Mac because it has a wonderful 24″ display but I don’t have any software for it that I regularly use.  This may change things.

As you can see on the left, there are hundreds of things you can do with Lightroom including create a catalog of photos, organize them into clean folders, importing in batch and adjusting as you import, create custom filters or use the defaults that come standard.  If you click on the picture, you will see it full size.  It is a very powerful resource for professionals and amateurs alike. It will even upload to your social media sites like Facebook and Flickr.

Download a copy and watch some of the videos available on Adobe which will show you everything you need to know to get started in less than a half an hour.  If you are like me, you need instant gratification.  Adobe Photoshop Lightroom will deliver that and more for a mere $149.  A very good investment.


Posted in Uncategorized.

Travel Insurance

Is travel insurance worth it? You really can’t tell until you try to file a claim or you read the 14 to 30 page insurance policy (or have your attorney read it on your behalf). If you do file a claim, make sure it is not due to an illness resulting from a pre-existing illness of any kind. In most cases, these will not be covered. Unfortunately this will be in the very fine print. Is it reasonable that a travel insurance policy should be as long and as complicated as they are? Of course not.

Also know the difference between an insurance policy and a protection plan. An insurance policy is regulated. A protection plan is not. Buyer beware; do not purchase a protection plan.

Massachusetts Insurance Commission does offer some assistance. As they say, “The Division of Insurance exists to serve you. The Division can be a source of unbiased information and assistance to you…”
“The Consumer Service Section can be contacted at 617-521-7794, Monday – Friday 8:45 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. or visit the Section on the Division’s web site at You may also contact or send in a consumer complaint by writing to the Consumer Service Section at the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Division of Insurance, One South Station, Boston, MA 02110. For your convenience, a consumer complaint form may be printed from the Division’s web site. ”

None of this replaces the need for you to read and understanding the policy.

Posted in Uncategorized.

New England at its Best

This morning we saw a convergence of weather front,  the remnants of a wet snow covering everything and warm air and cold snow which brought the fog in. Sterling, Massachusetts and neighboring West Boylston are frequently picturesque, but this morning was special.  Gone like an eclipse, we were able to capture a few moments.

Posted in Nature, Uncategorized. Tagged with , .

iPad vs Microsoft Surface

Advantage iPad: The iPad with Apples iOS is much more intuitive, much more fun, much more friendly and always online. It has a much nicer acceptance of your finger as a pointer and selection tool. The iPad Store has more than 300,000 apps available compared to Microsoft Store under 20,000. The iPad is 4G compatible which means you don’t need to be near a hot spot to be connected. Lastly, the iPad is just plane fun!

Advantage Surface: The Surface has a wonderful wide screen display wonderful for HD Movies and Videos. It is a Windows device, so if you are a Windows user, all the software you have been using is available. It has a USB, so I can and do connect a wireless mouse. It can and will replace the need for me to carry my 17″ laptop around when I travel! The Surface has a Micro-HDMI port along with USB and Micro SD slot. The iPad requires an adapter. The entire bevy of Windows software is available for the Surface with Windows 8 Pro. Lastly, the Surface is a business tool with the familiarity and capability of your desktop at home or the office.
Bottom line? Winner? No clear winner! I need both!

Posted in Technology.

Windows 8 Pro

Windows 8 is the new OS from Microsoft replacing Windows 7 and giving it a new look and feel

20130217-135147.jpgdesigned for touch screens and especially tablets. It might be a natural for Xbox 360 users because that is the interface that you will first see.

So it takes a little getting used to begin using your new Windows 8 computer because there is no familiar desktop, no start button in the lower left hand corner. But on closer scrutiny, you will find a desktop and a task bar just like the good old days. But you will never find the start button. It is gone! However, there are now 3rd party applications which will bring it back to life in a big way.
With touch screen on a tablet, you can sweep your finger from the left to change applications or see a list of running applications. Sweep from the right and you will see the date and time along with start, search and settings options.

The Start option provides a ‘metro’ look at available programs in square or rectangle icons. The icons are dynamic, so your photos icon displays photos from your computer, Facebook, SkyDrive or Flickr online accounts. The People icon displays images from your social network like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Connect, etc.

In summary, we will all get used to Windows 8 but Microsoft, in their infinite wisdom, continues to take two steps forward and one step back.

Posted in Technology.

Microsoft Surface

At first glance, the Surface is a sleek wide-screen (16:9) high resolution tablet with super crisp

20130217-134218.jpgdisplay. It has a magnesium stand (the entire device is magnesium clad) that clicks out from the back side and a sleek keyboard cover that snaps into place magnetically into place making it look more like a laptop than a tablet. It starts quickly and easily with Windows 8 Pro which I will talk about in the next section. IT has a USB port (awesome) and a Micro SD memory card slot. It also has an earphone jack and an interesting magnetic connector for power or pen. The USB port is wonderful because you can connect a mouse or normal keyboard or a USB Hub so you can connect multiple USB devices. Being able to use a mouse and full keyboard makes seem like a laptop or desktop.

Mine came with 64gb of disk solid-state space (because the 128gb model was out of stock). After I installed a full version of Office 2010, I was left with a mere 20gb of space. Not a lot of space! That said, with the use of cloud computing options like Microsoft Skydrive, Yahoo Flickr, Dropbox, Vimeo, Facebook, and others, most of my data is in the cloud so the space required is really used on programs.

There are two choices in keypads available. A touch and a type. The touch is a slim 3mm thick with embossed keys that are touch sensitive. The type keyboard is more like a normal keyboard. I like both very much although it takes a short time to get used to the touch version.

The Microsoft Surface has a Corning Gorilla Glass 2 screen which makes it nearly impervious to scratches or cracking.

All things considered, I love the design, clarity and Windows of the new Surface! I also love that it is a Windows device with all the features of my desktop. Things I use everyday like Outlook, OneNote, Excel, a Mouse and a keyboard!

Posted in Technology. Tagged with .

What makes a Diner Great?

In some circles, I am known as Diner Bob because of my passion to seek out and enjoy great diner’s around the country.  It stems from my growing up in New Jersey, the capital of Diners in America in my opinion, and living in Sterling, Worcester County, Massachusetts for 30 years. Worcester is the home of the Worcester Lunch Car Company which produced more than 600 Diners between 1906 and 1957.

Nautilus Diner

Nautilus Diner, Madison, NJ

I had the opportunity to eat breakfast a few times at one of my all time favorites this past week in Madison, New Jersey. The Nautilus has been around since as long as I can remember. I grew up only a few miles away. It hasn’t changed much over the years. There are pictures on the walls of how it used to be and it is hard to tell the difference. I think that is the first rule in being a great Diner, consistency. This applies to any service organization. The second rule is a great product – in the case of the Nautilus, it is great food. Over the course of a few days, I had the opportunity to eat breakfast at the Nautilus a number of times. At each occasion, my party was seated promptly, tended to immediately and quickly served our orders exactly as ordered. All Diner’s across America can take a lesson here; provide consistent service, cook great food, have wait staff that are there to serve providing quick, attentive and accurate service and you just might have a successful business.  It isn’t complicated, but it is rare to find.

And you needn’t take my word for it, this past Sunday we were honored to enjoy breakfast with Governor Chris Christy (look closely) sitting just a few tables away.  As it turns out, this large man (in size and stature) who lives a few miles, New Jersey frequents the Nautilus. A great compliment to any Diner!

My hat is off to the Nautilus in Madison, New Jersey.  Setting a great example! Long live the American Diner!

Posted in Customer Service, Diners, Passion. Tagged with .

People Tracking with RFID

RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) was thought to be a transportation and logistics tool for managing inventory of packages, especially high value products like Gillette razor blades or Pfizer packages of Viagra. Although not in every store just yet, RFID is hitting it big when it comes to tracking people. 

Sometimes called spy chips, these tiny devices are connected to a particular package or person. They might be thought of as electronic bar codes. A court just upheld the legality of using RFID tags as an electronic badge for students of a Texas High School that wants to use RFID tags to manage the security of students.

Disney World plans to begin using RFID tags installed in bracelets this spring. These wrist bands (MyMagic+ bracelets) will be used for park admission, room keys, charge cards and FastPass’s (used to make reservations on popular attractions). This will replace the plastic “Card to the Kingdom” which resort guests use today as park access, room access and charge cards. The RFID scanners (pictured here) will be located everywhere and will track each individual as we move through the parks. All information gathered will feed a comprehensive logistics application to better monitor crowd levels, queue lines, and store activity. Although not specifically disclosed, the RFID bracelets will also be able to track the use of restrooms, front desks, concierge, buses, boats, monorail, automobile, room use, resort amenities such as spas, exercise facilities, lobby’s, bars, restaurants and walkways. 

Fortunately, Disney guests will of course be able to accessorize the MyMagic+ Bracelets with charms and Mouse paraphernalia. Thank Goodness! So Mickey Mouse has become our Big Brother.

Posted in Customer Service, geodata, mapping statistics, Technology.

Seed Money

Seed Money

There is a very nice wooden box on my desk that contains hundreds of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. The coins look like money but are really made of paper. These coins were my gift for being one of the 1,100 backers of this project on
The paper coins can be planted. Each coin contains seeds to grow a colorful flower or herb or vegetable. Yes, these coins are called “Seed Money”. The Seed Money is hand-illustrated and engraved on thick custom papers and each is embedded with seeds. Buy them in rolls just like real coins. 

You can secretly plant them in different places you travel or give them away as tokens of appreciation or give an entire roll of Seed Money away as a gift for someone special. Here is what you can get:

  • Pennies: flower mix (Don’t worry, nothing invasive!)
  • Nickels: hearty greens mix (such as kale, chard & spinach)
  • Dimes: herb mix (such as thyme, dill, oregano, parsley & basil)
  • Quarters: salad mix (lettuce, carrot & tomato)

 And if you are really taken with the concept, you can design your own Seed Money (Minimum order is 10,000 coins)!

You can visit our office to receive your own Seed Money coin or reach out to Leafcutter Designs. They are located in Berkeley, California. Find them on the web at

Posted in Marketing, Nature.

Calendar 20-20

Here is an opening for a conversation. Calendar 20-20 is the name we have given to a new calendar project we are working on at TRI this month. We have used the calendar in Outlook for more than a decade and we have used the Google calendar for almost as long. These calendars are only moderately adequate. Here is a short requirements list of things we feel are missing from our Outlook or Google calendar. We intend to fix that problem.

  • Associate calendar entries to a project
  • Associate calendar entries to a client, associate or contact
  • Associate calendar entries to an employee or group member
  • Associate calendar entries to a task
  • Permit drag and drop editing
  • Grouping calendar entries by task within project, within client or contact within employee
  • Manage projects better by allowing all the tasks associated with a project to be rescheduled or cancelled as the project changes state
  • Prioritizing calendar entries
  • Adding comments to calendar entries
  • Add activities or requirements to calendar entries
  • Allow clients to see and/or manage calendar entries specific to them on the web
  • Allow employees to see and/or manage calendar entries specific to them on the web
  • Allow supervisors to review calendar entries for all employees
  • and clients Although Calendar 20-20 will replace the need to use the Outlook calendar, for those who wish, Calendar 20-20 can be downloaded and overlaid on top of an Outlook calendar.
  • Print or display calendars in special report formats
    • Listings by task by date
    • Listings by client and include tasks and dates
    • Listing by employee and include clients, tasks and dates
    • Daily task list for employees and supervisors
    • Special Monthly or Weekly calendars with avatars depicting employees, projects, clients and tasks
  • Interactive day view that allows a supervisor or employee to better manage a client

If you agree that we need to bring calendaring into the new millennium, please drop us a line and let us know what we are missing. How can a calendar be improved to help YOU in your business? Let us know!

Posted in Scheduling, Services, Technology. Tagged with .