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.

Hidden Beauty in Central Massachusetts

Central Massachusetts Rail Trails

The Central Massachusetts Rail Trails are a gem for nature lovers of all kinds. With miles of trails along old rail routes, the views are amazing, the nature is plentiful and the peace tranquil and energizing.  A walk, bike ride or jog is the best way to take it all in.  Pack a lunch if you plan to stay a while but certainly carry some drinking water.  The map shows a recent ride I took starting in Rutland and ending in Barre.  It was a 7 mile ride through the woods and past ponds and brooks.

In some cases, tunnels were put in under roads and in others bridges were built over waterways or ravines. Along the way, you might find a few hikers, bikers and maybe some horse-back riders. You may see some fisherman, dog-walkers or kayakers. You will certainly see and hear the birds of the area along with migrant swan, geese, duck and Herron.

The trail is part of the Wachusett Greenway a stretch of Massachusetts Rail Trail which are old rail lines recaptured for the use of the public. Wachusett Greenways’ mission is connecting the Wachusett communities with Trails and Greenways. Their major project is building and helping to maintain 30 miles of the Mass Central Rail Trail through Barre, Oakham, Rutland, Holden, West Boylston and Sterling.

Click on any of the pictures below for a full size image. If you get a chance, take a run out to Rutland or Barre and have yourself a nice walk in the woods.



Wachusett Greenways, Rutland, MA

Wachusett Greenways Tunnel

Trail cut into mountainside

Stump Art in the middle of nowhere


Dieing Forest - Living Watershed

Posted in Nature, Passion.

Comcast Blocking Access to Web Sites

I have been experiencing problems accessing web sites from home. My ISP is Comcast.  I have discovered the problem.  Comcast has recently implemented DNSSEC – Domain Name System Security Extensions.  DNSSEC validates web site domain name settings with a fine tooth comb. In many cases this fine tooth comb is filtering out sites which you would think should be a-ok.  Sites like (the Microsoft Exchange Online web site or (the State of Massachusetts web site).

It all has to do with DNS Servers. A DNS Server is like a phone book that gives you the number associated to the name. If you can’t associate the name (URL) to the IP address (Phone Number), it can’t make the call.

In researching the problem, I discovered that DNS could not resolve these URL’s.  That means that when the computer looks up the URL in the DNS Servers to get the associated IP address to call the web page, it can’t find the IP. It can’t find the IP because access has been denied by Comcast’s DNS servers.  It has been denied because Comcast now uses DNSSEC to validate URL’s – theoretically for improved security.

The problem is that many web sites do not yet comply with DNSSEC validation rules.

If you are experiencing issues accessing certain web pages, check out the site using this tool: and enter the web site in question. If you see all green lights, the site is ok, if you see red lights, the site may not be in compliance with DNSSEC validation rules.

Feel free to call Comcast, but get yourself to a supervisor quickly, the underlings, as nice as they are,  don’t have a clue.

Posted in Uncategorized.

The Responsibility of a Business

There is a movement afoot for businesses to become more conscious. That is, instead of the single objective of profiting the shareholders, a conscious business has the responsibility to other stakeholders. Stakeholders include the customer, the community, the employees, the environment, and the quality of life.

Sprouting up around us all are grass roots organizations that are working to change the way businesses conduct themselves as part of our society. Some call it conscious business or conscious capitalism. If you google these terms, you will find many web sites and many books on the subject.

A question you will see asked is why do businesses have the rights of a citizen when they do not hold the same responsibilities? Why are they not held to the same standards? Why do they not operate on the same moral principals that we hold so dear to our hearts as citizens in our community, our country and our world?

In Massachusetts, you will find the Conscious Business Roundtable, a group started by Lisa Hamaker of Kaliday Marketing which meets regularly to discuss how businesses can prosper by conducting themselves for the benefit of all those around them, not just their shareholders. You will find the Conscious Capitalism Institute, founded by Dr. Raj Sisodia and supported by the likes of Whole Foods, The Container Store and others.

Internationally, you will see other organizations cropping up that seek the same objectives. This is not a fleeting concept. It has been around us for many years and is growing. Keep your eye out for it. Be open to it. Support it. It may just change the way people do business and change the world as a result.

Posted in America, business climate, International.

Why Birds Sing

Waking up before dawn and light, you can often hear the morning announcements from the birds. Somehow it is louder before the sun rises. The distinct calls, “I am Great!”, “I am Great”, “Look at me”, “Look at me”! There is no fear, no embarrassment. No resistance at all to the marketing of one’s own prowess. It is what you have to do if you expect to move forward and get what you want — get what you know you deserve.

We can all take a lesson from nature (again) not to be afraid of broadcasting your own praise especially if you are sincere about what you do that is special and unique. If you have something special to offer, sing out! Tell everyone.

If you don’t, find your passion and become special so you too can sing out. We all need to be the best birds we can be.

Posted in Marketing. Tagged with , , .

Donating Time

For the past few months, I have been donating some of my time to the Sterling Historical Society (SHS) helping get a web site going again and trying to make it easier for people to learn about the Historical Society and join in.

I have been blown away by the dedicated group of folks that donate their time each and every week taking care of things, giving tours, writing newsletters, researching, managing the books and much more.  Sterling, Massachusetts has quite a history and it is all documented at the SHS on Pine Street in Sterling.  For the past 50 years, an incredible history has been documented by the Society in photographs, pottery, chairs, art, clothing, maps, letters, books, records and more.  It really is quite amazing.  I love the local history and Sterling has quite a story to tell. Click on the picture for a bit of a slide show through time.Heart to for more information.

I feel good about donating my time to this organization and hope to accomplish some great things, but most of all, I hope to learn a great deal about our community and it’s history.



Posted in Donating Time, History.

TRI Live Cam

If you are interested in the view out one of our windows, have a look at  It is a real-time video feed from our conference room window into our parking area looking East and Route 12.

We have a Dunkin Donuts in our plaza, so it can get pretty busy.  This cam is especially helpful in the winter to see the conditions during a storm.  It also tells us something about our offices.  It tells if we have power, if we have Internet connectivity and if the office is in tact. 

Lastly, it lets us see the healthy people using the handicap parking spot.

Posted in Uncategorized.

Cloud Computing

What is it about the cloud? Why are we drawn to it? How do we use it? Is it good for us? Is it secure? Who can see it? What can we do with it, in it? Can we trust it?

Everyone is asking these questions. Why? Because the cloud offers some capabilities and features not possible within the confines of your own computer, network or workplace.

It offers scalability. That is, it can grow as big as you want. It can be comprised of hundreds of computers all working in harmony to delivery the power and information needed at any given time. It offers fault tolerance. That means that if one computer in the cloud breaks down, another computer in the cloud takes its place instantly. It offers global availability. Because it is in the cloud, you can reach it no matter where you are as long as you can connect to the Internet.

Here are some straight answers for you to consider when moving to the cloud. The cloud is a network of computers in unnamed locations around the world that have computing power and data storage and are interconnected via the Internet. These computers provide fault tolerant services because they are always watching out for themselves and take immediate action if a problem arises. That’s a good thing.

One of the concerns is the cloud might be a couple of computers in a dusty data center in Mexico City or an enormous datacenter in Virginia or a combination of datacenter’s around the world. You don’t really know. The computers might be connected to a single pair of copper wires or tied to the backbone of the Internet by multiple fiber connections. The computers might be protected by a power supply with a 30 minute life cycle if power goes out or it might be connected to million watt auto-fail-over generators that will last for 30 days without interruption. So the cloud can mean different things to different people. Lesson number one: you need to know where your cloud is located. You need to know what your cloud is made of. You need to know how your cloud is protected and you need to know how your cloud is connected.

Computers connect to the Internet and are generally protected by a firewall. The firewall watches over the connections to the computer from the outside world. It does that by watching the connections to certain ports (windows) into certain IP addresses. The firewall blocks unwanted access and permits approved access. Lesson number two: you need to know the capabilities of the firewall and how it secures your data.

The Internet is not a safe and secure place. Communication across the Internet occurs in packets of information. These packets are created by the sending computer transmitting information. These packets are received and assembled by the receiving computer. Anyone tapping into the connection between the sending and receiving computer can look at these packets. One question would be why. If the information is sensitive, that might be the answer. So in those cases, the packets need to be encrypted so even if the packets are captured, they are unintelligible. Lesson Number three: Be aware of the encryption used if any.

Harnessing the power of the cloud can be as simple as signing up for a Google account and using their cloud features of docs, email, groups, calendar, video and more or it can be a daunting task of configuring particular server instance on the Amazon EC2 backbone or arranging for fault tolerant blade servers in a hosted datacenter with custom fail-over protection. Lesson Number four: Have a clear idea of what you need before you move to the cloud.

If you are considering using the cloud or would like to know how it might benefit your organization, reach out to us at TRI. We understand how the cloud works and can help you venture safely into the cloud.

Posted in security issue, Services, Technology, travelling. Tagged with , , , .

TRI Starts Video Blogging

As with all thing, we start slow. Believe me when I say that creating a video blog is more work than it appears. There are issues as you can see in my first video blog. There are lighting concerns, there are audio issues, there is the quality of the video editing and of course there is the content. This is a beginning. Please judge with an open heart. In time, we will improve our lighting, enhance our sound, improve our content, and come up with better methods of presentation. But for now, enjoy and thanks for watching.

Posted in document imaging, scanned documents, Technology, Uncategorized.

Apple Terms of Service – Really?

I love Apple as much or more than the next guy, but, enough is enough. Terms of Service is 35 Pages, 17,553 words, (42 pages on my iPad) written by attorneys costing Apple I am sure no less than $476,000 to write it and yes, change it and change it again. The best thing about it is this statement “Apple is not responsible for typographic errors”. I also like that the Apple iTunes service is for anyone 13 years or older and if you are between the ages of 13 and 18, you should review this 35 page contract with your parent or guardian. Is there not a legal precedence for reasonableness? Is this reasonable. Does anyone really read this agreement? Does it matter?

Oh, and if you get bored reading this, by reference you should also read the Apple Privacy Policy which is another 2,400 words. Apple, how do you spell FARCE? Thats right, l u d i c r o u s.

Posted in Apple, law.

Bank of America? Not my America!

My Dad passed recently. It has been a sad time for those of us who knew him. I had his car shipped from his residence in Florida to Massachusetts to take care of some body work. I decided to keep it because it was a cute 2010 Scion with low mileage and I thought it would be a great around-the-town car. I visited the local Bank of America office to see what it takes to get the Title transferred. They advised me that I have 60 days to pay the vehicle off and said thank you very much.

As a followup, I received a letter stating in quotes “We would like to extend our condolences upon hearing that our valued customer passed away”. What does it mean that this sentence is in quotes? Does it mean they don’t really mean it? Does it limit their liability?

The letter continues “The Bank will allow you 60 days in which to obtain financing for the collateral with a new lender and pay the Loan balance in full (the “Forbearance Period”), so long as the Loan payments remain current during the Forebearance Period. If, however, the Loan payments become past due or the Forebearance Period expires, then this letter shall also serve as written notification that: (i) The Bank is declaring the Loan in default; (ii) The Bank is accelerating the Loan balance; and (iii) The Bank intends to repossess the collateral securing the Loan.”


If you look at their web site, you will see wonderful hyperbole like, “Bank of America is committed to helping homeowners understand all their financial options.” or “See how we’re supporting small businesses, helping customers in financial need and giving to local communities through our lending and investing programs.” Or the best, “Bank of America is lending, investing, and giving to help make our communities great places to live and do business.”

Is this how they show they care? Whatever happened to your friendly neighborhood bank of yesteryear? Since when are these tactics acceptable to the American people? Where is the outrage that these Banks (so large that we can not allow them to fail) have become dictatorial, anti-family, anti-community and anti-American? Is our only recourse to cease and desist?

Posted in America, Banks.