Apr 11

Limit Use of Flags and Stars in Mail


Michael Linenberger, a workday productivity management guru who specializes in taking control over your Gmail or Outlook InBox, has a great article on why we should limit the use of flags and stars in emails and what we should do instead:

“Use flags or stars or other markings only to mark e-mail you intend to reply to within a day or so; and then stick to that policy. When you reply to a flagged mail within a day, you can easily recall why you flagged it, and the action will be much quicker. And having such a policy is helpful for business reasons too; it shows responsiveness.”

I was fortunate enough to help Michael with the first edition of  his Total Workday Control Using Microsoft Outlook book and have found his productivity tips very helpful in managing my email and task lists.

Apr 11

Battling The “What Do I Take” Question: An Opportunity for Microsoft


Several weeks ago I was talking with a colleague about the allure of the iPad and its’ potential for replacing her laptop on business trips. I listened to a lot of the common reasons people bring up that make the iPad an attractive looking option for those who do a lot of business travel or frequently work from home: lighter, longer battery life, combining e-reading with a work tool, giving presentations, leaving cords and laptop bags behind, and much more. The desire to leave the laptop behind reigned supreme.

I then began to dig beneath the surface by asking about the kind of work she did on these trips: answering a lot of email, finalizing PowerPoint presentations, working on new Word documents, editing existing ones. When on an airplane or just relaxing in the hotel, she reads e-books on her Kindle and watches movies via NetFlix on her laptop or the hotel tv. The deeper I dug, a common theme then began to emerge: more times than not, she doesn’t know ahead of time what type of work she’ll end up doing while on the road – sometimes it is just email, other times it turns in to a lot of  editing work or needing some of the other specialized programs on her laptop.

I then began to layout some of the challenges to replacing her laptop with an iPad for business travel:

  • PowerPoint files don’t always convert over well to the iPad and vice-versa when sending them out
  • heavy editing of Word documents will begin to get cumbersome using the on-screen keyboard – she’ll eventually need a bluetooth keyboard, and then a case to store it all in. That package gets to be about the same size as a small laptop with less functionality.
  • While packing bags the night before, she’ll begin to deal with the question “do I bring my iPad or laptop?”. Over time, she’ll find herself leaning more toward the laptop because of the unknowns of what the week holds for her. The last thing any business traveler wants is to be stuck a thousand miles away without the tools they need to do business. The iPad will then cease being her go-to travel device and she’ll either leave it behind or pack it alongside the laptop.

I then challenged her to look at the iPad for what it is: a companion device to take with her to a client meeting and lunch, while she leaves the laptop in a safe back at the hotel. She can give a quick PowerPoint presentation during lunch, take down some quick notes, and check her email. She is traveling light when it matters most, but still has access to her main tools during the week when she might need them. The iPad also makes a great tool to sit back and relax with during some downtime. Justifying an iPad as a laptop replacement, though,  is a recipe for disaster. That “What Do I Take” question resonated deeply with her – she didn’t want to give up any flexibility to react to customer needs while traveling and could see where this would ultimately end up.

This is where it gets to be an interesting opportunity for Microsoft: how to blend a tablet experience that offers both the flexibility of getting work done while away from the office, while seamlessly transitioning into a personal entertainment device during downtime that doesn’t sacrifice on weight, battery life, form factor, or user experience. In fact, it ought to excel at all those. During a time that the consumerization of tech is infiltrating the work place, Microsoft has a unique opportunity to solve this problem and come out a winner in the eyes of both the consumer and the work place – if designed from the bottom up with these two user experiences in mind. Don’t make the user choose, design the ultimate blended solution for them: the power and flexibility of Windows combined with the natural user experience of an entertainment, note-taking, and presentation tablet.


Apr 11

My Return To Tech Blogging


Except for a few pieces here and there, I’ve been quite silent these past few years with regards to mobile tech, tablets and all the other things that tend to excite the inner-geek in all of us. Most of that has been out of necessity, which I’m pleased to say has calmed down over the past several months. Things will continue be somewhat unpredictable in our family – but that is the life God has given us and we are learning to live with “normal” being continually redefined. Trust me, it is wonderfully sanctifying.

What I’ve discovered over the past few years is that I still have a lot to say about the state of mobile tech and I miss having a public outlet to work that through with readers who care about the same stuff I do. Even though I’ve been pretty silent in my tech writing, I’ve been following the mobile tech scene quite closely these past few years. I still spend more time on Twitter and TechMeme than I should, and I’m continually looking at tech and its’ impact on how we work every day. That has always been a major interest of mine, and with my new role as the Director of Information Technology at the NJCAA, I have a vested interest in making sure the people I serve are using the best tools for their role. I want to work that out with you, the reader – analyzing mobile tech as it really should be looked at: tools that help us work and live better.

All that to say,  I’m pleased to announce that I’m returning to the world of tech blogging and you can follow it all right here on RobBushway.com. What can you expect from me? Analysis of new and current mobile tech and its’ impact on businesses, solving real-world business problems with mobile software and appropriate platforms, workers and their personal tech impacting business strategy, the cloud and how that practically works out for businesses, thoughts on Microsoft / Tablet PCs and ink, thoughts on the rest of the world and tablets, and maybe even a review here and there. In general, it will mostly be editorial, asking hard questions, offering up potential solutions, and a few other things I’m still kicking around. I’ll leave the news coverage to the good folks at GottaBeMobile.com – nobody does that better than Xavier, Warner and their awesome team. You won’t be getting 15 – 20 articles from me a day and this won’t be the spot to find the latest breaking news story. What you will find is a thorough analysis of mobile tech, software, tablet pcs, and tablets with an emphasis on business use-cases.

For those who follow RobBushway.com for personal family news, I’ll still post some of that here. However, most of my non-tech writing will be on CultivatingIt.com. That’s the place I work through grace, the gospel and cultivating a life that is pleasing to God.

With that, here’s a quick gander at the tech I’m using to do my day to day work and some stuff I’ve been working on:

  • I’m currently working on a Dell Latitude XT2.
  • I just ordered a Lenovo X220T Tablet PC running Windows 7 64 bit – I’m thoroughly excited and check my shipping status at least twice a day. That should put the first bullet into perspective.
  • I’ve got an 11″ MacBook Air that I use every day, an iPad I read on and a Xoom that I absolutely love.
  • I’m using an iPhone and a Droid Pro. My Droid Pro is my mobile hot spot.
  • I workout using my iPod Nano strapped to my wrist using a TikTok watch band
  • DropBox is my file syncing choice to get access to all of my documents across all of my platforms
  • Evernote continues to be my go-to note-taking solution, although OneNote is starting to make a strong comeback for me.
  • I’m programming a cloud solution for a customer using Windows Azure and SQL Azure – pretty cool stuff.
  • I just finished an iPad app project called FormConnect for FormConnections, a company with a deep history in Tablet PC computing.
  • I’m still programming mobile solutions for the iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows Phone 7.
  • And let’s dare not forget about bags – I’m still using an SFBags.com Muzetto and a TomBihn.com Buzz – my two all-time favorites.
Apr 11

Cultivating Safe Places of Grace


Kathi and I have been spending the last couple of days talking about safe places of grace – those churches, homes, families and people you long to be with – where it is ok that you can’t bring anything to the table, where you are listened to and not condemned for your unbelief in the gospel to help in that moment of struggle, where agendas don’t exist, where your true identity in Christ is affirmed,  and  laughter and silliness abound – a place where grace pours out on others because it has been poured out on us.

We all long for those places and are continually seeking them out. We look for people who can be that for us, we look for churches and communities where the atmosphere is thick with grace. The problem comes, though, when we can’t find it. What do we do? How do we cultivate that where we are?

It isn’t top-down, grass-roots, or programmatic. It is doing it right here, right now with where God has you. It is rooted in humility and an outpouring of thankfulness to God for the mercy and grace that He shows us. Out of that, grace will begin to seep through our phone conversations, our talks at the dining room table with our spouses, our listening to the teenager struggling with performance, and the single person battling loneliness – all because we have the Gospel at the center of who we are and everything we do.

If we desire safe places of grace in our home, church, work place, communities and friends, we have to begin by being that safe place for others. We look in to others eyes and listen to their hurts. We ask them questions about how their struggle with contentment shows an unbelief in the gospel and then point them to what Christ has already provided for them. We laugh with them. We drink wine together. We watch movies together and then talk about them. We desire to drive beneath the problem presenting itself to what is really going on within their soul. We ask them questions about where they are getting their value and significance. We don’t hold each other accountable – we remind each other that our identity is found in Christ and not in our failures – now go live like who you really are and stop believing the lie.

Mar 11

Changes, Changes, Changes…


After 10 years of running my own programming company, I have accepted an offer from the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) to become their Director of Information Technology. I’m very, very excited about this change and opportunity. The NJCAA is an awesome organization serving junior colleges and athletes across the country. I’ve done website programming and technology support for them the past 10 years, and it is an honor to make the relationship more formal. I’ll now have more time and brain-bandwidth to work on some exciting technology that helps them operate more efficiently and celebrate the local athlete.

Why the change? Besides the obvious that the NJCAA has a tremendous future ahead of it and is an excellent organization to work for, there are a multitude of personal reasons for making this change. Operating a small business is hard and it is even harder on my family: I have a few large customers, but many small ones. Being spread across many customers makes it very difficult for me to “be where I am”.

The first step toward that goal started two years ago when I sold GottaBeMobile.com – a gadget news website that has since skyrocketed in popularity. That was a very good move for our family; however, after much prayer and seeking God’s will, I felt another step was needed.

By narrowing my focus from 25 clients down to my primary employer will bring a lot of stability to a family that desperately needs some. Sure, there are some negatives: bible studies during the day that I’ve had to cancel, less flexibility with my time during the day, along with a few others. However, as I’ve grown over the years, I’ve seen tremendous value in narrowing my focus to what I can do successfully in serving the people God has called me to serve. Of course, there are other reasons that factored into this decision, but that is the primary one.

So, what does this mean for Zoe Technologies? Effective August 1, I will shut down operations for Zoe Technologies. However, I’ll have Friday’s off and will be dedicating that day to doing side-projects for larger customers like GotQuestions.org, AllAboutGod.comCFACT, and FormConnections. I’m in a transition period right now having to reshuffle my schedule to prepare for August 1. Lot’s of projects to wrap up, work that has to continue and bills to pay, and exciting plans to begin to work on for the NJCAA.

Mar 11

Happy Birthday Maggie, A Poem For You


Margaret Kate Bushway
A Woman Loved and Desired by God

My life is one saturated with Grace.

My identity is found through it.
My desires are met in it.
My pain is made bearable because of it.
My suffering is made beautiful through it.
My joy radiates it.

I listen to hurts through it.
I cry in it.
I see people through it
I gaze into others eyes in it.
My heart exudes it.

My acceptance is found in it.
My forgiveness is due to it.
My shame is nothing because of it.
My humility is caused by it.
My standing with my Father is defined by it.

By grace, I am a woman loved and desired by God.

All my love,
March 18, 2011

Feb 11

This Past Weekend


I’m getting a lot of questions about what happened to Maggie this past weekend, so I thought an update might be appropriate.

Background: Overall, Maggie has been doing very well over the past year. However, back in August,  Maggie started having a lot of headaches  – constant throughout the day and in tremendous pain. It turns out they were related to a drug she was taking. So, her doctors took her off. We didn’t know it at the time, but the drug she was on was also helping to stabilize most of the tremors Maggie experiences. Left unchecked, these tremors build up and then end up putting her in the hospital with non-stop seizure activity. Not a good thing.

So, from August through this weekend, her tremors have been slowly getting worse and we couldn’t figure out why. Maggie woke up on Saturday ready to go on a Youth Retreat and was tremoring more than usual, but we chalked it up to low blood sugar, nervousness, etc and hoped that it would pass. As the day wore on, Maggie had difficulty coping with the sensory issues related to the retreat, which in turn made it next to impossible for her to sleep. Maggie shook all night while trying to get to sleep. Kathi was next to her the whole time.

On Sunday, Kathi called and told me what was going on. As much as Maggie wanted to stay and do “normal teenager things”, I knew it wasn’t safe for her. We needed to get her home in a quiet place and then get her to a doctor as soon as possible. Otherwise, she would have ended up in the hospital for several weeks. So, the girls and I drove up to Winter Park and got Maggie and Kathi. That night, Kathi and I started talking and thinking about what all had changed over the months, and we began to tie it back to the drug her doctor took her off of. That evening, Maggie slept for 12 hours, the most she has slept in months. Being in a quiet place does wonders.

Long story short – we got Maggie to the doctor on Monday afternoon and they started her back on a similar drug that we hope will not have the negative side effects of constant migraines. We’ll wait and pray to see how God works through this.

The difficult part is that this is Maggie’s life for the foreseeable future…a rollercoaster of ups and downs, living in shades of gray, not healed but living. Maggie is living in those shades of gray, though, by grace alone to the glory of God

Jan 11

Take Your Fingers Out of Your Ears, Microsoft


I’ve been covering Microsoft in the tablet space since tablets first arrived on the scene in 2002 / 2003. I’m also a Microsoft MVP and have had the privilege of meeting with many on the former Windows Tablet team. I’ve written about tablets, reviewed them, carried them everywhere I shouldn’t, taken gobs of notes on them, and evangelized them to friends and customers. I love the tablet experience. Along the way I even managed to convert several of my customers to windows-based tablets, but the experience never got ingrained because of one thing: windows and the tablet experience never went together well. It wasn’t a natural experience. Sure, handwriting recognition was superb, but the whole experience from day one felt pieced together and was never integrated throughout the entire Windows UI ecosystem. It was that way in Windows XP Tablet Edition and it continues to be that way in Windows 7.

In 2010, Apple came along and redefined the tablet and did in one year what Microsoft could not do in 8+ years. AT CES 2011, guess what Microsoft was demoing? The fact that you could use Windows-based apps and handwrite on the tablet and not mess up the ink – yes, the exact same story they’ve been yelling from the top of their lungs from the early days that nobody was interested in hearing about. The problem is that nobody cares that you can run Windows-based apps on tablets. They don’t want Windows-based apps on tablets. They want apps DESIGNED for a tablet to run on a tablet. They want their tablet to feel natural and Microsoft’s Natural User Interface push on Windows ain’t working for them.

Engadget summed up Microsoft’s CES 2011 keynote superbly: the sound you hear is Microsoft missing yet another tablet cycle. It will be owned by Apple and Google for the next foreseeable future. Microsoft has slumbered into the same abyss they found themselves in with Windows Mobile, and it will take them years to recover unless they act swiftly and listen to what people are telling them.

We don’t want a Windows-based tablet. Never have. Never will. Consumers don’t want it. Businesses don’t want it. Get your Windows Phone 7 OS on a tablet – now. Gain tremendous advantage by integrating your handwriting recognition and ink expertise into the whole Windows Phone OS. I love your Windows Phone 7. I want a larger version of it. I want to read on it. I want to write apps for it. I want to take handwritten notes on it while I’m in a meeting. I want that as a tablet. Many others do, too.

Take your fingers out of your ears, Microsoft, and listen.

Jan 11

The Lifter of My Head

 | 1 Comment

Psalm 3 contains some powerful imagery; but, as I was reading this morning, verse 3 showed me God in a new way: “But you, O Lord, are…. the lifter of my head.” …Read More

Jan 11

The Lifter of My Head

 | 1 Comment

Psalm 3 contains some powerful imagery; but, as I was reading this morning, verse 3 showed me God in a new way: “But you, O Lord, are…. the lifter of my head.”

  • a nurse lifting a patient’s head to give him water and medicine
  • a mother gently caressing her child’s chin, lifting their head, speaking assurance into their eyes
  • a father lifting his son’s head to speak strength and encouragement to his soul
  • a friend lifting another friends head, reminding him of who he is in Christ

These are all pictures of God – our healer, our encourager, our strength, our identity. He is the one who touches and is the one who lifts.

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