For those of you who've been paying attention, I have been away from HealthBlog and my work at Microsoft for the past two months. Many thanks to my good friend and colleague, Gareth Hall, for adding some excellent content to this blog during my time away. I now graciously take back the reins and look forward to regular communications once again with all of you, my loyal readers.
So, why did I disappear from HealthBlog (and Microsoft) for all of March and April? Did I run away to join the circus, get a face lift, write the great American novel, or become a beach bum? Of those, only the last comes anywhere close to the truth.
My absence was due to the fact that I took a once-in-a-lifetime career opportunity offered by my employer to break away from the daily grind and recharge my batteries on a two month, fully paid sabbatical. Although a family health issue prevented my wife and I from doing all of the travel and other things we had planned to do during my sabbatical, we did get to spend a good chunk of time in the Hawaiian Islands doing whatever struck our fancy—hence the beach bum comment.
For my first post-sabbatical contribution to HealthBlog, I thought I would share a few of my thoughts on how technology and devices improved my time away from work. This started in early March when I decided that the computer my wife had been using at home for e-mail, web browsing, etc. was getting a little long-in-the-tooth. Without telling her, I went to our nearest Microsoft retail store and bought her a Lenovo IdeaPad 13 Yoga PC running Windows 8. I must confess I was a bit nervous about how she would react to this. She is a typical, self-taught computer user. I was afraid Windows 8 might throw her for a loop. However, with just a few pointers from me to help her get started, she was off and running without any major difficulties at all. I now watch her using her new machine in its various configurations from laptop to tablet, alternating seamlessly between keypad and touch screen, zooming, pinching, panning, and scrolling. Trust me, she is now a first class fan. She would never go back to her old, non-touch Windows 7 machine.
During our trip to Hawaii, I wanted to keep my bag as light as possible. I took my Nokia Lumia 920 Smartphone and my Surface RT computer. I also brought along a small Bluetooth keyboard and mouse in case I needed to do a lot of data input. I didn’t bring these devices with me for any work related purposes. I was after all on sabbatical. I used my phone to take all of our pictures (I left my far inferior digital camera at home). I also loved listening to music on Pandora and the Xbox Live service as I relaxed around the pool. I used my phone multiple times to call family members, check restaurant menus, learn about local attractions, and sometimes navigate our way to them. The Surface RT was great for scanning personal e-mail, reading articles, catching up on news, making calls on Lync, reviewing the stunning resolution of our uploaded vacation photos, doing general web browsing and keeping up with Facebook and Twitter. I must say that having all the files and resources I needed on SkyDrive was an added bonus.
Today, I’m back at work well-rested and ready to reengage with our customers and partners around the world. Now my attention is directed at business, and I’m pleased to say I have just fired up my new Surface Pro that was delivered to my office while I was away. As Gareth pointed out in his most recent HealthBlog post, setting up a new computer has become child’s play compared to how it was done in years gone by. I just turned it on, provided my credentials, connected to our network and everything I need (including all of my apps from the Windows Store) were pretty much automatically transferred to the new machine. For our enterprise customers this is a very big deal, and all the more reason why I believe this company offers some of the most compelling devices, services and solutions for businesses and consumers.
Thanks again to Gareth for minding the store while I was away. Now, back to work.
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft