Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Offline Apps: ByLine

My main focus on my iPod Touch/iPhone is to have as rich an offline experience as possible. To that end, I'm going to be sharing routinely any noteworthy apps that I come across- and bear in mind, they might not always be the newest thing on the block since I am somewhat late to the iPhone party.

One of the best apps I have found is ByLine by PhantomFish. This app does 2 things that I like, and 1 thing that I absolutely love. It performs a two-way sync with Google Reader and also caches articles-including images!- for offline reading. And what I love about it- it is fast! The entire process of syncing and caching takes only a few moments for my 100 latest items, and thats it!

Once the update is complete, you also have an unread count tied to the icon on your homescreen. This is invaluable- you can tell at a glance whether you'll have enough reading material during the day.

I've really been enjoying using Google Reader for the past few years, and its exciting to see an app that makes the transition seamless and prevents me from having to keep track of what I read where. My wishlist for Byline is never going to happen, as it involves being able to perform the sync on its own. But, I know this is more a limitation of the iPhone OS than the failure of this wonderful app. Byline is available in the AppStore for a reasonable $4.99.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Genicious- Delicious for Blackberry

Here's an app that could completely change the way you use your Blackberry! MindBerry has an excellent freeware app called Genicious which shows you Popular Delicious tags as well as your own bookmarks. In addition, it adds an entry to your Browser menu to allow you to bookmark your current page in Delicious. This is similar to the Delicious plugin for Windows Mobile, but with the added ability to see and edit your existing bookmarks! Now, all I need to do is add a tag called 'mobile' and I can use that when I come across useful shortcuts that I'd like to view on my Blackberry. In fact, I can use this as a cloud back-up solution for all my mobile bookmarks!

Monday, July 27, 2009

iPod to iPhone....Kinda...

The iPod touch.....the 'gateway drug' that leads to the addictive iPhone. You have been warned.

This was a comment left by Boso some 3 months ago when I blogged about my initial impressions of the iPod Touch. Well it seems his warning was true...but not. Yesterday I finally decided to get an iPhone from eBay, although I'm still going to be using it as an iPod in conjunction with my Blackberry Bold.
As is my way, once I get one feature its not long before I have my eye on another. I traded up from the iPod Touch 1G to 2G for the speaker function. Now I decided that I wanted a higher storage capacity and a camera. The camera thing has been bothering me for a while now...I grab my iPod Touch to read an ebook and suddenly notice my son doing the most amazing trick, and then I have to hunt for my Bold to snap the shot. I started wondering how convenient it would be if I could take pictures, and record audio (maybe even video?) on my iPod Touch. And then I thought it would be even more convenient to be able to use this as a backup phone which led me to an iPhone as the best solution.
I'm excited about this because it also means that when I have a business trip, I'll be able to rely on power items like the Mophie Juice Pack Air or InCase Power Slider for longer life (these aren't made for the iPod Touch). Perfect!
And before you ask- no, I will *never* use an iPhone as my dedicated phone. Never. Its an excellent PMP (Portable Media Player) but the lack of multi-tasking and auto-tasking is horrendous. I still find it baffling that I must manually iniate podcast updating over wifi when my Zune would do this automatically over my local Wifi network! C'mon Apple....take a page from Microsoft's book on that one!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Time Magazine App for Blackberry

Here's a neat one: Time Magazine has released a new app for Blackberry. It let's you customize and read the articles and view photos that are interesting to you. You can also share what you're reading via Twitter, Delicious or email.
This is a great little app if you're looking for fresh and interesting content to read on your Blackberry!

Sent via BlackBerry Bold

Friday, July 24, 2009

Birthday After-Party!

BDAY Pictures, Images and Photos

Surprisingly, it seems that I didn't post an entry yesterday to mark my birthday! So, a belated Happy Birthday to myself. I did all the sober reflections I needed to a week earlier, so you can catch up on all that. I'm a year older, wiser, and much, much happier. Thanks for being a part of my life :)

All-in-One Trend Shift

15 years or so ago, the tech trend was to have a whole lot of different devices with you at all times- your camera, cellphone, video recorder, organizer, voice recorder, walkman....and then you'd have a bag to carry them all around. Then a shift began to take place, and the first place I noticed it was the Handspring Visor. Their idea was that you'd carry one device (the Handspring PDA) and then have modules you could attach to it for a variety of functions. They had modules for GPS, MP3 player, eBook reader, camera, voice recorder, even a barcode scanner! These modules were smaller than a full sized device, and most of the time, would store some of the data on your PDA (photos, for example) so that you had one central location for all of it. The main drawback of the modules was that you could only use one at a time. So, for example, if you were using it with the GPS for directions, you wouldn't be able to snap a quick photo without swapping out modules. It was a nuisance.

Then devices like the Treo 180 came out and brought the concept of an all-in-one 'smartphone'. This was one unit that would be your phone, pda and allow you to have some minor web surfing capabilities. Manufacturers continued to build on this concept, adding more and more functionality until a smartphone like the iPhone was born. And as they added more features to phones, power technology wasn't able to keep up- you can't listen to your music for hours, have another conversation for another few hours and surf the web without your battery taking a severe hit and needing to be recharged several times during the day.
And just like that, another shift has begun- back to carrying multiple devices. Only this time they are much more powerful than before, and we can appreciate why we are spreading our needs across devices and platforms. In another few years, hopefully, we should begin to see new all-in-one smartphones incorporating the strength of these new devices with the battery power to back it all up.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Top BlackBerry Apps I'd Love to See

Last year I spent a lot of time ruminating on what apps I'd like to see on the Windows Mobile platform. This year, with my transition to Blackberry, I resolved a number of those wishlist items:
1.Facebook client
3. Friendfeed client (built into Viigo)
4. ZonaSnap uploads directly to photobucket and copies the HTML code into my notepad
5. Flickr app lets me upload photos.
7. Meetup client (Pageonce lets me view upcoming events and my greetings)
8. Banking client (Pageonce shows me balances on multiple accounts)
However, the move has made me long for some other applications that are currently not available on Blackberry. My new wishlist includes.
1. A comprehensive, free eBay app
2. A Google-Reader sync app to give me only unread items on my device and desktop
3. A barcode app- I'd like to be able to scan items and then add them to a list, or research where to buy them.
4. A database app with customizable fields including photos.
5. Kinoma for Blackberry (all-in-one YouTube, Flickr, multi-media app)
For now, that's it. Only about half the number from my WM days. Now, developers, get to work....please???

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Foxconn worker kills himself after losing iPhone 4G prototype

This is just so awful. Nothing should ever be worth killing oneself over-especially about a phone!


Sent to you by Lulu via Google Reader:


via PHONE Magazine by Shane McGlaun on 7/21/09

Apple is one of those companies that has rampant rumors and speculation running about possible new products each time it is holding an event. Apple does a very good job keeping its secret projects secret.

Reports are coming in that a Foxconn employee in China has killed himself by jumping out of his apartment windows after losing a prototype of a 4G iPhone that he was entrusted with. The man was 25-year-old Sun Danyong and he worked in the communications department.

The man was responsible for shipping prototypes from Foxconn to Apple and had reported the missing handset. Sun's apartment was reportedly searched by Foxconn employees and reports claim he was detained and physically abused.

[via SlashGear]


Things you can do from here:


Monday, July 20, 2009

Blackberry Messenger 5.0!


I'll freely admit that I'm not what one would call an avid user of BBM (Blackberry Messenger). In fact, there was a period where my cousin was the only contact on my list. But, as time went on, I gained a few more friends along the way, and found it nicely complements some of my Twitter relationships.
On Saturday I finally decided to take the plunge and see what all the hoopla was about. I found an OTA link which would let me install it directly to my device, rather than via desktop and it not only updated, but kept all my contacts. Its all very eye-candy, which is exactly what I've been needing more of on my Bold lately. In fact, if I had to liken its appearance to an existing app, I would say it looks very much like BeejiveIM.
By now you've probably heard about all the features: barcode scanning, list backup, avatar support, but for me, the exciting thing is that it brings me even closer to that webOS/HTC Sense contact integration I've been looking for. Now I can have my contacts linked to Facebook, as well as the Blackberry Messenger. If the next release of Beejive can improve further on that integration, then I suspect I'll soon have no reason anymore to drool over the HTC Hero!

Friday, July 17, 2009

My Life in a Nutshell

One thing I can't say about the past few weeks is that they've been uneventful. They have been a flurry of action and activity and I haven't even had a moment to sit down to figure out how to put it on paper (or PC...whatever).

An interesting opportunity arose at work and I decided to apply for an opening that was available which would have translated to more responsibility and a slight salary increase. I was apprehensive about the potential for rejection, but thought I had to at least make the effort. I put together an extensive presentation detailing how I would tackle the position, as well as a comprehensive plan of action for filling my current role. I thought I did a stellar job, so you can imagine my disappointment when over 2 weeks went by with no word back from the CEO. I was crushed, not even by the rejection, but by the overwhelming sense that his lack of response meant that he hadn't taken me even remotely seriously. I tried to shrug it off, and put my nose back to the grindstone.
Right about at the 3 week mark, the CEO came to my office to pay me a visit. He explained what he was looking for in the position, and had decided that he wanted a licensed Nurse to assume the role. It was no surprise to me at that point that I wasn't going to get the position, and was just relieved that he was showing me the courtesy of giving me a formal response. What did surprise me was what he said next- there was a newer position that was available, at a more senior level, which he felt I would be better suited for. He explained the role and its scope and then gave me an tentative offer letter for it. I.was.stunned.
Of course these things take time to finalize, but the thing I was most impressed with was that the new salary (which went into effect this Monday) was made retro-active to the date of his offer letter (June 22). I boldly negotiated myself a 28% raise (!) which is something I never thought I'd have the nerve to do again after the blow to my self-esteem last year.
In the midst of all of that, Dean sat down to have a heart-to-heart with me about my Nissan Murano obsession. I am not a car person, but for some reason, I have been drawn to that SUV for quite a few years now. I've had my Daewoo Lanos for nearly 10 years now, and its been an absolute gem to me with no breakdowns, or crap-outs at all (my sister-in-law, who found my Daewoo endlessly amusing, is on her third Audi at this point). Dean and I exchanged cars about 3 years ago because his Nissan Xterra took about 3 times as much in gas as my Daewoo, but the lack of AC in the Daewoo combined with the unrelenting Texas heat has finally gotten to him. He decided that he would sell his 'hot-rod' (a 1978 Trans-Am that he bought and has been restoring over the past year or so) and the Daewoo, take back his Xterra and get me a Nissan Murano later this year. For the second time in a week, I sat with my mouth hanging open as someone gave me fantastic news that totally blew me away.

The icing on the cake of all this is that Seth has had an exceptionally healthy couple of months since he had surgery to have tubes put in his hears to combat the regular ear infections he was getting. He's speaking a lot more now (probably because he's finally hearing much better now) and repeats everything he hears. At nearly 21 months, he's already got his own personality, and has staked his own place in our home. He has his own 'Tonight Show' and does some stand-up comedy every evening for us (I admit, we don't get the jokes- "Juice! Freeze!" but watching him crack himself up is hilarious).
About 6 weeks ago I bought an stationary bike and since then I bike a few miles each morning as soon as I wake up and each evening. I haven't kept a close eye on the scale, but I have noticed that overall I feel much better, and my clothes definitely fit me differently. My main goal is to improve my stamina, and so far, it seems to be working!
So, all in all, I would have to say that life is good. I consider myself to be extremely fortunate to live my life, and I'm grateful to the man upstairs every single day. When I think back to this time last year and the despair, repeated rejections and complete hopelessness I was going through, I remember not to take a single thing for granted. And if you are going through a rough patch right now, as so many people are in this economy, remember that the sun will shine again. I promise you it will.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The 'Berry Best Time Ever

Of all the mobile platforms, the Blackberry has historically been the one I've been least interested in. I thought it seemed stoic and archaic, and meant for the email-addicts only. In January 2008 my cousin got a Blackberry Curve and when she came for a visit that March she brought it with her to have a showdown with my Ubi. Sadly, she left the loser, and even ended up ordering a Jasjar just to enjoy some of the WM goodness she felt she was missing. A washed-out screen, and unexciting UI was to blame, and even though she still had that Curve up until last month (when she upgraded to an 8900).
Then in May I laid eyes on the Blackberry Bold and it was love at first sight. I couldn't convince myself to switch my OS, but a lot of what I didn't like about the Curve seemed to be fixed in the Bold- an exquisite, hi-res screen, a revamped UI that focused more on the eye-candy, a body that didn't look like a cheap was the total package. But I was deeply invested in the Windows Mobile lifestyle and resisted the transition. From the Ubiquio I moved to the HP 910 for about 3 months, then another 3 months on the HTC Fuze. After admitting to myself that I couldn't hold back the longing anymore, I ordered a Bold and started using it at the the end of this January. I wish I could say I took to it like a fish to water, but it took at least one start and stop before I fully got on the bandwagon.
In the 6 months I've been using the Bold, I've realized that a number of developments in the RIM world have made it a more pleasurable experience. For me, a few of them have been:
-FaceBook 1.6: With the latest release of Facebook, you can have more of a 'synergy-like' experience and also view newsfeeds, which is something I've been wanting to have mobile access to for ages.
-Multi-tasking made even easier: In the earlier versions of the Bold OS, the 'task-switcher' had to be manually mapped to one of the convenience keys. That meant you'd only end up with one button, and since I had that mapped to the clock app, I was stuck without a quick way to launch the camera. Ever since .247, the 'task-switcher' is accessed through a long press of the Blackberry button.
-Bedside Mode: Remember last September, when I McGyver'd a bedside clock solution using my HP910 and SPB Time? It worked decently, but I remember the glare from that screen would light up the entire room. Well, the charging pod for the Bold works perfectly, with the added convenience of just dropping it into the pod, plus the screen dims making it a perfect bedside companion.
-App World: It might not seem like much, but this is a pivotal point for RIM, where the Blackberry is no longer just seen as the email-only device.
-Today Plus: Plazmic (the Blackberry theme-builder) started supporting TodayPlus in version 4.6 last September. TodayPlus is the layout that allows you to see your upcoming appointments (and messages preview) right from your homescreen. To me, this could have been a deal-breaker!
-Custom LED: The incessant flashing LED was driving me a bit nuts when I first got my Bold. I was grateful to have the notifications from 3rd party apps (which is something I never had on WM) but I longed for an easy way to figure out without turning on my Bold what was causing them. BerryBuzz came to the rescue, with the latest version 2.0 able to give me custom color LEDs for Facebook and BBMessenger. Now I have Emails flashing blue, SMS-Orange, Facebook-white, Beejive-Purple, BerryWeather- Green, and SocialScope stays with the default red.
-QuickLaunch: one of my initial peeves about the layout of the Blackberry OS was that the clock was not visible from all screens. As a solution, I mapped one of my convenience keys to the clock and was opening the clock app whenever I needed to take a quick look at the time. Now, with QuickLaunch, I don't have to open the fullscreen clock to see the time. And by mapping it to convenience key, I get the added functionality of a neat shortcut launcher.
With the release of the Tour and word of the upcoming Storm2, it seems like this is the best time to be in the Blackberry ecosystem. Things are happening, and RIM is quickly transforming the reputation of the Blackberry from a business device to a life one.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cloud Living

When I look at how I used technology the last time I was working (circa 2006) compared to now, its a totally different way of operating. Back then I had my Treo (or Blackjack, etc) and I would sync with my work PC each day- a one-way sync, if I remember correctly- and then I'd get home at the end of the day and sync again with Outlook on my home PC. Daily syncs were a huge part of my process and was also the way I got my iSilo off-line data to read on the subway.

Fast forward 3 years, and these days I'm lucky if I even get into our home office 2 days in the week. We have a shared laptop in the den, and both Dean and I use that more than our desktop PCs upstairs. I also have my HP Mini in the bedroom which I use with some frequency, especially if we are watching a movie or something upstairs. Syncing is becoming more and more of a luxury that I can barely afford. In fact, one of my largest gripes with my iPod Touch is that its not able to update my podcasts automatically. I'm grateful that it can use my wifi to do it without connecting to my PC, but I really wish it could all happen behind the scenes. But because I add a new movie to my iPod every few days, I'm forced to go to my desktop anyway, so this isn't a major deal. However, while I can comfortably leave my iPod in the home office overnight while it syncs, I absolutely can't fathom not having my Blackberry in my hand at every moment.

The concept of cloud computing appealed to me from the perspective of being able to have my information available on any platform, without me needing to do any extra steps to get it there. This is probably one of the main reasons why the Nokia N800 did not fit well in my lifestyle- even then I realized that it 'needed' too much from me. I've had a Gmail account for some 5 years now, and its only in recent months that I've really delved into the other Google services, and now that I have, I find that I am totally sold on the lifestyle.

My calendar and contacts are synced from my Blackberry Bold to Google using GoogleSync. I liked the calendar so much that when I started working out 2 months or so ago, I began logging the details of my workout on my Blackberry calendar so they would carry-over (here's a tip: preface each entry with 'workout' and you can easily search your calendar and get a list of all your aerobic activity!). I installed Google Calendar Sync on my work PC and after setting up a one-way sync, it pushes all my work calendar data to Outlook (useful tip: use a separate email for the work sync and then share that calendar to your main Google Account. This lets you label it and keeps it separately identifiable). On my iPod Touch I use CalenGoo which shows me my Google calendars.

For tasks, I decided to use Remember the Milk which also integrates with the Google Calendar desktop. It has a robust iPod Touch client as well, so I am able to access my data from there too. It doesn't integrate with Outlook (as far as I know) but that's fine. For the most part, I use my work tasks for things I need to do today. Everything else goes on my calendar: this is a habit formed out of necessity as well- the Blackberry homescreen only shows calendar entries, so if I want it to come across clearly with no chance of my forgetting- that's the best place for it.

For notes, I use Evernote. In fact, lately I seem to be finding more uses everyday for Evernote- I forward copies of important emails to my Evernote address, I email chat transcripts from Beejive IM, and I even use it as 'sticky notes' to remind of what bills I need to pay in the next pay period. I've even got Evernote set up to connect to my Twitter account, so that I can forward interesting data right to my notebook. After a much-anticipated wait, Evernote finally released a Blackberry client. Although its strength currently lies in note creation, I am optimistic that it won't be long before it follows the progression of the Windows Mobile version.
For my use, Cloud computing has to be more than just a web portal to my information- it needs to seamlessly integrate with my mobile device as well. After all, isn't the whole point of having your data in a cloud the convenience of having access to it anywhere?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Visiting the old (WM) Neighborhood

In the 5+ months that I've been using my Blackberry Bold, I've hardly even given much thought to Windows Mobile and what I've been missing. Sure, every now and then I'll hear about a new application, and wonder if its changing the WM game, but not really enough to cause me any longing. I've also got an inherited Jasjar in my possession, so every now and then I can pull it out if I really have a hankering to test out an app. Unfortunately, as its running WM5, most of the latest and greatest just won't run on it.
Yesterday I decided to borrow Dean's Ubiquio to take a look specifically at the new Facebook app and the latest Windows Mobile Twitter application, Twikini. The first thing that struck me was how small the screen seemed after using the Bold for a few months, and how poor the 320x240 resolution appeared after getting accustomed to 480x320. Now I know for a fact that I won't be able to go back to QVGA....ever....I think. Since my husband doesn't have a data plan on his phone, I turned on the Wifi to download and run the apps. As someone used to running WiFi on my phone all the time now, I was shocked to see how an hour of WiFi drained his battery almost 30%!
I downloaded the Facebook application and I have to say, its really nice and polished. There was an initial lag, but I think that had to do with downloading the information from Facebook. Navigation was easy and it seems like an application I'd probably get a lot of use from if I was on Windows Mobile.

Next up I installed Twikini which I'd recently heard quite a lot of positive noise about. It does seem to be much faster than PockeTwit, but without its suaveness. I think for a phone with less screen real estate, Twikini probably makes more sense. Although- I haven't tried any of the recent builds of PockeTwit, so that impression could be entirely outdated at this point. I also like the ability to chose between various color schemes, although it would be even better if I could build my own color scheme from the ground up.
After experimenting with both apps I decided to email my screenshots from his mail application using Gmail and ran into a roadblock. For some reason I kept getting kicked back to the prompt to enter the password for the email account. Because the Blackberry mail setup experience is so seamless and transparent to the user, I had no idea what the issue could be. In the end I decided to pop the MicroSD card into the computer and transfer my photos that way.
As I tinkered with the Ubiquio, I realized there are a few things I miss from my WM days. I miss being able to completely backup and restore from the device. I miss the thrill of endless discovery of quality free apps. I miss glossy icons customized via iLauncher. But on the whole I am quite convinced that I am on the platform that works the best for my needs, and happy with my choice.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Kindle 2 Price Drop

The Kindle 2 has dropped in price from $359 to $299, and all things considered, I think that's probably the sweet spot for a lot of people interested in getting one.
To put it in perspective- you can now get a Kindle2 and an iPhone 3G for just under $400! Add Whispersync to that equation, and it only gets better.
I've been reading books on my phones since the days of the Treo 600, so this really isn't for me, but if you're a heavy reader, and travel often, then this is a good time to pick one up!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Off-Grid Pre Guy Goes Diva?

Earlier this evening I came upon this thread in the PreCentral Forums that troubled me on many different levels:

So here is my most recent story. After my Off-Grid with the Palm Pre went a bit viral, and after I posted a positive battery review today, I contacted Sprint today to talk to them about the fact that my elegant and dainty wife smashed her Samsung Highnote in the van door.

I had contacted Sprint a week ago fearing such a thing and asked if I could get insurance on her phone and they told me "no" since I was past the thirty days. I understand (I have insurance on the Pre).

So, wifey puts the phone down in the van hatch and slams the door down on it. Our fault completely, I understand.

So I call Sprint for a little "what can we do?" talk, and they said... NOTHING. $150 is the cheapest phone, you will pay full retail, any questions?

I said, "you know, maybe you can help me out... get me a cheap $50 phone (what I paid for the Highnote originally) or something?". NOPE. Full price bucko, and we never heard of Salty Off-Grid. So I say, "Fine, I think I will just cancel and maybe go elsewhere". Fine they say, Call Customer Service to cancel. I thought I was talking to customer service, but I am informed I am talking to some International Service center. So then I get Juan Carlos at Sprint Customer service. He is very understanding, but tells me if I will pay the full smack for the $150 phone, he can rebate me back something like $90 or so. And I'll have to pay full bill up front. Now I am just kind of pissed because I have really put some time and effort into trying to help the Pre (which I totally believe in) succeed. So I said, "You know, no. I think I'll just go ahead and cancel. I'll write a new review entitled "Palm hits a home run but gets strangled and raped by Sprint rounding third". So he says he'll talk to his manager and forwards me to the manager who is not in the office.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on the ranch... Palm twitters me and offers to try to make things right (YAY PALM). Still waiting to hear. Frankly Sprint ought to give me a big bushel basket of Palm Pre's to hand out to neighbors and friends for all I've done for them.

Maybe we can start an online protest and Jesse Jackson them into helping a fella out. Sprint hates me because I have a big beard. Beardism. That is it.

What is wrong with these people?

Michael Bunker (Salty Off-Grid)

A number of things about this post rubbed me the wrong way. First of all, how many people have written favorably about the Pre and don't expect any kind of preferential treatment because of it? Here are the facts as I understand them:

1. His wife broke her Samsung Sprint phone
2. He called Sprint and was informed he had no insurance, and wasn't eligible for upgrade
3. He opted to cancel both of their service because he couldn't get a cheap phone.
4. He decided to post about it on a forum and made some out-of-left references to being raped and Jesse Jackson.

In the course of the thread, a few more tidbits of information are revealed. First of all, while Michael vehemently claims that he wasn't looking for special treatment, and just wanted to cancel his account, his Twitter account clearly shows him reaching out to Palm (which he also denied, claiming that they contacted him).
Now, if you wonder why this kind of thing gets under my skin, its because it creates the kind of powderkeg situations that led to the Leo Laporte-Michael Arrington dust-up that occurred last month. And I'm not the only one who has a problem with things like this- the FTC now has bloggers in their sights because of exactly this type of behavior.
As much as Michael may say that he didn't expect anything from Sprint or Palm, clearly he did. Why didn't he reach out to Samsung, the makers of his wife's damaged phone? Because he fully expected to cash in on the positive things he had written about Palm and Sprint. And the next time Michael has something to write about the maker of his truck for example, I hope he isn't surprised when we look for what payola he's looking for next.

Palm Pre Homescreen

It looks like the Palm Pre is finally getting a much needed homescreen view thanks to the hard work of one developer known on the Precentral forums as Mapara. This is a huge win for the Pre, as currently viewing information can only be done by leaving the relevant cards open. To have even a single card that can pull all this information in is a fantastic improvement.

If you have a Pre, I highly recommend you check this out and get in on the Alpha. And if you do use it, and like it, be sure to send the developer a donation as a thanks for all his hard work. Opening the door to these kinds of apps means that it won't be long before more developers look at how they can improve the entire ecosystem of WebOS. And who knows, maybe one of them will finally build a Facebook app so that we can all stop snickering each time the accurately named 'Under My Skin' commercial runs.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Google Voice

Today I had a nice surprise in my inbox: I got an invite for Google Voice! To be honest, I don't even remember when I signed up for it, I'm sure its been many, many months!
I haven't reallly been following the full capability of Google Voice (since I didn't imagine I'd ever have a chance to use it) but I remember Dave Ciccone ( mentioning on a podcast that he had Google Voice (or GrandCentral) ringing all his various phones that he was testing. With that in mind I decided to see if I could find a useful way to use GrandCentral.
Surprisingly, the thing I've found most useful is the SMS function in Google Voice. On the desktop it has a nice threaded chat view and backs up the conversation. It took me a while to figure out but once someone sends a text to your Google Voice number, it also comes to your cell phone with a mask return number which will allow you to reply without exposing your cell phone number. Once I sent texts to all my friends telling them I had a new number most replied and I was able to add the mask return number to their address book entry. (I'm hoping that the number is always the same and not dynamically assigned for each day/week/month).
I also figured I could ditch YouMail by forwarding my Blackberry to Google Voice. I did it by forwarding calls when there is no answer; my cell rings the bounces the call to Google Voice (which somehow doesn't ring my cell again) then to the voicemail. Excellent!
If you haven't signed up for Google Voice, I highly recommend it. I'm sure that after checking it out you'll be able to come up with your own use. For me, its a way to have more of my life in the cloud.

Sent via BlackBerry Bold

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Wireless Charging Bold-Style

The feature of the Palm Pre that immediately piques my interest was the wireless charging via the Touchstone. And even when my husband pointed out that it was the same technology from his decade old electric toothbrush, I was still in awe. However, in my brief time with the Pre I didn't get the Touchstone but I did read some of the concerns in the PreCentral forums: overheating, etc.
That's when I realized that my Blackberry Bold had been doing a form of wireless charging for the many months I've had it. The charging pod lets you drop your Bold into it and charge via the contacts on the side of the phone. And at $15 a pop with no special battery cover needed I can afford to have one just about everywhere!

Sent via BlackBerry Bold

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Seduced by Sense

When I saw the HTC Hero I had the same reaction I have to all the other 'black slab' phones I see popping up all over the place: meh. Then I took a harder look at the HTC Sense UI that the device featured and it made me think long and hard about how I'm using my Bold these days. You see, the memory on the Bold is small, so generally you settle on a handful of apps and that's it. For me, that list includes the twitter app SocialScope, Facebook, Viigo newsreader, Poynt, Woman Mobile, and Ascendo Money. On Windows Mobile I thought nothing of loading dozens of apps regardless of whether or not I ever actually used them. These days I don't really even miss apps I don't have.

So, imagine if the few apps I do use were running in a widget format that I could flip through Palm Pre card-style. And instead of having the (annoying) ribbon notifications on the bottom of the screen, you had the android toolbar with its minimalistic approach.

If an device like this came to market with the body of the Blackberry Bold (which has the best keyboard I've ever experienced-beating even the Asus EEE PC in my opinion) I would probably scoop it up in a heartbeat. I enjoy using the Bold and it does what I need it to do very well but it just doesn't bring a lot of finesse or eyecandy to the table. My iPod Touch on the other hand is a lot of eye-candy but definitely not enough substance to convince me to go the iPhone route.

I hope I see a QWERTY-bar version of the HTC Hero in the near future. It could just be exactly what I need to satisfy all my senses.

Sent via BlackBerry Bold

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Sometimes, a Sim is All You Need

Something odd happened to my phone on Monday. About halfway through the day I realized that I hadn't received any emails on my Bold. I tried surfing the web and I couldn't do that either, but I could make calls and send texts. I assumed something was off with my BIS but I couldn't find anyone else with the same issue anywhere online.
I decided to call AT&T to see if they could help with the issue. The first guy ran me through a number of tests and then decided it was a RIM problem- he transferred me through to RIM where I spoke with another rep who ran me through more tests and then said he needed to send me over to tech support. This guy finally determined that the issue must be with my sim card. I was skeptical about that since I could still make and receive calls, but at this point I was desperate enough to try anything.
After work I popped into my local AT&T store to pick up the sim card. I had my first pleasant surprise when the sales guy looked at my phone and asked which model of Blackberry it was. I told him it was a Bold and he asked how come it was all sleek and black. I explained to him that I had put a custom bezel on it and he asked about where I got it from and how hard it was to put it on. I love any opportunity to geek out with someone else so I was happy to oblige.
I got the sim card (free- which was a change from the $25 I had to pay a few years ago for a replacement) and put it in my phone. Imagine my surprise when I finally got notice that my service books had been pushed to my phone. I got all my messages that I hadn't received all day and all seems to be well. In a way its not a huge shock, since I've had my sim card since I got my Treo 650 back in 2005 (I think) but on the other hand I thought that once a sim was shot all services would fail to work.
Either way, I'm glad to be up and running again, and that the fix was something simple and free.

Sent via BlackBerry Bold