Sunday, September 23, 2012

BlackBerry By Choice - Test

As faithful members of #TeamBlackBerry, we know that one of the most difficult things to deal with lately is loosing a friend to another platform. We've all gone though it, and lately it seems to be getting worse. With the most recent BlackBerry Bold being a year old now and new phones like the iPhone5 and Samsung Galaxy III offering some pretty enticing screens/features its almost to be expected to see your BBM contacts dropping like flies.

But what about the people who NEED a physical keyboard? Surely they still exist right? There must be people who have left #TeamBlackBerry for a full touch device and don't like it? Right? The big problem is carrier contracts. If you want a good deal on your new phone you have to sign a 2-3 year contract. So basically you're stuck with what ever device you choose for a long time.

This brings me to today's post. What if you could switch back to #TeamBlackBerry for free for a 3 month trial? Would you try? Would you like it or hate it?

Last Christmas one of my dear friends who had been #TeamBlackBerry for years, bought matching iPhone 4s for her husband and herself. I'm not sure who was more upset, me hearing those words, or her having to say them to my face. Since leaving she has somewhat struggled with the virtual keyboard (me making fun of it along the way). While she likes the iOS platform, she misses things about her old BlackBerry 9700. Especially the keyboard, and BBM. She also pointed out that she found she was less "social" on iOS.  Enter the number one #TeamBlackBerry fanboy with a mischievous plan. I have setup a new BlackBerry Bold 9900 for her to use for 3 months. Her iPhone will be set aside for now. Being a full-time sales manager and running a small business in the evenings will she find that the BlackBerry helps her get things done? Does action really have a symbol? Do I really want to know the answer?

Will she stay? Will she go running back to her iPhone in a heartbeat? Stay tuned to see!

(you may be wondering why now? Why with a 9900? Why not wait till BB10? The answer is simple...because I have a spare 9900 and BB10 is still 3 months away. If all goes well, she will choose to stay #TeamBlackBerry and we can get her right on to a QWERTY BB10 device!)


Update:  After 2 months my friend has decided to go back to her iPhone again.  I'm I surprised?  Not really.  Disappointed?  Absolutely!  I asked her if she would mind telling me the reasons she was going back.  here is what she wrote:

"I first want to thank you for the opportunity to go back and try the blackberry Bold 9900. My old Blackberry did not have a touch screen so I was excited to have the opportunity to try out the phone. The best way I can tell you about my experience is to let you know the positives an negatives I found with each phone and then what ultimately made me decide.
Easy to navigate Social Media
Easy to download music to my Itunes Account
Larger selection of applications
Applications have better graphics (this is important to a 5 year old)
Camera is easier to work with and I like the ability to see the picture you are taking
Internet is closer to a computer format and easier to navigate
No Keyboard
Touch key board is harder to work and I often make mistakes
The auto correct does not work well for me
Emails are sometimes harder to view
I loved my keyboard
I liked the light that indicates you have a message
I loved BBM and keeping up to date with friends beyond social media
I like the weight and size of the blackberry
The layout of an email is easy to read
The phone would often freeze
For the first part of my trial I could not open instagram pictures (since has been fixed)
I am not sure how to download music on this phone
I found I still needed to carry my Iphone
I find social media difficult to navigate through
The ultimate decision came from carrying two phones. I often would forget to charge my iphone and go to teach and have no music and scramble to get the phone charged. I would be in the middle of teaching and need a song only to find no way to download it. I also use the iphone at times to entertain my 5 year old son when I was in a sto e. The BlackBerry games were not as user friendly for him. I am sad to leave BlackBerry as I do believe in the brand. I hear good things for the future of the product through Mark. I will always keep an open mind but for to day I need to return to the product that works for my current lifestyle."
The good thing? All that she complained about a BlackBerry is fixed with BB10!  I will get her back again! 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Project: PlayBook in a car

If you follow me on Twitter you've probably read about my latest project.  Being a big #TeamBlackBerry guy AND a car guy brought my worlds together for the first time.  My car, a 1992 Plymouth Laser RS- AWD (think Eagle Talon/Mitsubishi Eclipse) has been a hobby of mine since new.  Over my 20+ years of ownership the car has been transformed from a stock car to a highly modified street car.  Friends know there is little left on the car that has NOT been modified in one way or another.  One of my pet projects years ago was to install a computer in my car.  This was way before we had mobile media devices and was at the very beginning of the MP3 movement.  I dissembled an old computer (P200mmx) and installed the pieces in the car.  I used a small screen in the dash where the radio used to be and installed a smaller head unit in the A/C vent.  It worked well for music, Nav and even movies.  Years later I redesigned the entire computer system and used a more up to date 1MHz computer and a small touchscreen in the dash.  One day I was staring at my PlayBook and know it's about the perfect size for the car.  Hmmmm,  the wheels began to turn. 

Move forward to the new 4g LTE PlayBook and some spare time with the car :-)  I have created a mount using the stock radio trim.  This mount allows the PlayBook to be inserted/removed and allows for the audio jack to be connected.  I've installed a few apps that are automotive related including a couple of navigation apps.  Future plans might involve a BlackBerry Music Gateway and a power source (currently no charger for the PlayBook).  Watch the video below and get a bonus tour of the car itself :-)

Here is my inspiration.  This is the QNX Jeep with a beautiful touchscreen interface...looks strikingly similar to a PlayBook doesn't it?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Harness the power!

These days it almost seems like using a BlackBerry is taboo.  It somehow seems similar to being the kid who is always picked last for games in grade school (I know, because I was that kid). Rewind 5 years and it wasn't like that at all, using a BlackBerry was cool and even prestigious.
One thing that can be said about #TeamBlackBerry is that we have some of THE most loyal and inventive members in the mobile world! One of the things I think RIM needs to do more of is to use these members to help improve and enlighten #TeamBlackBerry and the BlackBerry experience. Originally, that was the intent of my blog. Teach people things about BlackBerry and how powerful they really are. I do see RIM starting to embrace their fan base a bit more lately.  Recent interviews with Kevin from Crackberry and the CEO and CMO of RIM are proof of this.  But I think we need to take it to the next level.

#TeamBlackBerry members are a smart and resourseful group. When BlackBerry first released the original Storm series of phones, the OS was pretty rough. #TeamBlackBerry, never one to wait for an official OS release (or a leaked OS) invented the "hybrid" OS. Hybrids were basically files taken from other BlackBerry OS' and patched together to create a better overall OS. These hybrids weren't just created by one person, they were made by many different people. Someone even went so far as to write software to allow you to make your own hybrid. This was totally independent of RIM and no one ever asked for payment for their work.

This isn't atypical of #TeamBlackBerry. Last year they also created an initiative to help the PlayBook sell better in retail stores This was in response to what most people felt was poor in store support by retailers.  It involved making sure demo mode was enabled, that the latest OS was installed etc.

There was also the issue of themes on OS 7. When the latest generation of devices were released with OS 7, #TeamBlackBerry was told that the new "liquid graphics" had broken the theme engine. #TeamBlackBerry and the dedicated group of theme developers didn't like that answer and decided to find a way. And find a way they did! Through a series of file renaming and other creative programing methods, a way was found. There are now countless OS 7 themes available, to this day however there is no official theme building software from RIM.

There are also some very creative members of #TeamBlackBerry who decided to show the world what they thought should be the evolution of BlackBerry OS. They created OS 8 (prior to the announcement of BlackBerry 10) and posted it for the world to see.

Now we have several members who have created designs for the newest BlackBerry 10 platform phones. There are a few available online to see. Here is the latest example.

So where am I going with all this? My point is simple. RIM needs to find a way to use people like these to their advantage. How? I'm not entirely sure. How about creating a geek squad of fanboys like me that could do in store demos of BlackBerry 10 phones. Give us a free phone before they are released, let us spend some time and learn about them, then turn us loose. It would be a win win situation. The talent pool of developers should be utilized as well. Somehow. Some way.  What if certain apps were developed and if well received, RIM purchased them and integrated them to become core apps?  I'm sure app development is costly for RIM, so why not purchase the whole app?  I would actually love to see RIM do this with Poynt.

How do you think RIM can Harness the power?

Leave your ideas in the comments, I'd love to hear them!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Have your BlackBerry save your voicemail password

Here is a quick little tip for those of you with a voicemail package on your BlackBerry.  Some people are unaware that their BlackBerry smartphone can remember their voicemail password.  This makes for much quicker and simpler process than having to enter your password each time you dial into your voicemail.  The process is similar on all OS from 5 and up.  (Shown here is my OS 7.1)

Here is how to do it:

Go to the phone app (you can do this by pressing the green phone button or by locating the phone icon on your desktop). Once in the phone app, press the menu button and select options.

Now from the list select Voicemail (change voicemail credentials).  You should see two areas to enter information. The upper is the actual phone number your BlackBerry calls to check your voicemail (so don't change it!). The second is the password. Just enter your voicemail password here.  
Now press the menu button again, select save and you are done!

Test it by holding down the Q or 1 key (you did know you could do that right?)  

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

BlackBerry Fan Of The Month for May 2012!!!

I have been named BlackBerry Fan Of The Month ( #BlackBerryFOTM ) for the month of May!  I received an email a few weeks back from RIM asking me if I would accept this award (duh!).  I was interviewed via telephone and asked a whole bunch of questions.  I spent almost an hour talking with the marketing reps, and could have talked longer!  I'm sure they thought I was crazy!  It truly is an honour (yes I AM Canadian) to be nominated for this award.  Anyone who has met me knows what a true #TeamBlackBerry fan I am, and this title just seems to fit :-)

BTW I still have a few #TeamBlackBerry T-shirts left if you wish to purchase one.  DM and we'll talk.

You can read the BlackBerry Fan Of The Month page Here and the Facebook page Here

Monday, April 23, 2012

Adding a text message contact to BBM

#TeamBlackBerry doesn't like texting. We prefer BBM plain and simple. We harass our friends on Android and iOS for their lack of BBM and what a pain it is to text them. On a BlackBerry, sending a text message is a tad time consuming. You have to open the messages or SMS folder, click compose and then select the contact, and then the phone number you wish to text (if there is more than one number listed for that contact).

In the recent releases of BBM you have been able to add text message contacts into BBM. Unfortunately it doesn't offer any of the perks of BBM, but it does put your SMS contacts inside BBM for quick access.

Here's how to do it:

Open BBM, press the menu button and select options. Scroll down to the bottom under miscellaneous and check the box marked show text messaging from contacts linked with BlackBerry contacts. Now press the escape arrow (back key) and select save when promoted.

Now press the menu button and select add contact (or click the + on touchscreen devices). Then down at the bottom click invite text messaging contact.

In the number field you can enter the phone number , or start typing the contacts name (if they are already in your address book).

If you manually entered a phone number, add a name (and category if applicable). 

If you chose a contact from it address book, simply select the phone number you wish to text to. Now click add contact.

That's it! Your text messaging contact. will now appear in BBM. Please note that your text messages will still appear in your messages/SMS folder aswell.