Sunday, December 1, 2013

#BlackBerry10 restart/reboot

Since the release of #BlackBerry10 the need for reboots has become very few and far between. That being said, every so often your beautiful new BlackBerry may act strangely. On a couple of devices this is a no brainer, either hold down the power/sleep button and select reset, or just pull the battery. But with devices like the Q5 and Z30 a battery pull is not an option. Luckily there is another reset method that should be considered a "hard" or forced reboot. Its easy to do, just press and hold both the volume up and volume down keys for approximately 10 seconds. Your BlackBerry will reboot. This seems to solve some android runtime Internet connection issues, so it can be quite useful. 

Give it a try. You will also end up with a screen capture of whatever screen you're on (volume up and down keys = screen capture) which you can delete in the pictures app. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Home Automation and BlackBerry 10

One of the biggest things the mobile world complains about when it comes to BlackBerry is the apparent lack of apps. While we are still lacking support from some major apps, I'm always surprised when I find something even I thought we didn't have. A few weeks ago I purchased a Go Pro camera and was disappointed that there was no official app for #BlackBerry10. A quick search in BlackBerry World showed me a 3rd party app that works with my Go Pro. Awesome! 

Fast forward to my latest interesting project. I travel quite a bit with my family for dance (my two boys @MikeHydroflow & @Kevin_XS dance hip hop. Follow their BBM channel C00071CE3). Being gone so often has made me concerned for my house while I'm away. I have two security cameras already and recently purchased a NEST thermostat. I enjoyed the ability to connect with my house while away to make sure everything is good. 

While browsing the Internet I came across something called ZWave. This is basically a simple-to-install home automation system consisting of a controller (that connects to the internet) and light switches/dimmers.  The system allows for remote activation of lights and plug in devices via a Web portal or smartphone app. I purchased a Micasaverde Lite and several light switches and a DSC alarm interface. Setup of the Micasaverde was simple and easy. The actual devices should be installed by a licensed electrician (which I happen to be :-D). 
After the setup a quick scan of BlackBerry World found me an app called Home Buddy. This is an android port, but functions well and allows for basic remote functionality. I personally chose to sideload an app called AutHomation HD. This app is awesome and even has a #BlackBerry10 feel to it with sliding app menu panels.
The Micasaverde is a very robust unit with the ability to add apps to the controller. I was able to add a NEST app, can view my security system status and zone status c/w remote arm and disarm. It also accommodates ip security cameras (unfortunately not mine). I did find a vacation app for the Micasaverde that randomly turns lights off and on while you're away :-D 

There are other ZWave compatible devices as well. Locks, wireless alarm sensors and more.  The good news is if you have a PlayBook or a BlackBerry 10 device you can use these devices for home automation!

Want to see more about ZWave and Home Automation?  Check out this YouTube video

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Burden of Social Media

As a BlackBerry user we're identified by our connectivity. Even by the creators of our beloved devices we're called hyper-connected. The funny thing about the tech world is the ever evolving nature of what it is and how we use it. #BlackBerry10 has been very good at incorporating aspects of social media into the OS. This can be seen in the contacts apps, hub and even the calendar app. What I do find increasingly difficult is managing the output of information to all my social medias. 

Let me tell you a little bit more about myself.  I own my own business and have 7 employees. I do not use ANY social media for my work. 

I have two very talented children who dance hip hop. (shameless plug, follow them on Twitter @Kevin_XS & @MikeHydroflow and check their blog whom I brag about constantly on FaceBook and my personal twitter account (@MarkPPG). 

I also have a twitter account for my BlackBerry blog @AllAboutMyBB that I actively update. 

Add to that a Foursquare account and an Instagram account.  

Just the other day I created a BBM channel for my kids and their dance careers (C00071CE3)  That's 6 social media sites! Imagine how many more I'd have if I had a FaceBook and twitter for work. Or a FaceBook page and BBM channel for :s 

Now I know I'm an odd duck for someone my age (~mid 40's) having all these social media accounts, but young people have all these and more! (Think of how many I haven't mentioned yet)

Here's the problem. Trying to get information out is tedious. Let's share a YouTube video for example. From the browser I have to click share and then which social media site I wish to share it with. I can only do them one at a time.  This means up to 6 times, depending on which sites I want to share it with.  That's a lot of wasted time, and as we all know very well these days, time is precious. Sure this can be made slightly simpler with apps like Instagram where it can post to FaceBook and Twitter at the same time. But it can't share to a BBM channel or a BBM contact or group (because it's an Android port). I was using Scope app on my legacy BlackBerry device and tried sideloading it to my Z10 as well. But an Android port has limited sharing ability as well and I found that it was OK for my personal Twitter and FaceBook but nothing more.  

So what's the solution? I'm thinking an app similar to the legacy devices Social feeds app. Where from anywhere on the device I can select share to social feeds and then choose which of my social media I want to share to. 

I honestly feel this will directly impact how quickly BBM channels is adopted. If it just becomes one more place to post stuff AND can't be done simultaneously with other social media from my BlackBerry, I'm going to struggle to update it. 

What do by our think? Am I just being picky? Should I just cut down on the number of social media accounts I have? Or am I on to something? Sound off in the comments or tweet me your opinion. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Hiding pictures and videos on BlackBerry 10

A very long time ago I wrote an article on how to hide certain private files, pictures and videos on the legacy BlackBerry devices. One of the first things people discover when upgrading to #BlackBerry10 is that these files are no longer hidden and show up in the pictures app and video app. The good news is there is an easy fix! Built in to #BlackBerry10 is a file manager app that can zip and unzip files quickly and easily.

Here's how to do it:

 Open the file manager app. Navigate to the folder where the files you want to hide are located. You can switch between the device memory and your SD card using the icon in the bottom left corner. Once you locate the files, long press on one of the files. The menu will slide out from the right hand side. Click the check mark (to select more).
After you have selected all the files you wish to hide click the zip button. This will create a zip file. The files will no longer show up in any  media apps. In order to find them again, just use file manager to navigate to the zip file and click on it. You can preview the files without having to unzip them.

That's it!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Back in Black! (BlackBerry By Choice Part II)

Back last September I asked a good friend of mine (long time BlackBerry user who switched) to leave her iPhone4s behind and attempt to use a BlackBerry Bold 9900.  Read about it here.

Needless to say the experiment failed, as I had anticipated it would.  I was questioned by people asking why I didn't wait for BlackBerry 10 to arrive BEFORE asking her to come back to #TeamBlackBerry. It was quite simply a matter of opportunity.  I had a spare 9900 lying around, and she was getting tired of typing on her iPhone :-)

Now here we are again!  BlackBerry 10 is here and guess what?  She's trying again!  A brand new shiny Z10 is all set up and delivered to her.  I think this time around things will be better.  We now have BlackBerry Link to sync her iTunes quickly and easily, and the form factor of the Z10 is very similar to the iPhone4s.  To me it is a much more equal comparison this time around.  There are also lots of games in BlackBerry World for her to entertain her child.

Will she stay this time around?  Or will she once again go running back to the dark side?  Time will tell.  I know I will enjoy having her back on BBM, if only for another couple of months :-)

Stay tuned!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Butt dialing with your Z10 (and save battery life too)

 I was speaking to a client the other day who had just upgraded from his old BlackBerry 9000 to a brand new Z10. I was asking how he liked it and one of his "complaints" (aside from getting used to OS 10) was that he keeps butt dialing people. Now me, having used a holster (yes uncool) for my entire BlackBerry life have never ever butt dialed anyone. When I asked if he used a case or holster he quickly replied no. So basically he was placing the device in his pocket, and the movement in his pocket would unlock the device and dial the phone.

Here's how I solved his problem. BlackBerry 10 has a unique swipe to unlock feature that I personally really like. But it can be turned off, allowing unlocking of the device using ONLY the top power button. To do this, swipe down the main settings screen. Tap display and the toggle off "Allow gestures when Locked".

 That's it! I have read some people mentioning that this will also help battery life a bit too. Let us know in the comments if it works out for you.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Help! BBID is a email

With BlackBerry 10 releasing on the masses, some users (including myself) have a small issue.  Our BBID email address was an address.  The loss of the BIS means those email address' are no longer functional.  luckily the fix is quick and painless. Just click on the link below and log in using your existing BBID. Once logged in, go to edit and replace your existing email address with any new email address. Click save and you're all done. You will receive a confirmation email to your new BBID email address.

That's it! Enjoy your new BlackBerry 10device!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I'm stuck in a contract, but want BlackBerry 10!

With #BB10 right around the corner there is a lot of buzz happening right now for #TeamBlackBerry. Twitter is on fire with posts from Bloggers, analysts and fans alike. All proclaiming how wonderful BlackBerry 10 will be. While we have no doubt it will be great, #TeamBlackBerry has been waiting a long LONG time. Most of us hard core fans knew it was coming and saved out contract renewal for the launch of #BB10. (right?)

But what about those people who didn't know BlackBerry 10 was coming? Or those that got fed up and left #TeamBlackBerry? They have more than likely signed a new contract and are now locked in for another year or two. Even worse, what if you're a techno geek and strayed away temporarily but want to come back now that BlackBerry 10 is here. We'll we did some snooping around on Kijiji to see what some of the newer, more popular devices were selling for. Here's what we found:

Samsung Galaxy III seems to sell around $500
Samsung Note II seems to sell around $600
iPhone 4 is approximately  $250
iPhone 4s is approximately  $400
iPhone 5 is approximately $600

So where does that leave the BlackBerry die hards? Well the new #BB10 devices will likely come out at around the $700-800 (without any carrier subsidies). That will leave you with a few hundred dollars to pay if you choose to upgrade. This means purchasing an unlocked device from a retail outlet (unless RIM plans to sell them outright on the BlackBerry site.) Keep in mind also that you may be able to "influence" your carrier to help you switch back to BlackBerry. Sometimes it takes some effort (i.e. complaining), but I've seen miraculous things happen when you push a bit :-D

So in the end it will come down to your own personal situation. You may be 2 years in to your 3 year contract and a small payment may allow you to upgrade again. Just as every contract is slightly different, so is every carrier. Call 611 and see what they have to say!

#TeamBlackBerry would love to have you back!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

BlackBerry Elite and BB10 Launching!

Hello #TeamBlackBerry!!!

It's been a while since my last post and thought I'd mention some new stuff that's going on.

I was given the privilege and honour of being asked to join a group of people that RIM is referring to as the BlackBerry Elite.  These people are the hardest of the hard core fan(atics) like me.  While details of what this group will get or be invited to are still secretive, I was asked to head out to Waterloo to get a first hand glimpse of BB10!  Myself and about 20 others were brought to RIM and met with lots of VERY cool and VERY excited people.  We spent the day talking about BB10 and apps and anything else BlackBerry related.  Imagine... a whole day!  One thing we all came away with from this day is that RIM has changed.  There is a new sense of excitement and feeling of pride.  This isn't the RIM of old.  They WANT IT! They BELIEVE IT!  It's a very exciting time for all of #TeamBlackBerry.

Part of our day involved Thorsten Heinz actually coming in and speaking with us!  He spent about 45 minutes with us and we all got to take a picture with him! (He loved my shirt!)

After spending a day at RIM a few of us were asked to offer our thoughts on BlackBerry 10.  Little did we know we would end up in a video posted on the BlackBerry Blog site!

With the launch of BlackBerry 10 just around the corner, I'm super excited to be attending the launch party in Toronto!  Once BlackBerry 10 is released expect some new how-to articles!

2013 is the year of RIM!!! #BB10Believe