Archive for the ‘Mobile’ Category

It’s been about 6 months now since I ended my smart phone boycott and decided that it was time to jump back into a technology that I had found to be so painful a number of years ago. Just had to keep up with the times. My choices were limited by the fact that I live in, for whatever reason, about a one square block of limited cell phone access on all carriers. T-Mobile continues to offer their Hot Spot @ Home service which allows you to make and receive cell calls via the internet and, more importantly, essentially places a cell tower by my desk that is known as my modem. At the time, and maybe even now, the BlackBerry Curve 8900 was the only offering that would meet all of my needs.

The 8900 is a well built phone and I have come to become quite comfortable with it. It is not 3G and. even when hooked to Wi-Fi, web surfing is painfully slow. That being said, my main uses for this phone are email, text, and Twitter. Of course, you can’t have a phone like this without wanting to load some applications on it and, while the number of applications pales compared to the iPhone or Droid, what is available is adequate for my needs. I am not sure what is on your BlackBerry but, here is what is on mine (not including the standard preloaded BlackBerry apps like maps, messenger, etc.) :

SocialScope Lite: I have tried UberTwitter, looked at TwitterBerry, and loaded up Seesmic. Nothing has come close to SocialScope. Two twitter accounts, FaceBook, FourSquare, and Flickr all in one neat little package and with all the bell’s and whistles you could ask for. Go to their site and request a beta invite. I have seen those invitations arrive in a matter of hours but some folks are still waiting for theirs. Don’t ask me why but definitely worth the wait.

Google Sync: I had my 8900 for 5 months before I realized that it could sync with my Gmail contacts and calendar and it does so seamlessly. How could I have been so stupid.

Google Mobile: This is a nice app and it just got better. The voice search works surprisingly well. Now when you conduct a voice search it also checks your contact list and allows you to dial from Google Mobile. Sweet! The one problem that continues is that it does have a tendency after repeated use to freeze my BlackBerry like a solid block of ice. Bummer. See Quick Pull.

Bing Mobile: This app also has voice search that works well but it excels in finding local attractions like restaurants and movie times and locations.

Salesforce: Kind of clunky but it works well particularly for finding contacts. Does interface with your contact book and even SocialScope but you do need to select to send contacts to Salesforce manually. Not “typing them in” manually but rather a menu selection to “send to”.

Pandora: Super sweet internet based radio where you build your own radio stations. Free for up to 40 hours per month and available on the BlackBerry App World Store.

Beweather Lite: A nice little weather report that is available as a free version from the BlackBerry App World Store.

Quick Pull: I paid something like $2.00 for mine at a web site and now they have a free lite version at the BlackBerry App World Store. This does exactly the same thing as a battery pull reboot. My BlackBerry is encased in a bullet proof rubber shell and it takes a chainsaw to get the two sections apart. Before I found Quick Pull … let’s just say that it remains a miracle that I did not throw the 8900 down the insinkerator.

FaceBook: This comes standard with your BlackBerry and works surprisingly well.

Bolt Browser: Some folks swear by Opera Mini but that did not work for me. Bolt can be faster than your 8900′s resident browser, it displays pages nicely, and you can adjust the font size which is an absolute must for me since my reading vision is very poor. The home page is very nice with your history and your favorites clearly displayed. For whatever reason, it does struggle with video. Adjusting to a lower resolution has not solved this problem for me.

Dex: White and yellow pages on your BlackBerry. You just can’t have too many ways to look up somebody’s phone number.

Loopt: Location based Tweeting. Let’s face it, lot’s of tools are doing this now including SocialScope, UberTwitter, and many others. If not mistaken, Loopt is in a death match right now with the likes of Yelp and FourSquare. Not a huge draw for me but might be good if you live in a larger city and want to be able to hook up with others in your immediate area. Note: Any app that uses location based services (GPS) is a monstrous drain on your battery even when it is just running in the background i.e., it is not even open. Be sure to go to your options and either turn that off or have it set to run only when the app is open.

ESPN: Keep up with the latest sports news in a fast load format. A must when you have a browser that moves at the same pace as molasses in January in Siberia.

Engadget: Keep up on the latest gadget news. Available for free at the BlackBerry App World Store.

I am still anxiously awaiting two apps…… LinkedIn is at least a month behind on its introduction of a sweet app for the BlackBerry. Xobni, which is fabulous on Outlook, is also preparing to launch an app. Ultimately, at least for me, not having the choices available with the iPhone or Droid is a blessing rather than a curse. Those of us who have been cursed with the attention span of a three year old know exactly what I mean (smile).

Thanks for visiting!

Craig

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dub_tagline_smYesterday I received an @tweet from DubMeNow (Dub) suggesting I follow a link and check out their product. Having been married some 28 years now, I am properly trained to follow all commands so … I did (smile). Pretty sweet!

Dub is an electronic business card that is designed to work with your iPhone, BlackBerry, or Android phone. Setup is very easy and you can do this from either the website or from your phone. Your electronic profile can contain all of your pertinent contact information in addition to icon links to your various social networks including Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn, and others. Oddly, I could not figure out how to add those networks from the web interface but did so easily from my phone.

You now have the ability to send your electronic business card via email, sms, or to a specific “dub id” which is a nickname that you assign yourself and which is unique in the Dub network. It gets better. If you are right next to the person and you are both on the Dub network, you can exchange your information electronically. Kickin’ it old school like with my Palm 3C (smile). The card that is sent out is quite polished and looks like this screen shot taken from an actual email …

Dub

It’s important to note that while the person receiving the card does not have to be on Dub to see it (the links on the card, incidentally, are all live and active), to download it to their address book  they will need to create a Dub card of their own and a link is there to take them to do that. Doing so does have a number of benefits one of which is, once connected via Dub, if either of us were to update our contact information, that information is automatically updated to our network’s individual phone books.  If your recipient does not choose to create a Dub card of their own, they will receive one email reminder only approximately one week later.

Information exchanged was also automatically added to my BlackBerry contact book. They tell me that any changes made by my Dub contacts will also be automatically updated to this file. When an email is received on my BlackBerry, I can choose to send that contact a business card with one click. I can also scroll through my address book and easily choose to send individual contacts my business card. You can upload your Gmail, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Outlook, and other contact books to Dub and have it send your card to those you select from each list. Dub also has the ability to sync with SalesForce.com and Oracle.

Dub additionally has integrated the ability to send invitations to connect on LinkedIn and does so as a LinkedIn approved add-on. And finally, if you wish, it will even send out a Tweet when you and another person exchange Dub cards. Kind of like a wedding announcement (smile). So, take a look and see what you think. I have suggested that it would be uber cool if they came up with an email signature tool like the WiseStamp add-on for FireFox that works with Gmail. Or one for Outlook. How about a widget for my website? I have also requested that they use a fatter letter font at least on my BlackBerry. My eyes are old and don’t work so well anymore (smile).

Thanks for visiting!

Craig

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linkedin_mobileNo, this is not a BlackBerry to the left. It’s an iPhone displaying it’s LinkedIn application. If you have ever looked at this application on your BlackBerry, you likely did not look a second time. However, it’s been a big week for both of these corporate standards…….

LinkedIn: LinkedIn made several announcements this week. Their pages have gone through, may continue to be going through, a substantial redesign that places more emphasis on status updates. Can you say Twitter and FaceBook? Speaking of Twitter, you can now Tweet your status directly from LinkedIn. While this is kind of cool, I have been updating my status to LinkedIn via Ping.fm for some time now. You can also now “follow” others and, with the paid version, organize your profiles. I was at a seminar earlier this year and the presenter asked the question “How many of you have FaceBook set as your home page?”. A number of hands went up and I was frankly surprised. You actually conduct your day-to-day tasks with FaceBook being your focus? I do have to wonder how many hands would have gone up if that same question were asked about LinkedIn.

There was other big news from LinkedIn and this affects BlackBerry users. BlackBerrys like … mine. The new LinkedIn app is coming soon and it looks very much like the cool app already available for the iPhone. Read about it on the LinkedIn blog. Finally, LinkedIn has also introduced its Personal Plus paid accounts at $60 per year vs. the previously lowest price paid version of about $300 per year. Read about this on the WindMill Networking blog.

BlackBerry: Several addtional announcements were made by RIM this week including the introduction of the Storm II. As my service (T-Mobile) does not even offer the Storm I, this has little effect on me. Loopt came out with a new version of its geo location app for BlackBerry. I had installed this app a couple of weeks ago, pronounced it as being lame and a battery killer, and then was enticed to take another look. The interface has been vastly improved and I was advised by a friend, Dean Larson, to turn off the GPS when the application is not running to preserve battery power. Maybe I’m stupid but I had ass/u/med that if the application was not open, that it was not sucking juice. That would be wrrro, wrrroon, wrrroooong (smile).

Also coming soon is Xobni for the BlackBerry. I have Xobni in use with my Outlook account and just love it! Having it for my BlackBerry? Sweet! If you go to the Xobni site there is a spot where you can sign up to be notified as soon as this app becomes available.

So, it’s been a pretty exciting week for those of us who don’t have all of the coolest toys on the planet. At least we have not yet been sent to the Island of Misfit Toys but we have been close to getting our tickets (smile). This is the best thing about competition. Both LinkedIn and BlackBerry have great products that have been around a long time. Kind of like Oldsmobile. O.K., bad reference (smile). The point is that both seem to have recognized that in order to maintain their individual relevance, they need to step up their game.

Thanks for visiting!

Craig

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socialscope-logoI realize that there are a lot of very cool apps available for the iPhone including Twitter apps like TweetDeck. For we BlackBerry users …. it always seems that what we are offered is second best. However, and you can take this to the bank, SocialScope as a Twitter client for your BlackBerry is H.O.T.! Let’s examine some of the key features.

Twitter and FaceBook updates: And all from one screen with the ability to update simultaneously.

A Beautiful User Interface: It just looks cool.

Tabs on Top: Tweets, @ Mentions, Direct Messages, FaceBook, and All Tweets and FaceBook. There is a little red star that appears on each tab where there are unread messages.

BlackBerry Shortcuts Work: “C” for compose or “R” for reply etc.

Spell Check

Notifications: A yellow icon appears at the top of your BlackBerry home page if you have a direct or @ message waiting.

Easy identification of your messages: Messages that you have sent appear with your photo/gravatar on the right hand of the screen vs. the left for everybody else.

Attach a Tweeter’s Account and Stream to your BlackBerry Contacts: Sweet!

Send Web Page link directly to SocialScope: A Tweet is opened automatically along with a bit.ly shortened URL

Displays photos beautifully: including those in FaceBook updates

Displays conversation thread on Direct Messages

All the miscellaneous functions: ReTweet, Replay, Follow, UnFollow, Block, Group, Favorite

A fabulous Search Tool

If you have not checked Tweet for awhile: You will not have to scroll through pages and pages of updates to get back up to the top of the page.

I have to say that there is nothing about this tool that I do not love. From what I can tell, battery usage is good. I looked at TwitterBerry and did not like the interface. UberTwitter was o.k. but had some annoying features. A friend is using TweetCaster and loves it but, once I got on SocialScope, I saw no need to look further. There is one catch and it does not seem to be a big one. Right now, when you go to the SocialScope site, you must request an invitation as it is in a private beta mode. I got mine in less than 12 hours as did another friend. They must not be that discriminating (smile). So go there, get your invitation, and get you some (smile).

WordPress Update: WordPress has introduced a new spell checker. I will say that it is better than the previous one. Now it recognizes “WordPress” and “blog” as being actual words (smile). There are still a number of terms, app names, and phrases used in social media that it does not recognize like “gravatar”. For whatever reason it also has trouble with app names that combine two words together and separate them via a capital letter like “FaceBook”. It does not like the spelling but Zemanta finds the link and spelled in the exact same fashion. I know that keeping up with all these names and updating a dictionary would be a full time job. The simple solution would be to allow the option to add it to your dictionary. However, I am guessing that there is no way to do that on a muti-user WordPress.com plaform.

Thanks for visiting!

Craig

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Aviary na4-salesforce-com Picture 1 The picture to your left is not from my BlackBerry screen however, if I am going to integrate my handheld with my desktop, this is what I will be working with at my desk.

While I am pleased to say that I finally have my BlackBerry dialed in where it is working correctly and consistently, what good is it having a BlackBerry if you can’t even get to your contacts? I’ve been struggling with how best to accomplish that task. And, it seemed complicated as my only option appeared to be to sync with Outlook and I have had some bad experiences with syncing in the past. As far as that goes, I use Outlook for only 1/2 of the businesses that I am involved in and my focus is moving more and more toward NetWorks! Boise and my parent entity, Sales Results LLC. Then it struck me. I am incredibly stupid. You don’t have to worry about syncing if you are using a web based “SaaS” app and I already have one … SalesForce.com.

I have had SalesForce for some time now but  have never been able to keep up with the commitment to use it full time. It’s just easier to use Gmail for correspondence. My bad. SalesForce will integrate with Gmail if you have Google Apps, and I added Apps for this purpose, but I still do not like this particular interface. If you want to attach an email to a record, and you are using Gmail, you need to BCC to SalesForce in order to accomplish that goal. Not that big of a deal but it is an additional step. If an email comes to your inbox and you also want to attach that to a record, forward that email to the SalesForce BCC address. In all fairness, you can use SalesForce directly to email out without having to go through the Gmail interface.

So, yesterday it occurred to me that SalesForce likely offers a mobile application interface for the BlackBerry. They do. Actually they have a fully featured paid version and a  free “Lite” version so I downloaded the free one. It’s far from a beautiful app. O.K., it’s downright “clunky”, but it works. I can go on-line and bring up all my contacts, call them from my BlackBerry without the need to dial the number, or send them an email. I was kind of disappointed to learn that I still needed to use the BCC command but I am not fully convinced that this is the final statement regarding this matter. (more…)