Friday, May 29, 2009

Viigo on BlackBerry ... how I get my information on the fly

One thing I really enjoy about owning a BlackBerry, is I can do most things on the fly. As long as I have phone signal, I am a happy camper.



I also enjoy simply staying up to date, whether it's emails, twitter, or the like, but how do I stay up to date with news, social events or get my dose of my favourite subject... BlackBerry devices and applications?



Simple, I use Viigo. Viigo is probably, now the most widely used and recognised BlackBerry rss reader, and awesomely, it's free.



What I use Viigo for:

• Getting my current affairs, BlackBerry news, technology updates and more

• Getting my blog subscriptions right to my BlackBerry Bold

• Getting interesting, sometimes quirky commentary

• Keeping abreast of the weather in four different places



If I find any of my rss feeds interesting, I will post them to twitter (I am @TferThomas)... but how do I do that?



Within the Viigo alpha version I use, there is a twitter client, enabling me to tweet any of the rss feeds I receive. Viigo shortens the feed's url (similar to tinyurl.com or bit.lify) and places it ready to tweet. All you have to do is add your comments, if you want to, and then tweet! Simple.



I would be quite lost without Viigo or my BlackBerry Bold.



To get the latest Viigo application for BlackBerry, point your BlackBerry browser to http://GetViigo.com/alpha and enjoy.



Enjoy,



TferThomas

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The BlackBerry email itch... it's contagious

In your current group of friends and/or colleagues, how many are BlackBerry users? In my group, at really any given time, there is at least three BlackBerry users, and sometimes up to eight.



One of the BlackBerry claims to fame is the ability to remain in contact with your friends and colleagues, wherever you are (providing you have phone range of course). But it has a darker side... BlackBerry users are some of the most vigilant handset watchers out there!



Here's the test...



Next time you are with a group of BlackBerry users, have someone send you an email (or perhaps you get then constantly anyway), or tweet from twitter. When you receive the email (and for me, the only way you would know is the flashing LED light, as my emails and twitter applications do not have an alert), pull out your BlackBerry, open the email, read it and reply (or read the tweet, and then tweet a reply).



Now see what the others are doing...



Yep, that's right. Guaranteed, they all will have their own BlackBerry devices out, checking and/or reading the latest email/tweet... they could not simply help themselves, but to look at their own BlackBerry devices... the BlackBerry itch has struck again!



I have never seen a group of Nokia or iPhone users do a similar thing... it seems to be BlackBerry centric, and we just can't help ourselves.



The BlackBerry itch... it's contagious!



Until later,



TferThomas

Monday, May 25, 2009

Paying it forward...using twitter (it's happening right now)

So a small group of us went out to a movie on Saturday night (saw Angels & Demons) and after it we went to a little cafe for so delightful crepes and hot chocolate, where the conversation took an interesting turn... and I could pay it forward.

One of our friends (a small time film maker, embarking on a documentary) had enlisted the assistance of a prominent Australian muso, but had now lost contact with him, and could not get a further response.

I may have a solution, or at the very least, an avenue to pursue... from my BlackBerry Bold, I opened up SocialScope Lite and DM'd one of my good twitter friends, and asked if there was a way to contact the muso in question. Hey, it couldn't hurt, and I had a good feeling.

Within half an hour, the reply was back (received on the drive back to the CBD)... there were two ways contact could be made, both very successful in the past.

Our film maker now had a way to get the project back on track, all because of a social media network called twitter, my positive helpful friend on twitter, and my BlackBerry.

Where the story is at....

A draft email is currently being penned, which will be forwarded from our film maker friend, to my twitter friend, for forwarding to the muso, whose help with the project will greatly assist 1. the project but more importantly, 2. some needy individuals.

Don't underestimate the power of paying it forward.

I shall update this as the story unfolds.

Until later,

TferThomas

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Who uses BlackBerry Messenger?

Most BlackBerry users I come across don't use it, nor understand this brilliant little application, which comes standard with every BlackBerry device, and quite seriously, should be embraced by all BlackBerry users.



So allow me to expand on the BlackBerry Messenger...



Each BlackBerry comes with its own unique PIN (for yours go Options>Status>PIN) and the PIN is your identity for BlackBerry Messenger.



Like instant messaging, the BlackBerry Messenger relies on you sending an invitation to someone (you need their PIN or at least their email address initially) and they accepting it. Once "contacts" you can PIN Message each other, and again, like instant messaging, your conversation is shown, line by line, emoticon by emoticon. And yes, you can invite others to the conversation.



What does it cost? Absolutely nothing... free... nada... nothing! And it doesn't access your beloved data plan either.



But wait, there's more... there is even a social website set up primarily for BlackBerry PIN users ... http://pinswap.me . Check it out and say hi to Keston.



And for the record, my current BlackBerry Bold's PIN is 255B98A9 so feel free to add me.



Enjoy,



TferThomas

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Customising your BlackBerry's home screen: the icons

One of the many overlooked features of a BlackBerry, is the ability to customise the home screen.



Previously I explained how to change your home screen's wallpaper or picture. Now, let's talk about the icons, more specifically, moving them around to suit you!



Included in any new or newish BlackBerry are many icons, covering a wide range of applications. Some of these are already on your home screen, and you may not want access to these. Others, are stored/filed in a number of folders found on the home screen (eg. Applications, Instant Messaging, Games & Set Up), and you may want access to some of these. Any new applications you download on your BlackBerry (eg. SocialScope Lite , twitterberry, Viigo, yatca, SplashID, ActionPad, etc) will be initially placed into your Downloads folder, and no doubt, you will definitely want most of these on your home screen.



So how do you go about moving your icons to customise your home screen?



The pictures here (taken directly from my BlackBerry Bold using an application called SnapScreen) outline the full way of moving an icon, in this case SocialScope Lite.



A similar method is used to move an icon from a folder to the home screen, but instead of selecting "move", you simply select "move to folder", then select "home".



To hide an icon, highlight the icon, from the menu select "hide". To retrieve a hidden icon, from the home screen, using the menu option, select "show all", highlight the icon, using the menu option, uncheck 'hide", using the menu, uncheck "show all".



Now you have the ability to:

• Move an icon

• Move an icon from a folder to the home screen (and vice versa)

• Hide an icon (or retrieve a hidden icon)



Have fun.



TferThomas

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Customising your BlackBerry's home screen simply

So you have a have a BlackBerry, and so do your mates, and the home screens all sort of look the same. What can you do to make yours different / stand out?



Here's what you can do to make your BlackBerry "yours"...



• Go to Media

• Go into Pictures

• Find the picture you want to use

• Open the picture

• To make the picture correct for your home screen, use your BlackBerry Options key (left hand side of trackball) and go to Zoom

• Use Zoom to enlarge or make smaller the picture, as well move the picture around the screen

• Once satisfied, click BlackBerry Options key and scroll to Make Picture Home Screen Image



And then you are set.



Mine is here to show you it is a really simple and easy way to customise your BlackBerry.



Until later,



TferThomas

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Universal Keyboard (Blue Tooth)



The BlackBerry's qwerty keyboard is a big favourite of mine, and one feature that I really do enjoy (and whilst I have a BlackBerry Pearl with suretype, it's just not quite the same). I have mastered the art of BlackBerry thumbing (not typing), using my two thumbs to good effect. I can easily bash out an email, or tweet on twitter, but using the BlackBerry's keyboard, but when it comes time for ereally long emails, blogs etc, then the Universal Keyboard is a must have, in my books.
Connected to the BlackBerry via Blue tooth, just like any handsfree device, or external speakers can be, this keyboard gives you in short a larger keyboard from which a higher wpm rate can be achieved. It runs on 2 AAA batteries, and has a handy cradle in which to sit your BlackBerry in, using the BlackBerry's screen as you would normally.
An absolute boon to have blogging, over a cup of coffee anywhere. For more information, go along to http://www.freedominput.com/
Enjoy,
Thomas

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

BlackBerrys and battery life

For anyone who didn't know the BlackBerry has an almost unequalled ability to run multiple appplications in the background, meaning you can actually multitask on a BlackBerry (unlike other smart phones, which require you to close an application, prior to running another).

You can also run media in the background as well, and many a time have I had my tunes playing in the background whilst using twitter, reading my RSS feeds on Viigo, or even composing an email or text message.

There is a downside to this multitasking though.... it does put a strain on the normal battery. But I do have a couple of suggestions for you, plus the little gadget shown above.

Here are a couple of setting changes you can make which will improve battery life:
  • If you have Wi-Fi and don't use it regularly, switch it off
  • If you don't use BlueTooth, switch it off
  • Check any applications that auto refresh (twitterberry, Google, SocialScope, Viigo, yatca and similar), and only have the ones you need to auto refresh set that way... the other's switch to manual updates
  • If you are listening to music, when finished listening, turn the music off (otherwise it will run in the background and use battery power)
  • But the biggest killer of battery time is low reception levels. The BlackBerry will hunt for better signal strength, and therefore use more power.

If all else fails, and you don't want to lash out for another battery, there is a stop gap solution:

  • The Energizer portable charger

It takes 2 x AA batteries and has almost enough grunt to fully charge my BlackBerry Bold from almost empty to full, and has saved me at a number of airports over the past few months. and for Australian readers, Coles is currently selling these at AUD $15 (roughly half price).

I hope this helps out with prolonging your battery life on your BlackBerrys.

Enjoy,

TferThomas