Posts tagged: RIM

Get used to buggy phones?

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By , January 28, 2009 2:55 pm

Mr. Balsillie said such scrambles [to get the Storm out for Black Friday]– and the subsequent software glitches that need to be fixed — are part of the “new reality” of making complex cellphones in large volumes (WSJ).

For some reason, I don’t think this is really the case – I can certainly accept that frequent updates are going to be the new reality (having updated my mom’s phone over the break), but buggy stuff that wasn’t ready for prime time? I really hope that people don’t let companies get away with this. I know the Bold was delayed several times and I’m pretty sure the iPhone was padded to be released with usable software – but it seems that the handset makers have learned little from the desktop/laptop world – if you rush something to meet a deadline, more often than not, you are going to ship sh1t.

Consumers might be able to deal with this a little bit more if they were not shackled to certain releases of the OS sanctioned by the network that they are on (really… if I take a phone with a higher OS than what is sanctioned onto a network… it still works). Apple was able to do this as they control the version of the iPhone software that is used on all their devices, but RIM et. al. are all still bound to what the networks allow. If consumers could go to the handset maker directly for the software updates (I think non smart phones work this way), this new reality might be easier to take – but with both the network and the handset maker between the user and usability… I don’t think Mr. B’s “new reality” is going to come to fruition.

Waterloo to be Hawking’s “Second Research Home”

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By , November 27, 2008 5:42 pm

Earlier this year, the rumour mill was buzzing that Hawking would be heading to Canada to be part of the Perimeter Institute. Well today we found out more details behind that.

According to Hawking:

”I am honoured to accept the first Distinguished Research Chair at the Perimeter Institute,” Prof. Hawking said in a statement released Thursday. ”The Institute’s twin focus, on quantum theory and gravity, is very close to my heart and central to explaining the origin of the Universe.”

With tongue firmly in cheek, I just have to say that at least there is some distance between Waterloo and Toronto – otherwise, this might have given TO a boost to the “center of the Universe” ego. But this is certainly going to be a boost to Canadian science.

Throwing around Bricks… in the dark… are there any glass houses?

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By , October 15, 2008 1:49 pm

Ok, hang on ’cause this is going to be a dozy of a walk through my brain on mLearning, small chunk content and reading all churned up through what was the most annoying day of the year that came on me yesterday.

As I started the day, I was getting ready to update my Bold to the newest version of RIM’s official release for Rogers… not Roger’s official release of the BB 4.6 OS. Confused? So apparently was one of the CSRs who I called into for help after the first try at updating my device bricked my phone with a “507 No OS” error. Apparently this can be caused by having more than one handset version installed on the updating system. Lucky for me the solution was fairly simple as I knew where the temp files were all going to land so I was able to recover from the automatic backup that the process does after simply doing an “Add/Remove” from my desktop manager. So this got me thinking – if smartphones are going to take off anywhere, to say nothing of classrooms, would it not be nice if the hardware people and the network people agreed on what was “official”? But beyond that, there needs to be a way to ensure that updates can be done easily by lay people. Sure, enterprise has systems that will remotely update and otherwise maintain handhelds, but the average joe (six pack/wine box or otherwise) doesn’t have this available to them – or do they? This may be the one advantage that Google and Apple have as they seem to have as they are newcomers to the mobile market and don’t have any “legacy controls” imposed on them by the networks – something that I would have thought RIM would have been able to break free of by now. But moving on from there, I kept thinking about how, if a school got past the niceties of updates, how would they make use of mLearning for their students?

Well it would likely be expensive to set up their own CSC (common short code) and content server system, so they would likely defer to what was “publiclly” available. Making resources for Google or other SMS accessible services seems to be a much more managable task. But then, if they go this way, they land in the same puddle that sees online content move and shift (even for this post, I’ve linked to a Google Cache version of a page) or even evaporate, and they are again tied to the wireless providers (a theme?) who may all of the sudden decide to up the delivery rates for mobile terminated messages like Verizon has suggested (and if history is any teacher, suggests that other providers will also do).

Believing that there is indeed some good in the world (hard after being attacked – rammed from behind – by another driver last night), one would hope that for the suggestion makes it no further than a suggestion on the board room table, or if it does arrive it is only for the services that you have to pay to send to first. This way Google’s services could remain free (and you know Google can’t really afford to pay anyway ;)) and schools (and others) could continue to get to the information that they want and or need (or think that they want/need). This idea cut through the haze of yesterday to clarify itself somewhat as a thought that mLearning might best be characterized not by the device that facilitates it, but rather by the types and timing of questions and answers that can be expected by a competent student. Such a student would be able to quickly identify the type of question that they would need to ask and then be able to ask a service to deliver a response that fills in the knowledge gap in the fewest attempts. For example – you are on a field trip and a student falls and is injured, what without escalating to 911, what is the best way to deal with what happened? Call information (411) for a telehealth line and then talk to the nurse to get through how to treat the injury. This might be trivial, but this is the sort of thing that I think mLearning will be about – it will be on site learning that is very contextual, it may/should be based on the idea that there are other people who know the answers can deliver information better than static content delivered without context or a filter as is often the case with regular eLearning resources. These regular eLearning resources, delivered over broadband, are certainly effective as students can “carpet bomb” searches to find what they believe to be an answer. Eventually over 3/4G networks, handsets may allow the same manner of “carpet bombing searches”, but until that day the short and to-the-point question and answer will likely rule the roost on mobile, Google certainly hopes it will be.

But wait – when you drop your penny into the big G, it isn’t a person that replies, it is a machine – so what is with the idea that I started with about a person being able to answer? Well that leaves us to the now increasingly spotlighted microblogging services like Twitter. Knocked for not having a “grand narrative”, one can look at services like Twitter as providing a direct link to an expert, or within a few friends link to one directly. Or, if you just want to “listen” to the twittering of a mass of interested individuals, you can see a “grand narrative” emerge from the myriad of points ala pointillism. This seems to have certainly been happening with the Canadian and US elections. A question gets dropped into the twitterverse and if the tweeple out there decide it is worthy of an answer, it may be answered generally for the good of the ‘verse or directly. And it seems that Twitter and its kin are certainly optimised for the mLearning idea.

Ok, so we’ve got a shiny solution that can be projected from the barrel of a launch system right? Not quite… people are then going to complain that “googling” is in fact making people dumber (really? Also fits with the mLearning idea from before), or smarter (again) and that reading is/is not the same (or just different) when done online or offline. But I’m not going to go there… not now at least.

One month with the Bold

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By , September 26, 2008 8:21 am

Well, one month ago, I got the newest ‘berry and after making sure that UPS would keep it at the depot so I could pick it up in the morning before I came into work, I posted a quick “first impression”. Now one month later it seems right to update the impression into a review of the pros and cons of the device.

First the cons:

  1. The convienience key that is det by default to voice dialling is way too sensiitive
  2. If you get trapped in Voice Dialing, you may have to do a hard reset to get the device running again
  3. On occasion, the device will seemingly run out of memory and you’ll get the “Propeller of Pain”, requiring another hard reset (pull the battery while the device is powered on fyi)
  4. There is a relatively small attachment size limit (about 2mb) for emailing, making it difficult to send videos longer than 30 seconds over email

The pros:

  1. Fast, fast, fast – browser is fast, bluetooth is fast, email is fast, OS (save the PoP) is fast
  2. Great screen and speakers, making it a handy little piece of kit to show off some videos or songs for the family
  3. Captures video
  4. Decent size overall
  5. Speedy keyboard
  6. Good battery life (I can get 2 days of my mid level use – 30 messages in/20 out, 20 min gaming, 20 min calling 20 min browsing – with one charge, though I haven’t left it overnight and now the battery seems to have been well conditioned so I’m getting better times)
  7. OTA installs for a decent number of apps
  8. System wide copy/paste
  9. GPS is fast and accurate

So with these two quickly done lists, I think I have made the right choice over the iPhone – though I wish I had a nickle for everyone who says… Blackberry? I thought you would be an iPhone guy! I was originally worried that I would not have very many apps to choose from, but it seems that with the arrival of the Curve just over a year ago, the development community for the BB OS has started to grow quite a bit and I have a number of free apps that have made my device suit just about all my needs. And that last point seems to be what differentiates the ‘berry and the iPhone for me. The ‘berry is a true communication tool – you can find me on just about any Messenger (other than AIM, which seems to be network restricted) and over Mail and Facebook with ease and I can contact others the same way. Of the iPhone users that I know, most are using their device for games and surfing, even though the device is also capable of the same connectivity that the ‘berry is.

Incase you are wondering, here are the apps that I have installed (all free):

  • Facebook
  • Windows Messenger
  • Google Messenger
  • GPSed (GPS app)
  • Google Maps (w/ streetview)
  • Weathereye
  • Opera Mini (barely used now)
  • Twitterberry (largely as a backup to and slandr on the borwser)
  • gMail (to tidy up the mail box)
  • Jotspot (mo-blogging)
  • Flickr
  • Google Sync
  • VNC

RIM bring Blackberry tools to the Mac

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By , September 19, 2008 1:19 pm

I found this hunting for an update on the Missing Sync app that I use to keep my contacts up to date between my phone and main (nee work) computer. RIM is planning to bring native Mac tools to support the Blackberry in the first half of the new year. This is not official, but if/when it comes to fruition, it will be a great day for Mac/Blackberry (Macberry?). With the exception of backup though, this might become a mute point as increasingly most of what people can do on the ‘berry is Over The Air (OTA), including OS updates.

July 29th for BB in Canada

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By , July 26, 2008 12:22 am

Well, maybe for a few lucky people. I called today and the phone people were just clueless. I don’t know, after the iPhone launch(s) it seems that every other device out there should launch in the same manner. Everyone should know the date at least – if not from the retailer, at least from the manufacturer. But if we are not so lucky, we might see it August 12th.

I’m staying BB

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By , July 21, 2008 2:45 pm

This weekend, after playing around with the idea of moving to the iPhone some more; I realized that with the touch, I’ve got all the iPhone goodness that I need and the BB provides me with what I really need – a rock solid and capable communications device – not a phone that plays some games for an hour or so. If I do some digging, I’m sure there are the same number of other productivity apps out there for the BB as there are showing up for the iPhone. The BB does afterall have a more bunsiness oriented pedigree.

Some of the points that preceeded the tipping point:

  • IMs – BB Messenger, Windows Live, gTalk… all at the same time (granted could have gone either way)
  • Poor battery life playing games on the touch – and really how often am I going to be playing “tilty/touchy” games when usually I’ll be passing time with Ka-Glomm or Poker while I wait for this or that
  • Remote and games work on the touch just as well as they do on the iPhone
  • SLOW 2.0 software – and it looks like I’m not the only one (Ars)

And then something about the BRG review hit me:

The iPhone 3G is a consumer device that happens to play nice with a lot of corporations, and we honestly think you won’t find many people dropping their BlackBerrys for an iPhone. They’ll carry both as long as they can afford it.

I already have all the functionality of the iPhone that I want with none of the cost, but with the added flexibility of being able “choose my poison”. If I was in a situation that required me to only carry one device, then I might still be in a pinch, but right now that is not the case. I’m able to carry both devices when I need to and more often than not I need a communicator more than a remote/handheld game ‘net device.

More on Blackberry Bold Pricing

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By , July 17, 2008 1:38 pm

Man, this blog is really turning into the “Summer of 3G phones” blog eh? But it looks like Rogers will be doing the $299 price that I predicted just over a week ago, according to another source.

Switching Fruit

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By , July 17, 2008 10:44 am

To add more information to the whole idea of jumping from one fruit to another, I found this article that talks about what one would gain (or lose) through the switch. Many of the points raised are important for me as well, but in the end – to I want a palmtop computer or an ubercommunications device? If the answer is the former – iPhone it is, the latter – BB. But I can certainly see the iPhone quickly getting the requisite Google Apps (gTalk, calendar sync et al) and other messenger apps to catch up to the Blackberry. THIS ISN’T GETTING EASIER!

But I still see myself sticking with the BB if only for copy paste and OTA sync with Google Calendar..

BGR – iPhone3G vs Blackberry Bold

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By , July 17, 2008 8:25 am

As I was browsing the virtual aisles of the the App store last night on the iPod touch, I caught myself thinking … maybe I could live with some of the shortfalls of the iPhone, and in reality, if I really want to be using the device that likely a majority of students on campus will have in some form, maybe that should be the upgrade path for me… then I broke out of this trance as I realised that I had been playing Mahjong (yes the company site is a Blogspot blog, but the app is free, so what do you expect?) (App Store) for maybe half an hour without blinking my eyes. But after that I was thinking about it again and I really don’t know why (my Pearl is kick’n along just fine), other than the fact that I could reduce my monthly bills and make up for the cost of the upgrade within probably 6 months. Other than a lack of C&P and no unified mailbox system (or from what I can tell multiple signatures) – the iPhone is really the device to beat. But then again, with an iPod touch, I have most of those features anyway right? Ah to be spoiled by choice.

Fast forward a bit to this morning, I find in my reader that Boy Genius has gone and compared the two devices and the result is that they basically come out in a tie. If you need more business oriented features like being able to edit MS Office docs and manhandle a mountain of email the plus goes to the Bold. If you need the consumer oriented features of being able to show pictures and videos more than needing to copy and paste the occasional bit of info between one app and the other, the game goes to the iPhone.  Dang it if this doesn’t make the choice harder… though maybe if I look ahead… the ability to show off photos and videos might really come in handy.

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