Friday, January 07, 2005

What is on Emory's BlackBerry 7100t?: "

My sidearm in the trenches of e-triage is a T-Mobile BlackBerry 7100t. As you have probably seen, I've had my share of serious problems with T-Mobile USA, but slowly but surely shining enough lights on them is making them more accountable and I can see a light at the end of the tunnel for BlackBerry users on their network.

So this is a brief overview of what I keep on my BlackBerry and why, in an effort to help the new BlackBerry user know my BlackBerry workflow without using a BES, and without using a Windows PC (except for when I have to install packages).

Jason O'Grady has recently been covering some of his tips and tricks, and I recommend you read them as well. Part 1 is about his switch. Part II is about some software he's settled down with, and Part III is the wrap-up with some notes on accessories, caveats, and accessories.

First, the UI. T-Mobile's theme for the 7100 was quite possibly designed by war criminals. Certainly not UI experts. The icons are bad, the details are fuzzy and sometimes seem mis-matched, and the color scheme sucks. I changed over to the old-school Icon theme that just puts everything on one screen. That way I could hide unused icons like that stupid 'Download Fun!' one, and the 'Compose' shortcut. If I want to compose an email, I do it from Messages or from the Address Book.

I really like the Vodafone theme. You can find it online at BlackBerryForums along with instructions on how to install it. I really want a theme creation kit to make my own. I'm not a UI designer, but it's obvious that the person that did the T-Mobile theme isn't either.

Second, the email.

I don't use a BES on my 7100. I may come back at some point, but the reason I don't is because I have a BlackBerry from my employer and I like to keep things seperate. I may end up moving everything to the 7100t in the near future.

For tips on how I manage my email to the very best of my ability using the BlackBerry Web Client (BWC) read about it here on MobileWhack.

I use my 'virtual inbox' hack to quickly surf email that is specifically to me when time is scarce.

Third, the software. BlackBerry 3.8 (and 4.0) address most of my nags about the previous BlackBerry software releases when it comes to PIM functions. They support categories for items now, allowing you to quickly filter things. The Calendar application has a nice feel to it, and it is easier to reliably dial a number from an appointment detail, or navigate items therein.

Third-parties are really starting to ramp up support for the BlackBerry, which is a good thing. RIM lags behind everyone else on third-party application development, and they're trying hard to remedy that situation.

Currently my application stack is as follows:

BBToday | BBToday is a 'Today' screen for the BlackBerry. It is simple, clean, and nice. I hope for more improvements in the future to make it fancier, but to be honest its awfully good now. It is, certainly, a one-trick pony. But what a great trick! Your email total, your next appointment, and upcoming tasks, all right before your eyes. I don't know why RIM doesn't have something like this standard.

VeriChat | VeriChat is a multi-protocol IM client that sucks substancially less than the bundled T-Mobile client. It isn't perfect, but at least it lets you use 'Return' as a way to send a message, so that you're not constantly hitting the scroll wheel like a mental patient. While I admire T-Mobile for trying to get IM right, I have a whole rant about it on my homepage if anyone cares why I don't like it. VeriChat was just updated today to 1.47b, giving some UI enhancements. It is also faster. Thats right! Faster!

Berry 411 | Updated 1/4/2005! Berry 411 is an awesome utility that feeds the right query to Google and gets a nice and neat search result back to you for local shops, movie times, and price checks via Froogle. It is free. You are crazy to not install this.

midpSSH | This SSH client is more usable than puTTY on Series 60. Does SSH and Telnet from the 7100t to remote hosts. I have used it several times and liked it. I wish it had an easy buffer for text input instead of using the menu, however. Supports SSH1 and SSH2. Most MobileWhack readers probably know what SSH is.

eFile | eFile is a file manager. I don't know why I have it installed except that it has a PDF viewer, and I want to be able to read eBooks on my BlackBerry. I haven't really played with this much, though it has a Doc viewer and a Notepad-like program that seems pretty interesting, so I keep it around for those times when I have a few moments and want to fiddle with it.

Newsflash | Newsflash is an RSS reader. I paid money for it, and I'm sorry that I did.

Bloglines | Use Blogines Mobile to fix your need for feeds. It is fast, easy to use, and what I like to do is use the tag feature to save things I want to see again when I get back to a desk or my PowerBook. Makes idle time in line less idle, since you can catch up and anything really cool you need to examine more gets put somewhere you can easily get to later. | I really love using Plus, it is very accessible using the BlackBerry browser, and what I usually do is stuff anything I can't read now into a category called '!later' on, and then when I have that spare time I covet, I go through my !later file and remove, read, and re-categorize as I need to. Since you can get yourself an RSS feed of the !later file via Bloglines Mobile, that makes it even more accessible. The only thing missing is an elegant way to put things into for !later while I am on my BlackBerry. Not that you can't, it just isn't as simple using the 'Berry.

I carry a Gameboy Advance SP with me (and a copy of Final Fantasy 1 & 2!) so I don't usually install games on my mobile phones. There are some good ones out there for the BlackBerry, including a really interesting horse racing sim that has you buy, breed, and train horses and it really seemed awfully involved but certainly looked beautiful.

If you need more industrial-strength SSH because you're a professional sysadmin or regularly need bullet-proof access to machines, check out Idokorro SSH, which is expensive but much better than the free (but adequete for me) midpSSH.

Deaf or Hearing-Impaired users should check out PhoneWire, which coverts voicemail to text emails. See also: Dictomail.

BlackBerry Jedi Master Mark Rejhon maintains a thread about useful third-party applications for the BlackBerry on the BlackBerry Forums. He also has a wealth of information about using devices like the BlackBerry when you are hearing impaired.

He also rightly points out that most J2ME applications will work fine on the BlackBerry, such as those at j2me-software.

In the future I will give more details into how I manage my daily schedule and keep track of my life using the BlackBerry 7100. Any must-have applications on your BlackBerry that I didn't mention?

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(Via MobileWhack.)

What is on Emory's BlackBerry 7100t?


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