Tag: BlackBerry

20 Oct 11

Yes, it has happened!  Over the past two years I’ve converted to a completely Mac household.  In March 2010 I bought my 17″ MacBook Pro.  In March I bought my iPad2 (followed up by another iPad 2 purchase after leaving first one on an airplane in August).  And most recently, October 16 I made that leap I said I would NEVER make.  Yes, the iPhone now resides in my pocket, on my bedside table and next to me at work.

For those who don’t know my history AGAINST everything iPhone, it’s been a long hard-fought battle.  First putting the iPhone up against my far superior BlackBerry for so many years.  Then in 2010 I started in the Android craiz.

Here is the SmartPhone history of Richard Wood: 2005 – BlackBerry 7100 (AT&T), 2006 – 7130 (Verizon),  2007 – BlackBerry 8830(Verizon),  2008 – BlackBerry 9530 (Verizon), 2009 – BlackBerry 9550(Verizon), June 2010 – HTC EVO 4G WiMax (Sprint), April 2011 – HTC Thunderbolt 4G LTE (Verizon), September 2011 Motorola Bionic 4G LTE (Verizon), October 16, 2011 32gig White iPhone (AT&T).

My first SmartPhone - BlackBerry 7100 on AT&T

As you can see from the above, I’m a device junky.  I don’t dare attempt to tally up how much dough I’ve dropped on SmartPhones over the past 6 years, but I suspect we’re pushing $10k.


I’m going to layout likes/dislikes of each device and why the change from the previous device.

  1. AT&T BlackBerry 7100 – This was a love/hate relationship from the start.  At the time I received this device it was issued to me by my company and it was supposedly the most advanced BlackBerry on the market at that time.  AND since my firm issued ONLY BlackBerry devices my hands were a bit tied on selection.  I hadn’t owned a SmartPhone before this one so I was actually thrilled to get it!
  2. Verizon BlackBerry 7130 – I recall this creating an amazing amount of termoil in my homelife.  I had convinced my partner that when I received my 7100 (above) that he should convert from Verizon to AT&T so we could talk for free.  Well, I couldn’t handle staying with AT&T.  At that time he and I both had terrible call quality and phone calls dropped left and right.  That was the primary reason for jumping to the 7130 on Verizon.  I knew the call quality and dropped calls would essentially go away!  And they did.  It was a very solid device.  Still small like my 7100, but much more reliable.
  3. Verizon BlackBerry 8830 – I was now going to be playing with the big boys!  This thing was HUGE.  And in my mind it was the bee’s knees!  Big beautiful color screen, high(er) speed data network and the OS was leaps and bounds more advanced than the 7130.  The ONLY thing this baby was missing was a camera and I didn’t feel like waiting for the 8330 to be released.  I needed it and needed it NOW!  This was a “World Phone” and even made a trip to Mexico with me.  One disadvantage of this phone was the keypad.  I never fell in love with the VERY flat difficult keys.  It was also VERY difficult to see the silver keypad in any sort of dark(ish) environment.  I remedied this problem by swapping out the keypad from an AT&T 8800 (black).  Worked pretty slick even though it looked like crap.
  4. Verizon BlackBerry 9530 – The infamous “Storm”.  Eeesh, where do I start.  I had to love it!  It was my first phone without a physical keyboard, which means there was screen real estate to do ALL sorts of things with. Unfortunately, this phone was fraught with problems, although I rarely had the significant issues most people had with it.  For starters in order to select an icon or type the letter “A” (or any letter) you had to physically depress the glass screen until it clicked.  It seemed like an ingenious idea at first.  But it was really annoying when you figured out that it was not Multi-Touch and thus you couldn’t easy or quickly transition from one letter to the next while rambling in an email.  I saw this “bright spot” being that I would have to be more concise in my emails (everyone always wishes that I would have adopted that years ago).  Never happened. I eventually learned to type like a champ on there.
  5. Verizon BlackBerry 9550 “The Storm 2” – the physical form factor of this device was very similar to the origanal 9530 Storm.  But they did make some significant improvements, the biggest one I recall was the glass actually went to the edge of the case!  Because both of these devices had depressable glass screens they needed to be able to move.  However on the original Storm there was a lot of play with the glass in that it would often shift side to side and up and down.  No longer on the Storm 2.  Second major improvement was the multi-touch capabilities.  You could finally touch two different parts of the glass and have them recognized as individual touches.  This wasn’t so helpful in typing (after all, you still only had one piece of glass you were pressing on), but instead it was helpful in highlighting text.  You could place one finger at the beginning of what you wanted to highlight, then your other finger at the end of the desired text.  Pretty slick!  Processor speeds and a Rev. A CDMA chip also helped process information and data faster over their network.  I loved plugging this baby in on the train ride to work everyday and tethering my laptop, logging into work an hour before I even got there.  She was a work horse!
  6. Sprint HTC EVO 4G WiMax – By the time 2010 rolled around BlackBerrys were quickly become obsolete to the elite in the tech community.  BlackBerry was falling behind significantly with hardware AND software being rolled out.  After meeting a Sprint Store Manager and District Manager at a Social Media Club social event I was curious about what else might be able to shift my attention from BlackBerry to an alternate and better device.  This is where the EVO came in.  Sprint was JUST rolling out their 4G WiMax network and I had the great fortune of living in one of the first cities who rolled out WiMax.  I had just moved into a new condo and had EVERY intention of using this new AMAZING speed as my full-time home internet connection.  It didn’t take long to figure out that (at least at that point) WiMax was a flawed network that had VERY difficult time penetrating buildings and even windows for that matter.  So, you could easily get 10-15mbps downloads OUTSIDE, but the 4G would drop to about 0.2mbps once inside the condo (10 feet away, wooded structure).  I suffered this for 9 months, complaining a lot and ended up dumping the WiMax (which for 98% of the time I owned the EVO I kept the 4G turned off because it sucked the battery dead within hours).
  7. Verizon – HTC Thunderbolt 4G LTE – In 2011 Verizon rolls out its first 4G LTE network (technically started in December 2010, but that was only for a data-only dongle).  This network in and of itself was being sworn to promise 15+ mbps uploads with testing sometimes hitting in the 30mbps range (yes, I experienced this as well).  This was HUGE.  A giant leap forward in USA mobile networks!  Better yet Built on a beautiful HTC platform I was already familiar with because of my EVO.  This change did not come without its own issues however.  Two days into having this new phone, the highly anticipated 4G LTE network had a three day data outage!  Granted I could still use their 3G network, but these devices obviously favored the new LTE network because they did not work quite as reliably on 3G.  My only other problem with the device happened to come when I was traveling to Orlando, FL in May 2011.  I couldn’t get ANY service, 3G or 4G, at or around the hotel!  PANIC! I was at a conference for a week!  Verizon promptly overnighted me a new Thunderbolt (which the hotel charged me $10 to RECEIVE the package).  Same issue!  So, there must have been another outage of some sort, but “we” never did figure it out.  All I know is that it was fine when I got back to Seattle.
  8. Verizon – Motorola Bionic 4G LTE – The hardware on this device was suppose to change “everything”.  Duel core processor, 8mp camera, 1080p video shooting, weird dock thing that made it operate like a real computer, plus xGA display. This SHOULD have been a fantastic device.  However, after a month of owning it, I had too many issues.  Data connections being dropped several times per day, continued 4G data outages (not sure if it was phone or network, assumed phone), music would randomly start playing when it connected to my car’s bluetooth.  Mostly I just couldn’t rely on the data… and that’s why I had a SmartPhone… DATA!
  9. My most recent - iPhone 4S, 32gb White on AT&T

  10. AT&T – Apple iPhone 4S White 32gb – My roommate and I both had Thunderbolts at the same time.  After a few months he started grumbling that he just “wanted it to work… just work… no fiddling with it, no reloading roms, no rooting… just WORK!”  I thought this was kinda funny since I loved tinkering with the ROMs and software, but it wasn’t until I got my Bionic that I understood what “just work” means.  Do what I want, when I want it. WOW, novel concept. So, in hearing all the hype about the new 4S I decided to cut my losses and pride.  It was time to complete my metamorphosis into the next Apple Fanboy.  I would be sacraficing LTE 4G speeds and I COULD have stayed on Verizon’s network, but here’s why I didn’t, a) 4G LTE had been pretty problematic from the start (albeit less problematic than WiMax), and b) Verizon’s 3G CDMA network for the iPhone was SUPER slow compared to AT&T.  From what I read it was something like 0.75mbps on Verizon vs 7-10mbps on AT&T.  And since I rarely ever talked on the phone my hangups about call quality and dropped calls were moot.

So, there’s my SmartPhone history.  In the next segment I’ll review my iPhone 4S comparing some of its awesomeness to the awesomeness of my past devices.

Filed under: BlackBerry,Droid,iPhone,Mac,Mobile,Technology

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17 May 10

I love my BlackBerry.  It does (most) everything I want.  With that said, I get technology envy.  It’s not a healthy condition to have, but like alcoholism and bulimia it’s something that requires professional help to overcome.

I’m about to give in to my technology envy after having my BlackBerry Storm2 for only 6 months.  My Storm2 is wonderful!  Best BlackBerry I’ve ever owned!  With that said, BlackBerry is quickly falling behind in technological advancement.  That’s NOT to say it’s not the most trustworthy and secure device on the market.  You’ll never hear me argue that point.  It is, everyone knows it.

So, what’s the latest/greatest allure?  The HTC Droid EVO being released by Sprint on June 4th.

I have to give it a try!  The specs for the device tell a general reader that if it performs they way it’s promised to it will be the “perfect, most advanced device” on the market.

Here’s a rundown of the specs that make me drool:

  • Main display: 4.3” WVGA (800×480) 65K colors (HUGE!!)
  • 3G/4G capability (4G only in certain markets right now, mine is one of them)
  • Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ QSD8650 (1GHz) processor (fastest mobile processor on the market)
  • Google Goggles (Search the internet by taking a picture instead of typing words)
  • Google Navigation (FREE navigation software powered by Google Maps) (Also comes with Sprint Navigator for free)
  • 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot capability – connects up to eight Wi-Fi enabled devices
  • 4G data speeds (WiMAX) – peak download speeds of more than 10 Mbps; peak upload speeds of 1 Mbps; average download speeds of 3-6 Mbps
  • Capture and share HD-quality video (720p) from your phone
  • Live video sharing with Qik
  • 8MP autofocus camera with dual LED flash and 1.3MP front-facing camera (DUEL cameras, one front, one back to do mobile video conferencing!! WOW! 8MP on a mobile device??)
  • FM radio and Amazon MP3 store

Crazy, right?

So, what am I worried about losing?

  1. Worried about Microsoft Exchange integration – I know it’s technically possible natively and through third-party apps, but not nearly as seamless as BlackBerry
  2. No “memos” integration between device and Microsoft Exchange.  I use the Notes feature in Outlook a lot, which shows up on my BlackBerry as “Memos”.  I have yet to find a way to sync those to my anticipated Droid
  3. Nervous about lack of applications developers – I KNOW what apps I have for my BlackBerry and have been able to acquire them over years, porting them from device to device, but I’m just not sure about the thoroughness of apps available to Droid
  4. I promise to miss you Verizon!  I have friends here in Seattle who work with Sprint and who are active in the local Social Media community.  I’m really looking forward to supporting them and their efforts to integrate into the local community.  I have yet to meet anyone from Verizon supporting events or participating.
  5. BlackBerry Messenger has become a staple in my life.  Instant communication with other BlackBerry users without the device battery drain of “normal” instant messaging systems (thanks to the superior “push” technology of BlackBerry)
  6. I promise to miss you Verizon! I know I’ve already said that, but I made the mistake once of switching carriers and suffered for one year with AT&T before returning home to Verizon’s superior coverage and clarity.  I can’t say that I’ll be affected by “poor” Sprint coverage or service or clarity.  I’ve never had Sprint, but I do know they don’t “have a map for that”.  I’m relying on my best friend who tells me he’s always had Sprint and has never had issues with service in the greater Seattle area. (He also enjoys the more inclusive pricing structures with Sprint)

Ok, so there you have it.  I’m going to give my BlackBerry the ol’ heave-ho!  I never thought I’d say that… but yet again, there’s always the possibility of buyer’s remorse.

So, should I just ditch my BlackBerry and fully commit?  Or should I keep it during the 30 day trial period knowing I’ll be able to switch back if for some reason the Droid fails me?  HELP!

Filed under: BlackBerry,Droid

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27 Oct 09

I’m often asked how I could POSSIBLY manage to keep up with the constant stream of tweets from SO many followers (I don’t have nearly as many followers as many of my friends, but compared to others, 2700 is a lot).

Here’s my top 10 list of actions, applications and websites that will help you be more productive and keep on top of the Madness.

  1. TweetDeck – You have to get this.  You have to learn how to use it.  It will change how you look at Twitter.  A couple months ago I put together a “Video: Intro to TweetDeck” (program has been updated since my video blog, but still very similar).  It’s quite a simple program, but what I love most about it is that I can categorize all the different followers into different columns.  So, I’ll have “Friends” in one column, “Legal Tweeps” in another, and “Seattle folks” in a third column.  I’ll also have one column dedicated to @replies, DM’s and one for my Facebook stream.  With all this you can now see everything spread out on one screen.
  2. Upload a picture to your Twitter profile – I’ve actually heard some friends say they refuse to follow someone who doesn’t bother to change from the default image.  If you don’t like the idea of it being a picture of you, get one of your dog or a tree.  Anything but the default twitter image!  People will respect you more.  :)  While you’re at it, make sure to add your real name, your location and a bio.  Also, for a web link use your LinkedIN page if you don’t have a blog or website to direct folks to!  :)
  3. Get involved in your local Social Media Community – in Seattle we have the Social Media Club Seattle (a/k/a SMC Seattle) and you can also find events going on locally at twtvite.  Why bother with Twitter if you’re not going to use it to it’s advantages?  Turn those online relationships into real ones!  If you have a hard time finding people to follow, go to an event and meet some folks.  It will energize you to get involved.
  4. Find Followers – Using websites like wefollow will help you find twitter followers in topic areas you might be interested in.  If you work in Legal (as a lawyer or otherwise) you can check out LexTweet (operated by LexBlog).  There are TONS of other websites out there to help you find followers.  Plus your friends will likely participate in #FollowFriday (#FF) where they recommend people to follow!  This is a great way to for you to find like-minded people.
  5. Tweet on the Go! If you use a “Smartphone” there are lots of options for reading and sending Tweets on the Go.  For iPhone, a must have app is Tweetie (that’s the extend of my iPhone knowledge).  For BlackBerry I would suggest SocialScope, IF you get it.  It’s been in closed beta since January of 2009, I have hope it’ll be released to the general public soon.  Otherwise Ubertwitter is a great alternative.
  6. Tweeting Articles – Some folks live on Twitter simply to share and read articles that they love!  One easy way I do that is by using Viigo on my BlackBerry.  Every morning when I’m on the bus I’m constantly reading articles from news papers and blogs.  Using Viigo with just two clicks I’ve submitted the article to Twitter.  Very simple.  Also, if you’re reading a blog you might notice that beside each article you see a Share This button or a Twitter/Facebook button.  USE THEM!  Tell your following you’ve found something they might be interested in!  (TweetDeck has URL shrinking build in.  So if you paste a long URL address it will shrink the address for you)
  7. Re-Tweeting – Want to get someone’s attention? When you see something that someone has sent out and want to share it with your followers you “re-tweet” it.  On TweetDeck that’s a specific command.  You’ll know retweets because they start with “RT”.  When you RT someone’s tweet it tells them you like what they’ve circulated.  Some even take the time to thank folks personally for RTing their tweets.  This is a great way to increase your social profile. (Found this Re-tweet Etiquette very interesting)
  8. Sharing Twitter Responsibilities – If you have a Twitter account for your company, organization or non-profit you should consider sharing the Twitter responsibilities with others.  One very popular and EASY way to do that is to use a site called CoTweet. Here you can both send out tweets from your organization OR from your personal account.  You can also assign specific people to reply to specific tweets.  This takes the burden off of one single participant and allows others to get involved.
  9. Read Trust Agents!  If you want to feel part of the Social Media community and really be able to best “take advantage” of the relationships you build, Trust Agents, by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, is a fun and very helpful read.  I recently wrote a review of the book “Review: Trust Agents“.
  10. Distributing Your Twitter Handle – First off, DON’T protect your Twitter profile.  It’s just dumb.  If you don’t want certain people to see what you say, then either Twitter isn’t for you OR you shouldn’t say “it” to begin with.  Next, I put a little clear sticker on the back of my normal business cards that have my Twitter handle on it and my blog URL.  This allows me to give folks that info when doing a traditional business card exchange.

BONUS: Be a person, not a company.  People want to connect with People, not companies.  It might feel nicer for you to be more anonymous as “XYZ Corporation”, but you’ll end up just that, anonymous.  People usually hate following companies and are generally suspicious of companies who follow them.

OK, that offically wraps up my rendition of “Top 10 Twitter Tips”.  Hope you find them helpful.  Drop me a line anytime.  I love interacting with folks.

Tweet ya later!!!

Filed under: Social Media,Twitter

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10 Jun 09

So, here’s the story, I have two computers. My work desktop, my home laptop. At work, I plug my BlackBerry into my machine and it connects to Desktop Manager, thus synchronizing settings each time. I do a similar thing at home with my laptop, except it just requires me to connect via VPN first, then I can open Desktop Manager and connect to the email server, again, synchronizing settings each time.

.. continue reading ..

Filed under: BlackBerry

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8 Apr 09

Admittedly, I’m actually very new to twitter, only a few months really. However, when I went my inaugural “tweetup” with SMC Seattle’s @Shil_Wei a few of us were discussing twitter on BlackBerry and someone asked me, “Richard, I see you use TwitterBerry (this was prior to SocialScope). When you’re on your BlackBerry how do you follow a new user?” I had no idea! And then another “new friend” chimed in that he didn’t know how on his iPhone either!

So, we have two issues here. First, a short-coming with the mobile twitter apps to-date. And second, not realizing the capabilities of Twitter’s Mobile interface!

I’m going to show you how to do this using the Twitter Mobile site!

So, one would think that going directly to someone’s twitter address would allow you to Follow them directly from that site. HOWEVER, on the twitter mobile site, the key to success is to login first! So, first go to http://twitter.com where the site will detect your BlackBerry (or God forbid your iPhone, hehe) and thus will automatically ask for your twitter login credentials. After you login you’ll see your “normal” homepage feed only it will have a Mobile friendly layout. Now that you’re logged in you can no use “Go To” BlackBerry Browser function and goto the bessed twit’s URL for whom you with to follow. You should now see Follow option near their name at the top of the page. Or, thankfully, Unfollow if that’s your desired outcome.

Good luck twits!

Filed under: Uncategorized

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16 Feb 09

Whenever any friend of mine gets a new BlackBerry they hand it to me and let me take 5 minutes to do some minor “tweaks” to make it just a little better. Thought I’d take a moment to share some of these tips with you.

1) Change your default browser to “internet”. Go into “Options” > Advanced > Browser. Change both browsers to Internet (if that’s an option, some companies may not allow it, most of the time it’s initial default will be set to BlackBerry Browser). How will this help? BlackBerry Browser is supposed to “compress” the internet data in order to make it reach you faster. However, if you try to go to many “normal” websites using the BlackBerry Browser you’ll often get a “Data request was too large” error. Switching the default to Internet Browser as the default takes care of this error most of the time.

2) Hide icons you don’t use and move icons you use a lot to more convenient locations on your home screen. Many folks don’t even realize that they can hide icons. So, How do you do it? If you scroll to the icon you want to hide, click the BlackBerry menu button and select Hide. If you accidently hide one, you can click the BlackBerry button (doesn’t matter which icon you’re on), then select “Show All”. You’ll then see some grayed out icons. Menu click on any of the gray ones and uncheck the “Hide” option. To move the icons, Menu click the icon you want to move (you’ll notice a boarder around it) then scroll to where you want it and click again. VOILA!

3) Delete applications you don’t use. My new BlackBerry Storm came with a TON of “extra” software. Deleting this extra software can significantly increase the speed of the device. To Delete Applications, go to Options > Advanced > Applications. Scroll to the application you want to delete, click the BlackBerry Menu key, select Delete. What software should you delete? Well, instant messaging programs you have no intention of using, GPS software you don’t need/want/use, Rhapsody “music buying” software… These are a few examples of stuff I always delete. Anything on there you discover that you’d like to delete, but you can’t, just hide the icons with instructions from number 2 above.

4) Change the “Screen/Keyboard” options. Going into Options > Screen/Keyboard reveles lots of “secret” settings to making your viewing and operations much smoother and enjoyable. First and foremost set the “backlight” to the lowest setting. At first it might seem VERY low, but your eyes adjust very quickly and it will save TONS of battery life. Also, change the “Auto Daylight Backlight” to ON, in bright light the screen will be bright, in low light the backlight will be lower. This helps a lot! (keep in mind the indicator light IS the light sensor, so if you cover it the BlackBerry thinks you’re in the dark and will react appropriately)

5) Setting your Right and Left “Convenience Keys”. Many of the newer BlackBerry devices have at least one convenience key on the right side and the newest BlackBerry devices have one on each side. These buttons can be assigned to any application that is installed on your device. By default, the right side is set to the Camera and the left is set to Voice Dialing. For me, I like the camera, but usually set the left key to “Sounds”. This is the application that can help you select “Silent” or “Vibrate” and the sound/notification settings with one simple click (plus if you assign it to that key you can hide the button on the home screen!)

6) Setup some AutoText (I wrote an entire blog entry dedicated to this topic “Simplify your life with AutoText) items to help you type complicated text over and over and over very quickly.

7) If you have Operating System 4.5 or higher (on the BlackBerry Curve, Storm, Bold, and usually Pearl you likely have 4.5) there is an option for “Wireless Upgrade” of the OS to the newest updated version. If you go into Options > Advanced, then scroll to the bottom you’ll see Wireless Upgrade. By selecting this option and going through the couple question steps it will upgrade your BlackBerry to the most recent “official” release of operating system by your wireless carrier. This isn’t COMMON for many BlackBerry users, but it should be. An updated OS can solve many slowness issues you might have and sometimes even add new options and settings for better smoother options. Keep in mind, if the device does end up having an update to download, it takes a LONG time to do! I highly recommend plugging in the device and running the operation over night (make sure it’s plugged in, a large download like this can drain the battery very quickly, over a few hours).

8) Embrase third party applications IF you can use them. Do you have a Facebook account? Use the BlackBerry application (sometimes installed on the new devices, if not use the built in browser and go to http://mobile.blackberry.com) It’s free and really useful to keep in touch with friends and colleagues and upload photos directly from you BlackBerry to your Facebook page. Another application you might use is Flickr, a photo hosting website where you can also upload your photos directly from your BlackBerry.

9) Perhaps this should technically fall under #8, but it’s much more important than other software. The final piece to the software puzzle is Viigo, http://www.getviigo.com, it’s a news reader! Many people don’t use news readers, or if they do, they might use Google Reader. With this application you can receive news feeds from all your favorite news sources or blogs or other websites offering RSS feeds. By using Viigo effectively you can kill those annoying small amounts of time by catching up on news that you’d want to read anyway, on the elevator, out to lunch by yourself, commuting via public transit, these are all GREAT places to embrase Viigo.

10) The majical battery pull! The battery pull can solve most BlackBerry problems. If you ever think you BlackBerry is running slowly? Pull the battery out for about 5 seconds and put it back in. Experience a lock-up when opening or closing a program? Pull the battery out for about 5 seconds and put it back in. Mysterious things happening to your BlackBerry randomly? Pull the battery out for about 5 seconds and put it back in. Basically it solves lots of memory type issues. If all else fails, try the battery pull before going to your BlackBerry expert (usually known as your company’s IT department, but sometimes that means a friend).

Ok folks, that’s it for now! Enjoy!!

Filed under: Uncategorized

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14 Feb 09

Below is a blog entry from BlackBerry Cool I thought the legal community should investigate very closely. Looks like this might be a step in the right direction!

Welcome back, BlackBerry Nation, to Nan the Power User! Today, we are going to check out Momentem from Redwood Technologies (http://www.blackberrycool.com/2008/11/momentem-blackberry-hands-on/).

Momentem is time tracking software that helps you squeeze every last drop of billable time from your BlackBerry. Let me start by disclosing that I typically don’t purchase software for my BlackBerry. I’m a deal hunter who looks for free apps or beta tests to slide in for free. Further, monthly subscriptions scare me more than rattlesnakes in the floorboard of the Jeep at the ranch. (Everyone else is folksy these days; I wanted to take a stab at it.) So when I was asked to check out Momentem at $9.99 per month, I was prepared not to like it.

As a business consultant, I am bombarded with emails and phone calls throughout the day. Many of them are read and answered via my BlackBerry. Whether you realize it or not, this can be a parasitic loss to you when you bill for your time. Sure, you think you just fired off that email in a moment or two, but over the course of a day, week, month and year, these little increments of time add up.

How Momentem Works:

Once you have installed Momentem, it sits quietly, running in the background. You enter the minimum time that a call and email message should be to be considered billable, as well as what you charge for an hourly rate. You can also go back and edit this if you want to raise the threshold for the software.

When you either have a call or an email, regardless of whether it is inbound or outbound, Momentem jumps into action asking you if you want to Tag It, Not Now, Dismiss or Add to the Ignore List. “Tag It” allows you to assign a contact, project cost and time to that call or email address. The duration is calculated for you automatically both on calls and emails. Emails are timed on how long you read the message and how long it took you to respond. You can even add notes to the charge. “Not Now” lets you procrastinate and tag it later. “Dismiss” removes it from the Not Now list, say for a personal call or email, and “Add to the Ignore List” is perfect for when you’re in touch with your significant other, as they are not usually the type of people you bill.

I was worried about potential crashes, and that my BlackBerry might experience slowdowns due to the software. I also feared an overall sense of annoyance by having the software on my device. Fortunately, none of those issues were true at all. It is easy to close the pop up window if I am hammering out calls or emails, simply by pressing the back or end key again. Momentem took the brush off gracefully each time by putting that activity in the Not Now list for me to process later. And process later I did. At my leisure, I was able to hit up Momentem and go through my Not Now list and file those calls and emails into the proper place. It was as if the software said, “I know you’re busy and important, so I’ll put these aside for now and we can do the dirty work later.” After you’re finished processing, Momentem provides the option to run a report and check your progress at any point in the month or you may export your time sheet as an Excel spreadsheet via email. Very cool.


Momentem does have some quirks that deserve a mention. At present, Momentem allows you to attach a project to a client, but it does not create a universal project list that can be selected for each new contact. So if I am working on a project with multiple people in an organization, the Project list does not provide a drop down to select that project name, and I have to enter it over again for each contact I am working with at that particular company. Also, Momentem does not synchronize your BlackBerry contacts directly into its contact list. Instead, it will only show you the phone number or email address (this is coming very soon in a future release, ed.). Then, when you choose to add that person as a Momentem contact, it will populate it for you from your BlackBerry contact list. It seems to me that the program should be able to connect these two address books in your device, but maybe there are technical challenges that RIM has placed. One other issue was that while calls would indicate whether they were incoming or outgoing, emails did not specify.
That would be a nice touch.

The Bottom Line:

These small frustrations aside, I am pleased to recommend Momentem. It is a rock solid piece of software that ensures that I am able to bill to the maximum of my abilities while using my BlackBerry. The integration is excellent overall. It makes my billing easier at the end of the month because the accountability level is very high. Additionally, it never became an annoyance; instead it became better every time I used it. I can say that this is the first piece of software on my BlackBerry that I’ve used which quickly pays for itself. Here’s some quick breakeven math with a few billable rate options:
$100 per hour = 6 minutes of calls or emails to break even in a month
$75 per hour = 8 minutes of calls or emails to break even in a month
$50 per hour = 12 minutes of calls or emails to break even in a month
$25 per hour = 24 minutes of calls or emails to break even in a month

Do yourself a favor and see what you’re missing. Momentem is the way to go for people that bill for their time. Congratulations Redwood, you broke me of my distaste for monthly subscriptions; I’m a believer.

Download Momentem for BlackBerry (http://store.blackberrycool.com/product.asp?id=21812&n=momentem)
DOWNLOAD FREE TRIAL of Momentem for BlackBerry (http://store.blackberrycool.com/common_files/inc_productAjax.asp?ref=39805.6944097222&nTrialLabel=1&nTrialAvaiable=0&sDivID=showTrial&action=updateContent&id=21812&posid=145&platformid=5&did=)

As an extra bonus, I have a small wish list that I would like to send over to the folks at Redwood Technologies. If you are using Momentem, leave us a comment on what you might want to see in the next release.
– Provide the Excel script to allow people who bill in increments that are smaller than an hour so they can maximize their time, instead of aggregating their time at the end of the month (thanks, Ralph).
– Add keyboard shortcuts
– Add BES integration, so time is also tracked when you’re on your computer
– Add a link on your website with tips and tricks instead of only allowing it on the device

© BlackBerry Cool for BlackBerry Cool (http://www.blackberrycool.com), 2008

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7 Jan 09

Since I recently got my new BlackBerry Storm at the end of November and now have SOME access to GPS (Verizon has a habit of locking down features, like GPS was on my former BlackBerry 8830), I wanted to try out some GPS software.

Verizon only unlocks GPS usage for SOME software. Of course they promote their VZNav and though I’ve heard decent things about it, I just have some aversion to paying a monthly subscription for using a technology that’s free (GPS itself is free, you generally pay for the software or device or both).

Well, after helping my boss find a GPS system for his wife, he mentioned to me how much she LOVED her new Garmin! She drove from Seattle to Lake Tahoe and because of the redirecting that Garmin did it saved her 3 hours from her original trip route! All time saved because of closed roads (snow) or extremely heavy traffic (avoided by surface streets through towns).

So, I downloaded Garmin on my BlackBerry and here’s what I found:

PROS: very simple to use, night view/day view (changes background colors so your eyes can adjust easily), search for gas prices near you or near a specific location, very intuitive interface.

CONS: doesn’t accommodate for traffic delays on “arrival time” very well (I’m used to Google Maps for BlackBerry that tells you the standard commute time, then adds on the traffic delay)

Overall, very nice application with very easy to use features. However, still plenty of room for future improvements!

Check out the product at Handango.com
(List price is $99.99 for a “lifetime of device” license. If you subscribe to their email list they often send out discount coupon codes. I got mine for 25% off! NEW Coupon code “SAVEALOT”)

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14 Oct 08

I’ve noticed recently that there are still a lot of BlackBerry users who either don’t know it’s possible or haven’t ever noticed that persistent little Green Flashing “service indicator” light.

Is this light necessary? Not generally! I can imagine a hand full of circumstances where it might be, but for the most part it’s an unnecessary distraction (plus your spouse hates it!).

The sole purpose of this light is to tell you whether you have cell service or not. That’s why I think it’s mostly useless.

Here’s how to shut it off:

Go into your Options/Settings area. Select “Screen/Keyboard”, then in there you’ll see an option for “LED Coverage Indicator” turn that option to off. Problem solved!

(Now you can have your BlackBerry at your bedside!! Now if you can only figure how to make it NOT make any noise when a message comes in…. It’s possible!!)

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28 Jul 08

So, this could be a Dear Abby column!! Let’s just say I have a couple friends I know (that’s not supposed to be the surprising part) who have… 1500 emails saved on their BlackBerry Smartphones.

Our conversation would go something like this:

Richard: “Now, Marla, why do you have 1500 messages on your BlackBerry? Do you really NEED all of them on your BlackBerry?”

Marla: “Well, many of them I haven’t read yet. And some others I’ve read but need to respond to eventually and others I just think I’ll need another time.

Richard: “My dear, dear friend, we have solutions to those problems! Especially since you’re on a BES email system (work email server).

The first thing we need to address is: do you NEED them all on your BlackBerry or would JUST having them in your Outlook be enough? Most of the time, for me anyway, only keeping emails I suspect I’ll need to respond to from my BlackBerry is the best solution. So I delete any other messages from my BlackBerry that I need to address while AT my work computer or at least a laptop. Some responses need more than my bloody little thumbs can punch out on my BlackBerry.”

Marla: “But if I delete them from my BlackBerry then I won’t have them in my Outlook.”

So let’s stop the conversation. We can see where this is going. By default what Marla says is true. However, there is a setting in your Email Reconciliation options (while looking at your email inbox click to bring up the menu and select Options, on the following screens one of the options will be Email Reconciliation) that will give you three helpful opportunities to operate your email storage PERFECTLY. Those options are: “Delete messages on device and server”, “Delete Messages on Device Only”, or “Prompt me”. For me, I prefer “Delete Messages on Device Only”. Granted that does mean I have to delete it again once I get to my computer, but that’s easy. I could see a lot of situations where “Prompt me” is a great option since you want to decide on the fly whether permanent delete is a better idea than a temporary delete JUST on your BlackBery (of course even when you delete on both the deveice and the server, you’ll still have the messages in your Delete folder in Outlook). There’s only one missing that I’ve been asking BlackBerry to add, “Please read my mind and don’t deliver those messages from all those annoying requests” but that options hasn’t seemed to catch anyone’s eye yet.

Another quick and painless method is a Delete Prior action. Delete Prior is performed by scrolling until you hover ON a date and you click. One of the options is Delete Prior. Unlike the above option, this will ONLY ever delete the messages from your device and will never delete them from your server. So let’s say you have 6 months of email on your BlackBerry, but you feel that if you have one week’s emails on there that would be sufficient. Let’s say today is July 25, 2008 (for example). So we scroll down to July 18, and CLICK ON the date July 18, one of the options in the pop-up list is Delete Prior. You click. And VOILA! All of the prior email has been released from BlackBerry hell.

Before we get too far, let’s admit something. Repeat after me, “I, (insert your name here), COMPLETELY agree that there is NO way I’m going to sit down one day and read through all 1500 existing emails ON my BlackBerry. I also agree that it’s more likely that it’s necessary for me to read and respond to 98% of these emails from my computer.” THERE! Now don’t you feel better???

So that’s the “defensive model” of how to take care of it. Let’s take a look at the offensive model of curbing the volume. There are a few different angles on the offensive method.

First, Filters! Use them. There! That was easy!

Oh, “HUH?”, you ask? Ok, fine. Maybe that was my rushing offense.

Well, the detailed instructions can be pretty long (especially the amount of detail I would normally add) so I’ll just simplify slightly. There are two ways to setup filters: 1) On your Desktop Manager software on your computer, 2) ON your BlackBerry in Email Options, Email Filters.

The most effective use of filters is to stop certain messages from actually making it to your BlackBerry. For example, I have a filter setup to stop my daily bank activity notifications from being sent to my BlackBerry. Also, when I’m on vacation, I have a setting that stops all “Firmwide” email from being delivered to my BlackBerry. (A more detailed explanation of how to use both methods can be found at http://kb.iu.edu/data/asvr.html)

So, now you have each of the individual tools, but how should you get started? Well, since you have 1,500 emails on your BlackBerry lets start with the “Delete Prior”. Scroll back a week or so, then use the Delete Prior feature mentioned first. This should eliminate several hundred messages all in one shot, while also keeping those messages in your MAIN email system on your work email account.

Next, I would recommend setting up the Delete Preferences to tell your device that you ONLY want to delete messages from your device and NOT from your server (this is the method I choose, you can use one of the other two options as well).

And then finally, I would recommend taking inventory of the useless messages you receive on a regular basis that you really have no interest in reading or responding to from your BlackBerry and creating filters to prevent them from being delivered. This method changes a lot of how you view your BlackBerry. Once you get those annoying (yet useful at your desk) newsletter and daily “information only” emails out of our BlackBerry inbox you can actually feel confident that when you see the light blinking, it’s more likely to be a message you actually want to read.

In theory, one might even say, “You know, there’s that one attorney I work with whose emails I should never read at home because they just get me worked up and I can never respond from my BlackBerry without lots of backup anyway.” Save yourself the heart ache of getting all upset around your family by filtering those messages out. This is a perfect example of how to use filters to prevent disturbing emails from reaching you during off hours. Or at least setup the Delete On Device Only option, so that way you can just read the “from” and the “subject”, then determine that you don’t actually want to read the message, that it can wait, DELETE!

I hope this gives a little insight and hope for a better future! Good luck and may the BlackBerry Force be with you!

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18 Feb 08

Ahhh! “AutoText” yet another word you’ve probably not ever heard of! But this is a word that should perk your ears!

Upon receiving my first BlackBerry a couple years ago I realized that though this hunk-o-plastic can save me a lot of anguish, it also can take a lot more time to compose a simple reply than just waiting to get back to my office. I hated the automatic signature it placed at the end of my emails and because I had my personal email accounts also setup on my BlackBerry it wasn’t always the “appropriate” signature for me. So, aside from completely eliminating my auto-signature and manually typing in whatever the appropriate signature was.

So, what is AutoText? Think of it a lot like the AutoCorrect feature of Word. In word if you type in”teh” it autocorrects the word to “the”. But even with auto correct you can expand on how it’s used in a similar way to AutoText. So, let’s say I have three different signatures: 1) Just my name and cell phone number (this one I use as a personal signature or a “reply” signatre, 2) My full work signature with firm name, phone, title, the whole deal, 3) my full personal signature includes my name, my partner’s name, our mailing and physical address and each of our phone numbers. But as you can imagine it’s not easy to manually type in all those different entries! So for me I’ve setup AutoText to do all the grunt work. Now if I type “#w” (always followed by a space) then it automatically populates my full Work signature. If I type “#h” it fills in my personal signature (name and cell number). And then if I type “#a” it fills in ALL of my full personal signature.

Pretty cool, eh? Well, even though signatures are a GREAT use for AutoText that isn’t the only use. Do you get sick of typing out your firm name? Why not create an AutoText code for that too! For me I use “#slg” to expand to my firm name, Summit Law Group. Sure saves a bloody thumb or two!

How to do it: Briefly: (taken from PinStack.com)

  1. Get to the Options Screen (On Standard Keyboard BlackBerries: Home screen > Wrench Icon, On 7100 Series Icon Mode: Wrench > Settings or Settings Icons; 7100 Series List Mode: Settings > Options)
  2. Select AutoText, select New
  3. Under Replace type in your code word for your lengthy text (e.g. sig1 for your #1 signature)
  4. Under With type in your full text (e.g. full signature) that should be replaced when you type your code word and Save.
  5. Now every time you type your code word in email or memo pad and hit space, youll see your full text instantly replace it.

Now, take a quick look down through the AutoText list of items that already exist by default. For example, if you type “hel” it will replace it with “he’ll”. Or “wel” will replace to “we’ll”. A few very handy ones: “mynumber” will be replaced by your cell phone’s number. Or “mypin” will replace with your BlackBerry’s PIN number. Scroll through this list! Stuff you never knew you could save time on!

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13 Feb 08

Have you ever received an email from a friend (or had someone complain to you about yours) who’s email signature said, “Sent from BlackBerry”?

And when you saw that signature did you think, “Boy! That’s pretentious! Why do I care??”

Well, we have a solution! Either their firm is on a BES (Business Enterprise System) system or they have a general BIS account (BIS being BlackBerry Internet Service).

On a BES system it’s easy to fix! Open you Desktop Manager and select (of find the setting for) email settings. In there you’ll find a place to modify the signature.

Now, if you’re on BIS it’s a bit more complicated. First you need to go to http://na.blackberry.com/eng/support/software/internet.jsp scroll down to the bottom and select your blackberry carrier. From there you’ll need to create an account. In order to do that you’ll need your device’s “PIN” and your “IMEI”. To find BOTH of these go into the settings and/or Options menu and select “Status”. Once you have your PIN and IMEI you can setup your online access to your BIS account. You now should have access to your BIS email accounts. Click on edit and you’ll notice the signature box and “Sent from BlackBerry”! DELETE and VOILA!

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2 Feb 08

I have lots of friends who have BlackBerrys and Palm devices and even the “other” smartphones (which shall remain nameless due to the fact that I can’t name them all). If you’ve read any of my other postings or articles you have probably figured out the fact that I am a BlackBerry junkie, or rather “CrackBerry” addict as the tech community so fondly refers to such an addiction/hobby.

All BlackBerry devices and Palm devices have a web browser that will access the internet as long as you have a data plan (which, if you get email, your device most likely has a data plan that will allow you access to the internet). MANY companies these days are creating specific content adapted for mobile devices. In fact some company websites have a very cool feature that will direct you to their mobile version of their site if it recognizes you have a smartphone. On the other hand some companies choose to make mobile-specific sites. Many of those sites will either be named with a “www.Blah.mobi” name or they might use “www.blah.com/mobile” or even “m.blah.com”. Either way, these are great indications to us “surfers on the go”.

So, what types of information would one have a use for while on the go? Well, my personal favorite is through Yahoo, MSN, or AOL’s mobile site. On there you have access to your email (of course) and you can get movie times, weather, news and all sorts of other info you would expect to find at their normal website. The best part is that they are VERY well adapted to load quickly on your phone AND they are layed out in a way that makes them very easy to read from a mobile device.

Another great use is when I’m “out and about” and friends are discussing movies or music and say, “Gosh, I sure wish I could remember who that main character was in Juno!” I’ll just pull up Google on my BlackBerry, type in “Juno actor” and VOILA! As easy as pie! Or (and I’ve never used this one, but it sounds neat) I’ve found a site called “Drinkboy” which is a mobile site where you can look up drink recipes! Useful for some, but unless they are telling me how to make a Bud Light I don’t have much use for it.

Do you have a Picasa photo account (where you can upload and share photos)? This one is easily accessible from your mobile! How about Flickr, another photo sharing site?

Do you have a security system in your home? Some of these systems (many nowadays I imagine) can be accessed through the web. Mine even goes a step further, it has a special website designed just to login to your security system. From there I can check the status of the system, arm or disarm the alarm and check the last 24 hours of activity. This isn’t just handy or neat! This has been a “lifesaver” (though not literally). When I’m away from the house I can login to make sure I armed the alarm before leaving. OR when I’m away I can send my neighbor over the check something. Since I have a coded lock system on my house I only have to send a command to my alarm system to disarm. Now she can help me with whatever task I need and I can rearm the alarm when she leaves. This has come in quite useful on several occasions.

These websites are the next generation of web development. People are addicted to having ANY information they desire within seconds (for example). And now, that even means while away from their normal computer. For those who haven’t discovered the mobile web it probably hasn’t become a necessity. But, once you start using it (just like using a PC on a regular basis) you start to think, “How did I get along without this???”

Some websites just won’t load on a mobile device… well, without a little help that is! Even websites that give lots of trouble on a mobile device can be conquered. Let me introduce you to Google’s “mobilizer”. This is a website you can go to from your mobile device and it gives you what looks like a search box, but in fact you enter a website address in the box and hi GO! Google mobilizer converts that website to a format that will be accessible from your device. It basically strips out many of the images, which sometimes take a long time to load, and it strips out any fancy web script, like “flash” which is just pictures moving all around on the screen. After all, when you are surfing from a mobile device “pretty” isn’t what you’re interested in. You just prefer the content and information in a format you can read. If you’d like to give it a try type in http://www.google.com/gwt/n.

I recently discovered a website called “Mobile Mammoth“. This website features “A New Mobile Website Every Day”. It’s a great place to browse just to see what’s available out there. Here’s one of my favorite articles on there “71 Ways to Make the Mobile Web Work For You“.

I’ve found this concept of the mobile web so intriguing that I’ve started creating one for ALA’s (Association of Legal Administrators) Annual Conference here in Seattle May 5-8, 2008. I think it’s prime time to launch a site where conference attendees can search for restaurants, lookup the conference schedule and room assignments, search the vendor hall listings, get Announcements of prize drawings, and get general information about the conference events. In an industry and organization that keeps talking about “going green” this is a perfect opportunity to strut their stuff! I’m very excited about the launch. It’s currently accessible from mobile devices AND a desktop at http://2008Seattle.googlepages.com (though I haven’t yet decided if that will be the final home).

I hope this glimpse into the future prompts some thought for how you use your BlackBerry, Palm or other Smartphone, and more importantly, I hope this prompts you to consider mobile web surfing when developing your firms new website.


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25 Nov 07

I’m embarrassed to say that I still know people who have a BlackBerry and a cell phone. I’m not even talking about one of the “older” style BlackBerrys. I’m talking about one of the new schwankie Curves or 8800’s. Now, I can certainly understand the desire to “escape” from work. I can also understand that the older BlackBerrys weren’t very nice to talk on as a cell phone since it actually appeared like you had a hockey puck stuck in your ear. But lets be reasonable here. These newer BlackBerrys are actually just as good (and in my opinion, better) as any regular cell phone one the market. And if your aversion is simply related to the “size” of the BlackBerry, I really doubt that the size of the newer BlackBerrys is going to be much larger than your cell phone.

So, my point here isn’t necessarily a time saver, but more of a life saver. You’ll need one less packing mule to carry around all those extra electronics.

Now, lets talk about typing on a BlackBerry. It’s not easy usually to type really long emails, especially when the content is information that you share over and over and over again, like contact information, or addresses. I know many of my friends have an auto-signature setup on their BlackBerrys so they don’t have to type it all in, but for me, I like to put a different signature on different types of messages. Since I have three personal email accounts also attached to my BlackBerry, I prefer not to use my work signature on my personal emails, and I certainly don’t want my personal signature on my work emails. So, here enters the “AutoText” feature of the BlackBerry.

AutoText is a similar feature to that used in MS Word where if you type something like “teh” it will replace it automatically with “the”. Very convenient in MS Word, no? Well, your BlackBerry has the same technology. If you can find your “Options” menu, one of the first items on the list should be “AutoText”. When you click on this item you’ll see a long list of AutoText actions. They usuall look like “acn (can)” this means, if you type “anc” it turns into “can”. The word outside is what you might type and the word in the parentheses is the word that will result due to AutoText. Take a long hard look at this list. Many of them, as you would expect, are just auto-spelling correction items. On the other hand, there are quite a few items that simply save you time typing normal informations. Examples, “hel (he’ll)” (this means if you type “hel” you’ll get “he’ll”) or “id (I’d)” or “il (I’ll)”. One good one is “mynumber (%p)”, which means if you type “mynumber” then it will change it to your BlackBerry’s phone number which is much easier than finding the brackets and dashes and all the numbers.

So, let’s bring this baby home! How does AutoText and your signature come together as something useful? Well, I’m thrilled you would ask!!

I have three “special” AutoText items in my list. My first one is “#w”, if I type #w it inserts my full work signature. My next is “#h” (I call this my “home” signature) which inserts just my full name and my cell number. And finally I use “#a” as my “All personal information”. So by typing #a it replaces it with my name, my home address, my cell phone, my work phone, and some other garbage that I would pass on to friends who would ask me for many of these pieces. I rarely use this one, but it’s nice to have…. beats the heck out typing it all out!

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15 Nov 07

Many legal managers are highly trained in their specialties or as generalists. Everyday in our very busy lives, wouldn’t it be great to get 10 extra minutes out of every hour? There’s a scary word that can help with it. Technology.

Sure, we all know it can help us save time. But there’s also the question of how can you take advantage of time saving technology when you don’t know where to start or who to ask? Do you even know what less-technological tasks are taxing your time commitments?

A recent article that I published was on the topic of BlackBerry use (http://www.summitlaw.com/downloads/PSALABlackberry.pdf). Of course a BlackBerry can save you time, but not just because you have your email while you’re on the go.

So, beyond the article above I’ve put together some more unique time savers your BlackBerry can help with.

Email. Ok, so now I’m contradicting myself, right? Well, sort of. I’m not talking about your work email though. I’m talking about setting up your BlackBerry to receive all your other email accounts too. Well, almost all of them. Yahoo, Gmail, AOL, or any “POP” email account can be added to your BlackBerry. Look for a setting called “Email Settings”. This will take you to a website setup by your service provider. There you create a login and you can add any of these types of emails. So, you’ll add the email address and the password for that account. Done. Now you’ll see an “Activation” email come into your normal email box and shortly thereafter your personal email will start coming in. (ONLY IF YOU ARE YOU A BES SERVER FOR BLACKBERRY) If you can find your Security Settings and then go into General Security you will notice at a point down the list that there are options for “Message Background Colours”. Enterprise Background and then Other Messages. By setting a colored background

How can this save you time? Just like your BlackBerry keeps you from running to your desk to check your email or keeps you from worrying about what’ll be waiting for you when you get to your office in the morning. The same stands with using it to check your personal email.

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