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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Another random blog....

I've been very lax lately.  Much going on and even though I spend evenings in front of the TV, I haven't actually got around to writing anything.
Well, nothing of any importance.  As if anything written on here is important!!

So, what is so unimportant that I'm going to commit it to the digital ether?

Formula 1?  The season is almost upon us (I'm so excited), and the teams will be launching their new cars later this week.  Maybe I can tackle that?  No...

Great television programmes?  The thing is; whilst the magic box is switched on every night, there is nothing worth writing about.
Oh, there's the new series of 24, which has just started on Sky (and in HD it looks spectacular).
There's also Lark Rise to Candleford, Hustle, not forgetting the soaps of EastEnders and Corrie...  such a mish-mash of televisual tastes; it really depends on the mood.

So, Formula 1 and television is out.  Films is another subject I like to write about, but I haven't seen anything to tell you about; although I still want to see "Sherlock Holmes" and also the latest George Clooney - "Up In The Air".

I've recently reviewed a couple of stunning applications for my BlackBerry (Poynt and Momentem) and I've just moved my business email to be hosted by Google.  Why?  Simply because the previous host had limited functionality in terms of formatting and I found it quite restricting.
I use Gmail for my personal email, so setting up a business account (the free version) seemed the sensible option.
It was quite easy to do, but I am still waiting for ALL the mail to be delivered to the new account.  It seems to be a little hit and miss at the moment, as the change propogates through the servers around the world!!
Doesn't that make it seem so grand?  Its not really!

Formula one, television, films, BlackBerry applications; what else?

Football?  I'm not a die-hard fan, and although I live in Manchester, am neither a United or City supporter. 
OK, that's not true.  During the current campaign, I must admit to cheering on City; they still trade on their "under-dog" tag and in a way, they are.
Tomorrow night sees the second-leg of the Carling Cup; and City are going into it with a 2-1 advantage.  Unfortunately, it's not being shown on terrestrial television, and I don't have Sky Sports; so I guess I'll have to either listen to it on Radio 5Live, or catch updates on the web.
Either way, I'm hoping that City make it through.

So, totally undecided about what to write.  I'll have to give it some serious consideration for next time.

In the meantime, if you are watching the match tomorrow, or any of the programmes I've mentioned, or the films, or enjoy Formula 1 - then happy watching.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

It's Not Rude To Poynt...

Do you remember when your mum told you it's rude to point. 
Well, now, in the world of BlackBerry, it's rude NOT to Poynt (geddit?)

Welcome to the next of my BlackBerry application reviews.

Poynt describes itself as a free, all-in-one search application for the BlackBerry.

Now, I must admit I was slightly sceptical about this, as some of these types of applications are best suited to use in North America.
However, I was very pleasantly surprised.

So - how does Poynt work?  When you first start the application, it uses your cell-site location to identify where you are.  It's also possible to configure this to use GPS, but that's not too useful if you're indoors!!

Using the track-ball (or trackpad) you can 'spin' the icons in the centre of the screen to get to the module you want to use.

We'll go through these now:

Map It! - Click on here and the Map My Search Location option appears.  Click on this, and a map will be displayed, showing you where you are!! It is possible to configure which map to use; BlackBerry maps or, if you have it, Google Maps.  This is ideal if you're visiting an area, and need a map...
With Google Maps, you also get turn-by-turn directions.

Spin the wheel until you get to Restaurants.  Here are three options.
Restaurants Near Me
Restaurants By Name
Restaurants By Cuisine

Again, this is useful if you don't know what's available in the area, but fancy some fish and chips, a curry or a posh Italian restaurant.
Find the one you're interested in and expand the menu.  You can now call the restaurant, add it your your contacts, map it or even send it via email.

Actually, you can do all those things with all the businesses, restaurants and cinemas - it's very well integrated into BlackBerry.

Next stop - Businesses
Need a plumber?  Running low on fuel?
Enter Petrol Station into the search field, and a list of local stations will be displayed, in distance order.  Click on a business and you can then get to the map, showing where the business is.

Finally - Movies
For me, this is the best part.  There are a number of options available, which I won't go into now. 
The main ones are Movies Near Me and Theaters (yes it is American) Near Me.
Again, based on your location, click on this and a list of all the cinemas are displayed.
Click on your chosen venue and at the top is the Movies Playing option.  This displays all current films, with the times.
Click on a film of your choice, and you can get reviews, information and download a trailer.
The only option not currently available, in the UK, is the ability to buy tickets. 

Overall, this is a particularly smart application.  What's more, it's available free (yes FREE!!) from BlackBerry App World.

I can't possibly do it justice here; but hopefully my enthusiasm for this has come through.

If you have a BlackBerry, but don't have this - then it really is worth Poynting yourself in their direction.  You have nothing to lose...

Have you used Poynt?  What do you think?

Thursday, January 07, 2010

A Momentem in Time (and Expense) Management

I'm a BlackBerry user - as the advert says "Love your BlackBerry"; and I do love mine!

I wasn't one for jumping on the Apple bandwagon, although I can see the benefit of an iPhone, to me it's more of a toy than a business phone.

Now, I just know that some will vehemently argue with that, and cite all the exciting applications that make the iPhone a great choice for business.  I also can't disagree with the popularity of their App Store.

On the other hand, the BlackBerry (I have a Curve 8900) has all the benefits for business (plus the multi-media options available as a secondary feature).
The screen isn't touch screen, and the navigation is via a small trackball, but it has a high usability and user friendliness.
It does, indeed, boast a slightly better camera (at 3.2MP) than the iPhone, and video recording too; with 2 settings; one of which can be MMS, so you can send the video via the network.
It has built-in WiFi, wireless email, browser, calendar and a host of features that really lend this to business use.
I am always discovering something new too; like the short-cut that acts like Alt+Tab on a PC - it allows you to move seamlessly between open applications, so you can cut and paste from documents to emails, etc.
Included are applications such as word, spreadsheet, presentation type software, GPS and maps - the list goes on.  You can see the full specification here.

However, writing about the Curve 8900 is not the purpose of this article.

In the past I have reviewed an application called Viigo - you can see that review here.

Today, I am looking at Momentem - Mobile Expense Management and Call Tagging for BlackBerry.

This is a somewhat unique application that enables you to tag phone calls, emails, expenses and activities, in real time.  Add notes, action items for reminder, mark your billable time and generally make sense of your mobile phone bill.

I have an all-inclusive mobile package, however, when the minutes have been used up, just by tagging the calls, I can download a report that shows who I spoke to, and I can easily submit an expenses claim, fully backed-up, for the additional calls.  On average, I am able to claim back an extra £10 per month.
Not a fortune, but that's over £100 per year that I might otherwise not have got.

Also, for people who charge for all calls, this could, quite literally, be a time-saver.
Not to mention logging expenses and the activities (like meetings) that are chargeable.  It's even possible to email the details direct to the contact, so they have a record of the charge too.

There are tons of reasons for using this, and on their website Momentem lists them in the following groups:
  1. You need to account to others for your mobile time and cost
  2. You need to bill your professional time to others
  3. You need to claim part of your mobile bill from your employer or clients
  4. You have lots of calls and you need to keep track of them and follow them up
  5. You need to make sense of your mobile bill when it comes
  6. You need to keep a count of your mobile minutes to stay within your allowance

It's very simple to set up, and uses a contact list that is separate from the BlackBerry contacts.  These are stored centrally, so if you ever have to change your phone, you can re-sync, saving more time.

I'm not being paid for this review, I just believe that when you find something good, then you should tell people about it.

Take a look at their website and look at what this application can offer you.  It costs nothing to look, and you could end up re-claiming more than you currently do.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

A New Years Resolve....

Happy New Year and welcome to 2010.

As I write this, my first post of the year, we are in the midst of the second fall of snow, which hasn't stopped since about 7.30 this morning.  The main road is white, and while not quite at the levels a couple of weeks ago, if it keeps up as it is, it won't be long.

So, as the song goes, another year is over, a new one just begun.

What does this year have in store?  Most people write about their resolutions, and promises for what they want to achieve.  I always find them a little pointless.  If you want to change, why wait until the beginning of the year?  Change happens when a conscious decision is made and a plan is put into action.

It's silly.  My resolution? To enjoy each day, work hard and, if at all possible, work smarter; so that I can continue to enjoy the fruits of my labour.
That's it.
No 'losing weight' or 'must go to the gym' or 'be nice to everyone' for me!!

Things to look forward to this year:
  • Family and friends celebrations
  • Birthdays
  • A lovely holiday
  • The 2010 Formula 1 Grand Prix season

I admit that last one is a little shallow; but I enjoy it, and I don't follow football to any great degree, so it's my one vice.

There are just a couple of days left before it's back to normality and routine.

I just hope the snow has cleared in time.

What do you have planned for this year?  Whatever they are, I wish you well, with much health and happiness.


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