Breaking for Easter, Mar 21

Hey all, might have noticed a lack of posting today… I’m down in the BlackBerry heartland of Kitchener, Ontario visiting family for Easter, but I’ll try to get a podcast out this afternoon. Hope everyone’s enjoying the long weekend!

Weekly Contest: Bon Voyage, Mar 21

Been somewhere exotic with your BlackBerry? Tell us your travel story, and win 6 months of Gold service with WorldMate Live!

BlackBerry Cool Podcast: Episode 21, Mar 15

Neil Sainsbury gives his take on iPhone versus BlackBerry SDKs, ProntoForms gets the Exhibitor Spotlight treatment, and as always we cover the week’s news.

Weekly Contest: Bon Voyage, Mar 21

Last week we talked a bit about going where no BlackBerrys had gone before, mostly to hilariously dangerous consequences. Of course, not all the places you’ve taken your BlackBerry are threats to its structural integrity - maybe you’ve shot out a few e-mails from the Saraha, or taken a call from Mount Everest (I hear the reception’s pretty good), or grabbed a few snaps in the Arctic with your Curve. Wherever you’ve been, let’s hear the most exotic place you’ve used your BlackBerry. The winner will get 6 months of Gold service from WorldMate Live to set them up on their next trip.

Last week’s winner behind the jump…

BlackBerry 8330 getting a memory upgrade?, Mar 20

The latest rumors on the CDMA Curve are suggesting increased internal memory. Right now, the newest BlackBerrys are touting 64 MB, but these screenshots of Sprint’s 8330 show 80 MB of flash memory. Yay upgrades, but a lot of posters are awfully cynical about the news, saying it’s just not enough to keep up with competitors, while others counter that microSD is where the real memory comes from. Cards are getting bigger

Mobile internet usage on the rise, says Google, Mar 20

Evidence gathered from Google’s mobile offerings indicates that mobile internet usage is on the rise in a big way, reports Electronista. Google has seen mobile internet use increase since they released mobile versions of some of their products, like Gmail, Maps, and Search. A Reuters analyst, however, pointed out that it might a sort of selection bias on the part of Google, with people simply using their products more often rather than the internet in general. Still, some evidence points in the other direction: Google receives 50 times more searches from iPhone users than any other phone. Who would have thought a decent browser might actually get used more often?

Royal Bank of Canada launches mobile site, Mar 20

RBC logoThe RBC, or Royal Bank of Canada, has launched a new mobile site for their customers. A completely stripped down home page allows you to access your online banking with all the features that entails, the main RBC site, and their terms and conditions. For those Canadians banking from the Quebec side, it even has a French version. Last year RIM overtook RBC as the largest Canadian company out there. I guess if you can’t beat ‘em, might as well join ‘em.

Exhibitor Spotlight: Exgis, Mar 20

Everyone from the self employed, to small businesses, to large enterprises incurs expenses, and Exgis is there to track them. Using their web-based software, which is available anywhere with an internet connection, you can input and track expenses, and even automatically convert prices into your home currency if you’re out of the country. Their mobile version, available exclusively on BlackBerry, has all the features of the web-based software but allows you to input expenses as they happen rather than days later. Their booth at WES should be well worth visiting, and hopefully we’ll get to see even more features.

New theme raises the bar, Mar 19

A fresh new addition to Bplay, Crossbar, really is something different. Animated themes aren’t new, but Crossbar provides a bar which scrolls as you roll left and right (rather than moving the cursor), giving you access to the first seven applications as well as the three Today icons. It’s not often I get excited about themes, but this is innovative, slick, and gives you access to more apps on your home screen than any other Zen or Today theme out there. Check it out!

Box.net offers a gig of free BlackBerry-accessible storage space, Mar 19

Can’t beat free, eh? Cortado has teamed up with Box.net to offer a free gigabyte of online storage that BIS users can access on their BlackBerry. All you have to do is register for an account on Box.net, grab the Cortado BlackBerry client, and you’re good to go. Of course, most of the stuff that you can stash on Google (like pictures and docs) are already mobile-ready, but what the hell, one more option never hurts. Head on over here for more info.

Lazaridis talks quantum physics and HSDPA, Mar 19

LazaridisStefano spotted a great interview with RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis on the Financial Times which runs down the man’s priorities, and interests. Outside of acknowledging the upcoming HSDPA BlackBerry (likely the 9000), it also highlights and explains his long-standing support of quantum physics.

“I’d increase my investment in quantum physics research (including quantum teleportation). It holds the potential for the next major industrial revolution. I’ve started two institutes in Canada: the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical physics; and the Institute for Quantum Computing, at the University of Waterloo. … [Quantum computing] will enable us to harness the inherent computing potential of atoms - rather than computer chips. This will be faster and use the fabric of reality [to compute for us]. If we could build large enough quantum computers, they would be infinitely more powerful than the computers we have today.”

North American outage scheduled for March 22nd?, Mar 19

A user on the Pinstack forums posted about a 100% outage scheduled for March 22nd, lasting through the hours 1:00 to 5:00 AM EST, and confirmed on the BB-Outage mailing list. The outage is for a database upgrade, and will prevent email and internet access on BIS and BES for all users in North America. Outages are never fun, but at least it’s planned this time, eh?

BlackBerry and medical software free after rebate, Mar 19

StethoscopeeAccess has launched a new deal where you can get a BlackBerry Curve 8320 or Pearl 8120 for free after a mail-in rebate. The phones come bundled with The Sanford Guide to Antimicrobial Therapy and Tarascon Pocket Pharmacopoeia Deluxe from USBMIS. The books are well known in the medical industry: The Sanford Guide is a complete antimicrobial reference, while Tarascon Pocket offers detailed information on a number of drugs, including dosage information and much more.

Exhibitor Spotlight: Ring2, Mar 19

Ring2 specializes in phone- and web-based conferencing, recently bundled with medical services for BlackBerry. Their mobile solution allows users to participate in and control phone conferences from anywhere. Using a BlackBerry, you can be instantly notified when someone joins a conference and see a list of all participants. If you don’t recognize a name, you can drop them from the conference entirely or place them on hold, and even mute users if background noise interferes with the call. Finally, you can save the entire conference to MP3 for later retrieval. Hopefully we’ll get to see some new features at their booth at WES.

RIM Eclipse plug-in released, Mar 18

A beta for the Eclipse plug-in spied back in February has been released at EclipseCon, and available for download over here. As discussed in a previous podcast, this move shows that RIM is trying to get cozy with the open-source crowd, which is a little odd for such a closed platform, but obviously we’ll have to wait to hear from the devs for the final verdict.

FindMe lets Facebook buddies know where you are, Mar 18

A new bit of location-based software was released today from the guys that did FlipSide. I’ve been using the beta of FindMe for awhile now, and it seems to be working great. It’s set up so that you associate cell towers with certain locations, so when your BlackBerry uses that tower, it updates on your Facebook profile. You can even voluntarily provide extra details so that location can be found on Google Maps through Facebook. You also have the option to “go dark” whenever you don’t want to share your location. For such a light app, both on your BlackBerry and your profile, FindMe offers a really great service.

MLB refines its BlackBerry experience, Mar 18

Back in the summer, MLB.com released a downloadable browser shortcut to their mobile site, which was nice, but generally just considered a token to the BlackBerry crowd. Well, now they’ve narrowed it down to getting shortcuts for your particular teams - just go to yankees.com, or dodgers.com or whatever your favourite team is, and you’ll be able to download the shortcut over the air from your mobile browser.

BlackBerry 8120 available on T-Mobile April 14th?, Mar 18

It seems like T-Mobile is having some trouble getting BlackBerrys out the door. Just like the 8820, the Wi-Fi enabled 8120 has been pushed back to April 14th according to a post on the Pinstack forums. It was originally rumored for release on February 18th, but that date has obviously come and gone. “A little birdie” told the user about the date, so this is definitely stashed under the rumor category, but it’s a pretty plausible one.

Even more golf tracking on BlackBerry, Mar 18

GreenFinder is the latest product in a recent spate of golf tracking apps. The inaugural release of Itinerant Software, GreenFinder uses your GPS-equipped BlackBerry to display your distance from the front, back, and center of the green, and how far (or, in my case, how dismayingly close) you are to hazards. A yearly fee of $35 gives you access to free software upgrades and an unlimited number of course downloads if you happen to be a globe-trotting golfer. And unlike the most other golf tracking apps, this one’s been designed from the ground up for the BlackBerry.

Exhibitor Spotlight: Neverfail, Mar 18

Neverfail specializes in disaster recovery and prevention in IT areas. They offer broad support for BES, monitoring apps, network infrastructure, and the physical servers. Their software detects any outages within the system and implements an automatic failover to restore service within 90 seconds. It even integrates with other software — such as Conceivium’s MobileMonitor — to provide better support. Hopefully we’ll get to see some cool demos at WES.

Handango and Carphone Warehouse team up, Mar 17

The Carphone Warehouse, a giant phone retailer in the UK, is now working with top software reseller, Handango. The software that Carphone Warehouse will be selling covers some of the most popular items out there these days, including Empower, Shape’s IM+, and a theme fit for any pink Pearl out there. Digital distribution is usually seen as a threat to the old-school brick-and-mortar stores, but it’s pretty interesting to see a web-based business make the jump backwards. Whether or not something like this flies will depend a lot on delivery. If you’re e-mailed a list of activation codes and download links, you might as well just buy the software off the site, but if it all came loaded on the device and ready to rock, it would make for a very unique way to buy your BlackBerry.

RIM getting in on motion-sensing?, Mar 17

Stefano has spotted an Italian article which alludes to a new patent filing from RIM which would detect if you’re holding your BlackBerry in landscape or portrait orientation. Sound familiar? This patent would allow phone functions to appear when in portrait mode, and multimedia functions when in landscape. With all the talk about touchscreens as is, it feels like RIM’s researchers are clinging to Apple’s coattails, let alone with rumors of an accelerometer patent. In any case, nothing has been found after rooting through the FCC database, but if you find anything, be sure to drop a comment.

Check the hilarious results of online translation behind the jump…

BlackBerry Connect now available in Africa, Mar 17

Hot on the heels of RIM’s big push into Africa, BlackBerry Connect has now been made available for a few companies in the region. Using the service, users will be able to connect to BIS and BES on select non-BlackBerry phones. It’s not clear exactly which providers provide access on which phones, but Safaricom and Celtel are specifically mentioned, with Celtel providing access on some Nokia E series phones.

Exhibitor Spotlight: AMI, Mar 17

AMI, or Activity Management Inc., offers the Insight service, which tracks employees that work outside the office, giving up-to-date information on their current location and how long client visits last. The software works by using the concept of “geocodes” and “geofences.” A geocode is simply a translation of a physical street address into latitude and longitude coordinates. A geofence is an area centered on a geocode that precisely describes the area a client site encompasses. When an employee enters the geofence their exact arrival time is recorded, while their departure time is recorded when they leave. All the information is recorded in a database, which managers can query to get daily, weekly, monthly, or even yearly reports on employee visits.

Bplay lets you set sail for love, Mar 17

A few new releases from Bplay have hit their store, most notably the adventure games Leisure Suit Larry: Love For Sail and Surviving Hollywood. Love For Sail puts you in control of the lovable Larry Laffer as he tries and fails to woo every available woman on a cruise ship. The Leisure Suit Larry series has always been known for its great dialog, and the mobile re-production is chock full of mini-games and puzzles to keep you interested between talks. Surviving Hollywood is in the style of the choose-your-own-adventure books of yore. Players guide a young actor on the path to stardom, balancing odd jobs to pay the rent with making time for auditions and hob-nobbing with celebs. Two new themes are also available: the starkly minimalist Cubes and the more colorful Explorer.

R.I.P. Russell Shaw, Mar 17

Man, what a way to start the week… Russell Shaw, the voice behind BlackBerry Beat, passed away Friday, March 14th. at around 6:45 PM EDT in a hotel room, apparently due to illness. BlackBerry Beat was one of the first sites I was introduced to when starting at BlackBerry Cool, and has since been an incredible source of patent news (although the blog certainly had its editorial moments, too). Aside from that, Russell was also in charge of ZDNet’s IP-Telephony blog and the popular BBHub before that. He was an accomplished author, a knowledgeable journalist, and a pillar of the BlackBerry community. His contributions to the world of technology will not soon be forgotten.

BlackBerry Cool Podcast: Episode 21, Mar 15

BBCoolFor the week of March 10th. we’ve got Neil Sainsbury, developer of BBSmart and fellow blogger, to chat about the iPhone SDK and how it shapes up against RIM’s. Alvoro Pombo from TrueContext comes on our Exhibitor Spotlight to talk about ProntoForms, yet aanother option for mobilizing forms. As always, we cover the week’s news, including some official comments on the recent blackouts, reassurances from Indian government about BlackBerry bans, rumours about the BlackBerry 8820 on T-Mobile, and more. Take a listen, or get fed, or do your iTunes thing.

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