Blackberry Bold 9900 – Welcome back old friend

Posted on October 17, 2011

In February of this year my trusty old Blackberry 9000 died a sad and final death. The inhouse IT department couldn’t do anything with it, the blinking lights suggested the motherboard was friend and the external repair party wanted R600 to look at it. They also admitted that if it was motherboard it was uneconomical to repair. Eish. With 6 months to go to renewal the device was temporarily replaced by the 8520.

An aside on the 8520, there is very little that the top models can do that the bottom don’t. Sure, the screen isn’t as nice, the keys are smaller, it doesn’t have GPS. It does do twitter, bbm, mail, browsing, Kindle, mxit, whatsapp, and pretty much everything a smart phone should, a little slower yes, but it does work.

After 6 months of the 8520 the upgrade finally happened. Choice 9780 with no pay in, or the 9900 with a R1000 paying. Newer OS, touch screen, bigger keyboard, sold on the 9900.

The most immediate feeling on unboxing and typing in a few setup details, welcome back old friend. My I have missed the keyboard. Blackberry bold 9000 had the best keyboard on a mobile device, ever. The 9900 is the true successor to the 9000. The others were just pretenders.

The new OS is pretty. Still not up to iOS or Android, but is still Blackberry and is an improvement

The new browser is much quicker, renders better, and nicer to use. Big plus here.

The keyboard is great (as above).

The touchscreen. Its there. I use it from time to time. It works well and is unobtrusive. Sometimes navigating is a whole lot quicker touching a few icons, othertimes scroll pad and keys are the thing. You definitely get the best of both worlds, I like.

The trackpad replaces the old track ball. The only thing I disliked about the Bold 9000. It used to get dirty quickly, then get stick and partially work. Ugh. Replaced it after a year, that worked better for 6 months. The trackpad avoids all of that. No moving parts, nothing to get dirty inside. The 8520 had the same and it worked well. Only problem, with my big thumbs from time to time I catch the bottom of the touch screen when scrolling and the cursor jumps. Long term problem or more care needed I’m not sure. Maybe a software fix that disables touch screen while you are scrolling.

I loaded my normal set of applications. Twitter BBM facebook all preloaded just needed updates. Blackberry Travel, Google Sync, Word Press all work great.

Amazon Kindle. Does not work, won’t load as it isn’t compatible. Damn. There has been much talk of the Blackberry platform dying. Amazon doesn’t support the flagship device with the new OS. That is sad, and perhaps an indication of developers abandoning the platform. I hope not, and that Amazon prove me wrong, but in the meantime no catching up with those few pages of my latest novel while standing in the queue at the airport, shopping centre or other stolen moments.

Lastly, Google Sync. As the owner of any smart phone do yourself a favour, install this product. It backs up your contacts and calender to the cloud and synchronises it between devices. My Blackberry, Nokia E71 and Android HTC Desire all share a common address book which is also available in Gmail. Perfect. Get a new device, plug in the credentials your address book is there waiting for you. Perfect use of the cloud, just love it.

Battery life is adequate, seems better than the HTC Desire and the 8520, not up to the levels of the E71 (which I hardly use for online access anymore) but for a fully featured smartphone the 9900 seems to have more than decent battery life.

The device is thin and sleek, wide to allow for the screen and the bigger keyboard, not bulky to worry me in my pocket. The build quality seems solid and has a nice sturdy weight and build to it. Not heavy.

In conclusion, yes, iPhone and Galaxy S II are better, but if you want BBM and mail and uncapped internet and a device which just works, or your organisation says Blackberry is your only choice then this device is a really good choice. Loving it.

(Pictures to be added)

** review typed while waiting in the boarding queue, this keyboard really works well :)

iPad apps I have bought – October 2011

Posted on October 15, 2011

There are thousands of iPad applications. Having had my iPad 2 for only a few weeks and not wanting to spend a whole lot of cash on apps I may not use or really need I have been a bit circumspect when coming around to shelling out for them. Below is a list of apps I have paid for and very brief note on what each does :

  • Numbers (Spreadsheet), V1.4, Developer:Apple $9.99
    • Apple’s spreadsheet program, easy to use, clean interface, so far seems pretty and useful
  • Keynote (Presentations), V1.4, Developer:Apple $9.99
    • Apple’s presentations program, easy to use, clean interface, so far seems pretty and useful. Haven’t used it a whole lot yet but plan to once I have the video out cable.
  • Pages (Word Processor), V1.4, Developer:Apple $9.99
    • Apple’s spreadsheet program, easy to use, clean interface, so far seems pretty and useful. The clean interface and crisp look to it reminds me a lot of Impression from the Acorn RiscOS days.
  • iThoughtsHD (mindmapping), Developer: Craig Scottv2.4 $9.99
    • Mind maps are an essential part of my daily activities, need them to organise my ADHD thoughts. This one is compatible with FreeMind v0.9 which is free software I use a lot on my PC.
  • Penultimate (Note pad software), v3.2, Developer: Cocoa Box Design LLC $1.99
    • Recommended by a number of colleagues, played with it briefly, seems good to take notes, make little sketches. Export in many formats.
  • Data Usage (Data usage monitor), v4.1, Developer: Kartik Patel $0.99
    • Keep track of how much of my monthly 2 gig I have used. Don’t want to run out half way through the month.
  • TuneIn Radio Pro (Streaming radio player/recorder), V2.1, Developer: Synsion Radio Technologies, $0.99
    • Great to listen to, timeshift and record streaming radio stations. Includes 5fm, ECR and Radio 2000 (and 6 other local stations) as well as thousands of international ones.

Must have iPad applications : radio : TuneIn Radio

Posted on October 15, 2011

TuneIn Radio (by Synsion Radio Technologies)  is great internet radio streaming application, has many stations, including nine local stations, with 5fm ECR and Radio 2000 amongst them.

The app does what it needs to, and well. It has the schedules so you can see what’s on and what programming is coming up next. When music is playing it displays the details of the song and artist when available.

A key feature is the time shift recording, the applications keeps recording as you are listening so you can pause and rewind if you miss something and fast forward to get back live. This feature works well. If you pay for the pro version you get to save recordings instead of just doing time shift.

I have mostly used the application to listen to sport. Once your channel is selected and you are listening can switch to another application and keep listening. The multi tasking is a real boon, unlike the DStv drifta application which doesn’t multi task and dies as soon as you switch away. A real pain if you are wanting to check something on the net while listening to the game.

The professional version is just $0.99 and allows you to save the recordings. A worthwhile addition.

Download it here (iTunes SA) or  here (iTunes USA).

Last chance to get your Cell C 3G prepaid bundle at a good price

Posted on October 12, 2011

When Cell C launched their 3G network last year they had some awesome “launch specials” the best 2 of which I considered to be the 2 gig and 5 gig specials. As a reminder, you pay either R1000 or R2000 upfront and then get either 2 gig a month or 5 gig a month, every month for the next year.

I purchased a 2 gig sim for my laptop last year, it expires this month. I have also put one into an Android phone, and into my iPad. Do the maths, that’s 6 gig of mobile data across 3 devices for about R250 per month. No other service provider comes close (yes 8ta does have their contract option R199 a month for 10 gig a month, also a great deal, just can’t split that easily over my devices). I have recommended this Cell C deal to friends, family and the like over the last year and all have been delighted.

Those introductory special offers now come to and end in the next few days, the price goes up significantly as at the 1 November, but the current deals won’t be available after the weekend. So look air it carefully, if your current sim expires in the next month or 3, it will be worth getting another now, or if you are in the market for a new data hungry device (tablet, iPhone, android device) do yourself a favor and get one now.

Once you have made the decision don’t forget your Rica documents and then be prepared to have a little patience, these babies are hard to find. Phone a few Cell C shops and track them down.

Yesterday I spent an hour in the Cell C shop in Carlton, they were so helpful. They had one left in stock, did the sim swap to microsim for the iPad for free, and hunted down a second one. They phoned about five or six other shops to find it, and then did a sim swap from that shop to theirnso I wouldn’t have to go anywhere else, this was customer service above and beyond, they delighted me and deserve much credit for doing good for their brand.

Good luck in hunting down your deals, it is worth it and you won’t be sorry. If you get some spotty cell c coverage, just remember what you would be paying for that same data on Vodacom or MTN, and remember they have their fair share of problems.

Your favourite iPad applications, please share

Posted on October 06, 2011

I have finally succumbed to the temptation and acquired a new iPad 2, 32 gig 3G version. There are so many applications for the device, although the SA app store is really lame. Within all of 3 hours I was ready to jailbreak my device, until I had a USA iTunes account set up and the world opened up. I hear that the Kenya app store (yes Kenya) has benefits. All of the apps (though not the music) is available and you can use your South African credit card. Another post on that soon.

In the meantime, please share details of your favourite applications. I am looking to put a post together so look forward to hearing from you to make that a more interesting post.

New Android manufacturers and devices supported on Drifta

Posted on October 05, 2011

DStv Mobile have announced that some new devices are supported by their Android client, interestingly enough, this covers 2 previously unsupported manufacturers in LG and Motorola. Hopefully this is the start of something. Here is the list of new devices:

  • LG Optimus Black (LG P970)
  • Motorola Defy (MB 525)
  • HTC ChaCha
  • HTC Desire HD
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab (7″ All models including GT-P1000, GT-P1010)
Download it from the Android Store here.

HTC Desire build.prop

Posted on October 04, 2011

I had a few requests for a copy of my build.prop from my HTC Desire (one of the devices supported by the Drifta Android software). In the hope it helps some of you I have uploaded it and added it to the FAQ.

Link here

If you have one of the other supported devices (Galaxy S, SII etc) feel free to send me your build.prop and I will upload it to help out others.



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