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No More Widgets, please, no more.

December 29, 2009 Comments off

I just read an article from the Financial Post Tech Desk; an interview with Mike Lazaridis.

An interesting Question and part of the answer from Mr. Lazaridis spawned a thought that disturbed me a little. I’ll begin with it here.

FP: It seems that the way that many people are interacting with the mobile web, or the Web through a mobile device, is through applications and it seems to be creating a bit of a walled garden effect. I’m just curious how you see that evolution of the mobile experience. What kind of a role do you think the browser and mobile applications will play in how we access the Web on a mobile device going forward?

ML: That’s a very insightful question. A lot of applications — I’d argue upwards of 70 per cent — are really just re-purposed Websites.

Take note that I cut off more than 1 paragraph from Mr. Lazaridis’ answer because this is where my thoughts began to flood in. In actuality it wasn’t as a debate, but more of a concern.

Take note that I cut off more than 1 paragraph from Mr. Lazaridis’ answer because this is where my thoughts began to flood in. In actuality it wasn’t as a debate, but more of a concern.

It’s becoming more and more evident that the majority of developers are becoming either:

A) Lazy (which I personally feel),
B) in-experienced and not willing to put in the time & effort, or,
C) Spreading themselves thin and trying to maximize on profits by jumping on too many platforms at once and seeing what fills their bank accounts.

Creating web based applications, a combination of HTML, SOAP, XML, and Javascript (essentially widgets), to create a GUI with limited controls for an application that MUST connect to a central cloud server in order for it to be of any use is really a cop-out. Yes I called it a cop-out!!

Widgets, used to cover the whole web-based app theme/trend, are too limited to fully encompass what main apps are meant to do. Some would argue “the cloud” (server) is the supreme source of any app, service or computational power. This for the latter two can be true, but out of the 3 the first two could be the app. To me the widget is an excuse & a gain either at the same time or the left/right hand of the equation ~ Apps vs Widgets which makes THE best interactive experience for the end user.

Widgets allow for Developers to make an interactive experience for the end user quickly, using the most efficient use of their time and allowing for a quicker and wider spread of their work across multiple platforms with little or minor adjustments between them. Widgets ALSO mask the skills of any developer in that it allows a developer with minimal skills of said platform to be able to code a powerful application & experience rich in features and interactive UI.

I know I’m not making any new friends, or maintaining those that previously would have been followers of this humble blog by making these comments. And I know I’ll most likely create MORE enemies or one’s that like me less due to them. But as you can see vs most other blogs, I’m not doing this for the money (although THAT would be a welcome thing at this time in my life), I do it to voice my opinion in full, my perception if you will on what is going on in the mobile computing space that we hold in our hands.

When we, you, me, developers, think of widgets we need to think of two major things. For Widgets to truly work they NEED to have a consistent/persistent connection to the internet ~or~ They need to rely heavily on new data from the internet at very frequent intervals to remain relevant, useful, and remain of interest to the end user. Another thing to consider about widgets, is the not just the lack of power of this interaction but also the lack unlimited data plans across so many countries around the world where many of these smartphones are available. And I don’t mean just available but thriving in sales; Indonesia, Canada, and many others STILL do NOT have unlimited data plans for local data consumption on smartphones of ANY kind!

Wait! could it be the main reason behind the trend of such widgets is lead by company’s whom already have many of your services in the cloud? Ahem, AOL, Google, Yahoo, and even some of Microsoft’s services are in the cloud. Collectively, they all have Email, IM, hosted personal sites, pictures, videos, and many of your data that you submit, share, and consume (free/cost). So … widgets although the majority of them are FREE, the lead to higher consumption of data (which is not free to a few million of us), and to a lackluster experience that needs data to the hosts cloud and possibly more spending by you. Maybe not now, but the trend to spend more on cloud services or be bombarded by ads WILL increase and very quickly.

There are beneficial reasons for Widgets; like them evolving to support HTML5 or JSR271/MIDP3 but until then we really need to wait to see their potential in favor for the end user grow. I’ll leave any current benefit for you the reader to comment on (no spam please), I’d really like to read and rebuttal our opinions.

So Developers, give us powerful apps that don’t consistently NEED to connect to a cloud for us end users to get real use out of using them. If you concentrate on widgets more than localized core coded applications, true applications that take advantage of the core OS API’s, then your Widget is nothing more than … a Browser. This is fine for a Desktop/Laptop/Netbook or sub-notebook, but NOT for an interactive personal communicator/mobile computing platform that we take with use anywhere and fit in our pockets.

Widgets are nothing more than glorified and pitiful web browsers. I’ll be more than happy to concede but show me a Widget, especially on a BlackBerry (my current platform of choice) that offers equal power to an actual native code (J2ME with rimlets) and equal UI that can serve the end user with either minimal data use or no data use.

BlackBerry Development ~ Some links

December 27, 2009 Comments off

BlackBerry AppWorld Icon

Well its time for a different kind of post. This hopefully will interest everybody that visits.

I figured I’d look around RIM’s site specific for the coding and administration of the BlackBerry devices (consumer & corporate; respectively). There is a lot more power to the BlackBerry handheld that what most realize ~ and still benefit them.

This is for the website administrators out there.
What are the different browsers and how do they impact your web page?

These include:
Blackberry Browser
Internet Browser
WAP Browser (hardly common these days)
Hotspot Browser
Check out the video link above on you Mac/PC browser or the DiVX format here.

And for you Dev hats out there … this following link should have a plethora of videos ~ basic in nature but helpful if your curious about developing for 36million consumers worldwide and growing! Yeah their all addicts!

Developer Video Library (check the tabs at top of site)

Introduction:
– Introduction to BlackBerry Java Development
– Introduction to the BlackBerry Push API
– Introduction to the BlackBerry Development with SAP Netweaver
– Overview on Using Touch and Accelerometer API’s on the BlackBerry Storm

(there is also a vid on a team that worked with McLaren Mercedes & Lewis Hamilton to modify their code for BT remote controlling a toy for an actual F1 car … VERY COOL indeed! iPhone eat your heart out!

– How to create Client/Server Connections
– Compatibility Mode with BlackBerry Storm Smartphone
– How to Create a Theme using the Plazmic Theme Builder

BES Administration:
– Introduction to the BB Administration APIs
– Setting up your Eclipse/Java Enviro for using BB Admin APIs
– BlackBerry Administation APIs Setting up MS.Net Environment
– Web Development & Java Development Environment videos
– Mobilizing Oracle Applications on BlackBerry Smartphones.

Hopefully more java & web developers will create far more powerful applications for BlackBerry

Merry Christmas Everyone!

December 25, 2009 2 comments

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

To all my visitors, my family and friends, and to those that are out in the cold suffering, I hope you find a warm place & a warm meal along with good times & comfort.

Spread joy and share what you can.

Here are some wallpapers for you Bold 9700, 9000, and 8520/30 Curve.

BB_Bold Wallpaper - Christmas_1

BB_Bold Wallpaper - Christmas_2

BB_Bold Wallpaper - Christmas_2

BB_Bold Wallpaper - Christmas_3

BB_Bold Wallpaper - Christmas_3

Now, get out there and drink up! Don’t forget to plan your ride home with a designated driver, friend that doesn’t drink, or just simply LEAVE your keys home and bring extra $50 for a cab ride home! Don’t be stingy and tip them should they make sure you get in the door safely.

Ladies, remember the buddy system!

BlackBerry Premium Multimedia Headset – 9700

December 25, 2009 Comments off

You got to understand that I’m a music lover! Also I’m a pedestrian, usually walking & taking the subway to & from work, going to friends place, and shopping.

Bold 9700 Multimedia Playback

Bold 9700 Multimedia Playback

Ever since I’ve owned the Sony Ericsson W810i, I’ve been looking for a phone that has quality headsets, preferably from the same manufacturer as the phone (better quality and/or compatibility). I think only 1 phone I’ve ever owned in the past 4yrs didn’t have quality stereo headphones (E71). Also I used to be an A2DP faithful, again due to SonyEricsson, but finding the specific model A2DP headphones locally or even online from reputable retailers I gave up on those.

BlackBerry Premium Multimedia Headset

BlackBerry Premium Multimedia Headset

Enter the BlackBerry Premium Multimedia Headset & 9700. In a word …. POW! I’m no audiophile but I take specific pride in the tracks I truely love (Classic House, Jazz, R&B, Hip-Hop, and Progressive House). After previously using the iPhone/iPod I was pleasantly surprised by the frequency response, and the BASS that these offer. I’m ecstatic over the deep lows, mids, and High’s that I have NOT heard before in the same tracks I listen to daily for the past 4mths!!

RIM BlackBerry Premium Multimedia Headset Kit

Complete Case & switchable earings

Playback, FWD, RWD, Volume adjustment … its ALL there when connected to my BlackBerry 9700. I used to own the BlackBerry 8100 and I tried a 3rd party headset for those and was put off using it as a music player due to the headset automatically trying to voice call without any input from me on a windy day, Arrgh! This new OS 5.0.x.xxx along with the stereo headphones reproduce sound and playback controls VERY well.

RIM BB Bold 9700 - Germany Official Presentation

RIM BB Bold 9700 - Germany Official Presentation

Unfortunately, these don’t accept calls, or make calls  ~ or the odd time I get it to work its not well. Also I keep getting an odd feedback like static, not often and very rare but I think its due to the headset plug being pulled/bent slightly. The issue with making/receiving calls may have to do with the angled sides of the 9700, the headset plug does not seat fully flushed in the 9700’s jack.

I’m beginning to wonder if the Premium Multimedia Headset is specifically for the Storm model (RIM has 9700 & other listed as compatible). Unless others have different experiences than I do with making/receiving calls then I’m thinking of keeping these until I get a similar version from RIM.

RIM BB Bold 9700

RIM BB Bold 9700

Live to be Bold!

December 20, 2009 Comments off

Dadda’s got a brand new Bag!

A bag of style, funk, and sick moves. That’s right the Bold 9700 is a winner. Should you choose it for Calls, Emails, PIM, or multimedia its a serious top notch for personal or corporate/business use.

Bold 9700

Live To Be Bold

Calls:
Many phones on the market still perform horribly in what their primary purpose is … calls & call management! Call quality on the Bold 9700 is, well I’d say in the top 5 devices currently. There is no need to shoot off fancy technology innovations for each release/device (Motorola). Just offer outstanding call quality; no robot sounds, pure normal voice tones/reproduction so your voice sounds the same to those on the other end. And theirs are normal to you. I want Clarity and the only manufacturer besides RIM to do this consistently is SonyEricsson!

Call Log

Call Log

Call History

View Call Log

Call Management. Best in class, best on the market. Should you receive, miss, or make incoming/outgoing calls you would want a tidy yet informative record of it, n’est-pas? Of course. You would want to know who (name & number), time of the call (time & date), and possibly the duration which helps when you NEED to debate the rate of charges. These calls, the people you vocally communicate with are managed (linked) to your Address Book within the BlackBerry, and if you’ve already done so with the contact it’ll reflect in BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) as well.

NOTE: Here in Canada, providers have setup their networks to be a little tricky. Should you have the unlimited evenings & weekends for local calling feature on your cellular line, you NEED to be careful when the Call begins (no matter if you Received/Initiated the call)! Let’s say your Unlimited Evenings local calling starts at 6PM your local time. All phones will update to match the network time (if not get RID of that phone NOW). Now if you Receive/Make a call at 5:59PM local time (it does NOT matter if the incoming call is Long Distance/Local to YOUR line or not) and you talk for say 60minutes. Those 60minutes (currently 6:59PM) is coming out of your daytime minute allotment for the month, and if you’re over its more $$ out of your pocket! Now you know WHY you need to know the duration of the call.

Blackberry defines Call Management in a number of ways: Status, History, Call Notes; and if you view a particular Contacts History, you can select “Open” to View Call Log. There is one oddity that is obvious & overlooked by RIM. BlackBerry Messenger identifies people by Email, or by PIN (PIN to PIN messaging is unique to BlackBerry’s). Why does the Address Book not have a predefined field for “PIN”?! Odd, no?

Emails:
Well for ANY emails to work on Blackberry you’ll need to have a specified BIS (for personal emails) or BES (corporate emails) to work. Personally I don’t have either currently since my 9700 is being starved on a Pay As You Go line, until I switch my line over.

Emails are pushed/pulled (by gmail/hotmail/yahoo mail, and by RIM NOC respectively) to RIM’s NOC, then PUSHED to your wireless network and then to your device. This is VERY basically explained and I’m not going to get deeper into this. Its the industry standard that made push emails just about instant; BES accounts is immediately, while BIS accounts CAN take up to 15mins when emails to your POP/IMAP stop for a while and then receive an email.

Lets just say RIM has always had this covered and nobody else (personal IMAP/POP3, OWA/Exchange, Domino, or Novell Groupwise) has matched this. Power goes to Microsoft’s WinMo devices as their personal setup for Outlook OWA ActiveSync works best; but when it comes to corporate BES vs MS ActiveSync … there is NO comparison! Should you use Seven/GoodLink then your using THE SAME technology that RIM is using; licensed by NTP!

At another date I’ll get into whats possible on a corporate BES implementation, in increments.

Note: some of you using older BlackBerry’s from OS 4.2, and possibly 4.6 or prior, have BlackBerry Redirector installed from the Desktop Manager on your office desktop (and running all the time). Take special care that you do NOT upgrade that Blackberry Desktop Manager (BBDM) software on your work PC since newer versions of BBDM no longer support Redirector! You may NEED to upgrade BBDM if you need it to work with your Bold (9700).

PIM:

Oh brother, its not just about the places you’ll go, but what you’ve done, will do, and how you handle your bigznizz! That’s right, people remember your smile, how you handle your-delf, but most importantly over time they remember you for the things you do, not the things you say (calls, emails, etc). An eloquent Hip-Hop lyricist once said “It’s not about what you know but what you can do!”

Plan your Day, week, Month or Year; not like its your birthday. Setup your meetings, accept/deny/reschedule them (BES, I’m unsure if BIS supports this now) as well as participants, and enter your shift hours. Many 3rd party applications have access to the calendar to import/export data from/to it via API’s. What I love is that you can enter a Task (separate core PIM) with an alarm but also enter a number so that when the reminder sounds off, and you accept it, a call can be made immediately!

I’m not sure about the lot of you, but I have a TON of Outlook Notes that I rely on & sync to my BlackBerry (as I’ve done to other smartphones). I love how I can set a category to organize them further. Categories for Notes or Address Book can be set to “Business”, “Personal” or custom defined by you. Links can be entered, unfortunately not hyper-linked (hopefully soon).

Just think of how all the recent smartphones are trying to add The Social with online synchronization of Contact information (local with FaceBook, Twitter, MySpace, and other Web2.0 accounts). Although these are welcome, they do poorly with linking this information to other local core PIM functionality. I’d say Palm’s WebOS and SonyEricsson’s MediaScape is onto something without causing much clutter with the fluff. Personally BBM messenger once you’ve tried it with BBMaps, file/contacts/bookmark or links transfer, most people get hooked. I’m not, since I’ve barely found a personal or business need/want for it, just yet.

Has anyone noticed I’ve used the word NEED quite often in this blog post yet?! There are just so many of them that was overlooked when I used the iPhone, and when not working paying for apps that deliver what the core PIM should do, is just asinine.

Multimedia:

Well there is just so much quality in the pictures & video that the 9700’s 3.2MP camera offers and proven on various reviews of the 8900 I just will save you all that. This processor is VERY capable for simultaneous tasks.

In closing using this BlackBerry for the past 5 days ~ beyond supporting it ~ without a Data Plan is like being happily married and on a dinner & club date with Mariah Carey & Eva Mendes! You’re biting & kicking yourself fighting the urge to jump into the naughty & yet simultaneously confused as to whom to start with or where to begin. I guess that’s why my wonderful wife calls my smartphone “the mistress” 😉 ~ “Oh you bad girl” from the eBay baby comes to mind.

Shameless Plug: Should a few of you out there in Canada still deciding what to upgrade to for the coming year do it NOW! Best Buy Mobile has Telus Bold 9700 for $199 on 3yrs with $150 Best Buy Gift Card. Telus online has the same with $50 Gift card, Futureshop the same with $75 Gift Card. Tis the season to be both greedy and giving (that gift card can seriously help out)!

New Smartphone in my Pocket

December 20, 2009 Comments off

Last week was the time I needed a change.

Although, the NEED for the change of my smartphone was for my current job (started Wednesday), I was pretty happy with the personal use of my iPhone to some extent.

The iPhone 3GS is a decent multimedia and web tablet performer that handles calls pretty intuitively for the average non-technically inclined user. Its never been advertised as a “smartphone” by Apple ~ even if the power is there ~ and this is part of its huge success around the globe as a new entrant. Unfortunately for me, the iPhone lacks horribly for true or proper PIM entry and organization.

Since I’m returning to my roots regarding HH support, and the need to refresh those skills, I decided on getting a BlackBerry.

Once again I’m back but this time I’m going to LIVE to be Bold! I purchased the 9700 outright for a cool $500! Many thanks to Joseph for taking time out of chilling with friends waiting for his girl to sell to me his Telus 9700.

I’ve used quite a few smartphones in my day, with minimal experience with UIQ/Windows Mobile, and I can say with full confidence that the BlackBerry platform is by far THE most powerful PIM organization in the business ~ better than what the Palm OS was hailed to be back in the day some 14yrs ago.

There are some changes I need to get used to, and the lack of a current data plan is KILLING me and the abilities that this bad bwoy can do, but its still up to PIM tasks & wlan browsing.

Fortunately, for the underperforming Browser on BB OS (a proprietary mix of J2ME/CLDC with some J2EE security imbedded), its MUCH better than on OS 4.6 or previous that I experienced on my 8100 years ago.

Soon RIM is going to release a new Browser with full support for Flash 10.1 (or newer) and most likely with HTML5. Since the current version in OS 5.0 supports GoogleGears, which incidentally is legacy supported by Google,the common sense move it to support HTML5. Google has already begun to use the early draft of HTML5 for GoogleWave and a few of their other cloud products. HTML5 will soon move into the infamous GMAIL app as well.

I’ll mention more of the Bold 9700 tonight or tomorrow after work. Tah Tah for now.

Categories: Uncategorized
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