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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The BlackBerry Q10...

My thumbs decree, "We're back!"

Yesterday my demo unit of the Q10 arrived and while I'd hoped to make a temporary switch to the Q10 from my Z10, my daughter was too quick for me and adopted the device, but not without giving me some time with the black beauty.

It's elegant, and roughly the same size as my work BlackBerry, the 9900 when equipped with the Otterbox Commuter. It's comfortable in the hands, with a crystal clear screen that features a 720x720 resolution. Yes, it's square, but the keyboard is a perfect fit just below, and it's an familiar old friend.

My daughter's comment was that it was weird, but qualified that by explaining that she's been in the on-screen keyboard world since April 2012, first with the BlackBerry Torch 9860, when she replaced her Torch Slider, the 9800, then on February 4th of this year when the BlackBerry Z10 came to ROGERS in Canada.

Yes, we're early adopters in this family.

Like the Z10, the Q10 has micro-HDMI port, and you can add a microSD card to increase the storage of the device. Having just purchased a 32Gb microSD card for $20 from NCIX.ca, my device has capacity to store videos and the as many pictures as I can snap. And the BlackBerry camera is very capable in daylight and indoor photography, though low-light can be a little difficult, but this doesn't set this device behind any other. If you're documenting or capturing the impromptu moments of life, it'll so. Raise the bar with HDR pictures, but switch to a rapid shot mode for those family events.

The device is solid, feels great in the hand and a tough as you'd expect from a BlackBerry, not that I've drop-tested it. I promised my daughter a 1 month review period, after that I'll find a good home for it, or perhaps try it myself, but I do love my Z10.

Maybe BlackBerry will have something new to try by then, but from what I've seen this is the second a bright future of devices from my friends in Waterloo, Ontario.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

All packed...

...and ready to go. My one piece of carry-on has my life on-board for the next four days. As such these days will be spent learning, hunting for WiFi, posting as much as I can and all using either my BlackBerry Z10 or my BlackBerry PlayBook. It's a busy week, and while I wish I could have broken my daughters out of school for this, this just means I'll refrain from having any fun that I'd normally share with them.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

I am "BlackBerry Elite," by choice.

I am...

BlackBerry (BBRY) has, for some time, recognized me as a fan. As you know I write about BlackBerry, occasionally critically, but always with the best interests of this Canadian company at heart. They have helped me gain experience with their products and services by ensuring I have access to them, and to be fair I do not weight their graciousness into my opinion of the products I talk about.

I am attending BlackBerry Live next week, May 14th-16th, and I am hoping to learn a great deal about the future of BlackBerry OS and where they're headed. I have my own ideas too, and hope to convey those to the right people. I'll echo those ideas and what I learn and discover through this blog and perhaps a couple of others. My main intent is to show you what I love about this company, their products, and their direction. I am drawn to get back into development on this platform, it's the right place to explore, but certainly not the only place. There's competition from Windows 8, as much as I haven't enjoyed it, it's new interface has potential, but for true mobility I believe the BlackBerry Z10, Q10, PlayBook, and some yet-to-be announced devices hold the wildcards in this game.

Stay tuned for more.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Mobilizing Music and having it last...

Whether it's my Plantronics 903+ headset, my OEM BlackBerry ear buds or my BlackBerry Music Gateway, there's no doubt that I like music around me, and these devices really make using my BlackBerry Z10, even my 9900 an even closer companion, but the latest music device from my friends at BlackBerry is the Bluetooth connected BlackBerry Mini Stereo Speaker.

 It fits in the palm of your hand, has excellent quality sound (for a device of this size) and serves as either a hands-free device or remote speakers. You can even plug in headphones and it charges via micro-USB (the same as what most smartphones use). It does have an on/off switch so it's keep charged safely tucked away in a beach bag. You can even answer a call without removing your phone from the safety of a backpack or your car's console.

Once paired to your device, simply powering it up should re-acquaint the two devices, it functioned as easily with my PlayBook and my Z10, as my 9900 for a conference call.

The design is simply, simple. The folded design allows for a moderate 5mm spread to clip onto a shoulder belt in your car, a messenger-bag, or even a laptop-back should you still need to lug that around with you. If you need more privacy plug in your headphones, either those with a microphone or something more audiophilic, there's a 1/8" stereo jack on the end opposite the power switch where the charging plug is (see below).

There's no mystery to this little device, simply convenience. And while it only (for now?) comes in white, this matches my daughter's massive SkullCandy Hesh 2 headphones so while I love my new music source, I don't think it'll be long for my use, but I won't have to steal them back either. I'll buy another unit in fairly short order if that happens. I can see this being a popular addition to your summer activities.

Pick them up now from my preferred online store for BlackBerry hardware, ca.CrackBerry.com.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Beware the evil-doers that spoof the good guys...

Okay, some may argue that ROGERS is not a "good-guy" but I like them, the thing is the evil-doers also like them as a source of targets, you.

This is phishing, this email's content and context look correct, but if you hover over the URL (web address) you'll notice it doesn't match the text, this is a BIG RED FLAG!

The site you would end up at looks EXACTLY like a ROGERS Sign-In page, it's not, it's a website that will collect as much information as possible about your accounts, credit card, etc. then the owners will do their best to steal your money.

Be careful, be AWARE of what you do online.

By the way, the questions they asked if you were crazy enough to follow the link and sign in, I used a bogus password, are enough to steal your identity!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Six months in a leaky boat...

On May 18th, 2012 I was formally relieved of my duties with a fine company that had some hard times. 20% of the employees, worldwide, were slotted for termination. I lost my job to off-shoring, and a lack of work, but don't harbour any resentment. I appreciated the opportunity to work in technical support for this fine company. I had the chance to do some fairly cool things, build some neat tools and helped some wonderful people do what they do. I proudly and with dedication ensured that the people had the technology and/or advice they needed to do their jobs, and they appreciated my efforts.

I love what I do for people, making technology work, taking the stress of something complicated (for some) and either making it work when it seems it won't and making it work better when that's what needs to happen. I deliver results... when I am employed. I miss my job.

I recognize that time are changing, that wages are not what they used to be, and we cannot be shocked at this, can we? We, North Americans, "the West" are competing with fine, intelligent people that work for $100 a month. How on earth do we keep asking for more when the global economy dictates that we are due for a correction, that our life of privilege needs to give way to a life of practicality. I accept this revelation and I'm willing to work for less, simply, I want to work.

So, contract, full-time, part-time, anything is what I'm looking for. I simply want to help people with technology. If you know of anything, if I can be of help to you or someone you know, send them to my personal web site at www.cstevens.ca.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Outsourcing is NOT a Dirty Four-Letter Word!

Aside from the obvious, the word has 11 letters, it is not the evil mess that perhaps people think it is. For companies like my last employer, many of my previous employers, it can be a blessing, but the selection will be the proof of the pudding. The "traditional company" is full of outsourced solutions and this progression should not surprise us,  but of course for the individual affected by it, it does.

People like you and I have a death grip on the idea that working for a company is something stable, consistent and that a company should never discard those trusted employees for some group of people that "don't know the business or people the way we do, but this is a selfish perspective to hold and while this may sting, here's why: A company, especially one with shareholders has a responsibility to earn money for those shareholders. If there are functions of a business that are a cost, not earning revenue for the business, it is fiscally responsible to look at those areas and consider options that will reduce costs.

Frankly, I'm in a very poor position in my career, I have a role that is a constant target for outsourcing, Information Technology. When I started out in my career I had an inkling of the potential problem because I was heavily vesting in a rather crude communication technology at the time, bulletin boards. I could communicate with people all over the world using a a PC, a modem, and my local phone line. This was before the Internet, but that was rapidly approaching. The reality kicked in when I began resolving technical issues on systems that would take several hours and expensive flights to get hands on, when I was comfortably seated in my office in Toronto. This was where I should have stopped and thought about what I should really be doing, building my own outsource solution.

There are many companies out there that offer outsourced solutions including IBM, Google, CompuCom, and CGI. They offer different options on reducing the cost to the company, and while some aspects of your business may not be easily pushed out the door, the smart companies are setting a course for this flexibility and there are many options for those who'd like to outsource, at any level of business. Even I am an outsource, for the small-office/home-office (SOHO) market. While my interest is helping you get along with technology, I am an outsource to the DIY approach for your home PC, or your small business. I am a "services company," but so is the company that does your weed spraying, the kid that shovels your walk in January (except in Toronto where we didn't get enough snow to call in the army this year), and even the newspaper you buy.

Each of those options allow you the free time to live better. If you're a busy person, doing those tasks yourself, especially researching your own news sources, is time consuming. The service will deliver information or services to you so you have the time to do something else. My services would provide you with technical support for your technical needs. Whether it is servicing hardware, configuring your home or small-business network, the office file server, and your company's website and e-mail provisioning. I would be your "go-to-guy" for technical advice and because it's my job, I would charge you for the time I spend helping you, but the benefit is that you will have someone you can count on for support, even at 3AM when your hard drive crashes and you have a presentation at 9, though I really hope you would have taken my advice on backups and cloud-based solutions like Google Drive.

Even I see the advantages in outsourcing, the real trick for the people most affected by outsourcing, is to be the outsource of choice by forming partnerships and co-operative arrangements. If you're not the entrepreneurial sort, being part of an outsource company is a good option. The pay may be sub-prime, but the benefit of being employed is constant because you no longer serve one company, but several. I believe this might be the most thrilling way to earn a living these days. Personally I love new challenges and a healthy variety of work.

Outsourcing is not going away, though it does fluctuate in it's support in any organisation. Sometimes the mesh of the company and the outsource is not as tight and seamless as hoped, planned, or expected and the business suffers. It is important to not look at an outsource solution as a "set-it-and-forget-it" solution, it does not eliminate management and there are now contracts and legalities to what management can expect. It is those expectations that need to be understood before the contract is signed. I can see that my last employer did the right thing in keeping a full-staff of Technology Architects, because those people are going to be the guidance to the demands on the outsourced solution. The terrifying thing for technical people below that architect level is that they are completely replaceable.

Well... even architects can be outsourced by consultants, but I believe that you need people who have a vested interest and thorough understanding of your business guiding your technical decisions, not a consultant, especially when your business is not technical by nature.

For more on what I offer as a Technology Services provider, visit: www.sohonorth.com