Archive for January, 2008

How I Customized my Blackberry Curve

Saturday, January 12th, 2008 | Technology | 93 Comments

Since my post on enabling Google Maps with GPS on the BlackBerry Curve 8310 is very popular I decided to share with you how I customized my Blackberry to make day to day usage efficient and fun.
As a first step I reviewed the different Themes (Options -> Themes). I decided to go with the “BB Dimension Today” Theme. Having the latest unread messages, upcoming appointments and missed call information all on the homescreen is a great feature and allows me to get the key information I need at a glance.
Another important decision is the assignment of the left and right buttons on the side of the Blackberry. They will allow you to access important apps without using the trackball. Got to Options -> Screen/Keyboard and scroll down to the “Convenience Key Opens” menu items. I decided to leave the right side key with the default which is the camera, so that I can start it quickly for a snapshot. I changed the assignment of the left side button to “Browser”. That allows me to open the integrated web browser easily, which I use to Twitter and to check my Google Reader.
While you are in the Screen/Keyboard options menu you might also want to adjust the Backlight Timeout (I use 30 seconds) and turn off the key tones and trackball sound (Set “Trackball – Audible Roll” to Mute).

Next I switched over to the applications screen (with the button left of the trackball, lets call it menu button). Wow what a mess! So many application icons, many of them I will never use. I checked out every application and decided to keep the following icons (to hide an application icon highlight it and press the menu button and select “Hide”):
First row:
Profiles – Since I need to switch often from Normal to Vibrate mode this is my most important icon
Messages – E-mail is obviously the heart of the Blackberry
Calendar – Also important, but often it is sufficient to me to check the upcoming meetings on the home screen
Browser – I actually have the browser as a shortcut on the left side button so I rarely use the icon to access it
Media – Just use it to browse the pictures which I took with the integrated camera
Second row:
Lock – That is another icon I need a lot, so it is just on scroll click away from the top
VoiceDialing – For me that was the big surprise feature. If you have not yet used it try it out now. It does not require to record the names, but applies voice recognition based on the spelling of the names in the directory. Works great for me (without any training), especially with a Bluetooth headset
Camera – I have the camera as a shortcut on the rigtht side button so I don’t use this icon that often
Tasks – Frankly I have not used tasks at all so far (don’t use them in Outlook either), but thought the app might come handy eventually
MemoPad – The MemoPad is a little useful application. I use it to keep track of my baby son’s weight and height, gift wishes from my wife and other random things
Alarm – I use the Alarm when I am traveling, since I do not trust hotel alarm clocks. Did you know you can turn the Blackberry off and the Alarm will still work? Just don’t take out the battery :-)
Third Row:
Gmail – For my private email I use the Google Gmail client for Blackberry
Google Maps – What a great app. Just got much better with version 2.0.1.
Options – Need to be able to continue to tweek the Blackberry
Manage Connections – This has significantly improved over older Blackberries. You can easily enable/disable Network as well as Bluetooth connections
Turn Power Off
You really want to make sure that the most important apps for you which are not accessible via buttons on the device can be accessed with no or minimum usage of the trackball. So the most important app is in the upper left corner, other important apps down or left of it and so on.

Now let’s talk about customizing the sounds your Blackberry makes. Adjusting the ringtone is actually not as straightforward as I thought. Keeping in mind that all sounds are associated with the profile which is active, select “Profiles”, scroll down to “Advanced…”, select the profile you want to modify (let’s say your active one) and hit the menu button (left to the trackball). Select “Edit”.
To change the ringtone, select phone and then you can change the Tune (second menu item). I am using the Ringer_ClassicPhone. Here you can also adjust the volume and other parameters.

That’s it for today. Hope you have fun with your Blackberry and let me know some of your customization tips in the comments.

Tags: , ,

Eight Things You Might Not Know About Me

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008 | Misc, Private | 2 Comments

It’s a new year so it’s time for a new scam blogmeme. Craig Cmehil (SAP Evangelist), who was tagged by Maggie Fox (love her posts on DFOF), tagged me to write 8 things you do not know about me.
If you just came to my Blog via Google search words like “blackberry 8310 gps”, “flickr girls” or “trial bike videos” (according to Google Analytics the most popular ways to find my Blog right now) you don’t know anything about me. On the other hand if you happen to be my wife or my brother you know already everything. So let’s assume you are somewhere in the middle and therefore you might not know…

1) I have young parents. My mother married with sixteen (my parents are still happily married) and I was born when she was twenty. My brother Thomas is 10 years younger then me and is also a Product Manager (at Ciao).

2) I was born in Rotenburg an der Fulda in Germany which was also the hometown of the Rotenburg Cannibal. While I do enjoy fine dining I do not endorse his activities.

3) On a positive note I was born on the same day like Linus Torvalds.

4) My father, grandfather and great grandfather worked all as forest rangers. I grew up in a forest house about a mile away from a village with 90 residents. My parents tell me that when I was a baby our hunting dogs would guard me during the day (but no, I was not raised by wolves). I have a German hunting license which is actually very hard to get (requires one year of training and many tests and exams), but have not practiced hunting for a long time.

5) During my first week at college (European Business School) a fellow student introduced me to Hiphop. After listening to KRS-One “By All Means Necessary” I was hooked and started to build up a Hiphop vinyl music collection. A few years later I also got involved into the local Breakbeat and Techno scene. Together with some friends we recorded radio shows and made them available via tapes in the university library (pre-cursor to Podcasts). I actually co-produced a Breakbeat record under the pseudonym Rawmotion. Since I graduated fairly young I was not ready right away for serious work and jobbed in a local record store during the day and as a DJ during the night. My record collection is now for sale.

6) I only ate Asian food for the first time when I was 18. It was a Chinese restaurant in Kassel and I remember I was immediately comfortable to eat with chopsticks. Since then I have travelled to Asia multiple times (Malaysia and Japan) and even my wife (whose grandparents are from China) agrees that I am a natural with chopsticks. I assume I was Chinese or Japanese in a former life.

7) I lived for two years in Columbus, Ohio. Go Buckeyes! And by the way the midwest is not as bad as many people think. I had a lot of fun and made good friends. However I prefer to live on the West Coast.

8 ) My first computer was a Commodore 64. I bought it when I was 15 from my own savings. My parents did not want to get me a computer since they thought I would only play with it and it would distract from homework. Well they were kind of right since I used it mainly for gaming. A couple of years later I got a Commodore Amiga which was an amazing machine at the time. I was so disappointed when I started to use PC’s at work, but got used to it. A couple of weeks ago I switched to Mac.

I doubt that anyone will make it to the end of this post, but if you did it congratulations… now you know everything.

So for all my work writing this up late in the evening I now want to know eight secrets from Rashmi Sinha, Jonathan Boutelle, Ryan Stewart, John Dowdell, Ted Patrick, Jason Calacanis, James Ward and David Hornik.
Zatoichi's photos More of Zatoichi's photos