Category Archives: Technology

BlackBerry…why should I stay?

I have to start by saying that I used to love my BlackBerry.

I like that it is made by a Canadian company. I like that it has a “real” keyboard. That said, I have had multiple reasons lately to question my loyalty to the company that got me past the cell phone time of my life to where I am now.

I started with a BlackBerry Pearl, because I didn’t want my smartphone to look like a “device”. I wanted to try a BlackBerry but maintain the size and style of a regular cell phone.  It worked…until it died suddenly, after only 2 years of service. I upgraded to my current Bold 9700 in February of 2010 and as it turns out, I liked the full keyboard, the operating system and the web browser a lot more. That was until recently.

The truth of the matter is that I am tired of seeing apps that exist for iPhone and Android, but not for BlackBerry. I love using my Boingo service and they recently launched a new app. Not for BlackBerry. Companies have more apps for iPhone and Android than Blackberry, based on what I have seen when visiting company websites and reviewing magazine advertising. Why is this? As a supporter and fan of things that are mobile, access and availability are key issues for me. When I have less of either on the device I am using, I have to question if I have made the right choice.

The reason I would like to test an Android is to see, in real-time, how the device would function in my hands; the way that I use my phone. The reason I say this is that it would have been great if I could have taken OS 6 for the BlackBerry for a “test drive” before I installed it. I did that recently and I basically have been rebuilding my phone for a week. All the usual “stock” sounds are now gone, so I have been resetting all my profiles on the phone. I have been tackling a reduced battery life for some unexplainable reason. I lost almost half of the free memory on my phone just by completing the upgrade. I am really questioning why I should continue to punish myself like this!? I guess this is why changing devices makes me nervous. Is the grass really greener? Should I continue to dance with the devil I know?

I am excited for the launch of BBM at the end of April for the iPhone and Android. That may be the straw that sees me move to a new device. A bigger screen, better integration with my computer at home and more apps. What have I got to lose?  If the launch does happen and the functionality is there then I may be off to the races with an alternate handset as soon as the shackles of my current contract are released.

Talking or Texting…Which do you prefer?

I borrowed this topic from the #PostAWeek2011 blog, (The Daily Post).  This topic is a relatively interesting one as we move further into the SmartPhone and cell phone era.  Almost everyone has a phone, knows about texting and how to send texts.  The question becomes, what is normal and acceptable when you are making the decision to call, text, IM or BBM (yes, I believe we should add that topic to the mix too).  I guess that it all depends on the nature of the relationship that you share with the person.

Personally, it’s my belief that business relationships are still based on a phone call.  I work in a business that requires me to call my contacts and discuss issues that are impacting our customers.  Talking about these issues on the phone is far easier than trying to squeeze all of the necessary information into an email or text. There is also the opportunity to ensure that there are no misunderstandings when we talk on the phone. Don’t get me wrong, we do use email for business related information.  Paperwork that used to be sent via fax, requiring paper on both ends, is sent electronically.  Routine correspondence to confirm or update customer orders is also sent via email. This helps reduce the environmental impact that we are having in our daily operations, for sure.

I know that with family members, texting and BBM closes the distance when someone lives out-of-town or is on vacation. I do think that BBM poses a different issue than texting or email. All of these types of communications come directly to my phone. The difference is that I view BBM as a “conversation”, something that is interactive on both ends. I approach BBM conversations the same way I approach face-to-face conversations. I give them my attention, the trouble is that it is easy to get distracted.

When it comes to text or email, I look at these communication methods as less interactive and more convenient. The ability for me to respond to them from my phone is great. I don’t give them the same priority level as a BBM. I like the option of being able to leave a text or email for someone and know that they will get it at their convenience. That their response will arrive, “when they have time”. If I text or email someone I am not looking for that “engagement” that I am with a BBM.

When it comes to personal relationships and even dating, another entire level gets added to the mix, in my opinion. I am generally very private and guarded with my PIN and my phone number. Gauging whether to offer a phone number, email or PIN is always tough. Given that I see BBM as a more instant form of communication in my world, I generally like to reserve that for friends that I see routinely and make plans with often. That said, my PIN is on my personal card, so the potential is there for a professional or new contact to add me to BBM.

This question has been of interest to me for some time. I have raised it on Twitter in the past, asking about this BBM commercial, which suggests that people are relatively forthcoming with their PIN to allow BBM communication.  The response I received on Twitter does not necessarily reflect the commercial. Most people say that they are relatively guarded with their PIN and prefer to reserve it for people that they know.  I would think that from a dating perspective, the initial stages of dating are far better suited to the telephone and the two-way conversation. Failing that then IM (Windows Live Messenger, etc) works too. Once that connection is established then moving to texting and BBM is certainly a viable option, in my opinion.

What do you think? What are your thoughts? Do you generally call, text or BBM?  Please leave a comment below, find me on Twitter or email me and let me know what you think.  I look forward to your comments.

Twitter: One Year Later….What a Difference!!

March 25, 2010 – Why do I remember this date? It was the day of my FIRST tweetup, #TwestivalTO (@TwestivalTO). What has happened in the past year? What has Twitter done for me? I wish I could put that into words. What I hope to do in this post is give you a glimpse of how things have changed. To give you a frame of reference, here is a graph of my Twitter activity in March 2010, prior to attending #TwestivalTO:

Source: http://www.tweetstats.com

Something happened on March 25, 2010

When I walked into Tryst nightclub that night, I didn’t even know what the word #tweetup meant! I had no idea what to expect when I arrived knowing one person – Joallore (@clickflickca). Now if you know only one person, he is a good person to know. He has been participating in Social Media related events for a long time and knows a lot of people. He is gracious with introductions and disarming when meeting new people. These are all skills that I have improved on in his company during the last year.

I just attended my 2nd #TwestivalTO on March 24, 2011. At this point, I have sent almost 15,000 tweets and I have just over 1,200 followers. I had less than 100 of both on March 25, 2010! Have a look at these graphs! One shows my tweets by month since I joined Twitter and the other shows my activity in March 2011 as a comparison to the graph above.

A picture of a year “on” Twitter

What a difference a year makes!

Do I know what I am “doing” now? I would say, I have a better idea, but like Twitter itself,  the role that it plays each day in my life changes. Do I tweet more now, “Yes”. I like the interaction and conversation that I have with people on Twitter.  I miss the conversation when I am “offline”. It adds to the interactions that I have during the day, so just like talking over coffee with a co-worker, Twitter is something that I can do while I watch TV, have a coffee, watch a ballgame or listen to some tunes.

During the past year, people who are not on Twitter have asked me what I tweet about. I usually say, “Whatever comes to mind”. I get to talk about whatever is on my mind on Twitter and usually I can find a like-minded audience to share in the conversation.  The topic could be coffee, beer, BBQ, grilling, food, recipes, baseball, hockey, vacations, movies, music. The topics are endless and the support network is vast.

What I love about Twitter is that if you need information on a faraway place, you send it out and sure enough someone will tweet back with a resource for a restaurant or an all-night photocopy place! If you are having a bad day you send out a tweet for “+” vibes and your feed lights up with messages of support and good thoughts. You wake up on your birthday and your feed is alive with endless birthday wishes that stream in from Twitter friends around the globe! You put an idea for dinner or a get-together out there and suddenly you have 10+ people signed up to try a restaurant. The connections are personal and they have far-reaching potential.

I am now glad to include amongst my friends fellow foodies, movie fanatics, social creatures and sports fans. We have come together over the past year via various events and introductions and now see each other on a regular basis. These are all positive changes. These people are smart, funny and educated in a number of ways. Most of them are skilled professionals that share an interest in something that I like doing. There are also a number of people who I interact with regularly that I have yet to meet. I hope that 2011 gives me the opportunity to visit some of these people and meet with them, “In Real Life” (#IRL). It is always fun to finally put a face to a personality that you have talked with on Twitter.

How do I see Twitter? I see it as something that is fun and exactly what you make of it. It can be a social tool, a business tool, a marketing tool or all of those things. You can connect with every type of person on a number of levels via the “conversation” that is happening. I try to be myself on Twitter and I try to stay true to some guiding principles for myself (eg: minimal swearing). Do I tweet often, yes, but I also like to talk a lot. I am an extrovert and a social creature by nature. I always have been. Twitter lets me get out and talking to people even if I am on a coffee break, in a shopping mall or sitting in a foreign city.

I have shared in the joy of a tweep celebrating the birth of a new child.  I have seen the pictures of people’s vacations and have seen twitpics of meals that I must go and try! Some of the food that people find is absolutely amazing!  No matter how silly it seems I also love it when people share twitpics of sunsets and sunrises!  The world is full of fantastic photographers and seeing a gorgeous sunset is just a nice addition to any day, in my books.  I have shared my memories and photos from various roadtrips and vacations, as they happened. Why not, one of the first questions people you haven’t seen for a while ask is, “What’s new?”. The saying is that, “A picture is worth 1,000 words”, isn’t it?

Twitter has given me the opportunity to go to San Francisco (#VXToronto, @virginamerica), try multiple restaurants in and around Toronto, meet new people in Toronto, Hamilton, Kitchener and points in between (@TWestofTO, #RandomTO, #JaysTO). I have shared thoughts on movies and the #Oscars, the #Grammys, bonded over the Olympics (#Van2010reunion, #Vancouver2010) and even organized an event to celebrate the survival of a #BlackBerry taking a “swim”!! (#BeerDunk2010). I also organized an event in October 2010 (#FeedYourDragon), with my friends at Mickey’s Pizza (@FeedYourDragon), that helped raise over $200 for the World Food Program(@WFP) and taught us all how to make some of the best pizza we have ever eaten!!

There are loads of people who have guided me on the path in the past year, but the one that organized the majority of the events that I went to was @clickflickca (Jo). We are old friends, but after the last year I think that we are now good friends. Without his energy and enthusiasm for connecting people the graphs that I have included in this post would not look the way that they do.  My thanks to you, my friend, for the guidance you provided even if you didn’t realize it.

I look forward to what the next 12 months on Twitter will bring.  I am hoping that I can find a way to make Social Media part of my career and daily life.  I enjoy it that much.  How that is going to come together, I am not sure but I am working on it (if you would like to help me in this endeavour, get in touch with me via email or twitter, please).   I am sure that the #tweetups will continue as the number of things to do in Toronto and Southern Ontario is endless!! Where we go next, who knows!! I am sure it will be a blast and I look forward to it (and tweeting about it)!!

Note: Please visit – Tweetstats if you like the graphs that are included here. They run an awesome website!

I find this stuff interesting and if you do, here is a TweetCloud of my first year on Twitter (via Tweetstats):

How things have changed…

It’s the end of the first week of 2011!! The routine has been reset and life has carried on!! Do you find that things have stayed the same or have you changed things up for the new year??

I have made a little progress on some of my goals for the year. I have seen 2 movies since the start of the year; The Tourist and The Fighter. Both were good movies and I don’t disagree with the buzz that Christian Bale will get some attention at Oscar time. He plays the role of a drug addicted boxer in The Fighter and he does an outstanding job.

As far as my other goals, I have managed to make some progress on reading my book that I have had on the go. Other than that I haven’t been able to implement much in 7 days or less!!

When talking about changes I find it interesting how my cell phone usage has changed over the years. When I first had a cell phone, all I ever used it for was voice calls. Texting, BBM and data applications would not have been possible on the green lit screen in those days!! Times changed and I progressed to texts and the occasional picture message on my phone.

Once I entered the world of Blackberry, the way I used my phone changed completely. Now I am more concerned with my phone being able to run apps, access the web and connect to social media content. I rarely use my phone to actually call someone now. That may be different if I was using my phone for business, but in the personal/social setting that I use my phone, I am more likely to BBM/Text/Email someone then call them.

What about you? How do you use your phone? Has that changed recently? If you just got a SmartPhone for Christmas do you think that the way you use your phone will change in 2011? Take a second and join the poll below.

I look forward to your comments and the results from these polls!!