Monday, May 7, 2012

BlackBerry World 2012

I am back from my week in Orlando and I must say I had a great time.  I was lucky enough to win a conference pass and 3 nights hotel stay at the Marriott World Center from .

I arrived Monday afternoon in Orlando and took the shuttle to the resort (it's not a hotel but a full resort).  They had already setup the conference center in preparation for the week and were having a few pre-event events.  I walked around and got to meet a few attendees and a few vendors. It was a great way to start the week off.

On Tuesday was the keynote speech by CEO Thorsten Heins to kick off the conference. He came out with energy and a great speech.  He showed off a few features of the new BB10 handset from the Dev Alpha Device which was given to all the developers at the conference.  The top feature that I thought was amazing was the ability of the camera.  It takes a photo in a type of time lapse which you can then zoom in on an area of the picture and move forward or backward to get the perfect shot.  I can think of several ways this could become a very useful tool for someone who is always taking pictures with my phone instead of bringing a camera with me.  One of the other features they showed off was the touch screen keyboard.  I am not a huge fan of these virtual keyboards but the one they put on this device was kind of cool with the ability to swipe up as you type to put full words into what your working on.

After Thorsten was done they brought on several app developers showing off items that they have already created for the BB10 after only having the Dev Alpha for a week.  RIM is really pushing and focusing on getting the developers to have apps ready for when the BB10 is released, which I think is very smart as that is one of the biggest complaints people have about RIM devices.  They also showed a few new apps that were coming out for the PlayBook which they are also really pushing development for.

Once the keynote was done the breakout sessions started, all week I focused on going to sessions to do with BDS, UDS and Mobile Fusion, which are the replacements to BES servers.  BDS will be used to control BB10 phones and PlayBooks.  UDS is the way for companies to put security and controls on iPhones, Androids and any tablets that users might want connected to the enterprise.  To make managing everything as easy as possible RIM has created Mobile Fusion, which is the front window to all RIM services.  You can go into Mobile Fusion and it will connect to your current BES, BDS and UDS servers so that you can manage all devices from the one screen.  After getting some theoretical knowledge I was also able to go to the hands on lab and install a server and play around with it.  Very slick and very well done by RIM.  The server itself is free and then you buy the CAL's for every device you want to connect.  Makes it affordable and easy to use.

Tuesday night we were all bussed to Universal Studio's where they had a section of it closed off for the BlackBerry World party.  There was food and alcohol all over the area and DJ's playing music on the main stage.  One of the DJ's was using a PlayBook connected to the sound system and running the beta version of PaceMaker to show off what you are able to do with a PlayBook.  It was a fun night with lots to do and to hang out with people outside of the conference.

The rest of the week flew by with breakout sessions and time spent in the Solutions Hall talking to vendors.  They had two car's in the solution hall, both run by PlayBooks.  One was a police car from Chatham that had a PlayBook on the dash instead of a computer and was wired in to control everything in the car.  The second was a Porsche concept car that had three PlayBooks in it. One was the center console and then they had two in the back seats.  All were interconnected and could be streaming different items.  It was very cool to see how powerful these devices are and what you could do with them.

I flew home on Friday which gave me an extra day to relax a bit, I woke up to see the palm trees and a warm sunny day.  Saturday morning I woke in Calgary to a snow storm, I should have stayed a couple more days in Orlando.

All in all it was a great week, I got to see some cool things and I learned some new things.  It also showed me that RIM is far from being obsolete or dead, they are being innovative and with over 100 different countries represented at BBWorld 2012 they have a true world wide reach.  Now I wait for the new BB10 phones to come out and see what the final product will look like.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My BOLD Adventure

Yesterday I received my new phone from Blackberry, it was the shiny, sleek new Bold 9900 (I know it's been out for a while but I have been unable to upgrade till now).  After trying to use the switch device from my 8700 and having it fail due to some of my Apps not being compatible I went old school and manually transferred everything over.  This got me thinking about the past and my road with cell phones to today.

When I started with my first consulting company they gave me a Motorola flip phone with the high capacity battery and a pager.  This was simply amazing when I got it as I had never had a cell phone before. I used it a lot for work and a bit for personal use to but the phone was always so hot if you talked for to long on it.

After I left that company I started with a new company and was given a much smaller flip phone as I was "the IT guy" and was on call 24/7.  It worked well for the longest time as I used it for only a phone.  No texting, no internet just a phone.  Then they purchased another company that had a handful of BlackBerry's for the executives.  I quickly rounded them all up and hid them as I said there was no way that technology was every going to be used in a company that I was doing IT for.  About a year later I was invited to a BlackBerry launch party from my friendly Rogers sales rep.  It was for the Blackberry 8700.

After the event we were told that everyone in attendance would receive one of these devices for free.  After seeing the demo's and the device in action I must admit I was quite excited.  So when I finally got my 8700 I quickly signed up for a personal plan and then set it up to receive my work and home email to it.  There were a few things I found annoying but the ability to answer my emails while sitting in a car wash or while out with my kids was so amazing that I was hooked on this device and was never going to give it up.  I was fairly hard on my poor 8700 and did go through a couple of them but all in all it was a great mobile device.

Next up was the Blackberry 8900, it got rid of the annoying scroll wheel and gave you a mouse ball in the center.  This device was great until the mouse ball stopped working.  I did have to replace it a couple times as well but the advancement in the technology and what I could do with the device was great.  Again it was more than a phone, it was a mobile device that allowed me to stay in touch with everything while I was on the go.

My next upgrade was to the Bold 9700.  I had this device until yesterday.  I only needed to replace it once as I broke the USB adapter piece so I could no longer charge it.  It replaced the annoying mouse ball to the track pad.  I find the track pad is much more responsive and less chance of breaking.  This device was great, the GPS, Apps, the link to a BES server and all the utilities that I had downloaded for it turned it from a mobile device to a mobile office.  I was able to do most things with the Bold so I didn't need to be always in front of a computer.  I then got a Playbook and with the two of them sync'd together I have been able to travel without a laptop and do everything with my two devices.

The combination of a Playbook and Blackberry gives me full mobility and allows me to work on almost everything I need to do without having to sit in front of a computer or needing internet access as I can tether them together and use my phones data plan.

This brings me to my newest device, the Bold 9900.  It is a combination touch screen and keyboard, so far I am loving this device.  I have avoided touch screen phones as I don't really like the feel to them and I really like my QWERTY keyboard to type emails and texts, with this combination it is the best of both worlds.  I can still type very quickly and when I need to I can use the touch screen for browsing or zooming in on stuff.  Although it was not an easy flip over RIM does have multiple ways to flip phones.  I activated it on my BES which allowed me to get all my emails, calendar, and contacts.  Then I setup my appworld ID and was able to switch devices and reinstall all of my Apps.  It was a bit more work but it worked well and that is where I am at now.  I have my new device fully functioning and have been working with it for the last two days and really loving it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Bill C30

I know lots of people are talking about this and putting the fear perspective on this. The fear campaign is happening on both sides, the conservatives are saying you are either for it or for Child Pornography, the other side is saying that if you aren't against this you are okay with the government knowing everything you have on your computer and everything you do on the internet.

The problem is most people have no clue how technology works or how the internet works so they have no clue what this bill actually means or what it will do. I am going to preface this with the fact that I do think the bill goes to far with what it allows but I also think we need a bill to allow police to better make use of technology to catch criminals that are currently getting away with crimes thanks to the police forces lack of abilities tracking things through the internet.

Lets start of with some conservative estimates for you, Canada has around 35 million people, out of that lets for arguments sake say half of those people have a home computer. That is 17 million computers at home surfing the internet during the day. Now if you also have a computer at work and surf which most people do that would probably be another 10-20 million computers surfing every day. Even if each Internet Service Provider hired a team of people to monitor everything going over the internet they would never be able to watch 20-40 million computers 24 hours a day 7 days a week and neither could the police or the government. The amount of traffic and data going across the net is so expansive that even if you took a 5 minute overview from a single ISP you would take weeks to sift through it.

Now for the second fallacy, even if they setup monitoring on the internet, they would not be able to see everything on your computer. It doesn't work like that, you need to have zero security or a virus on your computer to allow anyone from the outside to actually go through your computer's hard drive. Yes with a bit of work it is possible but that is not what Bill C30 or the software they are looking to implement is going to do. Also they are not installing key loggers on your computer so they are not going to see everything you type and they are not going to then have access to your bank records, email or anything else you do on the internet. If they suspect you of a crime all they are going to do is go to the ISP and ask that you me monitored as to what sites you are going to and what files are being uploaded and downloaded to your computer. Yes that is scarey and I would prefer that they get a warrant for that, just like a phone tap requires but I think ISP's also have to be more forth coming when the police track an IP down of a suspected criminal the ISP should give them the address and name of the person that correlates to that address.

My final comment on this is that most of the people that I see up in arms about this invasion of privacy are the same people that supported the gun registry which allowed the police and government to gather private and personal information about any person who has never committed a crime but wanted to own a hunting rifle. Why is it that you were okay with that invasion of privacy but not okay with one that would give the police a tool to catch actual criminals?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ramblings of the day

I know most of my blog posts can be all over the place at times but this one may actually go over the top on that.

This weekend we had a friend come visit us from Montreal. It was great to have her for the weekend and she brought us Montreal bagels, which I don't know why seem way better than Calgary bagels. As payment I took her and the kids to see The Muppet's new movie as a friend gave us 4 passes to the premiere on Saturday morning.

The movie was amazing, it brought me back to my childhood of watching the Muppet's on TV and it had humor for both the adults and the kids. The new songs they had were funny and good and the old songs they sung were nice to see in the movie. It may not be the best acting and plot you will ever see in a movie but it was an awesome Muppet movie and if you like the Muppet's I recommend you go see it.

This weekend was also the start of a huge sale in Canada for the BlackBerry Playbook. I already have one so I didn't really think to much of it til our friend started talking about wanting a tablet. The price for a 16GB Playbook was 199 plus tax which is a 300 dollar saving. Pretty amazing price for a great tablet. After some discussion and her playing with mine we decided to see if we could find her one before she went back to Montreal on Sunday. Well it turned out that price was so amazing that every store we called were sold out. This was 1 day after the sale started. To me this shows that the price point was great and means more people will have their hands on a great tablet. The more people that have it the more software will get developed for it and the better it will become. In the end she had called one store and they told her they had one on hold but if she left her name and number they would call her back if the person didn't come get it. About 2 hours later the store called back and said they would sell it to her. It turns out it was on hold for the manager and the clerk called the manager and asked if they could sell it to her, to which the manager said yes. Now that is what I call amazing customer service. We set it up for her and she had it ready to go for her flight home to Montreal.

My final ramblings is Occupy Calgary, what a gong show that has become. I really felt for the Occupy Movement when I first heard about it in the US but when it moved to Canada I questioned what it would be about here and when I found out about the movement in Calgary I was really curious. After 5 weeks I still know very little about what the people in Calgary are trying to change and I honestly don't think most of them know.
As the camps are slowly being evicted and closed down across Canada, the Calgary movement is staying strong and saying they won't leave. The mayor although giving them eviction notices has yet to go any further. Then today I read on the Occupy Calgary forums the discussion of what demands they should make of the city that would get them to leave. I was taken a back by the thought of a group of people illegally camping in a park making demands of the city where the majority of people do not support them, in order for them to leave. Then I read the list and was just flabbergasted. I just can't fathom where they possibly can be coming from to think they have the right to make any demands let alone this list. I as a taxpayer and resident of Calgary that is not a member of the 1% they are supposedly fighting will be pissed if the city gives them any of this stuff. The courts in Vancouver and Toronto have already sided with the cities saying that people do not have the Charter right to camp where ever they please so it is time to move them out and not put up with their crazy demands. If they want these items they should for a charity or a political party and have people donate to them so they can pay for this stuff themselves. If they truly are representing the 99% they should have no problem getting enough cash together.

Here is a list of their demands that they are discussing

1) That the city find a place agreeable to OC where we can hold GAs in safety and warmth.

2) That the city will cover rent for said place.

3) That the city pay for the rental of all equipment necessary to hold our GAs. For example: mics, amp’s, speakers, tables, chairs etc. Including internet access for live steaming.

4) That the city pay to hold sixteen GAs as stated above with time/date/location/format of our choosing. (Maybe even twenty to get us through our winter of discontent with weekly GAs).

5) That the city permit one tent at the plaza, or at a mutually agreed location, as an info booth to disseminate information to the public and to operate during normal park hours.

6) That the city provide electricity during normal park hours to ensure adequate lighting in and around the information tent referred to in 5) and provide assistance (CFD, Bylaw) in setting up an adequate and compliant heating system for the information tent referred to in 5). Also, that the city provide security for the information tent during off hours.

7) That the city pay for three evenings rental of the largest rooms at every Community Hall in Calgary for the purpose of holding public forums.

8) That the city pay for the rental of all equipment necessary to hold such forums. For example: mic’s, amp’s, speakers, tables, chairs etc. Including internet access for live steaming.

9) That the city pay to advertise all public forums. Including TV, radio, newspapers, community newsletters, etc.

10) That the city pay for a CPS presence at each public forum for the duration of the meeting.

I’d decline the city’s offer to provide planners/help to set this up. It’s probably more trouble than it’s worth.

And a link to their forum

If the city caves in to any of these demands it shows all you have to do is make an eyesore in the city and they will pay for whatever you want to make you go away. That is not a good precedent to set. If they do I would say that any of those that are opposed to it simply tell the city we are no longer going to pay our taxes and we are protesting the government. Let's see how quickly that one gets squashed in the courts.

These are my ramblings for the day thanks for reading.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Congrats on blocking a pipeline

So the US protesters have been successful in at least delaying the Keystone XL pipeline to take Canadian Tar Sands Oil down to Texas to be refined. I want to say congrats to you. You have done a great disservice to your country. Pipelines are relatively safe ways to transport oil and are monitored constantly, if they spring a leak they can be shut off and very limited amounts of oil will be spilled and can be cleaned up. Now with out that pipeline the oil will travel by ship to Houston where it can be affected by weather and once a ship springs a leak we all remember the Exxon Valdez spill. Only this time it will be on the coast of the continental US and have far worse consequences.

Other than the environmental issues, here is though take a look at everything you own and use every day, including the roads you drive on , the places you walk and the buildings you work in. Everything has some petroleum products in it in order to be made. This means if you take oil away all of that also goes away. It is more than just gasoline it is a way of life that can't just be packed up and removed.

If the US doesn't want Canadian Oil, I say cool. Lets build refineries in Canada and process the oil ourselves and sell it for 10 times as much as what the barrel of oil sells for. If that doesn't work for Canadians then why not go over to China who would be more than happy to pay top dollar for a scarce resource. The people in the US are always happy to protest and chant about one thing or another but let them really see the consequences to this pure stupidity when gas, power and every day products are no longer affordable because they either pay more or run out of oil.

Monday, November 7, 2011


Today I write about the Occupy Movement that is sweeping the globe, it is the in thing to do, go out and occupy some piece of land somewhere to protest how evil the world, the government and corporations are.

I will start off saying I think that the people in the US do have some justification to do this and seem to be well organized and actually have goals as to what they want to change but as it spreads to Canada I think the message and the reality is lost.

In Calgary the OccupyCalgary movement has taken over a very nice space called Olympic Plaza right across from city hall and are causing tons of damage by camping in area not meant to support camping. I would not have an issue if they came everyday to protest but I do have an issue when they are breaking City bylaws and are not being charged or ticketed for said offenses. There are laws and they need to be enforced. It is not against the law to protest but it is to camp overnight at the Plaza. Why can't they come back everyday?

Perhaps they could even take a few days off and actually figure out what they are Occupying for, the standard lines of corrupt government and corrupt corporations and they are the 99% and the 1% has to pay doesn't really work in Canada. The majority of taxes are paid by those earning over 80,000 a year which is not 1% it is more like 40-60% of the population and they are supporting the rest of the people that are not paying the taxes and make less than 30,000 a year. If any of these so called protesters had ever filed a tax return they would now if you make below a certain amount in Canada you actually get all your taxes back. They also need to look at how Canada has many social service programs to help the poor, the homeless, and the sick. In Canada you can walk in to any clinic or hospital and get help. That is not the case in the US. That is why they are fighting so that they can get access to equal care. In Canada we already have it.

An anti-protester was ticketed and had his truck towed with in 3 hours of starting his own protest in the same Plaza, yet the mayor, police and by-law officers say they can't enforce the law in Olympic Plaza because it would trample on their Charter rights to protest. I call BS on the mayor and the rest of them. It is time that they enforce the law and remove these squatters and get our space back. If they want to protest I say go for it but do it with in the laws which means you are not allowed to camp out over night.

I would like to really know how many of the OccupyCalgary movement are professional protesters (IE that's all they do is find things to protest about), homeless people that are camping simply because other people are, or have ever had a job and paid taxes. I am personally very busy with work, family and life to sit day in and day out breaking the law because I don't like something. When I want a change I go out and I talk to politicians and I vote for the guy I think will support the changes I want and I talk to my friends and family and help get that person elected. That is how you get change, not by camping out in a park and trying to figure out what needs to be changed.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Daily thoughts

Two men are walking in the forest and they see a rock and a stick in front of them. They quickly look at each other and run over to the two items. The one man picks up the rock and is so happy and impressed with it, at the same time the other man picks up the stick is equally happy and impressed. They then proceed to tell the other why their item is so much better than the other one.
What is the point of that useless story? It simply shows you that two people can see different items and have different opinions of said items.
How does this relate to you? Well it's simple lets change those two phones. You find an iPhone and a BlackBerry, some people will always pick the BlackBerry and other's will always pick the iPhone. It doesn't mean one is better than the other it simply means you have a preference and will choose that device.
Here is another story. As a business person you have a Smart Phone and you come in on Monday and realize you have lost your phone. Like most people you don't actually put a password on your phone because you find it annoying to have to enter that password in every time you want to use it. You call the phone company and cancel the phone right away, which will prevent people from using it to run up large amounts of calls on your bill but what about all the confidential information on it. Whether it is emails, contacts, notes with personal information or perhaps pictures that should not be seen, you have a serious problem if someone decides to look through your phone. If your phone is a BlackBerry on a BES, no problem. You tell your IT guy and he sends a wipe command from the BES server and all your data is gone from the phone. If you have an iPhone or Android you may be in trouble.
Does this make the BlackBerry better? Not really but it does make it more secure for businesses and governments and that is why they use them.
With that in mind pick the device that you like the best and use it but don't attack the guy that uses the other device. They have reasons for picking their device just like you have your reason. Play nice with each other because you never know when you may be forced to switch and may need some help.