Category Archives: Mobile Applications

Top 5 Apps for Travel

imageWhether you’re a business traveler or just like to hop around the world for leisure, utilizing travel apps on your smart phone device can make jet setting easier. From applications that help you organize an itinerary, to maps that provide details of far away lands you’re visiting, here is a look at the top 5 travel apps you should download to your smart phone device.


Are you a disorganized traveler who can’t remember the details of your reservations? Are you a busy business traveler that travels from city to city? Then the TripIt app is for you. Why? Because this app takes the confirmation emails you receive from airlines, trains, hotels and rental car companies and it creates an itinerary for your trip.

The app also updates the departure and arrival gates for your flights as well as provides you directions to the airport. That’s quite a helpful tool when you’re traveling in a city where you’re unfamiliar.


Keeping tabs on how much you spend when you travel is important for a couple of reasons. First, if you’re traveling for pleasure you want to make sure you’re not blowing your budget between meals and additional expenses you don’t usually have when you’re at home. If you’re on business, then often you’re reimbursed for the money you spend. Whatever the case, iXpenseit will track every penny you spend.

You have the option of pie, bar or standard charts which detail how much money you’re spending. It also lists your top expenses and how close you are to reaching your budget limit. Finally, the app also operates in multiple currencies making tracking international spending a snap.


One of the toughest parts about traveling is knowing what to wear. While traveling you don’t have all the comforts of home to suddenly change when the weather surprises you. With Weatherbug, you’ll always be prepared. Weatherbug includes weather for your current location including updates of storm warnings and alerts.

The app also lets you check weather throughout the entire United States by simply pointing to that location on the map. This can be quite a handy tool prior to boarding a plane to that city. Finally, the app provides easy to read weather forecasts for up to 10 days.


Need to find a bank? Restaurant? Hotel in a pinch? Then AroundMe is the application for you. While you are probably familiar with where you live, AroundMe will provide information about everything that is around you when you travel to a new location. This can also be helpful when trying to find local area attractions in a new city.

Once you determine where you want to go, AroundMe will provide with directions and contact information in case you need to call the place you are heading.

World Customs & Cultures

When traveling to a foreign country, you want to be mindful and respectful of their customs. However, if you were never steeped in their traditions, how will you know? Enter the World Customs & Cultures application. Things such as eye contact, personal space, communication style and taboos are all discussed.

The app also details views of the time and gender issues that may or may not be present. Downloading this app will ensure that you are always an appropriate traveler.

While these are some of the best travel apps on the market, there are certainly many others that people use. What are some of your favorite apps?

Author Bio:

This is a guest post from Mark Lindstrom who is a savvy shopper trying to save money wherever he can. He uses everything from Priceline discount codes for travel, down to HP promo codes for the ultra book he takes with him.

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Filed under Cell Phone Apps, Guest Writers, iPhone, Mobile Applications, Software

Metia/Seattle’s Andrew Martin Lays Out 2012’s Mobile Trends And Predictions

imageMetia/Seattle’s Andrew Martin, takes a look at the shifts and changes we’re likely to see in the connected devices marketplace in 2012 in his insightful peek into the future. Checkout  Andrew’s list of mobile trends and predictions – see if you agree.

1. Not everyone has a smartphone

a. India, China, Latin America, Middle America – Metropolitan marketers could easily believe that smartphones and iPads are in the hands of everyone on the planet. At best, the majority of consumers are still using feature phones. The future of media will require adapting not just to emerging technology, but to emerging markets. Their needs are different, and you cannot market to them in the same way that you would to metropolitan areas in industrialized countries.

b. SMS still has a higher and faster response rate than email to mobile devices.

2. Mobile websites vs. Mobile applications

a. The line between apps and websites will continue to blur. Users care less and less whether something is an app or a mobile web – they just want content.

b. The technology that brands use to drive their mobile offering needs to be compatible for both experiences. If you can only do one, default to mobile web.

c. Users will decreasingly store app information separately from web information. There will be a drive toward consolidated access points.

3. Platform Fragmentation

a. Brands need to (and are) get(ting) better at addressing the demand for well-branded mobile experiences.

b. With several platforms available, brands have to jump through different development, design, and release hoops for each one.  Smartphones have finally been around long enough that some best practices are taking shape and brands are able to address customer demand better and faster.

c. Fragmentation is increasingly important. 3 years ago there was only iPhone, and now there is also Windows Phone and Android plus multiple tablets, multiple form factors, and different user behaviors regionally. Mobile devices have lost their novelty and are embedded in users’ daily habits – even true in regions that do not have smartphones.

4. Impact of Tablets on mobile

a. Tablets have proven to be extremely easy to use and adopt, as demonstrated by the volume of young children who play with them (did you see the viral video of the toddler who thought that a magazine was a broken iPad?).

The impact of this is that children are being trained to use and understand Natural User Interface (NUI, i.e. touch, gesture, and voice navigation) from a very early age. This will lead to increased adoption and understanding of NUI best practices by this generation.

The current generation of designers and developers were trained in a keyboard and mouse world and must adapt to a touch and gesture world… the latest generation of technology users won’t have any transition or learning curve – they will have a more ingrained understanding of NUI.

5. Mixing brands – client brands blend with platform branding (ex. the AmazonFresh iPhone experience vs. the AmazonFresh WP experience)

a. Having an app is no longer a differentiator – it has to be well branded because competitors have apps too

b. App marketing – it’s not just about creating an application – it’s about creating an application that is unique to the brand.  The UX is an expression of the brand.  This is different than it was a year ago because brands are getting better and smarter at it. Developers are getting better at mobile so they are doing a better job of representing brands on mobile. Best practices finally exist.

6. The trend of location-based marketing & apps

a. Mobile devices make location-based marketing possible.

b. Location-based promotions will be increasingly integrated into marketing programs.

c. Purely location-based social apps like Foursquare will struggle because other platforms like Facebook are integrating location-based features that make location-based apps obsolete.

7. Privacy

a. People will keep talking about it but not doing anything about it.

b. Individual corporate privacy policies are going to involve a cycle of announcing the policy, dealing with fallout, and proceeding once people have moved on. Facebook has demonstrated this repeatedly.

c. People talk about privacy like it’s a hot button, but they are actually very comfortable releasing confidential information (look at how many people broadcast their vacation plans to potential house thieves via twitter).

d. The federal government is finally taking action against abusers of email privacy and spam laws – it took a while. But there will be a trend where the government will take a more active role in pursuing personal privacy issues.

e. Because mobile applications tend to use personal information, this will be a growing issue for mobile application developers to consider.

About Metia:

Digital marketing leader Metia/Seattle is the North American headquarters of global agency Metia Group, headquartered in London with additional offices in New York and Singapore. As digital craftsmen, Metia/Seattle blends a deep understanding of technology with strategy, creative, content, analytics and optimization.

Their results-focused digital marketing solutions are used by brands including Microsoft and AT&T in websites, email, social, digital applications and other online communication programs.

Visit and

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Filed under Connected Devices, Guest Writers, Mobile Applications, Opinion

“Swatting” – Are You A Potential Victim?

imageIn both Canada and the United States, calling 911 (999 in the UK), will put the caller in contact with emergency services including – Police – Fire – Ambulance. In fact, where I live, all these services are dispatched in response to a 911 call.

Luckily, even if the call is interrupted, emergency personnel with access to Automatic Number Identification, coupled with an Automatic Location Identification (ALI) database, can still dispatch emergency response units to the location generated by the system.

In other words, the location from which the emergency call originated is known, and not subject to mistake. Or is it?

Imagine opening your front door – only to be greeted by this.


Not very likely to happen to you, you’re thinking. Perhaps not – but it does happen to innocent victims and, more to the point, it’s happening with increased frequency. The culprits?  Evil lowlifes who misuse call spoofing technology.

Phone phreaking has a long history – those of us who’ve been around since the 1970s should remember these hackers and their free long-distance calls hacks. Fast forward to today, and what was once a victimless crime (though not entirely so), has taken on ominous overtones.

Call spoofing (showing a phone number in caller ID, other than the real originating number) in it’s most vicious form – “swatting” – can have potentially lethal consequences. The twisted idea behind swatting is – faking an emergency of such a magnitude that the response from law enforcement is the deployment of a  SWAT team to the location generated by the spoofed phone number.

You can well imagine the chaos such an incidence is sure to cause.

From the FBI website:

Needless to say, these calls are dangerous to first responders and to the victims. The callers often tell tales of hostages about to be executed or bombs about to go off. The community is placed in danger as responders rush to the scene, taking them away from real emergencies. And the officers are placed in danger as unsuspecting residents may try to defend themselves.

I must admit; I’ve been completely out of the loop on this one and, until I read the following two newspaper stories this past week, I had no idea of the potential danger.

Toronto man ‘swatted’ by hacker who summoned police

Hacker’s swatting attack calls police to Langley home

Why did they do it?

According to FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Kevin Kolbye:

Individuals did it for the bragging rights and ego, versus any monetary gain. Basically, they did it because they could.

It’s not my intention, in this article, to describe just how easily a phone number can be spoofed – but, I was hardly surprised to see roughly 2 Million Google search results covering this.


It’s an unfortunate fact that laws impacting technology issues are seemingly destined to always be in catch up mode. In my view though, this perversion should be addressed with some senses of urgency.

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Filed under Connected Devices, Cyber Crime, Cyber Criminals, cybercrime, Hackers, Mobile Applications, Software, VOIP

Ditch Facebook – Go Private With Free Flink12

imageThere are 600 Million plus, active Facebook users, but I must confess – I’m not one of the active users. It’s true, I do have a Facebook page but, I use it sparingly.

Since many software developers are now into the – “visit our Facebook page, click on the Like button, and we’ll give you ……….” school of marketing,  I use my Facebook account to meet this manipulative requirement.

My list of grievances with Facebook is a long one, but privacy, or more precisely, the lack of privacy, overrides all other concerns – I’ll leave the considerable security issues aside, for the moment.

I’ve always found it difficult to get a handle on Facebook’s constantly shifting definition of privacy and, it’s difficult to understand and hard to apply, personal privacy restrictions.

Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I just can’t get my head around the idea of putting private information out into the ether of the Internet. On the other hand, there are those who love the Facebook experience, and it seemingly plays an important role in their lives. I think it’s safe to say, that this is a market which will continue to grow exponentially.

Some people see this as inevitable progress – but I’m not one of them. Instead, my definition of progress in this market, is the development of private social networking platforms. Platforms that are designed specifically for friends, families, and  work teams, to privately share, discuss, organize photos, videos, etc., – all in a single easy to use private environment.

One such platform that caught my attention recently is Flink12. It was a “no-brainer” really. An application that can set out in a sentence, or three, an approach to privacy that meets my requirements, is sure to grab my attention.

Here’s what Flink12 has to say on social sharing privacy:

“Privacy first” is the highest priority at Flink12. This approach ensures that your personal information will remain completely secure. With no privacy settings to manage, your information is automatically safe. Personal information will not indexed on the web by search engines. You decide when, where and how much of your life you want to share and with whom.”

Since Flink12 passed my first test, I went on to the next set of questions – did it meet my requirements for functionality? Did it meet my requirements for usability? It did in both cases – and, the following list of features was very convincing.

Fast facts:

Safe & Private – Our “Privacy first” approach ensures that your personal information will remain private. Your information will not be indexed on the web by search engines. We designed Flink12 at its roots to be “udderly” private. Users have complete control.

Easy Photo Sharing – Easy to upload, free, fast, private photo sharing. Caption your photos. Comment on photos. There are several options for sharing each photo and privatizing comments. It’s truly the best way to share photos and comments.

Private Texting/Chat – Free instant communication one-on-one between you and any person in your Flink. Texting is free on Flink12.

Blogging – Write about your personal thoughts and activities as often as you wish. Blogging on Flink12 is quick, easy and fun. There are several options for sharing of blogs and comments amongst your flinks.

Friend Mapping – See where your friends are anytime, worldwide. You have a choice to show your location to your Flink friends or not. Very useful for travelers or friends and relatives across the globe or meeting up with friends for coffee.

Playful Icon Themes – Never forget to play. Our icons are all about expressing yourself in a playful way. Flink icons are uniquely humorous and allow you to quickly share your mood, health, activities and events using preset text or by entering your own text. Choices of several fun themes such as Moms & Babies, Sports Fans, Diva’s, Teens and Pets are coming soon.

Web & Apps – You can join and update on any platform- website, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Android and you only have to post it once- Flink 12 updates seamlessly on all platforms.

Alerts – There are several options for notifications or alerts from your friends. On mobile, MOO’s and cowbells let you know when your friends have posted fresh news.

For more information and to sign up – visit the developer’s site: Flink12

Bottom line:

Flink12 is a technology rich application; full of powerful features – many more than I’ve been able to cover in this short review. At the same time, Flink12 has been designed for speed and simplicity.

If you’re into social networking and privacy is a concern, then take Flink12 for a test drive – I think you’ll be glad you did.

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Filed under Cloud Computing, Connected Devices, downloads, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Mobile Applications, Networking, Peer to Peer, Privacy, Social Blogging, social networking, Social Networks, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Control A Remote Computer (And More), With Free TeamViewer

image If you’re a person who’s often asked by friends, to help them, their friends, their neighbors, ……..the list goes on, to reconstruct a computer that is not responding appropriately, has become loaded with malware, etc., then free TeamViewer is worth taking a look at.

TeamViewer connects to any PC, or server, within a few seconds; which allows you to control a remote PC as if you were sitting right in front of it. Best of all, a typical (non geek) computer user using TeamViewer, doesn’t need to know anything about ports or protocols, or any other complicated Firewall jargon.

Some of my friends, who are only moderately techno competent, have used this neat little tool to rescue their family’s and friend’s computers. Most have commented that it feels just as if they were working side by side with the remote user, on the same PC. I second that perception. Awesome!

Running this free screen sharing/remote control application, is simple – perhaps the easiest I’ve used. The user interface is plain, functional, and uncomplicated – as illustrated.

Click graphic to expand to original.


Since the application has considerable functionality, over and above remote tech support, including file-transfer and business collaboration, there are substantial options available. In the following screen capture, I’ve chosen to illustrate Remote control options.

Click graphic to expand to original.


To get up and running:

Have your friend/partner/associate etc, download, install and run TeamViewer – then email you the session ID and Password, once they have launched the application.


Here’s an example of TeamViewer at work.

The following screen captures illustrate that I’ve taken remote control of TeamViewer’s test computer, by entering the session ID and password provided by TeamViewer – acting as the friend/partner/associate.


Once in control, I opened the remote machine’s WordPad and did a little typing.

Click on graphic to expand


Once you’ve installed TeamViewer, you can do the same thing to give yourself a little practice.

Fast facts:

One solution for everything – While most competitors offer different packages for remote support, remote administration, training and sales (and also charge for them…) TeamViewer is the one-stop solution for everything you need: TeamViewer includes all modules in one simple and very affordable package.

File transfer – TeamViewer comes with integrated file transfer that allows you to copy files and folders to and from a remote partner – which also works behind firewalls

Highest security standard – TeamViewer is a very secure solution. All versions feature completely secure data channels with key exchange and AES (256 Bit) session encoding, the same security standard used by https/SSL.

Remote support without installation – With TeamViewer you can remotely control any PC anywhere on the Internet. No installation is required, just run the application on both sides and connect – even through tight firewalls.

Remote presentation of products, solutions and services – TeamViewer allows you to present your desktop to a partner. Share live demos, products, and presentations over the Internet within seconds.

Works behind firewalls – The major difficulties in using remote control software are firewalls and blocked ports, as well as NAT routing for local IP addresses. If you use TeamViewer you don’t have to worry about firewalls: TeamViewer will find a route.

Optimized performance – Whether you have a LAN or dial-up connection, TeamViewer optimizes display quality and speed depending on your network connection.

Encryption – TeamViewer includes full encryption, based on RSA private-public key exchange and AES (256 Bit) session encoding. This technology is based on the same standards as https/SSL and is considered completely safe by today’s standards.

Access Protection – In addition to the PartnerID TeamViewer generates a session password that changes with every software start to provide additional security against unauthorized access to a remote system.

System requirements: Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Win 7, Mac, Linux, Mobile systems.

Download at:  Team Viewer

Note: A portable version is also available.

Bottom line: If you have the skills, and you have the opportunity to provide tech support to your family or friends, then TeamViewer might just be the tool you’ve been looking for.

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Filed under Connected Devices, downloads, Easy Computer Networking, Encryption, flash drive, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Interconnectivity, Mobile Applications, Networking, Portable Applications, Remote Tech Support, Software, USB, Windows Tips and Tools

Top 6 Personal Finance Apps for the iPhone

Guest writer, Andrew Salmon, takes a look at financial applications for the iPhone.

image As more and more apps are added to the ever-growing universe in the palm of your hand, that is the iPhone, there are some very good ways to track your spending.

Keeping your finances in check on the go can help you avoid getting in over your head.

Here are the top six financial apps for the iPhone:

6. LoanShark

This app weighs in with a slightly hefty $4.99 price tag, but it could save you thousands in the long run. With LoanShark, you can calculate the actual cost of various loans as well as allowing you to compare interest rates and terms. So while the bank throws figures at you too fast to handle before thrusting the contract in front of you to sign, let LoanShark make sure you’re getting the deal that’s right for you budget.

5. PocketMoney

At only $1.99, PocketMoney is a steal. This easy to use app helps you keep track of your accounts, budget and your spending habits. Plus it easily exports financial data to your desktop’s financial software when it’s time to really number crunch. There’s also a minimum of data entry involved, leaving you more time to hunt out those ever-elusive bargains.

4. PayPal For iPhone

EBay allows you to stay on top of your auctions while you’re away from you desktop by offering real time updates on the status of your bid. You can even change your bid on the go. But how about paying for your item right away? Now PayPal for the iPhone allows you to easily send payments safely and securely. Also, in a snap, you can send funds to anyone on your contact list through use of your existing PayPal account. And it’s free!

3. SplashMoney

You’ll pay $4.99 for this personal finance app but with good money management features added to the ability to connect wirelessly to online banking with full security encryption, you’ll be on top of your finances every step of the way. Pay bills, move funds – all on the commute home – and you’ll free up more personal time when you do cross the threshold and call it a day.


Like most financial apps, provides real time updates on account balances and tracks your spending habits to help you budget, which is great while travelling or otherwise away from home. However, this app is a free download, which ranks it high on this list. Manage savings, checking and credit cards accounts on the go and at no charge? This is a must have for the on-the-go financial whiz.

1. Moneystrands

The key here is ease of use and flexibility. As another free app, this is one you want on your iPhone. Slick and comprehensive, it’s a budgeting tool that even lets you anonymously compare your personal budget to those of others with a similar lifestyle so you can see how you’re doing in the wallet department. It gives you an up to date snapshot of your financial status and supports 44 worldwide currencies.

This is a guest article by Andrew Salmon of – a UK company which has been helping people in debt for over 75 years.

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Filed under cell phone, Cell Phone Apps, iPhone, Mobile Applications, Productivity Software, Software

Cooliris – A Cool to the Max Browser Add-on

If you don’t have Cooliris installed on your computer you’re missing out on the best of what the web has to offer.

Web 2.0 has given us new and exciting ways to utilize the and interact with the Internet. I have to admit, when I stop to consider the benefits of Web 2.0, and the applications that got us here, the first application that comes to my mind is Cooliris.

Not Twitter, and not FaceBook, which, in my view, are just two of the social utilities that have been overhyped to the max, and which continue to be, along with many other social networking applications, tremendous gateways for cybercriminals.

Cooliris, on the other hand is a wonderfully fluid and superbly crafted free add-on for Safari, FireFox, and Internet Explorer, which allows me to interact with the Internet in ways I never considered possible on a web browser.

Cooliris 5

The developers of this free Internet Browser add-on, as well as being the developers of Cooliris Previews, a tool I couldn’t function without, on the Web, are a very talented group of people with true insight into how to create and develop tools to expand our internet horizons.

Expand your own Internet horizons, download and install Cooliris, and while you’re at it, if you’re a FireFox user, download Cooliris Previews. You’ll be glad you did.

Fast facts: (from the Cooliris site)


It’s the fastest way to search Google Image Search, YouTube, Flickr, Hulu, online retailers, and other sites. Zip through search results on the 3D Wall with our search function. Switch engines effortlessly without having to re-enter the search term.

Cooliris 6

Works with hundreds of sites

Cooliris is built around the industry standard Media RSS format, and works on hundreds of sites across the Web.


Double clicking an image or pressing the toggle button brings you to full screen slideshow mode. There, you can play, pause, fast forward, and rewind at will.

Channels: News & Entertainment

Hulu, ESPN, BBC, SonyBMG, MSN, and more …Catch the latest news, sports, and entertainment. Even enjoy full-length movies and TV episodes.*


Customize the look and feel of Cooliris – modify the number of rows, background image, wall angle, slideshow speed and more!

Local File Support

Quickly find and view photos stored on your computer. Enjoy images from your Hard Drive, Desktop, iPhoto, and more.


Share stuff with friends by dragging and dropping content from the 3D Wall. You can share as many items as you’d like, and even add a personal message.

3D Window Shopping

Window shop some of the world’s largest retailers by comparing products visually on the Cooliris 3D Wall. Highlight an item to learn the price or click the shopping cart icon to jump to the corresponding product page of the retailer.

Cooliris 4

Jump to Page

A picture tells a thousands words, but sometimes you just want to see the detailed story behind it all. Cooliris makes that easy. A click of a button lets you toggle between Cooliris and the corresponding web page of any item.


Keep track of the best items in Cooliris by adding it to your own custom feed!


Toggle between full screen and tabbed mode.

System Requirements: Cooliris currently supports FireFox (Windows XP/Vista and Mac), Internet Explorer, and Safari (Mac), iPhone

For a Cooliris video preview checkout YouTube

Download at: Cooliris


Filed under Browser add-ons, Digital Media, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Graphic Software, Interconnectivity, Internet Explorer Add-ons, Mobile Applications, Multimedia Tools, Safari add-ons, social networking, Software, Website Previews, Windows Tips and Tools

How to use a Blackberry Smartphone with a cheap “Pay As You Go” mobile phone plan…

Rick Robinette gives you the 411 on getting the best from your Blackberry Smartphone in these uncertain economic times.

The object of the this story is to demonstrate how I maximized the usage  of a Blackberry Smartphone using one of the cheapest mobile phone plans out there. For the sake of this article, the model phone that I used for this project was the Blackberry Curve 8320 Smartphone.

If you do not know what a Blackberry is, I encourage to visit the Blackberry website [ CLICK HERE ] .

Blackberry Smartphone

When it comes to mobile (cell) phones I cannot see myself conversing for a 1000 minutes (16.66 hours) a month. That is two workdays to me or time that I can allocate to other things where I can see results.

Please do not get me wrong, a mobile phone is very much needed in circumstances where your business or livelihood is dependent on quick communications. The plan which I currently use is a “pay as you go” plan (with T-Mobile). I have learned to discipline myself with the usage; PLUS I do not give my number out or use it for lengthy conversation.

I have always been fascinated with PDA’s, have owned quite a few, and was currently looking for something that would provide PDA capabilities, as well as, mobile phone capabilities. I did not want to pay a lot or get trapped into a lengthy service contract with a mobile phone provider just to own a computer in my pocket.

During a recent visit to the local mall I entered into my usual question and answer session with the sales rep at one of the T-Mobile kiosks.  I have done this in the past at other locations in an effort to educate myself about mobile phones.

One of my primary questions has been,  “What phones will my T-Mobile “pay-as-you-go” SIM card work in?”. You would be surprised at the answers I have received. I have always been told I would have to purchase another phone plan, if I wanted a Blackberry, etc…

Ultimately I always leave very confused about mobile phones. In this case, the sales rep proceeded to inform me that my SIM card in my cheapie phone would function in any of the phones they had. The sales rep proceeded to show me several phones including the Blackberry (all with heavy price tags if I were to buy the phone straight out).

As my “gadget luck” would have it, I was preparing to leave and the sales rep proceeds to tell me that he had an used Blackberry Curve 8320 for sale, minus the software for the phone.

Long story short, I get what I think is a good deal on this phone…  I buy the phone and with my cheap “pay as you go” plan, I challenge myself (as a project) to find workarounds to getting data to and from the Blackberry without the need to purchase a high priced data plan.

Reflected below is highlights of how my project turned out…  Some of the information alone may be helpful to other Blackberry owners and in some cases, depending on the phone (and provider), may not work at all. Some of the information reflected may be common information to mobile phone power users and may make me appear as if I don’t have a clue about mobile phones…

Well I don’t, but I am learning!  All I can tell you is, that I took a cheap phone plan (pay-as-you-go) and an expensive smartphone and customized it for my personal needs.

SIM Card

SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) is the card located in your phone that is a module that identifies to the mobile phone provider, who you are. It can also serve as storage media for your contacts, etc… The module can usually be removed and swapped to other phones (with the same provider).  In my case the SIM card worked with no problems and all my contacts were transferred to the Blackberry.  I now have voice communications with the Blackberry using my “pay as you go” plan.


My phone coverage improved noticeably.  Locations where I could not get service, I now have service.  Proves to me that some mobile phones are better in transmission and reception than others.

Blackberry Desktop Manager Software

Since there was no software with the smartphone to manage the phone from my computer, I had to go find the software on the internet. I easily located and downloaded the software from “Blackberry” and installed it on my PC .

The Desktop Manager Software is an integral piece that you need to keep your phone software up to date; AND to provide file management, software management, and backup capabilities.

The installation was also bundled with a Roxio package to manage and convert audio, video and photo files.  After learning the Desktop Manager Software, I knew at that point this was my gateway for installing third party software onto Blackberry.

Calendar, Contact, and Task Management

In order to take full advantage of the calendar, contact and task management portion of the phone, I needed some type of syncing capabilities.

The Desktop Manager Software provides syncing capability to Microsoft Outlook and to Yahoo.  I exclusively configured my Yahoo internet mail account to manage my contacts, calendar, notes and tasks on my Blackberry.

When I connect my Blackberry to my computer, run the Desktop Manager Software, it automatically syncs with my Yahoo account on the internet. This also gives me the ability to pull up my information from any PC connected to the internet.


The Blackberry Curve 8320 has wi-fi (wireless) capability.  I configured the Blackberry to connect to the wireless router in my home, which provided me with (at first) limited access to the internet.  You will see below the workaround I utilized to gain full access.

Internet Browser

The browser on this particular phone was very, very limited (proprietary to T-Mobile) and did not provide complete internet access via my wireless access point. I initially did not think this was possible without a data plan, but after some careful thinking, I knew there had to be some way that I could bridge that gap.

I downloaded and installed Opera-Mini which is browser software designed for mobile phones. I now have full access to the internet via my wireless router or at any Wi-Fi access point that will let me in.  (Note: Opera-Mini is an awesome browser for this purpose).

MicroSD Card (with PC Adapter)

RadioShack had an 8 gig MicroSD memory card on sale ($20), which I installed into the Blackberry…  I now have storage capability; plus when  connecting the Blackberry to my computer it is recognized as a mass storage device.

I can now transport my files, portable apps, etc… This particular phone model has a camera (w/photo viewer), video camera (with video player) and voice recorder (w/audio player) built in.

With the added storage I successfully converted a full length movie to play on the Blackberry; added MP3 music files, photos, documents, etc…


Now that I have learned to install software onto the Blackberry, I am currently exploring the internet for “freeware” software for the Blackberry.  Several sources that I have located are:

Blackberry Freeware

Blackberry Freeware Directory

In closing, I have been quite pleased with the outcome of this project and the Blackberry Curve Smartphone.  I welcome any comments or suggestions.

This is a guest post by Rick Robinette, who brings a background as a security/police officer professional, and as an information technology specialist to the Blogging world.

Why not pay a visit to Rick’s site at What’s On My PC.


Filed under BlackBerry, Interconnectivity, Mobile Applications

Reduce Cell Phone/VoIP Background Noise With SoliCall!

image We can often find ourselves in an environment that is not telephone friendly; noisy conferences, on the boat while at the cottage – think about the noise produced by twin Mercury outboard motors, sporting events, or dare I say it, loud raucous parties.

Background distractions produced by unwanted environmental noises may, at a minimum, be no more than an annoyance, or in more extreme cases can lead to confusion, frustration, misunderstanding, and irritation for both parties to a telephone call. Think about the impact on the listener, while you shout to be heard over background noises.

Often we have limited choices as to when we either make, or take, a telephone call, and circumstances may dictate that we do so despite environmental background noises which are sure to produce some degree of anxiety.

Recently, while using my cell phone I instructed my Broker to sell all my holdings in Chrysler – not hearing me clearly, instead he bought additional shares in Chrysler. I’m only kidding you – but you see the point. Background environmental noise, while using the telephone, has the potential to produce unintended consequences.

There’s a great new solution to this common scenario. SoliCall, a company which specializes in noise reduction, noise cancellation and noise suppression technology has developed a personalized voice filtering solution. This noise reduction software operates as a voice pass filter which can be integrated in any phone system, and in any voice call.


(Before and after the application of this technology)

This amazing technology – I admit, I’m old enough to still be amazed by unique technology – is based on identifying the voice of the speaker – it does not center on specific noises but only on the user’s voice. To accomplish this, the application records and analyzes a sample of the user’s voice and stores the unique acoustic parameters. The end result is; all other voices, noises and sounds are filtered out.

Unlike some existing voice filtering technologies which rely to some extent on telephone speaker position – physical contact using jaw bone sensors for example – this new technology does not rely on the position of the telephone speaker, with the obvious comfort advantage this entails.

Installation is easy even for a novice computer user, but to ensure seamless installation the company provides a terrific FAQ page, supplemented with an application integration page, which covers more than just the basics.


Recording telephone calls can often be important for both business and personal reasons, and surprisingly (well I was surprised); the SoliCall program includes the capacity to do so.

With SoliCall’s personalized noise reduction you can now improve voice quality and get rid of those virtually impossible to deal with background distractions, in cell phone, headset, and other telephone calls.

There is an obvious need for this exciting technology, and the number of free downloads thus far (32,000+ at alone), speaks to this.

Fast facts:

Compatible with all SoftPhones

Compatible with business centers, e.g. Gateways, PBXs and Conference bridges

Improves sound quality on any type of VoIP call, e.g. PC-to-PC, PC-to-Phone

Robust echo cancellation

Transmits only your voice – personalized to your specific voice

Screens all other voices, noises and sounds

Becomes more efficient as it learns

Small 1.23 MB free download

System Requirements: Windows 2000/XP

Download at:

Please note, that all other products offered by SoliCall, for cell phones and for PBXs (the SDK and the PBXMate), are already in the production phase. In fact, the company recently reported on their signing three international deals in the telecom sector.

Pay a visit to SoliCall’s new Website and checkout their full complement of noise reduction and echo cancellation technologies.

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Filed under Audio Applications, Audio Software, Cell Phone Apps, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Interconnectivity, Mobile Applications, Software, VOIP

Instant Messaging – Tips You Need to Know

instant messanger 1 I’m always amazed when I see my younger friends communicating with each other using instant messaging applications.

Their use of instant messaging for rapid communication, as opposed to voice contact, is a phenomenon that I must admit has never appealed to me.

I excuse myself on this one by convincing myself that I’m an ancient fossil; after all my computing experience goes all the way back to the dark ages of MS-DOS 1. Not quite the days of the Dinosaurs; but close.

My comfort zone in communications is a telephone, used the old fashioned way for immediacy, or email where immediacy is not an issue. The reality is however, that programs such as MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, AIM, and a basket full of other IM applications, are extremely popular with the younger generation, like my younger friends, who want real-time contact with each other.

Regrettably, from a security perspective these applications can present considerable security risks. Generally, security risks occur when these programs are used to share files, folders, or in some cases, even entire drives. Instant messaging, unfortunately, is a primary channel used by cyber-criminals to distribute malware.

As Wikipedia explains it, hackers use two methods of delivering malicious code through IM: delivery of virus, Trojan, or spyware within an infected file, and the use of “socially engineered” text, with a web address that entices the recipient to click on a URL that connects him or her, to a website that then downloads malicious code. Viruses, worms, and Trojans typically propagate by sending themselves rapidly through the infected user’s buddy list.

Follow these tips to ensure you are protected when using instant messaging.

  • Don’t click on links, or download files from unknown sources. You need to be alert to the dangers in clicking on links, or downloading files from sources that are not known to you. Even if the files or links apparently come from someone you know, you have to be positive that it really was this person who has sent the message.
  • Check with your contact to be sure the files, or links are genuine. Remember, if you click on those links, or run those attachments without confirmation, you run the risk of letting malware into your computer.
  • Use only secure passwords, and be sure to change them regularly. The longer and more varied they are – using a variety of different characters and numbers – the more secure they will be.
  • Protect personal and confidential information when using IM. Revealing confidential or personal information in these types of conversations can make you an easy target for Internet predators.
  • For added protection when using a public computer, ensure that you disable any features that retain login information to prevent other users from gaining access to your instant messaging once you leave.
  • It’s virtually impossible to avoid publishing your email address on the Internet, however do so only when absolutely necessary. Cyber criminals are always on the lookout for accounts to target.

Instant Messanger changed Above all, if you are a parent, take exceptional care with the access that your children have to these programs.

The risk here goes beyond malware, as sadly, they could come into contact with undesirable or even dangerous individuals.

Elsewhere on this site you can read an article on protecting your children on the Internet and download free software to help you do this.

ParentalControl Bar, a browser toolbar, is one solution provided free of charge, by, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing free, and effective Internet control tools.

Check out my review of this free application on this site “Free Internet Child Protection – Parental Control Bar”.

For information on monitoring your child’s cell phone usage (most cell phones today are really Internet connected devices), see “Parental Monitoring and Cellular Phones” by my tech wizard friend TechPaul.

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Filed under Child Safety Internet, Don't Get Hacked, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety, Internet Safety for Children, Malware Advisories, Mobile Applications, Parenting Help, Software, Teenager Internet Safety Tips