Sunday, February 11, 2018

Hanging on to Blackberry 10


I am a Blackberry 10 Fan and I still use a Blackberry Z10. While do have an Android phone but still love my Blackberry.  Blackberry 10 is dead

Over the years some useful apps have stopped being supported and no longer work while others despite no support continue to work but are no longer updated.

End of Support still works

  • Evernote - January 29, 2017 
  • FastTube - Still works but not in Blackberry World (Super Tube is a viable alternative)
End of Support no longer works

  • Facebook - April 20, 2016 - redirects to Facebook mobile - Alternatives: Android Version and others paid and free native wrappers
  • Dropbox (Connect to Dropbox)*- API v1 shutdown - Alternative: Basket or Web Browser
  • LinkedIN - November 27, 2017 - Alternative: Basket($3.99) or Web Browser
  • Whatsapp - Dec 31, 2017 - Alternative: Android Version
It will all end
  • Blackberry World App Store - December 31, 2019
BB10 s great OS that was launched too late, with too many issues on a weak device that was overpriced. Ironically, the device should have been launched as a loss leader at the  $299 

*Blackberry Developed and maintained app.  

Note all prices are in USD.

Last updated: February 28, 2018

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Monday, February 05, 2018

Save Money on Utility Bills in Jamaica

A number of Jamaican utility companies offer costumers an opportunity to save. The method of doing so is very simple. It is not all altruistic as these companies clearly have other reasons,

All costumers have to do is pay their utility bills in full and on time, before the due date preferable, and save $250. The companies on-board include:

  • JPSCO
  • FLOW
  • NWC

$500 Savings

To offset the losses to the company, those customers who pay late are charged late fee of $250. So in fact the benefit in reality for paying early is really $500, as if you had a bill for $1000, you would pay $750 versus $1250, if you are late.

Now this might not look by much but if you have 3 bills paid monthly at the end of the year you could save as much as  $18,000 (3 bills x 12 months x $500 = $18,000).

Digicel Jamaica is not on board for some reason and NWC has some initial challenges but those are behind us.

There a few things to note.  When using payment agencies or online banking, try to ensure that the payments are made at least 1 day before the due date, as your cash flow allows as payments. This as as payment via these channels are often done in batches and wont hit the utility's billing system until the next day. Also remember to pay the bill down to the cent, if anything rounding up not down.

Paying your bills on-time also prevents re-connection fees charged in some cases. So have a look at your bills, note the due date and push to pay on time and save big

n.b I have not blogged in a while but I decided to do so this morning.  Have a wonderful week

References

FLOW FAQs
JPSCO Customer Care Guide
NWC News January 5, 2018


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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Blackbery 10.3.3.3 Running on a Passport

I now have Blackberry 10.3.3. on a device the noticable changes are
The improvements in the browsers
The addition of the downloads tab
the addtion of the anti-phshing option a
overall better performance

There is also the change in how the blackberry virtual expert behaves

Blackberry Passport (in Jamaica),
SW: 10.3.3.1435| OS: 10.3.3.2163




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Sunday, December 11, 2016

Blackberry 10.3.3 update finally here - What changes

The Blackberry 10.3.3 update finally here is finally here. I don't have it on my device and I have opted to wait for the over the air (OTA) update.  Given I am in Jamaica, I might have to wait for a while. 

This update should have just been an a security update but low and behold Blackberry actually updated a few things.
  • Security update - National Information Assurance Partnership (NIAP) certification.  Version 10.3.3 has passed the NIAP security test to deliver the strictest government-grade security to further support government, enterprise and regulated customers who require the highest levels of protection for critical data.
  • Browser
    • Anti-phishing option added
    • Browser bug fixes
  • Android Runtime -  This fixes an issue with uninstalling Android Apps. There was already a fix out for this but the update rolls up and includes this. 
  • Other security improvements
There is the option to use what are called autoloaders but be warned for the most part they wipe the device clean. So backup your device using Blackberry Link before proceeding.

Sources

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Blackberry Link not working? Apple iTunes update responsible

An Apple iTunes update has affected Blackberry users of Blackberry Link.  At first, many users thought it was a Windows 7 & 10 update. However, the real culprit was an Apple update that became available at about the week of September 14, 2016, about the same time the Windows updates became available.  Blackberry Link for PC and MAC is used to backup and sync contacts, images, calendars, music etc on BlackberryOS 10 phones.

Problem
The iTunes updated changed the structure of the iTunesPrefs.xml. As a result Blackberry Link crashes on attempting the read the XML file.

On attempting to run Blackberry Link, the following error message appeared.


Solution

Here is the workaround or solution to the Blackberry Link crashing issue.

Rename the iTunesPrefs.xml file and relaunch BlackBerry Link

Please note: 
  1. Completing the below steps may have adverse effects on the iTunes functionality(no effects has been seen). For further information, please contact Apple support. 
  2. Please note: Once the workaround has been completed, iTunes sync will not be available within BlackBerry Link.
To rename the iTunesPrefs.xml file;
  1. Turn on Show hidden files and folders (These files are hidden by default)
  2. Navigate to C:\Users\\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\iTunes\ 
  3. Rename the iTunesPrefs XML file file to iTunesPrefs.old 
 Once completed, it would be recommended to turn off show hidden files and folders.

Form the beginning I suspected that the iTunes update was the source of the crash.  Interesting this Apple iTunes update also affected Runner 2 from TomTom . Their purposed fix is interesting and I will explore when I have some time.

References
n.b. It seems my blog is about Blackberry these days but I will change this soon.

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Fixing Android Runtime issue on BB10

This patch is needed if your Blackberry OS version is 10.3.2.2876

After an  Android App was installed on a Blackbery 10 (BB10) smartphone, if deleted/uninstalled the application icon is removed but the application remains installed.  This takes up space and attempts to reinstall and upgrade the app will fail.

Steps
  1. Using your BB10 device, browse to http://appworld.blackberry.com/webstore/content/39879918
  2. Blackberry World will open
  3. Install update
  4. Once it is installed, restart phone (DO NOT CLICK OPEN)
  5. Once the phone is restarted the update is completo. (Give the phone a few minutes to finalise the update before installing/deleting any new apps)

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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Why I grew to love Blackberry 10 - Part 3

In Part 1 and Part 2 we looked at a number of features that made me love Blackberry 10, In Part 3 we continue by looking at a few more.

9. Multi-Tasking 

Active frames.
When a user returns to the home screen from within an application, the application is minimized into a so-called "Active Frame". An Active Frame is a miniaturized window of the application which keeps running in the background. A user can return to such an application by tapping on the Active Frame.

External Display while checking email or playing another video

In this 2013 video Deepak Maharaj demonstrates the Z10 playing a video on the external screen while playing another video on the phone itself.  While that is happening he shows the ability to visit the hub, compose email etc with no lag. Here is a comparison between a Z10 running BB10 vs Samsung Note 4 and another discussion on multi-tasking.
File Manager (demo)
Out of the box, BB10's file manager has got to be one of the best.

Remote Access (demo)
I mentioned this with Blackberry Blend but the demo above says it all. With Blackberry Link running on your PC, access your desktop and My Documents files from your phone. The Phone is your office.
Not an app fanatic
While many persons have tens if not hundreds of apps on their phones research constantly shows that less than 5 apps are often regularly used. The sad truth for Blackberry is the app that a user wants will is likely the one not available.

The keys apps for me are there. The contacts, calendar, email, weather, notes/reminders, clock, password keeper, BBM, camera, Bible, Kindle and Adobe reader.

There are social media apps Twitter, Facebook  (was but there is Face10 and others). Instagram(IGrann and Inst10) among others. That said, many Android apps will run on BB10 but it takes a little effort and the run-time is stuck at 4.3 (Jelly-Bean).

That said, the BBOS in and of itself is a great mobile OS, if not the best. The lack of apps is not an OS issue but lack of adoption brought on by RIM's strategic mistakes and failures in the past.

I do use an iPhone (occasionally) and Android device (regularly). BB10 will die but sometimes like great men who die young, so do some great products.

In Summary 
  1. The Hub - The communications Hub. Nobody does it, nobody does it better
  2. Blend - Desktop Anywhere
  3. The Calendar and Meeting mode
  4. Video screen-share
  5. Browser and Reader mode
  6. Shortcuts - Physical keyboard
  7. Multi-Tasking - Amazing productivity
  8. File Manager - Best out of the box
  9. Multi-tasking 
  10. Remote Access - With BB Link access anywhere
Reference
  1. Blackberry 10 Change Log
  2. Keyboard Shortcuts (Q10,Classic, Passport)

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Why I grew to love Blackberry 10 - Part 2

In part 1, I spoke about the hub, gestures and meeting mode. Today we continue by looking at a few more.

4. Blackberry Blend (10.3.1) (View Blend Demo)
Even in its unfinished state, it has effectively replaced my email desktop client and allowed me to stay connected and productive. It is unified connection on the desktop. Connect to your phone over Wi-Fi (meaning you could leave it at home charging) or via USB and work on/from/via your phone.   From your desktop (PC/Tablet) you can respond to BBM, Email, SMS right there. Additionally you get message alerts and you can see who is calling, messaging or email you all on your desktop while at work or play.

There is no need to touch the phone except for making calls. (If Whatsapp was integrated into the hub that would be awesome. It is possibly one reason why Whatsapp wanted BB10 dead.

Then once you turn off Blend on the Desktop/Tablet it’s all gone.

5. Keyword adapts, predictive based on usage and style (View Keyboard demo).
As you type commonly used words are noted and are suggested saving you valuable time. Flick the words to the text area as you see them. This is a joy. A similar feature is found with email. Certain emails are sent or forwarded to certain people the email client quickly suggest those contacts for your convenience. Add to this the option swipe to left with one finger on the keyboard to delete a word, 2 fingers,  2 words. The keyboard can be accessed from anywhere by swiping up with 2 fingers.

6. Video screen-share (View Demo)
When using video calling via BBM users can share the contents of their screen, pictures documents etc. This is a lovely team collaboration tool.

7. The Browser
When this browser was first launched it had to be one of the best. For one before the final demise of Flash it supported it. Beyond that, reader mode is especially useful for reading articles. In addition in reader mode, the articles can also be read to you. The standard features such as desktop mode is also very useful

8. Shortcuts.
The BB10 devices with physical keyboards add another dimension, shortcuts. While many are per-configured they can be customised you can add your own. For example from the home screen, press and hold the following letters
  • A - opens the contacts, 
  • B - opens the browser, 
  • C - and you are ready to compose a message, 
  • D - creates a remember note
  • K - locks the device
  • L - opens the calendar , 
  • Q - toggles the normal an silent mode of the phone
  • U - opens the calculator
  • R- opens the clock
There are many others, accessible from the home screen and with email, the calendar and other apps. For example, within the email app 'N' and 'P' will give you next and previous.  See more

In Part 3, I will look at multi-tasking, the file manager and the remote access

Reference
  1. Blackberry 10 Change Log
  2. Keyboard Shortcuts (Q10,Classic, Passport)

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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Why I grew to love Blackberry 10 - Part 1

BB10 will likely go the way of Symbian OS, WebOS and a host of other mobile operating systems. Here I share a few reasons while I like and appreciate Blackberry 10.

1. The Interface and Gestures (See more)
I have found the gesture-based navigation intuitive. Simple example, you swipe up to wake your device, no need to press any button. How many persons have worn out the power button on their Android devices?  The ability to navigate between applications on the BB10 seems some much better and easier than on the iPhone and way better than on Android (before Lollipop). I will mention other gestures as I go on. There are some gestures/actions I had hoped would have come over from the Playbook OS. These include the flick to close a program instead of clicking a 'x' and the restart or stand-by on-screen option on the battery icon instead of the power button to restart. The video below highlights a few of the gestures.



2. The Hub, The Hub, the Hub and notifications (View Hub Demo)
The hub is where you can receive and manage all your email accounts, SMS, calls, BBM, social media and other app notifications and messages plus more. Before this Facebook debacle you could manage and respond to Facebook messages (you can use Face10 now), notifications without going to the app or it would carry you directly to the app.

You can customise your apps and emails and colour code them and decide which ones appear in the hub or not.

For me, it has allowed me to manage and curate my personal and work email accounts better than I have ever had. Show unread and read emails with a pinch gesture and easily focus on priority messages.

Then when I get a notification, from whatever app I am in, I can peek into the hub (using an upside-down L or up and to the right gesture) to get a quick idea of the email or messages with the option to easily return to the current app.

3. Calendar and Meeting mode (10.3.1)
Meeting mode. Once activated, during meetings your phone goes into meeting mode. No additional apps needed.  All this in addition to being a great calendar application.

In Part 2, I will look at the keyboard, Blend, video share and shortcuts

Reference
  1. Blackberry 10 Change Log
  2. Keyboard Shortcuts (Q10,Classic, Passport)

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Facebook Alternatives for Blackberry 10 Users

Now that Facebook has decided to end support for the Facebook App for Blackberry, what are your options. Well fortunately there are some options and native blackberry apps at that provide options.

Face10
  • Built-in Messenger: No (requires Messenger Lite) by
  • Hub Integration: Yes (in Pro only)+
  • Hub Notification: Yes (in Pro only)+
  • Multiple Accounts: Yes (in Pro only)+
  • View Videos and Photos: Yes
  • Download Videos and Photos: Yes (in Pro only)+
  • Stars*: 4
  • Cost: Lite: Free | Pro: US$2.99+
  • Developed by: Nemory Studios
  • Last Updated: October 5, 2016
Get Face10 from Blackberry World

Comments: You can see all the features at work for 2 days. Thereafter it switches to Lite mode only requiring payment. To continue, using the full features you will need to purchase Face10 Pro and Messenger Pro. I found viewing galleries a little disappointing as I could not move from one photo to another. Commenting on friend's post was easy and it displayed the comments nicely.

We would recommend you install the Headless Stabilizer to mange and check to ensure certain background processes are running. The setup with the separate Messenger is actually how it is implemented on the iOS and Android Platforms.  Therefore you can install Messenger for Facebook Lite alone if you so desire.

Currently not listed in Blackberry AppWorld. Browse directly using the link provided.


FaceSlim
  • Built-in Messenger:  Yes
  • Multiple Accounts: No
  • Hub Integration:  Yes
  • Hub Notification: Yes
  • View Videos and Photos: Yes 
  • Download Videos and Photos: No
  • Stars*: 4
  • Cost:  Free 
  • Developed by: schmatzler

Get FaceSlim from Blackberry World

Comments: Android based client. Initially sluggish but once running runs okay. It does have basic hub notification which you will have to turn on. The news feed and settings are hidden so you will need to swipe to the right to find. When he app settings are found you will discover lots of features, including LED notifications, font size,dark theme, clear cache and more. This app is worth recommending.

Faceboss 10 for Facebook
  • Built-in Messenger: Yes
  • Multiple Accounts:  Not stated
  • Hub Integration:  NA
  • Hub Notification: NA
  • View Videos and Photos: Yes 
  • Download Videos and Photos: Yes 
  • Stars*: 4
  • Cost: $1.99
  • Developed by: 4T Studio Ltd

Get Faceboss 10 for Facebook from Blackberry World

FaceBox

Built-in Messenger: No
Multiple Accounts:  No
Hub Integration:  No
Hub Notification:  No
View Videos and Photos: Yes
Download Videos and Photos:  No
Stars*: 4
Cost: Free
Developed by: Canada Inc

Get Facebox for Facebook from Blackberry World

Comments: The developers claim it is a native client but it appears to be a wrapper for the mobile Facebook website. You will be ask to like their page, which is a small thing to do for what the app offers and you can also join their BBM channel. The initial setup is a little annoying and I found the constant help tips annoying, that is until you have clicked every menu item. I would not recommend.

FacePro for Facebook
  • Built-in Messenger: Yes 
  • Multiple Accounts: NO
  • Hub Integration: NO 
  • Hub Notification: Yes via SMS
  • View Videos and Photos: Yes
  • Download Videos and Photos: No
  • Stars*: 4.0
  • Cost: US$ 1.99
  • Developed by: EnzoDeSimone
Get FacePro from Blackberry World

Comments: This app was recently released, April 25, 2016 and last updated October 3, 2016. I have personally tested this app.  There seems to have been much improvement including the hack to use SMS to provide notifications.

F5 Messenger for Facebook PRO
  • Built-in Messenger: Yes 
  • Multiple Accounts: Yes 
  • Hub Integration: NO 
  • Hub Notification: NO
  • View Videos and Photos: Yes
  • Download Videos and Photos: No
  • Stars*: 3.5
  • Cost: $2.99 | 
  • Developed by: LY Studio
Get F5 Messenger for Facebook PRO from Blackberry World

The app works okay. The name is a little confusing as it is more than a messenger client. The in-app messenger does the job well enough although you have to take you time and type. Viewing photo galleries worked well along with viewing videos. The downside was there was no HUB integration or notifications

F5 fоr Fаcеbооk - Subscriрtiоn
  • Built-in Messenger: Yes 
  • Multiple Accounts: Yes 
  • Hub Integration: NO 
  • Hub Notification: NO
  • View Videos and Photos: Yes
  • Download Videos and Photos: No
  • Stars*: 3.0
  • Cost: $4.99 every 30 days.| 
  • Developed by: LY Studio
Get F5 Messenger for Facebook PRO from Blackberry World

The app seems to work okay.  However the $4.99/month subscription has resulted I suspect in little takers. It is simple too expensive. That is $59.88/Year.


Messenger for Facebook PRO (formally F9 for Facebook)
  • Built-in Messenger: Yes 
  • Multiple Accounts: NO
  • Hub Integration: NO 
  • Hub Notification: NO
  • View Videos and Photos: Yes
  • Download Videos and Photos: No
  • Stars*: 4.5
  • Cost: $2.99
  • Developed by: SoftwareSun
Get Messenger for Facebook PRO from Blackberry World

Says messenger but seems to much more than that. Use your browser. The app works but it seems to be nothing more than only a wrapper for http://m.facebook.com. Disappointed but if a browser in a app makes you feel better,it is an option. Not worth it

FacePlus - Pro Edition 

  • Built-in Messenger: Yes
  • Multiple Accounts:  No stated
  • Hub Integration:  NO
  • Hub Notification: NO
  • View Videos and Photos: Yes 
  • Download Videos and Photos: Yes 
  • Stars*: 3.5
  • Cost: $0.99
  • Developed by: DJ Apps

Get FacePlus - Pro Edition from Blackberry World

Seems functional no real complaints. There are some navigational issues which means going back to the menu.. Last updated May 18, 2016

Messengers for Facebook

FaceSоcіаl fоr Fаcеbооk 
  • Built-in Messenger: Yes
  • Multiple Accounts:  Not stated
  • Hub Integration:  Yes (Pro Only)
  • Hub Notification: Yes (Pro Only)
  • View Videos and Photos: Yes  
  • Download Videos and Photos: No
  • Stars*: 3.5
  • Cost: Free | Pro: $4.99
  • Developed by: TP Soft
  • Last updated: October 13, 2016
Get FaceSocial for Facebook from Blackberry World

Comments: FaceSocial appears usable. I was able to use the messenger and chat. However I was not able to see the news feed as that is available in the Pro version only. It appears to be only a messenger client for Facebook.  There is no back button.

Mеssеngеr fоr Fаcеbооk - Subscription
  • Built-in Messenger: Yes 
  • Multiple Accounts: N/A
  • Hub Integration: NO 
  • Hub Notification: NO
  • Stars*: 2.0
  • Cost: $4.99 every 30 days
  • Developed by: LY Studio
Get F5 for Facebook from Blackberry World

No information available at this time. However the $4.99/month subscription has resulted I suspect in little takers and possible the negative reviews. It is simple too expensive.

The Winner

If you need Hub integration and notifications then Face10 is the app. You will need to be prepared to spend US$2.99 plus $2.99 if you want Messenger Pro for Facebook. It is feature rich and seems to work well. Please note that during the trial period the reminders/promotions can be annoying but once you have paid there should be no issues. FaceSocial looks promising but I will need to test the paid version.  Messenger for Facebook PRO  is disappointing and not worth it and FacePro I am unable to recommend. However, if you are not up for paying, FaceSlim is a good option.

As mentioned in a previous article there other options
  1. Install Facebook Android Version (Yes BB10 can run Android Apps)
  2. Install Facebook Lite for Android  - This version of Facebook uses less data and works in all network conditions and can use it on almost any type of Android phone, new or old. This makes it perfect for BB10 given the Android is stuck at 4.3 (Jelly Bean)
  3. Just live with the mobile website http://m.facebook.com. Combined with #4 it not a bad option if you are just an occasional Facebook user.
  4. Turn on email notifications
  5. Do as Whatsapp says, get a new device, preferably a Blackberry Priv/DTek50! The Blackberry Priv and DTek50 are an Android devices and not affected by Facebook no longer supporting BB10 and BBOS and older.
That said, the apps above are worth using until something else changes
.
*Stars rating are as seen on Blackberry World.

Last updated October 16, 2016.

Removed Listings

Face Mini for Facebook(No longer available for download)
  • Built-in Messenger: Yes
  • Hub Integration: No
  • Hub Notification: No
  • View Videos and Photos: Yes
  • Download Videos and Photos: No
  • Multiple Accounts: Yes
  • Stars*: 3.5
  • Cost: Free
  • Developed by: P3TSOFT
Get Face Mini for Facebook

Found it a little sluggish but still usable. The built-in messenger worked fairly well.  The downside was there was no HUB integration or notifications.

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