Blackberry Weather Apps

Berryweather
A couple of weeks ago I was struggling to find a decent weather application for the Curve. Initially I was using BBWeather as it was free but it was limited and wouldn't give a forecast beyond today and tomorrow. I then found eMobile Weather which I trialled. It's okay but I found the fonts on the Curve were too small and it came with a selection of rather hideous background images that made reading the small font even harder. I was however on the verge of buying it until I chanced upon Shaun's semi-review of Berry Weather, available for $9.95 and with a current 20% discount at the pda247 store.

This represents good value as the app itself is excellent, offering a multitude of different ways to view forecasts plus it has the added benefit of looking seriously nice. It reminds me of the excellent FizzWeather for the iPhone, my weather app of choice on that platform. I'm always prepared to spend on a decent weather application as it something I refer to quite a bit on any device. Another advantage of BerryWeather is that there is no annual subscription needed. It's got all the stuff most people would need and comes highly recommended.

Features:

  • NO SUBSCRIPTION!
  • Current conditions including "Feels like" temperature, wind, pressure, dew point, humidity.
  • 7-day forecast with high/low temperature and precipitation probability
  • 24-hour forecast with temperature, precipitation probability, wind and humidity
  • Easily
    switch between 7 different views (Today, Today with Daily Forecast,
    Today with Hourly Forecast, Full Daily Forecast, Full Hourly Forecast,
    Compact Daily Forecast, Compact Hourly Forecast)
  • Weather advisory notifications, SUPPORT FOR CUSTOM LED COLORS VIA BERRYBUZZ
  • Customizable homescreen icon with fully customizable temperature and weather advisory badge
  • Support for different themes (Widgets, Simple and Simple Dark)
  • Customizable background wallpaper
  • Customizable font size
  • Smooth animations


Drive genuis 2 – defrag

I had been thinking about doing this hard drive defragmentation exercise on my laptop using the built in feature within Drive Genius 2. I could never get it to work properly in the sense I could never get it to start. It said I had to mount it from another volume so I copied the application across to an external hard drive and tried it from there with no joy. It got to the point where it was getting really annoying. I then did a Google search and found this which has obviously put me right off.

I guess I have been fortunate then although you suspect most people have probably managed to do it without any problems.

Time Machine

Airport extreme
I finally started using Time Machine for my backups about 2 months ago, once I got a decent sized external HD that had a firewire connection cable. Since then I have backed up about once a week at most and it has never taken longer than about 10 minutes tops to complete any incremental changes, working away in the background I don't notice it running plus it doesn't seem to affect the running speed of my MacBook pro at all when it is running. I did think about buying a 3rd party application to do the same job but felt that as Time Machine is provided with the system I might as well use it.

When my Airport Extreme base station packs up I will probably replace it with one of those updated ones with the built in storage. It's about 18 months old now and they don't seem to have a good longer term track record. I mention this as the Airport station has been acting a bit odd over the past month, regularly losing it's signal, once a week, and having to be restarted. This has only started over the past month, actually it has only really started since I extended the home network via the Airport mini plug in thingy, I forget its name…coincidence or not? Hmmmmm.

Blackberry email

Gmail_Inbox1
I have mixed feelings about email done the Blackberry way, I can see why they do it the way they do (without any IMAP folder support and ability to "file" messages) but I'm not sure I find it to be the most suitable solution for the way I like to work with email on a mobile device. If I receive a message on a mobile device I like to be able to stick it into an IMAP folder on the device, mainly so I don't have to then do the same thing on the desktop as to me, that is extra work. Basically, I prefer to work my email accounts via the mobile as opposed to on the desktop. In a sense, to me, the Blackberry way defeats the purpose of IMAP email benefits.

Still, having said that, it is nice to have emails delivered in real time and you can of course do most of the stuff that most people need a smartphone to do when it comes to handling email.

Luckily, for those who prefer a more hands on approach and for those who use Gmail, there is an excellent standalone Gmail application available for Blackberry which returns most of the functionality that most non-Blackberry accustomed users will appreciate, nay demand. It displays beautifully on the 8900 Curve and lets you do several additional things:

  • "label" messages in the Gmail fashion into your IMAP folders
  • identify messages as spam
  • "star" messages
  • multiple Gmail account support

For a luddite like myself, the app is ideal. It doesn't provide a push service but that is not important as that is already there via RIM but it allows me to work and handle my email the way I am more used to and frankly prefer.

Dunfermline Building Society going going almost gone….

Ah, these credit crunchin' times just keep getting crazier. The Dunfermline Building Society is on the verge of disappearing after being more or less refused financial assistance. There are several ways to look at this and the mature way is to try and not drag it down to the cheap level of some silly England v Scotland thing. Unfortunately, that is not the approach that the Scottish Parliament and Dunfermline CE appear to be viewing it. How pedantic and predictable. Now, I'm a Scot but I hate the way we sometimes resort, in true smalltown fashion, to blaming the big bad landlord for our own failings and mistakes.

The Dunfermline is a mutual, that means in theory it is owned by its investors and borrowers and as it is not a PLC then it has no shareholders. Up until now it was thought that the Mutuals had been more cautious with their lending and "investments" and had not gone down the US sub-grade lending/bad debt route. After all it is not in theory, their money, they have been playing with but it is that of the investors and borrowers and it was thought this would have added a layer of caution to their business approach. This may not have been the case.

It seems to think that it has some divine right to be rescued despite
it's current predicament being entirely down to it's own financial
mistakes/decisions, from it's own management, taken over the past few
years. Taking risks with others people's money has proved to be its' downfall. Why should the Government hand over uo to £100 million to it when it has never made more than £5 million profit in a single year? They gambled, chased a cheap buck whilst ignoring the consequences of it all back-firing and have ended up paying the price….well, the poor staff will anyway. Hopefully it will find a buyer and the jobs will be saved.

QOTD: Is Apple value for money? | PDA-247

QOTD: Is Apple value for money? | PDA-247.

I saw the advert for this on another website and was thinking how predictable it is, the advert that is. I can't really defend Apple on this one and nor do I think I should have to but no doubt I will. Their products are more expensive when compared to other similar specced computers, there is no doubt about that but a simple price comparison fails to take into account several important factors.

Finder
Firstly, it's not so much the Apple hardware I like it's far more the underlying o/s. I'm more used to it and over the years have spent a lot of dosh on Mac software. If I could buy a Sony or HP branded laptop running Mac OSX I would give it some serious thought. Most of the software on my mac is stuff I really use a lot and like. To buy equivalent stuff for windows, if it is available, would be upwards probably of around £200 plus when you add in the cost of buying Mac OSX that's up around £300. That would probably negate the initial laptop saving I would make by switching to Windows. Plus of course there is the comfort factor. When I change to a new mac all I have to do is attach a firewire cable and all my stuff is transferred across. I couldn't do that if I moved to windows unfortunately which is not a slight on the latter at all but a pure statement of fact.

Next up is specs and you hear all these PC users saying how their devices have similar or better specs than the Apple equivalent. Fair enough, in fact more than fair enough, but simple specs are never the full story, it is more about the underlying hardware and how efficient and how good it is at using those fancy specs. Mac OSX is a very smooth operating system and I'd wager it runs the underlying OS better than most Windows PC's run Vista. This of course adds to the user experience. It's like this, a V6 engine in a lighter car will run better, be quicker and be more reliable as there is less stress on the engine.

Lastly, as I don't want to get bogged down with this as it is one of those "each to their own" scenarios, I wonder if Macs are better built and last longer. My desktop iMac was purchased nearly 5 years ago and has worked flawlessly, it is still very quick and still runs the very latest version of the Mac OS with room and speed to spare. In 2 years time it will still be working and will STILL be able to run the latest and whatever is the greatest Mac software. My sister however, who bought an HP desktop at the same time (one that had similar specs to the iMac at that time), has had to replace it as it had basically ground to a halt. The thought of running Vista on it was a complete no-go as it was struggling even with XP after 5 years. If Microsoft brings out a new super-duper operating system in the next 2 years, how many of current PC owners honestly believe their current 2 or 3 year old computer will be able to run it comfortably without some serious upgrading? Clue….think Vista here……

Magsafe_tight
PC owners may not appreciate that most Mac users will have seriously used Windows too and have moved to a Mac for a reason or two, they have made a conscious decision whereas the same cannot be said, more often than not, of current Windows users who will have had little experience of handling a mac over and above a quick, dismissive 5 minute play in PC World.

Another factor is the 2nd hand market. You could spend £500 on a windows system but how much will you get back in 3 years time? Macs of an equivalent age still fetch decent prices on eBay. It's odd but Apple to date has cleaned up in the mp3 market because the offerings, iPods, are attractive objects that have the huge advantage of being very competitive on price. When you combine those two important factors you have a hit on your hands. It makes you wonder if their laptops and desktops were similarly competitive on price would they have a much larger market share? If you believe so then it begs the question, why doesn't Apple lower their prices to get a bigger slice of the pie? Perhaps it is because the quality of the hardware, the materials used and high quality components do not allow them to sell them for £500. Just a thought. Apple doesn't have a big slice of the market pie therefore it can't go for the build 'em cheap and churn 'em out end of the market, instead it has to make a bigger profit from a much smaller market segment.

As I said before, each to their own. My experience of the two is that the Macs I have owned have been reliable and good to use, 3 of the 4 I have bought in the last 8 years are still working away in our house whilst the Windows laptops I have been using at work for the last 9 years (I'm on my 4th) have not been reliable and generally (putting it mildly), have not been as good to use.

MacHeist 3 – get EventBox free

If you head over to the MacHeist home page you can pick up the nifty Event Box application for free, just for visiting. This little app combines FaceBook, Twitter and various other social sites into a standalone application and is rather good.