As much as I like gadgets, I am not really an early adopter. After years of using fairly dumb mobile phones, I started using a Blackberry (BB) 8820 several weeks ago. I could have gotten a smartphone earlier, but I held off because I wasn’t sure I wanted to be that connected. I spend way too much time in email. I get twitchy when I’m not able to check in for more than a couple hours. Part of me was afraid that if I could check email at any time, I would be checking email all of the time.
But on the way to Orlando Symposium, my old Nokia disappeared. I don’t know how, or where, but it’s gone. Since I needed to replace it, I decided to make the move.
So far, I find it useful, but I’m not sure what the fuss is about. I haven’t become an obsessive Blackberry user, nor has it changed my work habits as much as I thought it would. It is handy to be able to receive and fire off quick replies on the move, but I could live without it if I had to. The main change I see is that email is less likely to accumulate when I am away from my desk. I can work through it in small batches in snatched moments of time while doing other things. That should mean that when I get to my desk, in principle I have more time available for substantive work, although I haven’t noticed huge increases in productivity. The main thing I miss is that rush when I see a load of new mails flooding into my inbox. When it is less than 40, that can give a positive buzz of anticipation. When it is more than 150, it’s just dispiriting.
Given the enthusiasm of so many people for the device, several things about the BB surprised me:
- It’s kind of ugly. Maybe I am spoiled from seeing the iPhone, but i was surprised at how wiry and hard to read all the built-in fonts on the BB are. Help, with its strange radio button navigation is especially ugly.
- I don’t like reading long messages on the screen, perhaps because the letters are so ugly. So it’s not as useful as I had hoped. Many of the messages I deal with are fairly lengthy, so I find myself often leaving them to read on a real screen.
- I must have very fat fingers. I can’t go more than two words without making a typo.
I haven’t read any instruction manuals, and it shows. I know I could and should read the manual or look at online resources, but I never read a manual for my previous phones or other applications, and I don’t feel like starting now. There is a lot I haven’t figured out yet after several half-hearted attempts to figure them out myself, or using the hideous on-board help system:
- How do I change the PIN code?
- Why do I have both a password and a PIN code?
- Can I get rid of one of them?
- How do I change the ringtone?
- How do I make it stop buzzing when a message arrives and the device is in the holster?
- Why does it only buzz when the device is in the holster?
- What does Blackberry messenger do that Enterprise Messenger doesn’t?
- How can I see just the unopened messages in email?
- Why does the BB inbox say that I have 19 unread messages when my Outlook inbox says there are none, even after I choose Reconcile from the menu?
- If Reconcile does not sort out the differences between the two inboxes, what does it do?
- What am I doing when I “compose PIN”? It looks just like an email, and seems to have nothing to do with PIN codes.
- How do I mark a message I need to come back to later (aside from marking it unread)?
- How do I know if the browser and other apps are using WiFi or the data network?
- How can I make sure that apps only use WiFi access, and not the data network?
- How do I get that SMS message out of the Messages overview? I’ve deleted it several times, but it won’t go away.
- How can I set a one-time alarm? I can only find a way to set an alarm that will go off every day, which lead to an unpleasant surprise the day after I had to catch an early flight.
- How can I go to the top or bottom of the email inbox or an individual message without scrolling that little wheel endlessly?
- How do I make that blinking red and green light stop blinking?
- What are those lights trying to tell me?
I have spent some spare minutes looking around trying to get these answers, but I haven’t made a concerted effort. I am sure that if I went online or read the manual I could figure all of these out. Since starting this post I have stumbled across a few answers while looking for something else. I got several answers to the last one via Twitter when I posed the question there. I could probably use Twitter to learn all about the device, but I won’t burden the people following me with these silly questions. Please do not respond with BB tutorials; I’m sure I’ll figure it all out in due time. I just wish I didn’t have to work so hard to understand the thing.