Jeffrey Mann

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Jeffrey Mann
Research VP
14 years at Gartner
26 years IT industry

Jeffrey Mann is a research vice president for collaboration and social software at Gartner Research. Mr. Mann focuses on social software, team workspaces, the collaboration market and knowledge management. Read Full Bio

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A Month of Blackberry Use for a Late Adopter

by Jeffrey Mann  |  November 11, 2008  |  8 Comments

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.

8 Comments »

Category: being an analyst     Tags: ,

8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Andrea Di Maio   November 11, 2008 at 9:46 am

    Jeff,
    we are in the same boat. I got my BB Curve a few months ago and went through the same steep learnng Curve (what an irony). Mine has no WiFi ,so some of the points you make do not apply, but I’m sure I’d find pretty much the same issues.
    Some of my colleagues who cover the mobile space told me that the BB is very good for the digital immigrant (like the two of us): however I found the same awkwardness and – at times – I felt I was back to times when I was using troff and nroff as a word processor with Unix, and I was using command lines with DOS.
    Most or all of the points you raise can be overcome, but if you need to use accents (as we do in French or Italian), you have to keep one letter pressed with one finger while rolling the ball with the other one. For somebody who was used to the T9 (predictive writing) on Nokia or other phones, THIS is really weird. I just wonder how people from Quebec judge BB’s attitude to francophones :-)

  • 2 saad rehmani   November 18, 2008 at 11:58 pm

    Jeff,

    Congrats on the new phone. I have a different phone and I’m not verifying everything I’m writing here so these answers might be at least a bit off. Anyways, here goes:

    * How do I change the PIN code?

    The PIN code is on the SIM chip. You should be able to change / disable the password via Options -> Advanced -> SIM Card

    * Why do I have both a password and a PIN code?

    You don’t. The SIM password stops someone from putting your SIM into their phone and using it. The phone password stops someone from just using your phone. You can set it up to also encrypt your data when the phone is locked. You can disable the phone password by setting “Options -> Security -> General Settings -> Password” to disabled.

    * Can I get rid of one of them?

    See above.

    * How do I change the ringtone?

    By editing your profile. You should be able to get there by “Numlock-+F -> Advanced -> Click on Active -> Edit -> Phone”. The easiest way to get it right is to create a new profile.

    * How do I make it stop buzzing when a message arrives and the device is in the holster?

    Everything your profile has two modes. In holster and out of holster. Its really quite useless in my opinion. Change the “in holster” setting.

    * Why does it only buzz when the device is in the holster?

    See above.

    * What does Blackberry messenger do that Enterprise Messenger doesn’t?

    Dunno.

    * How can I see just the unopened messages in email?

    Dunno, I just use the ‘U’ shortcut to go to the first email and then continue clicking the ‘U’ button (I think it stands for next unread) until I’m all done so I never see my mail box.

    * 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?

    Dunno.

    * If Reconcile does not sort out the differences between the two inboxes, what does it do?

    Dunno.

    * What am I doing when I “compose PIN”? It looks just like an email, and seems to have nothing to do with PIN codes.

    PIN utilizes a peer-to-peer mechanism. Its similar to SMS, but is supposedly faster and has better delivery guarantees.

    * How do I mark a message I need to come back to later (aside from marking it unread)?

    That’s what I do :)

    * How do I know if the browser and other apps are using WiFi or the data network?

    My phone doesn’t have WiFi

    * How can I make sure that apps only use WiFi access, and not the data network?

    Dunno.

    * How do I get that SMS message out of the Messages overview? I’ve deleted it several times, but it won’t go away.

    Dunno, I think that’s specific to the theme that you’re using.

    * 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.

    I use the calendar. Mine allows me to specify which email account to associate each calendar entry with. I use that feature in conjunction with specifying a loud ring for that email account to achieve this.

    * How can I go to the top or bottom of the email inbox or an individual message without scrolling that little wheel endlessly?

    Shortcuts ‘T’ and ‘B’. The space key will page down.

    * How do I make that blinking red and green light stop blinking?

    There’s a setting that says ‘never blink green’ at Options -> Screen -> LED Coverage Indicator.

    * What are those lights trying to tell me?

    Red means you have unread messages for me. I think your profile determines what turns the red light on.

    Good luck :)

    Saad

  • 3 Joely   December 2, 2008 at 2:38 am

    Jeff,

    Why are you even bothering w/ BB. iPhone is so much cooler. We could be talking about all sorts of cool apps to download instead :-) It was the trip to Cannes — that convinced me that I needed to get on the iPhone wagon. All of my colleagues had them and they could do cool things like find their way to an obscure French restaurant (through Google maps) for dinner, get restaurant recommendations wherever they were, not to mention email, phone, text & play games while in sessions (just kidding on that one.)

    As soon as I got back, I ordered one and it has exceeded my expectations. Fortunately, iPhone is a supported device for my company and Blackberry, curiously is not. Regardless, congrats on getting one step closer to the iPhone:-)

  • 4 Jeffrey Mann   December 2, 2008 at 5:19 am

    Thanks Joely. Unfortunately, iPhone is available through T-Mobile in Holland, and Gartner uses Vodafone. I am too much of a software person to consider hacking the hardware.
    BTW, I have figured out how to use Google maps on the BB. It works great!

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  • 6 Alberto   December 21, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    I’ve had the iphone for a year and just bought the blackberry bold. These are 2 totally different devices. The iphone is superior is web page rendering and cool applications. The blackberry is much faster with data transfers and email connectivity works like a dream. I really mastered typing on the iphone – nobody was faster than me. After 2 days with the bold, I’m faster on the qwerty than after a year with the iphone keyboard. The bold software is much more responsive going into different applications, text messaging, options, browsing, camera, etc.

    I still find myself tapping the bold screen with my finger, the iphones touching screen was brilliant. In my opinion they are two totally different technologies and you really can’t put them head to head. You need to assess your needs and what you want out of the device or you’ll be disappointed with your choice.

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