05 October, 2009

What's wrong with the Blackberry a/k/a crackberry

OK, so I'm the horrified new owner of a Blackberry Curve 8350i PDA, that I got for the new car service (taxi & airport runs) business that I'm going to be operating/owning out of Yonkers (but that's another story). Yes yes yes, I know that I promised myself a long time ago that I wouldn't allow my computer/technology/Internet addiction grow to the crackberry but, alas, the Universe directed me in this regard and I was left with little other choice, given the circumstances and needs of the business and what I needed from a phone.

There are a lot of great reviews, like this one from Engadget. The service we have is through Sprint Nextel. After using the device for a few days, though, I have a few complaints and, quite honestly, I don't understand why more people don't complain about these things. I would imagine that my complaints are valid regardless of which particular crackberry model you're using.

So here are my complaints about the Blackberry (crackberry):

The keyboard is horrendous for a touch-typist to use. I mean, seriously. Is there a bluetooth or some other kind of keyboard that I can use to enter data into this device? I'm absolutely horrified at having to use this thing, and for a few reasons:

As a touch-typist (a darned fast one at that, too -- I average 100 words per minute these days, although I used to be much, much faster when I was working on a fairly regular basis, before the collapse of our economy), I'm used to keys being in a certain location and symbols being on certain keys. Blackberry basically said to hell with this arrangement, and came up with their own layout (especially for the symbols).

You can't lock the alt key, which is used for creating many of the symbols required for daily writing, as well as for entering in the numbers of the overlayed telephone keypad. Thus, in order to enter in phone numbers and the like into a regular message, one must press ALT+number, ALT+number, ALT+number, over and over and over again. This is very, very annoying for entering in long sequences of numbers. There should be a way/mechanism to make the ALT, as well as SHIFT keys, lockable (I've tried holding them down but this doesn't work).

In the "Contacts" application, certain fields that one would expect to be numeric are, by default, alphanumeric. Thus, (especially for ZIP codes), one must do the ALT+number, ALT+number, ALT+number, ALT+number, ALT+number sequence over and over and over again in order to enter the numbers in. I don't know why these fields don't default to numeric input (wherein then one could use the ALT key to get alpha characters to show up).

This leads me to my next complaint. In numeric entry mode, one can't insert alpha characters. Since ALT is used in alphanumeric mode to enter numbers, I don't see why ALT couldn't be used to access the characters of the alphabet in numeric mode. It just makes sense, doesn't it?

Well, those are the major complaints that I have for now. Well, that, and the slow speed of the network over which everything works. I have a WiFi connection enabled in my home, where I've been using my crackberry. I don't think this has sped anything up at all. In fact, I can't tell how or when the device is working over the WiFi connection as opposed to the mobile network. Additionally, when a signal from the mobile network isn't available (which happens quite frequently where I live), it would be nice for the device to work (for all functions, including phone via VOIP) over the WiFi connection, which is fairly consistent....

Since today is #techtuesday, I wanted to point out that Internet petition campaigns can make a difference: on 10 September 2009, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown issued an official, posthumous apology on behalf of the UK Government to artificial intelligence pioneer and World War II hero Alan Turing for Britain's horrific treatment of Mr. Turing after World War II due to his homosexuality.

"We're sorry.
You deserved so much better."

~Honorable Gordon Brown, British Prime Minister
in a posthumous apology to Alan Turing for the way he was treated after his heroic World War II accomplishments, because he was found out to have been gay.