Thursday, October 30, 2008

How to Install Google Talk on your Blackberry Bold 9000

If you've got a gmail account, then you really ought to have the Google Chat facility loaded on your blackberry. Here's how;

  1. Go to the Browser and enter;
    http://www.blackberry.com/googletalk

  2. Scroll down the page until you find a button marked Download and click it.

  3. Choose your language and then click Next

  4. Scroll to the end of the terms and conditions and click the option button marked
    (o) I Accept and then click Next.

  5. The application will then start to download.
    It should take about one minute.

  6. At the successful install dialog, click Ok

For some reason, the install drops you back in the browser.
Click the blackberry button and choose close.
You'll find the icon in the downloads folder, though you might want to move it to home.

How to Install the Google Mobile Apps on your Blackberry Bold 9000

Installing the Installer
  1. Go to the Browser and enter;
    http://www.google.com/mobile

  2. Scroll down the page until you find a link marked
    Download Google Mobile App
    Click on the link to Download and install it.

  3. At the end of the install, you can run it automatically.
    If you don't choose to run it immediately, you can find it later by pressing the blackberry button then scrolling to (and clicking on) the downloads button. The app is marked with a red G

Installing and Accessing Components
  1. The google app is quite bare looking with greyed out icons for Gmail, maps and news.

  2. Go to each greyed out icon and click on it.
    It will install automatically (unless it's a web application, in which case it will just open).

  3. After install, you'll be asked if you want to grant these applications trusted status.
    If you don't, they won't work so I guess you need to.

  4. In terms of application permissions, allowing http to google.com is probably sufficient in most cases. Not general http.

  5. The applications also come with their own terms and conditions that you need to read and accept.

A few things of Note
  • One really interesting thing about Google Maps is that it now supports street view on the mobile. You might want to check that you're using the right plan before you start using this though.

  • Be sure to click the "more" button. It will give you access to your google calendar, goodgle docs, sync and other google tools..

  • Be careful with Google Synch. It works a treat but if you've got birthday reminders in your Notes calendar, they will convert to ALL DAY events in your Google Calendar - and then when they resynch with Notes will "block you out" for the day on your corporate calendar. Google might have fixed that problem by now - I'm not sure.

Moving things out of Downloads
You might want to move your icons out of the Downloads area.
To do this;

  1. Go into the downloads folder

  2. Push the blackberry button to get the menu to display.

  3. Choose move to folder.

  4. Choose Home.
You can then move the icons around on your main blackberry icon screen. If you use Gmail and Maps a lot, it's worth doing this for them.

How to Remove and Insert the Media Card on the Blackberry Bold 9000

Today, I got a new Blackberry Bold 9000, so there's probably going to be a flurry of Blackberry related posts as I try to install stuff on it.

The Blackberry Bold seems to ship with a 1GB media card, which really isn't enough for serious use. This procedure allows you to replace the card would one that is of a decent size.

Getting the Old Card out and the New One In
  1. On the left-hand side of the blackberry about in line with the Q key, there is a small door with a picture of a card on it. This door opens from the bottom (camera side) of the blackberry upwards.

  2. Once opened, you should be able to see the card in the slot.
    Do not attempt to use tweezers to pull the card out as this will damage the blackberry.

  3. Instead use a finger or pen push the card in further. The slot is spring-loaded and the card should pop out part way. From here you should be able to grab it, but if not, it's safe to use tweezers at this point.
    If you find yourself having difficulty at this stage, try removing the back cover of the Blackberry.

  4. Obtain a new (bigger) MicroSD card from a computer shop and insert it into the slot.
    The writing side should face the back of the Blackberry.
    You may need to use a pen to push the card all of the way in.

Formatting the Card
It's possible that you won't need to format your media card but if, like me, you're transferring a card from another blackberry, (or another user) you might.

In my case, I've been using an 8GB card formatted to 4GB so that it would work on my blackberry 8800. Reformatting the card will enable me to use the extended features.

  1. Go to the Blackberry menu (blackberry button) and click into Options (the spanner icon).

  2. Choose Memory

  3. Press the Blackberry button to get the pop-up menu and choose Format.

  4. You'll be prompted to choose Media Card or Device Memory - make sure that you choose Media Card.

  5. You'll get a warning message - choose Yes.

  6. The format operation should take less than a minute. It did for my 8GB card but it may take a little longer for larger cards. When finished, you'll get an Ok message and your card total space should show up on the screen.
Don't be disappointed if it shows slightly less than expected - that's normal.
My 8GB card showed 7.6GB.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Becoming a Domino Champion in your Organisation

I've recently become aware of one of Australia's large Notes/Domino clients moving to the exchange platform and have been thinking about what that move, in these troubled times says about their corporate direction and their local Notes/Domino support.

Such a move could have been forgiven about three years ago when IBM was still floundering in it's Domino roadmap. At the time, it may even have seemed to make good business sense but the computing landscape has changed drastically over the last few years and Google, Apple and IBM have all emerged as leaders, leaving Microsoft behind.

Why do People Migrate?
So what are the real reasons behind migrations. I suspect that many are due to the defective notion that "nobody ever gets sacked for buying Microsoft" and others are due to belief in Microsoft's FUD (fear, uncertainity and disaster) campaigns.

How anyone could actually believe that marketing tripe is beyond me but since there are still people who think that Elvis is not dead, I probably shouldn't be surprised. There are probably people out there who believe that Coke actually does "add life" too.

Microsoft also offer some pretty compelling cash incentives to migrate. These are always offset by the long-term costs of their solutions but I can see how some short-sighted CEOs and CIOs could be persuaded to make a grab for those "immediate benefits".

In my opinion though, the main reason for migrations away from Domino is a lack of understanding about the product and more importantly, lack of internal and external champions.

The Need for Champions
Why Champions? Its a question I'm often asked with puzzlement. After all, we don't have "champions" for any of our other software. "Well actually", I'll often reply, "you do.".

I'll usually follow this up with a question like "who do you ask when you need help with tables in word?". Sometimes they'll suggest that I'm their main means of support but often they'll mention a power-user secretary or the office manager. When they do, I reply - "there's your word-champion, where is your notes one?"

Customisation
Notes is infinitely more complex and more capable than word but unlike word, it thrives on customisation. It's strange how many new staff members we hire who, when asked whether they have used Notes before talk about the "screen with the Giant Icons". It never ceases to amaze me how many companies do no customisation to Notes at all but simply drop the desktop on them. That may have been acceptable 15 years ago but it isn't now - and it hasn't been for at least the last 5 years.

Users should expect to either start Notes in a custom welcome screen (for customers on mail only) or in a full-blown corporate portal, if they use applications as well. If the business isn't doing this already then it's really up to the business partners to explain the value rather than simply serving up "more of the same".

I've also noticed that many business partners seem content to sit back and simply "code for the current version of domino" or "just add a database here and there". The approach to Domino in the organisation should be a holistic one. It should start with the user clicking into their corporate world (in Domino) and should end with all of the information and tools they require for their day-to-day duties being close at hand. Anything other than this is simply ad-hoc development.

Currency
There is nothing that says "wasted opportunity" quite like having a fully-paid up maintenance agreement with IBM and then staying on Lotus Notes 6.5. I have a real problem with Business Partners who let the clients stay in this condition without putting up a struggle. After all, it's your livelihood.

A year in the computing industry is close to about ten in most other industries, but even if we accept "actual years", the lag is considerable. Lotus Notes 6.5 is a 2003 product and it's now 2008 - that's five years. Now, suppose you were comparing two cars, your trusty 2003 Falcon versus the new 2008 Holden. If they were both the same "cost", which one do you think you'd choose?

Of course, looking at it the other way, what if your company had paid for your 2008 Falcon but although it had been delivered, they decided to put it in storage and let you keep driving your 2003 model. How do you think you'd react?

Versatility
If your company had a good quality multi-function printer, scanner, copier - why would you consider replacing it with a device that printed but didn't do anything else? If all of the functions worked well together, why would you buy three devices instead?

The answer - because you weren't aware that it could do all those things.

The same goes for the idea that Lotus Notes is just an email package. IMHO, it's the job of internal IT and their IBM Business Partners to promote the versatility of Notes.

One thing I'd love to see would be either an IBM follow-through with sales, or a Business Partner introduction to a new client, where they say. "Ok, you've got Notes installed for Email", how about we show you a few "Free" off the shelf solutions to common business problems.

There's enough free stuff in the default templates and on OpenNTF that a business partner could provide most new clients with at least one "wow" application that would convey the message - "Domino isn't just email".

Do that, then hint at the possibilities if you did some development work and you could easily find a lot of development heading your way.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Why Microsoft is Losing Relevance in the New Computing World

Disclaimer:
I started writing a Domino-related post today but after a good opening paragraph, it tipped into Microsoft territory and got too long. As a result, I decided to cover the Microsoft stuff here and keep the Domino post for later. I've tried to keep this blog relatively non-political (computer politics) but sometimes it just doesn't work. Please forgive me if this comes over as a bit of a rant. If you're a big Microsoft supporter, it's possibly better if you don't read this one.


For quite a while now, a lot of systems migrations have been driven by the adage "Nobody ever gets sacked for buying Microsoft". I've always considered this to be a cowardly practice in the IT world driven by the fact that many mid to high level managers really aren't able to make technology decisions by themselves - and yet, they're often afraid to ask their own people for advice.

Once, it may even have made business sense of a sort but the computing landscape has changed drastically over the last few years and Google, Apple and IBM have all emerged as leaders, leaving Microsoft behind.

The Higher they Climb the Harder they Fall
It's hard to discern the exact reasons why Microsoft lost the crown.

Certainly the reduced role and eventual retirement of Bill Gates played a key role. Bill was one of the founding fathers of modern computing and a man of vision - something his successors seem to lack.

Perhaps Microsoft's attempts to monopolise the computing world, not just the desktop, turned a lot of their business partners into bitter rivals. Certainly it was this that gave the open source community its greatest leaders. The fact that Microsoft ignored standards, like J2EE in favour of their propriety .NET standard didn't help either.

Personally, I think it was a combination of these factors plus a complete lack of readiness for Service Orientated Architecture and the "sharing" of applications that comes with it that put the giant in the position it now occupies.

In the early nineties, Microsoft capitalised on its rivals unreadiness for the Windows environment, bringing out its Office suite with unprecedented (then) integration between it's components and knocking out the reigning DOS champions; Wordperfect, Lotus 1-2-3 and dBase IV.

The Upgrade Cycle
Since that time Microsoft has controlled the desktop completely, foisting interface changes onto it's users without any consideration of business value or retraining requirements. In many cases, those changes seemed only to be an excuse to get a new version of software onto the market. They offered little additional functionality and even less actual business incentive - other than the fact that older software often had issues working on newer versions of Windows.

This strategy enabled Microsoft to establish an "upgrade cycle", a guaranteed source of revenue. Their half-hearted attempts on non-windows platforms could be seen as nothing more than a means of wooing users to Windows while their .NET strategy which has some "platform independent" web components, still needs Windows servers to deploy.

Service Orientated Architecture SOA
All that changed with service orientated architecture because suddenly the very things Microsoft has always fought have become central to the system. It doesn't matter what the underlying system is, so long as it is capable of providing the service and the data.

It also doesn't matter what the core runs on, provided that it's web-enabled and capable of having the services embedded into it. In that sense, there is very little distinction between IBM WebSphere, iGoogle and Facebook - they're all containers for services - albeit designed for drastically different purposes.

So where is Microsoft in all this? It's hard to say;

Head on over to the Microsoft SOA page (http://www.microsoft.com/SOA/) and see if you can work out exactly what their portal software is. It's not very clear to me - that's for sure.

One last thing to remember about SOA. It relies on plugins and co-operation between vendors. If you have too much bad blood between vendors the relationship won't be effective. I bet Microsoft is wishing they hadn't alienated quite so many business partners back when they were top dog.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Are those Google Sidebar Tabs annoying you?

Every vendor makes UI mistakes but usually the guys at Google are pretty spot on. Unfortunately their recent idea, to put tabs down the left hand side of the iGoogle interface backfired pretty badly and the forums at Google are still buzzing over the problem.

Funnily enough, I asked nicely and after a little while (a couple of weeks), my iGoogle page reverted to normal. I thought that Google had stopped the "experiment" but apparently it's still continuing for some people. In fact, worse; there rumours that it's about to start up again.

If you're one of the people affected, you might want to have a look at this;

http://manfre.net/project/819/reverting-google-s-personalized-homepage

Someone has gotten so frustrated with the whole thing that they've created a GreaseMonkey script to fix it.

If anyone from Google is reading; The fact that people are starting to write their own scripts to fix a UI issue is as good an indication as any that the changes are unwanted. Perhaps you could make them optional?

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Mozilla Add-in to Make Social Bookmarking Easier

The Importance of Social Bookmarking
It's taken me quite a while to get my head around how the whole Web 2.0 and Social Networking thing hangs together but I think I've got it now and at some point, I might even blog about it and try to explain it in lay-terms.

Not this post though.

What I will say though is that Social Bookmarking is one of the most important parts of the whole thing and that it's not enough to presume that every blog you read will have (hopefully) social bookmarking buttons below the post.

Shareaholic
You need to be able to social bookmark from anywhere on the web.

That's where the Shareaholic Add-In for Firefox comes in.

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/5457

This add-in sits on your browser, near the stop, refresh and home buttons and instantly gives you the ability to post pages, links and reviews to a variety of sources including; digg, delicious, facebook, foxiewire, friendfeed, google bookmarks, google reader, healthranker, kaboodle, magnolia, mixx, myspace, pownce, reddit, simpy, soup.io, stumbleupon, streakr, truemors, tumblr, twine, twitter, yahoo! buzz, ycombinator, and bzzster

It also gives instant feedback about the page you're currently visiting.

Separating Social Bookmarks
The only other point I have to make about social bookmarking is;

Join several sites and use different sites to separate different interests. For example; If you're interested in lifestyle topics, you could bookmark them using Digg, while bookmarking your computing interests via delicious. This enables you to post the RSS feeds for your bookmarks on various social computing sites without presenting information which might not interest your readers.

You can then display different RSS feeds of social bookmarks on your Facebook and MySpace pages or on your Web Site.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Why do we need Anti-Virus/Anti-Malware on our PCs Anyway?

Ok, before everyone starts jumping on me for this, I'm talking about the need for our individual PCs to be processing this sort of stuff.


Recent Issues - Scanning
I've been finding myself increasingly turning McAfee's services off in order to do simple tasks without massive interference.

It's a well known and demonstrated fact that applications which use a lot of small files, like the new version of the Notes client (the Eclipse version) do not run happily with Anti-Virus.

Why? Because everytime they pick up a file to execute it, the Anti-Virus app "snatches it off them for a look". In the days of large applications, the anti-virus would simply scan a massive EXE file once and then move on. That's no longer the case.

Last Friday, I was trying to download some things from the IBM site using their "Download Director" facility. McAfee seized the Java applet and took so long to scan it that it kept timing out. In the end, the only way I could download the file was to turn off my Anti-Virus.

Recent Issues - Malware Detection
Then of course, there is malware detection. I've been becoming quite irritated with the otherwise good (and FREE) McAfee Site Advisor software because whenever I went to look at my own blogs (and any other blogs hosted by Google Blogger, it would block the site and tell me that the site was a Phishing site. If I looked the site up in Site Advisor, it would tell me that the site was clean.

I spent about a week and a half trying to get responses out of McAfee about the problem. Eventually I got a response that said;

After some investigation, we have discovered that this error was related to a bug in the SiteAdvisor program, which has now been fixed.

Anyone who sees this error should uninstall SiteAdvisor, and then reinstall it via the following link:
http://sadownload.mcafee.com/products/SA/IE/upgrade/0/saSetup64.exe

Please write back to me if this error is still occurring after these instructions have been followed.


I'm pretty annoyed about this. Who else has been getting this problem and is it "trashing" my internet reputation? I hope not.

Anyway, this again points to a problem on my PC - actually, I think it's very widespread because I've got the problem on both my home and work PCs.

Recent Issues - Anti-Spam
My anti-spam issues with Symantec were pretty bad (and I reported them on this blog a couple of years ago) but they've all disappeared since then. Since I moved the Anti-Spam off our servers and onto a hosted servivce.

Solutions
I think that there are two good solutions to this problem;

1. Border Management
2. Safety Scans

Border Management
There are about five ways in which executables or malformed data can enter your PC.

  1. Drives - Floppy, CD/DVD and USB
  2. Internet
  3. Wired Network Connections (Generally trusted)
  4. Wireless Network Connections (Not necessarily trusted)
  5. Other Means (Developed, Parallel Laplink etc) - Unlikely.

All computers should have a firewall which is secure enough to actually lock off floppy drives, network connections and other direct ports.

For the trusted connections, there should be a simple check on boot to determine if the connection is still the same. If the network is the same (as one previously authenticated), then the connection to the resource should be opened. If not, perhaps a scan might be initiated, or a key might be required to be entered by the user.

In the case of rewritable media, like CD-RW or USB Sticks, the user should be offered either an opportunity to scan the entire device once or to open a "realtime scan/protected" connection.

In this way, the onboard firewall could protect the PC without having to constantly scan files as they are opened. The impact on the PC's performance would be minimal.

All other scanning services, such as scanning of network file shares, scanning of internet connections etc, should be done by dedicated hardware to remove the need for individual PCs to do the work.

Safety Scans
These can be done after hours. all PCs and File Servers probably should have some sort of anti-virus and anti-malware task running on them by default after hours.

The Waiting Game
Well. It all sounds good in theory... now I just have to sit back and wait until someone develops the technology. IMHO, it's a good market opportunity for the right company.