I have not posted for a while for a variety of reasons, one of which is I am getting organized (again!). I used to keep all my personal information (contacts, calendar, important records) in a paper address book and wasted much time and energy every year transferring it all by hand to a new pocket-sized booklet. Then, around 1998, I lost my address book in an airport, and had to start all over, from scratch. That is when I bought my first electronic organizer, a Casio. In 2001 I bought my first Palm Pilot PDA, and have gradually put everything in it: addresses, calendar, bank data, travel info, medical info, recipes, random notes, etc. Over the next 7 years I bought several new Palms and finally a Treo (Palm) mobile phone which nicely contained everything I needed; truly a second brain. But the Palm platform is getting old and its future not looking good, so (after much research and agonizing) I switched to a Blackberry. Anyone who has read this far is probably something of a technophile (like me), but if not, just roll your eyes and find something else to do.
Here is what I am discovering:
The Blackberry (I have a Verizon Curve) is a neat phone/PDA, very comparable to the Treo. Except it does not have a touch screen, and that has taken me a while to get used to (a new Blackberry is coming out soon which does have a touch screen, like an iphone). It does have a very usable QWERTY keyboard, though, and a neat trackball, which I really like. So, after 2 weeks, I have made the transition to the new device.
The Blackberry’s operating system is different from the Palm’s, and in some ways not as user friendly. Again, though, I am used to it now and find it very functional and more powerful than the Palm.
One reason I moved to BB is I had become very frustrated over the years because of the difficulty in updating software after switching hardware devices (e.g., when my MS Windows laptop crashed and I replaced it with a new one; when I bought a new imac desktop; and when I changed mobile devices). All of my Palm data would have to be transferred over to the new device, and I would have to be careful how I backed everything up and synchronized it. Now, because of the software I have chosen to use, my data is floating in a cybernet “cloud” and not residing on any hardware device other than my BB Curve. If I lose my Curve, all I have to do is get another one and download the data from the cloud. (If the cloud goes away, I will be in trouble!) The beauty is that I can easily access my info from my Windows laptop, my Apple desktop, or any computer I happen to be in front of. All the information is synchronized with my mobile phone over the airwaves (or by using the Blackberry desktop program that came with it, which passes the info along to the cloud).
Most Blackberry users up to now have been part of corporate networks that use company software for storing calendars, contacts, data, etc. I do not; I am just a lone individual. So, I had to find a set of software applications that would do all that the Palm used to do, and more. Here is one major downside: in order to use the cloud, I have to subscribe to a service (through Verizon) that provides internet access to the phone. It works very well, but costs me $30 per month over and above basic voice/phone service. I did not need this level of service on my old Treo, because all my data resided on my phone and laptop. The cloud is costing me money, but it is worth it (one side benefit is that now I can surf the internet and send and receive email on my mobile phone).
For the very select few of you who are still reading and who might want to go in the direction I have described, here are some more discoveries about the cloud: I use Yahoo for keeping my calendar and contacts coordinated between the handheld and various computers (it works very well with the blackberry software); I use Rexwireless Ideamatrix for keeping all of my hundreds of folders and other containers of data organized and synchronized with the cloud (it is designed to work with BB and is very elegant, but not free, though reasonable); I use Upvise for some other cloud/BB applications, such as the shopping list function which is pretty cool (this, like Yahoo, is free); and I use Evernote as a general (free) way to keep and organize a variety of information that does not fit in any of the other categories (e.g., keeping track of info I find on the web, including pictures, that I may want to go back to from time to time, or send along to other people).
As an addendum, I store photos and video I make in the cloud, too, and find Flickr and Vimeo to be excellent sites. Vimeo is free and can keep and display high defintion movies (which I can take on my tiny all-purpose digital camera and easily edit on my imac).
That’s where I am at this point. I would welcome a discussion about any of this with any of you who are interested.