Zoom up your Blackberry-ing
Although most BlackBerry (BB) users will praise their smartphone to the high heavens, they will also secretly admit to being very frustrated at times with the inexplicable slowdowns, hangs and overall weird behaviours that the device seems prone to.
We’ve thrown together a short list of tips and tweaks to help you get more out of your hardware. The device we’re using in our examples is the Curve 8520, which is probably the most popular BlackBerry out there today.
•Space has always been a problem with older BBs. Go to Options > Status, and see the amount of free memory. Typically, this should be at least 100 MB on modern BBs, or at least 20 MB on older ones. It’s displayed in bytes, so 100 MB is displayed as 102,400,000 bytes.
•If you find that you’re running out of space, go to Options > Applications, and look for third-party applications that are no longer needed. Delete them. Also look for Add-ons, and delete the ones you don’t need. Do not (and that’s a big NOT) delete any core applications.
•For some reason, Research In Motion (RIM) sets Memory Cleaning in BBs to “Disabled”, by default. Go to Options > Security Options > Advanced Security Options > Memory Cleaning, and change the Status to Enabled. Also set the Idle Timeout to 2 minutes. Set the Show Icon on home screen setting to Yes. You will now see this icon, and can manually click it to clean memory when the BB starts acting sluggish.
•Go to Options > Memory, and enable Compression. This may actually slow down a few things, like opening an attachment, but uses less memory, and results in a less sluggish phone.
•Not many people know that BBs keep an event log of almost everything—quite useless for most of us. To access this log, hold down [Alt] and type out [LGLG]. Press the menu button and select Clear Log.
• “Close. Seriously now, I mean CLOSE!” That’s how you have to treat some apps in BBs. Instead of just navigating away from apps, press the [BB] button and select Close from the menu that pops up. This will prevent the app from just sitting in the background hogging memory.
•If you surf a lot on your BB, remember to periodically clear the browser cache. In the browser, press the BB button and select Options. Go to Cache Operations and delete everything.
•If all else fails, the three-finger salute is needed. Most people will just pull out the battery and put it back in, but this is not necessary. Just hold down [Alt] + [right] [Shift] + [Del] together.
Your daily GMail
These days anything Google is synonymous with the Web in the same way that Gmail is email as we now know it. Debates and responses could go on, but why waste time? Let’s get our work done, and let’s get it done fast.
Dealing with slow connection
If you’re stuck with a slow connection, a nifty Lab feature called Inbox Preview will bail you out. Although it wouldn’t make your Gmail any faster, it would certainly let you know whether you have any new email before you access your inbox. That means a lot in peak traffic, low bandwidth scenarios.
Gmail’s keyboard shortcuts are an often ignored feature that could save you significant amounts of time. To enable keyboard shortcuts, go to Settings > General and turn Keyboard shortcuts on. To see a complete list of keyboard shortcuts just hit the ? on your keyboard. You no longer need to click on compose, just hit [C]. You can access the previous and next messages by pressing [P] and [N], respectively. There are shortcuts for more tasks than you would normally use.
Go to Settings > Labs, enable mouse gestures. If you’re comfortable with mouse gestures in Opera, then you’ll find Gmail’s quite familiar. Hold the right mouse button and drag to the right to move to the next message. Similarly, drag to the left to go to the previous message. If you are in a message, then drag up and left to go to the inbox.
Gmail straight to your browser
If you’re a Firefox user, you can use the “Gmail Manager” plugin to speed up access to your Gmail. Install this add-on and you get a notification in the bottom tray with the number of unread messages, and quick shortcuts to Compose. The same goes for Chrome with their “Google Mail Checker Plus” extension.
Clean up the clutter
Most of the time, we end up deleting spam, or archiving repetitive email that we may need in the future. Gmail lets you automate several tasks at once. You could use Gmail’s effective filters to segregate your email into the right folders (Labels in Gmail). This way, you could do away with the usual clutter you would normally have wasted time reading through. If you know the sender, just go to Settings > Filters, click on Create. You can sort email according to the sender, recipient, subject, or body.
Another useful feature with Gmail is Labels. Unlike Folders in most email clients, you can have an email appearing in multiple locations. For example, if you’re planning a new PC configuration and have conversations going on with three vendors, you could label the relevant email with the vendor’s name as well as a name for the PC configuration, say Star Computers and Gaming PC. This way, whenever you want to relook at the quotes, you can click on Gaming PC to get all conversations related to your PC.
We’re going to make a not-so-shocking revelation. “For an average user, social networking accounts for the most time spent online!” So here’s how you can get even better at it.
Use all-in-one messengers
Why use separate instances of Gtalk, Yahoo!, MSN, IRC, Facebook chat, etc.? Instead you can use a multi-protocol messenger such as Digsby (http://www.digsby.com/) or Miranda (http://www.miranda-im.org/) to aggregate all your chat and social networks into one place. Of these, Digsby is more visually appealing while Miranda is robust, offering pluggin support and customization.
Extensions, especially on Google Chrome, allow you to do a lot more and a lot faster when it comes to keeping track of updates and updating your social networks. Social networking, be it Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or any other network, is all about now. You need access to updates all the time. Chrome extensions such as “Chromed Bird”, “Facebook for Google Chrome”, etc., give you notifications for comments, updates, and replies. They’ll also allow you to update status right from a pop-up bubble without ever changing tabs. Head over to https://chrome.google.com/extensions/ for a wide array of extensions.
Phone apps all the way
If you’re not using your phone to network on the go, you’re losing out on a lot of precious moments in your daily commute where you could be catching up on a lot of happenings. Android and iPhone will have a host of apps but when it comes to lesser mortals like J2ME and Symbian, we’ve found Snaptu to be a very good performer. It’s light and fast on the slowest of phones.
Use one-to-many updaters
One of the painful and time- consuming aspects of social networking ironically is updating your status on all of those social networks you so enthusiastically joined. Fret not, services such as www.ping.fmwill help you update your status in a jiffy on all of your social networks at once. The webapp has an amazing number of services under its umbrella; from common ones such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace to obscure ones such as Identi.ca, Tumblr, and StatusNet. We lost count at 34! Of course, if you don’t like Ping.fm there’s always www.hellotxt.com
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