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BlackLine launches Blip beta

BlipBlackLine has announced today beta testing for their new location-based service called Blip for the BlackBerry 8800. They’re aiming for a social networking product with Blip, where your location is transmitted regularly to a particular list of friends who can access your location through Blip’s website. Although this beta test is geared specifically for the BlackBerry 8800, anything on OS 4.2 will work, and if you’re already packing one of BlackLine’s GPS Snitch products, it will do the job too.

You might remember our chat with the fine folks from BlackLine back at WES, and with GPS-enabled devices like the BlackBerry 8310 coming around the corner, we’re really excited to see which new RIM products BlackLine supports, and how Blip does. BBCool has just today received their Blip package in the mail, so expect a review sometime real soon.

The first 1,000 people knocking at their door before August 31st. will be able to get in on the beta, so get crackin’!

BlackLine GPS Inc. Releases Public Beta Test of Upcoming Blip GPS Tracking and Sharing Application for the BlackBerry 8800 Series

Calgary, Canada – BlackLine GPS™ Inc., the designers of the ground-breaking GPS Snitch portable vehicle tracking and security solution announced today the release of a public beta test of its wireless tracking technology for the BlackBerry® 8800 Series™ smartphone. This beta test of the forthcoming Blip application allows users of the BlackBerry 8800 to leverage its internal GPS technology in new ways beyond GPS navigation. BlackLine GPS is limiting the release of this beta test to the first 1,000 activations received before end of day, August 31st.

“Today, GPS technology on mobile devices is primarily used for navigation and this has proven to be a wide market success,” said BlackLine GPS’ President and Co-founder, Patrick Rousseau. “Navigation helps consumers answer the ‘How’ of how do I get there? We believe that a user’s location is more valuable than just helping the person to get from Point A to Point B. The enhancements brought by the Blip application to the BlackBerry 8800 help users answer questions relating to ‘Who’, ‘Where’, and ‘When’.”

The Blip application increases the value of the BlackBerry 8800 series by combining its internal GPS and its wireless communication capability with BlackLine’s application servers. The result is that BlackBerry 8800 series smartphone customers can now share their locations with people they choose, similar to how digital photographs can be shared on many Web 2.0 social networking sites found on the Internet. Users are able to choose when and how frequently their location is published. All published locations are accessible within the Blip application and can be viewed via BlackBerry® Maps application or on the Web within the user’s account login.

“Our GPS Snitch vehicle tracking and security product has been on the market for over 6 months and is achieving enormous success thanks to its effectiveness, but also the quality of consumer experience,” said Mr. Rousseau. “Our goal with the development of the Blip application and its support of the BlackBerry 8800 series was to juice the consumer experience developed for GPS Snitch into an equally-satisfying experience on the BlackBerry platform.”

BlackBerry 8800 series users who wish to sign up for the limited-time beta testing program can create an account and activate their BlackBerry smartphone with the BlackLine service. A sign-up fee of $10.00 CAD is charged to participate in this program, however no other fees* are charged during the beta test. Friends of a BlackBerry 8800 series smartphone do not need a BlackBerry to track – creating and account to track via BlackLine’s on-line interface is free.

Brendon Cook, General Manager and Co-founder of BlackLine GPS added that “We designed this tool to bring people closer together. It’s easy to see that a Friend is nearby at popular establishment or a co-worker is running late for an important meeting, but en route. Increased geo-awareness improves efficiencies in the workplace by knowing where resources are located.”

Although this beta test targets users of the BlackBerry 8800 series primarily, Blip is compatible with BlackBerry devices incorporating operating system version 4.2 or greater, including the BlackBerry® Pearl™, BlackBerry® Curve™. Blip is also compatible with BlackLine’s GPS Snitch device, allowing a more complete interactive experience for existing and new users.

Users of the BlackBerry 8800 are welcome to sign up for the public beta test of Blip, starting immediately. Visit www.blacklinegps.com/blip. Users of the BlackBerry Pearl™ and BlackBerry Curve™ are welcome to visit www.blacklinegps.com/blip/blipcompatibility.html for further information. More information about GPS Snitch is available from www.gps-snitch.com.

* Data charges may apply.

– 30 –

About BlackLine GPS

Located in Calgary, Canada, BlackLine GPS Inc. was founded with the purpose of delivering high performance GPS products to consumers. For more information, go to www.blacklinegps.com.

Media Enquiries

Patrick Rousseau, President
Phone: +1-403-605-5984
E-mail: prousseau@blacklinegps.com

Hélène Bouchard
Communications Hélène Bouchard
Phone: 450-646-2080
h.bouchard@comhb.com


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RIM fights Atari to keep BrickBreaker

It looks like Atari’s none too happy about BrickBreaker, the game that’s been preloaded on BlackBerrys since the 7200, and has been pursuing legal action. The resemblance to Atari’s Breakout is noticeable, and you can hardly blame Atari for the litigation. RIM has no doubt enjoyed the enterprise popularity in the game, and by association mobile games have likely seen a boost in visibility. Two weeks ago, Superior Court Judge Harvey Spiegel motioned for the case to be moved to the Superior Court of Ontario in Toronto.


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Seduce employees to increase device adoption in enterprise

HeartsIn RIM’s recent issue of BlackBerry Connection, there was an interesting article on how to improve corporate BlackBerry adoption by “seducing” users. We’re used to hearing about companies with restrictive IT policies that block downloading ringtones or games, but the IT director at British and American Tobacco has gone another route. By not only allowing but encouraging employees to use the devices for business and personal activities, the BlackBerry experience had become an entirely enjoyable one for the folks at BAT. When implementing the devices, they targeted executives who had shown a high level of acceptance to innovative technologies to build excitement among peers before issuing more BlackBerrys. Enough people out there see their BlackBerry as the ball and chain that the boss has latched onto them; maybe it’s time IT directors change that and show a little love.


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BlackBerry 8120 shots and details

BlackBerry 8120Pinstack head honcho Hayden has got a plethora of fresh shots of a BlackBerry 8120, packing Wi-Fi, external microSD slot, OS 4.3, 3.5mm headphone jack, and a Wi-Fi browser. However, while we’re pretty sure that the CDMA version of the BlackBerry Pearl 2 (or the 8130, if you will) will have a 2 Mpx camera, our man Hayden neglected to state whether the camera in the BlackBerry 8120 is 2 or 3.2 Mpx, which prevents us from resolving the debate as to which device will be better. (Which would you take: EVDO, 2 Mpx BlackBerry with no confirmed MicroSD slot, or an EDGE, 3.2 Mpx BlackBerry with Wi-Fi web browsing? Also, where for art thou GPS? Deep within the 8110, perchance?)

Other items of note on this new beauty? Notice that, while the form factor has stayed mostly the same in comparison to the original Pearl, the soft keys surrounding the trackball have been enlarged, and there appears to now be a top and rear speaker. Also, check out the sweet “Dimension L” theme – I cannot wait to get my hands on that.

Thanks for the snaps, Hayden!

* OS 4.3 installed
* WiFi w/ WiFi browser – but no built-in GPS
* Improved version of SureType
* Improved email layout and display
* Improved voice control software
* Improved keyboard layout
* Improved camera & improved flash
* External Entry MicroSD slot
* 3.5mm Headset Jack
* Top AND rear loudspeaker opening
* New Dimension L theme
* Improved build quality
* Available in multiple colors…

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(…) Read the rest of BlackBerry 8120 shots and details (0 words)


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Mobile photo sharing for your BlackBerry

RadarMobile photo sharing service Radar has announced today support for BlackBerry, Windows Mobile devices, and others numbering over 220. Cameras on phones tend to get a pretty bad rap in the quality department, but Radar’s doing some pretty cool stuff here. Think of it as Twitter, only with pictures. MMS isn’t a service available to everybody, but Radar seems to be a way to get around that. They’re boldly claiming that you can share not only your pictures, but also videos with any registered friend on any phone on any carrier worldwide. The producer, Tiny Pictures, has even got a Facebook app ready to rock. I’ll admit it; I’m a sucker for the Facebook and the social networking and all that. Stuff like Radar makes me want to trade in the 8800 for something with a camera.


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Tips for reducing BES administration stress

StressA reader just let us know about a Zenprise report they were going over, which included some crazy numbers about e-mail and stress in the workplace.

The survey found that 36% of respondents indicated that their job is ‘stressful’ or ‘extremely stressful’. However, when email is down, 74% of respondents indicated that their job is ‘stressful’ or ‘extremely stressful’. Only air traffic controllers and police officers were viewed as having jobs more stressful than that of an IT administator whose email system is down!

Wow. Respect to the IT admins out there who are dealing with stress levels comparable to that of cops. The report had a few pointers that might help keep that blood pressure down, like “be ready to assemble a cross-functional SWAT team to quickly resolve BlackBerry issues” and “consistently monitor & audit your Active Directory infrastructure”.

Thanks, Chris!

5 tips to ensure a healthy BES environment:

1. Ensure you have enough Exchange server capacity
Every BlackBerry user added to your environment can generate a fair amount of load on your Exchange server. An Exchange server that is overburdened with users and doesn’t have enough capacity will cause availability problems for BES

2. Whenever possible, co-locate your BES server and Exchange server in the same geographic location
There is a fair amount of network traffic between your BES & Exchange servers. Co-locating your servers reduces risk of outages attributed to slow/unavailable network connections

3. Consistently monitor & audit your Active Directory infrastructure
Changes made to permissions within Active Directory can cause users to no longer be able to send/receive emails.

4. Judiciously apply patches on the Exchange server as these patches can break BES
The BES server requires the same version of files that can be found on the Exchange server. Patches applied to Exchange that update file versions will cause problems with BlackBerry

5. Monitor your end to end BlackBerry infrastructure
Set up a monitoring system to detect carrier-related outages or outages with the RIM network. This allows you to quickly identify whether the problem is in your infrastructure or outside your infrastructure.

Top Tips for Fast Recovery of BlackBerry issues:

1. Isolate the scope of the problem
It’s important to quickly identify whether the problem is impacting a single user on a given BES server, multiple users on a BES server, all users on a BES server, all users across all BES servers. Knowing the scope of the problem helps focus the troubleshooting steps taken.

2. Develop an early warning system of common problems
Proactively monitor a variety of performance and fault indicators across the BlackBerry infrastructure. Performance often degrades over a period of time before a full blown outage occurs. Proactively identifying these performance degradations as they occur ensures IT can quickly resolve issues before users are impacted.

3. Be ready to assemble a cross-functional SWAT team to quickly resolve BlackBerry issues
More often than not, the root cause of BlackBerry issues is somewhere outside the BlackBerry server. Develop formal process to assemble cross-functional support teams for any BlackBerry outages to ensure problems are quickly isolated and resolved. Team members should include representatives from BlackBerry, Exchange, and network teams at a minimum, ideally should also include representatives from the Active Directory & security teams.


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SpinVox partners with Rogers for textified voicemail

SpinVoxIf you tuned in to our WES podcasts, you might remember the name SpinVox, purveyors of some fine voice-to-text software. Today, Rogers announced that SpinVox’s services would be available to subscribers, notably transcribing inbound voicemail into SMS messages. Part of the reason for Rogers’ support of SpinVox in particular is the multilingual support. Here in Ottawa, it’s bilingual central and easy to see how including French language support is a good business move.


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Palm Centro coming to Sprint

Palm CentroGizmodo’s procured a press shot of Palm’s upcoming device, the Centro, and given a few extra details, Palm may be working its way where RIM’s presence is negligible. The Centro will be geared towards the youth bracket, with a pricetag to match: $99. Sprint will have an exclusive deal for 90 days before other carriers will start seeing it. EVDO speeds plus touchscreen and a full QWERTY keypad make for a decent package at that price. The picture also has MSN, Yahoo! and AOL IM clients all in tabbed view, which is another step in the right direction for capturing a younger market. Is the Centro something that a BlackBerry-toting dad would get for his kid over, say, a Sidekick iD?


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New Sprint ads for the discriminating multibillionaire

$10.5 million is small potatoes for the service of a BlackBerry 8830, plus the limited-time private island offer is a nice extra. Well, says Sprint. YouTube’s down right now, but for whenever it gets back up…


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OS 4.3 screenshots sighted with media player upgrades

Screen 3Over on the BlackBerry Forums some screenshots of OS 4.3 on a BlackBerry 8300 have surfaced. As noted by BGR, one of the bigger changes is voice notes getting folded in to the media player, along with an added playlist function. The messaging side of things got a bit of a graphical tweak, but nothing especially exciting beyond that. The OS still isn’t out yet, so more features may still be included before release.

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Sprint’s BlackBerry Pearl 2 aimed for Thanksgiving?

TurkeyThe release date for the Sprint’s BlackBerry Pearl 2 has been narrowed down even further, since BGR has it on good word that it will be out by November, but supposedly lacking in Wi-Fi. As far as I could tell, the Wi-Fi was what made the Pearl 2 – maybe it’s another device with the Pearl form factor? Maybe Sprint is disabling the feature so they can charge for it… who knows until it comes out. As an addendum, they also heard of a CDMA Curve coming out in the first quarter of ‘08.


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Interview: Tele Atlas talks GPS, LBS, and their Innovator Series

BlackBerry MapsI have a confession to make: although I’m really interested in the future of GPS, and I excitedly follow all the latest news in LBS, I have yet to really incorporate it into my life. The reason? I haven’t (yet) seen an LBS application that makes so much sense for my lifestyle that I’d be stupid not to use it. That’s why BlackBerry Cool has been so intrigued by Tele Atlas’ Maps in Apps developer contest (officially announced earlier this week), which almost seems specifically designed to make me happy by helping to create the LBS application I always hoped to want. We had the very awesome opportunity last week to talk to Tele Atlas’ Darrin Wilkey about GPS, their Innovator Series, and what RIM is doing to help grow LBS.

BBCool: So what’s the big deal about GPS and LBS?

Darrin Wilkey: When you look at mapping, it’s really become a part of our everyday lives. Think about how many new cars have navigation systems. There’s been incredible growth in the personal navigation device market. Think about how ubiquitous maps are with the Internet. It’s really a part of our overall lifestyle and the way we get things done. An interesting thing is that from an install base perspective; some analysts are estimating that by 2010 there will be 30 million in-vehicle navigation systems in use, and the personal navigation market could get up to 100 million.

BBCool: Wow, that’s, over 3 times the population of Canada.

Darrin WilkeyDarrin Wilkey: (laughs) Well, this global, certainly. Maps are getting increasingly portable, and the infrastructure is finally being put in place to make wireless mapping and all the associated services broadly available. You look at things like increasing processing power in devices, more network bandwidth, smaller form factors for chips and even the devices themselves, the E911 mandates that are driving a lot of this GPS integration. The great thing is that handset manufacturers are really starting to make mapping the standard application on devices, and BlackBerry kind of lead the industry in that regard with BlackBerry Maps. Since then, Nokia, Sony Ericsson and others have started using Tele Atlas Maps in their devices. Then we start thinking about the infrastructure and the sheer numbers… we’ve already hit 3 billion mobile devices in the marketplace.

BBCool: So then what value do you think LBS applications bring to the mobile user?

Darrin Wilkey: If you think about how much mapping is used today, more people have phones than they have computers. Some analysts say that by 2010, 250 million devices will be GPS-enabled, with upwards of 150 million LBS users. So, when you start thinking about how location can enhance a user’s experience, not only is it “Where am I?” and “What’s around me?” and “How do I get there?”, which is where we are today with the LBS mobile experience, but map content is going to be increasingly transferable between devices. The idea of user-created content is going to be huge. Even things as simple as location-enhanced shopping… “Where am I? I need to purchase this product. Where is it? What store has it in inventory? How long does it take me to get there?”

BBCool: I’ve been kind of interested in location-based integration in social networking. Say, on your LiveJournal blog or MySpace page, when you’re talking about happened on your day, you’re pulling in Google Maps information tracking where you went. The post itself could be the map tagged with text… “When I was to this store I saw this friend.”

Darrin Wilkey: You’re absolutely right. In fact, there’s a company out there right now called Loopt that’s launched on the Boost network, and they are a social networking application where you can do exactly that. It’s very secure, and you only let people in your network that you trust, and you can find out where they are. You can also tag comments to specific geo-referenced places. So, if you go to a really nice pub, you can say, “Hey, I’m hanging out at the pub, it’s awesome,” and you can share that information with your friends. It’s also a way of using the rating system of these locations. You bring up the good point that increasingly, content is going to be geo-referenced or geo-searchable, and not just made available from some giant corporation; it’s all the user-generated content that will help you make better decisions.

Think about something as simple as an event, and all the repercussions that a concert or large sporting event has on traffic, restaurants, parking, all the resources around that area. Location information can completely enhance a user’s experience, in getting to the concert, finding a parking spot, avoiding traffic, meeting up with friends… Even though the infrastructure is starting to get in place now, with network speeds and all the other stuff, it’s really meaningless unless the really cool applications that are continually rolling out to get customers interested in it.

(…) Read the rest of Interview: Tele Atlas talks GPS, LBS, and their Innovator Series (1,799 words)


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