Oratio BlackBerry Screen Reader App For The Blind And Visually Impaired

As a follow up to our discussion on the CrackBerry podcast. Humanware has released the Oratio screen reader application for the visually impaired and blind. Having worked closely with Research In Motion, Humanware has created Oratio from the ground up in an effort to bring better offerings to the blind and visually impaired in the BlackBerry department.

Oratio allows visually impaired individuals to access core BlackBerry functions:

  • Manage instant messaging, emails, SMS and MMS.
  • Make and receive calls with access to caller ID on incoming calls.
  • Manage contact list.
  • Manage your call log.
  • Schedule appointments and tasks with alarms and reminders.
  • Access to the phone’s settings, ring tones and speed dials. 

The BlackBerry OS got a complete workthrough as well for the amount of options and settings available to users of Oratio. Customizable voice and pitch controls, description verbosity and auto enabling of the application upon startup are just a few changes implemented. Oratio does come at a heavy cost at the moment though a one time fee of $449 is what Humanware is asking, which hopefully can be subsidized. Device support at this time is limited, only AT&T is offering the service and only on devices and higher but that will be expanded in the coming months.

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Woman Saved by Bullet-Stopping BlackBerry

Its true that every once in a while BlackBerry stories come along that aren't totally tech-related ... well here's one for the books. Inside an Ohio restaurant, a woman was saved by her BlackBerry after a gun accidentally discharged. Anthony Holtvogt and his girlfriend were preparing to leave the establishment when the .32 caliber weapon discharged and landed dead-center on his girlfriends left jeans pocket - which luckily held her BlackBerry (looks like it was a Curve 85xx). The woman escaped with only minor bruising, but the BlackBerry I'm assuming wasn't so lucky (can you get a warrantly replacement for that?). Check out the full article from the Dayton Daily News for more. Thanks to everyone that sent this in!

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Research In Motion Launches BlackBerry Academic Program

Looking to get BlackBerry ceritfied? Research In Motion is looking at better ways to get folks BlackBerry prepared for BlackBerry certification by launching their BlackBerry Academic Program. This is a chance for educational institutions to offer BlackBerry training solutions to their attending students. The positioning looks like this:

"With the BlackBerry® Academic Program, your academic institution can give its students experience working with BlackBerry solutions. Your students will also be able to demonstrate their knowledge by becoming BlackBerry certified. New BlackBerry courses will be added regularly, so your students can stay up-to-date with new BlackBerry technologies and trends in the wireless industry."

IT schools know this sort of training is in high demand and to be able to offer it direct would be a benefit to them and their students. Hands on with devices and software and first hand training of all things BlackBerry opens quite a few doors depending on what it is you are looking forward to doing after schooling.

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Get Your Valentine's Day Groove On with Slacker Radio Love Stations - 10 Subscriptions Up for Grabs!

Nothing says "I love you" like a good love song. To help get you in the Valentine's Day spirit, Slacker Radio has some great stations for you to get into your love groove. In addition to creating your own romantic mega-mix, you can check out some of Slacker's stations featuring Love Songs, Rock Ballads and even Broken Hearts. You can stream music right from your device and help make your Valentine's Day events that much sweeter. Slacker is available as a free download, but if you want to kick it up you can enter to win 1 of 10 free subscriptions and get the benefits of ad-free listening, unlimited skips, full song lyrics and more. We have 3 one-year subscriptions and 7 three-month subscriptions to give away. To enter, just leave a comment on this post telling us how Slacker would sweeten your Valentine's Day. Please only leave one comment - contest ends this Sunday at Midnight PST.

Listen to Slacker Love Song Stations:

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Leaked: OS For The BlackBerry Storm 9500

Leaked: OS For The BlackBerry Storm 9500
Been a while since we seen a Storm OS leak. The folks over at BerryReview got their hands on OS for you all to check out. If you got a 9500 and plan on loading this up, be sure to leave some comments here and in the forums on how it's working out for ya. As always, caution advised as it is a leaked OS and be sure to back up your data.

*OS Disclaimer - Please Read: Keep in mind this is NOT an official release and as such is not supported by RIM or your Carrier. If you choose to install, do so at your own risk and only if you're comfortable in the process of upgrading and downgrading your device software. It is quite normal during operating system development for certain features to be crippled or disabled while others are tested, and these beta builds often reflect that. They are not always better. Depending on your BlackBerry comfort level, it may be best for you to wait for community feedback on a build before deciding to download and install for yourself or simply wait for the next official release. If you require support, you will find it in our CrackBerry forums via our extremely knowledgeable community base - do not contact your carrier or RIM for Beta OS technical support (their first course of action will be to advise you to downgrade to a supported OS). Follow the links below for more information and instructions. *

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Create Simple or Complex Filters on your BlackBerry with MailRuleManager - 25 Free Copies!

MailRuleManager is a great solution to filter your precious email on your BlackBerry. The application allows you to apply 16 different types of conditions, such as filtering by subject, sender, specific email account, key word in subject, and many more. In each filter you can set an action to be taken, wether you want that filter to automatically delete the message, forward the email, or even automatically reply. You can get really creative and more in depth by adding exceptions, creating very complex, very detailed filters to fit almost any situation. MailRuleManager is on sale until February 12th for $4.99 and available on all devices running OS 4.2.1 and higher.

*Note: As with all Empower software, installation of Empower Central is required. Download link for Empower Central is included when purchasing MailRuleManager.

Contest: We have 25 copies of MailRuleManager to give away. Comment below your moat creative, complex, funny, or innovative filter that you can think of, to enter. Contest ends this Sunday at Midnight PST. Please only leave one comment, multiple entries wont count.

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Happy Valentine's Day Helps You Get One on One With Your Loved Ones - Contest for Free Software Bundle!

Twinkler Software has brought us a new app just in time for Valentine's Day. Happy Valentine's Day is integrated into your device's options menu. Upon opening, you select an image, audio file, and save. The next time you open the app it will display your image, while playing your preselected audio in the background. This is when you pass the device on to your nearby sweetheart, promoting that "one on one interaction". Happy Valentine's Day is available for $0.99 for all devices running OS 4.5+.

Contest: Twinkler Software in conjunction with Toysoft are sponsoring a Valentine's Day contest which will end this Sunday at Midnight PST. 4 lucky winners will win the ENTIRE catalog of Twinkler Software apps, as well as their choice of 8 apps from Toysoft for themselves or their sweethearts! Please only leave one comment, multiple entries won't count.

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Official OS for the BlackBerry Tour 9630 Now Available from Sprint

Hot off the presses - Sprint has become the next carrier to officially launch OS 5.0 for the Tour 9630. Reports are flying in that the download is currently available via Desktop Mananger for Sprint Customers, and devices will be upgraded to OS This leaves Big Red as one of the few carriers to still not drop an official 5.0 for the Tour. No download link listed just yet, but it should pop up on the BlackBerry Software Downloads page in the next few days. So what are you waiting for Sprint users?! Plug in and get upgrading!! Thanks Thomas for the screencap.

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The Missing Sync For BlackBerry Updated To Support OS 5.0 On Mac
Just in case you're not too fond of RIM's BlackBerry Desktop Manager for Mac, The Missing Sync is still going strong with its updates to its Mac offerings. The latest editions to come from MarkSpace is the addition of support for OS 5.0 devices. For those unfamiliar, The Missing Sync allows you to sync your BlackBerry device with your Mac and even allows it to do so via Bluetooth. Calendars, contacts, media files among other things are supported via Bluetooth transfer. If you are already using The Missing Sync the upgrade is available for free and if you are among the unintiated, you can grab The Missing Sync for only $39.95 via the MarkSpace website.
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Google Buzz Takes Over Gmail Inboxes Everywhere But Brings No BlackBerry Support - Will You Use It?

<a href="http://answers.polldaddy.com/poll/2681033/" mce_href="http://answers.polldaddy.com/poll/2681033/">What do you think of Google Buzz?</a><span style="font-size:9px;">(<a href="http://answers.polldaddy.com" mce_href="http://answers.polldaddy.com">trends</a>)</span>


I was trying so hard to not think about Google Buzz, let alone write about it, but I came across this article from the National Post and just couldn't resist. It appears that Buzz was the work of Google's Waterloo office -- right around the corner from good ol' RIM HQ. It turns out that Google has had an office in Canada for quite a while now, while most know them as being solely in California. Buzz is the latest and greatest addition to the Google lineup, and it seems to have some users jumping for joy, while others are just plain confused. Buzz integrates with your Gmail inbox and lets you share updates, photos and videos with friends and followers. You can add in your Google accounts (Flickr, Picasa etc.) and even Twitter to receive all your updates in one handy spot. While some are embracing the fun, I was delighted to find the "turn off buzz" link in the bottom of my Gmail page, as I feel its fairly intrusive and semi-annoying at the moment. I'm sure down the line a Buzz app will pop up for BlackBerry that might make things more interesting, although at the moment it looks like iPhone and Android users are really the only ones that get to have the most fun with Buzz for now. So we ask you this CrackBerry Nation - what do you think of Buzz? Is the the greatest thing ever or just plain dumb? Will you use it daily or just turn it off. Take a vote in the poll and let us know what you think.

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Mike Lazaridis To Keynote At Mobile World Congress- App Planet

Mobile World Congress is set to start in just a mere 5 days in Barcelona. With the event running from February 15th-18th, we're sure to hear lots coming from the mobile industry in general. One thing to note however, is that on February 16th, Mike Lazaridis, Research In Motion Co-CEO will be keynoting at the App Planet event. In addition to that keynote, Mike will also be leading the way for the BlackBerry Developer Day proceedings as well. The BlackBerry Developer Day will be a time for those in attendance to take part in break out sessions, hands on labs and take some time to get information from the experts. Kevin will be on location in Barcelona covering the events so we'll be sure to keep you all updated with the happenings. Here's to hoping we see some cool stuff before WES 2010.

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Free Cowbell app from Bell to help cheer on Team Canada

When you hear the word cowbell, you can’t help but think of the classic SNL sketch featuring Will Ferrell and Christopher Walken. I think the world would be a better place with more cowbell, especially the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. Bell thought so too, in fact they said:

“If we’re going to win more medals, we’re going to need more cowbell!”

So c’mon you Canuckleheads, support Team Canada by downloading the free Cowbell app from Bell. The sound is activated by shaking, touching the screen or pressing a key. Show you spirit and wave your BlackBerry high- not too high or else someone may nab it. The following BlackBerrys are supported:

Bold 9000, 9700 / Curve 8530, 8330 / Pearl 8130, Pearl Flip / Storm / Tour / 8830

Bell customers can text COWBELL to 2010. Customers of other carriers can hit up bell.ca/cowbell. In case you missed it, a week ago I put together a selection of applications you can use while you are at the Olympics. The Bell Cowbell app makes a nice addition.

“I’ve got a fever (Olympic Fever), and the only prescription… is more cowbell!”

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RealPlayer SP Video Converter Now Available For Mac

RealPlayer SP Video Converter Now Available For Mac

Having been a user of RealPlayer SP's video conversion tool for a while now, I can say it's quite a handy application to have installed. The application it's self allows you to download videos direct from your browser and have them then converted to file formats which are compatible with multiple devices. BlackBerry, iPhone, iPods even PSP if you do so choose. The end result of conversions is typically always high quality depending on your source but now with Youtube and other sites moving more and more content to HD high quality content is aplenty.

The PC version of RealPlayer SP has been available since June of 2009 but finally, Real Networks has rolled out the Mac version for users to take advantage of. If you've been looking for a way dead simple way to convert those internet videos for your BlackBerry this is the best way to go. While I cannot personally try out the Mac version, I'm quite certain it will be on par with that of the PC version, if not better.  The basic version is available for free with the premium version setting you back $39.99. Personally, I see no compelling reason to pay for the premium offerings as the free version works great for conversion for BlackBerry but, that might be just me. Oh yes, for those that will ask. Real Networks is still very much alive ;)

[ IntoMobile ]
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Contest: Show Your BlackBerry Some Love This Valentine's Day.. Win a Free Schlage LiNK Starter Kit & 3 Mo. Free Service!

You love your BlackBerry... why not give it a special treat for Valentine's Day - the Schlage LiNK System & App! The Schlage LiNK App allows you to control you home, security, and energy from anywhere through the Schlage LiNK mobile application. For the person looking for control, convenience, and peace of mind, giving their Blackberry the Schlage LiNK App is a true sign of love, not only for the phone but the owner as well!

Contest Prize and Entry: In 50-ish words or less, leave a comment describing why giving your Blackberry the Schlage LiNK system is the ultimate Valentine's Day gift! The winner will receive a Schlage LiNK Starter kit of their choice and 3 months of free service! The deadline is 12 noon PST on Valentine's Day and Schlage will pick their favorite entry and we'll announce the winner on the blogs that evening.

Not familiar with Schlage LiNK? Schlage LiNK allows you to....

  • Improve security by easily accessing your lock away from home- no more hiding keys!
  • Manage your security by receiving text message alerts when specific codes are entered at the door
  • Save money by turning down your heating and cooling while away and by reducing energy consumption
  • Simplify your life by easily scheduling the Trane Remote Energy Management thermostat from the Schlage LiNK interface
  • Customize the system to your lifestyle by adding additional Z-Wave products to your Schlage LiNK system for further control
For more information on the Schlage LiNK system, jump on over to link.shlage.com. Spread the word, share the love and best of luck in the contest!
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