Articles by Crackberry Kevin

Ahead of the Curve...Rogers BlackBerry Curve that is!

I couldn't take the waiting any longer!

As I type, a BlackBerry 8300 Curve is making its away across the pond and to the offices in Winnipeg. It's a BlackBerry Curve out of the UK, and the Unlock code has already been ordered straight from O2. I should have both the phone and unlock code in my hands Tuesday by noon.

I'm curious to see how this goes. Will it be easy going in getting it up and running on Rogers? Or am I in for a massive headache in getting the phone unlocked? Any thoughts? Should I have waited? says the Curve is coming to Roger's soon... will I beat the Canadian release by a day, a week, or a month?! Stay Tuned to to see how this plays out...

Update: LOST in transit. More like stolen. Never to be Found Again. I ended up waiting and getting it from AT&T when it was finally released. 

Best of WES 2007 - PocketVPN

The next Crackie to be given out in the BEST of WES 2007 awards is the "NO BRAINER" AWARD. Why the No Brainer? Because having this application on your BlackBerry is a No Brainer - it just makes sense. The envelope please .... and the winner is ....


WICKSoft's PocketVPN client gives you the power to securely access, view, email, and fax files and documents located on your office network directly through your BlackBerry handheld device. With PocketVPN on your BlackBerry there is no reason to travel with a laptop anymore - you can literally be a continent away from your office and computer and still access any document you need at a moment's notice.

My Introduction to PocketVPN
I first became aware of the PocketVPN application a couple of months ago, but for whatever reason (too busy I guess!) I never gave the available demo a try. But on my first day of WES I met Will Hickie, President of WICKSoft, and after talking to him about the application for a few minutes we quickly hooked up the software on my 8700. WOW. Simple, Functional, and I'll never ever go back to the days of having to email myself files so that I would have them on my BlackBerry. 

PocketVPN is really easy to use. I simply open the application and login with my username and password. From there I am connected to my network drive, where I can see all of my folders and files. Browsing folders is intuitive and easy, and once I locate a file with one click I have the option to view it, see its properties, or email it (clicking email pops up an email window with the file already attached - I just enter in the email address and message and hit send). 

The "No Brainer"
While I was impressed with PocketVPN when the President gave me a demo on the first day of WES, it was the phone call I received the next day from my friend Tyler that both gave name to the "No Brainer" award and allowed PocketVPN to clinch it. I wrote a blog post earlier that morning summing up the events of Day 1, and in it I mentioned Pocket VPN as an application that caught my eye. 

Tyler, who is the VP Operations at a big fresh-cut flowers brokerage company (they supply flowers to big chain grocery stores and retailers throughout North America) and happens to be a frequent bathroom reader of the mobile version of the blogs, saw the post and immediately phoned me up...

Tyler: How's Orlando?
Kevin: Good. Moving slow today, free alcohol last night, but Good.
Tyler: You mean I can access files on my network through my BlackBerry with that VPN program?
Kevin: Yeah, that's right.
Tyler: Darn (edited), I need that so bad! Last night I went straight from work to a dinner thing, so I left my laptop at the office. I was home in bed sleeping at 11:30pm and I got a call from from one of the farms in Bogota - they were missing a shipping order and needed it right away. So I had to drive back to the office and and email it to them. By the time I got home and fell back asleep it was almost 4am, and then I had to get up at 5:30am to get back to the warehouse for Mother's day shipping.
Kevin: Dude, that sucks.
Tyler: That should be on every BlackBerry, what a No Brainer. Would have totally saved my crappy (edited) night. When you get back from Orlando make sure you hook me up with it.

And just like that, though it wasn't announced until just now, PocketVPN became the winner of the Best of WES 2007 "No Brainer" Award. Congrats Guys!

More Information: Interview with Will Hickie, More Photos and Discuss PocketVPN in the Forums...

BlackBerry Desktop Software v4.2 SP2 Now Available!

It's a mouthful, but BlackBerry Desktop Software v4.2 Service Pack 2 is now available for immediate download from the BlackBerry website.

Why upgrade? Installing v4.2 SP2 will allow you to take advantage of the new BlackBerry Desktop Media Manager (by Roxio) that allows for quick CD ripping, converting and transferring music and video files to your device. Version 4.2 SP2 is available for the BlackBerry Pearl, BlackBerry 8800 Series, and BlackBerry Curve phones.

Download BlackBerry Desktop Software v4.2 SP2

Learn more about the BlackBerry Desktop Media Manager

Talk about v4.2 SP2 in the Forums

Best of WES 2007 - OtterBOX 8700

The next winner in the BEST of WES 2007 awards has pulled in THREE accolades, winning the  "BEST ACCESSORY AWARD", "BEST FREEBIE GIVEN OUT AT WES AWARD" and "BUSIEST BOOTH AT THE SOLUTIONS SHOWCASE AWARD".  The envelope please .... and the winner is ....

the OtterBOX BlackBerry 8700 Series Case  

The OtterBox BlackBerry 8700 Series Case is a heavy-duty case that makes it possible to take your BlackBerry virtually anywhere. The case features a polycarbonate/ABS shell for maximum strength and rugged durability as well as an innovative rubber overmolding for grip and drop protection. It also provides sealed access to keypad, scroll wheel, escape button, power button, mute button and programmable side button. It's the Hummer of BlackBerry cases.

Going into WES I had never personally seen or held an OtterBox Case, though I was already a bit of a fan based on the OtterBox review we published at a few weeks ago (it was posted by our occassional guest contributor Robert Loblaw).

The Busiest Booth
Just getting to the OtterBox booth at WES proved to be difficult as a big crowd was always gathered around. You have to remember, WES is primarily geared toward Enterprise solutions, and I think as a result the majority of exhibitors who attend are there to show off their enterprise applications. And while there were many really cool apps at WES, software just doesn't draw in a crowd to the same extent that a near military-grade case for your BlackBerry can. So congrats to the OtterBox team for taking a leap in faith in attending their first WES. The Otterbox crew told me attending the show was a great idea and that it turned out to be a great success for them. I have a feeling at WES 2008 there are going to be a lot more Accessory manufacturers present.

The Best Freebie
This was a toss-up! I was told by a few people at WES that the t-shirt was the best schwag given out at the event, but since I only came with 20 of them (I know better for next year!), I'm going to have to give this award to OtterBox for the case the crew was nice enough to give me (afterall, it does have a retail cost of $129.95)! I'm not sure if every visitor to the booth was as lucky as me, but either way I say thanks!

The Best Accessory
Since receiving my OtterBox case I have been using it daily. There's just something about it that I love. It's big, It's bulky... it's cool! It's very easy to use. The case is in two halves - you insert your 8700 face down on top of the keyboard, slide the back of the OtterBox over the phone, and then latch the two halves together. It's nice to hold in your hand - it's big. I've been hounding my dad to get a BlackBerry for a while now, but he's not into slim electronic gadgets that have tiny buttons and are slippery and easy to drop. However, I now think I could sell him addicted to a BlackBerry so long as it's in an OtterBox case! It's definitely has that Old School feel. The operation of the BlackBerry within the Otterbox case is very smooth. Typing on the keyboard is actually really easy and the trackwheel works flawlessly.

My 43 Minutes with Jim Balsillie, CEO of RIM

The CEO of CrackBerry Meets the CEO of BlackBerry

The 2007 Wireless Enterprise Symposium (WES) is now a part of history. For those who don’t know, WES is an annual event hosted by Research in Motion that brings together more than 3,000 IT professionals and business executives from around the globe and presents the latest information to help organizations define and implement wireless strategies. The majority of the 10 million + BlackBerry devices in use throughout corporations worldwide are represented at WES. Over the three-day event I walked up to countless attendees and posed the question “How many Blackberrys on your BES (BlackBerry Exchange Server)?” to the typical response of either, 800, 8,000, or 18,000+.

I attended the Orlando, Florida, event in my role as CEO (CrackBerry Executive Officer) of, which I co-founded less than three months ago and aims to be a one-stop shop for all things BlackBerry. I’m a loyal user (some would argue “abuser”) of the BlackBerry device and thought there just had to be a and took the initiative to start it. The site offers something for every BlackBerry user -- from a store that offers the latest in blackberry accessories and software, to BlackBerry news and reviews, community forums, and even a “Rehab” section for those BlackBerry users who need to get their BlackBerry use under control. The term “CrackBerry” was inspired by the addictive nature of the BlackBerry handheld device, and has become so ubiquitous that Webster’s dictionary named “CrackBerry” the 2006 “New Word of the Year”.

I missed the deadline for applying to get a WES press pass, so I went to the event as a “regular attendee”. While I did report back to with breaking news from WES, I decided to spend the majority of the time getting to meet and know as many people in the BlackBerry world as possible. I came back to Winnipeg with many new friends and acquaintances in the BlackBerry world (it was well worth the trip!).

Between the conference and parties WES offered 3-days of non-stop action, but the highlight of the event for me had to be the 43 minutes I got to spend with Research in Motion’s Co-CEO Jim Balsillie. RIM’s other Co-CEO is Mike Lazaridis and these two men were the stars of the show. At WES they are the celebrities –Jim and/or Mike could often be seen running between meetings and appointments, always accompanied by a small entourage of dark suits. This is probably to be expected considering they do head a multi-billion dollar company. Unless you have an appointment, trying to get their time and attention would be difficult to say the least.

But I lucked in. On the second night of WES, after the breakout sessions and vendor showcase had wound down for the day, I attended a WES party sponsored by Verizon Wireless. The party had a cool James Bond “BlackBerry Royale” theme, and it was a few hours into the night when I almost bumped right into Jim (I had my head down checking my e-mails on my Berry as I walked - hence how I took note of the time I began talking to Jim).

I of course recognized Mr. Balsillie -- I stuck out my hand and while we shook I said, “Hi, I’m the guy who started”. In retrospect it wasn’t the most eloquent thing I could have said, but it probably was fitting considering I was wearing a bright green t-shirt that was stamped with a bright orange logo.

Jim wore a big smile, said “Hello” right back at me and seemed open for conversation. After all, it was a party and we were each holding a drink.

Forty three minutes later I walked away from Jim with him getting in the last words, “It was good to meet you!”

While it wasn’t an interview I garnered lots of information and advice from the RIM CEO. I wasn’t taking notes, but what he said is permanently engrained in my memory. Initially, I talked to Jim about our successes in launching and gave him my overview of what we had accomplished so far and what we are working towards achieving. I never asked him if he had heard of the site or if he had visited it, but my two days spent at WES so far had indicated to me that most people in the business of BlackBerrys had heard of us (with a domain name like word travels fast!). 

Best of WES 2007 - SimulSays

And the winner of the BEST of WES 2007 "MUST HAVE APPLICATION AWARD"  is.... the envelope please ....


SimulSays is the kind of application that will actually change your life - you will never login to your voicemail ever again.  SimulSays uses cutting edge voice recognition technology to convert your voicemail messages into text (voicemail messages are converted to text using the proprietary SimulScribe service). From there, SimulSays automatically downloads the transcribed message to your phone, along with the original audio. You have the option to either read your voicemail (as you would any email) or you can choose to listen to the audio via the SimulScribe app.

Another Major benefit to SimulSays? If you have multiple messages (let's say 7 of them), you can go through the messages on your phone in any order you choose. There's no need to read/listen to the first message before going onto the second or third. So if Message five is the important one, you can go straight to it. Think back a few months and you will remember Steve Jobs talking about the iPhone having this type of technology. Well, SimulSays beat Apple to the punch and brings it to your BlackBerry! Visual Voicemail is already here!

I spent a lot of time at WES playing with the SimulSays application, as at first glance the demo I saw almost seemed to good to be true (it worked that unbelievably well). But I stress tested the application - I left voice messages, I had other people leave voice messages, and in every instance within a few minutes of leaving a voicemail the messages appeared on the phone, with the text translations being spot on.

Drawbacks? Right now SimulSays only works on the BlackBerry Pearl, BlackBerry 8800 and BlackBerry Curve. If you're running an older Berry then you are out of luck! So right now I personally have a bit of a love/hate relationship with SimulSays. I LOVE the application, but HATE the fact I'm running a BlackBerry 8700r. But that's ok - I was looking for a reason to upgrade and this application is IT.

Visit SimulSays' website for more details... Congrats SimulScribe! 

Best of WES 2007 - Yahoo! Go

And the winner of the BEST of WES 2007 "It's About Crack'n Time Award"  is.... the envelope please ....

Yahoo! Go

That's right. When I walked away from the Yahoo booth at WES 2007 I was from then on a changed man. For some people, this award might come as a bit of a shock, as it's old news - Yahoo! Go with integrated services for BlackBerry became available over a year ago. So maybe that means it should have been Best of WES 2006, but I wasn't there, so 2007 it is!

If you have never seen this application before, I challenge you to download it and give it a go. I think you will agree with me that Yahoo! Go sets a new benchmark for Mobile Applications. From my experience I've always considered WAP sites and Berry Applications to be a compromise in terms of looks and functionality when compared to their desktop counterparts.

Yahoo! Go sacrifices nothing. The mobile app/site brings great looks, combined with all of the content and services that Yahoo's web site offers. It's fast, as well as easy to navigate and use (my only complaint - trackwheel users will have to hold down the Alt Key to move from the Menu Carousel to the Main Content Area. Trackball users it's all good).

Check out the online demo here (it doesn't use a berry but we'll forgive them for it), and when you're ready to download it on to your blackberry point your mobile browser to

Function over Fashion, or Fashion over Function. When it comes to Apps for your BlackBerry you can't have both. That's what I always thought. And I was wrong. Yahoo Go! proved you can have your cake and eat it too.  Congrats!!

Job Flash - J2ME/BlackBerry Developer @ bitHeads, inc.

** Job Flash **

bitHeads, based out of Ottawa, Canada, is seeking a Senior J2ME/BlackBerry Developer for an approximately 2 month term.

Click Here for More Details on this Position... Awards - the Best of WES 2007's BEST OF WES 2007 awards are coming!

That's right! Starting tomorrow we will start the BEST OF WES 2007 Awards Show. A new "Crackie" winner will be announced every day or two or three (until we run out of Crackie's to give!). And in true style, the award names will be a bit whacky, and the information 100% good. You'll want to spread the word and check in with us each day. 

The first Crackie to be announced? I call it the It's About Crack'n Time award (others might call it the Best in Show award). Either way, it's going to the application that has set a new standard for how blackberry applications should look and act. For me personally, every app I install onto my Berry will now be compared to the winner of this Crackie.  Stay Tuned...

BlackBerry Curve Video Review

Our friends over at Shiny Shiny put together a nice video overview/review of the BlackBerry Curve.  The device reviewed is a pre-production BlackBerry Curve, so be sure to also check out our member review of one of the first consumer-purchased BlackBerry Curves.

David Spade faces a BlackBerry Intervention

So this is what happens when your BlackBerry Abuse really becomes a problem?! hits Fox News Atlanta!

What a week for! While I have been at WES in Orlando meeting tons of great people and spreading the word (I have sooo many good stories and posts to make over the next month from WES), another loyal member of has been even HARDER at work making known to the world!

A HUGE thanks and congrats goes out to our CrackBerry Forums moderator Navilyn, who represented on a Fox 5 Atlanta piece called "For Gadget Addicts, Turning Tech Toys Off May be Hard to Do."

Click here to Watch the Video!  

WES Diary # 3 - Slow Start to the Morning

  Wednesday Morning, WES has already begun for the day, and I'm an hour behind schedule on making my way out of the hotel room and back to the conference. Why the slow start? Free booze at last night's WES party which took place at the Hard Rock Cafe. I think RIM actually discovered the cure for CrackBerry Addiction - free booze! During the day there were 3,000 of us walking around with our heads down reading our berries - at night, the chins were up while the drinks went down!

WES has been a solid event for me so far. Coming out here I was thinking about doing minute by minute blog posts on the event, but decided the better use of my time was to get to know as many people in the CrackBerry world as possible. And I am succeeding at that! At the Solutions Showcase I spoke to a lot of software vendors who are working on some cooool stuff (more to speak to yet today), so there will be a lot of indepth reviews coming in the weeks ahead.

Some of the apps that caught my attention (click the links for more info):

Some observations from the event:

  • Not many laptops in the building at all. Normally at a tech conference every single person would have a laptop and would be fighting over outlets. Goes to show that the BlackBerry of today is replacing the need for a laptop.
  • Everybody has the same ringtone!
  • The t-shirts are a huge success!!! Everybody wants one. Going to have to start up the shirt press when I get home.

That's all for now folks.  I have 12 hours of fun ahead of me!

WES Diary # 2 - Opening General Session

I have 30 minutes until the Solutions Showcase opens up (a.k.a. exhibit of hundreds of vendors), so I found a little corner in the Brass Lounge and it's time for a quick update.

WES started off this morning at 8:30am to a crowd of about 3,000 blackberry addicts. Crawford Del Prete, from the IDC, kicked things off, and from their RIM's founder and co-ceo Mike Lazaridis took the stage. There were no earth shaking announcements, but the big message was that it is the Application Providers that are going to take the BlackBerry to the next level, and that the next goal is to essentially replace the need to have an office phone by having the BlackBerry merge legacy PBX and IP phone systems into the Berry.

BlackBerry freed the business world from having to use their computer to check email, and the next goal is to free the corporate world from the office phone.  Example - you'll be able to just dial a party extension # on your berry as you would on your office line to reach someone within your company. 

After Mike finished up, next came the roundtable discussion on "Beyond Email". Nigel Clifford, CEO of Symbian was on hand, and man is this guy ever a good speaker and knowledgable.

Ooo..gotta cut this short for now. Lots to talk about, and all will come out in the days ahead, but don't want to miss anything right now!

  Mike Lazaridis talking about Competitive Advantage through Applications.

Going Beyond Email - Roundtable Discussion 


WES Diary # 1 - Now That's how I Roll!

The flights went smooth, I land in Orlando at 11:30pm, grab my luggage, and what's the first thing I see when I walk out of the terminal? The BlackBerry Limo! Thanks for thinking of me RIM! There's no need to wait in line for a cab when you can roll Orlando in style! WES starts tomorrow - I'll be there bright and early, and I am pumped!

Tom Watkins: The day my BlackBerry almost died

Tom sent this to me the other day to get up on if I saw fit - it's a good piece of CrackBerry humor based on the "Great BlackBerry Outage of 2007" (as I like to call it), and even better, guess what website helped Tom get through his near-tragic day?! Read to the end to find out...

The day my Blackberry almost died
By: Tom Watkins. Originally Published: Northville Record May 3, 2007

I had a sick feeling when I woke up that morning. It was the day that I thought my dear Blackberry died. I never realized how much I needed and longed for her.

I felt it coming on the night before. I figured, no, she could not be sick; "all would be better in the morning," I thought. "Why," I wondered "was my sweetheart, my Blackberry, just laying there, no beams, no vibrations, and no emails?" I could feel the beads of sweat building on my forehead. I felt a bit clammy. I kept picking up my trusty Blackberry every few minutes, just to feel for her pulse, her warmth — but nothing.

I rolled over a few times during that long night to caress my lethargic Blackberry but she had no life. Up until that point, she had always lit up any room she entered. That night her trusty face provided a dim glow in my bedroom but no emails. She was as lifeless as my old eight-track tapes piled in the corner. "All will be fine in the morning," I prayed, as I rolled over and attempted to get some sleep. I wanted to be strong in the morning for Blackberry; I felt she needed me as much as I needed her.

With the first beam of the morning sun streaking across my bed, I once again stretched out to pull Blackberry close. I could feel the blood drain from my face as I looked wishfully into her screen with such great anticipation of seeing emails - from my colleagues in China a world away or my Wall Street Journal electronically nestled on my Blackberry porch. But I gulped when the screen did not even light up, not even as much as a wink!

How to Spot CrackBerry Kevin @ WES 2007

With yesterday's spur of the moment decision to attend next week's Wireless Enterprise Symposium came today's realization that I had better be easy to spot in a crowd!

Over the past couple of months I have gotten to know a lot of people in the BlackBerry World, but communication has always been over the phone or via email or blackberry messenger. Next week I will have the pleasure of meeting many of these people at WES in person for the first time.

But with so much going on over three days, there will be no time to waste in trying to be found in a crowd! So what to do? What would be subtle and clever but scream Taking our Pimp My Berry contest nomenclature to heart, we figured that is exactly what we should do - Pimp My Berry! The end result is in the photos - this is what happens when you give stickers and scissors to an office full of BlackBerry Addicts.

Look for the "CrackBerry Berry" next week in Orlando - and be sure to say Hi! is going to WES 2007!!!

The plane ticket is booked, the hotel room is reserved, and I am going to the Wireless Enterprise Symposium  in sunny Orlando, Florida!!!!!

I'll be arriving in Orlando late Monday evening (May 7th), and will be departing Friday morning. While I'm there I hope to meet as many people from the BlackBerry World as possible. And of course I'll be reporting back to regularly with all the news from the show. It's going to be good!

If you're a loyal member and would like to meet up, send me an email and we'll get things figured out. There won't be time this year to plan an official party (that'll be next year!) but I'd still like to meet up with as many of you as possible. Are you going? We have a Who's going to WES 2007 thread you should join in on.

Hope to See you there! Let's spread the word!!!

RIM Officially Announces BlackBerry Curve

The speculation was right! After yesterday's domain name games, RIM today officially announced the BlackBerry Curve.

"The BlackBerry Curve offers a unique blend of communications, multimedia and web features to provide people with an exceptional mobile companion for both work and leisure,” said Mike Lazaridis, President and Co-CEO at RIM. “The BlackBerry Curve delivers RIM's industry leading email and messaging capabilities in a highly approachable smartphone design that is packed with consumer-friendly features including a 2 megapixel camera, enhanced media player and high-performance browser." 

Read the Full Press Release Here.

Visit the BlackBerry Curve website Here.

Learn More and Discuss The BlackBerry Curve in the Forums.  

Excellent BlackBerry Curve Review - Click Here.

Telus Mobility Announces BlackBerry 8830 World Edition

According to our friends at BlackBerrySync, it looks like Telus Mobility is starting to spread word that the BlackBerry 8830 will "officially" soon be available on the Telus network in Canada in the next few months.

An official press release should be made by Telus any hour now, but the early reports state the phone will be available for $499 on a 3 year contract.