Don't tell anybody, but I'm a bit of a geek. I frequently make technology perform in ways the average person would never consider. Others may ask why?, and my response is usually, "because I can." The true answer is that whatever supposedly "geeky" thing I'm doing also happens to be the most efficient and effective way of doing something; bonus points if I don't have to get off the couch. Though it may not look like it now, what I'm doing will save me time and headaches in the future. It's just a little difficult to say that without sounding like a snotty jerk.

Ringtones work for me; ever since my first wireless phone, I've used ‘em. I liked knowing who was calling just by listening. It's a fact of modern wireless life that some calls get answered faster than others. Now that I have a BlackBerry, the type of communiqués has increased exponentially. It's only natural that my "ringtones" use expanded as well. Using only an extra email account; message notifiers; and BeBuzz, I know what message is waiting for me without looking at the screen. The notification sounds and notifier LED are all I need to figure out whether that email is really important or not.

Step Zero: Don't get overwhelmed

Truth be told, I didn't put all of this together overnight; it's just how I've come to use notifications on my BlackBerry. It also took me a good while to get a handle on just what all these sounds and blinking lights meant. It's a bit of a learning curve, but take it at your own leisure.

Step One: Get another email addressMany free email providers

Permit me a guess; you have one email address. One email address that gets all your email: the Facebook notifications, the special offers from that online camera store you visited that one time, the email from Uncle Mike asking you to feed his dogs while he's on vacation. In all that commotion, you never know what's going to pop up in your inbox. Each and every time your BlackBerry goes ding, it could an Important Message, or it could be another offer begging you to come back to Xbox Live.

Back when I first auditioned for the CrackBerry Idol contest, I would find myself impatiently waiting for the next email from CrackBerry. I was very excited about the contest, and was forced to wait patiently though each stage. Every time my BlackBerry chirped that a message had arrived, I would excitedly hope for a new missive from the folks in charge. Almost always, it was not. I got tired of not knowing what emails were landing in my inbox when the notification would sound. (Remember, bonus points if I don't have to get up from the couch.)

Since there's no charge, I created an email account for all my CrackBerry-related emails. Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, and Hotmail are but three of the many, many choices for free email accounts, so I grabbed another for myself. Then, I made sure to use that address for CrackBerry and CrackBerry only. I wouldn't use this account to log in to any websites or sign up for any "special offers." In creating an account specific to CrackBerry, I could make my phone's LED strobe red, white, and blue and shout "CrackBerry dot com" when an email came through. I now have both a visual and audio cue that lets me know there's an important message waiting for me from or about CrackBerry.

Step Two: Set up your phone and message notification sounds

Sound Profile settings 

This is the one where you set up your BlackBerry to make a bunch of bleeps and chirps depending on what actually arrives on your BlackBerry. You can set up notification sounds (notifiers) for phone calls from contacts, new email - each account can make a different sound - messages, new text messages, even new Facebook and Twitter notifications. Any sound - be it ringtone or Black Eyed Peas song - can be used as a notification sound on your BlackBerry. 

Check out this guide to setting the sound and alert profiles on your BlackBerry.

It will take a bit of training, but you'll soon learn to recognize each sound as communiqués appear on your BlackBerry. This sound means a phone call from Amanda; this sound means a text message just came through. That sound means.... I'm not sure what that one is. Let me check my BlackBerry. Ah, it was BlackBerry Messenger. Incidentally, that's the best way to train yourself on the multitude of noises your BlackBerry can make.

Step Three: Let there be an LED 


Red flash, pause. Red flash, pause. Oh sure, your BlackBerry will tell you that something new has arrived. Red flash, pause. But what is it? Did Twitter just update? Is that a new text message? Red flash, pause. Visual Voice Mail? Red flash, pause.

Speaking personally, I hate that little red LED that lights up when something is new on your smartphone. It's just not enough information. That's why I love BeBuzz (née BerryBuzz). I have it customized to flash a different light pattern depending on what's actually new. Some might consider this over-geek, but I beg to differ.

Say I leave my BlackBerry sitting on my desk while I step out of the room. When I come back, the first thing I glace at is that notification LED. Depending on how it's blinking, I know what kind of messages or phone calls or emails are waiting for me. For some of my contacts, I know who is trying to communicate and how (phone, email, or SMS text).

All you'll need to do is to set up color and flash patterns for your various contacts and messages. It sounds daunting, and in a way it is. Choosing between all of color, pattern, and disco choices are sure to amuse a person for quite a time. In choosing a color pattern for my contacts, I like to set a basic color for the contact. The flashes for that person's text and that person's emails will have that same basic color with a different flash pattern. 

Using these two methods, I know instantly - without looking at the screen - who is calling or what account just got a new email. Admittedly, that might not sound like much of a benefit; but think about a scenario. You're on the road driving, when the generic "ding" sounds. Is it a new email about photography supplies or is it work with an updated schedule? Frustrated, you turn off the sound. Soon, that maddening red light starts blinking, blinking, blinking. Don't you wish you knew who or what was causing that red blink, pause. Red blink, pause. Red blink, pause.....

So do you feel geekier smarter?

This was my first time writing a Cool Geeky Tricks you can do with your BlackBerry-type article. Should we write more? Sound off in the comments.