Articles by Adam Zeis

Visto Themes Free BlackBerry Theme Contest!

Corey Visto of Visto Themes has just announced a new contest coinciding with the launch of his newly redesigned website. As you know, I'm a big fan of all the Visto themes (as are many others I assume). They are some of the sleekest themes available with their clean look and bold icons. The contest is simple - be logged into CrackBerry.com and reply to this post with a comment, and on Monday May 5th Corey will be selecting 4 lucky winners who will receive the theme of their choice in any style. Not sure what kind of comment to make? Why not tell us what your favorite theme is, what your favorite style of theme is, or what you'd like to see in a theme for your BlackBerry! 

If you want to preview the themes to be won or can't quite wait a week to get your hands on one, all them are available for all devices in Icon, Zen and Today styles in the ShopCrackberry.com Store.


Sneak Peek: Retrieve Your Stolen BlackBerry With GetItBack (Formerly Known as FindIt)

I've been lucky enough to test the new beta version of GetItBack (formerly FindIt 2.0) from Convenience Software. The app resides in the background and automatically starts when you power up your device. The idea behind the app is simple - if your smartphone is lost or swiped, you simply login to their one page web interface and report it "Stolen". From there you have multiple options to activate your BlackBerry's alarm & ringer, send a custom message to the phone (I'm a member of the CrackBerry army!! Return my phone or pay big!!) and activate a callback to a number of your choice. 


ATT Announces BlackBerry Professional Software for Small Business

Small business owners can now harness the power of their bigger competitors with AT&T's new BlackBerry Professional Software for small business.  The software provides a simple BlackBerry solution with many advanced featues with "small business" pricing. The software supports up to 30 wireless users and acesses email, calendar, contacts, data and interent access.  The software will allow more AT&T BlackBerry users to connect with their small businesses.


Verizon Wireless Nationwide Messaging Data Only Plans

In what seems to be a never ending line of "new plans", Verizon Wireless introduced their new Nationwide Messaging plans which are geared towards users who just don't seem to eat up their voice minutes (much like myself).  The plans are available for most handsets including PDAs and BlackBerry devices.  The new plans include unlimited text, IM, picture and video messaging, and offer per-minute voice calling rates.  International text messages will run at $0.25 per message.  Plan details after the jump:


Tiny Twitter Gives You More Twang For Your Tweets

If TwitterBerry doesn't seem to give you enough control of your Twittering, along comes Tiny Twitter. Tiny Twitter adds to the functionality of TwitterBerry, allowing you to change  fonts, update intervals, the overall user interface and giving you a scrolling "Tweet" line along the bottom with your latest updates.  If you are a big twitter fan like myself, its definitely one to check out.  Available for free from Tinytwitter.com for all Java enabled devices.   


Corey Visto Chrono Theme Available for All Devices

In his seemingly never-ending line of awesome BlackBerry themes, Corey Visto has just released his latest creation, Chrono. Available in Today, Icon and Zen styles for all BlackBerry smartphones (Curve, 88xx, 8700, Pearl, 7100), Chrono is a clean and sleek theme. It holds the same icons as the popular BB Droid and H2O themes, but adds some banner and background tweaks to make it really stand out. The carrier banner has been removed and I'm a big fan of the radar-like coverage indicator. As usual with Corey's BlackBerry themes, there is no profiles icon which help keep the presentation neat and clean. I'm a huge fan of all of the Visto Themes - I never seem to get tired of them. All versions are available for $7 from ShopCrackberry.com.  


How to Download and Install Ringtones on your BlackBerry

One of the most common questions upon getting a new BlackBerry device is “How do I download and install ringtones.”  Well here is a step-by-step lesson that will take you from the start to finish of downloading your own ringtones and editing your profiles for your device. We've focused the tutorial around CrackBerry.com's Awesome FREE Ringtone Gallery. I hope to make it easier to understand the different ways you can download or create your own ringtones, and also how to edit your profiles and notifications for your calls, emails, sms etc.


Bluepulse - New Mobile Social Network

For those of you that just can't seem to get enough Myspace, and are starting to grow tired of the Facebook app on your Blackberry, look no further.  Bluepulse introduces a new social networking site designed for mobile use.  Self dubbed "The worlds first trusted mobile network" - Bluepulse is an odd combination of Myspace Mobile, Facebook, Twitter and all the other sites you can't seem to get enough of, plus it's designed specifically for on-the-go use from your mobile device.  Upload photos, videos & status updates.  Send messages to friends or groups (though we're not sure how many you'll have on such a new site).  It's all completely free - no software to download - everything is accessed through their mobile site.  Point your mobile browser to bluepulse.com to get started.


Add Water to the Mix - New Visto H2O Theme

Just a few weeks after releasing my new favorite theme BB Droid, Corey Visto has one-upped himself and dropped his newest theme - H2O.  Essentially the same layout as BB Droid, the theme has been tweaked with a new color scheme that is lighter and brighter than its predecessor.  If you weren't quite sure on the greens of BB Droid and blue is more your thing, check out H2O. H2O is available for all devices ($7.00) in the ShopCrackberry.com store along with many other Visto Themes.


Cortado Connect Offers Free BlackBerry Storage

Online storage has been around for years. We always had multiple options to upload files to a server for secure storage and backup when needed. Now Cortado Connect has teamed with box.net to offer 1GB of online storage for BIS Blackberry users.  All you need to do is register for a box.net account. A quick download of their simple app lets you easily transfer music, photos, documents and other files to your account with up to 1GB of storage. This is a great option for personal and business users alike looking to keep their device memory clean and their media cards clutter free. A great solution for backing up your important files, or just keeping some extra stuff accessible, this is a great extra option that you don't want to miss. Get Started Here >>

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Crossbar Theme = Cool!

No you can't create one with Plazmic just yet.  The new Crossbar theme is one of a kind (for now).  The first "Middle Zen" theme to grace a Blackberry desktop, the Crossbar is definitely one to check out.  Boasting 7 home screen icons (the most of any Zen theme) and docked messages, calendar and call log icons, it actually scrolls (carousel style) as opposed to just moving to highlight each icon. The docked apps show a preview below the icons when highlighted, much like a Today style theme.  Crisp and clear with easy to read icon and fonts, it's a theme to check out.  It's currently available from BPlay for $6.99.

Before you rush out to buy it, head on over to this Forum Thread. Most brand new themes tend to have a few little "bugs" that got missed in QA, and this one is no different. It seems for one Pearl user, the date at the top is getting cut off. Give it a day or two and any glitches should be remedied 100%. Also keep in mind the fonts in the menus, dialogs, and list boxes cannot be changed via the Screen/Keyboard settings (not a bug, but a limitation to the theme).


U.S. Carriers - Food for Thought

For some, the BlackBerry carrier decision is easy - you get handed a BlackBerry by your company and use whatever carrier they tell you to use. For the consumer, the choice can be sometimes be equally easy - only one carrier actually provides good coverage in your area. For others, the decision is more difficult and comes down to the details - price, available phones, customer service, loyalty, etc. I think it's safe to say there's no one-best carrier for everyone -- there are a lot of factors at play.

With carriers in the United States now offering unlimited plans, I thought it would be a good time to roundup some information on pricing and provide a little food for thought. I hope you find value in it - especially those of you thinking about jumping on the BlackBerry Addict wagon. Read on for more Info!


MLB Throws BlackBerry Users a Curve

In previous years baseball fans were graced with the ease of the MLB.com Desktop Shortcut that place an icon to MLB Mobile on your Blackberry's home screen.  This year Major League Baseball has done one better and created shortcuts for each teams individual mobile pages.  Much in the fashion of the old shortcut, the new shortcuts take you to mobile-optimized sites to deliver scores, stats, schedules, player info and more direct to your BlackBerry. 

The OTA download for your shortcut is a breeze.  Just navigate to your team's page through your Blackberry browser (mets.com, yankees.com etc.).  At the top of the page is link to download the shortcut. Follow the onscreen install instructions and you are good to go. You can also find all of available downloads by pointing your berry's browser to http://wap.mlb.com/blackberry/ to select the team of your choice from a drop down menu.

The shortcut is a great addition for the baseball fan, letting you show your support with your team's logo - more than just the standard MLB.com icon.  Take a look at some installation screenshots after the jump. Play ball!


Movidity Expands Video Solutions for BlackBerry

Movidity's Movy.tv has been around for a few months now, and they seem to finally have the kinks worked out to support Blackberry devices (Press Release after the jump). A YouTube of sorts for mobile devices, Movy.tv allows users to upload and stream multimedia content on cell phone, PDAs, BlackBerrys and other supported devices.  Movy.tv totes itself at "The worlds first and only cross-platform multimedia mobilization system for both consumers and corporate enterprise."  It goes above and beyond just audio and video streaming, allowing users to view archived media as well as live streams. More info can be found after the jump and at http://www.movy.tv


Corey Visto BB Droid Theme

In my endless pursuit for the perfect theme for my 8830, I stumbled across BB Droid.  Modeled after Google Android, the theme is bright and bold and definitely worth my six bucks.  Corey Visto has had a few previous themes that I've been a fan of, but this one tops my list. The simplicity is amazing. The title bar simply shows a battery and signal meter, date, time and usage icons (bluetooth etc.).  Clean and compact - the way it should be. The application icons are very vibrant and easily distinguished from one another. The most interesting thing is that, as in all of Corey's theme, the Profiles icon is invisible. This is party due to limitations of the current version of the theme maker, but mostly to keep the clutter out of the banner. I really dig that in this theme. I usually just use the keyboard shortcut to get to my profiles anyway, so the icon not being there doesn't really bother me. The fact that it keeps the banner so simple is great. I never really check it on my other themes to see what profile I'm in, so this is a great feature in my opinion. All in all this is one great theme (if you can pull yourself away from our free and favorite CrackBerry.com User and Abuser Themes that is, which were created by JC Designs). The theme can be downloaded OTA only after a quick Paypal payment to Corey Visto and is available in Zen, Icon, and Today styles for the 7100, 8100, 8300, 8700, and 8800 series.

To grab your copy, use the links below:

For more great themes from Corey, browse his selection available at ShopCrackBerry.com


GrandCentral - FREE!!! (for a bit anyway)

For those of you that have been scouring the planet for a Grandcentral invite, look no further. For now (and who knows how much longer) you can sign up for your very own Grandcentral account with no strings attached - and no invite required. Head over to http://www.grandcentral.com/home/blogger_invite before it's too late.

I'm not sure where this popped up from (it looks like our bud Ronen at BerryReview was first to post it!), but I do know that if you don't have a Grandcentral account you really need to get one. For those of you that don't know anything about GC - essentially it gives you a phone number of your choosing (from a list in your area that GC offers) and it's yours for life. Any calls to that number will forward wherever you'd like - cell, work, home etc. You can setup spam filters for those evil telemarketers, address groups that will forward to a specified location, switch phones mid call, listen to voicemail online and even save your messages for eternity (so they say).  The options are immense. Long story short - sign up first so you don't miss your chance, and read about it later.  This is one freebie you don't want to miss.

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GoogHelper - Instant Web Searches on Your BlackBerry

Search Faster With GoogHelper! 

How many times have you struggled through icons and bookmarks simply to search the web via Google?  Search your Gmail?  Or maybe find a book on Amazon?  Or even search Wikipedia?  Stocks, maps, software - its all just a click away - literally - with GoogHelper


Palm Tries to Exploit 'The Outage'

Nothing like making the most of a bad situation.  Only that isn't really the case.  More like trying to salvage some sort of customer base from a competitors misfortune.  A quick browse of Palm's website today totes "palm smartphones include voice, e-mail, text, Web, calendar and contacts.  And most importantly - uptime".

Nothing like trying to capitalize off someone else's mistake.

Granted, these things happen in the real world technology battle, but it seems like a stretch to me.  Honestly, how many people are considering dropping their new Pearl for a Treo (which, might I add, was ranked last in a recent customer satisfaction survey.) due to the outage on Monday? Not to mention the Treo was pretty much nothing more than a phone the past few weeks with the number of AT&T outages that occurred.


Alcatel-Lucent to Offer Prepaid Options to Carriers

Alcatel-Lucent announced yesterday they will be offering prepaid options to carriers customized for the Blackberry platform.  The plan will be hosted by the company and integrate with a carriers existing network.  The option will charge users based on email volume, so users will essentially only pay for what they use.  Those who don't want to spring for expensive email and data plans will now have a seemingly inexpensive solution.  The usage would be tracked and based off the customers prepaid account instead of upfront regulated or unlimited data plans. 

"In line with Alcatel-Lucent's strategy to provide extensive expertise in managed communication services, we are proud to develop and provide customers with prepaid options for BlackBerry smartphones. We hope this solution will enable more operators in high-growth economies to greatly expand their business opportunity", said Michel Rahier, President of Alcatel-Lucent's Carrier business.


My Take on the Latest RIM Outage

Outage, failure, interruption, chaos, near death experience - call it what you will, but its all we've heard about all week.  For Blackberry users, Monday left us feeling like a toddler with no Spongebob.  Thought of "Why! Why?" and "What in the world is going on!" flowed through our heads.  We cried to each other, and to those who could have cared less, and waited it out (as we had no other choice) and hoped for the best.  RIM took an unscheduled day off and we felt like the world was coming to an end.  Local news agencies were all over the story (I live near NYC, so it was fairly big news) and even my mother (who doesn't even own a contract phone) called me to ask if my precious 8830 was working. 

No one has yet discovered the real reason for the outage, but many have speculated in their own ways.  The most important revelation that most of us could have ignored before Monday is that at some point in their travel through cyberspace, all emails coming or going from any Blackberry device have to take a detour through RIM's network operations center in Canada.  The problem isn't with Canada, its the fact that everything needs to cycle through one specific location at one point in its travels.

Frank Gilman, the chief technology officer for Los Angeles law firm Allen Matkins, was forced to deal with the outage Monday afternoon. "What surprised me was the apparent lack of a solid business continuity plan on RIM's part to ensure reasonable connectivity," he said "A company that is marketing devices that increase the mobility of professionals should have systems and contingencies in effect to avoid an outage of that size and duration."

RIM will have to fess up at some point as to just what happened - be it "upgrades" as some say, or just plain overload.  The company is blaming "a problem with an internal data routing system within the BlackBerry service infrastructure that had been recently upgraded," according to the statement.  Obviously as the Blackberry nation grows, upgrades are a necessity, but someone must have flipped the wrong switch this time. 

For anyone wanting more of an explanation, this is the best RIM can offer: "Once again, RIM apologizes to its customers for any inconvenience."


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