16oct09_britishpoliceEarlier this year, over 1,100 of Bedfordshire’s frontline police force were outfitted with Blackberry cell phones. Sir Ronnie Flanagan of Police Review feels that for the first time, Bedfordshire police will be able to submit written (typed) documents in from the field as well as access data bases and other systems like their crime management system, intelligence database, warrants, Police National Legal Database, and its custom-built briefings application without the need of a computer. The idea behind the program is to decrease the need for the officers to be at their desks and increase their visibility in public.

Before the program was launched, a research team spent time with several Bedfordshire officers on the front lines in order to identify the specific needs of the officers in order to maximize efficiency and meet the officers’ daily demands. A spokesman for the department estimates that the program is currently saving the average officer a half of an hour to an hour of time per day. An hour a day saved multiplied by 1,100 officers equals significant savings, especially during such a severe economical situation as the UK is currently facing.

The significance of the program is being compared to the implementation of walki-talkies to the police force. Bedfordshire police Inspector Jim Hitch says: “I liken this to the change from Police boxes to Police radio. That was a huge step and quite expensive and had its doubters who asked why we needed radios. What we’re moving to now with these devices is a similar sort of scenario. There are people doubting and asking why we need them but I think that will become clearer and we will depend on these devices more and more and wonder how we ever did without them.”

Equipping police with smart phones seems like a no brainer, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see something similar to this come to police forces in the US in the near future. Let’s just hope the smart phones come with a block on Facebook.

2966132For the first time in my life, I find myself jealous of African technology. Stuff published an article about how solar powered cell phones in Africa are greatly benefiting the country’s people who have very limited access to traditional power sources. The article does a great job of illustrating how local farmers and independent businessmen are benefiting from the solar technology, but what I want to know is: why the hell don’t we have it in America?

Apparently in Uganda, 92 percent of the country’s 32 million plus population do not have access to an electrical power grid, so, obviously, they have an enormous need for a product like solar powered cell phones. But what about us? I mean, we’re trying to go green here, right? Hey Nokia – I would like a solar powered cell phone too.

According to the article, Samsung makes a model called the Solar Guru, which features an FM radio, MP3 ring tones, embedded games, and a torch light that sells for 60 US dollars. How is this not in the hands of Leonardo DiCaprio on the cover of US Weekly? And getting off topic a bit, if a solar paneled cell phone is so cheap, why is it so expensive to solar panel the roof of your house?

The Samsung Guru

The Samsung Guru

I suppose that even though I don’t have access to one yet, it’s nice to know that companies are at least trying to develop more globally conscious products. Sony Ericson and Nokia are developing phones that use lower energy consumption, recycled materials, smaller packaging, and electronic user manuals. Until these products hit our market, though, don’t forget that the best way to go green with you cell phone is to purchase a refurbished cell phone!

Picture 1After years of anticipation, the Blackberry desktop manager for Mac has finally arrived, and it’s getting great reviews. You can now sync your Blackberry cell phone with your Mac and easily manage your contacts, music, applications, and media. What seems to be the greatest feature of the new Desktop manager is that iTunes syncs with Blackberry Media, and it does it in the same application that manages your info, so you don’t have to deal with any other programs like Roxio, which PC users have to mess with. It is now really easy to sync music and playlists from your iTunes account to your Blackberry.

Mac fanatics are a little disappointed with the straightforward layout of the application as it is not really aesthetically pleasing as is standard for all things Mac, but this is something that will undoubtedly be taken care of in the near future.

Other crucials like your contacts, calendar appointments, tasks, and notes also effortlessly sync with the Mac applications that users love and use on a daily basis. The manager will backup and restore all of the data on your device (which can be encrypted), but, by default, the application is set to only create weekly backups. You can also manage more than one device with the manager, so His and Her Blackberrys need only one Mac. You can also, of course, wipe data from your Blackberry via the manager as well.

BlackBerry_Desktop_Manager_For_MacThe system requirements for the desktop manager are:

*  Mac OS X v10.5.5 and above (Only 32-bit mode is supported on Mac OS X v10.6)

* BlackBerry® Device Software v4.2 or higher

* iTunes v7.7.1 or later

blackberry-app-worldBlackberry App World is constantly offering new apps for your Blackberry cell phone, and we like to take the time to review a few of the newer ones. If you use any of these apps, please let us know what you think of them in the comments section.

TiVo(R) DVR Scheduler App– If you’ve ever felt the stabbing pain of frustration from forgetting to set your TiVo before you left the house, fear not as this app will never allow it to happen again. The TiVo app basically turns your Blackberry into your TiVo remote control. The app looks very much like the TiVo menu that you are familiar with and you can do everything from your Blackberry from accessing your channel listings; searching for listings by title, keyword, or actor; to adding shows to your calendar. Note – if you download the app, you need to go to http://www.tivo.com/mytivo/mytivohome/index.html to register your TiVo.

No Smoking App – Personally, I’ve never been a smoker, so I can’t attest to whether or not this app works, but it seems like a good idea, and it seems pretty thorough. The app is designed to slowly wean a smoker away from their habit by first recording data about the frequency of your habit and then providing data for you to review. The app then develops a plan based on your particular data to slowly reduce the frequency of your nicotine intake until, finally, you’ve quit.  During the quitting process, the app will also provide interesting and motivating statistics about the amount of money being saved by quitting as well as health statistics. The app is ten bucks but, today, that’s basically just a pack of cigs.

Quote of the Day App – I’m a sucker for all things quotes. I find that a good quote is the easiest way for me to change my attitude or mood, instantly. This app provides you with “witty, funny, and inspirational” quotes and proverbs in order to get your day started on a positive note. If you like the quote of the day, the app allows you to email it to a friend to spread the good vibes. The only downside is that it costs four bucks.

THE Flashlight App – There are several Blackberry apps that do this, but this one has good user feedback, and it offers a free trial period. The app was also rated Top 5 BlackBerry Apps by Fortune Magazine in August 31st edition. The app turns the camera flash on your Blackberry into a flashlight, which can be really convenient. While you can manually turn the flash on your Blackberry on, the screen light will stay on and the flash will go off after a certain period of time. This app is a shortcut that allows you to turn just the flash light on with one touch, and it doesn’t use as much battery as keeping the light on manually.

Call You Back App – I’m not totally sold on this app because I’m not sure how often I would use it, but I can see how it could be a benefit to certain people. The app is designed to send pre-programmed text messages to anyone who calls you during a period when you do not wish to answer your phone. So let’s say you’re in a movie, you program the app to text anyone who calls you with something like: “Hey, I’m at a movie. I’ll call you after.” I don’t know that I really care enough to let everyone know why I don’t want to answer the phone, but it could be useful for business people who often have meetings and what not. Note – If you download the app, you need to change some settings in your Blackberry:

Options — Security options — Application permissions — modules — Call you back — edit permissions — Change the permissions of Connections (Carrier Internet & phone) & interactions to ALLOW.

The instructions can also be found in the “Help” menu of the application.

BBTwitPicIf you are anywhere near the technological forefront of today, you’re undoubtedly familiar with Twitter and the ease at which it allows you to share your thoughts, status, information. But are you aware that you can now just as easily tweet videos from your Blackberry cell phone through sites like Twitvid and Twiddeo?

Assuming that you already have a Twitter account, all you have to do is go to Twitvid or Twiddeo, log in with your Twitter user name and password, and then follow the simple instructions for uploading and tweeting video tweets. The only catch is that your cell phone needs to have video recording capabilities (which most iPhones do not). Blackberry has a bunch of models that come with video recording capabilities (shown below), and the best part is that most of these models are now available refurbished, meaning that you can purchase them for a fraction of what they cost new.

Blackberrys with video recording:

WiFi (Wireless Fidelity) is a technology that lets devices, like your cell phone or laptop, connect the Internet without using wires. WiFi is becoming a standard feature with all new, high-end electronics and for good reason. Here are five of the best reasons for why you need to purchase a Wifi Cell Phone.

Number 1 – UMA, S1208185285896971921coredump_Glassy_WiFi_symbol.svg.hikype, and Google Voice.

UMA is a technology that allows you to make phone calls over the Internet. The benefit of using UMA is that when you are making calls over the Internet, you are not using your regular cell phone plan minutes. Companies like T-Mobile are now offering plans built around UMA, which give you unlimited calling when you are within range of your home Wifi network or any T-Mobile Wifi networks of which there are over 8,000 across the US (T-Mobile has set up accounts with companies like Starbucks and Borders). The best part about T-Mobile’s Wifi plan is that all calls initiated within T-Mobile Wifi hotspost are free for the entire duration of the call, even if you walk outside of the hotspot and your call switches over to T-Mobile’s network. The switch is seemless, so you don’t have to worry about your call being dropped and you save a ton of minutes.

Companies like Skype and have cell phone applications that allow you to make phone calls over the internet from any Wifi network, not just your own. While using Wifi from your cell phone, Skype will allow you to call anyone else on Skype for free at any time, and Google Voice allows you to call any number (land line or cell) within the US for free any time. Think about it; with Wifi calling, you don’t need minutes any more.

Number 2 – Apps

Apps, or applications, are changing the world as we know it. There are apps for everything from using maps and directions, streaming music, and planning trips to finding the closest pizza joint and then finding the closest public toilet. All the most popular social media sites like MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter have apps, so you can constantly keep your virtual world updated. Most apps are free and with Wifi, you don’t have to pay to use them. Check out more at Blackberry App World.

Number 3 – Price

Although Wifi is a fairly new technology, especially in the cell phone world, some of the greatest Wifi models have been out long enough to where they are being recycled and refurbished. This is great news for consumers as you can now purchase refurbished cell phones that have Wifi for a fraction of the price of what they cost new.

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