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Notes 8.5 Public Beta 1 Client for Mac OS X and Linux

I stumbled across this announcement earlier today:

On 30 May, 2008 a newer version of the Notes 8.5 Mac OS X client was posted as part of the FULL Notes/Domino 8.5 Beta 1 release. 

Based on comments on a post I made March 2008, I decided to download the 355 MB tarball for Mac OS X.
On my first pass, I attempted to install over top of the private-beta client I described in that earlier post. Unfortunately, the provisioning step was partially successful. When I launched the Notes client, Eclipse started up … and shut down … 
I used the uninstall app that came with this latest tarball to remove the private-beta client. I then reinstalled the public-beta client, got acknowledgement that provisioning was successful, and ran the Notes client. 
In the words of Borat: “Great success!” 
The 500-MB-plus public beta client looks similar to the private-beta client, but it feels snappier. Your mileage may vary. 
Regardless, it’s encouraging to witness this progress. 
In addition to installing IBM Lotus Notes 8.5 Public Beta 1 on Mac OS X (Leopard), I also installed it on a Dell laptop running Ubuntu Hardy Heron – IBM offers a build of the Notes client packaged as a number of .deb files. This was my first experience with a native Notes client for Linux. So far, so good. 
Thanks IBM!
P.S. I expect the Release Notes cover off some of the sillyness I’ve shared here …

Introducing Jott for BlackBerry

I just learned about Jott for BlackBerry:

We have a lot of happy Blackberry customers at Jott, and Jott for BlackBerry is the ultimate BlackBerry download. It is a simple, but very powerful tool that will let you reply to emails on your BlackBerry just using your voice – either speaking directly into your BlackBerry, or while wearing a Bluetooth headset. It is seamlessly integrated into the email application you already use, and is a huge leap forward for BlackBerry lovers in three ways: first, it is 3-5 times faster than ‘thumbing’ text; two, you won’t be known for sending just terse replies because you don’t want to thumb type out a normal email message; and three, you will be safer because you won’t have to take your eyes off the road.*
(*Jott does NOT encourage messaging while driving).

Jott for Blackberry makes an already awesome device even better.

The following is the body of a reply I just created:

Thanks for sharing this interesting service with me. It's definitely something that I'm interested in investigating and it's my intention to follow up very very soon. Thanks very much. Bye for now.

Sent with my voice via Jott for Blackberry ~ http://jott.com/bb

To listen: http://www.jott.com/show.aspx?id=e4eb3151-9007-448c-bd73-7de70ecc4766

In this example, the transcription quality was excellent. Note that the recipient is advised that the response was Jott’ed, and has the option of listening to the original audio recording. Nice!

Although I’m only at the testing stage, I expect to make extensive use of Jott for BlackBerry!

Note to Jott and Google: Please enable Jott for BlackBerry in the GMail for BlackBerry application.

sync blackberry contacts with gmail: Problem Solved!

Update (February 10, 2009): See Sync Google Calendar and Gmail Contacts with Your BlackBerry for a recent How To guide to the Google Sync for the BlackBerry solution.

In just over fourteen months, one of my posts has received almost 19% of the views for my entire blog.

There is no other post that even comes close.
And to make matters more interesting, the post was written in response to my blog’s search stats. People consistently entered strings along the lines “sync blackberry contacts with gmail” and arrived here.
Frankly, all of this attention made me uneasy.
Why?
Because I really didn’t have much to offer on the topic.
But please don’t think that I didn’t give this information (not data!) some thought.
Honestly, dear reader, I confess I even pondered how I might arrive at a solution that might monetize this 19% for personal gain. Let’s face it, 19% of more than 60K hits translates potentially to more than 11K customers. Ka-ching! I am in disgrace.
Luckily I didn’t waste my time.
Waste, you gasp. Yes, waste.
You see, the fine folks at Google have delivered a solution.
It’s all in the GMail contact manager. This new addition to the GMail client for the BlackBerry solves the problem.
How?
If you have a contact for which you’ve entered phone numbers, these numbers appear when you click on the contact name to view their details. But that’s just the beginning. The phone numbers appear as clickable links. When you click on one of them, you automagically invoke the BlackBerry’s phone capability. (You may have forgotten that your BlackBerry actually allows you to call people as well.) Note that the first time you do this, you’ll need to approve some new settings.
Of course, you can email contacts as well.
Problem solved.
Please read my other posts!
If truth be told, this should be regarded as a great beginning.
Here’s why:
  • Read-only access – You can’t enter contact information from the GMail client on the BlackBerry. In time, we’ll want this. Like tomorrow!
  • Online-access only – You need your contacts when you’re off line? Like when you’re on an airplane? Until this client includes Google Gears functionality or equivalent, you’re out of luck here. I think I can live with that. For now. Because ultimately I would appreciate the ability to compose email when I’m off line. I do that frequently with the BlackBerry’s built-in mail client.
  • Contacts in too many places – Fragmenting contacts between your Google ‘verse and enterprise messaging platform (e.g., Microsoft Exchange, IBM Lotus Notes, etc.) has some disadvantages. However, as I’ve learned directly on the heels of personal experience, there are times when it’s wise to have some separation between our personal and corporate selves …

This gives me a lot of what I was looking for.

How about you?

GMail on Your BlackBerry: Latest Client Offers Significant Featur

A few days ago I upgraded to version 1.5.1.1090 of the GMail client for my BlackBerry 8130. (This is a native, stand-alone, J2ME client application. In other words, it does not require a Web browser.) Previously, and for the past few months, I’ve been using version 1.1.x of this same client. 

The download and installation went very smoothly. One surprise, however, was the need for a reboot of the BlackBerry to complete the installation of the client. I don’t recall that need with previous releases. I can only suppose that this requirement is necessary to enable the deeper integration of the GMail client with the BlackBerry platform.
And that’s a good segue … What’s new? Well: 
  • Contact manager – This is the most significant feature/functionality enhancement. On opening the contact manager, a display of those with whom you interact with the most is presented. There’s also a search functionality that allows you to rapidly retrieve any of your contacts in the familiar way. And of course, should you wish, you can list all of your contacts. Once you’ve selected a contact from the “Most Contacted” list or via search, your contact’s details are presented. Just below the contact details is a link that allows you to display recent conversations with the identified contact. Very powerful. Very Google. Very nice! All of this means that you can initiate a new conversation or pick up on an existing one from the contact manager.  
  • Notification – The notification capability is also a significant enhancement in my estimation. What this means is that an icon resembling a bottle cap appears over top of the GMail client icon to indicate the arrival of new mail. This capability is integrated with your BlackBerry profile so you can associate in and out-of-holster behaviors to signal the arrival of new mail. The only thing missing now is the summary icon that is displayed by other applications in the upper-right corner of the BlackBerry’s screen. This capability is enabled via a new setting; select “More”, then “Settings” before placing a check mark against the notification option. There are a few more settings that are new to me – one allows for larger fonts, while the other allows for the “Sent from my mobile device” tag line. 
  • Finish Later – In the event that you are unable to finish composing a message, this version allows you to finish composition later. Note however, that only one draft can be saved. This is a welcome addition that I found myself pining for in previous releases.
As far as I can tell, that summarizes the features that I found new in this release. Based on a few days’ worth of experience, the implementation appears solid and performs well, making the upgrade highly worthwhile.
You can grab the GMail client for your mobile device by pointing the device’s Web browser at gmail.com/app. See Google Mobile GMail  for the details.
If you’re using Google Apps for Your Domain (GAFYD), point your mobile device’s Web browser at http://m.google.com/a. See the Google Apps page for more.
If you want to see what I’ve written previously about the GMail client for the BlackBerry click here.

 

IBM Lotus Notes 8.5 Beta for Mac OS X: Same Look, Better Feel

After a few minutes, with the 192 MB DMG file downloaded (available online after registration), I ran the installer for Notes 8.5 beta for Mac OS X.
Installation proceeded impressively fast, with the installed client weighing in at just under 80 MB. This hefty client is the first one I’ve used that’s apparently based on the Eclipse Rich Client Platform (E-RCP). 

Aside 

This was not my first exposure to the impressive E-RCP. While I was working for Scali, a major release of Scali Manage made use of the E-RCP. (Scali Manage was subsequently acquired by Platform Computing – another former employer of mine. Small world!) 

On launching the 8.5 client for the first time my configuration specifics were rapidly acquired, and I was using the client in short order. Nice.
FTR, my previous experience with Notes clients has been with versions 6.5 through 7.3. I’ve used the Notes client on both Mac and Windows platforms.
The Notes 8.5 beta looks like the previous versions I’ve become accustomed to. 
However, it feels different. 
There are subtle differences whose overall impact are very welcome. For example:
  • Responsiveness – I find the 8.5 beta much more responsive than previous Notes clients I’ve worked with. And since my interaction over the past 48 hours has been via wireless laptop to my broadband connection at home, I’m expecting even better results when I am hard-wired to the University’s network from my office. This is a huge win that I’m very pleased with. This comment applies to all interactions – from message composition to searches to address completion.
  • Interactive spell-check – As you type, misspellings are underlined with a wavy red line. You don’t need to instantiate the spell checker separately. I expect this improvement rides completely on the heels of the E-RCP. I expect there are additional features/functionalities of this sort that I’ll discover over time. 
  • Look – Other than updated icons, the interface looks the same. Although there’s value in preserving the legacy experience from a look perspective, I wouldn’t have been disappointed by the UI receiving a major facelift. And all of this leads me to conclude that this is primarily a feature/functionality-neutral port of the Notes client to the E-RCP. In other words, there are minimal feature/functionality improvements – except those I’ve already identified above. While that’s OK for now, it won’t satisfy me moving forward. Presumably, however, that’s one of the reasons IBM adopted E-RCP, as it frees them from their legacy implementation, and provides a much broader/deeper and modern spectrum of possibilities moving forward. 
The upshot? The Notes 8.5 beta for Mac OS X looks the same but feels better. And that’s worth blogging about! 

BlackBerry Rules the Back Office – For Now …

I’ve had a BlackBerry 8830 for a few months now. And I must admit, I’m getting over my iPhone envy. (iPhone’s still aren’t officially available in Canada!) The 8830 has the tactile keypad I’ve grown to love, a (two-dimensional) trackball in place of a (one-dimensional) thumbwheel, GPS-based mapping, etc. This means that built-in WiFi is about the only capability for which I find myself wanting.

But enough about the client-side device (CSD).
So much of the value delivered to the CSD is because of what’s in the back office – behind the scenes, as it were.
In writing a book review on BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) installation and administration, I was reminded of this aspect on the ongoing BlackBerry vs. iPhone battle.
What’s in the BlackBerry back office?
Allow me to itemize:
  • Integration – The BES integrates the CSD with the enterprise messaging platform (e.g., Microsoft Exchange, IBM Lotus Notes, etc.) and the rest of RIM’s BlackBerry universe. In addition to email and calendaring, this has the potential to include instant messaging (e.g., MSN, IBM Lotus Sametime, etc.) and more.
  • Security – Because the BES provides a single locus of control (the BlackBerry domain), it can and has been leveraged extensively to deliver an industry leading environment for end-to-end security. Encryption, authentication, plus six levels for administrative roles, are all present.
  • Policies  – To quote from my review:

The BES ships with over 200 policies that can be applied variously to users, groups and devices … The ability to administer users, groups and devices with respect to policies (including software), from a single point of control (i.e., the BES server), speaks volumes to the appeal and value that this offering can deliver to corporate enterprise environments. 

  • Provisioning – The BES facilitates provisioning of users, groups, devices as well as associated software. Software can even be bundled and targeted to specific CSDs.
The back office supporting the iPhone has a long, long way to go to catch up with all of this – if that’s even a plan that Apple has.
In fact, a far greater threat to the back-office portion of RIM’s BlackBerry universe is the ecosystem developing around Google Android.