GMail on My Blackberry Revisited (Again)

Three new discoveries. One good, one bad, and one inbetween.

First the good one. You can follow a link. Suppose you’re reading a message, and there’s a link in the message. You can use the thumbwheel to highlight the link, and then depress the thumbwheel to open the link via “Get link”. When you close the link, via the ESC button (below the thumbwheel), you’re returned to your GMail session. Nice!

Now the bad one. The GMail client for the Blackberry doesn’t understand GMail Groups. (This is a collection of individual GMail contacts.) It’d be nice to have this functionality in a future version.

And finally, the inbetween one. Your contacts are only as current as your last log in. I had to log out of the GMail client on my Blackberry, and then log in again, so that I could see contacts that I’d added. I suppose this is what’s required to repopulate the contacts cached on the Blackberry. Selecting “Refresh” did not have the effect of repopulating the contacts cache. It’d be nice to have an option that addresses this in a future version …

This is one of several posts regarding the GMail client for the Blackberry. The others are:

Jott: “Think it. Jott it. Do it.”

Have you ever left yourself voicemail?

I have. I’ve left myself reminders, to-dos, tried to capture ideas, etc.

Most often, I’ve done this when I’m driving somewhere. I use my cell phone to make a call to my voicemail because I can’t (easily) write or use my Blackberry.

That’s the basic premise behind Jott.

However, there is one significant difference. Jott closes the loop. In their words: “Think it. Jott it. Do it.”

The loop-closing “Do it.” is one of the reasons why Jott is currying favor with the GTD crowd.

And of course, Jott goes a lot farther than my low-tech solution:

  • You call their toll-free number
  • You leave a message – your reminder, to-do, idea, etc.
  • Jott transcribes your message, and delivers the corresponding text to your phone and email

“Obscenely simple … incredibly clever” (Christopher Null, Yahoo! Tech). I couldn’t agree more!

Unfortunately, I cannot attest to how well this actually works.

I live in Canada, and the public beta only supports US-based cell phones 😦

To be more precise:

I’m outside of the United States, can I use Jott.com?

You can if you are using your cell phone, and the Caller-ID comes through to our systems. However, significant charges may apply to this phone call, so check your Carrier’s Terms and Conditions. Jott.com is not responsible for charges associated with phone calls, internet access, text messages, and the like.

That’s from the Jott FAQ. Regardless, it didn’t work for me 😦

I haven’t been particularly impressed by speech-to-text conversion in the past. This will be the gating factor for me. Because I can’t do my own assessment, I was interested in Jott’s FAQ on this:

Why are my jotts not transcribed perfectly?

We use a combination of machine and human transcription to convert your voice to text. The quality of this transcription is affected by many factors, including recording quality, noise, accents, pronunciation, etc. At times, the quality of the recording will be so bad that we will simply label it inaudible. You are free to click on the speaker icon at our web site to easily listen to your recording.

We encourage you when leaving jotts to speak clearly and normally, understanding that the quality of the recording will affect the quality of the transcription.

Given that personal transcription programs (like Dragon NaturallySpeaking) require substantial training to be effective, this entry in Jott’s FAQ is certainly a reasonable one.

Jott has more to offer. For example, there is Jottcasting. One scenario they describe is simultaneous delivery of a message to a recipient’s phone and email.

What I really like about Jott is its elegant simplicity.

I expect Jott to be an excellent acquisition target for the likes of Google …

And for those who like to have everything integrated, Jott would have much more value if it was a part of some existing solution like Google Office (GMail + Google Docs & Spreasheets).

I look forward to seeing Jott develop (e.g., by tracking their Web site and blog) – and especially to Canadian service 🙂

Quantitative classification of cloud microphysical imagery via fractal dimension calculations

I recently referred to a paper I wrote for a Fractals in Engineering conference in the mid-90s:

I did lead a project at KelResearch where our objective was to classify hydrometeors (i.e., raindrops, snowflakes, etc.). The hydrometeors were observed in situ by a sensor deployed on the wing of an airplane. Data was collected as the plane flew through winter storms. (Many of these campaigns were spearheaded by Prof. R. E. Stewart.) What we attempted to do was automate the classification of the hydrometeors on the basis of their shape. More specifically, we attempted to estimate the fractal dimension of each observed hydrometeor in the hopes of providing at automated classification scheme. Although this was feasible in principle, the resolution offered by the sensor made this impractical.

I’ve now added the citation and paper to my publications list.

I expect to revisit this paper soon … stay tuned.

sync blackberry contacts with gmail

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.

Update (November 18, 2008): Google has provided a solution! (Thanks to Matt S. for pointing this out.)

Update (March 6, 2008): We may have a solution!

I’ve noticed a few search-engine terms with variations of the string “sync blackberry contacts with gmail”. Since this is clearly of interest to some, I thought I’d share the good news, and the, well, less-good news.

First the good news: Your GMail contacts are automagically available to you when you are composing a message. In other words, there’s no need to do any syncing. It looks like the J2ME-based GMail client for the Blackberry downloads contacts on demand, and also does some nifty caching.

Now the less-good news: If you were hoping that your GMail contacts were going to magically appear in the “Address Book” application on your Blackberry, well, you will be disappointed.

There may be some indirect way of keeping your Blackberry Address Book in sync with your GMail contacts.

For example, you may be able to sync the desktop software that manages your contacts (e.g., Apple’s Address Book, Lotus Notes, Microsoft Outlook, etc.) with GMail contacts. I haven’t spent much effort looking into this, but Intellisync has offered services along these lines, and there’s at least one solution for syncing GMail contacts with Apple’s Address Book