Useful Item #1 — Smartphone

Useful Item #1 — Smartphone

I recently got a couple new items that are quite useful. And they turn out to be useful for genealogy too. I finally gave in and replaced my antique with a new cell phone. I really don’t even like having a cell phone. That has changed, at least in part. I still refuse to have it permanently attached.

I bought a Blackberry Curve. That’s an older model with a keyboard made up of tiny but typeable keys and a 2 x 1.5″ screen, not large. It’s pink, dubbed Pinkberry, and in a neon pink case. It’s easy to see.

The first thing I learned, quite by accident, was you can take a picture with the cell phone and then you can email it to yourself or anyone else, even post it to various online sites, regardless of where you are. Even if you can’t figure out how to get it off the cell phone you have the picture. Later I learned that with the new phones you can easily get your pictures from the phone to the computer but I’ve gotten used to emailing them.

Soon I was taking pictures of everything. It’s so easy. Your cell phone is always handy, much handier [and lighter] than the camera I always carry in my purse, and always ready. No copy machine. No problem. Click. I wasn’t planning to stop at this cemetery and now look what I found! Click. You can even make a video if great aunt decides to spill the beans.

The smartphone holds more useful tools. Where exactly is that cemetery? Just look it up on the internet on your cell phone. You can even get GPS on the phone if you need such things. I looked up a cemetery layout on my web site when I couldn’t find a particular stone. Even in the middle of nowhere I could do it. If you think you’ll do a lot of looking up things online I suggest you look for a large screen phone but it is doable on the smaller screen.

Mine also has a calculator, note pad, voice recorder, maps, a calendar and Evernote, the program I cannot live without. The phone version, at least for my older version phone, is not that impressive but I can take notes and I can connect to the internet and use it there. For work we keep an assortment of information in Evernote too. Evernote is pretty critical to me and having it on the phone factored into the choice.

As far as I know there is no genealogy program for the Blackberry. If your smartphone uses Windows Mobile there is a genealogy program for it. I’m not hot to read my genealogy on that small screen so it wasn’t something I considered.

I’m sure there are many other things you can do with a smartphone. If you are in the market I suggest determining what is available, what you will actually use [as opposed to might when stranded on an island] and then narrowing down your choices. I did that, went home with the information and researched for another week, went back with a phone in mind. When I got to the store I had two more questions. The answers totally changed the phone I finally chose [and saved a chunk of money]. So ask a lot of questions.

I have not scratched the surface of the Blackberry’s talents and probably never will. For me it is a tool and not a toy. My life does not depend upon it. But it is useful and for the first time I’m happy to have a cell phone.

My package includes sending the pictures from phone to phone. That package also includes unlimited text messaging. I find myself using it more and more. I’d really rather get a text message than a phone call if it is just pass information. So much less intrusive. [HINT]

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