Kindle for Blackberry Now Available!

I’ve just received an email from Amazon.com, informing me that Kindle for Blackberry is now available!

Blackberry users can simply type “amazon.com/kindlebb” on their Blackberry browser to download this.

Man, I’ve been waiting so eagerly for this!

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Kindle for BlackBerry Coming Soon!

Ever since the Kindle for iPhone app was released in March earlier this year (2009), there were much speculation and hope that a similar application will be released for the BlackBerry soon. Amazon then revealed that such an application was indeed in the works, boosting up hopes for BlackBerry users like me.

After nine long months, it seems that the Kindle for BlackBerry application is almost around the corner, as Amazon has recently put up a “coming soon” page where you can sign up for an email notification as soon as it becomes available.

Hurray!

I’ve been carrying my iPod Touch in my pocket in addition to my BlackBerry, just for the purpose of reading Kindle books. Looks like I won’t need to continue this awkward practice for much longer!

What’s so great about a “Kindle for iPhone” or “Kindle for BlackBerry” application, you ask?

Amazon has been selling electronic books for a couple of years now, but they could only be read on their proprietary e-book device called the Kindle.

The thing that makes the Kindle so great is the fact that Amazon is arguably the biggest internet bookstore in the whole world, and that makes many publishers grant exclusive rights to Amazon for selling electronic versions of their books. Many of these publishers are normally adverse to the whole idea of e-books, and wouldn’t event think of granting such rights to the dozens of other e-book vendors out there, even the more well-known ones such as eReader, Fictionwise or MobiPocket.

While I’ve been a long-time customer of eReader and Fictionwise (for more than 5 years), I had no choice but to switch to Amazon because I couldn’t buy many of the books I want to read from anywhere else. Naturally, this means that I need a Kindle to be able to read these books I buy from Amazon.

But with the release of the “Kindle for iPhone” app, I am able to read these “Kindle e-books” on my iPod Touch, even though I do not own a Kindle. Once the “Kindle for BlackBerry” is released, I will be able to read these books on my BlackBerry Bold too!

TCP Connection Finally Available for SK Telecom

By default, a BlackBerry smartphone does not connect directly to the internet. Instead, it connects to the BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Service) or BIS (BlackBerry Internet Service) server, which in turn serves as a “proxy” through which the BlackBerry connects to the internet.

Apparently, it’s quite painful for a software developer to write up his/her program so that it utilizes the BES/BIS connection, so by far the most popular method for BlackBerry programs to go “online” is by using TCP/IP. The catch is that this is not enabled by default.

In order for a BlackBerry to use TCP/IP, the carrier needs to provide an APN (Access Point Name), which the end-user needs to enter into the BlackBerry smartphone. So if your carrier does not provide an APN, you’re pretty much screwed.

This was my case for a good number of months since the BlackBerry was released in Korea for non-enterprise customers, as SK Telecom (the one and only carrier for BlackBerry) did not support APN. Last I heard, they had some plans to support it “sometime in the future”, but you know how such plans tend to be forgotten.

To my absolute surprise, I’ve discovered today that SK Telecom has finally started supporting this!

Their APN is: web.sktelecom.com

Now, I can finally use SSH, browse my e-book library from Mobipocket, view Youtube, and much much more!

BeeJive – The Multi-Protocol IM Client for BlackBerry

Although I only have a handful of friends I chat (through Instant Messaging) with on a regular basis, they each have their own “favorite” IM client and refuse to use others.

I’ve tried time and again to “unify” them under a single IM protocol, but in vain.

That’s why I use Multi-Protocol IM clients like Digsby when I’m on a PC.

But ever since getting my BlackBerry Bold, this became a problem for me again.

Now, RIM (Research In Motion, the makers of BlackBerry) does provide serviceable clients for the major IM protocols (GTalk, AIM, Y!, MSN) for free. And there are a number of free clients that provide multi-protocol support, such as Instango and Palringo.

The problem with the former is that having each client running will take up precious device memory. Since the BlackBerry Bold is notoriously short of device memory, this can become a major problem.

The problem with the latter is that… well, while they do support multi-protocol, the support seemed rather flaky from my experiences with them.

Enter BeeJive, formerly known as JiveTalk.

This is also a multi-protocol client, but the beauty of it is that they have a dedicated server sitting in the middle, between my BlackBerry and the actual IM servers. This way, BeeJive provides a more stable experience.

Come to think of it, Instango and Palringo use a similar approach too, but through the Jabber(XMPP) protocol. The BlackBerry connects to their server using the XMPP protocol, which in turns routes the connection to the respective IM servers through XMPP transports.

Maybe it’s just me, but connection through XMPP transports are often fickle. I’ve had connections dropping at random interval, and sometimes the transport just won’t let me log into the IM server.

I don’t know what protocol BeeJive uses, but I suspect that they’ve developed a proprietary one for their use. In any case, it works really well for me.

But BeeJive comes with a caveat, which can be a real biggie for some people.

It’s not free.

You have to dish out US$19.95 for a one-device license, meaning that you have to purchase the license again if you ever lose your phone, or upgrade to a new one.
If you want to be protected against such changes, you’ll need to pay US$29.95.

BeeJive does offer a 30-day free trial, so you have a full month to test it out before deciding whether it’s worth the money.

In my case, the answer was a resounding “yes”.

But BeeJive isn’t all perfect, though; I’ve had it crashing on me with some “unhandled java exception” errors 3 times in a month of usage.
It also locked up my phone once when I tried to use its feature of grabbing a phone number from chat, adding it directly to Contacts.

That doesn’t change the fact that it’s still the most stable Multi-Protocol IM available for the BlackBerry at the moment, and that’s enough reason for me to be worth $19.95.

WordPress for BlackBerry is No-Go for SK Telecom

Oh, for god’s sake.
Not *another* BB app that cannot connect through BIS (BlackBerry Internet Service)… and SK Telecom has no concrete plans yet to support Direct TCP connections on their BlackBerry devices. To make things worse, the folks working on WordPress for BlackBerry don’t have any ETA on the availability of BIS connection either.

This makes the app practically unusable for me, because the only place where I have free WiFi access is my home, and I won’t have any real reason to use WordPress for BlackBerry over other full-blown weblog clients (or even a web browser).

Oh, well.