Gheorghe Curelet-Balan Blog

Monday, November 29, 2004

BlackBerry fast typing using the Autotext feature.

How many times in the speed of typing you didn't intermix two neighboring letters in a word. For example: instead of can you typed acn, instead of and you typed adn or instead of else you typed esle and so on.

To help you with this problem the BlackBerry's Autotext feature makes the corrections on the fly. It keeps a list of the most common typos and associates them with their correct spelling. So, while you are typing, Autotext checks each word and if it finds a typo (that it has in its list) it makes the replacement with the correct spelling.

For example: if you typed the word acn you'll see that as soon as you pressed the SPACE key or ENTER, the text will change to can. Note that this works only for separate words i.e. if you type acn as part of a bigger word the correction will not take place.

Starting from this simple and efficient idea, Autotext has added in its list of typos other common situations that could help you in your typing. For example: if it finds the word cant it assumes that you wanted to type can't. The same is true with: arent, couldnt, isnt, etc.

Anybody can see the Autotext list of associations, by navigating: Settings then Options then selecting Autotext and opening it.

Autotext doesn't stop here, though. It allows you to easy change the existing associations or to add new ones. Usually you add new entries to easy the typing by using abbreviations. For example, I've added a new entry named aa and associated it with From now on if I want to type the address of my blog I just type aa.

Autotext is cool, since it allows you to use your imagination in choosing abbreviations and then use your memory to remember them :)

If you want to read more, see Typing section in the BlackBerry 7100 Series User Guide that you can download from here.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Quantum Computing Lecture.

On December 2nd Raymond Laflamme (the director of the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo) will present how quantum physics laws can be used to provide a fundamental different way of computation, quantum computing.

His lecture "Harnessing the Quantum World" is part of Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics Public Lectures Series.

To learn about the exciting new scientific frontiers that are opened by the quantum computing research, follow this link:

A good general introduction on quantum computing could also be found in the Backgrounder section on this page.

BlackBerry Internet browsing.

In the last few days I enjoyed browsing the web while on the go using my BlackBerry 7100r. It is so easy and fun. BlackBerry supports 2 types of browsers: Internet and WAP Browser(Rogers). By default the Internet Browser is enabled. To start browsing I just pushed the key above the digit 2 on the keypad. As a result the browsing Bookmarks page opens. This happens doesn't matter in what application or screen you are. From there I was thinking to see how one of the links in my blog looks like on the BlackBerry. I press the thumwheel and I select Go To... from the menu that opens. A dialog box opens where I type this address: In no time I have my post nice displayed on BlackBerry's screen. I'm curious how the picture I've posted looks. I scroll down with the thumbwheel and I'm so amazed of what I see that I have to take a picture of it. Here it is below.

Then I'm curious to know what features BlackBerry gives me when I'm on a web page. As usual I continue to explore by rolling and pressing the thumbwheel. I've noticed that once on a web page if I roll the wheel, the links and images are highlighted one at a time. Once something highlighted, if I press the thumwheel I get a menu with the features offered. I'm highlighting the image in this post and I press the thumwheel. Look in the below picture how many features I get: display full image, save image, email/copy image address or link address, bookmark, etc. This is quite cool then you are on the go and while browsing you find something you want to revisit later from your BlackBerry or desktop.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Pluto, the new family member of our hiking friend Adriana, is tired after its first Laurel Creek hike.

My BlackBerry 7100r. (III).

OK...maybe some of you do not believe me that I've typed my first SureType post on my toy. Here it is the proof. As you can see the text looks quite nice.

And for those that think that the font is too small they should know that the character size can be customized. Here it is my text in the biggest font size of 14 supported by BlackBerry 7100r. Well, if you think you need a bigger font than this then you have to place a special order to RIM :)

Laurel Creek trails.

Monday, November 22, 2004

My Blackberry 7100r. (II).

Learn how to use the Trackwheel by playing BrickBreaker (see picture), a game that you'll play if you click on the bottom link of the screen in this picture. Also you can see it in action if you click View Demo on this page:

Hiking on the trails of Laurel Creek conservation.

I've talked here about this conservation area. Yesterday our hiking group decided to walk around the conservation's Nature Centre. As you can see South Ontario is still enjoying nice weather. By nice, I mean no snow yet :)

Sunday, November 21, 2004

My Blackberry 7100r. (I).

Today I continued to explore my "toy". The more I'm using it the more I like it. I've explored in more depth the audio and image qualities of the device. Today I realized that the audio quality of the phone while in conversation is better than the normal home phones. I've played then some of the ring tones and I felt as if I was in a cathedral. The sound was so clean and gave me the feeling that it is stereo. I can hear the sound clear even when I keep the device at the arm length from me. Then I look at the device while it is playing the tunes and it gives me the impression that it is made from a resonating crystal.

Then I want to check the quality of the images that the device can display. I'm so impressed that I make the preferred one as the background of the home screen. See below picture.

Nice "Dusk Clouds" picture set as home screen image.

Santa Claus Parade.

Today was the Santa Claus Parade day in some of the Ontario cities (Toronto, Guelf), Cambridge (a city very close to Kitchener). Toronto's Parade was special since it celebrated its 100th anniversary and it is also the longest children's parade in the world.

Here are some Toronto's parade links for your convenience:
1. map.
2. last year pictures (just keep clicking).

The Kitchener-Waterloo Santa Claus parade is next weekend.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

My first SureType posting!

I've got my BlackBerry 7100r this afternoon and I've started to play with it :) There is a lot of debate and research about what is the best way to approach the first time use of a new product. Some are saying that the user should first read the manuals and consequently they have to be written in an attractive and easy way to understand. Others are saying that the user will not read the manuals anyway so it doesn't matter how they are written. My feeling is that the truth is somewhere in the middle.

Personally I'm approaching the use of a new product as a challenging exploration. I want to see if I can figure out its use: "what happens if I press that button?" and I go to manuals after I'm stuck.

I guess that you imagine that I used the same approach with my new BlackBerry. First I quickly looked at the device for a "Power" or "ON" button label but I couldn't see any. So I used "my method" and started to press the unusual buttons that I found on the side of the device. And Bingo...the device turned ON after I pressed the button on the top of the BlackBerry. Later on I've seen the meaning of all the buttons clear presented on the first page of the "Getting Started Guide", that was sitting right in front of me :)

The "Messages" screen I've seen had listed only one email titled "Registration". I've clicked (pressed) the "roller wheel" (that I'll call "wheel" from now on) on the upper right side of the device and opened the email. It was saying that the device was registered with the wireless network. Thank you Rogers Wireless for sparing me of the boring job of data input needed for activation of the BlackBerry service. I've pressed the button below the wheel (kind of ESC key) to close the email and came back to the "Messages" screen with the list of emails.

I've clicked again on the wheel to see if there is something interesting I can do from this context. And Bingo again...I spotted the "Place Call" menu in the middle of the menu that opened. I scroll the wheel over and press it. The "call" screen opens ready for me to type the digits. I typed my home number, called it and I was surprised by the crystal clear quality of the voice on the BlackBerry. Then I call BlackBerry from my home number and everything was OK. After that I've noticed on the keypad a green key with a telephone icon on it. I pressed on it and placed my second call.

Continuing my exploration I press ESC key continuously to close the windows that have been opened till then. I stop when I see that nothing is changing anymore. Now I know that I'm on the main window. I click on "Browser" and select randomly a link from the links categories of "Rogers navigate" page. I start a quick browse on the "News" link just to have a feeling of it. Everything is smooth and nice.

Then I've setup my email (from the device) as a BlackBerry Web Client only in 3 easy steps and sent my fist BlackBerry 7100r email.

I go back to the "Messages" screen open a new email and start typing this post using the SureType technology. I was amazed how fast you can type. It feels like someone is reading your mind while you are typing. After few hours of initial training I got to speed. Now I can type one character per second on my BlackBerry 7100r phone.

More to come: SureType tricks for faster typing.

Friday, November 19, 2004

I have to wait one more day :(

Darn...I missed it. Purolator came with my BlackBerry 7100r but I was not at home :( Now I have to wait 13 more hours till I get my "toy". Even if it looks like a toy actually it is quite a powerful communication and organizing device. If you want to see what my "toy" can do, click on "View Demo" link on the right side of this page.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

RIM has 2 million BlackBerry users!

Well...I cannot be wrong all the time :) I was wrong here when I said that the new Blackberry 7100 will be available only in US. RIM's today news proves that I was right in my second belief that the company will reach its near term goal to have 2 million active BlackBerry users. I didn't expect that the news will come so soon, though :) For RIM this is an outstanding performance if you consider that in February this year there were only one million BlackBerry subscribers.

My BlackBerry 7100r is on its way to me!

Today I ordered my BlackBerry 7100r that is already available in Canada. Since I put a pre-order ahead of time I had no problem getting it online. I'm eager to use the new features of the device, especially the most talked about SureType technology.

I believe that the keypad technology for handhelds is here to stay, until at least the telepathy will be engineered so that the device can read your mind :) Even if the voice command technology is in use today, there are environments when you are not allowed to speak or your voice cannot be understood due to the noise. The only efficient choice available to input data is using a keypad, that of course requires some initial learning. Someone said that to keep your mind fresh you should always be in the process to learn a foreign language. Learning a new way to type data on a handheld cannot be harder than that :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Waterloo tour.

If you want to take a virtual tour of Waterloo follow this link: The tour was written by Garry Will, the author of the well known Tech Digest local newsletter.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Remembrance Day. (II)

Canadian veterans parading during the Oktoberfest Parade. All of them wear the remembrance poppy.

Veterani Canadieni participind la Parada Oktoberfest. Toti poarta simbolul florii de mac ("poppy").

Canadian Veterans of the Korean war.

Veterani Canadieni ai razboiului Coreean.

Remembrance Day.

Every year on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month Canada remembers its heroes with a moment of silence. Canadians across the country are wearing a poppy (the flower of remembrance) as a symbol that they honor those that fought and gave their life for the future of Canada. The first celebration of this day was on November the 11th 1919, one year after the official end of First World War. It was celebrated throughout the entire western world to honor the heroes of this ugly war. The poppy tradition comes from the poem "In Flanders Fields" written by the Canadian Medical Officer, Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae (born in Guelph Ontario, only 20 Km North-East of Kitchener-Waterloo area). John McCrae was inspired by the fact that only the poppy flower survived the bloodshed of the bloodiest battle of the First World War that took place in the Flanders fields in Belgium. As per this source, "In Flanders Fields" became the most popular poem of the First World War.

"In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below...."

If you want to read more follow the links on this page:

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Excess of Vitamin E could be harmful.

For details, read the story about a recent study published today:

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The origin of "Canada" name.

If you are wondering how the name of "Canada" was born, follow this link:

Monday, November 08, 2004

Another beautiful sunset.

Un alt apus de soare frumos.

Friday, November 05, 2004

First snow in Ontario.

It happened at the beginning of the last week in Northern Ontario. For the people of the small town of Timmins it was like summer even if it was snowing outside. This short term "climate change" was caused by the belowed daughter of Timmins, Shania Twain. Shania visited her hometown on Tuesday, November the 2nd to official open the centre build on her honor, Shania Twain Centre.

Follow below links to learn more about Shania:
1. Co-hosting CanadaAM show.
2. Timmins pictures.
3. Greatest hits.