A new use for BlackBerries

You may think that a BlackBerry is only for use in the cities, for those who can’t be parted from their email at any time. But today I found a good use for mine in a most unlikely environment, and it actually helped me get away from the hurly-burly of modern life…

Snowy field near woodbridge

Rose and I are on a short break in Suffolk, and we wanted to visit the town of Woodbridge. I found a web page with a description of an interesting walk around the town and the surrounding area, but in my hotel room I had no way to print it out. Then I realised that by cutting and pasting the contents into an email to myself, I would have a copy in portable form on my BlackBerry.

This worked exceedingly well, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the BlackBerry was a great deal easier to slip in and out of a pocket than a sheet of A4 paper. And believe me, in that weather, I wanted my hands in my pockets for as much of the time as possible. And secondly, the jog-wheel on the side proved to be a great way to follow a long sequence of instructions. When we reached the end of a field or a fork in the path, I’d pull the BlackBerry out of my pocket, scroll down a little to read the next bit, and put it back. It took much less time than finding my place on a map or even on a sheet of printed instructions. One rare time when a smaller screen was much better than a bigger one!

following a route

Anyway, it was a great walk, and kudos goes to the railway company for publishing their station walks, which showed us more of Woodbridge than we would ever have found otherwise. Recommended.

Update, April 2007: The ‘station walks’ page has moved to a new location here. I hate it when people do that. It should be part of the contract when a company moves to a new web designer that old URLs will be preserved or redirected, especially, as in this case, when it was an eminently sensible URL in the first place. It’s in your best interests, too, to keep things stable where possible – it’s foolish these days to assume that the majority of visitors are going to find the page they want by coming to your front page and then following your links…

Another thought… I bet this doesn’t work as well on the new Blackberries with trackballs as it did on the old ones with jog-wheels!

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© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser