Digicel Jamaica and Erroneous AppWorld Charges

Let me first start out by saying, I am unsure of the entire workings of the Blackberry AppWorld back end, I have tried to get feedback from Research In Motion (RIM – the makers of BlackBerry phones) and developers alike and no one seems sure whether all apps are stored on RIM’s servers or some are on third party developers’ servers.

Recently RIM updated BlackBerry AppWorld to version 2.x. This update came with a lot of welcome changes which I won’t go into detail here. However, with this update also came a very unwelcome one. I continued to used my Digicel BlackBerry plan on my phone as usual, and I started noticing my Prepaid account at the time started losing credit with no transaction on my part. I contacted customer care, and upon them being unable to see why I was billed (J$72.25), I was refunded after three days and numerous calls. This behaviour continued consistently for weeks, to the point I was afraid to used my phone. One day while using AppWorld without any phone credit, I received the insufficient funds for data SMS warning. This is when I realised it may have been AppWorld causing the issue. I contacted Digicel’s direct BlackBerry helpline, the gentleman I spoke with was fully aware of the issue and I was told they were trying to rectify it, and I should refrain from using AppWorld until it had been so done.

A few weeks after, I converted my account to Post Paid and before I tried to use AppWorld, I called Tech Support to see if the issue had been rectified. The young lady I spoke to was way less knowledgeable on the issue and was more on the defensive. Both reps had kept saying to me that Digicel had no control over AppWorld (agreed) and hence they couldn’t help me with RIM charging me (BS). Secondly, the female kept telling me I’m being charged WAP data charges, and I kept telling her AppWorld connects using the BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) data gateway and not WAP. She however proceeded to say maybe some of these apps are redirecting to third party sites. I told her I never leave the AppWorld app, so unless the back-end download is being routed then that’s highly unlikely. My take on all of this is:

  • Its HIGHLY unlikely RIM would make an app that doesn’t fully leverage their BIS framework and instead rely on providers’ WAP gateway
  • My account was being deducted (Prepaid) on Digicel’s billing terms or billed (PostPaid) likewise. Even if RIM was or is benefiting from my moneys lost, there had to be an accounting system in place (authorised and maintained my Digicel’s accounting department) that allows these moneys to be remitted to RIM, i.e. when my account is debited, it doesn’t go directly to RIM per se, without prior aggrement with Digicel, and also, I have NO billing agreement with RIM, and I cannot submit any form of rebate claim forthwith


Work around for this I have found, is to only use AppWorld when I’m connected to a wifi hotspot (not a feature available to all BlackBerry users).

I can understand that we are all in the tech world, and these things happen. What I am ultimately displeased with is the tedious process of getting a rebate when this happens, or Digicel trying to pawn this off as a RIM only billing issue and its just my bad luck on the loss ( according to one customer service rep).

Man up Digicel. 🙂

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Driving In Kingston

BASIC RULES FOR DRIVING IN KINGSTON

1. Turn signals will give away your next move. A real Kingston driver never uses them.

2. Under no circumstance should you leave a safe distance between you and the car in front of you, or the space will be filled in by somebody else, putting you in an even more dangerous situation.

3. The faster you drive through a red light, the smaller the chance you have of getting hit.

4. Never, ever come to a complete stop at a stop sign. No one expects it and it will result in you being rear-ended.

5. Never get in the way of an older car that needs extensive bodywork. The other guy doesn’t have anything to lose.

6. Braking is to be done as hard and late as possible to ensure that your ABS kicks in, giving a nice, relaxing foot massage as the brake pedal pulsates. For those of you without ABS, it’s a chance to stretch your legs.

7. Never pass on the right when you can pass on the left. It’s a good way to scare people for a laugh.

8. Speed limits are arbitrary figures, given only as a suggestion and
are apparently not enforceable in Kingston.

9. Just because you’re in the right lane and have no room to speed up or move over doesn’t mean that a Kingston driver flashing his high beams behind you doesn’t think he can go faster in your
spot.

10. Always slow down and rubberneck when you see an accident or even someone changing a tire.

11. Learn to swerve abruptly. Kingston is the home of the high-speed ‘dally’ , thanks to the KSAC, which puts pot-holes in key locations to test drivers’ reflexes and keep them on their toes.

12. It is traditional in Kingston to honk your horn at cars that don’t move the instant the light turns green.

13. Remember that the goal of every Kingston driver is to get there first –by whatever means necessary.

Blackberry 202

**Disclaimer ** at the time of writing this post, I’ve not had a hands on with the new BlackBerry OS 6 which is touted to have improved media capabilities esp. on the touchscreen device including the just released slider, the Torch 9800.

After listening to a lot of complaining and FUD about the place, I’ve decided I should finally do a comprehensive, well not comprehensive, might be too long, but a decent enough BlackBerry post.

Firstly let me say, a BlackBerry isn’t necessarily a devicefor everyone, despite the current fashion trend.
If you are heavily into multimedia, music, videos etc and expect your BlackBerry to function as a mp3 player replacement or media device,you might be disappointed. I’m not saying a BlackBerry doesn’t do all of theabove, but as a person who is into media a lot, I don’t use nor expect my Berry to function like a iPod replacement. If I’m on the road and I wanna hear a one album etc., I do keep a small library on my phone but only as backup when I can’t travel with my iPod. Therefore if this is a killer feature for you on a phone, an iPhone may be a better phone for you. I know some of you will argue with me about the Storm or Storm 2, but I’m sorry, I think those are some of the worst BlackBerry devices on the market and they suck at even TRYING to be a decent competitor to the iPhone. Apple was a super media playing device manufacturer before entering the phone market, and the iPhone is a iPod first and phone second, so sorry RIM, Apple’s still king here.

If wanting to ability to add barrage of apps from sensible productive stuff to apps that make fart noises, then again, the BlackBerry may not be the device for you. Again, I’m sorry RIM, but AppWorld as it stands now is still a sucky attempt at copying Apple’s App Store success and for a number of reasons.

First off integration: I’m sorry but AppWorld still feels like a third party add-on and not like a core module of the phone. At times it does its own thing, reads memory its own way, and for god sake when I delete a app I don’t want a lifetime reminder that I had it by still having it in my list as deleted, yea its nice if I plan to reinstall it and you can find a separate area to put it, like archives, or deleted apps, but I don’t wanna see it in the list of all my apps. Well I hope the upcoming AppWorld 2.0 fixes some of this PS. Still haven’t gotten my invite in Beta Zone to test it out, 😦

Secondly: Control, yes Apple is widely criticised (with good reason) for its iron grip on the App Store and how all apps have to be approved, but in essence it does create a stable ecosystem and Apple only has to support one phone really (4 iterations technically). RIM you have maybe like 20+ phones models in the market that you support and this open store policy is causing havoc. Without a decent approval policy, substandard apps are released into the wild and when these apps render phones useless, slow or crashing constantly, the user doesn’t blame the app, no they blame who, BlackBerry.

Thirdly:if you are a touch screen enthusiast, then you may want to stay clear of BlackBerrys for now (again, I haven’t used the Torch 9800 yet). The Storm and Storm 2 I think don’t even come close to Apple’s touch experience (still best in class). The SurePress technology is good in theory but it’s still not perfected and I find it crappy at most. They have removed this from the Torch 9800 and are going with a capacitive touch screen like Apple so let’s see howthat pans out, and if this carries into the Storm 3. OS 6 seems to be quite fluid (online demos and simulators, haven’t used yet), and if the touch screen on the storm is quite good, then it could make for the best touch Berry so far.The Torch 9800 is unique for Berrys given it appeals to the touch users with touch screen interface but also has the well-known Berry keyboard for the hardcore user, so let’s see how that goes out in the wild.

Despite my above negatives let me say, BlackBerrys are great devices, and if you are a person who wants a great email on the go device, this is your device, sorry Apple, Andriod, Nokia etc., RIM rules supreme here no apologies.A BlackBerry is the ultimate communication device (email, BBM, IM), planning device (calendar, memo etc) among various other features which make it the ultimate device for mature, work, business or communication oriented folks. It’s the most secure cell phone on the market (well in general use, the Sectera Edge is, ultimately), and is still the only device that almost any system admin is willing to allow access to corporate networks without headaches. I could get boring and run through all the pluses but you get the general idea. It’sprimarily a business phone and not a fun phone, despite RIM trying to rebrand as a consumer level device.

NOW LET’S GET INTOTHE BERRY BASICS

Firstly, one of the most annoying things about a berry is, they aren’t the best at memory management. Hence all Berry owners know that a battery pull is necessary on a regular basis, and depending on your device and your usage level, the frequency can range from twice a week to twice a day. This is inevitable (don’t know if OS 6 improves this), and if you are an owner or prospective, expect this. I like to watch my memory every now and then (options>status on older 4.5 and before devices and options> memory on 4.6 and newer devices), whenever it drops below 5mb I reboot. I do this mainly also because we all know Berry boot times are as long as a PC, so I don’t wanna be at a point where I need to make an important call/text/email, then phone is jamming and I need to reboot and wait 5+ minutes for it to be back up.

PS. A battery pull doesn’t have to be done physically (except for Pearl or Storm devices), I actually never do, pressing the alt+aA (left side one)+delete simultaneously does this. Press a couple times, all three keys till u see phone reboot.

Secondly, BlackBerrys have limited internal memory and all your apps are installed on said memory, therefore, know your device memory and install apps accordingly, you have access to thousands of apps, but you are limited by your device, so if you max out your device with apps then you will be rebooting a lot more often when there is no operating memory available and your phone will be annoyingly slow. As a rule, I like to have minimum 25-30mb free after a fresh reboot so I try not to install any new apps when I’m at that limit. Or I remove seldom used apps. For older devices, you may not have as much memory to spare so over 10mb may be a decent free level.

There are two different types of internal memory, so be sure you know which is the application memory and which is the actual device memory that you can save stuff too. For example the Bold 9000 has 1gig internal USER memory,it doesn’t apply to applications, the application memory in the 9000 is 128mb,and the OS takes up over half of that. The never devices have 256-512 mb so u have more playing room.

I think this is long enough and most of you might just skim it, if there is anything you wanna ask or want me to add, ask it in the comments section.