Digital Devicement: Part Three – BlackBerry Picking Time

It’s only mail and text, but I like it, like it

I remember attending a Rolling Stones concert at the Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles last year. When it was apparent that the final encore had been given and that the event was over, the audience stood to leave and the darkness was punctuated by the twinkling of ten thousand BlackBerries: the Rolling Stones generation checking their inboxes. No cigarette lighters held up in the air to honour the band (there probably wasn’t one smoker in a thousand at the venue), just handsets held up to their own faces to honour the bandwidth. The moment seemed to distill some truth about our culture that simultaneously amused, depressed and delighted me. Go, as they say, figure.

The Canadian company Research In Motion introduced its first BlackBerry, a duplex pager, ten years ago. Since then RIM has established itself and its device as one of the great success stories of the digital age. BlackBerry is a kind of cult – a verb, a metonym, a synecdoche for corporate life on the move.

Under the RIM

For those of you unconnected with business, the way Blackberryists interface with their phones may be unfamiliar. Typically he or she will have been given the handset by their employer. This is not an act of generosity. The device is a kind of leash, a digital ball and chain not far from the electronic tag that convicts on parole are forced to wear. The email and calendar accounts are controlled by the company, via BlackBerry Enterprise Server connections. Each handset can be zapped, nixed and deactivated by the corporate IT people whose hands are ever hovering over the kill switch, awaiting the command from the Fifth Floor. Or so it must seem to some employees. Like the bonds of marriage, the connection can be seen as a welcome tie that binds you with ribbons of gold to the company you love, or as a set of shackles that confine you for ever in a hateful prison from which there is no escape.

There is a civilian way to own a Blackberry, however. You or I can walk into a network provider’s retail operation and sign up for a BlackBerry enabled account.  Nowadays the configuration for this is done Over The Air: fire up the device for the first time, follow the email set-up wizard and voilà! – you’re a BlackBerryist. RIM calls this a BIS (BlackBerry Internet Service) connection, in contrast to the BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server) connection for the corporate user.

In either case RIM’s own servers ensure that their unique email system works on your device and delivers the authentic BlackBerry experience that many find so addictive. Essentially your handset is in a state of constant connection to these servers, which will ‘push’ emails to you the moment they come in. You can as-good-as-replicate this on a non BB phone by setting it to connect to your email server as frequently as once a minute say, but that wouldn’t be true push and tends to be more wearing on batteries. Google, expanding into all areas of online life as it is, does now offer genuine Exchange server push email to iPhones or other platforms for those with Gmail accounts. I have to say I’ve found this service so far a lot flakier than either BlackBerry or the standard iPhone ‘fetch’ IMAP4 or POP3 connections, just as Google’s CalDAV syncing is also prone to arbitrary disconnection and failure. The Big G get away with this kind of unreliability by being a) free to use and b) in a constant and eternal state of Beta. GoogleSync also offers calendar and contact syncing with a number of platforms including RIM, but we’re wandering from the subject…

The appeal of BlackBerry has always been simple: secure push email without frills. From the corporate point of view it’s a one system solution with an admirable data security record and VPN-style command and control capabilities. For the individual who is hooked on their CrackBerry, it’s all about eliminating frills and fancy folderols and concentrating on text input and output.

For years any clamour for music, video, third-party applications or even basic colour and HTML browsing was met with raised eyebrows. “This is a business tool, not some student gaming platform,” the shamed enquirer would be told in the scandalised tones of a butler who has just been asked for ketchup. Indeed, a proud feature of first, second and third generation BlackBerries was that they had no camera. How did this give bragging rights, you may wonder? Well, it meant that when you visited a factory, a boardroom, a government department or any secure or sensitive area, you didn’t have to check in your phone:  “I’m so important, my work is so sensitive,” was the implied Blackberry boast, “that I have a camera-less phone. Kneel before Zod.”

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51 comments on “Digital Devicement: Part Three – BlackBerry Picking Time”

  1. scoobysaz says:

    Just to let you know that the 8520 does have WiFi. I purchased one last week and have been sat on my sofa all week on the net.

  2. nonoyesyes says:

    The scope of your knowledge is utterly fantastic.
    An incredible writeup… filled to the brim with data.
    A monumental task brought to us with great skill in the written word.
    This is quite an education!
    No doubt about it ~ your audience will be thrilled with this latest!
    Regards….

    ~_~

  3. perniciousviper says:

    Excellent piece, Mr F. Echoing what Scooby said, the 8520 is WiFi enabled. I think RIM/Blackberry has woken up to what Apple has been doing for years by offering an app store and marketing some of their devices to a non-corporate audience, as they have with the 8520 Curve.

    I’ve been downloading new apps like nobody’s business, and upgraded the add-on memory from the shipped 2GB to 8GB to provide a mobile home for my iTunes library. Roll on OS 5, and the new Adobe Flash 10.1 player…

  4. Thsyrus says:

    I do think part of the changes in the blackberry line is trying to catch the attention of the new “trendier” executive who (as we have seen) seem to get swooned by the iphone.

    Personally I still prefer the Blackberry by a lot (even over my second choice HTC who are making good progress atm) but for my next purchase I am planning on going to the effort of buying phone and contract separately simply because I like the contractual (and in many ways financial) freedom it gives.

  5. lindamakwa says:

    Thank you I learned so much from that article and I now know which Blackberry would be more suitable to my needs. I currently own a Blackberry World Edition 8830. But realise I could benefit from something more personal, but I am familiar with a Blackberry, so I will update, using this information in my final choice.

    I also have more understanding with some of the problems my family and friends in the U.K. have encountered in my communication’s with them,when using these devises.

  6. inckognito says:

    Thank you so much for such a profound, interesting and very informative BlackBerry review!

    Well, I have now 2 phones (iPhone and HTC WiMAX) but as soon as I’ve an affordable opportunity, I would def go and buy one of BlackBerry’ phones just to keep myself tuned in, and cos I’ve never ever had one but ALWAYS really wanted :)

    Thanks for your time and work you did for us!

  7. Stephen Fry says:

    Thanks to scoobysaz and perniciousviper (got to love those names) – the ref to no WiFi has been duly corrected.

  8. AltPrintScreen says:

    “Google, expanding into all areas of online life as it is, does now offer genuine Exchange server push email to iPhones or other platforms for those with Gmail accounts.”

    More accurately, Google offers push email using the MS Exchange ActiveSync protocol which is supported on many devices and platforms.

    Apple also support ActiveSync out of the box, aimed at corporate users of MS Exchange who want their email pushed to their iPhones.

  9. chace_life says:

    Stephen,

    This is a great piece! I own a BlackBerry Tour and I must say I do love it. I’m glad you have rated the BlackBerry Storm at what it really is – rubbish.

    The Storms click mechanism was an ingenious idea by RIM but was poorly executed with low powered hardware and a half-baked operating system (4.7 was never perfect and has since been completely dropped by RIM.)

    The Storm 2 which should make its debut sometime within the next two months might have something more to offer so keep your eyes peeled.

    A correction I would like to add is that pictures have been popping up now showing the Tour that would add WiFi does have a trackpad and not a trackball (you stated the opposite in the article)

    Can’t wait to read the next review!

  10. Tennant says:

    The problem with the BlackBerry is that its Microsoft Exchange support has fallen behind the competition. In the early days of BlackBerry, running the BES software on an Exchange server was the only way to get push email and over-the-air automatic synchronisation of contacts and calendar on a mobile device…therefore the investment in the BES software was worthwhile.

    However ActiveSync has now been implemented by iPhone et al to provide this capability without the need for additional server-side software. For SMEs big enough to have their own Exchange server this means that these invaluable business productivity aids are available at significantly lower cost by turning to BlackBerry alternatives. (Even hosted Exchange providers generally charge an additional monthly premium for BES support). It’s time that RIM dropped BES, provided push email and over the air contacts/calendar sync without the need for extra software (and the support overhead that incurs) for users with an Exchange 2007/2010 mail server. Once they do, the ‘real’ keyboard and stunning battery life will return them to the position of mobile device of choice for the business user.

  11. rswales says:

    Hi Stephen, I am a recovering Crackberry addict and windows junkie. I was force fed a slurry of both when living in corporate land. I escaped a year ago and am undergoing continuing technology replacement therapy, via my friends at the local Mac store. Any words of wisdom on the continuing ‘flash’ saga, given the announcement that new software will be launched that will enable Smartfones to run a full version of flash? Do you think apple will follow suit? Are there alternatives for opening up flash content that mere mortals like me could learn to use on an iPhone instead of flash?

    Stephenfry 2.0 looks great by the way. Keep up the good work but do rest and enjoy some ‘Stephen time’ every now and then. Much love and regards…

  12. needcaffeine says:

    as an addict [950(2mb) -> 6280 -> 7730 -> 7290 -> 7100t[1 week] -> 7290 -> 8700g -> 8707g -> 8320 -> 9000 -> 8900 ->??] a very good writeup.

    As a former BES admin, yes it becomes a ball and chain; but as a long term user; I can’t get beyond having a full qwerty button keyboard; the speed at which I can type vs those on touch screen devices is incomparable. It should also be noted, that not till the 3rd generation did BB’s have voice capabilities; they we’re advanced 2 way pagers of sort.(Also to note, they were the only device which function on 9/11; as all the other mobile/land telecom systems overloaded & failed)

    For the the most part it should be highly suggested that people upgrade their device regularly; the increased speed & battery length I’ve gotten from newer (non-official) OS upgrades is amazing.

    There’s new 9700 device coming out from T-Mobile US; which is basically an improved 8900 with 3G & a touch button vs ball.

    I bought a Bold9000 the day it came out in Hong Kong(1st place in World it came out); & though the geekiness of watching live TV or streaming radio is nice; I really found no reason for 3G. Plus the Bold is quite a lot heavier than the other models. The faux leather is nice; but I always prefer utilitarian vs design for my toys.

    Note: Also as a former telecom manager, I also spent a lot of time reviewing rates & bills. So although N device might be the optimal solution; the carrier (all devices in US are carrier locked) & your primary geography is as important.

  13. RamblinSydRumpo says:

    Very much looking forward to your take on the Palm Pre (I’ll probably have my own by then).

  14. VictoriaEllsworth says:

    Glad to hear that you are not abandoning Apple for Black Berry. You enthusiasm for the Apple products has been refreshing, even for this BB user. I hope to learn lots from you (as I did about Apple and Twitter) as you continue to explore your smartphone promiscuity.
    Best regards,
    ~ Victoria

  15. Elifant71 says:

    I have the 8900 and live in the statesm and I love my phone! I use it for personal use only, and love the fact that it covers all of my needs with agility, speed, and a seeming readiness to please me. I can’t wait for the LG watch dish Stephen puts out soon (I hope!).

    I have messed with friends iphones and haven’t been in the least impressed except for the huge amount of applications that are available that to a certain extent seem to be lost on blackberry. But as long as I have my twitter, facebook, email, and calendar, I can say that I have it all, and it works just fine! Cheers!

  16. boomerhawk says:

    I respectfully disagree with your bashing of the Storm. While I whole heartily agree that the phone was rubbish when first released; updates over the last year have turned it into a phone worthy of the Blackberry name. Can it compete with an iPhone’s media savviness or all around beautiful user interface? No I don’t think so, but I do feel that it is a good Blackberry and one I have enjoyed having this past year. I find the click-able screen to be brilliant and enjoy being able to watch a movie on my phone when the mood takes me.

  17. niksargent says:

    Hi Stephen, you’ve beautifully captured the nuances of the blackberry as a device and the love-hate relationship of owning one (or should i say, having one thrust upon oneself by one’s employer). The smackberry certainly wins in terms of battery life and with its auto on/off feature for overnight use can easily last a week while still delivering email into your hands near instantaneously.

    However, I think one aspect you haven’t covered, perhaps because it doesn’t irritate you, is the user interface – and by this I mean not just the keyboard, but the whole application design and GUI.

    The hackberry, I feel, suffers from the problem that the main community responsible for its rise to stardom – i.e. all those corporate purchasers – are not the main user community. There is a disconnect here and consequently the splatberry suffers from a tedious and outdated interface that frankly would be laughable and disastrous if it were launched from new today.

    Simple matters such as menus that are too long to fit on one screen, the inability to see when someone called without sub-selecting “view history” of each call (on my model at least) result in a propensity for scrolling and twizzling that sees one’s finger tips breaking the olympic record for distance travelled on a daily basis. These are basic basic UI errors that the slick swishness of other device UIs put to shame.

    And as for the keyboard – surely no-one with fingers fatter than a five pence piece could describe it as anything other than tortuous?! Picking the blasted thing up to dial a number – a core feature surely – let’s say in a travelling car, singlehanded (not as a driver of course, merely as a passenger) and getting the right digits required to dial in the right order is only modestly more successful than getting one’s precious lottery numbers. And of course, if it’s dark, forget it, some of the models are not even backlit. Maybe the tedious business of phone calls is not meant to be performed in the dark?

    This is, of course, if the device isn’t still “hourglassing” while you’ve just fired it up for the first time in a while; a feature that becomes rapidly frustrating in the business context when time is of the essence (usually 30 seconds before a conference call).

    I suppose I could find a use for my spangly spackberry with all those jangly facebook and twitter and life enhancing 2.0 apps – if it were not for the fact my corporate IT department has decided to lock the device down to the point where it’s only moderately more useful than a paperweight…! sigh…

    I enjoyed your article, I delight in your opinions, but sadly, I hate *my* blackberry..

    nik :)

  18. bboybazza says:

    i loved my storm for all its crimes against the normal blackberry, now i admit i did through it out of a car window( i wasn’t the driver and yes i did remove sd and sim before doing so) but not because of the screen or the os but it nearly burnt a a whole in my trouser leg and i deemed that a fair revenge for the pain i was in. Now unfortunately i feel i can never have another and have been outcast to the world of the magic and the open handset alliance, but i did love the screen the os was slow but i did use it all the time for twitterberry and blackberry messenger (2 reasons to live at the time of owning my storm) now i have to use twitroid and skype as most people i know have skype app on there phone. but i did love the storm and the os after the update to 4.6 or 4.7 cant remember which made the accelerometer work and the whole phone more responsive.. i always thought it was looked at as a bastard cousin to the bberry and its a shame but in some ways yes it was deserved

  19. jon says:

    SIR – a fine review indeed; far be it from me to question your impartiality in matters handheld. I myself carried a Bold for work and an iPhone for home for about six weeks earlier in the year – and while I thought the Bold was like a finely balanced elegantly-crafted samurai sword, by comparison, I thought the iPhone was a *lightsaber*.

    I think you hit on something very important: the raison d’etre of a Blackberry is email. Email does not require 3G in any meaningful sense. 3G sucks down battery life mercilessly. Ergo, a Blackberry is better off without it. The thing that did in the Bold for me was the fact that I could find no place to turn off 3G service; consequently, the phone died in roughly the same timeframe as the iPhone (which was getting personal mail, RSS, and playing podcasts all day). The notion of a Blackberry with just 2G and Wi-FI, especially if slimmer and sleeker, is intriguing enough to rate another look.

  20. eirrann says:

    Very much enjoying these reviews. As an iPhone user and fan, curious as to whether you’ve gotten your hands on Nokia’s upcoming N900. For it’s dedicated camera functions, great social networking integration for contacts, and sandbox-free linux distro, I’m thinking about putting my apple lustPhone away and replacing it on my bedstand with the new N900.

  21. fuzzer123456 says:

    @jon . On the blackberry bold. Go into the manage connections icon which is the antenna with whats supposed to be the signal coming out of it.

    When in there go to mobile network options and then network mode. You then have the choice of 2G only, 2G+3G or 3G only.

    99% of the time mine is on 2g only. IF im browsing a lot or downloading from the app store ill turn on 3G but it does noticably wear the battery down.

  22. Tony_ExSafe_Dublin says:

    “It’s only mail and text, but I like it, like it…”. We have been on a bit of a crusade here at ExSafe in Dublin, the Irish are not really renowned for such activities, we have typically been ‘crusaded’ in the past!! Without sounding like a BlackBerry salesperson, the advent of larger and higher resolution screens 480×360 has resulted in the possibility of a more computer like experience with this category of SmartPhone. The BlackBerry device with Documents to Go preinstalled leaves the user with the potential to view and edit documents and spreadsheets. However the experience is not great when you have to trawl through emails to obtain the relevant attachment or search an informal folder structure on the device. We have taken things a step further, leveraging docs 2 go including the ability to create new content without the premium edition, by creating a ‘virtual server/network’ in the Cloud and then treating the BlackBerry as a networked computer. Offering the ability to share/collaborate, secure and store the same files, with instant access from PC and vice versa. We believe that this is the way of the future, no need to lug laptops around airport security anymore, less backache!!! and more productivity for road warriors being able to access and change content. Warriors and crusaders, maybe not in the same paragraph.
    So thinking beyond email and text, anyone who has seen this has been astounded by its power and potential.

    My tuppence worth Stephen.

    PS Apologies for the infomercial.

  23. pharos427 says:

    -
    I am an keen follower of Stephen’s views on information technology, and I find them to be well-informed and unquestionably well-intentioned. What I find missing, however, in all that Stephen has to say about this technology is the pitfalls of it (make no mistake, every technology man has come up has them – even the manual mechanism that pulls water from the well, M. Heidegger!), and I mean so over and above whether it’s a Linux distribution, sloppy Microsoft or edgy Apple. What I’m observing here is simply this.

    There are plenty of articles by Stephen on this or that piece of software engineering, its strengths and weakness, etc. But, where are Stephen’s articles on reflecting on information technology as such? Where is Stephen sharing with us his fears about this technology? I think we need to see that of him, too.

    Thank you

    Pharos427

    P.S
    If by any chance I’ve missed an article by Stephen in which he engages in an extensive reflection on information technology, I would be grateful to any one to be directed to it.

  24. venuskitten says:

    I am really enjoying this series of perceptive reviews and pin-sharp observations on IT life as we know it today.

    The reason for the Blackberry’s universal appeal is that a Blackberry “just works”. RIM’s genius was to make Blackberries so adaptable and user-friendly that they very quickly become indispensable.

    I have a Blackberry Curve which goes everywhere with me. It’s amazingly clever and does everything I want it to do and a bit more besides.

  25. Corine says:

    Hello to all users and of course to Mr. Fry. I’m a new mwmber here and i’m very glad to be. My name is Karina and i live in Ukraine, so my English may be not very well ..;) I want to say, that i didin’t know actually about you Mr. Fry….I just hadn’t an opportunity to see, cause in our country there are always a lot of american movies, not european..they are not so popular…i don’t know how to explain correctly…So, I’ve downloaded “Jeeves & Wooster” accidentally and i was under impression!! The serial amazed me! Really…and Mr. Fry in the first place. Then i found another film that you had been acted in…and to watch these films is a real pleasure for me..i can easily say that i fall in love with Mr. Fry ;)) You’re so fascinating. I want to see you every day more and more You admire me!!

  26. inagouws says:

    Good morning from South Africa. I enjoyed these blogs. I must however admit that I do not understand half of it. I am not that technologically inclined you see. I have a mobile phone. It rings and takes awful pictures and I can send text messages. But after reading these blogs I feel completely left behind. It is not as if we do not have these luxuries in South Africa because we do, believe me. I just never really paid attention.

  27. Hila says:

    Is it wrong that I have absolutely no idea how these things function? Or that I often have fantasies of throwing my phone into the river? When somebody asked me what model my phone is I replied “it’s small and silver”. That’s about the etxent of my interest in these things. Oh well, at least Stephen makes it sound interesting.

  28. Canaderek says:

    I’m with you, Hila. I generally enjoy Stephen’s articles (yes, I intentionally typed “articles” rather than “blogs” – deal with it), but don’t really know, or care to know, what an electronic Blackberry is.

    I’ve always done fine with old-fashioned, conventional blackberries.

    Just yesterday, a new acquaintance told me that instead of calling him back, I ought to “text” him. Rather than admit I don’t know how to do that, I just said, “Sure. No problem.” I don’t know whether or not I need a computerized berry of some sort to accomplish this, so I’ve just decided not to communicate with him anymore.

    P.S: I’m only 37. Dammit, I feel 90 when discussing modern technology…

  29. spermologer says:

    Your series of reviews is impressive. But I’m concerned that I’ve missed your review of the iPoor (http://ipoor.org/) – will search through your site again.

  30. Jon Ironic says:

    Excellent article.

    I feel I am blessed having the Blackberry Bold and the iPhone 3GS. Both are remarkable phones, one for excellent push email and the other for a media rich experience.

    Nothing will ever replace the efficiency of the BB’s email capabilities, I just wish it made things a little prettier.

    My only criticism of the Bold is the lack of RAM memory to install applications. And the fact you have to take out the battery periodically to flush the memory is beyond me.

    However, the leaks of beta OS’ can be rather fun to keep up with. All in all, I love both phones.

  31. slackgadget says:

    A friend of mine went to work for a large corporate Law firm in London, he watched with horror as Blackberry-itis spread through the department. If a padded envelope arrived on your desk little did people realise that it was a sign that you had now become a 24/7 employee, people viewed the new ‘corporate gadget’ with excitement but a month later were seen staggering around the building bleary eyed and dishevelled like a reject from a John Grisham novel. One morning he arrived at his desk, a large padded envelope stared back at him from his desk. He didn’t take his coat off; he simply left.

    Mean while my 4 year old daughter has poked a bit of tissue down the headphone socket of my iPhone any ideas on how to remove it anybody?

  32. CatherineW says:

    Stephen, I too have a love / hate with a phone, but it is the iPhone, not the BlackBerry. I fought against owning one, but as I was compelled to write an iPhone apps series for all things learning Thai, there you go…

    I live in Bangkok and using an iPhone in the tropics is crazy-making. It is exactly like mushing a wet brick to the side of your face. By the time I’m off the phone, the hair on that side of my head is plastered flat around my ear, giving my formerly smashing do a lopsided look.

    And with the downturn in the economy, the new spat of motorcycle taxis ripping off pedestrians is a concern. The iPhone in Thailand is horrifically expensive (US$800+) so soi walking with more than what some locals make it a year stuck to the side of your head is just asking for it.

    Now, if someone could write an iPhone app that turns it into a stun gun, I’d be more than chuffed to fork out even more dosh.

    But in the meantime, I’m off to source a listening device that won’t send rivers of water down my ear canals.

  33. ianfred says:

    Dear Stephen,
    For one moment there you had me worried.
    You have a remarkable skill. I want to say ‘gift’ but for obvious reasons I won’t . However, allow me this, like the pullover that Granny knitted for you, you know the one that smells of nicotine and is grey, you do have to wear it sometimes. And although you dislike the discomfort it brings you, there will be some who will smile and say it suits you and there will be times when if you actually think about it, you will realise, it does keep you warm.
    Remember this, you won’t have the pullover forever, it will wear out and then you will, I promise, miss its figure hugging comfort…er…um…sorry…I’ve lost it…anyway er…yes…keep writing and stop apologising.

  34. katz says:

    Dear Stephen, why don’t we just move on from Jan Moir, a journalist? considering you was not going to go on about her your not doing bad.. just let it go! move on.. Katz

  35. djkingdom says:

    Dear Stephen,
    I too suffer from “foot in mouth” disease! Stop worrying about it, blame it on Alzheimers or something! However, you may find gaffer tape (gaff prevention tape)useful in future, to prevent the mouth being operated ahead of the brain being engaged!
    I can’t pretend to have the slightest interest in this “tech” stuff. I have blackberries in my freezer not my pocket! How did I end-up posting on this – I was only searching for dog training tips!

  36. Bertie_Wooster_ says:

    I have an iPhone and a Blackberry 8800, and I have to say that, although each has an entirely different purpose, the Blackberry is far better.

    Anyway, moving on to what I really wanted to say; is there any chance of a one-off edition of Jeeves and Wooster in the future? A charity program perhaps? Or even a photoshoot, just so us fans can have posters by which to remember the wonderful world of Wodehouse.

  37. voodoodentist says:

    My BLackBerry Curve 8310 is beginning to struggle with life. It’s achilles heel is the trackball. So come December when i’m eligible for an upgrade, i shall be trying out all of the smartphones on the market and testing the durability of the hardware.
    Lets hope the iPhone 3GS is not the only contender…

  38. clairebenjamin says:

    Stephen Fry you are FANTASTIC!

  39. peter99 says:

    I’ve had a Blackberry Curve for two months and wouldn’t be without it. I also have an Ipod and have transferred a lot of the music to the Blackberry.

    The email push works via a server with Windows 2000 – you don’t need Exchange.

  40. Airsculpture says:

    I have just joined as a member and have just read this article. All very spooky as I have accepted a position with RIM this week. I am English but have been living in Canada for the last two years. Never used a Blackberry, never owned one but will be receiving a ‘free’ one from the company as a welcome dog leash next week.

    I will let you know how I get on.

  41. Mike the cool thinker says:

    Well Stephen, I think your analogy on corporate phone purpose, is indeed very apt.
    I’ve often felt, somewhat ‘owned’ by the company and the relentless obligation to be constantly available, with no excuse for failing to respond, very taxing.
    With GPS, E mail, texts, etc, etc, the ideology that privacy exists is passing me buy!

    By the way, I’m new, a huge admirer of your work, I dislike the terminology’ Fan’, I associate it with teeny bopping, emotionally out of control types!
    I particularly enjoyed your ‘American adventure’. A unique style of presentation. Jeeves and Wooster, was brilliant too.

    I felt so sorry for you, when I watched your documentary programme about your bouts of depression. Thank God your surrounded by supportive friends.
    My family and indeed many work colleagues, regard you as rather essential. Your contribution to this world is greatly appreciated.

    In fact, as I write, I cannot recollect anything you’ve done, I didn’t enjoy!

    Keep up the great work, you enrich so many lives and find humour, where many perhaps, wouldn’t venture!
    Television with out you, would simply be ‘tele’!

    Mike

  42. Paul of the woods says:

    Sweet as bruv sweet as,

    I find the Blackberries from the supermarket have much more flavour than the ones that grow in the wood. They tend to be smaller and taste a bit woody. As for the storm I threw mine out the window and brought an ear trumpet instead. But seriously There are many push e-mail systems that provide an always-on capability on the market today.In contrast to traditional e-mail, most of the protocols used in popular current systems are proprietary; , BlackBerry uses its own private protocols developed by RIM. Both the Push-IMAP standard and parts of the SyncML standards are attempting to develop more open solutions.IETF Lemonade is a set of extensions to IMAP and SMTP to make them more suited to the demands of mobile e-mail. Among the extensions are rapid IMAP resynchronization and a new NOTIFY command in IMAP This will do away with problems incountered with blackberries such as Network locking, and vendor locking. Keep things open source and things should get even better in the future, one love Paul.

  43. Kiskaloo says:

    Golly, I thought I’d joined the 21st Century when I purchased an I-Touch last week, looks like I could still be in the dark ages.

  44. Madagoo says:

    In the age of Blackberryitis (yes its a term gaining a groundswell in NHSlandia for RSI of the thumb) I console myself with my private HTC Touch Pro2…remembering the stark look of horror on a previous managers face. He had asked me if I’d like a mobile phone. I quickly translated this as can I contact 24/7 and replied, “I think I’d rather be peeled alive and rolled in vat of salt…” I just didn’t understand the fascination…but now I’d chop the fingers of anyone trying to scroll MY HTC… my precious…

  45. Red Masks says:

    Dear Sir,

    While this may be an entirely silly question, I have been put forward by my group of friends to be the one to ask you this. I hope you’ll forgive our possible rudeness, but we feel that anything is worth a shot.

    We’re a small group of friends who love history. We love all the silly bits of it, we love the sad bits, we love all of it.

    And today someone suggested asking you to be an honorary member of our little group. We understand, of course, that you will probably say no. We also understand that you would never come around with us dressed up pretending to be countries acting out dramatic battles, because that would be entirely too silly.

    … But if we could list you in our little list of members, we would be so, so happy. You would make a group of schoolgirls very giddy indeed.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this.

    - Mercedes

  46. troublesome1 says:

    I have no need for a mobile phone. I have never had one, what you never had you can’t miss.

  47. troublesome1 says:

    There is no point in regretting what you have done. You can’t change it. only have regrets for things you haven’t or could have done but never did.

  48. limeyjb says:

    Just to say I viewed the first episode of Kingdom tonight, here in Australia, and was highly impressed. I also enjoyed your tour of the USA and especially the Auburn / Alabama football game which as a (Brit) resident of Alabama for 24 years before moving to Australia last year can appreciate the intensity of feelings there in the rivalry between the 2 team supporters there having viewed many annual games mostly in the midst of Alabama supporters.

    Since the days of Jeeves and Wooster I have been a loyal fan Stephen, you’re a class act…

  49. atticus says:

    There is an excellent article in ‘The Word’ magazine this month, echoing your thoughts here.

  50. vanlynn says:

    HI!!! OH MY GAWD!!! I hand no idea you had a website. I love your shows!!! I’ve seen you in some other features too, like the New Statesman, totally hilarious show and Thin Blue Line!!! A few others that I cannot remember off hand. Anyway, good luck with your book. You are one of the best comedians on this planet in MY BOOK. Not just in the planet, but the galaxy!!! (I wish there were spell check on here, I hope I don’t have any typo’s).

    KEEP BEING FUNNY Step hen lol. YOU’RE THE BEST!!!!!

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