February 26, 2009

Importing Verizon Backup Assistant Contacts to Outlook for Blackberry and other smart phone devices

(* Edited 11/20/2011 DS - Good news - this old posting from early 2009 can now easily be accomplished using Verizon tools: To sync Outlook to Verizon phone: (1) Set up Backup Assistant on the phone; (2) Use Backup Assistant to import Outlook contacts .csv; (3) sync should happen automatically. For instructions on generating a .csv from Outlook, see instructions below.*)
Recently, I posted the code I had used to import my Verizon Backup Assistant contacts into Outlook, so I didn't have to re-enter all my contacts manually. I originally wrote it because I needed it for my Blackberry Storm, but really it's usable for any phone that uses Outlook to sync up Contacts. Also the original script required Firefox, and I've rewritten it to be browser neutral.

I'll repeat the steps, revised for IE and non-Storm specific.

You will need MS Outlook, obviously, since that's what we're targeting. (that's what the Storm and many other smartphones use to sync contacts). And of course you'll have to have your old contacts backed up using Verizon Backup Assistant, since that's our source for contacts.

Here's a step-by-step overview of how to do it:

  1. Make sure you are running Firefox Version 3 and above or IE Version 7 or above. (If you have earlier versions, You can still test them out for me, and I've supplied a feedback link).

  2. Go to http://www.verizonwireless.com/backupassistant

  3. Select "Print Address Book" (must allow popups)

  4. Select all page text (Ctrl+a)

  5. Edited 6/15/09 DS - Some browsers have problems processing the headers:
    "I think the problem is you shouldn't do "CRTL+A" and get *everything*. Just highlight starting at the first entry and continue to the last one. Don't include "Backup Assistant Contacts", "Print Address Book", "Name", and so on."

  6. Copy (Ctrl+c)

  7. Go to the Backup Assistant to Outlook conversion script page

  8. Paste text into top textbox

  9. Click the "Convert to Outlook CSV text" button

  10. Select all text from bottom text box

  11. Create a new text file using Notepad/Wordpad, paste in text

  12. Save the file with .csv extension

  13. (you may want to examine this file in Excel before importing to Outlook)

  14. Also, you may want to think about adding email and other info into the spreadsheet now - it's way easier to do it here than in Outlook.

  15. Open Outlook, select File... Import and Export... Import from another program or file

  16. Select Comma separated files (Windows)

  17. Browse to the .csv file choose overwrite or duplicate

  18. For destination folder, select "Contacts", select next, finish.

You should now see your newly created contacts in Outlook.

Optional Steps for Blackberry users to import from Outlook -> Blackberry:

  1. Now plug your Storm into your PC/Laptop

  2. Launch Desktop Manager

  3. Select the synchronize button/area

  4. Set up synchronization for contacts

  5. Synchronize

All of your Outlook Contacts should now appear under your Blackberry Contacts.

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February 06, 2009

Blackberry Storm review from a former Razr user

I recently responded to an email from a fellow QSI employee who, like me, was looking to upgrade from the Razr to the BlackBerry Storm.

Overall I'm happy with it. There are a few minor annoying UI issues, but here's what I think is good and bad

The most surprising non-feature is the lack of wi-fi connectivity - I spent a long time trying to figure out how to do it before finding out you can only use the Verizon network.

Web browsing is slow.

The keyboard is ok but easy to fatfinger. I've never found one I like anyway, so it's no better or worse than anything else.

Definitely get the screen protectors and/or holster. The holster looks precarious, but I've had it for weeks and no problems. I stupidly played hockey with it in my pocket and got a few scratches on the screen.

I like the swiss army knife-ness of it... so much cool stuff, the camera, mp3 player, maps, webbrowser, IM, pop email and oh yeah phone. There's some Excel and Word apps too, but I've never had much use for them.

The pop email collection works really well. Right there on the main screen one click and view email. You can add every web email you have, and you're alerted every time you receive one.

The camera is good - you definitely need a steady hand... pictures get sent upside down when you email them, though if you don't hold it the right way landscape-wise. The thumbnail is right-side-up, but when the user views the photo, everyone's hanging from the ceiling. And if you flip it in PhotoShop and resend it, the thumbnail is upside down. So use the camera with the camera mode button facing up. Also if you take a portrait shot and send it via email, or to facebook, it posts landscape.

Another thing that sucks is that the mode defaults to landscape every time you lay it down. It doesn't seem like that big of an issue at first, but in "Answer Call" mode, when the accellerometer switches from landscape to portrait, the "Ignore Call" button occupies the same screen space that had the "Answer Call" button in landscape mode. So you either end up ignoring the call, or having to risk missing the call while waiting for the mode to change. I Tweeted about this a few days ago and it happens pretty much every time you receive a call.

There is a lot of lag time when clicking buttons.

Blackberry apps are written in Java, but there's an MDS runtime environment that is a plugin for VS that looks promising for app development using .NET.

Speed dial is one less click than the Razr, just click the call button, and click-hold the speed dial number.

A lot of the blackberry apps like FaceBook, Twitter are pretty limited - I just end up just using the browser a lot of times. I had a posting I needed to delete once, and I had to scramble for a laptop and wi-fi to delete it. Yikes.

If you're upgrading from the Razr to this, you'll be frikkin' ecstatic, though.

And of course, if you need to import your contacts from Verizon's backup assistant, it's impossible. Check out my Backup Assistant import script, if you need to do this.

Hey, this might make a good blog post!

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