How I used my BlackBerry smartphone to survive the holidays
With the holidays approaching, it's easy to get swept up in the hectic mix of parties, shopping, family gatherings and other obligations that take place this time of year. To stay on top of things, I needed some help, and since my smartphone is the one thing I always have with me, I went to BlackBerry® App World™ for some assistance.
I'm already pretty consistent about putting important tasks and meetings in my BlackBerry® Calendar, but I don't always get around to typing all the details into each calendar item. To speed up the process, I started using reQall, a free organizer/memory aid that lets me recite items into my BlackBerry® smartphone. The app then changes this information into text and automatically organizes it by date and key words. The app will then send me texts (or emails if I choose) as deadlines approach.
Right now, I'm using the free account, though I am tempted to try out the Pro account ($2.99/month or $24.99/year) for the Microsoft® Outlook and Google® Calendar synchronization as well as the ability to automatically organize tasks by location.
Banking and bill paying
While reQall definitely helps me stay organized, I find I need some additional assistance in this area, particularly with bill paying and banking, so I've also been using Personal Assistant.
Personal Assistant is actually a collection of apps that lets me manage 10 different areas of my life. I find I don't use them all, but I have been using the app to track my credit card and ATM spending, as well as manage my bills. Information about my accounts updates automatically, so I don't have to manually enter any deposit or withdrawal information. Especially during the holidays, when it's easy to lose sight of the monthly budget, an app like this helps me reign in spending.
And one place where it's easy to go over budget during the holidays is the grocery store. With people dropping in and holiday parties seemingly every weekend, it feels as though I'm at the grocery store every day. While, like most people, I used to carry handwritten grocery lists with me, invariably, I'd find I'd left my list stuck to the refrigerator rather than with me when I was at the store. To fix this problem, I just started carrying my list on my BlackBerry smartphone. And with SmartShopper, it's easy to keep track of what I need, as well as what I've bought in the past, allowing me to answer the question that always seems to stump me, “Do I need milk or did I buy it two days ago?”
There's nothing particularly fancy about SmartShopper—it just does what it promises. That is, it allows me to organize my shopping list and keep it with me on my BlackBerry smartphone. With it I can create multiple shopping lists, which is helpful if I know I'll be going to multiple stores, and edit existing lists, which is particularly useful, since I don't have to keep reentering items I buy on a regular basis.
Food and wine
And speaking of shopping, while I'm pretty handy in the kitchen, I can use some assistance with wine pairings—I've tried a variety of bartending apps for cocktail recipes as well as some apps that help with selecting a particular vintage, but I was looking for something a bit different—an app that would help me match wine and food—and I found a good one in Nat Decants Wine and Food Matcher. With it I can select the food I'm serving and then get recommendations on appropriate wines to serve.
And just why should I believe these selections? I wondered that too and then read up on this app a bit and found out that the recommendations come from Natalie MacLean, a James Beard Award–winning sommelier. I'm glad for the professional help when I'm staring at 200 different bottles of wine at the store and feeling overwhelmed by the selection. Also helpful is the ability to browse through different categories, such as appetizers, main courses and desserts, or if you already have wine you want to serve, you can get suggestions on what to serve with it.
The end of the year can be hectic, but with a little planning you can make things easier on yourself. To check out more apps that can help you get through the holiday season try clicking on these BlackBerry App World™ categories:
—Mallory St. James