29 Aug 2007

Sync your cell phone/mobile for ubiquitous access

The ability to truly make use of mobile e-mail is usually hampered by the fact that you aren't sitting comfortably in front of your day to day PC with access to your contacts in your favourite e-mail client, unless you are happy to use GMail or Yahoo!Mail from your phone's browser - But that's not as convenient as using your phone's mail client. It's far from rocket science and you don't need the most cutting edge cell phone to send mail on the move – even my trusty old NOKIA 6230i is well up to the task...

Outlook will probably sync with your cell phone by default. And if you don’t use Outlook then Nokia Synchronisation is a fantastic Thunderbird extension (only available in windows) that enables Thunderbird to sync with a Nokia cell phone. Thunderbird “Display name” corresponds to the “Contact name” on your phone and the “Work number” field in Thunderbird is used as the default contact number on your phone. “E-mail address” is straight forward and you have the option of a secondary e-mail address for each contact too.

This is where I introduce PLAXO – The on line address book that integrates fully with e-mail clients, both Thunderbird and Outlook. The advantage of using PLAXO is that your contacts are backed up on line and the details of your contacts who also use PLAXO are automatically updated if they change their information on line. This means that as long as you have the bare minimums of an Internet connection, you have access to all of your current e-mail client contacts, via your cellphone, a university/work machine or your friends laptop, just in case you need to retrieve the odd contact or two that you haven't synced to your phone yet.

Now, I further recommend ZYB as a tool to backup all your cell phone information. Create an account on the ZYB website and (provided that your handset and service provider are supported) you will be sent the settings to enable syncing of your cell phone contacts and calendar with ZYB from any location with coverage. You can use the ZYB web site via your PC to alter your contacts and calendar on line and sync with your phone to update the changes, or vice versa. The service provided by this website is priceless in the event that your cell phone is lost or stolen and it also facilitates easy and complete handset migration.

The ultimate would be for Plaxo to provide a “ZYB like” phone sync for complete and seemless phone–PC contact integration, but never the less...

Valid and accessible contacts make it possible to catch up with anyone via e-mail from your phone, anywhere – You just need to set up the mail service on your phone.On my NOKIA 6230i the mail settings are accessed in :"Menu, Settings, Configuration, Personal configuration settings, options, Add new, E-mail".

Typically you need your e-mail user name and password, pop3 server (something like mail.server.com for receiving mail) and smtp server (something like smtp.mobilecarrier.com for sending mail) – Ask your ISP/carrier for these settings if you don’t know where to find them on your desktop/laptop.

Sometimes these settings will require fine tweaking but if you set this up correctly you will be able to make use of the native e-mail client on your phone - More than likely very basic, but also very handy and certainly faster than browser based e-mail. Delete some of the pointless cellphone apps from your phone if you experience mail storage space issues.

As far as native cellphone apps go, the Nokia browser is putrid! It won't load the PLAXO or ZYB websites, but point your phone browser to mini.opera.com immediately and download Opera Mini (free) for a faster, more reliable, more compatible and more user friendly mobile browsing experience.

The number of websites that will load on your phone thanks to Opera Mini is incredible. The start page features a standard address bar, Yahoo! search bar, Dictionary.com/IMDb/Wikipedia search bar, your customised bookmarks and history listings.

You can skin the browser in classic red, girly pink, plain white or deep blue. Opera Mini can even keep track of your RSS feeds and display them by feed or by date. Turn off "load images" for an even faster (and cheaper) browsing experience.

One of your bookmarks in Opera Mini should be a link to Google bookmarks (create an account at www.google.com/bookmarks) as this will give you access to your favourite pages and RSS feeds on your phone.

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