Updated Morcombe app

To: Dave Torr <>, Murray Lord <>
Subject: Updated Morcombe app
From: Peter Shute <>
Date: Sun, 3 Jun 2012 09:38:26 +1000
It'll be interesting to see how long Blackberry can hold on. They were once the 
default smart phone for businesses, but there's open revolt among users, with 
many insisting on something else (usually an iPhone) to the point where many 
are opting to buy their own rather than take a company supplied Blackberry. 
Very unusual.

Equally unusual is an app developer fulfilling their promise of "Blackberry 
version coming soon". Well, in this case it didn't come soon, but it did come, 
and I never expected it to happen. Perhaps this is only to be expected from the 
author of what I consider to be the most progressive of Australian field guides 
in terms of usability. First we had text with pictures, a quick index and a 
built in bookmark ribbon, now we have a Blackberry app!

Despite the likelihood that, after 7 years as a Blackberry user, I will end up 
with an iPhone in a year or so when this contract runs out, I bought and 
installed the Morcombe app on my 9800 via Blackberry App World last night 
without waiting for a response from the authors asking if the licence can be 
later transferred to a different type of phone.

I easily paid by Paypal. The download process wasn't straightforward, mainly 
because my home WiFi is dodgy, but it eventually installed the 2MB program. Now 
for the 300MB of data. This is where the programmers revealed their 
inexperience developing for Blackberries. The precise instructions it showed 
when I ran the app said I should now click either the Install button to 
download wirelessly, or the Exit button if I wanted to download the data files 
on a PC. But there were no buttons.

What it should have said was to press the (physical) Blackberry button and 
choose one of  those options from the popup menu. This is where, for an 
app-weary Blackberry veteran, it gets funnier. You can't click on the menu 
options either! It took me a while to think to try tapping the touch screen 
instead, and that worked. Blackberry is still coming to terms with the touch 
screen, and developers unused to devices with a touch screen, trackpad and a 
physical keyboard are forgetting to check that all the input methods work.

But Blackberry apps that don't work properly have been a fact of life for a 
long time, and I've seen worse than this so I persisted.

I chose the option to download the data files wirelessly, just to see what 
happened. It failed a few times, but managed to get about 30MB of them before I 
gave up. With more reliable WiFi, wireless download might be feasible. The fact 
that there are many small files and doesn't retry those it already has is good 
design that will get you there eventually.

I instead followed the instruction to use a computer to browse to the download 
site to download them. The URL given in the instructions results in this 
browser message:
"HTTP Error 403.14 - Forbidden. The Web server is configured to not list the 
contents of this directory." I browsed around the site and found the right 
place to download them. They need to fix those instructions.

The download on the PC was done with a browser Java app that showed the 
download progress, once I'd told it which part of the phone memory I wanted it 
in. When it reached 100%, it just sat there, appearing to do nothing. I 
expected that it would then show me the progress of loading the files to the 
phone, which I'd already connected via USB. Had it already done it? Instead of 
assuming it had, I browsed around the phone's memory and found where it was 
putting them. It hadn't finished - I could see new files appearing all the time.

I kept refreshing the screen until no more files appeared, and disconnected the 
phone. The Java app still just sat there, giving no indication that it was all 
finished. They should fix that, or people will end up corrupting their phone 
memory by disconnecting before it's done. This kind of install is normally done 
via the Blackberry Desktop Manager, which I don't like, and I'm grateful for an 
alternative method.

Then I started the app on the phone, and it checked for missing files and 
started up. Not the smoothest Blackberry app install I've done, but far from 
the worst.

The app itself is riddled with interface inconsistencies, with some buttons 
requiring screen touches, and some requiring trackpad clicks, even with 
mixtures on the same screen. All typical Blackberry app stuff, and nothing to 
faze the experienced Blackberry user.

I haven't used it enough to comment much on the content, other than it seems to 
have roughly the same stuff my compact Morcombe has in it, plus the nest and 
egg illustrations. I can find species, look at the pictures, zoom in on them, 
scroll between species variations, read the text and listen to the calls. I was 
pleased to see that the calls for each species are divided into types, unlike 
the BOCA calls, which I assume are more complete but are all lumped into the 
one track for each species.

 I don't know if there's a trick to it, but I can't get the search function to 
come up with any results at all. Surely there is at least one mostly black and 
white land species found in Victoria? Does this work for you iPhone users? I'm 
not that fussed about this, but I'd like to get it working.

Obviously a few glitches in this app, but I'm looking forward to always having 
a field guide with me, and I'd recommend it to other Blackberry users.

Peter Shute

Sent: Saturday, 2 June 2012 2:11 PM
To: Murray Lord
Subject: Updated Morcombe app

Strange choice given that Blackberry is apparently only the 6th best
selling OS (depending on which website you look at!) and that it may not be
around much longer. I would have though Android would be a better bet and
then some of the others.

On 2 June 2012 13:49, Murray Lord <> wrote:

> For any iPad owners out there I see that the Morcombe field guide app has
> just been updated, and it will now display properly on an iPad as well as
> an iPod touch or iPhone. In other words it doesn't just look like a
> stretched version of the iPhone app on an iPad any more.
> There was a warning that the update can delete your bird lists if you
> haven't backed them up beforehand.
> I understand a blackberry version is now available too.
> Murray

To unsubscribe from this mailing list,
send the message:
(in the body of the message, with no Subject line)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU