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SplashMoney for BlackBerry Review

money-icon

“It’s in the way that you use it,

It comes and it goes.

It’s in the way that you use it,

Boy don’t you know.”

-Eric Clapton, It’s in the Way That You Use it.

For months I’ve been trying to find the right solution to tracking my finances. Like most, I’m on a tight budget, and every penny counts. I cannot afford to bounce a check, and must make sure there’s enough money in my account to cover my bills. I need a simple way to make and track a budget. I’ve looked at Quicken, Mint.com, spreadsheets, and more. There is so much variety of software, and each can be used in so many different ways. All I know is, I stopped carrying a checkbook because I rarely write checks. But I do have a smartphone (Blackberry), and perhaps that will afford me a way to stay on top of my money wherever I go. To that end, I have begun a trial of SplashMoney for BlackBerry, by SplashData.

SplashMoney comes with a desktop component and a BlackBerry component. From their website:

Manage your money anytime, anywhere. Connect to your online bank from your desktop computer or wireless handheld and download transactions directly into SplashMoney. Create budgets and then track and analyze your spending with customizable reports and charts. Synchronize your handheld with your desktop computer to stay on top of your finances whether you’re at home, on the road, or in the office. Includes free desktop companion software for Windows.

Installation

Installation is pretty straight forward on both the desktop and handheld. But you must enter a registration code or trial code in both.

Setup

setup

SplashMoney can handle many accounts. Setup is simple. Just go to File, New Account, and describe the account in the associated boxes. I set up a checking, savings and credit card account quickly and easily.  It can handle many types of currencies.

SplashMoney does more than keep a running list of your transactions. It features reports and budgets so you can see where your money is going. A transaction not only includes fields such as Date, Payee and amount, but also category, class, memo and type. Let’s look a bit more closely at these.

trans

Categories such as groceries, rent, car payment and dining help you determine budgets. The program comes with several pre-defined categories, but you can easily change them. You can also have sub-categories. With a few months’ worth of data you can see where your money is headed, and create budgets to help you make better money decisions. If, for example, your dining category is eating a huge percentage of your pay, it’s easier to spot that trend when you look over a months’ worth of data than if you just scroll through your check register.

The Type field includes Check, debit, deposit, ATM and any other types you’d like to add.

I cannot remember what I did a week ago, and if I didn’t write memos in each transaction, then I’d be completely clueless. The key to success in budgeting is to be diligent. I carry my BlackBerry everywhere, and every time I make a transaction I immediately enter it. It’s become second nature.

Class comes pre-loaded with Personal and Business types.

Lastly, Status determines if a transaction has cleared your bank. This is very handy for reconciliation.

As you can see, the software allows for flexibility and customization. In fact, it even lets you split transactions among different categories. Nice.

Data

So how do we enter data into SplashMoney? There are many ways. The simplest is to add each individual transaction into your handheld, then sync with the desktop. Or you can import bank transactions into your desktop and sync to your handheld. Or do both. Like the Clapton song I referenced earlier, it’s in the way that you use it. I prefer to never sync the handheld to the desktop. I like to import data from my bank into the desktop, and reconcile that to my handheld.

In theory SplashMoney lets you import your bank data automatically by connecting to your bank from either your handheld or the desktop. I couldn’t get this to work, though I didn’t try very hard. Also in theory, you can import CSV files to the desktop. This I tried very hard to do and was very unsuccessful and frustrated. I contacted support and they were quite nice, attentive and tried hard, but ultimately it wouldn’t work.

You can also import QIF and OFX files. This worked wonderfully. I wanted to import the entire year’s worth of transactions, and from that make reports and budgets. Unfortunately, my bank only lets me download the last three months’ worth of transaction, so I’m a bit out of luck there. But at least I have something to work with.

Reports

SplashMoney has a simple to use system for viewing your data. You can choose the dates, organize by category and choose your account. Want to see how much you spent on dining last month? No problem. Though the reports are perhaps not as sophisticated as what you may see in Quicken, they are easy to use and give you straight forward answers.

Budgets

This is a wonderful section of this versatile software. I find that allocating a specific amount to each category really helps me stay focused on how I’m spending my money, and more importantly how I’m saving my money. And as with all the other features of SplashMoney, budgeting is very simple to set up. You choose a particular category from the Budget tab, then a dialog box pops up and asks you to enter an amount. Easy.

The budgeting section could be improved if it allowed you to set up a budget for each month. Here’s why. Some months have four pay periods, others have five. This affects how much you receive in pay and how much you may pay out. Currently the software only lets you set up a budget for “this month”. Also, it doesn’t give advanced options such as carrying over your budget categories where you spent less than the allotted amount.

Security

SplashMoney features state of the art blowfish encryption.

Conclusion

SplashMoney is not the most feature-rich software out there. It’s not the cheapest. But it is simple to set up and use, provides you with the information you need, and best of all, can be carried with you at all times via a handheld. I have grown to depend upon it. Whenever I use my debit card, I take an extra 10 seconds to enter the transaction into my BlackBerry, and I always know my balance and budget.

Deposits

-Secure

-Easy to set up and use

-provides all the financial information you need

-Provides budgeting and reconciliation

Withdrawals

-The reporting is a bit simple

-Could benefit from more budgeting features

-Problems importing CSV files and connecting to my bank

SplashMoney is $29.95 and comes with a free trial.

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September 9, 2010 Posted by | Blackberry, Reviews, Software | Leave a comment

Mobile Checkbook 4.0 for BlackBerry Review

MCB35_Bold_Screen0_Crop

I almost never write checks.  I mainly use my debit card and rarely even carry my checkbook with me.  Keeping track of my transactions is very important to me and I found a very simple solution.  I always carry my BlackBerry with me, and Mobile Checkbook by Mobatech has created a simple, yet very effective solution for tracking my accounts.

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June 16, 2010 Posted by | Blackberry, Reviews, Software | Leave a comment

SplashID for BlackBerry Review v5.0.3

If you’re reading this, chances are you have a plethora of user ID’s and passwords for a myriad of websites, emails, computers, credit cards and many other items that require passwords and security.  SplashData’s SplashID is a password manager, also known as a wallet program.  This program, along with its desktop companion software, will help you manage all your important personal information. 

Views

The software features two views, list view and tree view.  List view, pictured below, allows you to choose a category, type or use Find to quickly pull up what you need.  Tree view skips the Types field and displays just the categories.  Both views feature a search bar to quickly get the info you need.

Capture15_34_3

Tree view:

Treeview

Click on an item to expand it:

expand

Any time you expand a view in Tree view, the software asks you to confirm your action.  I wish it would just expand when I click the plus sign.  List view doesn’t make you take this extra step.

tree2

To see the detail of a particular card, click on it, then press “detail”.

detailgoto

detailview

 

Categories and Types

Categories are used to group related records such as business, and personal records.  Types act as templates for inputting information.  A little complicated?  I agree, but it works.  A credit card template will have different information than a website login, and types allow you to define what information goes into the templates that you create.  You can use both to narrow down the items you are looking for.  For example, you may have web logins for work and for personal use.  Choose the Personal category, then choose Web Logins under Types and you will only see work logins.

Capture16_40_56

And here’s the Business category with Web Logins:

Capture16_41_3

Data

Your data is stored on “cards”.  The program has many built-in templates that you can modify, or you can create your own.  I am shopping for a new home in the city of Chicago, and to make it easy to find streets while I’m on the go I created a Streets template, downloaded tons of street information and put it into my template.

Capture15_42_37

Find State Street:

Find

See detailed view:

detailview

 

This streets template simply includes the street name, and it’s location.  Once you start using SplashID you will find many uses for it.  Our company carries hundreds of products, and each product has multiple prices, so I made a category for our products that I can quickly pull up while with customers.  I also keep track of my credit cards, memberships, logins, and many other things.  In fact, SplashID provides over 20 card templates for bank accounts, birthdays, calling cards, credit cards, domains and many more.

Import

Using this software is quite easy, but the key is getting data INTO SplashID.  Fortunately, this is not difficult either, as long as you have the desktop component.  If you’ve ever imported a comma delimted file (CSV) into Excel, then you can import data into SplashID.  As you can see below, you can import data with other data types as well, including from other wallet programs.  Obviously, you can also add individual cards as well.

DImport

Security

The most important reason to get SplashID is to have a secure home for your passwords and private information.  This is where SplashID shines.  You need only memorize one password to use SplashID, then you can access your many stored passwords.  According to their website, SplashID uses, “Unbreakable AES and 256-bit Blowfish encryption.”  You can’t beat that. 

Instead of using the same passwords for all your needs, you should use a different password for every need.  SplashID helps you by using their automatic password generator that will give you unguessable passwords.

SplashID has a mask/unmask feature that hides your passwords from those looking over your shoulder.  A masked password such as this: ****** will unmask into your password.

 

Desktop Companion Software

The desktop software performs all the same tasks as the BlackBerry, plus a few more such as importing.  I won’t go into much detail, but the following screenshots should give you an idea of what the desktop is about.

Category view:

DCategories

Detail view:

Ddetail

Double panel shows types on the left and items on the right.

desktop2panel

The triple panel shows the same as above and adds a detail screen at the far right.

DType3screen

Other Features

From the SplashID website:

Key Features:

  • new Enhanced security – AES and Blowfish encryption, auto lockout after 10 failed attempts, password strength meter, and password hint option
  • new Desktop web browser plugin with web form autofill (Safari and Internet Explorer)
  • new Attach files to records for secure retrieval at a later date
  • new Add custom icons to records from any image file (48×48 PNG recommended)
  • new Smart Types (Most Viewed, Recently Modified, & Recently Viewed) help you get to your most popular records faster.
  • new Sync multiple SplashID databases (with other version 5 BlackBerry databases only)
  • new Enhanced Lookup feature instantly displays relevant results as you type
  • new Email and share securely encrypted SplashID files to other users
  • new Toolbars give you button features where they are needed the most
  • new Updated icon set with enhanced high resolution graphics
  • Unlimited number of customizable record types and categories for storing all kinds of confidential information (usernames, passwords, bank accounts, credit cards, registrations, insurance, prescriptions, and more)
  • Synchronize data between your BlackBerry and your Windows or Mac desktop using the included desktop software, via USB or Wi-Fi (if available). Mac sync is Wi-Fi only.
  • Automatic password generator – for generating random hacker-safe passwords based on user criteria
  • Complete backup and restore feature
  • Set URL field in your records to deliver you to the correct address every time — completely defeats phishing
  • Sequential backup system

 

Cost

The software for your BlackBerry and the desktop companion run $29.95.  Not cheap, but once you start using it you will get addicted.

Conclusion

It ain’t cheap.  But if you want a simple, portable way to have all your important data at your fingertips, this is a great investment.  It’s very flexible in that it lets you customize your data, it gives you a way to import tons of data at once, and it’s quite easy to use.  Most importantly, it is extremely secure. 

June 4, 2010 Posted by | Blackberry, Reviews, Software | Leave a comment

Calendar Pro for BlackBerry by SBSH Quick Take

The BlackBerry native calendar:

BBCal

Agendus’ Calendar:

AgendusCal

Calendar Pro:

CalPro

If these pictures are not enough to make you get Calendar Pro right away, consider the following.  I had an issue with duplicate entries on my Calendar Pro calendar. 

duplicate

I went to their forums and asked for assistance.  I received expert help quickly and they solved my problem.  It turns out that my calendar was drawing from several other calendars (ie Facebook, Yahoo and Outlook) and they showed me how to eliminate the other calendars.

Calendar Pro is $14.95 and worth every penny. 

May 21, 2010 Posted by | Blackberry, Reviews, Software | Leave a comment

TuneWiki for BlackBerry

twlogotype_sm_whitebg

I’ve had enough of iPhone this and iPhone that.  Let’s talk cool apps for your BlackBerry, shall we?  Gear Diary reported that TuneWiki is available for the BlackBerry.  What is TuneWiki?  It’s a website that plays music of your choice and displays lyrics.  It’s a community forum.  It displays maps that show what other users are listening to.  It may still be a beta, but it’s pretty darn cool!  Now they have an app available in the BlackBerry App Store (yes, we have one too).  It’s a free download, but you can upgrade to the Pro version for $4.99.  Supposedly the free version is ad-supported, but I didn’t see any.  So let’s give it a quick walk through…

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June 30, 2009 Posted by | Blackberry, Mp3, Opinions, Reviews, Software, Steals and Deals | 1 Comment

Pocket Informant for Blackberry V. Agendus for Blackberry

Icons

PI icon top right, Agendus icon middle right

I recently received a Blackberry 8350i for work, and like Windows Mobile, the built in Contact Manager is inadequate.  There are separate modules for each function.  If you want to make an appointment you must open the calendar.  To view contacts you must open contacts.  These two suites I am reviewing combine all the functions into one program.  Open a contact and you can make an appointment, send an email, assign a task and so on.  So I am putting both Pocket Informant  for Blackberry v1.6 and Agendus for Blackberry v1.21 through a rigorous testing process.  Both have features that enhance contact management, though they go about it in very different ways.  And both versions are relatively new and will likely see enhancements and improvements in the months to come.

Agendus uses the built in databases to perform its duties.  Pocket Informant (PI) feels that the built in databases are too limiting, thus they have their own databases.  There are many other differences as well.  I will attempt to illustrate them in this head to head comparison.

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June 7, 2009 Posted by | Blackberry, Reviews, Software | Leave a comment

Supercharge Your Outlook with Agendus for Outlook v5.41

I’ve had a Windows Mobile device since 2000.  But recently my work gave me a Blackberry 8350i to replace my aging Nextel phone.  I had the opportunity to reduce my load from two devices to one.  I had to make a lot of changes in order to accomplish my goals of continuing to carry my important business information and integrating the Blackberry into my business routine.  One big switch I made was moving from Act! Contact Manager to Outlook.  I suppose I could’ve kept Act! if I used the excellent CompanionLink software to sync my device, but I want a more direct solution.

Outlook excels at email, but is not a great contact manager.  Act! is a great contact manager but does not excel at email.  Hmmmm.  If I downloaded the Business Contact Manager for Outlook add-on, I’d have to use CompanionLink, so I felt stuck.  That is, until I demo’d Agendus for Outlook.

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May 15, 2009 Posted by | Blackberry, Reviews, Software, Windows Mobile | 1 Comment

How To Make Free Ringtones For Blackberry

Why pay money for ringtones when you can make them yourself easily?  My guide will take you through the very easy steps.  You’ll have your own ringtones in minutes!  I’ve only tried this on the Blackberry Curve, but I bet you can use it for many types of phones.

Open up the free Audacity software.

Audacity1

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April 14, 2009 Posted by | Blackberry, Mp3, Tutorial, Utilities | Leave a comment

18 Months is a Lifetime

train

When I wrote the article, “Divergence and Death” last August, I said in regards to Windows Mobile (WM), “Windows Mobile is Dead.  Read on to find out why your next device will not have a Windows Mobile OS…It’s grown old.  And boring.  I’m thinking of kicking my excitement level up by taking up Bocce Ball or Bowling.  All the devices are the same.  They are no better than what we had four years ago.  They’re just getting bloated with compromised add-ons.”  ZDnet just did an interview with Andy Lees, Microsoft’s top WM guy, and he admitted, “We aimed to go for a lower common denominator…We started out when we were in PDAs (personal digital assistants) and then a phone got strapped to the back of the PDA,” Lees said. The company also failed to recognize that phones–even those that were used for business–were still as much personal as they were professional.”

There were 38 responses to that article, such as,

“Another anti-Windows Mobile rant. Why don’t you write about how cameras have not really changed in 10 years, or laptops? They still sell like hotcakes, much like Windows Mobile. 90% YoY growth is not to be sneezed at, and WM gained market share on Nokia in Europe recently.

People who have used WM for 10 years are understandably bored. They should really just move on without this traditional “slamming the door on the way out” rant.”

and

despite ANYTHING that is said here, WinMo is NOT, I repeat NOT dead or on life support. As I recall, this was a hardware based rant. Which, was right… I’m not certain why we are still using devices with speeds and capabilities we had 3+ years ago…

and on the opposite end,

“The big culprit here is the Windows Mobile OS with the lack of innovation and effort from Microsoft over the past several years. Honestly, the devices are good in terms of hardware but the core is lacking significantly.”

and this:

I’ve been having this conversation with Chris Gavula and the rest of the Team over at Gear Diary for more than a year. While this rant is right on when it comes to the hardware, in many cases, its not about can’t…its about don’t or won’t.

We had wildly divergent opinions to the article.  But the bottom line, at least to me, was that WM phones and PDAs made today are using the same hardware as almost five years ago, and WM looks like DOS next to next gen OS’s such as the iPhone, Symbian, BlackBerry, Android and the upcoming Palm Pre.  Is all hope lost?  Can Microsoft regain the confidence of users?  Andy Lees thinks so.  He said, “Microsoft embarked on a new strategy some time ago that will come to fruition over the next 18 months.”  Wow, 18 months is forever in the world of technology.  Time seems to have stopped for WM.  With incremental upgrades to the OS, Microsoft is making a half-assed effort at pleasing customers.  If they come out with an OS with a major WOW factor, if it’s not delayed, if it is not buggy, are you going to wait 18 months for it?  Are their competitors?  Apple has made significant improvements to the iPhone, RIM is cranking up the heat, Android is new and exciting and Palm really is putting forth a huge effort with the Pre.  I don’t see any of them falling to the wayside.  Chances are that over the next 18 months your cell contract will be up.  Will you pay hundreds of dollars for a WM device that is no better than what you have today or will you look at the competition?  I believe many people will think twice before going to the same old same old.  And once you change trains, it is that much harder for WM to win you back.  18 months can turn into a lifetime.

Source: ZDnet via Pocket PC Thoughts

January 29, 2009 Posted by | Apple, Blackberry, Opinions, Pocket PC, Software | Leave a comment

I Want a New Drug

tweaks  iPhone_blackberry

 

I’ve had a Windows Mobile (WM) device for 8 years, as I’m sure many of you have.  I feel so comfortable with it.  I know its capabilities, I have tons of great software, and best of all, I have support from this excellent forum and others like it.  If I want to find how to do nearly anything a Windows Mobile device is capable of, all I need do is ask.

But my comfort has grown into boredom.  I’ve done many things to alleviate this boredom and make my device more exciting and user friendly, such as upgrading the ROM to WM6.1, and adding Winterface, ZoomBoard and other modern applications.  But when it comes to using the device, ultimately I have to pull out a stylus, and that’s where my frustration lies.  When a customer calls and I need to look at the notes in his contact information or look up product information in my device, I get very frustrated by having to pull out the tight-fitting stylus and navigating a bunch of menus.

Supposedly Microsoft will unveil the next version of WM in the second half of 2009, called WM6.5.  But there are no firm details as to expected improvements.  And the new version will reportedly only be available in new handsets.  I’m not sure I want to wait at least six months for a new, exciting product, when I have no idea what to expect.  Will we still have to drag out a stylus for picking out contacts or playing some of my favorite games?  How will our user experience be enhanced?  Judging from past versions of WM, I suspect only incremental upgrades, and that’s ok, because I’m sure Microsoft doesn’t want to alienate their current user base by making radical changes.  But I feel radical changes are in order.

If you were to suggest a pocket pc or new phone to someone, would you recommend a WM product if they had no previous experience?  I don’t think I would.  I think it would be a steep learning curve as compared to the out-of-the-box user experience that competitors supply, such as the iPhone, BlackBerry, the upcoming Palm Pre, Symbian and Android.  I have many non-techie friends who have recently bought new handsets from BlackBerry and iPhone and were up and running quickly.  Can one expect that from a WM device?  Certainly a WM device has more capabilities, is more tweakable, has a huge software base, and of course huge communities to help one along.  But the vast majority of users are not looking to reflash ROMs, or edit the registry.  Which begs the question, what is a power user?  Is a power user someone who endlessly upgrades roms and software, tweaks the endless amount of settings and spends hours hacking away at the user interface, or is a power user someone who makes tons of calls, emails and text messages?

I think both are power users, but they are very different types of power users.  One is a power user and the other is really a power tweaker.  Take my wife, for example.  She is very non-techie.  When her work got her a BlackBerry Curve she was emailing and texting in minutes.  She has turned into a major power user.  Yet she has no idea how the inner-workings of her phone function.  And why should she care when everything works with no intervention?

I enjoy tweaking my device.  It’s fun.  I’m amazed at some of the incredible ideas people have come up with in order to enhance the WM experience.  But really, is this experience radically different than it was 8 years ago?  I submit it is not.  And that would be fine if I never saw a BlackBerry or iPhone.  But with that door open, WM suddenly seems old fashioned.  To be sure, you can dress it up in the beautiful cocoon of an HTC Fuze, and you can add finger friendly software, but that won’t attract the casual user who makes up the vast majority of customers.  Isn’t it obvious?  A recent article from Computerworld.com showed the numbers.  For the 3rd quarter of 2008 Symbian is first in sales with 15.4 million sales, followed by RIM with 5.8 million units sold, and 3rd place iPhone finally beat out WM devices for the first time, 4.7 million units to 4 million.  Of these nearly 30,000,000 units sold, how many owners are in the power tweaker category as opposed to the power user?

Are you happy with your WM device, or are you looking for easier access to your information and communication functions?  Do you want to spend your time tweaking or texting?

And while I’m at it, I have to say I am sick of using a mouse.  I only have two hands and the mouse is slowing me down.  It’s also time for a new desktop user interface that allows two handed use or we will be forced to evolve into three-handed people.

January 23, 2009 Posted by | Apple, Blackberry, Opinions, Pocket PC, Technology, Windows, Windows Mobile | Leave a comment