A Use Case For USB OTG

That feeling when you haven't opened the BlackBerry box yet...
That feeling when you haven’t opened the new BlackBerry device box yet…

BlackBerry is one of the most trusted brands I rely on in my life. In fact, it’s probable that there isn’t a company whose products I regularly rely on or entrust more than BlackBerry. I’ve been writing a non-fiction book for a couple decades that requires me to do a lot of exploratory writing and self-reflection, and I’ve been using BlackBerry as a core part of this process since I bought my first device in 2009. It’s a heady project that has been a dream of mine and I keep a file of actual content on my PlayBook and use my Classic and Z30 (depending on which has my SIM in it) to capture ideas and thoughts as they occur to me, usually very inconveniently in the early morning.

I began writing the book on paper, then started a file on a Windows PC, then used a handful of Palm OS devices for several years, and since 2009 have been using my Berries. Candidly, the core reason the security of the BlackBerry platform is so important to me is due to this book, in part to protect the content before I get it copyrighted, but also because the book requires significant self-discovery writing of a personal nature. Thus, when Palm stopped offering their desktop and began forcing users to backup to a cloud server, I looked for a new platform that I felt offered control and security of my data, and chose BlackBerry.

My precious; THE quintessential BlackBerry. Suck it Passport users!!! LOL.
My precious; THE quintessential BlackBerry. Suck it Passport users!!! LOL.

Currently, my BlackBerries are the most secure place I have to store userdata. I keep about 300MB of my userdata files including documents, spreadsheets, presentations, etc. on my Classic (my current daily driver) and use that as my primary store house for my userdata. Whenever I want access to those files via my PC, I just hook up my device via a USB cable, BlackBerry Device Manager recognizes my Classic, and off I go. In fact, I’m writing this blog post on my PC and will store it in my Classic when it’s finished. My Windows PC does feature a pretty secure power-on password for the hard drive, but the PC and OS are old and I no longer trust it as a place to securely store my data.

Old, Lenovo R60 Windows XP... Gosh!!!
Old, Lenovo R60 Windows XP… Gosh!!!

As my Berries are all encrypted and locked, there really is no safer place for me to store my 300MB worth of data and files. Although someone could erase my data if they obtained my device, I always have a backup via my 64 GB PlayBook, where I keep a second copy of everything. Data security and file management are key reasons I love and use BlackBerry.

USB OTG Adapter available on Amazon.com.
USB OTG Adapter available on Amazon.com.

I have two apps that I use daily that are important to my business and life: Viira, and MoneyPlus. Viira is an outstanding task management and notes app, for which I am writing a review that I hope to offer here soon, and Money Plus is a great app for tracking expenditures and is essentially like a combination checkbook register, allowing you to keep track of your balance, and spreadsheet, allowing you to sort by categories to see where you’re spending your money. Viira is truly critical for me as it’s my primary means of getting things done, managing my budding business, and storing notes about topics as varied as my book, to my coaching business, money and budgets, grocery lists, etc. I really could not overstate the significance of this app to my life. Due to this, I like to keep regular, weekly backups of the data in this app.

USB OTG Adapter, ScanDisk micro SD card with adapter and Classic...
USB OTG Adapter, ScanDisk micro SD card with adapter, and Classic…

I could backup this app via Link of course, by either by doing a full backup, which takes an hour or more, or by going into Link and selecting custom backup and then selecting Viira, which takes several minutes. However, my PC is typically off to take advantage of the power-on password security and it’s just not as convenient as I’d like, so I’ve been using the USB OTG feature of my Classic and Z30 to backup my data. Essentially, weekly, I will plug in a USB OTG adapter and a Scan Disk micro SD card to my Classic and backup Viira and Money Plus to it. After that, I pop the SD card into my Z30, open up my file manager, and move those files from the SD card to internal memory where they are encrypted and protected by my Z30 password. Then I reformat the SD card from my Z30 and put it back into the Scan Disk Mini USB adapter so it’s ready for future use. This process takes about 3 minutes.

Plug the USB OTG adapter (with SD card attached) in, and the BlackBerry File Manager recognizes it immediately.
Plug the USB OTG adapter (with SD card attached) in, and the BlackBerry File Manager recognizes it immediately.

I have also used the USB OTG feature to move files from my Classic to my PlayBook. Although the PlayBook does not have USB OTG, it does connect quickly to my PC and has 64 GB of storage space and a mini HDMI-out that allows me to connect it to my 48” flat panel TV. I’m a fan of Instagram and frankly, there are some absolutely incredible photographers on that platform that have gorgeous nature pictures in their accounts. I use Inst10 for Instagram and as I surf around, I will download these pictures onto my Classic SD card and keep them in a folder.

Many of these pics feature pretty high resolution and look incredible on my TV, so I like to use my PlayBook to store them and connect to the TV via HDMI and play them on the TV as a slideshow while I’m hanging out on a Saturday afternoon and don’t want to actually watch TV. It’s nice to have the slideshow going and I can totally see the allure of having a nice, big screen hanging on the wall acting as a picture frame and featuring rotating nature pictures; maybe one day, I’ll do that. In any event, I will download the pictures from Instagram, directly to a micro-SD card via USB OTG and then connect that SD card to my PC and using BlackBerry Device Manager, cut and paste the pictures from the SD card into the PlayBook for future use.

Open the file manager and you'll see the "usb device" connected.
Open the file manager and you’ll see the “usb device” connected.

I’m sure there are myriad uses for USB OTG, but these are two that I have found work for me, and use regularly. My “takeaway” from all this, is that BB10 is a robust platform offering significant functionality rather than being a phone with an app launcher. Data security and file management are not sexy, but I hope there is always a market for these features as they are important to me and I believe BlackBerry do them best. USB OTG is merely one aspect of this.

james pisano

RIM/BB fan since 2009. Wouldn't consider entrusting my career, life or privacy to another platform. Foremost, I am a student of life. Some likes: longboarding, nature, Baltimore Orioles, technology, driving, music, reading and Taoism. Politically independent.