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Getting Up and Running with BlackBerry Unite! at your Home or Office

CrackBerry.com's BlackBerry 101 Lecture Series
By Robert Kao on 6 Aug 2008 12:18 pm EDT
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As many you of you know, with BlackBerry Bold and BlackBerry Thunder (Storm), Research In Motion has been moving full speed ahead into the retail consumer space trying to win market shares. Along with BlackBerry Pearl, BlackBerry Bold, and the BlackBerry Thunder (Storm), BlackBerry Unite! is part of retail consumer strategy to win you over.

What is BlackBerry Unite! ? Basically it is a dumb down version of the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES). Like the BES, BlackBerry Unite! lets you monitor user usage; for instance, you can see who your daughter is call and how often. Or you can see what URL your top sales guy is browsing and maybe block certain website. In addition to the "control freak" features, you can also share calendar, address book, and best of all, file sharing.

In today's lesson, we will take you one step at a time into how to install BlackBerry Unite! and how to get up and running with user setup with BlackBerry Unite!

Getting Up and Running with BlackBerry Unite!

What do you need?

The hardware requirements on the machine running BlackBerry Unite! are not intensive. You can find a box with below requirements with ease:

  • Intel Pentium III processor (750 MHz or greater)
  • A PC running Windows XP SP2 or Windows Vista
  • Minimum 512 MB of RAM available (1 GB for Microsoft® Windows Vista)
  • Minimum 2 GB of disk space available
  • Available USB port or serial port for your BlackBerry Device
  • Internet Explorer 6.0 or higher installed.
  • Internet connection

On the BlackBerry side, BlackBerry OS 4.3 or higher is fully supported. OS 4.0 to OS 4.2.1 is supported with reduced functions.

A word about your firewall

According to the documentation, if you have a tight firewall, you must use a transparent firewall. I am running ZoneAlarm Security Suite version 7.0.483 without any conflicts with the BlackBerry Unite!

Step 1: Download BlackBerry Unite! Here

Visit the BlackBerry Unite! Download page and download from your preferred carrier or location. If you're not sure, choose the "Research in Motion" option.

Step 2: Installation

Installation is very simple. Just answer the questions on screen (installation path, country/region...etc).

When installation is finished, Internet Explorer should launch the BlackBerry Unite! Admin Console: http:// localhost:8080/unite/pages/login.jsf. You can also invoke the Unite! Console page by going to Start->Programs->BlackBerry Unite!-> BlackBerry Unite! Web Admin.

In addition, you should see a little server icon running MSSQLServer, see Figure 1.

Unite! 
Figure 1 - MSSQLServer.

If you do not see MSSQLServer running and the Admin Console shows up empty in IE, restart your machine and try again.

Step 3: Configure users

When you first open the Unite! Web Admin Console, it will prompt you to register. See Figure 2.

Unite!
Figure 2 - Post-installation registration

After you've registered, the first thing you should do is add your own BlackBerry to Unite! by connection your BlackBerry to the PC via USB cable, and then click on Add User button on the Welcome screen.

Unite! Figure 3 - Welcome screen, where you can add user.

After you have added a user to Unite!, you will see on the BlackBerry device several Unite! icons. In Figure 4, I have placed all the Unite! icons within a folder, for illustration purposes. The 3 icons start from the right belongs to Unite!. The first icon on the right is the Unite! email address that you can setup. The second icon from the right is Remote Device Management. The third is Download Manager.

A word of caution on the registering email on Unite! - don't register an email address that you've already registered with the BIS. Or if you do, un-register the same email address from BIS. Why? Have the same email address registered on BIS and Unite! means you will get the same email twice. You don't want that.

So, if you don't want to add an email to Unite! when you are adding user, simply don't key in email address and password.

Unite!
Figure 4 - BlackBerry Unite! icons on your home screen.

Step 4: Share Calendar with your BlackBerry Unite! Users

From the Web Admin Console, click on Shared Calendar. Click on Add Event and fill in the Event details, see Figure 6. As soon as you hit Save, all registered BlackBerry device will have the event sync-ed up. See Figure 7. Tip, if you are running OS 4.3 or higher, you can pick a different color for different Calendar Service. As you can see from Figure 7, Unite! on my BlackBerry is yellow colored.

Unite!Figure 6 - Adding Event Details
Unite!
Figure 7 - The added event sync-ed on the BlackBerry

Hint, you can choose the color of Calendar from Calendar Options. Again, this only works for BlackBerry OS 4.3 or above.

Step 5: Download file remotely onto your BlackBerry

Another cool feature is that you can browser the file directory on your BlackBerry and download the files you want. From your BlackBerry, click on Download Manager, see Figure 4. Then you will see a screen similar to Figure 8. From there, you can select "Browse remote files" and download any file you want, and download, see Figure 9.

Unite!
Figure 8 - Download Manager Application

Unite!
Figure 9 - Downloading a file off the remote PC

Step 6: Auto File Sync via USB

The BlackBerry Unite! allows user to sync files in a designated folder automatically when the BlackBerry is connected to the PC via USB. This feature can be used for large file set (like movies, music) that you download. It would probably be good for a device like the BlackBerry Pearl / Curve / Bold, which all have great video playback capabilities. To set the designated folder, from the Web Admin, select a BlackBerry user, then select Folder Management, see Figure 10. In Folder Management, you can select which folder the BlackBerry syncs with every time the BlackBerry is connected via USB.

Unite!
Figure 10

What's the difference between Step 5 and Step 6? Step 6 is for getting larger media files on to your BlackBerry, where Step 5 is great for documents.

Step 7: Exploring Unite! "Control Freak" Features

You can let your inner control freak let loose with the management features. From the Web Admin Console, select a user name, and then click on Device Management on the left navigation, see [Figure 5].

In the Manage Service Tab, you can control many different types of contents:

  • Restrict incoming and outgoing calls
  • Restrict certain URL (your own version of "WebSense"). To do this, you have to set "Browse the internet using" BlackBerry Unite! browser.
  • Enable/disable SMS capability

Unite!
Figure 5
 

BlackBerry Unite! Automatic Software MR2 Update

Just released on July 31, 2008, BlackBerry Unite! Automatic software MR updates are updates to BlackBerry Unite! software. These MR software updates install automatically on computers running BlackBerry Unite! software and include new features and functionality. To start using the new features, Unite! existing Unite! users need to reactive the BlackBerry they are running on Unite!

New Features include:

  • Load default policy
    • BlackBerry Unite! software MR2 is designed to allow users to reset service restrictions on BlackBerry smartphones to the default settings by clicking a button.
  • Restrict file transfers
    • BlackBerry Unite! software MR2 introduces the functionality to restrict file transfers. BlackBerry Unite! software is designed to allow users to disable file transfer to or from a BlackBerry smartphone, or place a file size limit on file transfers.
  • Change the polling interval
    • BlackBerry Unite! software MR2 is designed to allow users to define the amount of time BlackBerry Unite! software will wait before polling messaging servers for new email messages. A longer polling interval will decrease network activity, and a shorter polling interval will cause BlackBerry Unite! software to check for and retrieve email messages more frequently.
  • Rich content email messages
    • BlackBerry Unite! software MR2 includes support for rich content email messages.

Hope you enjoy BlackBerry Unite! For more information and help, be sure to visit our BlackBerry Unite! forum.

Reader comments

Getting Up and Running with BlackBerry Unite! at your Home or Office

10 Comments

can you send calendar's to a specific device? e.g. i want to use the service to keep all employees on their work schedule

So the main objection to this software I've heard is that it installs an IT policy and people HATE that...is there any reason why? What difference does it make if I'm the one controlling the policy? Am I missing something that it does to the phone? Sorry I've never used BES always been a BIS user so no IT policies (that i'm aware of)

There are two BIG problems with this software:

1) If your host machine is down you can't use the email you have defined. If you so happen to place your primary email on Unite and your machine/server goes down you are screwed.

2) The software places its own IT policy on your phone permanently. I installed this but found out it didn't really meet my needs, then on the uninstall I ran into the IT policy issue. It is still on my phone (albeit "open").

Thanks to 2-3 hours talking to Nova Scotia my phone and server were functional again.

I read some of the comments from the crackberrys who tried this out. I was scared as a result! I think the idea is great, but I would much rather have an online feature like this that's part of the BIS. I realize that's really making the BIS into more of a BES, but for everyday consumers like me (e.g., non-corporate/business), this would be really great!

I'm really looking for a solution to sync my calendar OTA with an online source. I tried Google Sync for my gmail account's calendar, but it has a LOT of issues to be addressed.

I've been investigating Outlook "online" or "live" (whatever it's called!). I know I can't sync directly from the BlackBerry, but at least I can sync my Outlook calendar with that, and then the Outlook calendar with my berry once a day.

I think BlackBerry Unite is a good attempt by RIM to address a consumer need. However, I think the issues mentioned certainly do not make it worth trying for me.

Im having trouble getting SQL server to install any suggestions? When i go to install unite it wont give me the option to install SQL. I have downloaded it again but i am still having issues.

This App downright blows. Who the he][ wrote this, and thought Blackberry 101: How to Screw up a perfectly functioning Blackberry in such a way that even a Blackberry program cannot fix it. You have to use a 3rd party app to restore the device to functionality. Essentially the IT policy is crap just like the program is. The posting of this article is painfully apparent, that those who run this forum, obviously do not read it. I hope Crackberry is in the business of providing technical support for free, when they have to write Blackberry 101: How to use JL Cmder on your blackberry to make it functional again, and get rid of the Unite software we showed you how to install.

after reading this, I thought fantastic, I can turn my laptop into a server and mangage my BB and my wife's BB where ever! now that I dig into it, I am just not ready to do that. Then some body mentioned google sync and we are hooked. Thanks!!!

1. If server goes down....thats the same with pop accounts as well. So that one I'm ok with
2. Please elaborate on exactly what the IT policy wont allow us to do. Can we change the IT policy to ALLOW everything?