's BlackBerry 101 Lecture Series

Happy October 1st Class! Fall is in the air, Halloween is just around the corner, and if you have been following our BlackBerry 101 Lecture Series so far, you'll know we covered Why BlackBerry? and How to Choose the Right BlackBerry for You! which means you hopefully have your hands on a BlackBerry of your very own as you read this.

You might be sporting a new BlackBerry 8310 or T-Mobile's WiFi-enabled 8320 or maybe you've decided to hold out just a bit longer on buying a new BlackBerry so you can get your hands on the just-announced BlackBerry Pearl 8130 (which looks AWESOME and is coming to North American CDMA networks in just a few short weeks). And if you are a long-time BlackBerry user and are tuning in, thanks for keeping us company this class.

From here on out, we're going to assume you have a BlackBerry, and the lectures are going to dive into basic and advanced phone functions, applications, tips and tricks. If you think back to our Why BlackBerry? lecture, you'll remember one of my points in favor of Why to Choose BlackBerry was its easy-to-learn, user-friendly operating system. You'll be doing a lot of BlackBerry learning on your own without having to wait for our Monday lectures, but make sure you don't start skipping class even if you pick things up real fast. We'll be jumping around from topic to topic, so even if you know it all one week, there's a still a chance you'll pick up something new the next.

Last week's lecture was a long one, so today we are going to keep it short and focus on getting your BlackBerry out of its box and up and running with full BlackBerry data.

Business Berry
If you work for a company and they handed you a BlackBerry, most of this lecture won't be for you. Hopefully a capable and friendly BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) administrator or IT dude took the time to set your BlackBerry up properly and showed you how to read and send emails and make a phone call. If that's the case – immediately find the BrickBreaker icon on your desktop and set your personal best. Once set, break that record. Continue to do so until our next lecture.

On the BIS
For the rest of this lecture, I'm going to assume you picked up your BlackBerry from a Carrier and are going to be using the BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) for your BlackBerry email. If you're not sure of the difference between BIS or BES or which applies to you, check out Lecture #2 in our BlackBerry 101 series.

Opening the Box
Dive In! Here's what you'll typically find:

  • Quick Start Guide/Getting Started Guide (which nobody reads, but honestly, it is worth taking at least a quick look at)
  • Your BlackBerry Smartphone (wooHOO!)
  • Lithium Ion battery
  • Travel Charger
  • USB Cable (for connecting to desktop computer and charging from desktop computer)
  • CD-ROM with BlackBerry Desktop Manager Software
  • Stereo Headset
  • And in most cases you'll have some sort of BlackBerry holster or pouch (the AT&T 8300 Curve didn't ship with any sort of case!).

UnBoxing BlackBerrys is ALWAYS Fun - DIVE RIGHT IN!

Honestly, of all the BlackBerrys I have had, I have yet to ever take the included Stereo Headset out of its plastic shrink wrap (they really shouldn't even spend the money including these – I'd rather save $5 on the device), and though many people are fans of the included BlackBerry OEM cases/holsters, I'm not one of them (I guess I did like the quick-draw-McGraw style holster on my 8700…but that's about it). Well prior to starting I was an accessorize-my-BlackBerry junkie, and that's what I recommend to all new BlackBerry users! Head down to the accessory store to check out tons of Bluetooth headsets, headphones, and cases for your new toy.

SIM Card Installation
If you're running on a GSM network, the first thing you will want to do is get your SIM card installed. Pull the battery cover off (you might as well get rid of any protective plastic that's sticking to your berry's screen or battery cover while you're at it) and examine your berry's insides. The SIM card is always located beneath the battery (which if you're setting up for the first time won't be inserted into the phone) but depending on the model of phone you pick up, the location/method of insertion may be slightly different. The key to SIM card insertion is too look at the notched corner of the SIM card and match it up to the notched edge of the SIM card holder in the device. RIM always marks the outline of the SIM card into the phone, so whether you're installing it into an 7200, 8700 or modern generation of BlackBerry phone, you can always figure out which way the SIM card has to go (though you may have to squint!) by lining up the notched corners.

Under the Hood of a Generation of BlackBerrys:
L to R: BlackBerry 7250, 8700, Pearl, 8830, Curve
Click the Image to Zoom In

The sliding trap door SIM holder found on new BlackBerrys is easy to use, so long as you squint and read the Unlock/Lock text etched into the holder's casing and look which direction the arrows point. Slide it to unlock, lift the door, and insert your SIM (line up the notched corner). Drop the door, slide it to the locked position and you are done!

With the SIM inserted, you can install your battery. You'll find that BlackBerry batteries always come with some charge in them (enough to boot up, run through set-up, and maybe play a few games of BrickBreaker).

Line up the pins between the battery and BlackBerry, drop the battery in, and replace the battery cover. You'll find that the Lithium Ion batteries RIM uses in their BlackBerrys charge up quite quickly. Only a few hours of charging from a totally drained battery will do the trick, and very often when your BlackBerry is running low on juice, even a quick hour on the charger will zap them back to fully-charged life.

I've always been one to charge my cell phones during the night (it's a habit I developed dating back to my first Motorola StarTac flip phone in 1996 (or was it 97?) and I have never really changed it.  We've had a lot of debate in the CrackBerry forums as to what's the optimal method of charging. Because the BlackBerry batteries can be brought up to full-charge so quick yet have a long life, many feel that charging them all night, every night is overkill and may lead to the battery requiring replacement sooner than if it was charged more sparingly and only when it needs charging (which may be a couple of days or more depending on your usage). I'm not sure if there's proof one way or the other, and I'm too stubborn to change my ways, so I'll stick to my nightly charging ritual (I typically want to replace my BlackBerry with the latest and greatest anyways…so the battery always seems to outlive my use for the device!). If you're looking for longevity though, watch the battery life, charge it only when it starts to get real low, and avoid the temptation to plug it in night after night.

It's Alive!
With the Battery now inserted, your BlackBerry will boot up to life. It takes a while for a BlackBerry to boot up – don't be alarmed. The waiting is a small price to pay for the stability of the BlackBerry OS. Once a BlackBerry boots up it rarely ever needs to be shutdown/rebooted, especially if you stick to 'typical' use (if you monkey around with it…which is often the case of hardcore CrackBerrys…you may need to do a battery pull every now and then).

New BlackBerrys will launch the Setup Wizard upon first startup. Go through the process – it only takes a few minutes and you'll take care of many necessities – like picking your language and setting the time. You'll also get a quick tutorial on the device's input controls (which comes in extremely handy if you picked up a Pearl with SureType). When it comes to setting up your email in the Wizard's final steps, you can choose to Skip it and do it later. If you're following along, Skip that Step, as next we're going to look at setting up your BlackBerry's email service using your carrier's BIS site.

BlackBerry Data Setup
Setting up your BlackBerry email is a relatively easy process, both when it comes to setting up a brand new account and especially for down the road when you want put a different BlackBerry onto your data account.

Here are the basic steps to setting up a new account:

  • Find your Carrier's BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) websiteSelect Create New Account
  • Enter in your BlackBerry's Device Pin and Device IMEI
  • Select your [email protected] email address to be used with the device
  • Customize your BIS Settings (Send from Address, Keep copies of outgoing messages in Sent folder, Signature, etc.
  • Once complete, you will receive a Welcome to BlackBerry email from the Activation Server on your BlackBerry, letting you know you are good to go. You now are connected to the BIS which will enable your device to send/receive email, surf the web, use BlackBerry messenger and other applications that require data transfer.

You will be asked for your Device and IMEI When During BIS Account Creation...
It's easy to find!

If you have an existing BIS account and want to put a different BlackBerry on it:

  • Login to your BIS account
  • Go to Profile
  • Select Change Handheld
  • Enter the PIN and IMEI of your New Device
  • If you receive a message saying your Device is Not Found/Does Not Exist, on your BlackBerry go to Options > Advanced Options > Host Routing Table > hit the menu key and > Register Now

This will Register the device on your local carrier's network and then you will be able to add the device PIN/IMEI to your BIS account (I've found this additional step necessary a few times when setting up unlocked phones from the US carriers on my Rogers account in Canada.

Once Your BIS Account is Setup, by Logging in You Have Control Over Many Functions,
Including Changing to a Different BlackBerry Handheld Device


BIS Sites:
Here are the URLS of the main North American BIS Sites:

Locating Your Devices PIN and IMEI: This information can be found:

  • On the outside of the box of your new BlackBerry
  • On the BlackBerry, under Options > Status
  • On your device's Help Me Screen. Hit Caps, Alt, H on QWERTY models to bring up the help screen.

Advanced Help:
As with any electronic gadget, a million things can crop up that will turn what should be a relatively easy process into a nightmare (in this case a Nightmare on Berry Street). But there's good news – help is always close at hand in the CrackBerry forums. If you're not a member, become one, and the CrackBerry community will help you out with your specific problems quickly! Just be sure to provide as much information as possible (Device Model, Carrier, and specifics) when stating your problem.

Get Personal
With your BlackBerry data set-up, you are now ready to let loose and get personal with your BlackBerry.  When it comes to discovering and getting the most out of your BlackBerry, there is one critical key to always remember – the BlackBerry menu/option key (on trackball models it's the button immediately left to the trackball; on trackwheel models you push in on the wheel to bring up the menu). The BlackBerry menu is freakishly smart, and will always have the option (and more) that you are looking for. Go into different applications and menus on your BlackBerry, hit the menu key, and you'll be amazed at what you discover. That's how you Discover BlackBerry.

We'll get into more device functions on later lectures, but I want to leave you with three of my must-do BlackBerry personalization techniques that you may want to try:

  • Hide and Move Icons – on your BlackBerry desktop you can hide the icons/shortcuts that you don't use (hit the menu key on the icon you want to hide and select Hide) and you can also reorder icons (hit the menu key on the icon you want to move, select move, use your trackball/trackwheel to relocate it and hit enter). My 1, 2, 3 is always Email, Phone, BlackBerry Messenger.
  • TrackBall Sensitivity – By default it's 70%, which I find TOO slow. Go to Options > Screen/Keyboard and you can change the Horizontal and Vertical Sensitivity of the Trackball. I recommend 80%.
  • Convenience Keys – While in this same menu, you can program your Right and Left Side Convenience keys. I like having my Curve's Camera on the Right Convenience key, and the Application Switcher on the Left.

Some of my MUST HAVE settings - Trackball Sensitivity at 80%, and I like having the Application Switcher turned on as my Left Side Convenience Key. You can find this menu under Options > Screen/Keyboard

Next Class
That's it for today class! Your Homework: GO AND PLAY WITH YOUR BLACKBERRY! Next week we will start dive in detail into all of the nooks and crannies of the BlackBerry. Class dismissed!

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