's BlackBerry 101 Lecture Series

Wow! What a couple of weeks it has been in the BlackBerry world. If you are a brand new BlackBerry Storm user and new to the BlackBerry world - this article is for you. There has been so much written this past week - so many opinions, so much frustration, jubilation, anger and confusion that it is time for all of us to just.....relax and embrace the Berry.

So, get a cup of coffee, place your Storm in one hand and scroll slowly through this article and let's see if we can't clear up some confusion, provide some useful information and make your BlackBerry experience a more pleasurable one.

Understanding the BlackBerry Philosophy

It was in 2001 that the BlackBerry name came into the market place. The story I have heard is that the keys on the very early devices looked like "seeds" to some of the creators. They looked at various "seeded fruit" and decided that the "BlackBerry" would be a friendly and inviting name for the device - StrawBerry just didn't have the same ring).

Perhaps the origin of the name is less important than understanding the Philosophy. One thing to understand from the outset is that this is not just a "phone" like many are used to. Over the years the BlackBerry has grown into being a computer of sorts - a sophisticated messaging device that does a bunch of things at the same time - including acting as a phone.

The BlackBerry takes most of the major needs that we have - information, communication, constant contact, accessibility and more and puts them in one device that can do just about everything.

Always on - Always Connected

Perhaps nothing sums up what a BlackBerry can do (which virtually no other device can do) than the idea that you are always connected. Your BlackBerry will "Push" your email (up to 10 different accounts) right into your hand - all the time - all day and all night. Now, you can put limitations on that - but the reason this web site is called "CrackBerry" is that once you experience this - you might very well not want to limit it at all!

You may be used to turning your old cell phone on and off and only checking it to see if you missed a call. Your BlackBerry stays on all the time - even when it is in "standby" it is still on. You will find yourself looking at it not only to see if you missed a call, but to see what emails have come in, who is sending you an instant message, who just posted a note on your Facebook page, what time is your next appointment, what do you need to pick up at the store - in short, your life can be managed from your BlackBerry.

Things this powerful are not always easy to grasp - at first

Your BlackBerry is grouped into the category of things called "Smartphones" by many. A BlackBerry, however, is really....a BlackBerry - more than a "Smartphone" by any other name, because it does so much so well.

The "Pros" of that are clear - in your hand is probably the most capable and most complicated technology available today.

The "Cons" are that the BlackBerry is not always "intuitive" at first use. For some, this is frustrating - they want their BlackBerry to do what their old phone did - in just the same way.

Like a computer, your BlackBerry has a unique Operating System (OS) that is proprietary and only found on other BlackBerry devices. Your "Storm" takes the OS one step further and adds an innovative new "SurePress" touch screen technology which takes a little getting used to.

Take your time - this is not a device to pick up for an hour and then throw down in frustration - there is a lot to learn here. Remember when you got your first "Windows Computer?" We didn't know what a "window" was let alone where to find things or how to just type a letter - it took time.

With the BlackBerry - like most other things in our lives - the more we invest in learning the more we will ultimately get out of these devices.

Some Useful Tips to Help You Get up to Speed with your Storm 

Get to know those four keys along the Bottom

The Green Phone Key:
This is the easiest way to make your first few phone calls - it works just like other "Dumb" phone green keys - but you have more options.
With the Verizon Storm - you get the dial pad and three buttons at the top - the Call log button shows you all your incoming and outgoing calls stored in the Phone's memory and there is a button that can open your Contacts.

The MENU key (BlackBerry Button):
That key with the BlackBerry logo is really the doorway to all the possibilities of your device. In every application, pushing that button brings up a menu with all your possibilities. From the basic "Home Screen," pushing that button brings up all the other icons.

From a Contact - pushing the MENU key allows you to call, email, SMS or communicate in any way with that particular contact. Just try pushing it in every program you open to see the myriad of possibilities.

TIP - Hold the MENU key for two seconds and you will see all your open programs in a little bar across the screen. Now, you can just find the program you want to "Jump" to and click on it to "Switch" the application.

The Escape (or Back) Key:
This key does just what its name suggests - it goes back to where you were before. It also prompts you to "Save," "Delete" or "Discard" things you might be working on. If you do something wrong, or find yourself wanting to get back to where you were just a second ago - just press this key.

The Red Phone Key:
This is your "End" key with which you are no doubt familiar with from your old phone. You can "End" your calls, ignore calls and do other familiar actions with the Red Phone key.

You can also "Multi-Task" using the Red Phone key. Just press it (when not on a call) and you jump right to the Home Screen.

Say you are writing an email and needed to check the calendar or wanted to schedule a new event:

  1. Press the Red Phone key to jump to the Home Screen.
  2. Start the calendar to check your schedule. 
  3. Press the Red Phone key again to return to the Home Screen.
  4. Click on the Messages icon to return exactly to where you left off composing your email message (you could also hold down on the menu key to launch the task switcher and jump directly).

TIP - Be careful about Multi-Tasking - it can use up your memory on your Device
Even though the new BlackBerry devices have more memory - you still want to try to remember to "Close" an application if you don't need it open. That's easy to do - just press the MENU key and scroll down to "Close" in virtually every application.
One of the things I do in my professional life is help people use their BlackBerry Smartphones. There are some of the "Basics" of setting up your device and working with your email found below. This is just a very small section of what you will find in our BlackBerry Made Simple Video Training and books - some of the tips and instructions below come right from the new BlackBerry Made Simple books that are about to be released for the Storm, the Pearl Flip and the Bold.

First Time Device Setup:
When you first turn on your BlackBerry, you will likely be presented with the Setup Wizard. If you "Ignored" or "Closed" it, you can get back to it by locating and clicking on the Setup Wizard Icon. From the Setup Wizard you can:

  • Change the Date and Time
  • Learn how to navigate and Type
  • Setup your Email
  • Set up Bluetooth
  • Import contacts that might be on your SIM Card
  • Change your Font
  • Change the Language
  • Learn about the Touch Screen
  • Access the contextual help menu

Starting and Exiting Icons:
You use the SurePress touch screen, Menu Key and Escape Key to navigate around your BlackBerry, open folders and select icons. The Escape Key will get you back out one step at a time, the Red Phone key will jump you all the way back to your "Home Screen

The BlackBerry Storm is the first BlackBerry with a touch screen and RIM added some innovations. You can "gently touch" an icon - which will highlight it. You can also "Press" - which is touching and then "clicking" the screen to activate an icon, start a program or select an action. You can also "hover" - which is gently touching and keeping your finger connected to the screen - this reveals some "pop up" menus and icon names and even can help "Filter" email addresses when you "hover" over someone's email address.

SureType Keyboard:
The BlackBerry Storm has two types of keyboards available to you: SureType and a normal "Landscape" QWERTY keyboard.

SureType is a 20-key keyboard laid out with the traditional keyboard "QWERTY" style but with two letters per key to minimize the size. The BlackBerry SureType typing technology actually learns as your type and predicts the word for you. It even scans your Address Book to help predict hard-to-guess words like people's names and street names - simply amazing! Many BlackBerry users who are experienced with SureType are just as fast as those on full QWERTY keyboards. Learn SureType!

TIP - Try using the SureType keyboard for shorter messages, IM's, SMS - things like that. When you want to type something longer (like an email) or more complicated (email address, website URL) just turn the Storm sideways and a full landscape Keyboard pops up. In the QWERTY keyboard layout - try just using your thumbs to type - you will get the hang of it!

Multitap Typing:
This is the more standard cell phone typing technology, where you press the key once for the first letter on the key and twice for the second letter. For example, with the "ER" key, you would press it once for "E" and twice to get the "R" in Multitap mode. TIP: You will see the letters "ABC" in the upper right corner whenever you are in Multitap mode.

NOTE - The BlackBerry always switches to Multitap mode when you are in a password field. When typing with SureType you will see the pop-up window below (or above) what you are typing. The highlighted word is the one currently being "guessed."

Switching between typing modes:
Switch between SureType and Multitap modes by pressing the MENU Key and select "Enable Multitap" or "Enable SureType" in any application where you are typing in "Portrait" mode- such as "Messaging," "Memos," "Email" and tasks.

Changing Your Font Size and Type:
You can fine-tune the font size and type on your BlackBerry to fit your individual needs.

Do you need to see more on the screen and don't mind small fonts? Then go all the way down to a micro-size 7-point font.

Do you need to see bigger fonts for easy readability? Adjust the fonts to a large 14-point font and make it BlackBerry.

Here's how to adjust your font size and type:
Click on the Options icon. You may need to press the Menu key and scroll up or down to find it.

Scroll and find the "Options icon" and "Press" the screen - then scroll and click on "Screen/Keyboard" to get to the screen to change your fonts.

Press & Hold for Automatic Capitalization:
One of the easiest tips is to capitalize letters as your typing them. To do this: just press and hold the letter to capitalize it.

Automatic Period & Cap at End of Sentence:
At the end of a sentence, just press the SPACE key twice to see an automatic "." (period) and the next letter you type will be automatically capitalized.

Changing Your Convenience Keys:
The two keys on the middle of the sides of your BlackBerry are actually programmable keys called "convenience" keys. This is because each of the two keys can be set to 'conveniently' open any icon on your BlackBerry, even new Third Party icons that you add to your BlackBerry.

Click on the "Options" icon (press the Menu key if you don't see it listed.) jump down to the "Screen/Keyboard" item and click on it. Scroll down the screen until you see "Right Side Convenience Key Opens:" and "Left Side Convenience Key Opens:" To change the icon / application these keys open, just click on the item to see the entire list. Then scroll and click on the program you want to assign to that key. Then press the Menu key and select "Save" to save your changes.  Now give you newly set convenience keys a try - they work from anywhere, not just the Home Screen.

TIP for Storm Owners - Set the Left Convenience key to bring up the virtual keyboard - I am finding this very useful when I want to type on the Storm.

Understanding that Blinking Red Light ("Repeat Notification"):
One of the features that BlackBerry users love is the little LED that blinks in the upper right hand corner. It is possible to have this light blink different colors:

  • Red when you receive an incoming message (MMS, SMS or Email) or calendar alarm rings,
  • Blue when connected to a Bluetooth Device,
  • Green when you have wireless coverage, and,
  • Amber if you need to charge your BlackBerry or it is charging.

Understanding Profiles:
Your BlackBerry is highly customizable - everything from Ringtones to vibrations to LED notifications can be adjusted. Traveling on an airplane but sill want to use your calendar or play a game without disturbing others? No problem. In a meeting and don't want the phone to ring - but you do want some sort of notification when an email comes in? No problem.

Virtually any scenario you can imagine can be dealt with preemptively by adjusting the profile settings.

Basic Profile Settings:
By default, the BlackBerry is set to a "Normal" profile - meaning that when a call comes in, the phone rings and when a message comes in, the phone plays a tune.

Changing your Profile:
Depending you your selected Theme and BlackBerry carrier (Phone Company), how you get to your profiles icon will be slightly different.

If you don't see this speaker icon on your screen, press the Menu key to see the entire list of icons, then scroll to the "Profiles" icon and click on it.

Seven basic 'preset' settings are available from which you can choose: Normal, Loud, Medium, vibrate, Silent, Phone only and Off. Next to one of those options the word "Active" will be displayed. For most users, "Normal" will be the active profile which rings during phone calls and either vibrates or plays a tone when a message arrives. "Loud" increases the volume for all notifications. "Vibrate" enables a short vibration for meetings, movies or other places where cell phone rings are discouraged. "Silent" will display notifications on the display and via the LED. "Phone Only" will turn off all email and SMS notifications. "Off" will turn off all notifications.

Email Setup:
Your BlackBerry is designed to retrieve your email from up to 10 different email accounts and, if you are connected to a BlackBerry Enterprise Server, one corporate email account. When your BlackBerry receives your email, all your messages will be displayed in your Messages inbox.

You can setup your basic email right from your BlackBerry, but for things like your automated email signature "Sent from my (carrier name) BlackBerry", you will need to login to your carrier's website.

Click on "Add an Email Account" (Will be listed under any existing email accounts you have already setup to go to your BlackBerry)

Now type your Email account name and Password, then click "Next" to attempt the login. If everything is correct, then you will see a screen that says:

"You have successfully configured access to: (your email address here)

Trouble Getting Email Setup?
Sometimes email will not get setup right away. This could be as simple as a wrong character in your email address or password. Always try retyping them a few times before doing anything else. One other common problem is that your Email server is not setup for POP3 access, or you need to go into the "Advanced Settings" to enter some specific information. Please contact your email provider and verify that you can use your email to "integrate to a BlackBerry using POP3 service". The technical support personnel at your email provider should be able to help you. Worst case: Contact your wireless carrier technical support.

Setting Up Your Corporate Email ("Enterprise Activation"):
This process is also known as "Enterprise Activation". If your Help Desk or Information Technology department does not do this for you, all you need is your activation password and you can set this up on your own - right from the BlackBerry.

IMPORTANT - If you have not received your "Activation Password", then you need to ask your Help Desk or Technology Support department for that password before you may complete this process.

Start your "Setup Wizard" icon and select "Email Setup", then choose "I want to use a work email account with a BlackBerry Enterprise Server" from the menu.

Verify that you have your Enterprise Activation Password. Type in the email address along with the activation password you received from your Help Desk or System Administrator. Press the MENU key and select "Activate."

Then you should see a series of messages that talk about Security, Establishing Connection, Verifying Connection, Loading Contacts, Calendar, etc. Once completed, and this could take 5 minutes or more, you should see a confirmation screen.

The best way to test is to try to send yourself or your colleague a test email message from your newly connected BlackBerry. Make sure it arrives and you can reply to a new message you have received on your BlackBerry.

Overview of BlackBerry Desktop Manager:
One of the great things about your BlackBerry is the amount of information, entertainment and fun that you can carry in your pocket at all times. But, what would happen if you lost your BlackBerry or lost some of your information? How would you get it back? What if you wanted to put music from your computer on your BlackBerry? Fortunately, your BlackBerry comes with a program called BlackBerry Desktop Manager which can back up, synchronize, add media and load new applications on your BlackBerry.

To get started, go ahead and click on the Desktop Manager icon on our computer - or go to Programs -> Blackberry -> Desktop Manager and click.
Make sure your BlackBerry is plugged into the USB cable provided and attached to the computer.

The Application Loader for installing new BlackBerry application on your handheld, the Backup and Restore icon for making a full backup and then restoring it at a later time (if need be) the Device Switch Wizard (which is very handy if you want to move your data to a new BlackBerry)

Along the second row, we see Media Manager for managing songs, videos, pictures and ring tones and the Synchronize icon - which controls the settings for synchronizing your data - your address book, calendar, tasks, memos and more to keep you computer and your BlackBerry up to date with one another. For a Detailed explanation of how to Synchronize your Data - just go to our website - and we have made all the desktop manager videos FREE for you to watch.


I hope that by the end of this article, you might be feeling a little more comfortable with your new BlackBerry, especially all of you new Storm owners out there. If you are a first time user (as many Storm users are) realize that this just scratches the surface.

The good news is that there are so many places to turn for help, tips and advice. You are already on the best site - - but make sure you go into the forums and locate tips and tricks and get to meet other BlackBerry users (useful links at the bottom of this article).

REMEMBER - You are an early adapter of the Storm - there will be bugs (just as there were with the iPhone and there are with any new, sophisticated device. One of the very cool things about the New OS in the Storm is that updates will be issued wirelessly - just go to your "Options" icon and press - then go to "Advanced Options" and scroll down to the bottom - you will see "Wireless Upgrade" listed. Just press and follow the instructions.

In today's economy, dropping a good deal of money to buy the device and then pay the data plans is no small thing. Make sure you take the time to learn it and get every ounce out of your new BlackBerry that you deserve. Soon, you will be a "CrackBerry" addict and need to buy our new book "CrackBerry: True Tales of BlackBerry use and Abuse." Until that time - embrace your new Berry -have fun and good luck.

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