The Curse Of The Red Flashing Light

March 20, 2009

If you search for “BlackBerry Addiction” in Google you will get a return of almost 1 million results! I mentioned in a previous article about my own BlackBerry addiction and after doing some research it appears I am not alone.

It’s easy to see why these harmless looking devices are termed “CrackBerry” when everyone from Barack Obama to Beyonce and Ben Affleck to Britney Spears have been spotted emailing away in public. In fact President Obama’s BlackBerry was always either in his hand or attached to his belt in the run up to his famous Presidential campaign.

So I was Googling away and found an article by Bryony Gordon of The Telegraph talking about her own addiction, even after taking possession of her BlackBerry only three weeks earlier. Her article opens with a comment about the red flashing light that appears when you have a new message and it was reading this that I discovered I was not alone in my own BlackBerry madness. There are some comments from readers at the end of her story saying things like, “there is an off button” and “get a life” etc but these people know nothing!

You see it is the red flashing light that gets me every time. It controls my life and has become an obsession.

The ringer and vibration alert are turned off on my 8900 because it is annoying for my family, work colleagues, friends etc to hear it going off every few minutes – I’m conscious of that and the silence is not a problem. So I check the top right to see if any emails, Twitter tweets, Facebook alerts or Skype messages have been received. The trouble is, I do it all the time.

I always know if it’s a real alert because it catches my eye and keeps flashing when I look but every now and then I get tricked, by my own obsession with the bloody thing! Watching TV and something red on the TV reflects against the BlackBerry – I’m there like a shot, checking for the continued red flashing. I pick up the device and something red in the room (one of my sons in their school uniform perhaps) makes it seem like there is a red flash on my BlackBerry, I’m there again – was it a false alert???

I wouldn’t mind but 95% of the messages I receive are un-important. I’ve filtered out a lot of the spam but still get marketing stuff through, Facebook alerts from people I don’t know and Skype messages from Chinese manufacturers I would never dream of doing business with but I have to check, every time.

I first realised the extent of my BlackBerry addiction about 5 years ago whilst on holiday in Spain. I hadn’t taken my mains charger because my old 8700 used to last 10 to 12 days before needing charging and we were only away for a week, seemed pointless taking it and using precious baggage space. On the first day of the holiday I made the mistake of locking it in the safe of our apartment. It was set to switch off at midnight as it usually was and turn itself on at 7am (very well trained was my 8700). The problem was, we didn’t awake until around 11am and the poor thing had been trying to get a signal from inside the safe for 4 hours and had all but drained the battery in doing so. I was gutted!

I spent the next day and a half dragging my pregnant partner and our 18 month old son around the local mobile phone shops trying to find a charger. The situation was bad, very bad. The BlackBerry hadn’t really caught on in Spain yet back then and most stores had never even seen one, let alone stocked spares. Needless to say I was miserable for the rest of the week and my holiday was ruined. I learned my lesson and now never go away without a spare  battery and the mains charger!

It’s sad isn’t it? But in response to Beerio who replied to Ms Gordon’s post, “You know, you can always turn the flashing off…. That way you might actually be able to do something else“, yes you can turn it off but why would you want to? Who knows, the next message could be from the National Lottery informing me of a winning ticket but more than likely it will be my friends in China again, letting me know of their latest range!

Now, is that my BlackBerry flashing again? Yes it is – gotta go…


BIS Set Up Tips

March 18, 2009

If you’ve made the choice to go with BIS over BES and are still confused as to how to set your email up then hopefully this will help.

In the UK you will have connected your BlackBerry via T-Mobile, Orange, Vodafone or O2. The first thing you need to do is visit your network’s BlackBerry web client page:





It’s important when you first turn on your new device , that you skip the email set-up wizard as the web client gives you a lot more flexibility when adding, removing and editing email accounts. If you try to set it up on the device, even if you don’t complete the set up, the PIN (which is the unique BlackBerry identification number) will be classed as allocated and you won’t be able to set up the web account.

Once you have arrived at the web address for your network (see above) you must click on the Create New Account button:

BB Screen 1

Please note that before you create your account you must have the sim card in the device, have it switched on and either GPRS,EDGE or 3G in upper case at the top, near the signal meter. This notifies the BlackBerry system that the device is connected and has a BlackBerry data account (BIS).

Next, agree to the terms and on the next page you need to enter your PIN and IMEI codes. These can be found on the box your device came in and can also be found by going to Options>Status in the main menu.

Enter Details

Enter the codes and hit Continue. If successful you will be prompted to choose a user name and password. If the user name is not taken you will be directed in to the main web client area, if it has been taken you will be prompted to choose a different user name.

Once inside the web client you will see two options for adding email accounts. The top one is for your existing accounts like Hotmail, AOL and Yahoo etc plus maybe you have your own POP email account, this can be added here as well and the smart wizard usually only requires the email address and password.

The bottom option is to set up BlackBerry email addresses.

 Any emails sent to a BlackBerry email address are received within seconds rather than minutes and the BlackBerry servers are very reliable. If you use the traditional (top) method with a POP email account, the BlackBerry will be logging in to your mailbox every few minutes to drag emails to the device. Now problems can occur if your server is down (say for maintenance etc) and also if Outlook is open on your desktop PC and has downloaded and deleted emails from the server before the BlackBerry system has grabbed a copy you won’t get them on the device.

Now here is what I always do, and recommend my clients to do as well;

Set up a BlackBerry email address, once created you can go in and edit your display name. You also need to change the “Reply To” email address to your normal email address and save it. Then, in your main email account’s control panel, set up a forwarding rule so that a copy of your emails is forwarded to the BlackBerry email address that you just created. If you are running Windows Small Business Server without web access then read this article to find out how to set the forwarding rule.

This now means that your emails arrive in seconds and when you write an email or reply to one that you have received, it will look like it’s been sent from your main email address. In effect, the BlackBerry email address is just a “middle man” to make the system run smoothly. You also don’t suffer from invalidated email accounts on the BlackBerry because the server was down.

I hope that this helps to make your BIS set up a bit easier and keep reading for more tips.


My BlackBerry Addiction

March 18, 2009


I have been an avid BlackBerry fan for over 6 years now.

Working for a company that sells mobile phones for business I had never been happy with any of the so called “mobile email” offerings that were available in 2002. They were either too clunky and slow and/or cost the earth to use. You also need to carry a device the size of a small house around with you (Nokia Communicator anyone?).

You see I had just started selling on eBay and had created my own web site selling software and other digital products so I was in need of something I could use for email, wherever I happened to be.

One day, T-Mobile (or was it still one 2 on?) sent a whole bundle of data products as demos to our store. I can remember it well; there was a Sony laptop with a GPRS datacard (complete with theft proof display stand), an early HTC PDA phone (which my boss’ wife nabbed) and plain old looking monochrome BlackBerry 6280. I ended up with the BlackBerry to, in the words of my boss, “…have a play with it”.

Well! I had seen BlackBerries on O2 but you needed expensive software, a server and loads of other stuff I didn’t have so I was surprised to learn that T-Mobile were launching their BlackBerry range with the BIS system, using RIM’s own email servers; on T-Mobile it was called Instant Email. I didn’t need thousands of pounds worth of stuff and a Masters degree in BlackBerry to get it working. In fact I was up and running, receiving emails within minutes!

That first weekend I was away in Peterborough visiting my family and took it with me (to continue “playing” with it). I was awoken at 3.30am on the Saturday morning by a loud buzzing noise.  It was the BlackBerry letting me know that I had received an email (yes, I had not discovered the auto-off function at that stage of my “playing”). It was an eBay enquiry from someone in the USA and, even though half asleep I still managed to write a reply. I woke up to find further emails – one from eBay telling me the buyer had made a purchase, the other from PayPal telling me he had paid – yippee!

In fact, because I could give instant email replies to enquiries, that weekend I did a total of three sales and made a healthy £200 profit which I may not have done had I waited until the Monday when I was back at my PC. I was sold!

Since then I have never been parted from my little RIM companion, no wonder they were tagged “CrackBerries” when they were first launched.  Not only am I in instant contact via email, I can browse the internet, connect to Facebook & Skype and even listen to hot tunes when bored.

As a business mobile seller(yes I’m still there after almost 12 years!) I have encountered lots of Windows brainwashed IT departments that just don’t “get” BlackBerries – “sorry, it has to be Windows Mobile to work with our servers” (NO IT BLOODY DOESN’T!) but the tide is turning. Many clued up business users are now realising what a valuable (and easy to use) tool the BlackBerry really is. I’m selling more BlackBerries now than any other “mobile email device” and people are loving them!

One of my first BlackBerry customers was a small firm of heating engineers in Bolton. The forward thinking owner wanted to free up time, both for him and his engineers, so we hatched a plan. Using a combination of PC software and BlackBerries he was able to book the following days jobs for his employees. Everything was sent overnight, via email, to the BlackBerries and when the engineers left their houses in the morning they would have names, addresses and full details of  problems for all the days appointments. There was no need to for them to call in to the office every morning to collect job sheets, it was all in the palm of their hands. Six years on and the company is still using this system to great effect, in fact I’m just about to upgrade them to Javelins!

If you would like to find out how you would benefit from the “ultimate business communication tool” then please contact me. I work for T-Phone in Bolton and we supply business mobile communication solutions across the UK. My office number is 01204 595335 or contact me via our web contact form here.

Thanks for visiting my site!

David Allen

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