Blackberrys, Blackberry connect, and the XDA 2s.

Oh, what a tale of woe. After RIM UK sent me a SIN number for the Blackberry Enterprise server for Domino, I thought - "five minutes and I'll have the blackberry connect client up on my XDA 2s".


Ohhh no.

  • The BES v4.0.2 software installed in a heartbeat, and a sample test user off a test server got initialised

  • BES v4.0 will do failover in terms of remote servers - that is, if my BES is on server "BES01", and my mailfile is on "Mail01" with a replica on "Mail02", and "Mail01" goes down -BES will fail over to "Mail02". Cooool. Try doing *that* with Exchange.

  • BES 4.0 means no Desktop Connection. Which is nice. All over-the air. Unless you elect for this "Blackberry Connect" - SmartPhone software stuff.

  • Now the hunt for a SIM card. In the UK you cannot get (it would appear) a "Pay as you go" SIM that allows "Blackberry" connectivity. I'd already decided that I would retain the "Anchor" (XDA2s) as a Data device and treat myself to an actual phone for a change. Sod this "carrying and feeding" a damn brick. So, I call O2, the folks that I have had the misfortune in having my mobile stuff from for the last two years. After a soul sapping 75 minutes (on the second call - the first was mysteriously dumped!) I fould out the following:

    • If you hear the Message "O2 UK" in the menu system - you've NOT been rerouted offshore. In fact they give the impression that this is a selling point. However on subsequent calls, I was rerouted to Bangalore

    • The Customer Service folks have never heard of Blackberry. There is a "blackberry bolt on" package for O2. It comes in two flavours:

      • £5/month with a £5/DAY roaming charge outside the country

      • £38/month with no roaming penalty


    • Sod that, I thought. "Can I get a second SIM card on this account." ?

      "Yes, but you'll have to go to a shop.."

      "arrrgghhh. Just give me the new phone and a huge discount for being messed around, please"

      "Supervisor. Yeah sure. Here's a fiver off"

    • Phew. Cut to Aberdeen on a Saturday afternoon:

      "Add me the blackberry plan (I'd caved in) and a second SIM please"

      "We cant add a second SIM with the same number. We'd have to charge you for a new SIM, account, the lot"

      "So there's no advantage in going with that, is there?"

      "No."
      "
      "Right - just enable the Blackberry stuff. "

      10 minutes later: "Right, thats enabled. That'll go live on the 10th of February."

      "Whaaaaaat ? [explosion]"

    • Quick run around the corner to Vodafone - the previous shysters incumbents:

      "Look, I hate you with a passion. You ripped me off last time I used you. But, be nice, dont lie, and you might get some business" (I did actually open with this - cut through all that bollocks these people normally start with)

      "okaaaay..."

      10 minutes later - new chip with vodafone, BES enabled

    • (Bear in mind that wife+kid+dog were in the car, in a restricted parking area, and calling me every five minutes asking "are you there yet".. I think I deserve a "Kofi" peace prize..)

  • So Now i have an XDA 2, and a chip. Plugs chip in. "SIMLOCK"... Arrrgh. Google, google, google, Ah-ha! Xda-DEvelopers.com to the rescue.

  • Now. Consult minimal O2 documentation. Download BES connect client. Install ACTIVESynch 3.8. Arrgh.

    FIVE hours later, transpires that theres a new version of ActiveSync, and that the version of the Blackberry Connect config client (v1.2) was waaay old. Try and find 2.0.13, and try and install ActiveSync 4.1 Just dont let ActiveSync think its synching ANYTHING bar files, else you'll have to add Outlook to this towering inferno of bugs. (You especially know if your in this vale of tears if you get "This handset has disconnected from the serve" and no amount of shouting "NO IT HASNT" fixes it)

  • SIX hours later - success. XDA 2s with BB connect software - successfully paired, via Vodafone, to Blackberry server v4.0.2.

  • Damn. Its running on a Domino v7 test server. BES for Domino needs to be v4.0.3 or later. But hey- thats just another form and an 110mb download.. Time to write up the rant-notes..


    • Lessons:

      • Dont bother with a fancy device and Blackberry connect, else you'll need to set up a desktop connect client. Horrible.

      • Blackberry costs serious money. So just cave in and buy an actual Blackberry piece of hardware. Dont mess around and waste the whole weekend, as I did

      • If your hitting eBay for Blackberry devices, remember - you'll need a 16mb (colour, basically) device for BES 4.0 and a 32mb device for BES 4.1 (due out, tentatively, end-Feb 2006)... You might be cheaper paying Vodasham another ten quid a month.

      • BES for Domino is actually fairly straightforward. Just remember to open port 3101 to allow the RIM service to call back..


    • Folks, this is how NOT to install a BES server. I think I've done everything incorrectly at least once. Still, there's no faster way of learning

    • Biggup to BlackberryForums.com - Good resource


    Now, for the fun stuff. Getting FirM to control Blackberries.. In time for Lotusphere.. Next week.. (ulp)