How to clean a BlackBerry TrackBall

The biggest hardware problem I see with (older) BlackBerries is the TrackBall fails to scroll.  It fails to scroll, because over time, it fills up with oil and grime from your fingers.  Now, unlike a computer keyboard, you can’t stick it in a dishwasher.  Doing that would certainly break your warranty and won’t fix the problem.
Dirty vs Clean TrackBalls
(Dirty trackball to clean trackball)

So the solution until now, has been either return it to the seller (if under warranty), or get it repaired at some cost.

I stumbled across William Clangford’s YouTube video, and his fix works very well.  If you have a TrackBall which isn’t scrolling anymore, it’s worth the 49 second investment to watch the video.

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Company BlackBerry says: “JVM Error 517”.

On a Friday night, on my way home from work.

JVM Error 517 I say, “You little bastard”.

Now, sometimes you can fix this by reloading the software on the device.  But to do that, you need the BlackBerry Desktop Manager software, the BlackBerry Phone software itself, and a micro-usb cable.  All were sitting on my desk at work.  Oh, and I’d need to logon to our production BlackBerry server to give myself a new activation password.

Pity the poor non-IT person with this error.  Firstly, they probably couldn’t read it.  I’m mean, what’s the idea RIM?  Is there some sort of Guinness World Record for Smallest Error Message, that you’re trying to win???

And an end-user wouldn’t be able to fix this error.  They’d need someone like me to fix it.  Actually, if I was in their shoes with a personal BlackBerry, I’d be returning to the phone shop with the words “The bluddy things cattle trucked.  I didn’t do nuthing to it.  I want a replacement one under warranty.  Please.”

Apart from larger error messages, the other thing I’d like to see RIM, is the ability to reload firmware from a micro-SD card.  Heck, HTC can do it with their range of devices, which allows me to flash a Windows Mobile device quickly.  But no, RIM, you want me to be tethered to a PC to reload software.  I don’t understand why.

The “JVM Error 517” essentially means that the BlackBerry phone file system has gotten corrupted, and the phone doesn’t know how to repair itself.  There are some who say it’s a hardware problem.  Me, I just wanted a working BlackBerry.

As I’m not a addict to the BlackBerry, repairing it waited until Monday.   As a refresher, I looked at BlackBerry 101: How to Reload the Operating System on a Nuked BlackBerry

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How to “CTRL-ALT-DEL” a BlackBerry

To reset your BlackBerry, three simple keys are all you need to know.
Left alt, Right shift and Right del.  Pressing those three keys, at the same time, will cause your BlackBerry to reset.
(the BlackBerry 9700 pictured has the three keys circled).BlackBerry Reset Keys

Resetting your BlackBerry weekly is a good practice to get into.

“Why?”, you ask?

A reset causes the BlackBerry to restart the operating system, and it frees up memory up as well.

It’s the very first thing I get my customers to do when they tell me their BlackBerry is behaving strangely.

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It’s a new BlackBerry Bold (the 9700).

Good Yes - Fast Yes - Cheap No So Telstra Australia have finally released the BlackBerry Bold 9700.  And if you loved the BlackBerry Curve 8300 series, you’ll love the new Bold.

If you have a BlackBerry Bold 9000, you’ll love it not as much.  That’ll be because the 9700 is a 9000 in a smaller package.
And you Curve users?  Well it’s the same size, and thinner than the Curve.

What’s to like about the 9700?

  • Size, it’s smaller than the current Bold 9000, and a little thinner than the BlackBerry Curve.
    BlackBerry 8300 side-by-side BlackBerry 9700 BlackBerry 9700 is thinner than BlackBerry 8300
  • It’s lighter than the Bold 9000.
  • While in the holster, you can have an audio cable plugged in.
    (this is one of thing that annoys me about some PDAs)
    BlackBerry 9700 in holster
  • Faster than the Bold 9000.
  • The BlackBerry 9700 has a physical lock button, which means we don’t need to place a Lock icon on the home screen.
    BlackBerry 9700 Lock Button

What’s not to like about it?

  • The physical lock button.  I kept hitting it by accident.
    I’m sure I would get used to it.
  • The microSD card is hard to get out.
    There seems to be some sort of lip or catch that holds the card in.
    BlackBerry 9700 - Cover off
  • Trackpad takes a little bit of time to get used to.

How do I think it’ll go in the field, amongst real users?

Very well.  I think it will sell like hotcakes.  And with the Trackpad replacing the fault prone TrackBall means we’ll see a lot less (faulty) handsets being returned to us.
It’s definitely a GOOD thing.  FASTer than the Bold 9000, but unfortunately not any CHEAPer than the current Bold 9000.
I’m looking forward to our customers getting their hands on the 9700.

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One way to wipe a BlackBerry

I needed to wipe the firmware off a BlackBerry.  Looking around, I found a useful little utility, JL_Cmder.
Now JL_Cmder is a frontend to the JavaLoader.exe, so you could use JavaLoader, but JL_Cmder makes it easier.


The JL_Cmder options do the following:

  1. deviceinfo – displays some info about the attached BlackBerry.
  2. eventlog – grabs and displays the BlackBerry event log.
  3. screenshot – takes a screenshot of the BlackBerry screen, in .BMP format.  I prefer BBscreenshooter.
  4. wipe – wipes the firmware from the device.
  5. resettofactory – resets the device to how it was “out of the box”.
  6. Command-Line Usage – lists the JavaLoader.exe command line switches.

You can download JL_Cmder here.

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BlackBerry Email Reconciliation timers

We had a user asking about read/unread marks not updating on their BlackBerry device.  The advice from Research In Motion:

There are two separate timers in play which determine when unread marks are synchronized between the BlackBerry handheld and the Notes mail client in a Domino BlackBerry Enterprise Server.  Both these timers have been optimized for maximum battery life.

The first timer is set on the BlackBerry handheld and determines when the BlackBerry will send unread marks via the BlackBerry Enterprise Server to the mail client.  The methodology has changed between various handheld code lines, but from the 4.2 handheld code the BlackBerry now works in the following manner.
After the handheld has reached about 15 minutes of idle time, when the messages view is closed or when 100 changes have been made on the device, the handheld will push its changes through the BlackBerry Enterprise Server to the mail client.

The second completely independent timer runs on the BlackBerry Enterprise Server.  Roughly every 60 minutes when a mail file is active (receiving email etc) the Blackberry Enterprise Server will check it for updates and queue those updates to be sent to the handheld.  When a mail file is not changing we have seen this delay grow up to about 90 minutes.

In either case choosing "Reconcile Now" from the messages database on the handheld will force a check against the handheld and Notes client and reset each timer.

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When it becomes an addiction

“It’s dangerous for me not to have a BlackBerry”, started the fault report.  Followed by, “I’ve got a broken BlackBerry”

So I called the user, ‘Dangerous as in life threatening?’

“No, but my boss might be embarrassed …”

Yes, the end user is a Spin Doctor for a large corporation, and his boss is prone to putting his foot in his mouth.

CrackBerry addicts, gotta love them

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3M Post-It Note fixes BlackBerry Bold

BlackBerry Bold with Post-It note battery fix … or BlackBerry Bold + Post-It note = secure BlackBerry battery.

The BlackBerry Bold can randomly reset when it is knocked.  The reset is caused by the battery being slightly loose.

Solution?  Folded Post-It note on the inside of the Bold back cover.

8310-foam-backingThe customer was skeptical, but I’ve seen this used as a fix twice before.

The Palm Treo 650 SIM card used to shake about, causing a “No SIM” error.  Wedging a small piece of business card behind the SIM card fixed that.

And BlackBerry have used the same trick themselves with the 8310 Curve.  If you look carefully at the picture left, you’ll see the foam RIM have attached to the cover.

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