Another in the “hacks” range of O’Reilly books, where hacking is doing interesting things with something, rather than the unfortunate media convention of breaking into computers (which has some relevence as you’re getting into the guts of the BlackBerry in ways RIM, the manufacturer, may not have expected and/or indeed intended).
It’s a mainly techie book, so a casual BlackBerry user who gets their IT department to configure everything, or a consumer who goes to their mobile outlet and buys one off-the-shelf probably should stay away, though there are some useful bits for them.
It covers: –
- Using Your BlackBerry
- The Internet and Other Networks
- Free Programs
- Shareware Apps
- BES Adminstration
- The Web and MDS
- Application Development
The chapters get more technical as they go on. General users will definitely find some help from the first two which go through basic BlackBerry functions and how to optimise things, including your Email settings and accessing multiple accounts. There’s a good introduction to using mail through a BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server), the Desktop Redirector and BWC (BlackBerry Web Client).
Installing programs (including games) might be easy, but you’ll either need access to the Desktop Manager for some, or access them over-the-air and install through the browser. If your BlackBerry is locked down by your IT department, you may not even get that far. Assuming yours isn’t, there’s a wealth of software out there and the book highlights some of the “really useful” stuff, with links to more.
Accessing the Internet is also not as easy as you might think, and the BlackBerry can actually get network access via a variety of methods including through the BES (which is the corporate way of working, and is like a virtual private network to the inside of the firewall) and accessing the Internet directly from the device itself through the GPRS connection of your mobile network.
Administrators (who actually enjoy adminstering systems) will love this book. There’s a very good section on how to do interesting things that an administrator wouldn’t normally be expected to be able to do (like import/activate lots of BlackBerry users at once) and all sorts of scripts to make life easier.
It’s even possible to make the BES “push” applications and content to all an organisations BlackBerry users (or groups of them) over air and so in a business environment all the users can have the same versions of software running on their systems and access to the right corporate applications and data.
The book also gives a good insight into programming the Blackberry and describes the tools that RIM provide and how to go about using them (and what other things you need to do). RIM originally made the BlackBerry for corporates and the last thing they wanted was nasty virii and programs infecting them, so when a program tries to access some of the BlackBerry’s inner workings the BlackBerry actually checks that the program is valid and should be doing that. RIM force programmers to “sign” programs and there’s info on how to go through that process.
As a techie book for techie users and administrators it definitely meets its objectives and there’ll be things that even hardened BlackBerry users will find new and useful.
As a newbie corporate user, get your IT department to sort it out.
As a casual Blackberry user or if it’s a corporate issued Blackberry, stay away – though the first couple of chapters might seem relevent and give you some tips, most of the book will be over the top and very hard to wade through.
For the intended audience: 92%. It hits the mark.
Author: Dave Mabe