Archive for the 'Tips' Category

The Definitive Guide to Syncing Blackberry With Mac OS X

For a long while, Mac users had to rely on third-party applications such as PocketMac or MissingSync to populate their BlackBerrys with contact, tasks, calendar data and media. RIM’s release of BlackBerry Desktop Manager for Mac brings first-party support for synchronizing data between Macs and Blackberry. The process however, isn’t always so simple. My personal experience syncing my Storm and my MacBook Pro had its share of seemingly inexplicable errors. After some fairly extensive research, I’ve found the answers to my two biggest problems.

1. My BlackBerry won’t mount on my Mac as a Mass Storage Device
Mass Storage Mode allows your phone to mount as any USB hard drive or flash drive would thus allowing you to copy files back and forth between the phone and your computer. Firstly, the phone needs to have Mass Storage Mode enabled. This is done by going into the phone’s options menu and then selecting “Memory.”

  • Media Card Support: On
  • Encryption Mode: None
  • Media Transfer Protocol (MTP): On
  • Mass Storage Support: On
  • Auto Enable Mass Storage Mode When Connected: Yes or Prompt

If you have these settings and your phone still won’t mount, the likely cause is a carrier unlock. Unlocking your phone disables Mass Storage Mode. To remedy the problem, iCrack has a patch to re-enable it. However, the patch runs on Windows only and doesn’t work in all circumstances. To manually enable Mass Storage Mode, you need to enter what’s called the Engineering Screens. Follow the directions from BerryReview to access the escreens:

To access the escreen, access the device “Help Me!” screen. For QWERTY devices, perform the key combination Alt+Shift+H on the home screen. For SureType devices, type Alt+EACE on the home screen. For SurePress devices, hold the Escape button, and tap the screen upper left, upper right, upper left, and upper right corners in that sequence.

The “Help Me!” screen contains the application version, PIN, and current up time. Without leaving the “Help Me!” screen, enter that information into the generator. The generator will give you the 8 digit code for the current “Help Me!” screen. If you close the “Help Me!” screen, the device uptime will no longer match the uptime used to generate the code.

Type the 8 digit code into the “Help Me!” screen. You will not see the digits as you type them, but once all 8 correct digits are entered, the escreen will activate. Make sure to use Alt for the numbers on QWERTY devices. Make sure to use multitap to enter the digits on SureType devices.

Once activated, the escreen will replace the “Help Me!” screen for the duration specified when generating the code. You can close the escreen earlier by setting your device clock ahead past the expiration time, reactivating the “Help Me!” screen, then setting your device clock back to normal. Note: Devices with a vendor ID of 1 (RIM engineering sample devices) will always have the escreen open.

Obtain the 8-digit code with this generator.

Once you’re at the escreen, click “OS Engineering Screens” and then “USB.” Select the seting for “Mass Storage (MS)” and click the BlackBerry button and choose “Toggle MS.” Now your BlackBerry should connect to your computer with no problem.

2. My BlackBerry experiences random sync errors telling me to “Retry Sync”
I really don’t have a good explanation for this one. Sometimes syncing contacts (or anything else) with BlackBerry Desktop Manager for Mac works, and other times, the sync fails telling me to retry. When you are receive an error message, hold down the option key and click on the sync services icon in the menubar and select Reset Sync Services. If you don’t have this menubar icon, go to System Preferences>MobileMe>Sync>Show Status in Menubar. Doing so will probably prompt you to reconcile some sync conflicts but hopefully you’ll only have to do this once.

I hope this helps any other BlackBerry and Mac user who’s experienced the same problems.

AT&T Wi-Fi Part II

The session window for AT&T Wi-Fi

The session window for AT&T Wi-Fi

For those of you who frequent Starbucks, you surely know about the free 2 hours of Wi-Fi access you get as a Rewards member. I was always dubious about the 2-hour limit; the access was provided by an AT&T account you sign up for and thus it didn’t appear as though Starbucks had any sort of control over the network. The account you sign up for doesn’t come with any sort of identifier as being associated with Starbucks Rewards either.

Today I spent a good chunk of time there working on various projects and had the opportunity to test what would happen to my Wi-Fi access after two hours. Apparently nothing. Awesome :smile:.

AT&T Wi-Fi

Starbucks and AT&TA while back I wrote about Starbucks’ Rewards program. Any registered member of the program receives “up to two hours of free AT&T Wi-Fi service, everyday.” I was previously under the impression that this meant you needed to purchase something to get wi-fi access, however it appears (upon closer inspection of the terms and in real-world trials) that no purchase is necessary.

This makes things more convenient for road warriors. I would suspect that this trick works at any AT&T Hotspot. Of course anyone with an iPhone or other qualifying AT&T plan automatically gets hot-spot access and you can even enable automatic login with iPhone OS 3.0:

Anyways, if anyone has confirmed that with Starbucks Rewards, you can use AT&T Wi-Fi at any AT&T hotspot, be sure to share in the comments.

Check out more about Starbucks Rewards at http://starbucks.com/cardrewards.

Old vs. New

Owning two sexy Apple computers, it’s not always easy deciding which one I want to use as my primary machine. The contenders’ general specifications are as follows:

MacBook Pro (Mid 2008):

  • 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Processor/2GB DDR2 RAM at 667 MHz
  • 160 GB hard drive @ 7200 rpm
  • 256 MB nVidia GeForce 8600M GT
  • 15.4″ matte LED-lit display
  • Illuminated Keyboard
  • 2 USB/1 Firewire 400/1 Firewire 800

Unibody MacBook:

  • 2.0 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Processor/2 GB DDR3 RAM @ 1066 MHz
  • 160GB hard drive @ 5400 rpm
  • nVidia GeForce 9400M chipset
  • 13.3 LED-lit glossy display
  • Glass multi-touch trackpad
  • 2 USB ports

Ultimately, the performance is nearly identical. In real-world usage, the MacBook boots faster than the MacBook Pro, but I attribute this to the fact that there is significantly less occupying its hard drive. It’s hard to give up the MBP. While the unibody construction is sleek and very durable, the sentiental connection I have with my MBP is hard to get over.

The old MBP does have a few extra perks as well such as an ExpressCard slot. For most average users, this is hardly a point of significance. I can’t remember the last time I used any card-slot peripherals.

For those of you with older MBP’s considering a new laptop, I generally agree with what’s been said at Wired, and here. The conclusion seems to be that if you actually use more advanced features (card slot, firewire, do heavy film editing), stick with the pro. Otherwise, the new Unibody MacBook has closed the gap between pro and consumer models in a good way; save yourself some dough and go for the regular MacBook.

Explanations “In plain English”

In light of Cornell’s launching of Google Apps for Education, dubbed CMail, there has undoubtedly a slew of questions about how it works. For many people, the concept of “cloud computing” is pretty novel. Trying to explain this to a tech-newbie can sometimes be difficult.

Enter Common Craft. Common Craft is a company that specializes in explanations. They’ve produced plenty of videos that make sense of products or services that aren’t quite so obvious. Two of my favorites are Twitter in Plain English and Google Docs in Plain English. Continue reading ‘Explanations “In plain English”’

Trimming start-up time

If you’re like me, you like having your computer boot-up as fast as possible. There’s not much worse than turning your computer on in the morning, going grabbing some coffee, and returning only to find your computer still chugging away, loading your desktop. This isn’t necessarily a problem for those lucky enough to have enormous amounts of RAM and excess processing power, however for most of us, loading numerous programs at start-up takes longer than desired.

This is a problem that users of all platforms share, however here I’ll be focusing on what I did for my MacBook Pro. On my Mac, there are a few programs I always have running besides Mail, my web browser and any documents I may be working on. These include Dropbox, Quicksilver, and Twitteriffic. One solution would be to disable all these programs from running at startup. Doing this would mean that every time I turn on my computer, I would have to open all those programs manually; something I’d rather not spend time doing.

I had seen Windows applications that allow you to specify a time-delay for startup programs so your system doesn’t get bogged down trying to launch everything at once. I didn’t find a program like this for Mac, however the Mac Tips and Tricks blog pointed out how you could write your own such program easily using tools already included with the OS.

Their solution was to use either Applescript or Automator to force applications to start after a pre-set delay. I won’t repeat the instructions as they are available here. Currently, I am using the Applescript solution as the Automator (while easier to do) resulted in my apps’ menubar icons being placed awkwardly in the middle of the menubar as opposed to their usual spot near the system clock.

All in all, I think this is a pretty cool trick and has prompted me to play around a lot more with Automator and Applescript. Any ideas or suggestions?



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