Tag Archive for 'Tips'

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.

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?

Mac N00bs

Here’s some must-reads for all the new Mac-philes out there:

Cult of Mac: Advice for Mac-toting students
The Apple Blog: Mac Tips
TUAW: Back-to-School
TUAW: Mac 101

Organized – Widget Style

Yesterday, while surfing the interwebs, I came accross a helpful looking little Dashboard widget called Organized by the fine folks at iSlayer. After downloading it without hesitation, I have concluded that this will perhaps be the most useful widget I have installed. Being the sucker for efficiency that I am, I like how this widget consolidates several widgets (Google Calendar, Checkmarker, Clock, Stickies) into one. It also doesn’t look like it was designed by someone who failed second grade art class.

Continue reading ‘Organized – Widget Style’

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