Blackberry Curve 8330 and Blackberry Playbook

Can my Blackberry Curve 8330 be connected to my Blackberry Playbook?  I sure hope so.

Ever since I started seeing tablets come to market I’ve wanted one, each time I saw a commercial I could see myself using it to make my job so much easier in so many ways.  What held me back?  Price mostly, and the fact that I have a Blackberry.  I’ve appreciate the blackberry in many ways, setting up and running a BES server is easy and full featured.  Hooking BB’s up to an Exchange server is simple enough and works flawlessly. With the relatively high cost of mobile bandwidth in Canada paying for a second data plan just wasn’t in the cards.  Enter the Playbook.

I was so happy when I heard that RIM was making a tablet, I couldn’t wait for it to come out.  As I saw more and more features I was more and more excited.  Then I learned that it ran through my current BB so I didn’t need to get a separate plan or worry about anything other than synching it.  My email and contacts etc. would synch automatically – it was perfect.

Today I finally got a quote for it, and made the decision to but it.  Tonight, I went to my computer and before I sent in the ‘ok order it for me’ I decided to double check to make sure I wasn’t going to have any problems using the Playbook, and to get a head start in learning how to configure it properly.  The first thing I discovered was that I needed to be running OS5.  I couldn’t recall what my Curve 8330 was running, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t OS5.

So I looked, and looked, and had just about given up that I was going to be able to do this.  While I can afford to get the Playbook, getting a new phone as well isn’t a possibility.  Until finally I came across a post on the Crackberry forums showing that it was possible to load the 8330 with OS5.  From there I went to the official BB site and unfortunately my carrier hasn’t “officially” released OS5 just yet.

That gave me enough hope to get the process started and do more research.  The first thing I needed to do was install the latest version of BB desktop software and perform a proper backup. Just in case things go irreparably wrong I wanted to be able to have a working phone tomorrow.

After the backup was completed, I downloaded the OS5 software and installed it on my computer.  From what I had read so far I could just load this immediately on my blackberry and it should work (after removing vendor.xml).  I had also discovered though from further research that it was possible to get a “Hybrid” OS that was more stable than this “cracked” release, and that I might need to “shrink” my OS to properly fit it on my low flash memory Blackberry.  More Work.

From there I went to BlackberryOS.com to learn what “shrinking” my OS meant for me, and how to do it.  From there I downloaded and installed the shrinking software as outlined.

I also went to BBtweaks.com and learned what a “Hybrid” OS was and how to install it with my new Blackberry OS.

So I downloaded their Hybrid version of my OS (which was confusing because it was labelled as version 4.XX.XXX when I thought I was installing OS5).

Now the all important step, navigate to C:Program Files (x86)Common FilesResearch In MotionAppLoader and delete the Vendor.XML file.  I assume these are specific settings for the carrier that released the OS – since I don’t use them as my carrier I needed to dump their special configuration.

Next I installed the Hybrid OS files from BBtweaks, which had an awesome installer BTW (kudos guys).  I just selected the default options, it seemed to know where to find my install files without any prompting.  It also prompted me to install something called BBSAK which appeared to be some type of device configuration tool, having features like “wipe”, “update”, etc.  I can see how it might be useful if I get into some hardcore BB configurations.

Then it wanted me to install Blackberry Master Control, which I did as well.  This appears to be an even more powerful configuration and OS management tool.  If I had a more high powered device it might be more useful, but for now I just want to get my Blackberry to work with my soon to come Playbook.

I did run the Shrink OS function, but even after checking off all the stuff I didn’t think I’d want it didn’t change the size of my files – I assume this means that my OS was pre-shrunk by BBTweaks.

Now I got to the scary part, and actually found the use for BBSAK.  Here I hit my first major snag, apparently BBSAK isn’t detecting my device.  I checked some quick help files, then with a hint of frustration just mashed something in the password field.  TADA!  I’m not sure if the something in the password field worked (I used to have a password) or not.  Either way, it was currently working so I was going to forge ahead!

I backed up my third party apps, after seeing what was backed up I didn’t care if they ever got restored.  Why did I ever want these in the first place?  Who knows.  After the backup came the hard part … I had to wipe the device.  This felt like the point of no return.  It took surprisingly little time and when my device turned back on there was an icon on it that indicated it had no software.

Now it was time to load the OS back on the device, again using BBSAK.  To my dismay, I immediately received an application error and everything crashed.  Now I had a Blackberry with no software, and apparently no way to load the software.  My wife innocently asked me if I my Blackberry would be ready for my trip tomorrow to do some training for one of my clients.  Confidently I said “Sure, why not”.  Famous last words?

Further investigation of what was going on with my computer revealed windows performing updates, namely on the .NET framework, which I believe the BBSAK runs off.  Well … that might be the cause.  Stupid Microsoft, always wanting me to perform updates.  Well, I let the updates finish, then gave the computer a reboot, praying that when it came back on it would be more inclined to help me through this.

Unfortunately that didn’t fix my problem.  From there I went back to the first forum post and re-read the instructions for manually installing the base image.  It indicated that I could run “loader.exe” (C:Program Files (x86)Common FilesResearch In Motion).  So I went back and tried that instead.  This appeared to work just fine, and looked exactly like the installation directions.  So I followed along and continued the installation.  Now all I could do was sit back and hope that after all this I would have a working phone once more.

It didn’t take long for the installer to finish.  I was actually surprised that it happened so quickly after reading some of the forum posts while I waited.  Maybe it took longer then I think it did.  Afterward my Blackberry Desktop Software continued to complain that it can’t communicate with my device.  After waiting a few moments and handling my device I saw that it appeared to be loading.  It said “Blackberry” in the center of the screen and had a progress bar.  The bar paused for a long time at about 2/3 of the way finished until I started to wonder if it was just frozen in place.

Why don’t they make progress bars that actually show progress?  I mean, it should be continually moving, if only to prove that it was doing something. When it stops in one place forever you have to start wondering why nothing is happening.  I have this reaction often enough with my job that I’ve learned to just walk away and come back later.  If after 4 hours it still isn’t done, then there is probably something wrong and I should attempt to fix it – but if it finishes before then, it was better that I didn’t mess around with it.

Finally (maybe 20 minutes later) it loaded and made me agree to the RIM ULA then run through the setup process.  It let me connect to the network immediately.  Once I had the home screen back up I tried to reconnect with the desktop software and everything went just fine.  Whew …

The next step was to install my apps, I went through it but all I ended up reinstalling was Google Maps. I didn’t use any of the others any longer and didn’t see the need to waste any space.

Next I restored some of my backup data.  I was warned in the instructions not to restore any options, so I just marked off all the data stuff that I could find.  Some things I didn’t know what they were so I just left them off, just in case.  I didn’t want to mess anything up and have to start this whole process over at ‘wipe’ again.  I figured out at this point that I was going to have to re-register my device with the BES server that I connect to.  Not that this is usually a long process, but it has caused me issues in the past.  The best way I’ve found to do it was to connect the device manually to the BES server and let it install from there.  Not always a practical solution at 10pm at night. That would have to wait for tomorrow anyway.

Some of the setup options didn’t apply to me.  The service books and registration appeared to all happen automatically when I told it to turn on the radio during the initialization process.  I did have to set my permissions up again, as well as my theme, owner settings, and other various options and settings.

When I was finished with that, I had a working phone! Hurray!  And it was properly running OS 5, which meant that I could connect with my new Playbook – double awesome!

What did you think?