Installing BlackBerry Leaked OS files (RIM getting sneaky with the vendor.xml file)


It used to be rather simple to install a leaked version of a BlackBerry OS.   These updated leaked versions of BlackBerry Operating System software are often leaked by mobile phone companies so that people like me and many others will install them, like a beta install, so they can get feedback on what’s working and what’s NOT working.  In many instances, these leaked OS’s are fine.  Occasionally, you might find that there are “memory leaks” which is a fancy way of saying that certain apps installed with the OS do not properly use the allotted memory, but for the most part, they work just fine.  In fact, a BlackBerry Leaked OS usually has new features not available in your mobile phone companies currently available release (compared to the one readily available from their website, the RIM web site, or just already installed on your new phone).

To install these a BlackBerry Leaked OS you had to search for one for your specific model.  The OS is specific to the type of phone you have.  So you can’t install OS 7.1 for a BlackBerry Torch 9810 on a BlackBerry Bold 9900.  But once you find the file you are looking for (usually from sites like Crackberry or N4BB where they link you to a file share site like MegaUpload, MediaFire, SendSpace, etc), you simply download the file, and install it onto your computer.

I am the system admin and BlackBerry Support Specialist where I work.  I manage many different BlackBerry Users with different BlackBerry Models and different Operating Systems.  Trying out a new “leaked” OS seems like a daily occurrence for me and as I said it used to be easy.

  1. Download the OS File as I stated above (usually an EXE file but sometimes it’s a zipped file that you have to unpack first)
  2. Run the EXE file which installs the OS files onto your computer
  3. Plug you BlackBerry into your computer with the USB cable
  4. Run Desktop Manager which finds the new OS and asks you if you want to Upgrade.
  5. You say yes (making sure that the “backup the phone first” box is checked
  6. And that was it.

Later on, you had to delete the file called “vendor.xml” which is located in the C:\Program Files\Common Files\Research In Motion\AppLoader folder.  That’s right, simply deleting it would make it all work just fine. Very easy.

When that stopped working you had to disconnect from the Internet (in addition to deleting the Vendor.XML file) so that the BlackBerry Desktop Software (formerly Desktop Manager) would find the Updated OS.  Now, you have two “vendor.xml” files to delete.  On Windows 7 the additional file is in the C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Research In Motion\BlackBerry\Loader XML folder.  O Windows XP the additional file is in c:\documents and settings\XXXXX (user name)\Application Data\Research in Motion\BlackBerry\Loader XML\. You must delete BOTH vendor.xml files in order for BlackBerry Desktop Software to recognize the newly installed Leaked OS.

To install the newly downloaded OS onto your device.  It’s not just a matter of downloading it, you have to INSTALL the OS onto your computer.  That’s true whether or not it’s a leaked OS or not.  Installing the OS puts the files in places/folders on your computer where the BlackBerry Desktop Software (BDS) can find them.  THEN run (BDS).  Sometimes, that new leaked OS you just download and then installed, still won’t be recognized by BDS as a viable OS to upgrade to.  By default, BDS wants to check the Internet (your carrier’s web site where “official” OS files are) to see if an upgrade is available. That’s what happens when you use the menu to “update” your device.  To Force BDS to see the newly installed local installation of a leaked OS, you have to disconnect from the Internet – you need to disable your wi-fi and/or unplug your netowrk cable, THEN run BDS and it will look locally for new OS files.  You will see a little red star next to the OS version and you can then click the Update button whereby a pop up box will appear and you can select this new leaked OS you downloaded/installed.

Here’s what I don’t understand:  These “unofficial” OS versions are “leaked” on purpose. This is a way for vendors and RIM to get real world feedback en masse from the more technical BlackBerry users out there who know what they are doing.  It gives users like me a chance to sample the new features, give feedback on forums, and see how things like Battery Life are improved or not with the new OS.  It’s a vital feature to the BlackBerry OS process at large.  So why do they (and by that I mean RIM, AT&T, Verizon, and every other phone vendor) make it more and more difficult to install these Operating Systems.  Those of us that work with these leaked OS’s KNOW that we can’t call our mobile phone company with a BlackBerry problem if we have a leaked OS on it because they won’t help you.  So it’s not like we don’t know that it’s an “AS IS” kind of thing when you are installing a leaked OS.

RIM/BlackBerry has a Beta Program where, if you sign up, you can be a Beta Tester for new apps and upgrades before they are released to the public.  But I’ve NEVER seen beta testing of Operating System upgrades in that program. I am a member.  So what’s the deal?  I don’t know.  Without people like us testing these leaked Operating Systems in the real world, companies like RIM, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile would not get real world feedback that they can use to make corrections and modifications before releasing them to the general BlackBerry user population.  If anyone knows?  Please share.

The bottom line is this:  There are mobile phone companies out there, not in the US but around the world, who release the “leaked”  BlackBerry operating systems as final, even though in the US, they are considered unofficial leaked versions.  Leaked version typically never end up to be the final version in the US.  It’s people like me and the thousand of other technical folks out there willing to install these leaked operating systems on BlackBerrys that help to make the BlackBerry product line better, each and every day.  It’s time RIM and the mobile phone companies came out of the closet, to admit what is really going on with leaked operating systems, give credit where credit is due, and provide a simpler way for us to beta test these suckers.

BlackBerry Bold 9900 and why RIM is still #1


If you believe all of the media hype, RIM (Research in Motion, the company that makes BlackBerry) is about ready to shut its doors, its products are useless, and they have lost all of their market share. Nothing could be further from the truth.   BlackBerry somehow became the Microsoft of the smart phone world.  Everyone started to hate BlackBerry because they were at the top of the heap.  I’m not saying RIM hasn’t made mistakes, but like all global companies who grew very fast, sometimes the growing pains aren’t so easy to take.  But BlackBerry is getting itself back on track and is poised to retake the industry in the number one spot.

First, some house-cleaning.  Worldwide there are still more BlackBerry subscribers than any other smart phone.  Sure, maybe in the US, BlackBerry fell out of favor for a while, but worldwide, a BlackBerry is still number one.  And the BlackBerry does things that no other smart phone can do.  Three of the five top downloaded smart phone applications across all platforms are BlackBerry Apps.  They are BlackBerry Messenger, Twitter for BlackBerry, and FaceBook for BlackBerry.  I believe the number one downloaded app was “Angry Birds” – go figure.  Overall, worldwide the top cell phones are not BlackBerry, iPhone, or Android.  The top sellers are non-smart-phones, meaning regular old mobile phones, by Samsung, LG, and Motorola.  Consider that most people in the world can’t afford to purchase, let alone keep up with the monthly service charges on, a smart phone.

Now to the BlackBerry Bold 9900.  This is AT&T/T-Mobile’s version.  Each carrier  (like Verizon, T-Mobile, and other global companies like Vodafone-UK, Rogers-Canada) have or will have their own model with its own unique features.  Even the AT&T and T-Mobile 9900 versions are not the same.

As the mobile communications coordinator for my company, I have had the opportunity to work on many BlackBerry models including the 8800, 8820, 8310, 8320, 9000, 9700, 9800, 9810, and now the 9900.  I have also been exposed to iPhones of all types, and Android phones.

The BlackBerry Bold 9900 is the finest piece of smart phone hardware I have ever laid my hands on.  I LOVE it.  The full keyboard in a phenomenal achievement and never have I been able to glide and fly over that keyboard to type out an email or text like I can on the Bold 9900.  The phone is solid, the battery life is good, the screen images are crisp and clear; there isn’t anything I don’t like about the Bold 9900.

Here is why I like BlackBerry in general:

  1.  You don’t need to connect the phone to your computer to download and/or install applications. With the iPhone, you do, and that need to do so, is a pain in the ass.
  2. RIM/BlackBerry provides a full desktop software interface that can manage a whole host of things. This includes wirelessly syncing your media to your device whenever you are in range of your computer. The software can also help me rebuild a broken BlackBerry that won’t boot up.  It’s quite amazing what you can do with the tools RIM provides.  And the more technical you are, the more you can do on your own and not have to call someone and wait on hold.  Try to manage your Android with their desktop software – oops, there isn’t such a thing.
  3. Attachments – BlackBerrys handle them with ease.  It doesn’t matter if it’s an Excel, Word, PowerPoint or PDF, you can save it and view it later.  You can also edit it.  Try to do that with an iPhone.  If you don’t forever save the email that contained the attachment, you’ll never see it again.
  4. BlackBerry Messenger – think of it as the way Instant Messaging or Text Messaging should be.  Between BlackBerry users, there is no limit on the number of characters you can type into a BBM message, and you don’t need a special text messaging plan to use it.  It’s free if you are a BlackBerry subscriber.
  5. The BlackBerry Network – You probably heard something in the news back in October 2011 about how BlackBerry services crashed in Europe and eventually affected North America for a time.  It was bad.  But the truth is, there is an entire network of BlackBerry servers and services around the globe, all inter-connected, allowing for BlackBerry users to do the things they do, like BBM to people all over the world at no additional cost.  Everyone with a smart phone needs a data plan, but you don’t need a separate Text Messaging plan if you are messaging other people with BlackBerry’s.  When RIM experienced the big outage, they responded to it by offering several application from its App World for free to its customers.  And they weren’t silly apps like themes or games (although they offered some of those for free as well) but rather some of them were Super Apps, like Vlingo.
  6. BESX – The original product is called BlackBerry Enterprise Server or BES.  BES is used by companies to link and manage all of their BlackBerry devices, push out custom applications to its users, and connect the users to data on servers within that company’s network.  BESX is a somewhat scaled down version FOR FREE.  Smaller companies or companies that don’t need EVERY SINGLE bell and whistle that BES offers, will do just fine with BESX.  Our company moved from BES to BESX and had absolutely no problem with functionality, in fact, just the opposite, we actually gained some functionality that was not yet included in the standard BES product.
  7. Self-Service – While I don’t expect every smart phone user to have access to an IT guy like me, for the people at my company, I am that guy.  And I can fix any problem myself, load any operating system on any device, control which apps are installed, and through IT Policies on the BES or BESX servers, I can control what my users can and can not do with their BlackBerry.  For example, let’s say I didn’t want them to be able to download apps from App World and be able to charge them to our company cell phone bill (this is an option available within BlackBerry App World – try THAT with an iPhone or Android).  I can prevent them from doing that.  OR, I can allow them to do it if the company want to do it as a perk.  Overall, I rarely have to call AT&T for any repair, functionality, or maintenance issues.  I can do it all myself.  The only time I really have to involve our mobile carrier is if a phone gets dropped and broken, and we have to file an insurance claim, or if a phone is so far beyond repair that I can’t fix it.  I haven’t had this last one happen yet.
  8. NFC – stands for Near Field Communications.  The best way to understand it is to think of a Mobil Speed Pass where you wave a key fob near the pump, and your purchase is automatically charged to the account you set up (credit card, debit card, Mobil gas card, etc).  This is just one function.  You will also be able to tap (or bump) your BlackBerry against another to share media like music, photos, and music.

When people try to put BlackBerry in a box, and say that the company is “dead in the water” they seem to forget that RIM is truly a global company.  There are places in Asia where 70% of the population use BlackBerry for personal use – not for business.  BlackBerry is the most respected smart phone world-wide.  I was recently in Boston for the weekend staying at a very large, upscale hotel.  I was surprised that most of the young people I saw walking around with smart phones had BlackBerry’s, not iPhones, not Androids, like the media would have you think.  iPhones and Androids may have great sales right now, but customer loyalty for those platforms isn’t there.  Many people are returning to BlackBerry once they got their taste of being “trendy” and keeping up with the Jones’s and it didn’t work out quite how they had hoped.  And luckily, RIM is ready for them.  In 2012 RIM will be releasing even more new models and the new QNX Operating System (which was supposed to be called BBX but RIM got sued over the use of that name – it will probably be called simply BlackBerry X or something like that).   The new OS will bring the BlackBerry smart phone (and tablet) closer to a fully functioning computer in your hand.

So folks, don’t count out BlackBerry just yet.  Many predicted that when Microsoft Vista came out, it was the end of Microsoft.  There was a mass exodus to Mac….until Windows 7 showed up.  RIM is in the midst of readjusting, refocusing, scaling down, and paring out the dead wood in the company.  They got fat and happy, and then realized it was time to get to the gym.  Now they are well on their way to being sexy, and desirable, all over again.

BlackberryandBeyond.com web site gay bashes staff


Many “BlackBerry-centric” web sites exist on the Internet.  These aren’t sites owned by Research in Motion (RIM – makers of BlackBerry), but rather third parties who run Forums which double as “news” sites.   There is a lot of competition among these sites and when one of them get’s a scoop, the others immediately jump into action, trying NOT to be the very last site to post the scoop.  The goal of these sites is to make money, obviously. The income can be generated from advertising dollars if they get enough traffic or, if they are lucky, from an online store where they might sell BlackBerry Applications, BlackBerry Accessories, etc.

The list of these sites goes on and on:  They include, but are not limited to, BlackberryForums.com, Driphter.com, BlackberryOS.com, EverythingBerry.com, PinStack.com, Berryreview.com, BBGeeks.com, and the grand daddy of them all – Crackberry.com.  And trust me, this is a short list.

BlackBerryandBeyond.com is a new web site created recently and owned by Tom Evans, John Hodges, a guy named “Jeff” who goes by the call sign “Shimmyshine”, and one other individual who goes by the name “wraithwatcher”.  To demonstrate how these sites rise up, seemingly overnight  – the “owners” of BlackberryandBeyond.com used to be contributors to BlackberryOS.com.  There were personality clashes and accusations of poor management, so the 4 horsemen decided to go off on their own.   The site’s official opening isn’t until late February/early March, but they are well under way now.

A few months back, BlackberryOS.com was looking for contributors.  I showed interest in writing for a Blackberry web site because I had spent so much time on My.BlackBerry.Com (a user forum site run by RIM), and had worked with users to solve technical problems as a fellow BlackBerry user.  My experience comes from running a BlackBerry Enterprise as part of my job.  I noticed that many visitors who submitted questions to My.BlackBerry.Com were asking the same questions over and over and over again.  So I wanted a change of pace.  I’m a decent writer had developed some standard wording in plain language to answer common BlackBerry questions.   When I approached Tom Evans, he was familiar with my work at My.BlackBerry.Com.   In two months I posted almost two thousand responses to forum visitors who requested help with a Blackberry Issue or Problem.  Mr. Evans told me he knew of my work and wanted me to write for BlackberryOS.com.  The problem at the time was that they wanted me to commit to posting one article every day on their site.  I did not feel I could meet their expectations and did not want to promise something I could not live up to.  So in the end, I did not take the “position”.

I use the term “position” loosely.  These sites don’t actually pay people like me to write.  You have to be an owner, and insider, or work you way up.   I wasn’t getting paid to write, although I would have been called a “staff” writer of some sort.

I heard through the grapevine that several people from BlackberryOS.com had left to start their own site – BlackberryandBeyond.com.  I approached Mr. Evans again and asked if there was a place for me in his organization either in Moderating or Writing.  I actually wanted to do both.  I like working with the end-users, but also enjoyed writing; focusing on “How-To” type articles.   Mr. Evans and I had one discussion about where I might fit in.  I was clear that I wanted to play both roles; a moderator and a writer.  Mr. Evans was eager to get me on board.  I had the chops, and the talent, and he knew I would be a good “get”.  He suggested I start as a writer.  I thought that was acceptable.  I had no experience or knowledge in contributing to a web site before.  I immediately began contributing articles to BlackBerryandBeyond.com.  I didn’t sign anything or agree to anything specific number of articles – I just wrote when I could.

When I became a “member” of the group, I was added to their BlackBerry Messenger group.  For those that don’t use BBM or the group function, it’s like Instant Messaging but in group format.  There were about 12 individuals in the B and B group.  Anyone who posted a message into the BBM group had it read by all other members of the group.  It’s an effective way to communicate with everyone at once, especially when big news is breaking, like a new Operating System release, or our web site is down – stuff like that.  Again, the primary players of BlackberryandBeyond.com spend a great deal of time monitoring all of the other BlackBerry forum sites to see what they are posting, so they also spend time trying to get the “staff” to write similar articles so we don’t look like we’re not on top of things.  To me, it’s a strange way to run a “business” – no direct news sources of your own – always playing catch up with what others are posting. 

On Friday, February 4, 2011, RIM announced a new BlackBerry trade-up program.  It was announced by RIM and every single BlackBerry Forum site wrote the same basic article.  I was asked to get something up a quickly as possible.  We didn’t want to be the last ones with the same news as everybody else.  God forbid. 

On Sunday morning, February 6, 2011, I was at home.  I could hear my BlackBerry “pinging” away.  I have a tone set to make a sound when people are posting to the BlackBerry Messenger Group for BlackBerry and Beyond.   What I saw was a bit disturbing to me.  I had become accustomed to this group of “guys” making crude sexual comments and grammar school “jokes” about sex, and women.  It was so unprofessional to me, but I tried to let it just roll of my back.  But on the Sunday morning in question I had enough when I saw them making “gay” jokes.  I didn’t want to be “that guy” who causes problem when they don’t exist.  But I couldn’t stand by any longer and keep my mouth shut.  Here is the conversation I watched go by.  The initials indicate the person “speaking”:

FM – “Steelers. +1”

R – “Packers here….by 14”

JSS – “I can’t vote for gaybay. Lol”

R – Lmao

FM –  Steelers. 24-21 I think. I can’t root for the packers. Ever. I’m a bears fan. Hey shimmy, you a lions fan by any chance?

JSS –  Nah, I’m a tampa bay shittyeers fan..

JSS –  They both suck sadly.

FM –  Lol. Bucs had a chance this year…

FM –  Hodges is probably still sleeping. But since he is gay he’ll probably root for the packers

I saw where this was going, or had already gone.  After watching them talk about wives and girlfriends and “cialis” earlier, I was not about to let this conversation go where it could easily go.  In 2011, the “innocent” gay slur or misogynistic comment just isn’t cool, it isn’t acceptable, and it isn’t appropriate for a “business” conversation.  After all, BlackberryandBeyond.com is a business.  They may act like it’s a junior high locker room, but it’s a business.

So I spoke up – and this is what I said:

“I really didn’t think I would have to say this in 2011, but I don’t appreciate the gay slurs. If you want to act like 12-year-olds in private messages, that your prerogative.. But in a group chat?  You should be ashamed of yourselves. I am gay. If that’s a problem for anyone, then you let me know right now, and we’ll take it from there.  This is not an LOL or LMAO or any of the other terms this group overuses. This is for real.”

The reason I said the part about LOL and LMAO is because in the 14 days or so that I was a member of this group, I watched as comment after comment after comment is posted the BBM group about all kinds of things, and everyone ends or begins their comment with LOL, ROFL, LMAO, as if EVERYTHING is so damned funny that their all rolling on the floor in stitches.  It’s childish and nothing more than verbal filler because these people have nothing important to say to each other.  I should have seen the writing on the wall then.

After my comment I got a few responses.  The first was this:

R –  ….no one meant any offense at all. Everyone in this group except a few, yourself included, have been friends for quite some time. As such we tend to lose sight to the new people in the group.  I’m sure it won’t happen again.

That was the right answer.  Just acknowledge that things got out of hand, that  no offense were meant, and let’s move on.  I had absolutely no problem with that at all. 

But then, THIS, from one of the “owners” – verbatim:

H –  I was driving when this msg came in (name redacted) I’m glad u commented  to play off what you said.  Yes (name redacted)  you are correct this is 2011 and as fucked up as the world is its unfortunate that there are still people in this world that feed of society.. However on the other side of the  coin I myself am not a homosexual but I am half black half puertorican and I have been called every racial name under the sun.. At times it  was meant towards me and at times it was in a joking manner.. You have to know when to be able to decipher the two.. Its obvious these guys weren’t talking negativatly towards you or anyone in the gay community.. As rick said we are all friends my friends call me a nigger all the time but its funny and in a joking manner just sayin”

This above is a comment from John Hodges – Owner of BlackberryandBeyond.com.  Instead of acting like an “owner” and responding with “hey no offense – and guys, he’s got a point, let’s keep our conversations a bit more elevated”, John Hodges basically said – “I’m called a nigger and it doesn’t bother me – so don’t be so sensitive”.

Is that any way for the Owner of a company to respond??  Not to mention that Tom Evans, another Owners, who is NEVER not listening to what’s going on in the group conversation, was in complete radio silence.  Nor did any of the other “Owners” weigh in on the subject. 

We had one female member of our group when I joined.  She resigned unexpectedly and nobody would tell me why except that it was personal.  I can only glean that if she reacted to the misogynistic “talk” the way I reacted to the gay slurs, she had way more reason to be pissed off than I had.  What they said about gays, in comparison to what they’ve said about women, is tame.  And I admit, I don’t think anyone was intentionally trying to gay bash, I just decided to speak up before anyone took it any further.

For the Owner of an organization to defend the actions of the group by saying he’s OK with being called a “nigger” once in a while, is repulsive.  And for the other owners to not say a word about what happened is indefensible.

I deleted all of the articles I wrote for BlackberryandBeyond.com.  They are my intellectual property and I didn’t sign any agreement with them.

I am now looking for somewhere else where I can write – with and for adults.

Tether your Blackberry for free


I am truly shocked that a company out there called “Tether”, formerly “Tetherberry” is SELLING an app that allows you to use your Blackberry (or Android) as a modem to connect your PC or laptop to the Internet when you have no other options.

Actually, I’m not that surprised that “Tether” is selling it.  But I am surprised that people are buying it.

Right now, I am only speaking about Blackberry because I own one and run an office where I support a whole group of people who each have one.  I have had to learn how to rebuild a Blackberry from the group up.  I don’t know that much about Androids but I’m sure it can’t be that difficult to do on those either.

Now to my point – I learned a long time ago, from documentation ON THE BLACKBERRY WEB SITE, how to tether your Blackberry as a modem FOR FREE without signing up with your carrier for an extra data plan.  The carriers have tried to make it more difficult for people to do it by removing the ability to do it from the Blackberry Desktop Manager software.  But as you will see in the documentation referenced, there’s always a way around this.

Here is the document from Blackberry: http://www.blackberry.com/btsc/search.do?cmd=displayKC&docType=kc&externalId=KB05196

And here is some additional documentation the will help you for your specific carrier: http://hubpages.com/hub/How-to-Connect-to-Internet-with-Your-BlackBerry-without-Paying-For-Data-Plan

Essentially there are two ways to connect for free.  The first, you follow the setup instructions, then you run Blackberry Desktop Manager and just leave it running in the background (as stated in the instructions).  Then you connect using your modem (which is your Blackberry attached to your computer via the USB cable that came with it.

If you want to actually use Desktop Manager to make the free connection, it’s a little more complicated.  You have to edit an XML file on your computer as stated here: http://www.interworks.com/blogs/wlyles/2010/01/29/how-tether-your-blackberry-using-desktop-manager-even-att/ .

Then you can launch your internet connection right from Desktop Manager.

The bottom line is:  DON”T PAY ANYONE $50, or even $1.99 for an application when you can set it up yourself for free.  I did it for all of my users and they all use it when needed.  It works fine.  Our president went to Switzerland last year and he used it there as well.

It really bugs me when companies like “Tether” or “Tetherberry” fool the public into thinking they have to buy something when it can be done for free.  They are relying on the fact that you don’t know how to do the research to figure it out yourself.  Just because you are not a Blackberry expert doesn’t mean you should get screwed.