Lync client for Blackberry now available

by Shijaz Abdulla on 15.06.2011 at 08:25

I am happy to see the Lync client for Blackberry. If you’re a Blackberry user, download it today.

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Microsoft’s exclusive keynote session at GITEX Dubai

by Shijaz Abdulla on 14.10.2010 at 09:23

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Steven Guggenheimer
Corporate Vice President Original Equipment Manufacturer Microsoft

Steven “Guggs” Guggenheimer returns to Dubai and Gitex to present an update on Microsoft Innovation and how that equals Opportunity for you.

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 Steven will share Microsoft software innovations for phones, slates, netbooks, laptop PCs, gaming PCs, television, servers and the Cloud.

As corporate vice president of the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Division at Microsoft Corp., Steve Guggenheimer oversees worldwide sales, marketing and licensing of pre-installed Windows operating systems on mobile and embedded devices, personal computers, and servers produced by OEMs and system builders.

The other main focus of Mr Guggenheimer’s key note address will be Windows Phone 7, and how it is changing Microsoft’s game play in the mobile space. He will explain why Windows Phone 7 is a different kind of phone, designed to bring together what people care about most, the key differentiator being the user interface. He will talk about the “glance-and-go experience” and how it has been designed to do more in less steps, getting everything you love, easier and faster.

You are cordially invited to attend this Microsoft Exclusive Premiere Event at GITEX Technology Week 2010!

Date:     Monday, 18 October 2010
Time:     2:00PM
Venue:   Dubai World Trade Center, Sheikh Maktoum Hall

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Exclusive Cocktail Reception
Join us for a cocktail reception prior to the keynote session and get the chance to engage with Microsoft and fellow experts from the industry.

Date:     Monday, 18 October 2010
Time:     1:00PM – 2:00PM
Venue:   Dubai World Trade Center, Sheikh Maktoum Hall

Etisalat’s Blackberry – Suddenly it’s a privacy issue!

by Shijaz Abdulla on 15.07.2009 at 21:17

Day before yesterday, I wrote about the Blackberry update that caused device batteries to drain out on a UAE telco’s Blackberry subscriber network.

A later report in the Gulf News has revealed that the fateful patch, distributed by Etisalat, contained what is called an ‘interceptor’. An interceptor is basically a program that can potentially send a copy of each message on the device back to the service provider – which I would call – a serious privacy issue.

Quote from the Gulf News:

After a confirmation is successfully sent by the BlackBerry device to
etisalat, the device waits for a message from etisalat to activate the
interceptor software.
…if and when the command is received, the software sends every subsequent
opened message to etisalat.

…the software was also designed to protect itself from removal. It tracks changes to the system configuration and if it detects any, it uninstalls then reinstalls itself.

Apparently the battery drain was caused due the device waiting on an open data connection to send confirmation to Etisalat for the interceptor.

Unlike Blackberry devices, Windows Mobile devices are not managed by the service provider or telco. They are managed by the organization that owns/administers the devices, and hence there is a more complete degree of control on what software gets installed on these devices. All communication between the Windows Mobile device and the Exchange servers (email servers hosted within the organization’s premises), happens through a secure, encrypted SSL tunnel between the device and the server over the 3G/GPRS network. The operator only provides simple internet connectivity for the device, and can’t do much to intercept or tamper with email data getting sync’d with the device.

However, some organizations refrain from going the Windows Mobile way, the common reason being the ability to have consistent monthly data charges with the Blackberry. However, based on a recent survey with Windows Mobile users, we found very compelling results:

Windows Mobile 6.1, coupled with Exchange Server 2007 provided a major improvement in bandwidth utilization. For a heavily active user profile, Windows Mobile 6.1 used only 388 KB per day to synchronize with Exchange Server!

What’s more?

  • A single Exchange 2007 Client Access Server can handle more concurrent connections on similar hardware when compared to Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES).
  • Windows Mobile is of lower cost and complexity
  • Windows Mobile is more secure and is highly manageable through System Center
  • You get a wider choice of applications and devices.
  • Familar and open development environment fosters development of exciting tools/add-ons

Trouble with Blackberry update – Etisalat

by Shijaz Abdulla on 13.07.2009 at 15:35

image Etisalat, a leading telecom provider in the United Arab Emirates, has stopped a “performance enhancing” patch for its Blackberry subscribers after it was discovered that the update caused excessive battery heating and drainage.

Subscribers have complained that the battery drains within an hour, after the patch has been installed.

News of the patch gone seriously wrong has made it to the front page of Gulf News. Research In Motion (the company that makes the Blackberry) did not respond to the newspaper for a comment. The carrier Etisalat has not confirmed if the fault lies with the carrier or with RIM.

My adventures with Blackberry

by Shijaz Abdulla on 21.12.2008 at 21:51

blackberry-logo I like to visualize the BlackBerry server as a ‘black box’ – only because it is often difficult to figure out where the problem is. Perhaps my ignorance is to blame, or it’s just my love for the simplicity/transparency surrounding the inner workings of ActiveSync.

The other day, for instance, I was trying to activate a Blackberry Bold device. The activation kept timing out for no reason. Most of the time when this happens, one of the following usually solves the problem.

  • "Wipe" the device
  • Delete and re-create the user on the Blackberry server
  • Do a failover (we have NeverFail for Blackberry)
  • Do a full restart of the server.

But this time it was rather strange. All the above actions were in vain. So I decided to ‘troubleshoot by elimination’.

  • Check if same SIM card works on another blackberry enabled device. (yes)
  • Check if another user can be activated on same blackberry device with same SIM (yes)

I then deduced that there is nothing wrong with the Black Box .. er.. BlackBerry server, the device or the SIM card. "It must be something on the mailbox", I thought. But what exactly?

A quick call to our service provider, and a long wait for someone to get back to me revealed to me what I was missing — the user’s junk mail filter!

Blackberry activation involves sending an email to the user’s inbox, which would contain some kind of a hash. The user’s junk mail filter mistakenly thought that the emails from blackberry were spam and sent it to the user’s Junk Mail folder in Outlook, before the blackberry server could pick it up (from the Inbox folder) and activate the device!

Blackberry Enterprise 4.1 and Exchange Server 2007

by Shijaz Abdulla on 27.09.2008 at 13:57

After I moved Blackberry-enabled mailboxes over from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2007, there were no major problems as far as Blackberry was concerned – except that calendar items created on the blackberry devices did not get synchronized with Exchange/Outlook.

The primary reason for the problem is that Blackberry uses public folders to sync calendar items – and Exchange Server 2007 by default has no public folders!

To workaround the problem:

1 – Create a Public Folder database on the Exchange Server that has the mailbox server role installed.

2 – Link the Exchange Server 2007 mailbox database to the Public folder database you just created. To do this, open the properties of the mailbox database containing the blackberry user mailboxes and select the new public folder store in the Client Settings tab.

PF store

Blackberry vs. India

by Shijaz Abdulla on 13.03.2008 at 07:12

The Indian Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had announced that it will terminate the Blackberry services in India over concerns of security, since the Indian government cannot monitor the Blackberry servers as they are located in Canada.

Indian mobile operators that offer BlackBerry services, top executives of the Canadian telco Research in Motion (RIM) (the company that owns the “Blackberry” brand), security agencies and officials of the DoT are meeting on March 14 to discuss the concerns of security agencies in order to prevent having BlackBerry services terminated after the March-end deadline.

BlackBerry is famous for its push-mail services that deliver mails as and when it receives, and has over 12 million customers across the world. It is estimated that Blackberry has around 400,000 corporate customers in India.

Google and Yahoo declined to comment on the issue and Microsoft India said the issue was not of immediate concern to them.

Sumeet Gugnani, Director, Mobile Communication Business, Microsoft India, said: “Windows Mobile-enabled handheld devices and cellphones enable users to configure mails on their respective in-house (read in India) Exchange Servers if they so wish.”

I believe in a country like India where mobile internet services is inexpensive, it may be worthwhile to use Exchange Activesync push-mail services which can be hosted by the organization’s Exchange Server itself.
Update: March 15, 2008
The government announced that it is not seeking to ban mobile operators from offering Blackberry services in discussions over security concerns. However cellular operators where asked to reason with RIM to work on a possibility of legally intercepting the data.

No more blackberries for breakfast!

by Shijaz Abdulla on 27.10.2007 at 10:31

For the past 3 years I’ve been using a Windows Mobile powered device and have actually surrounded my life around it. I’ve had good times with it (and bad ones too, with the regular restarts). Until now.

Yes, the organization I joined runs Blackberry.

During my consulting days, I have always attacked (or, tried to attack) Blackberry and have always positioned Windows Mobile and Activesync to all my clients.

So here I am, exiling my Windows Mobile to the back of the drawer for a Nokia E61 that runs the Blackberry app and has no stylus/touch-screen. Its frustrating each time I feel the urge to poke at the screen with my finger to control the device, but in vain. I guess I’ll learn to live with it some day.