My friend and BlackBerry guru, Al Sacco of CIO, has written an excellent article about BBM that every BlackBerry owner should read. It’s about getting more use out of it, avoiding the pitfalls, and keeping your device protected. The article goes into the best way to use your BBM while safeguarding yourself. You’re not going to want to miss this.
I have to admit, BBM has come a long ways, and since the leap into 5.0 it’s been even more useful. It’s probably one of the most favorite apps of the BlackBerry I utilize most. I don’t use the phone much, primarily email and BBM. And as Al posted, it’s a very valuable tool to keep in touch with your important colleagues, associates, and family members. I know all my family carries one and it’s so much easier to stay in touch that way. And if I have a question for a colleague or associate, it’s easy to get an answer asap.
So the first tip is this:
Add New Contacts Sparingly
This is the most important part of the article. Add New Contacts Sparingly. Contacts can be added in the following ways: 1) You can share you PIN with someone and have them add you, or vice-versa. 2) You can add contacts by email, using emails associated with your BlackBerry smartphone. 3.) You can “scan” other users unique PIN-barcodes. That is if you are using 5.0.
Your PIN is a unique identification number that is your BlackBerry’s alone. You can find your pin in the BBM or if you go to Options/Status. Keep this number as safe and sacred as you do your phone number. Be selective who you share it with, don’t post it on public networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and don’t include it in your fixed email signature.
You don’t have to accept all invites either. Don’t worry about hurting someone’s feelings, think about your BlackBerry which will thank you later.
To add a BlackBerry contact to your BBM, you click on the bar that says Invite Contact, And you should see the following options:
- Enter a person’s email address, PIN, or name (from Contacts)
- Scan a person’s barcode
- Select a member from a group
You should see the place for the email, PIN, or name and the message that “(you) would like to add you to his or her BlackBerry Messenger Contact List” This is the invite they get. Then if you have Categories set up, you will be able to choose which category they go in. And then send. If you choose Scan Barcode, it has instructions. The other user must be present or have a pic of the barcode visible, you go through the “scan” and your BlackBerry camera “scans” the barcode and they are entered.
Backup BBM Contacts Regularly
Backing up your BlackBerry should be as routine as backing up your pc. I know I’m constantly reinforcing the use of the BlackBerry Desktop Manager and backing up the BlackBerry. For BlackBerry BES users, you can backup your contacts to your BlackBerry device or to your microSD memory card. It used to be that you had to backup all your contacts by the BlackBerry Desktop Manager. Now with 5.0, it can all be done from your device. For BlackBerry BIS users, you can backup by the email as well.
To backup your contacts, you can follow the following steps. Click the Options or BlackBerry button, scroll to Options, scroll down to Contact List and you will see Save a copy of your contact list. Click on the button that says Back Up. In Back Up Contact List you will see Back up files remotely, or back up files locally. Remotely will backup to RIM’s BBM servers, and it will show all the emails that are on your phone and be sure they all say Registered. That is if you have associated your email(s) with your BBM. If you have and your email says not Registered, just click on it and click to register and an email will be sent to verify and register for your contacts list. Clicking on Local Backup will allow you to choose the Device or the Media Card. You can also Auto save contact list changes. And then click Back Up Now.
So why backup your contacts? What if you have an issue where you have to wipe your device, or have a warranty exchange, or an insurance claim, or even an upgrade into a new BlackBerry. Now you can make sure that you download the new BBM, have your emails accounts on your BlackBerry, and then start up BBM and they will come back.
Be Wary Of BBM Groups…..
With the new BBM 5.0 came the BBM “Groups” option. This is basically a mobile group-chat app. This is a really useful tool. Al points out it’s useful for coordinating disparate work groups or for communicating during large conferences or events. I’ve come to find it useful when you have participants who are engaging. You can post pictures and diagrams, comment on them, make lists, share a calendar, and view your members. it makes an a place to include everyone and work efficiently.
But there’s also a drawback. It can affect your device’s overall performance, becoming a nuisance and a time drain. This is why. By default, all alerts are on. Every time that someone makes a comment, writes in chat, posts an image, for each of these you are alerted. This can be frustrating but it’s easy to fix. I remember one of my groups someone asked about the alerts and I explained where to find it to turn it off.
So here’s what you do. Open BBM, go to the group that you want to fix, scroll up to the name and click on it. You can change the Group Icon, for it to show on the Home Screen (I use this, it’s easier to get to), Share my Status Message, keep scrolling down, you can set to allow Non-admin Members to Invite Others, Set the Administrator Password, keep scrolling and next are the Group Options. In here you have Notify Group When I Tag A Picture As Favorite, Message List Integration, but the one we are looking for is Turn Off All Notifications For This Group. You can choose No and keep the alerts coming, or Yes to turn them off.
Please be wary of joining too many groups.
Accept File Transfers From Only Trusted Contacts:
This is very important. As Al advised, if you have followed the advice so far, you should have this down. As with pc’s and emails, downloading from sites, make sure you are only accepting the files from those you can trust. You can send the following: Picture, File, Voice Note, BlackBerry Contact, Messenger Contacts. Remember that you have to be careful. Corrupted files, offensive images or audio, viruses, trojans, all these things can still potentially affect your BlackBerry device. Especially if you don’t have an Anti-Virus/Anti-Spyware software app running on your device.
Additional Privacy and Security Safeguards
BBM offers other additional privacy- and security-oriented features. You can choose to enable a security question on BBM invites, and to do this you open your BBM, click the BlackBerry Menu Key, scroll down to Options and click, and just make sure that the “Display security question on invitation” is checked.
On the same screen, you can also uncheck the “Auto-accept voice notes”. This will avoid potentially offensive or harmful audio files without you choosing to accept.
You also have the ability to keep your location and your current time zone information private as well. So to do this, open BBM, go to the top bar that has your name (Profile), and click. You can change Display Name, Status, Show What I’m Listening To (check or uncheck), Your Status Message, and see where it says Location and Time Zone with a check box and Show My Location/Timezone Information? You can uncheck it for privacy.
Avoid Using BBM Broadcast Messages..Please
BBM 5.0 grants you the ability to send out the equivalent of an email-blast called a Broadcast Message. Open BBM, click the BlackBerry Menu button, scroll up to Broadcast Message and click. This has a place for Message, and Category if you have them, and allows you to select to whom you send to or all. This feature is not to be abused unless you want to annoy and drive your BBM friends off your messenger. The message shows up in purple and this is the reason that Web-security-software-maker McAffee posted on their Trusted Source Blog about BBM scam and hoaxes.
This might be useful if you want to hit up your close friends with something like “Applebees @ 7 pm” or something to that effect, but not a rumor heard, or hoax, not everyone unless the message applies to everyone. Use this feature with complete discretion. You might see your list go from 10 to 1 if you annoy your BBM privileges.
You can read the article in its entirety here at the CIO page, and for excellent tutorials, how-to’s and tips, please go check out Al’s BlackBerry Bible. Every BlackBerry owner should have this site bookmarked. Al has the most comprehensive tutorials to help you grow from fledgling to black belt, and be the master of your own device.