App Review: BBLight–Keep Your Display Lit (on command)



BBLight (BlackBerry Pearl 8130 application)Ever tried to watch a video and your display kept going dark because of the backlight timeout? The maximum time you can set it for is 2 minutes but normally I have mine set to 30 seconds to save on battery charge. What about when you’re a passenger* in a car using Google Maps or BlackBerry Maps to help with directions–same problem? Have to keep clicking the trackball to get the display to come back on? Well, there is an old BlackBerry app from years ago that I dug up that surprisingly works for the new 8130: BBLight. This app gives you several ways to keep your display lit when you want but with enough safeguard to keep from draining your battery.

First, if you don’t know about setting the backlight timeout, here’s how: Options > Screen/Keyboard > Backlight Timeout (10 sec. to 2 min.).

Apparently, years ago there was a series of apps that were very popular but got “yanked” due to a trademark dispute over a name. Well, those apps resurfaced in a software development site called SourceForge; you can download BBLight there. The download is a tiny (13.6 KB) ZIP file that must be unzipped before you can install it. If you don’t know about ZIP files, get help or contact me. After being unzipped, you get four files: BBLight.alx (a descriptor file), BBLight.cod (the program), and two text files that you can ignore. Remember where you unzip these files to, because you’ll need to locate them during installation.

You need to have the BlackBerry Desktop Manager software installed, as well as the Device Software for your model 8130 phone. I have another post on that, as Verizon Wireless, for one, does NOT inform users of the need for the Device Software. (This problem, and my solution for it, brings more visitors to my blog than any other single reason. Wish I could charge for that service!)

In the Desktop Manager program, you need to use the Application Loader to add this new app. You select the .alx file to make the installation happen, although it’s the .cod file that really gets installed. If you don’t know how all that works, get help or contact me.

One you get BBLight installed, your Home Screen will have a little light bulb icon present (it’s shown up above at the beginning of this post). Click that icon and you’ll get a screen like the screenshot below:

BBLight options screen 1 of 2

Now, what I do is to set the display to be always on only when I have external power applied, such as my car charger or my computer’s USB cable. That’s an especially safe way to do it because you can’t kill your battery running the display if the phone is connected to a power source.

Note there is an option for the display to come on when you remove the phone from its holster (the one that presumably comes with all 8130s), but to shut off when you replace the phone in the holster. Apparently, the holster has an embedded magnet that the phone can sense to know it’s back in the holster. If you’ve dumped the holster for a different case, that probably isn’t the option for you.

The other options are somewhat self-explanatory, but you should experiment with them to understand for certain how they work. I decided to write this post before I played with all those other options, although I think I know what they do. I’d love it if you return to post a comment about what you discover.

The only other thing to know is that when you press the Menu (BlackBerry) button, you can save your settings, and/or you can activate/deactivate BBLight. What’s cool is that you can choose a setting that fits your needs, then simply activate it when you need it, and deactivate it when you’re done.

BBLight options screen 2 of 2

Here’s a cool screenshoot of my display while it is on under BBLight control. Cool theme, huh? Like an iPhone. Ask me if you want to know where I got it. I might write a post on that later.

BB Light home screen lit up

~~~

* Notice I said “passenger” instead of “driver.” I don’t recommend trying to drive and follow a map on your phone at the same time–too dangerous.

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About the author

This entry was contributed by Kelly Carter
84 entries have been written by this author.

27 comments on this post

mgkbull says:
Feb 10, 2008 - 06:02:34

That’s a pretty cool app!
On a note with Blackberry maps, if used with a Bluetooth GPS, it will stay lit forever. If Blackberry maps is used without the BT GPS, it turns off at the regular scheduled time.

d_fisher says:
Feb 10, 2008 - 03:02:19

I agree that BBLight is a awesome utility. I wish that a developer would update it work better on newer device. Specifically, if you have it connected to a power source the screen will start flashing after an hour. Basically the device is trying to turn the screen off while BBLight is trying to keep it on.

Feb 10, 2008 - 08:02:23

d_fisher,
I haven’t noticed my screen flashing yet. Not sure if I’ve left it on for an hour continuously yet. Maybe I’ll try that and see.
Kelly

P.S.–There apparently is no developer any more. The original developer of BBLight and BBxxxxx programs abandoned the products after a threatened lawsuit and I guess hasn’t been heard from since. Another person dug up old copies and put them on SourceForge. There has been an outstanding request for someone to take over the programs and keep improving them. So far, no takers.

Feb 10, 2008 - 09:02:32

@Bull,
Can you recommend a good and affordable Bluetooth GPS that will work with the 8130?
Thanks,
Kelly

SKhan says:
Feb 11, 2008 - 10:02:42

I have not yet used it but theme looks cool, will defiantly grab this application for my BlackBerry.

Bull says:
Feb 16, 2008 - 07:02:00

http://www.buygpsnow.com/ is really your best option for low priced Bluetooth GPS Solutions. Sorry for the delay.

vd says:
Feb 24, 2008 - 07:02:39

Go to eBay and search for GlobalSat BT-359. I just got one for my Pearl and it works great. Paid under $50.

Feb 24, 2008 - 10:02:33

vd,
Thanks for that recommendation!
Kelly

Matthew says:
Mar 9, 2008 - 05:03:26

Would this light up my screen when I receive messages? I can’t seem to find a way…

Mar 9, 2008 - 06:03:41

Matthew,
I don’t see where BBLight has that option. Sorry.
Kelly

David says:
Mar 17, 2008 - 05:03:24

Hi Kelly,

Me again. I’ve been playing with BBLight, and it doesn’t seem to work at all. I activate it, and even though I have my options set for the backlight to stay on for the 2 min. max, the backlight not only does not stay on, it’s shutting off in about 20 seconds. I added this app to view movies, but strange thing, even without BBLight on, my movies keep playing and the backlight doesn’t shut off. Can’t figure out what’s going on.

Here’s an unrelated question. I added the bPhone theme (very cool) then noticed odd things with my menu fonts. I set the font for Screen/Keyboard to Alpha Serif 10, but all my menu fonts are different, about 7 or 8 point font so they are hard to read. Also when I click on my Addresses or Memos, the lists are also in this smaller font, however the individual records display as the selected font and size. Isn’t the menu font/size supposed to be the same as the font/size I set in my Options?

Mar 17, 2008 - 06:03:30

David,
First, I’m puzzled why your backlight isn’t behaving properly independent on what BBLight is supposed to be doing. If you set it for 2 minutes, it should stay on for 2 minutes. Since there is a backlight timeout of 20 seconds, it suggests you actually have it programmed for 20 seconds instead of 2 minutes. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s hard to explain otherwise.

Next, if we can gloss over the aforementioned backlight timeout problem…what do you have set as your option for BBLight to keep your backlight ON? I use the option to keep the backlight on if external power is applied (e.g., charger or computer USB cable is connected). Your comment above doesn’t give me a clue what your setting is (or isn’t?).

On my phone, with the bPhone theme, I see pretty much the same behavior as you. Compared to the BB Dimension theme, you are correct that the font should be applied more widely, and that the bPhone theme does NOT do that. Don’t know if that’s by design by Matt Rogers or by mistake. But you’re right.
Kelly

David says:
Mar 17, 2008 - 09:03:55

My settings on BBLight are: On External Power. That’s it. I select Activate, then save the settings. Still doesn’t stay on. Then I tried the On User Activity, and still doesn’t work. Maybe I’ll try reinstalling it.

Mar 18, 2008 - 12:03:06

David,
So, you’re doing exactly what I do. It works perfectly for me but not for you. Yep, that’s odd. As a general troubleshooting rule, I usually try the battery pull to make sure I’m starting with the best possible initial conditions (everything possible is “reset”). After that, I try remove and reinstall if that’s possible (and I often throw in another battery pull in between those actions just for good measure). Please let me know how this turns out.
Kelly

P.S.–I’ve been using SoftReset by GeekAndProud.net as an alternative to battery pull, and it seems to be very effective. It’s free but with a donation option.

Dan says:
Mar 19, 2008 - 06:03:10

Hi again,

FYI for anyone looking to install BBLight directly OTA (OverTheAir) from SourceForge.net and skip the desktop install and unzipping procedure, here is the link to their moble OTA site…
http://blackberrytools.sourceforge.net/OverTheAir/

I was able to get mine installed smoothly and the app seems to work fine. I will post again if I experience any issues with the OTA install. Also, for more information relating to the available ‘BBTools’ on the site, check out the BlackBerryTools section of the SourceForge site…
http://sourceforge.net/projects/blackberrytools/

There you can post your known bugs, check for updates, etc. As you said though, Kelly, does not look like there is too much support out there for these tools, but you never know when someone will come by and dig into the pending issues.

Mar 19, 2008 - 07:03:42

Dan,
Very useful information! Thanks.
Kelly

mike scholllian says:
Mar 27, 2008 - 07:03:25

I found that after a normal install BBlight was NOT working. I was setting it to stay on with external power but it was NOT working. So I tried a hard reset, last menu option power off/full power off then pulled the battery for a coule mins to be safe. once the thing booted back up, BBlight was working as set. Love this program!

Mar 27, 2008 - 11:03:06

Mike,
Interesting discovery! On occasion BBLight doesn’t seem to work for me but it always seems to be because of a loose connection to external power.
Kelly

Goobersnotch says:
Mar 28, 2008 - 11:03:49

Does anyone know how to prevent the blackberry from turning the display off every 30 seconds? This seems to cancel out the leaving blacklight on for 2 min or longer options.

Mar 28, 2008 - 12:03:26

Goobersnotch,
I’m assuming you have tried Options > Screen/Keyboard > Backlight timeout (30 sec…2 min). If I set it to 2 min, my backlight stays on 2 min. Does that not work for you?
Kelly

Mark says:
Apr 7, 2008 - 09:04:32

Love the bblight ap. I just got off a roadtrip using Telenav on my pearl and wish I had found it sooner. I would be interested in receiving the link for the iphone looking theme as well.

Regards,

Mark

Apr 7, 2008 - 09:04:42

Mark,
The article on the bPhone theme has the link(s) you need.
Kelly

Mandeep says:
Apr 8, 2008 - 08:04:01

Question for BBLight users:

Is moving the trackball considered as User Activity?

or once the light goes off, is pressing the trackball only way to get it back?

Thanks,

Mandeep

Apr 8, 2008 - 08:04:21

Mandeep,
If I configure BBLight to light the display on User Activity, rolling the trackball does NOT cause the display to light up. It stays dark till you click. Not what I would want it to do, but that’s what I observe.
Kelly

Mandeep says:
Apr 9, 2008 - 12:04:09

Thanks Kelly for the prompt response. Thats what I observed. It would have been cool to have it respond to trackball movements instead of a click.

Actually, I believe that setting it to User Activity might not add any value to the default backlight control in the phone. Even if you set it to 30 seconds under the Options, if you keep doing some kind of activity, the light stays on. The only problem is that when you are waiting for a website to load or reading something without any activity on the keyboard or trackball, the light would go off after the set time period. And this is true even with BBLight.

But I agree that the Always On feature could be useful through BBLight when connected to power.

Best Regards,

Mandeep

nycnat says:
Dec 6, 2008 - 07:12:06

hi … i apologize for what is probably a dumb question — the screen itself darkens significantly (50%) after some time and makes it hard to read, even with my activity, typing, scrolling,clicking, whatever, it stays dark, sometimes brightening up, but as far as I can tell, for no apparent reason (i.e., the light conditions have not changed) mostly, it gets dim promptly and then stays dim… i have changed the setting to turn the auto dim off and the problem stops, the screen stills goes dark, but does not dim …. is it okay to turn the feature off and is there something wrong with the phone and I should bring it back — i just got it yesterday… great blog, thanks, nycnat

Dec 6, 2008 - 09:12:20

Nycnat,
You didn’t say which BlackBerry model you have, but that might not matter.

You know where the LED is on the front panel? Well, also inside there is a light sensor. If it “sees” a fairly bright light, it will brighten the display. If it “sees” relative darkness, it will dim the display. That’s how the auto dim works. Yes, you can turn that feature off and the display should remain bright–at the risk of draining your battery much more quickly.

Sometimes you can trigger the auto dim by temporarily covering the LED window with your hand. You may not realize why that happened and think the lighting conditions haven’t changed, but your phone “thought” they did.

I haven’t heard enough to conclude your phone is defective. If you learned something from my explanation above, play with the phone a bit longer and see if it’s really acting abnormally or not.
Kelly

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