June 11, 2010

Useful tips: read and type Chinese characters on your blackberry

If you only see black squares instead of Chinese characters on your blackberry, rejoice!
On his blog, Icey Cake explains how to solve that.

After you have installed the fonts to read the characters, you may want to type Chinese characters. If like me, your carrier software is of the "international" version, meaning Western languages, do not despair. It can be done following these steps. I can assume no guarantee of success as I got to this by trial and error. Please forgive me in advance if it does not work in your case, or you lack some permission to achieve it.

1. If you have already installed the blackberry desktop software on your computer,
I suggest doing steps 2 and 3 below on another computer, so as to keep your installation clean. I am not sure what may happen but that is to be on the safe side.
If you do not have the blackberry desktop software installed yet, then do step 2 from your computer and skip step 3.

2. Get the East Asian system files
If they do not come with your software installation, it is still possible to find East Asian system files. The internet is a possible source. Another one is the Blackberry website (http://us.blackberry.com/support/downloads/download_sites.jsp), where "device software" updates can be found. Be sure to select a version that:
- corresponds to your device model, e.g. Pearl 8110;
- matches the system version installed on your blackberry, e.g. version 4.5;
- is of the "East Asia" type.

Download the software and install it. Among other things, this will install a number of files on your computer, at a location whose name looks like:
C:\Program Files\Common Files\Research In Motion\Shared\Loader Files\8xxx-vxx_Px.x.x.xx

3. Copy the East Asian language files
Among those files, you have to salvage the ones related to East Asian languages, namely:
- a file called CJK.alx
- within the Java subfolder, all the files whose name ends with "chinese...", "_zh", "_zh_CN", "_zh_TW"
In my case I found around 50 such files.
Copy all those files and paste them to the computer where you have the blackberry desktop software installed:
- CJK.alx to directory C:\Program Files\Common Files\Research In Motion\Shared\Loader Files\8xxx-vxx_Px.x.x.xx
- the other files to subdirectory C:\Program Files\Common Files\Research In Motion\Shared\Loader Files\8xxx-vxx_Px.x.x.xx\Java

4. Install the Chinese support
Connect the blackberry to your computer with a USB cable.
Go to C:\Program Files\Common Files\Research In Motion\AppLoader
Run the program loader.exe
If all works well, you will see a list of:
- all the software already installed on your device,
- all the software that is not yet installed but is ready to install.
If all works really well, you will see some options like "Chinese pinyin" or "Chinese Wubi" in the list. Check them and then click OK to install.
If not, try pressing the button "Add..." and then point to the CJK.alx file.

The device will be busy for a while (in my case it takes a couple of minutes) and then if all works really really well, you get Chinese added among the user languages!