BlackBerry Master Control Program (MCP) is a power tool that allows you to easily load/save/erase any module you want, take screenshots of your device, turn the radio on or off, synchronize the time on your device to your PC, reset to factory settings (remove IT policies), perform a handheld wipe, optimize (in real time) or install any BlackBerry OS. The latest version is 0.9.3.0 Beta 6 and it’s truly a handy piece of software. The software bills itself as being made for “moderate to advanced” users and I would put myself closer to the moderate end of the scale. Bear this in mind when reading the review.
When you boot up MCP, it’s a little overwhelming. The menu structure of MCP is quite unique, with 15 icons that can be toggled with either a left, right or middle click. It’s an interesting approach but I find it’s not the most efficient. It’s not easy to remember what each icon represents, let alone the corresponding mouse action. In general, the menu structure and navigation is really text-based, and that slows down the software. To address this issue, MCP has included shortcut keys. If you right click the MCP tray icon you will see a menu that shows all of the hotkeys for navigation. Personally, I still find these hotkeys difficult to remember, but they definitely help. With a more visual UI and navigation system, everything could be done a lot faster.
To view the list of hotkeys, see the MCP site.
Before delving into the features of MCP, you will need to go to the settings screen and type “BrickBerry” in the section called “Enable Protected Controls.” Doing this will unlock the all of the features, including those that will cause serious damage to your device. Once you have typed this in, you can also select the small button to the right which will remember the password for all MCP sessions. This prevents you from having to type it in multiple times.
Manages multiple USB Devices.
MCP allows you to manage multiple BlackBerrys at once. To test this, I plugged in a Bold 9000 and a BlackBerry Curve 8530. To move between devices, all you have to do is use the PIN dropdown menu on the left hand side. Again, I think a more visual user interface would go a long way to improving the management of multiple devices. While selecting different PINs is easy, it would be nice to have a visual representation of both devices, with information simultaneously available.
After getting the latest official OS 126.96.36.1999 for my Curve 8530 from Sprint, I went through the necessary OS install procedure (more on that below). Overall, managing 2 devices with MCP was simple, and is a great feature to have; especially if you’re the BlackBerry guru of your friends. This way, I can take all my friends’ devices and refresh their OS fast and conveniently.
Performs ALL Java Loader commands and ALL Java Loader options – 100% – graphically.
The Java Loader commands are very straight forward. In this section you get access to the Radio (on/off), Time (set time), Recover Memory, Factory Reset, Handheld Wipe, Readme and Command Prompt. This area was helpful, but I found the “Recover Memory” section eluded me. Playing with the feature while looking at the device, I found no change in Flash memory. A battery pull resulted in a change from 10.6MB of free memory to 28.1MB, but I’m not sure if that’s attributable to MCP or the automated memory recovery settings whenever the battery is pulled.
Upgrade/Downgrade to any device OS that is installed on your computer – without having to uninstall other OS’s.
Upgrading my OS with MCP was very easy. First, I made sure to back everything up. This meant backing up 3rd party apps, and syncing my device. I then grabbed the latest OS for my Bold 9000, which is currently a leaked OS 188.8.131.522 courtesy of CrackBerry. Once the OS was downloaded, and I went through installing it on my desktop. This was the first OS 5 download that asked me to restart my PC after installing.
It’s much better to load your OS using MCP vs the Desktop Manager. The reason is that MCP lets you uncheck certain files such as the Hearing Impaired software that you may not use. This helps you save precious device memory, and it will improve your overall experience. The process is very smooth, and I use MCP for all my OS installations.
Relocates OS files to the same locations as CrackMem, so you can switch between MCP or CrackMem.
I personally don’t use CrackMem (aka CrackUtil), but after seeing this in the feature set I decided to give it a try. CrackUtil is a free program designed to be a Swiss Army Knife tool for your BlackBerry. I’ll have more on that software to come, but for now it suffices to say that they’re compatible.
MCP is available via Windows Control Panel after installation.
This feature is a definite plus as it makes the software accessible more more quickly. On top of this, I would add a feature in the MCP options to have this software automatically launch when Windows boots up. I realize this can be done from the Windows preferences, but a shortcut in the program would be nice. To do this in Windows XP, go:
1 .Go to Start> All Programs
2. Right click on the “Start”
3. Click Open
4. In the window that opens, right-click an empty> New> Shortcut.
5. Click Browse, and specify MCP to start at the same time as Windows.
Easy to access shortcuts to the most common BlackBerry tools.
MCP gives you quick access to the Desktop Manager and App Loader provided by RIM. This helps considerably because it means that you get all the functionality provided by RIM, and a ton of new features supplied by MCP.
Backup & Restore 3rd Party Apps
The backup and restore process is as complicated as you want it to be. MCP provides an extensive list of app files on your device, and you can choose what you would like to remove from this list. Once your files are backed up, they’re located in:
C:\Program Files\BlackBerry Master Control Program\backup
The file folders created are difficult to discern, and aren’t very well labeled. For example, one of my backup folders is named:
C:\Program Files\BlackBerry Master Control Program\backup\20100401160413
The date is included, followed by 160413. It would be better if the naming system was more clear.
Restoring is simple, and all you have to do is select “Restore” and find the desired backup file. Again, this process would be made easier with a better naming system.
Another option is to delete any COD files on your BlackBerry. By clicking on the red arrow icon, you can manually select any files on your device. Be careful here because there are a lot of essential files in this section that you don’t want to remove. For deleting 3rd party applications, I found it best to use the Application Loader. There are safeguards built into the App Loader that would prevent you from deleting anything integral to the device.
One interesting file to note when browsing all the CODs on the device, is the App World file: net_rim_bb_appworld. It’s almost a guarantee that RIM will find a way to preload App World on the device, and it’s good to see they’re technically already doing it. With carrier approval, or maybe not, RIM will be able to activate this file on all devices. This would do incredible things for the app economy.
Create ALX/JAD files
This is the part of the review that is hampered by the fact that I’m a more moderate BlackBerry user. I have never created an ALX or JAD file, and I’m hard pressed to think of a situation where I would want to. If anyone in the comments has some thoughts on this, or you’ve done it yourself, feel free to contribute here.
MCP provides quick access to the desktop software that RIM provides, as well as a large feature set on top. RIM should be paying attention to this software, and include its features in future versions of Desktop Manager. RIM could also release two versions of Desktop Manager: one for beginner users, and something similar to MCP for advanced users. Either way, this is a great application that any serious BlackBerry user should have.