Archive for September, 2011

Windows Keyboard Shortcuts

Knowing how to navigate Windows with only a keyboard can be quite valuable.  Not only can it enable you to get around Windows faster than using a mouse, it can allow you to continue being productive in the event your mouse decides to die on you.  Here are a few general keyboard shortcuts for you to remember:

Word Processing

When creating documents, I find it easier to maintain the flow of typing by keeping both hands on the keyboard at all times rather than stopping frequently to use the mouse for mundane tasks.  You may find the following shortcuts rather helpful in this regard:

  • CTRL+C – Copy text
  • CTRL+X – Cut text
  • CTRL+V – Paste text
  • CTRL+Z – Undo changes to a document
  • CTRL+RIGHT ARROW – Move the cursor to the beginning of the next word
  • CTRL+LEFT ARROW – Move the cursor to the beginning of the previous word
  • CTRL+DOWN ARROW – Move the cursor to the beginning of the next paragraph
  • CTRL+UP ARROW – Move the cursor to the beginning of the previous paragraph
  • CTRL+SHIFT with any of the arrow keys – Highlight a block of text

Desktop or Window Interaction

These shortcuts come in handy when using a mouse is not an option. They can also be considered time saving as well. The following can be used generally for most interactions with Windows:

  • DELETE – Delete text, files, folders or other objects that can be interacted with
  • SHIFT+DELETE – Delete the selected item permanently without placing the item in the Recycle Bin
  • CTRL while dragging an item – Copy the selected item
  • CTRL+SHIFT while dragging an item – Create a shortcut to the selected item
  • F2 key – Rename the selected item
  • SHIFT with any of the arrow keys – Select more than one item in a window or on the desktop, or select text in a document
  • CTRL+A – Select all items
  • F3 key – Search for a file or a folder
  • ALT+ENTER  – View the properties for the selected item
  • ALT+F4 – Close the active item, or quit the active program (handy for dealing with pop up windows)
  • ALT+ENTER – Display the properties of the selected object
  • ALT+SPACEBAR – Open the shortcut menu for the active window
  • CTRL+F4 – Close the active document in programs that enable you to have multiple documents open simultaneously
  • ALT+TAB – Switch between open items
  • ALT+ESC – Cycle through items in the order that they had been opened
  • F6 key – Cycle through the screen elements in a window or on the desktop
  • F4 key – Display the Address bar list in My Computer or Windows Explorer
  • SHIFT+F10 – Display the shortcut menu for the selected item
  • ALT+SPACEBAR – Display the System menu for the active window
  • CTRL+ESC – Display the Start menu
  • ALT+Underlined letter in a menu name – Display the corresponding menu
  • Underlined letter in a command name on an open menu – Perform the corresponding command
  • F10 key – Activate the menu bar in the active program
  • RIGHT ARROW – Open the next menu to the right, or open a submenu
  • LEFT ARROW – Open the next menu to the left, or close a submenu
  • F5 key – Refresh the active window
  • BACKSPACE – View the folder one level up in My Computer or Windows Explorer
  • ESC – Cancel the current task
  • SHIFT when you insert a CD-ROM into the CD-ROM drive – Prevent the CD-ROM from automatically playing
  • CTRL+SHIFT+ESC – Open Task Manager

By learning some of these shortcuts, you will be amazed by how fast you can get around windows and how your productivity will increase.

Dead Mouse

Basic Internet Security Tips

Cyber criminals are constantly looking for new ways to target and trick you into giving up your personal information or compromising your computer.  Hence it is becoming more and more critical that you understand what you need to do to protect yourself from cyber attacks.  Even though your organization may have a cyber security department tasked with protecting you from attacks, it does not mean you are safe.  Just as it is impossible for police officers to protect every member of the public at once, it is impossible for cyber security officers to protect every computer at once.  Thus it is up to every person within an organization to be informed and do their part to protect themselves and their organization.  Here area  few key things that anyone can look for that can help protect against cyber attacks.

1. Email Safety

Don’t open unknown links or attachments. Even links from friends or colleagues can be malicious. A compromised email account will be used to send a message with a malicious link to all the account’s contacts. Most people will click on a link from a friend or relative without thinking (or will let curiosity get the best of them). The email sample below is an example of a spear phishing email. These types of emails contain information relevant to the recipient and the sender is trying to get some information out of the user through deception. Any unusual or unexpected request for information or request to follow a link should be verified via another communication method with the sender. Many phishers use incentives (like the promised 6.3 million dollars below) or scare tactics (your email account will be deleted) to get users to act without thinking it might be a trap.

Phishing email

2. Social Networking

Information is power. Social Networking sites are great for keeping in touch with friends and meeting new people but they can also reveal information about you to criminals. Be sure to know what your security policy is set to on site where personal information can be seen publicly. It is always best to be cautious about what you discuss on social media sites. Some accounts are fake and fronts for information gathering. Thoughts like, “John Smith may have been someone I went to school with 25 years ago, I will befriend him” may reveal personal information to a complete stranger. The common phrase cannot be reiterated enough: “anything you post on the internet can become public”.  So choose your words and friends wisely.


3. Virus / Malware

Everyone gets sick during the course of their life. You can however do things to boost your immune system to resist most illness. Viruses are similar, Infections are bound to happen due to the sheer amount of malware on the Internet and its pervasiveness in across every day websites. Therefore it is important to know what software can protect your computer and the steps you should take if your computer does get infected.

Common symptoms of an infected computer:

-Your trusted antivirus (meaning you installed it) alerts you to an infection.

-Normally trusted web sites (such as redirect you to malicious sites.

-Software appears on your computer you did not install (Such as the fake antivirus software shown below).

-Sluggish internet may even be an indicator.fake antivirus

Tips to remove malware:

-Run an antivirus scan on your computer (Again, make sure you are using trusted antivirus software such as Norton, Trend, or Kaspersky that you installed)

-Run antispyware tools such as MalwareBytes (free to download) or Trend Micro’s HouseCall software. Run it multiple times and after multiple reboots to ensure your computer is clean.

-Log onto a separate profile on your computer. Many viruses can be contained to a single profile on the computer. Running a scan from a separate profile will be much more thorough.

-Sometimes the only thing you can do is save only those files you need (pictures, documents, etc.) and reformat your computer.

-Some viruses are transferable through USB thumb drives so ensure those devices are not connected to an infected PC or you may end up spreading the malware.

Oh No, My Account got Hacked!!

Many people who have had accounts hacked wonder how their passwords were obtained. While it could be the fault of the account issuer such as Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL or Facebook, that is highly unlikely. Reputable sites such as those use heavy security and encryption on the databases that house that information. Because cyber criminals are looking for the quickest and easiest way to make money they focus their efforts on mass scale attacks.

Years ago brute force attacks were the easiest way a hacker could gain account access because people would use simple passwords such as their dog’s name or “love”. Now users are creating complex passwords and so login thieves have developed new methods. A current trend is for login information to be stolen from an old, unattended database or webpages with limited security.  The attacker then tries those email addresses and passwords on Facebook and other popular sites. Due to the fact that people tend to use the same password and rarely change them, this method can often lead to multiple accounts being compromised.  The only way to guard against this is to use multiple passwords across multiple sites.  This scenario of course creates the conundrum of having multiple, complex passwords and needing to remember which works on each site. One solution is to create a master list using shorthand of accounts and passwords. Initials and shorthand will help you remember which password goes to which login without allowing someone else access to all your passwords. Nevertheless if you do pursue this route,  be sure to keep this list in a safe, secure place.

By being cautious and following some simple guidelines for cyber security you can protect yourself and your organization from cyber attacks.  If you ever have questions or concerns take the time to talk to your systems administrator and they will be more than happy to help you understand cyber security better.

How To: Conserve Android Battery Life

If you are one of us who have recently made the jump to one of the new Android based Smartphones on the market, you most likely have noticed that the battery life of these devices can be far from impressive. Google’s new platform has numerous benefits, but state-of-the-art features and constant connectivity seem to come with one key drawback: excessive battery consumption. Here are some helpful tips and tricks to help minimize the excessive use of your battery and hopefully make it through the day without having to connect your charger.

Turn off GPS when not in use.

The GPS uses the battery like there’s no tomorrow. Location-aware software is one of Android’s many fortes, but can be a real battery killer. The power control widget is useful for switching the GPS on and off, and you should keep an eye on your notification bar: an icon will appear whenever the GPS is activated.


Turn off Bluetooth and WiFi When you’re not using them.

As with GPS, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi will drain more of your battery’s juice when they are on. It’s best to disable these whenever you’re not actually using it. You can use the power control widget on your home screen to enable/disable these features as well.


Wi-Fi Options

If you’re close to a reliable Wi-Fi network during the better part of the day, having Wi-Fi always turned on may be favorable from a battery point of view, since the Wi-Fi radio uses less battery than the 3G radio. Also, when Wi-Fi is on, 3G is off. You can make sure Wi-Fi always stays on by going to Settings > Wireless networks > Wi-Fi Settings. Press the Menu button, tap on Advanced, Wi-Fi sleep policy and select the Never option.

On the other hand, if you’re not close to a strong Wi-Fi signal for extended periods of time, disable Wi-Fi from the home screen widget or from Settings > Wireless networks > Wi-Fi.

Disable Always-On Mobile Data

The Always-On Mobile Data option is on by default, and can be disabled from Settings > Wireless & networks > Mobile networks > Enable always-on mobile data. It allows your phone to be connected non-stop, but does it need to be? I have disabled the setting, and I still get push Gmail and even Google Talk seems to perform as usual, as well as the few apps I have that use automatic updates. However, if you have a lot of apps that regularly connect to the Internet, disabling this option may actually be a bad idea, since turning the data connection on and off will require more energy than simply having it on all the time.


Disable Wireless Location Services

When your device learns your location via wireless network triangulation, it requires less battery than if it had used the GPS but is usually less precise than GPS so most people will use GPS for their location base needs. Turning this feature off will improve battery life and also prevent the collection of anonymous Google location data in the background. You can turn it off from Settings > Location > Google Location Services.


Use a Quick Screen Timeout After a certain time of inactivity, your screen is automatically turned off.  The lower the value, the sooner the screen turns off and the less battery you will use.  We recommend between 15 and 30 seconds.  You can alter this option from Settings > Screen & display > Screen timeout.

Turn Down the Screen Brightness

Android’s Automatic brightness (Settings > Screen & display > Brightness) setting is recommended. If your phone doesn’t have this option, start at 50% and see if that suits you, the lower you take it the better it will be for your battery life.


Live Wallpapers

Live wallpapers are a pretty cool feature, but that extra animation constantly running on the home screen will use up more battery than a standard wallpaper will. Also, if you have one of the Android devices that uses an AMOLED screen; a dark wallpaper will use less juice than a bright one. If you are unsure about your screen type a quick Google search with your phone’s model and the word screen should help determine what your phone has.

Learn what’s eating up your Battery.

On the most recent versions of Android, you can check out a built-in feature that tells you how much your apps use the battery. You can then start using battery drainers less often, or simply uninstall them. Go to Settings > about phone > Battery > Battery use and press the items in the list for further info.


Use of 3rd party apps to manage battery life

There are numerous apps available on the market to manage and improve your battery life, my favorite of which is called JuiceDefender. It comes in several flavors, a free version, and a couple paid versions. The main attraction of this program for me is that it will turn off your mobile data connection (3G/4G) when your phone is in standby. This alone has a big impact on your battery longevity. The paid versions have a lot of extra features that allow you to tailor a schedule of when to turn certain connections on and off, control your brightness, screen time and more. This allows you to automate a lot of the tips and tricks we’ve highlighted here.

Depending on how you use your Android device, some of these options may not be for you.  However, utilizing even a few of these will likely have a big impact on how long your phone will last before needing to be charged and allow you to enjoy your smartphone that much more.

Setting up Blackberry Messenger

First, find the Blackberry Messenger icon on the device. It may be under the Applications folder. You may want to move the icon to a place that is easier for you to find. If it is not installed, your Systems Administrator can help you.


When opening BBM for the first time, you will be prompted to set up your profile. Your Display Name will be how you show up to other people, so be sure to make it something identifiable. You can also choose a picture to represent yourself. If you click on the picture icon, you will be given the choice of pictures on your Blackberry or to take a new one. You can change this information at any time by clicking on your own name at the top of the BBM screen.


The main screen shows all your contacts, any groups you may have set up, and any pending invitations.


For each person you want to communicate with, you will need to add them as a contact. Hit the menu button on the Blackberry and choose Invite Contact, then choose to invite by PIN, type in the or the name of someone in your contacts who has a PIN listed, and send the invite.

invitecontactInvite PinEnter PIN

Each person you invite will then need to accept your initiation. When someone else invites you, you will see a notification icon that looks like the icon you get when someone sends you a message. When you go to BBM, you will see a new request. Clicking on the name will allow you to Accept or Decline the invitation and assign it to a category, if you have them.

Home ScreenAcceptPending Request

Once you have collected a few contacts, you may want to organize them into groups. The menu allows you to create and rename categories and move contacts into them multiperson chats.

new group

You can also start multiperson chats through this menu. Now that you are set up and have some contacts, start sending some messages and you will quickly learn how to use Blackberry Messenger for confidential, dependable communication. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask your Systems Administrators.

The New Face of Blackberry

Earlier this year, Research in Motion, the makers of Blackberry, released a new operating system for their devices.* You may have been prompted to upgrade your current Blackberry to the new operating system, or you may have received a new Blackberry with the new system already installed. Either way, you are sure to notice that it is drastically different and requires some getting used to. In this blog, we hope to help you find some of the useful features you may have missed and learn how to overcome some of the common complaints. If you do not currently have the new operating system and want it, please talk to your HouseCall Systems Administrator. It is not advisable to upgrade all devices.

The Home Screen

The new Blackberry home screen.

The new home screen looks somewhat similar, but you will find that you can interact with it in a very different way. They designed it to work well with touch screen devices, so you might find it very reminiscent of an iPhone or Android.

There are 5 home screens available: All, Frequent, Favorites, Media, and Downloads. You get to different screens by scrolling to the left or right, or by swiping left or right on a touch screen. To see more than the top six applications, just keep scrolling down or swipe the title of the screen up. If you have accidentally scrolled over to another screen and just want to get back to your email quickly, you can hit the End Call button twice to return to the first application on the All screen.

You will also discover that, rather than just provide information as before, the new home screen is far more interactive and allows you to change things quickly, as well.

Clicking on the notification area, which displays the alerts for new messages and appointments, will display a list of the messages it is alerting you to for easier access.


Clicking on the top bar which displays the time and network coverage, will get you quick access to turn connections to the different kinds of networks on and off and set the alarm clock and several other options.


Clicking on the icon at the top left which tells you which sound profile it is active will allow you to quickly change to a different profile. And can’t we all appreciate a faster way to make the Blackberry go silent?


By default, when you start typing anything, the Blackberry will start searching for what you are typing. This can make it very quick and easy to find a certain contact or appointment, or an email containing certain information, or a setting you are looking for on your Blackberry. You can even search the internet this way.


If you just wanted to make a phone call, finsish dialing the number and hit the Send Call button or scroll down to select the number on the screen.


If you do not like this feature or want to be able to use keyboard shortcuts, you can disable it running by default and access it through the magnifiying glass icon at the top of the screen. From anywhere on the home screen, hit the Menu button (the one with the Blackberry symbol of a cluster of dots) and choose Options. Here, you can switch between Universal Search and Application Shortcuts. You can also change your wallpaper, the number of icons that show up on the home screen before you have to scroll down, and where applications you download are put by default. These are some of the most useful and common personal preferences all together in one screen.


When you look at the five home screens, you may wonder if there is a difference between Frequent and Favorites, and there is. Favorites is customizable. It will automatically fill with applications you use frequently, but you can set it allow easy access to applications, contacts, and websites you use.

To add an application to Favorites, just select it on the home screen, hit the Menu button, and choose Mark as Favorite.


To add a website to the home screen, open the website, hit the Menu key, and choose Add to Home Screen. Note, that you will have to open the website to do this. You cannot send a link to the home screen until you have opened the site in the browser.


To add a contact to the home screen, select it in the Address Book, hit the Menu button and choose Add to Home Screen.


This will open a screen that allows you to name it and choose where you want to put the shortcut to that contact. If Mark as Favorite is checked, it will go on the Favorites screen. Otherwise, it will just show like any application.


Now, you have easy access to all of these resources from the Favorites screen. When you roll the cursor over the icon, text will appear above it, to let you know which shortcut or application it is, but wouldn’t it be better if there was a picture?


Add Pictures to Contacts

For that reason, or just because it is fun or because helps your organization, you can add pictures to any of your contacts. You can either add the picture to the contact in Outlook, or straight through the Blackberry. On the Blackberry, open the contact, choose Edit from the menu, and click on the picture icon.


This will open a screen that allows you to either choose from pictures already on your Blackberry, or choose Camera to take a picture.


Tabbed Browsing:

Another great feature of the new operating system, is the addition of tabbed browsing. Now you can have more than one website open at a time. Just open a website and then click on the button showing two boxes in the top right corner to add another tab or choose between the tabs you currently have open.



Selecting Text:

One of the changes which you will run into often is the new way Blackberry handles text and links in emails. The new method allows for smoother scrolling through emails, especially ones with graphics, and gives better control when selecting text.  Now, to select text, you hit the Menu button and choose Select. You can also hit Alt+Space, to enter text selection mode.


This changes your cursor to the same kind you are used to seeing in on a computer and lets you use the trackpad or touch screen to immediately move the cursor to the text you want to select. Click at the beginning of the text and again at the end to select.


Once you have made a selection, a screen will automatically pop up to allow you to choose what you want to do with the selected text.

select options

Navigating with the Trackpad:

As mentioned before, the new operating system was designed for touch-screen Blackberries. It is also available for trackpad only devices, but the navigation can be a little tricky. When switching between home screens or days on a calendar or from one email to the next on a touch-screen, you would swipe your finger across the screen to the left or right. With a track pad, the motion is the same, but you only have about a quarter inch of space to do it. This often translates into scrolling at just the right speed. It can help to swipe across the trackpad and the surrounding keys together to get the right movement. Most importantly, just know that it takes a little practice to learn, but it is possible and your Blackberry isn’t broken. It is just different.

If you have one of the new touch-screen Blackberries, you will notice the downfall every iPhone and Android user is well aware of: touch-screens kill battery life. Different phone manufacturers handle the issue in different ways, but it is an unavoidable fact that it takes a lot of energy to make a touch-screen work.  There are a few tricks you can use to minimize the drain on the battery, though.

First, don’t use the touch screen when it isn’t helpful. The new Blackberry comes with a full keyboard and trackpad and call buttons, so you don’t need to use the touch screen for everything. This makes navigation much easier, since you can choose the best option for what you want to do. Touching the screen would be much easier to open an application, while the trackpad may be easier for you to use to select text or scroll precisely through an email. It also saves battery life to type on physical keys instead of a touch-screen interface. You also don’t want to be using the touch screen when you don’t mean to. Be sure to always lock the screen before putting the Blackberry in your pocket, purse, or briefcase. The battery can be drained just by bumping against your wallet, if it isn’t locked.

Since the touch-screen will always take a lot of your battery power, you can reduce the drain in other areas to make up for it. The next biggest drain on the battery is searching for service the Blackberry can’t find. If you are in an area with no cell signal, turn off the Mobile Network. If you are in an area with no WiFi, turn off WiFi. If you are not using a Bluetooth device, turn off the Bluetooth. (It is good security policy to turn off Bluetooth when not in use, as well, since Bluetooth can be used for file sharing.) Remember, it is now easy to get to these settings by just clicking at the top of the home screen.


If you are in an area with WiFi, it will use less battery than the Mobile Network. If you have wireless internet in your office or at your home, setting that up on your Blackberry can really help battery life. (Please note that you may be disconnected from HousePublic if you leave your office for another part of the House Office buildings. Your HouseCall Systems Administrator can explain further.)

Lastly, if you aren’t going to need loud notification of your incoming emails and appointment reminders, you can turn the sound to silent. Vibrate uses less battery than Loud and Silent and Phone Calls Only use far less battery than the others.


Hopefully, this will keep your Blackberry going and help you use the new features. If you have any questions, just let us know.

*RIM has released Blackberry OS 6 and OS 7. The main difference is that OS 7 is designed solely for touch screen devices. The two operating systems will look and act the same for the user, so they are being discussed without distinction here.