Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

Resetting Apple Mobile Devices

We’ve all been there, taking a long trip to the district, listening to music on our iPod, when suddenly, it freezes. The initial moments of panic arise, “am I going to have to make the rest of the trip in silence?” No, you’re not, because it’s actually stunningly easy to reset all of Apple’s mobile devices, and we’re going to list them out here.

If your device has the iconic Apple scroll wheel, all you need to do is hold down the Menu and Center button for about 5 seconds, which will force the device to manually reboot, thus resolving the issue.

Click Wheel

However now we have some of Apple’s newer devices, which don’t actually have but a few buttons on it and rely on a touch-screen interface. This isn’t a problem; it’s still a very simple process to get these devices to restart. The new interface of the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch all use the same process to restart. Simply hold down the Screen lock button located at the top of the device, and the physical home button located in the bottom center of the screen. Now count to 5 and the device will restart, and reload, thus solving any freezing issue that was present.

Power Button
Home Button

The new iPod Nano is a wonderful device, especially since it’s become so tiny. To reset the new Nano, all you need to do is locate the lock button on the top right of the unit. Now, like all the others, press and hold the button for 5 seconds, and voila, your device has restarted and the freezing issue is resolved.


Blackberry Activations Made Easy

You’ve just received a new Blackberry and need your work email, calendar, contacts, and memo pad set up on the device.  Blackberry configuration can be done from anywhere and completely wireless.  By following these easy steps you can be up and running with your Blackberry very quickly and with little effort.

Step 1: Call or email your HouseCall Systems Administrator and let them know you need an Enterprise Activation Password.  Generating an activation password only takes a few minutes so you should have one very quickly.  Also, we can prepare one for you ahead of time if you give us advanced notice of when the Blackberry will be arriving.

Step 2: Select the Setup icon under the All Tray.

Blackberry Setup Icon

Step 3: Select Email Accounts (If the End User screen appears select I Accept and continue with the setup)

Step 4: Select Enterprise Accounts

Enterprise Account Setup

Step 5: You will then be brought to this screen. Enter your full email address (Ex. and password given to you by your HouseCall SA. Click Activate

Email and Password

Step 6: Once Activate is selected the activation process will begin and the device will notify you that your email account is activated on the Blackberry.

Blackberry Activating

Step 7: Once email is setup all other services will begin downloading and will take some time to synchronize.

Blackberry Synchronization

From this point you simply have to wait for the Blackberry to finish synchronization. The Blackberry will pull your information and soon populate you Blackberry with contacts, calendar events, and task from your Outlook. If you are a new Blackberry user this process should be relatively quick because you have little to no information to populate. Users with large contact list and calendar’s will experience longer activation times.  As always, if you run into any issues just let your HouseCall SA know and they can help you get all squared away.

FutureProof: End-of-Year Purchases

End of year purchasing is coming around for many institutions in our nation’s capitol. Budgets are being constrained, and clients are curious about how to purchase a computer that will last them into the future.

BLOGCost Comparison

Investing in a reliable high-end machine, rather than multiple cheaper or used machines will get the most life out of our budgets and dollars.  This investment in a nicer machine now will mean that your users will maintain their productivity over the years. They’ll also be happier with their computers, and without complaints of slow computers, everyone is much more productive.

The optimum PC purchased today should last for at least three years. It should be running Windows 7 (64 bit), with a core i5 or i7 processor. The machine should also have at least 8 GB of RAM, and if you’re serious about future-proofing your technology, the computer should contain a solid state drive.

Now that may sound like gibberish and understandable only to the techno-priests, but let us quickly break it down for you and show prove how these will be the fastest, most secure computers you can buy today for use into tomorrow.


Windows 7 brings many enhancements to both security and ease of use over its predecessors Windows Vista and XP. Connecting to wireless networks is simpler than ever allowing users to spend more time working than calling tech support.  Window management, Internet browsing, word processing, and a host of other improvements have been made in Windows 7 making it the ideal operating system.


The i5 and i7 processor line that intel produces are some of the fastest yet power-efficient computer brains on the market. These processors are top of the line and will be competitive in speed tests as the years march on, while still saving your office on electric bills.  Regardless of the exact speed the i5 or i7 processor winner and worth the money.


More RAM allows users to multitask more applications without their computer slowing down. Programs increase in system resource requirements with each year and lets face it, we like to leave our programs running all the time instead of closing Outlook, Word, or the seventeen tabs we have open in Firefox to speed things up.  An investment in RAM now means more speed and less hassle later.


The hard drive is the file cabinet of the computer.  All files are stored on it and must be acquired from it when the computer is running.  Until recently hard drives were made only of spinning disks which were prone to wearing out and were limited by the speed the disks spin (think very tiny, ultra fast record player).  Solid state drives don’t have any moving parts thus decreasing we are and tear and increasing speeds.  A solid state drive provides near instant boot time, and instant access to user files.  The current downside is their price.  They become exponentially more expensive the larger their storage capacity is.  However, local drive space is of less importance these days, as saving things locally to your computer is discouraged in a server based environment.  The server is backed up regularly and provides data redundancy while individual computers are not.  If a users computer crashes most likely all of their data will be gone unless they saved it to the server.  To compliment the reduced size of hard drives, offices can store their precious documents in shared storage on a device such as a Network Attached Storage drive, file server or other cloud services.  Hence you can buy smaller solid state drives and get the benefit of their increased speed while not sacrificing total storage capacity for your office.

As you plan for end of year purchasing make sure to talk with your HouseCall systems administrator.  They can provide you with a detailed layout of your current technical situation and provide recommendations on how to save money, become more efficient, and get the biggest bang for your buck.  If you aren’t a HouseCall client give us a call and see how we can help you.

HandBrake – Video Conversion Made Easy

Video can be an effective and viral medium for communicating with constituents.  In order to make video available to constituents, converting the videos into usable formats is often necessary.  HandBrake is an outstanding software designed to make the task of ripping or converting video easy.  It is also completely free and available for Windows, Mac and Linux!  To download a copy and get started using it visit the HandBrake website.

    Whether you are ripping a video from a DVD or converting a video file on your computer the steps within HandBrake are the same:

    1. Download and install HandBrake (Download Page).

    2. Make sure the DVD you are going to rip is in your DVD drive or that the video file you want to convert is locally stored on your computer.  Having the file local on your computer will greatly speed up conversion times.

    3. Open Handbrake.  The program will open with this interface.

    HanBrake main screen

    4. Select the source for your video conversion.  Simply click on the source button and choose either video file or the DVD.  HandBrake will then scan the file for tracks which may take some time depending on how large the video is.

    Source Selection Menu

    5. When HandBrake has finished its scan, click on the Title drop down menu.  Here you will see the different Title tracks you can rip (if you are just converting a video you will only see one track).  In the case of a DVD with many tracks you may have to use the length of each track to determine what portion of the DVD that you are going to rip.  Generally you will see a very long track (the entire video) and some other shorter tracks (often special features or content).  Choose the track you wish to rip.

    Track Length Dialogue

    6.  HandBrake comes with a wide variety of preconfigured settings for conversion.  If one of these fits your needs feel free to use it.  Otherwise you will need to choose the settings you want for the video conversion.  In most cases the default settings will work perfectly.  Notice that there are controls to specify how big you would like the final file to be and the quality of that file.  HandBrake will allow you to finely tune every setting of your conversion so if you have very specific requirements you will need to dig into the advanced settings.

    7. Once you have the video and audio settings you would like make sure that you set the Destination location to where you want to save the video and give the video a name.

    8. Double check your settings and click the start button.  HandBrake will go to work and let you know when it has finished with a popup notification.  Speed of conversion will vary depending on the processing power of your computer and the length of the video.

    One last feature that is very helpful in HandBrake is the ability to queue a number of videos for conversion.  Simply go through steps 4-8 but instead of clicking start after you have configured your settings, click “Add  to Queue”.  The video will be queued up and will start as soon as the previous conversion finishes.

    If you run into any issues using this guide simply reach out to your HouseCall Systems Administrator and we will be glad to help you with using HandBrake.

    A 20,000 Foot View of the Clouds

    Over the years, we have become increasingly dependent on digital media: word documents, presentations, spreadsheets, PDFs, pictures, videos and more. Often times, we need access to those files when we’re away from the device that they’re stored on; when we’re at home and need our work computer files, at work and need our personal computer files, or simply in the middle of nowhere with only a cell phone.

    Luckily with the increased use of digital media has come the advent of cloud file storage. With the cloud, we can access our files from nearly anywhere on nearly any internet capable device, including cell phones and tablets. Take a look at the cloud options below to find what’s right for you. If you’re an Android user it might be a mix of Dropbox and Amazon Cloud, while an iOS user might find that iCloud meets his needs by itself.


    Developed by MIT graduates in 2007, Dropbox is one of the longest running cloud services as well as one of the better developed ones. It has well developed applications for all of the major mobile platforms (i.e., Apple iOS, Android, and Blackberry) and computer operating systems (i.e., Windows, Mac, and Linux). If you would like to access your files on a public computer, it also has a web interface that allows you to download and upload your files from any computer or mobile device without installing any software.

    One useful feature of Dropbox is that it saves a local copy of your Dropbox files on any computer that you install the program on. It then automatically updates any changes to those files whenever it has an internet connection. What this means is that you’ll have access to your files even when you’re not connected to the internet, though any changes made on another computer since the last update will not be seen until it resynchronizes with the Dropbox server.

    Accounts are free for up to two gigabytes of space with paid options for those that need more space beyond that. Because of the near universal device compatibility, Dropbox is probably the best cloud service at this point for general file storage. One of the few features that it doesn’t have is the ability to stream music.

    iCloud – iOS devices and Computer (Mac and Windows)

    Apple’s brand new iCloud service’s main benefit is synchronizing multiple iOS devices with each other and your Mac without needing to plug them into a computer with iTunes. It also brings native music and file cloud support to Apple devices, allowing you to stream music and make document changes across all of your devices. For Apple users, it has probably already become a full, viable replacement for Dropbox.

    There are some minimum operating system requirements for setting up iCloud on your Mac, iOS devices, and Windows PC. For the Mac you will need OS X Lion (10.7.2) or later; iPhones and iPads will require iOS 5 which is a free upgrade available through iTunes; and Windows PCs will need to be running on Windows Vista SP2 or Windows 7. To set up iCloud on your devices, simply follow these instructions found on Apple’s website.

    Amazon Cloud – Android and Computer (Windows, Mac, and Linux)

    For Android and computer users, Amazon Cloud fills in the streaming music hole left by Dropbox quite nicely. For the computer, go to and choose the Amazon Cloud Player. For your Android device, download the Amazon MP3 app from the Android Market. Accounts are free up to five gigabytes with all paid options including unlimited music storage. Music purchased through Amazon’s attached MP3 store does not count against your storage limit, even with the free option.

    The Amazon Cloud also includes the ability to store files other than music. While this would seem to bring it close to Dropbox, the Amazon Cloud Drive can only be accessed through their web interface. Files cannot be automatically synced with your computer.

    Google Music (Beta) – Android and Computer (Windows, Mac, and Linux)

    Not willing to be left behind when it comes to trending technology or supporting their Android operating system, Google has recently come out with their own music cloud. Google Music allows you to use the native Music app on Android devices to stream your music from their server. While at first glance this seems extremely similar to Amazon Cloud, there are some differences. For one, Google Music offers space for “20,000 songs” for free. While it’s odd to offer storage space in units that vary in size, this is roughly equivalent to fifty gigabytes, ten times the free offering of Amazon Cloud. What Amazon Cloud has over Google Music is an integrated music store that automatically adds your purchases to the cloud and the ability to store files other than music.

    Google Music is currently in Beta, which for Google means that it’s by invite only. That said, Google invites aren’t nearly as hard to come by as they were when Gmail was introduced. If you have a Motorola Xoom, you’ve been invited already. If you don’t have a Xoom, the Google Music has a link that allows you to add yourself to the waiting list.

    Cloud Player – Blackberry

    Most of us are attached to our Blackberries very close to all day, every day. If at the end of the day you have some battery life left to spare, you might consider adding music streaming to your Blackberry as well. If you’re looking for a cloud music app for your Blackberry, check out Cloud Player, which offers free, unlimited music storage and streaming.

    Some Warnings

    There are a couple of warnings that should be considered before setting up your accounts and uploading your files. First, as with any amount of increased access to data, there is some loss of security of your data. You should always use strong passwords for these services and you should not store sensitive data on a public cloud server. Second, because the federal laws protecting digital files are outdated, files that have been on a third party server, including email servers such as the ones used by, for more than six months may be considered abandoned by law enforcement and subject to search without a warrant (read more about that here). While that certainly isn’t a major concern for most people, it’s worth knowing.

    Also, if you’re an employee of the House, please leave your work files secure on the House servers. Ask your HouseCall representative about how you can access your work files that are located on the server from home or your mobile devices. Files on the House servers enjoy increased security as well as legal protections that they may not maintain when they are placed on third party servers.

    Connecting to Wireless Networks with Windows 7

    Nothing can be as frustrating as when you have your laptop, your coffee and you are ready to do some and you get an error saying you have no internet connection.  So here are some instructions to help you get connected to a wireless network and back to work.  These instructions are for Windows only.

    First look for an icon in the lower right corner of your taskbar that looks like a very small bar graph.


    The yellow overlay indicates that there are available wireless networks detected.

    If you place you mouse over the icon you will see this pop-up.  You want to click on it to view the available wireless networks.


    Your list of available networks will vary based on your location.  If you are at a Starbucks or an Airport your network list will be different than if you are at home.

    This is what a list of connections should look like.  If the network you are trying to attach to is not listed click on the refresh button (the two blue arrows) to re-detect wireless networks.

    img3The details of the detected wireless networks (SSID, signal strength, security type, radio type) will be shown if you hold your mouse for 1 second on the selected network.

    If there is orange bubble and exclamation mark on wireless network symbol, that is open or unsecured wireless network without any wireless encryption. This type of connection will be present in an open environment like Starbucks or a place that is offering Free Wi-Fi.

    Once you decide which network you want to connect to simply click on it.

    If you are in an environment that is offering free Wi-Fi you might get a connection notice like this one.  Basically Windows is trying to make sure you really want to connect to an insecure network.


    If you are comfortable with connecting to an unsecured network, click “Connect Anyway” and when you are connected you will get the following message.


    If you are at a Starbucks or another location such as a hotel or airport, you will need to open your browser and accept their terms and conditions or user agreement to continue on with your Internet session.

    With any new network connection you will have to choose what type of connection it is which is very easy.  If you are out at home choose “Home” otherwise choose “Public”.


    Now after all that your wireless icon should have signal bars denoting how strong the signal is like this:


    When the network you want to connect to is a secured network, like your Verizon FiOS or Cable connection at home you will need your password.  The password is usually on a sticker on the router and it will have the SSID (the name of your wireless network) and it will have the security key information (the password).

    Again, choose your network and put a check mark in the “Connect automatically” box so that your laptop automatically connects the next time it sees this network.


    Click connect and then when prompted type in your security key and click “Ok”.


    Again if this is a new connection you will get the choices for Home, Work or Public. This time choose the Home network.

    If the laptop connects you will see the full bar graph icon that indicates the signal strength of your network.


    If you have issues with connecting, here is an explanation of the different types of Windows 7 network icons and what they mean.

    The following icon means no wireless networks are available.  This could be because you are out of range of the wireless network.  Make sure that you are in an area that has wireless access; also make sure that your wireless is turned on. On some laptops there is a way to turn the wireless on and off. It can be a button on the side or top part of your keyboard area. Some laptops also have it as a function key on the keyboard.


    This icon means you are connected to the network but have no Internet access, try resetting your router if you are at home. If you are not at home, try rebooting your laptop and see if the connection will re-establish itself. This can also happen if you are at a location that has Wi-Fi but you have not finished the login process for the network or accepted the terms of use.  Open up a web browser and see if you are directed to a login page.


    While this isn’t a comprehensive guide to all of the possible problems that you may experience when trying to connect to a wireless network, hopefully it will provide you with some basic troubleshooting steps and get you connected more easily.  Remember, if you are experiencing problems, your HouseCall systems administrator is always available to help.

    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.