Posts Tagged ‘Blackberry’

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.

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.

Tips and Tricks for Your Blackberry

Due to the 24/7 access that it grants us to news, information and work email, the Blackberry is a staple in both the government and business world. While the Blackberry continues to gain prominence in our everyday lives, it is still not a replacement for a real computer. However, with a couple of handy tricks it can keep your work organized and help you be more productive during the times that you can’t be at your computer.

Organizing your Message Folder

The first step to setting up your Blackberry is organizing your email message folder. One of the best ways to do this is to limit your message folder to only incoming messages.  By default, the Blackberry message folder includes both incoming and sent messages. While this helps you remember quickly whether or not you replied to a certain message, it also adds clutter to your message folder and can easily be accomplished by other means.

To limit your message folder to only incoming mail do the following: while in the message folder press the Blackberry menu key (the button immediately to the left of the trackpad), go down to “Options,” and then choose “Message Display and Actions.” From here, just scroll down and check “Hide Sent Messages”

To see messages that you’ve sent so that you can confirm if you replied to an email simply press the “Alt” button and then the “O” button (for “Outgoing”). This will list all of your sent emails. To go back to your inbox simply press the back/escape button (directly to the right of the trackpad).

Searching your Messages

It often becomes necessary to search through your messages. While the Blackberry search functionality isn’t up to par with Outlook, it is still very useful for finding recent messages. The main limitation of the Blackberry message search is that you’re limited to a certain number of days in the past, usually 30, which is not encountered when using Outlook.

To search both incoming and outgoing emails, simply press the menu key and choose “Search.” From there you can search by subject, recipient, or sender. If you need to use the more advanced options in your search, press the menu key, scroll to “Search By,” and choose “Advanced.” The Advanced search allows you search by both name and subject at the same time; choose which folders to search; choose whether to search sent messages, received messages, or both; and it allows you to specify the type of message you’re looking for (i.e., a flagged message).

Flagging your Messages

A functionality that I find handy is the ability to flag messages. It works in the same way as flagging a message in Outlook and the flag status will automatically synchronize with Outlook so that messages flagged on your Blackberry will be flagged in Outlook. While you can press the menu key and choose “Flag for Followup,” the keyboard shortcut is a lot quicker. To flag a message, simply press the “W” key. To then mark a flagged message as complete press the “W” key again. If you end up accidentally flagging a message, you can clear the flag by pressing the menu key and choosing “Clear Flag.”

While the ability to flag messages combined with the automatic synchronization with Outlook would be great by itself, you can also easily view all of your flagged messages on your Blackberry using a keyboard shortcut. To view your flagged messages, press the “Alt” key and then the “F” key (for “Flagged”). This will bring up all of your flagged messages, both pending and complete.

Using the Blackberry Memopad

Another useful tool is the Blackberry Memopad. The title of this app is pretty self explanatory; the Memopad allows you to write down important notes and reminders. What makes this a great app is that it automatically syncs with Outlook Notes giving you an easy way to always have your notes with you. Regardless of whether you make the notes in Outlook or on the Blackberry, they will appear on both.

Using Keyboard Shortcuts

View Outgoing Mail Alt + O
View Incoming Mail Alt + I
View Flagged Messages Alt + F
Skip to Previous Day in the message list N   *
Skip to Next Day in the message list P   *
Go to the top of the message list T
Go to the bottom of the message list B
Flag a message/mark complete W
Reply to a message R
Reply to All L
Forward message F
Number lock Alt + (Left) Shift
Caps lock Alt + (Right) Shift
“Battery Pull” phone reboot Alt + (Right) Shift + Del

* These are not typos, these shortcuts were not mapped correctly in the new Blackberry operating systems. Older Blackberries have the correct mapping where N skips to the next day and P goes back to the previous day.

Maintaining your Blackberry: How to keep it running at its full potential

Our Blackberry’s have become an integral part of our lives, whether we like it or not. Many, if not all of us at one time or another, have experienced the frustration that comes with a Blackberry running slow, or worse, locking up completely. Below, we’ll touch on some of the most effective and easy ways to keep your Blackberry running at its full potential.

If you use your Blackberry to do a lot of internet browsing while at home or on the road, then it is a good idea to clear out the browsing cache from time to time. On your Blackberry open your browser just as you normally would. With the standard browser screen showing, press the Blackberry menu button. Then select the Options tab, followed by Cache Operations. Once your Cache Operations window is open simple press the clear button under each category you wish to clear. Please note that clearing the history and passwords will erase previously browsed websites and saved passwords from the device. This procedure will still be beneficial to your device if you wish to not clear your passwords and history.

For an even more extensive cleaning of your Blackberry, you can use the memory cleaning tool on your device. Simply start by going to your options window, and then scroll down and select Security Options, and then select Advanced Security Options. Make your way to the Memory Cleaning window and with this window open press the blackberry button once. Then click the Clean Now option. This need not be done regularly, but can help when the device is running unusually slow.

The third thing you can do is simple called a “Battery Pull”. It is as simple as it sounds; remove the battery and then place it back in the device. This will free up any locked memory in process and resets your blackberry to reboot clean and refreshed. This will solve many problems of performance and is generally a good idea to do this every once in a while as a preventative maintenance measure

These are some quick and easy steps you can take to keep your Blackberry running smooth and quickly. Of course, sometimes these steps will not resolve problems you are experiencing with your device, in the event that this happens to you, don’t panic, just call or email your HouseCall Systems Administrator and we’ll be right there to help you out!

Increase Blackberry Security by Enabling Password Protection

Blackberries are small which makes them easy to lose. Having your blackberry lost or stolen is worrisome enough without being concerned about your emails, notes, schedule, and contacts in the hands of others. Password protection is the best thing you can do to keep your information from being used maliciously.

If you currently do not have password protection enabled on your blackberry it’s very easy to do.

Instructions for a blackberry Tour or blackberry Curve 2

1. Go to the options on your blackberry. This icon usually looks like a wrench.

2. Scroll down and select Password.

3. Click the menu button on your blackberry and select Set Password.

4. You will be prompted to choose a password. We suggest making passwords that are at least four characters long. You can use numbers, letters, and symbols in your password.

NOTE: When creating a password, you automatically use the letters on the blackberry keyboard. If you want the password to be numbers, you must hold down the “alt” key when you type the numbers you want. If you hold down the capital key, the letters will be capitalized, and passwords are case sensitive! It may seem like it doesn’t make a difference, but it will make a huge difference when you sync your blackberry with your computer!

5. Enter the password you just created a second time.

6. Hit the menu button and click save when you’re finished.

Instructions for an 8830 World Edition blackberry or a blackberry Curve

1. Go to the options on your blackberry. This icon usually looks like three controls in green, red, and blue, as shown below. Sometimes it looks like a wrench.


2. Scroll down and select Security Options.

3. Select General Settings.

4. At the top you should see the word Password followed by the word Disabled. Click where it says Disabled and change the option to Enabled. Click the menu button and select save.

5. You will be prompted to choose a password. We suggest making passwords that are at least four characters long. You can use numbers, letters, and symbols in your password.

NOTE: When creating a password, you automatically use the letters on the blackberry keyboard. If you want the password to be numbers, you must hold down the “alt” key when you type the numbers you want. If you hold down the capital key, the letters will be capitalized, and passwords are case sensitive! It may seem like it doesn’t make a difference, but it will make a huge difference when you sync your blackberry with your computer!

6. Enter the password you just created a second time.

7. Hit the menu button and click save when you’re finished.

More Password Options

You can change your password options in the password tab on the blackberry Tour and blackberry Curve 2 and in the general settings tab on the 8830 World Edition blackberry and the blackberry Curve:

Number of Password Attempts: This selects how many incorrect attempts you are allowed before the blackberry wipes itself. We suggest allowing for 10 attempts. It’s easy to make typos on the blackberry’s small keyboard.

Security Timeout: This is how long you can go without using your blackberry before it prompts for your password again. Keep it at 10 minutes at most.

Prompt on Application Install: Selecting “yes” will tell your blackberry to ask for your password anytime you try to install a new app.

Lock Handheld Upon Holstering: This will turn on password protection as soon as you put your blackberry in its holster regardless of how long it has been since you used it.

Allow Outgoing Calls While Locked: If you have phone service enabled on your blackberry this setting determines if you can make calls when the blackberry is locked. Keep this set to No. You do not want someone else using up all your minutes or calling your contacts!

Be sure and hit the menu button and click save when you’re finished.

Having a password on your blackberry may seem annoying at first, but having someone with malicious intentions accessing your information is much worse. You will get used to putting your password in soon enough. Your fingers wont even have to think about it!

BlackBerry Tips & Tricks

For those of us who use our BlackBerries (BB) day in and day out quickly typing, sending messages, and navigating on the BlackBerry has become easy.  We thought we would pass some of our top BB shortcuts on to you.

Keyboard Shortcuts in Messages

C – compose new message
U – takes you to the next unread message
T – takes you to the top of the list
B – takes you to the bottom of the list
F – forward
R – reply to message
L – reply to all
P – takes you to previous day
N – takes you to next day
S – search
V – view saved messages
Space – takes you down one page

Address Book Lookups:

Your BB is connected to an LDAP server so you can do lookups in the Global Address List.  That means if you need someone’s information and they have a account you may be able to find their info using your BB even if you haven’t created a personal contact for them.

When sending a new message simply type in the person’s name (usually LastName, FirstName works best) and select “lookup” (it will be highlighted below where you are typing).  It may take the BB a few seconds to find them so be patient.  If it doesn’t find them try typing their name a different way.

When looking for a person’s general contact info go to the Address Book application and start typing their name. Once you have entered it select “*No Address*” and your BB will perform a Global Adress List lookup.  The BB will take a few seconds to do the search and then display a list of results.  Once you have found the person you can add them to your address book by selecting them, pressing the applications button (the button to the left of the scroll ball), and choosing “add.”  Even if you are not sure how to spell their name make a guess – you can even leave out part of the name (EX. Tim Seym will find Tim Seymour) and it will still give you a list of possible people.  You could even search just by last name or just by first name – its almost like using a phone book!

Typing Shortcuts

To make a selection hold the Shift Key (Caps) and scroll with the ball.  That will make a selection. You can then copy, cut, or paste into that region depending.

Double click space key – puts in a period
Hold down a letter key – makes a capital letter

Remember, the typing shortcuts work everywhere on the BB, so use them!

Troubleshooting Blackberry Devices

Blackberry mobile devices have become an invaluable tool in facilitating communication in Congressional offices. So when one stops working it is expedient that the device return to normal operation as quickly as possible. This case study presents obstacles and then methods used to fix those problems.

Email has provided the world with a fast and reliable form of communication; whether it is across the nation or around the globe, we are now able to transmit information almost instantaneously. But all of this is rendered useless unless someone is on the other side to receive that information. That is why many offices have come to rely on Blackberry devices for even more reliable and instantaneous communication. On Capitol Hill, everyone from senior staff to entry-level employees to even the Member of Congress rely heavily on their Blackberry. Most of the time their Blackberry is a simple means of communication used to convey short messages or to stay in sync with the day’s calendar.
One very convenient feature of Blackberry devices is the ease of transferring all of the data from one existing Blackberry to a newer model. While, for the most part, it is a very reliable and straightforward transfer, it can be extremely frustrating when it doesn’t work correctly and has to be done over again. Since all the information is copied from the old device, there is always a backup in case things don’t transfer correctly. The transfer process goes as follows:

* First the old device must be synchronized with the user’s Outlook. This will insure that the two contain the same information in terms of contacts, address book, emails and calendar items.
* Once everything has been synced with Outlook it is time to use the switch device wizard in the Blackberry Desktop Manager. This will automatically backup all of the old emails, contacts, third-party software, and general settings. Once it has grabbed everything from the older device it prompts for the new device at which point it will load all those applications and settings back onto the new device. It usually takes about 20 minutes if things run smoothly.
* Once all the data has been transferred, the Blackberry device then must go through a process called Enterprise Activation, which authenticates the device with the Blackberry enterprise server. This will enable the device to send email as a user. This is where most of the frustration with switching users comes in. It has to go through all the services and sync those settings with those of the existing account. Depending on how much the user has utilized their Blackberry, it can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. It often appears to freeze at a certain percentage of completion. When this happens, most of the time, removing the battery and starting the process over again forces the activation to complete. But, if the user has utilized their phone heavily, it may just have to authenticate a large amount of data and take a longer amount of time.

I encountered a problem with a set of Blackberry devices in a legislative office that was particularly perplexing. When the user made a call which didn’t connect or went to voicemail and, simultaneously, received an incoming call – the phone would go into conference mode. However, when the call ended, it wouldn’t leave this mode. Instead, it would just refuse to make any outgoing calls. When this happened, only taking out the battery would re-enable the phone. Because this started to really affect a Congressman, it quickly became a priority to get it fixed. After ‘googling’ the problem with no success, I decided that the best attempt would be to update the firmware on the Blackberry. It was a long process that first backed up the entire device and then updated the firmware. After that was completed, it reloaded the backed up data. Following that procedure the Blackberry worked without further support needs.