Bryley Basics: Troubleshooting

Gavin Livingstone, Bryley Systems Inc.

Whether smartphone, tablet, PC, or notebook, troubleshooting a problem should follow these basic steps:

  • Research
  • Change one
  • Document all

Research – Why reinvent the wheel? Break the problem down into a keyword-rich statement and take advantage of your favorite search engine. Sometimes, reordering the keywords can provide a better search.

If this yields poor, inconsistent, or inconclusive results, ask a colleague, contact the manufacturer, or call Bryley Systems.

Change one – I’m always tempted to change five or 10 things at the same time, convinced that this will yield a quick solution; I’m hoping that by clicking everything in sight, something positive happen: I am frequently disappointed.

A better approach is to pick the most likely/obvious/basic solution, make this one change, test it thoroughly, and then verify the results before moving on.  In this fashion, you eliminate each possibility –preferably from greatest to lowest probability – to avoid muddling the solution and possibly breaking something else.

Document all – It’s not much use to change anything if you don’t remember your sequence; you can end-up in a death spiral of repeating the same steps, over and over, with the same, undesired, result.

Documenting can take the form of written, typed or recorded notes; whatever is easy and quick, but include enough information to ensure a successful conclusion and to assist if you run into the same situation in the future.

Many thanks to Karl Palachuk of Small Biz Thoughts for his inspiring October 2016 article “Troubleshooting – The Rules”.

Bryley Basics: Critical steps before opening an unknown attachment or a link

Since Ransomware and other malware often travel as attachments or web-links, Anna Darlagiannis, Manager of Client Relationships, offers these tips:

1. Don’t open an email or attachment or click on a link within an email if you don’t know who sent it to you….period!

2. Check and see who the email was actually sent to.

If the email was sent to a distribution list, then be especially vigilant before opening it.  For example, hackers can assume that a company’s accounts payable distribution email address is or any other variations such as or  Hackers recognize that accounts payable departments anticipate attachments marked “invoice” or “PO” or other related keyword(s) and will name the attachment accordingly.  Furthermore, distribution lists are typically posted on a company’s website making these email addresses public knowledge and easy targets.

Tip:  Setup rules within Outlook to have emails that are sent to a distribution list automatically move into a specified folder(s).  This will make it easier to know exactly what email address was used to send you the email.

NOTE:  It is NOT safe to assume that all email attachments and/or links sent to your personal email address are safe to open.

3. Check who sent you the email.

Hackers can spoof a name, but they can’t spoof an email address.  The email may be marked with a familiar name, prompting you to open the email and/or attachment/link, but if you pay close attention to the actual email address, you may be surprised.  (Unfamiliar email addresses should never be opened.)  For example, your boss’s name is John Smith and his email address is  You receive an email that is marked “From: John Smith” and assume this came from your boss.  You go to open the email and find an attachment.  At this point, you must also look at the actual email address before opening the attachment.  If the email address isn’t, then delete it and/or block the domain with your SPAM filter immediately and make everyone in the organization aware of what is going on.

If the email address is correct, but the attachment/link/signature/way that the person writes an email looks suspicious, be cautious, call the person that sent you the email (do not email in case the email address is compromised) and ask if what they sent you was in fact legitimate.

4. Scan the attachment with your anti-virus program before opening.

Take the attachment from the email and drag it to your desktop.  From there, right click on the attachment and then scan it using your anti-virus program.  Be sure to update the anti-virus program prior to scanning it, to ensure that you have the latest updates applied to the anti-virus program.

Unfortunately, this approach isn’t full proof.  An anti-virus program may not recognize all viruses, especially if they are newly created viruses.

Bryley Basics: Setup your Android or Apple phone as a burner

Anna Darlagiannis and Gavin Livingstone, Bryley Systems Inc.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a disposable phone-number; one you could use to make calls to an unavoidable person that you’d rather not have call you back?  Well, you can now get Burner from Ad Hoc Labs, Inc.

Burner creates phone-numbers on your existing phone.  You can create multiple burner numbers, temporary or long term, which are accessed through the app.

Burner is perfect for keeping your phone-number private.  Potential uses include:

  • First dates,
  • Selling items on craigslist, and
  • Responding to nuisance situations.

Basically, any time you wish to remain anonymous and keep your real phone-number private, you can call or text through Burner and avoid the hassle of a potential call-back or text-back.

Burner starts at $1.99 and can be purchased through App Store (Apple) or via Google Play.  Pricing is based on functionality:

  • Number of texts sent,
  • Number of minutes used, and
  • Number of days the phone number stays active.

Burner is, however, free to download and Ad Hoc Labs provides a free trial – you can test a free burner phone-number for up to seven days.

Bryley Basics: Improve the battery life of your mobile device

Unfortunately, batteries degrade; they wear down with time.  Fortunately, here are some steps you can take to keep them working longer.

1.) Charging habits:

  • Unplug when charged – If the device says full charge; believe it, and unplug.
  • Don’t store at full charge – Wait a minute after charging before power-down.
  • Don’t discharge – Discharging a modern battery does not help; it is better to charge more often in short bursts than to discharge.

2.) Environmental concerns:

  • Keep it cool – Think room temperature or below, but well above freezing.
  • Let it breathe – When possible, keep the air flowing around the device.

3.) Device-specific features and tools:

  • Reduce the power-grabbing features on your mobile device:
    • Brightness – Dim it as the default; brighten only as needed.
    • Sleep mode – If you’re not using it, give the device some downtime.
    • Shut-off unneeded services – Enable GPS tracking only when required.
  • Use apps to automate battery maintenance:
    • Calibrate – Setup baseline status.
    • Monitor – Set alerts to warn of issues.
    • Automate – Automatically hibernate power hungry apps with Greenify (Android), Normal (iOS), and Carat (Android and iOS).

Please review the article Top 10 ways to improve battery life on your phone or laptop by Melanie Pinola of lifehacker.

Bryley Basics:  Print from your mobile phone

CNet has a video demonstrating how to setup printing from your Android phone at using Google Cloud Print; we tried it and it works!

Turns out there are also options for iPhone users.

wikiHow offers these three methods to print from your iPhone:

  • Use AirPrint with an AirPrint-supported printer
  • Find a third-party printing application via the iTunes apps store
  • Send document to an alternate device (ie: Windows-based PC) and print

View the article at  Or, visit for CNet’s video on setting up the first method listed above.