CranstonIT - Blog

Success Story: Driven by robust IT solutions, êlizur redefines the markets it serves

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In healthcare — when every moment matters — any advantage in time or efficiency can be a lifesaver. It’s in this sphere where information technology becomes mission critical, playing a leading role in patient care and improved outcomes.

êlizur is among the world’s leading musculoskeletal solution providers. The Pittsburgh-based company supplies state-of-the-art orthopedic products and services to healthcare providers and their patients. Driven by a credentialed and licensed staff and technologically advanced products, êlizur improves patient outcomes with personalized musculoskeletal rehabilitation experiences throughout Western Pennsylvania, Eastern Ohio and West Virginia.

êlizur has experienced significant growth and success since its inception in 1993. But unlike in many industries, healthcare solution providers do not have the luxury of working methodically through challenges that growth spurts often bring.
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Elevate your Mac experience with macOS 10.13 High Sierra

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It’s easily the most captivating desktop image ever unveiled on a Mac®, almost breathtaking on a Retina® display. It’s the wrapping paper for macOS® High Sierra, designed by Apple to make your Mac more reliable, capable and responsive than ever before.

(Before you read on, if you are a business customer, enjoy this information but please DO NOT upgrade until you first get the go-ahead from CranstonIT.)

macOS High Sierra introduces new core technologies that improve the Mac’s most vital functions, under-the-hood changes that modernize the entire foundation. The new APFS (Apple’s proprietary file system) uses all‑flash internal storage and an advanced architecture that brings a new level of security and responsiveness. This significantly improves how data is stored on your disk, how data is managed and how data is secured through built-in encryption, crash-safe protections and simplified backup on the fly.
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Cherry-picking the top features in iOS 11

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With every upgrade comes the opportunity to improve your user experience. The trick is to pick-and-choose just those features and capabilities that offer you value and address your needs.

You’ll have just that chance with iOS 11, the most ambitious update yet from Apple®, offering a host of tweaks, upgrades and changes.

Open me first.

Let’s start with compatibility. You will need an iPhone® SE or an iPhone 5S or later to upgrade to iOS 11. That means all new iPhone shipments — right through the iPhone X arriving next month — will feature iOS 11 onboard.

After you install iOS 11 — either via Software Update on your iPhone or from iTunes® — you will immediately notice some new features. Dock icons no longer have names, and many Apple apps now have the same bold text design Apple brought to the Music and News apps in iOS 10.
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Success Story: Gymkhana Gymnastics sticks its landing with FileMaker, Apple and CranstonIT

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As competitive gymnasts for the University of Pittsburgh back in the 1970s, Elliott Sanft and Ed Swerdlow learned at an early age the importance of precision. They learned how one misstep can often unravel years of diligent training and preparation.

Today, as owners of Gymkhana Gymnastics, Sanft and Swerdlow count on that precision not only in their gymnastics instruction but in their technology environment, as well. Gymkhana offers gymnastics programs and competitive training in four Pittsburgh-area locations — Point Breeze at The Factory, Bethel Park, Monroeville/Plum and Wexford — and depends on its FileMaker database for on-point student evaluations, record-keeping and accounting across all four sites.
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Upgrade madness from Apple

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It’s upgrade season at Apple, and your only goal is to avoid going nuts while managing through the process. There are some important alerts here from CranstonIT, so be sure not to miss them.

There are new releases of macOS®, iOS, watchOS and tvOS, and once they are available for free download, your challenge is to decide when to install them. The operative word is when, because there is no harm in delaying major OS upgrades until Apple has had the chance to squash the initial bugs and you have the time to focus on the task. But just don’t wait too long — as it may put you at risk of security vulnerabilities and prevent you from taking advantage of new integrations within the Apple ecosystem.
Let’s take it from the top.

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Apple raises bar in your hand, on your wrist, in your home.

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From the company that brought you “just one more thing,” Apple® certainly didn’t disappoint at its September product introduction.

It begins where the announcements ended, with the revolutionary iPhone X.  With its all-screen design, 5.8-inch Super Retina® display and intelligence that responds to a tap, a voice and even a glance, Apple is touting this as the most technologically advanced mobile device ever designed.  iPhone® X introduces Face ID that uses ultra-secure 3D imagery to unlock with just a glance, 12MP dual cameras with dual optical image stabilization, Portrait mode with Portrait Lighting, a TrueDepth camera for portrait selfies and expressive Animoji, the A11 Bionic chip, wireless charging and water and dust resistance.  All this, plus iOS 11.  Ten years after the first iPhone was introduced, iPhone X (that’s ten, BTW) will be available November 3.

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Success Story: Momentum Builders Builds Buildings, Not Apps

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Why builders build buildings, not apps

As one of the industry’s leading building envelope contractors, Momentum Builders prides itself on solving problems. In fact, the team welcomes the engineering challenges that structural, roofing, siding or pre-engineered metal building opportunities often bring.

“We’ve developed a culture of service and problem solving,” declared Kyle Smith, Owner/Operator and Business Manager of Momentum Builders, based in Mercer, PA, for the past 35 years.

But information technology is an entirely different animal, and finding solutions to tech glitches and roadblocks can reduce even burly construction engineers to wimps.

Smith oversees administrative processes related to production, account management, sales and marketing, and ensures that all documentation appropriately flows to every part of the business. Momentum Builders operates on a small Apple
® network — Mac® workstations, notebooks and servers — an anomaly in the largely PC-based construction world.  

“Because of our long history with Apple, we now expect everything to just work and just work quickly,” Smith said.  “We depend on a smooth, glitch-free environment that is fast and flexible.”

All is good, all is calm.

But it wasn’t always that way.

Back in the early 90s, when Momentum Builders was about a decade old, the company needed a fresh look at technology to keep pace with business growth.  It needed an administrative portal that would connect the key processes of construction projects with each arm of the company — sales to estimating to production and back to sales.  It needed an entirely new database, as well as a new network and IT management tools.

All was not good, all was not calm.

Ownership at that time had a vision, but not a solution, The team connected with CranstonIT, an emerging IT services company that specialized in Apple and FileMaker technologies.  Momentum Builders sought CranstonIT because of its reputation to remediate the tasks at hand while planning, solving and projecting for future business growth.

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Incoming! How to stay focused in Apple Mail.

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A new day, a new barrage of emails. How to stay focused? But there are advantages to working in the Mail app on your Apple® devices — a Filter feature that allows you to reduce distractions and keep your eye on the ball.

Apple added Filter in macOS® 10.12 Sierra and iOS 10, and the feature will remain in place in future OS upgrades to both. The advantage these filters have over competitive email features is a search function that keeps and shows messages only in the current mailbox. Filter obeys your commands and hides everything else, but without moving nor modifying your messages in any way.

Start using Filter on the Mac® by clicking the Filter button at the top of the message list in any mailbox. On your iPad® or iPhone®, tap the Filter button in the lower left corner.

By default, mailboxes show only unread messages. Click or tap Unread to bring up all the preset filter choices that fall into these four categories:

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A backup triple play that ensures data safety.

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Hope is not a strategy when it comes to protecting your valuable data.  If you hope your data never becomes wiped, lost, hacked or manipulated, you’re already in trouble.

It is not optional to back up your Mac®.  Backing up your computer on a regular basis protects your professional and personal data against loss, theft, damage or corruption.  Backups offer the iron-clad insurance you need for fast recovery at work and at home.

But don’t assume that a single backup to an external hard drive or even a drive on your desk is good enough.  It’s not.  Because a fire or flood at your office or home may not be selective as to the damage it causes.  Plus, if you rely on your Mac to get your work done, you may not want to wait as long as it will take to restore from certain types of backup devices.

Here is a triple-play backup strategy will help you avoid virtually all of these problems.
 
Backup #1: Time Machine
Apple® has been making backups easier since 2007 by providing Time Machine® software with the Mac. Set it up with an external drive and it will cheerfully create versioned backups that contain multiple copies of each file as it changes over time. With versioned backups, you can restore a lost or damaged file to its most recent state, or to any previous state. That’s essential if corruption crept in unnoticed and you’ve been backing up a corrupt file for some time. Time Machine also enables you to restore an entire drive as of the latest backup, which you might do if you have to reformat or replace your drive.

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Apps on iOS 11: Say goodbye to your little friends

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Apple® promises that iOS 11 will set a new standard for the world’s most advanced mobile operating system when it is introduced this fall. It further promises, with iOS 11, that iPhone® and iPad® will be devices that are more powerful, personal and intelligent than ever before.

With the release of the public beta, however, it appears some of the apps you’ve been using on iPhone and iPad won’t launch on iOS 11. Saying goodbye to old friends is tough, but this will help you soften the blow.

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iCloud and Photo Sharing: This Changes Everything

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While it’s easy to snap lots of photos on vacation, your family and friends are just being polite when you bomb them with the entire collection. A greatest hits or best of is always the right choice!

With iCloud®, it’s now easy to create a shared album and to invite other iCloud users to subscribe to it. This makes it especially handy for viewing on an iOS device or Apple TV®. It’s also easy to create a public web page of photos that anyone can see, even if they don’t use any Apple® devices.

Here’s how:

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Success Story: Breathe PA develops custom app in fight against lung disease

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Breathe Pennsylvania, a non-profit organization that empowers individuals to breathe better and live healthier, was gasping on its outdated technology.

The company was relying on a PC-driven FileMaker database that had not been updated in more than 10 years, especially problematic for a team dependent on fresh contacts and new fundraising opportunities.

“The old database was essentially becoming a black hole,” explained Brittany Zuckerman, Director of Development and Communications for Breathe Pennsylvania.  “Our staff was having trouble producing accurate data, and even with a second database for fundraising we became frustrated we couldn’t leverage our new contacts."

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