General | CranstonIT - Blog

Tech the halls: Apple for the holidays

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As stocking stuffers go, let’s all agree that a geeked-out MacBook Pro or iPhone X won’t make the cut this holiday season. But don’t despair — there are plenty of (somewhat) affordable options that will still satisfy that Apple craving for family and friends.

Let’s start at the top ...

Apple Watch. Initially intended as an iPhone accessory, Apple Watch makes a great add-on for any iPhone user who doesn’t already have phone-in-hand most of the day. For most people, the $249 Apple Watch Series 1 is a fine gift, although the $329 Series 3 is faster and brighter and doesn’t need the iPhone to track a run or bike ride via GPS. Consider the $399 Series 3 with cellular access only if you’re certain the recipient will make use of the watch while out and about without the iPhone, since its data plan costs $10 extra per month.

Read More...

Enhance Your Business' IT with Managed Services

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IT support has changed. Break-fix solutions no longer apply. As your IT environment has grown and becomes more complex, the concept of depending on IT support only when needed is no longer sufficient. Instead, as your business reliance on IT expands, a managed service approach monitored by a team of IT professionals can discover and solve problems before your productivity is compromised.

CranstonIT is an Apple® centric professional IT services company and a member of the Apple Consultants Network. We are charged with offering IT services for macOS® and iOS platforms and focused on the key desktop and mobile support solutions that help your business integrate Apple and third-party technologies. CranstonIT’s certified techs are dedicated to providing comprehensive support via managed services, ensuring your entire IT environment is continually maintained to the highest standards in the industry. Read More...

Cranston IT Welcomes Thomas Brannen

Tom Brannen
Let’s get this out of the way first — Thomas Brannen is a lifelong Dallas Cowboys fan.

But one look at his professional and personal accomplishments and you can see why Cranston IT lured him into the heart of Steelers country.

Brannen is our newest support services technician, an authorized Apple® service provider with GSX experience, multiple Apple certifications, and a diverse background in IT challenges and solutions. He has joined Cranston IT direct from Simply Mac in Texas, where he was a service manager for the country’s second largest authorized service provider and retailer of Apple products. Read More...

Cranston IT becomes southwestern PA's only independent Apple Authorized Service Provider

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For Immediate Release

Cranston IT receives Apple Authorized Service Provider status

Pittsburgh, PA, April 7 — Cranston IT, Inc. announced today its status as an Apple® Authorized Service Provider (AASP), the only such distinction in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

As a participant in the program, Cranston IT’s Apple-certified technicians can provide both in-warranty and out-of-warranty repairs on all Apple hardware. In-warranty repairs are covered by AppleCare®, the program that extends the manufacturer’s service protection to three full years from the original purchase date.

Read More...

Donate Your Old iPads to a Good Cause

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Have an old iPad or two just sitting in a drawer or on your desk, taking up space? Here’s your chance to clean house and help others at the same time. That old iPad may no longer be your go-to device, but Computer Reach could use it. A Pittsburgh-based organization that provides refurbished computers to nonprofits serving low income urban and rural areas, Computer Reach is in need of old iPads with chargers for some upcoming projects.
“We need any iPad, as early as the first iPad,” said Dave Sevick, the organization’s Executive Director. “We have data entry projects that do not require full computers. iPads will work fine.” Read More...

Avoid New Tech Trauma: Let Cranston IT set up your Christmas presents

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If you or members of your family are hoping Santa brings a new iPad Pro, Macbook Pro, Apple Watch, iPhone 7 or any other new device for Christmas, chances are high you’ll have to spend a quite a chunk of time setting up that new technology. With transferring files and data, registering accounts, and setting up new Apple IDs, payment info, backups, family sharing, and networking, that process might cost you not only a lot of time, but also a lot of frustration.

There’s a simple remedy for that new tech trauma. Let Cranston IT take care of it for you. Read More...

New Cranston IT Employeee Creates Custom Apps for Business

Topher Reed and sons
Not everyone can create a convenient way for businesses to track data, details, dates, and other information in one convenient place, but for Cranston IT’s newest staff member, it’s all in a day’s work. As a FileMaker Developer for Cranston IT, Topher Reed spends his time developing custom FileMaker solutions for clients.

Topher has done just about everything in an IT department including development, data analytics, database management, network administration, and hardware administration. One of the aspects he likes most about his new job is being able to flex his creative muscles in problem solving. Read More...

Dataxoom - A Wireless Company You Can Love

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If your business deploys iPads, tablets, and other data-only wireless devices, we have a great service to tell you about. However, if you agree with any of the following, feel free to move on to other tasks because this isn’t for you:

  • You love working with the sales rep at your wireless vendor (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, etc.).
  • Outrageous data overage charges never sneak up on you.
  • Your data usage fees are so low that you can't wait to open your bill each month.
  • The bill is so easy to read you always know exactly what you are paying for.

Don’t agree with all of the above? If you find yourself feeling like your wireless data and overages are costing you more and more money each month, and every time you talk to your wireless carrier the situation becomes worse and the plans more confusing, then you understand the need for a new type of wireless company. You need a company that offers a seamless, multi-carrier platform complete with management and reporting tools, straightforward pricing and simplified billing, as well as the support of experts able to meet the complex needs of an business customer. What you are looking for is the antithesis of every wireless company we know!

Read More...

CIT Menu Bar and Alert System Offer Support Superhero-Style

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Business and residential contract clients of Cranston IT have a free, resourceful tool available to them that can help make life a lot easier. We call it the CranstonIT (CIT) Menu Bar, but it’s really more like our own little IT superhero. It sits quietly and innocently in the menu bar of your computer waiting till the time it needs to spring into action and save the day.

The CIT Menu Bar icon is installed as part of the CIT Alert System. Once the alert system is installed, the CranstonIT logo sits on your menu bar (the same bar where your date and time are located). Through this system, we are given real time updates on the health of your computer by monitoring your entire system including the hard drive and logic board. The alert system automatically notifies us when there is a potential complication with your computer so we can fix it right away.  It’s kind of like Batman’s bat phone or Spiderman’s spider-sense. Read More...

Seek and You Shall Find – Four easy tricks to improve your search results

Ever try to find a needle in a haystack? Finding the results you need in a Google search can be a little like that when you consider that Google has upwards of 48 billion web pages indexed. That’s a lot of pages to search and sort and you might be wasting a lot of time digging through a giant haystack of useless search results.

Be Descriptive

As a general rule, the more descriptive you are in your search terms, the better. If you start out too broad, narrow the results by adding descriptive words. For instance, if you do a search on 1968 cars for sale, you’ll find over 21 million results. However, search for 1968 Ford cars for sale and you’ve greatly narrowed your results. To help you more effectively enter search terms, imagine you are describing what you’re looking for to a friend. Would you tell a friend that you are looking to buy a car built in 1968 or would you say want to buy a 1968 red Ford Mustang convertible? It seems like such a simple thing, but sometimes it’s easy to forget the obvious.

The Importance of Pluses and Minuses

Suppose you’ve got a business trip to Chicago coming up in a few weeks. The last time you were there, you had dinner at the most amazing rib joint, but you cannot remember its name or exactly where it is located. A quick Google search of rib restaurants in Chicago yields over one million results including many lists of where to find the “best barbeque” in the Windy City, but not exactly the answer you seek. You think a little harder and remember that the place was more like a tavern than a restaurant. Search again, but this time add the word “tavern” with the plus (+) sign in front of it (+tavern) and suddenly your search is narrowed to just 41 results, with the top listing being Twin Anchors Restaurant, the home of the heavenly ribs you remember. The plus sign in front of the word tavern helps narrow the results dramatically, offering a quicker path to your search destination.

The minus sign can also be a big help with your search. Let’s say you want to make some cookies to take to an office party. Baking is not your favorite thing to do, so you need a recipe that’s easy, but does not include nuts because one of your coworkers is allergic. Type in the words easy cookie recipe, but add the word nuts with a minus sign in front of it (-nuts) and you’ll have your pick of nut-free recipes to try.

You Can Quote Me on That

Another very useful search trick is to add quotation marks around specific words critical to your search criteria. Let’s take the example of the cookie search again. You’ve searched and found quite a few easy recipes that do not have nuts in them, but it’s the middle of summer and you don’t want to heat up your house by turning on the oven. No bake cookies seem like a good idea. Adding the words “no bake” in quotes to your search will yield you a list of easy no bake cookie recipes without nuts. Refine those results even further by adding (+) or subtracting (-) anything you want.

Don’t waste your time trying to find a needle in a haystack. Save yourself lots of frustration by refining your search terms to get targeted results. When in doubt, DASQ (describe, add, subtract, quote) it out.
To learn more about improving your search results and for all your Apple needs, contact Cranston IT directly at 888-813-5558 or support@cranstonit.com. Read More...

How to Make Your Electronic Life Easier

Life is hard work. Maintaining your home and yard; shuttling the kids to appointments and activities; working; paying bills; honey-do lists. It’s exhausting. Do you really want to add managing your family’s Apple IDs, software updates, backups, and home networking issues to your project list?

Do yourself a favor and let CIT@Home take care of your Apple support issues for you. No more trying to figure out which devices are updated, why your son’s iPhone won’t connect to your home network, or how to load all your songs, photos and contacts onto a new device. We’ll take care of that for you.

If you have a problem or issue with your Apple products, we’ll fix it. If you have a question, we’ll answer it. If you’re confused, we’ll clarify it. And if you’re just tired of all of it, we’ll take over and do it for you. It’s that simple.

Make your life easier. Our flat rate pricing gives you unlimited support for an entire year.

Because not everything in life should be hard work.

Contact Cranston IT at (888) 813-5558 and sign up for CIT@Home today. Read More...

Pat Wysor Brings His Fast, Friendly and Efficient Style to Cranston IT

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There’s a new tech in town and we’re happy to welcome him to our team. Pat Wysor joined Cranston IT in July and is already receiving rave reviews from clients for his fast, friendly service and IT knowledge.

A native of Pittsburgh’s North Hills, Pat graduated from North Allegheny High School in Wexford, PA before going on to receive a BA in Communication Arts from Allegheny College. During his college years, Pat did tech support through a work/study program. This experience enabled him to learn the Mac and gain real world experience helping others with their computer and technical issues. After college, Pat worked as an Apple Genius for five years. Read More...

Apple Pay - Revolutionizing the Way We Pay

Apple’s goal is to make the lives of their users easier. From laptops, to the App Store, and the new Apple Watch, they certainly are doing so, but Apple’s newest software integration is about to change the way we pay. Apple Pay is basically a virtual wallet that lets you pay with just your device and your fingerprint.
Apple Pay works both in physical retail stores and online. The Near Field Communication antenna that is built into the iPhone 6 enables you to pay simply by placing your finger on the fingerprint scanner and being near a contactless reader. Your iPhone will then vibrate or beep, letting you know your payment was successful. Apple Pay will also be available on the Apple Watch when it is released in April. You can also use Apple Pay on your iPhone 6, iPad Air 2, and iPad Mini 3 at select online retailers, such as Airbnb and Target. Read More...

Find Your Lost Stuff with Tile

It’s hard not to worry about losing your stuff and often the things we care about the most are the ones we can't live without. Thankfully, there’s a solution that will put your mind at ease. Tile is a keychain sized square that can be attached to virtually anything. Slip it into your wallet or purse, attach it to valuable electronics, or clip it onto your keychain and never have to worry about losing them again. Read More...

Network Wiring from CranstonIT

Apple is known for making products that are user friendly and intuitive. Often, this means that things are wireless. While wireless technology can make our lives much easier, sometimes it is not always the best solution. Hardwiring a network can be necessary in both residences and businesses. On occasion, a home is too big or as often happens in older houses, the walls are too thick for a wireless signal to reach all areas. In these cases, wiring can be installed and a wireless access point set up so you can have access to your network no matter where you are in the house. Within a business setting, if there are many employees, faster connections can be established if the computers are wired versus accessing the wireless network. If your business is expanding or moving, there is often hardwiring that needs to be done. Read More...

CIT Alert Now Available from Cranston IT

Cranston IT understands that a working computer is vitally important to you. We also understand that any interruption in being able to use your computer costs you time and money. Here at Cranston IT, we have a solution to help detect common problems early and solve them as quickly as possible. With the CIT Alert system, you can take the worry out of your everyday operations.
CIT Alert (CITA) is a program available to our customers that use Mac computers. This program’s main purpose is to catch a problem quickly when it occurs. Once installed on a computer, CITA conducts hourly checks to ensure everything is running smoothly. During these hourly checks, any warning signs that indicate that vital software or hardware are failing are inspected. Read More...

Coin: The Electronic Credit Card

Wallets can often feel like a black hole. We all have multiple cards for different accounts. Business expense cards, credit cards, gift cards, rewards cards and more; they junk up our wallet and often have us scrambling at the register. Wouldn’t it be great if you only had one card for everything? Coin is a creative solution that promises to solve this problem by storing all of your cards in one convenient location. Read More...

ZamZar - Easy Online File Conversion

Not being able to open a file because of out-of-date software or not having the right program can be frustrating. Often we are scrambling for a way to convert the file which usually ends in downloading programs that don't work anyway. Zamzar is a free web based service that allows you to convert virtually any file type. There are no programs to download and no credit card needed; just log onto zamzar.com and create an account. Zamzar supports 1,200 file types which include audio or video files and allows you to simply upload a file and choose what you’d like to convert it to. Aiming to convert your file in under 10 minutes, Zamzar delivers in speed and convenience. Read More...

Managing Travel with TripIT

Planning a getaway can be fun, but often we find ourselves lost in the never ending details of confirmation numbers, addresses, directions, and flight information. The overwhelming amount of logistics is often made even more complicated when you need to share your trip plans with friends and family. TripIt is a free service that takes all of your travel plans, cuts out the useless information, and compiles them in to a simple, easy-to-read itinerary that you can share with anyone who needs to know your plans. Read More...

CranstonIT Welcomes New FileMaker Developer

Cranston IT is pleased to welcome Brad Cranston to our team of FileMaker Developers. Brad has been working as a subcontractor for Cranston IT since January, 2013, however, we felt hiring Brad as a full-time FileMaker Developer would truly benefit our business and our clients. Brad joined our team on January 1st, 2014.
When we started to grow rapidly, we realized we needed to hire another FileMaker developer to assist with developing and handling custom databases for our clients. Patrick Cranston, President at Cranston IT, took Brad under his wing to teach him how to build, troubleshoot, and update databases. Read More...

Unroll.me Email Management Service

If you’re like most people, combing through masses of junk emails and unwanted subscriptions is just part of your daily routine. More often than not, we’re hitting the delete button. On occasion you might feel inspired to clean up your inbox and vow to unsubscribe from pesky emails, but finding the “unsubscribe” button and completing the prompts is tedious and time consuming. With a new web service, Unroll.me, claiming to revolutionize email, you can finally keep your promise and clean out your inbox once and for all. Read More...

CranstonIT on FaceBook

Do you want to learn Apple insider tips and tricks? Would you like to be the first to know when the latest Apple gadget or gizmo is about to hit the shelves? Then like us on Facebook. We’ll keep you in the “know”.

It might be a secret iPhone swiping gesture, a tip on how to customize your iTunes music, or advice on how to extend the battery life of your device when you are on the go. We are actively using social networking as a tool to better connect with our clients. Here are some of our latest posts:

  • Mac Tip: When previewing an item in the Spotlight menu, hold Command-Option to show the path to the item, below the preview window.
  • iPhone Tip: In Safari in iOS 7, swipe from the left or right edge of the screen to go back or forward a page
  • iOS 7 Tip: To stop playing a song or podcast at a set time, open Clock, tap Timer, then tap “When Timer Ends” and choose "Stop Playing".

Plus, you’ll never miss one of the Cranston IT event giveaways including tickets to professional sporting events and, yes, zombie shooting. Here’s that October post:

  • Win Free Tickets to Shoot Zombies: The only thing we like better than helping you with your computers is shooting Zombies.  Since you've relied on us for your support needs, we'd like to give you the chance to scare yourself silly shooting Zombies (with paintball guns).

Like us today Read More...

Turning Used Devices into Cash with Gazelle

Gazelle is an independent company that will pay you for your old cell phones, smartphones, iPads, iPods and Macs.  You may not get top dollar for your equipment, but a little extra cash in your pocket is always a good thing.  This is also an environmentally friendly solution instead of throwing your electronics into the garbage, since Gazelle refurbishes and resells most of the items they receive.

The whole process is very easy, and it’s risk-free.  You look up your item on their website.  After answering a few questions about it’s condition, you’ll immediately know how much they are willing to pay you.  If you like their offer, you complete the checkout process and tell them whether you’d like a check, PayPal deposit or Amazon.com gift card. Read More...

About Cranston Consulting

I started Cranston Consulting in 2005 with the goal of providing excellent Macintosh Computer Consulting to Pittsburgh. In the last four years, Cranston Consulting has moved beyond the "1 Man Band" consulting firm and we now have 6 employees and contractors that provide a wide range of IT Services for an ever growing client base. Read More...
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