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So far Melissa Kalal has created 19 blog entries.

Creative Cloud – Some Quick Fixes for InDesign

If you are using InDesign (Creative Cloud) and are having a problem with text boxes that appear blank – even when there is still text in them – and the number of times you can “undo” seems to fluctuate, here’s a fix for these problems!

 

Restart Your Computer

Start by restarting your computer by holding down the shift key, which will start up in “Safe Boot” mode, which actually cleans up some caches and temp files in OS X. Once you see the login screen, don’t login. Below it is a “Restart” or a “Back” button that will take you to “Restart” – do that instead, and let it start up as you normally would do.

 

Delete InDesign Preferences

 

CC Indesign blog graphicOnce your desktop is up, hold down command-option-control-shift and launch InDesign. It will ask to “Delete InDesign Preference Files?” – and click YES. This does what it says, so your units and other basic settings will need to be reset, but it gets rid of any weirdness that may be affecting InDesign. It does not affect your window or palate settings.

 

Get in the Help You Need Fast!

If this doesn’t do the trick, please get in touch with us at Central Coast and we’ll take a look. If your computer is your #1 tool for doing business (and making you money!), it needs to work well for you 100 percent of the time. Our billable rate is probably lower than yours – calling in our experts to quickly fix issues that affect your productivity is simply smart business. Email us at service@centralcoastweb.com or call 763.422.3922.

By | October 14th, 2014|Design, Help, Training|0 Comments

ALERT: “Shellshock” Security Threat Can Affect Mac Computers

WHAT IS IT?

Another day, and yet another security threat has been announced. This one exposes a 20-year old hole that’s been in the UNIX OS called “Bash” that resides inside of every Mac. This could allow an outside attacker to have your computer execute commands, and potentially give them access to your machine without your knowledge.

 

DOES IT AFFECT ME?

Likely no – by default Macs do not have externally accessible services turned on – but servers and services that provide a web interface to the outside world are potentially threatened. This would include any service accessible by a web browser; web server, FTP server, email server with webmail, wiki, web or internet sharing, some games, etc.

 

HERE’S WHAT APPLE SAYS ABOUT IT:

“The vast majority of OS X users are not at risk to recently reported bash vulnerabilities,” an Apple spokesperson said. “Bash, a UNIX command shell and language included in OS X, has a weakness that could allow unauthorized users to remotely gain control of vulnerable systems. With OS X, systems are safe by default and not exposed to remote exploits of bash unless users configure advanced UNIX services. We are working to quickly provide a software update for our advanced UNIX users.”

As with most of these announced “possible exploits”, they are just that – possible – but that does not mean they are being used actively.

 

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Don’t install ANY software or updates without asking Central Coast! If a software hack is installed on your Mac that makes it externally accessible, it could open your machine up to attack. Knowing that the industry is working on a fix, we would wait until that is available and install it. Central Coast will announce when its ready.

 

Turn off any services on your Macs you really aren’t using. Go to Apple>System Preferences>Sharing and turn off anything that’s on there you don’t directly understand. Ask if you have any questions. We see a lot of people with Apple Servers they set up themselves for simple file sharing with EVERY service turned on, which is not only reduces performance but gives more than one way for a bad guy to get into your server.

 

If you have a server that has externally accessible services, we are monitoring this issue closely and will work with you to get a plan in place for them.

 

WHAT’S THE LESSON HERE?

No computer are ever really “safe” unless you disconnect your internet connection. People write software, and people screw up, so we’ll never have a fully secure computing world. Reducing your “exposure” is the key to keeping your file, private and financial data safe. Here are the best practices for internet security in general:

  • Don’t install any software or update without asking first. Really, there are no “routine updates”, everything is suspect.
  • Have separate, unique passwords for all services you interact with, and use 1Password, LastPass, etc. to help manage them.
  • If you must use the “cloud”, use it for temporary transferring of data only, not storing data long term. These servers out outside your control and are one breach away from exposing your data.
  • Email delivery of “malware” is on the rise, so don’t click links, accept or install anything that wants to install once you open a message. If its from a “trusted source” like a service or bank you frequent, you should be able to go to their website and and get the same result, so don’t click links in email to get their – do it manually through your browser.
  • Don’t let kids use computers that you use for your business! Get them their own machines to play on. We see a LOT of issues with this!

 

We’re here to help! Let us know if you think you may have opened the door to issues on your machine, and we’ll get things back in order and secure. If we haven’t seen you in a while, now may be a good time to go through your Mac and make sure everything is operating its best.

 

Email us at service@centralcoastweb.com.

By | September 26th, 2014|Apple Software, Design, FAQ, Featured, Help, Photography, Security|0 Comments

Adobe Illustrator Story – The Video

Adobe Video Russell BrownIf you use Adobe Illustrator – this video is not to be missed! This software changed drawing and graphic design forever!

 

Watch the untold story from the beginning:

 

Click here!

CCS FAQ – Our Most Popular Questions

q_aHere’s a quick rundown of the questions we hear most often from our customers.

 

Understanding your ROI

Q. Help me understand the return on my investment when I hire Central Coast for my tech resource.

 

A. There a couple ways to think about this from both a big-picture and detailed point of view.

 

First, our hourly rate is likely to less than your billable rate for your clients. For example, if you are a graphic designer charging $125+ an hour for your services, by purchasing a Maintenance Plan or Service Plan hours, you will be paying us less than what it costs you do your own tech support. Additionally, before you think about hiring a person on staff to do tech support, consider the total cost to carry that headcount. Using Central Coast would be a third to half of that cost for a 10-15 person agency, for example. Our Service Plans are affordable and help you meet the needs of your budget.

 

Second, we are experts and this is what we do. Out team of technicians has a collective experience that far outweighs even the most avid “office tech.” We can likely fix things faster, maintain things at a higher level, and ensure your business won’t have to deal with as many emergencies that disrupt business. That said we work alongside you, as there are a number of things that can be done on your end to maintain the basics while we stay accountable for the more intricate areas.

 

Finally, if you are in business to make money (and we hope that you are), then your tools are your life line to your customers. They help you communicate. They help you create deliverables. They help you collaborate. There’s no excuse for NOT having them function the way you need them to so that you can do great work. When you do great work, we are happy.

 

Don’t Block Out the Sunshine!

Q. We’re thinking of moving our company to live in the Cloud. What do you think?

 

A. We have a separate post dedicated to this issue. Click here. In a nutshell, Central Coast is NOT a fan of Cloud Computing! There are other options that cost less money in the long run, are far more secure, have easy access through VPN from offsite…but most importantly, keep your data and your clients’ data under your control. Cloud providers do a bang-up job of marketing the perceived pros, but rarely mention the cons. So do your research before you leap to the cloud, because if you change your mind, getting your data back out can be a painstaking process and be highly disruptive to your business.

 

Cost Efficient and Convenient

Q. What’s the difference between buying my equipment from the Apple Store, and buying from Central Coast?

 

A. We offer hardware as a service to our customers, and give the best pricing possible.

 

Before you purchase anything, we look at what you need from a functionality standpoint, along with the other equipment you already own and the other components that need to connect with your new equipment. We ask about things that the Apple Store or an online retailer wouldn’t know – such as how the equipment will be used, the software it will run, the other components it needs to connect with, to how fast your Internet connection will run, even personal preferences. Purchasing technology hardware is rarely a standalone decision.

 

Once your equipment arrives, we deliver it to your location, set it up for you, and make sure it’s functioning the way you need it to. And if something goes wrong, we’ll help make sure it gets fixed so you aren’t left hanging out there alone to figure it out.

 

AppleCare is a wonderful investment and something we always recommend. It costs a small fraction of what you already investing in the hardware. Machines do have problems from time to time in their first few years. AppleCare is three-year smart insurance plan. We can take care of getting this for you too.

 

What’s Included?

Q. When I purchase a new Mac, does your service include moving my photos and music?

 

A. Yes! We’ll move them all over, along with your other data, settings, bookmarks, etc. It will be 100 percent seamless for you.

 

Accounting Software

Q. Do you know of a good alternative to Quicken for Mac?

 

A. Yes – try Moneydance. It imports Quicken file and is only $49. We hear great things from our clients about this software.

 

Internal Storage

Q. How much internal storage should I have on my Mac?

 

A. Upgrading the internal storage device of your existing Mac to a 512GB or 1TB Flash Drive is a huge performance benefit that will greatly enhance the long-term viability of the machine. You should balance the cost against having a faster computer, which also extends of the value of its usefulness later on too.

 

Worth the Space?

Q. We don’t want equipment “clogging up” our office space. Is Apple Time Capsule an option?

 

A. Yes, however, be aware that an internal drive is not serviceable in the Time Capsule, so a drive issue (and these do occur) means the unit is not longer working – period. Even if it happens under warranty, your data will be lost with a new unit replacement. Time Capsules are great for backing up your office machines, but they are not a server, and shouldn’t be used as one.

 

My Font Library Needs a Tune Up

Q. What happens when we hire Central Coast to do a “font review” on our Mac?

 

A. New OS and Creative Suite versions are less tolerant of older TrueType and Postscript fonts. When we clean up your library, we’ll convert your “must have” older fonts to the modern OpenType versions, and help you learn font management.

 

Backup Systems

Q. What’s the difference between Crash Plan and Time Machine? Do we need both?

 

A. Time Machine is a local backup of your entire computer, and a fast way to recover your data in an emergency. Crash Plan is set up to automatically update everything with no inconvenience to the user, but takes some time download back to a new machine, and cannot be used to directly recover from a startup drive failure like Time Machine can. Depending on how and who is using the machine – we’ll talk with you about a backup plan that will work best for you. The most important thing is that you know you need one.

 

 

CMPUG Annual Potluck is on June 30, 2014

cmpug-logo-175Central Minnesota Photoshop User Group Annual Potluck

Greetings all Photoshop and Lightroom users!

 

The CMPUG 3rd Annual Potluck has been rescheduled for

Monday, June 30, 2014.

 

This is a Central Coast sponsored event! See you there!

 

 

Details

Social Hour starts at 5:30

Adobe Connect goes live at 6:30

Meeting starts at 7:00 with guest speaker Jeff Tranberry, Chief Customer Advocate at Adobe Digital Imaging. There are also a couple demos planned.

Wrap up and drawing at 8:30 – courtesy of Central Coast and Adobe!

Place: Butkowski Digital Imaging, St. Augusta MN 56301. Click here for Google Map

 

RSVP here

 

For More Information:

LinkedIn or Facebook

 

By | June 17th, 2014|Photography, Training|0 Comments

CCS (Central Coast Solutions) can function as your CIO (Chief Information Officer)

Solutions for the Big Picture

Where does technology accountability lie at the highest level in your organization? Whether you are the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, the head of an IT Department, managing a small creative firm, or the sole proprietor of a home-based business, you cannot downplay the role technology plays in the strategy for your business model.

 

 

IT is an Entrepreneurial Role.

Gartner’s Executive CIO Survey in 2014*, which polled 2,399 CIOs from 77 countries and over $300 billion in IT spending, overwhelming showed that CIOs are expected to think big picture about their organization. This means IT is not just a cost center. It’s an entrepreneurial role that is expected to run a business, grow revenues and boost productivity.

 

CIOs are Rebranding Themselves as CDOs (Chief Digital Officers).

Technology is the root of your digital strategy. When IT budgets have increased by 8.2 percent in 2014, 41 percent of organizations spent their IT budgets outside their organization, and 41 percent of CIOs indicated they cannot respond to their digital opportunities in a timely fashion and it effects the success of their company – having an entrepreneurial, big-picture thinker that FULLY understands the technology that is at the root of their digital strategy is essential. Do you have this role covered and high functioning in your organization?

 

 

We’ll Say It Again: We’re Here To Help Your Business Be Successful.

Sure, we help you purchase the right products, service your machines and networks, and provide “need to know” training for users. But in addition, we’ll consult with you on the big picture of your organization to ensure the role technology plays is optimized – and is giving you a competitive advantage both today and tomorrow.

 

Best of all, this doesn’t need to take a lot of time. Integrating a few hours a month for big-picture thinking into your Service Plan is a lot less expensive than hiring a CIO or a CDO to your staff.

 

Contact us today to learn more: Ed@centralcoastweb.com

 

 

 

*Source: http://www.channelworld.in/slideshow/gartner-executive-summary-survey-2014

By | June 17th, 2014|Design, FAQ, Photography, Workflow, Workflow Design|0 Comments

Mac vs. Windows

What’s the Better Choice? Apple Macintosh or Windows?

Apple has been making BOTH hardware and operating systems for over 30 years. They are engineered to to work together. Period. There hundreds of different PCs on the market running Microsoft Windows OS. Some work well together. Others do not. This is why we are Macintosh Business Partner experts and love this technology platform for businesses looking to build a stable, known environment.

 

Prices are Relative to What You Get

It can be deceiving to look at the price of a Mac vs. PC. Products at first glance are rarely comparable with one another, particularly for low-end PCs which use inferior materials. Make sure you are taking into account all functionality and stability before comparing costs.

 

Security is a Top Concern Now and Always

Harry McCracken once said, “A Mac owner who runs no security software is still vastly less likely to be the victim of a successful attack than a Windows user who is protected up to his eyeballs.” Hackers have typically attacked the larger market of Windows-based OS, giving Macs a less attractive target to hack.

 

Regardless of what you are running, be aware of any and all issues when you store data in the Cloud. Read this article. Our recommendation is to manage your own data onsite with secure servers and managed firewalls. You don’t need Internet access to get to your information onsite, you KNOW who is managing it (you!) and it’s much, much harder to steal. Cloud servers have become the latest attraction for hackers – why not go after a whole bunch of information from a group of random companies all at once?

 

Macs are Intuitive and Require Less Maintenance

Apple has built a platform that caters to graphics, imagery and design-related tools. OS X is a straight-forward approach to managing tools, application and files. We see it over and over. Windows users converting to Mac generally have an easy time getting used to how things work. Mac users converting to Windows often find themselves trying to figure out a much less intuitive platform. Mac versions of software, on average, focus more on user interface as well.

 

shutterstock_167677004_LRCustomer Satisfaction – Numbers Talk

Apple has topped the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) annual rankings for customer satisfaction in the category of personal computers for the tenth straight year in a row in 2013! ACSI founder and Chairman said, “Companies that can innovate while maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction are the ones that will win.” Read more about ACSI study here.

 

We’re sold. How about you?

 

 

Central Coast is Your Resource for Windows to Mac Conversion

Get in touch: Service@centralcoastweb.com

 

 

 

 

 

The ROI for Great Tech Support

importantOur Hourly Rate is Likely Less Than What You Bill Your Clients

This post is pretty simple. The statement above pretty much sums it up.

 

If you are billing your clients $125+/hr then you are wasting money by not hiring Central Coast to handle your technology issues. Click here for our rates and services.

 

 

First, technology is what we know, all we do, and we’re experts.

Whether you’re a Fortune 500 company, a small business owner or a home-based business, your time and your employees’ time – is money. We integrate with companies on all levels, filling roles where there are holes. Sometimes we’re your Chief Information Officer. Other times, your entire IT department. We integrate seamlessly with your IT staff, or you can leverage our training to ensure user productivity stays high while the IT guys handle the “break/fix” issues.

 

However you slice and dice it, more often than not, it’s less expensive to hire our technicians than to spend your billable time doing it yourself.

 

Second, that’s not to say there aren’t regular updates and other things you should do on your end to keep your systems running smoothly.

We’ll work side-by-side with you to understand where we plug in, and where you can simply take care of things on your end. Some of that is based on what you know, what you want to do…but mostly what you have time to do.

 

Do the math.

If you’ve got nothing but time, your business strategy likely needs a wakeup call anyway. We’ll get your systems in top shape so you can find that next client, do some great work, and watch your profits soar.

Dealing with “Sippy-straw” Internet Speeds

facetoface5-309x206Time is Money – Buy the Fastest Internet You Can Afford

One of the most-asked questions we get at Central Coast is, “Why is my Internet slower at work than at home?” The answer in a nutshell boils down to a couple key things.

 

First, there are a lot of consumers out there using the Internet. Infrastructure has been built to cater to the magnitude of home users around the world. There are more individual consumers than businesses, and other than the CIO, high level executives don’t often fully understand the wealth of productivity lost each day through slow connections. So the home user is the squeaky wheel. When they can’t stream their Netflix movie, or search quickly for the optimal recipe for Orange Chicken, or need click through at lightning speed to purchase the latest series of Transformer toy, they complain loudly. Meanwhile, corporate office buildings and skyscrapers are still working to catch up with how their tenants’ workflow has shifted – everything is online – and engineers are still scrambling to build networks to support the flow of data and information both in and out of offices.

 

Second, company managers don’t often understand and manage the things that are hogging their bandwidth. Here’s an example. Executive Assistant Marge is unintentionally using a bunch of bandwidth that Graphic Designer Ellen needs, because Marge is streaming her favorite online music station to her desktop. Marge also has the Internet open to multiple pages with ads continually popping up, even though she’s off at a meeting for the next hour and a half and her computer is not set to sleep while she’s away from her desk (which is another security issue entirely, mind you.) Meanwhile, Designer Ellen is watching the spinning ball swirl while trying to download some stock photos for her project. She’s not only frustrated because she’s on a deadline, but feels her tools are effecting her performance – everything is so slow and unproductive. It doesn’t pay to complain or ask for help because nobody listens and everyone’s in the same boat anyway. Meanwhile, she has ample time to ponder that while she waits for her slow downloads to finish.

 

 

Control What You Can – Here Are Some Great Solutions

  1. Central Coast will test and troubleshoot your hardware. We’ll check to make sure you are using the fastest DNS for your connection. Also, we’ll fix or replace your router or modem. It may not even be your Internet connection that is slowing you down! (To test your speed against what you are paying for, Speedtest.net is a great resource.) If your office is older with a lot of steel walls, we will check the placement of your wi-fi to reposition or boost it for optimal speed. Finally, we will hardwire key components – so you aren’t using valuable bandwidth for your computer to talk to an internal server or printer, for example.
  2. We’ll do a mini-audit to see how your office is using your bandwidth. Asking Marge (above) to stop streaming music and to close her browser when she’s not at her desk, can help. Also, other workflow adjustments can be helpful. If you work in an office with limited bandwidth that you cannot increase or control, your employees should have a basic understanding of the tasks that use heavy versus light bandwidth, and optimize that to be efficient for everyone on the team whenever possible.
  3. Central Coast is on a first-name basis with many local Internet providers. They respond quickly when we call them to find out if you are getting the fastest connection for the money – because they know we can influence our clients with future purchases for their services. We may recommend you change providers if you can get faster, cheaper service elsewhere.

 

cloudLessen Your Pain By Staying Out of the Cloud

Finally, if you lose your Internet connection, even for a few hours, it’s downright painful and you quickly find out how long it takes in real time for minutes and hours to go by when there’s nothing else happening around you. There’s no email, no customer service service, no purchasing, no shipping, no billing, and possibly no company website (if you host onsite). Further complicating things, if you’ve made the unwise and unfortunate decision to put your entire business into the hands of a Cloud provider, you have a dead piece of metal to stare at (also known as your hardware), because in addition to the list above, you have no software or applications. Check out this article for more information about Cloud security.

 

Central Coast Solutions is Ready to Help Your Organization Optimize Productivity.

Whether you are running a business from home and need the reliability, support and static IP address of a Business Internet plan – or are dealing in with complicated network structures of large office buildings – we can help get to the bottom of why your Internet is not working as fast as you need it to.

 

Time is money. Our hourly rate is often less than what you bill your clients.

 

Getting You Back to Doing Great Work for Your Clients at Top Speed is Our Goal.

Contact us at service@centralcoastweb.com to get started.

 

 

 

From Mad Men: “We need to invest in a computer, period.” Love it!

mad_men_recap_madtech_wideCheck out this great episode recap from April 2014!

 

Click here

By | June 7th, 2014|Design, Just For Fun|0 Comments