We're sure that you're all familiar with data caps as members of the RE industry. After all, with cell phones becoming increasingly common (91% of adults have one), usage is at an all time high—which might explain why companies such as AT&T and Verizon put data caps in place, to make more money and to reduce network congestion. And you, as professionals, use apps like Maps and services like Evernote to keep everything up to date with your services. When your data cap is looming large over you, free WiFi might seem like a godsend. Use your services without adding to your data cap—the perfect combination!
But, before you connect to just any network, we have a warning for you: while WiFi from businesses and private providers like Brighthouse or AT&T is everywhere, it's also dangerous.
Free WiFi feels great, but certain providers of free WiFi prefer to use managed systems rather than password-secured hotspots like businesses use—usually to ensure that the public can connect and increase their awareness. But the problem here is that on an unsecured network like this—even if there's a login screen for your personal credentials—none of your data is properly encrypted, meaning that anyone can get on the network and, with a little bit of knowledge and work, can get your personal information from what you're broadcasting over the air.
While some apps and websites do use encrpytion to connect (such as Facebook and most banks), care should be taken because other sites and apps have not adopted the standard. Responsible use of WiFi can and will make your life better but it only takes one irresponsible person to ruin your accounts or your work. Be safe when connecting!
We've also been receiving reports of thieves using fake hotspots to lure you into trusting them. They follow the same system as phishing attempts through your email: recreating websites to look official to get you to give up your credentials. It's worse when you realize that most cell phones (regardless of operating system) are set up to automatically connect to their provider's hotspots automatically—but they put no controls in place to prevent fakes from replacing them.
Here's a scenario: let's say your WiFi is toggled on your iPhone and you're walking to a showing. If someone in the area has named their WiFi "attwifi," the normal name for AT&T's hotspots, you'll automatically connect whether the hotspot's legitimate or not. Then the thief can go to work sniffing out your data. If you're not expecting a free WiFi hotspot, you might not notice and then you'll be compromised.
There are steps you can take to help prevent this problem. For one thing, every modern smartphone has an indicator showing that a website is secured and encrypted (meaning it's far harder to read what you're sending). On iPhone, there will be a grey lock next to the name of the site you're on. This means that the connection is secured and the identity of the site is verified by a third party. On Android, it depends on browser, but the Chrome browser displays a green lock. Look for these symbols when doing any transaction with your data! Without them, you are at risk.
Secondly, you should turn off auto-login to any and all WiFi hotspots that they're currently enabled for. While it's a bit more work to do, it's not all that difficult to do. On iPhone, it's in Settings > WiFi > (Network Name — click the circled "i" symbol) > Auto-Join.
These tips will make your life more secure and protect your contacts, leads, and business from being spied upon—or worse!
We read an interesting article from NPR recently about one of the famous "Painted Ladies" selling at an astonishing 900K less than the asking price. They're iconic of not only the city, but of the environment that we all feel San Fransisco has. There's curb appeal built in—they're the houses from Full House for goodness sake!
"Painted Ladies" by King of Hearts - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
But in reading the article, we suddenly got another picture: that of any homeowner living in homes that are iconic enough to be recognized nationwide—dealing with the tourism and the hassles that come with a home that's also an attraction. Some people like the attention but even celebrities don't like the papparazi and other privacy invaders. Imagine buying one of these gorgeous homes and having pictures taken of you when you're unsuspecting! That's enough to turn off most homebuyers—and seemingly enough, it affected the sale of the Painted Lady in San Fransisco.
But, does this translate over to a home that's not famous? Probably not. If the home's not an icon of your neighborhood or city, then as much curb appeal as you can muster is usually a good thing. Let's use the Painted Ladies of San Fransisco as an example of what curb appeal is. Overly famous or not, they are very pretty homes.
Firstly, the home is painted well. The name "Painted Lady" itself comes from the paint job, three colors used to bring out the architectural nuances of the home and to make the home stand out and have character. Curb appeal is all about the visuals and the Painted Ladies definitely have the visual elements going on for it.
There's no yard to speak of at these homes, either, but the front of them are kept well and offer simplicity as their main attraction. Simple stoops, well-groomed trees, a clean exterior. Simplicity is the key here. Nothing is overwrought, but it's all well thought out.
That's key: every homeowner wants a nice looking home, but most of us work and complex looks or elaborate landscapes to keep up might not be to our taste. A simple cleaning and a new coat of paint every so often? Most can manage. Keep your homes simple.
Finally, the homes are generally accessible. They're by a park on a main street. The location is very good. They're right off the 101 and I-80 in San Fran, meaning that to get anywhere, it's a simple commute. The university is just down the street. Between location and looks, the houses (if they weren't famous) would net almost any asking price the owner wanted. (After all, while this Painted Lady sold for far below asking price, the owner still got $3.1 million for it. That's nothing to sneeze at!)
The simple answer: no. Too much curb appeal generally isn't possible. Keep up on the modern trends of exterior design, keep the place clean, well painted, and if you can, play up the conveniences of living there. That will help your home sell.
It'll also help if you don't let a show film at your home. That'll keep the papparazi down. Otherwise, make your house look as good as you know that it is!
Troubleshooting: Everyone's had a bad experience with a computer at some point: either a program crashing, a slowdown, a virus, or even just computer age. Well, while manufacturers would like you to upgrade often, there's a better way to keep your computer running for a while longer—especially if you don't want to move to new equipment or if you're waiting on a certain feature to come to market. We've got the tips you need to do some troubleshooting to your computer!
Every computer system has its fair share of problems but there are always ways to fix those or improve how they work—and slowdowns are no different. Here are a few things we think are useful to help you keep your system running the way it should:
While we're sure you've heard more than your fair share about viruses, it bears repeating: viruses are dangerous to your security and can cause your system to run slow, incorrectly, or even destructively. Somewhere around 32% of computers have some sort of infection on them. Keep your virus scanners up to date and keep malware and adware protection on your computer. That will help solve most of the problems resulting from viruses.
Don't buy into the idea that you need a whole new system if you're experiencing slowdowns. The above tips can help you avoid replacement, but there's something else you should consider: if your PC is more than 5 years old, slowdowns are not only common, they're inevitable. The rate that hardware is improving means that 5 years is the difference between bleeding-edge and dinosaur. This doesn't mean your PC is useless, just that it might take a little longer to run the new versions of software or to boot up. This is normal and expected, and shouldn't cut into your workflow too much.
Either way, using these tips, you should be able to milk a little more life out of your computer, regardless of operating system. Troubleshooting can save you a lot of time and money, and it doesn't have to be difficult.
Blogging is the thing to be doing in online marketing. The trends in marketing are all heading towards online marketing. While hand shaking and grinning at events is always effective (and word of mouth is still king), an online presence is becoming more and more important. While mobile technology is 7 years old, it's still in its infancy—meaning that now is the time to get in on the game.
Blogging is the key to getting into this space. Blogs are well-equipped to do three things for your agency:
It's not just a hobbyist thing anymore, nor is it just for revolutionary ideas. You'll never know the reaction you'll get from your ideas if you don't put them out there.
Blogging is for ideas. You have ideas. Big ones. Whether it's about how the market is flawed (and your great solution to that flaw) or how someone can make the market work for them rather than working the market, you've got something to say about the market somehow. Start saying something big, develop those ideas.
Some of the biggest internet successes all started by seeing a great idea and developing those ideas into bigger things. Their sense of entrepreneurship and intelligence moved them from people with ideas into people with products. Elon Musk moved from having a simple web company into helping found SpaceX and Tesla Motor Company. Larry Page started Google on an idea and some knowledge. So can you!
While you might not quite make that level, there's room in the market for your ideas on real estate. Blog about them, talk about them, get them on paper and into the public. The thing all of these folks have in common is that they made websites that primarily assist others in achieving their goals. Do the same yourself, and see the results grow.
When it comes to the internet, you need to understand that it's a primarily social medium. Blogs don't exist just to detail ideas, they're made to discuss them and make them better. Every big, successful blog has methods of creating conversations around them. WordPress has implemented a system where you can find content on their site and engage using your account. Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr all have their own conventions on how to share and respond to content.
The key here is that no matter the medium, the form exists to talk to others. Comment sections and conversations on Twitter are important. Invent a hashtag, get people talking, ask for responses. People talking about your idea, especially if you can get your name or your hashtag attached to the conversation, means that you're getting free press and association with your idea.
Even if people don't want to be part of your conversation—say, people are already impressed or just want others opinions for their consideration—at least make it easy and simple for people to share those ideas and articles with others. Promote the ideas on Facebook, Twitter, Quora, wherever you have a social media presence.
Remember when we said earlier that word-of-mouth was the best form of advertising? As the world moves more and more to mobile technology and consumption of media, social sharing and commentary is the new word-of-mouth. In fact, search engines like Google are starting to use social shares through sites like Google+ and other social media to help rank sites in their results—a big factor in getting found online.
There are many forms of blogging. Twitter, technically, is a micro-blogging app, which amounts to a series of small posts of ideas you could put up during a lunch break or between appointments. If you find your ideas don't fit, WordPress.com has a longer form that you can flesh out your ideas on. If answering questions is your thing, Quora is the place to go.
The one thing you shouldn't do, however, is let your ideas live in your head alone. We live in a big, beautiful world with people who could use them—and who could amplify your idea to your next client.
We've recently discussed the "Internet of Things" and smart homes, but now there's some big news from Apple that might shake some things up.
If you need a quick refresher as to what the internet of things are, it's a series of gadgets that have been given the ability to connect to the internet for your convenience.
This means that your fridge might have a screen where you log your food levels so you know when to go to the store—and how much to buy. Or, your thermostat could detect if you were home and adjust itself accordingly to save you energy. These features are gaining ground and making sure homes are equipped (or at least ready) for these appliances is a big deal.
Apple announced yesterday during their WWDC keynote presentation that they're working with some of the biggest names in home technology to get most (if not all) devices onto a single standard of communication. This is a welcome change as the current market is filled with apps for each device, making managing a smart home a little complex.
The list of companies on-screen at the keynote are:
Now, with the addition of these standards, Siri can control the home with certain commands. The keynote itself used the example of telling Siri "I'm going to bed" to initiate the doors locking, lights going out, and other actions.
There will also be an app (most likely) that will allow you to control all of your devices at once—smoke alarms, thermostats, door locks, and others to start.
If you're a real estate agent of any kind advising your clients or assessing market value of a home, home automation systems are still valuable, but stay tuned to find out which systems will follow these new standards—and to see how Apple's new developments will help push the smart home into more common acceptance. This could be big news for the real estate market as well as the consumer market.
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