New IPad 2, is it worth all the hype


Okay like many techies, early adopters or Apple cult members, I was eagerly awaiting the big event today in which Apple made several announcements including the much anticipated pre-launch of the IPAD 2. Other than the fact that the delivery was made by Steve Jobs who surfaced from his medical leave for this event, from what I have been able to gather from many online postings, while the new IPAD is definitely an improvement, it doesn’t seem to be the earth shattering changes we have grown to expect from Apple.

I mean it has double the processor so it will run much quicker (although the IPAD is known for its instant on functionality, so I don’t think speed was the issue with the first edition), its thinner and lighter (again I don’t think this was the problem) and they’ve added front and back cameras that can film video in HD which means you will now be able to do video chat, facetime and more, but to me the omissions of what they didn’t do to me are pretty shocking.

The screen resolution and materials are still the same (continue having fun with the sunlight glare), still no USB ports so don’t plan on plugging any peripherals into it, they did add the ability to have HDMI port, but to do so you have to buy a $39 plug adapter, it is only set up to work on the 3G network (even with Verizon), no additional memory or additional models with more memory, etc.

I am sure I am missing out on some things, but to me, this is just a significant software version update being labeled as a new product. Don’t get me wrong I own an IPAD and will probably buy an IPAD 2 to have another in the house as I am sick of having to share mine with my 3 year old son who constantly wants to play Angry Birds on it, but to me if I didn’t need to do it and could wait awhile, I would consider holding off until next year for the IPAD 3 as it will be sure to have more significant improvements then what was announced today, which in my opinion didn’t live up to all the hype.

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Website Tip of the Day – Customer is always…Right?


Rule #1 of Business is also Rule #1 of Websites, the customer is always right. And that is something many REALTORS and Business Owners don’t understand when it comes to setting up their own website. They like to build very image based, ego-centric designs and load up the site with content that they like or care about. But when you are building your site to totally fit your personal needs, are you really doing the best to service your potential customers.

In some cases yes, but most of the time no. What I recommend to clients is to organize and build your site based completely around the users needs and wants. So, what is it that they want:
1) Property Listings and Search Tools – This should be the #1 focus of your site
2) Education about the Local Area so they can decide if they want to move to or from there
3) Educational content to help them through the real estate process (buyers info, sellers tips, mortgage calculators, help in finding financing, understanding the current and local market, etc.)
4) You the REALTOR

So, when it comes to figuring out what the structure and goals of your site should be, it should be based on the prior customer needs and wants. So build your site around the MLS and make it easy for the user to find specific kinds of listings that also match your desired clientele. Then focus on educating that consumer about all aspects of their potential real estate experience and finally work yourself into the site, but don’t over do it because that is not what they are there for. And remember, statistically speaking, consumers are just as likely to use an agent’s website as they are a brokerage or even Realtor.com, you just need to make sure that your site is set up in a user friendly manner so that they enjoy their experience when they are there.

For more tips and advice on running your website, blog, social networking, humorous musing, technology trends and more that are influencing the real estate market, be sure to follow Craig Grant, the Real Estate Website Guru’s blog

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Filed under Online Marketing, Real Estate Website General, Website Design

Online Security 101, passwords and luggage


There was a great subtle joke in the classic movie Spaceballs in which Dick Van Patton’s character King Roland is being forced by Mel Brook’s character President Skroob to give up the combination to his planet’s atmosphere lock and after agonizing over the decision, King Roland reveals that his combination is….1….2….3…4….5 and then Mel Brooks shriek’s, that’s the combination to my luggage!

Well, that is what most of us still do with our password and login information with all of our online accounts. In fact, in a recent article I read, it stated that when popular site rootkit.com was hacked recently, the hackers used the same login information on a very unrelated site gawker.com and of the 456 users that used both sites, 77% had used the exact same e-mail address and passwords at both sites. Therefore, but the hackers infiltrating an unassuming site like rootkit, they had access to vital information on other sites like gawker.com and if you used the same login on other sites like your bank and credit card company as well. And many studies have shown that the average internet user follows this pattern.

With so many great and easy to use and in many cases free password manager programs available like Roboform, DataVault or Belio, there is no reason to continue using the same login information on each site. And these programs make it possible to have passwords that are 12 to 16 random characters which is what is truly recommended to ensure online security.

Now, I am off to change the combination to my luggage!

So,

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Twitter, FaceBook and ActiveRain, Oh My – How to Handle Social Media Overload


One common question I get is how does a typical REALTOR get involved with social networking and still run their real estate business. The main concern is that there are so many social marketing sites springing up, they change all the time and there is not enough time in the day to do it all.

This is of course a legit concern, so my advice is the following:
1. Identify your personal strengths and weaknesses and see which social media sites fit your personality, style, etc. and also will most effectively deliver you the target audience you are trying to reach
2. Identify how much time you are able to commit to social media on a daily or weekly basis. Take into account that some of the social media sites require more frequency and time involvement to participate in. For example a blog post is a bit more involved than other social media options but you only need to do so 1-2 times per week. FaceBook should be monitored on a consistent basis but to effectively use the site, you should expect to do a few posts per week. Where as Twitter utilizes very short post (less than 140 characters), but the frequency is much higher as you have to be willing to post on it multiple times a day.
3. Be sure to utilize a software solution such as TweetDeck, HootSuite or Seismic to make posts to multiple social media sites at once, pre-write and schedule posts and more.

At the end of the day, it is all about time management. So be sure to follow these steps but more importantly try to put yourself on a schedule you can realistically keep to. As you start to reap some benefits of your social networking efforts and as you start to enjoy it more, you can always adjust your time involvement as you go.

Now get out there and be social!

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How to beat cancer? Back up your data!


Everyone always tells you to back up your computer and all your data cause you never know what might happen that could cause you to lose all your data.  Well, I think I found the greatest example of why you need to stop playing around and get a back up disaster plan in place and it comes complimentary of Sook Shin a researcher at the University of Oklahoma.

Well Ms. Shin has been doing research on prostate cancer for over 10-years and recently had a breakthrough for a potential cure for the disease that affects millions of men.  This sounds like great news right, only problem is her car was vandalized and her laptop was stolen with all of her research on it and you guessed it, she did not have a back up plan in place.

So, not only is 10 years worth of research, much of which she feels may be impossible to replicate are gone and unless the criminal has a sudden change of heart she has no chance of getting it or the potential cure for prostate cancer back.

So, hopefully this gives you the final push to go out and buy that external hard drive &/or off-site/cloud storage solution so that you can protect that valuable information you have on your tech devices.

For the full story go to http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20028475-1.html

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Syndication great, syndication with Google, not so great


I have been trying to warn anyone who will listen to me in the real estate industry that with the proliferation of listing syndication with vendors like ListHub and Point2Agent that are setting up feed partnerships with just about every MLS in the country which then feed  into sites like Google could potentially be a really bad thing.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a big proponent of syndication at the agent level as syndication is great as it gets more eyeballs on listings, but the recent trend that syndication is being done so frequently at the association level is potentially that pretty soon Google will have a nationwide MLS database completely for free!

For some time now you were able to access those listings via the search, on Google Base or overlay those listings on Google Maps. Well earlier this week, Google decided to remove the listings from the map as they claimed the usage of this feature wasn’t high and the market already has a mature market of competitors (see article http://tinyurl.com/5rzmp25).

In my opinion, this is a smoke screen and they are probably planning on removing this info from the maps for a short period of time and later come back with a fully functional real estate portal site to rival Realtor.com.  I guess we will have to wait and see if Google really is not interested in using all this data and participating in the real estate sector (unlikely) or if they are planning something totally different for the future.

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Filed under Cool Tools & Tricks, Online Marketing, Search Engine Optimization

Has the Internet Outgrown Itself


Earlier this week released the final two packets of IPV4 which is the protocal that determines the IP numbers of website addresses  or essentially the last set of website domain addresses that can be purchased.  Based on projections of the growth of the Internet and websites those 2 packets will be used up by 3rd quarter of this year.  So, the question comes to mind, has the Internet outgrown itself and will it run out of space and not be able to hold any more website domains?

The answer is of course no.  The size of the Internet can be infinite, but it definitely means that IPV4 has run its course and its time for all the major providers to finally get on the same page and launch IPV6 which has been rumored for years and never come to fruition due to political posturing and of course the want to milk every last dollar out of IPV4 before having to make infrastructure changes to support IPV6.

So in the spirit of improving the Internet, I quote the immortal Rodney King and say, “Can’t we all get along” and move forward with IPV6 before its too late as we don’t need another Y2K as IPV4 runs out.

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