More Geek Posts…Now at the New Official C.A.R. Blog Site

Love my blog posts? Love the information I share? Looking for more?

Look no further than the official blog site of the California Association of REALTORS®!

No, it won’t be duplications of the blog posts here. It’ll be fresh, new content.
It will be content that’s “EXCLUSIVE” to the C.A.R. Blog!

It won’t be as often as here, but when one is posted it’ll be worth it.

The cool thing is, there’s lots of other great content that’s getting posted to the C.A.R. blog from my various colleagues.

You’ve got the master of words, Josh Sharfman who is bringing all kinds of great tech stuff.

Then you’ve got the queen of numbers, Sara Sutachan keeping you up to date with the latest market data.

Of course there’s going to also be posts from our C.A.R. social media organizer/maven/princess, the always charming Lindsey Moss.

In addition to these three fine folks, there’s also great posts from our communications, legal and legislative departments.

So what are you waiting for?

Go and check it out, and check out my first post on speeding up your iPad and iPhone!

A Sweet Auto Appointment Feature In iOS4?

Right now the iPhone 4 is getting a ton of attention because of the supposed antenna issue. What I don’t see enough of is people focusing on the cool new features of the updated iOS.

Sure you’ve got folders which rock organizing apps. You’ve also got the multitasking which I’m so used to I feel cheated when I can’t do it on my iPad.

But I believe I’ve found a sweet new feature in iOS4 that is going to make our lives even easier.

The other day I got an e-mail that had some dates and times in it. When I looked at it the dates and times, they looked like hyperlinks.

So like any good geek I touched the hyperlinks, it then prompted me to create an event.
When I selected to create the event, it created a new appointment with the date and time listed in the e-mail.

SWEET!!!!

Of course the geek in me had to test it again to make sure I wasn’t in some magical tech fantasy land, so I created a test e-mail:

Then I touched one of the hyperlinks and got the following:

When I tapped on Create Event, voila!

Check that out! It even included the subject line of the e-mail as the appointment name.

So you say, C’mon Chris. No one really writes e-mails that have the dates and times perfectly spelled out.

You’re right.

Cool thing is it still works. See!

Granted it can’t create the appointment as accurately, but it does.

I remember over ten years ago Microsoft showing off a potential new future feature for e-mails where it would intelligently take the information out of the e-mail and create appointments. It never appeared, but it looks like Apple has done it. Go Apple!

So that’s it! Sweet new feature on iOS4 for you to play around with over the holiday weekend.

Enjoy and HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!

iPad Thoughts Thus Far

As I type up this post I’m on a Metrolink train that’s headed to Los Angeles from Orange County. I’m typing with my iPad propped up on my lap. Aside from the rocking of the train it’s incredibly easy to type on it in landscape mode. Even in portrait mode it’s not so bad, just a little slower.

Before getting to work on this post I was able to quickly and easily check on the latest tech news on Mashable, TUAW, and Digg. I also quickly scanned through e-mail to see what may await me in the office this morning. My internet connection is being provided via my Verizon mi-fi device that’s in my laptop bag.

So far I’m incredibly impressed with this device and I do think its going to be a game changer. From being able to very nicely present video to being able to doing complex documents on the fly – all without having to wait for it to boot up. I also don’t have to wait for it to shut down as I get closer to wherever I’m going which gives me another couple of minutes to finish things up.

I’m loving my iPad to be sure and I can’t wait to write more on it as well as the apps for it. Looks like we’re just about at Union Station….HAVE A GREAT MONDAY!

Posted from my Apple iPad

Google E-Mail Outage – A Great Example Of Good Customer Service

Around 12:30PM PST yesterday Google had a pretty significant e-mail outage that lasted a little over an hour and a half.

For a heavily utilized service like Google, this is HUGE. There’s many businesses small and large that rely on Google e-mail to be functioning in order to get business done.

So now you may be wondering…How is this a great example of good customer service?

Stay with me for a sec on this…

Later in the day Ben Treynor, VP Engineering and Site Reliability Czar for Google added  a post to the Gmail blog. In the post they not only accepted full responsibility for what happenned, but outlined what happenned (in the least techie way possible) and let people know what they were going to do to help keep it from happenning in the future.

It seems like so often tech companies and even non-tech companies skirt around issues and fail to accept responsibility for what they did or didn’t do. Then they fail to learn from their mistakes and repeat incidents, again not accepting responsibility or truly addressing what the core issues are.

Technology is hard to manage and hard to keep up. In my 16+ years in the tech field I experienced some of the same things as Google did yesterday – just on a smaller scale. Routine maintenance or procedures would lead to a major outage, even with lots of careful planning and back-up plans.

So the lesson for all businesses (both tech and non-tech) to learn from Google’s issue and Google’s response…

1. Plan, plan, plan and then plan some more – Try to avoid over analyzing things, but always remember that anything can and often will happen, especially when you’re least prepared for it.

2. Work the problem…not the people – Focus on getting things working and back to normal, don’t start pointing fingers. If it’s up to one group or person to resolve then work with them. Offer them your help, support and encouragement. When I was in I.T. my immediate supervisor Tim Johnson and our OPs group VP Rick Shumacher were great about just letting me work the problem. They stood back and let me do what I needed to do, the whole time letting me know they were there if I needed them.

3. Keep people up-to-date – You don’t need to overwhelm people with status updates, but don’t keep silent. Nothing induces more fear or uncertainty and  lack of confidence than not knowing what’s going on.

4. Let the dust settle – Once the issue has been taken care of, let things settle, let people get some sleep and then debrief on what happenned. Sometimes the situation may not even be totally over and some additional things need to be addressed before a really good debrief can happen.

5. Work the problem…not the people – No, this isn’t a mistype, or a cut and paste mistake. When you debrief focus on what happened and what can be done to prevent future issues – not who did what and how idiotic it may be.

  • Mistake Makers – If you made a mistake then admit your fault and let people know what you learned from it to avoid doing it again. Admitting to mistakes will carry far more weight than trying to hide a mistake you made. Trust me, eventually people will find out.
  • Mistake Maker Managers/Supervisors – Work with your staff to help them avoid making the same mistake. Remember what it feels like to make a mistake and the courage it takes to admit you made one. This is a learning experience for everyone.

6. Final update – Update everyone and assume group responsibility for what happened as well as what steps are being taken in the future to avoid the same issue. DO NOT LAY BLAME ON AN INDIVIDUAL – this is the biggest way to kill someone’s drive and determination to do better.

7. Put it into practice – Take everything you’ve learned and actually put it into place. Nothing looks worse than having the same issue happen again because no one bothered to implement what was learned.

For my REALTOR® readers –
All of this can apply to all of your transactions as well. In fact the one thing that’s most important is keeping your client apprised as to what’s going on. The one thing we keep hearing that is important to buyers and sellers is that they’re kept up to date, even if there is no new news.

When you have issues learn from what happened and apply them to your future transactions. Maybe you’ll need to switch vendors, maybe you’ll need to change how your staff interact with customers, maybe you’ll need to change how you do things.  Don’t let bad transactions fall by the wayside…there’s a lesson to be learned in all of them.

As far as Google goes I have even more confidence in them, their services and their products. I love how they handeled everything and while it was in inconvenience, this stuff happens. What matters is how they handled the situation and what they’re doing to avoid future problems.  GO GOOGLE!!!!

A Post Only A Geek Could Love…Harry Potter & Real Estate

As my blog address implies I am a geek.

So this post on ActiveRain really caught my attention as one of the featured posts for the day.

Anna “Banana” Krutchen in Phoenix, Arizona gives some great examples as to how the curriculum at Hogwarts can be turned aroud and applied to REALTORS®.

A nice, short and entertaining post and one I recommend taking a couple of minutes out of your day to read. So while you’re drinking your 2nd or perhaps 3rd cup of coffee for the day, click HERE to give the post a read.

Google Chrome – The Next Best OS?

Late Tuesday Google announced that they’re working on an open-sourced OS based on the Google Chrome browser that they’ve released for Windows.

While I’m surprised that they announced it late Tuesday (you would think they’d announce it early in the morning in time for the morning news shows) I’m not surprised that they’re working on this.

Since Google has been in existence we’ve seen them create a lot of really great programs which have all been FREE. Google Earth, G-Mail, Google Apps, etc. They’ve also constantly worked to improve and add little enhancements here and there to the programs over the years.

Google Chrome OS is supposed to be a lightweight, open-source operating system that is supposed to just make things work, and work fast. Google Chrome apps will be based on web technologies, so if a software developer writes it for Chrome, it will also work on Windows, MAC, and Linux machines.

Perhaps the best part of the announcement was this…

“We hear a lot from our users and their message is clear — computers need to get better. People want to get to their email instantly, without wasting time waiting for their computers to boot and browsers to start up. They want their computers to always run as fast as when they first bought them. They want their data to be accessible to them wherever they are and not have to worry about losing their computer or forgetting to back up files. Even more importantly, they don’t want to spend hours configuring their computers to work with every new piece of hardware, or have to worry about constant software updates. And any time our users have a better computing experience, Google benefits as well by having happier users who are more likely to spend time on the Internet.”

Wow. A company listening to technology customers, even better they’re putting their money where their mouth is.

Granted Apple has been doing a pretty good job about listening to its customers…just look at the new iPhone 3Gs.

I am looking forward to this new OS and how it will impact technology and how we’re all connected.

To read the full announcement click HERE. You can also read the currently very brief Google Chrome OS FAQ HERE.

…and in related news both G-Mail and Google Apps have FINALLY broken free of their “BETA” status. It only took a couple of years right? 🙂

Twitter Growth Continues & Facebook Still #1

Nielsen Online reports that Twitter continues to see incredible growth up 1,444% over last year and people are spending more time on the site.

You can check out the article by clicking HERE and also see how Facebook has retained its #1 social networking spot for the 7th month in a row.

So…REALTORS® finally ready to learn about how to use these tools and go where the clients are?

Google Squared…A New Way To Compare

Introducing one of Google’s latest enhancements…

Google Squared Search BoxNot sure how long Google Squared has been around for, but this could be very promising, especially for the real estate industry.
I typed in homes for sale and got the following:

Homes For Sale Search Results

While the search results weren’t the best, it’s a start. Even with its rudimentary form I’m still far more impressed with this than I was with Microsoft’s Bing.

The ability to search the web and compare items like this means it’ll be even more critical for REALTORS® to have a significant presence on the internet and to have their listings on as many platforms as possible. Those that do will benefit greatly.

What can’t Google come up with nowadays?

Why REALTORS® Should Be Using Facebook

I found this great blog post on ActiveRain this morning written by R. Greg Osmond who’s up in Canada.

I think it’s got a lot of great information on why REALTORS® should be getting into and using Facebook, unfortunately it was an ActiveRain members only post. I contacted him through Facebook and let him know I wanted to share it on my blog. He was kind enough to give me permission to post it here since I couldn’t link out to it.

So please do give it a read and while you’re at it drop by his web site by clicking on his name above, or by clicking HERE and if you’re so inclined add him as a friend.

Use Facebook For Business or Watch Your Friends Do Real Estate With Someone Else

Honestly, about 6 months ago, I was among the sceptics about Facebook. I thought I was too busy to be engaged in people’s lives over the internet, that it was only for people who had little to do and I thought there were real privacy issues on Facebook that I didn’t have time to sort out.  Then one day it dawned on me just how powerful Facebook was.  I had an “a huh!” experience!

Facebook allows me to connect with so many more people than I would ever have time for in person. It enables me to engage in the lives of my friends who I have been feeling guilty about never calling.  If there are things I want to keep private about my life, then I just don’t put them on Facebook or I take a few minutes to set up my privacy settings.  It’s really easy.

For me, Facebook is just an extension of who I am in real life.  I am normally “greg”arious (and a pun lover) so anything that helps me reach out and interact with more people is right up my ally.  In my view, Facebook is almost a “Godsend” for Realtors who use it properly.

So what do I do on Facebook?Add Me As A Friend

I spend a few minutes throughout the day making comments, adding links, reading what others are saying and generally interacting in people’s lives.  In other contexts we call it networking.  If I am too busy today, I will give it a few minutes tomorrow.  But I try to say something on Facebook every day.

Here are seven “top of mind” things that I do that have a significant impact on generating business for me now.

1. I look for ways to say something positive, encouraging or engaging to my friends who post a status update. Let’s face it.  People post to their status to be connect with others.  When I notice them, they like it and that makes them connect with me.

One of the challenges for Realtors today is to be noticed by people who are looking for real estate services.  Have you looked at the Real estate ads lately?  There are far too many Realtors trying to get noticed in all the same places.  Facebook is a real online space where few are competing with me so it’s easy to be noticed and easy to connect with them.

2. I post comments to my status too.  These are about real estate, market statistics and my thoughts about what is happening in the market or anything I am doing in my business. This gives real estate information to my friends who without asking have learned a little bit about me and my profession.  It also shows them I am active in the business.

Here is an example of my status update. R. Greg Osmond “Just appraised a home in St. John’s.  The market is changing a little.” Someone may then comment, “How so?”  I smile and answer for all to read.  How easy it is to establish yourself as a Real Estate professional among friends!

3. I post a link to my blog whenever I write something new. Of course I exclude “members only” posts but these are very few; this one is an exception.  My primary service is to my local market place so that is where I focus when writing new content.  Posting my blog to Facebook draws outside readers into my blog and website and therefore improves my Google juice.  It also shows my friends that they can count on me as one who is an active real estate professional in their lives; someone who they are getting to know and trust a little more every day.

cartoon from www.weblogcartoons.com

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

4. I try to add a few new people every week that I have something or someone in common with. The greater the number of people who I can communicate with in a meaningful way, the better it is for my business.  I look for things that we have in common to add them as friends.  These are friends of friends, people like me who are interested in golf, music, university, squash, hiking, fishing or anything else I am interested in. Some people won’t accept my request for friendship but many will.  I don’t take that rejection personal.  It’s the internet for crying out loud.  They don’t know that I am not a pervert so they have a right to refuse.  It never bothers me.

5. I give away things on Facebook. If I am trying to get rid of something that has some value to someone but not much value to me I post it to the Marketplace Application.  It costs me nothing but it does bring attention to my profile.  People can then see that I am a Realtor in the community and I begin to be that person in their sphere of acquaintances who is available to consult whenever they need real estate service.

6. I post links to real estate articles, other blog posts with interesting information and helpful hints that I find on the internet. They don’t all have to do with real estate but they are always of some value.  Some might just be for a laugh.  A small amount of comic relief for friends is not a bad thing.  Most of my links are helpful information though.  I try to help others be better educated about things.  I rather being known as a serious Realtor who likes a good laugh than a joker who is hardly ever serious.

7. I post photos and links to my listings as soon as they are on the market. Who knows, one of my friends may be looking for a home and I may have the one they like.  Even if they don’t want that one, we may begin the process of looking for the right one for them.  If you are there on Facebook you can offer your assistance to anyone with a private message.  When someone picks up on this, you will be growing your business.

I have met and conversed with many people about real estate in the last six months just by being active on Facebook. I see the impact of my presence there growing more every day.  If you haven’t started yet, I recommend you begin today.  If you are on Facebook but you are not using it then you are missing out on a great opportunity to connect with many people professionally and dynamically.  I recommend that you be there and be engaged.

If anyone would like to join me and see how I interact with my friends I would invite you to add me as a friend and we can learn from each other. Facebook is one of the greatest tools for building relationships that modern day technology has brought us because it is dynamic, interactive and live.

If you have issues with Facebook, you should get over them now and act before your competition does. Social media is growing at a phenomenal rate and it will become one of the most powerful ways to connect with your clients in the years to come.  Facebook will definitely build your business if you give it a little time and effort.  Start and let’s be friends today!

R. Greg Osmond is a Platinum Award winning Realtor serving St. John’s and surrounding areas, Newfoundland and Labrador for over 20 years and can be reached at 709-895-2500. Visit http://www.rgregosmond.com/ for further information or add him as a friend on Facebook.

R. Greg Osmond's Facebook profile

New iPhone…New Macs With Lower Prices…Safari 4

As we were showing off the new “My C.A.R.” iPhone app for the C.A.R. and REBS staff, Apple was rolling out their new stuff in San Francisco.

I have to admit it was a bit of a blissful geek moment to know that we were doing a demo at the same time as the Apple biggies..especially since they both involved the iPhone.

What would be really cool is to eventually see the “My C.A.R.” app get demoed at Apple’s WWDC as part of a keynote.
Maybe version 2.0?

Oh yeah…the Apple news.

So the big news from San Fran was the roll-out of new laptops with LOWER PRICES, the incredibly cheap Snow Leopard upgrade, Safari 4.0, and of course the much expected new iPhone 3GS.

So I could go on about all the nitty-gritty details but a lot of other blogs/websites have done that , my favorite Apple related sites  are AppleInsider and Mac Rumors.

I’m totally in love with my son’s iTouch and have downloaded app after app for it games for the both of us, and utilities for me.

I’m just waiting for the iPhone to be “officially” supported by the I.T. staff. I can get e-mail on the iTouch but since there’s no “official” support for accessing office e-mail like that I can’t give up my Blackberry. Once it is…it’s bye-bye Blackberry, hello iPhone!

It’s an incredibly brilliant device and the amount of apps available as well as the incredibly low price of them is astounding.

I think it’s great that Apple has brought the prices down on their laptops…it was much needed, especially with the BS Microsoft ads. While there was no “netbook” announced they did bring the price of the MacBook Air down significantly, that was another brilliant move.

Offering the Snow Leopard upgrade for $29…WOW!!!! One of the boldest moves I’ve ever seen a company make and another great shot at Microsoft.

I DARE Microsoft to offer Windows 7 upgrade for the same price!

Now I don’t totally hate Microsoft…it has its place in the world. After all we need a couple of competitors for us to get the best out of the tech market. Microsoft though continues to not listen to its customers and does what it thinks is right…that’s where it fails, and has been failing for the past 5 years.

It will be curious to see how yesterday’s product announcements bode for both companies. It’ll be exciting to watch…that’s for sure!