iPad2…Is It Worth It?

Last week Apple announced the iPad 2.

We knew it was coming. The rumor mill was running rampant and leaked shots were showing up all over the net. The first question a lot of people asked me was…

“WHAT DO YOU THINK?”

And my immediate answer was “It’s great”.

No, I’m just saying that because I drank any kind of Apple Kool Aid.

I’m saying that because I do think it’s great. When I heard there was an announcement coming I was expecting to be greatly underwhelmed. I knew the front and back cameras were coming, that was a given. But when I started reading down the list of what it did I was incredibly surprised.

Here’s what jazzed me the most…

  • It’s thin! It’s incredibly thin! I cannot believe how thin they go it. On top of that it’s got the same battery life as the original.
  • 1GHz Dual Core Apple A5 chip – Yes, I know the Motorola Zoom has a dual core processor. I’m just happy the iPad has one now too.
  • 9x faster graphic performance – Faster is always better!

The one thing that impressed me the most and I definitely didn’t see coming was
VIDEO MIRRORING

Now finally I’ll be able to display anything I’m doing on the iPad on a bigger screen. I can now travel and do presentations showing anything I’m doing. I’ll even be able to show actual apps. Yes!

So after I glowed over the incredible new iPad, the question I got next was….

“ARE YOU MAD ABOUT HAVING THE OLD ONE?”

No. It’s been a great device that has saved me in so many instances. Most recently I spent 3 hours at a car repair shop and got a good amount of work done without having to lug a laptop and battery adapter. It’s still a great device and if you don’t need the latest greatest I’d go pick one up while Apple clears them out.

So then comes…

“ARE YOU GOING TO GET THE NEW ONE?”

Yup. I’m sold. Count me in.

So then what about my old iPad? Oh I’ve figured out a way to move on up to the iPad 2 and get money for the old one?

How’d I do that? You’ll have to check out my blog post on blog.car.org tomorrow where I’ll let you know about some options for trading in your old iPad so you can get the new one.

Want to learn about some of the hot mobile apps out there? Trying to figure out what kind of mobile gear could work best for you in the field? Check out the brand new FREE WEBINARS being sponsored by AgentNTouch™, the next generation in REALTOR® marketing tools!

iSesameStreet and the iPogo

You know when something has permeated deep into the culture when Sesame Street features segments like this…


REALTORS® take note. The kids watching today are the home owners of the future.

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

Communication…It’s Not Overrated

3 weeks ago my Dad went into the hospital for a simple out-patient procedure to put a stent in one of his arteries.

As the doctors went in they found out that things were a little more intense than they had thought. It turns out there were 2 other arteries that were blocked. One at 89% and one at 98%.

This simple outpatient procedure turned into a triple bypass.

While overall I think the doctors and nurses were incredibly talented and wonderful the one thing that was incredibly frustrating for me and my family was the communication or lack thereof.

There either wasn’t enough, or it wasn’t correct, or the message radically changed multiple times over the course of a day.

I know many people say that you have to push for information in a hospital, but in that scenario we were all kind of in a mini state of shock, not knowing what to expect or what to do.

So what if…

  • We didn’t have to push for information from those that we deal with?
  • Communication flowed freely so people were kept in the loop on a reasonable basis?
  • We made a little more effort to just keep others up-to-date?

I think we’d have a lot less stressed folks during already tense situations. They’d feel more in control of their world, and their life. It’s amazing how even if someone has absolutely no control over a situation, knowing what’s going on can make them feel in control. Not knowing what is really going on can scare the crap out of people. The fear of the unknown or the uncertain can even be downright horrible and painful.

Flickr: stuartpilbrow

My mind now wanders to my REALTOR® friends and what they need to communicate.

When people are buying or selling a home it’s perhaps THE LARGEST financial transaction that someone will go through.
Even though it’s a financial transaction it’s fraught with emotions that can go from high to low in the course of minutes.

Home buyers and sellers want to know what’s going on. They need to be kept informed on everything that is happening to maintain some sense of sanity. They want their agent to get back to them in a timely manner.

Their satisfaction with the agent in a transaction can often be largely based on the amount of communication they did or did not get.

Place yourself in the shoes of the buyers and sellers who really don’t understand how the transaction really works. Take off your REALTOR® cap and be the buyer….na na na na na na….be the seller…na na na na na na.

Communication doesn’t have to start with the listing agreement either. Start your communication by having a blog and teaching your readers about the transaction, and what they need to know. Teach them about the communities you sell homes in so they know why they should buy a home there. Teach them some common things to look out for in a home inspection.

Keep the communication channels open and prepare them for their lifestyle transplant by e-mail, phone and even social networking.

If it’s between the hours of 8am-7pm respond within an hour or less to e-mails and phone calls. Even if you don’t have any new information, give them a call to let them know you’re working on it and give them a time that you’ll get back to them. If there is no new news, contact them to say there’s no update and set a new time to get back to them.

Flickr: rbrwr

Be realistic about the time you give them. Don’t underestimate how long it may take.

In my many years in I.T. I would often tell people things would be back up or completed later than I really thought it would. When I finished earlier it made them feel really good about me, my tech skills and my services. In those scenarios where I had unexpected issues, it gave me some extra wiggle room and still allowed me to deliver on time.

Communication in the end isn’t that hard to do and you never know, the simple update you give someone could do a world of good.

It certainly would have made a very scary situation, a lot less scary, not just for us but for my Dad. Having all the right info on a timely basis could have helped my Dad get out sooner, because instead of worrying he could focus on healing.

My Dad’s heart is doing wonderful while his lungs are taking some time to come back after a lifetime of smoking. Overall though he’s good, and he finally got to go home on Friday afternoon. He can now rest and relax as he watches the Golf Channel. Before we know it he’ll be back at full strength and back out on the fairway.

Need to Play A Concert? There’s An App For That!

Nuff’ said. Or in this case…shown.

Internet + TV = The Multitasking Household

As I was perusing the web I found a report from the fine folks at Nielsen Online and their findings on how consumers are simultaneously using the Internet while watching TV. According to their latest Three Screen Report…

“In the last quarter of 2009, simultaneous use of the Internet while watching TV reached three and a half hours a month, up 35% from the previous quarter. Nearly 60% of TV viewers now use the Internet once a month while also watching TV.”

So what does that matter to REALTORS®?

It means your clients and prospective clients are trying to do more than even while catching up on their favorite T.V. shows.

They’re checking in to see what their friends, family and co-workers are doing on Facebook.

They’re reading blogs to get the latest gossip, news or information.

They’re jumping onto Twitter to see what people are tweeting about.

They’re watching videos on YouTube to see what everyone is raving about…yes, while watching video on their T.V..

It means that YOU need to be on the internet and have your information in as many places as possible.

This way when they’re watching T.V, they can…

Read your blog with the latest news on the real estate market or info on the communities you serve.

See what you’re up to on Facebook and find out about some of your new listings and listings that have been sold.

Look at your Twitter page to see if you’ve shared anything interesting or entertaining.

View video home tours of your new listings on YouTube.

So you’re a REALTOR® that’s already online and you’re pushing out news and information through the various sites?

Keep up the good work, and keep working on making the content worth reading.

For those of you not online and making the most out of these social media and social networking sites, it’s time to start using them. If people question why you’re doing it, tell them about stats like the ones above.

Just wait until the iPad really hits…then I think you’ll see the stats go even higher.

If you’re interested in reading the full article, check it out HERE.

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? 🙂

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?