iPhone Tracking? It’s A Non-Issue.

Yesterday it was announced that your iPhone was tracking everywhere you’ve been and saving it to a file that’s copied to your computer when you synch your device.

Data Presented From Finders of iPhone Tracking

In case you haven’t seen the story someplace on the web, here’s an article about it on Mashable. It’s also now on the CNN home page – HERE

There are a lot of alarmists up in the air about this and Senator Al Franken has asked Apple to explain why it’s doing this.

I was going to write a wonderfully detailed blog post about it and why I thought it really wasn’t a big deal, but the incredibly smart and funny David Pogue beat me to it. Thanks for saving me some typing David!

In the end the only way someone can use this data and figure out where you’ve been is to download special software (which only shows some details) and pull this file off of your computer. As David Pogue put it “If your computer is that accessible, you’ve got much bigger problems.” He also makes a great point of saying only those that have something to hide, may have something to fear.

While you can’t change any setting to stop the tracking, you can (and I encourage you to) encrypt your iPhone back-ups. It’s incredibly easy to do and I’ve found some simple steps right HERE. Honestly everyone should be doing this from the get-go if they’re that worried about the security of their data.

If you’re really worried about the security of what’s on your iPhone you should have it lock and require a password to get into the device. Instructions on that are on the bottom of THIS PAGE.

I know some people feel like this is an invasion of privacy.
They have every right to feel that way.

To that I say in this day and age of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube along with all the “check-ins” being done your information and location is out there already.

There’s  nothing to hide!

For those that are still incredibly fearful I’ll recommend as do with everyone else –
DON’T PUT YOUR INFORMATION ON OR GET CONNECTED TO THE INTERNET. Despite any password you have or protection you think you have on it, there’s no 100% security when it comes to computers. If someone really wants to get to your data, they’ll figure out a way and will be able to get around anything you put in the way.

That’s just my opinion, as has occasionally happened, I could be wrong. 🙂

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.

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.

Twitter Security Breach…A Reminder About Keeping Passwords Secure

Yesterday it was announced that a Twitter employees e-mail account was hacked into.

The person who hacked into it was able to get a lot of information about the company, including its long range plans and estimated revenue growth.

This brings up a few things that I always like to remind those I teach…

1. Install  anti-virus and anti-spyware software on your computer. Make sure that it’s being updated on a daily basis and is running a full system scan at least once a week. Yes, even if you have a MAC…they’re not 100% secure. Spend that $19-$30 a year for the update subscriptions, it’s chump change compared to the time and money you’ll spend getting your  computer made virus free.

2. Your data is not 100% secure on the internet, or even on your computer. If there’s something you would never want the whole world to see, then don’t keep it on your computer.

3. Use unique passwords that include numbers and varying characters.

4. Don’t use the same password for online shopping, as you would for financial accounts such as e-trade, online banking, online credit card account. While I know that the online merchants have a good deal of security they’re not required to be as secure as the online sites for financial institutions. The financial institutions have to implement more security thanks to the many regulations imposed by the federal government. Although that hasn’t kept them from being hit either.

5. If you’re not sure about something that was sent to you, don’t click or open it. Check with the person its supposed to be from to make sure they sent it. Most of the viruses and re-directs to websites that will infect your computer with a virus have language that is often misspelled or just sounds odd. This goes for text messages you get on your phone as well. Remember…your phone is a mini-computer.

You can read articles on the incident:

Here – http://technologizer.com/2009/07/15/with-online-passwords-dishonesty-can-be-the-best-policy/

and here – http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/16/technology/internet/16twitter.html

Let’s be safe out there folks!

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?

Can’t Stop The Tweets!

Read this article on Yahoo on how Twitter and other social networking sites like Facebook are helping those in Iran get the message out about their election problems, despite the government cutting off telephone, e-mail, texting and keeping the foreign press out.

Twitter and their server hosts even went so far as to schedule needed maintenance during what were the wee hours in Iran.

This article to me shows…

1. How incredibly powerful Twitter can be for everyone.

2. How cool Twitter’s staff and management are.

3. How lucky we are to live in the United States.

Incredibly huge kudos to Twitter and their server hosts!

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?

Twitter Makes The Cover Of Time Magazine

As if Twitter wasn’t big enough already, now they’ve made the cover of Time Magazine.

In an article titled “How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live”, Steven Johnson of Time Magazine talks about how Twitter is impacting all the facets of life for us.

It’s a great read and excellent for those REALTORS® who are still on the fence about Twitter.

While you’re there be sure to read the article about how a church is allowing and encouraging its parishoners to Tweet while in service.

Face2Face Interactive Video Conferencing Program Launched!

For the past month and a half my co-workers and I have been working feverishly on a new program called Face2Face that will help state associations deliver N.A.R. designations (Green designation, Seniors Real Estate Specialist® (SRES®), and the Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) designation) along with C.A.R. Education courses my own Technology training series.

It’s all done via video conferencing. The instructor sees the students at the associations and the students get to see the instructor as well as the presentation materials.

Here’s what it looks like for the instructor…

My view of the students while teaching
My view of the students while teaching

What’s great about this program is:
* Smaller associations will be able to hold training for their members and not have to worry about the typically large class size minimum
* One instructor can teach to up to 4 different geographic locations all at the same time…one person can finally be in multiple places all at the same time 🙂
* It’s DRE approved!

Perhaps the best is that we’re the first (or one of the first) state associations to do this.

Myself and the team have done A LOT over the last month and a half, and this was an incredible team effort!
Good job Albert, Ana, Candace, Dani & Michelle!

Of course many thanks to the local associations who helped us deliver our first training sessions..

California Desert Association of REALTORS®

Delta Association of REALTORS®

Newport Beach Association of REALTORS®

Tri-Counties Association of REALTORS®

Orange County Association of REALTORS®

Solano Association of REALTORS®

South Bay Association of REALTORS®

I’m so thrilled and honored to be a part of this and I think we’ve got a great product.

To read more about it, check out the press release.

Now it’s time to start working on more classes to deliver via Face2Face – See you on-line!

The White House Is Tweeting…Are You?

I gotta say that I’m incredibly impressed by how much our government has embraced social media and networking. They’re getting information out to people in a manner in which they really like to get it.

Found this great article on how the White House is now using Twitter to communicated updates. It also talks about how the different technologies are being implemented across the board.

So for all my REALTOR® readers out there that have as yet to fully embrace the goodness that is social media and social networking…WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR??????

Please don’t tell me that you’re going to let the federal government out do you….

Time to start socializing on Facebook, Tweeting important updates on the market and posting home tour videos on YouTube.

It’s all free too! All you need to do is invest some time and be open to getting into something new…trust me it’ll be worth it.