TechCrunch just posted this pretty fascinating project on Kickstarter. What if you could control your smart devices by raising a finger? One finger with a device called Ring. Ring is a wearable that allows you to use gestures to control your smart devices, send a simple text, receive messages, send email, make payments and all sorts of other functions. It has an accelerometer and vibrates when it wants your attention. You can do about 1,000 gestures per charge. Continue reading »
I live in a beautifully cluttered and noisy place: Chicago. Being from Iowa, it took a bit to adapt. The skyscrapers in Iowa were silos and our busy streets were 2 lanes, one in each direction. I loved the fresh air and space Iowa afforded me growing up, but I love the city just as well. Growing up in Iowa, stewardship for the earth has been something deeply engrained in me. My grandfather was a farmer and owed his living to the land. Because of this, I’m especially sensitive to how we treat the earth. Cities tend to be more about moving from point A to point B.
In the future I believe that a lot of the technologies today that we refer to as ‘green’ will just be a common part of our everyday life. Chicago has begun implementing these types of technologies on major streets. Continue reading »
In a 2007 TED talk, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos noted “Every new thing creates two new questions and two new opportunities.” I love this quote, as it really nails the essence of innovation. And I love where my mind goes when I replace the word “thing” with the word “app.”
In the early days of native app development, Twitter clients ruled the roost of interaction and visual design innovation. Daring Fireball’s John Gruber mentions seven very different Twitter clients in a 2009 blog post and notes that “There is so much variety because various clients are trying to do very different things. Asking for the ‘best Twitter client’ is like asking for the ‘best shirt’.”
Twitter acquired and recycled some of these apps; the rest are long gone because of Twitter’s restrictive API policies. But Gruber was right to assert that Twitter clients were one of the first significant, and most fertile, “(user interaction) design playgrounds.”
Weather apps supplanted Twitter clients and became “The New UI Design Playground,” as Art & Logic’s Steven Huey noted just seven months ago. But I’m willing to go out on a limb and suggest that UI designers have already moved on from weather apps. Serious energy is now being put into calendar apps. From the slick interactions in Peek (iOS only) to the feature-rich Cal by Any.do (iOS and Android), designers are reinventing the humble calendar.
In 2014, CRT will produce a total of twelve white papers on various technology topics. Today, we are proud to present our first one which covers Responsive Web Design. In short, Responsive Web Design is a technique used to present a version of your website in a way that works for the screen size and orientation of a user’s device. We built realtor.org and repurposedapps.com using these principles. We are rolling these techniques out on our other properties in the future as well. At CRT, we feel that these principles are important for our members and associations to understand.
Who is this For?
The audience for this paper is various. First, we wanted to write to members about the need for this in today’s modern web landscape. The internet is more than likely the first exposure a new client would have to you, especially a younger client. The demographic of 18–34 year olds are more web savvy and use the web to find out anything they may not know. Because of this, it is very beneficial for NAR’s members to consider their web presence and what it means to reaching younger clients. The intent of the paper for members is to give them a sense of the concepts so that they can then have a more informed dialogue with developers and better achieve their goals for their site.
The second audience for this paper are AEs. AEs can use the material in here to educate members and promote better web practices. In order to better assist members in meeting their goals and engaging a larger set of clients, AEs can redistribute the link to this white paper to members. The second benefit to AEs is that they can use this paper to better understand these concepts and how to apply them to their own site for members.
Web Developers New to Real Estate
Finally, web developers who are new to real estate can benefit from this paper because it gives them a better understanding of the unique challenges and landscape of our industry. Included in the white paper are four WordPress templates that we feel demonstrate the principles of Responsive Web Design and real estate need well.
How can I get this paper?
You can download here. NOTE: We ask that if you are going to share the white paper, rather than mailing the pdf, you provide the link. Thank you.
We’re often asked what ‘the best’ this or that gadget. Because of the amount of innovation and development happening now, it often becomes challenging to answer this without copious research. Within the last year, that has gotten easier thanks to two websites. The Wirecutter was started last year by Brian Lam, who worked at Gizmodo, WIRED Magazine and Maximum PC. It is like the Consumer Reports for this generation. Continue reading »
Tara Christianson is the Technology and Training Director at Century 21 Redwoods Realty. In this role, Tara thinks about how technology can be used to benefit their agents and provides resources for them to succeed with the technology. Tara is a great resource for anyone who is interested in what’s coming down the pike in the land of technology and I highly recommend following her on Twitter. She wrote this tremendous piece last week on her blog and I asked her if we could re-post it here as an underlining of the importance of slowing down with technology. Take it away, Tara:
Recently, there was an article in Forbes about four questions every technology user should ask. The article neatly coincided with the National Association of REALTORs’ Center for REALTOR Technology’s (NAR CRT for short) new series called Re-ConnectED, which is exploring ways that we can find balance in our lives between technology and offline life. (You can find that series on CRT’s Bits & Bytes blog here.) The common theme between the Forbes article and CRT’s series is how do we balance our technology use with “real life”? As we grow more and more reliant on our devices, where do we find the time to set things aside for a moment? And why does it matter?
“FOMO” and “FOMM” Syndromes
Much has been made and reported about the “FOMO” or “Fear of Missing Out” syndrome. People constantly having to check email, online news sources, websites and social media all fall under that category. How many times do you hit refresh on your email? I think as real estate agents it can be particularly difficult to divest of the devices for a while because there’s a deeper fear involved – the FOMM (“Fear of Missing Money”). We’ve been trained that if we don’t respond to our clients in a timely (i.e. immediate) manner, we’ll miss out on the opportunity. So how and when do we find the time to let go?
Time-Block Your Day
Some of this has to do with time-blocking. It’s not a new concept – set aside specific periods of time for different tasks. Time-blocking becomes especially useful (and important), however, when technology is involved. Block time for specific tasks that don’t require immediate response times – this can be email campaigns, website work, social media, etc. Block “away” time from your devices as well. To reconnect with your family, consider your dining area a tech-free zone. Take some time every morning and every evening, even just 15 minutes, for yourself. Reflect on what you’re thankful for, reflect on the day ahead or just passed, or space out and don’t think at all! Give your brain a rest.
Control Your Email
Email alerts are part of what causes us, especially those in the real estate world, to have trigger-finger response reactions. Bells and whistles signal all sorts of incoming messages, and we’re bombarded every day with all sorts of email. Take back your email. Turn off unnecessary alerts for social media and invest some time in subscribing to services like Unroll.me, Sanebox, Unsubscriber, Mailstrom or TheSwizzle. These programs help you get some control back of what incoming messages are actually relevant to you, as well as what messages are hitting your inbox. You can also control your email more efficiently by setting up filters to redirect certain email, like subscriptions and mass mail, to separate folders, ensuring that the email in your inbox is what you actually need to see. Reconsider the audio alerts you use to signal incoming messages…are they all necessary? Or are they just driving you crazy?
Take Care of Your Body
One of the most damaging aspects about technology is its effect on your physical and mental health. From eye strain to neck and back pain to increased risks for diseases based on a sedentary lifestyle, technology can wreak havoc if you don’t take time to counteract some of the effects. The easiest way to manage some of the physical effects of using technology is to take walking and stretching breaks away from it. Be conscious of the light around you when you’re staring at a computer or phone screen – if it’s the only light in the room, there’s a chance it’s hurting your eyes (and fooling your brain!). Due to the nature of my work, I spend a lot of time in the evening and early morning on the computer. With the Mac, I use a program called F.lux to control the light emanating from my screen. You can get a similar effect by going into your computer and phone’s settings and controlling the brightness. Also consider alternatives for sitting at a desk/table/couch for work such as a standing desk or a treadmill desk.
As for the mental effects, the most important thing to remember is that what you see online isn’t always a true reflection of someone’s life offline. You might see a fellow agent with a million listings and perfect family photos – but you don’t know about the million listing appointments lost, the work that went into those listings and the photoshopping involved to get those family photos. There’s always more to the story than what you see online; often we put out there what we want others to see, the positives or negatives, instead of the whole truth. If you’re starting to get too invested emotionally with something or someone online, it’s probably time to take a 15-minute break and divert your attention elsewhere. After taking a deep breath and some time, you may find your perspective has changed.
While technology is an ever-increasing important aspect of real estate and personal life, there have to be limits set so that it doesn’t take over your world. With some of the steps above, you’ll be able to regain back some offline time, and hopefully be able to explore other ways of connecting with people. Remember that it’s all a balancing act – we use our connections online to continue the conversations we have offline, and vice versa.
There’s a new force in the statistical and technical language space and she’s one to be reckoned with. Julia can be compared to other languages such as the R statistical language; however, Julia is predicted to surpass R due primarily to Julia’s amazing computational speed. Julia packs a serious punch with an LLVM (Low Level Virtual Machine)-based just-in-time (JIT) compiler, which allows for blazing performance and benchmark speeds even faster than C in some cases.
If the speed of Julia doesn’t impress you, perhaps the ease of use Julia provides will sway you. Julia even has the ability to call Python functions via the PyCall package as well as C functions directly. In addition to playing nicely with multiple languages, Julia is a social butterfly when it comes to communication between processes operating on separate threads, as Julia is specifically designed for parallelism and distributed computation.
How will Real Estate benefit from the power of Julia? By utilizing existing and incoming market data, Julia will play an essential roll in predicting where the market may be headed. A greater power of insight will be put into the hands of agents and brokers, allowing them to better serve their clients.
If you haven’t already met, it has been my pleasure introducing you to a good friend of mine, Julia.
P.s. If you’re ever in Chicago, please stop by one of our Julia meet-ups and regardless of where you are, julialang.org provides easy to follow documentation and tutorials to get you started.
Re-ConnectEd is a series about using technology in responsible ways and working to diminish the dependence on our devices and striving to make connections. CRT will look at what members, brokers, associations and people outside of real estate are doing to get Re-ConnectEd. Let us know how you’re getting Re-ConnectEd on Twitter, Facebook or email.
Gwen Moran, writing for Entrepreneur Magazine had an interesting piece on ways you can be less technologically connected and get more done in your work day. There are some great suggestions in here and I don’t anticipate that every member will heed every one of them, but doing just 1 or 2 could definitely help keep your day calmer. We will cover them at a high level here today, but then have future articles that delve deeper into how each one could work in a real estate office. Here are the four ways you can disconnect and get more done according to Entrepreneur Magazine:
- Recruit a gatekeeper
- Schedule your prime time
- Use a distraction-blocking app
- Change your culture
- Recruit a gatekeeper. – The intent of this is to have a filter from your email so you can focus on what you need to get done. You don’t necessarily need to have this be a person, you could use your technology to let people know you are unavailable temporarily. She writes:
…change your outgoing voicemail message to tell callers you’re unavailable and let them know when you’ll be available to answer their calls. And, don’t forget to turn off instant messaging.
- Schedule your prime time. – We all have times during the day where we feel at our most productive. Moran makes the point that this is definitely a time to dis-engage from technology. As you work throughout the day, try to determine when it is you are most productive. Box it out and hone your focus.
- Use a distraction-blocking app. – This is key. You will need to block out distractions from your devices. I’ve used software for my computer to keep me on task and avoid getting lost in ‘research’. Moran names a couple pieces of software that you could use to help you get more done. I’d also look to see what options there are for your smartphone and tablet. As an example, iOS6 & 7 devices have a ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode. This will silence your alerts on your iPhone or iPad. But, you also have the ability to set a list of people who can contact you even though this feature is enabled. So, if you had a contact list called ‘Important’, you could add your clients that need immediate attention, co-workers, and bosses to this list. You can also set a threshold for repeated calls with this app. If a person calls more than once within 3 minutes, that second call will go through.
- Change your culture. – What is your culture like at the office? Are you expected to answer email immediately no matter what? What feelings does this invoke within you? Stress? Distractedness? Working to change the culture anywhere isn’t easy, but it will be worthwhile. If you’re feeling stressed about how your environment is running, chances are others are too. This is not an invitation to complain to someone else, but rather a call to action. You can be a change agent in your office by talking about what you need to get your work done. Chances are you aren’t alone.
Again, you may not be able to implement everything suggested in the Entrepreneur article, but you can do some things to regain time for focus and getting more done. If you’re already doing some things on this list, we’d like to hear from you and see how they’re working for you. Let us know how you’re getting Re-ConnectEd on Twitter, Facebook or email.