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Google Mobile Maps Technology Utilizes GPS

I have to admit that I was a bit put off when the Blackberry Curve (8300) came out so shortly after I purchased my Blackberry 8800. As with many advances in technology, it’s smaller size and the addition of a 2 megapixel camera, 3.5mm headset jack, and bluetooth stereo made it seem to be a far superior smartphone. This all changed for me this morning.

I have been a huge fan of the Google Mobile applications ever since Reggie reported on the service in his post, FREE Google Maps for your Mobile Device. I use it to get driving directions, find businesses and check traffic conditions. It truly is an indispensable program for anyone with a compatible smartphone.

Yesterday, I upgraded to the latest version of Google Mobile Maps for the Blackberry 8800 and got a pleasant surprise. This latest version takes full advantage of the Blackberry 8800’s GPS functionality. Now, when I open Google Mobile Maps, it shows me my current location (within 3 meters)! This is huge, especially for someone without GPS technology in their car. I can now search for an address or business (by name or business type) and get turn-by-turn driving directions from my current location.

The Blackberry 8800 comes with a navigation application installed, Telenav. While Telenav probably has its strengths, it requires a paid service. The $10 per month fee is not much, but the average real estate agents has so many subscription fees for different services and memberships that it can really add up at the end of the year.

While I have only mentioned the Blackberry 8800 (AT&T), those with the new Blackberry 8830 (Verizon), Blackberry 8800 (T-Mobile), Samsung BlackJack, Helio’s Ocean and other GPS enabled phones can take advantage of this great new functionality, as well.

To get the Google Mobile Maps application, go to http://mobile.google.com/ from your smartphone’s browser. Download the Google Mobile Maps Tip Sheet here.

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Real Estate Agents Streamline Tasks with Word 2007

In your real estate business you’ll find yourself conducting many repetitive tasks. Microsoft Word 2007 may have the technology to help save you time and effort. I’m talking about the new Building Blocks feature, similar to what was known as “Auto-text” in previous versions. In Word and Outlook 2007 a user can save snippets of content, lists, graphics and more using the quick parts tool and then apply those snippets to a document with a click of the mouse—retaining all preset formatting.

For example, say that in your Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) you consistently add many of the same components to your presentation such as your resume, company overview, pricing charts, marketing checklist and disclaimers. Rather that saving all of these items to one file, you can use building blocks to add each specific item to your presentation with the click of a mouse. Easily letting you pick and choose what to include and omit in your next presentation.

Of course building blocks are not specific to a CMA, they can be utilized for any content or graphical item—enabling you to quickly utilize content and graphics over and over. For example, items such as your signature with hyperlinks, introduction letter, staging checklist, listing syndication channels, coversheet, etc.

Do I have your interest peaked? Here are the steps to start taking advantage of this hot technology in Microsoft Word 2007.

  1. Open or type the content you would like to reuse, and highlight it.
  2. Select the Insert tab, and then locate the Text grouping.
  3. Select the arrow on the Quick Parts button.
  4. Select Save Selection to Quick Part Gallery.
  5. The Create New Building Block window appears.
    1. Name: Name your quick part.
    2. Gallery: Choose the Gallery to store the item.
    3. Category: Choose your category. I recommend creating a category for real estate.
    4. Description: Type a description for the building block.
    5. Save In: I recommend keeping the default Word location.
    6. Options: Choose to insert only the text, text as new paragraph or text on its own page.

    Adding a quick part to your document:
    1. Open a new or existing document.
    2. Click Insert tab, and then click the Quick Parts button.
    3. Click on the desired Quick Part to add to the document where the cursor is placed.
    4. Repeat as necessary.

    Are you still not sure how this technology works? Watch this quick video for more info.

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    Google Business Search for Real Estate

    Google Search for your real estate website your way…branded and ad free. That’s the latest technology offering from Google. Real estate agents have a new tool for their site search of their blog or website. Google has now improved their Custom Search Engine with a business twist. This new Google search goes by the name Custom Search Business Edition.
    The business edition includes the following features:
    • Place your logo next to the search to fully brand the search.
    • Ad-words are turned off so you don’t lose traffic to catchy advertisers.
    • Search results can be delivered through an XML feed for complete merge with your design.
    • Place a specific page above the organic search results for maximum exposure.
    • Labels to guide users to search a generic term for channeling website visitors.
    • Search multiple domains to bridge the gap of content between your blog and website.

    Ok, so how much? Google price for the useful technology is $100 per year for websites with less than 5,000 pages. Websites between 5,000 and 50,000 the cost will be $500 per year.

    The bottomline in my opinion is that Google search obviously works quickly and with great results. So, you’ll benefit by merging their search technology in with your real estate content and design for maximum appeal to your website visitors.

    Take a look at this 2 minute overview of the Custom Search Business Edition.

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    Real Estate Backup Technology – Part 1

    I am a fanatic about backing up data. This probably stems from a mishap in college that included a semester project, a floppy disk and an errant piece of sand. Unfortunately, it usually takes a catastrophic loss of data before people get serious about data backup.

    The truth of the matter is that data loss happens. It could be a result of hard drive failure, virus, theft, fire, flood and human error. No matter what the source, you need to make sure that you have a backup procedure in place that includes off-site data storage (if your backup is in your house when it catches fire, it will do you no good).

    Of the real estate agents that I know, very few have a backup procedure in place. Reasons I hear for not having a backup procedure in place include:

    • “My computer is brand new”
    • “Data loss doesn’t happen that often”
    • “Backing up is too time consuming”
    • And my personal favorite, “I don’t really need anything on my computer anyway”.

    In response to these excuses I say:

    • “Even new hard drives can crash”
    • “Data loss is more frequent than you may think and computer theft is even more frequent”
    • “A good backup procedure should take no effort once set-up”
    • “You have got to be kidding! Your client database and marketing pieces add no value to your real estate business and hence are dispensable?”

    In an effort to get every real estate agent who reads Technology for Real Estate to implement a backup procedure, I will be showcasing a different backup solution each week for the next several weeks. The first solution that I will be discussing is Carbonite, an Internet-based backup solution.

    Carbonite is a revolutionary backup solution that is cheap, easy to setup and requires no maintenance. Upon registration, the user simply downloads and installs the Carbonite program from http://www.carbonite.com/. That is it!

    By default, data folders such as the My Documents folder and Outlook data files are automatically backed up to the Carbonite servers whenever changes are made and an Internet connection is available. Additional files and folders can be added to the backup regiment with a few simple clicks. Colored dots on the folder and file icons provide quick backup status information.

    As far as security is concerned, Carbonite encrypts the data before transmission to its servers making the technology a secure backup solution.

    For a mere $49.95 a year, Carbonite provides unlimited backup storage capacity. This is one of the most cost-effective and easiest backup solutions available. It provides off-site backup, which safeguards against theft, fire, flood or other natural disaster. Carbonite also safeguards against errant file deletion, allowing you to restore documents that you might have deleted from your computer by accident.

    If no-maintenance, cheap and easy data backup seems too good to be true, give Carbonite’s technology a try and see for yourself. Carbonite offers a 15 day risk-free trial that requires no credit card for registration.

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    Got Real Estate Questions? TruliaVoices Answers.

    Trulia launches answers to your questions with “Trulia Voices”. The Trulia community provides a place where anyone can ask real estate questions and get real answers from homeowners, real estate pros or anyone with an opinion on your local market.

    To get started, visit Trulia online. Click on the “Trulia Voices” tab up top, then type your real estate question in the provided field. Update with your area info and submit. You will be prompted to register, if you haven’t already. Within seconds, your question is submitted to their online question/answer forum. You can view questions/answers that may be similar to your inquiries. If there are no like answers found, then just sit back, relax, and soon other community members from your area will begin commenting and answering your specific real estate question.

    I asked the question, “Where do you find the school scores for your area?” Now, I already have a few favorite resources when it comes to that question (see past article: School Scores & More), but I wanted to test the Trulia forum to see if I would really get some quality answers. And within 10 minutes of submitting my question, I had some fabulous results. The first real estate pro who answered my question provided me with list a great list of websites. Two of which, I use and recommend frequently (GreatSchools.net & NeighborhoodScout.com). And the following 3 real estate pros also recommended GreatSchools.net, among others.

    Trulia Voices makes it easy for anyone with almost any kind of real estate question get knowledgeable answers quickly. It’s quite a helpful forum, really. And, it was nice to see some familiar Trulia Voices: Pat Kitano, Kevin Boer, Brian Brady, Tyler Moxley, Maureen Francis, Trang Nguyen.

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    Real Estate Bloggers Connect in San Francisco

    Are you going to Bloggers Connect?

    Just a reminder that the Inman Bloggers Connect Conference is fast approaching, so don’t miss this opportunity to meet and connect with real estate bloggers from around the globe! The main conference portion of this event takes place August 1 from 8:30-3:00 (Palace Hotel, SF), with topics including Finding Your Voice, Monetizing Your Blog, Show Me the Leads, Blogs and Social Networking, and more. You will also hear tips from top bloggers, as well as find out Project Blogger winners. So if you haven’t marked your calendars yet, you will undoubtedly do so to attend the party of the summer, Beer with Bloggers, July 31. Don’t miss this fabulous networking occasion where you’ll finally be able to meet your fellow bloggers face to face, and enjoy some refreshing beverages. So, will we see YOU there?

    Click here to register.

    TUESDAY, JULY 31

    5-7 pm – Beer with Bloggers

    WEDESDAY, AUGUST 1

    8:30- 9:15 – Finding Your Voice
    9:15-10:00 – Monetizing Your Blog
    10:00-11:00 – Keynote: Sitting in the eye of a media storm: The Inside Story
    11:00-11:45 – Show Me the Leads
    11:45-12:30 – Blogs & Social Networking: Creating Virtual Communities
    12:30-1:00 – Lunch Break
    1:00-1:45 – Pump Up the Volume with Widgets, Blidgets & other Doo-Dads
    2:00-2:15 – Project Blogger Winners Revealed
    2:15-3:00 – 10 Tips from Top Bloggers

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    New Email Stationery Technology for Real Estate Agents

    Email stationery has been growing in popularity over the past few years. Real Estate agents like this particular technology because it allows them to brand each email with their photo, logo and website links to drive consumers back to key features on their website such as search the MLS and featured properties. Even prospecting features like newly listed homes by email, buyer/seller tips, ask the expert, etc. Think of email stationery as a simplistic form of viral marketing!

    The email stationery technology became largely popular because of Microsoft Outlook support. However the challenge has always been that if you send emails from a blackberry, cell phone or other text email client you will not be able to take advantage of email stationery because of its HTML requirements. That is until now! inboxFX has created a very interesting web-based technology to tackle this very issue.

    inboxFX, a Canadian company, has designed their technology to wrap their custom email stationery around your plain text email message after it’s been sent, but before it arrives in the recipients inbox. The inboxFX solution works in two ways. First you can choose to use the inboxFX SMTP mail server as your outgoing email server and it will automatically wrap your stationery immediately after you click the send button. However if you use Microsoft exchange technology, or would like to selectively choose who can see the email stationery, you may want to use their second option.

    For this simplistic approach you can send to any email address and simply add “.inboxfx.com” to the end of the recipients email address. For example if I wanted to send my stationery to john@acme.com, I would send the email to john@acme.com.inboxfx.com and the template email stationery would be added before delivery. This solution will work with any email system…even from your MLS.

    inboxFX pricing is volume-based, to see the pricing matrix click here. For a series of inboxFX email stationery examples, click here.

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    Happy 4th of July from MyTechOpinion

    Normally, we stick to straight tech talk here, but we couldn’t help sharing our 4th of July rafting excursion! Our fellow blog contributor and great friend, Chad Johnson, celebrated his 34th birthday aboard the “Grey Goose” raft, as we called her. We spent the day floating down a local river with 16 other rafting enthusiasts and conquered the water wars! Chad took on the role of river guide extraordinaire and bucket bomber. Reggie led us into battle with his super commando sneak attacks. As for me, I got a great tan and made sure that everyone was well hydrated. BTW-A Water Cannon beats a Super Soaker any day….and a bucket beats ‘em all! Hope you enjoy the pics!