Monday, November 21, 2011

Signatures and Cameras

If you haven’t been getting many calls for or inquiries about digital signatures from buyers and sellers yet, that could soon change. Awareness is growing, helped in no small part by Docusign’s launch of a free branded app targeting consumers.
DocuSign Ink makes it easy for them to sign and archive documents with a electronic version of their signature right on their iPad or iPhone or in regular email including Outlook .
The intuitive nature of these user friendly solutions, and the way they simplify what some consumers might see as an intimidating technology could pave the path to broader acceptance,and give you good cause to investigate and start offering digital signatures for real estate  , if you aren’t already there.

Thinking about replacing your compact digital camera in the next few months? Seriously weigh the capabilities of a new smartphone as its replacement replacement for a compact point and shoot. It may be “good enough” for your real estate photo and video needs, leaving you with one less peice of hardware to carry.
Even the serious shooters and reviewers are starting to ponder that path, as reflected in this detailed article from Ars Technica  on the iPhone 4S 
. If that idea sounds appealing,also here’s a round-up from the New York Times on accessory lenses and such which can make that phone a better camera 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Are QR codes delivering for you?

Just did a story for one of the graphics magazines I write for on QR codes.

Now there’s a technology where Realtors have really taken the lead.

Sign shops, from independents to large national chains, all cite real estate professionals early adopters codes, the largest group to embrace QR so far. Seems these graphic grids will eventually become a fixture on all types of signs and printed marketing materials, but real estate is one of the proving grounds for this intereactive technology

Makes sense to add them to yard signs as a way of directing buyers to more details about that home, or a page of current listings. Certainly shows you’re tech savvy. But beyond that, are they working? Any quantifiable results, any new clients because of your use of QR codes?

I understand their appeal when showing sellers how you’re got all the tools to promote their home, is there more to it than that. let me know, and I‘ll report back what I hear later.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Gifting: Maybe an apple...

We’re approaching that season when, if you’ve put off investing in new technology, you’re likely to gift yourself or someone you love with that bit of wizardry you’ve been eyeing all year. And if you haven’t already invested in a tablet PC, one probably tops your list.

Earlier this year, it looked like there would be an abundance of choices with all the Android tablets coming to market. While there have been many admirable options there, none have really dented the iPads appeal.

That’s as much about the hardware as software. The IPad 2 is a great product, backed by the software catalog Android devices have not yet begun to rival, for real estate or otherwise. Adding significant momentum there is the simple fact that many apps developed for the ever-growing universe of iPhone users also run on the iPad.

At this point, the most promising challenger to the iPad’s dominance the rumored Amazon tablet, expected to launch sometime within the next two months. Early speculation suggests it may offer the combination of package and price which make it a winner.

But software is what makes the hardware, and it’s likely to be a while before the combination of general and real estate specific apps are available to make whatever Amazon brings to market the practical solution for your needs in a mobile computing platform. By then, if and when sometime next year, WIndows 8, with its promised tablet support, will give you even more options.

Short-term, the iPad’s appeal as a practical solution with the most software support, real estate and otherwise, seems secure.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Next Breakthrough In Digital Photography?

If you’re serious about  photographs for your virtual tours, and have been thinking about a Digital-SLR as your next camera. you may want to hold off a while and see what the future holds.
Last week's New York Times ran a story about a Californna start-up with what could be the next real breakthrough in digital photography. As tthe headline reads, Lytros’ technology will users shoot now and worry about inncidentals like focus and depth of field later.  
That’s right: its technology allows serious amateurs, or anyone for that matter, to point, shoot and achieve all the same effects now possible only by experimenting with lens and aperature when the shutter clicks. It will mean more options for photographers, more effective pictures of everything, including homes, and put the advantages of an SLR in point and shoot cameras.
The cost if this new type of camera, or required software, if any, has not yet been announced; only that it will be targeted at consumers
The effect, and breaktrhouygh it represents is much easier seen than described. You can explore the possibilities at this interactive gallery on  Lytro’s website.
 Just click anywhere in a picture and see for yourself. It might be worth waiting a bit longer before investing in that digital SLR.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

April Briefs

Transaction Management and More
A start up, Opreie has developed a cloud computing transaction and client management system with a novel “pay as you use” approach to pricing. The system combines browser-based transaction management with redundant Web-based document storage and security features. Those interested can try the software for 30 days free. After the trial period, the cost is $1.50 per 24 hour “Day Pass” to access all features — but users only need to purchase the passes on days when they actually use the software.
MapsAlive in beta for iPhone, Ipad
MapsAlive extends the reach of its interactive maps and floor plans to devices running Apple’s iOS 4.3  or later. Maps Alive for mobile will run on iPhones, iPads and iPod devices.  With this upgrade, subscribers can create and distribute the Maps Alive tours fir display on a computer or one of these supported mobile devices. To learn more or take part in the beta test of MapsAlive mobile, follow this link.
Printer Discount for Realtors
Printer maker Epson hopes to expand its user base in real estate with a special discount on its WorkForce all-in-one printers/scanners/copiers. Now through June 30,  just enter the code RLESTWF at Epson’s online store and you’ll get 10 percent off the purchase price. You can learn more here.
QR codes offered and explained.
Popular video tour solution provider has added QR codes to the mix of marketing support for virtual tours created with its software.  With this options, subscribers can generate and feature QR codes on yard signs and other printed marketing materials . When “read” with smartphone apps, the codes automatically launch the tour page for that property. In support of this feature, has put together a Web page explaining the value of QR codes,  and how to create and use them with its marketing system. Check it out.

Monday, March 7, 2011

3D for Listing Promos?

     When I put together the March buyer’s guide to digital camera for Realtor magazine online,  I didn’t get to explore the 3D capture capabilities now offered in a few of the latest  cameras and camcorders. 
     For real estate, this would seem an effective tool for highlighting listings in a way that really stands out.  But the technology isn’t quite there yet: 3D video requires a special TV, and usually those glasses; to appreciate 3D in print requires either those glasses or a special and expensive print
     Fuji provided a couple of sample prints. In hand they look like those the 3D prints you may remember from youth,  a thick plastic coating like the lenticular prints you could tilt and get a different view. 
     Viewed in hand they do have a 3D effect which  could give a house photo more impact, especially when there’s a great view or luscious surroundings. 
    I scanned the photos they provided and but as you see that effect is lost in the process. 
     I’d say 3D has a place in the future but it’s not quite there yet. 

Service As it Should Be
     Here’s a model I wish four manufacturers would follow. 
     Had my Intel iMac four years, the three-year extended service contract expired 12/09. Shortly after, a vertical line showed up on the LCD monitor. A constant annoyance I learned to live with: oh, well machine out of warranty, etc.
     A few weeks ago another appeared and decided to see if there was any thing to do about it. After googling problem, found some forum posts mentioning mine was a known issue Apple would take care of.
     Yeah, right, I thought, but I called Apple customer service and explained the issue, how long I’ve had the iMac, when the problem appeared, and what I’d read online.
     Sure enough they replaced my monitor with a new one,— at no cost to me—  four years after purchase, more than a year after my warranty expired. 
     Two morals: When hardware fails, search before tossing. You might be pleasantly surprised, as I was. 
     We spend a lot of money with these companies for their technology. 
     They should all  be so good to their loyal customers.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wrapping it up for CES

I think we’ve done a good job encapsulating the most important announcements our of CES in Realtor magazine online(  with a buying guide to mobile PCs, a slide show on the latest tablets, and a Tech Watch column devoted to things not covered there. But there are a few more notes to add, and will do so here because of lack of space there. 
Great buys to come  this year on all-in-one printers, including new models like Kodak’s $99 C310, and  Canon’s five color WiFi Pixma MX882. Kodak also introduced a system for creating then printing in 3D with its printers, but you still have to wear those silly glasses. With ongoing refinements of digital cameras capable of capturing 3D images, it seems it won’t be too many years before you can show off your listings in 3D as the next best thing to being there. 
And as far as printing goes, Lenovo pushes the envelope on speed , showing the first printer to incorporate new technology developed by its partner Memjet. The planned printer takes the race, cranking out 60 pages per minute at 1600x800 dpi. Initially available in China, it should set the new standard in color for the office when it finally finds its way here. 
Speaking of things to come, Samsung demonstrated flexible LCD screen which could lend a little more durability to future smartphones and mobile gadgets, as seen and reported here on CNET. And, MicroVision showed a prototype mini-Android tablet PC, shown here on Android headlines,  with built in Pico projector

While mini projectors are establishing themselves as a tool for business presentations,  they have been more of a novelty feature seen in a few digital cameras and phones. Long term, though, I think this technology will prove a valuable way around the limited display capabilities of truly portable devices.
There’s more, but that’s probably enough of CES for now.