There’s always something to howl about

Archive for the 'myPad' Category

Did you Seymour Glass? It’s a perfect day for an iPhone killer.

Project Glass. Too much to love. Phone with no hands. Video with no hands. Internet with no hands. I can use an iPad when I need it, but 80% of what I’m doing with mobile computing, this can do. Here is where we’ll miss Steve Jobs. Google is better than Microsoft with new ideas, but what we’ll notice, when this ships, is everything that should be there but isn’t.

More: No phone on-board, no stereo ear-buds. A lot of hardware for so little functionality, a lot of room for me-tooish clones. This is the first of many new ideas where the passing of Steve Jobs will be sorely felt.

Comments are off for this post

Two years ago, when the iPad was introduced, I said: “Google and MicroSoft can’t even copy genius.”

Vide licet:

With the iPad and its closed software universe, has Steve Jobs committed an unforced error — unnecessarily created an obvious opening for Google and MicroSoft to compete?

Today, Google says: “If you throw enough crap at the wall, sooner or later something’s gotta stick.”

Today, Microsoft says: “Pigs will eat anything.”

The revolution is not the technology.

This is the revolution: The consumer is now in charge.

Learn to love it — or get liquidated. PT Barnum’s day in the marketplace is done.


Washington Scott and the Temple of Jobs

Initial observations about the iPad

Admittedly, I am a fan of electronic gadgets that promise to either make my life easier or make my life more fun. That being said I was very skeptical about the iPad when it was announced. I had made up my mind that the Microsoft Courier was going to be the device that was going to rock my world. Well Apple shipped and Microsoft slipped and I was left clutching at the vapor.

Flash forward to May 2011 since I live in the shadow of Redmond I had to make sure that the Great Eye of Gates did not see me enter the Temple of Jobs. I put on my disguise and I slipped into the Apple Store in the Tacoma Mall. I was greeted by a freshly scrubbed face wearing white tennis shoes. I was so surprised by the neat, clean and very well stocked store that almost dropped the Dixie Cup of Kool Aid that was offered to me.

I was allowed to quietly browse the products offered and was quite impressed with the offerings. I was looking for a 16 gig Wi-Fi iPad and I was politely told that they were out of that model. The salesperson offered to take my name and contact information and would notify me when they received one in stock. Terrified that my contact information would somehow slip into the wrong hands I quickly made my exit from the store. Two days later the draw was too strong. I slipped back into the store and quickly exited with a 16-gig 3g model. That moment might just be the transcendent moment in my real estate career.

Taking the iPad home closing the blinds and turning off all computers running any Microsoft products so that my actions could not be traced to the mother ship in Redmond I opened the box and removed the glowing (ok the screen glows not the actual device) iPad. We have been inseparable since.

Currently I am using my iPad for the following real estate activities:

Email: my Exchange email account was quickly and efficiently configured and setup on the iPad. While not, as powerful as Outlook which was the application that I lived most of my professional life using the mail app is effective and allows me to respond to emails much easier than on my Samsung Epic.

Sign My Pad: this application is simply amazing. For a whopping $3.99 + tax I am able to have my clients sign contracts, addendums etc on my iPad. I had forgotten to bring an addendum with me for my buyers the other night. Fire up Sign My Pad and I was able to cover my backside and impress my clients.

Dropbox: I keep my contracts in the cloud now. This is a 180-degree change for me. I will write more about this later. Suffice it to say iPad + Dropbox = productive agent.

Remember The Milk: one thing I have been hoping to find is a cross platform task list. RTM appears to be a solution. I am still setting up and configuring to work with me and the way I work. RTM looks to be a very strong candidate to be my solution to sticky notes, writing on my hand, and trying to remember to print out my task list from Outlook every morning.

NWMLS: here in Washington we use Matrix as our MLS software. Lets just say Matrix is not mobile device friendly. Trying to look at houses on my phone was causing me aggravation when a client would be able to perform searches faster and more accurate on one of the many consumer search sites. I have been able to use Matrix in Safari on the iPad with mostly positive results. Definitely a step in the right direction. I hope that the developer of Matrix will develop a mobile friendly version of the site.

Initially I did not want the 3g version. I did not want to spend the extra money for functionality that I thought I did not need. My plan was to turn my phone into a mobile hotspot and to connect the iPad to the hotspot. Sprint offers this functionality on my phone for $29.95 a month or $1.00 a day if you only want to turn it on for the day. AT&T offers a 250 Meg package on a month-to-month basis for $14.50. I decided to try this for the first month to see how it works. So far, I have only had one area that the 3g service did not work in. My phone also does not have coverage in this location so both options failed. I activated the hotspot on my phone and while it works and does have 4g connectivity, it drains the battery on my phone almost as fast as a Ferrari guzzles gas. This solution would require me to have my phone connected to a power source if I want to use it for any extended periods of time. Not a viable solution. I am now very happy to have the 3g solution. I know that future iPads and other tablets will have 4g options but if they consume battery power at the rate my phone does then I will be skipping in favor of longer productivity.

Perfect solutions to my desires for mobile connectivity and productivity? No, but a quantum leap forward. I look forward to spending more time learning how to pull more and more of the loose ends of my business and personal life into one device. That device can help me do what I love to do, sell homes.

Oh, and Angry Birds is a great way to spend a few minutes while waiting for your car to get an oil change.


Me and my iPad: Slouching toward a still-more-mobile style of mobile real estate representation.

I got an iPad 2 Friday, my spiff for hitting my earnings goal ($1,000 per day, if you’re keeping score at home) in April. The dogs have written a ton about the iPad since its introduction, and my plan is to write a ton more as I get used to this little box.

Here’s my deal: How can I make a grand a day every month? How can I push that up to five grand a day? I’m on the move all the time. And I’m tethered to my desk all the time. And I need a way of reconciling that contradiction.

My MacBook went a long way toward dealing with this problem — and may the lord rain his blessings down upon Ronald MacDonald and all the other providers of free WiFi linkage. But a laptop wants too many resources to be universally useful.

How so? If I’m away from free-WiFi-land, I need to plug in an air card and wait for it to initialize. Not only that, I need a flat surface, and I need to give the laptop itself time for house-keeping. Plus which, I always need to nurse the battery, which makes me reluctant to use it for blue-sky purposes, for fear I’ll be powerless to deal with mission-critical problems later on. Still worse, I have to schlep the damn thing around — which makes it much too easy to leave behind.

The iPad takes away all of those problems:

  • WiFi plus 3G means instant-on internet virtually everywhere.
  • I can actually use it in my lap in my car — without moving to the passenger seat.
  • Ten hours of in-use battery life leaves me at little risk of running out of power — and the two iPhone power cables I already have in my car will both fit the iPad, as well.
  • And the iPad is almost too easy to carry: The size and weight of a magazine.

All that’s great, but it’s not as if the iPad does not introduce complications of its own. I’ll be going through everything in detail as I integrate the new machine into my praxis, but I’ll touch on a few difficulties now.

Here’s what I’m looking for from the iPad as my day-to-day front-line computer:

  • Email: This is job one, and I’ll be fully satisfied if the iPad takes away my enduring email paranoia. What I want is a way of dealing with my email as quickly as possibly, all through the work-day. The iPhone was inadequate for this chore, and the laptop too cumbersome. I’ve set up our mail servers so that every incoming email addressed to me is echoed to the iPad, while still being sent to its intended email account. I see everything I should see, and I can take action on most of my mail almost as soon as it comes in. This not only makes me much more productive in junk time, it makes me much more efficient at staying in touch with my clients.
  • MLS: This is a small problem that promises to get smaller over time. FlexMLS is just using its main web site for the iPad, rather than building a mobile site or a dedicated iPad app. This is not great, but it’s far from awful. Many less-used functions don’t work properly — and I’ll document these going forward — but saved searches and shopping cards work as expected, and it is possible to use a skein of listings as the paperless “planos” for a showing tour — as I did on Saturday. Location Services is unavailable, so there is no easy answer to the dreaded “What about that one?” question. But the simple ability to vector directly from the MLS listing to the tax records or the terrain map or whatever — having the live MLS in my hands as I show — this just kills.
  • FTP: My camera is always with me, and my file server never sleeps. Link the two together, and I can build engenu pages from the road, without having to wait to get back to the office. Even better, an assistant can build engenu pages from the car, while the buyer and I are looking at the next house. I have an FTP client for the iPad, and I like the way it works, but I haven’t tried the whole procedure yet: Photos to the server by FTP, then engenu in Safari to make the pages, then email out to the client. I have zero doubt this will work, I just haven’t done it yet.
  • ZipForms: Ugh. Urf. Ick. They have an iPad client, so the web site does not work from Safari. Just that much is stoopid, since it would be nothing to distinguish the iPad from the iPhone and let the iPad run on its own hugely-web-adept web browser. That’s bad enough, but the iPad client itself is beyond lame. It’s a bullet-point product, a piece of junk cobbled together so the ZipForms marketing reps could say, “Oh, yes, we support the iPad, too, just like the other guys.” Bill Gates himself could not have engineered a more useless piece of shitware. I will have more to say about this, but this one (lack of a viable) product will prevent my MacBook from being able to stay home as I had planned.
  • DocuSign: Very robust iPad client, very smart use of the technology. Alas, the utility for me will be limited by the clusterfrolic cited just above. Even so, for follow-up stuff — and for my never-ending broker-initialing chores — the DocuSign client will be a big win. An Bui, if you’re looking in, I will be happy to help y’all put the ZipForms dipwads out of business.

The iPad itself is not without problems. As an example, there is no easy way to save an attachment from an email, which again limits the utility of the DocuSign client. This is pure thoughtlessness on Apple’s part — yes, I said it! — the failure to distinguish the small email form factor on the iPhone from the life-size form factor on the iPad. Want proof that this is actual Microsoft-style thoughtlessness? Even though the iPad has no built-in phone (argghhh!), iTunes still transmits your stored library of ringtones when you sync.

I’ll have lots more to say about all of this — the Ipad, how I’m using it, what I love and what I hate, other apps I like, love or loathe, etc. — in the coming months. To that end, I’ve added two new categories, and I encourage other folks writing here to make use of them, as appropriate:

  • myPad will be devoted to using tablet-based computers for real estate.
  • Want Bigger will be concerned with identifying and correcting errors in products, software and business ideas.

This is an adventure for me. I’ve wanted all of this for a long time, and I am just that close to being able to do everything I want from the road. It will be interesting to see how long it takes me to plug the remaining gaps in my praxis.