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I have it on shaky authority that there will be an real estate technology event on May 18th, 2011 in the Atlanta area.  It is rumored to be a collaboration between rebarcamp Atlanta (#rebcATL) and REtechSouth (#retso).  The rumors are that it will be a hands on workshop focusing on implementing technology and social marketing plans like those developed during #retso and #rebcATL.

Like I said, this is an early stage rumor…  There is no word yet on cost, venue, presenters or any other details… but keep an eye peeled here and at rebcAtlanta.com for the latest details and rumors.

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It is always SO cool to open up a new toy tool… I mean tool.

But, one of the parts of being self-employed is not only getting the cool tools to help expand or streamline the business, but learning how to really leverage them to the max… getting your money’s worth from them.  It doesn’t matter if you got a cool new Android phone, iPad or All-in-One Multi-Function Printer.

And one thing I have found seem to bind many self-employed people together is that we often have the contradiction of not wanting to call for tech help (we can handle almost anything, right?  That is what pulled us into entrepreneurialism) and not really having the time to sit down and read the manual from cover to cover. In fact, a lot of us might even admit to being willing to take a class on using a piece of technology… but we can’t find the time to take the class.

I’m here to tell you, make the time.

The tools can make you more efficient (saving time) and more productive (more business/profit/money).  But the ONLY way they work is if they are used fully.  And the best way to get that type of use from the tools is to get someone experienced to teach you the tips, tricks and best practices.

I have a pretty deep stable of friends that are WAY tech savvy.  They teach me constantly how to better utilize the tools that I have.  They also help me filter WAY down the tools that I want.

Taking advantage of opportunities like rebarcamps and events like REtechSouth are also great options.  In addition to the sessions, networking with experienced technology users (like my stable of friends) and even talking directly with the manufacturers and marketers of niche specific technology.

Play with your new technology.  Get used to it.  Enjoy it.  But also think about getting a little deeper into it.  At the very least, look for something a little more complete than the average user manual.

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I was at a real estate conference last week, and one of the things the presenter said REALLY struck a chord with me.

Ten years ago, WE used to tell our clients which houses we were going to look at that day.  Now, THEY come in and tell us which houses we are going to see.

Obviously, this is a giant change in the way real estate agents do business.  Since my entry into the real estate business, it has always been the way I’ve done business.

In the “Old School” world of real estate, agents were the gatekeepers.  We controlled the access to the information.  We had the listing information, and it wasn’t available to the public.  Some agents still wish that the old order ruled the day.

Technology has turned the tables… and it is for the better.  Buyers have never had as many choices, nor as much access to information.  That is something to be applauded.

Feel free to tell me which houses interest YOU…  I’ll be happy to make suggestions, but they are just that, suggestions.

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Remember from the intro post, these are the primary requirements I have for a To Do app for my phone/computer/the cloud…

Among the requirements I have for a to do list are:

  • Repeating Tasks… I write on 4 blogs and maintain a couple of dynamic websites that always need fresh content.  So, I need to remember where I need to write posts each day.  My repeating tasks include:
    • Same day each month (gathering statistics in my local MLS)
    • Same day each week (weekly posts like my 53 Cool Concept series each Sunday)
    • Every X number of days (for places I post every four or eight days, etc)
  • Ability to tag or note which tasks are for which purpose
  • Prioritization (so I don’t get caught up in stuff that doesn’t matter… missing things that are more important)
  • Ability to sync between my mobile device and other devices (laptop, cloud, etc.)
  • That seems pretty simple…

    Second up is Astrid Tasks.

    Repeating Tasks

    This is the one that kicks out most of the To Do Lists for me.  There are several options, which may make this a great opportunity for some folks, but I felt a little limited.

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      Daily – You can set tasks to repeat daily, as well as set them to repeat after a certain number of days… (every third day or 19th day, whatever).  There are some other options… they are under the “Weekly” tag.

    • Weekly – Tasks can be set to repeat on a weekly basis, as well.  So, if you have a task that needs to be done every Tuesday, or one that needs to be dome every three weeks, this is the option you would use.  There is also the capability to set a task to be done on selected days of the week.
    • Monthly – The next option would be a monthly task.  This can be set a specific day (November 20th for example) but not on a trigger (like the 3rd Saturday of the month).
    • Yearly – This option allows longer range tasks (like birthdays) to be set up.  It can even be set up to remind about the task after a period of years.  To do this, it has to be set up to repeat in 12 months… or 24 months… or whatever.
    • Hourly – This is a cool little addition.  I don’t have a need for it, but it does have the ability to set up a task to be repeated after a certain number of hours (like medicine that needs to be taken every 8 or 12 hours, for example).

    Tags

    Tags can be created to help search out tasks that need to be done or that have been completed.  There is also a place to enter notes about the task that can help get it done.  I don’t know if those notes are searchable.

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    Prioritization

    We HAVE to be able to focus on the things that are most important.  Checkmark has four priority levels: low, medium, high and emergency (I named them that… they go from ! to !!!!).

    Astrid CAN be set up to sync with a Google Calendar, and I would bet that with the Add-ons there are a lot more options.  One of the Add-ons that IS really interesting is Locale.  With this, the list will be location aware, so it will be able to give you reminders that are tied to a location (buy milk when it knows you are at the grocery store).  The drawback is that it will take time to set up the location, and tags would have to be regimented and applied.

    The weakness I have with Google Calendar sync revolves around repeating tasks.  The tasks aren’t currently fully synchronized.

    This is an interesting option, and holds some promise.  The monthly tasks not being available for the 1st Saturday (or whatever) is very limiting for me.

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    Remember from the intro post, these are the primary requirements I have for a To Do app for my phone/computer/the cloud…

    Among the requirements I have for a to do list are:

    • Repeating Tasks… I write on 4 blogs and maintain a couple of dynamic websites that always need fresh content.  So, I need to remember where I need to write posts each day.  My repeating tasks include:
      • Same day each month (gathering statistics in my local MLS)
      • Same day each week (weekly posts like my 53 Cool Concept series each Sunday)
      • Every X number of days (for places I post every four or eight days, etc)
    • Ability to tag or note which tasks are for which purpose
    • Prioritization (so I don’t get caught up in stuff that doesn’t matter… missing things that are more important)
  • Ability to sync between my mobile device and other devices (laptop, cloud, etc.)
  • That seems pretty simple…

    First up is Checkmark ToDo List by GreenBeanSoft.

    Repeating Tasks

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    This is the one that kicks out most of the To Do Lists for me.  There are several options, which may make this a great opportunity for some folks, but I felt a little limited.

    • Daily – You can set tasks to repeat daily, as well as set them to repeat after a certain number of days… (every third day or 19th day, whatever).  There are some other options… they are under the “Weekly” tag.
    • Weekly – Tasks can be set to repeat on a weekly basis, as well.  So, if you have a task that needs to be done every Tuesday, or one that needs to be dome every three weeks, this is the option you would use.  There is also the capability to set a task to be done on selected days of the week.
    • Monthly – The next option would be a monthly task.  This can be set a specific day (November 20th for example) or a trigger (like the 3rd Saturday of the month).
    • Yearly – This option allows longer range tasks (like birthdays) to be set up.  It can even be set up to remind about the task after a period of years.

    Tags

    Categories and Notes are the two options.  Different lists can also be set up.  This is a little more limiting that tags… but it isn’t terrible.  The Notes are going to primarily be notes about how to do the task (assignments, links, other info).  The Categories will likely be the way tasks are sorted.

    Prioritization

    We HAVE to be able to focus on the things that are most important.  Checkmark has four priority levels: none, low, medium and high.

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    There are a lot of other options available… ranging from Google Calendar sync to Lists that can be created.  Categories can be created, and the items can be sorted by due date, priority and title. Items can be backed up (and restored), as well as imported and exported.  There is also email sharing.   Let’s not forget there is a 3×3 widget that can be deployed on Android phones.  The checklists are VERY flexible, and can be used as anything from a vacation checklist of items that need to be taken care of, to a grocery list.  In effect, it is a nested to do list.

    The weakness I have with Google Calendar sync revolves around repeating tasks.  The tasks aren’t currently fully synchronized.

    This is an interesting option, and holds some promise.

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    The desktop computer has suffered… and some think it has already died.  Who really wants a big computer that it tethered to the same place all of the time?  So, are they on the way out?

    Or are desktop computers about to surge?

    Crazy, you say?

    This morning, I sat at the kitchen table eating my breakfast, while reading my morning paper news on my phone.  I also checked through my email, looked over my tasks and calendar to see what was on tap for the day.  All on the phone.  The screen is a bit small for some of those tasks…  But it functions quite nicely.

    And now, my phone and my computer sync email… including sent messages.  The calendar  and task list are getting closer to syncing, too.  But, it is the perfect solution for being on the go.  But my laptop is too big, too.  I’m not dragging it everywhere I go.  So, it is at home most of the time.

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    Enter the slate… or tablet class computer.  By now everyone is familiar with the iPad, Apple’s tablet.  But there are a lot of limitations in Apple’s mobile operating system… primarily that it can only do one thing at a time, and secondarily, it doesn’t see flash.  That is why there are apps for many websites… they have to build a special gateway for iPhone, iTouch and iPad users.  Android doesn’t have the same issues…

    But it is NOT a replacement for a “real computer”.

    Now, because of “cloud apps”, is doesn’t have to be.  Syncing between an appliance, like a tablet or a phone and a desktop or a laptop has never been easier.  And that is making the desktop a more attractive choice.

    You can get a lot of horsepower for a lot less money than with a laptop.  At the same time, with a smartphone and/or a tablet, the capability to get more done away from the desk has never been greater.  Combined with the ability to sync the work between multiple machines, we might rethink technology.

    The change won’t be overnight, and it won’t be universal.  But I think we might see a bit more of an emphasis on desktop computers and enhanced mobility through more dedicated devices…

    Oddly, the emergence of the tablet, smartphones might decline in popularity, and phones might just be relegated to making phone calls again.  I don’t think it will be a huge movement, but why carry a smartphone AND a tablet?

    Honestly, I’ll probably keep both.  The tablet isn’t going to go everywhere with me, but the phone will.  But instead of a laptop, my next computer might be a less expensive, high horsepower desktop with a big monitor… or two.  And it will be connected to my other devices so that I can work with whatever is best for the situation… and have everything, everywhere.

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