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Is Your Technology Slowing You Down?

March 23rd, 2017

Untitled design(2)How long has it been since you bought a new laptop or smartphone? Upgraded your Windows or Mac operating system software? Switched to a new, better web browser? If you’re like Michael Phelps in the Intel TV commercial – and the tech tools of your trade are more than two to three years old – then your technology is slowing you down.

At Tech Helpline, the real estate industry’s number one tech support service, we tapped the brainpower of our tech analysts to shed some light on this topic. They work with real estate agents every day and have a combined IT experience of nearly 300 years.

Here are the three big reasons you need to upgrade – and update – your technology.

Speed

Have you ever heard of the phrase Moore’s Law? A simplified version of this law states that processor speeds, or overall processing power for computers, doubles every two years. So if your laptop is just a couple of years old, it likely has half the processing power of a new one. What if it’s five years old? It would be like owning a horse today as your primary transportation, which has a top speed of about 25 mph, when you could have a car that goes over 100 mph… so at least you could go the speed limit.

Seriously, today’s computers and smartphones are wickedly fast and make older ones seem nearly unusable. For example, the iPhone 7 processor is 40 percent faster than the iPhone 6 processor. With your old laptop, it’s probably collected many excess files and programs that are slowing it down.

Plus, you get better features with newer technology. Did you know that an iPhone 7 has four times the storage of an iPhone 5, and can take pictures with a resolution that is six times better? With a new laptop, you’ll increase your speed and that should mean an increase in efficiency. Most importantly, a new laptop – with a speedier processor, significantly more storage, the latest operating system and best browsers all pre-installed – will likely cost you less than half of what you paid for your old laptop.

Security

This is a huge reason to upgrade and update: it will better protect your and your customers’ sensitive data. You probably have seen the news reports showing how scammers and hackers are targeting the real estate industry. The deceptions range from email scams that try to steer earnest money to a scammer’s bank account, to Trojan files that takeover your computer without you ever knowing it. Hackers can record and capture your keystrokes. Real estate agents with older laptops, out-of-date operating systems, who use older versions of web browsers, are putting their own data and their clients’ data at a greater risk.

“You can increase your security and the safety of your files,” recommend Tech Helpline experts, “by making sure you stay current with updates for both your device and your browser.” For example, did you know that Microsoft has discontinued older versions of Internet Explorer? Or that Internet Explorer 11 is being replaced with Microsoft Edge? In fact, Windows XP and every earlier version of the Windows OS are no longer supported. Even support for Windows Vista ends next month, April 11. That means no more security updates for known flaws – and that’s potentially very dangerous in today’s world.

Buying newer tech tools – and keeping them updated – more than pay for themselves by avoiding the costly and time consuming result of a hacker’s strike. Plus, there’s the potential for a nice tax break when you buy new tech equipment for your business. This is one place where the ROI – or return on your investment – is solid. But this also provides a great ROS – a better return on sleep – knowing you’ve done your best to protect yourself and your clients.

Streamline

How many apps do you have on your smartphone? Now how many of those apps have you used in the last six months? One of the great things about upgrading to a new laptop or a new smartphone is the opportunity to clean house. It’s a little like moving to a new home – it’s better to toss what you don’t use than pay extra to take it with you; you’re forced to get rid of unused items. The same is true when you transition to a newer tech tool: it’s the best time to streamline.

When you get a new device, it’s a great time to remove never-used programs and apps, which could be running in the background and sucking up processing power; get rid of “bloatware” – programs you really don’t need and are a waste of space on your hard drive.

If it’s been a long time since you changed web browsers, you probably struggled to get your bookmarks and settings imported correctly. But today, the process of moving to a faster, safer browser is more streamlined, fully automated and largely friction free.

Streamlining your technology will make your tech tools both faster and safer. And the really good news: it’s easier to upgrade and to update than ever before. If you are hesitating on upgrading or updating because the last time you went through the process, it was a nightmare, you are not alone. But the hardware isn’t the only thing that’s gotten better, so has the software, and making the transition is better than ever. Plus, Tech Helpline, for the majority of agents, is only a call away.

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Beware of telephone scams claiming to be Tech Helpline.

March 17th, 2017

Phone Scam Alert

Please be careful of impostors claiming to be Tech Helpline representatives. For your security, please review this list of things that authentic Tech Helpline analysts will not do:

Tech Helpline analysts will not

  • Cold call individuals
  • Ask for payment over the phone
  • Ask for credit or debit card information
  • Ask for birthday, social security number, password, or other personal information
  • Tech Helpline will not call you to sell you our service over the phone

Tech Helpline is based in the United States. We only call you back if you are a member of our service and left us a message requesting it. And for verification purposes, we may ask for your Realtor’s information.

“Every year, thousands of people lose money to telephone scams — from a few dollars to their life savings. Scammers will say anything to cheat people out of money. Some seem very friendly — calling you by your first name, making small talk, and asking about your family. They may claim to work for a company you trust, or they may send mail or place ads to convince you to call them.

If you get a call from someone you don’t know who is trying to sell you something you hadn’t planned to buy, say “No thanks.” And, if they pressure you about giving up personal information — like your credit card or Social Security number — it’s likely a scam. Hang up and report it.” ~Federal Trade Commission

To report fraud, please contact the proper authorities:

 

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4 Steps Brokers Can Take to Get Agents to Adopt Technology

March 14th, 2017

Tech-ToolsOne of the greatest struggles that broker-owners have with technology is getting their agents to use the technology tools they provide. On the other hand, many agents are suffering from tech fatigue with simply too many tech tools to learn, sometimes taking too much time to learn, none of them being integrated and often requiring too many different passwords to remember to access everything.

While brokers throughout the U.S. over many years have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in technology for their agents, many studies show that fewer than half of all agents are using the tech tools their broker provides. A study by the WAV Group (“Broker Tecnology Adoption and Satisfaction Study”) pointed to some of the reasons: Read more…

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How Can Brokers Meet Agents’ Tech Needs?

March 7th, 2017

Realtors using technologyWhat would you do if you lost access to your smartphone for a day? A week? What happens when you try to print out a copy of a CMA, and the printer stops and you can’t find the problem? What recourse do you have if you accidentally went to the wrong website and your laptop got infected with malware and has been slowing down ever since? Or what if you just can’t connect to wireless when you are on the move?

Keeping agents connected and their basic technology working is one of the most important things a brokerage can do to support their agents’ tech needs. Too often, it seems that brokers focus on solely their own technology solutions: how to get agents to adopt the various tech tools and software in which they’ve invested so much to provide.

But providing basic tech support – making sure real estate agents have a lifeline if they get stuck using their go-to technology, that their smartphone is getting email properly, that their laptops are optimized and virus-free, that if their printer doesn’t print there is someone to help fix it now, and not later – is of paramount importance as well.

Read more…

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6 Tips for Maximizing Battery Life (iOS 10)

February 28th, 2017

Our devices always seem to run out of battery exactly when we need them most. For that reason, this month we bring users of iOS 10 devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch) 6 tips that can help you get more time between battery charges.

1. Optimize Location Services settings.

As a REALTOR on the go, you may use several apps that give you information about a specific location, such as the Weather app, or an MLS app that provides you with available listings in your area. These apps can give you location-based information because they use the Location Services feature of your device. Location Services is very useful, and you can take advantage of it without taxing your battery too much if you run it only when you are actively using the apps. Read more…

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3 Cool Apps to Help Real Estate Professionals Reach Their Fitness Goals in 2017

January 30th, 2017

Is improving your health and fitness a New Year’s resolution for you? For many real estate professionals, daily life is hectic, and finding time to focus on personal wellness is often challenging.  However, by putting your health first, you will find personal satisfaction that will not only benefit your well-being, but also with business successes. Here are three apps that can help busy professionals get started to improving their health in 2017: Read more…

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How The “Internet of Things” Affects Real Estate

January 5th, 2017

smart_homeGrowing interest in Wi-Fi connected gadgets as holiday gifts inspired us to write this article about Internet of Things (IoT). So today we cover IoT: what it is, how it affects real estate, and what to look for in the future.

What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

The English Oxford dictionary defines the Internet of Things (IoT) as “the interconnection via the Internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data.” For example, lights that can connect to your smartphone via internet so that you can turn them on or off wherever you are, even if not at home, wearable devices to track your sleeping habits, or self-driving cars. These everyday objects with internet connectivity aim to provide convenience and efficiency to the user by sensing, tracking and transmitting data. And because the growth in the industry has made such devices very affordable, they are proliferating. All these devices, regardless of who makes them, are categorized into the IoT concept.

How It Affects Real Estate

IoT gadgets for the home lead to Smart Homes. Did you get a Wemo Switch this year as a holiday gift? Or perhaps an Alexa-controlled Echo speaker? If you did, you are probably on your way to transitioning your home to a Smart Home. Smart Homes are homes “equipped with network-connected products”. In the real estate industry, perhaps you already started noticing clients who are more excited when they tour properties with “Smart Home Technology.” In these homes, devices communicate with each other – from the alarm clock to smart thermostats, fire alarms and security cameras.

 READ: Prep Agents with 6 Smart Home Facts

Read more…

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Best Practices for Shopping Online Safely

November 28th, 2016

E-commmobile-payment-customerce is great! It offers choices and convenience. And this holiday season, many of us will purchase gifts online for our loved ones. But there is no substitute to being a well-informed consumer. So, we put together a list of best practices to help you shop safely and confidently this holiday season. Read more…

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A web page not loading correctly? Try deleting the cache.

October 26th, 2016

If a web page is not loading properly or if it is loading slowly, you may benefit from deleting the cache.

What is a cache? A cache is temporary storage that your web browser uses to keep local copies of pages, images and other content you frequently visit online. The browser uses what is stored in the cache instead of loading the entire website again.

Why should I clear it? While very helpful to have a good user experience online, over time the cache stores numerous files in your computer; when you clear out the cache, the most up-to date version of the websites you access regularly will load and display, reducing error messages. Deleting those old files will also allow you access information online faster.

What about cookies and browser history?

Read more…

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Windows 10: Fast Startup

October 10th, 2016

Windows 10: Fast Startup

Windows 10 introduced a new feature called “Fast Startup.” The purpose of this feature is to allow your computer to turn on a bit faster after you have shut down. Windows performs this by overriding the Shutdown command and never fully turning off; instead it goes into a sleep-like hibernation. When you turn the computer back on, it resumes right where it left off. As a result, the sub-processes and programs never get the fresh-start they need. This can cause your computer to do all kinds of odd things: slow down, fail to print, load web pages incorrectly, and more.

How do you know if your computer is being affected by Fast Startup? 

Fortunately, Windows keeps track of this with a clock called “Uptime.”

Read more…

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