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Technology Bridges the Gap between Reality and Your Dream Home

Shopping for a home can easily become a stressful exercise. There are room numbers, bathrooms and half-baths, and neighborhood to consider; additional questions pop up endlessly throughout the shopping process.

The stress of shopping for a new home is only amplified when external factors such as being under a time crunch to purchase a place and get your family moved come into play.

Fortunately, there are tools that will guide you through the home buying process. MSN Real Estate found a bunch of them that will “supercharge” your home buying activity. While real estate agents are a great resource in the home-buying process, your agent won’t be available to you 24/7.

But that doesn’t mean you’ll be deprived of support whenever you need it. The answers to your questions and the key to managing stress during the process lie in using the latest available technology.

Getting tech-y with the home search

There are all sorts of tools that can help make the home-buying process a lot simpler and smoother. You can access apps on your tablet that help you explore neighborhoods, websites that identify homes that have recently gone on sale, and even phone apps that will alert you with a text message or ringtone as soon as a home you’re interested in experiences a price drop.

In what other ways can you use technology to your advantage? Let’s say you wanted to check out luxury real estate in Washington D.C.; you might start by going to a website run by a firm like the Dwellus Group.

Here, you’ll see information about homes in your target region, and you may even find a home that you think is perfect for you. But the question is: How would you know for sure?

It’s time to study the financial details, such as the monthly mortgage payment, the homeowners insurance, the likely appraisal value of the property as compared to the asking price. Then there are the quality of life aspects, such as the performance of the local schools.

Is there a full-service hospital nearby? Does the neighborhood have a homeowners association? A dog park? Is it in a flood zone?

Mobile apps to the rescue

This might sound like a lot to think about, but if you have the right technology on hand, then all of this information will be readily available at your fingertips. BizJournals found that certain apps really do reduce many of the most common challenges of the home-buying process.

Apps make it easy to answer all these questions by putting it in one place. Then, there are mortgage payment calculators, videos, online surveys, and similar tools that will bring to your attention issues and questions that never crossed your mind.

If you think that you’re ready to purchase a home, then technology is going to be your best friend. Whether you’re a first time home buyer or you wish to purchase a vacation home to enjoy in retirement, there are online tools that will make the entire process easier.

Social:

Content Marketing In 2014: 4 Tips For Success

Content-Marketing

As 2014 rolls on, business owners want to know which Internet marketing strategies they should be using to increase conversion rates and expand their customer base. While there are a variety of strategies to accomplish this objective, content is still king in the world of online advertising.

This being the case, businesses interested in experiencing continual growth and expansion in the online world should remind themselves that interesting, informative content has to be integral to their strategic plan. Here are four tips to make your content great (and therefore more marketable).

1. Keep your content scannable

As noted by Nielsen Norman Group, the majority of Internet users do not read the articles they pull up in their entirety. Instead, they scan.

Since readers prefer content that’s “scannable,” business owners who want to market their blog posts and articles effectively should ensure that they can be skimmed for the information the reader wants. There are several strategies you can employ to make your content scannable, including headers, bullets, and numbered lists.

2. Include videos

Videos have become tremendously popular on the Internet. Clearly, more and more people are accessing them.

Video Brewery has commented on some of comScore’s significant findings regarding online engagement with videos. For example, 45% of Internet users view a minimum of one online video per month.

Additionally, the average Internet user sees about 32.2 videos per month. Numerous people have stated that videos help them make more informed purchasing decisions, so business owners who want to make their content marketable should think about including links to descriptive videos with their content.

3. Use catchy titles

One of the most effective content marketing strategies that business owners can use to attract the attention of potential customers is catchy titles. There are a variety of things that can be done to make a title catchy, such as putting it in question format.

In citing the efficacy of this strategy, Mashable referenced Huffington Post’s ingenious article title “What Time Is the Super Bowl?” In addition to posing meaningful questions and reeling readers in by suggesting you will provide a useful and accurate answer, other catchy title ideas include the use of words such as “secret” and “how to” in your headline.

4. Be substantive

Although many readers are interested in being entertained by content, most are primarily concerned about obtaining the information they’re looking for. As noted by Supple Solutions in its article ”Insights to the Future of Digital Marketing,” research indicates that 78% of people who use the Internet do so to conduct product research.

Since this is the case, making your blog posts and/or articles informative is still key to ensuring that your content is marketable.

Summing it all up

This year, content marketing remains one of the most effective methods of Internet advertising to catch and keep the attention of prospective customers. If you’re a business owner, it’s important for you to expand your operations in the online world by implementing proven techniques that take your content from good to great.

By integrating some or all of the aforementioned tricks into your company’s strategic Internet marketing plan, you will likely find yourself gathering more and more attention from your target audience.

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last update: November 1, 2014

Mobile:

Use Digital Systems to Deal with Change Better

A resistance to change can ring the death toll for a business, especially if this stagnation occurs throughout your company’s culture. Savvy entrepreneurs understand that they need to be light-footed and adapt to survive in ever-shifting business climates.

Companies have to roll with the tide to accomplish their goals. Changes to team rosters, inventory, training, and office spaces shouldn’t disrupt operations for long. godigital

Here are a few digital systems that will keep you up and running during a major shift.

Computer and mobile device management

When you hire new employees, you’ll want to give them access to the devices and files they need to succeed. But when your staffing is in flux, how do you control who has access to what?

During layoff periods, your company should be able to deactivate former employee access with ease to avoid data liabilities. Your IT department can set up remote permission profiles through the use of computer and mobile device management apps.

During major staffing changes, IT should be able to make swift changes to user profiles, control data access, and secure mobile devices.

Inventory databases

If you’re currently keeping track of your back orders, inventory counts, and shrinkage, but still shipping manually, then your company should invest in an automated system. A dynamic inventory database will automatically adjust for transactions, counts, and orders.

Most of these systems play well with peripherals such as bar code scanners, which can make life easier in the stockroom.

Training materials

As companies grow and adapt, leaders should adjust professional mentoring to meet the needs of the business. But how do you implement change on a wide-scale basis?

Collaborative cloud systems can help mentors share documentation amongst themselves; that way, new training handbooks and materials can be rolled out at once. Having a single directory for training materials can be much easier to manage than multiple email drafts.

Unified communications

Let’s say that your company has grown so large that you’ve had to split a team across two offices. However, staff members in these locations still need to talk with one another and collaborate on projects.

That’s where unified communication systems come in. You’ll be able to talk, text, and videoconference with your colleagues despite distance barriers.

Keep your company’s culture flexible by adopting databases and digital systems to manage your office communications, training, data access, and inventory. These systems can prove to be indispensible to a successful and competitive company.

Mobile:

The Best Music Training Apps for iOS Devices

It’s never too late to learn how to play an instrument. Whether you’d like your kids to start learning how to read music, or you want some training for yourself, these apps can be excellent starting resources.

Learning how to read and play sheet music is a great way to build cognitive dexterity and keep your mind sharp. Take a look at these great music training apps for Apple’s iOS devices.

Nota

Are you intimidated by music theory? This revolutionary app will get you over that barrier with an extensive database of theory definitions, visuals, and auditory examples.

You’ll start memorizing a variety of music scales in no time. Nota is really geared toward education; it will help you retain information with built-in quizzes and progress-tracking systems.

If you ever need help building a chord during a jam session, you can quickly look up the notes with this app’s reference tool.

GarageBand

Both adults and children will have fun playing with the virtual keyboards, guitars, and drum sets in this dynamic music creation app. You can record, edit, and share your masterpieces with others, without knowing how to read music at all.

Just explore the exhaustive sound libraries, put on a metronome, choose a virtual instrument, and start jamming! Don’t worry about mistakes, because you can use the built-in music editor to splice and re-record later.

Notes! Learn to Read Music

Some people learn better with flashcards. Notes! has assembled the symbols for every note and its position on a piano keyboard with easy-to-read, virtual notecards.

You can also plug in MIDI devices, such as electronic keyboards, so that you can view note transcriptions live while you’re playing different sounds.

Rhythm Cat

The whimsical black-cat animation in this app will be your tutor. Get to know the basics of timing, staff markings, rests, and beats while the cat dances across the screen.

This app is ideal for novice sheet music readers who want to get acquainted with rhythm concepts. Before you know it, you’ll be able to pick up classical violin sheet music and play these pieces like a pro!

Learning how to read sheet music is just the beginning. You’ll be able to master your favorites, and pretty soon, you might even find yourself transcribing original songs.

The digital era has made it easy for budding musicians to learn, create, and share their future masterpieces.

Lifestyle:

Does Networking Increase Your Net Worth?

Networking

With the advent of the Internet and social media, networking has become the new norm for the way businesses share information and gain potential clients. One article, The Advantages of Networking, even states that it can improve a company’s credibility.

It’s also a means to advertise directly to a specialized niche. More important, it’s the new way to grow your business while solidifying your foothold in the world. But networking did not always look the way it does today.

Death of a Salesman is a famous play by Arthur Miller that debuted in 1949. The main character is a door-to-door salesman who’s down on his luck because the industry is dying.

His means of forming relationships is by traveling from town to town and knocking on every door he can to sell his product. In the play, the main character slowly loses all his money and control of his family because his method of networking has become obsolete.

Even decades before the Internet gained popularity, the playwright knew that certain ways of forming meaningful business relationships were a tactic of a dying breed. So what does networking look like today?

Of course traveling salesmen aren’t going door to door anymore with their products in large briefcases. But what are they doing, how do they do it, and what exactly are they doing?

What networking is

According to the School of Library and Information Science, the term indicates a type of exchange between two parties, with the possibility of a career advancement.

This means that networking isn’t just a fun way to keep in touch or gain information. The main purpose is for monetary gain; it’s a type of intellectual business transaction.

How networking should be done

There’s more to it, though. Networking can make you a leader in your field.

Whether it’s real estate, journalism, or sports, establishing the right kinds of relationships with people in your business area will help you advance. When you want to be thought of as good in a particular field, you should surround yourself with those kinds of people.

How should networking be done? Ivan Misner states that networking is only an efficient use of time, energy, and/or money if it’s a strategic and focused method of building meaningful relationships. That means people who network shouldn’t just blanket email everyone they know. It has to be specialized and concise.

Some tips on how to start

Here are some tips on how to begin networking yourself:

  • Keep an ongoing list of names and contact information

  • Politely ask your friends, family, and contacts for their contact information

  • Use blogs, discussion groups, forums, and chats

When it comes down to it, does social networking increase a company’s net worth? It certainly builds meaningful relationships between like-minded individuals.

It passes useful, current information between two or more parties. It brings potential clients to a company who might possibly be interested in the product.

In all, it’s much more than what a door-to-door salesman would do.

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Lifestyle:

4 Apps That’ll Help You with Household Chores

Most of us juggle chores at home, on top of our full-time jobs and other responsibilities. It can be very discouraging when you let dirt and grime accumulate so much that cleaning the house becomes an extraordinarily time-consuming proposition. housework1

However, the tedium and drudgery can be eased with apps designed to help keep you on schedule with your home-cleaning tasks. Take a look at these four great apps that can help you manage your chores and even entertain you a little along the way.

1. You Rule Chores

Human psychology is a funny thing. Turns out, if you transform cleaning into a game, you’re more likely to complete the tasks.

You Rule is a game of chores that awards users with unique avatar power-ups as you clean. This is ideal for families that have a difficult time getting motivated to tidy up.

Your kids will get on board so they can reach new upgrade achievements and compete with each other. Once you have this, your house will get cleaner than it’s ever been.

2. Bright Nest

Your home fixtures are accumulating lime deposits, dust, stains, rust, and other unwanted grime. So how exactly do you clean these surfaces?

The Bright Nest app is full of simple tips and tricks that have been crowd-sourced by cleaning professionals. For example, did you know that you can use lemon water to clean the inside of your microwave?

Also, vinegar will kill mold that you find growing on the edges of your sink or bathtub.

3. Green Shine

Are you concerned about exposing your family members and pets to harmful chemical cleaners? You can cut out dangerous substances by using green cleaners.

Not only are they non-toxic, but they’re also better for the environment. This app contains a guide to simple and safe cleaning substitutes for a variety of home surfaces.

4. Podcasts

Your podcast app can become your best friend during cleaning sessions. You don’t have to put up with the boredom of cleaning alone.

Download a couple of informative podcasts and turn cleaning into a period for entertainment or education. Pop in some ear pods so you can hear over the sound of running water or the vacuum cleaner.

Are you feeling motivated to tidy up yet? These apps can help you maintain a cleaning schedule, avoid dangerous chemical cleaners, and stay entertained while performing household chores.

Regular cleaning can help maintain the longevity, look, and functionality of your household furniture. Enlist the help of your roommates and family members so you’re not stuck with the bulk of these responsibilities alone. Happy cleaning!

Clean:

How to Use Today’s Technology to Search for a Home

You’ve built up your nest egg, secured a great credit score (or at least a decent one), and now you’re ready to purchase a new home. But dont make the mistake of calling the real estate agents just yet. There are a few things you need to know first that could save you a lot of time and money and get you the exact house you desire. gmap

There always seems to be at least one deal-breaker with every open house you visit. It’s either not in the right neighborhood, or it lacks sufficient charm. Don’t be discouraged. Now that you are actually ready to look for a home, you can use technology to find the house of your dreams. Here’s how.

Google Maps

According to the Kleer Team website, Google Maps is a great way to locate prospects for your new home. You can zoom in or out on an area to get an idea of the surrounding streets.

The map even shows you geographical features that are close by. Switching to the street view shows real images of what could be your new street. This gives you a great idea of what the neighborhood is like before you waste any time with an agent.

Mobile apps

In an article titled Real Estate’s Love/Hate Relationship with Technology, the author explains that mobile apps can help you make better, informed decisions when it comes to buying real estate. It’s easier to identify comparable houses in the area using mobile apps than by any other means.

With a click of the button, you can see if the three bedroom/two bathroom house you’re interested in is worth the same as another one down the street. If it’s way more, then pass it up.

Google Earth

This can also make the real estate market more friendly. According to this Slide Share, real estate agents can leverage Google Earth to showcase properties to the entire globe.

When you live far from where you want to buy, you can still survey a neighborhood to see if it’s the right place for you. Much like using the street view of Google Maps, you can scout what the neighbors’ houses look like and make sure your candidate isn’t too close to the main road.

Jott.com

When you are ready to begin looking at homes in person, there are technologies available to help you search. According to one blogger’s top ten list of technology tools, Jott.com is a service that enables you to send email notes to yourself, and texts to contacts, or add calendar events … all through voice activation.

That means you can stay organized while getting whipped around from property to property. Instead of trying keep all the ideas in your head or frantically writing them down on sheets of paper they give you, you can just say them into your phone and have all the information stored in one place.

So when you’re in the market for a new home, don’t forget to put your fingers to work on that keyboard of yours. You’ll have a better chance finding the right home.

Lifestyle:

How You Can Use Technology to Buy the Perfect Home

Technology has come a long way in virtually every area, including the way today’s home buyers go about purchasing a home. Finding a home to buy that meet all your needs has become a lot easier, thanks to the latest technology.

Quickly find homes that meet your standards

Before the Internet arrived, most people spent hour after hour sorting through newspaper ads and real estate pamphlets trying to find a home. It was usually hard to know which houses might meet their needs and desires, since the listings offered very little information along with one black-and-white photo at best.

Thus, it was extremely difficult to find a home based on criteria such as the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and other desired features without the assistance of a Realtor. But now, anyone can perform a search on the Internet or their smartphone to search for a home that meets all their criteria in minutes.

Need a home that’s near your current neighborhood with five bedrooms, four bathrooms, and a three-car garage? In just seconds, you can find the answer to that question on your home computer or your smartphone. Narrow the search even further to square footage and price.

Instantly compare home values

Another superb technological advantage that potential homebuyers enjoy today is the ability to research the value of a particular home almost as swiftly. You can learn the selling prices of other homes in the neighborhood, or how much people paid for the ones recently sold with just a few clicks of your computer’s mouse or the keypad on your phone.

Also, you can obtain an estimate of what a home may be worth. With a little homework you’ll know if you’re overpaying for your dream home or getting the deal of the century.

Homebuyers can now get information that was once only accessible to real estate agents. Today you can easily figure out the average number of days that a home has been on the market.

Research the targeted neighborhood

Current technology enables you to research and obtain information about the area where you intend to buy your new home. You can find out anything, from the quality of schools and how many parks are in the neighborhood to crime rates.

Another great but often overlooked online tool is Google Earth. This can give you a bird’s-eye view of the property and area surrounding the home you want to buy.

Use virtual tours

There’s no need to wait for an open house or your agent to schedule a walk-through. Now you can take a virtual tour of many homes listed for sale in order to view their interior features.

Too often, it’s hard to get the real feel of a home by just looking at pictures. But a video offers an excellent peek into the home’s layout and other details.

Advances in technology make it fun and simple for potential homebuyers to do their homework quickly and get the necessary facts before taking the plunge into homeownership.

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