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Tech Makes Property Permits, Development, and Buying Easier

There was a time when Realtors were often buried in paperwork, and unable to get out into the field. Technology has changed all that, whether you’re helping clients to lease, rent, buy, or purchase property.

Not that the process of actually doing “property business” has become easier, but technology has made huge strides in streamlining the process. It goes well beyond the customer being able to compare rates online and see how large a mortgage he or she can qualify for.

Government agencies have partnered up with software companies to provide full, digital financial services, which makes meeting in person and juggling hard copies a thing of the past. You can get bundling discounts, finance your e-plan, and have 24/7 access to virtual support with the right agencies.

But this is just a couple slivers of the whole pie. Here are more ways that technology has made all property deals a lot easier.

Apps for everything

There are apps for home buyers, home sellers, real estate agents, brokers, and those who arrange mortgages. The apps range from free to somewhat pricey.

They can notify you the instant your dream house goes on the market. With regard to financing, you can keep up with the latest interest rates, monitor your credit score, and ensure your online banking is routing funds toward your housing fund.

For building permits and development projects, you can depend on cloud solutions in order to “green up” the process. It’s now simple for everyone from developers to government entities to have the latest information and forms at their fingertips.

All the players are moving into the cloud, even the Department of Defense (DoD), which could mean the traditional nightmares of red tape when you’re seeking permits may finally be getting gentler.

Digitizing the Electronic Plan Review (EPR)

The EPR is a web-based solution for everything related to permits and development. It could be just the thing for commercial buyers who are scouting out residential zones, developers looking to build the next Street of Dreams, and a host of others in the property market.

However, not all EPRs are created equally. In order to pick the best EPR for you, do your homework and match your needs to what each EPR has to offer.

This is a crucial step in the process, so don’t go with the first one you find, or depend on word of mouth. There’s a perfect fit for you out there, and it can make a world of difference when you find yourself in the middle of getting those permits filed.


The Emergence of LinkedIn as the Recruiter’s Favorite Tool


LinkedIn has dramatically changed the landscape of recruiting services in the past few years. This site created a whole new way to find the right candidates in the shortest amount of time.

Previously, companies and recruiters depended on sites such as Dice, Monster, and CareerBuilder to find qualified workers. The drawback with this approach was that recruiters could use only the information gleaned from the resume supplied by the candidate.

It’s not necessarily possible for HR professionals to know whether the resume is current or not. Many candidates update their profiles only when they decide to pursue new jobs.

What’s different about LinkedIn

LinkedIn provided a platform for working professionals to combine social networking with a living version of their resume. It enabled them to network with other professionals around the world.

LinkedIn allows professionals to keep in touch with colleagues from previous employers and to study potential future employers. The benefit of retaining and growing your professional network is obvious in an interconnected world.

Everyone is more likely to keep his or her profile current on LinkedIn, because it’s always visible to the person’s professional network. LinkedIn also allows members to request professional recommendations from peers, bosses, and professional contacts.

Recommendations are a great way for recruiters and future employers to assess the candidate’s strengths and skills. LinkedIn also allows recruiters to contact a member directly to match job openings.

A game-changer for recruiters

LinkedIn offers services to recruiters via the Hiring Solutions platform. Hiring Solutions consists of LinkedIn Recruiter, LinkedIn Job Postings, LinkedIn Employment Branding, and the LinkedIn Talent Pipeline.

• LinkedIn Recruiter provides recruiters access to a massive database of more than 300 million members around the globe.

• LinkedIn Job Postings allows recruiters to buy targeted ads, which are displayed to the targeted demographic.

• LinkedIn Employment Branding is a service that allows companies to create their own career portal on LinkedIn, with job postings, company benefits, and other company news.

• LinkedIn Talent Pipeline allows recruiters to monitor and track potential candidates with skills that match a company’s job openings.

LinkedIn also offers automated features to “source” candidates more effectively. Employers can cut down the amount of time needed to find new candidates.

They don’t need to maintain an in-house database of potential candidates anymore. Instead, companies can tap into a single, global source of candidates at any time. LinkedIn is changing the structure of the $130 billion recruiting industry with its innovative Hiring Solutions.

The most compelling reasons to recruit via LinkedIn

• Recent expansion into new markets such as China

• Easy access to a searchable database of professionals

• LinkedIn profiles are much more accurate than those on other social media sites

• It takes candidates less than a minute to review and apply for new jobs

• LinkedIn supports ads targeted toward top level executives in selected companies

• LinkedIn offers the InMail feature so recruiters may communicate directly with potential candidates

LinkedIn continues to transform the recruiting industry. It appears to have more room to grow and recruiters see several compelling reasons to go with LinkedIn.

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last update: March 30, 2015


Signs You’ll Thrive at an Online University


Do you dream of earning a degree while writing term papers on your couch in comfy pajamas with Grey’s Anatomy on mute? It can be a reality for students at an online university, but not everyone is cut out for it.

While you might be able to train yourself to complete a degree program, you might be better suited to a more structured atmosphere where you have to attend lectures and show up to class in person. Are you ready to find out which camp you likely belong to?

First, you should recognize that any reputable online university is accredited and has likely been around for some time. In many cases, these online universities are actually virtual versions of brick-and-mortar schools.

This can be convenient since there’s still a bit of a stigma in certain circles toward online degrees, although that’s been changing. Going online isn’t a shortcut or “easier,” but it can certainly be more convenient. So what might indicate this is for you?

1. You hate procrastination

You’ll have deadlines and perhaps even more work in an online university, so you’ll need to thrive with your own time management. Some students need a professor physically breathing down their necks in order to get assignments in on time. If you’re prone to procrastination, this might not be for you.

2. You’re a total Type A

Type A personalities do phenomenally well with online schools because they’re naturally driven and ambitious, and want to do their best. If this is you, make sure the online school has plenty of options for working virtually in groups, so you don’t get a case of cabin fever. Many Type A’s are also extroverts, but not all of them.

3. You’re a bit of a loner

This might seem to fly in the face of sign number two above, but for those who always hated raising their hand in class and feel they communicate better in writing, online universities are a place you can shine. It’s a medium that’s more comfortable for you and allows you to process and reflect rather than being forced into the Socratic method.

4. You’re tech savvy

No matter how user-friendly the classroom, you’re going to need some tech skills to succeed with an online school. If you’re naturally inclined toward technology, this might be a perfect match. If you’re not, there are training courses to help you catch up.

Think you have what it takes to make the most of an online university? Then it’s time to start preparing and researching which schools are your best match.


Best Photo Apps to Ditch Grey Hair


The whole geek chic movement might be terrific if you’re looking for a companion who shares your interests, and also looks great, but what about when you’re battling grey hair? It’s only natural for geeks to go online to find love, but that means putting your best photo forward.

Luckily, there are many great apps that enable you to edit those grey hairs away. Which ones are the best of 2014?

PicLab HD is a favorite, and it’s available on both iOS and Android for just $1.99. In addition to some great filters to fade out that grey, it gives you the ability to add typography to photos, play with layers and photos, move positions, and basically have all the best functions of Photoshop on an app.

Just be careful with over-editing (which is too easy), because you want your date to recognize you when you meet in person.

Geeking out

With Sktchy, you can turn any photo into an instant sketch, which not only hides flaws like those greys and wrinkles, but also lends some anonymity to your profile. If you’re in an important position or are just a little shy about putting it all completely out there, a sketch is a good compromise.

It’s currently on the market only for the iOS, but if you’re an Apple fan do you really want to meet anyone besides a fellow Apple user?

If you have a touch of the romantic in you, try out Photoristic for $4.99. It’s an image app that’s powerful, but doesn’t overwhelm you with features.

It’s simple, with a number of adjustment tools such as vibrance and exposure, complete with a black-and-white mode to hide those greys and other “imperfections.” For geeks who love the simpler and finer things, it’s the ultimate app.

From virtual to reality

Of course, no matter which app or software you choose for photo editing, the real world will eventually intrude. The only genuine way to get the look and hair you want is to fade out those greys on your head, but that doesn’t mean you have to have a monochrome hairdo.

The right mix of minerals and vitamins can naturally restore your hair color, which might make any apps unnecessary. But until you get on that regimen, consider PhotoChop for a distortion look or Handy Photo for an über-easy interface.

There’s more to photo editing than Instagram and Photoshop, so start letting your creativity go wild. When love is in the air, you want to look your best.


Google Acquires Titan Aerospace

What do Google and aerospace have in common? A lot, it turns out, now that the tech giant has officially announced that it’s buying Titan Aerospace in an effort to cover the globe with Internet connectivity, compliments of balloons and drones from the sky.

The Wall Street Journal initially reported the acquisition on Monday, April 14, but it took two days to get a confirmation. Now, the aerospace team has said it will start working with “Project Loon,” a pet Google project, in order to create high-altitude balloons that will provide low-cost Wi-Fi to rural regions.

If you haven’t heard of Titan before, the company designed drones that are solar-powered and fly above sea level. A startup based in New Mexico, Titan says the drones can “fly continuously for years” because of solar-charged batteries located in the wings.

However, the technology hasn’t been proven yet. (What about severe storms?) This isn’t the first time Titan has had tech giants sniffing around: Facebook attempted to acquire the company to get 11,000 Solara 60 drones.

No Facebook friends here

The details of how or why the Facebook acquisition fell through are vague, but what’s known is that Facebook went with a UK aircraft company, Ascenta, instead. Ascenta and Titan use similar technology, so it appears that Facebook is also attempting to build a private global Wi-Fi network.

Mark Zuckerberg wrote about his thoughts on drones in a white paper. In his opinion, they’ll be better than balloons for providing Internet to rural areas.

It looks like Google has arrived at a similar perspective, because Titan is on board to garner data that will help Google Maps as well as a number of systems in far-off places. Google is also on track to acquire a number of robotics companies to help gather airborne data, such as Boston Dynamics, the makers of DARPA’s killer robots.

Staying on top of things

The same way you wouldn’t want to miss out on re-certification for your career, Google isn’t taking any chances in building a veritable robot army. It’s rumored that the search giant might be angling to create a GATAMAM system, or Google all-terrain automated mapper, analyzer, and manipulator, which can instantly get data to support many services and simultaneously connect them around the world.

Google says, “Titan Aerospace and Google share a profound optimism about the potential for technology to improve the world. It’s why we’re so excited to welcome Titan Aerospace to the Google family.”

To the rest of us, though, this may sound more like another step toward world domination by Google.

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4 Ways Tech Freelancers Can Protect Their Work Rights

Freelance work in the tech industry is becoming a norm for many companies, who look to take independent contractors on board for a number of support and coding roles. However, freshly minted freelancers can find themselves in trouble when a client refuses to pay, or if a client decides to cancel a project when work has already been done. Since freelancers are not traditional employees, they are not subject to the same rights as full-time or part-time employees. Here are four ways to protect yourself against unpredictable client actions.

Use a Contract Every Time

Verbal agreements regarding work terms and payment won’t hold up in small claims court when a client refuses to pay. You’ll need a contract that is legally binding. This document should actually protect the interests of both the freelancer and the client. It entitles the client to a certain scope and quality of work. And it entitles the freelancer to a set amount of pay for a project or hourly wage. Whenever you negotiate freelance work, one of the parties should provide a contract that both the freelancer and the client will sign.

Copyright Clause

Who owns the rights to your work? Is your client paying to use the work with a credit to you, or do they own the full rights to the work? Where are they allowed to use the work? Is the client allowed to make money off work that is a derivative of your project? Will you be allowed to use code elsewhere? These are all important questions that you will need to hash out in advance, because it can significantly impact the parameters and future use of your work.

Portfolio Use Clause

Many of us take on new responsibilities in the hopes that we’ll get to mention it on our resumes and portfolios. However, some companies will contract workers to complete sensitive or confidential projects. If you have signed a non-disclosure report, a client might be able to take legal action against you, if you accidentally reveal confidential information on documents like an online portfolio. If you’d like to display work in your portfolio, make sure this is included within your contract.

Payment Clause

Your payment clause should explicitly define the payment schedule that clients must adhere to. If they do not pay, do not work. Some freelancers request half of the project compensation at the beginning of the project, then half upon completion. Define payment expectations if the client decides to cancel: for example, they should owe you 80% of the cost if you have finished 80% of the project.

Contracts can help you recover funds if you must take a client to small claims court and collect on debts. These documents can help ensure that clients are on their best behavior. Freelancers can protect themselves by using contracts for every project they work on.


Voluntary Commitment to Smartphone Anti-Theft Tech is On

The CTIA-The Wireless Association just revealed its Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment policy. It states that anyone who signs the commitment is promising to offer a “kill switch” to buyers at no additional cost.


The “kill switch” was a hotly debated anti-theft tool that’s been stirring up trouble between the CTIA and lawmakers. The CTIA comprises the vast majority of all the wireless network carriers in the country, which means you’ll likely encounter the kill-switch feature should your phone ever be lost or stolen.

According to official statements, the CTIA says that the feature is a rough but “final solution” to stop security threats.

Not too long ago, the CTIA seemed on the fence about installing a kill switch, but the organization has clearly changed its tune. A number of lawmakers and government agencies have long praised the benefits of such a feature, but the CTIA held back until now.

It appears that the association has finally come on board and understands that it’s going to be the best approach, at least for now, to discourage the theft of smartphones and the sensitive information inside them.

Technology is constantly changing and improving, but will this move entail?

Do you solemnly swear …

As the first part of the commitment, developers and manufacturers are mandated to provide the kill switch at no additional cost. The second half is targeted to carriers, who also need to agree not to stop their customers from downloading the feature.

You’ve probably already seen or used similar features such as the Google Android Device Manager, which enables the user to wipe a device virtually clean from a smartphone. But what if it’s the smartphone that needs wiping?

The kill switch offers the option to make the device inoperable simply by freezing the functions (with the exception of emergency calls, which fall under a different law), and the phone can’t be reactivated. Factory resets won’t save it, and only the owner will be able to make any changes.

However, according to the CTIA, this can be reversed via the owner. It will only require “proper credentials.” That’s the real game-changer here, because it potentially saves owners big money on phone replacements.

A volunteer commitment

Keep in mind that this is a voluntary opt-in feature. Most manufacturers and carriers have readily signed on, and are offering the feature to consumers.

As a consumer, you’re not required to use it, though. While it’s currently a downloadable feature, it’s getting a lot of support from lawmakers across the country, so it might eventually become a default feature on every device.


Gnip is the Latest Twitter Acquisition


Gnip and Twitter had been playing nicely for a long time, but much like a twin that swallows its sibling in the womb, it was time for Twitter to acquire Gnip.

The analytics firm had been helping Twitter climb into the black. Apparently it did so well that the social media giant developed the means to purchase its partner. Gnip has a proven reputation for utilizing social media feeds, analyzing them, and then making that information financially useful.

There are four companies that have that level of access to Twitter feeds, the others being WordPress, Tumblr, and FourSquare.

Of course, public sites like Facebook can also get access to this information, so what made Gnip a must-have? Twitter’s VP of Business Development and Platform Jana Messerschmidt said, “Gnip has played a crucial role in collecting and digesting our public data and delivering the most essential Tweets to partners.”

Twitter certainly knows what it’s doing in the realm of all things marketing, but even a social media star can use a little help.

Tweeting deeper

Messerschmidt continued, “We believe Gnip has only begun to scratch the surface. Together, we plan to offer more sophisticated data sets and better data enrichments, so that even more developers and businesses big and small around the world can drive innovation using the unique content that’s shared on Twitter.”

For others who are using Gnip, service will remain the same. They’ll still get complete access to Gnip data, but Twitter will help by expanding how much data is gleaned from social media sites.

Until any expansions are made, Twitter gets to sit back and watch the cash roll in from the surplus of tweets of its user base. Chris Moody, CEO of Gnip, says, “We’ll be able to support a broader set of cases across a diverse set of users, including brands, universities, agencies, and developers big and small. Joining Twitter also provides us access to resources and infrastructure to scale to the next level and offer new products and solutions.”

It seems to be a win-win situation for everyone involved, and that includes stockholders.

Bringing home the bacon

When the acquisition was announced, Twitter’s stock shot up by more than ten percent and Wall Street was all a’twitter. That’s great news for investors and stockholders who have been watching Twitter stock steadily decline since the beginning of the year.

Now, analysts are saying that Twitter has revamped its financial strategy and has what it takes to be a real money-maker someday.

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