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Opinion Editorials

Vendors’ challenge of browser compliance and when clients should reasonably expect it

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Vendors have a challenge

A really big challenge. That challenge is the pace of change in the technology industry that grows exponentially every year. Because of the internet, consumers are more aware than ever of what tools vendors have to work with and when the winds of change start rolling in, consumers demand that vendors follow.

MLS vendors have an even more extensive challenge. Each MLS system has different business rules, for example, not all areas calculate days on market the same way and a simple MLS committee vote can change these rules. Those changes are expected to be updated in an MLS provider and that expectation is reasonable.

For years, a common standard has been sought in real estate feeds in the form of the Real Estate Transaction Standard (RETS). Mobile technologies have changed how Realtors input information into the MLS and how consumers see the data. Times have changed.

The challenge of browser compatibility

The challenge we address today is browser compatibility. We have heard from several MLS vendors that exist only on Internet Explorer that they’re working toward possibly becoming compliant with other browsers, but hear “it takes time” as the most common reason IE is still the only option despite the decline in its use globally. To be fair, some providers are now compliant with Chrome and Firefox, but we cannot locate an IE9 compliant MLS provider and those that are cross browser compliant mostly run on Flash and cannot be used on iPads.

Is it reasonable to expect vendors (including MLS vendors) to be iPad compliant or Chrome compliant? Maybe. Take a look at this and we’ll discuss it below:

1996 to 2011

I’ve outlined in red and green at what points a vendor should reasonably be expected to offer their product on a browser. If you look at the expansion and contraction, there is a relatively predictability in the growth patterns, so let’s start at the top. Prior to 1997, Netscape was the only major browser option, but by 1997, the growth expansion of Internet Explorer was large enough that vendors should have begun offering browser compliance (or at least be in focus groups researching their consumers). Between 1999 and 2000, the decline was so sharp with Netscape and the increase of IE so large that it would have been reasonable for vendors to discontinue improvement of their product for Netscape and focused on IE.

But this is where many vendors are stuck. The year 2000, but by 2007, Firefox adoption was large enough that consumers could reasonably expect a version of a tech product to be offered in IE as well as Firefox. This brings us to 2011. Based on the expansion/contraction paths of the past, 2011 is the year that vendors should reasonably be expected to exist on three platforms, now including Chrome.

The cost of browser compliance

It can be expensive to be cross-browser compliant, and adoption can pull a company in multiple directions, but it is the cost of doing business in the internet era for vendors. Several are working behind the scenes already to make this happen, but we hear rumors that some vendors plan on sticking with Internet Explorer.

That choice will only fly for a little bit longer as consumers, Realtors and Associations will not put up with it if there is a viable alternative. But for those vendors that closely study adoption (and you can tell who they are based on their offering), they will stay afloat.


Disclosure: an AG sister company is working with a Board of Realtors to evaluate one MLS provider through sentiment studies.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Roland Estrada

    April 1, 2011 at 8:15 am

    These vendors are about five years behind the curve. I’ve been complaining to SoCalMLS for the last five years about. I’m am quite a tech savvy agent. I saw the browser trend long ago. These vendors are just fat, lazy and arrogant. I’t time to call a spade a spade.

    As Realtors, we can’t be timid about calling these vendors out publicly. Considering the tools available to us in terms of social media, this can be done. How about a call to action – create a site of shame, flood bigger sites with phone calls and emails – you get the drift. Rise up and be heard. We are a powerful group and we should act as such.

  2. Lani Rosales

    April 1, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    Roland, I think you missed my point… there is a *reasonable* expectation period for browser compliance and for Google Chrome, that is just now in 2011 based on historical data. If they had offered Chrome five years ago, they would have been time travelers because the browser didn’t exist.

    Is SoCalMLS not with CoreLogic MLS whose next generation (which I think might be live in your area) is Chrome compliant?

    • Roland Estrada

      April 1, 2011 at 4:32 pm

      Lani, I can see you point. However, Chrome isn’t the first browser war salvo. It started with Firefox. I’ve been a geek for some time now and an early adopter of new tech. The geek world really latched onto Firefox and for good reasons. They had been longing for a web standards compliant and open browser.

      I’ve been complaining about this to our local MLS since 2005. I’ve kept complaining year after year, pointing out IE’s continuing loss of market share. I really started complaining when I switched to a Mac in late 2006.

      It was an obvious trend that venders very didn’t pay attention because they just don’t care. As long as agents continue to pay and say nothing why should they change. There is so much lack of vision on behalf of real estate industry vendors. I’ve just had this talk with a IT friend of mine last night. The coding is not that difficult. If frost me because these vendors are selling us tech. It’s there business to know what is coming down the line or least hire people smart enough to know.

      SoCalMLS is rolling out something called Fusion this year. Do you what they tell me if I ask when – they say sometime between December 31st. You are correct, our product is Tempo from CoreLogic. Considering how much money our association pays them. When we ask them to jump they should be asking us how high. Not the other way around. By the way they never the saw the Apple juggernaut coming either. I think they might be starting to pay attention. We’ll see.

    • Roland Estrada

      April 1, 2011 at 7:40 pm

      Lani, I did some more digging today. I turns out that Fusion has been available in search-only to Sandicor members since late December of 2010. I spoke to someone at SoCalMLS today and was told Fusion is expected for us by late summer. The good news is it will completely cross browser compatible. The bad news is that it’s Flash based and won’t work on an iOS devices. I still don’t the why it was
      Flash based. Maybe it’s easer to compile. You lose a lot of options when using legacy solutions. Too bad. Also the plan is to run Tempo and Fusion concurrently forever. Forever?? Hmmm…

      I was also told that SoCalMLS will be releasing a new mobile friendly MLS service called Kurio as replacement for our current Wireless MLS solution. I was told four weeks for that release, so I’ll plan on 8 weeks. Do I sound cynical?

  3. Missy Caulk

    October 11, 2011 at 6:03 am

    Still relevant for today, and I am posting on our boards Facebook page.

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Opinion Editorials

Ways to socialize safely during quarantine

(EDITORIAL) Months of isolation due to quarantine is causing loneliness for many, but joining virtual social groups from home may help fill the need for interaction.

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quarantine

Quarantining, sheltering in place, staying home. We’re tired of hearing it; we’re tired of doing it. Yet, it’s what we still need to be doing to stay safe for a while longer. All of this can be lonesome. As the days turn into weeks and weeks into months, the alone time is getting to even the most introverted among us.

Solitary confinement is considered one of the most psychologically damaging punishments a human can endure. The New Yorker reported on this in a 1992 study of prisoners in detention camps in the former Yugoslavia, as well as Vietnam veterans who experienced isolation. These studies showed that prisoners who had experienced solitary confinement demonstrated similar brain activity to those who’d suffered a severe head injury, noting that “Without sustained social interaction, the human brain may become as impaired as one that has incurred a traumatic injury.”

We aren’t meant to be solitary creatures. Your “pandemic brain” is real. That fogginess, the lack of productivity, can be attributed to many things, including anxiety, but being kept apart from other humans is a big part of it too. Be kind to yourself, give yourself grace, and join others virtually. Be it an app, a class, a Facebook group, a chat room, or a livestream, someone somewhere is out there waiting to connect with you too.

The good news? We are lucky enough to live in an era of near limitless ways to interact socially online. Sure, it is different, but it is something. It’s important. The best thing about this type of social interaction is being able to hone in on your specific interests, though I’d caution you against getting caught in an online echo chamber. Diversity of interests, personality, and opinion make for a richer experience, with opportunities for connecting and expanding your worldview.

Here are a few suggestions on ways to socialize while staying home and staying safe. Communicating with other humans is good for you, physically and mentally.

Interactive Livestreams on Twitch:

Twitch is best known as a streaming service for video game fans, but it offers multiple streams appealing to different interests. This is more than passive watching (although that is an option, too) as Twitch livestream channels also have chat rooms. Twitch is fun for people who like multi-tasking because the chat rooms for popular livestream channels can get busy with chatter.

While people watch the Twitch hosts play a video game, film a live podcast, make music or art, mix cocktails, or dance, they can comment on what they’re watching, make suggestions, ask questions, crack jokes, and get to know each other (by Twitch handle, so it is still as anonymous as you want it to be) in the chat room. The best hosts take time every so often to interact directly with the chat room questions and comments.

Many Twitch channels develop loyal followers who get to know each other, thus forming communities. I have participated in the Alamo Drafthouse Master Pancake movie mocks a few times because they are fun and local to Austin, where I live. Plus, in my non-quarantine life, I would go to Master Pancake shows live sometimes. The chat room feels familiar in a nice way. While watching online is free, you can (and totally should) tip them.

Online trivia in real time:

There are some good options for real-time online trivia, but I’m impressed with the NYC Trivia League’s model. They have trivia games online on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. The NYC Trivia League seems to have figured out a good way to run the game live while keeping answers private from the other teams. They run games on Instagram Live with a live video of the host, and participants answer via the question feature. Clever!

Online book club:

First I have to shout out my Austin local independent bookstore, BookPeople, because they are fantastic. They run book clubs throughout the year, along with readings, book signings, and all things book-related. BookPeople hosts several online book clubs during these lockdown days, and most people will find something that appeals to them.

I’m also impressed with this list from Hugo House, a writer’s resource based out of Seattle. This list includes Instagram and Goodread book clubs, book clubs for Black women, rebels, and poetry lovers. The Financial Diet recommends the Reddit book club, if you are comfortable with the Reddit format. Please note that it’s a busy place, but if you like Reddit, you already know this.

Cooking class or virtual tasting:

This is doubly satisfying because you can follow these chefs in real time, and you end up with a meal. There are a couple on Instagram Live, such as The Culinistas or Chef Massimo Bottura.

You can also participate in virtual tastings for wine, whiskey, or chocolate, though you will have to buy the product to participate in the classes (usually held over Zoom or Facebook Live). If you are in Austin, Dallas, or Houston, I recommend BeenThere Locals. The cost of the course includes the wine, spirits, or cooking kit in most cases, and all of the money goes to the business and expert hosting the class.

Look for your favorite wine, spirits, cheese, chocolate makers, and chefs that are local to you to find a similar experience. Most either prepare the class kit for pickup or delivery within a local area.

Quarantine chat:

To interact with another quarantined person seeking social interaction, there’s Quarantine Chat. Quarantine chat is one of the ways to connect through the Dialup app, available on iOS and Android devices. Sign up to make and receive calls when you want to speak with someone. The Dialup app pairs you randomly with another person for a phone conversation, at a scheduled time, either with anyone or with someone with shared interests.

Quarantine chat takes it a step further with calls at random times. When your quarantine chat caller calls, you will not see their number (or they yours), only the “Quarantine Chat” caller ID. If you are unable to pick up when they call, they will be connected with someone else, so there is no pressure to answer. It’s nice to hear someone else’s voice, merely to talk about what you’ve been cooking or what hilarious thing your pet is doing.

Play Uno:

Uno Freak lets people set up games and play Uno online with friends or strangers. Players do not need to register or download anything to play. Uno Freak is web-based.

Talk to mental health professionals:

If your state of loneliness starts sliding toward depression, call someone you can speak to right away to talk over your concerns. When in doubt, call a trained professional! Here are a few resources:

  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): The NAMI HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 am–6 pm, ET, 800-950-NAMI (6264) or info@nami.org.
  • Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to this text line 24/7 for someone to text with who will also be able to refer you to other resources: U.S. and Canada: 74174, U.K. 85258, Ireland: 50808.
  • Psych Central has put together this comprehensive list of crisis intervention specialists and ways to contact them immediately.

There are many ways to connect even though we are physically apart. These are just a few real time ways to interact with others online. If you want something a little more flesh and blood, take a walk around the block or even sit in a chair in front of where you live.

Wave at people from afar, and remember that we have lots of brilliant doctors and scientists working on a way out of this. Hang in there, buddy. I’m rooting for you. I’m rooting for all of us.

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Opinion Editorials

Working remotely: Will we ever go back? (Probably not)

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Now that the pandemic has opened the door on working remotely, there’s no way we’ll put the genie back in the bottle. But, here’s some ways you can adapt.

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Woman working remotely on her couch with a laptop on her lap.

When it comes to working remotely, will the toothpaste ever go back in the tube?

Mark Zuckerberg recently said, “We are going to be the most forward-leaning company on remote work at our scale…” By 2030, Zuckerberg anticipates that over half of Facebook’s workforce will be remote. Many other companies are jumping on the work from home bandwagon. Working remotely has helped many businesses manage the pandemic crisis, but it’s unsure what form remote working will take over the next 10 years.

We know that employees are responding positively to WFH, as reported in this article – Employers: Lacking remote work options may cause you to lose employees. As offices transition to a post-COVID normal, here are some things to consider about your office and remote work.

What does your business gain from allowing workers to WFH?
The future of remote work depends on a conscious application of WFH. It’s not just as easy as moving employees out of the office to home. You have to set up a system to manage workers, wherever they are working. The companies with good WFH cultures have set up rules and metrics to know whether it’s working for their business. You’ll need to have technology and resources that let your teams work remotely.

Can your business achieve its goals through remote work?
The pandemic may have proved the WFH model, but is this model sustainable? There are dozens of benefits to remote work. You can hire a more diverse workforce. You may save money on office space. Employees respond well to remote work. You reduce your carbon emissions.

But that can’t be your only measure of whether remote work fits into your vision for your organization. You should be looking at how employees will work remotely, but you need to consider why employees work remotely.

The work paradigm is shifting – how will you adapt?
The work environment has shifted over the past century. Remote work is here to stay, but how it fits into your company should be based on more than what employees want. You will have to work closely with managers and HR to build the WFH infrastructure that grows with your organization to support your teams.

We don’t know exactly how remote work will change over the next decade, but we do know that the workplace is being reinvented. Don’t just jump in because everyone is doing it. Make an investment in developing your WFH plan.

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Opinion Editorials

The truth about unemployment from someone who’s been through it

(EDITORIAL) Unemployment benefits aren’t what you thought they were. Here’s a first-hand experience and what you need to know.

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unemployment

Have I ever told you how I owed the government over two grand because of unemployment in 2019, and only just finished paying it back this year?

This isn’t exactly the forum for memoirs, but this is relevant to everyone. So I’ll tell y’all anyway.

It all started back in 2018 when I came into work early, microwaved my breakfast, poured coffee, and got pulled into a collaboration room to hear, “We love you and your work, April, but we’ve been bought out and you’re being laid off.”

It was kind of awkward carrying my stuff out to the car with that Jimmy Dean sandwich in my mouth.

More awkward still was the nine months of unemployment I went through afterwards. Between the fully clothed shower crying, the stream of job denial, catering to people who carried rocks in their nostrils at my part-time job (yes, ew, yes, really), and almost dying of no-health-insurance-itis, I learned a lot!

The bigger lesson though, came in the spring of the following year when I filed my taxes. I should back up for a moment and take the time to let those of you unfamiliar with unemployment in Texas in on a few things that aren’t common knowledge.

1: You’re only eligible if you were laid off. Not if you had quit. Not fired. Your former company can also choose to challenge your eligibility for benefits if they didn’t like your face on the way out. So the only way you’re 100% guaranteed to get paid in (what the state calls) “a timely manner”, is a completely amicable split.

2: Overpayments have to go back. Immediately. If there’s an error, like several thousand of Texans found out this week, the government needs that cash back before you can access any more. If you’re not watching your bank account to make sure you’re getting the exact same check each time and you have an overpayment, rest assured that mistake isn’t going to take long to correct. Unfortunately, if you spent that money unknowingly–thought you got an ‘in these uncertain times’ kinder and gentler adjustment and have 0 income, you have a problem. Tying into Coronavirus nonsense is point three!

3: There are no sick days. If ever you’re unable to work for any reason, be it a car accident, childbirth, horrible internal infection (see also no-health-insurance-itis), you are legally required to report it, and you will not be paid for any days you were incapacitated. Personally, my no-health-insurance-itis came with a bad fever and bedrest order that axed me out of my part time job AND killed my unemployment benefits for the week I spent getting my internal organs to like me again. But as it turned out, the payment denial came at the right time because–

4: Unemployment benefits are finite. Even if you choose to lie on your request forms about how hard you’re searching for work, coasting is ill-advised because once the number the state allots you runs out…it’s out. Don’t lie on your request forms, by the way. In my case, since I got cut from my part-time gig, I got a call from the Texas Workforce Commission about why my hours were short. I was able to point out where I’d reported my sickness to them and to my employer, so my unpaid week rolled over to a later request date. I continued to get paid right up until my hiring date which was also EXACTLY when my benefits ran out.

Unemployment isn’t a career, which is odd considering the fact that unemployment payments are qualified by the government as income.

Ergo, fact number five…

5: Your benefits? They’re taxed.

That’s right, you will be TAXED for not having a job.

The stereotype of the ‘lazy unemployment collector burdening society’ should be fading pretty quickly for the hitherto uninformed about now.

To bring it back to my story, I’d completely forgotten that when I filed for unemployment in the first place, I’d asked for my taxes NOT to be withheld from it–assuming that I wasn’t going to be searching for full time work for very long. I figured “Well, I’ll have a tax refund coming since I’ll get work again no problem, it’ll cancel out.”

Except, it was a problem. Because of the nine month situation.

I’d completely forgotten about it by the time I threw myself into my new job, but after doing my taxes, triple checking the laws and what I’d signed, it was clear. Somehow…despite being at my lowest point in life, I owed the highest amount in taxes, somewhere around the 2k mark.

Despite being based on a system that’s tied to how much income you were getting before, and all the frustrating “safeguards” put in place to keep payments as low and infrequent as possible, Uncle Sam still wants a bite out of the gas-station Hostess pie that is your unemployment check. And as I’m writing this, more and more people are finding that out. And even as we enter 2021, there is still more to be aware of – we’re not out of the woods yet.

I’d like to end this on a more positive note… So let’s say we’ve all been positively educated! That’s a net gain, surely.

Keep your heads up, and masked.

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