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Gmail extension helps you write more confident-sounding emails

(TECH NEWS) The plug-in identifies wishy-washy words and phrases thought to undermine a message so you can weed them out.

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A lack of confidence in emails is a serious problem, especially in business because it often sets the wrong tone or makes messages seem weak. Most times it’s because we don’t want to be brash and arrogant, so we sometimes soften things to make them seem more appealing.

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Just Not Sorry

When you compose a message, if you say “I think”, it implies you are not sure of your position. The word “just” is also a dead giveaway as a weak throwaway word that doesn’t need to be there. Similarly, saying “sorry” in an email makes you come across as timid. We try to squeeze in these qualifiers in hopes that the reader will accept what we are trying to say. Yet, this often results in a lack of confidence in writing.

Cyrus Innovation is looking to change weak writing. The company has built a simple Gmail plug-in called “Just Not Sorry.”

The plug-in identifies wishy-washy words and phrases thought to undermine a message so you can weed them out.

Phrases such as “I think,” “just,” “I’m no expert,” and, of course, “sorry” are a just a few that will trigger a warning from the service.

Once identified, the problem word is underlined in red as though it were misspelled so you can quickly see it. If you hover over the word, you can see a quote from famous folks like economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett explaining how the phrase is usually perceived and why you should think twice about using it in your message.

Stop sounding like a pushover

That’s not to say these phrases should always be avoided in your messages. Sometimes saying sorry is perfectly fine in an email. However, it’s saying sorry too much that can set a weak tone or make you seem like a pushover. The trick is to use strong words that make it easier to understand your intent.

Perhaps a future extension will spot all passive voice, poor word choices, or unclear phrases. In the meantime, you can try the extension to help you write stronger emails. “Just Not Sorry” can be downloaded from the Chrome Web Store

#JustNotSorry

Nichole earned a Master's in Sociology from Texas State University and has publications in peer-reviewed journals. She has spent her career in tech and advertising. Her writing interests include the intersection of tech and society. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Communication and Media Studies at Murdoch University.

Real Estate Technology

6 awesome drone tools every real estate pro should know

(TECH NEWS) Drone technologies are emerging rapidly, and improving real estate marketing like never before. Here are some tools to know about before embarking upon your drone journey.

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Have you noticed the globe’s recent fascination with drones? They’re practically everywhere – agriculture, the news, outside your twenty-second story window — and what has essentially become a distinct subculture (similar to GoPro’s preferred demographic, but different in its own right) which has grown far too quickly to be regulated as strictly as one might think.

Practically anyone can obtain a drone these days; thanks to recent developments in this revolutionary technology, you can be part of the aforementioned “anyone.”

Note from the Editor: Before you put a drone in the air, consult local and federal laws (or consult your lawyer).

First, check out the no-fly zone maps

To start, you’ll want a comprehensive app that keeps you updated on flight alerts. Such an app does, indeed, exist – a testament to the prevalence of this subculture in and of itself – and it goes by the elusive name Hover.

Hover provides you with No-Fly Zone maps, both temporary and permanent, as well as consolidated weather and an integrated flight log. If you have the slightest inclination to avoid accidental stalking or becoming a threat to national security, Hover has your back.

Next, you’ll probably want some hardware to accompany your software. In a rapidly expanding drone market, you’ll be hard-pressed to find one that absolutely outdoes every other item; however, for your convenience, we have assembled a list of choice picks.

1. A stabilized drone that shoots in 1080p

The Phantom 2 Vision+: A stabilized drone that shoots video in 1080p. Autonomous flight is an option, but the Phantom 2 Vision+ truly excels with its input capability; the option to program in specific coordinates and control each minute movement from the ground makes this drone optimal for shooting long, panoramic videos as well as quick, dynamic angles.

2. Throw the drone up, it follows you around

Lily: Also known as the camera that made third-person action possible, Lily is an autonomous drone that is geared towards extreme sporting fanatics. Lily flies behind you and records in 1080p, with the advertised option of slow-motion recording in 720p. Lily is also waterproof, as well as being surprisingly portable.

3. Durable drone controlled by your phone

Hexo+: Approximately the same functionality as Lily, with a few key differences: Hexo+ comes with a dedicated app to consolidate all of the drone’s functions into your preferred smartphone, as well as much more in-depth controls than Lily. Hexo+ is described on its site as “a drone specifically designed to follow and film you—in any situation,” which suggests extreme durability.

4. A waterproof, emergency-ready drone

Splash Drone: Still in prototype with a tentative release date of August 28, this drone is worth keeping an eye on. Besides being built around a reliable waterproof chassis, the Splash Drone comes with an emergency flare system, a payload release system (literally taking autonomous delivery to a new level), and the seemingly obligatory autonomous operational capabilities.

5. Buy footage or hire an operator

Airstoc Footage: Recently, we wrote about GoPro’s campaign to create the equivalent of Shutterstock for video marketing. While there were definitive pros and cons, the overall idea was fairly solid. Airstoc Footage is the drone version of that campaign, offering both the ability to buy footage or hire an operator for a more personal touch — something GoPro’s campaign lacked. Keep an eye on this site as well.

6. Hire a drone operator pro on the fly

Animal Robo: The “Uber of drones,” Animal Robo is an app that allows you to hire drone pilots on demand. Though not terribly revolutionary in and of itself, the concept opens up a job market for anyone with the cash and expertise to own and pilot a drone competently. Brave new world that this is, it seems likely that this is a market that will also eventually see the rise of its own subculture.

So there you have it, folks. If you’re thinking of purchasing a drone, we would strongly advise you to consider the above information when finalizing your purchase — especially the apps, which will probably make your operation easier and definitely spare you significant legal trouble.

Bonus: to learn more about the drone ecosystem, read Greylock Partners’ Chris McCann’s brief visual overview.

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Real Estate Technology

If your task lists are based on your email inbox, meet Moodo

(TECHNOLOGY NEWS) Moodo is helping people by removing the need to organize their organizers with the invention of their own task manager.

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There are plenty of devices and platforms out there that ensure productivity. However, using all of them at the same time will do just the opposite. That is why one company, Moodo, has found a solution.

They have developed a way to create task lists and schedule events all by starting with email.

Moodo was founded by Grant Watters and Jay Meistrich after they realized just how much time they wasted “organizing their organizational systems.” Even they recognized how many devices and separate tools they were using to keep up with their daily to-do lists.

Ultimately, it made them less productive as more time was spent task switching, tracking down content and translating it to team members than performing the tasks themselves. This led them to create Moodo, an application that deciphers tasks lists directly from your inbox.

Anyone can begin making outlines through Moodo. First, you start with your inbox. Users can sort, prioritize and organize emails based on their content. The tool allows users to make various outlines, where emails are dragged, dropped and saved as tasks.

Outlines can be viewed all together, or can be zoomed in and searched for specific content.

Additionally, users can match up their to-do lists with their calendars. Tasks can easily be placed into calendars to correspond with your schedule. It is a way to ensure that no tasks are overlooked or forgotten because they reside in more than one place.

Moodo is not only a great way to boost individual productivity, but also work ethic among a group. Multiple members on a team can view and edit task lists and calendars in real-time. Everyone can use their individual devices to collaborate. Moodo also works offline. Changes to any content will be synced once you go online again.

The company can ensure users’ privacy because none of the content passes through servers, instead it is stored on Google Drive. People can start using Moodo for free. It is also currently available on all devices.

So why not put your email to good use? With Moodo, everything works better when it works together.

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Real Estate Technology

It’s complicated, but how does one move out of a smart home?

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) We live in a world of the latest, greatest tech gadgets for a smart home, but what happens to them and the information they’ve collected when you’re ready to move?

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One of the attractions to a smart home is customization; you can customize everything from the temperature, to the amount of light in a particular room. Smart homes can accommodate nearly every preference and in most cases, anticipate what you need, but what happens to all this technology, and more importantly, the data this technology has collected, when you decide to move out of your smart home?

Hardwired versus stand-alone
Most smart homes have a stand-alone hub (or central control) that connect your lights, thermostat, sprinklers, and everything else, while some more involved, automated units require panels to be directly wired into the walls. As you can imagine, the wired-in units, are obviously not going to be walking out the door with you quite as easily when you leave, as a stand-alone hub (like Alexa or Google Home). More importantly, however, where is the data going that your thermostat, security cameras, voice-activated controls, and everything else have collected when you leave? How do you lock down those devices and data so the next occupant cannot access your sensitive information?

Locking it down and resetting devices
Your first priority should be to make certain your software is up-to-date and that you are using the latest security and encryption protection that’s compatible with your system. Each aspect of your smart home likely has a “disconnect” or “uninstall” process and you’ll likely need to consult with each one to insure you have a smooth and safe transition to your new home. Even if you’re taking the components of the system with you, you’ll need to reach out to customer support and let them know your new location. If you’re leaving them behind, tech support will likely recommend that you reset it to the factory default, so the next family will be able to connect their system and adjust to their preferences.

Protecting data and IoT
While dealing with the actual devices is important, as an entire connected home can become quite expensive, even more crucial, is ensuring that your data is protected when you move. This brings us back to a topic we have long and frequently discussed: the IoT (Internet of Things) and who in fact owns the information collected from a smart home?

In general, if you own your home, you own the data, although, each app/program/vendor/utility can vary so always, always, always, read the terms and conditions before you click “accept” when you begin using a new program or app. The ToS will likely tell you what the company will do with the data it collects from your devices and you need to protect the ownership of your data. Also, read the privacy policy as some data can be sold to 3rd parties (for massive profit) if you blindly click “accept.”

If you still think it’s no big deal, you might want to read about who will profit from the IoT. Also dig in to who owns what type of data, because let’s face it, you want to know where and how video footage, door lock access codes, and security alarm entries are being stored.

If you take nothing else away from this article, let it be to double-check your encryption setting and your preferred apps’ data storage/sales policies because these are the two most important and proactive steps you can take to prevent your data from falling into the wrong hands, not only when you leave your existing smart home, but also in general while you are using and enjoying your automated technology.

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