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Why Zillow filed for another (nearly identical) patent

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) Zillow files another patent to claim rights over another technology that is neither original nor impressive. Zillow seems to love these kinds of patents

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Zillow patents ideas

Zillow is at it again. The real estate tech giant has filed yet another patent for “Connecting and using building interior data acquired from mobile devices.” So now they’ll have 2 patents that are almost identical.

Even if you’ve never toured a home as a prospective renter or buyer, I would bet that at this point in quarantine you have probably led at least one Facetime tour of your home for colleagues, friends, or family. You probably walked around your living room pointing out your robust plant collection, and depending on your audience, that one especially phallic cactus you are inappropriately proud of owning. You visited each room and stood in different corners to get the full effect of lighting, feng shui, and your inoperable vintage gum ball machine.

Now imagine instead of a live tour you took photos and videos to send along to someone else, to give them the full effect of visiting your home. Zillow’s application seeks to patent the automation of that very process of connecting cell phone collected visual records to produce an interior representation of a building, house, or other structure.

First Zillow patented the “techniques” for capturing this interior image data. Now, they want to patent the automation of capturing and linking that data.

Zillow has a storied history of what some may consider patent trolling. Patent trolling is a term used to describe an entity which uses patents as a sort of demented legal circus ringmaster would to manipulate competitors. Trolls apply for a ridiculous number of patents to claim intellectual rights on technology that is commonly known and widely used, and then uses the collection of patents to threaten litigation on anyone who attempts to use the technology without permission. In order to avoid expensive and time-consuming litigation, defendants often opt to pay licensing fees to the patent holder in order to use the technology and move on with their lives.

Zillow has already been embroiled in lawsuits with Corus Realty Holdings, IBM, and rival-turned-subsidiary Trulia over patent infringement, both as plaintiff and defendant.

I wish I could tell you the government is too clever not to snuff out this sort of blatant manipulation of the American litigation machine, but that would really be fake news. Besides they might be a bit busy, what with a highly contagious pandemic sweeping the nation.

Heather Buffo is a Cleveland native, a recovering Bostonian, and an Austin newbie. Heather has her Bachelor of Arts in Neurobiology from Harvard University, and is a City Year Boston AmeriCorps alum. When she's not writing for AG, you can find her pouring beers at the Brewtorium, but only one at a time.

Real Estate Technology

Freelancers, easily sort out your admin tasks with new pack of Notion goodies

(TECH NEWS) Notion is one of the favored tools for freelancers, and with this new pack made by Ben Issenmann, it’s even easier to sort out your administrative work.

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Notion Pack advertisement image, showing features for freelancers.

Time is a valuable thing, and it’s one of the most important things for freelancers. There are only so many hours in a day, and only so many things you can get done in each 60-minute window. Being self-employed is rewarding because you get to work on the things you love. (At least, I hope you do.) However, this also means all those boring administrative duties fall into your laps. So, time needs to be set aside for the not so fun paperwork duties.

But, freelancers, fret no more! Ben Issenmann, founder of Supercreative, has created a pretty neat template pack that will help save you time. His company provides tools, ideas, and courses for professional designers. And, his new product is Notion Pack, a pack for freelancers that want to collaborate with their clients.

In a recorded interview, Ben shared how Notion came about when he had a conversation with his friends. Because of that conversation, he wrote an article explaining how his designer and freelancer friends were using Notion to collaborate with their clients. He received a great number of responses from people who wanted to use his product. Excitedly, Ben said, “And I was like, okay. There’s definitely something I can do with this!” A few weeks later, Notion Pack was born.

According to his website, the pack has “all the freelance documents you need.” It comes with 20 different templates. The pack contains templates for quotes, invoices, sales proposals, contracts, etc. “It’s going to save freelancers a lot of hours spent on admin, time they can use on creative activities instead,” wrote Ben on Notion Pack’s Product Hunt page.

And every hour saved means more time to work on new projects that put more money in your pockets. Yay to that!

Notion Pack is divided into two parts. The Template Generator gives you access to the 20 templates. By clicking on a template, you can generate a new Notion page. Each page is color-coded. Yellow highlights the fields that you need to change for every client. While red highlights the things you need to configure beforehand when you set up each pack.

The Freelance Workspace has an out-of-the-box structure. When you press “Create new client”, it will generate all the templates in the correct order. From there, you can collaborate with your clients directly in Notion or export a PDF. To add a personal touch, you can add a video to say a quick hello to your client. Also, instead of having to share 10 different pages, the workspace will capture everything you need in one organized shareable page.

Another cool thing about Notion is the ability for clients to schedule time with you. Powered by Calendly, an online appointment scheduling software, a collaborator can book a time to follow-up with you straight through their workspace. I like the idea of that!

The Notion Pack is available in English and French. But according to a comment on their Product Hunt page, it might eventually be available in more languages.

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Real Estate Technology

Organize your to-do list and journal in one place with this sleek app

(TECH NEWS) New desktop and phone app allows for journaling, to-do list making, and notetaking to be done all in one (shareable, but safe) place.

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Colorful sunrise mountains with text saying "Take back your day: journal, to do list, organization", advertising Daynote

Outside of one-hit-wonder pop culture, my hobbies include journaling and to-do list making. So, imagine my delight when I learned of a platform that offers both – plus notes – all in one place.

Daynote urges its users to “take back your day.” With so much happening all at once, there is a lot of information to keep straight. With that in mind, it’s nice to have the option to keep all of that information in one place.

This simple yet sleek platform allows you to navigate between your journaled thoughts, items to tackle, and notes of ideas. We all know that journaling is good for relieving stress and anxieties, and with Daynote, your journal’s privacy is protected.

You are able to search previous entries, receive yearly reminders of what happened previously on this date, and you can upload photos. Daynote is also teasing that more features are coming soon.

I’m the biggest proponent of to-do lists. They make you more productive and it just feels good to check stuff off. With Daynote’s to-do lists, you can schedule lists and to-do items, shuffle between lists, and share with others.

Notes is almost like a combination of a journal entry and a to-do list. My personal notes are just a collection of ideas and reminders of things to come back to later. According to Daynote’s description, “Record anything you’d like to remember for later. Wine lists, books you want to read, products you want to buy, travel itineraries. Anything.”

The opportunities of what to note-take are endless! Through this app, you can search all notes, share notes with others, and schedule notes for later dates.

Daynote operates on Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, and the web. Early access is available upon request.

I’m an iPhone user (and I would imagine there is a very similar tool on an Android or any other smartphone) and, minus the scheduling capabilities, you can pretty much do all of this through the notes app. Personally, I’m a pen-to-paper gal who keeps all of this info physically written down.

However, Daynote could certainly be useful for people who need more reminders for to-do lists and notes; and this is something that could be helpful for teams.

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Real Estate Technology

This tab manager uses AI to organize and focus your web browsing

(TECHNOLOGY) Tabby isn’t the first tab manager we’ve seen, but it is one of the cooler ones. Who wouldn’t want AI to help you organize web browsing?

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Logo for Tabby, a new AI-based tab manager

At one time or another, we have all been a tab hoarder. They start adding up when we are doing research, online shopping, and managing work projects. No matter what it is, we have all let tabs pile up like a stack of dirty dishes. However, several tab manager solutions can help clean up that clutter.

OneTab converts all your tabs into lists that you can later restore individually or all at once. TooManyTabs lets you preview the tabs so you can quickly find what you are looking for. Google Tabs lets you group and color code the tabs for better organization. And now Tabby, an AI-based browser assistant, manages the tabs automatically for you so you are more productive and focused.

“We built it to help everyone navigate on their browser without feeling additional fatigue due to an excess of tabs,” said Merlin Laffitte, one of Tabby’s makers. Because of more online meetings due to the pandemic, Laffitte said that he, along with his colleagues, found it difficult to focus because of the clutter created by the open tabs.

Being in a handful of online meetings myself, I know what he is talking about. Too many open tabs can be distracting and time-consuming. I have heard many people say, “I have the document pulled up.” Then, they can’t find it because it is lost among the ten, twenty, or thirty tabs they have open.

Tabby attempts to solve the pain of tab hoarding by removing unnecessary tabs without a user having to click on anything. In doing so, it makes the browser “focus-friendly.” The way the AI-based plugin works is that it takes into consideration these three main KPIs:

  • The time spent on the tab.
  • The last time you viewed the tab.
  • The frequency of viewing.

Based on these interactions, Tabby scores each tab by relevance, and makes its decision on which tab to close. Whenever a tab is removed from your browser view, Tabby will send you a notification. On the tool’s homepage, you can find the removed tabs and choose whether you would like to restore one. From there, you can also set your preferences to customize Tabby’s behavior. As you continue using it, Tabby will adapt to your habits and learn when to remove a tab when it is not being used.

Tabby is “meant to help you declutter your browser view by removing unnecessary tabs.” Currently, the product has a 5/5 review on Product Hunt, and users seem to like it. With only 25 reviews as of this writing, Tabby is still in its infancy. It’ll be interesting to see how well it does among other tab manager tools as it gains more users.

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