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Finding that perfect home location

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Location, Location, Location

The famous phrase is often used to describe real estate.  That “perfect” location may be is not the same for every buyer and varies based on a variety of different factors.  A new site tries to help them on this mission.  Optimalhomelocation.com trys to suggest the perfect home location by analyzing where you go most often including work, the gym, shopping, etc.

Users enter in the location of places they frequent (other than their current home location).  The site then calculates the central home location.  They are then asked to enter in the order of the places the frequent (gym, work, Starbucks, movie theater, etc) for each family/household member.

The Optimal Home Location is then suggested.

The goal of the site is to provide potential home buyers a look into what their commute will be like for each family member (go green!), neighborhood demographics and affordability, and information on local resources such as schools, libraries, Starbucks, etc.

Home buyers can print out a report with this information.  The site provides interesting information for people who know exactly where they commute to and from and don’t necessarily intend to change these locations if they move.

My sense, however, is that home buyers who know where they are commuting to and don’t have any intention of changing schools, gyms already know their ideal home location.

The buyers who most need a tool to help them identify the perfect location are either new to the area or are most likely plan to change their commute patterns, making it difficult to use the tool.

It looks pretty but without more detailed neighborhood information, I don’t see it being terribly valuable.  Perhaps coupled with neighborhood blog posts with slideshows and more detailed information, it could be a useful tool.

Ginger Wilcox is a Broker Associate at Alain Pinel in Marin County, California in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is an accomplished speaker, writer and trainer on the real estate industry, online marketing and social media strategy. Ginger is the publisher of the Marin Real Estate Guide -"Blog by the Bay," a highly regarded Bay Area real estate web site. For more information about Ginger, visit gingerwilcox.com.

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Matt Stigliano

    December 17, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    Ginger – I see what you’re saying about the (doubtful) usefulness of this product, but here’s what I see. If a site came along and used this info as one of their tools in the arsenal, it could become more useful. I was thinking about Dwellicious as an example. Being able to take the homes you’ve been plotting and bookmarking, then running them through the Optimal Home Location algorithm would allow someone to see that maybe a home they thought might work, might not be the best choice for them in terms of location. I know that although people often have a good idea of where they want to live, they sometimes are missing a particular area, because of lack of personal knowledge (which is where we can help). Even as an agent who drives around and likes to take the “long way” (so I can discover new areas that I might not have bumped into before), I sometimes am shocked to find neighborhoods that are tucked away down a long winding road (I just had this experience the other day). By bringing this information together with other information, it might prove very useful to the user.

    What do you think of its use in that way?

  2. Jim Duncan

    December 18, 2008 at 5:31 am

    Ginger –

    I saw this tool the other day and played with it a bit. As it is, it doesn’t seem very useful, but the concept itself is brilliant – if it could be implemented as an overlay with deep and rich data – demographics, coffee shops, crime, housing … then I think that it would be a very useful tool for Realtors, buyers, and large companies that are seeking to entice people to relocate to their areas.

  3. Ginger Wilcox

    December 18, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    Matt and Jim,
    I agree completely with both of you- the concept is fabulous, it just needs to be taken further to be truly useful. In its current state, it is too basic. By delving deeper and combining it with other tools, it could be valuable to both agents and home buyers.

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Social Media

There’s a subreddit that is literally moving the stock market

(SOCIAL MEDIA) “You can’t change the world on Reddit all day.” Hm. Wanna bet? Some people do bet on whether a stock will rise or fall on Reddit.

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Stock market

I don’t gamble. RIP to Mister Kenny Rogers, but this whole folding, holding, walking, running business is bad for my heart.

So playing the stock market is out for me, but apparently, you don’t even need an accountant to place your bets? The good, if foul mouthed, people of r/WSB aren’t just proving that, their playing and paying outside the traditional trading room is actually moving markets!

The subreddit, full name r/wallstreetbets, is 900,000 users strong, and boasts members that have been involved for years. They show off their stock market wins, losses, jokes, and opinions with varying levels of insight on all contributions.

Ordinarily, this’d just be an interesting collection of folks talking stock, but some of their threads have been shown to have an effect on share prices!

Users don’t just share what and how they’ve traded, they also gamble on what stock prices will do, without actually purchasing or selling any. Options contracts allow users to cast lots for less cash, while retaining the power to show actual purchases as hotter or colder and literally moving the temperature dial on them by word of mouth (and possibly pure conjecture) alone.

So I could hop in, put a marginal amount of money down, and say ‘Stock in Pressure Valve Company X is going to go up since more people are buying bidets in the wake of the Corona-based toilet paper hoarders, and they’re a key component’, then pepper in some off-color jokes about personal hygiene and everyone’s moms to blend in, and potentially wait to collect!

Neat.

After all, not only are surges of humans looking at these bets, web algorithms and cookie crawlers are staring too. It’s chatrooms of the dotcom boom all over again, except more chaotic, more gif-laden, and more monitored by outside forces.

It’d be sinister if the vibe of the sub wasn’t ‘Take literally nothing seriously’. Try discussing ‘chicken tendies’ in a boardroom sometime and see what I mean…although the tide on that might be shifting as well.

The one forbidden thing here is actually using the forum for insider trading. Directly profiting from the rumors gets users exiled, and gets users interacting with them booted too.

Serious business actually DOES occur, who would have thought? I wouldn’t have. Which is why I don’t gamble.

It’s easy to write Reddit off as just an online echo chamber slash cesspool, but when it comes down to it, the American Psychos of the world are on the same internet as the basement-dwellers, and the gap in financial literacy between the two ends of the spectrum is pulling a reverse Pangea.

We need to start recognizing that.

I’m still staying away from 4Chan though.

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Social Media

Facebook messenger gets a major facelift for speed

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook messenger has been around a loooooong time and has started to suffer from build bloat. So the new project lightspeed has redesigned it.

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facebook messenger

If you’ve ever spent time in an old-school, family-built home, then you have an idea of what the inner workings of the Facebook Messenger app look like. It began with just a few rooms, but as the needs of the family grew, they kept adding on rooms wherever they fit until the layout no longer made sense and the home became a bloated maze.

Facebook Messenger has been suffering growing pains ever since it branched off into its own app in 2011. As the app became more popular developers worked to make it more engaging by adding new features like stickers, GIFS, and video calls.

At some point, they realized that the app had gotten away from them. The Facebook Messenger currently on your device has move 1.7 million lines of code. An app that big is slow and takes up a ton of valuable space on users devices, so the team knew it was time for a change. The project became internally as Project LightSpeed.

Facebook Messenger is a valuable app for connecting with friends, family, and business connections across the globe. You don’t even need to be Facebook friends with someone to message them making it an invaluable tool for long-distance teams or new business connections. In recent years, the app has begun to slow down making it vulnerable to competitors like WhatsApp.

The development team’s goal for the new app was to make it small, fast, and simple. In order to achieve this Facebook’s team of engineers has reduced the core code by 84%, taking the original 1.7 million lines of code down to 360,000. The new app will be about a quarter of the size of the current app.

A smaller app will load quicker and be more responsive, even if you’re using an older device or you’re in an area with lower connectivity. Current tests put the new app as being twice as fast as the current version, while keeping all the features that users have come to expect. Don’t worry, you will still be able to send your friends stickers, pictures, and obnoxious amounts of GIFs.

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Social Media

Facebook wants to hear from you. Literally. For innocent reasons

(SOCIAL MEDIA) As if Facebook didn’t already own everything that is you, they are asking to hear you say a specific phrase for their new voice services.

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facebook portal

Good news, Facebook is now offering to pay you to let strangers listen to you! Well, kind of.

Users connect to Viewpoints – a different app under the Facebook umbrella – which allows them to participate in market research. In this case, participants repeat the phrase “Hey Portal, call,” followed by the name of a Facebook friend, and submit the recording. The whole ordeal is about five minutes, tops.

By finishing this and other tasks, participants can expect to make a grand total of…$5. It’s not much, but at least that’s a fancy cup of coffee for work you can do while waiting for the ads to finish on your TV show.

So, why is Facebook shelling out $5 for people to make voice recordings? Surprisingly, it’s because AI is not nearly as smart as we sometimes assume – especially when it comes to voice commands. There’s a whole host of things that go into how we communicate, like posture, tone and even slang, which can make understanding vocal commands a much bigger ordeal.

In order to make improvements to the system, it often requires teams of humans putting in the leg-work. This means studying the disconnect between humans and machines, as well as creating solutions. Unfortunately, this human touch is also the excuse companies like Amazon use to justify listening in on your conversations. (Sure, users can ‘opt out’ but come on. That’s not exactly something Amazon advertises.)

As more people grow aware of the potential breach of privacy that tech like Alexa or Portal can bring, however, it’s put pressure on companies to scale back. Which is where Facebook’s new paid survey comes in. Unlike an anonymous employee listening in on a random Portal conversation, this way participants opt in, rather than out, of having their information shared.

The academic in me is slightly skeptical. There’s only so far a paid study like this can get, especially when it comes to the nuances of voice command. The conspiracy theorist in me is also skeptical, mostly because although Facebook promises they won’t sell your information or publicly share it, there’s still plenty of nefarious things to be done. That said, at the end of the day, at least Facebook isn’t just swiping information off your Portal…and you even get some pocket change in exchange.

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