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Technology tip: Android app reveals area nuisances

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We recently brought you 13 killer Android applications and recently discovered another can’t live without app that could make your life as an agent more simple.

Suburb Scout is an Android app that helps buyers or agents locate the negative aspects of a home ranging from nearby landfills, airports, sewage treatment centers and the like. As an agent, there are certain questions you can’t answer based on Fair Housing laws and then there are other questions that are purely speculation or opinion on your part that can be seen as steering.

If you have a sensitive client who expresses reservations over nuisances or asks the inevitable “I just saw a plane, exactly how far away is the airport?” question, you can hook them up with this app in preparation for a home tour, and they might be able to save you time by eliminating homes that they would never consider living in.

We asked the creators of Suburb Scout what their inspiration was for designing this app and Scott Kersey of 9:15 Software said, “I was looking at a brand new subdivision in an unfamiliar part of town. I knew there was a sewage plant nearby but didn’t know the exact location or even the street. I asked the home builder’s salesperson but I could tell they were reluctant to answer and tried to defer. This didn’t sit very well with me, obviously. A few days later, I finally uncovered the location on an aerial map, about 2 miles from that subdivision, even the city’s own website was not very forthcoming about the actual location. This was the original genesis of the idea, a desire to have my questions answered and/or suspicions confirmed.”

Empowering clients in ways that free you from opining or defending is a huge time saver and really a service to the clients themselves. In an era of low trust levels not only of this industry but of information itself, this app fills a need that investors and agents have had for a while as this information is not always readily available.

We asked Kersey what improvements or features may be added to Suburb Scout, to which he noted that they are “thinking about adding railroad crossings, as that is another nuisance that is hard to clarify unless you are in the area at the exact time one goes by and blasts the horn. Ultimately, I’d like the users of Suburb Scout to tell me what they would like.”

Suburb Scout was very enthusiastic when asked about how they feel about user input or feedback and even showed us that they have a voting tool on the website for anyone to cast their vote for porting Suburb Scout to the IPhone, Blackberry, Nokia or Windows platforms. Kersey said, “If the demand is there, we will build it for additional platforms.”

Screen shots:

Correction: original article alluded to this app being free, however it is actually $1.99.

AgentGenius.com has no affiliation with Suburb Scout or 9:15 Software.

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37 Comments

37 Comments

  1. Stacie Wells

    August 24, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    My new Droid just came in the mail today. I’m loving your list of apps. Thanks!

    • Lani Rosales

      August 24, 2010 at 11:16 pm

      When you’ve played with some of them, let me know what you think!!!

  2. www.hermanchan.com

    August 25, 2010 at 4:14 am

    love this post lani (especially since the maps are from my backyard, Silicon Valley!).

    i wonder why it is callled *Suburb* Scout…was it just for cute alliteration purposes or does it really focus more on suburbs. I only ask b/c San Jose is by no means a suburb, so i was a tad confused.

  3. Jim Gatos

    August 25, 2010 at 5:05 am

    Free?

    They are asking $1.99..

    Hardly much but NOT free…

    • Lani Rosales

      August 25, 2010 at 11:11 am

      Agreed- it has been corrected 🙂 Thanks Jim!

  4. Charlie Pitkin

    August 25, 2010 at 9:48 am

    Nice, but it’s not free. It is listed for $1.99 in the market.

    • Lani Rosales

      August 25, 2010 at 11:08 am

      You’re right and the correction has been made. Good eye, Charlie 🙂

  5. Jason Improta - Calabasas Homes for Sale

    August 25, 2010 at 9:51 am

    Cool! There are always lists of app recommendations for the iPhone. Love the Android suggestions. Thanks!

    • Lani Rosales

      August 25, 2010 at 11:09 am

      Perhaps I’m biased because I’m not nor do I plan to be an iPhone owner (unless they ever join evil forces with Sprint who I’ve been with for over 10 years). 🙂

  6. Diana Hoyt

    August 25, 2010 at 9:57 am

    I wish I had an Android phone! They came out at Verizon just after I purchased my HTC Touch Pro 2 – which I love, but there are SO many more apps available for Androids. Still have another 8 months or so before I can upgrade. Pooh!

    • Lani Rosales

      August 25, 2010 at 11:11 am

      8 months will be here before you know it and by then, even COOLER phones will be available!

  7. Megan Barber

    August 25, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Not a free app ($1.99 in the app store), but very cool none the less. I’ve had my Droid for a few months and I am LOVING it. Happy to finally see some recommended Droid apps for real estate since everyone else seems to be all about the iPhone.

    • Lani Rosales

      August 25, 2010 at 11:12 am

      I can’t wait until the Droid app library fills up like the iPhone app library!! That will be cool!

  8. Rob McCance

    August 28, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    Lani,

    Very cool!

    I’ve got a BB and a iPhone. May be time to add a Android.

    🙂

    RM

  9. mooersrealty

    September 12, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    Motorola Devour working well, hanging from the utility belt with the big dark blue “R” on the quick release aircraft metal buckle. The Scout app for a town of 7500 might not be on the stocking stuff list for rural small tuff property peddlers.

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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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