The importance of homeownership, death of the check, and buh-bye Google Reader
U.S. News & World Report brings together studies discussing the importance of homeownership. Besides economic benefits, there are also social benefits. “Clearly, for most people there are distinct times to rent and own, based on income, marital status and other variables, and housing policy should provide a balance between these housing needs. However, given the ability of homeownership to generate family and community benefits, ensuring policies that facilitate sustainable homeownership must remain at the core of our nation’s housing policy agenda.”
U.S. consumers and businesses wrote 28 billion checks in 2009, a figure that’s been dropping about 1.8 billion a year. The deathrattle of checks started on September 11, 2001, when the terrorist attacks in New York put a halt to the daily $6 billion worth of checks flying around in planes from coast to coast. New technologies are quickly making even today’s use of checks obsolete.
Google has decided to shut down its RSS feed reader, Google Reader, as of July 1st. While blogs and RSS are yesterday’s shiny new toy, lots of people still rely on Google Reader to condense their information stream to a manageable flow. Forbes had an interesting piece on the shutdown, reminding us that although the internet is a ‘user-driven’ medium, it’s still controlled in lots of ways by corporate tech companies. Looking for alternatives to Google Reader to migrate your feeds? There still are several feed reader alternatives out there.
As a both a biker commuter and car driver, I know the frustration of reading bike riders’ hand signals for turning and stopping. People seem to do just whatever they want, if at all. Is this guy turning or stopping? An inventor has taken some of the guesswork out of the process with his new prototype helmet with built-in stop and turn signals. It’s pretty cool if it’s not too heavy.
In order to make the game more relevant to his 3-year-old daughter, a father hacked into Nintendo’s classic video game Donkey Kong and reversed the roles of the hero and princess. Now Princess Pauline jumps, climbs, and dodges barrels to save Mario.
Twinkies will be back! Is this a good thing or not?
Veteran REALTORS®, the street in literature, ice cream banking, and talk like Inspector Gadget
With the flurry of articles harping on the financial, career, and general life failures of the Millennials, the Fiscal Times’ slide show 7 Recession Status Symbols gives this generation a much needed ego-boost. The sluggish economy gives rise to a socially and eco conscious, non-materialistic, and open-minded generation.
Koenig & Strey is helping veterans become REALTORS®. This program will provide assistance to qualified veterans, including real estate school and licensing fees, NAR dues, insurance and other fees and costs. Veterans are highly disciplined and used to overcoming obstacles—a perfect fit for real estate.
Sometimes you want to have a bit of background music but you’re not sure what you want to hear. Songza, one of Time‘s 50 best websites of 2012, will help you pick based on your mood.
The New Yorker recently noted how several recent novels, as well as some from the past, use real estate or a home as almost a character itself, representing the rise and fall of a family or neighborhood.
Tired of low returns on your savings account? How about interest in ice cream or coffee coupons? One entrepreneur in Pittsburgh has opened a community bank alternative as part of his ice cream parlor after being hit by multiple overdraft fees from his own bank. Customers who deposit $100 can earn $5.50 a year in coupons for ice cream, coffee or waffles. The bank also makes loans and cashes checks. However, there’s no FDIC insurance or other guarantees…
Flowers are not only beautiful to look at, but will boost your productivity. Having flowers at your desk and in your office can ease depression and negativity and promote creativity.
‘Handsfree’ is certainly a popular term in mobile phone technology, but a new invention goes to the other extreme. Hi-Call Gloves have a built in mic and speaker so you can look just like Inspector Gadget as you listen through your thumb and talk through your pinkie. Of course you’ll also look crazy, but at least your hands will be warm as you talk. Still in the development stage, the gloves use bluetooth technology so are compatible with most smart phones. And capacitive touch build in so you can text and surf Facebook without taking the gloves off.
Downpayment saving, new Kindle next week? and enormous new TVs
How long will it take to save for your home? The Atlantic analyzed data to calculate times for major metro areas. They based their numbers on saving a standard 20 percent down on an average home with a worker making an average wage putting aside 10 percent of earnings each month. Now they use pretty conservative estimates, but if you’re looking to buy in Honolulu it would take over 28 years to save that downpayment. San Francisco is another place where the kids will be in college when you finally buy, coming in at over 20 years.
To get the best prices, don’t buy gas right before a holiday or Wednesday mornings after 10am. Gas stations usually raise their prices before heavily traveled holidays, such as Labor Day and after gas station owners have checked out their competitors’ prices.
Will the Kindle be given away for free some time in the near future? Farhad Manjoo of Slate predicts that it will. Manjoo even thinks that one day signing up for Amazon’s Prime service – $79 a year for fast shipping, streaming content, etc – will net you a free Kindle at some point down the road. And watch out: Amazon shows that Kindle Fires are ‘sold out‘ currently, meaning an update is just days away.
Time reports that Icelanders are more than twice as happy as Americans in general. What can American business learn from our northern neighbors to better our workplaces? Create a community, have a hobby, put family first, and provide healthier food. Oh, and eat fermented shark occasionally…
Love your new flat screen TV? You didn’t think electronic makers were going to let you stop there, did you? Start saving your pennies cause a whole slough of companies announced so-called ’4K’ sets this week. Boasting a resolution of nearly 4000 pixels on the horizontal (vs today’s 1080 pixels on the vertical), most sets start at 84 inches wide. But why stop there? Panasonic recently demo’d an 8k set. Of course there’s no content yet and you’ll have to sit wwaaayyy back but hey, there you go….
iPhone 5 leaks, preservation & automation
Apple seems to be having more problems this go-round keeping its next generation iPhone prototype under wraps. The latest leak shows the elongated back cover.
The Wrigley Building (next door to NAR’s Chicago headquarters) has been granted landmark status by the City of Chicago. NAR’s building doesn’t have landmark status yet, but it is an LEED Gold Certified Building and was even featured in the opening of The Bob Newhart Show in the 1970s.
It’s not fiction: The automated future is here. Touch screens have moved beyond the ATM to lots of other areas formerly occupied by actual people. Here are a few of the more interesting and surprising ways that screens are replacing old-fashioned human customer service.
And speaking of automation, when the lines at Starbucks are too long or you need your fix at 3 am, there’s a solution: Seattle’s Best’s parent company, Starbucks and vending machine company Coinstar (the same company that operates the Redbox DVD vending machines) are partnering to present Seattle’s Best’s Rubis Kiosks, which will grind and brew coffee drinks to order around the clock.
The New iPad, the draw of tiny home photos, and don’t forget to change your clocks
Apple launches its new iPad. Take away: a great update. It represents a much, much greater jump above the iPad 2 than the iPad 2 was over the original.
A group of students and a few young alumni from Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science designed a tiny zero net-energy house to teach people about sustainability, living simply and creatively using the space one has. Construction began in the spring, and the team intends to complete the home by Sept. 1.
And if you find the word ‘tiny’ in the previous post oddly compelling, you’re not alone. The Atlantic Monthly explores why we are drawn to pictures of tiny homes but have less interest in palatial mansions. Reasons vary: a desire to simplify, anti-consumerism, their ‘cuteness’, and people who like the Swiss army knife challenge of getting it all to fit.
Daylight Saving Time begins this weekend, so remember to move your clocks ahead 1 hour. AccuWeather looks at the history of this time change, who follows it (and who doesn’t) and why you should also change the batteries in your smoke alarm.
More and more credit cards are coming with embedded RFID chips so you can just wave your card at a terminal to use it. There is a risk though. Watch a local news special investigation (don’t you just love those?) of the problems with these cards.
Short sales on the rise, urbanization as the answer, and Samoa skips a day
The robo-signing scandal that slowed the foreclosure process to a crawl appears to have increased lender interest in short sales.
More than 50 percent of the world’s population now live in cities – and there is no end of urbanization in sight. As opposed to the conventional wisdom, Harvard economist Edward Glaeser believes urbanization to be a solution to many unanswered problems, such as pollution, depression and a lack of creativity.
Brazilians are becoming more and more important in the South Florida economy. The Brazilians’ money has helped resuscitate the real estate market in Miami. Foreigners account for more than half of all property sales in Miami, and condominium towers that once sat empty are quickly selling out.
Felix Salmon writes on his Reuters blog about the comparison between Sears and Apple stores. One is a glorious success, the other a slow dying dinosaur. The difference? Beyond having products that people crave, you can look at how the two companies invest in their retail spaces. It’s a stark contrast.
You haven’t even thrown the box away from your new iPad 2 yet, but the 3rd generation might be on its way sooner than expected. Inc. unwraps the details.
Perhaps not on-the-job, but after hours… an iPhone app helps Manhattan sip on spirits whilst charging the phone. We’re ready for such technology to grace the pubs of Chicago.
If you were planning to celebrate your Dec. 30th birthday in Samoa, forget it. The island nation is moving to the other side of the international date line this week and will go directly from thursday to saturday.