Technology 2003...  Realty with more 'e'
 
  By Mike Dooley, NSDCAR Systems Administrator
 
  Disclaimer:  The following editorial reflects the opinion and experience of the author, and does not constitute a mandate or recommendation of any specific product or manufacturer by NSDCAR.
 
  It’s 2003, and along with the requisite “Where did the time go?”, I find myself panning the technological landscape and saying, “Where did my favorite brands, websites, and operating systems go?”
 
  Yes, change is again the only constant, and change looms on the horizon for real estate technology, too.  While the courts are busy deciding just which technology titans deserve jail time for their nefarious accounting practices, and the market continues attempting to adjust to the rise and fall of our present economic merry-go-round, developers and visionaries continue to produce, refine, and enhance the new technologies brought to the fore over the previous year.
 
  Significant amongst these new tools of the trade are the releases of several new portable computer formats, combining the best features of PDA devices, (like Palm and Blackberry), with full-featured operating systems and the first crop of scratch-pad emulating “tablet” PC’s.  Take your average notebook computer, shrink it by about half, then develop an ingenious way to flip the screen over, add touch-sensitive membranes beneath that screen, and you’ve got a “tablet”.  Stir in a healthy dose of artificial intelligence distilled to a handwriting recognition system, and your cumbersome PDA or excessively-featured notebook computer becomes a truly useful device, allowing one to simply jot down a memo on the tablet screen, then turn the hasty scrawl into an electronic document, ready for email, print, or fax. 

Finally, the engineers behind the proverbial curtain have begun to meet the rest of us halfway, and to design a human-to-machine interface that caters to the way we work, not the way machines do.  While I still don’t relish the idea of sharing the freeway with someone who’s multitasking behind the wheel with one of these gadgets, I feel a lot better knowing they’re only jotting notes with one hand, not attempting to type with two while tending the wheel with their toes.

 
  Also noteworthy, locally, is the revival of Ricochet, the radio-based wireless networking solution that long ago foundered among the dot-coms and tele-gones.  Purchased by Aerie Networks of Denver, Colorado, the Ricochet product is returning at a much more palatable price point, (about 45 dollars per month, as opposed to their original 70-plus at the first go-round).

With lots of infrastructure in the form of pole-top radio repeaters and widely-dispersed hubs to take the radio signal to more conventional transmission media, Ricochet’s counting on their former popularity in the San Diego region to lead to a quick revival, which bodes well for the mobile office.

Other, cellular-based wireless technologies are ramping up, too, with offerings from most of the major wireless telephone vendors.  Wirelessness is getting cheaper, and it’s time for even the most dyed-in-the-wool Luddites to give up their AOL dial-ups and get mobile, get broadband, and get competitive with their choices of technology for internet access.

Look for specials on the Ricochet wireless internet product at your NSDCAR Service Center, coming soon!

 
  Keep an eye out, just to the north of San Diego County, as the technology boom in the Temecula/Murrieta/Hemet region leads to more installed wireless access points, finally ridding us of the communications gap that has existed for years in the Camp Pendleton corridor.

Affordable single-family homes are proliferating in these communities, and as these communities continue to develop, the demand will drive infrastructure until the leapfrog effect kicks in, bringing costs even further downscale.

 

 

Another welcome technological milestone is the current crop of storage media devices, finally displacing that nearly useless 1.44-megabyte floppy disk that, while ubiquitous, remains naught but a dust-collector for most folks.  Now, we have convenient desktop media ports that will read and write to the memory media from our digital cameras, all through plug-and-play USB ports.

Here at your Association, we’re using USB drive devices that hold up to 256 megabytes of data in a tiny, key-fob type device.  These mini-drives can actually be formatted to become boot drives or installation disks, enabling the user to carry a useful batch of portable data from PC to PC, and requiring no special driver software installation.  For the busy agent on the go, storage of CMA’s, listing information, or even PowerPoint presentations is now simple, seamless, and nearly “idiot-proof”!  (Give me time, however… I’m sure I can break one of these gadgets in some way the designers haven’t imagined.)

 
  Peeking ‘round the bend at storage technologies reveals some interesting developments, still sequestered in the back-labs of IBM, Intel, and others, which promise huge leaps in data storage density and throughput speed.  Some pundits are even predicting the demise of electromechanical disk drives, altogether, as nanotechnology (highly miniaturized motive devices) and new organic memory media (biologically-produced storage devices which retain a logical state based on external stimuli) develop into practical applications for us all.  Probably still 2-4 years out, but hey, Windows 95 is still running on a lot of desktops out there, isn’t it?
 
  In summation, it’s been another great year of development out there, and if one refuses to buy into the economic doom-and-gloom so readily ladled out by the news media, one can view the recent tech shakeout as just another cyclical refinement of the industry.  Culling the herd of questionable offerings, and getting down to technologically enhanced business seems like a good way to go, IMHO.  The cream of the crop has risen to the top… let’s make better butter, or perhaps “new cheese”.  Those of us with tech-heavy portfolios have learned our lesson, hopefully, and adopted a more diversified trek across the business landscape with a more refined and truly useful set of tools for our trade.
 
  May 2003 be your banner year in Real Estate, and may your North San Diego County Association of REALTORSÒ serve as your source of information, technology, and support in all your business endeavors.