February, 2003 Vol. 2, No. 2
IS Newswire
The Latest Technology News from the
Long & Foster Information Services Department

Contents - February 2003

Note: Clicking the links below will open the newsletter in your Web browser.

No Name vs. Name Brand

Review: Toshiba Protege 3505

Review: Garmin Street Pilot III

Technology on the Horizon: SPOT

Spam - Not Just a Canned Meat Product Anymore

Tech Savvy Agent of the Month

Tip of the Month - Use APSS/CPSS!

Tell us what you think of the Newswire! Contact us!

By the Numbers

8 - the percentage of all email that is sexually-oriented spam.

6 million - the number of unique viewers who came to LongAndFoster.com last year.

17 - the number of inches in the largest monitor currently available in a laptop.

8 billion - the estimated number of emails sent in one day worldwide.

11 million - the number of IT professionals currently working in the United States.











No Name vs. Name Brand

"Pentium Computer Just $399!"

Have you ever seen an ad in your local paper like this? There are lots of computer companies out there that try to seduce you with their low-priced, no-name computers. They can be tempting - who doesn't want to save hundreds of dollars on a major purchase?

On the other side are the big name brand computer companies, such as Dell, Sony, HP, and Gateway that tend to be more expensive.

So which is better - a no name or a name brand? If you take a look at the computers in your sales office, you can probably guess what CIO Michael Koval thinks. He buys nothing but name brand computers for Long & Foster, and Dells in particular. Here is why:

  • When Koval first came to Long & Foster almost three years ago, Long & Foster computers at the Corporate Office and our 200 sales offices were a mix of no names. "There were some problems," Koval says. "Our number of service calls were unacceptably high, and our agents couldn't concentrate on doing business." Since he made the decision to switch to Dells exclusively, our service call volume has dropped tremendously and Sales Associates can focus on sales.
  • Brand name computers are backed by a much better warranty than no-names, and service is available 24/7.
  • No name computers usually use much cheaper, poorer quality components than their brand name counterparts. A Sales Associate may think his Brand X Pentium 4 computer is just as good as the Dell Optiplex GX240, but does he know that his computer has a bargain basement motherboard, hard drive, and video card that will perform poorly and easily overheat? "With computers, you truly do get what you pay for," says Koval.
  • Because Long & Foster uses only Dell computers, our service techs don't have to spend as much of their time on computer problems. Instead, they can visit offices and train agents on how to use the computer and its software for business.

What it comes down to is this - if you want to skimp and save money, buy no name spaghetti sauce. Don't skimp with a no name computer. You will pay the difference in headaches and problems that will cost you money in the long run. Remember, brand-name computers such as Dell are engineered for business. Who knows what no-name computers are engineered for, other than to promote the lowest price possible? As our CIO says, "Stick with the names you know for years of trouble-free computing."

Review: Garmin Street Pilot III Deluxe

The Garmin Street Pilot III Deluxe - never get lost again for under $1,000.

CIO Michael Koval has one of these. Here's what he says: "I love the Street Pilot! It works very well and is very accurate. It's MUCH better than Mapquest."

Imagine never being lost while driving. GARMIN makes it possible. Meet the Street Pilot III - the ultimate traveling companion and guide. Create a route and then put your mind on cruise as you follow clear, accurate, voice-prompted turn-by-turn directions to safely reach your destination. The simple, intuitive menus of the Street Pilot III offer access to the shortest and fastest routes, directions, and estimated arrival time of your intended destination. Automated voice prompts alert you to upcoming turns, course deviation, and distance to final destination. At the touch of a button, view the locations of all the nearest highway exits, gas stations, restaurants, ATMs, hospitals, and rest areas on a full-color L CD.

The Street Pilot III comes with MapSource City Navigator CD-Rom and everything you need to download street-level mapsets from your PC. Then, just place the portable system on the dash of any vehicle, and enjoy stress-free driving and peace of mind—without any costly service charges or hook-up fees.

Plus, CIO Michael Koval finds the Street Pilot very useful on his way to work, especially in the morning, so he doesn't lose his way.

Interested in a Street Pilot? check out the latest prices here!

Tech Savvy Agent of the Month

Many Long & Foster agents use technology every day to help them with their business. Each month or so, we would like to highlight a successful tech-savvy agent to encourage all of you to incorporate technology into your lives.

This month we are pleased to highlight Greg Scott from the College Park MD area.

Hardware: Greg uses a desktop computer at home and the office, a laptop computer with a wireless connection in the office that he uses to dial in remotely when he is on the road.

PDA/Software: He uses a Palm to manage his contact information and appointments. Software on his Palm includes Excel, PowerPoint and Word. He also uses Outlook every day for contact management.

Electronic Forms: Nfuse is very important to him for remote access to company contract forms.

Email: Greg uses email forwarding a great deal. He never misses an email because they are immediately forwarded to his cell phone as a text message. He is always in contact with his email this way! His voice mail also immediately forwards messages to his cell phone.

Training: When he first started as an L&F agent, Greg took advantage of our excellent Techstart training class that taught him about new technologies that he could implement to help his new sales career.

If you have not taken one of our training classes yet, you should! Go to the IS intranet page and click Training to read all about our fantastic training offerings. To register for a class, contact Veronica Delaney at veronica@longandfoster.com or 703-359-1659.

Summary: Greg reports that Long & Foster's excellent information technology is a necessity in today's real estate market, and he would not do business without it!

Review: Toshiba Protege 3505

A fantastic laptop computer that converts to a tablet PC, for just $2,500.

How about a laptop computer that you can also literally use like a tablet of paper - just swing the screen around and fold it down and you can draw diagrams, write notes, etc. The Toshiba Protege 3505 has it all!

Review courtesy of cnet.com.

Easily the best-equipped tablet, the Toshiba Protege 3505 does it all with style and technological flair. With a weight of 4 pounds and a thickness of 1.4 inches, the Toshiba is slightly bigger and heavier than some of the competition. Still, the Protege 3505 sets the pace for convertible tablets with its flexible design, category-leading performance, and extras such as USB 2.0 ports, as well as CompactFlash and Secure Digital slots not found on other tablets.

Read the full review at cnet.com!

Technology on the Horizon - SPOT

What if your alarm clock could 'learn' that you need a certain type of music at a certain volume four times before you will wake up? Microsoft's emerging SPOT could make it a reality.

SPOT (Smart Personal Object Technology) was recently introduced by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates. This will be utilized with everyday devices such as alarm clocks, wristwatches, key chains, and even refrigerator magnets to make them more intelligent through a new hardware and software platform that is small enough to scale down to the sizes required by such devices.

For more about this incredible technology, go here!

Read Microsoft's news release about SPOT here!

Spam - Not Just a Canned Meat Product Anymore

If you have ever received an email you didn't ask for from an address you don't know, you know what spam is. Spam is a serious problem for everyone, but it is particularly challenging for businesses. Long & Foster has spam filters in place that keep most of the spam from reaching your Inbox. Occasionally some will slip through, and sometimes a legitimate email will get filtered out. These things are unfortunate, but the filters do serve a vital function very well most of the time. Here are a few things to remember:

  • If L&F had no spam filters, agents would have their Inboxes filled with all kinds of spam, some of it offensive. This would present L&F with legal issues, so of course we filter these out as much as possible.

  • If L&F had no spam filters, vital storage space on your computers and our servers would soon be filled to capacity. Spam filters protect our computer systems from being hopelessly clogged with junk.

  • The L&F spam filters screen out between 15,000-30,000 spam messages per night.

  • The L&F spam filters block most aggressively at night, which is when most spam is delivered. The blocks are loosened somewhat during the day.

Tip of the Month - Use APSS/CPSS!

One of the big advantages of being an agent at Long & Foster is the easy access our agents have for updating their own contact information, administrative data, personal photos, property photos, virtual tour scheduling, and more.

Our agents use APSS (Agent Profile Self Service) and CPSS (Custom Property Self Service) to update their related data.APSS and CPSS have replaced the old "Admin Section" of LongAndFoster.com.

Please review your APSS web information to ensure your profile and listings appears correctly on LongAndFoster.com. Make sure your MLS ID#, phone numbers, biography text and personal photo are all current. Below are brief descriptions of APSS and CPSS. You can access these from the intranet homepage.

APSS (Agent Profile Self Service)

Agents use APSS to update their personal information in L&F systems. Some of the new enhancements you can make to your personal information using APSS include:

  • Update your LongAndFoster.com Agent profile information (phone numbers, bio information, cities and counties served, languages, etc.)
  • Provide your MLS ID # so your online listings appear with your name.
  • Update your personal contact information for L&F internal use.

CPSS (Custom Property Self Service)

Agents use CPSS solely to update listings that appear on LongAndFoster.com. Some of the enhancements you can make to your online listings using CPSS include:

  • Add a headline and a custom description.
  • Add unlimited additional photos.
  • Add Virtual tour and other links.

Please log onto APSS/CPSS today and update your information!