Innovative Marketing & Research: Using Google Street View for Real Estate

Never before has there been a tool that allows us to explore the Earth’s surface in such detail, so it’s not surprising that millions of people use Google Street View every day for a myriad of reasons. With its deep detail and worldwide scope, anyone with a computer and an internet connection can explore everything from the pyramids to their potential new home with a few clicks of a mouse.

With the idea of searching for a new home from the comfort of your old home in mind, here are some of the ways that you can use Google Street View to aid in your real estate ventures:

1. Inspect the Property

Google Street View’s level of detail in most major cities is truly astounding, enabling you to see even small items on the ground in many cases, and this means that you’ll be able to lay a close eye on the details of the property in question. From taking measurements to understanding the layout, you can zoom in and out as needed to get information on even the tiniest details.

Google Street View

2. Inspect the Neighborhood

The above advice extends also to the surrounding area and neighborhood. The level of detail provided by Google Street View is enough to search for junk, badly kept properties and other negative drawbacks while also giving you an idea of the local road network and building layout, providing you with unique insight into the entire package that you simply cannot obtain anywhere else.

3. Inspect the Key Features

Google Street View

Many homes are sold at a higher price because of their proximity to local draws like schools, parks, shopping centers and more, and Google Street View’s flexibility will easily allow you to fly from place to place in a local area, gathering intelligence on the city or town in question as you go.

Like all aspects of a Google Street View inspection, this promises to save a tremendous amount of time simply by making you aware of the details without the need to travel; if your purchase hinges on a nearby beach but you find in Google Street View that the beach is far too small and crowded, for example, you’ve just saved yourself an unnecessary drive!

Check Out Listed Properties in 3D with Trulia

While a visit to the premises will be in order before you start signing mortgage agreements, Google Street View is an excellent way of paying a quick virtual visit to a property that you have your eye on! With the ability to zoom from address to address, your travel time is near zero and the amount of detail you can discern is surprisingly high; you can inspect a roof, measure a yard, check out included trees and foliage – the list goes on!


If you want to take your Google Street View real estate inspections to a new level, consider the Truliaadd-on, a piece of software that will turn your virtual trips into fully 3D affairs, allowing you to better understand the dimensions and layout of the areas you’re looking at. The add-on includes the millions of real estate listings handled by Trulia and allows you to search for locations based on available properties, quickly immersing you in accurately detailed 3D representations of all buildings.

Because it is connected to Trulia’s listings via RSS, the add-on will stay updated, ensuring that you’ve always got access to the latest listings!

Guest Author Jessy is the blogger for TalkToTucker, the innovative Indianapolis Real Estate company.

Useful Links: ySlow, WordPress headers, mobile form validation

Getting Started with YSlow is at Speed Awareness Month.

Creating a responsive header in WordPress 3.4 at Web Designer Depot uses a bit of jQuery to insert a responsive image into a WordPress header.

Steven Hoober makes a case for form validation on blur for mobile devices in Mobile Inline Form Validation.

Make the Election Digital

It’s a high tech political season. According to both campaigns are using digital tools to make direct contact with voters. Your inbox, your social media sites, and the apps on your smart phone may play a part in how you deal with the election.

The fight 2012
The Fight 2012: Cain and Todd Benson via photo pin cc

There are many apps and online tools that you can use to help get through election season and make a choice about your vote.

Truth Finding Apps

Several apps help you find the truth behind the statements and ads. The Super Pac App for iPhone and iPad can listen to an ad and then tell you who paid for it. The Super Pac App was created by MIT Media Lab students. Ad Hawk from the Sunlight Foundation does a similar thing – listens to an ad and then tells you who is behind it and who is spending the money on the ad. Ad Hawk works on iOS and Android.

Another fact checker is PolitiFact’s Settle It!. Settle It! tells you what the real facts are behind political statements, pulling its information from the PolitiFact site.

The Washington Post has an iPad-only app. According to the app organizes a new section called The Forum,

with easily browsable Twitter lists that organize more than 300 relevant accounts into six groups: news outlets, campaigns, partisans, prominent office holders, fact checkers, and jesters (like @ColbertReport and @LOLGOP).

Candidates’ Apps

Mitt Romney had an app just to announce his VP choice. That’s old news now, but an interesting concept in a single purpose app. Perhaps there will be more from the Republicans like this.

Barack Obama’s app is Obama for America and is aimed at neighborhood get-out-the-vote organization and help. This technique worked for the Democrats in 2008 and they are sticking with it.

On the Obama web site, you can compare Obama and Romney tax cut plans to see how they would affect you. There is a description below the fold on this page about how the calculator works and where the information came from (The Tax Policy Center).

Convention and News Watching

Time Warner has a CNN-Time Convention Floor Pass that brings you convention news. It’s for both iOS and Android devices.

NBC Politics is designed to bring a steady stream of political news to your smart phone. NBC Politics is from MSNBC. Fox News also has a political news app, You Decide 2012 Map. You Decide 2012 is only for iPad. If MSNBC and Fox News don’t do it for you, you can always get the politcal news app from Politico.

If you’re into poll watching, Talking Points Media has a Poll Tracker app that tracks polls in real time.

Voter Registration and Voter ID

Rock the Vote has an online voter registration form.

The Cost of Freedom Project is tracking which states are requiring photo voter ID. You can check state by state voter ID requirements at this site.

Choosing Between the Candidates Sites

There are several sites that promise to help you identify which party you should give your vote to. The Political Party runs you through a series of questions and identifies the candidate who should get your support based on how you answer the questions. The Political Party claims to be nonpartisan and has a set of FAQs that tell how they determine how your answers align you, party-wise.

Politify shows you the impact of the two candidates avowed plans for the country on a personal, local and national level. The site uses IRS and Census data to find where household income comes from and what government services households use. The app then produces a simulation of how President Obama and Mitt Romney’s economic plans would affect specific areas of the country. You can go for a wide view, or take it down to your own zip code.

Election Watching in Other Ways

Even can resist getting into the act. According to Puget Sound Business Journal, Amazon published a “heat map” of political book sales that shows where U.S. residents are buying conservative or liberal books. I’m not sure this proves anything, but it’s interesting to examine.

Venture Beat tells us that Facebook and CNN have teamed up to create a Facebook I’m Voting app that will add more politics to your news feed. Could it be that a Facebook wall full of the politcal opinions of your friends isn’t enough for some Facebook users? Hard to imagine.

You can listen to radio shows and podcasts about the election with Stitcher. Stitcher has a special new category called Election Center that lets you choose particular candidates, commentators and sources to follow.

Whether you use these digital tools to explore both sides of the issue or support your already firmly held opinions, there’s something perfect for you in the race to November.

[Note: Cross posted at BlogHer in a slightly different form.]

What’s in YOUR Address Book?

I subscribe to a daily newsletter from Netted, where I frequently find great apps I love. Sometimes the newsletter mentions an app I’m not interested in, which is fine – I don’t have to love and use every app out there. This week an email was titled Call Me, Maybe and was about two new address book apps. The two address book apps definitely interested me. More precisely, what interested me was how others would feel about them.

Current Caller ID screenshots
Current Caller ID screenshots from Google Play

The two apps are Current Caller ID for Android and Brewster for iPhone and iPad. They both do approximately the same thing. They aggregate all the information on a contact in your address book to include data from sites such as Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Foursquare.

Netted explains Brewster,

Brewster corrals everyone you know from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Gmail, and your phone’s contact list and creates a universal entry for each person, including all contact methods and a photo.

Besides putting a face to a name, Brewster uses information culled from social networks to help you use your contacts in a whole new way. It can remind you to call Dad on his birthday, compile a list of people you’ve lost touch with, and even search by hometown or occupation.

Netted describes Current Caller ID,

Current Caller ID takes that same information — like the caller’s latest tweets or their location’s current weather — and flashes it on the screen when you receive a call. The app also creates infographics showing how you communicate with each contact and what’s the best method and time to reach them — or avoid them.

The two apps received good reviews from users, from the folks at Netted, and from the press.

Call me old-fashioned, but when I put someone in my address book I want to call them, text them or email them. For good friends and family I may have a photo connected to the contact. My address book contains a lot of business contacts – some of them are not even real names, but a blog name with an email address, and definitely no phone number or photo.

Okay, fine. If I don’t want all that extra information on everyone in my address book, I don’t have to download the app. Easy peasy.

Except what about the other people who are using the app and seeing all that information about YOU in their address book?

I’m wondering what your thoughts are about these two apps. Have you used them? Are you excited to give them a try? Do they seem invasive or do they seem harmless? Are they too much information or just what you want to know? What do you think?

[Note: Cross-posted at BlogHer in a somewhat different form.]

Making a App: One Game Maker’s Success Story

Naomi Kobuko was an experienced business woman. She and her husband were running a game development company called LavaMind. He did the games, she took care of the business side. That is, until she decided she wanted to make a game, too. She knew nothing about how to do it. This is the story of how she learned.

naomi kobuko
Image courtesy Naomi Kobuko

Naomi explains how she got started learning what she needed to know:

“I didn’t even know how APIs really worked,” said Naomi. “I used to blank out when anyone talked tech to me. I’d worked in the game business, but I was never one to code.”

“The thing that helped me the most was the community. I stumbled upon the computer language Lua and joined the Corona Labs community. As soon as I plugged into the forums, I felt connected, and I began to suck up knowledge. Whenever I got stuck, someone always posted something that helped me get over the hurdles.”

About a year later, Naomi completed her first game and is now the one helping newbie coders. Her game is called Beetle Bounce.

Image courtesy of LavaMind.

More than just a finished game that works on iOS and Android, it was a Top Game Pick on Nook and she was getting offers of marketing money backing.

I was fascinated by Naomi’s story of how she learned with the help of a supportive community and wanted to know more about her background. She answered a few questions for me.

Q: Can you explain your background?

A: I’ve actually had a varied career. I grew up in a small farming village in Japan. My father was a Christian pastor, which is quite unusual in Northern Japan.

I went to college in Tokyo at ICU (International Christian University). When I graduated, I worked as a financial analyst for
Morgan Stanley. Then I moved to the United States to be with my husband, and I worked in real estate.

Real estate wasn’t my thing, so I began translating for TV and film productions, and I wound up coordinating international film productions. That was a blast. I also worked translating manga (Japanese comic books) into English. I’ve translated some volumes from popular series, including “Naruto” and the “The Ring”.

Around the same time, I partnered with my husband to form LavaMind. My husband did all the coding on our first games, while I did the graphics, sound and helped manage the business. Our first game was Gazillionaire, and it was successful. So we did two more business simulation games: one called Zapitalism, and another called Profitania. These are very popular for teaching kids and adults entrepreneurship and money management. After this I worked for several startups doing business and finance.

After this, I wanted to work from home again, but I couldn’t justify hiring an engineer. It’s so expensive in San Francisco and games are risky business, so I began to teach myself to code. After a year of hard work, I’d completed Beetle Bounce.

Q: What age group is Beetle Bounce for and what’s it about?

A: I designed a game that I wanted to play myself, so I’d say it’s primarily for women (and men) who like casual games, like Peggle, Zuma, and Tetris. That said, it seems to appeal to everyone. It’s easy to play and action-packed, so even kids get into it. Girls love it!

Q: It sounds like you did this single-handedly with just help from the online forums at Corona Labs. That’s amazing to me. Are you planning to do your second game the same way?

A: Yes, I did it all myself. I like the freedom of working for myself and not being reliant on anyone else. It’s completely liberating. I had so many jobs where I had to be in an office and rush around to meetings, which is difficult when you have two boys. I really enjoy working for myself at my own pace. I also love the freedom to create whatever I feel like making. I plan to continue creating new, original games as long as my brain is still sharp!

Q: Do you blog somewhere?

A: Yes, I actually run a blog called Founders Space. It’s quite popular with startups and small businesses. That’s my main blog. LavaMind is on Twitter, too, @lavamind.

More Resources for Making a Game Yourself

Other moms who have a great idea for a game but need help with learning how to make it a reality may want to check out the community forums at Corona Labs that helped Naomi so much.

The community at Moms with Apps is also very helpful. Recently Moms with Apps published Resources for Beginning Programmers. They asked,

If you want to build an app from the ground up, and you aren’t a computer programmer, where do you start?

The resources suggested by that community are listed in the article, with Corona among other helpful sites named by mom app developers.

For someone with an idea and an interest, making a popular game that can be sold in the mobile marketplace is definitely possible. Naomi Kobuko did it, and you can, too.

[Note: Cross-posted at BlogHer.]

Travel Productivity Tip: 8 Ways To Save Pages As PDF Files To Read On The Go

When you go out of town you might think you have to give up your blog and website reading until you get back. With the entertaining, helpful or interesting content out there these days, you might not be so eager to do that. I know that I personally like having something to read while I travel, and while I usually stick with books it might be nice to have a few blogs to go through. Just for those shorter trips or waits that wouldn’t give me enough time to really get invested in my book.

Not only is this a pleasant thought for traveling, but just for those waits that are part of daily life. Waiting for a prescription to be filled, or to be called in for a meeting. Even just sitting outside enjoying the sun while your kids play at the playground.

This is a reality these days, thanks to mobile technology like tablets and smartphones. You can take advantage of this by turning website pages into PDF files for reading on the go. This is a great way to increase your blog reading productivity and keep you up-to-date with Internet marketing news.

Here are eight ways to do that.

1. Google Chrome

Digital Inspiration PDF Converter

I have never tried this myself, as I don’t use Google Chrome. But Digital Inspiration created a quick tutorial that shows you how to do it. The gist is that you go to the page of your choice, click CTRL+P, and it will open the printing dialog box. From there you will be able to hit “Save as PDF” and it will create the file on your computer. It will also allow you to select the pages to do this with, which is convenient.

2. Print Friendly

Print Friendly

This is a simple to use tool that lets you put in a URL for what you want to have included in the PDF. From there you can delete portions, change the text size, remove or include images and even email the result to yourself or anyone else.

3. Readability


This app works by making a clean version that is easy to read of any web page for your mobile device. You can remove clutter and set it up so that it is easier on the eyes, all set to your specifications. Plus, you can save it for reading later.

4. Print What You Like

Print What You Like

Here you are able to cut out large chunks of content so you can put just what you want into a readable file. It is mostly for people to print, but you can save it into a PDF as well. It is great if you want a collection of prints that would otherwise be unrelated to a single web page.

5. Web2PDF


A super simple program, this is similar to a lot of others. You put in the URL, it creates an editable file which can be saved as PDF. You can then save it to your desktop and email it to yourself. It is a bit more bare bones than the others.

6. PDF Newspaper

PDF Newspaper

One of my favorites, this is an opensource project from FiveFilters. It easily creates large PDF files by cleaning it up for you and making it into something easy to read. It has both a bookmarklet and a WP plugin for efficient use.

7. Aardvark


A quick to use cleanup plugin that works more quickly than perhaps any other similar tool I have found. It works with Firefox and I have never found anything that is higher rated for that purpose.

8. Anthologize


I use this one all the time. It is a standard conversion tool that allows ypou to put in the URL to make a PDF. However, you can select each post you want included, so you can more quickly edit content for the perfect reading experience. You can also add in other blogs to select more posts. It is one of the most popular tools on the web.


When on the go, it is nice to be able to read what you like. If you want something quick and interesting, try turning your blog or web favorites into an easily created ebook. These tools will make PDF files that are perfect for reading out of your home.

Guest Author Jessy is the travel blogger for, the ultimate travel tool for picking luxury hotels on your next business trip.