Truly Trulia

July 29, 2010

I’m on the road, and I see a house I like. I check Realtor.com or HomeDatabase.com on my Palm Pre smartphone. And I don’t like what I see.

I don’t like the house? No, that’s not what I meant. I don’t like how Realtor and HomeDatabase’s websites appear on my smartphone. To my dismay, these two web leaders in home searches are not optimized for smartphones such as the Palm Pre / Pixi, iPhone, or various Android phones. Even up-and-coming contender Zillow.com does not have a mobile version. Rather, their webpages are the full version, which can still be seen on these smartphones but are bulky and slow to use. No fun while looking at potential houses on the road.

So it’s truly a relief to discover Trulia.com.

Trulia.com logo

Trulia.com automatically displays its mobile version on smartphones, and the web version is jam-packed with features. To begin with, you can either do a simple search using a zip code / city name, or an advanced search with a good number of criteria. It even provides a list of neighborhoods that’s automatically configured for the city (not zip) you provide. And you can sort the resulting list different ways, including most expensive to least expensive, newest listings first, and more.

Trulia advanced search (1/2)

Trulia advanced search (2/2)

You can search for homes for sale or for rent, and Trulia displays the results either as a list (including a pic of the exterior of the home) or as a map. The map doesn’t seem to be zoomable in the mobile version, though. Selecting a home displays its details, photos, and a map of where the home is. It even displays how long the home has been on the market, recent sales information on the home and whether the sale price has been reduced (and from what) – a very useful feature!

Trulia.com details

Trulia.com details

Trulia.com photo view

You can create a “My Trulia” account – again via the mobile version – and save specific searches as well as your “favorite” listings. A nice touch for when you do repeated searches over time for new listings, and you can save favorite homes for easy reference later.

Obligatory feedback: I wish there was a way to search for homes near a specific address rather than within a town or zip code. And when viewing all pictures (rather than individual ones), it’d be nice to be able to customize the thumbnails so that they can be larger.

So, there you have it, folks. I recommend Trulia.com for its mobile site, and the full web version also holds its own versus its more established competitors.

Obligatory pun time: Trulia.com truly shines.

San Francisco continues to keep up its uber-geek credo: it will now accept complaints from people via Twitter.   Just follow @SF311. Can even post photos via TwitPic.

Damn.  This is terrific for deaf folks living in or visiting San Francisco.  Hope Frederick, Maryland will do the same soon.  I do know that several city and county commissioners in and around Frederick, MD are tweeting via Twitter.  But an official Twitter account like @SF311?  Priceless.

Any other towns / cities / counties accepting complaints via Twitter?

(Thanks, TechCrunch)

Barnes and Noble has acquired Fictionwise, which owns Ereader.com.   The acquisition is part of Barnes and Noble’s strategy to open an e-Bookstore later this year.

This looks like an attempt to fend off Amazon.com’s Kindle-inspired expansion into the possibly lucrative e-book market.  Amazon.com has been selling Kindle hand-held electronic readers to sync and read electronic books, and recently unveiled an iPhone version which should prove to be hugely popular.

I have been purchasing e-books from Ereader.com for several years now — heck, I *ONLY* read e-books nowadays.   People may think I’m crazy for reading e-books on my comparatively tiny Palm Treo 755p screen, but believe me, once you get used to it, it’s hard to live without it!  I read in the elevator, I read while walking to a restaurant near work, I read on the train, I read in bed, I read while standing in line …   I read so much that if I had paper copies of all the books I’ve read over the past several years, I would have filled up a small library!  Ereader.com carries a good number of new releases, plus books written by some of my favorite authors.   Hard for me to run out of what to read from ereader.com.

However, I’d begun to be unhappy with ereader.com.  Despite the addition of a new (but slow!) mobile site and a iPhone app, the site had been stagnating.  I’m hoping that the Barnes and Noble acquisition will give it a much-needed boost, and that it will serve as a viable competitor to Amazon’s Kindle bookstore.  Especially since ereader.com’s e-books can be read on a wider variety of smartphones than Amazon.com’s e-books.

Good move, Barnes and Noble.  Now, start advertising — you need to overtake Amazon.com’s headstart!

New Laptop, and Dang

February 20, 2009

My HP’s graphics card recently blew up, and so I had to buy a new laptop.  Because I mainly use it for digital scrapbooking and browsing the Internet, I decided not to buy a top-of-the-line laptop this time.  So, I bought myself a Gateway MD2614u with lots of bells and whistles for a cheap cheap price of $549 from Best Buy.  Awesome bargain.

And then I came across Laptop Logic, a website that evaluates and lists top laptops and news.  Dang, wish I saw this before I bought my new laptop!  Good thing it gave my new laptop’s series a good review.   Still, after seeing this list, I would’ve considered Lenovo and a couple other brands that I had previously ignored.  

And Laptop Logic has several interesting articles, like this one on the World’s Largest WebPage — which has a staggering 8.1 nonillion pixels.  I didn’t even know nonillion is a word (but interestingly enough, nonillion is still smaller than a googol).

I’m definitely checking Laptop Logic next time I (or a friend) plans on buying a laptop.

Don’t Use Reunion.com!

December 4, 2008

My dear mother just fell victim to a phishing scam from Reunion.com.  As a result, Reunion.com was able to hack into and steal her entire contact list and email everyone on this list.  My mother had to email an apology to all her contacts.

Rather than explain what happened, I thought I’d reprint an edited version of her email.  It’s chock full of info — now I know where I got my Proud Geek-ness from!

Dear Friends,

I sent out an email two days ago, asking you to join Reunion.com and it seemed a little strange. I did some online searching and apparently this is some kind of phishing scam. Here are some links to information about the scam. You may want to alert your address book to the scam!

http://consumerist.com/380751/­reunioncom-will-scrape-your-­address-book-then-spam-your-­contacts

http://www.ripoffreport.com/­reports/0/348/RipOff0348286.­htm

Here’s the information from this one:

This company should be banned from the Internet. Here’s what happened to me last week. First of all, let me explain that I have been a member of Classmates.com for about 5 years, and it is a very reputable site that does nothing illegal or objectionable.

So when I got an e-mail about Reunion.com in my Hotmail Inbox, I thought it was similar. WRONG! I signed up for the free service, and started typing information into my ‘Profile’, which was quite inclusive, although you could pick and choose what information to give. Here’s what they did: the idea is to keep you online long enough for them to get into your e-mail account and literally STEAL your entire CONTACTS LIST!

How do I know? Luckily, two of my best friends were online at the time, and one sent an e-mail, and one called me on the phone, asking me ‘what’s up with this invitation to join me on Reunion.com?’ I hadn’t been on the site for more than 10 minutes and they had already hacked my e-mail!

Here’s what I did: I immediately deleted all the information I had typed in, logged out, and left the site, and my Firefox preferences prompted me to remove all my personal information from the previous session. It was too late, unfortunately, so I immediately contacted every single person on my Contacts List with a note of apology and explanation that I had been inadvertently, innocently been raided by this disgusting company before I had even finished my profile, and that in no way had I given them permission to contact my friends. I told every person to report the e-mail that they had received as a ‘Phishing Scam’ and then put the original message into their Junk Folder. and delete it.

(For those of you who don’t know what Phishing is, it’s a devious and much more effective cyber variation on the old ‘fishing expedition’ trick, wherein someone asks you a lot of personal questions in order to get something they want: your name, address, even your social security number, and then on to your whole ID.) Hotmail allows you to report any suspicious e-mail as a Phishing Scam; I don’t know about other sites, but Ã…OL makes it very difficult, it seems you can only put it in Spam,which still allows the perp to continue scamming other innocent people.

Anyway, after I did that, I went back into Reunion.com, and sure enough, all my info was still there. I searched around for a way to cancel my membership, and sure enough, the only way is to call the toll free number given, be put on hold forever, and only that after you navigate your way through endless prompts. I am so enraged at these people there is no way to express it. Since my info’s been out there, and even if my membership’s canceled, a whole lot of other people have it, I’ve been getting a lot of junk mail about ‘guess who’s looking for you’, ‘guess who’s got a crush on you,’ etc. etc. I trash them all.

This definitely should be a matter for the FCC, since they are using the Internet to steal people’s information nationwide, maybe even worldwide. Don’t fall for it under any circumstances. Join (((competitor’s name redacted))) instead: you’ll be glad you did.

A couple weeks ago, the latest Facebook craze was getting your (or your friends or enemies’) photos re-done at YearbookYourself. And now that fad’s gone, and we’ve got a new fad.

At YearbookYourself, happy campers put their face (beautiful or otherwise) into different photos from the 1950’s, 1960’s, 1970’s, 1980’s, and 1990’s. Different apparel, hairstyles, and accessories through the decades can be seen, and people had a blast finding which hairstyle looked the funniest on these photos. And then folks made those photos their profile photos.

Here’s my favorite (thanks so much, Drago – I think!) — something from the 1980’s:

But YearbookYourself is so yesterday. Today’s new rage? FaceYourManga. You get to create a “comic-book” avatar using dozens upon dozens of tools — and it’s very likely that you’d be able to make an avatar that looks much like you. Or an unflattering one of your enemy.

Here’s my avatar. I absolutely love it.

By the end of the week, FaceYourManga will be so yesterday too. What’s tomorrow? I don’t know – stay tuned …

(Thanks, Adam and Drago, for pointing me toward this!)

Folks who really know me know I’m a voracious e-reader.  I read on the train, I read in the car (sometimes while waiting at red lights!), I read while walking from the elevator to my office, I read in the (ahem) bathroom, I read while folding the laundry, I read just about everywhere.  I read a book or two a week, even with two young daughters – quite an achievement.

I don’t buy paper books anymore – that’s so NOT twenty-first century, and besides, I’ve already got too many paper books.  Rather, I buy them all via eReader and then read them on my Palm Treo 755p.  Ereader keeps a virtual library (called bookshelf) of books for me under my membership (I shiver at the thought of it going bankrupt), and when I’m finished with a book I can just make it go *poof* away in a shower of electronic electrons.  Via this site, I can buy many of the same current books that I see in my local bookstore, written by Stephen King, James Patterson, Stephenie Meyer (which I’m reading now), Nora Roberts (which I LOVE!), Cecil deMille, and many more.  Too bad Harry Potter ain’t available via eReader, tho.

One major gripe I had was that the eReader website was not ideal for use via my Treo’s web browser.  Each page took foreever to load, and it always looked clunky on my relatively small Treo screen.  This seemed counter-intuitive, because after all, eReader books were being read on mobile devices — and I’d buy many of my books via eReader while on the train or subway or at the airport.

No more.  eReader added a mobile site at m.ereader.com.  Hurrah!  Here, I can view my bookshelf, browse books, make purchases, and make changes to my account.  In sum, it seems identical to what I can do on the larger eReader website.

Thanks, eReader, for adding this feature.

%d bloggers like this: