August 24, 2013

Internet hasn’t obsoleted Realtards. Why not?

Perhaps they will always be with us.

Here’s why real estate agents are still around

130823-realtards-picBy Lydia DePillis, The Washington Post
POSTED:   08/23/2013 09:25:43 AM PDT

In this Tuesday April 2, 2013, photo, Christian Bell and his wife Beth Heinen Bell view a home for sale with real estate agent Becky Dickenson, left, in Grand Rapids, Mich. (Paul Sancya/AP)

The quintessentially mainstream American real-estate brokerage — Re/Max — went public Tuesday. The housing market is hot enough, its initial filing explained, that raising investor cash could launch it into markets around the country it hadn’t yet reached.

But wait — real estate agents? Wasn’t the Internet supposed to drive them out of business?

The online age has been hard on all kinds of middlemen, after all. Travel agents, for example, were rendered obsolete by Orbitz and Expedia. Soft-goods retailers were outpaced by Amazon. The effect should be similar with people who sell homes: What do they have but what they know? And what of that can’t be better figured out through unbiased, publicly available data, crunched and presented free on websites such as Zillow and Trulia?

This is a piece that asks many questions yet delivers few answers. “It’s complicated” is not really an explanation.  And what the heck is Jason’s House?  Shouldn’t he be more original and call it Jason’s List?  It’s mentioned in a Washington Post article and there’s mentions in Texas media, so it should be really helpful to all our Northern California readership.

It’s Weekend Open Thread time, too. Met any helpful real estate agents lately?

Comments (3) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 7:03 am

April 3, 2011

Palo Altan Angered by Cellular Tower, Says No More Free Internet for You

Usually if your city lets a mobile carrier put up a cellular tower across the street from you, you could show up at meetings and maybe file a lawsuit.  Today’s antenna opponent takes much more direct action.

Cell-tower foe to axe city’s Web connection

Angered resident ends 17 years of free service he created for the City of Palo Alto

by Sue Dremann, Palo Alto Weekly Staff

Stephen Stuart, a Palo Alto resident who has provided the City of Palo Alto with a free connection to the Internet for 17 years, gave notice on Tuesday (March 29) that a nonprofit organization he works with, Internet Systems Consortium (ISC), will sever the city’s connection in two weeks.

The decision is a consequence of the planning department’s conditional approval last week of a 50-foot cell tower, to be erected across the street from Stuart’s home. The permit is scheduled to be considered by the Architectural Review Board on April 7.

Stuart maintains the planning department chose to ignore city laws when it approved the AT&T tower. City planners have said they have little legal leeway to deny the permit and cannot under federal law deny the permit on the basis of radiation levels, so long as those levels are within federal guidelines.

But Stuart and his wife, Tru Love, said that the city is misreading the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and ignoring ordinances it has in place that would protect residents.

"This is not a threat. This is not a punishment. This is the consequence of the city not enforcing its laws," Stuart said.

Okay, I am going to do my dangdest to ignore that this guy’s wife has a stripper name and I won’t make any comments about the 50 foot pole going up across the street.  Bwahaha!


imageThis is the neighborhood in question; Stuart’s house is marked with the little blue icon, and the church/school property is across the street with three red-roofed buildings, parking lots, and playing fields.  The tower will be in the west end of the church sanctuary itself, disguised as a steeple with a cross atop it (see AT&T’s render at right, taken from the back of the church). 

A large group opposed to the tower is trying to stop it the conventional way.  Stuart one-upped everyone by pulling the plug to teh internetz.

It’s an interesting situation.  How many cities had someone set up a free service for them and then after 17 years, “Hey, that antenna across the street sucks, I’m shutting off your tubes.”  According the article, Stuart is giving the city 2 weeks to find another service.  He is also cutting off the Palo Alto Arts Center, but not the schools or the other cities in the consortium.

Even if the city were to deny AT&T’s permit, Stuart said he would not reconnect the city.

When the city failed to exercise its own laws, "it discouraged people from investing in the city. I have invested my time. I’m done," he said.

imageNot explained in the article or in this one by the SJ Mercury News is why the nonprofit ISC agreed to Stuart’s demand that Palo Alto city offices be cut off, and in only 14 days, to boot.  The notification was sent by ISC’s Director of Business Operations Laura Hendriksen, not by Stuart. Several commenters on the PAO website suggested these actions could endanger ISC’s 501(c)3 status.

Meanwhile, Palo Altans had best gets used to cellular antennas at houses of worship.  Unlike Los Altos Hills, where residents can put up multiple cellular towers in their front yards, in Palo Alto it’s the religious sites that erect profitable ziggurats.  Watch the fur fly as T-Mobile (soon to be acquired by AT&T) puts in a 65-foot tower, disguised as a tree, at Congregation Etz Chaim in South Palo Alto.

imageStuart may be miffed because he doesn’t see moving as an option.  He and his wife bought their Channing Avenue house in 2005, and built a new house on the site which was completed in 2009 (photo above). 

The couple claim the tower will reduce property values.  Given the number of commenters complaining about terrible AT&T service in Palo Alto (blue pushpins in map, right, show current AT&T cell towers, red circle shows the neighborhood), it may actually increase them.

Meanwhile, AT&T wants to erect 80 Distributed Antenna Systems in Palo Alto.  These smaller antennas would be mounted on existing utility poles.  The city has not responded to this proposal yet.

Comments (18) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:02 am

January 23, 2011

We’re Number Eight! We’re Number Eight!

And we’re number eight within… number twelve?

The world’s fastest Internet access—who’s got it?

Fortune/CNNMoney Posted by Scott Woolley January 23, 2011 6:00 AM

New research ranks the countries with the fastest Internet connections, and all 50 U.S. states too.

The speed at which people around the world connect to the Internet is climbing at a 14% annual clip and now averages nearly 2 megabits per second, according Akamai’s "State of the Internet" report that is due out tomorrow. There remain huge variations around that average speed. South Koreans hook into the Internet at 14 megabits a second, seven times the global average, earning them the top spot on Akamai’s list:


Well, you can head over to the article and see the list for yourself. Nobody really cares if South Korea has better Internet speeds than we do. Do they have sushi? Didn’t think so.  And neither does Hong Kong or Japan!

More important is which states have faster Internet speeds than California. It won’t surprise you that each and every one is there not because of their engineering prowess or sheer high-tech awesomnity, but because THEY CHEATED.

  1. Delaware, 7.1 Mbps. Delaware only exists so all those corporations who are legally persons have a legal birthplace as well. Those fast downloads are just lawsuits flying from one company to another.
  2. Utah, 6.4 Mbps. High speeds realized by the majority of residents spending all their time in church, meaning nothing ever downloaded but the same 6 Warren Miller ski sequences.
  3. District of Columbia, 6.4 Mbps. Since the Federal Government runs on the Secret Government Internets, high speeds easily attained by little traffic but lonely agency workers reloading their profiles three times for good luck.
  4. Rhode Island, 6.3 Mbps. The state is so small that the rates are meaningless. You can’t measure latency when the border is always within 25 feet of you.
  5. Vermont, 6.2 Mbps. Cows and hippies and hippie ice cream companies. Does anyone there use the Internet besides Ben and Jerry? Didn’t think so.
  6. New Hampshire, 6.1 Mbps. Just as a smile is a frown turned upside-down, The Granite State is just Vermont flipped over. So they have Tea Party Loons instead of Flower Children. Same result: only five people in the whole state ever go online.
  7. Massachusetts, 5.9 Mbps. There may be a few people at MIT who use the Internet but I suspect their influence is greatly exaggerated.

And California is #8 with 5.8 Mbps, but we’re probably the only state that uses the Internet for what it was designed for: ogling real estate.

Comments (7) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 3:14 pm