SAN JOSE, Calif. — Josh Sharfman, chief technology officer of the California Association of Realtors, offered up several dozen Web sites and services that are of use to real estate professionals during a presentation at the California Realtor Expo in San Jose.

Sharfman’s list included Web-based software that can substitute for, or serve as a companion to, Microsoft Office’s suite of applications, including OpenOffice.org, Google Docs and Microsoft Office Live.

 

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Josh Sharfman, chief technology officer of the California Association of Realtors, offered up several dozen Web sites and services that are of use to real estate professionals during a presentation at the California Realtor Expo in San Jose.

Sharfman’s list included Web-based software that can substitute for, or serve as a companion to, Microsoft Office’s suite of applications, including OpenOffice.org, Google Docs and Microsoft Office Live.

Companies providing Internet telephony and virtual PBX services, which Sharfman said allow small businesses to "project an image larger than life" without purchasing a private business exchange, include 8×8 Inc., UniVoIP, Aptela Inc., Quest, eVoice, toktumi, Grasshopper and Onebox.

Sharfman provided links to sites and applications that explain how to set up a BlackBerry, Treo or "jailbroken" iPhone to function as a USB or wireless modem for a laptop computer. To "jailbreak" a device is to essentially free a device from restrictions imposed by the manufacturer and/or wireless carrier. This activity, while opening up new uses and customization, could void the warranty and cause harm to the device.

Realtors who want to exchange large documents or other files that are too big to e-mail without setting up an FTP server can use services like DropSend, MediaFire, Sendspace.com, TransferBigFiles and YouSendIt, Sharfman said.

To avoid losing important information to a hard-disk failure or other calamity, Sharfman recommended checking out online backup and file synchronization services like Dropbox, Apple’s MobileMe, Carbonite, IDrive, ElephantDrive, Mozy and SOS Online Backup, which offer various levels of free and subscription-based services. …CONTINUED

Microsoft Windows Live also offers free cloud-based file synchronization and backup services: Sync and SkyDrive.

Realtors seeking cloud-based photo editing tools now have a number to choose from, including Picnik, FotoFlexer, Splashup and Aviary, Sharfman said. Tools for creating slide shows and virtual tours from photographs include Animoto and Microsoft Photosynth.

Sharfman also said the Freedom Keyboard, a folding, wireless QWERTY keyboard that can be used with a smart phone or any Bluetooth-enabled device, can be a great tool when traveling.

Other notable sites and services identified by Sharfman included meebo, which allows users to integrate various instant-messaging services into one site, and namechk, which lets users check the availability of a desired user ID across dozens of social networking sites. ZoomProspector allows users to "reverse prospect," identifying characteristics of a neighborhood they’d like to live in to see where matches turn up.

Sharfman was also impressed with the future potential of Layar Reality Browser, a "geo-aware" application that allows users to point a cell phone at a building or street and see layers of information, such as properties available for sale or rent, and Contactmind, which helps users collect e-mail addresses and other contact information they have amassed from multiple sources and choose whether to share that information with colleagues.

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