A Face lift

I’m in the process of doing a little face lift on the blog. I’m looking at doing some plugin development so I just upgraded to the latest Wordpress. Next, need to find a theme I like. I will try to keep it at least functional during the process but it may be different every time you visit for a while.

If anyone happens to know of a nice simple, easily customizable theme, I would be interested in hearing about it. Currently using the Constructor theme but having a hard time figuring out how you are supposed to customize it.

The Only Phone Number You Need

I have had a Google Voice account since before Grand Central was bought out by Google. Like a lot of things, I signed up, played with it a little and then let the account sit there gathering dust.

Last month, Google opened the system up to allow users to set Google Voice as the default voice mail for cell phones. I had no problems with the way my ATT voice mail was working but it got me started about the service some more. Last week I forwarded my cell phone voice mail and, with the help of Aaron Blakely at Comspan) I got my office phone voice mail forwarded.

From the couple of test calls we made I know I am going to love the system. Here is how it works:

If you call my cell phone, I will probably answer. The only time I have it off is sometimes on the golf course or in places where it is not allowed or impolite to have it on. I also don’t answer it if I have to dig it out of my pocket when I’m driving. If I don’t or can’t answer, you will go to my Google Voice voice mail where the message you leave is transcribed and emailed to me. The call details and the first few words of your message are also sent via text message to my cell phone.

If you call my office number and I am at my desk, I will probably answer (unless you are trying to sell me oil futures, I love my caller id). If I don’t answer it in 3 rings, it forwards to Google Voice. However, before you get my voice mail, Google Voice rings my cell phone where I will probably answer (see above).

I have often felt like I should publish my cell phone number for clients. With Google Voice that is no longer necessary. Call me at the office and you will get me if I am awake and alive.

There are lots of things you can do by grouping contacts and assigning special features to different groups. That is going to take a little time. I also want to play with the Google Voice widget. The widget puts a call me button on a web page. Click a button and Google Voice will call your number and connect you to me. Sounds like the answer for real estate contact me pages huh?

Google Voice is still in limited beta but I have 3 invitations that may get you an account faster than their normal request process. First 3 to request an invite gets them.

By the way: as of January 1, 2010 talking on a cell phone while driving is going to be illegal in Oregon. I picked up a couple bluetooth hands free accessories for our cars at Costco. I’ll let you know how they work if anyone is interested.

Tiger Woods Commercial at Bandon Dunes

While Tiger Woods was playing practice rounds at this year’s British Open a few of us from Bandon got to participate (i.e. stand around a lot and freeze our butts off) in the making of one of Accenture’s newest commercials. A friend said he saw the finished commercial on Fox News. It is also one of two new commercials on the Accenture Web site.

For those who were there (or just interested) here it is: Tiger at Bandon Dunes. The hole he is on is number 16 but in real life there is no tree, fence or talking sheep.

Update: Since Accenture seems to be distancing themselves from Tiger, the link to the ad page is broken.

Do you tweet?

Over the last couple of years twitter has become one of the mot popular social media phenomenon in the history of the web. I know several agents who have twitter accounts but have not seen them using it much for business. I just ran across this article which is one of the best discussions of using twitter for business that I have read.

A Little Search Engine Help

I get asked a lot about search engine optimization (getting your site ranked high in the search engines). I just found this blog post and a cheat sheet that covers the basics very well. Read to the bottom as some of the comments are very good. I’ll definately be using the cheat sheet as a checklist for every page I develop in the future.

Golf is not a Game of Perfect

I have a love hate relationship with golf. I have said that when they come up with a 12 step program I am going to quit (either that of methadone for golf). I guess golfing and being a perfectionist don’t go together.

A friend of my mother loaned her a copy of this book. I picked it up and read a few pages and immediately ordered it.  I’m only about half way through it but it is definitely helping. Not with my game apparently, since I shot the worst round I can remember on Tuesday, but it has helped me realize that as a high handicap hacker, I am expected to miss a few shots (quite a few). So even shooting some 25 shots worse than my personal best, I did not vow to quit.

However, not sure I’m ready to buy into Bob Rotella’s “trust your swing” idea. My swing is definitely not trustworthy.

Adding the Google Translate Widget to OSCommerce

When we first installed OS Commerce for our ReloadingInternational site we tried installing and enabling several languages. Since the site is targeted at “international” customers, we thought this would be great.

The problem with that is, any custom pages have to be translated and maintenance got to be a nightmare any time a page changed. It finally got to the point we had to disable any languages other than English.

I had discovered a jquery plugin that we could use to translate specific parts of pages (or entire pages) using Google’s translation service. I just never quite got around to it.

A couple of days ago with the announcement of the Google Translation widget, Google solved the problem for me. It took all of 10 minutes and the site is now available in 39 languages. Here’s how.

Because OS Commerce includes several languages, it also includes a language selection box. The code for this box is located in catalog/includes/boxes/languages.php. All I did was replace the box contents with the Google widget code. Here is what my finished include file looks like: languages.php

We have had cases where English speaking customers have helped their non English speaking friends place orders so this should be a nice enhancement to the site.

Free Jetboat Tickets

Earlier this summer I won a free pass for two for a Jerry’s Rogue Jetboat trip up the Rogue River in a golf tournament. We took the 80 mile trip to Agnes last summer and it was great fun.

Until now I have held onto the hope that we would be able to do it again this year. But unfortunately summer has gotten away from us and we are not going to be able to use them.

Jerry’s has several length trips and the tickets are good for any of them. You can see details of the trips here. The pass expires Sept 15th so you will only have 2 weeks to use them. Also, some of the longer trips may not be available later in the yeardepending on water levels.

I am offering this pass to the person who can best tell me how they will use them, and will guarantee me that they will be used. And, if you are interested in second place, I also have a $50 VIP discount pass which (depending on the trip) is about 2 for the price of one.

I’m not going to wait long to give these away so if you are interested, better email me today: ken dot gregg at rwre.com.

How is the Water?

I live outside the city of Bandon and our water source is a shallow well. Over the past 6 to 8 weeks we have been having some water quality issues. For the most part a little sediment in the toilet bowels and occasional smell to the water has been inconvenient but tolerable. I visited the local well driller but no answers as to why the sudden change. All they could recommend is a charcoal 5 micron filter that didn’t help. But things are getting progressively worse as the odor is getting stronger and we have seen iron stains in cloths.

It has finally gotten to the point where something has to be done. Continue reading How is the Water?

Is Realtor.com worth it?

Saw this post on ActiveRain that asks (and answers) this. Some good comments about what agents are doing that are working.