What We’re Reading: Jan 24-30

Stop exclaiming!! (unless on Facebook), drink more coffee, have more bacon

Writing for the web can be difficult, but when it comes to blogs and emails, drop the exclamation mark. It makes you look unprofessional and slightly manic. Unless you’re trying to increase your reach on Facebook. FB seems to like ‘em, the more the better.

In the dark of winter, most people don’t give too much thought to the harmful effects of the sun on skin. But researchers do. Researchers in a new paper released this month say that coffee can protect against melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

This weekend is Super Bowl 49 (or XLIX for the purists). Want to up your street cred before the big game? Here are 49 fun Super Bowl facts to add to your arsenal to impress your friends around the nacho platter.

Ever feel like the cable company or your phone service provider is charging too much? Ever feel helpless to do much about it? You’re not crazy. They have the professional script that they’ve honed to a fine point to separate you from your money. Leave it to an FBI hostage negotiator to give you some counterpoints to get them off-script and to save you money.

Oil is not the only commodity retreating from high prices – bacon is also becoming more affordable with prices expected to continue to fall.

A yeti has been sighted in Boston during the big snowstorm.  I didn’t realize yetis were found in America too.  I thought they only existed in Nepal and Tibet.

What We’re Reading: Jan. 17-23


A picture of Lottery Tickets by Flickr user Trilok Rangan

3D-Printed Buildings, Worst Passwords and The Winning Number

As you know, 3-D printers can make most anything—clothing, prosthetics, food, musical instruments and more. Chinese building company WinSun takes prefab and 3-D printing to a new level with their 3D-printed apartment building. The large pieces manufactured by the 3-D printer are assembled on site with steel and insulation to comply with building regulations.  The printer uses recycled material to cut back on construction waste and save on labor and production costs.

Though not as exciting as 3D-printing, Internet security is muy importante. Engadget shares the  worst-password list: are any of yours on the list? While on this topic, check out our new Internet Security Best Practices Guide to make sure you’re “in the know.”

For the bibliophiles: we share CBS Chicago’s best book club picks for winter reading. If you find the New York Times’ best sellers list too hackneyed, check out The Morning News’ Tournament of Books, which narrows down book picks March-Madness-bracket-style. For the logophiles: 22 words you’re probably pronouncing incorrectly.

This week brought joy to a Michigan pizza delivery driver. The order was for one pizza to be delivered to the Ann Arbor Sheraton Hotel.  The tip? A generous $2000.00 from a group of REALTORS® at a conference.  They also presented the delivery man with a Visa gift card and lottery tickets.  Why?  “Stacey McVey, team leader of Keller Williams Greater Cleveland West, said that at the company’s annual conference, all the agents agreed to pitch in to show someone from the service industry their appreciation.”

Lottery participants in New Hampshire will find tickets even more enticing than e’er before (except for the vegetarians). Somehow this only seems to further establish John Oliver’s contention with state lotteries.

We are reminded of party etiquette dos-and-don’ts on account of a UK family receiving a bill for a missed party. For those hosting afternoon and evening parties: you can now serve coffee to your guests without keeping them up all night. Speaking of coffee drinking: take a break from your coffee, iPhone and paperwork to look at this.  The Earth is beautiful, spectacular and amazing.

The week wouldn’t be complete without at least one post on pets: what does your pet say about your personality? Find out here.

And, with the Super Bowl upon us, we couldn’t close without a football-related story. Regardless of the team you will (or won’t) be rooting for, this article on Pete Carroll’s coaching style offers some grains of wisdom for anyone coaching a team: focus on doing your best and cultivating each team member’s best.

What We’re Reading: Jan. 10-16

Facebook’s enterprise social network, Smart homes at what cost, and time for an office clean-out

Facebook unveiled its Facebook for Office app this week, allowing businesses to create their own social network among their employees. The product puts Facebook head-to-head with the likes of Microsoft’s Yammer, Slack, Convo, Socialcast, and a huge number of others who are trying to tackle the “enterprise social network” space.

Flickr Duke Energy

Flickr Duke Energy

The idea of the ‘smart home‘ is becoming more and more a reality. Up to 17% of US homes have some kind of central automated control – either adjusting the thermostat, recording your shows, or automating some previous drudgery. However a recent study by HP revealed that the majority of the most popular app-controlled devices for the home were extremely vulnerable to hackers. As the smart home grows more common how much security – and user data – are we willing to give up for convenience?

Here’s one way to control invasive plant species—goats.  More eco-friendly than pesticide or machinery, goats can access hills and wooded land and don’t spread the ground-up seeds. Once they munch through a site, the goats are transported to a new area so they don’t get bored eating the same type of weeds. They eat a variety of plants, including reeds, kudzu, poison ivy, honeysuckle and ivy.

It’s a new year—time for an office cleanout, according to Wise Bread. Get rid of the extra mugs, dying plants, old marketing materials and start this year with a fresh, clean office environment.

The holidays are over – here come the bills. Did you go a bit overboard this year? Explore how you can dig out of your debt as a family.

Homes come in all shapes and sizes, even from scruffy garages. A homeowner in Bordeaux, France shows that a beautiful home can be created in the most unlikely of places.

You probably didn’t know about these five features hidden in the iPhone’s iOS 8 operating system. Use them, and you’ll be using your phone like a pro.

Separated from your iPhone? A study says you will be anxious and have poor cognitive performance.  I had read that being without your iPhone promotes anxiety, but I didn’t know that it affects your thinking.

We can’t get enough infographics using the United States map. The latest is the most popular cuisine in each state by the Huffington Post, in collaboration with Yelp.

New eBooks – January 2015

NAR members and Association staff can borrow up to six electronic books, digital audios and/or videos at no cost, through the Virtual Library eBooks Collection.

Members can also borrow up to three books for 30 days from the Library Catalog for a nominal fee of $10. Call Information Central at 800.874.6500 for assistance.

appraisalThe Art of Real Estate Appraisal
by William L. Ventolo

Real estate appraisals are one of the primary factors in the mortgage decision making process for lenders. Now consumers and real estate agents have a guide to lead them through the process so that they’re prepared with accurate knowledge of their property’s price even before the professional appraisal.

cityThe City in 2050: Creating Blueprints for Change
by Maureen McAvey

The City in 2050 explores potential paths of innovation to prepare for the changes facing metropolitan areas over the next several decades as the world becomes more urbanized. The book is heavily illustrated with photographs, charts, maps, and drawings that give the reader a quick overview of the issues cities will face.

farmlandFinding Good Farmland
by Ann Larkin Hansen

Buying your first farm can be a challenge. This practical guide contains all of the information you need to have before purchasing farmland, covering everything from the characteristics of the land (soil type, slope, water sources, drainage) and the surrounding area to permits, codes, taxes, roads, loans, mortgages, government assistance programs, and more. Checklists and questionnaires are included to help you decide exactly what you need and how to find it. This ebook contains bonus material not included in the print edition, including the stories of eight farmers who’ve successfully acquired farmland and an expanded resources section.

generationNext Generation Real Estate
by Brendon DeSimone

Everything you thought you knew about real estate has changed, which is why Brendon DeSimone has written his first book. He wanted consumers to be informed on how to navigate this next generation of real estate.  But, the changes aren’t just about real estate. Technologically, behaviorally, and culturally the world is more dynamic than ever. The result is a new portrait of the American Dream, one that is much more eclectic and complex and in need of new ground rules.  No matter who you are, what generation you are from or how much experience you have, this book will help you buy smarter or sell faster.

clutterClear the Clutter, Find Happiness
by Donna Smallin

Finally, a way to get rid of the clutter — and keep it away — without making the process a full-time job! Organizing and cleaning expert Donna Smallin shows you how to enjoy the happy, healthy, inviting home you long for with hundreds of time-saving tips and solutions to your clutter and cleaning problems. Her approach is manageable and simple, helping you focus on the things that will make the biggest difference with the least amount of effort and time. You’ll discover small, quick routines that will keep your spaces clean and clutter-free, as well as lots of things that you can do to introduce order and serenity in just one minute! Clear away the clutter once and for all, and enjoy the happiness you’ll find hiding underneath!

flippingThe Everything Guide to Flipping Houses
by Melanie Williamson

Expert advice to find, fix, and flip any residential property! Are you ready to capitalize on the rising real estate market and get in on the red-hot house flipping scene? You need a step-by-step guide to evaluate property, avoid rookie mistakes, and build a profitable, successful business. In The Everything Guide to Flipping Houses, successful house flipper Melanie Williamson walks you through the opportunities, the risks, the work involved, and the potential for real profits in flipping real estate.

gardenStart a Community Food Garden
by LaManda Joy

Community gardening enhances the fabric of towns and cities through social interactions and accessibility to fresh food, and has an enormously positive effect on the lives of everyone it touches. And with more than 18,000 (and growing) gardens spread through the United States and Canada, they are quickly becoming a primary source for fresh food in urban, suburban, and rural areas.