Sunday, February 24, 2008

I Know What You Did Last Summer

You are not anonymous on the Internet. You'd think we'd know that by now. Apparently not. I've seen three instances on Notary Rotary over the last month, two where people posted deliberately disruptive posts thinking they were anonymous, one where someone else sent a proxy to do their bidding. In all three cases, their identity ended up being exposed and their business reputation probably took a serious hit. Pretty foolish. This seems obvious to most, but apparently some people still don't get it. Everything we do on the Internet is tracked. I.P addresses can be looked up, Google can find anything you've ever posted, your e-mail address, your home address, your phone number, and more. Remember that time you posted about your love for the Backstreet Boys? It's out there to be found. So think first. If you're posting something that you don't want attached to your name, just don't do it, even with an alias. Especially if you think it's going to tick someone off. They'll search every corner of the Internet to expose your identity. And if you're posting on a business site, it's not just embarrassment that you face, but a blow to your business as well.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Keep Your Computer Virus Free

For signing agents, our computer is our lifeline. We get our assignments, map out our trips, update our calendar, set up our billing, and download documents. Without our trusty 'puters, we're toast. The question arises often; what programs should I be running to protect my computer and keep it virus free?

First of all, I don't think there is any one catch-all program. I run several different programs that all do different things or catch different intrusions. Here's what I run (and they're all free):

Zone Alarm - Zone Alarm is a Firewall. It blocks open ports and prevents people or programs from unauthorized access of your computer. Zone Alarm was recently listed on Maximum PC Magazine's 100 Greatest PC Technologies Of All Time. Note: A couple of people on Notary Rotary mentioned that they had problems with the newer version of Zone Alarm. Regardless of which firewall you choose, it's still vital to protecting your computer. And I personally love Zone Alarm.

AVG - Anti-Virus and Anti-Spyware protection

Spybot Search & Destroy - Blocks & removes Spyware

Ad-Aware - Anti-Spyware. Even though AVG, SS&D, and Ad-Aware all detect and remove Spyware, each one has a different set of definitions, so each program finds intrusions that the other doesn't.

I also run Windows OneCare Safety Scanner. It removes a lot of junk from your computer.

Two caveats:

Some programs have ads built in. If you disable the ads, you may disable the program (For instance, many illegal download programs like Kazaa or Morpheus run adware).

If you have McAfee, you may have conflicts running another virus or spyware program. My personal opinion; AVG is better, and it's free. Uninstall McAfee.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Top Five U.S. Lenders

#1 - Countrywide Financial - $408.2 billion in mortgages in 2007, down from $462.5 billion in 2006.

#2 - Wells Fargo - $272 billion in mortgages in 2007, down from $398 billion in 2006.

#3 - JPMorgan Chase - $207.7 million in mortgages in 2007, up from $171 billion the previous year.

#4 - Bank of America - $188.6 billion in mortgages in 2007, up from $166.3 billion in 2006.

#5 - Citigroup - $151.9 billion in mortgages in 2007, up from $142.1 billion in 2006.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Next Great Plan To Save The Mortgage Industry

A new plan was announced today to expand mortgage relief to include all types of mortgages, not just subprime. The brain trust of the nation’s largest financial institutions, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Countrywide Financial, Washington Mutual and Wells Fargo, came up with this earth shaking plan. The plan: put forclosures on hold for thirty days. That's it, that's the big plan. You get another thirty days before you're sleeping on the street. Rejoice! We're saved!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

What's In Your Wallet?

I hope not a credit card from Bank of America. Without explanation, Bank of America raised interest rates on some of their credit cards to as high as 28%.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Welcome To Wisteria Lane

I've been told that that the outside of my condo looks like Wisteria Lane (see photo), sort of an everyday Americana where every home is cut from the same cloth (fortunately, the interior is unique and highly customizable). Looks like this cookie cutter mentality is the trend of the future, as home builders are eliminating options and going towards a one size fits all model in an effort to cut costs.

Break The Law Or Break A Heart?

Today I hate my job. Today it seems like what is right and what is legal are two different things. I've been speaking to a very nice woman over the last few days who is trying to get some affairs in order for her elderly mother. The mother is in a nursing home suffering from multiple problems, and needs to get documents notarized allowing her daughter to handle her affairs. Her I.D. expired ten years ago, and she has been physically unable to go get a new I.D. I can not notarize without a proper I.D., no one at the nursing home who knows her personally is a notary, and the Secretary of State insists that there is nothing they can do to get her an I.D. if she can't come to their office in person. I find it deplorable that the Secretary of State says they can do nothing. This can't be the first time an elderly person who is unable to travel and may be gravely ill needs to get a new I.D. Why isn't there a contingency for this?

I'd love to be able to handle this. I badly want to do it despite the Secretary of State directing me not to do so. But I know I can't. I know I'd risk my commission and my career, not to mention that if the document were contested, it would end up being invalidated. It stinks.