Today in History

This is a section with featured stories on what happened Today in History that helped shape America. There are also stories about what happened around the world today in history. All of the stories are good food for though. Leave your comments and let people know what you are thinking. This is a collection of short stories by date on what happened today in history. The stories on concise, and include sources. I hope you enjoy this section and reading the stories as much as I do. You can sign up on the the site, for updates. Help spread the word.

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USA Trivia

Here is a really interesting collection of USA Trivia. New questions and answers are posted everyday. Don’t be afraid to sign up for updates by email. I did. This section has a great collection of questions on American presidents and other interesting information. It is meant to be shared. So I had to share it. I hope you do the same.

The site has buttons for you to share with friends via email, or on your favorite social media. There are new sections added to this site. So bookmark it and check back often. Who doesn’t like trivia? And USA trivia is the best.

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For the Serious Investor

Crossroads Real Estate LLC is seeking out the best investments for the serious investor. This page is not intended to post all the investment properties available. We can of course post our own listings for Sellers who appreciate the additional marketing Crossroads Real Estate LLC offers. One of the many personal sides of the Real Estate business all our clients appreciate. We can also post investment properties offered by other Brokers who decide to cooperate and take advantage of our advanced marketing skills. Contact  Crossroads Real Estate for additional details.

The Future of the Internet

Most people would not look at me as an expert on the Internet. I have been around computers since 1975 when we had to use binary code to teach a computer how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide. That was about it, other then those punch cards with little square holes.

Image result for first computersThe first computer I used in engineering was the size of a room. Very slow, and kept crashing I had to first draw a tractor cab on paper, plot all the points using geometry, write down X,Y,Z coordinates, then put points on the computer and connect the dots. That was it.

The first project I worked on, I drew half a tractor cab, then asked the computer guy how I could copy and flip the thing to make a whole cab. No one ever heard of that. A room full of vice presidents meet for weeks to figure out if it was worth the cost to pay a programmer to come up with a way to do that. They couldn’t see much use for a copy and flip command. How things have changed.

I eventually wound up at a company that saw a use for computers and invested in new computers and drafting software developed by engineers and designers that actually worked for a living. That was great. It was one of the first systems that worked, was stable, and did just about everything. There was also the ability to extend its usefulness with simple macros and sub-routines. We could do everything but make that computer sing.

We of course hired engineers from other companies with experience on other software, most on the leading seller. We would show them what we could do with the press of a button. They watched as the computer popped up a series of questions, then did an amazing amount of drawing on its own. That taught me two things. We can teach a computer to do parts of our jobs for us, things we do on a consistent basis, and most people don’t want to take the time to study chores they do over and over again. Most people want to do their work and leave it up to some computer programmer to suddenly make life easier for them.

In the old days, people who actually worked for a living were regular employees by day and computer programmers by night, so to speak. We had accountants developing accounting software, engineers writing engineering software, so on and so forth. They made programs that worked, and didn’t go through major updates and changes like we see today. The company I worked for sent me back to school to learn enough programming so I could communicate with the systems guy and tell him, we need the computer to do this and that, and know it was possible. Visual Basic was the key. Take one part of this program, add in that part from another program, and make something totally new. I had sort of a gift to see how useful computers could be.

Now we have people all over the world sitting in Internet cafes, or in their living room with a laptop trying to make money the old fashion way, steal it. The world is full of Internet thieves. I still get 1-2 letters per day via email with new variations on millions of dollars they have in a bank account, and they need help getting the funds to the US. Oh, and the old inheritance scheme. Are people still falling for that?

Now we have sophisticated scams. Most of them seem rather harmless and may go unnoticed. Even top antivirus programs use forms of spyware and sell off all the information on your computer. Who can you trust these days? My favorite antivirus program is Spybot. They are about the only ones left you can trust. The rest have fallen victim to big money from personal information sold all over the world. What is that information used for? All kinds of things. I can see how this is going to turn into a long series of stories.

Your information was first stolen to target your shopping habits. Major companies track the sites you visit on the internet, and then flood every site you visit with that product, or similar products. Those companies also buy information stolen from your computer to refine your custom made Internet experience. Bet you never considered that aspect. Those companies also developed and employ their own brand of spyware buried in operating systems. The bigger the company these days, the more deadly their spyware is.

Not long ago a computer worked off an operating system that only took up a few kilobytes of information. People were stunned when new operating systems took up a few megabytes of hard drive space. Today operating systems take up gigabytes. What are they doing with all that space?

Today most systems come with spyware included free of charge. People used to steal information, send it to their computers over the Internet, then process it, looking for information they could sell. Well why not use your computer to process and store that information, then send the important stuff of to the spy company? That made sense, and that’s what most people are stuck with today. Linux makes a safe operating system, but today, people want someone to do everything for them. With Linux, you have to know some basic programming, a sort of DOS system and a few commands to add programs to your computer. It is not impossible to break into, but very difficult. Linux requires a password to add any program to the hard drive. Since most of the world uses an operating system designed to do everything for you, thieves don’t bother to waste time on the 2% of the world that uses a stable, safe system. In a heartbeat, major software companies could fix that spyware and virus problem, but they are the biggest spies in the world.

You could go in and fix your operating system by taking out the spyware codes. But once you take out one program, there are 999 backups on your system to replace it. I don’t know how anyone could deal with the situation today. It has gone wild. So what does the future hold?

Everyone knows advertisers use information to flood you with ads to click. There is a lot of money in that. The last few elections taught us how politicians use stolen information to custom make banner ads to target individuals. Much of that was used to fuel the fake news sites. Using information from the Internet, they knew which stories to write and buy to target both sides of the political arena. The truth no longer matters. Attracting people to a site and getting them to click on ads is all that matters. It is all about money.

Now that the news has gotten their fingers in the pie, you can expect they will learn to use stolen information about people as well as the smaller, fake news people did. But they are looking at talking everything a step further – customizing news to suit the individual. In other words, I’ll see one news story, and you’ll see a totally different angle on that same news story. All they need is a person to enter a few basic pieces of information and let the computer write thousands of variations. As soon as the computer sees you on the site, in less than a second, a new custom website is revealed that agrees with your insight on life, to a degree. Your candidate is the best person in the world, and the opponent is a raging demon. How will they change other news? What happens when someone designs a computer program with an imagination, of some kind?

Internet Bullying on Steroids

It seems most people use one or more forms of Internet social media these days. Internet Social Media (ISM) opens up a whole new field for advertising in the Real Estate market. Smart agents should be able to figure out how to use this as a vital tool to keep in touch with all their friends, so they don’t forget, they have someone they know, and can trust when it comes time to sell their homes, and/or look for a new home.

ISM is not very difficult to use. All the ISM’s I’ve used encourage people to invite all their friends. Some offer a feature that will invite friends for you. They ask for permission to access your address book, and send out form letter invitations. Which is not a very good idea. On the old Internet, I had to send out a personal invitation to people I knew to get them to join the new social media … what would you call them? Clubs, or what?

Today I get maybe 4-8 phone calls a day from people selling me stuff. I mean junk. Their programs to use ISM. That is phone calls. I have no idea how many emails I delete everyday, and how many get sent to the junk folder automatically. Today we have so called experts who can make you rich by flipping a few switches on ISM that will make the money roll in. So what has social media and the term, “friend,” become? What is a friend in ISM? A way to make money? Is that what Real Estate has become? Maybe that’s why I try to avoid ISM. I like the old ways. Let’s talk. A handshake is as good as my word.

I do, or should say, I have used social media. I didn’t invite a whole lot of people. Most of them were via a phone call, or talking to them in the same room, when I told them about the ISM I was using. Is that old fashion or what? After that, I did send out a few invitations, but for the most part, people ran across me, and sent me that form letter friend request.

One of those ISM pages I had centered on a church I was involved with. They always seemed to find things to disagree on. Some discussions were rather heated. I usually tried to avoid getting involved, but you know the feeling, after a while you feel a need to voice your opinion, or maybe two.

I sat back as one group attacked another. I could see the divisions, and as usual with religious matters, people took one sentence, often part of a sentence, and wrote a book about what they thought it means. Eventually I decided to look into what the Bible actually said about the issue. I noticed one side clung onto a handful of what they referred to as proof texts, while some people taking the other side referred to stories in the Bible. Entire stories that made sense.

I know and use about 24 rules to study scripture. There are ways, like using a Concordance to look up the original Hebrew or Greek meaning of words. I found out the people using proof texts didn’t do that. The proof text they used would only stand up when they placed a personal meaning on a few key words. Key words is another method of study I also use. Key words formed links between the stories I studied. I used a series of related stories, to apply the general rule, not to base a belief on 1-2 texts.

By the time I finished writing a series of studies on that subject, I had thousands of followers on that ISM account. The studies used and covered every rule of interpretation in a way, it was almost impossible to argue the point without taking those stories out of the Bible, or insisting they don’t belong in the Bible.

I had no idea so many people put that subject on a life and death level, and some of the higher ranking people in that church took a personal interest in the matter. I guess I ruffled a few feathers. After posting my simple studies, someone rallied a bunch of people and my ISM account was locked out. Later I heard that group spent a huge sum of money, over a million dollars to buy advertising on that ISM platform. Um, that didn’t make sense. A church who had to go to a so called social media expert to make friends. Something sounded rather odd about that.

I didn’t sweat it. I had another ISM account. I just stayed away from controversial religious subjects, I learned my lesson. People with the most money win on social media. That was only the beginning of that lesson.

I just posted a few articles explaining how foolish it is to spend tons of money on the Internet to advertise a business like Real Estate on ISM. I also posted an article on spam emails, which looking back, are largely generated by companies selling programs to turn ISM into a cash making machine. Am I wrong? Think about it. If you are paying a company to find friends, are they really friends? Those friends are supposed to turn into paying customers. Anyone with an ounce of common sense will know, the person who pays a ton of money to make friends will pass that expense onto anyone who becomes a customer. Is that anyway to treat a friend?

After posting a few articles explaining how the rising cost of Internet advertising is leading to an increased cost of doing business, one of my ISM accounts was locked out. I can’t get to it. Is that another case of, the people with money win on social media?

Most people look at Internet bullying as kids writing unkind words about another kid. That is child’s play compared to what I’ve seen. Read something you don’t like, what can you do? You can agree to disagree. If that comments cuts into your business, you can contact the company running the show, and demand that person’s account be canceled. Is that fair, or is that the new generation of Internet bullying?

Not many people appreciate or like spam emails, viruses, spyware, and other things spread all over the Internet designed to collect personal details about people, so some company can make a fortune from selling your personal information. That is the new Internet gossip. Major companies want us to either accept it as a way of life, or learn to ignore it. They disguise Internet gossip under the phrase, “friend,” to make it palatable. And we are supposed to look at that as a necessary evil, the new way of life. If we disagree, we loose our entire friend list, and are not welcome in any social media circle. Is that right?

It’s not very difficult to learn how to use social media for free. I don’t think anyone has any problem with that. But when money is involved, we all of a sudden see a never ending influx of ever changing rules where the rich get richer, and the poor who are smart enough to use the system for free, are not welcome.

I already made up my mind. Call me a rebel, but I am not paying anyone a dime to find me new friends. Friends like that I don’t need. I build friendship the old fashion way, through trust. A rare commodity these days. These days, selling off everything you know about a friend for a nickle is a daily routine to survive, pay for that new car, or take that vacation. People act more like crack attics than real friends, and we are supposed to accept that as the new social media. How much is your friendship worth? Have you put a price on it. When I look at Real Estate and the direction it is going, you maybe should ask the agent you are thinking about working with, how much did you pay for the information you have on me, and how much is that going to cost me? Can we really accept the price social media has placed on friendship?

Crossroads Real Estate LLC

Ez1 Realty is proud to announce a new and exciting move. Ez1 Realty has now joined Crossroads Real Estate. This move came about through considerable thought and planning. Key ingredients in the decision included:

  • A market base concentrating on small town living and values
  • A commitment to service
  • The Highest Standard of Ethics
  • Networking within the community
  • Networking with top professionals in Real Estate
  • Experience

Too often the term, “independent contractor,” is taken to the extreme. Although Real Estate Agents and Brokers are structured under the concept of an independent contractor relationship as defined by the State of Wisconsin, that does not mean every man and woman for themselves. Some offices operate on a rather strange view of the term, “independent contractor.” Here is your license. There is your car. Now go out and sell.

When we look at the concept of new home construction, we see a team of independent contractors coming together at the right time to fulfill their part of the job. When one contractor fails, the project fails, and the homeowner suffers. Not many people possess all the skills required to construct a house from the ground up. Then why do some Real Estate offices assume their Agents can take on every role in Real Estate sales from beginning to end and still provide the quality service the public deserves? If sales only involved existing single family homes, independent agents could excel. But Real Estate consists of a wide variety of properties from single to multifamily units, investments, commercial property, business property, land, and of course, new home construction.

Success requires teamwork in every facet of the Real Estate business. Real Estate Agents are of course individuals. Each has his or her own skills and areas they excel in. What makes a good team and a great office? Cooperation consideration, dedication, the willingness to share skills, training, experience, time, and above all things, placing the customer first in every transaction.

Leave the term, “independent contractor,” where it belongs. With the dictionary, law makers, and tax collectors. When it comes to providing the public with the very best level of professional service, the term independent has to check itself at the door. Every Real Estate transaction requires dedication, communication, a confident and informed group of team players, and perfect timing. Individual Real Estate Agents can and will get the job done. But the right people working on the right team can and will take the Real Estate Sales business to the next level.

Before you begin the home buying or selling process, you owe it to yourself to see what Home Town Realty offers. Don’t forget the investment level, new home construction, commercial property, business property, and land purchases, as well as sales. Real Estate is all about making the community grow.

Contact Crossroads Real Estate to discuss your Real Estate needs.

Dennis Herman 414-426-1784

Ez1 Variable Commission Rate

What is a Variable Commission Rate? Your Real Estate property is as unique as you are. Do you buy clothes, shoes, or gloves in One Size Fits All? Of course you don’t. What you pay for, you expect to find that perfect fit and style. Ez1 Variable Real Estate Commission Rate is tailored to fit Home Sellers with a basic understanding of what it takes to sell a home. You spend time and money to prepare your house for sale and you should be rewarded. Why demand to full price or overpriced commission on the sale of a house that has been well cared for, exceptional, in demand, and shall we call it, “an Ez Sale”?

In the Real World Home Sale Commissions should be based on a number of factors.

  • Current Market
  • Location
  • Condition
  • Features
  • Inclusions
  • Incentives

Factors should determine the commission you pay to sell your house.

Ez1 Variable Commission Rate takes those factors into consideration to determine the best rate to benefit both you, and me, the Real Estate Agent of your choice.

Let’s talk. Call or E-mail me from the CONTACT LINK.

Email Spam How to Avoid It

One of the worst aspects about the Internet is all that spam email. In Real Estate it seems we are targets for spam emails, especially those containing viruses. Major viruses usually hit major banks for some reason. Since real estate agents deal with banks on a day to day basis, that may be one of the reasons. Let’s talk about Internet and email security.

I use Thunderbird as an email server program. They are very good at identifying spam email and viruses attached to emails. Thunderbird has an option I use. I take the spam email address and have everything from that address dumped into the junk folder. I must have 300 addresses in that system.

I found out a few years ago how I was loosing customers. I used gmail as an email account for some time. But as soon as I buyers were getting close to writing an offer, some other agent would jump in, knowing how much the buyer was qualified to borrow and a few details about what they were looking for. Put 2 and 2 together and what do you come up with? Internet thieves.

Some Real Estate Agents advertise on websites with search engines for people to search for homes. I’ve paid for advertising on those sites. They send agents leads, information on buyers looking for homes. Sounds good on the surface, but where do those websites get their information from?

Every lead I ever received from those websites was a customer I was already working with. How did those companies get the buyer’s information? From the emails we exchanged. I sent them out using gmail at the time, which is like sending out emails for anyone to read. Gmail sells your emails off to anyone with a nickle.

Once I noticed the patterns, looked at some information on the Internet, and asked the company exactly where they got their leads from, the answer was shocking. Leads are collected from unidentified overseas sources. What is that? I envisioned a guy in Russia sitting around in his underwear with a program that intercepts, and scrubs emails looking for information to sell. Then I thought, what about ISIS? They use the Internet to recruit people. They are so advanced in computer software, no government can trace their location, and neither can anyone else. The government went to Google, the experts on tracing computers. The best minds in the world can’t find where ISIS is operating from.

Whose to say ISIS is not selling information to real estate advertising companies. That threat was enough for me to drop all the Internet advertising and lead generation services.

Back to emails. I can communicate with most businesses in the real estate industry with no problems. Some title companies are very advanced in security as are most banks. I only use my secured server email address, which is very difficult to intercept. Everything is safe until we get close to the closing. Most customers use gmail, yahoo, and other free email services. The moment I sent them closing statements for review, my email is flooded with all kinds of spam emails containing some of the worst viruses in the world. I get emails from all over the world. You have to know how to identify where the email was sent from. I know the local offices I work with do not have information sent from overseas. I have to know what is legitimate and what is spam, and what is a virus. These days I have to explain to people, bring the check to the closing. Do not send any money to anyone without first checking with me. Free email services may sound great, but they are public information and have to be treated as such. You have to be extra careful these days. Explaining Internet security has become a part of the services Real Estate Agents should be discussing with their clients.

Another security flaw I’ve seen is texting. Read the agreement in you texting app on your phone. They can collect and sell all the information in your texts and on your phone, That’s why I do not use my phone for email. Some agents want me to text them the lock box number for a house I am listing. NEVER! I will never take that risk. I talked to some people about making a law forbidding agents from sending lock box information using text messages. All I get back is, everyone does it. Well not me. I take my clients security and confidentiality seriously.

Craigslist Scam 2017

It seems that Craigslist scam is alive and well. It is simple. Someone overseas looks through Craigslist ads for homes. They pick a few for sale, copy everything, and place it in the rental section. Um, sounds like copyright infringement. The person overseas, and at time in the US, sets a drop dead rental price. Rent an entire house with a garage for only $400 a month. Well someone is going to answer that ad. And the scammer will find people to wire him money.

They want a few months rent and a security deposit. Usually about $2000. I used to put my listings on Craigslist. All I got was headaches, and threats.

A few years ago someone copied an ad I had on houses for sale and set up a rental ad on Craigslist. Well someone wired the scammer $2000. The scammer told the guy to call the number on the sign to get the keys. So I get a call asking for the keys. I explained how the scam worked. But the guy tells me he is coming after me for either the keys or his money. Well low and behold, this is not a victim-less crime when someone is threatening to shoot you.

I called the police. They wouldn’t do anything. I called the Realty Association attorney. It took a long time to explain that one to them. I also called the FBI. We tried to get Craigslist to take the ad off the Internet. We went on a 4-way conversation via phone, myself, the attorney, the FBI agent, and the owner of Craigslist. After telling Craigslist the problem, and asking him to remove the ad, his comment was, “freedom of speech. Sue me.” And hung up. Well the attorney and FBI agreed, there was nothing anyone could do.

I no longer advertise on Craigslist. There is no need to place a listing on Craigslist, and endanger yourself, expose people to scams, and also endanger the seller’s family. Today the MLS listing service sends all listings to dozens of websites. Craigslist is not included for obvious reasons. As soon as I add a listing to the local MLS, that listing goes all over the world. It is part of marketing today.

Then there is a problem with some of those sites. I looked at a listing on one of those sites today. They were using outdated pictures. They added the listing, but not the updates. I guess you have to check those websites. But there may be a hundred of them, and their sites are not what I would consider user friendly. It is difficult to find out how to change your own listing, and I had to change pictures one at a time.

Well the Internet has come a long way. A simple program would tell Craigslist when information is being copied and placed in other ads. That would help protect a lot of people. But that takes a bit of know how, planning, and money.

 Internet Funny Stuff 

Well I wrote a few articles about Internet security, and it is nice to see the Real Estate Association get involved. Although for years, their attitude was, everyone does it. This month the Real Estate Association send out warnings about closing scams that have been going out. Maybe it was my article that convinced them, the problem stems from people using unsecured email accounts. I can email back and forth between lenders, and title companies for days and nothing happens. Banks, title companies, and I use secure email accounts. If you want to get one, just get a domain from and you get 1 free secure email account. You can buy more. And it will be a personalized account. You can do that for as little as $10 a year. Sounds like cheap insurance.

The problem comes when I send out paperwork about a closing to clients who use popular, free email accounts like hotmail, yahoo, and others. Read the fine print. Some of those companies have an agreement that they can read, and share your personal emails with the world. And they do. They make a rather tidy profit from it. The scammer buys that information and sends you an email with instructions to wire the money for closing to some overseas account. And those email companies should be held responsible. But they are so big, try to sue them.

The video on the bottom tells about one way of protecting your passwords, and email account. But that does not cover the fact, the email company may be sharing your account with the world. No one may be able to log into your account, but let’s fact reality, information is for sale.

Do this little test. Email someone about buying a new car. Mention a specific car. Then go on the Internet to any site. Now how did they get up ads about that car on all those sites? They aren’t psychic. They purchased the information in your private email. Now try another product like a washer, dryer, freezer, or something really strange. Get the picture?

Well stay safe on the Internet and think about buying that secure email service.