March 26, 2018

Renting out your property? Try these decorating tips first

You’ve caught the Airbnb fever and are eager to promote your property online. Your short-term rental has a desirable location and many an amenity that should make for an alluring listing. And you’re even prepared for the grunt work required—like DIY property management, maintenance and marketing.

But you may be overlooking a key ingredient that could lead to poor reviews and low leasing activity: esthetic appeal in the form of fresh furnishings and d├ęcor. Ignore these elements at your own peril, say the pros. Learn what they have to recommend in my latest home improvement article, this time published in the Dallas Morning News, found here.

March 18, 2018

Bottom dollar battles

If convenience store operators want more Washingtons in the drawer, they need to pay more attention to rivals where George rules the roost. Because chances are, dollar outlets - including Family Dollar, Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Five Below, and 99 Cents Only Stores - are steadily garnering greenbacks from the 7-Elevens of the world in key categories where they shine, like snacks, beverage, tobacco and even fresh edibles, say the experts.

Learn more about the pressure that dollar stores are putting on convenience retailers by reading my most recent story for CSP Magazine, available here.

March 11, 2018

First-time buyers are purchasing more homes: here’s why

Ask any first-time home buyer and they’ll likely tell you their quest isn’t easy. It’s tough saving up for a home. Landing a mortgage at a desired rate can be tricky. And beating out contenders to the right home requires good timing. But fresh numbers show that first-timers aren’t giving up. In fact, they’re buying more homes than they have in 12 years. That’s a good sign for the market. And it may encourage others to pursue their dreams of owning.

If you’re eager to buy your first home, the good and bad news is that you’re not alone. But with careful planning and the right approach, you’ll stand a better chance of buying your first home sooner. That's one of the takeaways from my newest story for The Mortgage Reports, which you can read here.

March 4, 2018

Hoodwinking Alexa

If you own a smart speaker, you know that it can be fun trying to trick Alexa, Siri or Google into doing or saying something it shouldn’t—like obeying your friend who imitates your voice commands. While such ruses are fun and harmless, the truth is that bad actors are undoubtedly attempting trickery of a more nefarious nature and voice-controlled systems (VCSs) and speech recognition systems (SRSs) can be easily fooled via clever techniques.

In my first article for Speech Technology Magazine, I examine new potential threats to VCSs, including a "DolphinAttack"that uses high frequencies incomprehensible to human ears but detectable by electronic microphones. Read all the details by clicking here.