Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Windows 8 is Really Different (seriously)

I explained in my last blog entry that I purchased a new Laptop computer last weekend (black Friday actually). My previous one "suddenly" crashed (I'm still upset about it).

     If you follow technology you probably know that ALL new Windows driven computers are now running on the new Windows 8 Operating System...And Windows 8 is different (much different) from Windows 7 or Vista (I hated Vista).

    Of course, like anyone else, I was excited when I unboxed my new laptop, but little did I know I was about to enter a totally different computer world (I might be exaggerating a little here).

     When I first powered up my new computer I immediately noticed the desktop was total different. Rather than icons it was full of square "tiles" (that's what Windows calls them).

The feature (or should I say the missing feature) that struck me most was the lack of a "Start Button" Aside: have you noticed I'm into using parenthesis today?

     It took me close to fifteen minutes (without exaggeration) to figure out how to do a Google search. And of course, a computer running a Microsoft OS comes preloaded with Internet Explore as its default browser. (Aside: I hate Internet Explore, by the way, have you noticed I'm into "asides" today, too?), so I downloaded Morzilla Firefox.

     I had absolutely no problem downloading...but after the file finished I couldn't find the folder holding the downloaded file to execute (finish) the installation. It took me fifteen minutes (without exaggeration) to find this folder.

     After an hour or so of playing with Windows 8 I decided to power it off and put it away. Remember, what I said earlier, Windows 8 does not have a "Start Button" the heck do you properly power down a Windows computer without a "Start Button"? (I had absolutely no idea).

      Finally after a good fifteen minutes (without exaggeration) I was able to power the computer off.

    Now, please don't get me wrong...I am not opposed to new things. I actually like learning how to use new things. In fact after using Windows 8 for a week now, I love it (no, I'm not exaggerating).

     The main purpose of this story is to explain how radically different Windows 8 is from any of Microsoft's previous Windows Operating Systems.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Deed Excise receipts for FY13

Yesterday's Globe reported that tax collections in Massachusetts have been lower than projected in recent months, prompting state government to contemplate emergency budget cuts.  After reading this, I looked at the receipts here at the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds for deed excise tax collections thus far in FY13 (i.e., since July 2012).  The deed excise tax is assessed at a rate of $2.28 per $500 of sales price for real estate sold within this registry district.  The seller is obliged to pay the tax which is collected at the time the deed transferring ownership is recorded at the registry of deeds.  Here's a month-by-month comparison of the money we have taken in for deeds excise since July 1, 2012, compared to the same month in 2011:

In July 2012, we collected $709,410 in deeds excise tax, an increase of 29% from the $551,057 collected in July 2011;

In August 2012, we collected $571,650, a 6% increase from the $539,080 in August 2011;

In September 2012, we collected $580,770, a 5% decrease from the $610,732 collected in September 2011;

In October 2012, we collected $429,410, a 28% increase from the $335,458 collected in October 2011.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Its Trash

I love computers...and because I do I take care of them, especially my own. I never close the cover without shutting my computer totally off. I store it neatly on a desk with a cushioned blotter to protect it from scratching. Once a week, I clean the screen, keyboard and exterior, not just with any cloth, but with a piece of fabric specifically designed to clean computers. I tell you these things in hopes you will excuse the brief moment of insanity I describe below.

Last Friday (yes, Black Friday) of all days I decided I would surf the Internet a briefly before lunch. I took my laptop from its cushioned resting place and fired it up. Ah, I find such delight in a computer that puts the world at my finger-tips. I gently pressed the power button and I noticed my baby seemed to boot a little slower than usual...No big deal. I mentally joked, I'll bet my baby is suffering from day after Thanksgiving sluggishness like the rest of us. LOL.

I clicked on Firefox, my preferred browser...hmmmm, google seems to be coming up pretty slow. Ah, there it is.

I clicked my bookmarks and selected The hourglass popped up and nothing happened. I waited and waited and I waited. Finally I got a message..."can not access website".  Maybe there's something wrong with wiped a speck of dust off my computer's keyboard...yes, nice and clean now. I'll try another website. Again, I got an hourglass...just spinning, spinning.

I began to get a little nervous...There can't be anything wrong, I take care of my computer.
Another website, another hourglass...spinning.
There is no way, MY computer could have a virus. No way.
Another website, another hourglass...spinning
Maybe, just maybe there IS something wrong

OK, I've got to try something. I'll restore my computer to an earlier date...some time from last week. Even if the remote possibility is true and it did pick up a virus, I'll  restore the computer to before the infection and things will be back to normal and my baby will be OK.

Control Panel...System Restore...Restore to November 15. Yes, yes, restore my computer to November 15. That will make it all better again. 

Unfortunately, my plan didn't work. Just as System Restore was about to begin I got a horrifying message... "Your hard drive is corrupt.  The system can not restore".

What do I do now?, I thought.

I pulled the battery out and unplugged the electrical power. Please, please reset...I promise, I'll clean my computer after every use and buy an expensive case to store it in. I powered it back up...this time I got a gray screen with another error message..."You have a corrupt hard drive press F1 to continue".

I pressed F1 nothing happened, absolutely nothing. Not even a beep.

My forehead was getting warn and my blood was beginning to boil. I turned the power off again, same message.
Again...same message.
Again...same message.

In a flash, the love I felt for my computer turned to disgust. I turned my head and looked askew at my dead computer. It's nothing but a piece of trash, I thought. I picked it up and held it with both hands and looked at it...For three years I babied you....cleaned your screen and cover. I regularly defragmented your hard drive, backed up files, expanded your memory...and now you turn on me and of all days, Black Friday.

Violent thoughts went through my head. I looked at the heap of useless plastic in my hands. A little demon perched on my shoulder whispered in my ear...Go ahead Tony, drop it. Drop it on the floor. What difference does it make, its dead anyway. Drop it, Tony. Do it.

Temporarily overwhelmed with hatred I lifted the piece of junk over my head. My mind was racing. Tony, was my wife, What are you doing? Put that thing down. I hesitated and looked at her...but its broken I said, it crashed. Its dead. I'm going to...
,Not you're not...I guess you'll have to buy another one..things break, she said, no big deal.

Sanity returned...yes, yes, I guess you're right, I muttered and placed the computer back on its cushioned, blotter-seat.

Come on she said...Let's go now. It I'll be fun, we can go shopping on Black Friday.
Fun, yeah, I said Real fun. Shopping, Black Friday...Yeah fun"


Friday, November 23, 2012

Lincoln - the movie

It's a quiet Friday after Thanksgiving here at the registry of deeds.  The roads were empty and the only one in line at Dunkin Donuts was a security guard from the Lowell District Court buying a "Box of Joe" presumably for the few employees there who did not take the day off.  With so many other folks having the day off, it's good to have the registry of deeds open: we always record a lot of homesteads on the day after Thanksgiving.

Yesterday I not only had the pleasure of enjoying a great dinner with my extended family and watching the Patriots overwhelm the Jets, but also seeing the new Steven Spielberg movie, Lincoln.  If you have any interest in politics or history, go see this movie.  (And if you're not interested in either of those subjects, perhaps seeing this film would spark some interest).

The film is almost exclusively about the political maneuvering to get the 13th Amendment (the one that abolished slavery) through the House of Representatives in January 1865.  It had passed the Senate the previous year but with a substantial number of opposition Democrats in the House, the two-thirds vote needed for its passage seemed out of reach.  In the election of November 1864, however, 62 of those Democratic Congressmen lost which changed the political dynamic.  Although his closest advisers recommended waiting until the newly-elected Republicans took office, Lincoln felt the need to move quickly, fearing that the end of the war - something that seemed imminent - would cause many to reconsider their support of the amendment.  Using promises of jobs and other tactics some would consider questionable, Lincoln and his compatriots cobbled together enough votes to win by 2. 

The movie also teases the viewers with enough "might have been" moments about Lincoln's plans for post-war America, plans that were snuffed out when he was assassinated just a few months later.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Fixing erroneous marginal references

Here's an issue that has popped up twice in the past 48 hours under nearly identical circumstances.  A homeowner called and explained that a long ago mortgage had been paid off also long ago but that no discharge of the mortgage was easily located on the registry computer system.  With some digging, we found a discharge for the mortgage on record, but the discharge contained an incorrect book and page number for the mortgage.  For instance, the mortgage was recorded in book 9697, page 161 (fictitious number) but the discharge read that the mortgage being discharged was in book 9697, page 151.  We had made the link (i.e., the marginal reference) to the document at page 151 although it had nothing to do with the discharge document.  Everything else about the discharge - the date the mortgage was executed, the parties, etc., matched the mortgage at page 161.  Traditionally, the registry would not have also made a link to the document at page 161 - we would only link to the book and page number expressly stated in the discharge document.  But on these two documents I decided to change the policy and I added the additional marginal reference.  The purpose of the index is not to corroborate what a document legally purports to do; rather, the purpose of the index is to help people find documents relevant to the query.  Certainly this discharge is relevant to the status of the mortgage.  Whether it succeeds in discharging the mortgage despite the typo in the book and page reference is another question (I think it does but that's beside the point).  I believe it is better for a person to see the discharge and make his or her own determination as to its efficacy than it would be for us to make it more difficult for someone to locate that discharge.  The countervailing argument is that by making the link we potentially deceive someone into believing the discharge is effective (which it may not be) but that assumes the person examining the record does not actually read the document being examined.  Balancing those considerations, I decided it was better to come down on the side of making it easier not harder to find potentially relevant documents.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

National mortgage settlement benefits some in Massachusetts

The Globe reports today that several thousand Massachusetts homeowners have benefited from the $25 billion settlement entered into between a number of state attorneys general and major national lenders including Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Co., Citibank, and Ally Financial Inc., owner of GMAC Mortgage.  The misbehavior complained of by the AGs was robosigning by the lenders, that is, the practice of signing someone else's name to mortgage documents.  Those in Massachusetts who benefited from the settlement received an average of $68,000 in loan forgiveness or credits.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Electronic recording statistics

Electronic recording continues to increase in volume.  It leaves the impression that our activity level is down but it's actually up considerably from last year.  At the end of October 2012, we had recorded 57,829 documents, a 22% increase from the 47,481 recorded through the end of October 2011.  Of the 57,829 documents recorded so far this year, 19,498 - 34% - came to us electronically.  The month of October 2012 may have seen the highest monthly percentage of electronically recorded documents yet: 2707 of 6585 (38%) were electronically recorded.  Here are the month to month percentages of electronically recorded to all recorded documents for 2012:

January 30%
February 33%
March 29%
April 35%
May 35%
June 35%
July 35%
August 36%
September 33%
October 38%

For 2012, the largest number of electronically recorded documents we received in a single day occurred on June 29, 2012 when 373 of 793 came in electronically.  The highest percentage for a single day occurred just a few days earlier, June 21, 2012, when 373 of 793 documents came to us electronically.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Mid-Month Statistics

With November half over, here are some document recording statistics:

From November 1 thru November 15, 2012, we recorded 247 deeds; a 13% increase from the 216 recorded for the same period of 2011.

From November 1 thru November 15, 2012, we recorded 680 mortgages; a 10% decrease from the 754 recorded for the same period of 2011.

From November 1 thru November 15, 2012, we recorded 13 foreclosure deeds; an 38% decrease from the 21 recorded for the same period of 2011.

From November 1 thru November 15, 2012, we recorded 28 orders of notice; a 42% decrease from the 48 recorded for the same period of 2011.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Me in the Shark Tank

I love the TV show Shark Tank. Have you seen it? An average person brings four rich investors an idea/invention he developed and asks them to invest a specific sum of money to become partners in the product. It is a great show. The four investors are Robert Herjavec, Kevin O'Leary, Mark Cuban and Barbara Corcoran.

The concept of this show got me thinking. I started to image a conversation that "might have taken place" twenty years ago between a young inventor (like me) and the Sharks. Here is how the conversation might have gone:

Me: Sharks, thank you for giving me this opportunity. I have an idea that will make you rich...sorry, you are already rich so it will make you richer. I am looking for a $50,000 investment for a 20% share in my invention.

Mark Cuban: Well, Tony $50,000 is a lot of money to most people, but a mere pittance to an NBA owner like me.

Robert Haerjavec: Come on Mark, give the guy a chance...Tony, tell us about this invention of yours.

Me: Well, Sharks this (I hold up a cellphone) is an ordinary cellphone. But MY invention makes this much more.

Kevin O'Leary: Hey, that looks just like my phone. Tony, I like my cellphone, so I'm not sure I want you fiddling with it. But continue...

Me: That's what is so great about my invention, you can still use your cellphone as you always have, but with my invention you can send written messages with your cellphone. I call it... "text messaging".

Barbara Corcoran: Are you talking about the type of cellphone that Kevin and I use to talk on?

Me: Yes! Isn't it wonderful?

Mark Cuban: Excuse me, but I've made billions and I don't get it...Isn't it easier to talk to someone with your cellphone than it is to write them, or... what do you call it, "text"? Who's going to want to write a message?

Me: Actually, Mark I call it... "text messaging".

Kevin O'Leary: So let me see, you want $50,000 for 20% of this "text messaging" invention which means you believe the invention is worth $250,000...sorry, but I'm out.

Barbara Corcoran: Tony, I like you, you seem like a nice enough guy, but I'm out too...frankly I actually think the idea is ridiculous. No one is going to use his cellphone to send written messages instead of talking. Kevin, what do you think?

Kevin O'Leary: I'll wait a little longer...I'm a little intrigued.

Robert Herjavec: Me too, "a little"...I think "text messaging" could have a use, but the market your appealing to is very limited. Maybe, high level business people like Mark Cuban who don't really like each other and don't want to talk to each other. They might like sending a "text" as you call it.

Mark Cuban: Come on Robert, me and my rich buddies all get along...Tony, I think this idea is stupid, I'm out. If you need tickets to the Mavericks let me know.

Announcer: Two Sharks are out and two still remain.

Me: Kevin and Robert, will you give me $50,000 for 40% of my "text messaging" invention?

Kevin O'Leary: Tony, don't misunderstand me, Your "text messaging idea doesn't intrigue me, but I'm really intrigued that you would have the audacity to think that one of us would invest money on the premise that anyone in his right mind would want to write messages with a cellphone. I'm out. Robert, what are you going to do?

Announcer: Now three Sharks are out and the fate of Tony's text messaging invention rests in the hand of one Shark, Robert Herjavec. 

Me: Come on Robert, help me out here.

Robert Herjavec: Tony, maybe you need to go back and work on this invention more... here's an idea. How about a cellphone with some sort of recording device that allows you to send a voice message. That might be more marketable. But as far as I'm concerned the only people that are going to use this "text messaging" thing are people that don't want to talk to each I'm sorry, but I'm out.

Announcer: All four Sharks are now out.

Me: Thank you Sharks...but I respectfully disagree, I think twenty years from now, you'll all wish you had invested in "text messaging", because I truly believe people will send millions of "text messages" by cellphone each year.

Reality: 2011, 8 trillion text messages were sent. "See Sharks, I told you so".


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Big Box Retailers entering the banking business

The New York Times reports that big box retailers such as Costco and Walmart are aggressively moving into areas that were once the exclusive domain of banks.  Offering financial products ranging from prepaid debit-type cards to home equity loans, these companies, according to this story, are interested in providing their existing customers with additional services to provide a type of one-stop shopping.  One benefit of this approach is that people who are under-served by traditional banks (most likely because they are risky borrowers) will be extended credit.  One downside is that financial transactions by retailers are only loosely regulated and so are susceptible to abuse.  Long-term, with homeowners today locking themselves into mortgages with incredibly low interest rates, the past practice of refinancing an existing home mortgage to tap into the liquidity of the family residence will become less common since no one will want to trade an existing low interest mortgage with a new one at a (presumably in the future) higher rate.  This might create a big market for other types of loans that are secondary to the mortgage.  Major retailers seem to be positioning themselves to fill this coming demand.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Watch Out

The Internet is a scary place.

It's a place filled with hackers who only have one intention, to harm you. Its enough to make you wonder... is there's a bad-guy out there every time you turn on your computer; that some evil-doer is lurking around in cyberspace just waiting to get you; Someone that wants to steal your money, your car, your house and even your golf clubs.   

This morning a paranoid New York Times Technology reporter wrote an interesting article on ways to stop hackers. "Paranoid?" Yep, this reporter openly admits to putting masking tape over her computers webcam. Now, that's being a little paranoid. 

For the article, the paranoid NYT reporter (who shall remain nameless here) contacted two other paranoid technology experts (who shall also remain nameless here) and asked for suggestions on how to protect computer passwords. Obviously, this wasn't done over Skype, since all three probably have their web-cameras taped over.

Here are some of the expert's suggestions for password protection:

Forget the Dictionary: According to the experts" If your password can be found in a dictionary, you might as well not have one". I'm done! But, I wonder if this includes the Urban dictionary too or if "whazzup" would be a good password?

Come up With A Passphrase: The first thing I thought was "What the heck is a passphrase, Is it some secret code word or something?" No!, the experts advise you to think of your favorite movie quote and piece together the first letters of each word into a passphrase... so, "I'm your worst nightmare" would create a password of, "Iywn".

Just Jam on Your Keyboard: LOL, I love this one...This is exactly what it sounds like, just start banging away on the keyboard randomly,..I'm going to try it right now. Here goes... "thldionfglsbrjlkdjtgn", I'll bet even an expert hacker couldn't remember that password.

Ignore Security Questions: The experts say, do not answer "security questions" accurately. It really isn't that hard for a good hacker to figure out your graduating high school and then use it to change your password from thldionfglsbrjlkdjtgn to skemghikleldkgnkjr. Instead, they suggest you actually answer a security question with another question. Example: "What high school did you attend?" Answer..."What do you care?" (I'm just joking).

Never Use the Same Password Twice: Unless its thldionfglsbrjlkdjtgn or skemghikleldkgnkjr, of course.

Seriously, password protection is important, and effective means should be taken to maintain your security. 

Friday, November 09, 2012

Holiday schedule and severe weather policy

Since we've started receiving inquiries:

The registry will be closed on Monday, November 12 in observance of Veterans Day

The registry will be closed on Thursday, November 22 for Thanksgiving

The registry will be closed on Tuesday, December 25 for Christmas

The registry will be closed on Tuesday, January 1, 2012 for New Years Day

The registry will be open during our regular hours on the following days:

The day after Thanksgiving (Friday, November 23)
Christmas Eve (Monday, December 24)
New Years Eve (Monday, December 31)

During severe weather events such as hurricanes or major snow storms, the registry may close early or open late depending on conditions.  Since this office is located inside a courthouse, whether and when we are open is a decision that tends to follow that made by the Massachusetts Court system (we've never closed the registry while the courthouse remained open).  In the case of an overnight snowstorm, visit the home page of the Massachusetts Court System to find any notices about delayed openings or building closures (if anything is to be posted, it's usually done by 6:30 am).  In the case of a snowstorm during the day, check this blog or call the registry at 978/322-9000 to learn of our status.  One point of emphasis: when the governor declares a state of emergency and directs non-essential state employees to stay home, such a declaration does not apply to either the court or the registry of deeds.  Hopefully this is all just an academic discussion and will avoid any further nasty weather this winter.

What constitutes a signature?

We had a case of first impression yesterday at the registry when an attorney presented for recording a Notice of Decision from the Westford Planning Board.  The document was signed by an assistant town clerk on the date it was filed with that office and signed again by the same official with the annotation that 20 days had passed from the notice of decision but that no appeal had been filed.  So far, so good, but the signature blocks for the five members of the planning board which consisted of the board member's typed name underneath a signature line were all blank.  There were no ink-on-paper, cursive style signatures written on the lines.  The lawyer who records documents frequently and does much business with the town said that when picking up the document and noticing the absent signatures, mentioned it to the folks in the town clerks office.  The reply was that the typed names were intended to be the signatures since trying to get the traditional signatures of all five volunteer members of the planning board proved very difficult and time consuming.  Waiting for all to sign risked pushing the issuance date of the decision beyond the time mandated by law.

In theory, I have no problem with a typed name serving as a signature.  My understanding of the legal requirement for a signature is "some mark intended by the maker to constitute his or her signature."  We often receive checks from major banks with the signer's name stamped in the signature block and no one worries about that.  More than 350 years ago, Native Americans who lived along the banks of the Merrimack River executed deeds by drawing unique pictographs (stick-man like figures) for their signatures.  Today, disabled individuals routinely sign documents with an "X" in place of a traditional signature.  Using all of these as precedent, a typed name in my view can be a legally valid signature assuming the person intends that to serve as his signature.

My problem with the document was a more practical one: anybody looking at it would be more likely to draw the inference that it was incomplete, that the absence of an ink-on-paper signature was an omission rather than a non-traditional way of signing a document.  To preempt future questions from researchers viewing the document, I wanted some annotation that clearly stated that the "typed name constitutes signature."  In my presence, the lawyer doing the recording called the town planning office and received permission to make that annotation.  Once that was done, we went ahead and recorded the document.  In the future, it would be better if the person drafting such a document use the "/s/ name" format on the typed line rather than merely leave it blank along with some kind of certification signed by an administrator that the members of the board communicated their intent that their typed names constituted their signatures on the document. 

Thursday, November 08, 2012

New Registers of Deeds for 2013

All twenty-one of the Commonwealth’s register of deeds positions were on the ballot this week.  Here are the names of all twenty-one, with the newly elected individuals listed first:

Newly Elected

  • Berkshire Middle – Patsy Harris elected (incumbent Andrea Nuciforo ran unsuccessfully for Congress)
  • Essex North – Paul Iaunuccillo elected after defeating incumbent Robert Kelley in Democratic Primary
  • Franklin – Scott Cote elected after defeating incumbent Joseph Gochinski in Democratic Primary
  • Hampshire – Mary Olberding elected (incumbent Patricia Plaza, who was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Marianne Donahue who retired, chose not to run for election) 
  • Middlesex South – Maria Curtatone elected (incumbent Eugene Brune chose not to seek re-election)

Barnstable – John Meade
Berkshire North – Frances Brookes
Berkshire South – Wanda Beckwith
Bristol Fall River – BJ McDonald
Bristol North – Barry Amaral
Bristol South – Mark Treadup
Dukes – Dianne Powers
Essex South – John O’Brien
Hamden – Donald Ashe 
Middlesex North – Richard Howe
Nantucket – Jennifer Ferreira
Norfolk – William O’Donnell
Plymouth – John Buckley
Suffolk – Mickey Roache
Worcester – Anthony Vigliotti
Worcester North – Kathleen Daignault

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The Technology of Elections

I admit it. I'm a political last night was like a huge, give-away candy store for me.
I'm also a technology junkie so it was also an awe-inspiring night.

As a "political, techno" junkie, I'm overwhelmed by how much technology has changed presidential election reporting.

When I was a kid (I sound like my father) presidential election coverage was so simple. Back then it was a two talking-heads sitting at a desk.  As the wee hours of the morning approached and polls closed, results would dribble in. Candidate's numbers were displayed at the bottom of the TV screen in "white numbers"(ow, white numbers).

We've come a long way. Today, presidential election coverage is so different.

"Teams" of news reporters and anchors feed viewers results that are complied by "political experts" sitting off screen in a room called a "boiler room". In the boiler room demographics are dissected and analyzed.

Today reporters use electronic "smart boards" to display totals and predicted future trends. These "smart boards" are capable of  breaking states down into counties and counties down into towns. 

Over the past ten years technology has turned election reporting into a sophisticated, scientific operation. Last night I had the feeling the technology employed  is so good that most networks could have predicted the national results much earlier than they actually did.

Technology! It's amazing.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Webcam Traveler

     There is something fascinating about live webcams to me. I am not sure what it it...maybe its the spontaneity or the raw reality of what the "camera captures...or maybe its the sense of "being there" I get. The feeling I'm visiting.
     Yes, I find webcams enchanting.
     Truthfully I never knew how many famous places and not so famous places you could journey to by a webcam.
     I found two major websites that act as a kind of storehouse of webcams...EarthCam and These two sites link virtually hundreds of world-wide webcams.
     Below I have listed several webcams I thought you might find interesting...but if these don't interest you visit EarthCam or World-Webcams and take your own journey.

Times Square, New York 
Moscow, Russia
The Washington Monument
Panama Canal,1048,panama-canal.html
Tokyo Japan
San Diego Zoo Panda Cam,753,california-sandiego-zoo-panda-cam.html
Monaco Port,1622,monaco-port.html
Cape Town South Africa,548,cape-town-kapstadt.html

Monday, November 05, 2012

Windows 8 and

While working in our Customer Service area on Friday, I took a call from a website user who was having difficulty with the "search criteria" box.  When you go to, either directly or via, the default search fields are last name and first name.  To change the type of search, you move your cursor over the "search criteria" item in the upper left menu bar.  This causes a small box filled with links to the other types of searches - for Registered Land, for plans, by address, by book/page, etc - to appear.  Clicking on one changes the search fields.

My caller was having difficulty with the search criteria box although I had trouble understanding the nature of that difficulty and was able to talk the customer through finding the document through the default name search which was functioning fine.

An hour later, a second call of a similar nature came in.  This caller, whom I knew, was better able to describe the problem and the circumstances around it.  She was using a brand new computer, purchased at Staples, which was running Windows 8, the free Norton antivirus software that comes with it, and using Internet Explorer to access the web.  When she moved to "search criteria", the box of choices appeared but clicking on the choices did nothing - the links were broken.

Suspecting it was a problem caused by Windows 8, I called Tech Support at the Secretary of State's office.  They had received a similar call not too long before and were searching what was causing the problem.  What they did know is that the problem did not occur when the website was accessed using Firefox or any other web interface but Internet Explorer.  So the short term work around for this problem, should you or someone you know experience it, is to download the free Firefox web browser and begin using that.  Because of prior experiences similar to this with Internet Explorer, I switched to Firefox long ago.  It's easy to use, is unobtrusive and makes it easy to switch back and forth between it and Internet Explorer should you so desire.  My understanding is that we are aggressively searching for a fix to Internet Explorer, so you won't have to abandon that application long-term to continue using Masslandrecords.  In the short-term, if you have difficulty, try Firefox.

Friday, November 02, 2012

October recording statistics

Here are the numbers for various document types recorded for the entire registry district in October 2012 compared to October 2011:

In October 2012, there were 489 deeds recorded, up 26% from the 389 recorded in October 2011;

In October 2012, there were 1529 mortgages recorded, up 39% from the 1103 recorded in October 2011;

In October 2012, there were 11 foreclosure deeds recorded, down 67% from the 33 recorded in October 2011;

In October 2012, there were 40 orders of notice recorded, down 38% from the 65 recorded in October 2011.

Good news overall; deeds and mortgages up and foreclosure deeds and orders of notice down - exactly what we'd like to see happen.

SCHEDULING NOTE: The Registry of Deeds (and all state offices) will be closed on Monday, November 12, 2012 in observance of Veterans Day.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Google Public Alerts

    I've always thought of Google as one of the most innovative companies in the world...and more often than not its innovation is used to make the world a better place. I know it might sound a little corny here, but I truly believe this.

This post is not, nor intended to be, a history of Google, but let me me give you a couple of examples of Google's "innovations". Innovations I feel have improved the quality of everyone's life.

      First is Google Books. This is an amazing project with the loft objective of scanning every book in the world and making them available to all of us.

     Then there is Google Earth, a comprehensive mapping of most of the world.

     And let's not forget Google Street View. This incredible technology provides 360 degree photographs of many of the streets and neighborhoods of the world.

    These are just a few of the "innovations" I am talking about. 

    Sure, I realize some of Google's "innovation" were originally developed by other companies and later purchased by Google, but the power of the search giant's name advanced their use and further development.

    This week, Google once again released another "innovation" designed to improve the quality of life. It is called Google Public Alerts. Public Alerts was originally scheduled to be released later this year, but Hurricane Sandy changed that. As a public service Google announced the availability of Google Public Alerts early to help disseminate information during the recent monster storm. Google Public Alerts also include Amber Alerts, another excellent public service. 

     Google tied the public alerts into its search when you type "Lowell" or a related topic, if an Amber Alert is active in the city's vicinity a message box appears at the top of the page with the alert. Think of it, with the incredible popularity of google, millions of people are notice of the alert quickly.

     Google Public Alerts...great idea, great public service.