The Best Magazine Articles Ever

The following are suggestions for the best magazine articles (in English) ever.  Stars denote how many times a correspondent has suggested it. Submitter comments are in italics. For a great way to read long-form magazine articles on a tablet device see my review of LongForm and Instapaper here.

This is a work in progress. It is a on-going list of suggestions collectively made by readers of this post. At this point the list has not been vetted or selected by me. In fact, other than the original five items I suggested, all of the articles mentioned here have been recommended by someone other than me. (Although I used to edit Wired magazine none of the article from Wired were suggested by me or anyone who worked at Wired. I also did not suggest my own pieces.)

This list is incomplete (as all such lists are) but way too long now. I am no longer accepting additions to the list, but I will accept “votes for articles already on the list.

12 Tech Tools to Help You Sell Your Home Faster

From drones to capture aerial shots to high-quality videos, sellers are pulling out all the stops.

Couple Looking At House On Digital Tablet's Screen

With homebuyers searching on tablets and smartphones, sellers must include high-quality photos on their listings.

As the housing market has improved, so has another aspect of real estate: the tech tools available to help you sell your home.

“Before the recession, agents were still marketing to other agents,” says Brian Balduf, co-founder and CEO of VHT Studios, which provides digital market services that include professional photography and video for real estate companies in Chicago. “Now you have to market directly to consumers. … With the market coming back, you’re seeking all kinds of new apps and technologies.”

According to data from the National Association of Realtors, 89 percent of buyers use online tools in their home searches. Rather than waiting for agents to send them listings, they go online and tell the agents which homes they’d like to see. That makes what appears online even more important.

“First impressions are huge, especially online,” says Adam Briley, leader of the Briley Homes team, which also includes his wife, Stacey, at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Ambassador Real Estate in Omaha, Nebraska.

With so much quality media online, the bar is high for real estate listings photos, videos and other material to make that impression, especially with younger homebuyers.

“Real estate is such a visual product,” says Balduf, who points out that websites such as Pinterest and Houzz are boosting expectations for home photos and videos online. “If the listing doesn’t have strong visuals … skip skip, skip,” he adds. Younger buyers don’t expect anything less than the best online, so Balduf says, “the days of just having a crummy photo in the MLS are over.”

Among the tools that would-be homebuyers are using to scan their options before leaving their couches are professional photos, floor plans, 3-D walk-throughs and video.

What works is “any method of marketing the home that allows people to create an emotional connection and way to see the home,” says Alyssa Hellman, Go leader at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Go Realty in Cary, North Carolina.

Not all agents use the same tools, so a prospective seller’s interview with a potential listing agent should address specific marketing tools. Will there be professional photos? What about a floor plan or video? Exactly what is appropriate may depend on the home and the market, but it’s a discussion that’s important to have before you choose a listing agent.

“Online marketing is the most important aspect of getting a home sold these days,” says Karen Krupsaw, vice president of real estate operations for Redfin, a national real estate brokerage that has made the online experience a priority. “I do think that’s the critical component.”

You also want to make sure your agent puts your home on all the major real estate portals, including Realtor.com, Zillow and Trulia, because that’s where the buyers are. Plus, they should put the home up on the multiple listing service, the agent’s own website and social media.

“Marketing on the portals is more important than ever,” Hellman says. According to comScore data, Zillow accounted for 40 percent of the traffic to real estate websites in January, with Trulia (which has been acquired by Zillow) accounting for 29 percent.

Tech products also help agents market their services, since sellers want to choose the agent who will present their listings best. Last year, the Brileys hired a local production company to create a nearly five-minute video showcasing their team and its approach to clients. They also created a 76-page glossy magazine. They send both to prospective clients in advance of their listing meetings, with the idea that they are selling themselves ahead of time and just need to discuss the home in the meeting.

“It was getting stagnant,” Adam Briley says. “We didn’t have the wow factor.”

Here are 12 tech tools you and your agent may use to sell your home.

Professional photos. Gone are the days when a few cellphone snapshots were adequate for a real estate listing. Buyers are searching online with tablets, phones and computers that allow them to see in high resolution. They want photos of every room. Balduf estimates that 15 to 20 percent of listings include professional photography, but the number is closer to 40 percent in Chicago. “That raises the bar for everybody else,” he says.

Maps. Maps on agents’ websites, the real estate portals, local property appraisers’ websites and Google Earth all enable buyers to see what’s around a home they’re considering, whether it’s convenient shops and services or an eyesore.

Easy-to-use search tools. Many buyers use Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, Realtor.com or other portals to find the homes they want to see. But some brokerages may provide even more customizable tools, allowing you to search by amenities, draw borders or otherwise pinpoint your search. Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, for example, lets customers search by commute time or school district. “They can search for homes that enable them to have the lifestyle they want,” Hellman says.

Drone photography. Drones are being used by more companies to take aerial photos of large properties and more expensive homes with views.

Floor plans and 3-D floor plans. Buyers like to know how a home’s rooms are connected. One way to do that is with a floor plan. VHT makes its floor plans interactive; if you click on the kitchen, you’re taken to the kitchen photos, for example. Redfin uses 3-D walk-through floor plans on all its listings in selected markets. “We find that more eyes on the walk-through means more interest in the home,” Krupsaw says.

3-D immersive video tours. It’s now possible to “walk through” a home using immersive video, like that used in video games, wearing 3-D glasses and looking at a big screen.

Xent Power Tools- Sample Post

The standard Lorem Ipsum passage, used since the 1500s

“Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.”

Section 1.10.32 of “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum”, written by Cicero in 45 BC

“Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium, totam rem aperiam, eaque ipsa quae ab illo inventore veritatis et quasi architecto beatae vitae dicta sunt explicabo. Nemo enim ipsam voluptatem quia voluptas sit aspernatur aut odit aut fugit, sed quia consequuntur magni dolores eos qui ratione voluptatem sequi nesciunt. Neque porro quisquam est, qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit, sed quia non numquam eius modi tempora incidunt ut labore et dolore magnam aliquam quaerat voluptatem. Ut enim ad minima veniam, quis nostrum exercitationem ullam corporis suscipit laboriosam, nisi ut aliquid ex ea commodi consequatur? Quis autem vel eum iure reprehenderit qui in ea voluptate velit esse quam nihil molestiae consequatur, vel illum qui dolorem eum fugiat quo voluptas nulla pariatur?”

1914 translation by H. Rackham

“But I must explain to you how all this mistaken idea of denouncing pleasure and praising pain was born and I will give you a complete account of the system, and expound the actual teachings of the great explorer of the truth, the master-builder of human happiness. No one rejects, dislikes, or avoids pleasure itself, because it is pleasure, but because those who do not know how to pursue pleasure rationally encounter consequences that are extremely painful. Nor again is there anyone who loves or pursues or desires to obtain pain of itself, because it is pain, but because occasionally circumstances occur in which toil and pain can procure him some great pleasure. To take a trivial example, which of us ever undertakes laborious physical exercise, except to obtain some advantage from it? But who has any right to find fault with a man who chooses to enjoy a pleasure that has no annoying consequences, or one who avoids a pain that produces no resultant pleasure?”

What is Lorem Ipsum?

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.

It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout. The point of using Lorem Ipsum is that it has a more-or-less normal distribution of letters, as opposed to using ‘Content here, content here’, making it look like readable English. Many desktop publishing packages and web page editors now use Lorem Ipsum as their default model text, and a search for ‘lorem ipsum’ will uncover many web sites still in their infancy. Various versions have evolved over the years, sometimes by accident, sometimes on purpose (injected humour and the like).

Contrary to popular belief, Lorem Ipsum is not simply random text. It has roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 BC, making it over 2000 years old. Richard McClintock, a Latin professor at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, looked up one of the more obscure Latin words, consectetur, from a Lorem Ipsum passage, and going through the cites of the word in classical literature, discovered the undoubtable source. Lorem Ipsum comes from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum” (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC. This book is a treatise on the theory of ethics, very popular during the Renaissance. The first line of Lorem Ipsum, “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet..”, comes from a line in section 1.10.32.

The standard chunk of Lorem Ipsum used since the 1500s is reproduced below for those interested. Sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 from “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum” by Cicero are also reproduced in their exact original form, accompanied by English versions from the 1914 translation by H. Rackham.