Thursday, July 29, 2010

How to Post to the ISA Forum

This is the second in a series of four ISA News posts and screencasts on how to use the ISA Forum. this post deals with how to post to the ISA Forum.

Watch a video on how to post to Forum


The first step is to navigate to the ISA home page at www.isa-appraisers.org

In the left column is a group of vertical navigation tabs, click the third tab from the bottom for the ISA Forum. The Welcome to the ISA Forum page loads.

In the middle of the page is a gray text box, and that by clicking on Proceed to ISA Forum link you are agreeing to the terms of use.

Click proceed to forum and the Log in page loads.

Type your user name into the appropriate text box, then tab or click to the password text box and type in your forum password. Click the log in button.

The topics page now loads with four forums to select from, Members, Education, Resources and Public,

for our example we will click on the Members Forum

The members forum opens with a list of thread categories and click on the category that is most applicable to your post.

In the screencast, I will select conference announcements (keep visiting ISA Now for news about Conference in Nashville. There has been a lot of very positive feedback on timing, location and speakers).

After clicking the conference announcements link the individual threads or posts are displayed. Here you can post directly to the general Conference Announcements category (in the middle to the lower end of the page, just scroll down), or select a previous thread to add a comment or start a new thread. I will start a new thread.

Click start a new thread. The start a new thread button or link is situated in between the list of threads/archives and the posts which are not within a sub category.

Type in subject, then type your post into the message text box.

Click on the preview/post button and make any necessary changes.

Click preview again to review or change or click post this message when ready to post.

Our next ISA Now post and screencast will be on posting images to the ISA Forum.


Todd W. Sigety, ISA CAPP
ISA Treasurer

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Forum How To: Logging In and Changing Your Password

The ISA Forum has long been one of ISA's strongest and most utilized benefits. It has facilitated ISA appraisers in gaining product knowledge, answering appraisal questions, and used as an outlet to vent and for updates on educational topics.

This ISA Now post with screencast is the first of a four part series about using the ISA Forum.

The four topics will be as follows:
  • How to sign up and change your password
  • How to post a discussion
  • How to posts a discussion with photos
  • How to sign up for auto email and make profile changes
How to sign up for the ISA Forum and change your password.

Many members already have a forum account, and surprisingly, many do not. ISA encourages all members to sign up and be active on the forum.

Watch a Video for Step-by-Step Forum Registration Instructions


The first step in gaining access to the ISA Forum is to open your computer's web browser and navigate to the ISA home page (http://www.isa-appraisers.org/). On the ISA home page, look on the left side of the screen for a group of vertical navigation tabs. Click on the third tab from the bottom for the ISA Forum.
That link will take you to the Forum welcome and terms of use page. If you are not familiar with the terms of use, please take a few minutes to read them. Note that by clicking on Proceed to ISA Forum hyperlink you agree to the terms of use.

Click on the Proceed to ISA Forum link. The ISA Forum log in page will appear.

For new users click on the Register for Account button, (it is just under the user name and password text boxes). When the registration page loads, complete the requested information. Some information is required, other information is optional. Required information is noted with a red asterisk.

Next is to select the various available forums, click the box for both the Education and Members (also distance if in the distance education program). Do not click on Directors or Presidents forums, although rarely used, they are for ISA board members and chapter presidents.

Complete optional personal profile information.

When done click on continue registration.

The site will return the following: "Your registration for a user account on this discussion board has been processed."

Within minutes you will receive an email stating your registration request is being processed. and that a second confirmation email will be sent after the registration review is complete.

Your forum registration request will then be reviewed ISA staff to ensure you are a member of ISA. The members forum is a member benefit, and only available to ISA members in good standing. After the staff review and approval, a second approval/confirmation email will be sent to you. This is an important email as you have to confirm through a hyper link your registration. If you have not heard of the status of your application within a few days, contact the ISA office at (312) 981-6778 .

The approval/confirmation email will request you click a link to activate your new forum account. If you do not click the link, your forum registration will not be complete. Make sure you check your email for this confirmation email and to click the link. Again, if you do not click the link in this email, your forum registration will not activate. Most of the account errors for new accounts are due to not finishing the registration process through this email and hyperlink.

After clicking the link in the approval/confirmation email, your browser will open a window to enter the password you originally used when setting up the account. When entered it will take you to the ISA Forum log in page to enter your user name and re-enter your password. After entering, click log in, and you should now be at the Forum Topics page showing the Members Forum, Education Forum, etc. You will not be able to select the category and topic to read and post on the ISA Forum.

To change your password, go to the ISA webpage and click on the ISA Forum tab, click proceed to forum. In the left column is a tree view of folders, second from the bottom is edit profile. Click on that folder/link. The Profile Editor will appear. Enter your username and password and the profile editor page will load.

Watch a Video on How to Change Your Password


At the top of the profile editor page is a list of options, click on change your password (third option form the bottom. Enter your new password and reenter to verify. Then click save profile changes. The profile page will reload with a notation that profile changes have been successfully saved. That's all there is to it.

If there are any questions, please contact me at toddsig01@gmail.com.

Todd Sigety, ISA CAPP
ISA Treasurer

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Message from President Judith Martin

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer and having some respite from the day-to-day grind. We have been busy getting speakers lined up for our Nashville conference. Assets 2011 is looking to be a really terrific meeting with many great venues, speakers and fun. You must make it a point to get there - no matter what - and as a reminder, the dates are February 19-21 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort. Mark your calendars now!

We have also been very busy getting member records in order. Staff is working hard to make sure our member database is complete … Michelle and Sara (bless them) have been going through each member record one by one to verify information, update the database, and determine any missing documentation. For those who receive a letter from headquarters, please make sure you follow through with the needed information so that your records and credentials are correctly documented.

Perhaps the most important issue we have taken up is our financial well being. In the past year and a half, with the professional guidance of our management firm, Sentergroup, we have been able to make significant headway in both stabilizing our organization and positioning it for future growth. Some of ISA’s past financial struggles had bogged ISA down like walking through mud and in some specific instances, stopped us from moving forward on business initiatives we planned. ISA has worked very hard to wash the mud off and with your continued, active involvement, we are starting to move to solid ground.

To provide you with a bit of background, ISA is managed through a simple budget that is based on a myriad of revenue sources, including your membership dues. If you consider that we have 800 members, the dues component of ISA makes up a substantial, and vital, portion of our operations. As you can imagine, running ISA is a large operation and every month there are certain expenses that need to be paid just like every other business or household in the country. From courses to communications and office expenses to webinars, we strive to provide you benefits and programs that advance your career and the appraisal community. Recognizing the current economic times and how they affect you and ISA, I think it is important that I ask each of you, whenever possible, to pay your dues in a timely fashion. ISA depends on it.

Here are just a couple of ways you can help us achieve our goals:
  • Pay your annual dues when they are due. We have many members who pay 2 or 3 months late, after 3 and sometimes even 4 notices go out. Late dues payments cost ISA money with extra mailings and additional staff time, and they also affect our ability to pay our bills and other financial obligations in a timely manner.
  • Commit now to attend Assets 2011 in Nashville … and stay at the conference hotel. Did you know that there is a penalty that we owe a hotel if we do not fill our contracted number of hotel rooms? It isn’t that we are not getting enough attendees, it is that in some cases our members are staying at other hotels and in turn ISA is paying for the unused rooms due to attrition penalties.
Likewise, you can expect the ISA Board of Directors to be responsible stewards of your dues and continue to both create organizational efficiencies and provide you the best programs and services we can. Some major programs we would like to move forward with include a reformatting of the CORE manual and the launch of a more robust and appealing website. These programs are resource dependent and remain a top priority for the organization if we are to remain credible and viable.

I firmly believe that our members need to know where we are, and how we intend to move forward. I have faith that if members understand the needs of the Society, they will be proactive in keeping the organization alive and well. It is a responsibility of each of us to be active in our membership. This is not to say that all members have to volunteer for a committee if they choose not to. But it is each member’s responsibility to pay their dues on time, be proactive in maintaining their professional education and credentials, and understand that ISA’s success is based on a common good, not just an individual need.
Thanks for your time, and if you get a moment, take pause and enjoy the warmth of summer.

Judith Martin, ISA CAPP
President

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Ontario Diamonds Compete on the World Market

We as appraisers have to be constantly aware of the changing world around us. This changing world is very apparent when I look at the poster over my desk showing the state of the diamond industry in 1987. The map does not show any diamond production in Canada. When the first Canadian diamonds came on the market they commanded a 10-15% premium over other diamonds of like quality not accompanied by a document attesting to Canadian origin. This too has changed.

The Canadian diamond industry is at the end of its first decade and continues its exponential growth. Today, Canada has four diamond mines and is third in the world in producing gem-quality rough diamonds. With approximately $2B of diamonds coming out of the ground, Canada has also worked to develop a strong secondary industry in both Ontario and the Northwest Territories that includes diamond polishing, jewellery design and manufacturing, opening a diamond bourse (a wholesale polished diamond exchange where trade merchants meet to transact business) and a strong retail community.

In the diamond industry the term beneficiation refers to local downstream activities that add value to locally-mined rough diamonds. It includes the process of sorting and valuing rough diamonds, their subsequent cutting and polishing, diamond trading, and the manufacture of diamond jewellery. It can also include the local marketing of diamonds. The question that has always been raised in the beneficiation process in Canada is the high-cost environment and the ability to remain competitive against diamond manufacturers that are polishing in India, Vietnam or China. Can a local industry develop? There have been a number of polishing facilities to open and close their doors in Canada ranging from small companies to some of the largest DTC Sightholders in the world. Success has proved elusive to all but one, the HRA Group of Companies.

In 2000, HRA opened a factory in Vancouver, British Columbia that began by polishing diamonds from the Ekati diamond mine. This was followed by HRA being named a Select Diamantaire by Rio Tinto Diamonds for the Diavik production and a Sightholder for the De Beers Snap Lake mine in 2007. In 2008, Crossworks Manufacturing Ltd., an HRA Group Company, was announced as the successful applicant to receive the 10% allocation of the De Beers Canada Victor Mine. The process was set in motion after the Government of Ontario and De Beers had reached an agreement to support the secondary industry by making rough diamonds available. The competition was open to all of De Beers’ global customers.

De Beers Canada began construction of Victor, Ontario’s first diamond mine, in 2005 approximately 515 km north of Timmins Ontario. The mine is a fly-in/fly-out open pit mine and currently employs 500 people. The rough diamond “run of mine” (average of all qualities) at Victor is on average three to four times the industry average, making the Victor Mine the highest quality rough producer in the world.
The agreement to provide access to 10% of Victor diamonds to Crossworks provided a springboard for the company to open a state-of-the-art diamond polishing facility in Sudbury, Ontario. The quality of the rough and sizes (2ct+) has allowed Crossworks to polish over $50M since the inception of the factory in September 2009.

The facility in Sudbury is currently staffed with 27 cutters from the HRA Vietnam facility and they are in the process of training a local labor force. The factory has doubled in size in less than one year and has some of the most advanced cutting equipment in North America. All of the rough is scanned with images and laser measurements into a computer to determine highest yield, not only in terms of diamond size but also quality and shape. The diamond is then tracked at every stage of cutting for quality control and weight loss. Crossworks also has a state-of-the-art laser diamond cutting machine that can cut a two carat piece of rough in half in 8-10 minutes, saving hours over the traditional sawing machines. The cutting of the primary diamond from the rough is done almost all by hand, but the facility uses robotic cutting machines to cut most of the tops (smaller top half of original cut diamond) thus reducing the labor cost on the smaller diamonds.

By use of cutting edge technology, not having to buy and cut rough under 2.00 carats and concentrating on GIA triple “very good” or triple “excellent” diamonds, Crossworks has been very competitive in the market. Crossworks is selling the diamonds at approximately the same price as equal quality goods on the market, only with the added benefit of “mine to finger” tracking and an Ontario Government certificate of origin.

James Poag, ISA CAPP, GG, NAJA CM, CJA-CAP
ISA Vice President
james@poags.com

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

ISA and Social Media

In April of 2010, the International Society of Appraisers launched social media and networking efforts across Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter to allow members and the appraisal community at large to connect better. Over the last three months, these social media communities have begun to grow. If you have yet to get on board with the society and its social media efforts, it’s certainly not too late!

Facebook

The latest news and events from ISA are available to anyone by following the society on Facebook. The page is often one of the first places to find out about a new webinar or course that is being offered. Facebook offers the opportunity for real-time information to be distributed and for fans of the page to interact with each other through the “wall” and discussion tabs. (Help us break 100 fans by July 12th 2010!)

Linkedin

A group is active on Linkedin that only members of ISA are able to join. By joining the group, you are able to put a logo on your Linkedin profile that indicates you are a member of ISA. The group features a discussion board, jobs board, and excellent networking opportunities for members. Chapters are encouraged to create their own subgroups. (Help the group break 100 members by July 12th, 2010!)

Twitter

ISA tweets! Get quick updates on the happenings at ISA by following the International Society of Appraisers on Twitter. ISA’s twitter name is @ISAppraisers and you can access tweets at www.twitter.com/ISAppraisers.

Using the Internet to connect with your colleagues is great, but remember that potential business is also likely using the Internet to connect with you! Does your appraisal business have a website that is adequate? Are you using Facebook or other social networking sites to market yourself to future customers? Use ISA as a stepping stone to creating your own social media presence. Join us online today!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Understanding "Find an Appraiser"

The Find an Appraiser search function on the ISA website is a great tool for both the general public and the members of ISA. Recently on Forum, there were some questions regarding how to use the search format. With the help of Todd Sigety, the questions were answered, but we thought it would be useful for all to have a refresher of how to use the search function.

At the top of the Find an Appraiser directory, there is a list of the membership designations and a description for what each designation signifies. This helps the general public and members alike to see and understand the designation of each member listed within the directory.

Under the list of designations is the search queue. When using the Find an Appraiser search queue, it is best to remember that entering less information is better. Only enter information into one of the search criteria boxes and then click the search button. We usually recommend that either the state abbreviation or the first two digits of the zip code followed by an asterisk is entered in its appropriate box. Then click the search button, as shown below:























By selecting one of those choices, a list of appraisers in the selected state or zip code area will come up.


























If searching by name, only enter the first or last name of the desired person, but not both. The reason for this is because member names are entered in the system as "last name, first name". So, if you enter David Bonde, the search queue will not find anything because the name is listed as Bonde, David. This is why we recommend that only last name is used when searching by name.

When searching for a specific specialty, it is important that the searcher understand that if the word they are using in the queue doesn’t match in the appropriate field for the appraisers listing, no results will be produced. It is necessary to be flexible with the terms that you are entering in this field and understand that it may take a few tries to find an appraiser that deals with your specialty item.

As stated before, when using Find an Appraiser, less information entered is better. The format works best by using only one field.

ISA hopes to have helped with any questions there may have been about the Find an Appraiser search queue. If there are additional questions, please contact us!

Sara Porter
Membership and Operations Coordinator
sporter@thesentergroup.com