Friday, October 28, 2011

Delaware sues MERS

Yesterday the state of Delaware filed suit against MERS for a long list of "unfair and deceptive trade practices."  An article about the suit in Business Week is here and a press release from Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden is here.  It will take a while to sort out all the counts of the suit, but it seems from the press release that the main objections to MERS are not with its overall structure but with a failure to follow its own procedures.  This is a developing story so I'll be following it closely and will post relevant updates on this site as they occur.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Halloween, Digitally

I'm not really a Halloween guy, but I know many people love it. When I was a kid, way back, a group of us would get together and travel from house to house with lipstick or makeup on our faces. Those of us that were really creative would wear a hat. Today Halloween and Trick or Treating have become much more sophisticated, from spooky houses to elaborate, realistic scary customs.

And now Halloween has gone high-tech. There are numerous Halloween Apps available to download to both iPhones and Andriod smart phones (note, they are not free)... Here are a few examples:

iPhone Apps

Halloween Costume Fashion Fun for Kids and Adults

Don't know what to wear for Halloween? This App suggests popular customs including photos. And if one hits your fancy you can buy it online.

Carve It!
Remember the old days when the only way to carve a pumpkin was with a knife? No more...with this App you can carve a "digital pumpkin" with your finger...and even email it to a friend.

Android Apps

Trick or Tracker

This one is my favorite...This App allows you to keep track of your children while they are Trick or Treating. The App periodically sends a text message indicating where your child is located. And, if you want, you can set a limit on how far your child can travel. Its called a "geofence". If the child goes outside the "geofence", the App sends you an alert. Now that's cool.

Halloween Planner
This is a party planner...more specifically, a Halloween Party planner. This App helps you organize and purchase what you need to throw the scariest Halloween Party ever.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Some background on the "new" MassLandRecords

The new version of MassLandRecords moved into the primary position on October 1 - you can still opt into the old version at least until January 1, 2012.  As everyone gets used to the new application, I thought some background of how the new version came about might be of interest to readers:

In the summer of 2002, Middlesex North became the first registry of deeds in Massachusetts to install the ACS computer system.  Employees and customers quickly became comfortable with the new system which was known as 20/20.  Other registries followed with ACS installations at regular intervals.  MassLandRecords soon followed, hosted first by ACS but then (and now) by the Secretary of State’s office. 

While customers appreciated the 24/7 web access to registry records provided by MassLandRecords, many questioned why the web site did not more closely resemble the more user-friendly 20/20 search application.  I had to agree.

One of the biggest differences between 20/20 and the MassLandRecords was the way search results were returned.  A search of JOHN SMITH on 20/20 would yield an alphabetized list of all variations of that name.  You could scroll down through the entire set of results or, by clicking on the tip of one of the columns, resort the data by document type, address, or any other variable.  By clicking on a line of data, the document image was fully visible in an adjoining window. 

On MassLandRecords, the same search yielded only a single entry for each variant of the name (SMITH, JOHN A; SMITH, JOHN JR; etc) with a number to the right indicating how many separate documents contained that particular variant of the name.  Clicking on the JOHN A line opened all of the entries containing the name JOHN A SMITH.  To view entries for JOHN SMITH JR required you to reverse course and do the same process over again.  Expanding the entries to display additional data required more clicks and there was no ability to re-sort the results of a particular search.

On January 25, 2007, the ACS Users Group which consists of representatives of all registries of deeds in the Commonwealth that use the ACS computer system, met in Worcester to recommend changes to MassLandRecords.  After a series of meetings throughout 2007, the group requested that the website’s functionality be made to mirror that of the 20/20 search system used in the registries.

That was not the only change requested.  Registry users can be divided into two categories: “real estate professionals” such as lawyers, paralegals, brokers, appraisers and others who deal with real estate for a living; and “casual users” – a home owner looking for a copy of her deed, a genealogist researching the history of a residence, or anyone else who uses MassLandRecords once or occasionally.  Those of us who field phone calls from casual users know that a major problem for this class is over populating the search screen.  Confronted with the standard MassLandRecords search screen, the casual user felt a need to enter something in every available field of the query.  In doing so, the query was made too restrictive and eliminated the very document the user was looking for. 

To cut down on this over population problem, the ACS Users Group also asked that a new version of MassLandRecords would default to a “basic” search screen that would only have fields for limited information such as first and last name, but that an “advanced” search function containing all the traditional query fields be only one click away for professional users of the website.  Since the number of occasional users who visit the site dwarfs the number of professionals, the Users Group concluded a two-tiered basic and advanced search architecture was an important modification.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Thermostat That Learns

Have you ever heard of Tony Fadell?
I hadn't, until this morning that is.

Tony Fadell is "the father of the iPod". I know, you (and I) thought that was Steve Jobs.
Nope, its Fadell.

Ten years ago, while working for Apple, Fadell conceived of the idea of the iPod and brought it to executives. Although the concept originally meet resistance, it eventually led to over 300 million sales... and a historic music revolution.

Now the man who revolutionized the digital music industry has set his sights on another frontier.

The thermostat...
Yes, I'm talking about the household thermostat.

But Fadell's thermostat is no ordinary thermostat. Its a "smart-thermostat".
Fadell describes it as more of a mini-computer than a device that simply reads and regulates the temperature in a house.

Here is how it works...For the first week after installation you have to set the temperature manually...then the "smart" in "smart-thermostat" takes over:

In the first week, it relies on manual adjustments. But after that, algorithms designed by machine learning experts, set the temperature automatically. Those algorithms refine themselves every time you manually adjust the temperature. Sensors constantly monitor temperature and humidity, as well as ambient light and activity near the device or farther away in the house. "We can see if there is anyone in your home," says Fadell. "We learn your schedule and your temperature preferences over a week. And we adapt continuously over time. (CNN Money)

In other words...Fadell's "smart-thermostat" learns when you are in the house, when you come home, what temperature you like while watching TV, what temperature you prefer for sleeping etc. Now that is smart...for a thermostat.

The new thermostat is being developed by Fadell's own company called Nest and will be revealed to the public today and go on sale in mid-November...for $249.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Kodak and disruptive technology

While real estate and registry news are the two most obvious themes for this site, technology is a topic that's always of interest to us.  For that reason, a story on the future of Kodak in Friday's New York Times caught my attention.  If you're old enough to remember cameras in the pre-digital age, you were probably a regular Kodak customer.  I know I was.  For years, picking up some of those small yellow boxes of 35mm film was routine.  But at some point I, like everyone else, made the jump to digital photography and Kodak's core business - selling that 35mm film - melted away to nothing.  As the Times story says, "Kodak's phenomenal success in film would also be its undoing, making its managers complacent and slow to adapt to change." 

By the time that Kodak's leaders accepted the fact that their core product was doomed to obsolescence, the company had lost any technological edge it may have grabbed had it embraced digital technology early on (it was a Kodak scientist who invented the world's first digital camera).

Now, Kodak has staked its future on consumer inkjet printers.  Their spokesperson explains that the company has a "treasure trove" of inkjet technology and that such a strategy plays to the company's core competencies since it is at the "intersection of materials science and digital imaging science."  Unlike other manufacturers of inkjet printers that price the machines low and the ink high, Kodak is supposed to sell slightly more expensive machines but much more affordable ink refills.  Still, Kodak only has 6% of the consumer inkjet market while Hewlett Packard has 60%.

Despite the confident talk emerging from Kodak, if you Google the company name, many of the results are stories predicting the company's imminent bankruptcy.  I don't know about that but I am convinced that the technological world is moving towards smart phones & tablets and away from desktop computers with attached printers.  Right now, most of us are more comfortable reading from paper than from a screen, so I can understand why someone might say "there will always be a need for printers' but that's just a habit that will change over time.  All I know is that one last box of yellow film I have tucked away in a drawer at home is going to stay there because a decade or so from now it will be a valuable artifact of a bygone technology and a symbol of a once-great company that refused to change.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Flood damaged real estate documents in Vermont

Earlier this week I read an article that described how real estate closings in much of Vermont have screeched to a halt because many of the state's land records were damaged in the flooding that followed Hurricane Irene back at the end of August.  Vermont is one of three states - I believe Connecticut and Rhode Island are the other two - in which land records are maintained at the municipal level.  To do a title search in Vermont, instead of going to a county-level registry of deeds, you must go to the local town hall where the land records are kept in the town clerk's vault along with marriage, birth and death records.

Vermont law requires these storage vaults to be fireproof but not water proof.  It appears that the law also does not require any type of microfilm or digital backup of the original paper records.  When the late August flooding hit, therefore, the land records in many towns became soaked, a condition that quickly would prove fatal to the continued existence of those records unless they were immediately freeze dried and professionally recovered.

To me, one of the main attractions of digitizing our records was that we could easily and affordably make multiple copies and store those copies in multiple places.  On top of that, we have since World War Two, at least, produced microfilm of all recorded documents with that film being stored offsite in a secure location.  No technology is perfect: microfilm can degrade over time.  And computer programs and storage methodology can change over time rendering otherwise intact digital images unusable.  Have you tried viewing material stored on a 5.25 inch floppy disk recently?

The Vermont situation is a valuable reminder of the importance of thorough disaster planning.  Hopefully, ours will never be tested like that.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

SJC issues new foreclosure decision

Earlier this week the SJC released its decision in Bevilacqua v Rodriguez, a case that involved a defective mortgage foreclosure.  Here are the facts: In 2005, Pablo Rodriguez granted a mortgage on his home in Haverhill to Mortgage Electronic Registration System, Inc (hereafter MERS) as nominee of Finance America LLC.  On June 29, 2006, US Bank executed a foreclosure deed on the property in which it purchased the property at the foreclosure auction it conducted (which is what usually happens in a foreclosure).  On July 21, 2006, MERS assigned the mortgage that had already been foreclosed to US Bank.  On October 9, 2006, US Bank sold the property to Francis Bevilacqua.  Because of uncertainty about the strength of his ownership of the property, Bevilacqua filed suit in the Land Court to clarify his title to the property.  The Land Court ruled that Bevilacqua did not own the property and he appealed.

In this case, the mortgage that had been signed by Mr. Rodriguez was held by MERS but the promissory note apparently was held by US Bank at the time Rodriguez stopped paying.  US Bank would be the entity to conduct the foreclosure.  But, before it could commence the foreclosure and certainly before it could conduct the foreclosure auction and then sign the foreclosure deed, US Bank had to be the owner of the mortgage.  Otherwise it would have no ownership interest in the property and therefore nothing to foreclose.  Because the assignment of the mortgage from MERS to US Bank came after US Bank had already foreclosed, its foreclosure was defective and title did not pass to it pursuant to the foreclosure deed it executed.  Because US Bank did not hold title, when it conveyed the property to Mr Bevilaqua with a regular deed, it owned nothing so Mr Bevilaqua got nothing.  This much of this case simply confirms the SJC’s ruling earlier this year in US Bank v Ibanez that an entity conducting a foreclosure must already have the mortgage assigned to it before the foreclosure sale occurs.

The new issue addressed in this case is the ownership status of someone like Bevilacqua who is the third party purchaser of a previously foreclosed home.  In almost every foreclosure, the high bid at the foreclosure auction is made by the lender that is conducting the foreclosure.  Once the foreclosure deed is recorded, that lender becomes the owner of the property.  Because the new owner wants to be a lender and not a property owner, it puts the property up for sale not as a foreclosure but as a normal arms-length sale to a third party (Mr Bevilacqua in this case).  Ibanez had left open the question of the rights of such a third party buyer who purchased from a lender that had conducted a defective foreclosure.  Bevilacqua quite clearly says that if the foreclosing lender did not obtain valid title through the foreclosure sale, no one who purchases from that lender could obtain valid title either.  Those are the buyers who, according to the Globe headline, are left in limbo.  That’s true, but I believe after Ibanez most people had already concluded that was the case.  At least now there’s a bit more legal clarity.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Housing Starts Increase

Housing starts surged in September according to the US Commerce Department. The 10.2% increase is the highest since April of 2010. Interestingly enough, according to the report the demand for rental property is fueling the building industry. Fifty three percent of new housing starts are buildings with five or more units. This statistic may be a reflection of younger buyers shying away from the depressed single family housing market.
And speaking of the single family market...single family housing starts rose 1.7%. Of course, even this modest increase is welcome news in this market. The increases differ regionally with the major increase in housing starts are in the West.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Mass AG contemplating suit v lenders

Today's Globe reports that Attorney General Martha Coakley is poised to file suit against Bank of America and other major mortgage lenders for irregularities in their foreclosure practices.  The story specifically mentions a tendency to enter into mortgage modification agreements with financially distressed homeowners, but then to go ahead with foreclosure anyway in violation of the spirit if not the letter of the modification agreement.

For all the effort put into modifying mortgage to allow homeowners to remain in their residences, only a tiny fraction of homes have been saved.  Clearly something is not working.  Perhaps a suit like this would force some meaningful negotiations.  The current system not only misleads the home owners in that position, it also causes continuous damage to the neighborhoods in which the foreclosures occur.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A radical proposal for stabilizing the housing market

Martin Feldstein, a Harvard economist who was chair of Ronald Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers advanced  a bold proposal for stabilizing the nation's housing market in a recent New York Times Op-Ed.  Since the bursting of the housing bubble, Americans have lost $9 trillion dollars in the housing market, with prices declining 8% since June 2010.  Feldstein maintains that unless we can halt this slide there is no hope for economic recovery.  He proposes writing down the principal on all US home mortgages to 110% of the home's value.  The cost of this write down would be shared equally by the banks and the Federal government.

While this proposal has little chance of being enacted given the political climate today, it does get to the heart of the problem with housing - the vast number of homeowners who are hopelessly underwater with their loans.  People in this situation cannot sell in order to move to a region where a job might be available nor can they refinance to take advantage of a lower rate and gain more disposable income due to a lower monthly mortgage payment.  They also face the ever present temptation to simply walk away from the home which would add to the consistently high  number of foreclosures which more than anything else continue to drive down the value of everyone's home.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Wozniak waits for iPhone 4S

Apple released the iPhone 4S today. People all over the world waited in line over-night to get their hands on the new iPhone.
First in line in Los Gatos, California was Steve Wozniak. Wozniak founded Apple COmputer along with Steve Jobs back in 1970 and is still on the payroll.

I saw this video and just had to share it.

New HP 9050dn

As I write we are installing a new HP9050dn printer in our Customer Service Department. The new printer will replace an older HP 9000. The page count on the HP 9000 is close to 700,000 which truthfully, is not a huge amount for this work horse. But... last summer the HP 9000 began to give us some "minor problems".
The public uses this device to print images of documents. Since we no longer have record books in circulation this printer is essential to the operation of the registry. For this reason even "minor problems" with our Customer Service printer are unacceptable.
The HP9050dn looks and operates exactly like the HP9000. These printers are designed for high volume use so they lack the "typical bells and whistles" you might find on a more consumer friendly printer.
Since the HP 9000 still has some life in it our intentions are to keep it in operation but to move it to a less vital place in the registry.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time around 1990 I bought my first cell phone. It came in a big black case and weighed about 7 pounds. I carried it over my shoulder using an attached strap. The real purpose of the case, was not to protect the phone rather it was to hold the phone's huge battery (about 6"X10").

Once upon a time my 7 lb cell phone could do nothing but make phone calls. Well, let me correct that, it could make phone calls provided I was near a transmitter tower.

Once upon a time the life of my huge cell phone battery was about eight hours whether I used the phone or not. And if I didn't train it well (I'm talking about the battery) when it was new, I would get about four hours of use before it died.

Once upon a time the only people that had cells phone were business people (I was in the real estate business at the time). The "average person" had no need for a cell phone.

Once upon a time all cell phone calls, coming in or going out, cost... are you ready...$.50 a minute. I had a friend that routinely received cell phone bills in the range of $1,100 a month.

Once upon a time...cell phones were a luxury.

This is no fairy tale...once upon a time this was all true. But things have changed.

Yesterday a report was released stating there are currently 327.6 million cell phones in the US. This is amazing when you consider there are only 315 million men, women and children in the country. Americans are in love. People are talking, texting, taking pictures etc with their cell phones.

Today, I own an Apple iPhone 4. It weighs 4.8 oz. It is 4.5 inches tall and 2.3 inches wide. I carry my iPhone in my shirt pocket, nice and close to my heart. It comforts me.

My cell phone makes me feel... like I'll live happily ever after. I guess there are many others that feel the same.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Globe North reports uptick in home sales

This Sunday's "North" section of the Boston Globe reported an uptick in home sales in August compared to the statistics from August 2010.  Recordings here at Middlesex North corroborated that trend with overall deed recordings for August 2011 up 14% from the number recorded in August 2010.  That trend continued into September, with the 2011 deeds for that month up 10% over the same month in the previous year.  The year-to-date numbers through September which include a relatively slow period back in the spring show an overall decline, with the January to September 2011 figures for deeds 4% less than those from the same period in 2010.

I did look at the number of deeds recorded for each of the towns in the Middlesex North District for September of this year and last:

Town         Sept 2010 deeds      Sept 2011 deeds
Billerica              66                            54
Carlisle               13                             8
Chelmsford         56                           80
Dracut                42                           44
Dunstable             2                             3
Lowell                98                          139
Tewksbury          38                            55
Tyngsborough      23                            16
Westford             43                            44
Wilmington          41                            25

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Registered Land Certificate Storage

Through the years the registry has used several ways to organize and store Registered Land certificates. The first storage method was bound books. About three years ago we changed this and began storing certificates in file folders held in conventional file cabinets. Both systems worked well, but consumed large amounts of floor space. Because we scan new and changed certificates daily, the public views electronic images rather than the original.
The public's use of digital images instead of paper gives us the opportunity to change to a space saving storage system. We decided metal file shelves similar to those used to hold medical records would be very efficient, so we purchase five of these.
Last week we finished assembling the units and will begin filling them with new certificates in the next two weeks.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Pre-1976 Grantor/Grantee Indexes

One are in which the new MassLandRecords is a huge upgrade over the old version for this registry is that the new version now includes all Grantor and Grantee Indexes from 1629 to 1976 which is when the searchable database index begins.  For the pre-1976 indexes, we have simply scanned the index books that have long existed and made the scanned images of their pages available.  These images have been available within the registry on the Public Access terminals for four or five years, but because of the size and number of images, we had not been able to make them accessible via our website.

Not only does the new site contain these images, in an upgrade that went into effect just days ago, you can now search for the page you need by name.  To try it out, go to "search criteria" on the upper menu bar and select "Pre-1976 Grantor Index".  From the date range drop down menu, select "1901-1915".  In the name field type SMITH JOHN and click search.  A set of names will be returned with a small arrow pointing to the name that is closest to the one you searched for.  The names on this list are the first name on each of the index pages.  Select the one that is closest to your name, click on it, and display that image which contains that name and all of the additional names on that page.  There is no hyperlink feature (yet), so simply write down the book and page number of the document of interest to you and switch to either the Book Search feature (for documents recorded since 1952) or the Unindexed Property feature (for documents recorded prior to 1952)

Columbus Day

Just a reminder that the registry will be closed this coming Monday, October 10, 2011, in recognition of Columbus Day.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Steve Jobs RIP

Last month when Steve Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple I wanted to write something about him and what he accomplished.
I didn't.

Truthfully, I never felt confident enough that my meager writing ability could do Steve Jobs and his accomplishments justice.
I feel the same today as I try to digest his death.

I am not an Apple fanatic. In fact I own and have owned Windows PC's all my life.
But Apple's accomplishments are undeniable and Steve Jobs was the catalyst.
He was a game changer and the game he changed, altered the world.

Last night around 8:00PM I got a breaking news alert informing me of Steve Jobs on my iPhone 4.
I was stunned. Sure, I knew he was failing. Sure I knew it was only a matter of time...but every time I thought of Job's inevitable death I thought maybe next month or maybe next week or maybe even tomorrow, but I never thought today. He could never die today. Jobs lived in the future.

As the media world grabbed the story of his death, I watched several shows celebrating the life of Jobs. More than once I heard him compared to another genius, Thomas Edison.
I disagree.

Edison was a scientist. He took electricity and made it light.
Steve Jobs was a time mechanic. He took tomorrow and made it today.

My favorite Jobs' story occurred in 1983. Apple was emerging as a major computer company and Jobs needed someone to take care of the day to day business. He set his sights on Pepsi CEO John Scully. During their meeting Scully resisted Jobs' offer to take over Apple. Scully told Jobs he knew nothing about computers. But the persistent Jobs knew what he wanted, and he wanted Scully. Here is how John Scully tells the story:

Steve was dressed in his mock turtleneck, blue jeans and running shoes. In those days, he had very dark hair and deep brown piercing eyes. He looks at his running shoes a long time. Then he said, 'Do you really want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?’

And change the world he did!

RIP Steve Jobs

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

September statistics

The mainstream media is full of reports of a rise in foreclosures, but that's not shown up here as of yet.  In fact, quite the opposite is true.  The 33 orders of notice filed in September 2011 represent a 79% decrease from the 155 filed in September 2010.  Foreclosure deeds are also down, dropping from 56 in 2010 to 38 in 2011, a drop of 32%.

Another bright spot is the increase in the number of deeds recorded.  The 468 we saw recorded this September is a 10% increase over the 426 from last year.  Unfortunately, mortgages continue to lag.  In September 2010 there were 1393 but in September 2011 there were only 1098, a decline of 10%.

Now that we are three-quarters of the way through 2011, I can offer combined statistics for the first three quarters of the year:

Deeds: In 2010 (January through September) there were 4001; for the same period of 2011 there were 3838, a decline of 4%.

Mortgages: In 2010 (January through September) there were 8973; for the same period of 2011 there were 8001, a decline of 11%.

Foreclosure Deeds: Deeds: In 2010 (January through September) there were 518; for the same period of 2011 there were 317, a decline of 39%.

Orders of Notice: In 2010 (January through September) there were 973; for the same period of 2011 there were 534, a decline of 45%.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Journalism 101 and the iPhone

Every first year, journalism students knows a well written article must answer the questions "Who, What, Where, and When" in the first here I go:

Who: Apple Computer
What: The Introduction of the iPhone 5
Where: Apple Headquarters in Cupertino, California
When: Today at 1:00 PM Eastern Time

And every first year, journalism student knows after he/she tells the reader "who, what, where and when" a well written article needs a body that gives additional here I go:

It has been fourteen months since Apple released iPhone 4 which was a huge hit selling over 20 million. iPhone 4 is a tough act to follow, but iPhone 5 has features that may make it the most popular smartphone in history. The iPhone 5 will run on Apples' new iOS5 software and be powered by its much touted A5 Chip. The new phone is thinner, faster and more attractive.

Of course, any good, first year, journalism student knows if he/she puts a little human interest spin in an article readers love here I go:

Today's event will be the first since Apple's megastar CEO, Steve Jobs resigned his position because of poor health. Rumor has it, the ailing Jobs will make a cameo appearance at the today's event which his predecessor, Tim Cook will preside over.

And every smart, first year, journalism student knows a good article is never too here I'll end.

Monday, October 03, 2011

New MassLandRecords now default application

The changeover to the new version of MassLandRecords as the default search application took place over the weekend.  I've been writing about it for a couple of weeks now so it really shouldn't be a surprise to any of our readers.  Still, it is a bit of a shock when it first occurs.  Here are some of the topics that we've reviewed recently:

Navigating the New MassLandRecords (September 20)

Plans on the New MassLandRecords (September 29)

New MassLandRecords: Registered Land (September 30)

While the changeover appears to have gone smoothly, here are a couple of observations from our own experience this morning and from some of the user calls and comments we've already received.

The ADVANCED button:  No matter how you choose to search (based on what you select from the "search criteria" box), the basic windows in which you enter your search terms are in a line across the top of the screen.  If you continue looking to the right along that line, past the SEARCH and RESET buttons, you will see the ADVANCED button.  By clicking on that, you will display additional fields that can be used to narrow your search.

REFRESH your browser:  If you use the bookmark or follow your usual link to the search function and can't reach it, try clicking on the "refresh" button on your browser before clicking on the link.  To speed up webpage retrieval, most browsers store a copy of the page you visit on your own computer.  That way, when you call for that page again, your computer can retrieve it directly from storage rather than downloading it from the internet.  This creates a problem when a change is made to a webpage.  When you call for it, your browser will load the old version, not the new.  When you click "refresh", it forces the browser to load the page from the internet so you pick up the latest version with all changes.  Unfortunately, the "refresh" button is in a different place on each browser (i.e., Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome) and often in a different place on the same browser, depending on the version in use.

Classic MassLandRecords:  The "old" version of MassLandRecords is still available, at least until January.  To reach it, go to the main page of the "new" MassLandRecords and look for this language:

The Secretary of the Commonwealth has recently updated the website to streamline searches for its users. These changes provide you with quicker access to more information. We are eager to know what you think; please provide your feedback at If needed, you may continue to access Classic Masslandrecords until January 1, 2012.
 And click the "Classic Masslandrecords" link