Meet the Team: Preston Ma

PrestonIt may have only been a poker game, but it was the most important hand of cards that Preston Ma would ever face.

Preston, vice president of technology at Hawaii Information Service, was playing against his girlfriend, Julianna. She was the real poker fan, and she was holding an ace and king of hearts. Preston had two aces. He knew her well, and went all in, confident that she would follow suit.

She hesitated, but as expected, she also went all in. On the flop, Julianna found herself with a royal flush. It was the highest possible hand, and an improbable stroke of luck.

Her affirmative response to a message Preston had written on the cards, in a game that he’d carefully architected from the start, brought him good fortune as well. The message read, “Will you marry me?”

That was over four years ago, and today, Preston and Julianna are the proud parents of two boys. And his proven creativity and ability to design and build things has continued to serve him well as he leads the team of software developers at HIS.

Staff - Preston - Julianna

Preston’s parents came to Hawaii from Asia, his dad from Hong Kong, and his mom from China. His father built a successful accounting practice, while his mother spent most of her life as a special education teacher. But Preston notes that his mother’s first job was on the pineapple production line at Dole Cannery, the same building where he works today.

They lived in Pearl City, where Preston attended Manana and Pearl City Highlands elementary school. When it came time for high school, his parents decided to enroll him at St. Louis School, an all-boys private Catholic school in Kaimuki.

Staff - Preston - Science FairHe was a shy teen, but an athletic one, participating in the school’s wrestling and cross country programs. Preston excelled at science, spending two years on the R&D team. The team’s work with a mountain bike design won both state and national recognition, affording Preston a chance to travel. He and his classmates represented Hawaii at the international competition in Kentucky, then presenting at a science fair in Brazil.

The oldest of three brothers, Preston’s father had hoped he might someday take over his accounting business. But it didn’t take many accounting classes for Preston to realize that he was on a different path.

“It wasn’t for me – too boring, just memorizing stuff and following the order of things,” he recalls. “My mom suggested computers, and that was the next step.”

He had developed an affection for computers, starting with an Apple II machine that his father had bought for his business. So after graduating from high school, Preston enrolled in the Information & Computer Science Program at UH Manoa. At his mother’s suggestion, he also earned an associates degree in Computing, Electronics & Networking Technologies (CENT) at Hawaii Community College.

ICS degree in hand, he started looking for a job, and volunteered at the Life Foundation in the meantime. The non-profit group, dedicated to AIDS prevention and education, had its offices in the Gold Bond Building in Kakaako.

“HIS was in the same building, same floor, right next door, across the stairs,” Preston says. “A lot of people were looking for experience, and that was hard; but HIS was more open, willing to hire people as long as they were committed.”

As a programmer that knew both the database side and the website side of technology, Preston joined HIS in September 2003. It was his first “real” job, and it’s one that he’s now held for nearly a decade.

Staff - Preston - Sons

Six months after his poker proposal, Preston and Julianna were married, followed by a honeymoon in Paris. Nine months later, his son Kingston arrived, and about fourteen months after that, Kingston met his younger brother, Knighton. Preston acknowledges that they’re unusual names.

“It started with my dad, Peter, naming all of us with Ps… Preston, Philip and Patrick,” he explains. “I didn’t want to do Ps again, so I went with names ending with ‘ton.'”

The second name was harder to pick than the first, which was already relatively popular. Gwen Stefani’s son is named Kingston, Preston notes, adding that his older son’s preschool class actually has two of them. But for his second boy, Preston confesses to first spotting “Knighton” in the credits of a movie – albeit as someone’s last name.

“It’s kind of medieval,” he adds. “Though I don’t know what’s left if we have any more kids.”

Staff - Preston - MarathonRaising his own family has brought many changes. He has less time to go running, although he and his wife had twice done the Honolulu Marathon. He no longer participates in a Chinese lion dancing troupe, one of the ways he kept in touch with his family’s culture.

But he’s now an avid gardener, raising flowers as well as growing things like kale and lilikoi. And his wife, once on her way to a career in teaching, is now a happy homebody, focusing on raising and developing their kids.

They both have rediscovered their faith as well.

“I grew up in my family’s church, Calvary Assembly of God in the Palama area, and Julianna joined as well,” he says. “Now, if anything, her faith is stronger than mine.”

Preston says he’s even considering going on a missions trip, perhaps to China, Brazil, or India.

Staff - Preston - MomHe also credits his mother for making him the man he is today.

“I guess you could say I was a mama’s boy, and she guided me much of my life, including encouraging me to get into computers,” he says. “She was a patient person, a strong person, and I mean physically strong: she worked with physically disabled students at Waipahu High, and often had to move them.”

Preston’s mother died in 2007 after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

“It was a hardship, losing her,” he recalls. “But it showed me that life is short, and that you always have to focus on the people that you love.”

Indeed, Preston had proposed to his wife only a few hours after they had taken his father out to dinner to mark his second wedding anniversary without her. The conversation had revolved around how Preston’s parents has met, and how they fell in love, only strengthening his resolve to be a good husband.

Staff - Preston - Dad and Brothers

Preston is also proud of the family that he’s found at HIS.

“In the time I’ve been here, it’s felt more and more like a family, an ‘ohana,” he says. “We know everyone well, we’re more close to each other, and you know that everyone’s going to support everyone else, especially in the difficult times.”

While he’s moved from programming to management, he still jumps in to code now and then. And he speaks warmly of his development team.

“In a way, I grew up here, so I learned lots of new things along the way, and now they’re getting the same opportunity,” he says. “I’m proud of my team, what they’ve gone through, and what they’ve been able to do.”

Preston says that he’s learned that his job is more than making applications or websites.

“It’s not just the work we do on our computers, but the work we do on ourselves,” he concludes. “It’s not just professional growth, but all-around growth that matters.”

You can ask Preston about his favorite sci-fi movies (or suggest some) by emailing him Make sure you didn’t miss our profiles of RichardFaithSamVictorJerryGay, and Novena.

March Training Schedule

Below is the schedule of upcoming online training classes for the month of March. If you’re new to REsearch, we strongly encourage you to attend an “Orientation” session on March 7. Even if you’ve participated in a session before, it’s often a good idea to get a refresher. Our live trainers can answer your questions and help you get the most out of REsearch. Descriptions of each HIS webinar can be found here.

To sign up immediately, simply click on the links below. If you are going to participate/watch online classes as a group, only one person needs to sign up.

March 4-8, 2013

The Basics
March 5, 2013 from 9:30 AM to 11:00 AM

Basics to Formats
March 5, 2013 from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM

March 7, 2013 from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM

Basics to Searching
March 7, 2013 from 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM

Update & CMA
March 8, 2013 from 9:30 AM to 11:00 AM

Cloud CMA
March 8, 2013 from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM

March 11-15, 2013

How to Enter & Manage Listings
March 12, 2013 from 9:30 AM to 11:00 AM

Farming & Labels
March 12, 2013 from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM

Prospects & Contacts
March 14, 2013 from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM

The Calendar
March 14, 2013 from 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM

Basics to Searching
March 15, 2013 from 9:30 AM to 11:00 AM

Advanced Search Techniques
March 15, 2013 from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM

March 18-22, 2013

Maps I
March 19, 2013 from 9:30 AM to 11:00 AM

Maps II
March 19, 2013 from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM

The Basics
March 21, 2013 from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM

Basics to Formats
March 21, 2013 from 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM

March 22, 2013 from 9:30 AM to 11:00 AM

March 22, 2013 from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM

In-Person Training

TMK Essentials
March 1, 2013 from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM

Instructions on how to register for online classes:

  • To register, please click on the applicable link located below the class. The link will then take you to the registration site.
  • Please complete all the required fields marked by a red asterisks (First Name, Last Name, Email Address, Phone, Organization AKA Office Name).
  • Click “Register Now” to complete the registration process. Once registered a confirmation email will be sent to your email address to confirm your registration along with a unique web ID number and instructions on how to login to the session on that day.
  • If you need login assistance, please feel free to contact our Customer/Technical Support team at 800-628-3121, press # and then 457.

Remember, after you have participated, please make sure to fill out the survey or e-mail me your feedback so we can continue to improve upon our training efforts! Mahalo.

System Requirements for Online Classes

  • PC-based attendees – Required: Windows® 2000, XP, Vista, Windows 7
  • Macintosh®-based attendees – Required: Mac OS® X 10.4 (Tiger®) or newer

System requirements apply only to the GoToMeeting webinar service, not to the REsearch system.

Our New IDX is Now Available

We’ve got a sweetheart deal to upgrade your real estate website with IDX!

IDX OfferOf all the things your real estate website might offer current and potential clients, the ability to search for properties is surely the most compelling feature.

An IDX brings the best of the MLS to your online presence, allowing homebuyers to learn about you, connect with you, browse listings, and find promising properties, all in one place. And when they’re ready to take the next step, you will be right there and ready to help.

Unlike most MLS providers, Hawaii Information Service has been providing IDX services directly to real estate professionals for nearly a decade. Rather than leaving things to third-party providers on the Mainland, we pride ourselves on providing friendly, local service to local Realtors. Whether you’re new to online marketing or a tech savvy pro, we’re ready to work with you to take your website to the next level.

And we’ve just launched the latest version of our IDX service, IDX 3.0, which we’ve built from the ground up, in house, and with you in mind.

We have a clean, fast new design. We added powerful features (including maps, saved searches, more property details and similar properties). We simplified our product line. We think you’ll love it. And if you sign up before February 28, we’ll waive the setup fee. That means you save at least $99!

This limited-time sweetheart special offer is first-come, first served. So contact us today to learn more about our IDX offerings and other ways we can help you grow your business. Just call Colleen Yasuhara at (808) 748-8751 or email to get started!

IDX Feature Boxes

Subscriber License and Access Agreement Update

Members will be prompted to accept the current agreement upon logging in.

Beginning February 13, 2013, when you log into REsearch, you will be asked to confirm your assent to the most current version of the Subscriber License and Access Agreement (SLAA). The SLAA, which is linked on our login page and presented to all subscribers upon signup, effectively covers your ongoing use of the system. However, through this login notice, our system will be able to reflect the technical acceptance of all users to the agreement. Future changes to the SLAA will prompt another similar notice.

For most users, there have been no substantive changes to the SLAA. However, as required by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), Principal Broker Subscribers (PBSs) will also be asked to select whether they wish to assign their rights to contributed content to HIS, which allows HIS to include such content in its quarterly copyright filings. Including our subscribers’ content in our copyright filings is necessary for HIS to take appropriate action against the unauthorized use of its members’ content.


When you log into REsearch, a pop-up window will appear as shown below. You will be asked to check off one of the boxes indicating whether you assent to the SLAA or not. If you would like more time to review the SLAA and would like to postpone making a selection, there will be a selection available that will allow you to make your selection later. However, the pop-up window will appear each time you log in, until you make a selection.

SLAA - Non-Primary

If you do not make a selection by March 15, 2013, we will assume that you assent to the SLAA. If you indicate that you do not assent to the SLAA, then we shall assume that you have no interest in continuing the use of the service and your access will be terminated at the end of day on March 15, 2013.

Please note that if you are employed by a Principal Broker, Broker-in-Charge or Individual (Sole Owner) who is a subscriber of the service, you are also required to be a subscriber.

For Principal Broker Subscribers:

If you are a Principal Broker Subscriber (PBS), you will be asked to make an additional selection in regards to the rights to the Intellectual Property (Subscriber’s Contribution) that you submit to the service. In the SLAA, this is located under Section 6. Intellectual Property.

SLAA - Primary
If Option I is selected, the Subscriber assigns to HIS all right, title and interest, including copyrights for the Subscriber’s contribution to the service. The Subscriber acknowledges that he/she agrees that all copyrights to his/her contributions, shall vest in HIS.

Under Option I: 

  • HIS agrees not to license or distribute Subscriber’s contribution to any third party who is not a real estate brokerage or appraisal subscriber to the service, if Subscriber has indicated in writing that Subscriber desires to withhold Subscriber’s contribution to such third party.
  • Subscriber shall be granted a non-exclusive, perpetual, world-wide, transferable, royalty-free license to display, perform and license Subscriber’s Contribution and portions of the HIS database pertaining to Participant’s listings.
  • HIS shall secure the rights of Subscriber by obtaining assignments and licenses from Subscriber’s Affiliates as necessary.
  • HIS shall make quarterly registrations of the copyrights of its database including Subscriber Contribution and make reasonable efforts to detect and hinder third parties using Subscriber’s Contribution without Subscriber’s permission.

If the Subscriber selects Option II, the Subscriber grants HIS only a non-exclusive, perpetual, worldwide, transferable, royalty-free license to reproduce, prepare derivative works of, distribute,

display, perform and license the Subscriber’s Contribution.

Under Option II:

  • HIS agrees not to license or distribute Subscriber’s contribution to any third party who is not a real estate brokerage or appraisal subscriber to the service, if Subscriber has indicated in writing that Subscriber desires to withhold Subscriber’s contribution to such third party. (This is the same as Option I)
  • HIS shall not include the Subscriber’s Contribution with its quarterly copyright registrations.
  • HIS makes no grant of license or assignment to Subscriber of any rights in the HIS Database except as set forth in subsection (e).
  • HIS will make no effort to register the copyrights in Subscriber’s Contribution. The Subscriber will be responsible for all costs and effort associated with registration. Timely copyright registration is a prerequisite to suing a copyright infringer and is necessary in order to obtaining certain remedies available under the US Copyright ACT.
  • HIS will employ no efforts whatsoever to detect or hinder third parties using the Subscriber Contribution without Subscriber’s permission.
  • HIS will make no effort to secure for Subscriber the right to copyright works created by Subscriber Affiliates or third parties.

In the event that there is no selection made by March 15, 2013, HIS shall assume that the Subscriber selected Option I.

Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact Diana Haraguchi, VP-Administration, by calling (800) 628-3121 ext. 172 if calling from the neighbor islands, or 599-4224 ext. 172 if calling from Oahu. You may also send an email to