So here's what I learned from reading and then by doing. On camera flash isn't very flattering. First because the light hits the subject straight on, making it look flat. Secondly, the perceived light source to my subject in this case was very small which is the area of the speed light head the light was emitting out of. As a result, the quality of the light hitting Linda and especially the lamp post and glass were all somewhat harsh. The white drapes didn't look too bad probably because it absorbed and diffused reflected the flash well. Here's a picture of what that looked like.
Now when I bounced it off the wall at a reasonable angle, I essentially changed the small light source to become a much bigger one (the ceiling) causing the light to both become diffused and thus much softer and flattering. This also caused the reflection of the metal lamp post to become more of a diffused instead of specular reflection.
Here's one showing more of the room with bounce flash off the ceiling. The wider angle focal length made this room look much bigger than it is. No wonder why they go wide for room shots in real estate pics!
And finally my favorite pictures taken in the room with bounce flash was of Carl and Amy, who I asked to role play like they were really pissed off at each other while going to bed. It took couple of tries before they could keep a straight face but we got one on the fourth try! I really enjoyed capturing this sequence of them because I think it captured how cute these two are as a couple. Gotta love Carl in bed with his red net book...priceless! He was probably surfing slickdeals like I usually do =)