Lets cut the rubbish and talk about outbreaks in real terms

I’m hearing and seeing too much rubbish about the Coronavirus/Covid-19., including at the spa recently. I feel this is a good balanced talk about outbreaks, and there will be more.

Global health expert Alanna Shaikh talks about the current status of the 2019 coronavirus outbreak and what this can teach us about the epidemics yet to come. Alanna Shaikh is a global health consultant and executive coach who specializes in individual, organizational and systemic resilience.

This is something for many people who are reading too much stuff, guessing by the figures and filling in the blanks. Alanna makes too many good points about so many aspects of the current outbreak.

Step back and do the right thing, wash those hands and take some responsibility for your health care. Outbreaks will happen and its always just a matter of time. But that is not a reason to throw your arms up, blame different countries and bulk buy all the toilet roll you can get your hands on.

Can the government be trusted to honour any promises?

Boris Johnson

In short No!

To doubts that the government can be trusted to honour promises to maintain post-Brexit workplace, environmental and food standards must now be added very real concerns about its continued adherence to international human rights law – meaning, specifically, the European convention on human rights. Such prospective backsliding is foolish, damaging and wholly unacceptable.

The issue came to the fore last week after Michel Barnier, the EU chief negotiator, revealed that the UK “informs us that they do not wish to commit formally to applying the ECHR”. Downing Street later claimed that the government continued to support the treaty, which the UK joined in 1951, but did not want its membership to form a legally binding part of a future EU-UK trade agreement.

I commented this is awful time to be reconsidering trade deals in the middle of a potential worldwide pandemic. Don’t even get me started about all the other sneaky things which are happening.

Do I trust this government with any of this and so much more? Do you? Just as I’m reading about how the data (could) indicates the downfall of the UK.

In an article published by TruePublica, we showed how every twenty years there is a natural cycle of economic and political change – and linked it to generational forces alongside new technologies. The Father-and-son cycle that Turchin talks of is the same as our own research. The sons of fathers change the world and it takes 40 years for the really big change to come along. In our research, we predicted that right now, Britain is only halfway into a period of political and economic upheaval.

So where is Britain in the criteria of PSI? The boxes in all of its questions are ticked. A crisis has occurred, the government reacted incorrectly, the masses have demanded change, and a member of the elite, a populist is promising the world. Additionally, Britain is being emersed in heavy national debts costing nearly a £1billion a week just to service the interest charges and now has nothing in reserve to soften the blow of anything unexpected like, say, another recession – one perhaps caused by Brexit. And the people are in trouble too. Household debt is on the cusp of a historic explosion – forecast to double in just four years to completely unsustainable levels. Could the coronavirus, more flooding or Brexit be the spark?

How about basic human rights?

Cancelling flights to South Korea and Japan

expedia accept changes or not

I recently was able to cancel my flights to South Korea and Japan answering the question I prompted about flying to the far east during the Cornoavirus outbreak. My parents will be happy as they were worried. They weren’t the only ones but myself and my partner talked about it a lot. A point she made stuck with me, will a lot of the attractions, places and experiences in South Korea and Japan be mainly shutdown? The idea of going to a mainly dead rollercoaster park in Japan sounds great but will it actually be open? I noticed a tweet from Brian Suda about the Japanese government stopping large public events to stop the spread of the virus.

Japan has banned large gatherings, so this Sumo Tournament is being played to an empty arena.
Japan has banned large gatherings, so this Sumo Tournament is being played to an empty arena.

We were still going up till the point when Lufthansa changed our flights out again. There was a big change and I got a email asking me to confirm the change. I needed to read through the changes so didn’t click ok I’m good with this still a day later. In between a while bunch of new deaths happened in Italy and Flybe went under. People started taking things a lot more seriously as it was clear the incubation period of the Cornoavirus was something of a nightmare with people not showing signs of infection for 3-7 days. I was keeping an eye on the British FCO site, but noticed Lufthansa changed their policy.

Once I saw this I was straight on the phone to Lufthansa who were very helpful saying I could get a complete refund, then directed me to Expedia where I had booked my flights. After 2hrs 20mins waiting on the line for Expedia. A couple of call backs I finally got the verbal confirmation that my whole holiday would be cancelled and I would get a full refund.

The next day my partner did similar and after long calls and having to call back the next day was told the same. However within a day she got a confirmation email and told the money will be refunded in 5-7 days.

Days later I still haven’t received my conformation email or any refund (expect that not to come quickly). So I called up again today, this time after getting cut off (but it taking only 50mins on hold) I got verbal conformation again. But even at the moment of writing this, there is still no email.

I did notice they now (in the last day) have a form to do it without calling up… I’ll be filling this one in too.

I’m sure its all fine but I’ll fill the form because 3 times is a charm?

Although we are keeping an eye on the worldmeter for the virus, as we may take advantage of one of those very cheap flights to somewhere with minimal infection?

Update 11/March at 22:17

Expedia refund

I finally got my email from Expedia… Took a long time but finally I can relax.

New kid on the block Joplin for notes

Joplin clientsI have a bit of history with note taking apps, having started with Evernote back when I had a Windows Pocket PC and moving to a bunch of different apps till I finally settled on Standard Notes.

Its really good and been using the listed feature for a my gratitude diary. However I checked out Joplin recently and quite like some of the features.

Evernote import works perfectly, meaning I get my rich evernotes back complete with attachments, Actually the way it handles attachments is a lot closer to Evernote. Syncing is done in a number of different ways including Dropbox, Webdav, etc and all done with encryption meaning its using the service as a file container like how I use keepass right now.I had tried to setup a standard notes sync server in the past but didn’t really put the effort in.

Standard note uses markdown which is good and quick but I like Joplin’s hybrid of markdown and html. This pushed further with web clippers in Firefox and Chrome. Making Joplin extremely useful for capturing online resources.

I like both but will find it tricky to use both although I noticed for example Joplin is really painful to use on my ereader, while standardnotes is super smooth. They are build for different purposes but working what do with each is a bit of a dilemma right now. Currently I have my evernote backup and standardnotes in Joplin thanks to export/import. Of course theres lots of duplicate notes which I really need to go through and delete, as I already imported my evernote into standard notes previously.

Airbnb’s extenuating circumstances policy

airbnb and the coronavirus

As the coronavirus contuses to cause large disruptions across the world. I now have more of a answer to my airbnb question, should i have hosted a chinese person in my airbnb?

Come in a bit late is Airbnb’s extenuating circumstances policy.

What does this policy mean?

Eligible reservations can be cancelled without charges, including:

  • Guests who are travelling to or from severely affected areas (for a list of areas affected and covered by this policy, check below)
  • Hosts who are hosting in or welcoming guests from severely affected areas (for a list of areas affected and covered by this policy, check below)
  • Anyone who can’t complete their trip due to official travel restrictions, medical or disease control duties, flight or ground transport cancellation initiated by the provider due to COVID-19, or suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19

What happens when a reservation that falls under our extenuating circumstances policy is cancelled?

  • The guest will receive a full refund (including any fees)

  • Hosts won’t incur any cancellation fees

  • Airbnb will refund all fees

  • Hosts can accept new reservations for those dates

  • Superhost status will not be affected

Well at least we are now clear… I guess? However I certainly expect a lot of prejudice behavior coming from the policy change. How would anyone know any difference to be honest?

/e/OS: The beauty of open source

/e/os on a phone

I was quite impressed with the /e/OS project. I hadn’t really heard of it before but as I’m considering the balanced of google service and data in my life; especially with the plans to move UK citizens data/accounts outside the EU.

Taking the AOSP Android Open Source project and removing all the google parts is quite impressive. A real testament to the power of open source.

The interview with itsfoss is a good read, starting off with the question of what and why

Why did you create this Eelo or /e/ project in the first place?

Gael: In 2017, I realized that using Android and iPhone, Google and many mobile apps was not compatible with my personal privacy.

A later study by a US University confirmed this: using an iPhone or and Android phone sends between 6 to 12 MB of personal data to Google servers, daily! And this doesn’t count mobile apps.

So I looked for reasonable alternatives to iPhone and Android phones but didn’t find any. Either I found options for hobbyists, like Ubuntu Touch, that were not compatible with existing apps and not fully unGoogled either. Or there were alternative ROMs with all the Google fat inside, and no associated basic online services that could be used without tweaking the system.

Therefore, an idea came to mind: why not fork Android, remove all the Google features, even low level, such as connectivity check, DNS…, replace default apps with more virtuous apps, add basic online services, and integrate all this into a consistent form that could be used by Mum and Dad and any people without tech or expert knowledge?

I’d be interesting in what apps run on the operating system, as Google really have embedded Play services into everything now. When I first got my recent e-reader, it came with its own app store till you enable play services. That store was super small but it doesn’t have to be that way if you look at F-droid for example.

If I still had my Nexus 5x, I would likely give /e/os a try. I could run it on my Nexus 5 I guess but the screen is maybe too broken.

I have been thinking, following my use of Firefox multiple account containers use. Maybe something of a mashup of Blackberry’s Android profiles (anyone remember this?) and Firefox containers.

This certainly feels like a design challenge which could be massively beneficial to many, and showcase the beauty of opensource

Goodbye handshake in the wake of the coronavirus?

coronavirus-elbow-shake

Ok you got to have a bit of fun in the wake of something which might turn out to be an epidemic. I certainly feel Vice were thinking this as they wrote the click bait headline, Seize the Coronavirus Moment and Abolish the Handshake Forever. However I got to say there is good points about the handshake.

Life desk senior staff writer Hannah Smothers recently wrote about how groups from Silicon Valley investment firms to Canadian minor-league soccer teams were banning handshakes in an effort to halt the spread of the coronavirus. Instead of banning handshakes, everyone could simply wash their hands—something that is always a good idea, especially when we are staring down the barrel of a global epidemic.

I disagree that we should keep on shaking hands with each other, as if the very act of doing so is not totally deranged. Think about it: You walk into a party. Someone’s like “Hey, Kristy Marceline!” (Your name is Kristy Marceline.) “Come meet my friend David.” You hold out your hand. David holds out his. You clasp hands and move your claspèd doublehand up and down and up and down with a lot of force to prove to that you’re happy to see each other. You use a lot of force, but not too much force, as shaking hands with David too strongly or too weakly will make him think that you’re a terrible person, fundamentally flawed to her core.

This is ridiculous logic, and we just accept it on a daily basis without thinking twice!

Like the writer, I get the historical reason but maybe its time for something different. For example friends of mine have been doing the elbow bump, which has some strong legacy in the outbreak space.

Kid N Play's new greeting post epidemics?

I was thinking about something quite different… something like Kid n Play’s power dance move the kickstep. Yes I can hear you laugh but heck its one of the most dirty parts of our general body space and you are still looking each other directly in the face. Although I admit theres a lot of timing needed and maybe its best done with close friends for those mis-steps? It certainly bring something to those boring meets at least.

Hey google, read me this page out for me?

I won’t lie, I’m pretty impressed again with Google when it comes to text to speech and speech to text. Like Robby, my use of Google Assistant may also sky rocket.

My regular, daily use of the Google Assistant is likely to skyrocket with this new feature that was just rolled out: the ability to read any web page aloud. Whether or not this sounds awesome to you in this moment, just go with me for a second as we unpack what is going on here and why it will likely be incredibly useful for many.

At its most basic, this new feature does exactly what you expect. It allows the Google Assistant to simply read web pages aloud to you in a natural-sounding voice with a nice cadence. Pauses for commas and periods are dictated the way you’d expect and the decidedly-digital voice sounds very natural. The Assistant reads off the title, the author, and then begins to read through the entire article, highlighting each word spoken along the way.

But it gets better. Way better. When you start a reading session, the entire thing happens in a dedicated media player that gives you options to play/pause, skip ahead or back, and change the playback speed from 0.5x all the way up to 3x. On top of that, the player behaves just like any other media player in that it provides the ability to continue playing when the screen is locked and gives you a rich notification with playback controls as well. This allows you to start up the reader for a long article and go about doing something else while the Assistant reads the entire thing to you. I will 100% start using this for my daily walks or when driving to ingest news that I would otherwise put off in hopes of finding time to read later.

Even better is the fact that websites don’t need anything special in place to take part in all this. No extra code, no tags, no meta data: the Assistant can read any web page unless the web developer for that site has included the proper meta tag that disallows this. I’m sure there are fringe cases where this would be needed, but I’d assume most sites you visit will be readable by the Google Assistant out of the box.

Its very impressive, and my only issues are not being able to read text out of other apps like wallabag or tiny tiny rss. Not being able to playlist a number of pages for reading. Also using Chrome is a bit of a pain (I tried to do this in Firefox for example)

 

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Mar 2020)

Microphones on a desk

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed by looking at the sorry state of the UK during our EU withdrawal or the tech press panic over the corona-virus.

To quote Buckminster Fuller “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

You are seeing aspects of this happening with the rise in unions and labor rights in the gig economy.


Google users in UK dropped into GDPR limbo

Ian thinks: I always thought this was going to happen, once out of the EU our data privacy laws won’t be respected by the GAFFA’s and why would they?

Signaling to the masses, leave whatsapp

Ian thinks: Signal as a behemoth is concerning but its clearly made the best use of open source licenses to keep itself in check. Love the new systems which are being built on the protocol, real opportunity for something very new.

A future without public service media?

Ian thinks: All public service is under treat and hearing the words of the CEO of the CBC, really sends the message loud and clear

Governments who lockout their Public service broadcasters

Ian thinks: Following the previous link, a look at the sorry state of American’s public service broadcasting. The up lift of donations is good but for how long, how sustainable is public donations?

Making the digital economy working for the 99%

Ian thinks: 3 words – Transparency, auditing, diversity.

Spotify’s plans to take over podcasting?

Ian thinks: The comparisons are spot on and its clear podcasting is going through a massive change right now. Spotify’s play to commodify and dominate is hard to break unless there is experiences they can not own.

Centralising podcasting with trapping techniques

Ian thinks: The writer makes a good point about Spotify taking decentralised open media and locking inside a closed proprietary system. Lessons to be learned for future services we use.

The utopian vision of Airbnb vs the harsh reality

Ian thinks: I like Airbnb, I’m even a host but its clear there isn’t just a problem but its fundamentally broken and actively exploited by too many.

Could containers for web browsing benefit you too?

Ian thinks: Been using Firefox containers for the last 6-8 months and find them incredibly useful. The user experience is a mess and provides an opportunity for design disruption.

In light of the coronavirus, is a holiday in Korea and Japan a good idea?

Smuged Tokyo street

I booked a holiday to Korea and Japan last year. Thinking this would be a great idea and the flights were a decent price. Interestingly I was thinking about a stop over in Hong Kong for a week but it was getting expensive so decided against that.

Of course with the political tensions in Hong Kong with China last year, I was thinking that was lucky. But then the coronavirus suddenly made the holiday plans a lot less appealing.

I’m looking on the brightside of it all, ignoring the media hype engine. But the notion of a pandemic does make think its likely a bad time to go away on a flight, let alone to two super crowded places?

Everything is refundable except the flights; like many others I’m waiting watching the Foreign office site for South Korea and Japan to see if the advice changes and the airline will offer a refund?

I do think things will be ok but the risk of getting caught up in something which is developing fast doesn’t seem like a great holiday, especially if having to self quarantine in a hotel room for a week!. Add the potential health risk to myself, partner, family, friends and the general public.

Right now if the airline refunds the flight, then Korea and Japan can wait I think? What would you do?

Should I have hosted a Chinese person in my airbnb?

Airbnb and the Coronavirus outbreak

Recently I hosted a person from mainland China in my Airbnb. Its certainly not the first time and unlikely the last. They were nice, quiet and respectful of the rules.

But I was talking to a few people and they asked me if I had thought about the Coronavirus (COVID-19)? I laughed it off but honestly I did think for a bit before accepting the booking. The thinking wasn’t long especially because I wasn’t happy to ask the question and somewhat discriminate on the grounds of nationality (this is also against Airbnb’s policy)

Talking to others, they felt I wasn’t taking it seriously. Although I will say more people die of the flu and TB than COVID-19! The frenzy in the press is getting insane.

So I had another look at the policy and noticed a addition for the Coronavirus outbreak

The World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency. Affected hosts and guests can find info on our Extenuating circumstances policy for coronavirus page.

This is something which seems to have taken the Airbnb community groups and others by storm

Looking deeper into the new policy I found this part…

For reservations with guests travelling from mainland China to destinations outside of mainland China

The extenuating circumstances policy applies to any reservations booked on or before 1 February 2020, with check-in date of 1 April 2020 or earlier. This applies for guests travelling from mainland China with reservations outside of mainland China, or hosts outside of mainland China with guests travelling from mainland China.

Other scenarios that require documentation

Regardless of reservation date, the extenuating circumstances policy applies to reservations of all global hosts or guests who must change or cancel travel:

  • In order to comply with disease control restrictions implemented by relevant governmental or health authorities;
  • In order to perform medical or disease control duties in connection with the COVID-19 outbreak;
  • As a result of flight or ground transport cancellations initiated by an airline or ground transport provider due to the COVID-19 outbreak;
  • In the event that they are diagnosed or suspected of being infected with COVID-19 by a medical or health authority.

We ask that all community members be mindful of respect, inclusion, and our nondiscrimination policy when interacting with other members of our community.

So I think I did the right thing. Its not right to discriminate on the location. My guest was fine! However for those worried, you know what I’ll be doing if anything negative happens to my health (ha!)

A better way to listen to mixes online?

Funkwhale audio logo

For a while I have been thinking about leaving Mixcloud. Its nothing personal, I think its a great service for djs but its clear their business model is starting to interfere with the listening experience.

I had a thought about what Mixcloud do for me and decided these are the key things.

  1. Hosting the full mix with limited rights problems (unless you do something like play a track from the same author twice)
  2. The community of people and djs in one place
  3. Ability to see the actual tracks within the mix

With this in mind, I thought I’d see what else was out there as I’m lucky enough to be sitting on a large enough internet connection to host my own mixes and become a node on a larger decentralised network. If it was build like the fediverse, that could solve the community side too? After looking around for alternatives I found a new upstart called funkwhale. You may have seen I mention it recently in a previous blog.

Maybe 1 and 2 could be solved but what about 3?

The last part of the puzzle seemed to be the track problem, as you want seamless playback but get an idea of what you are listening to. Mixcloud does this via metadata, which you can create via a slider over the audio waveform. Some DJ systems create this for you like the Pacemaker for example but that metadata is lost in translation I found. If only there was a standard way to define areas of a mix without slicing the audio mix up?

For example, here is a ambient mix I liked recently.

Its by Tonepoet and even they have gone through the effort of adding this metadata to their personal site complete with timings. I do a similar thing but without the timings (which I really should have added since I had them all and entered them into Mixcloud manually.

I looked a number of things including a bunch of playlist formats including pls, m3u and xspf. Even looked at smil and asx to see if they would help, but their problem was player support. The issue seemed to be they all treated their smallest objects as physical files rather than subsets of files. I did buy into xspf thought it was close with this extension.

The extension element allows non-XSPF XML to be included in XSPF documents. The purpose is to allow nested XML, which the meta and link elements do not. xspf:playlist elements MAY contain zero or more extension elements.

<playlist version="1" xmlns="http://xspf.org/ns/0/" xmlns:cl="http://example.com">
  <extension application="http://example.com">
    <cl:clip start="25000" end="34500"/>
  </extension>
  <trackList />
</playlist>

Close but not quite right and player support for extensions was going to be low. This is when I rethought the problem with something like .nfo files and found .cue files. Here is an example…

REM GENRE Electronica
REM DATE 1998
PERFORMER "Faithless"
TITLE "Live in Berlin"
FILE "Faithless - Live in Berlin.mp3" MP3
  TRACK 01 AUDIO
    TITLE "Reverence"
    PERFORMER "Faithless"
    INDEX 01 00:00:00
  TRACK 02 AUDIO
    TITLE "She's My Baby"
    PERFORMER "Faithless"
    INDEX 01 06:42:00
  TRACK 03 AUDIO
    TITLE "Take the Long Way Home"
    PERFORMER "Faithless"
    INDEX 01 10:54:00
  TRACK 04 AUDIO
    TITLE "Insomnia"
    PERFORMER "Faithless"
    INDEX 01 17:04:00
  TRACK 05 AUDIO
    TITLE "Bring the Family Back"
    PERFORMER "Faithless"
    INDEX 01 25:44:00
  TRACK 06 AUDIO
    TITLE "Salva Mea"
    PERFORMER "Faithless"
    INDEX 01 30:50:00
  TRACK 07 AUDIO
    TITLE "Dirty Old Man"
    PERFORMER "Faithless"
    INDEX 01 38:24:00
  TRACK 08 AUDIO
    TITLE "God Is a DJ"
    PERFORMER "Faithless"
    INDEX 01 42:35:00

Perfect, so I took one of mixes, Quiver in the underground and turned the .nfo file into a .cue file.

REM GENRE Tech Trance
REM DATE 2019
PERFORMER "Digital Italic"
TITLE "Quiver in the underground mix"
FILE "Quiver in the underground mix.mp3" MP3
TRACK 01 AUDIO
TITLE "Activator, I know you can (That kid chris mix)"
PERFORMER "Whatever girl"
INDEX 01 00:00:00
TRACK 02 AUDIO
TITLE "Air traffic (Erik De Koning remix)"
PERFORMER "Three drives"
INDEX 01 02:07:00
TRACK 03 AUDIO
TITLE "Chinook"
PERFORMER "Markus Schulz pres. Dakota"
INDEX 01 07:25:00
TRACK 04 AUDIO
TITLE "Opium (Quivver remix)"
PERFORMER "Jerome Isma-Ae & Alastor"
INDEX 01 10:32:00
TRACK 05 AUDIO
TITLE "Surveillance"
PERFORMER "Jordon Suckley & Kutski"
INDEX 01 15:24:00
TRACK 06 AUDIO
TITLE "Nitric (Division one remix)"
PERFORMER "Hybrid system"
INDEX 01 19:02:00
TRACK 07 AUDIO
TITLE "Circa-Forever (Galen Behr & Organ Nilsen remix)"
PERFORMER "Rapid eye"
INDEX 01 23:55:00
TRACK 08 AUDIO
TITLE "Opulence"
PERFORMER "Simon Patterson"
INDEX 01 30:05:00
TRACK 09 AUDIO
TITLE "J'ai envie de toi (Protoculture remix)"
PERFORMER "Armin Van Buuren presents Gaia"
INDEX 01 35:10:00
TRACK 10 AUDIO
TITLE "Z.I.T.A (M.I.K.E's progressiva mix)"
PERFORMER "Hiver & Hammer with Funabashi"
INDEX 01 39:30:00
TRACK 11 AUDIO
TITLE "Kubrick (Extended mix)"
PERFORMER "Jerome Isma-Ae & Alastor"
INDEX 01 42:01:00

Tried it out on a number of media player and they all worked except Plex.

There is a very good chance if I was to run my own funkwhale node/server I could set it to index .cue files and playback the mix in a seamless way like Mixcloud? Theres only one way to find out really… Get Funkwhale installed!

On a side note I am slightly kicking myself now because I entered all that metadata into mixcloud but never stored it myself. I’m going to need to go through 90 of my own mixes and convert my .nfo files into .cue files.

I have the SQLite Database for my pacemaker device with the actual real timings but I need to identify which mix is which one (another thing I should have done, as changed the names of the mix depending on many things). I also hoped mixcloud’s developers guide would come to the rescue but it looks like maybe a GDPR request is my only option if I want the metadata for my mixes?

All complex ecosystem have parasites… including Airbnb

Airbnb basement in Iceland
Looks like a dungeon right? Imagine sleeping down there for a night like I did in Iceland

…The trick is to not let them take over. Something Airbnb needs to think a lot more about!

I stumbled across a huge Airbnb scam that’s taking over London, this story is everywhere but it was Si Lumb who first sent me the link.

After reading the massive long piece I was quite shocked at how elaborate the scam was. I won’t spoil it but its bad then it gets worst still.

Here’s a few choice quotes…

On Airbnb, it turns out, scams aren’t just the preserve of lone chancers. As the short-term rental goldrush gathers pace, Airbnb empires are being rapidly scaled and monetised, with professional operators creating scores of fake accounts, fake listings and fake reviews to run rings around Airbnb, local law enforcement and the guests who place their trust in the platform. Reviews from guests paint a grim picture of people who have been tricked into staying in accommodation with blocked drains, broken fixtures and fittings, filthy floors, dirty bed linen – or, in some cases, accommodation that they simply did not book.

This very much reminds me of when I stayed in Iceland and the host moved me to the basement so he could get another Airbnb in! My experience of Airbnb in Tokyo was awful but at least the host wasn’t lying to my actual face.

All of these accounts are essentially one person, or at least one company. And yet they have all passed Airbnb’s account verification and safety processes, with most supplying government identification, selfies, email addresses and phone numbers. Two of these accounts, though, are more closely connected than the rest: Leon and Robert Lusso Management. And that’s because they both used to be called Christian.

Seen this many times on Airbnb, this is why I always look through the reviews of the hosts for patterns. Its the same way reviews on most sites you have to check for scams.

I noticed from my experience as a host (super host even), lots of guests don’t do the research. Don’t get me wrong, the scams are elaborate but few read the reviews and ask the right questions of the host.

According to Inside Airbnb, a service that scrapes Airbnb to shine a light on the platform’s impact on cities around the world, there are an estimated 36,964 listings on Airbnb in London that are listed by a host with at least one other listing. While Airbnb presents itself as a sharing economy company, the business of hosting is becoming increasingly systemised and professionalised, with critics arguing that businesses are able to make huge sums of money at the expense of local residents who are unable to access properties locked away by the short-term rental gold rush.

So what, if anything, can be done about it? To date, attempts to adequately regulate and police Airbnb listings have been spasmodic at best, leading to a patchwork of confusing, siloed approaches. In December 2019, more concerted regulation efforts were dealt a blow when the European Court of Justice ruled that Airbnb was an “information society service”, not a real estate agency. Such rulings mean that cities must continue to act alone – with mixed success.

Really interesting to look at inside Airbnb as a host in Manchester. But its clear councils can’t keep up with the Airbnb (gravy) train and the scammers know this too well. Could Airbnb do more stop this? Yes a bit but honestly…

All complex ecosystem have parasites. – Cory Doctorow