I get fascinated by technology, again.

I must admit, sometimes I get annoyed by technology. In recent years, fascinating apps like Uber and AirBnB were created to plug huge gaps in the market, but do we really need another app to connect me to someone who would do my laundry?

I have yet to get on the Twitter bandwagon, and Lysia calls me a tech-dinosaur for refusing to use Snapchat as well. Mostly because I noticed how I unknowingly allowed Facebook to integrate itself into my life, and that I could really avoid racking up more daily “screen-time” by staying away from both Twitter and Snapchat.

… and then I came across Periscope, which was bought by Twitter for a reported $100 million earlier this year. (granted, I am a few months late but hey I spent the bulk of Spring in a country called Tajikistan where getting updated on the latest apps were probably the last thing in my daily priority list, which included figuring out how to stay warm without heating.)

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After downloading Periscope last night, I decided to explore the app “for a few minutes”, but ending spending an entire hour on it. A shady description of Periscope could read like such “twitter meets chat roulette”, or the layman description as quoted on Periscope “discovering the world through someone else’s eyes”. Here’s a detailed description of the app on Wired. The UI is fascinating, because the first thing you see is a giant world map, with live feeds buzzing from countries all over – Brazil, Russia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia… You have the ability to “teleport” to another country, right there, through the lenses of someone else’s smartphone. #mindblown

Granted, many of the feeds were completely random nonsense – this one guy was just reading out user comments for a good 10 minutes, another was petting her cat, and you can imagine other potential abuses of Periscope (go figure). But it also has the ability for folks to broadcast live events from concerts, to World Cup matches, the Olympics, and the list goes on. Last night I watched a morning prayer session take place in Indonesia, and because the smartphone is often recorded from a very “intimate” point of view, I literally felt like I was there, except I was lying on my bed in Austin, TX. Just a couple of minutes ago I witnessed the Dalai Lama celebrate his birthday at the Global Compassion Summit, LIVE! It is one thing to see video footage retrospectively through the TV, Youtube etc., but a whole other experience to witness it live; and wow, we can do it on our smartphones. How awesome is it that we live in the 21st century!

Another beautiful use-case of Periscope is for the aspiring polyglots out there. One of the first continents I zoomed into when I opened the app was South America. I was immediately getting live feeds of people “periscoping” in Spanish, and exchanging comments with the community in Spanish. It was a great resource for learning, as you start “interacting” with native speakers, listening to the language through the voyeuristic use of the app. Brownie points for interesting live feeds, including a random guy that taught me that Rosario, where he was periscoping from, is the birth-place of the legendary Messi.

I plan to Periscope my Capoeira class tonight, and hope to see how the community responds!

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AirBnB 101: 5 simple tips to be a great host!

Ever since I moved into my new apartment, I have been able to host Airbnb guests since I now have a lot more room to accommodate people. I put my guests up in the loft bed, while I sleep in the adjoining room behind a closed door which gives everyone sufficient privacy during the night. Since July, I’ve hosted about 10 different guests (from Europe, North America, Central America) and I thought I would share some ideas to make your place super Airbnb-friendly.

#myAirbnb

#myAirbnb

1. Photos

Don’t make the rookie mistake of uploading random poor quality pictures of your apartment/house. The very reason why Airbnb offers to have photographers come to your place to take professional pictures is because they really do matter. Appealing photos are one of the first things noticed by Airbnb guests when they are browsing through the available options. At this link to my listing, you can see how professional photos make a significant difference.

2. Respond with details

Whenever guests indicate any interest in booking your apartment, respond promptly and provide helpful details. Put yourself in the shoes of the prospective guest – imagine if you are travelling from out of town and it will be your very first time in this new city, what are some of your top concerns? Be proactive and help address them in your communication to your guest.

3. Provide a welcome basket

This is a nice gesture I always do for my guests. I put their fresh towels, toiletries and some snacks in a nice basket which I place on the chair – the first thing they notice as they enter the apartment. Trust me, it changes the entire experience. In our previous Airbnb stay in Albuquerque, our host even provided toothbrushes, toothpaste and mouthwash!

4. Suggest places to eat/things to do

Always offer suggestions to your guests regarding activities they should do around your city. Tell them about places off-the-beaten-track, bespoke bars and hidden dining establishments. I provide my guests with a list of my favorite food trucks around Austin, and a map of places and amenities in my immediate neighborhood. Guests will always appreciate good advice from the locals. In fact, if you have time, go the extra mile to show your guests around town!

5. Cook a meal

For guests that are staying for more than 1-2 nights, it is a wonderful thing to share a meal together. On multiple occasions, I have cooked simple dinners for my guests and we have had great conversations. This allows both the host and guest to really get to know each other, rather than to treat the stay as just an economic exchange.

At the end of the day, hopefully you will have guests leaving behind a lot more than just some extra cash you can use!

Charlie and Elyse from Chicago!

Charlie and Elyse from Chicago!

Here’s a link to get free US$25 credit to use for your next Airbnb reservation!