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Airbnb tackles New Year’s Eve pandemic parties with booking restrictions

The company’s changes have been made in order to “protect public health.”…

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Airbnb has announced changes to its online booking platform to deter “unauthorized” New Year’s Eve parties.

With 2020 coming to a close and the COVID-19 pandemic still in full swing, depending on the country and the local restrictions still in place, some individuals may be tempted to use the platform to secure a property in order to host New Year’s Eve parties.

However, in light of the COVID-19 transmission risks associated with large gatherings without social distancing, Airbnb is making its stance known — by warning users now of the consequences of these parties.

On December 3, Airbnb — the provider of a platform for booking short-stay homes and residences — said in a blog post that the company will “strengthen our hosts’ protection against unauthorized house parties and large gatherings over New Year’s Eve.”

“As New Year’s Eve approaches, we are deploying more stringent restrictions on one and two-night reservations that may pose heightened risk for parties,” Airbnb says. “We will leverage our technology that restricts certain local and last-minute bookings by guests without a history of positive reviews on Airbnb and also block reservations within an expanded radius.”

The changes impact users in the US, UK, Canada, Mexico, Australia, France and Spain. Now, any guests without the backing of positive review histories will not be able to book entire homes on NYE.

However, anyone with positive review histories will not be restricted, and one-night reservations that have already been booked will be honored.

“Our data has historically shown that one-night New Year’s Eve bookings made prior to now very rarely lead to unauthorized parties,” the company said, in order to explain the reasoning behind this decision.

When bookings are made, customers must agree to Airbnb’s Parties and Events policy, which has already banned parties and events “indefinitely until further notice.” The policy has enforced an occupancy cap of 16 people on rentals.

See also: Airbnb may be exposing private host inbox messages, bookings and earnings data

Those who circumvent Airbnb’s attempt to stop large NYE gatherings could be suspended or removed from the platform and may also face legal action from the company.

However, given how 2020 has rolled out and the likelihood that not everyone will obey, Airbnb has also created a virtual support center and will have “safety agents” on call during NYE.

The booking changes lean upon Airbnb’s decision at Halloween to also ban one-night reservations in an effort to stop partygoers during the crisis. Airbnb added that the restrictions “meet this specific public health moment, prioritize safe and responsible travel, and [we will] do our part to try and stop large gatherings that can spread this virus.”

Airbnb registered its intent to launch an Initial Public Offering (IPO) with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last month, citing increased consumer interest in domestic travel and the work from home movement as reasons for recent bookings recovery.

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On December 3, Airbnb — the provider of a platform for booking short-stay homes and residences — said in a blog post that the company will “strengthen our hosts’ protection against unauthorized house parties and large gatherings over New Year’s Eve.”

Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/airbnb-tackles-new-years-eve-parties-with-booking-restrictions/

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ZDNET

Is there a market for an Apple TV/HomePod Frankenstein?

Rumors are circulating that Apple is planning to take two devices that aren’t selling all that well, and smash them together to make a new, hybrid device.

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Would you buy an Apple TV/HomePod Frankenstein device? According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple has one in the works.

“The company is working on a product that would combine an Apple TV set-top box with a HomePod speaker and include a camera for video conferencing through a connected TV and other smart-home functions, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters.”

Read more: Who do I pay to get the ‘phone’ removed from my iPhone?

Never one to underestimate Apple’s ability to take an idea that, on the face of it, seems stupid and irrational and turn it into a multibillion-dollar craze, but this feels a bit weird even for Apple.

First off, both the HomePod and the Apple TV haven’t set the world alight. Last month saw Apple pull the plug on the HomePod, and the Apple TV hasn’t had a refresh in over three years.

That tells you a lot about the position of these devices in Apple’s ecosystem.

I’m also not sure about the functionality of such a device. Are people going to replace their TV sound system (or the built-in speakers) with something that’s a fusion of an Apple TV and a HomePod? Maybe a pair of speakers, but that’s something different again.

Smashing together two ideas that have had a lukewarm reception and adding a FaceTime camera doesn’t feel like a recipe for huge success.

Gurman also brings up a HomePod/iPad hybrid too. This would create a competitor for the likes of Amazon’s Echo Show. I don’t know, the idea of adding a screen to the HomePod would be pretty much an admission that Siri is not up to the task. Also, Apple’s focus is on selling high-value devices with displays (iPhones, iPads, and Macs), and the idea of “cheap” displays taking over from those again doesn’t feel congruent with Apple.

What do you think? Is there merit in these hybrid devices, or should these never Frankenstein devices from Apple’s R&D lab never see light of day?

Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/is-there-a-market-for-an-apple-tv-homepod-frankenstein/

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Tencent Cloud pledges SEA expansion with launch of Indonesia data centre

Chinese internet giant launches its first data centre in Indonesia, with plans to open a second one in the Southeast Asian market as well as Thailand and South Korea within the year, as it looks to build out its cloud footprint across the region.

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Tencent has opened its first data centre in Indonesia, with plans to open a second within months alongside new sites in other Asian markets including Thailand and South Korea. The Chinese technology giant says the investment is part of an “aggressive” plan to build out its infrastructure in the region and tap growing cloud demand.

Located in Jakarta’s central business district, the data centre boasts two utility power lines and 2N redundant transformers as well as N+1 redundant diesel generator with capacity to support up to 72 hours at full load. Tencent’s cloud coverage currently encompasses 27 regions and 61 availability zones, most of which are located in China and the Asia-Pacific, and includes markets such as Singapore, Tokyo, Mumbai, Seoul, Moscow, Toronto, and Frankfurt.

The tech vendor operates more than 40 data centres in China alone, where its cloud business debut was a decade ago. Its international business was launched some three years ago across various regions and currently operates 19 to 20 data centres outside its domestic market.

It added a second data centre in South Korea early this year and, last month, announced plans to launch its first such facility in Bahrain by year-end to support the Middle East and North Africa region.

The latest site in Jakarta would better facilitate access to data and applications for customers in the region and support Indonesian organisations in their digital transformation efforts, said Poshu Yeung, Tencent Cloud International’s senior vice president, in a call with ZDNet. He added that there had been strong online demand across various verticals including financial services, e-commerce, games, education, and media and entertainment.

Tencent itself had seen significant growth for its online services in Indonesia, where its JOOX music streaming app was the second most popular in the country, Yeung said. It also launched WeTV last year, with plans to create more local production this year, and would soon introduce more games for the local market.

Strong demand for its consumer services had further underscored the need for Tencent to build its own data centres in Indonesia, he said, adding that a second data centre would be operational in the country likely in August. This marked the first time the company was launching two sites in the same market in the same year, he noted.

It also should signal how “aggressive and invested” Tencent was bolstering its presence in Indonesia, which he said was one of the leading growth markets for cloud in Southeast Asia. This demand was also evidence in other markets in the region as well as the wider Asia-Pacific, where it saw significant growth last year, he added.

This was despite the fact that the vendor last November had reported “lingering impact” of the global pandemic on its cloud revenue during its third quarter earnings. Tencent then had pointed to delays in project deployment and new customer signups as well as “non-recurring adjustments” to some IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service) contracts, which led to a lower growth from its cloud and other business revenue.

Asked to elaborate, Yeung said 2020 was a tough year for many businesses but the cloud market was one of few to see robust growth–fuelled by accelerated digital transformation initiatives–not just for global players, but also Tencent. The vendor’s international cloud business last year had clocked triple-digit growth, he said, noting that this upward momentum was expected to continue this year.

He revealed that Tencent would soon launch a second data centre in Thailand as well as in Japan in June.

Apart from supporting its own business and local enterprise customers, its data centre buildout across the region would tap growth potential from Chinese enterprises looking to expand overseas as well as international companies investing in the local markets.

ZDNet asked if he saw fellow Chinese cloud vendors such as Huawei and Alibaba Cloud, which also were eyeing growth in Southeast Asia, as bigger rivals than global cloud players such as Google, Amazon Web Services, and Microsoft. Yeung noted that the cloud business remained sizeable and there was room for several major players.

He added that cloud providers also often worked together, since enterprise customers increasingly were looking to adopt multi-cloud deployments as part of efforts to avoid being locked into one cloud vendor.

“So there are clear opportunities for everyone,” he said, noting that Tencent aimed to offer added value with SaaS products developed for verticals, such as financial and fintech, media, retail, and healthcare.

The vendor also had a wide ecosystem backing its cloud infrastructure and services, including its WeChat platform, he added.

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Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/tencent-cloud-pledges-sea-expansion-with-launch-of-indonesia-data-centre/

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Blockchain-based Odysee keeps your social media content online

Upload whatever content you want without threat of removal and makes sure it stays online. But you will never be able to remove it – ever.

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Odysee ensures your social media content will not be monitored–or removed zdnet Odysee

If you want to put whatever video content you want online and keep it there without risk of it being removed, the Odysee platform will keep your content on the blockchain permanently.

Created in July 2020, video platform Odysee has grown its user base since its launch in December 2020. The YouTube-like platform hosts video content on the LBRY network. Unlike YouTube there are no moderators, and no safety filters for younger viewers – and the content remains on the blockchain permanently.

People forget – or do not know that once data has been added to the blockchain it can not be changed or removed.

Odysee is built on blockchain technology and ensures that its creators’ channels can never be deleted. When a channel is created, it is recorded permanently in a distributed ledger on the blockchain.

While this seems like a great idea, it could have far-reaching consequences for some content creators years down the line – especially as attitudes change over time. Content creators might be saddled with stupid content that they very much regret as they get older.

Placing video content on the blockchain means that no one entity controls or can change it, making de-platforming impossible no matter how extreme, violent, or untrue the content might be.

Odyssee says that there are about 300,000 content creators on Odysee who upload a wide range of video content across topics ranging from informative to downright odd. Users can view any of the videos for free – unlike other video streaming platforms like Streamanity where the content creator sets the price to view videos.

Its press release in December says that the platform boasts 8,7 million monthly active users, however, Sitechecker reckons that Odysee.com gets less than 10,000 unique visitors per month to get a good result.

Odysee is built using the LBRY protocol which developers use to build apps to interact with content on the LBRY network. The platform’s predecessor LBRY.TV has now been retired in favour of Odysee.

When users upload a video, they deposit a minimum amount of LBC (LBRY Credits) starting from 0.01. 0.01 LBC is less than a cent.

Content creators can set an LBC price to watch the video if they choose. Fans of the video can also tip the content creator if they like the video. Each video shows indicate how many credits they have earned for the creator.

The deposit to upload ensures that the content is registered on the LBRY blockchain and will become discoverable by other users.

Users need to have an Odysee wallet associated with their account, which is viewable once they are logged in. They can also use third-party cryptocurrency wallets to store their cash.

Earnings vary for content influencers. Odysee says that the amount typical influencers make varies, and creators “earn $100 per month all the way up to $5,000 per month” for their uploads.

LBRY Credits are not tied to the price of Bitcoin (BTC), but can be purchased via the app. You can also sell LBC at an exchange for cash.

Users can upload any video they want – which could lead to discussions about what should and should not be allowed and regulated – especially as international conversation around social media regulation is growing.

There are concerns that far-right, or extremist content will find it has a permanent home on platforms such as Odysee, with little moderation or takedown.

Odysee does have some general community guidelines – but its comment “We don’t care what you post for the most part” could encourage posters to push the boundaries.

Guideline number 4 says “It’s the internet, we get it; try not to be overtly abusive and nasty toward other users. This extends to continuously harassing other users, encouraging the slander and defamation of other users, and threatening or bullying others in videos.”

Does this mean that users can occasionally harass other users? The guidelines seem to encourage people to step over the line.

Using blockchain gives users and creators more control over their content. Just like in a bar, users still have to adhere to some terms and conditions such as not inciting violence. They are otherwise are free to post and engage as they would in a public setting.

Odyssey’s alternative to demonetization and deplatforming is delisting, whereby a user’s channel and content remain, but cannot be discovered using search, browsing channels, or other tools. This allows the content to continue to be shared as desired.

Users can issue a command to delist their own content. Odysee itself retains the right to delist extremist or troublesome users. However, the content is not delisted from the LBRY network, but just from Odysee.

There is certainly a lot of interesting content on the platform – as well as the usual conspiracy theories and parody accounts.

Top accounts have hundreds of thousands of support credits, whereas other, less compelling, and downright dumb videos, have earned nothing. Will it become a refuge for extremists and nutjobs? Time will tell.

But for content creators, who want to earn LBC right now, and ultimately convert it into cash from their efforts – without a third party dictating how much they can earn – Odysee could be the platform for them.

Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/blockchain-based-odysee-keeps-your-social-media-content-online/

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