digital afterlife

How to Automate your Digital Afterlife

Have you ever given thought to what happens to our online presence after we die? We will leave digital fragments of ourselves all over the internet. Think of the number of online accounts we sign up to on a weekly basis and the media we push daily to the social networks. It’s not something our forefathers had to worry about, but the internet age will continue to update us into uncharted territory. 

 

I’ve noticed the growing trend of people who post childhood pictures of themselves on Facebook. Is this a subconscious way of trying to preserve an immortal digital memory of ourselves?

 

Why does it matter?

This issue of our digital afterlife is particularly acute if you make creative content and would like your digital legacy to continue. If you sell your designs, apps or music for instance, you might want your content to be available after your death, in order to continue to gain royalties or at least give people the benefit of enjoying your work. However, the issue is that our content is being hosted by companies (such as Apple) who require a yearly membership. With all the various passwords and logins we have, one would need a friend or family member to gain access to your media, in order to keep it alive.

 

Entrust a friend or relative to manage your content

Whether the entrusted friend or family member would want this administrative burden is another thing though! The other issue I’ve thought about is the question of how long your content will even last, given the pace of technology change. Take the Apps market for example – apps need to be updated to be able to run on the latest devices. There is no way I can expect a friend of relative to be able to update one of my apps. Plus, the online portals and processes we learn are so specific and fiddly (and they constantly change), that I would rule this possibility out. Keeping my app collection ‘as is’ might give it 5 years of life, and that’s very optimistic. 

 

There are some things you can do. It’s a matter of thinking about the bigger picture, so that as an individual content creator, you are pass over your content to a bigger entity. That doesn’t mean giving away exclusive rights though. There are now many marketing platforms that can host your media for you, so that they do the selling, and you take a lesser cut. I partnered with Fingerprint Digital, a kids app platform in San Fransisco, who host duplicate versions of my apps under their brand. They recently made a deal to select app content for the US library network, and this has been great. I could resell my apps on locked down, pre-loaded devices. I also continue to share my icons on The Noun Project under a creative commons license, and receive a small royalty stream from paying members. 

 

What is the shelf life of media? 

Media formats come and go with the times – look what happened to floppy disks, Beetamax, then VHS, CDs and now DVDs. We have moved to a digital format, and let’s hope that this sticks. If your end format is an image (JPG, PNG etc) this should be good for a while. Wavs and Mp3 music files should also fare well. Video is pretty solid, but with all the different codecs and increasing resolution, your 1080P video may look great now, but is likely to look crummy in a short time, since 4K is now on the scene. Or will it have the vintage cool effect that Super 8 has now? Software and apps will have the shortest shelf life – code and operating systems are always progressing. 

 

Use an afterlife service to manage your online legacy

Even if you don’t sell creative digital content, you might want to keep your personal photos, videos and messages alive. After death, Facebook will lock your account, so that it can no longer be accessed by family members. So what can you do?

The Digital Beyond is a niche website from the UK that lists all the services you may need for securing your digital content when you pass away. For highlights, see our Automation Software page.

 

Heavenote – another British startup (why are the British so obsessed with death? Surely there are some Swedish or Danish companies doing this)

 

This article was inspired by Caroline Twigg’s very moving Guardian article What happens to my late husband’s digital life now he’s gone?

 

 

 

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Air bnb automation

How to Automate your Air BnB Business

Air_bnb_houses

 

While living on the Hawaiian island of Oahu and Kaua’i, I stayed in many Air bnb rentals, and it was a real eye opener. Some people are renting out their spare room to make a little extra cash on the side, and others are renting houses solely for the purpose of renting out the rooms – essentially running their own hotel business. People run Air bnb in many different ways, but generally fall into one of two categories: the ‘live-in’, and the ‘remote.’

The live-in Air bnb host

The Present Air bnb hosts are hands on hosts who actually live there, making you feel like you’re in a real B & B guest house. I think most travellers prefer the human touch, and being able to get tips from the host in person is priceless. I like to meet people, so I personally prefer this type of Air bnb stay. To really impress your guests, and if you want to achieve ‘Superhost’ status, you will need to pamper them by offering them more than they would expect, such as cook them a meal, spend time giving them tips on the area, driving them to the train station or any show of generosity.  

The remote Air bnb host

Many hosts are now running the Remote method, which is more like a hotel or holiday rental. They may own or manage several rooms in properties, and make a nice business out of it. These hosts will communicate with the guests via email, clean the room on check out and arrange the check in for the next guest. Some guests like to be left alone, so this type of hosting is fine, but since you will not be able to make an impression in person, you’ll have to tick all the boxes to make sure your automated Air bnb property pleases your guests. 

Automation = Streamlining

Both types of Air bnb hosting benefits from some automation, or streamlining. You don’t have to deck your house out with high-tech gadgets, as things will inevitably break down or malfunction. That’s just life. People still need to be involved in case things go wrong. When running your Air bnb business, here is a guide to help you automate the process as much as possible. Although I’m not an Air bnb host, I’m writing this from the point of view of a guest. 

 

8 Ways to Air bnb Heaven

 

1) Print out a welcome note

airbnb welcome note

Having an information pack or letter is a no brainer, but some hosts we stayed with didn’t even have one. It will save you time to have everything about the house and area written down in one place. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t talk to your guests, but if you’re out when your guests need the info, it saves you having to repeatedly email directions and local advice each time.

 

2) Get your inventory sorted

air bnb inventory items

Air bnb Hosts take note – as a guest, this is the bare minimum I expect in a rental. (I’m not happy if I can’t make a coffee in the morning!)

The basics: unlimited fast wi-fi, fridge, microwave, filter coffee maker + filters, cups, cutlery, towels, soap, shampoo, toilet paper, hair dryer. 

 

3) Work out your key system

airbnb keys check-in

If you don’t want to hang around to physically hand over keys to each guest, there are some other methods to consider. One host in Hawaii simply left the keys under a coconut by the door, but not all places are like Hawaii! 

The ultimate in Air bnb automation these days is the use of a keypad combination door lock. If you can get one of these fitted, it means you can simply email your guest the combination, which frees up your day or evening. Remember that guests can arrive any time. It may not be possible to fit this type of lock on your front door though, as you may live in an apartment block or you might have several doors to entry. 

If you want to be really high tech, you could consider using a Smartphone activated lock such as the forthcoming Lockitron and Ring. However, it relies on your guest having mobile wi-fi, and not all international guests will have this when they arrive at your house. 

Failing this, you could buy a solid postal box with a combination code, which contain the keys inside, and install it firmly to a wall outside your house. 

You could have a local friend or family member give the keys to the guest, but if you don’t have anyone available, there are now services that handle this such as Urban Bellhop.

 

4) Have a cleaning system 

airbnb cleaning services

You can automate nearly everything in an Air bnb rental, except cleaning. So until we have robots that can wash and change the sheets, this is the one thing that needs maintenance when each guest checks out. Mosts hosts do the cleaning themselves, but some hire cleaners or use a managing agent for this. 

 

5) Use Instant book

air bnb Instant Book

If you’re a trusting person who wants to cut out the delay of screening new guests, just set up your Air bnb account for Instant book. 

 

6) Include a video package

air bnb tv netflix

Including Netflix or Amazon Prime Video is a cheap way of giving your place the edge over your competition. Just make sure you have unlimited wi-fi, and that it’s fast enough for good streaming. 

 

7) Home automation

air bnb home automation nest

Installing a smart thermostat could save you a lot money on energy bills if you not around to monitor the heating. The Nest thermostat programs itself to set optimal temperatures, saving energy for homeowners by up to 20 percent per month. There are many brands offering home automation products now, make sure you research what’s out there.

 

8) Add some complimentary gifts

air bnb complimentary gifts

A little complimentary gift for each of your new guests is a nice finishing touch, which makes you feel like you’ve arrived in a posh hotel. One host we stayed with gives his guests a box of local chocolates, potato chips and water bottles. It must have worked because we stayed a second time at his place at the end of our trip!

 

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