Moving to South America? That’s radical!

South America first

Español: Centro Histórico de Quito, Iglesia de...

Español: Centro Histórico de Quito, Iglesia del Sagrario (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A former business partner and friend needs some advice. But he casually mentions going to South America. Time to give him some thoughts to think about:

Let’s first talk about South America. That’s radical. Why? Are you involved with someone down there? If I were relocating to South America, I would look into Ecuador first and Uruguay second. But perhaps you should look at Panama or Mexico first – they are closer.

About 50% of expats leave a Latin American country for the following reasons:

  • They haven’t adapted to speaking the native language – usually Spanish. Or in Brazil, it is Portuguese.
  • They haven’t adapted to Manana time – which really means not today, and tomorrow it might be not today, etc.
  • There is a different set of values and customs the natives live by and the expats haven’t adapted.

Usually, it they can survive 2 years and adjust to these 3 broad areas, then there should be few problems.

Panama next

Then I have my own questions and research on Latin America, which I need to just get the finishing touches on an expat forum.
I thought I would bring this topic up. According to resources that have written books on Panama and work at English speaking Panama newspapers, I can import homeopathic remedies from the US – no problem. Now there are supposed to be a couple health food stores in Panama that carry these items. And a Google search for “homeopatia Farmacia Panama”, have come up with some names. And there appear to be homeopathic practitioners in Panama. So have I been given correct info, that I can either obtain homeopathic remedies in Panama (i.e. via health food store and/or homeopatia Farmacia”), or import them from the US?

Now Ecuador

Then folks use Magic Jack, Vongage and Skype, so time to put in my two cents worth, in an Ecuador expat forum.

f you go to Amazon and look at Magic Jack, you see that over 1000 reviews rate it – on average – 3 out of 5 stars. I prefer Skype with a phone line number and/or Ooma (a bit more pricey but has excellent overall reviews on Amazon). You can also use Google hangouts. I recommend to connect all these devices to a router with a cable, rather than WIFI. If both parties have hi-speed Internet connections, they work much better. Be sure all you computer operating system software, router and cable modem firmware, video camera, etc., has the latest production patches.

Ooma is much cheaper than Vonage. In my opinion, it is much more reliable. In the US many years ago, Vonage convinced me to use their device, between the modem and my computer. I constantly had problems and had to call both Vonage and Comcast. Finally, I brought a Linksys router and attached the Vonage device to it. If I had any problems then, it was just with Vonage. I just had to reboot the Vonage device.

Currently, they have been advertising Basic Talk on TV. I have read it really is Vonage, but with less features and a more attractive price.

How to solve a Skype connection problem.

 

Skype

Skype (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During the years 2005 – 2007, I took two years of Spanish, at the College of DuPage. But I forgot a lot. Now that I am relearning it, software like DuoLingo and Fluencia are very helpful. Yet nothing takes the place of real human exchanges. In a language exchange forum, I connected with someone from Mexico. We are exchanging conversations in Spanish and English for an hour each day.

Yet the initial attempts had their technical problems. We kept losing connection or his speech became garbled. What should we do? The first thing I suggested was to check what version of Skype was used. Both of us had the latest production version.

Next, I suggested going to a site called Speed Test . It showed I had a high speed connection and my friend had a low one. Is that the problem?

Finally, I checked to see what operating system he was running and if all the patches and upgrades were installed. Both were Windows supported systems, with all the latest patches.

Then I decided to test with Google Hangouts, to see if we had the same problem. We did. So Skype wasn’t the culprit or target.

Finally, I suggested he test with another US friend and a friend from Mexico. This way, we could see if it were a problem he had. Now I could talk via Skype to a US German friend – no problem. My modem had the latest upgrades from Comcast and my LinkedIn router had the latest upgrades from me. What is the problem.

I also do weekly quick scans with Norton Security Suite and Malwarebytes for problems. And I have WinPatrol to warn me of operating system changes. And I use FileHippo to check for open source upgrades.

Then an idea occurred to me. Let me check my video camera software. Some upgrades needed to be installed. Here’s a YouTube video talking about improving Skype video quality. It’s only about a minute and a half:

It’s easy to find the update tab for my Logitech webcam. I just need to open up the icon, click on preferences and then click updates. I had to update twice, in order to get everything up to par. My Skype software was also set for the latest production version

Guess what? The next time my friend from Mexico and I communicated on Skype, the connection quality was excellent. He did report that he tested with a friend from both the US and Mexico. Both tests displayed no problems. We were able to connect each night with no apparent problems.

And if you have a different operating system, then the same rules apply. My friend runs Ubuntu 12.04 LTS and I remind him to check weekly for updates. Maybe it’s a new version of a Linux image, a GUI or an application software upgrade. But the end result is a more secure and solidly running operating system. The same would apple to Apple, and smart phone and tablet operating systems.

The Good, The Bad, and The Scary Of Wearable Technology

In Isaac Asimov’s “I, Robot” novels, he shows us a world where technology supersedes established social norms. In his books, nudity is fine as long as it is viewed remotely. As in his fictional worlds, mobile technology and the Internet are changing our culture.

shutterstock_171114329

Tragedies related to cyber-bullying have hit the headlines but the more subtle influences to our world may be more important. Microchips in children, voice controlled devices, and wearable technology are altering the way we communicate and interact, maybe to the detriment to our society.

The Problem Of Facelessness

The key to cyber-bullying is the cyber-disinhibition effect in which people do not have visual cues to moderate their behavior, reports researcher Michelle Wright. When talking face-to-face, a little nod or a squint of the eye gives the speaker micro messages, telling him to continue or change the subject. Digital messaging strips us of these meta-messages. Wearable technology, like Google Glass, brings this to a new level. A user can communicate with a person, even show that person what is being seen, and still lose the important parts of body language. This changes cyber-bullying, which is repetitive and premeditated, into peer victimization that is a malicious social behavior, reports the National Center for Biotechnology Information. In other words, we are transforming our online culture into one where users care nothing for their peer’s online reputation.

Privacy Is A Myth

English: A flexible Lilypad Arduino, designed ...

English: A flexible Lilypad Arduino, designed to be incorporated into wearable technology. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Maybe the loss of privacy and anonymity are trade-offs for the benefits we gain from this type of technology. Wearable tech is more than just Google Glass. There are fashionable medical devices that monitor heart rate and vitals in people with high risk conditions. Others give physiological information for athletes. All of these transmit information and, in the wrong hands, this information can be detrimental.

Micro-chipping for children and electronic emergency bracelets for the elderly have obvious benefits but they also place people at risk of privacy violations. One of the greatest issues is that these portable devices can be hacked without the user’s knowledge. With a flip of a switch, a device designed to stop pedophiles becomes a menu to find the child that is alone.

Balancing The Good With The Bad

Like most scientific achievements, wearable tech is neither all good nor all bad. There is a balance that needs to be struck to get the benefits of the tech without falling victim to predators. The cyber-security experts LifeLock have all kinds of good advice for protecting yourself from identity theft. Many of these ideas can be applied to wearable technology use also. One of them is to be a little bit wary. If you are using these types of devices, then know the risks. Understand the consequences of your system being hacked and have a contingency plan. Do not place all of your faith in your technology. When you see someone using wearable technology, remember that they can use it for unsavory purposes. If a person can see it with the naked eye then he can record it with a digital device.

Social Media Infographics for the Fourth of July [infographic]

Courtesy of: SurePayroll

The above infographic was suggested by Jamie Flynn TFF-DealingWithAngryCustomersD1_opt The above infographic was created by Dave Landry Jr TFF-M6-SocialMediaEtiquette_opt (1) (1) The above infographic was created by Dave Landry Jr Most of us have been angry customers ourselves. That is, until we worked customer service and experienced verbal brutality that can come with customer service first-hand. Isn’t it interesting how working customer service increases your patience while waiting in line at the grocery store or when your order is incorrect at a restaurant?   Perhaps those who have the most difficult job in customer service are those who work in call centers. Since there is no face-to-face interaction, the possibility of misunderstandings or miscommunications are increased exponentially. It’s also easier for customers to generally be ruder and less patient, as they’re not dealing with anyone in public. Although a recent study by The Daily Beast showed that more call center jobs are being appropriated for domestic workers which will reduce the amount of calls lost in translation abroad, the truth remains: call centers are a pivotal part of customer service.   So since call centers and angry customers are here to stay, have no fear! A Customer Service Reps Bible has been put together with cooperation from global communications and customer service experts TollFreeForwarding.com, highlighting several caveats of successful customer service representatives. Also included: reminders for angry customers to hopefully reduce a little bit of the frustration.   Dave Landry Jr. is a business owner and journalist who has been published in numerous publications. He feels customer service is the touchstone of any successful enterprise, and has recently devoted many of his musings to just that topic.

What to Consider Before Switching to VoIP

 

This image was selected as a picture of the we...

This image was selected as a picture of the week on the Farsi Wikipedia for the 13th week, 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When you plan to develop in-house communication system, the aim must be to add systems and techniques into an existing system. You cannot implement a totally alien technology in real time basis as it requires study and time to learn the features. The process of implementation and bringing in changes in continuous and it applies to the procedure when you decide to switch the communication system to the latest VoIP technology. It is cheap. It is highly compatible. It is easy to manage. Moreover, the system is nothing but an evolved version of the traditional phone communication technology with extra features and a wide range of call management functionalities. VoIP phones are fast, easy operation, easy call management feature and economical. Let’s take a look on the things like what you require to implement this technology and what are the limitations.

 

Requirements

VoIP requires least maintenance and infrastructure. You just need a high bandwidth data connection to set up VoIP system properly. That’s it, install the device and start calling! Since disasters and tragedies occur during the most unanticipated period, it is very much expected that your friends and families may not be there when these emergencies happen. But, the best thing is that, there are emergency communication procedures that do not involve electricity like the radios that has the ability to operate on fixed rechargeable batteries. One more good news is about the availability of communication equipment as well as radios which has the power of solar charging capabilities.
There are situations where the offices and workers can be very far apart. Hence, assembling everyone in a single room for seminars and conferences has become absolutely difficult for many companies. Hence, teleconferencing,which is defined asthe actual interchange of information between people who are not together physically, has turned out to be a big industry. With the help of this method, the big companies can now easily conduct conferences, training, seminar and meetings via telephone or online. The conference calls also join people with the assistance of a conference bridge, which is a server and can behave like a telephone.

Availability

With the development of telephone devices, the world has now become a small place. Now-a -days, it is also possible to look at the person with whom you are talking, with the help of phones which support 3G or even 4GLTE. Voice calls through data network is highly secured due to 256bit encryption feature. This makes your conversation private and confidential. In the business sector, the use of cellular and landline phones becomes very significant. This is where the use of a conference phone becomes essential. These devices simplify the communications both locally as well as globally. Now, a person can join a conference call despite the fact that he or she is very far away. The quality of sound is too good, and it also minimizes the travel costs.

Service Limitations

Limitations in coverage area still lies with the VoIP technology. If the area you live in is not covered by a high speed data network, then you will not able to call using a VoIP phone. VoIP technology requires a high bandwidth network like 3G network. If your area only has 2G network, you will face performance issues in the voice calls. The calls will lag and you will get unclear sound. You can fix this issue by going for a higher bandwidth connection. It requires a little higher cost but it is worth paying for. You can also setup a wireless VoIP network in your office by using your existing WiFi network. You must use the network barring feature in order to secure your in-house communication system.

Bio:

Michelle Patterson has been learning and writing about the new IP based communication technologies on Tri-Tel Blog. She loves sharing information about VoIP. Read her post to keep yourself updated.

Thought experiments for expats

 

Do you know what a thought experiment is? According to Wiki, it says, “A thought experiment or Gedankenexperiment (from German) considers some hypothesis, theory,[1] or principle for the purpose of thinking through its consequences. “ So I’m looking at Ecuador and Panama for retirement. A friend is looking at Uruguay. Let’s do some thought experiments.

Thought Experiment 1

Downtown Buenos Aires, from the Sheraton Hotel.

Downtown Buenos Aires, from the Sheraton Hotel. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Suppose you won a contest, where you get $4000 a month to live, the rest of your life. The only condition is that you have to either live in Buenos Aires or Montevideo and only travel outside the country for 90 days every 2 years – unless a medical issue surfaced that can’t be addressed in Uruguay or Argentina. What would you chose and why? If you take away the banking secrecy laws and the ocean, what does Uruguay really offer over Argentina? As I’ve mentioned before, I think Argentina has more to offer. I would choose Buenos Aires and Argentina. What would you chose and why, if you were the contest winner?

Thought Experiment 2

We decide to go together to explore Uruguay. First we stop at Panama, since it’s on the way. We explore the hostels in Panama City, David and Boquete, Then we go on to Montevideo and explore the hostels there. We take bus trips to surrounding cities. Then we decide to go to get a boat ticket to Buenos Aires. First, we stop at the immigration office of Boat Tickets to Buenos Aires (i.e. we find all each task has a specific immigration branch office).

Thought Experiment 3

We go on to Buenos Aires. Then we visit nearby Mendoza, because Kathleen Peddicord recommended it in her book. How to Retire Overseas. I find the prices are great. I can play golf form $4, have a cup of coffee for $.95 and a bottle of good wine for $2. I can sky, bird watch, white water rafting, and Kayac, and sky. Housing prices are really good. I want to stay there.

Convince me about a city or town in Uruguay and why it would be better than Mendoza.

 Thought Experiment 4

So let’s try this thought experiment. We become good friends. I want to go to an establish expat community. I focus chiefly on Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico (i.e. Lake Chapala), Boquete, Panama (i.e. An Expat Haven for Retirees in Boquete, Panama) or Cuenca, Ecuador. You go on to Uruguay. We both establish residences. Let’s say i settle in Ajilic. We make offers to come visit each other. So I start thinking. Boy, the food is bland in Uruguay. Then I thought I’ll go to Buenos Aires and travel by boat to visit Bryon. I see Indian restaurants in Buenos Aires. There are also Chinese, German and Italian restaurants there. There are even Thai restaurants there. Then I call you by phone from Buenos Aires. I tell you about all the different ethnic restaurants in Buenos Aires. Then I ask you about the ethnic restaurants in Uruguay. What will you say to me?

 

3 good free ways for web analytics

 

 

The Piwik Team

The Piwik Team (Photo credit: Matthieu Aubry.)

Suppose you set up a website. Let’s pretend it’s a self hosted WordPress site. This would allow you to use a content management system. Then you can add, delete and modify your own content, without resorting to a web master, designer or programmer. But your also faced with the task of keeping tab of visitors, etc. and finding ways to increase engagement and promoting traffic. What do you do?

 

Google Analytics

This is still a great tool, run by a big name international company. They do own the majority of web searches. The only downside is that the analytics are not in real time. This means you need to wait until the next day, to view the results. But you can customize different report segments and all is needed is a segment of JavaScript code. There are even a couple good WordPress plug-ins to do this.

Piwik

This tool has come a long way. It gives you real time, self-hosted analytical data. It’s driven by PHP and MySQL, which are the same elements that WordPress uses. I would recommend to keep up on all the latest, production versions – which is what I recommend with self-hosted WordPress sites. It’s really easy to set up. There’s even a good WordPress plug-in for Piwik.

AWStats

This tool is written in Perl, which is a popular scripting language. It uses the Apache log file as the input feed. Some hosting sites have this installed and you don’t need to do anything. Otherwise, you need to run the Apache log through it. This differs from the JavaScript, client-side solutions of Google Analytics and Piwik. But it gives another way of analyzing the data.

Which is the best?

 

 

 

 

Wordpress

 

 

 

 

Actually, I would go with all three. There are commercial solutions ou there, which also offer free version. But the free versions are limited in the log file size they handel. For Awstas and Piwik, you are only limited by the hosting company. For Google Analytics, it would take quite a bit to break it.

You can view these three tools are giving different perspectives. The resources needed to run them are very small. If you run WordPress, it’s assumed you have a backup strategy in place. It’s best of the hosting company can back everything up, on a daily basis. Otherwise, it takes up either your time or a dedicated tech resource.

When I used to run WordPress client sites, I made sure all three tools were in place. And the clients and I were happy with the analytical results. The two open source solutions have been around a few years and they have a solid community behind them. This is important for open source software. And Google Anaytics will not go away, anytime soon.

Have you had any experiences with these three tools? If so, I would like to hear about them. If you have another tool you’re using, then share why it’s better than the three mentioned.

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