Twin Wolf Technology Group

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About Twin Wolf Technology Group

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  • Real Name:
    Dan Porter
  • Reason for registering:
    Live and/or work in Chiriqui
  • Location of primary residence:
    In Chiriqui
  • Birth (home) country:
    USA

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  1. I think it is just human nature for one to find ways to justify difficult decisions and then vent to relieve the stress and frustration. I am one that is leaving Panama and while I could easily list a number of things I dislike or seemed senseless here in Panama, I am sure I could just as easily find faults in my new destination once I have lived there for an equal amount of time. All my life I have made a major move about once every 10 years and I could easily list faults and express frustration with each location. My personal decision to move on is based on what appears a better option both personally and financially. While Panama finally tipped the scale for me in a different direction and while some past experiences here in Panama played a part in predicting the future, I can't say I have any great displeasure with Panama as a whole. I could probably list just as many pros as cons. There are certainly things I will miss here and will likely be back to visit clients and friends. It does feels like there are a larger number of expats leaving at this time or at least a bit more than the normal turnover we have seen each year. I am very skeptical about how concerned Panama is about the number leaving the country. I am sure they are more concerned with other issues and the expats leaving is probably just a side effect of other policy decisions. If Panama teaches you anything, it is that everything changes constantly (both good & bad). It can change at a moments notice... or even with no notice at all. Rules and laws here seem to be only enforced when a situation becomes untenable. Typically enforcement is done for a short time and then, as with everything here, it changes again. Seemingly random and sometimes without good reason to those of us that are used to laws and regulations being hard and fast.
  2. Very long read. As expected, there is an anti-Trump and guilt-by-association theme put forward by the writer but it is not over the top like many news articles. It is nice to get a full history of events to put things in perspective. I remember much of it as our business group was in discussions to assist with the casino operation. Thanks for sharing Keith, I enjoyed it.
  3. This is true in all locations where there are arrows painted on the pavement, tho most people either do not notice or understand their significance. If there are arrows painted on the pavement, those are the ONLY permitted directions. If there is not an arrow painted in the direction you want to turn but there are others painted arrows, then the turn you want to make is not permitted. A common and semi-humorous story is that when a gringo is pulled over for making such a turn, the gringo says there was no sign saying the turn WAS NOT permitted, to which the officer replies, there was no sign (painted on the street) saying it WAS permitted. A subtle but important difference. All permitted directions are shown whereas any other directions are not permitted.
  4. As I write this, I am shaking my head. Another site hacked, this time one that hold passwords for thousands of people. What I am commenting on is a service called One Login. It is a password manager service. The idea is to keep all of your passwords in one place and have a program or app on your phone keep track of them so they can all be very long and different. You only need to remember the one password for the service and the rest is done for you. Well, OneLogin was broken into by hackers and all of the passwords, including the keys to unencrypt them, were exposed. If you have this service, you have already received an email about it. For the people that do not have that particular password manager but do use a similar service I would like to caution you with a bit of reasoning. The old saying is "Don't put all your eggs in one basket". A password manager does exactly that. It puts everything valuable in one place. You are then trusting some company to keep the passwords to all your valuable information safe. Consider this... if you are a hacker, it would make sense to attack the place where there are hundreds if not thousands of passwords rather than trying to get just one password of yours. Personally, I solve the problem of having different passwords on different sites by making a formula out of them. It is a rule that I apply to each website when they want me to create a password. If follow the rule, then each site then gets a unique password. I do not need to remember the password, instead I can recreate in my mind by remembering the simple rule. Here are a few examples: Let's say this is my formula to make a password for any web site I visit: First two letters of each word of the website name, followed by the year I was born, followed by a $ and then my initials in lower case Wells Fargo = WeFa56$DP Ebay = Eb56$DP Chiriqui Life = ChLi56$DP As you can see you end up with both upper and lower case letters, numbers, and a special character ($). That meets all the recommendations and it is unique for each website. Now when I visit in the future, I just think the rule out and I can figure out my password without having it written down or stored in a password manager. You can add other things and mix it with your own variations to make your formula unique. Perhaps you want to use the first initial of all your kids names or maybe the last two letters of the website name. The idea is to create a simple rule that lets you create a password for each site and makes it unique. Keep the rule the same for every site and it will have enough variations to make a different password each time. By doing this, you no longer need the password manager service and all of your accounts will not suddenly be exposed with a single failure should it get hacked. It is something to consider. I have always said a password manager works right up until the company disappears or gets hacked. When that happens, you do not have to deal with a single exposure, you have to deal with EVERY site. In today's world, that can easily be 100s. Now... about saving the passwords in your web browser so you do not have to enter them each time - I will let you consider the risks when your computer goes into the shop for repair ! Stay safe and enjoy the day
  5. I was for many years as I have discussed on this forum before. Bad lawyers and corrupt system forced some of us. To be honest, after fighting the system for more than a year, it simply becomes easier just to make the border run. After all, who doesn't enjoy a little 3 day vacation in Costa Rica at a nicer beach than those in Panama? I began making my border runs from Panama City because I had no choice. It was a long haul at times... trying to get thru the system to become legal was more of a challenge than a long bus ride. Also, even for those people that saw it coming, there was little they could do to quickly to comply with new rules and regulations. The process quoted by most lawyers is 6 months to a year to get processed and a bunch of money upfront with no guarantees. Your mileage may vary (lol) I did eventually get thru the system and get a Friendly Nations Visa but I can understand those that either can't or won't. I won't put my wife thru it as she is still considered to be a tourist. Immigration laws change, as does the government and its decrees. Regardless of whether you think border hopping was legit and legal or if you think it was a loophole, the fact remains that it had been used by a very large number of people for many, many years. The government of Martinelli was border hoping friendly and not interested in changing the law. Varela's government is not boarder hoping friendly. This government is looking for money and it appears that this is one way to generate some. (just my personal view on it all). I suspect that Matinelli's approach brought more business and money into Panama than Varela's solution will but only time will tell. Either way, it is absolutely Panama's right to change and enforce immigration as it sees fit. Consistency does not exist in Panama nor does equal enforcement of the laws. Walkers got unlucky and got a longer penalty. As many can attest, your experience at the border depends on the agent at the time - it was rarely the same from day to day. I was never forced to stay out the full three days and was always permitted to return the same day. That is inconsistent with what others were experienced and I was always prepared to stay longer if the agent made that requirement. For some of us - it is merely the nudge we need to move on.
  6. While the country sorts this out, I have often wondered about the claim that a taxi driver is a "professional driver" and therefore somehow better than the average driver (such as an Uber). The humorous, yet somewhat true saying that "Every car accident involves at least one yellow car" makes me wonder what the real statistics are on auto accidents and taxi safety. I doubt that statistic is available on taxi drivers vs the average public but it would be interesting to know given the position that some take saying Uber drivers are not professionals. From my experience, there is a marked difference in the white tourist hotel taxis vs the average yellow street taxis. They do cost more but provide air conditioning and are more likely to speak some English. Hopefully, the country will find a way for all options to exist and give each of us the choice of service that fits our needs best.
  7. Uber is just one of these "resource sharing" businesses that have come about with the wonders of technology. Uber is ride sharing. Another one is Airbnb, accommodation sharing. In the same vein, they are a business model that uses the resources of the general public to provide service and they get around the employee-employer relationship thereby effectively being able to do business at a lower cost. There are pros and cons to both sides of that equation. I expect in the future you will see some of the same protest and anger as more and more people decide to make a few dollars sharing their home as an Airbnb host. Hotel and Hostels will feel the effect and will scream for regulation and enforcement. Unfortunately, enforcement of either ride sharing or accommodation sharing becomes an insurmountable task in countries where the culture finds it acceptable to be a rule breaker. Those providing the service are not employees of the company. Attempting any rule or law enforcement then becomes the task of stopping every citizen who sees Uber or Airbnb as a way to supplement their income. One place where both of these companies have had great difficulty is in Japan. Many have speculated on why Japan would be different than other countries when they put the same rules in place regarding those types of services. Ultimately, it comes down to the fact that as a culture, in Japan it brings shame to be a rule breaker. Both users of the service and those providing the service are seen as rule breakers and there for shameful. I find that an interesting note just in terms of cultural differences, tho it does not provide any answers for countries like Panama. In countries where rule breakers are seen as leaders, services such as Uber and Airbnb thrive. I personally now use both extensively when travelling and enjoy both the independence and choice it allows me. To those who see these services as hurting the people who have been entrenched in providing these services - it is time to up your game. Give me a taxi that is always comfortable, clean, fair priced, air conditioned, etc, etc. I will be glad to use it rather than waiting 5-10 minutes for my Uber to show up. To the hotels, motels and the like, it is time to up your game too. Give me many of the comforts I get from an Airbnb and I will be glad to use your service. Getting charged for a minibar service, having towels that are so thin I can see through them, a bed that is... well you get the picture. I like the comfort of a home or a place that is kept as nice as a home without paying like I have money to burn. Service. Figure out what the customer wants and needs or else join the protest line to say life is not fair. I find all sides of the latest "resource sharing" businesses to be interesting as societies evolve in how they provide service. By the way Bud - nice job on this free "information sharing" ̶ ̶b̶u̶s̶i̶n̶e̶s̶s̶ ̶ ̶ site. As they say, sharing is caring!
  8. As predicted more than a year ago, we are seeing another expanded attack of "Ransomware" (the encryption of your data and holding it for ransom). The news reports are full of this, so I will not go over every detail yet again. The basic questions everyone has are: 1. Does it or will it affect me? Probably not but lets layout the details. This particular malware/virus attacks older Windows XP, Windows Vista and some unpatched Windows 7 installations. It does not appear to attack Windows 8 and Windows 10 systems. So right away, those with newer operating systems can just relax. 2. What do I need to do? If you are running an older version of Windows, including Windows 7, you need to make sure your computer is fully patched. That means that you need to run and re-run Windows Update until it tells you there are no more updates available. Often times, some updates will not be available for your system until a first or second set of updates has been installed. So, be sure to run Windows Update several times. The Windows update function can be found in the Control Panel. Do not just rely on the fact that Windows is "supposed" to update itself on its own. If it has errors, it will not inform you unless you are running it manually. Back in February 2016, I wrote an article about Ransomware and Backups. (see the link below) At the end of that is an important list of what you should be doing so that if your system ever faces one of these attacks, there is a way to recover your data. Yes, doing backups is a pain in the butt - on the other hand losing all your photos, documents and financial info is much worse. Take the time do to it and if you need help let me know. I can help most clients without an in-home visit. Do not fall victim to all the tech guys running around trying to make money off of this news. The huge number of systems being attacked are systems in hospitals and manufacturing where they are forced to run older Windows XP systems due to software limitations. You do not need to go out and buy more security software or pay a big fee to have a computer guy fix what is not broken. Advice: Run Windows Update manually... Do a backup and disconnect the backup from your computer,.. Go enjoy the day and don't fall victim to all over-hyped tech disaster news.
  9. Agreed, plastic bags and bottles are a visible reminder of a much bigger problem. Steps to curb their use may provide some small relief but until the overall problem is addressed, these are a kin to nothing more than putting band-aids on a broken leg. Too soon you realize you are lame because you did not address the overall issue. In my opinion, while the US managed to clean itself up to a great degree, thru heavy fines and public programs, I would tend to look at other Latin countries first. In my visits to Medellin, Colombia I have been amazed at the cleanliness. This is not due to heavy fines or aggressive enforcement. Instead they have given their people an incentive. There are recycling centers that pay good money to those bringing in cans, bottles, cardboard and other material. It is common to see large carts on the street bringing things to the recycle centers. Trash collection in the city parks is manually separated into various types of recyclables before being picked up. The program works a bit too well at times as now some of the very poor search out trash receptacles for the value of the recyclables. Changing a negative into a positive and effecting the desired change is just plain smart. It is difficult to change a behavior that has been set over time. In my opinion, trying to do it with laws and enforcement is very difficult if not near impossible task. Give the people a reason not to throw that trash out the window, give it value on a large scale and watch the behavior change. Combine that with education in the schools so the young do not follow the cultural path of the past and you have a winning combination that actually fixes that broken leg before becoming lame.
  10. I will share one of my experiences with "shared tips" here in Panama. In 2009, I owned and operated a poker room in Panama City within the Royal Casino. Typically, poker dealers keep their own tips but I was quickly informed that in Panama they shared their tips. In my opinion that takes away from the incentive to give good service. I further learned that they collected the tips and then split them up every two weeks. Everyone got an equal share regardless of the number of hours worked. That meant that if an employee only worked part time or if they called in sick, they still received the same amount of the tip pool as those that had worked full shifts or even overtime! Unbelievable to my way of thinking. In my effort to balance out this practice, I implemented a system that percentaged out tips based on hours actually worked, thinking this would give incentive to show up for work and volunteer for extra hours. I was quickly proven wrong as the employees acted as a group. Upon receiving their tip envelopes with varying amounts, the group collected them all up and redistributed the tips back out evenly. Dealers that had worked twice as much, receiving double the amount of tips, put their money in the center and drew out the lesser yet equal share. I watched it happen. There appears to be a belief that tips are a group effort rather than an individual effort. Based on this and several other experiences, I came to the conclusion that it is a cultural difference. If you wonder why a nice big tip does not get that extra smile or appreciation, you need to realize that the person receiving the tip does not necessarily see that as personal reward. There is comfort in being just a member of the group without the desire to be better or advance.
  11. Keith is correct. In the places where I have friends that work as waiters and waitresses, they do not get any of the tips that go on a credit card. Management simply does not take the time and effort to tabulate and pull out the tip amounts, then distribute them. Give them your credit card and tell the waiter/waitress you will be leaving your tip in cash... and you will see a big smile. The other thing you are likely seeing is the common misunderstanding of the law. The education and explanation of laws to restaurant employees is somewhat poor. Compound the problem with the English / Spanish barrier and it is easy to see how this happens. Management tells the staff that they cannot include tips on the bill (because that would make it appear mandatory), and that gets understood as you can't put tips on the credit card slip. The employees then hate credit card users as they are unlikely to get a tip that goes in their pocket. Another little known fact is that waiter/waitresses work a 48 hour week (6 days) as that is considered full time in Panama. They do not receive overtime or extra pay for working that 6th day, so you may understand when they look a bit tired.
  12. I am well aware that not everyone was a Don Ray fan. Most everyone has their detractors whether they admit it or not. I am well aware of mine, they remind me often! The bigger point here was that there is a large group of expats moving out of Panama. While the short term residents are missed, it is the longer term residents that the community has come to rely on that will be the biggest impact. I fear for the next expat that needs the type of help Marion Clamp and others received. As the saying goes, you do not know what you have until it is gone. Then again the optimist says: you don't know what you've been missing until it arrives. Moving on... appreciating what I have... and waiting for what comes...
  13. This was just posted on Chiriqui Chatter. It appears that Don Ray and his wife are moving to the US and we are losing one of the areas most kindhearted and helpful men that the expat community has known. This is truly sad news and a great loss for the community. I wish Don and his wife Lilliam all the best. --- The David Warden Position For the U.S. Embassy is Available April 21, 2017Panama Journal With this post I am announcing that the David Warden position for the U.S. Embassy in Panama is available to be filled. Lilliam and I are going to move to the U.S. I resigned my position as Warden effective today. If you have an interest in filling this position, please email the America Citizen Services at the following email address (Panama-ACS@state.gov) and they will explain the duties and responsibilities. I will no longer be posting the Embassy notices. I encourage you to sign up with STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) and you will receive all communications directly from the Embassy.
  14. Dottie, There is a very detailed explanation of this here: http://www.theverge.com/2017/3/31/15138526/isp-privacy-bill-vote-trump-marsha-blackburn-internet-browsing-history While using a VPN may give you limited protection on who can see your data, at some point your information travels in the clear. Instead of travelling in the clear from the ISP point, it is encrypted until it gets to the other end of the VPN and then once again travels in the clear on its way to the final destination. Basically, that means that your VPN provider can do exactly the same thing as your ISP - you are just changing the point your data is in the clear. Also, there is additional information that is always available in order for you to connect to your ISP. For instance, your account, your IP address, the time and length of your data connection (were you online at 3am or not). All of this information is valuable for marketing purposes. ISP's as well as VPN providers can collect and sell this information. The fight and rule change is about whether or not this is considered to be permitted. Yet as you dig deeper into it, even that statement is some what foggy as the governing body only interprets what is written and does no enforcement. My personal take on it is this... The collection of your data and surfing habits has already has been done for a very long time. This is not just a US thing as it occurs in most every country. To think that there is ANY privacy online is to not understand how your information is transmitted. For those of us old enough to remember it - think of the Internet as a giant party line in beginning days of telephone service. Everyone can pretty well see and hear everything. Some information can be encrypted and hidden but the very fact you are using the Internet, when and how long, is in itself valuable information. There is little to nothing you can do about it.
  15. Unlike my post of a year ago, I have become a Uber convert while travelling to Colombia. I use a combination of Uber and taxis and find that both services have their advantages. I like the security and comfort of Uber. On the downside, I have had to help most Uber drivers to find the actual pickup and drop-off points whereas a taxi driver seems to have better knowledge of the city. There are times when a taxi is quicker and there are times when getting a taxi seems impossible due to high demand. It is worth the 5 minute wait to get the Uber. I now have a better understanding of what the attraction of Uber is to travelers. What I saw as the cheap, easy, non-meter taxis can certainly leave a traveler wondering if they are getting a fair deal. I suspect taxis are a better deal for the locals and Uber is a better deal for the tourist and travelers. Personally, I do not find the argument that Uber is putting taxi drivers out of business or is greatly impacting their livelihood to be valid. A taxi driver could certainly become an Uber driver. It would seem that perhaps the real issue for a taxi driver is the loss of cash customers and the ability to bend the rules on fares. I hate to see Uber accepting cash, even tho I have made cash payment to an Uber driver in the past. The sense of security drops off if you start to deal with cash to the drivers and at some point you might as well take a cheaper taxi. As for protest by blocking or slowing traffic on the streets - welcome to Panama. Seems to me they do themselves more harm than good. Take an Uber because the taxis are all busy protesting. Competition is a good thing and we, the customers, win when there are options that provide better services to our current needs. Find a way for both services to co-exist and let the public choose to fit their needs. Thanks for the news update Bud.