I love Panama Movistar

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I recently contracted a Blackberry line with Panama’s Movistar staff in Multiplaza Mall. I had an old (three year old which in cell phone life is just about obsolete) prepaid SIM which they successfully turned into a BB SIM in minutes. They got me off prepaid and into post payment with a 35% saving, and I was up and running in minutes.

Kudos, I wish everything was this easy in life.

Six Pixels of Separation Book Review

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Six Pixels of Separation

Six Pixels of Separation

 

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Business Plus (January 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446559385
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446559386
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #795,104 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Six Pixels of Separation is the book Mitch Joel, president of Twist Image and a long time precursor of the Internet and one of the most important authorities on blog marketing. Mitch is someone who knows his way in and out of the Internet enough to secure him talks at Google and articles at Wired magazine.

I purchased the book to better understand the world and its connection to social media, blogging, and Internet marketing. In my mind, reading this book was the key to improve my blog, which I had neglected for the last two years because of tremendous time crunch at my day job.

The book tries to take the reader through the importance of online media at the present day, how important social media and blogging have become for a company, brand or business, and how the consumer can now interact with the companies, brands and business that have a presence online.

If you are a very high level executive or a very traditional type, this is mandatory reading. I say this out of experience, having a superior who finds the idea of an intranet too radical, and is just now letting go of his fears of social media and Twitter. If you – like me – have years following blogs, podcasts, and started using Twitter years ago, the reading will feel a little dry. Maybe I was expecting geekier or techie recommendations. Maybe I was expecting ideas on new blog engines, or at least how to fix the PHP code on my WordPress implementation. The result is more an essay on how to organize your corporate presence in the web, how to engage the community, what pitfalls to avoid, and some of the more important tools to measure success. These are all legitimate topics and required reading for any organization whose presence in the web is still pending or has not been so successful.

With nice acronyms like UNM2PNM (using new media to prove new media), the book is full of ideas for the new comer who might need a little help designing his or her corporate web presence. Once you read this book you will feel more empowered and knowledgeable about implementing a successful Internet/social media strategy for your own company. The knowledge is still very much strategic and feels like a bird’s eye view. But for most managers who will never touch CSS, blog engines, and will treat the theme as a marketing tool without interest of any of the technical aspects, it does a lot to instruct and perfect your long-term marketing plan, building with strong bases for future growth and evolution.

A recommended read for those interested in implementing online marketing strategies tied to blogging, social media and online communities without the hassle of technical implementation specs and code.

Mint Linux Review: Get It!

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About two months ago the company changed my MacBook Pro for a Dell laptop. I loved the Mac, but it was getting old and everyone complained that the Office versions – despite claims of being compatible – were too different for collaborating on documents. From the first moment I got the Dell with Windows 7 I had just one thought on my mind: making a second partition and installing some flavor of Linux. I haven’t played with any of the problems in Project Euler, and I just hate running Python or Java in a Windows machine. Yesterday, there was surprisingly little to do in the office, and I found myself downloading Mint Linux just for the aesthetics. I know this is a bad excuse, but it was a choice between Ubuntu (bent on Python) or the shiny desktop of Mint.

Linux MintI downloaded the ISO image from the website, which took a little over twenty five minutes, and burned a DVD. Installing Mint Linux is very easy. Just burn the DVD and insert from the Windows 7 desktop. Click on Install with other OS and Mint does the rest. Someone mentioned I should shrink my main partition and manually create a partition adjacent to Windows for installing Linux, but Mint does everything for you. It will suggest a partition size, install the OS, download updated packages, and then install a boot program so you can easily decide between Windows and Linux at start-up. The whole process takes around 25 minutes, and you are set to go.

The basic installation comes loaded with software for all the common chores:

  • OpenOffice for word processor, worksheet, data base and presentations
  • Firefox
  • Thunderbird email
  • Tons of multimedia programs for playing music, video, and what not
  • Gimp image program
  • Excellent terminal
  • Very easy administration panel

My version of Mint runs on Gnome, but there are KDE versions available. I never understood how to program C and Gnome libraries, but then I am not that good at C++ to use Qt libraries either (I have read Qt manuals and because of my Java background understand a lot more about how it works, but I will stick to Swing for the moment.) If you have no idea what this means, rest assure it’s all transparent for the user. Let’s just say Gnome is cute, and now you know where Windows Vista stole its look.

The system uses a Software Manager that simplifies updating and installing packages. I like using apt-get but I found the Software Manager so friendly and inviting, I have hardly used the command line at all. Repositories and a little bit restricted unless you look from Universe and Multiverse, but I guess that is intended to keep the integrity of the system. I downloaded wxPython libraries in a breeze, and installed Netbeans in less time than what it took to do the same in my Mac. I had problems installing Komodo Edit, a great editor for Python, Php, Perl and Ruby. I can not still make the program run from desktop icon, but launches from the command line (and I guess it’s my mistake for not setting properties for the folder correctly…)

When I look at Linux Mint, I can not believe how far it has come from the early versions of Linux of days past. This is such a mature system, that I wonder how much leverage a Windows computer has. I would recommend Linux Mint any day for the beginner to medium user who wants a fun, easy to use Linux distribution in their machines.

ATLAPA blues

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This week my company hosted a big trade show at ATLAPA, Panama’s state ran convention center. The convention center is managed by the Tourism Authority which is as close to a ministry as it gets. They have been heavily advertising ATLAPA as a premium convention location, to the extent of giving away free tickets to speakers, free hotel nights, etc.

The bad thing is the poor and sorry state of the installations. The walls are missing plaster, the floor is dirty beyind repair. Every time we looked up to the ceiling we saw big chunks of insulation foam peeling off AC ducts, and lose wires from unknown sources overhanging. The bathrooms are clean but way outdated, and the carpet has seen better days, with far to many coffee stains.

I reckognize it is a better location than many in Central America. Panama is building a new convention center, part of the reason that maybe no one is investing in maintainance. Yet there is something very dangerous about advertising ATLAPA as a premium location to unsuspecting speakers who might be annoyed when reviewing the premises for the first time. The feeling of over exagerating the reality of the infrastructure is palpable. Many might decide to take their business elsewhere and some might even write about it in their blogs.

There is no second chance for a first impression. ATLAPA’s first impression on me was one of doubt and not of praise.

Where is the Director?

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Boxes of shoes...

Boxes of shoes...

Today the sales team was packing shoes and apparel for the big upcoming trade show in Panama. I noticed they needed a hand and I started assisting in what I could. Working in marketing and strategic planning, I felt the team needed the assistance, not so much for the real manual help (I was more of a liability than an asset when it comes to packing shoes…) Rather, I thought they needed the presence of a Director, since the Sales Director was anywhere to be found. And not a Director to give orders, but one to humbly be quiet and help pack. It sends a strong message to the masses: that management cares and that sometimes sharing the work helps everyone integrate and feel better.

And I admit, I hate packing and there was probably an equally – but not better – use of my time. This is a disciplined, self-directed team. Yet, why do some managers/directors/whatever lose sight of their team like this? Being proud about managing a discipline, self-directed team is something to be reckoned with. Being a creep who dismisses people and petty task and loses sight of the team is not.

Upgrading WordPress Themes

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I hate updating my website http://www.meilij.com which uses WP as a blog engine. Something always breaks, something goes missing, etc. My actual theme no longer works right. Fixing mistakes usually takes hours of Google work, trial and error or just simple luck.

I installed a simple theme for the moment but I will try to install Arras or F8 Lite again, or the excellent theme Modern Clix by Rodrigo Galindez.

But it still is a bummer…

eService gone bad…

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I got an email from Copa Airlines – which I absolutely love as an airline – reminding me of my upcoming flight and advising me to do web check-in. I usually use the web check-in service but I liked the way the software now sends a quick message to my BlackBerry.

Not one to postpone things, I got my self to a terminal with a hard line to the net to check-in electronically. And that’s when the magic stopped. Posting my passport data time and time again, I got nothing but error messages. After four times, I gave up.

If you are going to couple e-mail alerts which are supposed to be followed up with web services, make sure the coupling works! Maybe all the mails were sent at the same time and that chocked up the system. I am only guessing here. But the dissappointment is great. Which is a shame. I was probably going to do the web check-in sometime tonight and I would have felt great about my airline. It’s only when you over-promise and under-deliver when the customer gets angry.

One for the do-less achieve-more crowd.