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Mark Mercer
Works at Uruguay Expat Life & Uruguay For Me expat information and referral services http://UruguayExpat.Info
Attended Cornell University
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Mark Mercer

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Tried Microsoft Lens yet? Office Lens is a free-form, and free, smart scanning app that integrates to their great OneNote or to the full Office - on Android, IOS, or Windows Phone. I just installed it from the Google Play store and will check it out.

I recently started using OneNote on my Android tablet and phone, after my son showed me on his iPad and Windows PC how useful it was to him during law school. I've never really liked nor "gotten" Evernote, don't trust Google not to kill or warp ancillary services like Google Keep, nor do I like Goggle's mashing of storage (Drive) with editing (Docs/Sheets/Slides) in its over-aggressive way. So a new choice for notes, and scanning, with connections to but boundaries from OneNote and OneDrive seems tasty.

Microsoft appears finally to have "gotten the memo" about modern smart interfaces, usability, and platform independence. Between these apps, the really nice and quite affordable Surface 3, Office 365 for pretty much everything mobile, and fixing all the stupid of Windows 8 in Windows 10, I could see moving back a lot more onto the MS offerings. I might even spin up a Linux server on the Microsoft Azure cloud. Nearly half of the Azure instances are running Linux.

Not at all Ballmer and Gates' Microsoft.

#shareall #mobileapps #microsoft
Office Lens — a portable scanner for mobile devices and one of Microsoft's most impressive Office apps — is now out of preview and available on the Google Play Store. The app lets users take a...
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Mark Mercer

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Oh krap the krazy Kardashian-Jenner family is now spreading the "Chemtrails" lunatic-fringe zero-facts conspiracy. As if there weren't already enough low-information (real information) non-analytical, non-critical-thinker, people in the world today, bleating this nonsense to each other, on social media, forums, and comment sections of their conspiracy echo chambers. Now all the idiots who lounge around watching unreal "reality shows" and reading gossip sites are going to join in.

There are plenty of contrails. There are no such thing as chemtrails. You believers are idiots.

#wackos #chemtrails #shareall

If you follow Kylie Jenner on Twitter, you might have noticed something odd pop up in your feed yesterday evening. It was a photo, presented without comment or context, of airplane contrails -- that cloud-like vapor formed in a plane's exhaust -- in a cloudy sky. Innocent enough... or is it?
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Mark Mercer

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Wonderful advice. Travel, work, network the world. Aimed at under-30s but applicable to many more. Yes, you. If you really want it. Advice sums to "Just pack and go" and really, at the heart of it, that's what you do.

But also the author, and I too, note the concepts "have a direction, any direction" and ""learn and build your professional value". I wholeheartedly agree with how as an expat, I've met so many other expats and learned how easy it is to be an expat. If you "just pack and go".

Rather than wait "till it's the right time." I know plenty of expats and location independents with families. Or retirees. Or like me, after the world changed in the Great Recession in late middle age, chose to "change the rules of the game". It took well over a year and a cross-country move with a multi-state search even to get a meaningful interview opportunity in the outsourced, age-discriminating software world, ultimately fruitless. I got a job lead and offer a cloud software company's Uruguay branch even before completing my move here. Then I left and started my own niche web business with my wife, with global, local, and back-in-US clients. Being expats made us happier but also made our perspectives more valuable.

Not just international, by the way. Do this on your home country if you feel stuck, if the economy has changed around you. If your dreams aren't in the same zip code as your life. South not working? Try the PNW. Can't get New England to fit for you? Try the South.
Says Mark from Manhattan, Boston, Raleigh, Breckenridge, Seattle.

"How to (really) find a job overseas" #mustread #feedly #shareall 
"I write this post from once again another country I never thought I would wind up in (Qatar) and I have ZERO regrets about quitting my consulting job in 2013 and marching directly in the direction of my fears, which happened to involve hopping on a plane to Lagos, Nigeria."
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Amen! Bottled water is a total waste and eco-evil, "eco" as ecologic and economic both, in home and office in most countries.

I was appalled, when I lived in the Colorado Rockies near Breckenridge, how tourists would buy caseloads of bottled water while our tap water is great. Appalled at all the bottled water drinkers on Boston, New York, the Pacific Northwest, the Southeastern US, other places I lived. All good tap water. Same here in Uruguay.

Sure, regional exceptions. Temporary problems like recently in Maldonado Departamento near Piriápolis in Uruguay, or "boil water alerts" in various US areas when there's been some system breakdown. But normally it's never necessary to buy and waste resources by buying, bottled water in most developed and many advanced but still-labeled "developing" countries. Ok, you're out and you're thirsty, no problem, buy a bottle. You're eating out in a culture such as much of Europe or South America where a restaurant's profit comes from the bottled water, do it. I often do in those cases.

But for your regular water? Or out of unreasonable, unwarranted, unresearched, internet rumor reasons? You've become part of the problem. Of several problems. Exploitation. Ecological waste. Petroleum use for the plastics, with all the international economic, security, and limited resource use. The same petroleum use issues for the transport, especially if you're one of those entitled elitists who simply must have their Fiji water or Italian Alps water when that is the other side of the world from where you are.

All this is before the "Nestle is evil" debate. Even if Nestle were all fluffy unicorns from heaven, bottled water is a very bad idea as your regular water. Even if it's not from a Nestle company.

Be reasonable, don't be part of the problem. Enjoy the Seattle, Montevideo, Miami, San Francisco, London, Paris, Portland, Dallas, Rome, tap water at your home, office, hotel. Bring a refillable water bottle. Once in a while, while out and about, or at dinner, or for a different taste, choose and enjoy a bottled water. But not as your regular drink.

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That's sensible use, Steve. And I can relate to the well water issue - years ago I was renting a house that had a well with "issues". My housemates and I got the owner to improve it and filter the output, but we had to get the water tested by the county to make our case. Of course vacation homes left empty may take a while for clearing pipes.

Those aren't the vacationers I meant up in ski towns, where condos are almost always rented out when not owner-occupied, and there's quality municipal water that's likely from local mountain sources needing only light treatment. That water is good stuff yet every weekend I'd see hordes of flatlanders loading their supermarket carts and SUVs with multiple 24-bottle crates of single serving bottled water. Nuts! And wasteful. 
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Mark Mercer

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Awesome Supergirl trailer is awesome. As explained by author Chuck Wendig. I agree.

Then again, my daughter is named Kara. Yes, after that Kara. Of course I agree with a Supergirl done right, real young woman with agency.

"Hey, I Liked That Supergirl Trailer" #booksandwriting #feedly

DAILY BUGLE HEADLINE: CHUCK WENDIG LIKED THE SUPERGIRL TRAILER EXTRY EXTRY READ ALL ABOUT IT ahem. Sorry. So! The Supergirl trailer has landed. And some people love it. And some people hate it. I'm...
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Because, diversity. Because, in-story, DC comics has a multiverse where things are slightly different in each similar-but-separate universe.

You must be having conniptions, old man, that Iris West is black on The Flash, and Perry White is in the DC movies universe that started with Man Of Steel. 
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Mark Mercer

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Google kills another service. This time, PageSpeed Service. Pro tip: Don't rely on Google. Even if you like Google.

I do like Google. I've often joked, "I am a prisoner of the Googleplex", and it's only slightly joking. Depend on Android, and many (but not all) Google services.

I also have used PageSpeed Service (PSS) for one of my and Lisa Mercer's most popular sites, the website for +Uruguay Expat Life, and we've considered it for some of our clients of +Southern Cross Web and Social Marketing. But something's always made me hesitate about putting client sites onto PageSpeed Service, even though I like its performance and feature set a lot more than other free/low-cost CDN/web-firewall/optimization services like +CloudFlare. I think that "something" has been, "I don't trust Google not to kill this someday." Not that it's a huge deal to change it over, but I'd rather not put in the effort to optimize use of PSS for a site and then have to change it. The DNS changes are trivial, but there's a few other things involving tuning that make it even better, and I just kept feeling, "I don't see where they're monetizing this, I bet they'll kill it, let's use CloudFlare instead."

So yes, I was right about that. Only have one of our own sites to change. Instead of a half-dozen or so clients. (We're a very small shop.)

By the way, if you're thinking, "PageSpeed is something your web host runs in the webserver" - that's not the same as PageSpeed SERVICE. Although, as Google's "we're killing it" message mentions, it uses some of the same technology. PageSpeed (no "Service") is indeed a module your webhost (or you if you're running your own server) can install into Apache, Nginx, or LiteSpeed Server.

But PageSpeed Service is where Google itself is serving up your site with on-the-fly optimization, plus CDN-like and firewall-like services, from the Googleplex itself. Plus the PageSpeed optimizations. 

For free! But not any more.

Bummer. But not unexpected.
#PageSpeed #KillerGoogle #AnotherOneBitesTheDust #shareall  
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I haven't used Timeful, because it's only on iOS and I'm an Android guy. Google just bought them. That'll change.

iPhone/iPad folks, have you used it? How do you like it? Especially interested in what fellow online freelancers, entrepreneurial nomads, and similar free-floating folk think.

There's a point where "too many cool tools" become the device and life-hacking equivalent of "analysis paralysis", so I'm a bit wary about adding it to my planning/scheduling personal toolkit that already includes Asana, Google Now, Google Calendar, and a few other minor bits. Yet it sounds like it might fill in the "When can I possibly fit this in that I want / need to do?" issue - which neither Asana nor Google Calendar, alone or together, currently handle.

And seeing that Google Now is the sum of Google Calendar, Gmail, every single thing you do in Chrome or in any other browser that is logged into googley stuff, plus keeping track of everywhere you go, that's less a separate thing than a really stalker-like personal assistant. But not one who suggests when you can do things you haven't yet planned or scheduled.

Not yet. I'll bet next year or sooner, Google Now will start doing that "fit stuff in* assistance.

The other big question, beyond "Is Timely worth trying?", is of course, "Is Timely going to go away as an app?" - which is probably equally as likely as it being ported to Android. Hopefully if Google goes in that direction, they'll fold the good stuff from it into existing and improved Google services more quickly than the near-decade they've taken with some things they bought.

Looking at you, Google Voice!,  for that complaint Originally independent "Grand Central". I love and depend on Google Voice, but it's been a hidden and un-updated near-abandoned item till they finally made huge moves integrating it into Hangouts. and making it VOIP without add-ons. It's only now in 2015 that I'd say that Google actually built upon and improved what they bought in 2007. They shut it down entirely for about a year, then launched it very quietly. Possible for years to use it VOIP in Gmail but most people never knew that and Google never clearly explained how. Not till the updated late-2014 Hangouts App and 2015's Hangouts Dialer did they finally turn it into what should have been a Skype-killer years ago.

Hope +Google  doesn't work at sublight speed on whatever they're going to do with Timeful.

#Timeful #GoogleNow #GoogleVoice #GoogleAcquisitions #PrisonerOfTheGoogleplex #shareall  
The acquisition will bring more machine learning to Gmail, Google Calendar, Inbox, and other productivity apps.
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Mark Mercer

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Someone explain why is FIFA corruption the US Government's business? Especially in a time of limited resources and far more serious issues in my country of origin/citizenship, the USA. We don't even play the "right kind" of "football" in the USA - not seriously, not beyond the middle-school level with any degree of the US public following it. (I do know that the NASL exists, that university teams exist - but they're essentially irrelevant in the mindstream of the typical "American")

Yes, FIFA is corrupt, FIFA stinks like an old fish, awards of the next two World Cups to Russia and Qatar might be suspicious. But why is it the USA that ordered Federal Police (for non-USA folks, that's what the FBI is) to investigate, got the Justice Department (our "Ministry of Justice") to issue worldwide arrest warrants? And push foreign countries, including friendly but "neutral" (?) Switzerland to arrest the alleged perpetrators?

Is this really what my US tax dollars should be doing? What, with massive racial and economic inequity, horribly over-militarized police violating citizens' rights, rampant violent crime, and unpunished white-collar crime including unpunished top banks who crashed the world economy, the Justice Department and FBI should focus upon?

It also stinks of neo-colonialism. I chose this USA Today article as the one to share as the main link, because it briefly profiles each of the indicted alleged conspirators. Most are from Latin America/South America. This smells like the USA throwing its weight around again in the region in which I've chosen to live, including in my country of choice, Uruguay. I don't know much about Eugenio Figueredo beyond what the article says: "Former president of CONMEBOL (South America), FIFA vice president and Uruguay federation president." But what the heck business is it of the USA to be indicting him? Refer the evidence to Uruguay.

Yes, I know. "Team USA World Police". US Dollar as the global "reserve currency" and "settlement currency" for international transactions (both of those uses starting to diminish with new baskets of no-USD$ currencies and with trading banks from South American and Asian nations that don't go through the USA nor use its USD.) With the history of the, despised-here and probably should be despised at "home", Monroe Doctrine, and the should-be-despised by everyone, Operation Condor and other historical incursions of the USA into countries that should not be its business, at horrible human cost, this seems like more of the same.

No, not to the level of the horrors inflicted by the political/military coups and torture-training the USA did. But the same sort of US government mindset, the same arrogance of, "It's our backyard".

As a US Citizen who is a legal immigrant to Uruguay, I resent one of my countries poking around like this in the true "backyard"· of my other. I also, as a US taxpayer (yes, I am, living abroad doesn't relieve that and my income is US-based), resent the idiotic prioritization of limited crime-fighting and prosecutorial resources in my home country, being wasted on professional sports.

If the USA government really wants to waste money on investigating, indicting, prosecuting corrupt professional sports, and has a thing about football, how about starting with American Football and the totally corrupt NCAA, which despite the "C" for "College", is de facto "professional". Leave what the USA dumbly calls "soccer" to other countries to police - countries that actually know the correct name for the game of football/fútbol/calcio, and which actually play it and follow it avidly.

Of course, this could be the real reason - the Corporatocracy lost the corrupt payday they'd get if the US had gotten the 2022 Cup:

" [T]he final vote that came down to Qatar and the U.S., which had named 18 potential host cities. The U.S. lost. Not long after the vote, allegations surfaced that some FIFA members had been bribed to vote for Qatar. FIFA later launched an internal investigation into the allegations, with Qatar cleared of any major violations."

That bit's from an ABC News post:

#FIFA #USAWorldPolice #shareall  
In total, the U.S. Justice Department says nine soccer officials are among 14 people indicted on corruption charges.
Kirkda Khan's profile photoscott stevenson's profile photoMark Mercer's profile photoAbdulrahman Ateya's profile photo
So where are the indictments of the US based bankers who facilitated laundering the money? Nowhere, of course. Banksters have impunity. 
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Speaking of clean drinking water, Pakistan is trialing a (free) "ATM" solar water dispenser. Cards authorize each household to a free daily ration.

Ideally everyone would have running water of good quality in-home, whether municipal or well water. But that's not the reality for much of the world. In areas of water scarcity and no distribution system, this may be a better option than uncontrolled access to irregularly available water trucks and water points.

Or it could create new angles on corruption and crime, water-ATM-card theft and sales. The strong and the cruel will always find ways to bully the weak and gentle. Let's hope this experiment goes the better way. At least it's an innovative attempt at solutions that don't involve "Let Nestlé take over the water and sell it."

#safewater #shareall
The two-foot-square prototype machine looks and functions like an ATM, but dispenses water instead of cash. Users are issued a card they use to claim a daily amount of water.
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Mark Mercer

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Uruguay bans salt and several condiments in its capital. I live outside Montevideo so it won't affect me much, yet, and you still can ask for those "evil things". But with Dr. Tábare Vásquez back as President, I expect more preventative health measures. Measures that some might call, "Nanny State" actions. "Some" including me.

Don't get me wrong. I love Uruguay, I'm all for people taking preventative health, proactive health improvement measures. I like that Uruguay as a nation, and its several competing yet socially subsidized providers of its universal health system, promote proactive healthy living measures. But I'm not in favor of governmental prohibitions on people's rights to make bad choices. Nor is salting your food or using ketchup or mayonnaise always a bad choice for everyone. (Except mayo, because, yuck! Ban All The Mayos!)

Me, I use only potassium-based table salt alternative at home, already readily available in Uruguayan stores for years, and that sparingly. We're still on the small container I bought in 2012. I monitor my blood pressure, and so does my very proactive-health doctor at my mutualista (health society), Asociación Española, and it's improved significantly since I moved here. She's even thinking of taking me off one of the two BP meds I've been on, as a result of the healthier food and improved lifestyle.

But that's choice, freedom, responsibility. And individual tuning of actions to results. I do understand that in a country that rightly considers the health of all residing there to be the concern of all, and partially paid by the taxes of all, that some governmental guidelines and health initiatives are necessary and in fact laudable in concept. But they should be educational in focus, not Nanny State "in loco parentis".

If I want to salt and ketchup my fries at La Pasiva in Montevideo, or get a big soda in New York City, I should be able to make that choice. Yes, even though it is my tax pesos and dollars at work and my medical membership in Uruguay and ACA-compliant policy premiums at work in USA, as a legal immigrant to Uruguay with US citizenship.

Lather the airways, put up posters and billboards, subsidize my mutualista here and HMO there to promote the hell out of healthy choices. Even create some financial incentives. But leave them to be choices. Not prohibition.

#healthcare #nannystate #shareall

The tiny nation has some of Latin America's highest rates of obesity, hypertension and heart disease. The capital Montevideo has tried to intervene by making salt on the table illegal.
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Martin, I am entirely in favor of your "Make Uruguayan food more spicy" program. 
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Mark Mercer

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Verizon buying AOL, which includes TechCrunch, Engadget, HuffPo. Weird verging on creepy acquisition.

Verizon Is Buying AOL For $4.4B [Internal Memo From AOL CEO Tim Armstrong]
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ML Hart
Oh right, HuffPo. Couldn't figure out how AOL by itself could've been worth that much. LOL
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Mark Mercer

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Everybody have "fun" with last week's security issues? Including WordPress? We sure did at Southern Cross. For certain definitions of "fun".
Airplanes. Password hacks. Homeland Security WordPress cross-site scripting exploits. Antivirus company faking its testing. Just another "fun week" in internet security last week. More busy than average, but really, every week there are some security issues. Good read from security expert commentator Violet Blue at ZDNet in the linked article.

Southern Cross clients using our Managed WordPress Hosting - yes, we did address the vulnerability, have security measures at multiple levels, and upgraded all of your sites to the latest release.

Including sites where we had to do validation that your chosen themes or other add-ons would work with WordPress 4.2.1. Some of the sites were on the 4.0.x series for that reason, but with this exploit, we needed to get you all onto 4.2.1 quickly.


For those running on our Southern Cross virtual private servers we self-manage, we have additional layer of security in place. And we keep at least 30 days rolling complete backups, offsite at Amazon S3 enterprise-class storage, just in case, as part of what we provide to all our hosting clients.  

Do you have someone looking after your site's security? Are you keeping it up to date? Do you have complete backups? And no, not just the backups automatically made by some "control panels" that are stored inside your same hosting account's disk space. Backuips done by things like Softaculous or Fantastico inside cPanel are "nice to have" but are fundamentally worthless for security purposes. "If your building burns down and your backup is in the same building..." failure. A backup that isn't Somewhere Else is No Backup At All.

If you're a "solopreneur" or a small business without a dedicated IT team that has InfnSec experience, you'd best be thinking hard about those questions. It's not something your web hosting company does for you - it's your job. Even if you used that "panel" to auto-install WordPress and it auto-updates, it does not always do the "major version" upgraded (e.g. 4.0.x to 4.2.x). And you can't rely on the backups.

If you're using a specialized WordPress-specific hosting plan like WP Engine, Media Temple (only their WordPress-specific plan), DreamHost's DreamPress (only that plan), or one of the handful of other "WordPress specialty hosts", yes, it's their job. If you're paying a consultant either on a regular basis, or baked into a "managed hosting plan" (like our clients), then it's their job. But if you're like too many site owners and busy entrepreneurs we've seen, you leave your site on "auto-pilot" till something happens, you have things to check.

For those running on our Southern Cross virtual private servers we self-manage, we have additional layer of security in place. And we keep at least 30 days rolling complete backups, offsite at Amazon S3 enterprise-class storage, just in case, as part of what we provide to all our hosting clients.  

So even if we missed a problem, we have a month's worth of complete snapshots of your site, and can restore any one of them.

Like we said - "Fun".
Summary:A collection of notable security news items for the week ending May 1, 2015. Covers enterprise, controversies, application and mobile security, malware, reports and more.
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Fuzzy Wanderer, Corporatism Critic, Former Corporate Tool. Uruguay Immigrant rather than US Expat.
Aging former ski-bum technogeek former corporate tool now a resident of the free country of Uruguay.
Freelance Consultant, Writer, Traveler
  • Uruguay Expat Life & Uruguay For Me expat information and referral services http://UruguayExpat.Info
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  • Freelance Travel and Tech Writer
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Mark Mercer's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
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