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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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Chilling and depressing imagery. I am traditionally a Europhile. Yet it seems like much of Europe, not just long-divided Cyprus, is ever-prone to tribalism so much more than elsewhere in the so-called Developed world. Sure, the US has regional issues and the random rare secessionist talk, as does Canada. Latin America where I now live has its international rivalries and intra-country splits in some nations. Asia can get messy.

But Europe, why so often do you fall into separatism, schism, invasion, civil war, division of countries already divided?
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Mark Mercer

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Another brazen affiliate link for a good cloud storage alternative for those who will #DropDropbox. Use my link: and you get a 1GB bonus on top of their normal allocation of free storage. I get a half-GB added to mine, everybody wins, you win bigger than me!

Downside: It's in Russia.
Upside: It's in Russia.

Just because Yandex is in Russia doesn't mean that bare-shirted, Ukraine-invading, gay-hating Putin is running it. I think it unreasonable of people to boycott an entire country just because of the politics and policies of its leadership. Especially when it is an independent, private, non-state-owned, non/Putin-crony, business.

Being in Russia, it certainly does not have NSAInside!, at least not with forced or voluntary cooperation, like so many of the US/UK/FiveEyes companies. Such as Dropbox, first on the Prism PowerPoint of the cloud companies, and Microsoft with their help-NSA-with-Skype changes. Nor susceptibility to allegedly legal US secret court or non-judicial orders.  You cannot simply walk into Russia with a secret FISA court order.

Does it have PutinInside!? Probably. Do I care? No. Russia isn't in a position to retaliate against me the way my own US government may be.

I do have long term experience, over a year, with Yandex Disk and Yandex Email (comes with it), on Windows, Android, and Linux. It also works on iOS and Mac OSX but Casita Mercer has no such things. I like it a lot. It is one of the most reliable Android auto-sync apps for photo uploading automagically from a smartphone, at least compared to others I have tried including Google's "fuzzy buckets" of mixed Picasa/G+ photo, Drive, Docs, Gmail storage.

Linux app is only console-mode, background daemon. But it also supports WebDav, so depending on what desktop you use, you can have your Yandex Disk files right in your file manager, like XFCE's Thunar. Windows has supported WebDav in Windows Explorer, now File Explorer, since forever, as has Mac OSX, so you can use it on all those OSs even without an application.

There is a good desktop sync application for Windows and Mac for normal, non-technical use. For a long time we were using +Lisa Mercer's Yandex account as the auto-backup of her Documents folder on her secondary Windows PC, and it worked swimmingly well.
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+Dropbox  has lost the trust of the community. As well it should. Downpost I give a bunch of alternatives and my current take on what to use now. Which is still very much in flux as I am experimenting with many other services to find the right one. Call it Storage Speed-Dating.

Anti-Condi comments are rightly growing like wildfire on the Dropbox blog, including mine:

Yeah, "Dr. Rice understands our stance on these issues and fully supports our commitments to our users." Just like she "understood" and "fully supported" the US Constitution and rule of law which she took an oath to uphold.

The only international experience Condoleeza Rice should have next is a nice foreign trip to a country that will arrest her as a war criminal and haul her up either under Universal Jurisdiction in that country, or drag her to the Hague to be tried in the International Criminal Court.

Please everyone,  #DropDropbox - there are so many other better alternatives. has a list of several, and there are other good links from that site to articles that go into your choices in depth. Not just for #CondoleezaRice   reasons either. Dropbox has screwed up security in the past, turned off all passwords for hours, other major goofs. Dump them.

Personally I just dumped them yesterday and made sure to let them know why.  I didn't use Dropbox much, but did for some limited uses. So what are our choices now, yours and mine?

I  really liked, and paid for, Ubuntu One, that sadly is now shutting down. Seamless and utterly reliable full-featured app on Linux, Windows, Android, and (so I hear, don't have any), Max OSX and iOS.  But only about a month and a half left to use that, so I need to migrate.

I just signed up for Copy from Barracuda Networks (, for my business - Company accounts are free for small businesses up to 5 users, sharing each user's free 15GB of space. Individuals are free for 15GB, which is way more than Dropbox' 2GB. This looks pretty good at first take - I can set up a custom company for our +Southern Cross Web and Social Marketing with me at that company email as the first user, add my partner +Lisa Mercer, we each can manage the company files, while we and any team members we add can still keep their personal files private, untouchable by the admin.

Plus if two Copy users share a file, whether in a company account or individual accounts, the allocation taken out of their total storage is cut in half each. (Do the math for more sharers), which is a good balance between the "prevent abusive mulitple accounts - debit everybody in full for the space" or the "we're suckers, we let one person use many accounts and share files so they end up with multiples of our free allocation."

I also use Box ( formerly, which is more ethical and has less of a stupid history of privacy and security issues than Dropbox. Box gives a lot more free storage - normally 5GB compared to Dropbox 2, and I somehow got 15GB free from an Android Astro File Manager connection promo I didn't even know about.

Considering doing my own Linux-based Open Source OwnCloud, either at one of my hosting accounts or through a specialty provider, but that is a little but tech-y for the average normal person  (Any of us here who respond "just get the tarball from the repository and put it on a VPS" do not fall into that average normal person category!)

I do like Google Drive for collaboration on group-edited Docs, but pretty much hate Google Drive for everything else, including its discrimination against native-format documents (count against space limits) vs converted-to-Google-Docs (do not count), and its conflation of Drive, Docs, Picasa/G+ Photos, and Gmail space into one fuzzy bucket.

I have a Microsoft OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) free account but rarely use it. Absence of any native Linux app is a big stopper for me, especially since they also have no WebDAV support.

My other regular cloud is Russia's privately owned Yandex Disk, which comes along with Yandex email. Assuming no overall political boycotting of everything Russian (Yandex is not a Putin-controled company and is not owned by the State), it is an ok alternative. Excellent Android sync app, good Windows sync app, and a console-only background Linux sync app (no graphic interface) but good Linux instructions. And native WebDAV for Linux, Windows, Mac, or anything else that supports WebDAV. I use that as my set-and-forget Android photo sync app for my Android phone. No, not G+ Photos after the mess of used-to-be-good-Picasa and that "fuzzy buckets" problem I mentioned with Google storage allocations.

I also buy some DreamObjects bucket space, Amazon S3-compatible, from my preferred hosting company, +DreamHost, at a much lower price than Amazon's own. It integrates great for automated WordPress site backups via the DreamObjects WP plugin, and that is even working for me to back up sites that are hosted in my +Gandi Simple Hosting Instances in Paris and Baltimore at, not just for DreamHost-hosted sites. However, AmazonS3-style buckets are a PITA for everyday sync and backup use in my opinion - they are nowhere near the ease of "invisible, it just works" use that traditional "Cloud File Storage" companies/apps like Box, Dropbox (boo for evil!), Ubuntu One (boo for closing), can do. Again, looking at it for "normals" because I myself an a "normal" - I do not feel like being a geek when it comes to having my documents auto-protected.

To some extent I can work around that problem with a service called +Storage Made Easy  - I use their EU-based option, get 5GB of actual AmazonS3 in Europe for free, plus free connections to my DreamObjects, Box, and SkyDrive accounts too. You can connect up to three other clouds to them free on unpaid accounts. Then can access any of that via their website, Linux or Windows apps, and mobile apps. Including via WebDAV even for clouds like OneDrive and S3 that don't support it. If I wanted to pay for a Storage Made Easy account, I could aggregate many more clouds into it, including Ubuntu One while it lasts, Yandex, Google Drive, Copy, and nearly everybody else except perhaps zero-knowledge encrypt-at-your-desktop services like Wuala and SpiderOak.

But it is kind of a "dog's breakfast" of a mishmash of too many ingredients for what should be a simple goal: Nice big chunk of "it just works auto-magically" autosyncing cloud storage. For normals.

For now, Copy and Box will likely be my go-to #CloudStorage   choices, with some purpose-segregation between work/personal and manual-upload-vs-sync. May use this as an opportunity to rethink my whole storage strategy. But whatever I do, it certainly won't involve supporting companies that hire war criminals. Nor ones with a bad track record already.
Mark Mercer's profile photoChris Esser's profile photo
Great info, Chris. I will likely try some of that. I have been using CrossFTP against S3 and S3-Compatible DreamObjects. That lets me use a normal FTP-style program, reminiscent of FileZilla, with S3 buckets. It's how I did a major dump of both the Linux side and the Windows side of my main laptop prior to a major upgrade/repair.

You're right, I need to be thinking of S3-type solutions as a lower level in the stack. Not as an application. Thanks!
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Mark Mercer

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Glad to see you out there. Wish I was back in Boston for this, especially this year!
We're proud to be from Greater Boston and to be Boston Strong in support of this year's Boston Marathon. We'll be out there on April 21 cheering the runners along on the course, not too far from Heartbreak Hill. We of course remember and mourn for those who lost their lives and those whose lives were devastated, by last year's cowardly terrorist attack at the finish line in Copley Square.  But life, and this grand tradition of our Marathon, goes on despite any adversity.

We're happy to share some background about the Boston Marathon, including the debate about whether it should happen right after entry into the First World War. (It did. Even with Boston mourning then for a Boston-based ship that was sunk.) With fascinating and little-known background about several of the communities on the Marathon route.
A history of past Boston Marathon events, and description of Marathon neighborhoods.
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I signed this onths ago, but it is still an important ongoing issue. The dog eat trade is illegal in Thailand but is still going on, and enforcement of the laws are lax. The Soi Dog Foundation is pushing Thailand's government take more action.

Though this is likely pretty low on Yingluck Shinawatra's priority list right now, maybe it shouldn't be. I don't see a "Yellowshirt/Redshirt" political divide in saving the dogs.
Significant progress is being made in ending Thailand's illegal dog meat trade. However the battle is far from over and your support is needed. Please sign and SHARE this important petition to Thailand's Prime Minister...
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Have him in circles
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Lovely how the US government played both sides of the #Heartbleed  page, isn't it? Links in my Tweet to the US government Department of Homeland Security US-CERT advisory just last week, and to a story with lots of backup that the US government Department of Defense, National Security Agency, was using Heartbleed for years to spy on people. Maybe including you and me. 

#YourTaxDollarsAtWork . Especially apt this "Tax Weekend" for most US taxpayers. We overseas residents, travelers during it, emigrants from the empire, we get an automatic 2-month extension to file our IRS forms to pay tribute on our worldwide income, but most UnitedStatesians ("Americans" to folks who think one country owns the entire 2-continent-plus-islands supercontinent) are sweating over their taxes now. I'm sure NSA already pulled whatever info on me they want, and the US makes my Uruguay bank report every single tiny transaction I do, on penalty of the US seizing 30% of every dollar that bank has in the USA, so I kind of wonder why I have to do the forms at all! 

Of course the #NSA  denies doing anything with Heartbleed. They were shocked, shocked, by it, just like everyone else. They sent out a Tweet. I am so convinced.
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Brazen affiliate link for Barracuda Network's Copy cloud storage system. 15GB free to anyone, an extra 5gb through my link

As I noted in a longer, multi-angled post on the #DropDropbox issue, Copy even allows free Company Accounts, comprised of up to 5 team members, with all their paid Company Account features free except for the "As much as you need" storage that comes only on their paid accounts. The up-to-5-free Company Accounts are comprised of individual 15GB free accounts. Or, with this link, individual 20GB free accounts. 

Another cool Copy benefit: If you share a file across multiple users, the amount of your storage usage is divided by the number of users sharing a file. Share a 6GB file with 3 team members or other collaborators? Only eats up 2GB of your storage. Not all 6GB from the file owner like Google Drive does, nor 6GB from each person like some other services do. 

What's in it for me? I get an extra 5GB free too, for each sign up. No monetary compensation. No extra cost to you to use the link.

Not a fully-formed recommendation yet: I only started using it today, so I have no long-term experience. Thus this isn't really a recommendation, yet, as I have insufficient data to give a full review and recommendation. But i really like the free Company Account feature and multi-platform support including Linux in addition to the usual Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android apps that most services have. Thus sharing it with you as we all get to try it, with a nice bonus for each of us!
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Mark Mercer

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Lol, funny, humor, humour, cheap laugh, cheap laff.
"So this SEO copywriter walks into a bar, grill, pub, public house, Irish bar, bartender, drinks, beer, wine, liquor"
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#Monoculture is bad, whether in internet security libraries (Heartbleed from OpenSSL bug), desktop operating systems (the "XPocalypse" of no more security for millions of PCs), or ignition switches (the GM death-by-keyring debacle).

 *Or bananas.* It's the end of the banana as we know it.

Those of us alive today, except the oldest, have no idea what a really good banana tastes like. All this has happened before, and it is happening again. Except worse than the last cycle, when "Race 1" or Panama Disease wiped out the excellent Gros Michel banana, starting in 1903 and extinct by 1960.

This time we have no real "backup banana". Not of the mainstream, yellow, abuse-resistant skin, large, creamy sweet Cavendish banana, which is what most of us know simply as a "normal banana". Plus, much of the world population depends on bananas for basic nutrition, rather than just as a treat, than when the Gros Michel died but the Cavendish was waiting in the wings as second banana.

Race 4 is coming for the Cavendish, and most other species of banana.

We are in a very slippery situation here. There is no other banana with the same appeal.
During harvest last year, banana farmers in Jordan and Mozambique made a chilling discovery. Their plants were no longer bearing the soft, creamy fruits they'd been growing for decades. When they cut open the roots of their banana plants, they saw something that looked like this: Scientists first discovered the fungus that is turning banana...
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Mark Mercer

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Darn it another extratropical cyclone. These aren't supposed to happen here in Uruguay. Two years ago we had a really bad one, and another about a year ago. Lost a lot of big old trees around Atlántida.

More importantly, a lot of people were hurt, directly or indirectly. One of them being President Mujica, who got hit in the head with a flying metal sheet while he was helping neighbors near his farm deal with the storm. I don't recall if there were any deaths from the cyclones.

Metsul is saying a risk of an extratropical cyclone. Not definite. I hope we dodge the bullet here.
Mark Mercer's profile photoRalf Platschkowski's profile photoClaudia Zunker's profile photoJohn F. Zullo's profile photo
Amen to that, +Ralf Platschkowski. Sky is nice and clear blue now, so looking forward to tonight's "Blood Moon" and lunar eclipse.

+John F. Zullo we're good, my friend! Our place is still new enough that the trees they planted barely are big enough to hit the roof yet.

They are nicely entangled in the power line and phone lines, however! But we now have fiber-optic to home, and except for a very short run straight from a pole where it surfaces right to our roof, it's all underground.

Weather wasn't as bad here as I expected from teh MetSul report. Further east up the coast towards Piriápolis and Punta del Este it was windier. My friend, photographer +Olga Rivero Hernández from Piriápolis, posted some pictures of boats being tossed around near her, including a Tall Ship. Don't know if they are here on her G+ profile but they are at her Facebook Timeline as a public post:
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Have him in circles
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Freelance Consultant, Writer, Traveler
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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.
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Mark Mercer's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
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