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Thursday, August 21 2014 @ 12:02 PM EDT

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The Bocas "Melting Pot" - After Action Report

FeedbackBy Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com - Received the following today via email from someone who participated in the recent "Melting Pot" event in Bocas del Toro;

"Hello Don, JD in Bocas here. I just completed my 'Crisol De Razas" procedure. Afterwards, sleepless after 25 hours, I realized what powerful event I had been through. One of the Admin set up a Mic. in the gym, and had participants of different nations singing their national anthems...Holy Shit was that powerful! especially the Venezuelans!

When I finally got inside the computer room, in the Church for admin, I saw how huge this thing is, and the staff acted cool and friendly...I don't speak much Spanish, but they carried me through somehow.

The next day after a well deserved Bloody Mary, I saw some of my fellow New Panama citizens on the streets of Bocas with New smiles,who nodded and waved, awesome......

Hats Off to all the Stewards, Cattle herders, Adorable Keypunch crew, Very cool, professional Military and Cops,funny even.

In true Bocas style, there was a Brownout at midnight, a hush fell over the crowd. A brand new Generator kicked on out behind the Church, never missed a stroke, seriously. My only complaint would be lack of toilets.

But in the Comedic column, "You might be from Bocas if....you get Tacos, Seco, and Drugs delivered to the back door at the Crizol De Razas"

Melting Pot? Yup, it got frigging hot when the fans quit running. Thanks for listening Don, say "Howdy" next time you're in Bocas. Ciao4now, JD.

Editor's Comment: Thanks for the report. These "melting pot" events are a great opportunity for expats to normalize their status in Panama. Once you're done you are legal in Panama (no more perpetual tourist status) and you can also get a work permit, if you want one.

Copyright 2014 Panama-Guide.com.

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A Note To New Subscribers

FeedbackBy Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com - This is just a quick note for all of the new subscribers.

If you recently subscribed to this website and paid for your subscription via PayPal, you still have to create a User Account on this website.

If you have subscribed and you need to create a new User Account - please click on this link.

I will approve your account, and you will receive a password via email.

When creating your User Account, please be sure to use the same email address that you used when paying for your subscription via PayPal.

Doing so makes it a whole lot easier for me to keep track of who is paid and who is not.

Also, don't forget to send me a quick email saying "I just signed up" so I can approve your request for a user account quickly.

This website is still getting bombarded by spam user account submissions generated by bots. I just deleted a bunch of them, so your submission might have gotten thrown out with the bathwater if you didn't send me a heads-up...

Thanks for subscribing!

Copyright 2014 Panama-Guide.com.

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And Now - The Hackers Have Been Defeated (Do You Have Access?)

Feedback By Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com - Over the weekend hackers figured out how to defeat the "Captcha" protection mechanism. You know, the thing where you have to read the blurry letters and numbers on an image and plug them in to make sure you're a human? I was using that to keep bots and spammers off the website. They run around all over the Internet, trying to create bogus user accounts so they can submit "comment spam" to websites such as mine, containing links to sell things like Viagra or what have you.

As a result a few days ago I started getting dozens (hundreds) of bogus user submissions to the website. My geeky friends got together and I've now deployed an improved protection system. Now those bot generated bogus spammy user submissions have dropped to zero, as of this morning.

It's a never ending cat and mouse game. The programmers create a protection scheme, and the hackers try to get past it. Once they figure it out then the programmers figure you what they're doing, and block the hole. But anyway...

There's a slight chance that some of my valid paid subscribers don't have access to the website, because I was simply mass deleting all of those spammy bot bogus users, without looking at them very hard. Normally I examine each and every user submission, to make sure the authorized users can get in, and the rest can't.

Anyway, please make sure you've got access if you're a paid and valid subscriber. If you don't have access, please shoot me an email and I'll fix it for you.

My annual audit of all User accounts continues. It takes awhile to go through each and every account one at a time to make sure everyone with access has paid. I've got another bunch to go through, then I'll be caught up.

In the meantime, if you still have access and you still have not paid to renew your subscription, please do it now (before I find it, delete you account, and either toss you or otherwise coerce you to do it under duress...)

Thanks again, and have a wonderful day...

Copyright 2013 Panama-Guide.com.

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Out Of The Office All Day (Probably) Today Monday 18 March 2013

FeedbackBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - I'm going to be attending a conference today - the 1st International Business Roundtable on Sustainable Forestry in Panama. It looks like it's going to be an all day event, which means I'm not going to be in the office to produce the daily news video. If you've subscribed over the weekend and are waiting for a password I'll try to get that taken care of as soon as possible. Normally new subscribers get their accounts and passwords within 24 hours, but that can extend a bit on a Sunday and in this case a little more. Also, if you've sent me your property to be listed, the response was tremendous, and I'm working through a backlog so please have a little patience. News, subscribers, real estate, and teak. Yeah, I can get a little busy sometimes. Hey, it's a whole lot better than the alternative.

In the news the only real big headline over the weekend was that the Panameņista party confirmed and validated Juan Carlos Varela as their presidential candidate. And even that's not a headline because he really didn't have a serious challenger. Only about 25% of those eligible to vote turned out, because there was nothing to decide. So we now have two out of three presidential candidates officially confirmed for the May 2014 election. The only real interesting primary election is the CD which will be held in Mat 2013.

The rest of the news from the weekend was a handful of routine stories about car crashes, drug busts, and sports (typical for a weekend) but nothing earth shattering. I'll be back in the saddle by tomorrow morning at the latest. Have a great day.

Copyright 2013 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Christmas, New Years, and Holiday Visitors

FeedbackBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Merry Christmas, Happy New Years, and Happy Holidays to everyone out there who visits this website for their daily news feed about current events in the Republic of Panama. On a personal note, my wife's brother and his family have been visiting from Bogota since before Christmas. They will be flying back this afternoon. I've been somewhat distracted with all of them running around, taking a break for the end of year holidays, nursing a flu sort of thing over the past couple of days, and generally taking it easy. Starting tomorrow it's back on the horse and full speed ahead.

Only a couple of really important things happened over the holiday break. Jose Ayu Prado was designated and confirmed as the new justice on the Supreme Court. Ana Belfon was designated and confirmed to replace him as the new Attorney General. Besides that, the headlines were dominated by the Petaquilla scandal and allegations linking President Ricardo Martinelli to the use of inside information to profit from increases in their stock price, in the September - November 2009 time frame. This story has the potential to bounce and stick outside of Panama.

It's become blazingly obvious local Panamanian officials have no intention whatsoever of actually investigating anything here. However it's entirely possible - likely even - the regulatory authorities who control and monitor the stock markets where Petaquilla stocks are traded in the United States and Canada won't take such a lackadaisical attitude. On the surface it certainly appears someone used insider information to scoop up about 30 million of shares of Petaquilla stock - right before the government of Panama granted the company permission to begin operations. Where there's smoke, there's usually someone cashing in. Expect more headlines out of this story as 2013 progresses.

Most of the other news headlines were pretty routine and normal daily news reports and happenings, things like street crime, drug busts, and traffic accidents.

Anyway, 2012 is now in the books and 2013 looks to be even bigger and better from a news point of view. This year will be dominated by political maneuvering and campaigning in the run-up to the elections that will be held in May 2014. All three of the largest political parties - the PRD, Panameņistas, and Cambio Democratico - will hold their primary elections and formally designate their presidential candidates in the first three months of this year. Once that's done, expect a solid twelve months of dirty political tricks, mudslinging, payouts, payoffs, accusations (true, false, unfounded, invented, or otherwise), and other stuff that would make a Chicago politician blush. Politics is always a spectator sport in Panama, and the campaigning during the year preceding the election is only surpassed by the "main event" of the actual election, next year.

The administration of president Ricardo Martinelli will be delivering a whole lot of government projects during 2013. They've spent a whopping $14 billion dollars to build damn near everything from roads to bridges to a new underground subway system, and most of those projects will be delivered before the next election. In Panama they only build things when a politician can take credit for having done it. Panama City has been converted into one massive construction site since 2009 and thankfully, much of that will come to an end in the next twelve months.

The Panamanian economy finished 2012 as one of the fastest growing in the whole world, coming in at a whopping (and enviable) 11%. Right now there is nothing on the horizon indicating a possible slowdown, or anything substantial that might knock the Panamanian economic miracle off of the rails. The biggest threat facing this economy is a real shortage of trained and qualified manpower to do everything from welding to customer service. Of course there's always the potential for some sort of a natural disaster, such as a major earthquake, but besides that remote possibility the future looks bright, so buy some shades. The results of this economic growth continues to trickle down to the Panamanian people, more and more with each passing year.

Unemployment in Panama has shrunk to virtually nil. The few remaining unemployed stubbornly continue to live in remote areas where there are no jobs. Meanwhile, there are more than 61,000 positions going unfilled that are waiting for them, together with training programs and incentives, if they can ever be enticed to leave their hammocks in the mountains. Pay and incentives continue to increase for the country's growing workforce, as employers compete for the most qualified workers. This has caused some inflationary pressures, but in fact most of the inflation in Panama is "imported" and stems from things like increasing fuel costs - over which Panama has virtually no control. The bottom line is that the ranks of the poor are shrinking while the middle class continues to expand. Meanwhile, the rich are now getting stupid-rich or silly-rich with trails of $20 bills flowing behind them wherever they go. Yes, it does trickle down, and anyone who says it doesn't is a fool who would have a hard time spelling "Econ 101".

So in 2013 look for politics, corruption scandals, economics, and public projects to lead the news. And of course you can count on Panama Guide to walk you through all of the details and explain the finer nuances of whom is screwing who, when, where, and why. Well, if you're a subscriber of course. If you're not subscribing to this website, then you're on your own. My readers are the best informed, most dialed in, and least clueless. All good things in a place like this. Let's rock...

Copyright 2013 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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"I Just Paid For The Subscription, But Never Got A Password..."

Feedback By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - I've been getting about one or two of these per day. Subscribing to Panama Guide is a two step process. Occasionally people think they are finished after completing the first step. Then a few days later they write me saying "hey, I subscribed, but I never got a password from you..." That's because they never did the second step. This is how to do it...

  • First, you have to pay for the subscription via PayPal. You will receive a receipt for your payment via email. Hopefully if everything is working correctly after you've made the payment you will be taken straight to the Panama Guide website to complete Step 2, but in case that doesn't work right...

  • Step 2 - Open a User Account on the Panama Guide website by clicking on this link. Fill out the form and submit the information. I will see and approve your application (if you're a paid subscriber) and you will receive a password for your account via email.

    Please use the same email address as you used for your PayPal account (if possible). If not, and if you use two different email addresses, then you have to let me know via email. If you're using two different email addresses, and if you don't tell me about it, then I have no way of knowing.

    Don't bother applying for a User Account on the website if you have not paid for a subscription, because I'm simply deleting those as they come in. I check the PayPal records and my email archives, and if I can't associate the application with a paid subscriber, then it get's nuked.

    Also, there is no need for a PayPal account. Some people have said they don't want to subscribe because they don't have, and don't want, a PayPal account. In reality all you need is a credit card. When you click on the link there is an option to pay for those who don't have PayPal accounts, so no problem there. Just follow their directions. Thanks, and have a great day.

    Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Don't forget to follow Panama Guide on Twitter. Salud.

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    Ho Ho Friggin' Ho - Give A Gift Subscription to Panama Guide

    FeedbackBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Now there's a great idea. Someone just contacted me this morning because they wanted to give a "gift" subscription to the Panama Guide website. Yes, it's possible. Here's how you can do it if you want;

    • Simply pay for the subscription via PayPal like you did for your own subscription.

    • Then, send me an email to let me know what you want to do. I will see that you've basically subscribed "again" so I should already have a clue. Just let me know the email address of the person who will receive the "gift" subscription.

    • I will send the recipient an email to notify them that they have received a gift subscription, with instructions on how to establish a new User Account on the website, cc to you.

    So, Ho Ho Friggin' Ho, Baby! What better gift to give your friends at Christmas time in Panama? A whole year's worth of hot-off-the-press and up to the minute news that could save them time, money, aggravation, or more. Thanks for the idea RH...

    Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Don't forget to follow Panama Guide on Twitter. Salud.

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    Do You Know About...

    FeedbackBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - If you don't subscribe to this website, do you know (from today's headlines);
    • Where they found that big crocodile that was scaring local residents in Panama?
    • What Panamanians think about the idea of bringing in foreign workers?
    • Where are people dying in Panama due to another antibiotic resistant bacteria?
    • What streets in El Cangrejo will become one-way this week?
    • What government entity has started a new internal investigation over a corruption scandal?
    • Have you seen the leaked video of Noriega?
    • What's new in the fireman's strike?
    • And what big strike starts on Wednesday?

    Thanks again if you've subscribed. And if you haven't yet...

    The cost for the annual subscription is $20 (cheap.) Subscribing to this website is a two step process;

    • Step One: If you would like to subscribe, please click this link to pay for your subscription via PayPal.

    • Step Two: Create a User Account on this website here: www.panama-guide.com/users.php?mode=new. I will approve your application, and you will receive a password via email.

    Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Don't forget to follow Panama Guide on Twitter. Salud.

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    No Subscription - No Communication - Delete

    Feedback By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - When I came in to work this morning there was a whole list of people who have applied for User Accounts on this website who apparently want access, but I can't associate them with a paid subscriber account.

    Here's my process. First, I check their email address in PayPal to see if they are a paid subscriber. Hopefully, the email of the person applying for a User Account appears in PayPal and I can see the details of the payment. If so, I immediately approve their account. I normally monitor this (live) during the day so there's less of a delay. If someone subscribes in the middle of the night then I approve their account the next day.

    If I can't find a paid subscriber associated with the email address, I do a quick search of my email records to see if there was any other sort of communication or coordination regarding that particular email address. I've worked with some people to overcome particular circumstances, and those things have been documented in email. Therefore, I might be able to approve the account, depending on the content of those emails.

    If there is no prior communication or coordination, I add them to a broadcast email asking "are you trying to subscribe" containing instructions on how to pay for the subscription.

    Then, I disapprove the application and delete the account.

    About 95% (+) have been able to figure it out, so I'm sure that if anyone really wants to subscribe and get access, then they will figure it out as well.

    Feedback on the short news videos has been all positive, so I'm going to keep it going. I might be changing the format somewhat to make them easier and faster to produce and publish - to give me time to do more and better things.

    That's it for now. Thanks again if you've subscribed. And if you haven't yet...

    The cost for the annual subscription is $20 (cheap.) Subscribing to this website is a two step process;

    • Step One: If you would like to subscribe, please click this link to pay for your subscription via PayPal.

    • Step Two: Create a User Account on this website here: www.panama-guide.com/users.php?mode=new. I will approve your application, and you will receive a password via email.

    Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Don't forget to follow Panama Guide on Twitter. Salud.

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    What You Don't Know Today If You Have Not Subscribed

    Feedback By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - I'm going to stop doing those little "teaser" articles most of the time. Why bother? But here's a rundown of the stuff you don't know if you have not subscribed to this website. Like, where the earthquake was today. What Martinelli thinks about the firemen's strike. A review of all of the major headlines in the country, in a short video. What caused the Caimito river to flood. The details of a drug bust. How many people work for the government of Panama. Hooded goons went on the someone's estate who is part of a high profile corruption case, apparently looking for something. And, why the girl in the photo is so happy to see you. Finally, it's still early and I'm just getting started. Clue bag light much? Either you know what's going on, or you don't. Have a great day...

    The cost for the annual subscription is $20 (cheap.) Subscribing to this website is a two step process;

    • Step One: If you would like to subscribe, please click this link to pay for your subscription via PayPal.

    • Step Two: Create a User Account on this website here: www.panama-guide.com/users.php?mode=new. I will approve your application, and you will receive a password via email.

    Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Don't forget to follow Panama Guide on Twitter. Salud.

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    If You're Using Two Email Addresses - You Have To Let Me Know...

    Feedback By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - The most common "disconnect" for people who are trying to subscribe to Panama Guide occurs when they try to pay for the subscription via PayPal (under one email address) and then apply for a User Account on the website (under another email address) without letting me know. Since I can't associated the new user with a paid subscriber, I delete it. It's not a problem as long as you let me know what's going on.

    Traffic to the website has actually increased since I implemented the pay wall this week. I'm finishing the "purge" of old accounts held by people who have not paid for a subscription, there are not many of those left, and I'm getting around to the last few stragglers.

    See? I changed the cover photo, in response to requests from the ladies. He's here to deliver the pepperoni pizza. Is that better? You're going to have to help me out in this department. Chicks, I know. Dudes, not so much. Still blatantly heterosexual, thank you very much.

    The cost for the annual subscription is $20 (cheap.) Subscribing to this website is a two step process;

    • Step One: If you would like to subscribe, please click this link to pay for your subscription via PayPal.

    • Step Two: Create a User Account on this website here: www.panama-guide.com/users.php?mode=new. I will approve your application, and you will receive a password via email.

    Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Don't forget to follow Panama Guide on Twitter. Salud.

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    Would You Like To Subscribe To Panama-Guide.com? Quick and easy...

    Feedback By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - I've got a proposition for you. All new content posted to this website will be behind a "pay wall." As a result the general public will have access to the more than 19,000 articles published before 1 December 2012, but only paying subscribers will have access to most of the website content published after that date. The cost for the annual subscription is $20 (cheap.) Subscribing to this website is a two step process;

    • Step One: If you would like to subscribe, please click this link to pay for your subscription via PayPal.

    • Step Two: Create a User Account on this website here: www.panama-guide.com/users.php?mode=new. I will approve your application, and you will receive a password via email.

    One Click Access: I suggest you tell your browser to "remember" your User Name and Password, because if you do that then logging in becomes a one click affair. Just surf to the website, the user name and password are already filled in. Just click on the "Login" button and you're done.

    Having Problems? Let me know if you are a paying subscriber and you're having any sort of problems logging on. I've helped a few people get past a couple of bumps, no big deal. Most people have been able to pay for their subscription, establish a user account, and log in with no problems at all. Please don't bother creating a User Account if you have not subscribed. Every day I will be purging (deleting) those applications I cannot associate with a paying subscriber.

    Thank You Very Much! I really appreciate everyone who has subscribed, and your patience as I work through the technical details of this transition. There are still a few more new bells and whistles I'm going to be adding on, as an added or extra benefit for paying subscribers. I think you're going to like it...

    Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Don't forget to follow Panama Guide on Twitter. Salud.

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    Pay Wall Transition Relatively Smooth - With A Few Disconnects

    Feedback By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - For the most part the move to put this website behind a "pay wall" on 1 December 2012 is going relatively smoothly. Response has been fantastic, better than anticipated (Thank You!). Most people have been able to navigate their way through the PayPal process to pay for the subscription, and to establish their User Accounts on the Panama Guide website, which will be used by those with full access. I see their subscription payment, approve their application for a User account on this website, and they log in using the credentials provided via email. Most people can get "in" without me ever having to talk to them directly, or with no need for me to intervene to work out a problem or technical issue.

    However there have been a few "disconnects." For example, one guy who lives here in Panama as a retiree asked his daughter in the United States to pay for his subscription, because she has a PayPal account. She paid for the subscription and I received the automatic notice from them - showing her email address. Then her father applied for a User Account on the website using his email address. The father and daughter never let me know what they were doing. So, I denied his application for a User Account because I had no way of knowing the two were linked (until they told me.) I have since created an account for this gentleman, who is a longtime reader and fan of the website, and he is now good to go. A minor glitch and a "disconnect" which was easily fixed, once I knew what was going on.

    Another example - a man used his business account to pay for the subscription via PayPal (which is connected to one email address) and then he signed up for a user account using his personal email address. He let me know ahead of time on the day he was doing it, so no problem there. I approved his User Account when the subscription payment came in, and he's good to go.

    Some people have been having problems using their credit cards to pay via PayPal. I am currently in the process of establishing an account with a local Panamanian company that's similar to PayPal known as www.paguelofacil.com as a second local option for those having problems. In the meantime I've been working with individuals on a one-on-one basis to arrive at solutions. One guy handed me a $20 bill and his business card - good to go...

    There have been some sporadic reports from people trying to change their passwords on their User accounts on the Panama Guide website. According to the functionality of the Content Management Software (used to run the website) Users should be able to log in to their accounts, and then change their passwords to whatever they want. When you first sign up for an account, Users receive an email with an initial random password that's automatically generated. Users have to use this password to log in the first time. Then, once logged in, users should be able to change their passwords to whatever they want, and mostly people change them to something they can easily remember. There is apparently some sort of a sporadic technical problem or glitch with this functionality. The password change apparently "takes" for a short period of time, then (in some cases) it reverts back to the original, randomly generated password. It's not a problem for everyone, just some accounts. Anyway, I'm aware of the issue, and I'm consulting with the Geeks on the Hill to figure out what's wrong. In the meantime it's not a show stopper because Users can still access their accounts. I'll let you know when I've got it fixed.

    Today is Wednesday, 28 November 2012. The "pay wall" goes up on Saturday, 1 December 2012. So, starting on Saturday all articles on this website will be behind the pay wall. The public and non subscribers will still be able to see the 19,000 articles that were published before the pay wall was implemented. And, people will be able to see the headline of the articles, and the first line of text, only. This change will be implemented in three days.

    Thanks again, to all of those who have subscribed already. And of course if you have not subscribed already, please click on the button below before your world comes crashing to a horrific end, and you are destined to spend the rest of eternity wandering around Panama, your eyes glazed over with a clueless confusion, as current events explode around you, but you're oblivious because you didn't subscribe. Or, if that's not enough to convince you, there's always this...



    Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Don't forget to follow Panama Guide on Twitter. Salud.

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    Subscribing to Panama Guide - Step By Step...

    FeedbackBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - I received the following this morning as a comment to an earlier article: "Could you please walk us through the process for how to pay for our membership with you and the Panama Guide.com, could you explain the paypal..."

    Editor's Comment: Sure, no problem. In fact, it's pretty easy.

    Step One - Pay For The Subscription: I'm using the PayPal system to manage the subscriptions to this website. You do not need a PayPal account to make the payment, just a credit card. Just click on this button below, go to the PayPal site, and follow the instructions.


    Anyone who already has a PayPal account established will be asked to log on to their account first, and then proceed. As I said before, a PayPal account is not necessary to make payment, just a credit card. Once you have made the payment for the subscription...

    Step Two - Establish A User Account on Panama Guide: Full access to all articles published after 1 December 2012 will be controlled through the use of User Accounts on the Panama Guide website.

    • Once you have paid for the subscription, click on this link to create a new user account.

    • Please use the same email address that you used to pay for the subscription via PayPal, which makes it much easier for me to keep track of the accounts, and to link the two.

    • Just fill out the form, and submit.

    • I will receive your application for a user account, and once I can verify that you've paid for the subscription, I will approve your account.

    • The credentials (user name and password) for your account will be sent to your email address.

    • Once you log on using the credentials received via email, you can enter the "My Account" area and change your password to whatever you want, something that's easier to remember, or what have you.

    • That's it. You are done. Now just log on to your account when you visit the webpage, and surf like normal.

    Notes:

    • If you had an account established before from years ago, I probably have already deleted it. I'm still working my way through the older accounts, and deleting those that are not associated with a paid subscriber, one by one.

    • Please pay for the subscription before submitting a request for a new user account. I am deleting all requests that I cannot associate with a paid subscriber.

    • Consider subscribing now, rather than waiting until 1 December 2012. I expect there will be a "rush" - and it there's a problem then it might take me longer to help you get access to your account. While most are able to complete this process with no problems, it seems like about 5% of people are having some sort of "issue" they need help getting past.

    Thanks again, and happy surfing...

    Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Don't forget to follow Panama Guide on Twitter. Salud.

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    Pay Wall "Last Minute" Rush Expected - Patience Please

    FeedbackBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - A lot of people have subscribed to this website over the past ten days, since I announced that I would be moving the website behind a "pay wall" on 1 December. It was probably smart to get it done a few days ahead of time. Most people have been able to pay for the subscription via PayPal and establish their user accounts with no problems whatsoever.

    However a few people have hit snags, mostly problems with credit cards not being accepted, or confusion over log in credentials (user name and password) for the user accounts on this website. It seems like those who use the same email address for PayPal and the user account have the least problems, and those who either can't or won't pay via PayPal, or who what to use a different email address are having the most problems I've been working through those issues one at a time, and eventually everyone has been taken care of.

    Many people have also told me or otherwise indicated they intend to wait until 1 December to subscribe. It seems like there will be a bit of a "rush" at the last minute. If the past ten days have been any indication, there might be a bit of a delay (a day or two) if you wait until the last minute, until we can get the problems worked out.

    Anyway, just a heads up. Don't be surprised if it takes me awhile to dig my way out of a sudden rush of service issues, as we get closer to 1 December 2012. If you are intending to subscribe anyway, please consider taking care of it ahead of time, to avoid those conflicts.

    And to all those who have already or who are intending to subscribe - thank you very much.

    Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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    How Can I Stay Logged In To Your Website?

    FeedbackBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Received today as a comment to an earlier article: "Is it possible to run a cookie on the site that keeps a user logged in? When I follow links from your Facebook page or other sources it keeps asking me to log in again. Of course it's a minor inconvenience since login info can be saved, but would be nice not to get stopped at the wall each time. Thanks and keep up the good work!"

    Editor's Comment: Users with accounts on the Panama Guide website can go into the "My Account" settings under "User Functions" and select how long you would like the system to remember you. I log in every day when I get to the office, and I stay logged in for eight hours at a shot, and I log out when I leave. If hit the website from Facebook or Twitter, I do not get prompted to log in again. You probably have your account set to "don't remember me" which means you get prompted to log in again every time you go away, and then come back later. So, log in, and set your preferences to be remembered for a longer period of time. Thanks for asking, and happy surfing.

    Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Don't forget to follow Panama Guide on Twitter. Salud.

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    Now Deleting The Last Of The Non-Subscriber User Accounts

    FeedbackBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - I've finished the heavy chopping, as well as the intermediate trimming. Now it's down to the fine tuning. Over the course of the next week I will be deleting all user accounts not associated with a paid subscriber. The "pay wall" takes effect on 1 December 2012.

    Don't forget, if you've paid the subscription you also have to establish a user account. If you have not done so already, please click on this link: http://www.panama-guide.com/users.php?mode=new.

    Paid subscribers only, please. From now on, only user account requests from subscribers will be approved.

    Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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    Greedy Bastard? I'm not a bastard, and I can prove it...

    Feedback By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Predictably, some people are going to be somewhat disappointed by my recent decision to take the Panama Guide website behind what's known in the industry as a "pay wall." Starting on 1 December 2012, only subscribers who have paid an annual $20 fee (cheap) will be able to read most of the new articles published on this website.

    Anonymous users who do not wish to subscribe will still be able to see the almost 19,000 articles that have already been published in the past, as historical or archive. These will also be fully visible to Google and the rest of the search engines. However, Panama Guide is primarily a news website and I update the database with ten to fifteen new articles, every day. This website is most valuable to my readers when the shit is hitting the fan - and normally before it's had time to hit the floor.

    I rolled out a sort of "soft" release on 14 November, by announcing my plans to go fully behind the pay wall on 1 December 2012. So far, response has been phenomenal. A lot of people have signed up early, more than expected. And what's more, many of these new subscribers have sent emails with encouraging words of support. And for that, I thank you all, very much. If you're interested and you have not yet subscribed, please click the button below.



    A few people have made comments indicating they are not interested in subscribing, and of course I can understand and respect their decisions. I hope in the future they will change their minds and return.

    Exactly one guy - Stephen Edison Ryan - felt compelled to send me the following via email on Sunday - "Another greedy bastard just surfaced in Panama."

    Words mean things. As a responsible journalist I felt it necessary to check with my parents. I spoke to them this morning and they confirmed the facts. My parents were married on 22 July 1961 and I was born in February 1962 - so they were married on the day of my birth. Therefore, by definition, I was not born out of wedlock. My father is my biological father and my mother is my biological mother. I can produce copies of their marriage certificate as well as my birth certificate. So no, I am definitely not "bastard" - in the classical sense, at least.

    Now, let's look at "greedy." It's highly hypocritical of Mr. Stephen Edison Ryan to accuse me of being greedy for having made this pay wall decision, mostly because he lives in Boquete and works as a freelance writer for an English language website. He writes articles about Panama and gets paid by the piece or the word. That's right folks, the same guy who called me "greedy" is getting paid as a freelance writer. That's incredibly hypocritical. I wonder what Mr. Stephen Edison Ryan would have charged to write the almost 19,000 articles that have already been published on this website. A whole lot more than I did, no doubt.

    Panama Guide - Like Bottled Water: As I was thinking about Steven Edison Ryan's comments this morning, I realized there are people out there who have gotten fondly accustomed to having the articles published on the Panama Guide website presented to them every day, for free (nada, zilch, gratis). And I thought for awhile about "what else now costs money that used to be free." The obvious answer is bottled water. When I was a kid people would have thought you were nuts to pay $1 for a bottle of water. Now it's a $15 billion dollar per year industry. The average person spends $167 per year on bottled water. The average bottle of water costs $1.29 (all sizes). So, if you're willing to spend $167 for water, then maybe you've be willing to spend $20 per year for access to the best damn website on the planet...

    Listen folks - if you want to subscribe to this website, then great, and thank you very much. If you don't want to subscribe, then I can respect your decision, and have a nice day. But please, keep your disparaging comments to yourself - because one man's "greedy bastard" is another's "cheap bastard" - and it all just depends on your point of view. And with that, have a great day...

    Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Don't forget to follow Panama Guide on Twitter. Salud.

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    User Database Purge Underway on Panama Guide Website

    FeedbackBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - This afternoon I deleted about 4,500 user accounts from this website. Most of them were very old. Some accounts had been created, but the user had never logged on. In some cases the user created the account, logged on once, then never came back. Some were "regular" users, who have not returned in months.

    As part of this new "pay wall" model, the User accounts will be what separates paying subscribers from the anonymous public at large. Over the past several days many people have subscribed by paying through PayPal, and then they established their accounts on this website. Eventually only paying subscribers will have user accounts. I'm still in the process of trimming down the last couple of hundred users in the database, those who have not yet subscribed. I've done the heavy chopping, now I'm down to the finer whittling and carving.

    There's a possibility that I might have deleted an account belonging to someone who has paid to subscribe. It that happened, no problem. Just create a new account using the same email address you used to pay via PayPal. I did not delete any of the newly created accounts, or accounts belonging to anyone who has logged in during the past week or so. So, if you just created your account and logged in to check it out, you shouldn't have a problem.

    From now on I am only going to approve new accounts belonging to paid subscribers. And, all existing accounts belonging to people who have not subscribed will be deleted.

    Once again, I ask for your patience as I work through the details of implementing this change.

    Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Don't forget to follow Panama Guide on Twitter. Salud.

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    Please Check The "Feedback" Category For Updates On Paid Subscriber "Pay Wall" Access to Panama Guide

    FeedbackBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - As you might have noticed by now, I recently decided to move this website behind a "pay wall." Only subscribers who have paid a $20 annual fee will have full access to all articles and features of this website.

    Over the past few days I've been publishing updates and articles to answer questions, and describe the behind the scenes process - the technological and logistical aspects of implementing this change. But now it's Monday morning, and it's time to start cranking out the daily news. All of those articles about the "pay wall" change are about to get buried or pushed down by the daily news.

    I'm going to leave this up as the "featured" article on the top of the website, as a signpost. If you would like to know more about this decision, you can simply click on the Avatar for the "Feedback" category located at the top left of this article. This is the graphic or icon at the top of this article with the green envelop, gray arrow, which says "feedback."

    I will be publishing all associated information within this "feedback" category, so by simply clicking on the category's icon you will be taken directly to all of those articles, posted in reverse chronological order.

    Thanks again for your continued support.

    Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Don't forget to follow Panama Guide on Twitter. Salud.

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    Are Two Accounts Required For Couples?

    FeedbackBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Received this morning as a comment to an article: "My wife and I each have a computer. Do we need to have 2 accounts and pay twice ($40)?"

    Editor's Comment: The subscriptions and user accounts are both tied to the same email address. Both you and your wife can use the same user account and password, because I consider that to be "fair use" and not abusive. The computer system or particular piece of equipment does not matter. You can log into your account from your desktop, wife's desktop, or your laptop, tablet, or cell phone.

    However you will only have one account, and I receive an alert when two people are logged on to one account at the same time from two different IP addresses. Obviously, this is a control function to spot and prevent abuse. So, I don't have any problem at all if you and your wife share the same account, just make sure you're both not logged in at the same time. If you both want to be on the website at the same time on two different computers, then you will need two accounts under two different email addresses - one for her and one for you.

    And again, if it's just once or twice, like a "whoops" sort of thing, then no big deal. For example, someone might be logged on via their PC, then forget to log off and hit the website via their tablet or cell phone later in the car or whatever - that would generate an alert line on the log. What I'm really looking for is flat out abuse - many different users logged on to the same account simultaneously from many different IP addresses. That's abusive, and if it happens then the account in question will be shut down. Sound reasonable?

    Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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    No Need To Establish A PayPal Account To Subscribe

    FeedbackBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Received this morning as a comment to an article: "I do not want to open an account at pay pal. Would like to charge on American Express or Visa."

    Editor's Comment: No problem. If you would like to subscribe but don't want to establish a PayPal account, when you hit the "Subscribe" button you will be taken to the PayPal website. Once there, you will see an option that allows you to pay for the subscription with your credit card. You do NOT have to establish a PayPal account in order to use this service. Thanks.

    Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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    About Subscriptions, PayPal, and User Accounts on Panama Guide

    FeedbackBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Received this morning as a question posted in the comments section: "Hey Don, You mention to use the same email for Paypal payment as we do for our current membership here. What if a member has a different email account for Paypal? How will this affect membership? Should folks sign up for PG again now with the same email used for Paypal, or is there a way here to change our email account? Thanks, Ken."

    Editor's Comment: Good question. And here's the short answer up front. Yes, please use the same email address for both the PayPal subscription and your user account on Panama Guide. It's a two step process. First, make the subscription payment. Then, establish your user account on Panama Guide using that same address. If you already have another user account on Panama Guide under a different email account, don't worry about it. I'm going to be deleting all of those accounts that are not associated with a paid subscriber, anyway.

    Background: I'm asking subscribers to use the same email address for both the PayPal subscription payment, and their user account on the Panama Guide website. When subscribers make a payment via PayPal, their system automatically generates an email to me which informs me that the payment has been made, and they track those payments by tying the account to an email address. As you might imagine, implementing this change to a "pay wall" system it's already going to be somewhat of a cluster, especially when you consider that there are more than 5,000 user accounts established for the Panama Guide website in the existing database.

    My request to have everyone use the same email address for both the PayPal subscription payment and the user account on the Panama Guide website will hopefully allow me to manage this process more efficiently. If every user used two different email addresses - one for PayPal and one for their user account on Panama Guide - then that would quickly degenerate into a classic kluster, and a massive headache to try to keep it all straight, multiplied times two.

    The goal is to make sure every paid subscriber can access their account quickly and easily. Over the last few days, since I announced my decision to move this website behind a "pay wall", I've dealt with several users who have already subscribed, but were having problems getting into their user accounts for whatever reason. The vast majority have not had any problem at all, so these people have demonstrated that the existing system works just fine. However I understand human nature, and I also tend to wear out a path between known points. Most of us are creatures of habit. Any change or disruption creates a "learning curve" - and there's plenty of time to deal with those issues as they arise.

    Please Log In - At Least Once: I'm going to be purging those 5,000+ user accounts belonging to people who are not subscribed to this website. For the vast majority, people have created accounts but have never used them or logged on to this website. So, the first step in the "purge" will be to delete those apparently inactive accounts. I'm asking all subscribers to please log on to your account at least once. That will be reflected in the database, and your account won't be deleted in the first flush.

    Patience, Please... Once again I ask for your patience as I work out all of these logistical and technological details. I'll get it squared away eventually, but it might get a little messy at first. But yes, please, use the same email address for both the PayPal subscription and the Panama Guide user account. Thank you very much.

    Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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    Changed Position Of The "User Functions" Block (Left Side)

    Feedback By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - I made one more little tweak to the website this morning. In response to feedback from users, I've moved the "User Functions" block up a few notches. This is the spot on the website that Members will be using with greater frequency to log in to their user accounts, now that I'm moving the website behind a "pay wall". I changed the position of this block, to make it more visible and easier to find. The "User Functions" block is now located just below the "Our Sponsors" banner ad on the left, and above the "Categories and Topics" block. In short, I moved it up a few places to make it more visible and easier to find.

    Many New User Accounts Being Created: I've noticed since I announced the "pay wall" a lot of people are scrambling to sign up for new user accounts. I suspect they might be hoping to be able to use those after 1 December 2012 to read the articles on this website. It's also possible people are creating their user accounts first, and they are just waiting to pay the subscription fee until 1 December (and that's fine). It's good to see how people are already starting to subscribe, create their accounts, figure out the mouse clicks and keystrokes, to get ready for the change. After 1 December 2012 I'm going to go through and purge (delete) all of those user accounts belonging to people who are not paid subscribers.

    Test Articles As Examples: I've been posting a couple of articles to serve as tests or examples, so users can see how this website is going to work, on both sides of the "pay wall." You can play with this by looking at the website as an anonymous user (not signed in) to see what it will look like for the general public, Google, and visitors who are not paying subscribers. Then sign in to your account. Those partial (test or example) articles that only contain the Title and one line of text should "disappear" (no longer be visible) to those members who are logged in to their user accounts. In their place, paid subscribers, once logged on, will now see the full text of those articles. In short, Panama Guide will look exactly like it always did, on the other side of the "pay wall."

    It's A Two Step Process: In order to subscribe to this website first you have to pay the $20 (cheap) annual fee via PayPal. Then, once you've done that, create a user account using the same email address used to pay for the subscription. Once you receive your credentials, you can log on and surf the website at will.

    Working Out The Bugs: I know, this is a change, and there's always a couple of speed bumps or a bit of a learning curve any time change is involved. Now is a good time to work through these issues. I'm standing by to help people work through these issues, and will get everyone all lined up and skating along, as needed, one at a time. No stress...

    Thank You! If you've already subscribed, thank you very much, I really appreciate your continued support. I'm already thinking of a whole raft of things that I've always wanted to do and write and investigate, and now I'll be free to explore more of those options without reservations. In short, the quality of the content on this website is going to improve, on the other side of the "pay wall" switch.

    Haven't Subscribed Yet? It might be a good idea to get it out of the way now, to beat the rush after 1 December 2012 when all new articles will move behind the "pay wall." It seems like it takes a day or so for people to pay, create their account, have it activated, and figure out how to use it. I suspect there will be a sort of mini-rush after 1 December, so it might take a little bit longer to get things sorted out if you wait. If you would like to subscribe, please click on the button below to pay the $20 annual subscription fee via PayPal;

    There Will Be More Tweaks And Improvements: I'm working my way through a list of upgrades, improvements, fixes, and tweaks. I started a couple of weeks ago, when I upgraded the hardware and software of my dedicated server, upon which this website runs. You might have noticed response times are shorter, the page loads faster, and things are just a bit more "snappy". Constant, steady improvement, over the long term, focused on strategic goals - making things better and even more valuable for my readers. Just like always...

    Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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    Hey, That Worked Great - Elegant Solution - "Pay Wall" Implementation

    FeedbackBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - As you might have noticed I'm working out the bugs on how to take this website behind what's known as a "pay wall."

    Meaning, starting on 1 December 2012, only paying subscribers will be able to read the full text of the articles published on this website.

    As a result of this decision, I'm facing the same dilemmas as every other news organization that's taken the same step - and there are several important issues to consider.

    First of all and most importantly, no one is going to pay $20 (cheap) for an annual subscription unless they know in their hearts and minds that the articles and information being published on the other side of the "pay wall" are well worth the price of admission.

    Thankfully, in my case, I've been building up a dedicated reader base for more than eight years, and you guys "know me" and my website. So, to a certain extent, the sales pitch has already been done.

    So, in that context, the first and most important element to consider are the readers themselves. Quality must remain high and consistent. Production levels must be maintained in terms of frequency and volume. Panama Guide will still be the absolute best place for English speakers to fill their clue bag, with regards to current events in the Republic of Panama. And the overall experience has to be valuable, easy, and painless.

    The next issue to be considered are my existing advertisers. Moving the website behind a "pay wall" will almost certainly result in a short term drop in macro traffic levels - that's the bad news. The good news is that, on the other side of the "pay wall", paying subscribers have demonstrated they are highly motivated to keep reading this website. I suspect there will be a short term drop off as the cheapskates who are not willing to part with $20 bucks go wandering off in a huff, to read something else (of lessor quality). Then a new plateau or base level will be established, and after that traffic levels will once again begin to grow and rise over the long term, in a strategic sense. I've proven I can attract a 30% increase in traffic levels in terms of year-on-year growth with a free site. Let's see what I can do with this paid model. As long as the advertisers continue to get a good return on their investment, they'll continue to place their ads on this website.

    And consider this - the people who are too "frugal" to pay the $20 annual subscription fee are also those who are least likely to patronize the businesses and services being promoted by advertisers on this website. While those who are willing to pay the subscription fee are the most likely to contact a real estate agent or a lawyer, check out a restaurant, or use a hotel they see advertised. So in that respect, this move will create a sort of "upgrade" to the quality of the readership.

    The next issue to be considered are the search engines and SEO. In order to stay relevant, the search engines have to be able to know what's on your website.

    To put the technical details in a nutshell, I am now going to be putting up two articles for every article published on this website. The difference will be in their content (what they contain), and which users can see what.

    The first article will be visible to the general public, and Google. It will contain the Title (only) of the article, and the first line of the text (only). Behind the scenes this article will also contain what's know as a "meta description" and keywords, which tell Google what's in there. So, anyone who is not a subscriber will be able to get an idea of what's in the full body of the article. These articles will contain a link to the full version, as well as an invitation to subscribe.

    Those people who are paid subscribers or "Members" will be able to see the full body of the article - which will actually be published in a whole different article.

    And here's the truly elegant part. Paying subscribers who log on to the website will not even be able to see the "intro only" articles. The only thing you will have to do is log on (once) when you first arrive at the website. No further action is required, and you can surf like normal. No muss, no fuss.

    I like this setup, very much. Here's a test that I put up this morning. If you are not logged on to your Panama Guide user account, you should be able to see this article: EU and Illegal Fishing Boats Flying Panama Flag (Test Article) and read it like normal. You will see the title, first line, the invitation to subscribe, and the other stuff I wrote below as comments on the test. If you click on the link in that article to try to read it without first logging on, you will be returned to the home page (rejected).

    However, people who have first logged in on their Panama Guide will only be able to see the full blown article - EU and Illegal Fishing Boats Flying Panama Flag. Notice, if you're logged on, you won't be able to see the first article (test version) because it's invisible to logged in members who are paying subscribers.

    Once you've paid for your subscription, all of this stuff is behind you. Just log on, surf, read, and enjoy your day.

    Also, Members can set their preferences. I think right now anyone who logs in will stay logged in for up to eight hours, unless they decide to log off. That will make it easier for people who like to check the website several times during the day. Just log on once when you first open the website.

    Of course all of this will create more work for me to keep things separate. No problem. I'm sure that once I get the details worked out, I will be able to plug the repetitive script into a hotkey, and I'll be slapping these puppies out like nothing.

    I'm still consulting with the Geeks on the Hill to figure out the best way to get from here to there. This solution sounded like the best so far, and in fact I like it very much in practice. It will probably add a minute or two per article, something I can easily deal with. No problem at all.

    The behind the scenes nuts and bolts of the Content Management System (CMS) would take come custom programming to be able to do the same thing in a more efficient manner, and that's what I'm exploring right now. There are people in this world who have really, really big brains out there who do these sorts of things for a living. But I don't want to get too custom, because that will bite me later.

    Anyway, I just wanted to let you know what I've been doing for the past couple of days to move this change to the paid subscription model forward. I really appreciate all of you who immediately subscribed. Thank you very much. Please continue to play around with things over the next couple of weeks. Get used to signing in to your account when surfing this website. Readers are going to be divided into two groups - those who are paying subscribers, and those who are not, and that will be decided by logging on. In the coming days I'm going to purge all 5,000+ user accounts that do not belong to paying subscribers.

    Anyway, I'm proceeding on into the future. I've been running this website for more than eight years now. Along the way I've experimented with practically every business model out there, and created a few new ones of my own. I've made this decision, and now I'll be living with the consequences - both good and bad. I have confidence in myself and my work ethic. But most importantly I have faith in my regular followers, readers, and fans - who have proven themselves over the years to be the best in the world. So yeah, sure, there are elements of risk. But I'm not worried - sometimes you just have to jump and trust that the chute will open when you pull the cord...

    Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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    "What If I Don't Have A Credit Card?"

    FeedbackBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - I've received some feedback from people who are somewhat "off the grid" when it comes to things like bank accounts and credit cards. I really (really) would like people to use the PayPal system if at all possible, because that automatically generates a notice via email on the activation of the subscription, which makes it easier to manage the accounts. As you can imagine, it's going to be more difficult and time consuming to manage this new subscription system, so I'm trying to make it as painless and as automatic as possible, to keep the bumps to a minimum. But with that having been said, if you really can't find a way to pay for the subscription via the PayPal system, let me know via email (don@panama-guide.com) and we can find another way, using a cash deposit at a local bank or whatever. Thanks again for your continued support.

    Get Into The Habit: For those of you who have already subscribed, thanks! You might want to start by getting into the habit of signing in to the website when you visit using your login and password credentials. Remember, your "User" account on the Panama-Guide.com should be tied to the same email address that you used to make the PayPal subscription payment. Otherwise, I'll just get really confused. Thanks again.

    Related Articles:

  • Panama Guide Will Be Switching To A Paid Subscription Format Soon

  • Can't Find The "Subscribe" Button

    Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Don't forget to follow Panama Guide on Twitter. Salud.

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    Can't Find The "Subscribe" Button

    FeedbackBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Received this morning via email; "I am unable to locate the PayPal "subscribe" button you refer to. I have no problem in your decision to charge an annual fee in order to visit your website. It's well worth the money. JP."

    Editor's Comment: If you look at the left hand side of the website there are "Blocks" of information. The first is "Our Sponsors" which contains banner ads. The next is "Categories and Topics" which contains a list of (you guessed it) the categories and topics of information. The third block is "Donate or Subscribe." Some people adjust their browser settings to automatically detected and block banner ads and advertisements. It's possible you have your browser configured in that manner, and therefore you can't see the PayPal Subscription button (it's there, trust me.)

    In any case, you can use this one;

    I know it's been working, because people started subscribing last night as soon as I published - Panama Guide Will Be Switching To A Paid Subscription Format Soon.

    In addition, thanks for your kind words, and continued support.

    Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Don't forget to follow Panama Guide on Twitter. Salud.

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    Panama Guide Will Be Switching To A Paid Subscription Format Soon

    Feedback By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Well, I finally made a decision I've been putting off for years. I've decided to change to a paid subscription format for the Panama-Guide.com website.

    The cost will be $20 per year (cheap). Payment can be made via credit card by clicking on the PayPal "subscribe" button in the left hand column, after the "Categories and Topics" section.

    All visitors to this website will be categorized as "members" or "anonymous." Starting on about 1 December 2012 or so, only registered members who have paid the $20 annual subscription fee will be able to access all of the news articles on this website. You will have to log in to a user account, created using the same email address used to pay for the subscription, in order to access the news articles. New articles will be for "members only."

    Anonymous users who don't want to pay the subscription fee or register will be able to access the nearly 19,000 articles that have already been published on this website (archive or historical), but they won't be able to see the daily grind of about ten to fifteen news articles I publish every day, after 1 December 2012. I'm not going to go back and change all of the older articles to subscription access only, mostly because that would time consuming, and it would take a whole lot of work. I might go back and change some, picking and choosing, but that depends of a few factors and I have not decided exactly how I want to handle the issue. It will probably be decided by technological, logistical, and SEO factors.

    This change will mostly apply to new articles that are written and published after 1 December 2012. Again, taking SEO and Google into consideration, the public at large will still be able to see the article headline, keywords, and possibly a short meta description of the article in a Google search, but not the body or the text of the article. I'm still working out the technical details of exactly how I'm going to be implementing this change. There are a few options, and different ways to handle the flow of electrons. I'm consulting with the Geeks On The Hill to determine the best path, right now.

    I know some of my regular readers will scream bloody murder, stalk off in a huff, and never return. I understand, and I will miss you.

    But the simple fact of the matter is that I work my butt off on this website, and I'm literally a one man show. Many times I have to choose between following and publishing the news, helping someone who needs help, or to make sales calls or attend meetings with potential new advertisers or other sources or revenue. Traditionally I've taken an "if you build it, they will come" approach, and for the most part that's worked pretty well over the years. My focus has been to make this website the most valuable source of English language news in the Republic of Panama, and against that scale of measure I think I've done pretty well. Traffic to this website in terms of unique visitors, visits, pages delivered, and bandwidth have never been higher.

    But when something very important pops up - like when someone goes missing, or a member of the English speaking community of expat needs my help, or Colon goes up in flames - I drop everything else. The issue of the day becomes the overriding priority, and as a result my personal income suffers. So ironically, more "success" as a journalist (especially in busting bad guys) has not translated into income. On the contrary, big news stories tend to mean a declining bottom line for me personally. And that's gotta change...

    So, there you have it. Right now exactly 5,262 people already have accounts on this website as "Users." Most of those will simply be deleted. If you want to subscribe to this website you should first sign up for the subscription using the PayPal "Subscribe" button to the left. Then, create a new "User" account on this website using the same email address as reflected on your subscription. That's my control mechanism. Your subscription (PayPal) and registration on this website (User) has to be done via the same email address. When you subscribe, I'll get an email that contains the details, and your email address. If you already have a user account on this website using the email account used to pay for the subscription, don't worry about it. Your account won't be deleted when I purge the database, and you will still have access after 1 December 2012. And, a handful of people have already subscribed voluntarily over the years. Those people are good to go.

    I'm also going to be asking for your patience, please. I'm putting this out there ahead of time, about two weeks in advance of the change, in order to have a chance to work out the bugs. I have to install some new software, make some other upgrades, and change a couple of fundamental settings. I'm going to try to "ease into this" so to speak, but there might be a couple of bumps along the way. These software upgrades are more about keeping things running smoothly and up to date - the existing software can handle the change to a paid subscription format right now. Hopefully for the most part the change will be practically invisible to most users. Besides having to pay the $20 bucks, the only other change will be a need to "log on" with your user account in order to surf the website. If all goes according to plan, the change should be pretty smooth.

    What else? I'm sure there will be a whole raft of unforeseen or unexpected consequences as a result of this change. Obviously this decision carries a degree of risk, and thankfully I'm not risk averse. There's one thing you can count on - that once you guys, my faithful readers - are paying the bills, then I'll be working even harder than ever (if that's even possible) to make this the best damn website on the planet. And with that, we're off. Please feel free to send your questions to don@panama-guide.com or post them in the comments section below.

    Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Don't forget to follow Panama Guide on Twitter. Salud.

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    World Interest in Colon Riots Generated A Traffic Spike in October

    FeedbackBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - I had reported earlier the "Site Meter" service had apparently gone offline and stopped working for some unknown reason. I have been using the Site Meter service years to help monitor website traffic, mostly because they generate a good looking bar chart that I can easily use to create these monthly traffic reports. A couple of months ago Site Meter simply quit working. I checked the local invocation code on my website (which seemed to be fine), and I sent them a couple of service tickets, but never received any sort of response from them. Eventually I gave them up for dead and moved on. Yesterday I noticed that apparently the service had started working again, because the total number of visitors tally was increasing and had passed 7 million. So, apparently Site Meter fixed their problems and reloaded their data, and they have come back from the dead. That's good news. I like those guys.

    Then I looked at the levels of traffic for the past 30 days everything looked normal, except for a few days in October. Back during the riots in Colon the large international news services such as CNN, Fox, and the networks in both the United States and Europe picked up the story about how people in Panama were protesting against Law 72, which would have allowed for the sale of the lands of the Colon Free Trade Zone. Well, apparently a lot of people saw those reports and plugged "Panama" into their search engines to learn more. As a result of those searches this website saw a huge traffic spike during October - almost a doubling of our normal or expected levels of traffic for October. I would have expected something over 140,000 or so, and in fact we almost hit 260,000 -

    While it's nice to see them back online, I suspect the guys at Site Meter might have lost some of their data during their outage, because the numbers for September are wrong (low). Unfortunately I'm only using their free service so I can't go back to see data that's more than 30 days old, so it's impossible for me to see what they have for September. But "spikes" like this one in October are common when there's some sort of breaking news in Panama. So yeah, we saw more than a quarter of a million visitors in just one month.

    It's Always A Good Time To Advertise on Panama Guide: Traffic to this website has been growing steadily since we launched now more than eight years ago on 27 August 2004. I no longer get concerned over daily or seasonal ebbs and flows of traffic, because I have learned over the years that traffic levels will just keep growing, as long as I keep working hard. Most of the people in the world simply ignore Panama most of the time, but when something important or interesting happens, they turn here. And when these sorts of spikes in interest occur, I almost always see a fundamental increase in repeat traffic afterward, because some of these people "discover" Panama-Guide.com and they start to use it every day. Anyway, if you have a product or service you would like to promote, now is a good time to get serious. Dry season is coming, and the more important underlying fundamental traffic is already starting to ramp up. As soon as it gets cold and starts to snow up North, people start looking for warmer climes. This year I expect to see more interest from hotels, because thousands of new hotel rooms are coming online and occupancy rates are dropping. Businesses increase their advertising budgets when competition gets stiffer, because they have to fight for that limited set of customers.

    Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Don't forget to follow Panama Guide on Twitter. Salud.

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    "How Can I Receive Your Newsletter?"

    FeedbackBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - I received the following this morning via email: "How do I become an on line subscriber to your news letter? Occasionally I have someone forward it to me and would like to get it regularly as we still have family in Panama."

    Editor's Comment: The easiest way is to join the Americans in Panama (AIP) Yahoo email group. I regularly send out an email containing links to all of the articles I publish on this website, and a copy of that email goes to the AIP group. There are also now more than 5,900 people who are subscribed to this group, so it's the best way to ask questions about life and living in Panama. Chances are good you'll find someone who knows the answer to practically any question.

    If you don't want to become a member of an active Yahoo email group, then you can subscribe to the Panama Guide Yahoo email group. This is a "closed" group, which means it's only used to broadcast the emails I send out containing links to the articles published on this website. Members of this group cannot post messages, so the traffic is one way only, from me to you. This is a good solution for those who don't want to have their inbox cluttered up with the chatter from other group members, who might be talking about stuff you don't care about.

    You can also follow Panama Guide on Twitter. This is the best method for keeping track of what's going on in real time. As soon as I publish an article on the website, within minutes a link to that article is automatically issued via Twitter as a new "Tweet." You can scan the headline, and read those articles that might be of interest to you. Also, if I'm out of the office and following breaking news or reporting from the street, I'll blast out real time updates via Twitter, and then get caught back up once I return to the office. Subscribing to Panama Guide on Twitter is the best way to go for real time, breaking news. You will see reporting on events as they occur, about earthquakes, tsunamis, other types of natural disasters, demonstrations, protests, blocked streets, plane crashes, service outages, or whatever else pops up to make your life more interesting - sign up now so when it (eventually) hits the fan, you won't have to go looking for this article to figure out how.

    Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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