The means of maintaining or supporting oneself

Subsistence is a topic that has stray far from its original meaning.  Schools used to teach labor oriented classes in the past, but in recent years some college kids cannot even fry an egg. During the 1800’s subsistence was widely mention and has decline exponentially since then. Subsistence is define as the means of maintaining or supporting oneself, either a person or a country. During class we discussed the topic and made some comparisons that you will read further down.


The US has a very big farming sector, while Panama has dry unused lands all along the highways.  At first sight this will look like we Panamanians do not understand the value of it and we are wasting our resources, but going deeper into Panama industries we can see that we are a service country with a big import/export sector.  For us its easier to import all that corn from your warm sunny fields than try to grow it in our dry land, this is what in economics its called the law of comparative advantage: each country should do what its resources allow them to do and specialize on it instead of trying to manufacture every product.

We import so many products because its the cheapest, most efficient way not because we are lazy and decide to not do it ourselves. The Colon Free Zone, The Transisthmic Railroad, The Ports and The Canal make it really easy for us to import in terms of logistics and trade. Panama’s subsistent economy is based on this and will continue to grow during the forthcoming years.





Speed Dating

First class after a week off…

Intercultural Communications with P. Al Futrell.

Arriving late I find Joyce in the front desk asking for the classroom, to my surprise once we entered we noticed that the room was full of strangers… And not only strangers, but american strangers.

Well I guess the Intercultural Communication process will start right away.  Not long after arriving professor Futrell initiated a process where the american students will rotate around the tables of the panamanians and start talking and socializing.

Akward at first, we managed to understand each other and ended up sharing a lot, sometimes our talking time was done and we would exchange phone numbers to be able to continue the conversations.  Topics were the obvious whats your major? where have you gone to in panama?  Do you know what a chiva is? are you hot? where are you staying? Nevertheless a seed was planted and from now on classes will be much more comfortable and I am sure participation will increase.



Panama Regional Tech Leader

The U.S. has Best Buy. Panama has Panafoto, Audiofoto, Multimax, Photura, Hometech, Yoytec, The Sony Center and a few more… In the airport I have seen foreigners checking in TVs, Microwave Ovens, Macs and even AirCons to bring back to their country. Panamá can offer some of the best prices on electronic articles than any other country form this region. 

Panama has a set of features that enable it to have this advantage, The Colon Free Zone being the biggest. Import and export of technology to the region is done trough Panama, giving retailers the advantage of acquiring products and avoiding taxes that other countries will have to pay much more for.

Copa Airline’s flight hub is also Panama, this gives the country a lot of tourism and easy access to the country for foreigners to come over and do their shopping in any of the malls that we have to offer. On top of this Copa has a permanent special offer for any traveler that wants to get to know the country to be able to make their layover a day or two longer so they can visit Panama. There is more information for this here:

Panama has 42% of internet penetration, this place it number one in the region and is also another motivating factor for people to buy more technology because of the high accessibility. Panama also has the Zonas Francas which are tax exempt pieces of land that companies can Import/export, manufacture and install their headquarters with many legal benefits. This along with the factors previously mentioned should let Panama remain a leader in the region for many more years to come.

Teaching Trough Video Games

Today after getting out of class at noon I told myself I was going to go straight home do my post so I didn’t have to worry about it in the middle of the night, and I could start working on some edits that I have to deliver later in the week. On my way home I stumbled upon a friend who was standing outside his house and he invited me in to eat, after we were done eating he asked if I wanted to check out the new game he had (Grand Theft Auto V), so we started playing it. 4 hours later I realized I had just lost my whole afternoon trying to virtually steal a jet from a military base.

Video Games (along with books) are among the few things that can bend the perception of time and this is a virtue that should be oriented towards the learning of topic. The fact that STEM subjects are incorporating the use of video games as part of the learning process seems absolutely brilliant to me.  Kids will find it way more engaging and interactive than reading it from a textbook.

Personally I have never experienced being taught with video games, but I have learned trough them. When I was 15 I use to play a lot of Brain Age on my Nintendo DS and I found out that it was actually a very god way to practice my math skills and this was also the platform in which I solved hundred of sudoku puzzles.

I encourage all the schools that embrace this methodology and firmly believe that the future of teaching is going to evolve to a more interactive and engaging classroom.

Personal Computers

My first personal computer was an IBM PC300PL clock’d at 200Mhz and with 2gb of storage (I wanted 6gb). My dad bought it and installed it in the living room at the end of 1998, that year I became a pro at minesweeper and later used it for playing Prince of Persia.


Once I approached the teenage days my computer needs evolved from a gaming center to an instant communications center. My aunt introduced me to ICQ that I use for a while but then migrated to the Microsoft Messenger application that was the one most commonly used by my friends.

In 2003 when I was 14 I decided I could handle the task of putting together my own clone computer and decided I was gonna go all-out! on the specs. Being 14 I quickly realized that one of my limitations was gonna be that I only had 400$ in my savings account fromg my previous birthdays. Nevertheless I started reading on computers, how they worked, what type of architectures existed and what all of the components did. With the help of my aunt I bought all of the components and had it assembled at a computer store in El Dorado. I was now the proud owner of a CPU with 2.8GHz Pentium 4, 512MB of DDR1 RAM  and a 160GB 5400RPMs Hard Drive. This was the computer that will accompany me during the rest of my teenage years.


With this computer I discovered the world wide web, Emails and how annoying it was to have to disconnect from the internet every time someone called the house (but was quickly fixed with a dsl modem), this was the computer that rendered all of my age of empires mythical battles and the one that made an avid user of power point and word.

In 2008 I was a year away from graduating high school and my computer needs where no longer covered by an outdated single core processor. Also, Apple just launched some really cool entry level laptops called the unibody macbooks. By this time I had already figured out I wanted to be a part of the Photography/Video world so a macbook was the perfect choice for me. On a trip to Disney I went with my dad to the Apple store on the bottom flor of the Millenia Mall in Orlando and aquired my new baby. I can say that this is the computer that hold a special place in my heart, It introduced me to the multimedia world that only apple computers can handle and since it was a laptop we have a lot of mileage together, this was the computer where I edited my first projects and the one that taught me about video and photo editing.  After 3 hdd swaps and 8gb of ram additions, 5 years later, my Macbook still goes with me everyday to school on its beat up blue case with no battery and messed up charger.


My current powerhouse computer is a Mac Mini (on steroids) that I purchased at Albrook mall at a price similar to the one in the states. I upgraded her with a 256gb Ultra fast solid state drive, 16gb of ram and the latest software for video and photo editing.


Panama: The New Destination For Western Cinema

Panamá was home to several big productions this year. Just last week my street was closed and filled with trucks and generators for the shooting of Hands of Stone. The new “Ley de Cine” has something to do with this by providing producers a little cash-back from their expenses, but this is not the only factor that makes Panama a great shooting location.

Panama is a logistic center so our import and export laws help a lot when bringing in gear from outside, also there are a lot of talented crew members that will provide a great skill-set for a very competitive price when it comes to film-making. Gear is also another things that is easier to get in Panama. I just recently shot a commercial for Valvoline and all of the gear was rented locally without the need of the producers to bring containers and do a lot of paperwork.

Our currency, being the same as the states, is another advantage no other country has making it easier for everyone in the crew, studio, and even accounting department to work on. There are also many production houses in Panama that will start the pre-production before you need to ship in your crew, getting all the locations sorted and even hiring extras and assistants.

Some limitations for high-end studio productions could be the lack of regulations and policies in our government when it comes to shooting permits and logistics within the city, wouldn’t be the first time I hear that the police stopped a shoot because they said you could not shoot in that area when all the paperwork was clearly done before.

I believe that Panama will grow the number of foreign productions, nevertheless they shouldn’t just rely on a single law and create policies that will give foreign and local productions more opportunities.



Digital Signage

Digital Signage came faster than HDTVs or Bluray Discs, out of nowhere the printed menus from the food court became 40″ LCDs and there where huge screens everywhere in the city displaying these new fast moving and colorful ads. Digital signage is not a new technology, is just an adaptation we made to create another media outlet.

Basically digital signage consist of a digital screen and a source box that is connected (optional) to a network via Ethernet cable or WiFi, which then an operator logs into and uploads the new content that must be submitted to the specific address of the screen. This type of file can vary but will usually be a .PNG file. Ultimately it really depends on the platforms that the supplier is using.

There are also passive not networking digital signage devices that only do the function of a media player, but every time the content needs to be changed an operator must physically go to the location and manually update the device’s memory. Nevertheless the main advantage of this little passive boxes is that they can cost very little (from 15$) and will work well in situations that the content does not have to be continually updated.

Having large scale digital signage platforms in panama can be a good business, but it is already a very competitive market dominated by companies such as FuturAd and 5imedia that can give you really good prices considering all of the hundreds of outlets they have already working.

Claiming your ad will have huge amount of impressions is not rare because it really not difficult to program a page with tens of other ads and just have it looped all day. Among the disadvantages of digital signage are the lack of market segmentation, the fact that people know those screens are full of ads and they will not even look and is just not beneficial for every type of business.

Sometimes, online digital signage can have very high overhead costs that will be transferred to the costumer and tying him to an expensive yearly contract. The best thing to do when considering a digital signage advertising strategy is to first to a market analysis on the benefits that this new technology will give me and if they are worth the investment.


Here are some links to the most basic and most advanced DS boxes respectively: