Friday, February 17, 2017

Save 7 cents a litre on petrol, possibly more with a discount voucher.

Today I noticed we're in the part of the petrol price cycle where prices split out and can vary considerably across areas. Below is a map of the petrol prices around my area from Petrol Prices Melbourne.
The red markers show the most expensive petrol at 129.9 and the darker green markers at 122.9 cents per litre. Whilst this price spread isn't unusual, with Eltham more expensive and Doncaster East lower, the difference is usually more around the four to five cents a litre.

If I were to go to the local Shell service station, I'd be paying one of the highest prices at 129.9. However, if I plan my trip and stop at one of the petrol stations I pass along the way, there's a good chance of saving quite a bit on petrol. This could add up to hundreds of dollars a year.

The extra bonus, throw in a Woolworths petrol discount and the savings could be up to 11 cents a litre.

Kelvin Eldridge
Petrol Prices Melbourne
www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au


Thursday, February 16, 2017

TPG. No indication a voicemail has been received.

I've been using the TPG mobile service for a number of years. A while ago I retired the old iPhone and moved to a very inexpensive Huawei. Whilst the Android/Huawei phone has some gremlins, overall, for the very low cost ($99 on special at Coles), it's hard to complain.

However, one thing I have noticed is, if I'm on a call and someone rings and they go to voicemail, I don't get any notification that they've called and left a message. No beeps in the background. No text message. Nothing. Nada. Zip. It isn't until next time I check the voicemail I realise someone else has called, perhaps a few days ago. That's really not acceptable.

I couldn't help feeling there must be a setting that I need to change. There it was. If you call 1218 on your mobile you set the option to receive a text message if a voicemail is received.

Are you getting notified of voicemails when you're already talking on the mobile? It's a good idea to do the following test to see.

1. Make a call from your mobile. I called my home phone.

2. Whilst chatting, make a call from a second phone to your mobile. The call should go to voicemail if voicemail is enabled. Leave a message and hang up the second phone.

3. Now go back to your mobile and complete that call.

4. You should receive some form of notification that a call has been left. If not, investigate your mobile service provider's options and see if you can turn on a text message alert when a voicemail is left.

A separate issue is sometimes I've heard people say, "I've been calling you" and they expect somehow you're supposed to know. When questioned it turns out they call but don't leave a message. If the person they're calling is on another call there's no way for the person to know they've called. There's nothing in the log, no message, so no indication anyone has called. If you want someone to know you've called, it may be a good idea to leave a message.


Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au
IT support.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Don't answer YES to a telephone call. Scam or Hoax scam?

I've read recently quite a few articles letting people know of a scam where they answer yes to a telephone call from a scammer. The problem is this has been widely reported, yet I can't find one incident where the yes has actually been used by a scammer.

The typical situation is you get a phone call. You know the phone calls. "Are you the resident of the home", or any other question where you answer yes. The yes response is recorded and then somehow later used to scam you. Sounds feasible because I suspect we've all received those type of calls. Even a call could be "can you hear me?"

The problem is, since I can't find one real reference to if the response of yes has actually been used to scam someone. Yes, lots of responses by people saying they've received calls where they answer yes to the call, but none saying this has actually resulted in being scammed.

When I read news items like this it means they may be true, or they may simply be a hoax designed to get people to forward the information to others. The hoax gets people to spread the news even though it may not be real. For example this post is letting others know so if it is a hoax, then I've been tricked into spreading the hoax.

Until I can determine/find a real situation where this 'yes' type call is actually being used to scam people, we have to assume it's a hoax. However, it doesn't hurt to be safe. If you receive a telephone call from someone you don't know, perhaps don't answer 'yes' from now on. Perhaps use 'why'. "Why,  who wishes to know". "Why, how can I help you".

It is truly sad when our technology such as our phones, which offer us such convenience is used maliciously against us, but that's the age we live in.

Many years ago when caller id came in I happily blocked my number so others could not see it. Now I take the opposite approach. I suggest to everyone to let others see your number unless there's a reason not to. I now don't answer any calls to the home line if they're not from numbers I know. The telephone rings with a different ring tone for those I know and all other calls then go to the answering machine. Even my mobile I use for business calls are mostly telemarketing calls for numbers or private calls I don't know.

Scammers and telemarketers often hide their telephone number. Some calls come from interstate numbers such as when overseas callers (often telemarketers) appear to call from within Australia. If you can see the telephone number, it gives you a better chance of filtering unwanted calls. If you provide others with your telephone number, it likewise gives them a better chance of filtering unwanted calls.

Finally if you do call someone you want to speak to and they don't answer the telephone so you go to an answering machine, do leave a message. Scammers and telemarketers will simply hang up. Real people with a real need should be more than happy to leave a message.

Hopefully these tips will help us all avoid unwanted scam and telemarketing calls.

Kelvin Eldridge
Online Connections
www.OnlineConnections.com.au

Thursday, February 09, 2017

New speed and red light camera locations now live.

According to the following news article on The Age site a number of new speed and red light cameras are now live.

http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/drivers-be-warned-new-speed-camera-locations-in-melbourne-revealed-20170131-gu2f6g.html

For those who have used or checked the Speed Camera Locations site (https://www.SpeedCameraLocations.com.au) these camera locations and the pending upgrades had already been present for quite some time. However this does mean fines will shortly be enforced.

The majority of the locations are upgrades from wet film cameras to modern speed and red light cameras. The number of fines generated by wet film cameras is often quite low due to the manual effort involved. With the new cameras, we can expect to see a significant increase in fines.

The two locations that according to the article which haven't been released, are most likely Brighton Road and Glen Eira Road, Ripponlea and Nepean Highway and Centre Road, Brighton East. These are upgrades from wet-flim cameras.

Most of us know the locations of red light and speed cameras we pass every day, but if you're travelling in a strange location, or perhaps switched jobs and thus your route to work, checking the locations is a good idea.

The Speed Camera Locations site provides the ability to see a map of the locations so you can drill down and check the roads you travel on. The Speed Camera Locations site also has an alert feature, which can be used to alert you to nearby speed or red light cameras. If travelling in a strange area or taking a new route, the alert feature can be useful for helping you learn where the cameras are located.

There is now very little tolerance when it comes to going over the speed limit, and from what I've seen, no tolerance for red light camera incursions, so it is good to know where the cameras are located. There's no need to mention the fine for red light and speed camera violations is huge and can financially impact many people on limited or constrained incomes. Best to drive appropriately at all times. Whether you consider the fines unfair, a tax, or a cash grab by the government, the bottom line is these fines can be avoided by driving appropriately.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.SpeedCameraLocations.com.au


Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Mobile phone porting scam. If your mobile stops working contact your telco immediately.

I read an article recently about a new scam I'd not heard of previously. The scam involves porting your mobile number to another service, so the scammers and not you are in control of your mobile phone number.

In the past I've seen one person who had their mobile number redirected to a scammer and their bank account cleared out, but this one goes a step further. Porting the mobile number from one telco to another.

The following is an account of such a scam from the Bankwest site.

https://www.bankwest.com.au/media-centre/media-releases/mobile-phone-porting-new-type-of-scam-to-look-out-for-1292493597511

The lesson here is if your mobile phone service stops working unexpectedly contact your telco immediately. In fact the story shared by Bankwest indicates even if you get a notice that there may be an interruption to your service, you should contact your telco immediately as well to ensure it is actually the telco sending the message.

The reason this type of scam works, is people often have accounts set up so a confirmation is sent to their mobile phone. This is called two factor authentication. E.g. a pin number is received to enable them to verify it is actually them making the request. Once your mobile phone has been compromised and the scammer is then receiving the pin or other number, they then have control over whatever account they have access to.

You may wish to let others know of this scam, particularly those who are less comfortable with technology.

Kelvin Eldridge
Online Connections
www.OnlineConnections.com.au


Monday, January 30, 2017

Woolworths Petrol Rewards Card discount didn't work at Bairnsdale on 29/1/17

I noticed that petrol was an excellent price in Bairnsdale as we passed through recently. The pump price was 119.9 for unleaded, whilst back in Melbourne prices were in the high 130s and in Merimbula it was 143.9. On the way back to Melbourne I had decided to stop at Woolworths Petrol and fill up.

I thought I'd share the Rewards Card discount couldn't be applied by the operator. They felt it was strange but couldn't do anything about it. I checked later that night and there was a discount voucher sitting there.

So for those who have a similar problem, at least you know you're not alone. It makes me wonder how often the Rewards Card discount system doesn't work.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.PetroPricesMelbourne.com.au


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Crossword Help now available to help solve those word puzzles.

As the creator of the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary I'm always looking for ways to use my work which may help others and get further use from my dictionary work.

Often when playing games such as crosswords, hangman, etc., we know the length of a word, some letters, but need to work out the rest. Crossword Help can assist when you're stuck with those types of games and puzzles.

You can find Crossword Help at http://www.CrosswordHelp.com.au.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.CrosswordHelp.com.au


Saturday, January 21, 2017

Nearest tram stop option added to Nearest Train Station web app.

I was tossing up whether or not to create another site similar to the Nearest Train Station web app for tram stops. In the end I decided, at this time, since the web app is for my use and those I know, creating a separate site perhaps wasn't warranted. I decided to add tram stops to the Nearest Train Station web app. OK. Perhaps not the best name for a web app, but it does the job. If there's enough interest I can create two separate web apps down the track. For now we have the functionality.

Why would I create a nearest train station or tram stop web app when Google maps already displays the information. The reason is I personally find Google maps doesn't quite work as easily as I want. Close, but I wanted something simpler. Seeing all stations and the nearest five stations (or tram stops) gives me an overview without all the clutter.

However once I'm on the map for the station or tram stop I want, Google maps provides route information and, I have to admit I'd not seen it before, timetable information. I knew the information had been provided so Google could use the timetable information, but I'd never used that feature or knew it had been implemented. Now I know the feature exists, it is very useful and easy to use. No need to Public Transport Victoria's native app anymore. For me Google maps implementation suits me better than the PTV app as I see the times and not how long to the next train or tram. I prefer to know when I need to get somewhere, not how long I have to go.

The Nearest Train Station web app explains how to access the Google maps train and tram timetable.

You can find the Nearest Train Station web app at https://www.NearestTrainStation.com.au.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.NearestTrainStation.com.au (now with trams)


Friday, January 20, 2017

Updated Nearest Train Station app to be more mobile friendly.

When developing programs sometimes you get the feeling you're not quite happy. The problem is with writing programs you'll never be 100% happy as something can always be done better. It's more important to stop development and deliver a product than not deliver at all.

I recently made the Nearest Train Station web app available based on the code I'd written for the Mapz site. Each map section on Mapz has a desktop page and a mobile page. I'm no longer happy with this approach as all pages need to be accessible no matter what type of device you have. I decided to revisit the code and make the Nearest Train Station web app work well no matter what device you use to access the site. Later I may update the Mapz site with the same approach.

The Nearest Train Station web app which can be found at  https://www.nearesttrainstation.com.au now has two pages which are mobile and desktop friendly. The main page shows all Melbourne metropolitan train station and your location, which the second page accessed via the menu shows the nearest 5 stations to your current location. The main page is thus good if you want to see stations in a particular area but are not yourself in the area, whilst the nearest 5 page is good when you're in the area.

I hope this new design assists better when looking for the nearest train station.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.NearestTrainStation.com.au

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Nearest Train Station web app now available

A new day and another new web app. The latest web app Nearest Train Station has been developed for those occasions when you're out and about and would like to know where the nearest train station is located.

On a number of occasions we've need to know where the nearest train station is located. For example when people have needed to be dropped off so they can take public transport to where they're going. Trains are generally faster than trams or buses so knowing if a train station in the area can save some time. When meeting someone and they're coming by train you can work out where the nearest and thus best station is located. Whatever your reason the Nearest Train Station web app may come in handy.

The Nearest Train Station currently has two screens. A desktop and a mobile screen. The desktop screen shows you all metro train stations around Melbourne. The mobile version shows you the nearest five train stations.

You can find the Nearest Train Station app at www.NearestTrainStation.com.au and the mobile page at www.NearestTrainStation.com.au/mobile/. For convenience the Nearest Train Station web app can be accessed from the Mapz site www.Mapz.com.au. In addition most web apps I create can be found on the main page of JustLocal or the apps page of JustLocal

Kelvin Eldridge
www.NearestTrainStation.com.au


Monday, January 16, 2017

The Convert inches to cm calculator links to the BMI/BMR calculator.

As part of the older generation I find people in our generation still referring to inches as well as centimetres and metres. The reason is we grew up measuring in feet and inches, so quite a few of the measures we know by heart, such as our height or the length of a ruler, we still think of in those old imperial units rather than metric. We then need to convert those measurements to centimetres or metres.

The Convert inches to cm calculator was written to aid those wishing to convert from inches to cm (cms, centimetres, centimeters (USA spelling)), or feet and inches to cm or metres.

Secondly, since one of the first figures we need when dieting to work out our BMI/BMR is our height, I've provided a link which takes the converted result and plugs it straight into the BMI/BMR calculators I've written.

You can find the Convert inches to cm calculator at www.inchestocm.com.au. I hope you find the calculator useful.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.inchestocm.com.au


Friday, January 13, 2017

Mapz has now been converted to use SSL encryption making it easier to use on mobile devices.

A general trend in the IT industry is a move to make the internet more secure by encrypting the connection between websites and the user's browser. This doesn't mean the sites are more secure, just that communication to and from the site is encrypted.

As this change is occurring sites which once worked OK may stop working. An example are sites such as www.mapz.com.au which passes your location to the server to provide the map with information around you back to you. In the past this communication was not encrypted. Browsers such as Google Chrome and more recently Safari on macOS now require the communication to be encrypted for the site to work property.

The Mapz site provides maps for things I find useful. The nearest cinema, petrol stations and takeaway food outlets. I use the maps regularly. I wrote them for myself and make them available for others to use.

I hope you find them useful.

Kelvin Eldridge

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Woolworths petrol stations drop prices to 115.9 at some petrol stations whilst others go up to 144.9.

I was quite surprised to see Woolworths petrol drop the price for unleaded in some of their petrol stations to 115.9. Not all petrol stations as other Woolworths petrol stations are higher and some even 144.9.

The Petrol Prices Melbourne web app shows the 144.9 petrol station as dark red and the 115.9 dark green.

Right now petrol prices are going up so to see this last minute move by Woolworths to drop prices significantly was quite a surprise. Add a discount voucher and you're down to 111.9 for unleaded petrol which isn't too bad at all.

I doubt if these prices will last, or who knows how the market will respond, but whilst the prices are there, it may be worth filling or topping up.

Kelvin
www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A frustrating couple of weeks with sites using SSL.

My apologies to those who haven't been able to use the sites https://www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au, https://www.NearestPetrolStation.com.au, https://www.SpeedCameraLocations.com.au and https://www.ClosestPetrolStation.com.au.

Whilst there was a problem lurking in the hosting company's service since mid December, on Saturday the proverbial hit the fan and my sites started to not work. "Not happy Jan!"

All has been fixed and the sites are now working as expect.

Apologies again but this is the type of thing we are all faced with in IT. Certainly feels good to have the problem fixed.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Some VentraIP sites using Let's Encrypt currently have problems.

If you're trying to access the Petrol Prices Melbourne, Nearest Petrol Station, or the Speed Camera Locations sites, there is currently an issue with the hosting service VentraIP.

For a few weeks now VentraIP's implementation of Let's Encrypt has been giving problems. This started a few weeks ago with not being able to enable SSL for one site and yesterday, the problem became worse with three sites mentioned above that have SSL enabled, are now showing has having certificate problems.

You can still access the sites if you use Safari on the Mac, or Internet Explorer/Edge on Windows and select continue when given the certificate warning. However this will be disconcerting to people who don't know what's happening. Mobile users however will probably be out of luck.

My apologies for any inconvenience. VentraIP are working on the problem and hopefully it will be resolved in a timely manner.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au

Update: 11 January 2017
Certainly a frustrating time. Thanks to the team at VentraIP for sorting this out.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Next petrol price hike is going to surprise people

For the last few weeks I've not quite understood why the retail price of petrol has come down so slowly. Since the last price hike for Melbourne, which occurred on the 9th of November, 58 days ago, prices have come down 8 cents or 0.13 cents per day. In the past I've prices have typically dropped between 0.5 to 1 cent per day and the petrol price cycle being around 3-4 weeks.

Initially I thought this was because the petrol companies kept prices high for the Christmas holiday period. Since people are used to the high price there would be no outcry with the petrol companies profiteering at holiday times and thus the bad press. However this doesn't appear to be the case.

What has also been happening is in the background the wholesale price has been going up. On the 9th of November the average wholesale price was 108.3, and today (6 January 2017), the average wholesale price is 118.9.

So perhaps there's two situations that have occurred. Keeping prices high to avoid bad press, but also increasing wholesale prices.

In the near future we are probably going to see the highest petrol prices we've seen for some time. When the petrol price discounting cycle finishes and the restoration to the higher price occurs, we often see a 20-30 cent increase. I suspect the next price increase will take us up to 139.9 (but could be 144.9)  and that will probably occur within the next one to two weeks.

When the price restoration (or what I call the petrol price hike) occurs, I will as usual alert everyone using this blog, Google+, Twitter and my Facebook account. You can also keep an eye on www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au where I publish prices for petrol stations in my area.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au


Thursday, January 05, 2017

Electricity price increases occur around this time of the year.

In January the new prices for electricity generally start to apply. In my case the new prices kicked in on the 7th of December.

For those interested in checking how much the new rates will affect their electricity bill I created a video (https://youtu.be/BrVHzTA4PYA) showing how to use the Cheapest Electricity Provider web app to see how much your bill will increase by and by what percentage.

If you're thinking about changing electricity providers, the Cheapest Electricity Provider web app may be able to assist you in comparing rates.

Our rate is going up 12.5%, or about $80 a year. Whilst this is a considerable increase I've done a quick check around and since other providers are also increasing their rates, I haven't yet found a better rate worth the time to change to. Hopefully you have better luck.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.CheapestElectricityProvider.com.au

Monday, January 02, 2017

Police checking cars for speeding on Reynolds Road Templestowe at bottom of hill.

Yesterday I went for a bike ride and noticed a policeman standing behind a police car with a speed gun. They were parked at the bus stop on Reynolds Road near Blackburn Road Templestowe.

The problem I see with this approach is the police were checking speeding drivers on a very hilly road at the bottom of a long hill. A spot that would be incredibly easy for people to exceed the speed limit by a small amount for a short period of time.

I can't help feeling this form of policing our roads won't be well accepted by the general public.



I recall a time when it was suggested people weren't booked in such places (going down hills) but it appears those times have passed.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Qantas cash change pin at RediATM.

OK. I decided to use the Qantas cash card to test the coming cashless society. In my mind it is only a matter of time until the government decides to make it harder to use cash. The first step will be to remove higher valued notes as we're seeing happen in other countries. The banks will love it because of the increased fees they'll get. The consumer will lose by having to pay increasing fees.

Since I think it's going to happen, I decided it was time to see how easy it was to go cashless (with a smaller note for emergencies). However I don't want to rack up fees. I simply want a card that will give me access to a store of money, I can easily check the balance, and if possible, have no fees. It turned out I already had such a card in my drawer. It was a Qantas cash card. Qantas sent out their new Frequent Flyer cards some time ago and the new card is also a cash card. The Qantas cash card is designed for travellers, but there's nothing stopping you using it locally. If used appropriately you should be able to use it and pay not fees.

I activated the card. No problem there.

The next step is to load some money. I used BPay as there's no fees to load money onto the card using BPay. There's a delay of up to three days, but the money was there the next day, so that was good.

The first gotcha I've encountered is I wanted to change the pin to something I could more easily remember. The online help states I could change the pin number at selected ATMs. Of course I don't know what they mean by "selected". I tried two ATMs and both didn't have an option to change the pin number. Both were operated by NAB. I later read on another banking site (CUA) that RediATMs run by NAB and BOQ don't offer the change pin number option. On my next outing I'll try a RediATM that isn't run by NAB or BOQ. I'm not game to try another brand of ATM as I'm concerned about the potential for being hit with fees. I don't intend to use ATMs in the future, but of course if I need cash, then I may be forced to.

Now I have cash loaded on the card I can start the next stage of my testing. Spending money!

Once I find an ATM that will allow me to change the pin I'll let others know whether I've managed to change the pin or not.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au

Update: 30/12/2016
Changed the pin number at the CUA branch at Doncaster Shoppingtown. They have a RediATM in the wall.

Went to make my first purchase which was Sushi at the Doncaster food court. I should have known, but had simply not thought about it, but they wanted to charge a fee. That's a gotcha for many people. I remember many people complaining about cafe's not accepting cards. Small purchases can be a problem with some businesses. With the large businesses this is not a problem. Maccas had no problem or fees. Coles sold milk for $2 without a problem or fees. If you want to go cashless, sticking to the big names is probably going to be easier. That's not going to be good for smaller businesses. Although charging a small fee for a $10 purchase of sushi which is probably half profit and then losing the sale as a result doesn't make good business sense either.

Not only do you have to keep in mind the fees banks will charge, but it's just as important to keep in mind fees traders will also charge. Hard to go cashless when we have such a system.

Update: 1/1/2017
Whilst some retailers only take cash, or won't take cards for small purchases, Aldi charge 0.5% irrespective of the amount. As such small amount purchases don't cost too much extra.

Update: 4/1/2017
Recently ordered pizza from Dominos. Opted to pay cash so I could use my Qantas cash card when I got there. Sign stated $9 minimum EFT so paid cash. Next time I'll try the credit card option when I order online and see if that works.

Update: 14/1/2017
Balance was running low due to purchase so put in $100 on the 11/1/2017 (Wednesday) using BPay. The amount has not yet reached the card. A good reminder to allow three banking days to clear.

Received an email today from Qantas Cash Recoveries. The card had been put on hold due to a suspect transaction. OK. In a way I strayed from using the card as a cash replacement. The supplier is in the USA and I used the card for their site. To verify the card they charged 1 USD. Since there were no other USD transactions this flagged as potential fraud. This took around 20 minutes (mostly waiting) to resolve. This is a reminder your card could be locked as a fraud security prevention measure. That doesn't happen with cash, but of course I couldn't have done this transaction with cash.