Thursday, October 19, 2017

Petrol prices in Melbourne going up to 142.9 for unleaded.

Last night I noticed the petrol prices around Melbourne were starting to rise with quite a few now being 142.9. Time to fill up those cars. Time to get ready to lock in the price using the 7 Eleven fuel app.

There's still of lot of petrol priced around the 113 mark. Even less with a discount voucher. Around Springvale you can find unleaded petrol for 111.9 and Oakleigh around 111.7.

Prices won't hold for long now and you can expect it will be hard to find a low price by or after the weekend.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Cheaper Melbourne petrol near Lilydale train line

I've mentioned a number of times how people can lock in a cheaper petrol price for later use using the 7 Eleven petrol app. This is great when the price drops suddenly 25-30 cents a litre and you can lock in the low price for another seven days. However another saving that can be made is when petrol prices are dropping. The difference between one area and another can be significant. Sometimes if you can lock in the petrol price from another area without too much effort, you can make additional savings of perhaps 8-10 cents a litre.

At the moment those travelling on the Lilydale train line passing through Croydon can take advantage of the 7 Eleven Petrol app to save around 8-10 cents a litre. The 7 Eleven petrol stations at Croydon Hills, Moorolbank and Chirnside Park are advertising unleaded petrol for 115.9 cents per litre. Many other service stations outside this area are advertising unleaded petrol for around 123-126 cents per litre.

If you've signed up for the 7 Eleven petrol app and you pass near one of these 7 Eleven petrol stations you can lock in the price for use closer to home. At 8-10 cents a litre cheaper than your local area, it means this is usually a good price for the next few days. Even if you have a Coles or Woolworths discount voucher, the 7 Eleven price can still be better than your local servo.

There's really little point driving to these cheaper petrol stations, but if for example you're travelling to work via public transport or driving near these areas, you should be able to lock in the cheaper price. By near this often means you can be 10 km or more away from these 7 Eleven petrol stations. As long as one of these petrol stations is one of the five nearest 7 Eleven petrol stations to your current location, you can lock in the cheaper price.

This week I was able to fill up our two cars and save around $7-$8 for petrol. Not a bad saving for simply taking the time to lock in a cheaper petrol price.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.PetrolPriceMelbourne.com.au

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Snapchat Spectacles sample videos. Australia

Picking up a pair of Snapchat Spectacles in Australia isn't currently possible. However, if you have family or friends, or you're travelling to America, then you may be able to pick up a pair.

So far found I've the Snapchat Spectacles are quite good at some things and very poor at others. That isn't meant to be a criticism, it's more about knowing what they're good for an not good for.

First, the novelty of the Snapchat Spectacles when seen by others, became a real conversation starter. It's been a while since I've found people so fascinated by a piece of technology. "You mean it's not just a camera, it can take videos." Once people knew the Snapchat Spectacles could take videos they were really impressed.

I've posted the following three videos I took using the Snapchat Spectacles.

Snapchat Spectacles - P & O Cruise Conflict Islands
https://youtu.be/HuQkLeHZZbg

Snapchat Spectacles - Cairns Esplanade Lagoon
https://youtu.be/H_0NY_nW5og

Snapchat Spectacles - Birdword Kuranda
https://youtu.be/g4MkyhwvHls

This isn't meant to be a review, but more of sharing an experience. The Snapchat Spectacles can take 10 second videos. By pressing the button whilst filming you can extend the recording by another one or two 10 second videos. Each video is taken separately, but you can select and export them as a single video. The 10 second length I found to be better than I expected. Often when taking home videos you get that too short video, so the video jumps from scene to scene. The 10 second video gives a good amount of time, but not too long and the result when videos are combined (using a computer) is quite good.

Close up scenes best. If you're thinking you'll get a good picture of things in the distance, probably best to think again. I found the best result was when what I wanted to video was quite close. Perhaps not more than a couple of metres away, but often even closer, as in the bird video. Scenes in the distance just don't seem to capture the feeling of the scene as well.

Memory limitations was a real problem. I was travelling and didn't have access to the internet. A cheap mobile phone with 4GB of memory, but a 32GB memory card. The problem was the Snapchat Spectacles wanted to back up what I was recording and progressively consumed all the memory in mobile phone. I'm talking about multiple gigabytes of memory. The temporary file it was creating swamped the storage making it impossible to use the mobile phone. I learnt if you have limited storage you need to move the files manually to the external storage and then delete them from Snapchat. A time consuming exercise. Resetting the Snapchat Spectacles had to be done at one stage but again, keep in mind you need to have internet access as you need to be able to log on to your Snapchat account. I spent hours of wasted time trying to work around issues with the Snapchat Spectacles relating to storage and how the software worked.

Exporting videos. Certainly not straight forward to get what you want out of the Snapchat application. I've read people saying Snapchat is deliberately designed to make it hard for people to find things, but to me it's just poor design. It takes a lot of effort to work out how to use the software, although that may depend on what you want to do. I really wanted a convenient video recording device, whereas I get a feeling it's really about a device that's built for Snapchat.

One video I didn't share was taking a video whilst driving. The wide field of view (120 degrees) meant more detail of the inside of the car from the drivers perspective and less detail of outside. The detail shown in the car was quite good, but what was shown outside the was much further away. If you want to take what's outside the car in detail, this is probably not the device. As an example I wanted to record a petrol price. Yes you can see the price sign, but the resolution of the Snapchat Spectables at 800x800, meant  that if you zoomed in you lost too much detail to read the price. The detail was quite pixelated.

Overall I found the Snapchat Spectacles to be fun to use. There's videos I took which I would never have taken on a mobile phone. The hands free design of the Snapchat Spectables makes it possible to take videos conveniently when required. Yes there's plenty of limitations, frustration with the software, but I'm OK with those limitations, as long as I use the Snapchat Spectacles for what I feel they're best suited.

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

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

PayPal - Action Required. Please verify your business identity.

I don't know if others are experiencing this issue, but PayPal has become a pain in the neck.

According to the PayPal site, action is required to verify business identity. I went through this process a couple of months ago and it was a real pain. Eventually I submitted feedback letting them know their system wasn't working properly. Whilst they never contacted me it appeared they fixed everything and the account was back to normal.

Today the message started to appear again.


The problem is all of the information is entered. The last piece of information required is my name. I entered my name and I get the error message which appears to be more of a software error than a typical error message. Now sometimes when I go to log in or out I get the above Action Required and sometimes I don't. There's no notifications so there's no way to find the section to verify.

Whilst I can't be sure, this looks more like PayPal's system may be playing up. However if you do get this message it may be better to give them a call, if you've entered all the information but still get an error as I did.

I've lost quite a bit of faith in PayPal as a result of this. I've been dealing with them for possibly over a decade and whilst there's been a few annoying issues, this is probably the most annoying. OK. That's probably because I've forgotten how annoying the past issues were at the time. As I've lost confidence that money won't be tied up, I've kept only a minimal amount in PayPal. That's probably a good idea as a general rule.

Kelvin Eldridge

Update: 17 October 2017
Today another email and the Please Verify message appearing on the account. In addition I tried to again enter my name as the director. The following message appears.
A call to PayPal confirmed they indeed had my name and my account was OK. They would forward the issue on to their technical team. This confirmed the issue is with their system.


Thursday, October 05, 2017

Booking.com doesn't show all the available rooms.

I was looking at Booking.com to book some accommodation in a Victorian country town. According to Booking.com all the accommodation is booked. This simply isn't true.


I checked one motel and there were plenty of days left, but it would have meant moving rooms during the stay. Not ideal, but still plenty of rooms available. I then checked the hotel I was originally looking at that had become booked. The hotel had a room for all the days I wanted. I booked the hotel even though Booking.com stated the last room sold out 2 days ago.

The trick here is not to just use Booking.com. Double check the hotels' actual sites.

In the past I've found a cheaper price by checking a hotel's site. In another instance one accommodation provider said they use Booking.com to keep their name out there.

There's lots of techniques accommodation providers will use to help promote their business and get our business. It isn't always Booking.com's issue. But just because Booking.com doesn't say there's any rooms available, doesn't mean there's actually no rooms available. Check each of the accommodation providers' own websites. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Kelvin Eldridge

Friday, September 29, 2017

How much electricity does a Google Home device use?

One technique to save money on electricity is to turn off all those stand-by devices. TVs, media players, computers, monitors, etc., all consume electricity even when in stand-by and that can add up to a hundred dollars or more a year. However, many devices need to remain permanently on to be useful. Google Home is one such device.

A Google Home devices sits there waiting for you to issue a command. It's always on. I decided to measure the wattage being used by the device and it works out to be around 2.9 watts.

To work out the cost I plug the 2.9 watts into my Energy Cost Calculator, along with the fact that it is running 24 hours a day. The running cost of the Google Home device is around $8.34 a year, based on the electricity provider I use and set as the default in the Energy Cost Calculator. Your electricity costs may vary.

Keep in mind these devices are really only useful on a room-by-room basis, so there's a good chance you'll be encouraged to buy more. Perhaps one in each room. Each device adds to your electricity cost.

Now of course $8.34 a year isn't that much and if Google Home gives you considerable enjoyment and usefulness, then that's one of the many choices you have to make in life.

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

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Four big banks drop ATM fees. Watch out for the trap you can easily fall for.

On the weekend Commonwealth Bank announced they were dropping ATM fees for cash withdrawals for customers from other banks. For some people that could be a good saving, or at least it makes withdrawing cash easier and more convenient.

The other three major banks made similar announcements on Sunday if I recall correctly, which I thought was interesting as it wasn't a bank day. However, the first thing to note is it wasn't clear when the other banks would start. It looks like some time in October.

Now the trap is that people may think this means any ATM, but this isn't correct. Even BankWest, which is a subsidiary or the Commonwealth Bank is not dropping the ATM fees. Reportedly neither are the ATMs in 7/11 or Redi ATMs.

It is therefore important that you don't just think all ATMs are now fee free for cash withdrawals. First Commbank's, which was immediate, then the other banks, NAB, Westpac and ANZ, sometime in the near future. Stick with those brands of ATMs and you should be OK to get cash withdrawals without paying a fee. Of course if in doubt, stick with ATMs from your own bank.

If you're travelling overseas ATM fees still apply.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au

Friday, September 22, 2017

Compare Term Deposit Rates Calculator now available.

Lately I've been looking at term deposits and with the current rates available, it's not that exciting. When you look at term deposits you're naturally going to compare term deposit rates and the return with the different rates. Often this requires two calculations and noting down each amount and then calculating the difference. Do this a few times and you'll understand why I decided to write the Compare Term Deposit Rates Calculator.

With interest rates being so low you'd think it's not worth worrying about them. However, it's because they're so low that what would be seen normally as not a big difference, can make a large difference in your return.

For example I have some money in a web savings account earning 1.45% at call. Shopping around for a better interest and I can get 3% on a 3 month bonus savings account, or 2.95% at call on an online account subject to meeting certain conditions. Either of these will nearly double the interest earned.

But is it really worth the time and effort chasing a better interest rate. Depending on how much you have and the interest difference, it may or may not be. The only way to know is to do the calculations. You'll be surprised that often it really is worth moving the money around.

Keep in mind when you move money around you may lose a day of interest, and if you need a cheque, there could be a charge. Even a transfer from one bank to another will generally cost a fee. Then there's your time. The banks will sit you down and it does take far more time than you expect to open and close accounts. There is a time and cost involved in moving money around.

Overall however I'm very pleased I made the effort. I tend to stick with the same bank, which I consider to offer good rates, but when I made the move to move the money around I'll be considerably better off with other banks. It's also a good time to ask your bank if they can do better. It's at these times you'll find that as a customer you don't really matter very much and all the marketing hype about how much you're worth to them is just marketing. Even though it may cost a bank perhaps a few hundred to keep you, they're generally happy to lose thousands of dollars income for themselves than to make a real effort for customers. The lesson really is you have to look after your own interests.

Whilst I've called the new calculator Compare Term Deposit Rates Calculator, you can really use the calculator with any type of interest bearing account. I was able to compare term deposit rates and also compare interest rates for other savings accounts.

I hope you find the Compare Term Deposit Rates Calculator to be useful.

Kelvin Eldridge
Compare Term Deposit Rates Calculator
www.comparetermdepositratescalculator.com.au

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Seniors card discount at KFC.

If you have a Seniors card KFC offer a 10% discount. So far I've tested a number of KFC stores (Eltham, Eastland, Thomstown) and KFC has been consistent and easy to deal with when using the Seniors card.

One thing to be aware of, is KFC have an offer where if you provide feedback, they'll provide a free regular chips and drink on your next purchase which is a saving of around $3. If you use the Seniors card to get a discount you don't get the offer to complete the survey. Depending on how much you spend, it may be better value to do the survey.

Kelvin Eldridge

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Melbourne petrol prices starting to hike to 142.9.

I noticed tonight quite a few petrol stations around Melbourne have started to hike their prices to 142.9. It looks like it's that time again when petrol prices hike back up again.

If you're taken advantage of the 7  Eleven fuel app watch the prices around you and lock in a good price for the next week.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au

Thursday, September 14, 2017

ASIC Messaging Service Renewal - Scam email

Today I received an email which appeared to come from ASIC for the renewal of my business name. At first glance it looked legitimate. It had my name in the To field and I do have registered business names which ASIC sends reminders.


I then thought is this a scam email? I checked the headers in the source of the email and the email was from America. That pretty well meant it was a scam. Next I hovered the mouse over the links in the email and they weren't for ASIC. This now meant this was a definite scam.

A short while later I received an email using the domain for a second registered business name. I don't use that email address with ASIC so this too was a scam.

It really is very easy to click on a link from an official looking email but you really shouldn't. In a case like this go to the ASIC site and log on. Don't use the links.

Secondly no matter how tired you feel, pause for a moment. A quick click and you could be in world of pain. Some malicious sites can infect your computer and if that happens it can cost you dearly to remove malware, and if it's encryption malware, you may not be able to recover.

If in doubt set the email aside until later when you have time and patience to check it out. Using a desktop computer and email client hover over the link and see if all links are legitimate. If you're able to, check the IP address the email was sent from. That's usually an excellent indicator of scams.

Scammers are getting better with the presentation of their scams. The emails are often so good because they're a direct copy or variation of a real email and these can easily trick anyone.

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

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Dodo Power and Gas increasing Electricity and Gas charges.

Today I received an email from Dodo Power and Gas letting me know their electricity and gas prices are going up. I decided to do a quick analysis.

Electricity

Daily Supply Charge - increasing 15%
Anytime usage - 15%

Gas

Daily Supply Charge - 20%
Usage - 15%

These increases are actually quite staggering.

We've all heard issues with energy supply in the media recently. Gas being contracted off for overseas sales and electricity infrastructure closing down. Even so the Daily Supply Charge for gas going up 20% when I don't recall reading much about infrastructure changes, doesn't quite make sense.

One of the problems with Dodo putting up their prices now when the rest of the industry puts their prices up around January, is they look bad for a while until the rest put their prices up. That means you have to wait until you see what happens with the other supplies in the new year.

Not good news at all. We're quite frugal with our energy usage now so this increase will be difficult if not impossible to negate in some way with further energy reduction. However it never hurts to look for ways to reduce usage.

I'm a believer that as the prices increase, that one day an alternative will become available because it becomes cost effective. For example as the daily supply charge increases for gas it may mean it becomes viable to consider only using electricity. Perhaps the gas to electricity conversion becomes more cost effective and thus we could get rid of the electricity suppliers. Perhaps with solar, better batteries we may be to get rid of one supplier. Certainly lower energy cost appliances (e.g. lights) and computers have helped reduce energy use, so we really never know what's around the corner.

If you're paying large amounts on electricity bills working what your appliances are costing you so you can make informed decisions is something we did that saved us thousands. I wrote the Energy Cost Calculator (www.justlocal.com.au/clients/energy-cost/) to help me with calculations. Perhaps it might help others.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au

Update: 14 September 2017
As a result of this nudge I decided to go searching for better prices. As a result I believe I've identified a supplier which would be $60 a year better for electricity and around $240 better for gas. That's a potential saving of around $300 per year. I thought I had shopped around and had good prices, reduced electricity usage, but the one area I've been less thorough, is with gas and this shows with the potential saving. This is a reminder that you should shop around.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Can you thaw and then refreeze meat?

Today I read an article on whether or not you can thaw and refreeze meat which appeared on the new.com.au site.

http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/food/eat/can-you-thaw-and-refreeze-meat-6-food-safety-myths-busted/news-story/feac0341b79bed4c58f7b803ba1a8c69

The problem is the first myth in the article didn't quite make sense and didn't really answer the question.

Myth 1: If you thaw meat, you can’t refreeze it.

FALSE. According to the CSIRO, it’s perfectly safe to refreeze defrosted meat or chicken or any frozen food as long as it was defrosted in a fridge running at five degrees C or below. The only thing you may compromise is a bit of taste, as defrosted meat can become slightly watery.

If there’s anything to watch, it’s the pre-freezer ‘steam’. If you cook defrosted meat and refreeze it into a container while hot, you’ll create condensation — which is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. So wait for the steam to subside before packaging.

I thought I'd then look for the source of the material from the CSIRO. The same article on the CSIRO made sense.

https://blog.csiro.au/you-can-thaw-and-refreeze-meat-five-food-safety-myths-busted/

Myth 1: if you’ve defrosted frozen meat or chicken you can’t refreeze it

From a safety point of view, it is fine to refreeze defrosted meat or chicken or any frozen food as long as it was defrosted in a fridge running at 5°C or below. Some quality may be lost by defrosting then refreezing foods as the cells break down a little and the food can become slightly watery.

Another option is to cook the defrosted food and then divide into small portions and refreeze once it has stopped steaming. Steam in a closed container leads to condensation, which can result in pools of water forming. This, combined with the nutrients in the food, creates the perfect environment for microbial growth. So it’s always best to wait about 30 minutes before refrigerating or freezing hot food.

Plan ahead so food can be defrosted in the fridge, especially with large items such as a frozen turkey or roll of meat. If left on the bench, the external surface could be at room temperature and micro-organisms could be growing rapidly while the centre of the piece is still frozen!

This is an example of how you have to be careful when material is edited and republished on other sites. The news.com.au site didn't make sense as they had removed the paragraph starting with "Another option". The news.com.au article went straight from refreezing thawed meat to talking about steam being a problem. Nothing about cooking and thus the disconnected meant it didn't make sense and wasn't advice I'd follow. The CSIRO article was complete, made sense and gives me confidence I can follow the advice.

So yes, according to the CSIRO you can thaw and refreeze meat, as long as you follow their guidance.

Kelvin Eldridge

Friday, September 08, 2017

McDonald's monopoly Australia rare pieces 2017.

Just for fun!

It's that time when McDonald's runs their Monopoly competition. In previous years I've posted the rare pieces as they've become known. If you'd like to help, post the McDonald's monopoly pieces you have in a comment below. That way we can determine the rare pieces together.

NOTE: This is for McDonald's monopoly Australia 2017.

Rare pieces.

Park Lane
Euston Road
Marlborough Street
Fenchurch St Station
Piccadilly
Fleet Street
Regent Street
Whitehall
Old Kent Road

Information has been collected from purchases and internet research. I've not personally confirmed all rare pieces, however the above list is most likely correct.

Remember, post a comment of all your pieces to help identify the rare pieces.


Thanks and enjoy.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Seniors discount at Red Rooster Doncaster.

I thought I'd start recording where Seniors Card holders can get discount. Yes there's a online site that has a directory, but I've found the business I use aren't listed.

I noticed the Red Rooster on the corner of Manningham Road and High Street (known as Red Rooster Doncaster on the Red Rooster site) has a sign on their drive-through window that they offer a seniors discount. I asked what it was and they said it was 10% off.

As usual you can expect this may not apply with other discounts, but getting 10% your Red Rooster order is a nice bonus for seniors.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au

PS. Whilst the Red Rooster according to Red Rooster's site is known as Doncaster, this is a weird section of land in terms of suburb boundaries and the actual location is in Templestowe Lower.

Update: 8 October 2017
Red Rooster is offering a $5 Hungry for Value deal. The Seniors card did not apply.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Get your free Coke no sugar.

On TV tonight there was an ad for Coke no sugar. You can get a free sample by visiting the following page.

https://www.coca-cola.com.au/en/new-coke-no-sugar/

On the site you can request a free sample and they'll send you a link for the voucher. I haven't used the voucher but from what I read in the terms and conditions you have 12 minutes in which to show the voucher to the cashier before the voucher expires.

Enjoy.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

How many days to Christmas?

I've updated the Days Between Dates web app to have three shortcut links to three popular dates. The dates are:

Christmas
New Year's Day
Days since the start of the year

By clicking on each of these links you'll get the number of days.

Kelvin Eldridge
Days Between Dates
www.DaysBetweenDates.com.au

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Victorian Stamp Duty Calculator updated with new stamp duty rates for First Home Buyers

From the 1st of July 2017 First Home Buyers now have new discounted stamp duty rates when buying their first home. I contacted the State Revenue Office and they were kind enough to provide the reference to the new formula for the discounted stamp duty.

The Victorian Stamp Duty Calculator has now been updated with the new formula, correctly providing the stamp duty for First Home Buyers purchasing a property up to $750,000.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.victorianstampdutycalculator.com.au

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Dominos 10,001 free pizzas.

Dominos are currently having a special promotion giving away 10,001 free pizzas. The promotion started at 4 pm on Wednesday the 9th of August.


As expected the promotion is proving very popular with the message "This promotion is currently serving the maximum allowed number of concurrent users. Please check back in a minute."

For desktop users you can find the promotion at https://www.facebook.com/DominosAustralia/app/174961479209942/.

For mobile users you may wish to try the link http://bit.ly/2vNQpVv.

Good luck.

Kelvin Eldridge

PS. You do need a Facebook account. I got through but since I don't have a Facebook account I can't connect to the coupon app. Such is life. If it helps I was using the mobile phone with the link above. I just kept pulling the page down to refresh and got through.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Days Between Dates calculator now available.

I decided to create a Days Between Dates calculator for those times you need to work out the number of days between two dates.

For example:

How long until Christmas?
How long until our holiday?
How long until my birthday?

There's lots of times we'd like to know how many days there are between two dates.

One example is when we wish to lose weight by a certain date. Using the BMI Calculator you can work out roughly how much weight you can lose per day. Then you can work out how many days between dates. Multiply the number of days by the daily weight loss and you can work out how much weight you'll be able to lose by the given date. For convenience I've provided a link to the Days Between Dates from the BMI/BMR Calculator.

Kelvin Eldridge
Days Between Dates calculator