Friday, April 21, 2017

Extending the 7 Eleven app petrol discount voucher expiry date.

Two days ago I let everyone know the petrol prices in Melbourne started to go up to 139.9. If you check the map today on www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au, you'll see around 40% of the petrol stations I've record, have now increased their prices.



When petrol prices start to go up it's a good time to fill up and take advantage of the discount voucher. The next thing I do is lock in the lowest price for another week using the 7 Eleven app. The problem with the 7 Eleven app is I tend to jump the gun. I lock the price in once the prices start going up. However, if I wait one or two days I can push the 7 day time limit out a couple of days.

Today I decided to do a test with the 7 Eleven voucher and see what would happen. I'd lock in 116.7 two days ago. I knew of another 7 Eleven with petrol for 115.9. What if I filled up my tank now and then locked in the lower price. That would enable me to extend the discount period by two days.

I topped up the car with around 10 litres at a 7 Eleven with a price of 139.9. I got the discount for the locked in price of 116.7. It took perhaps around 5-10 minutes before the 7 Eleven app registered the voucher had been used. I had to display the voucher again and at this point the 7 Eleven app was ready to lock in the new lower price. I then locked in the new price of 115.9. That saves me a little more money and extends the voucher expiry date.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Stop autoplay of ads in Apple's macOS Safari.

As an IT person what frustrates me about the companies developing browsers, is they often put the user last, and it appears, big business first.

In the good old days when using a browser to view sites on the internet, if I didn't want to see images displayed, I could simply turn the option off. Then we started to get ads delivered using Flash and more recently, ads delivered as a standard part of HTML5, the code behind for today's websites.

Flash is no longer much of a problem as sites are moving to HTML5. However, the problem with HTML5 is the developers of the browsers have not built in a simple switch to stop the downloading and/or playing of videos or video ads. You're in the middle of your work and in the background a video starts playing. If you're out and about and you've connected your computer to a mobile hotspot, that's expensive data being drained from your mobile account. A great way to exceed your allowance and end up costing excess data.

The user is no longer in control of their internet experience.

All is not lost. At least on your notebook computers you can hack your computer, in a nice way, and stop the automatic playing of videos. Whilst it doesn't stop all the data usage, it does give you control over when the videos are played.

To disable the automatic playing of videos in Safari on Apple computers, you need to first enable the Debug option in Safari and then you get to see an option to disable the video.

The hack is you need to run this command using the Terminal program. Copy and paste the following command into Terminal and press Enter.

defaults write com.apple.Safari IncludeInternalDebugMenu 1

The Debug menu option now appears in the Safari menus. If you ever want to hide the Debug menu option, just issue the command again with the 1 at the end changed to a 0.

Now you have the Debug menu option, you can disable the autoplaying of videos.

Select Debug -> Media Flags -> Video Needs User Action

From now on when you open a page the video is there, but for it to play, you need to click on the play option. Sometimes you need to click on the video first and then click on the play option. This includes when you visit YouTube.

You can alternately select Disallow Inline Video, but I feel the option above gives me what I prefer.

At last a way to stop those annoying autoplaying videos. Peace and quiet at last.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au
Help with your IT problems.


Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Sunbeam Dreamland electric blanket causes tinkling on the hand and arm.

Recently we purchased a Sunbeam Dreamland electric blanket from Target. We decided to go for a brand name rather than the no brand blankets, as the brand gives a degree of confidence. The Sunbeam electric blanket also had a timer, which is a feature we like.


That night we were lying in bed and I touched my wife's hand. For some reason something didn't feel right. So I gently stroked my finger along her hand. There was a tingling sensation. I then gently stroked her arm with my finger and again there was a tingling sensation. This actually caused some discomfort. I asked my wife to turn her electric blanket off, since it was the only device and wiring near us. When she turned the electric blanket off and I again stroked her hand or arm with my finger, there was no sensation. Turn the electric blanket on again and perform the same test and the tingling sensation was there again.

Somehow the electric blanket was inducing a current between us when the blanket is on, with my side of the electric blanket off.

I've never seen this happen before with any of the electric blankets we've owned over the years. I decided this wasn't right. I don't feel it's safe to have a device that is inducing a current into your body at a level you can easily feel. No level really, but most of the time the levels are so low we wouldn't notice.

At that point it was decided to return the electric blanket. To Target's credit they took the blanket back without a problem.

From now on when we purchase a new electric blanket, the first thing I'll be doing is testing to see if there's any current being induced. I'd suggest perhaps that others may wish to check their electric blanket in the same way.

For those wishing to test their blanket only turn one side on. Then the person on the other side which isn't turned on, is to very lightly move their finger over the hand or lower arm of the person on the blanket. Repeat this with the electric blanket turned off.

I decided to check the internet and found others have also found the tingling sensation. In particular, the comment about half way down this thread by David was about their dual-zone electric blanket. Another person below that had a similar experience. There post is about a person with a laptop, but in these comments there was no computer involved.

On this page another person noted a similar experience.


Kelvin Eldridge





Sunday, April 02, 2017

TPG ADSL service not working in Templestowe since 1st of April.

Not really sure if TPG is playing an April fools joke, but hey, shouldn't they stop at noon on 1st.

Seriously though, the TPG service has not been working since the start of Saturday the 1st of April and it's now 10:05 am. Just spent an hour on their support line only to have just been told via a recorded message, due to the number of support calls at the moment they are not able to attend the call and to call back later.

A check of their online Service Status shows no issues that would affect me. When I've had issues in the past this has always been the case so the Service Status page isn't really a help.

Used their online form to submit the issue so really all I can do is wait.

Last month an issue with mobile billing, where they started charging excess charges around 300MB before the allowance had expired. Another problem this month. Not a good recent track record for TPG.

If you're in this situation it is always a good idea to have a back up strategy to access the internet. In this case I'm using my mobile data, which of course means if I use to much then I'll hit the mobile limit, but at least you can get access to the internet if required.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Accident on Princes Freeway near Kororoit Creek Road stopping traffic heading south

Just passed an accident on Princess Freeway near the Kororoit Creek Road turn off. Heading south on the freeway the traffic was at a standstill. Heading north the traffic is also at a standstill. Took over half an hour to move past the accident.





Best to avoid this section of the freeway for a while. Keep an eye on Google maps to make sure the road is clear.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLoca.com.au

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

New Manningham rubbish bins come with a hidden surprise.


The other day I had to wash out my new rubbish bin and noticed something I'd not seen before on the old bin.


Under the front lip of the bin I found an unusual round object that seemed out of place. A little investigation revealed this was an RFID tag made by HID.

RFID tags like these enable an organisation to better manage their assets. They also make it easier for organisations to collect information. Garbage trucks could easily measure things such as the weight of each bin and record the information for later use.

There is no good or bad inherent in using technology. It really depends on how the information is used.

Not sure really why councils would not openly let residents know their new bins now contain RFID tags as this is a useful feature for councils.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au

SEO Company Melbourne site now removed but the SEO Value Calculator lives on.

Some time ago I created an SEO Value Calculator. The aim of the calculator was to let people know the value of a position in Google search results. That way people could determine if paying for SEO services was worth it or not. Many people pay a lot of money on SEO only to find little to no results.

SEO, or search engine optimisation does work, but you have to be very careful. If you're optimising your site for words people don't search for, you can easily be wasting your time and money. Equally you could be optimising your site where competition is fierce and you'll never get to the first page, again a waste of time and money. Often the cost of SEO services can far exceed the value to the client.

I've now moved the SEO Value Calculator under my JustLocal site since it is still a valuable tool that helps me to help myself and others on a regular basis. You can find the SEO Value Calculator at www.JustLocal.com.au/clients/seovaluecalculator/.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au/clients/seovaluecalculator/

Can't access Facebook when using Vodafone as hotspot. Error Safari Can't Find the Server.

I recently set up a mobile phone as a hotspot for some friends who were here from overseas. They could then connect their mobile phones to the hotspot to connect to the services they wanted to use. This avoided using expensive mobile data.

One thing I found which didn't work was Facebook. They could access anything they wanted on the internet including Facebook Messenger, but they could not access Facebook using www.facebook.com.

Testing the mobile phone hotspot using a MacBook Air, I would receive the following error message.


As you can see, even though I was typing www.Facebook.com, this would redirect to the site https://web.facebook.com. I tested this URL connecting via an ADSL service and went to the Facebook site www.facebook.com.

Further testing showed the problem wasn't with Vodafone, or Facebook, but the quite old Huawei mobile phone running Android 2.2.2. The Vodafone SIM in a newer Huawei mobile with Android 5.1, allowed access to Facebook when used as a hotspot.

A final tip. If you find yourself in this position and need access to your Facebook, use m.facebook.com to access the mobile version of Facebook. That website address worked around the problem.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Standard Drink Calculator for Australia

My latest web app is the Standard Drink Calculator. I wrote this calculator as I feel it is important for myself and others to have an idea as to how much alcohol is in their drinks. In addition I've added two extra pieces of information.


The first is how long it will take for your body to process and remove the alcohol from your body. The second is an indication as to how long it will be before an average person returns to 0.05.

These figures are just guides and it is important for people if they are in doubt in any way, they should error on being conservative and not drink and drive.

Hopefully others will find the calculator to be useful.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.StandardDrinkCalculator.com.au

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Lock in unleaded petrol for 112.9

Just came back from Sydney and whilst there I wondered if the 7 Eleven app would allow me to lock in the price of petrol in Sydney. The price around the city using the app was 115.9, but I worked out if I waited until I reached the airport, the price would be 112.9.

Arrived at the airport, and about an hour before the plane was to leave, checked the price of petrol. Yes. The price was 112.9. Locked in the price for the next week. Sure beats the local prices in the mid 130- 140 range.


Never expected I'd be able to take advantage of the different petrol price cycles in Sydney and Melbourne. A very pleasant surprise.

If you're travelling around Melbourne, or even interstate, make sure you check the price of petrol and take advantage of the large discounts that may be available using the 7 Eleven app.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au

Thursday, March 16, 2017

How big a mortgage will rent payments cover?

The thought came to mind that if someone was renting a property, how much of a mortgage could a person have that they would cover by the rent payments.

I've now added a calculator to www.Mortgage-Repayment-Calculator.com.au where people can enter their rent payment and determine the mortgage the rent will pay for.

For example, say you're paying $400 per week to rent an apartment. If you take out a mortgage over 30 years, paying 5% interest, the rental amount of $400 per week will cover a mortgage of $323,110.

You can go direct to the calculator at http://www.mortgage-repayment-calculator.com.au/rent.php.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.Mortgage-Repayment-Calculator.com.au

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Country petrol prices currently cheaper than Melbourne petrol prices. Go figure!

We went for a drive yesterday and since I'd locked in petrol at 115.9 at 7 Eleven, my intention was to fill up in Geelong. However as we approached Geelong the price was 118.9. I bought E10 at a United for 116.9 and decided to keep the 7 Eleven discount until later in the week. The price in Melbourne is around 139.9.

Often when we leave for a trip to the regional or country areas the first thing we do is make sure the tank is filled up, or at least that's what I used to do. Now I check where I'm going and see if there's cheaper petrol along the way if the prices have recently peaked.

This is the second time in as many months. First in Bairnsdale in January and now in Geelong. In fact most of the south west part of Victoria has prices around 10 cents per litre lower than Melbourne.

The old habit of filling up before leaving home on a long trip is now something to reconsider. Yes it's convenient to fill up before leaving, but if you have to make a special trip to fill up, perhaps check the petrol prices in the towns you'll be travelling through. Stopping along the way is a good time to stretch the legs and you may save some money as well.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au

Friday, March 10, 2017

Petrol prices in Melbourne are spiking to 139.9. Time to fill up.

Noticed this afternoon petrol prices for unleaded petrol have spiked to 139.9. Time to fill up.

If you're lucky, prices as low as 109.3 at Caltex in Hampton Park, (throw in a discount voucher for another 4 cents off). Costco Moorabbin have petrol for 107.7. In the Noble Park area you can find petrol down around the 110 mark.

I'd previously locked in 112.9 at 7/11 and filled up today. Locked in 115.9 for the next week at 7/11 should I need to fill up again. So if you're using the 7/11 app, lock in your petrol at the cheapest 7/11 you go past.

Each day I publish prices of petrol in my area around Templestowe, Doncaster, Eltham, so for those interest in prices in that area, check out www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Mortgage Offset Account can add 10s of thousands of dollars of interest to a home loan.

Recently I wrote a Facebook post letting my family and friends know about the Mortgage Repayment Calculator. One person made a comment on having a mortgage offset account. The first tip on the Mortgage Repayment Calculator is about a mortgage offset account. I have to say I've always been a fan of a mortgage offset account to help reduce the amount of interest paid. However, I now realise my knowledge is dated.

When I had a home loan the mortgage offset account was a new feature and from my recollection was simply part of the loan. There was no additional cost. I now notice loans are offered in a range of packages with different interest rates. The mortgage offset account isn't offered on the base rate, but on a higher rate package. The higher rate package has an interest rate of 0.5% or more, greater than the base rate.

I plugged the $600,000 loan, 30 year, 5% interest rate figures into the Mortgage Repayment Calculator which results in total interest of $559,534.71. If I add 0.5% for an interest rate of 5.5% the total interest becomes $626,424.24. That's a considerable additional interest cost of $66,889.53.

If I check the base rate loans from a couple of banks the redraw facility is free on the base rate meaning you still have access to extra money paid into your loan should it be needed.

For those looking at a home loan, it is important to determine the costs of features you may or may not use. An informed decision is often a better decision.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.Mortgage-Repayment-Calculator.com.au

Thursday, March 02, 2017

How much do you save paying a little extra each month on your mortgage?

Those following this blog will recall I recently created the Mortgage Repayment Calculator. As usual, when you do one thing it often leads to another. In this case I couldn't help wondering how much do people save if they pay a little extra off their mortgage each month.

I've now added an additional page to the Mortgage Repayment Calculator (www.Mortgage-Repayment-Calculator.com.au/payment.php), when you want to enter in how much to pay, to see the effect on how much more quickly the loan will be paid off and how much it saves in interest.

Using an example of a $600,000 loan over 30 years at 5%, if you pay say an extra 10% each month, the loan is paid off five years earlier with a saving of around $100,000 in interest. That's a pretty big saving.

In any case, if doing some what-if calculations appeals to you, you now have a tool that may assist.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.Mortgage-Repayment-Calculator.com.au


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Does paying a home loan fortnightly or weekly, instead of monthly, save money?

For some reason the question as to whether paying a loan fortnightly or weekly instead of monthly, saves money or not came into mind.

Over the years I've heard many people suggest paying the loan off fortnightly or weekly, but there's a trick in the technique. You take the monthly amount, divide it into two or four and pay this amount fortnightly or weekly. If you pay fortnightly you're paying an extra half monthly payment a year and if you pay weekly, you pay an extra monthly payment. So yes that will reduce your interest by an amount since you're paying more off your loan.

But what if you just calculate and pay off the loan weekly or fortnightly.

I decided to update my Mortgage Repayment Calculator so people can easily work out a weekly or fortnightly payment, if for example they get paid weekly or fortnightly. By doing this I could also quickly see the effect of making a weekly or fortnightly payment based on this being the correct amount to repay the loan off over the nominated period.

The bottom line.

The savings over the life of the loan are insignificant. For a $600,000 loan over 30 years at 5%, paying weekly compared with monthly saves about $1,000 in half a million dollars of interest. The real benefit is it may make it easier to budget for a loan if the loan payment matches you pay period. No real savings to be made.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.Mortgage-Repayment-Calculator.com.au

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

New Mortgage Repayment Calculator web app now live.

A while ago I wrote the Victorian Stamp Duty Calculator which I felt may be handy for home buyers. However at the time I thought a mortgage repayment calculator would also be handy.

Yes there are a lot of mortgage calculators on the web, so who really needs another one. The calculators I write are most often single function calculators. You can add them easily to your home screen on your mobile device for quick reference. They aren't buried deep in a site, they are the site.

When I see two calculators like the Victorian Stamp Duty Calculator and the Mortgage Repayment Calculator that are often used by people around the same time, I can then provide handy links between the calculators.

If you would like to know how much the monthly repayments on a mortgage are, give the Mortgage Repayment Calculator a shot at www.Mortgage-Repayment-Calculator.com.au.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.Mortgage-Repayment-Calculator.com.au
www.VictorianStampDutyCalculator.com.au

How gullible are you? Hoax sharing on Facebook may allow scammers to find gullible people to scam.

Tonight I watched The Project and was quite surprised when they said how people on Facebook may be exposing themselves, their family and friends.

Over the past week I've seen and know others will have seen a couple of Facebook posts, where it felt something may not be quite what it seems. Not that the pictures weren't real, but they'd been reused.

1. A young boy who was told they wouldn't get birthday wishes and people being asked, 'Please do not scroll without typing "Happy Birthday"'.
2. A pack of wolves led by the elderly and sick in the pack.

The first was a picture that had been taken from site set up to help raise funds and the second from a BBC documentary in 2011, describing the alpha female leading the pack reducing the energy required by those following.

Whilst there may be a variety of reasons these posts exist, the reason The Project gave was very concerning.

The episode aired on Tuesday the 21st of February. The segment starts at 26:55 into the video. You can see this segment on Catch-up TV for a limited time.

An example of the type of post was given. In summary for the example given, a UK mum posted pictures on Facebook of her son with severe case of chicken pox a year ago. Her son is now healthy. The pictures now appear on Facebook saying the baby has cancer. It is stated that Facebook is giving money for likes, shares and comments. People are asked to 'please not scroll down without writing a comment saying "Amen"'.

This is a hoax.

One person interviewed said what the scammers may receive is people's information or, to direct people to websites where they might compromise a person's computer.

Carrie Bickmore goes on to say, "liking, commenting and sharing these posts, isn't just a waste of time, it's a great way to get yourself on a list of people who are vulnerable to cons." Now whether Carrie is correct or not about people ending up on list of people vulnerable to cons, outlandish offers by scammers in the past have been used to help identify the more gullible.

So if you're liking, commenting, or sharing these posts, you're potentially exposing yourself, but you may also be exposing your family and friends, who may in turn also like, comment and share.

A few years ago we saw many people forwarding emails with hoaxes and scams. This activity has now largely moved to social media sites like Facebook.

Before liking, sharing, or commenting on posts, perhaps pause for a moment and ask yourself if this will help or harm those you know.

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


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