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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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
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

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.


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

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.


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

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

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

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

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

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