Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Apple 99 cent movie of the week appears to have gone from iTunes and Apple TV.

A few days ago I noticed the option for renting a 99 cent movie of the week from Apple iTunes had disappeared. The option has also been removed from Apple TV.

With iTunes cards discounted in department stores by 20-30% it meant a movie could be obtained for around 70 cents. Many of the 99 cent movies weren't that good. One was terrible, but there were also quite a few that were OK for 99 cents.

All we can do is wait and see if Apple introduces another low cost option. For some reason I'm not optimistic.

Kelvin Eldridge

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Melbourne Business Coach website and example of a single page site.

The Melbourne Business Coach site www.MelbourneCoach.Business was created to illustrate an example of a one page site that does not need to be expensive to create. Often businesses are reluctant to have a presence on the internet because there's a lot of people who will simply rip them off.

The Melbourne Business Coach site was created based on a PDF provided by Gary Hipworth of Maverick Solutions. If you already have marketing material you're happy to hand out, as is the case with this PDF, then you can cost effectively use existing material to create your site. This approach is a good first step onto the internet.

I often do this for existing clients. In rough terms the following are the costs. The creation of a single page site based on existing material in electronic format takes 1-1.5 hours. Hosting is available for around $10 per month and the domain costs under $20 per year. In effect a business can be up and going with the upfront cost of $150-$210. Then an ongoing cost of around $10 per month for hosting.

Generally I've not found web developers who are interested in dealing with clients who wish to spend so little. In addition most web developers want to tie clients in with hosting or other services. My approach is to do everything in the client's name so they retain total control. They are not tied into Online Connections in any way and are welcome to use another business for future work. Of course it is hoped the client will continue to use Online Connections, but ultimately that is their choice because they want to, not because they have to.

Clients of Online Connections wanting a low cost internet presence are welcome to contact me. Keep in mind this is a first step. If you want something more extensive then you should discuss that with a web developer.

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for IT support.

PS. This example site has been created with the permission and material from Gary Hipworth for testing and demonstration purposes, but in this case, is owned by Online Connections.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

JustLocal does not track you, but I suspect many large sites/services can easily track you individually through your digital fingerprint.

I run the JustLocal service. JustLocal does not track you or use your information to market to you. I regularly check the logs simply out of interest. However some services I currently are able to track you using your digital fingerprint.

Most people when they get on the internet think they're anonymous, however your computer, the software you use and the ISP you connect with provide a lot of information about you that you may not be aware of.

For example this site which appears to be a research project based in France enables you to see how unique you are simply based on your browser.

I tried both my mobile phone and the computer I'm typing this post and in both cases, out of the roughly 30,000 stats collected so far, both devices are shown as unique.

Now if you add your ISP and the IP address you're using, this reinforces how unique you are.

If you'd like to check your ISP/IP information, in the Search Australia facility available on all pages of JustLocal type the keyword Maxmind. This will take you to the Maxmind site where you can select the option to test your own IP address. When I test mine it shows I'm using TPG as the ISP (Internet Service Provider) and I'm located in Templestowe (as determined by my IP address.

So next time you're on the internet and researching something that perhaps you'd prefer others not to know about, such as your competitor, keep in mind your digital fingerprint could let others know that it is you and where you're located. All it then takes is for you to complete a form providing just one site additional information and all sister sites will know exactly who you are and what interests you.

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for IT support.

PS. You should be aware this blog uses Google's Blogger service. I have no doubt Google has the ability to track us individually. What I found interesting was I guess the site was based in France given the number of people using French as the browser language. This proportion will change quickly if the site spreads virally. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Ads on the internet sometimes just seem plain creepy as though you're being stalked.

Do you sometimes feel ads on the internet are just plain creepy.

One person said to me recently my computer knows how I think. When I visit sites on the internet three are ads for products I'm interested in.

Now here's the creepy part. The person hasn't realised they've probably performed a search and now ads for the products start appearing across multiple sites.

For example yesterday I was searching for CR2032 batteries using Google. I went to quite a few sites of which one was Kogan. Whilst on the Kogan site I scrolled down and viewed many items. One items was a pop-up Marquee for $169, which I thought was an interesting price. However I have no current or real need for it so moved on.

Then today I went into Facebook and the following ad appeared in the right column.

I felt that was pretty creepy. I visit a site using one service (Google search) and then I start seeing ads whilst using another service (Facebook).

Also notice how they're not showing me the item I was interested in, but upselling to a more expensive item. I didn't even remember the price of the previous item so it could be easy for people to be upsold.

Personally I think being followed around the internet and having my actions tracked like this is creepy. However others seem to think it is wonderful that the internet knows about them and shows them what interests them.

Kelvin Eldridge
Helping locals find businesses without tracking them.

PS. I believe the technique used by the ad networks is called remarketing. The theory is if you showed interest in a product that you may later buy that product if repeatedly shown the item. The approach fails when it becomes obvious as in this case and also when you buy the product or service and then keep getting nagged which again makes it obvious this is some form of automated marketing.

Alert: Your blog was marked as spam by our automated classification system.

Lately Google's automated scanner has been going through my blogs and deleting them. I've found most software from Google has issues and this is just another such issue.

The message was: Your blog was marked as spam by our automated classification system.

There is a Restore button at the right for the deleted blog but this does noting.

This is now the fourth blog that Google Blogger's automated scanner has deleted. There have a policy it appears to delete first and ask questions later. The first two blogs weren't an issue. This blog and the last have been an issue as it requires going through the Help forum. That means answering unnecessary questions.

The first blog restored easily and the response was simply, we can see you're a human and not an automated process. Those automating spam blogs apparently don't bother with trying to get a blog reinstated whereas us humans do. So anyone responding is a good signal the blog was OK. However given the button doesn't work it isn't possible to get this as quickly resolved.

Off to submit another request via the Help forum to have a deleted blog restored.

Kelvin Eldridge

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Restore button for blog deleted by Google Blogger's automated process doesn't work.

Google Blogger is getting pretty annoying lately. Three blogs so far have been deleted. Two have been restored but for the third, the restore button doesn't work. It doesn't do anything.

Google Blogger's automated scanner seems to be designed to pick up blogs set up for spamming and breaching their terms of service. From what I can see in my case it looks more like they're targeting automated blogs set up by spammers.

The first blog was recovered in a couple of days, the second was quickly recovered. I didn't even notice it had been recovered so it was fast. The third blog I can't do anything. There's a restore button but it doesn't do anything.

I decided to submit the issue to the Help forum. We'll see how it goes and I'll let people know the outcome.

Kelvin Eldridge
Helping locals find local businesses. 

Repco 30% off this weekend puts me off Repco since they're only offering to a subsection of the community.

This morning I had to buy a battery for my car as mine died. I first checked the internet but unfortunately many businesses don't wish to advertise their price. This is an old trick. They know if they can get you in the store you'll probably buy.

There were some very good prices down to $120 but unfortunately that's buy over the internet and wait. Plus there's a $20 delivery fee. Flat batteries aren't exactly a product you can wait for. Supercheap auto advertised their price. Although not really sure just how super cheap they really are. I've been caught before with businesses calling themselves cheap when they're not, so I take that with a grain of salt.

In this day and age you'd think you could find more pricing on the internet. However if a business advertisers a price they can only compete on price and most businesses can't compete on price alone. Even though we have the internet it really does mean we're still reliant on the telephone to get a price. That's pretty silly for businesses since taking calls consume time. However often good telephone technique and service can lead to a sale, so perhaps not so silly.

In the end I decided to get into our second car and drive the short drive where I'd pass multiple places I could buy a battery. Supercheap auto since they advertised their price was number 1 on my list, but the distance means their price of $165 has to beat the others by around $10. I'm happy make the effort to businesses like Supercheap auto as they make my life easier by advertising their price.

The battery I was looking for was 55D23L-MF or equivalent. The first stop was KMart auto. Two options of $155 with 2 year warranty and a more expensive option with 3 year warranty. Next was Autobarn which had the battery I wanted for $154 with 30 month warranty and a more expensive option. Repco would have been next but their special offer to just RACV members simply puts me off. I've had bad service from RACV and wouldn't use them again, so when a business co-promotes with someone I wouldn't use, that puts me off them as well.

So the decision was made. Autobarn got the business at $154. KMart is the closest business at 1.1 km 4.6 km. Repco would have been 5.5 km. Supercheap auto would have been 10.5 km. These distances need to be doubled for the return trip. When looking for something I start local. The $1 saving from Autobarn over KMart is largely consumed by petrol and wear and tear costs. Time is also important.

In this case the sales boiled down to finding a suitable battery at a price that seemed to compare well with the general market. The $1 made no real difference and the 30 months versus 2 years didn't concern me. I figure the likelihood of the battery breaking down in that six month window is very small.

I find it interesting why we buy somewhere and not somewhere else. I see KMart auto as a lower end supplier but I also see Autobarn as a more expensive (without justification) supplier. Repco lost it through their co-promotion and  Supercheap auto didn't quite live up to its name, but I'm thankful they advertise a price. This was never a clear cut decision. Just a decision made on the fly that felt appropriate at the time.

For me a reasonable price from someone local will generally get the business.

Kelvin Eldridge
Helping locals find local businesses.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Commercial real estate Mornington - 2/185 Mornington Tyabb Road Mornington - Warehouse Showroom for lease

Looking for a commercial property to lease?

Check out 2/185 Mornington Tyabb Road Morning. This commercial property is available for lease from Jacobs and Lowe Real Estate.

Kelvin Eldridge
Helping local businesses

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Costco Christmas trading hours 2014

I recently dropped into Costco and noticed a sign for their Christmas trading hours. I took a picture of the Christmas trading hours and their regular hours.

Kelvin Eldridge

Your electricity usage reveals more than you may think.

Now that we have Smart meters installed the data being collected may reveal more than you realise.

Here is the graph for our electricity usage during August 2014.

Is there an unusual trend you can spot?

If I said we went on holidays could you tell me the day we started our holidays?

Yes. As you can see your electricity usage data may reveal more about you than you think. I'm always mindful that a considerable amount of fraud is committed not by customers, but employees. In every business a certain percentage of employees will do things they shouldn't.

Who has access to this data?
Is the government using the data in other ways?
Is the data being shared with other groups such as for research purposes?

Ultimately all I can really do is hope that my data is being treated with respect and if it isn't, there's really not much I can do.

What is important is you treat your electricity username and password with respect and secure your account using strong credentials. You should treat your electricity account as an important account and make sure it is secured.

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for IT support.

Blogger - Why is my blog disabled?

I have to admit Google is starting to frustrate me. They apparently have an automated process to identify blogs being used for SPAM. The process hit one of my blogs a few weeks ago. In the past week another blog and then today a third blog.

The first blog being disabled was a concern. I inadvertently found there was an option where I could restore the blog so I ran the option and two days later the blog was restored. The second blog was easier. Restored quite quickly. The blog today when I click on the Restore button nothing happens. Hmmm.

If you get a blog disabled due to violating their Terms of Service due to SPAM it may be in error as it has been for mine. There is a link showing the number of deleted blogs. Click on the link to get to the Restore option. Hopefully the Restore button will work for you.

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for IT support.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Free tram zone Melbourne 2015 - Begins 1st of January 2015.

A new free tram zone in the Melbourne city area will start from the 1st of January 2015. The area is bounded by the Victoria Harbour, Flinders Street, Spring Street and La Trobe Street. In addition the area up to and including Victoria Market is covered. That is the area bounded by La Trobe Street, William Street, Victoria Street and Elizabeth Street.

The following is a link to the Public Transport map.

Kelvin Eldridge

Monday, December 08, 2014

Getting a presence on the internet for a micro or home based business can be very inexpensive.

When you start a small home based business there will be dozens of other businesses trying to get you to spend money. They'll push the need for a whole range of products and services. That's OK. They just want to make money just as you want to make money. The trick is to prioritise your spending. Many things promoted to your will simply not make you money, or cost far more than you get in return.

One thing people will tell you that you need is a web presence. There will be people that tell you you need to spend hundreds and others who say you need to spend thousands. The bottom line however is if no one visits your site it will make you no money. Walk before you run.

In my opinion there are many things you can do cost effectively when you start and then when you're making money, reinvest.

Yesterday I decided to put together a website to demonstrate a very low cost approach to having a web presence that can cost you the equivalent of a couple of cups of coffee. Less than the cost of a single networking meeting for a year's presence on the internet.

My reason for sharing this information is that many people starting a business need a presence on the internet and need to promote their presence. JustLocal provides advertising to help people find your site and offers a full money-back guarantee. You either receive value from the knowledge I share or business you receive from being promoted on JustLocal. If you don't receive value from the knowledge or receive business, I'm happy to refund your advertising cost.

So here's a tip on how to have a very low cost and yet quite professional internet presence that works both on desktop and mobile devices.

First you need to register a domain, but don't just register with any domain company. By registering with the appropriate domain company you get to use a domain in both your site and email address that you can add to your business cards and look more professional than those using.@gmail, @hotmail, or @my-ISP. You simply use forwarding to point to your website and existing email address, but the rest of the world sees your website and email address as a business website and email address.

The service I used to create an example site is a service called Wix. To begin you can sign up for free. The compromise is they have some advertising on your site to promote themselves. That's tolerable as once you make money you can remove the ads by upgrading and paying under $200 a year. However make money first and then start spending it. That way you'll be around for the long haul.

The example site I just built is for my preferred Australian English spelling work. I already had the domain so decided to put it to better use.

If you visit you'll see the site and I think you'll agree, it isn't too bad for a few hours of typing and modifying the template based site to sell my dictionary products. If you visit the site using a mobile device you'll see the mobile version. A site that works on both desktop and mobile devices is called a responsive site. Wix enables you to create a responsive site.

The Wix site I created is, but rather than use the Wix address, I pointed my domain to the Wix site and that is the site I'd give to others. The site is the site I'd publish on business cards and in advertising.

The beauty of this approach is as you grow and generate income and your domain doesn't have to change. You can simply change the technology you use for your site and point your domain appropriately. Your business cards and advertising don't have to change. You also use a similar forwarding approach for your email as you do with your site so your email address also doesn't have to change.

The Wix site is free until you decide to upgrade. If you never upgrade there is no cost. The domain will set you back around $15 per year for a domain and $10 for a .com domain. There's quite a choice of domains you can use, but it is a good idea to stick to a or .com domain if you can.

Now keep in mind this is a compromise to begin with. In business we'd often love to have more but often need to compromise. Once you make money reinvest. This approach will enable you to first determine if you can make money, whilst giving you a more than professional low cost presence on the internet.

For more details join JustLocal and get your business started on the internet.

Kelvin Eldridge
Helping businesses to be found by their neighbours.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Fila runners from Target and Harris Scarfe look identical, but with a huge price difference.

I recently went to the Docklands Harris Scarfe as I had a catalogue and wanted to check out the runners. I ended up purchasing this pair for $69.95 discounted down from $110.

Today I was walking through Target in Greensborough and these pair of runners caught my eye.

Do you ever get that sinking feeling you've been had? I did.

I've looked very closely at the images online and compared them to my runner once I get home. I can't see any difference.

I'll need to return to Target when time permits to compare the runners to double check. It may be possible they are different but I've seen games in the return industry where a slight change is made and different codes are provided different retailers so a direct comparison can't be made.

Only time will tell if I've been had or not. Target has a standard price of $60 and Harris Scarfe has a standard price of $110 for what looks like the same item. I do hope I'm wrong, but if I'm not, Harris Scarfe will not see me again and their catalogues will go straight into the bin.

With retailers you really can't let your guard down. Shop around and make sure you compare prices. Even check the online price and the in-store price. I've notice some retailers having better prices online.

Ah well. We live and learn.

Kelvin Eldridge

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

RACV membership. Do you really need it?

My father had an RACV membership and encouraged my brothers and myself to also join RACV. Like him I was a loyal RACV member for many years. Then a couple of things changed.

I always found RACV's response times pretty slow. On one occasion I waited in Rye for around three hours for someone to attend. When I rang up to see how long it would be I was told I'd been put in the wrong queue. I'd have to go into the right queue and start the wait again. I said that wasn't particularly fair and could they do anything. Their answer was no, but if I hang up and called back again and said my wife was pregnant, I'd get put into the priority queue. I went and got assistance from my father-in-law, fixed the petrol blockage and drove home. Needless to say I was totally unimpressed.

Whilst not related to the car, I also had home insurance. When I was burgled RACV was very difficult to deal with and was trying to pay as little as they could. It took months of persistence to get a reasonable settlement. They were offering around $5,000 on a $13,000 claim. In the end I settled for $10,000, but in hindsight I should have kept fitting. I was very young and didn't realise they were still ripping me off. So another poor experience.

I read once (although I didn't confirm this) that 90% of RACV call outs were for a flat battery or keys locked in the car. The flat battery is easily handled with a portable battery unit with jumper leads. The key issue is also easily handled by making sure we have spare sets of keys in suitable locations.

One issue that also needs to be considered is the need for a tow in the case of a breakdown. That's now easily handled. A call to any Repco automotive repair centre and you can usually get a tow to the nearest repair centre for around $100.

It has now been a few decades since I've been an RACV member and myself and my entire family have never had a need to use them. Yes we've had flat batteries, keys locked in cars, and even a breakdown requiring a tow, but never have we needed the RACV.

The saving each year for all the family's cars have mounted up. I don't know the current cost of membership, but if I allow $100 per car, we're probably talking of $4,000 to $6,000 of savings over the years. That's a huge saving.

With a small amount of pre-planning it is very easy to not need an RACV membership. After a couple of years the savings made should well and truly cover services the membership covers and the rest is money in your pocket.

Whilst it may look like a big decision, the choice is probably easier than you think. What's the worst thing that happens if you're not a member. You join if you need them. The only additional cost is an additional year of members. At about $100 that's really not a great risk. If you have multiple cars and those cars are fairly reliable, chances are you'll be better of even in the first year by not having a membership.

It really is good to look back and realise just how much a saving I've made. All the issues RACV would have covered have been easily covered using other service providers or approaches. I'd even say at a better level of service. That to me is a winning situation.

Kelvin Eldridge

Disk boot failure, insert system disk and press enter. Has the disk really failed?

The dreaded disk boot failure message is a message that most of us would not want to see on our computer.

The client's computer started up with the message "disk boot failure, insert system disk and press enter". They did say they'd seen a few error messages appear before this one.

A good lesson here is if you see unexpected messages immediately do a backup of your important data to an external device. With one disk I had enough time to copy off the client's data before it failed entirely.

Before writing off the hard disk I remove the hard disk and test it using another computer. In this case the hard disk was not able to be seen by another computer so the disk had failed.

What I found particularly interesting is when I installed a new hard disk that had not been formatted I received exactly the same message. This is a good lesson not to assume the disk has failed and always test a faulty disk.

One disk I had I couldn't tell if the disk was failing or not so had not trust in the disk. This can be where there's a trade-off of time over the cost of a new hard disk. Hard disks are not expensive and time can quickly mount up. In computer support often decisions have to be made which is more about a cost effective solution for the client. Whilst it may be possible to repair an issue, sometimes it isn't cost effective to do so. This may mean purchasing a new part, or even a new computer.

Next time you see the disk boot failure message, make sure you have the hard disk tested first before assuming the hard disk has completely failed. Over the years I've been able to recover data for clients from disks others couldn't. Assume the worst and hope for the best.

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for IT support.
Also www.Computer-Repairs.Melbourne.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Eltham Village Shopping Centre advertising with spelling and grammar errors.

As I entered Eltham Village Shopping Centre and went down the ramp from the top car park, the hairdresser's sign caught my eye.

The sign is a large poster and would have cost quite a bit to be made and a fee for the position to advertise. You would think there would be an extra effort to ensure spelling and grammar was correct. There should be at least two, perhaps three businesses checking the spelling. The hairdresser, the graphic designer and the printer. How can so many businesses lack care in their work?

How many errors can you spot?

Kelvin Eldridge
The preferred Australian English spelling.