Thursday, January 29, 2015

Computer Repairs Doncaster - New page on Online Connections site for those in Doncaster requiring IT support.

Computer Repairs Doncaster is a new page I've added to my site to help people find and use my IT support services. If you live or work in Doncaster and require IT support, then please feel free to contact me.

I'm based in Templestowe which means travel time is minimised and thus the cost to you is minimised. If you've checked the traffic lately you'll often see the freeways and roads clogged with traffic. IT support people travelling in that congestion need to recover the wasted time and you're the one who covers that cost. By using the services of a local IT support person you minimise that wasted time. Time that you will eventually pay for one way or another.

Unlike other IT support businesses I don't charge a minimum call-out fee so you only pay for the time required to have your problem fixed. Many businesses live on that call-out fee which is often money for doing nothing. One local resident in Templestowe Lower paid one group $250 to have an iPad connected to their Wi-Fi network which took around 15 minutes. The group was a national group with high advertising costs (you'll see them advertising on the internet all the time) and they subcontract out work, so they need to recover all those costs. Having a local person do that task would have meant a huge saving.

So next time you're looking for a local computer support person, give me a call. You only end up paying to get your problem fixed and not wasted travel time or the high costs of national advertising.

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for IT support.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Mobile computer repairs Melbourne - If you need assistance with your computer give Online Connections a call.

Often when I've assisted people with their home or business computer they've said they really appreciate the service. By having me come out to fix their computer they've saved themselves a lot of time unplugging the computer, one trip to put the computer in and another to pick it up, and then reconnecting the computer.

There are some problems I don't fix such as when a power supply has blown, but in that case getting the power supply replaced, once you know that is the problem, can be done fairly quickly. In addition people don't get ripped off because they know what the problem is.

Most computer problems however are software related and can generally be fixed on the spot, or if there's a serious malware infection, then I can take the computer away and return it within 24-48 hours and the customer knows in advance how much they'll be up for.

If you need your computer fixed and would like someone to come to your home or business, please feel free to give me a call.

Kelvin Eldridge
Mobile computer repairs Melbourne
Call 0415 910 703 for IT support.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Dot Melbourne (or .Melbourne) domains are now included in Search Australia.

The domains ending in .Melbourne are now included in Search Australia. That means a site such as www.Computer-Repairs.Melbourne may appear in the search results. As always what appears or doesn't appear is based on the results returned by Google's custom search tool.

The problem with the .Melbourne domains is it appears they're probably owned by the government and as a result the State governments appear to be profiteering and charging much more than other domains. Unfortunately quite a few people will get with the 'I don't want to miss out' or 'I need to protect my domain names' bug, and that plays into the hands of the State governments.

Do keep in mind domains are currently around $69 per year on sale, but when you come to renew the non-sale price is over $90 per year. That's quite costly.

Currently .Melbourne is classed as a generic Top Level Domain which means it really has no geographic meaning, and in theory, no inherent advantage, but in fact it may be a disadvantage.

My approach is to test a couple of domains for the first year and if they don't perform to dump them. This really just feels like another tax.

Kelvin Eldridge
Helping local businesses to be found in their area.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Crossword Helper - A new online web app to help those doing crosswords or those playing scrabble.

For a while I've been thinking about creating a crossword helper application using the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary I created. Rather than it simply being an idea in my head I decided to write the first version which is now available at

The first version simply enables you to check a word to see whether or not the word exists and is correctly spelt. There's also a link to enable you to check the meaning of the word using the online UK Oxford English dictionary. Currently there isn't an Australian online dictionary so the UK Oxford has to do for now.

For scrabble this means people can check if a word is correctly spelt. A cheat people often do is to check words around the word they'd like, so this helps avoid this little rouse. For crosswords this will enable people to check if they're using the correct spelling and the meaning of the word.

If there is sufficient interest based on traffic to the web app, I hope to enable people to enter the letters they know for a word and question marks for letters they don't know, and then return a list of possible words.

Kelvin Eldridge
Creator of the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Does hosting a site in Australia improve your position in Google search results?

A question often comes to mind is whether or not hosting in Australia makes a difference in Google search results. Google keeps its secret recipe close to its chest and also keeps changing the rules of the game, but it is good to try to work out if you can identify a metric that may or may not affect your position in Google.

There's really two things we're looking at here. The first is the speed of the site. If you use the PING command built into most computers and ping a site you'll get a time value. In my tests so far having the site in Australia reduces the time value to around a twentieth. That's a huge difference. The second is when using what are known as generic top level domains. Domains that are not associated with a country. Google associates .au with Australia but domains such as .com and the many hundreds of top level domains now coming online are considered generic and not associated with a geographical region.

For this test I've moved two sites (www.Computer-Repairs.Melbourne and www.MelbourneCoach.Business) from overseas hosting to Australian based hosting. I've recorded the current position in Google search results for business coach Melbourne and computer repairs Melbourne. Now it is simply a matter of wait and see.

The results of this test will be made available to JustLocal members. If there is a marked improvement that should assist members in making better decisions and if there is no apparent improvement, that also saves members time where they can focus on other areas to improve their positioning in Google's search result. Either outcome is a good outcome.

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for IT support.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Aldi Maginon USB Cassette Converter ACC-01 to MP3 files.

I decided to purchase the USB cassette converter from Aldi. I tend to be careful with Aldi products as I've experienced a relatively high failure rate that has ended up quite costly. For example a PVR Recorder that lasted six months and an evaporator that lasted a day. The product Aldi sell seem to put quality control onto the consumer. That is sell it first and if it breaks, the consumer will return it. I regret not pursuing the PVR but Aldi just duck shoved the issue onto me, and in the end I couldn't be bothered. I suspect many others probably experience the same. I find around one in three of the items need to be returned.

Some items however are great value so you're stuck with a good priced item, but the risk it won't work. In this case the USB Cassette Converter was effectively dead on arrival. I inserted the batteries and thought, hmmm. They certainly aren't making good contact. I tried turning the unit on and nothing. I really did want to convert some cassettes so I decided to investigate. The spring the connects the negative end of the battery had dislodged. A paper clip and a few minutes of jiggling and the unit was ready to go.

This type of unit for an IT person is pretty simple. Plug it in, run the software, start recording, stop recording, edit the file into separate tracks and save each file. I tried the included track splitting software (can't recall the name) and it was rubbish. The software wasn't able to identify tracks without missing what I consider quite a bit of the start of a track. That to me wasn't acceptable. The main software included with the unit is Audacity which is free open source software. At least they've packed the software so it was easy to install and the MP3 encoder was included. The encoder in the past hasn't been included when I've downloaded Audacity from the internet. Since I'd used the software before there wasn't an issue learning the software.

It can be quite tedious splitting the tracks, saving them and then updating the properties with artist, title and album information, but once done, it is done.

There was one more little gotcha. The instructions state you can use USB to power the device. I couldn't see a way that could be done. The device simply didn't work for me unless the batteries were installed.

Overall another dead-on-arrival Aldi product, but at least this time I could fix it and the device was usable.

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for IT support.

Computer Repairs Melbourne site has been set up to enable people to more easily find Online Connections.

One of the problems I find with the internet is we often set up a business using a name we like that has taken us some time to decide upon. But then who searches for your business by name at the start when no one has heard of you? As part of my ongoing testing I decided to set up a second site but use the domain www.Computer-Repairs.Melbourne.

I've now set up pages for each of the postcodes around Templestowe and it will be interesting to watch over time the level of traffic these pages receive as compared with my site The following are the additional pages.


I'll be sharing the results of this testing with JustLocal members.

Kelvin Eldridge
Help local businesses prosper.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Before considering solar panels, try the Energy Cost Calculator.

You know what really amazes me is the number of people who look at their electricity bill and then decide to install solar panels. They don't even think for a second that perhaps by reviewing and reducing their usage they may save more money and it will cost them nothing except some time.

I wrote the Energy Cost Calculator because I was comparing low energy lights and how long it would take for the lights to pay for themselves. I found doing the calculation tedious, so I decided to write myself a calculator to assist with the calculation. I then found myself reviewing all the devices around my home and now our electricity usage sits around 5 kWh per day, whereas before we were using 12-14 kWh per day.

At the time I was also considering a solar panel system. There were quite a few hidden costs and some gotchas such as when electricity companies change people to time-of-day charging increasing their electricity bill. One article I read about 12 locals found they were saving an average of around $200 a year. A far cry from the massive savings people expected. However we're now saving probably around $1,000 a year on electricity with no cost of installing a solar panel system.

I should add that I have bought a few gadgets to help me in my quest to reduce power, and even bought a TV to replace an old TV/set top box as the electricity savings would pay of the new TV in six years. From then on it was money in my pocket and not the electricity retailer's.

So before installing solar panels do a review of your current appliances and see if you can reduce money through some simple habit changes. It's been a couple of years since I first started the changes and I'm even surprised that I continue to find ways to save money on electricity.

Kelvin Eldridge
Knowledge isn't just power, it saves money as well.

PS. Think about this. It is estimated that one in four houses now have solar panels. The majority would have taken advantage of the rebate. Who paid for that rebate? We all do in the form of increased electricity charges. It doesn't come out of general taxes. So you're now paying more because your neighbour decided to try to save money and slug you for part of the cost. The same is true for those free low energy lights where contractors were being paid $10 per light for something you could have purchased for a dollar or two. So don't fool yourself. When you participate in a government scheme you're shafting yourself and your neighbours with increased electricity costs. I think that's pretty selfish and why I purchased my own low energy lights and don't install solar panels connecting to the grid.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Consulting rates, or how much should I pay to a consultant, or how much should I charge as a consultant.

Interestingly I found once one of the more popular pages on my Online Connections site was a page where I explained how much you should pay a consultant. You can find my rates on either the Online Connections site or my Computer Repairs Melbourne site.

I now use the approach to rates to evaluate if I'm happy to use the services of others and the approach also helps me charge my customers. I do vary what I charge as there a some tasks which I feel at full rates would not be the best value for clients. For example I'll set the fee to remove malware from a home user's computer at 1.5 hours even though the time involved is much more. I'd rather a the user have a functioning clean machine and save them from purchasing a new computer. At full rates the options would normally be to reformat the computer or to buy a new computer. I'm not particularly happy with either of those options and thus I fix the price to a figure I feel is appropriate for the customer. The figures suggested here a thus simply a guide.

The figure I use as a starting point is the hourly rate someone would be paid as an employee. In IT I once worked out contractors are paid around twice the hourly rate of a full-time employee. The contractor basically works the same as a full-time or part-time employee, but has to carry their own overheads plus they don't get benefits such as holiday pay, leave loading, public holidays or leave loading. The longer they work for a business the more their productivity will be similar to an employee.

For a consultant I use the figure of three times the hourly rate of an employee. A consultant only comes in for specific tasks. They should be very productive. There's no guarantee of ongoing income and in some months, or even years, they may receive no income from the business. I actually picked the three times figure up from a Chartered Accounting firm I once worked for. I felt it was one of the more useful pieces of information I learnt.

The logic behind the three times figure is one third covers the salary, one third covers the on-costs, and one third is profit. Few people realise that an employee actually costs much more than their salary. You have the on-costs which I once read can vary from 1.3 to 1.9 times their salary. I believe the 1.9 times their salary was referring to Telstra at the time. In addition you then have to take into account productivity. The following is the productivity for IT staff I managed. This if for a 38 hour week and is for billable time.

Programmer - 80%
Analyst program - 60%
Manager - 40%
Partner - 30% or below

What the above means is a programmer is effectively productive 4 out of the 5 days and thus one day is lost in terms of billable hours.

As a consultant/small business owner you become all of these people in one. As a result you can expect your productivity, or the productivity of the person you hire, will have similar productivity. The average productivity above is 57%, so I tend to use a figure of 50% or 60% when doing calculations.

What that really means is, that when you hire a person as an employee, taking into account their productivity and their on-costs, the real cost to the business is in the range of 3-4 times their salary. Sometimes it may be worth considering outsourcing some work where you can reduce that cost.

I've written a calculator ( which may assist those who wish to work out how much they should charge, or how much a person's time is going to cost them. It takes into accounts hours and productivity, but doesn't take into account on-costs.

Now when I use the services of others I use the same rates with a slight modification. These 2 and 3 times rates are based on time only. Many businesses sell time plus make sales. So for a time based business I expect to pay up to 3 times their hourly rate. For a selling business that sells time and also sells product such as a motor mechanic, I expect to pay a little over twice the hourly rate plus the profit on sales, which effectively covers the other part of the three times rate.

When I see firms charging outside these rates it's a warning to me to be very careful. I've seen accounting firms charge out at 5-10 times the hourly rate. Getting charged $80-$100 for someone that is being paid around $22 an hour such as an admin assistant to me is profiteering. An example in the accounting firm I worked for is they had a 16 year old receptionist/admin person and charged her out at 10 times her hourly rate. She was the managing partner's secretary. I consider those clients to have really been stung with excessive rates.

Sometimes we have no choice but to pay the excessive rates because of protected industries such as the legal and medical industries, but if you can, look for businesses that charge a fair and reasonable rate for their services. There's many good businesses out there that won't rip you off. Of course there's also many that will. So remember, it is only you that will ultimately look after your financial interests.

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for IT support.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Fun date ideas to help take the stress out of coming up with ideas.

Remember those times when you wanted to take someone special somewhere and couldn't come up with something fresh and different. Fun Date Ideas is a new site designed to provide a range of date ideas, whether it be your first date, or an anniversary date.

Check out and go and have some fun.

Kelvin Eldridge

Alert: Westpac - You've missed a credit card payment.

I received an email today with the subject, You've missed a credit card payment. Now strange as it may sound I have missed a credit card payment a couple of times. The problem for me is Westpac has decided to force everyone to register their email address in order to use online banking. I don't provide banks with an email address as part of my approach to security and fraud. I advise others to do the same.

This email is a scam and should be deleted.

As you can expect I'm very annoyed at Westpac for crippling my banking experience with them. They simply want to avoid costs by getting people to use email and I want to avoid fraud and save them much more money. They're absolutely crazy. No other bank I use forces me to provide an email address. WAKE UP WESTPAC. Westpac is on borrowed time for me which is a pity.

Nearly every day I'll receive emails like the following. Most weeks as an IT consultant I'll make money from someone who has been tricked by bank fraud. I work hard to help clients avoid fraud but Westpac makes it hard for me and the rest of their customers. Westpac deserves to lose this money but unfortunately the customer is the one who usually pays for it in the long run.

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for IT support.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Jindalee foundation spamming with Stepping up to Supervision emails. I do wish they wouldn't.

Personally I'm against this one rule for government and charities and another rule for the rest of us. Do charities really think if they spam they'll endear themselves? Just because they can doesn't make it right.

Of course they fully know what they're doing since they include this on their emails.


As a registered charity, the Jindalee Foundation is exempt from legislation relating to direct
marketing, whether by phone, fax, email or door to door. However the Foundation is aware
of its responsibilities as a good corporate citizen and will action any request to be removed
from the databases used to seek assistance for its work.

So fully aware and doing it anyway. I should state they used an email addresses harvested from the internet as one of the email address they used (I received two emails to different email addresses) is only published in code on the internet and is thus not visible except to scanning bots. The email has never been given out to anyone.

As part of the design of JustLocal I provide free advertising for the community. However I won't provide free advertising to groups that knowingly use exemptions that really should not exist. We should all have a single set of rules so everyone is treated fairly and with respect. Not rules designed for the self interest of certain groups.

Kelvin Eldridge

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

How to lose weight fast.

A lot of people search for how to lose weight fast. The fastest way I lost weight is I went to Thailand and ended up with what I nicknamed Thai Tummy. Over one night I lost 4 kg and it was not pleasant. Of course it also made no real difference to my weight over time.

Losing weight fast is something we'd all like to do but it isn't practical. You put on weight over time and you'll need to lose weight over time. I met one person who had been dieting  and was going to the doctors because they felt they weren't losing weight fast enough. They were getting test after test done. When I asked them how long they'd been dieting (a month) and how much weight they'd lost, it was roughly the amount of weight you'd expect. I was very surprised the doctor was getting tests done since the dieting was working. It was the expectation of the person that was not right.

A while ago I decided to investigate the maths behind losing weight and share what I learnt at You'll find additional information in the blog I wrote a couple of tools to assist me and you can find those online tools via the menus.

Set a realistic weight loss goal and stick to a plan and you'll find you'll lose the weight. I'm not saying it is easy. I lost 22 kg and put a lot of that back on over the last five years. It's time for me to lose the extra weight again. For me the first technique is you have to get your mind in the right place. Get determined. Really determined. So determined you're going to make this happen. If you do that it will happen.

Kelvin Eldridge

Monday, January 05, 2015

Moved a number of postcode blogs from Bloger to WordPress due to Blogger's automated scanner incorrectly nuking blogs.

Google's Blogger service has been a right pain lately. Their automatic scanner has a delete first, ask question later approach. That is if the Blogger's automated scanner thinks you're in violation of their terms they simply delete the blog. The problem is the scanner isn't perfect and there are many false positives. I've had a number of blogs restored with a number still to be restored. It has been a real pain since you can't contact Google Blogger support directly and it is very unproductive.

I've largely lost confidence in Google's Blogger service as a result. To avoid this situation I've now moved a number of blogs to The following blogs for the respective postcode pages have now been set up. - Bulleen - Templestowe - Templestowe Lower - Doncaster - Doncaster East - Lower Plenty - Montmorency - Eltham

Whilst this has been a considerable annoyance, the reality is JustLocal was set up so each postcode page could have its own blog about local happenings and it didn't matter where the blog was located, or the service being used.

This is a good opportunity to warn others to back up their blogs and any other information they only store online. Large companies such as Google now don't make it easy to directly contact them for support. The companies have largely offloaded support to volunteers to minimise cost and as a result you're dealing with people who can have almost no experience through to quite experienced. Ultimately these people don't work for Google so the can become obnoxious to deal with. They have after all nothing to lose. An employee on the other hand can lose their job so will treat customers with the appropriate level of respect.

Kelvin Eldridge
Helping local business prosper.

Don Charisma - Is this an example of blog follower spam?

I recently set up seven new blogs on since Google's Blogger automatic scanner was nuking my blogs. Some Google engineer somewhere who should be fired has decided to update the algorithm and now I see many people reporting deleted blogs. I suspect it is only a matter of time until this blog gets deleted as well.

Having lost total confidence in yet another of Google's services I've moved my blogs to If you have a Blogger blog backup regularly using the Export feature are you never know when your blog will get nuked. To be fair I have had an number of the blogs restored but it was a painful and annoying process.

Shortly after setting up the WordPress blogs I received an email for each one from the same follower Don Charisma. On checking the blogs there's been no views so Don has no interest in the posts.

To me this seems to be an way to get WordPress to spam people. Clever but annoying. Just join every WordPress blog as a follow as it is established and promote yourself. Here is what I see from

I have no idea who Don is or what he does. Whilst I may be curious and check his profile I've decided not to. That is exactly what a spammer would want.

Is Don spamming or not?

If someone does not even bother to check the content of a blog before following, that is sufficiently suspicious to indicate they're a spammer and should do something about the behaviour. This isn't just one blog but seven. A check of the WordPress support forums see the name is mentioned quite a number of times.

Unfortunately WordPress offers no means to block such followers if the blog is public.

In time I'll probably end up writing my own code for my posts. Activity like this just makes me distrust WordPress since it doesn't provide the ability to stop this type of behaviour or block such people. When we use online services we get a great deal for very little, but there's always a cost. Make sure the cost does not outweigh the benefit.

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for IT support.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Chromecast versus Apple TV

This Christmas I dropped a couple of hints for a Google Chromecast. Of course the first questions was "what's that", but then a picture of the Chromecast let the family know what it was. At $49 it was also an affordable present.

Now my reason for asking for the Chromecast is I wanted to compare it to the Apple TV.  I pulled out my ageing Toshiba notebook which has a Intel core duo 2 processor and set up the Chromecast. Everything up and running I went to watch Person of Interest on Catch-Up TV. The video quality was terrible so my first thought was looks like a dud.

However with a bit of testing and the help of my Apple MacBook Air I found the quality was largely due to Channel 9's Catch-Up TV service. Running the Chromecast or Apple TV on Channel 9's Catch-Up TV was very poor. In essence I really was seeing one picture after another and not a video. The sound was there, but the picture was not smooth at all. At the time this was only marginally better on the Apple TV.

I decided to pull out my older Acer Android tablet running 4.0.x and a cheap Pendo tablet I had given to me when I signed with Dodo Power. The Pendo tablet couldn't run the Chromecast. I was looking forward to sharing the tablet screen on the big screen TV but unfortunately that doesn't work on the Acer Android tablet I have. I did however find YouTube did play well on the bigger tablet with Chromecast so at last I found it to be usable.

The main problem I found with the Google Chromecast however was severe inference with the free-to-air signal. If the Chromecast is left on the free-to-air signal would break up. I ran a test where I ran a session on the Chromecast whilst trying to watch free-to-air and the signal interference was so bad it was not possible to watch TV at all. I then put the Chromecast on the power device I could remotely switch on and off. That way I can leave the Chromecast off when not being used and only turn it on when I need to. This approach means an additional cost for the Chromecast to be usable.

I still need to do more testing but so far I am far more confident in the Apple TV with the MacBook Air. At $60 more that combination is a far better combination. However if you don't have a MacBook Air and only a Windows computer, the Chromecast is an option to consider.

For me the real test of one of these gadgets is whether you continue to use them. The MacBook Air and Apple TV combination is used every week either for Catch-Up TV or perhaps a movie once or twice a month.

It is perhaps too early to determine whether or not the Chromecast is a useful device or just another gadget that will end up in the cupboard. The interference of the free-to-air signal is a major concern as that does mean adding a remote control power device to switch it off when not being used. I feel it is more limited than the MacBook Air/Apple TV combination, but if you're a Windows user the Apple TV does not work in conjunction with Windows, so the Chromecast may be a better option.

At this stage for my own use I really don't see the Chromecast being used on a regular basis, but only time will tell.

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for IT support.

PS. As I explore the Chromecast further, I will publish what I find as a MyAnswers solution. You will be able to find the MyAnswers solution in the MyAnswers section of my site