Tuesday, September 30, 2008

JustLocal Surfers Paradise search engine.

One of the things that is very frustrating about organising a holiday, is to find the accommodation available in an area such as Surfers Paradise. For example, a search of "Accommodation Surfers Paradise" using Google, returns 3.1 million pages, with only one of the organic results on the first page being an actual hotel. There are so many directories and listing services that the actual properties aren't easily found.

The thought occurred to me, what if I could have a search engine with just the accommodation in Surfers Paradise. If I had that, then I could start to search those hotels for things I wanted. For example, I'm on holiday in Surfers right now and we wanted a gymnasium. I wanted a hotel right next to the beach and walking distance to Cavill Avenue, but not too close.

Being in Surfers Paradise the information is easily available. I've always found the irony of holiday destinations is the information is available once I get to the destination. Often it takes a couple of days to find the information about the local highlights, and by then, a short holiday is over. What I need is the information before I get to the destination. 

Now for the benefit of others, I would like to make available a search engine which lists over a hundred accommodation places in Surfers Paradise.

Now you can search for the things you want. Things like:
  • The Esplanade (for accommodation on the beach).
  • Gymnasium
  • Indy
  • Schoolies Week
Many site provide lots of information about local activities and the information can be very handy.

In addition on this page, I've added a link to the Wotif.com service so you can see the last minute accommodation available in Surfers Paradise. I actually wanted to wait to book the accommodation this holiday. Choosing a place like Surfers Paradise where there is a great range of accommodation, made me feel the chance of getting good last minute accommodation may have been easy, even considering it was school holidays. But unfortunately the pressure of not having accommodation booked for the rest of the family was too much and so we booked in advance. Out of interest I decided to check the accommodation for the hotel we are staying at and yes there were rooms available. The decision not to wait cost us about $250-$300 more in accommodation and there were plenty of hotels to choose from. Booking early however does give peace of mind. It is always a trade off.

On the Surfers Paradise search engine page at the bottom left, I've also added a link which you can use to add the Surfers Paradise search engine to Internet Explorer to help you plan your next holiday.

If you find I have missed your favourite Surfers Paradise accommodation (only Surfers, not surrounding areas), an error, or even incorrectly not linked to the main site for the property, please feel free to let me know. 

If you find the Surfers Paradise search engine helps you, please feel free to leave a comment.
Happy holidaying.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Friday, September 26, 2008

Phishing alert: BankWest Security Depertment

I was about to delete an email using OzEfilter, supposedly sent from BankWest, because to me it was probably going to be a phishing attempt. This time however, I decided to check it out and let others know what I found.

The email contained a poor quality BankWest logo.  

The start of the email reads as follows:

BankWest has been receiving complaints from our customers for unauthorised use of the BankWest Online accounts. As a result we are making an extra security check on all of our Customers account in order to protect their information from theft and fraud.

Due to this, you are requested to follow the provided steps and confirm your Online Banking details for the safety of your Accounts. Click Here To Get Started!

As a rule you should not click on a link in an email to go to a financial site. Always open your browser and enter the site address of your financial institution. The technique I use for this email is to hover my mouse over the "Click Here" link. I then see the address of the link which is not visible. In this case the site is a .net.au site and nothing to do with BankWest

This email is an obvious phishing attempt to get a person's bank account details. Don't be tricked by this type of email. 

- Kelvin Eldridge

Virus alert: Your Online Flight Ticket N 78468 from Hawaiian Airlines

I use OzEfilter to delete unwanted emails at the mail server safely away from my computer. I decided to receive this email instead of having OzEfilter delete it, as it sounded similar to an earlier email which I blogged about. 

The email starts with the following information:

Thank you for using our new service "Buy flight ticket Online" on our website.
Your account has been created:

Attached to the email was a zip file named eTicket_O2.zip and inside this file was an executable file eTicket_O2.doc.exe. To me this is an obvious malicious email.

But then I had a thought. By default under Windows Vista and Windows XP if the user looks at a file, the extension is not shown. As an IT person, as a matter of habit I always turn on the option to dispaly the file extension. I decided to check what people would see if I turned off the ability to see file extensions. Sure enough, when viewing the file in the zip file, the file name is eTicket_O2.doc, which would appear to simply be a Word document to most people. It is no wonder so many people are tricked by this type of email.

Hiding the file extension is something Microsoft decided to do as the default. This shows that not displaying file extensions can easily lead users to infect their computer. I would suggest if you don't have file extensions turned on, then it is a good idea to turn the option on.

OzEfilter allows me to see this type of email and delete it before it even reaches my computer. If you aren't using OzEfilter, make sure you show file extensions, so you can tell what type of file you may be trying to open. 

Even though this infected email is similar to an email earlier reported to the anti-virus software company, which has now been added to their virus signature file, this virus was not detected by the anti-virus software, or the anti-virus software on the mail server. I'm thankful that OzEfilter enables me to delete this type of email before I receive it.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Podium Power! The 7 Secrets of Successful Presentations

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The 7 Secrets of Successful Presentations
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Friday 14th November 2008
10 Lucky people will discover the
7 Lost Secrets of Presentations...
With my help it will all become easy!
  • Do you have a great product or service but are not sure how to present it?
  • Do you want to promote your business confidently and with flair?
  • Do you want to overcome fear and nerves and create presentations with pizzazz?
It’s easy with Deanna Roberts, a professional speaker and presenter with experience in business, corporate management, the performing arts and mentoring.
For more information check out Deanna's courses. Deanna can be found on the JustLocal postcode 3000 page.
Overcome your fear of public speaking.
- Kelvin Eldridge

Friday, September 19, 2008

Firefox, Thunderbird and SeaMonkey Australian English dictionary files available.

Version 3.0.0 of the Australian English dictionary files are now available for use with Firefox 3, Thunderbird 2 and SeaMonkey.

The new version of the Australian English dictionary files has 40,000 more words with considerably more localisation. The new version now obsoletes my previous versions. All future development will now be be directed into the enhancing version 3 of the dictionary files.

For those that don't know (and by my estimate that is up to a million Australians), if you are using Australian English dictionary files with OpenOffice.org, Firefox, Thunderbird, SeaMonkey, Internet Explorer with IE7Pro, plus many other projects, and haven't obtained the dictionary files from my site recently, you are using my old files based on my work from between two and nearly six years ago.

For more information on the extensive range of Australian English spellcheck dictionary files I provide, please check the main page of the dictionary project. For Firefox, Thunderbird and SeaMonkey check out the Firefox, Thunderbird and SeaMonkey page.

May all your words be spelt correctly.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Google Chrome Australian English dictionary.

Version 3.0.0 of the Australian English dictionary files are now available for use with Google Chrome. Whilst Australian English is not currently supported in Google Chrome, I explain how to use the Australian English dictionary files with a very easy patch.

You can find the Australian English dictionary files on the Google Chrome page of the dictionary pages I maintain.

I'd like to thank Pam from the Google Chrome team for her much appreciated assistance.

You can download Google Chrome at http://www.google.com/chrome.

Take Google Chrome and the Australian English dictionary files for a spin and let me know how you go.

Happy spellchecking.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Virus alert: Credit card account statement (Visa, MC)

I noticed a few emails with the subject "Credit card account statement (Visa, MC)", and decided not to let OzEfilter delete the email, so I could check the contents.

The start of the message in the emails was the following:

Dear Valued Customer:
ID: - user name for a valid email address -

As requested, we are sending you this account statement with information on the transactions carried out with your credit card between 1/1/2008 and 8/1/2008.

The email also had an attached zip file "Statement.zip", which contained the file which appeared to be "Statement.doc". This is where the virus writers trick people into thinking it is a just a Word document. The virus writers create a very long file name filled with lots of spaces, so the real file extension of "exe" is not easily visible. The real file name is something like the following:

"Statement.doc exe"

This is similar to the "statement of fees" virus recently, which has infected a lot of people.

The Desktop anti-virus client, and the mail server anti-virus software, did not stop this email from getting through. The email address is a random user name, which is also a good indicator this is a malicious email and would be obvious to OzEfilter users.

The last couple of weeks has shown it is pretty obvious that most anti-virus software packages won't protect you from new viruses, as the anti-virus software can take days to be updated and by that time thousands of people have damaged their computers. Care with emails is vital.

A simple trick to protect you from viruses targeted at your banking facilities is not to provide your email address to your bank. I don't provide my email address to banks and I advise others to have their email address removed from their bank details. Then you know every email from a bank is most likely malicious or unwanted email.

Please take care.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Monday, September 15, 2008

New Australian English spellcheck file for Internet Explorer 7 and 8 (beta).

Version 3.0.0 of the Australian English spellcheck dictionary files are now available for use with Internet Explorer 7 and Internet Explorer 8 beta 2.

The new files contain around 40,000 more words than the previous versions I created. There are two versions, the full version which is equivalent to a descriptive dictionary, and the Kelvin version which is a prescriptive dictionary. The prescriptive version of the dictionary aims to provide the preferred spelling of words such as "organise", but not "organize". The choice however is up the you as to which spellcheck dictionary you wish to use.

The dictionary files are available via the dictionary project page or directly on the Internet Explorer page of the dictionary project.

Happy spellchecking.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Friday, September 12, 2008

V3.0.0 of the Microsoft Exclude Dictionary now available.

Many people consider the "ize" spelling of words to be American English and not Australian English. I've heard of academics marking students as being wrong for using "ize" spelling. I have many people applaud my work reclaiming the Australian English language and getting rid of the Americanisms.

The reality is far from any of the above. In Australia our language has evolved and both "ise" and "ize" and valid ways to spell words. So whether you use "organise" or "organize" you are correct.

To me however I think this is confusing. There are thousand of words in our language where there are two ways to spell the same word with the same meaning and that leads to inconsistency in documents and confusion for the next generation.

For OpenOffice.org users I produce the Kelvin version of the dictionary files which removes the secondary spelling variations so there is a single way to spell a word. This is a much cleaner and consistent way to work. It is actually what is known as a prescriptive way to spell.

But I can't replace the Microsoft dictionary. What I can do however is to provide an Exclude file which produces a similar result. For those who want "organize" to appear as a spelling error along with thousands of other similar words the Exclude file is for them. For those who want to use "ise" spelling because that is what their lecturers want, the Exclude file is for them. For those who want consistent spelling in their documents such as when they copy and paste work together, the Exclude file is for them. For those who want to make spelling simpler and more consistent for their children, the Exclude file is for them.

It is sometimes considered wrong to spell using the secondary spelling of a word, but it is not considered wrong to use the main spelling. It is always considered wrong to spell using different spelling of the same word in a document, and that happens very easily when copying and pasting work.

Check out the Exclude file and add polish to your written work.


- Kelvin Eldridge

Version 3.0.0 of the Australian English dictionary for OpenOffice.org 3 beta and 2.4 available.


After a considerable amount of work, I'm pleased to say the latest version of the Australian English dictionary files for OpenOffice.org 3.x beta and OpenOffice.org 2.4 are now available .

The dictionary has been completely built from scratch. The new version is more localised for Australians and comes in at over 160,000 words, compared with my old version of 119,000.

A very pleasing part has been to include the names of people contributing in the dictionary. If you've contributed recently, don't be concerned if your name is not in the dictionary files. I had to freeze the files a few weeks ago and your name will be in the next minor release. Thank you for contributing and I hope you feel proud when you know you name is now correct in the spellcheck.

The dictionary is now copyright so you know your contribution goes towards building better spellcheck dictionaries for Australians. It also means things are a lot clearer for developers wanting to use the dictionary files.

I hope everyone finds the new dictionaries even better and if you find any omissions or errors, please let me know.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Virus alert: Reply: A report on radiation contamination of Australia

The Internet presence of JustLocal means we receive a lot of unwanted emails. That's OK, because it also means I can often see new virus outbreaks and this blog lets my clients know.

I use OzEfilter (and so do my clients) so I can review and delete emails from people I don't know at the mail server, without letting potentially dangerous emails into my computer. I often wonder how people can work in this day and age where they receive tens of potentially dangerous emails each day. Over a year that's thousands of chances they take where they could infect their computer. These viruses are not picked up by the leading anti-virus software packages and once the anti-virus software is updated days later, the virus outbreak will have affected thousands of people, which is confirmed by my site statistics.

The latest virus comes in an email with the subject: "A report on radiation contamination of Australia". I would normally delete at the mail server using OzEfilter, but for the benefit of my clients, I decided to receive and investigate the email.

The body of the email contains the following:

"On Internet forums there appeared messages of a powerful explosion at a Australia nuclear power station located in the suburbs of Sydney.. According to witnesses’ statements the explosion happened at about 3 pm on the 9th of September. ..."

The email contains an attachment victims.zip which contains the file victims.exe. An exe file is an executable file and whilst the zip attachment should be a warning, the exe file should is an obvious danger sign.

The virus infected email was not reported by our computer's anti-virus software and neither was it stopped by the anti-virus software on our mail server provided by the hosting company. The file has been submitted to the online scanning service provided by one of the leading anti-virus companies which service the corporate sector. Details of how to submit a suspicious file is included in MyAnswers solution 1885.

Please practise safe computing.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Things we say that are simply wrong.

I was recently talking with a Read's Office Supplies, a VPS partner, and for some reason I mentioned a black and white toner. Now I know the toner is simply black toner. But so many people ask for a toner so they can print in black and white, it is hard not to say black and white.

That made me think about the things we say frequently which are probably wrong, but once said often enough, become part of the language.

As the creator of the Australian English dictionary files which now help nearly a million people spellcheck their documents, I will admit I frequently flipped between writing spell check/spellcheck and spell checker/spellchecker. Then I read in a forum, where a person pointed out to others it is not a spell checker. You would use a spell checker to check a spell. Now since I don't know many witches or warlocks, I don't really think my dictionary work is for a spell checker.

A bit of checking and it becomes quite evident the forms should probably be:
  • spelling check
  • spellchecker
  • spellcheck
A check of the Kelvinometer (a tool I use to check word usage in Australia via the search engines) shows the following:
  • spell check is used three times as much as spellcheck
  • spell checker is used three times as much as spellchecker
Both the authoritative references I use for the dictionary work list spellcheck and spellchecker. Neither list spell check or spell checker as alternate spelling.

I wonder how many other words or expressions we use in day-to-day life, which we don't realise are perhaps not quite right and the majority of people also use.

Using spell check is so common it would not be considered an error. For me now that I know better, I will be using the spellchecker to spellcheck my work for spelling errors;-)


- Kelvin Eldridge

Virus alert: I received a message from your bank

This morning I receive twenty spam or potentially dangerous emails and I used OzEfilter to delete nineteen of those at the mail server so I never receive them into my computer. However I decided to accept one which had the subject "I received a message from your bank". This email was repeated a number of times which is often an indication others will start receiving a similar email.

I scanned the attachment BANK_DETAILS.zip and my anti-virus software reported no problem, but this attachment has the form typical of malware. The file contained in the zip file is named BANK_DETAILS.exe and being an executable file there is without doubt this email contains malicious content. I would suggest that you don't check out the content of the zip file as you are only steps away from potentially infecting your computer.

The email starts with the message:

Yesterday I received a message from your bank with your account statement.
I dont need problems with the police because of your banks error!!!
Please contact your bank and ask them to not mistakenly send me your personal data to me.

It is a bit sad the aggressive tone of this email may trick some people into thinking their bank has made a mistake. It never ceases to amaze me the psychological tactics used by malicious software writers. A moment of weakness, a moment of vagueness is all it takes for the malware writer to achieve their objective.

Take care

- Kelvin Eldridge

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Client alert: Trend Micro Internet Security 2008 false positive issue.

Recently Trend Micro Internet Security 2008 reported two false positives, which removed the system files Ezcapt.exe and nlasvc.dll.

In MyAnswers solution 1900 I show how I restored the affected files. If you have found Trend Micro Internet Security to remove either of these files, act quickly and restore the files as these false positives damage your software installation.

- Kelvin

Virus alert: Western Union MTCN #218375813

I just noticed an increase of the occurrence of this malicious email in my OzEfilter log which I have reported before. Please take extra care.

The email contains the attachment FED655812.zip. In the zip file is the executable file FED655812.exe. It is obvious from the email it is from a made up email address.

The following is the start of the email content.

Attention! The wire sent to Vladimir Kirkorov, Moscow, Russia has been blocked by our security service.

Your credit card issuing bank has halted the transaction by the demand of the Federal Criminal Investigation Service (case No. 73491 since the recipient has been undergoing the international retrieval by the InterPol.

Most people delete these emails, but from our logs we can see that perhaps thousands get tricked.

Instead of deleting the email at the mail server as I normally do with OzEfilter, I allowed this email so I could check to see if this type of malware would be picked up by my anti-virus software. A scan of the file detected no malware and that is obviously not correct. The email attachment most probably does contain a malicious load. The file has been submitted to the online scanning service for verification mentioned in MyAnswers solution 1890.

To all clients and users of JustLocal please take care with any email received with attachments. For extra protection use OzEfilter and delete the email at the mail server safely away from your computer. Infected computers can cost hundreds of dollars to repair.

A few extra seconds when checking emails can save you a very costly repair expense.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Google Chrome's impact on Internet Explorer and Firefox.

The recent appearance of Google Chrome raises the question, which browser will Google Chrome impact the most?

I read once that about 85% of the $65 million dollars of Firefox revenue is from Google, and if Google Chrome eats into the Firefox share, then Firefox revenue will obviously reduce and that could be a good substantial saving for Google. Internet Explorer on the other hand now has another browser to contend with.

Whilst it has only been a few days since Google Chrome was released, and our logs don't really provide sufficient volume to give concrete proof, there are some interesting figures starting to appear.

Google Chrome according to the site statistics, has quickly gained approximately 6% of the browser market share. For such a short time on the market, this is a fairly impressive start. Put into context, this has already passed Apple's Safari and Opera. So far what I have seen is the Firefox market share has reduced by 10% and Internet Explorer by 5%, so the impact has been greater on Firefox.

I do want to reiterate this information is based on a relatively low volume of data for the site where the data was available and I consider the volume to be fairly small and thus the information is not conclusive.

From my point of view this means for those developing web sites, we may soon need to be checking the layout using Google Chrome as well as Internet Explorer and Firefox. As the creator and maintainer of the Australian English dictionary files used by Internet Explorer and Firefox users, I will also be looking at how to patch Google Chrome, so users can use Google Chrome with an Australian English dictionary.

I hope others find this information interesting and of value.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

How to add JustLocal Search to Google Chrome.

On the JustLocal Search page I've provided links when allows anyone to quickly add a number of search engines to Internet Explorer and Firefox. This approach doesn't work with Google Chrome.

To add JustLocal Search to Google Chrome do the following:

Select the spanner (Customise) icon at the right.
Select Options.
Select the Basics tab.
Click Manage in the Default search section.
Click Add.

For Name: enter JustLocal Search
For Keyword: enter jl
For URL: enter http://www.justlocal.com.au/search.html?cx=016774990086709660772%3Affvugpo_ptg&cof=FORID%3A9&ie=UTF-8&q=%s#941

Click OK
Click Close

I thought this was a neat feature. Now in the address area of the browser I can enter jl and then what I want to search for and it will use the JustLocal Search engine. Very convenient.

What I thought was also good, is if you open a new tab, the JustLocal Search engine is presented at the right, which is pretty convenient. The only problem is Google Chrome does not render this page properly. The tenth item in the search list does not list, or list fully and the option to click additional pages for the search results is not shown. This is the first bug I've seen in Google Chrome. This page is rendered OK with Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari and Opera (Safari and Opera add too much white space at the bottom of the page), but not with Google Chrome.

Bugs aside, with Google Chrome it is fairly easy to manually add your favourite search engine, which in my case of JustLocal Search.

Happy searching - Kelvin.

Google chrome now available, but no Australian English.

As the creator and maintainer of the Australian English dictionary files now used by an estimated million Australians, when I see new software I think you can probably guess my main desire is to see if it has a good Australian English dictionary. Even better is if the software can use the dictionaries I provide.

In this case Google Chrome does not currently have an Australian English dictionary. The next best option for Australians is generally to select British English. This is done as follows:

Select the spanner (Customize/Customise) icon at the right.
Select Options.
Select the Minor Tweaks tab.
Click Change font and language settings.
Select the Languages tab.
For Google Chrome language select English (United Kingdom).
For Spell checking language select English (United Kingdom).
Click OK
Click Close
Restart Google Chrome
This now allows the word "colour" to be spelt correctly. Sadly the word "color" appears as correct as well, but this is still better than the default US English language. The good thing is words like "canceled" and "mom" now appear as an error. The British dictionary is better, but not as good as the dictionaries I provide. I will continue to check out Google Chrome and see if it is possible to provide the Australian English dictionary files for those who wish to use them.

Interestingly, even though Google Chrome now provides in-line spellchecking, the in-line spellchecking is not available when creating a blog entry using Google blogger. The best option (although it is still not that good) is to use Internet Explorer 7 with IE7Pro with the Australian English dictionary and force a spellcheck.

Happy Chroming, or for the rest of us, browsing.

- Kelvin