Monday, November 30, 2009

Norton Internet Security misses the following malware.

In the last week Norton Internet Security missed the following malware.

Subject: Shipping update for your order 254-71546325-658732
Attachment Shipping

Subject: Your friend invited you to twitter!
Attachment: Invitation

From: (faked email from myself)
Subject: Your Membership Details!
Attachment (Password protected: 2627)

From: (fake email from myself using non-existent email address)
Subject: Free one year trial
Attachment: (Password protected: 9176)

From: (fake email from myself using non-existent email address)
Subject: Free one year trial
Attachment: (Password protected: 4141)

All of these emails would have been deleted by OzEfilter at the mail server and never reached my computer.

No matter which anti-virus program you are using you have to always be careful. The latest malware and password protected zip files can get past the anti-virus software. Take care with all emails containing attachments.

In addition quite a few emails which are phishing attempts were also received with no warning. These emails would have also been deleted by OzEfilter. Do be careful of links in emails. Often the lead you to sites which may look legitimate, but are only designed to obtain your username and password details.

Please do take care.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Telstra's new broadband plans.

Recently I noticed Telstra was about to announce new broadband plans. Their plans for quite some time have lagged behind others in terms of value. Today the announcement hit the mainstream media.

The problem with mainstream media is they don't satisfy my insatiable desire for detailed information and don't provide links to the source information. But the media is great for letting you know what is going on in general. You can easily access the latest news from different sites using the NEWS link on JustLocal.

Detailed information enables us to make better decisions. I decided to hunt out the press release. The press release from Telstra contains all the details to satisfy my appetite for information. You can find Telstra's press release here.

As to whether or not Telstra's new plans are good really is up to each person to decide based on their needs and situation. Considering entry level plan comes from having 200MB to now having 2GB, Telstra had a woefully inadequate entry plan which forced most people I know to almost immediately switch to a much dearer plan. (They had no choice because they were locked into a contract.) At 2GB that is better, but the excess charges are still a real problem. I also consider bundling and lengthy contract periods to be a concern.

Do your sums, check the fine print and shop around. Then you'll know if the new Telstra plans are for you or not.

- Kelvin Eldridge

TAGS: Telstra, Telstra Broadband, wireless broadband prepaid, broardband, ADSL2, ADSL broadband

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sell your second-hand furniture, books, cars or clothes for free.

MyTreasure enables you to promote your second-hand items for free. Furniture, cars, boats, books, clothes, or any of your personal items, at no cost.

The beta version 1.0.5 of MyTreasure is now available and can be downloaded from the MyTreasure page. No registration is required. We'd love to hear from you if you're using MyTreasure, but that's entirely up to you.

MyTreasure version 1.0.5 has been updated with the addition of a search engine for MyTreaure sites, and for those interested in  profiting for referring, Virtual Profit Sharing is now part of MyTreasure pages.

Check out MyTreasure. The most profitable way to sell your pre-loved items and it's FREE.

- Kelvin Eldridge

TAGS:  second hand furniture, secondhand furniture, secondhand dealers, secondhand stores, secondhand books

MyAnswers. Professional solutions to your computer problems

As an IT consultant I solve client's problems every day. I also get asked for my opinion many times during a week. I decided some years ago to document this information so more people could benefit at a lower cost, than asking me direct.

The solutions and responses are documented in the MyAnswers database and can be purchased for a small fee over the internet.

Most of us including myself search the internet for solutions. I've been known to search for hours to solve a problem. Along the way I see many solutions that are partially correct, incorrect, and some that are outright dangerous. The problem with most public forums is anyone can participate. Even the forums offered by leading software vendors contain substandard information. If you think about why the public forums may offer substandard information it is pretty obvious. The vendors want people to feel part, to participate. In doing so however the vendors aren't providing their professional advice and guidance, but letting those who participate share information. It saves the vendor time and money, and they appear to be helping users. In my experience much of the help provided if you're not experienced can be inadequate. Without experience it would be very hard to separate the real knowledge from the gossip.

On one forum for open source software which I participated in, one person offered their advice to users which I knew would corrupt a person's computer. To their credit they meant well, but passing on untested information that has been posted by others is a recipe for disaster.

MyAnswers are my notes of what I've done to solve a problem. The solution has worked for my clients and in most cases it will work for you. I say most, because a slight change in situation may mean a different solution is required. All solutions come with a money back guarantee, so if it doesn't work for you, you won't be out of pocket.

If you want solutions, rather than gossip, check out MyAnswers. If you want to see the latest issues other people are finding with their computers, then check out the Recent solutions page. You will find it makes interesting reading.

Kelvin Eldridge


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Why I've now added a password to Word Check?

We all use the internet as a great resource. Most of us, including myself, go from site to site, using what is provided and never once thinking about the business or person providing the information. It is free after all. This is neither a statement that this behaviour is either good or bad. It just is.

As the developer of the Kelvin dictionary used in Word Check, I estimate the Kelvin dictionary I am building will take around a thousand hours of research before it is at the level I am happy with and ready for general release. A thousand hours of time to give away to others is something I'd like to do, but sadly can't afford to do.

I've made the decision to focus on people who are interested in giving and receiving. Those who join my mailing list give a small amount of their time to hear what I have to say. To see if something I am doing has value for them. There is no cost to join the JustLocal mailing list. You do not have to buy anything unless it interests you. You won't get flooded with emails from me every day. Your information will not be provided to others.

I apologise in advance to anyone I may inconvenience. I do trust you'll understand my reasons.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Are you myopic with your spelling?

OK, I just had to write that headline. Most people really do get into their spelling habits and if their spelling is challenged, you can get into a pretty good argument. With my dictionary work I take a different tack. The Kelvin dictionary is my preferred spelling. I've spent hundreds of hours researching the preferred spelling in Australia and made decisions based on that research. The spelling is how I now spell. I often find I need to change my spelling habits based on the outcome of my research. How others spell is up to them.

Now I mentioned the word myopic, because whilst it does mean narrow-minded, it is also another word for short-sighted. When I researched the word myopic I felt it showed a little about what I'm trying to achieve with my work and I thought that was worth sharing.

The current spellchecking tools we have in many ways aren't helping us, and could be hurting us and our children's spelling. This is true for commercial and open source software.

Type the following into your favourite word processor or browser (assuming the browser has spellchecking) and see what your spellchecker does.


- Most software will suggest spell check. This is an incorrect spelling for Australia. However this usage is now so common (by around 26:1), it may end up be the correct spelling in time. Microsoft Word 2007 suggests spell check and spell-check. Both are wrong in Australia. The correct spelling is spellcheck. (For those who are interested, the correct American spelling is spell-check.)

shortsighted, short-sighted, shortsightedness, short-sightedness

- The correct spelling is short-sighted. For short-sightedness the Macquarie and Oxford dictionaries agree on the spelling. If you type in shortsighted, Microsoft Word 2007 will suggest both short sighted and short-sighted.

nearsighted, near-sighted, nearsightedness, near-sightedness

- The correct spelling is near-sighted. The Oxford dictionary suggests near-sightedness and the Macquarie suggests nearsightedness, as the correct spelling. Microsoft Word will accept all spelling variations and is thus incorrect with nearsighted.

What then is the correct spelling of nearsightedness/near-sightedness?

We can check usage in Australia, but the problem is the main tool people use for writing in Australia is Microsoft Word. The good thing is near-sighted has greater usage in Australia which makes that word easy. For nearsightedness/near-sightedness usage is low, but the version used most often is nearsighted.

If we check the dictionaries for far-sightedness and long-sightedness we find the Macquarie and Oxford agree with the word being hyphenated.

For consistency, and because in all other forms the hyphenated version is used, with the Kelvin dictionary, the hyphenated version of the word is included. The words nearsighted and nearsightedness are also added to the Microsoft Exclude file, so they will now appear as spelling errors for anyone using my Exclude file when the next version is released.

For a bit of fun, you might want to try typing the following into your word processor, or browser.

The room had a lovely vu.
I went to the school fait.

I think you'll be quite surprised with the result. One person asked me what black magic had I performed on their computer. They couldn't believe the result.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Great Give-Away: Winner of the 4GB Lexar USB drive.

Congratulations to Simon Adams of Victoria who is the latest winner in The Great Give-Away. Simon has won the 4GB Lexar Jumpstar USB drive.

Thank you to everyone who entered and I wish those who didn't win, the best of luck next time.

- Kelvin Eldridge

MyTreasure beta Version 1.0.3 now available.

Version 1.0.3 of MyTreasure beta is now available. The latest version adds a search engine feature. MyTreasure is available from

The following are two MyTreasure sites.

If you want to sell some pre-loved treasures of yours, or check out what others have available, feel free to check out MyTreasure.

The MyTreasure software is provided for free and enables you to easily create your own online Garage Sale at no cost. No auction fees. You don't have to sit around all day waiting for people to turn up. You don't have to worry about what the weather is going to be. Your MyTreasure page works for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For those who don't know how to upload files to the internet to your free space (which really is pretty easy to do) I do provide low cost space for your MyTreasure page. This is completely optional. For those who use the space I provide I'll provide extra promotion via my blog and your information will appear in the search engine (subject to Google indexing the page).


- Kelvin Eldridge

iPhone 3G/3GS battery life

An interesting thought came to me the other day which is: how long will the iPhone battery last before it needs to be replaced?

I decided to check the Apple site and whilst it has very good information on how much usage you'll get from a charged iPhone, lots of information on care of the battery, a statement the battery has a limited number of cycles, the glaring omission to me is: how many times the battery can be fully recharged, or cycles as they call it.

How many cycles before the battery needs to be replaced. I would have thought that figure should be clearly stated. Replacing a battery probably represents more than 10% of the cost of a phone, so the battery is a fairly expensive consumable.

The other question I have is: if the number of cycles is limited, then if I use the iPhone direct off the power whilst surfing the web using wireless, will that extend the battery life? The answer I think should be yes, but it would be good to confirm.

I've not yet found information from an authoritative source, but one site did indicate a figure of 400 cycles for the iPhone. That's probably a fair figure because if you are a heavy user of the iPhone, meaning the iPhone has to fully recharged each day, then the battery would need replacing in a little over a year. That would be expected based on the information I've read.

If we use the figure of 400 recharge cycles, and then the amount of usage time when using different features of the iPhone, you can get a good idea of how long a battery should last for you.

The battery usage information for the Apple iPhone 3GS is the following. (Credit for information: Apple web site.)

Talk time:
Up to 5 hours on 3G;
up to 12 hours on 2G

Standby time:
Up to 300 hours

Internet use:
Up to 5 hours on 3G;
up to 9 hours on Wi-Fi

Audio playback:
Up to 30 hours

Video playback:
Up to 10 hours

Whilst I haven't done any timing tests, I do find with my current limited use of the iPhone (it isn't my main phone at the moment), that I have to recharge every couple of days. My main usage is internet usage which could be a 1-2 hours a day spread over the day. Given the battery usage information, and that I do use the iPhone for internet usage, I should probably expect to replace the battery every 1-2 years. Most of my wireless internet usage is around the home, so if having the iPhone running off mains power extends the battery life as I expect it should, then I could probably extend the life of the battery to 2-3 years, which would be pretty good.

Interestingly for those looking at a second-hand iPhone, if it is more than 12 months old, they should probably budget for a replacement battery on top of their purchase cost. Those upgrading to new models and selling off their existing iPhone which isn't very old, might indicate they tend to be a power user.

The 3G battery information indicates shorter usage time by possibly 30%, which would result in a significantly shorter battery life. Out of curiosity I decided to check the recent iTouch models and they provide up to 6 hours of playback, which is shorter again. In my recent article on the iPhone versus the iTouch I gave my reasons for going for the iPhone. The battery life could be added as another reason.

It took a while to gather this information, but now having learnt what I need to know, I'm in a better position to know how I can extend the life of the battery, and possibly even avoid the need to purchase a replacement battery.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Tags: iphone 3g battery life, iphone battery pack, iphone external battery, iphone backup battery, iphone battery extender, change iphone battery

Friday, November 13, 2009

Annoying Optus DNS assist feature sending me to the page.

Optus recently introduced their DNS assist feature. What this means is if I type in a domain name which is missing a letter, or not quite right, I'm shown the Optus DNS assist page. For example if I type (which is missing an 'l') I go to the address

Optus say the following is their reason.

"This search service is designed to make your web browsing experience more productive. No software was installed on your computer for this service to work."

The problem is this doesn't make me more productive. I have deliberately disabled the feature in Internet Explorer so if I type an incorrect address, the address remains in the address area so I can quickly fix it.

Why Optus did this I can only offer an educated guess. If you check the page you'll see Yahoo!SEARCH. I would be fairly confident that Optus is making money from Yahoo advertising.

Optus is apparently happy to make my experience of the internet worse for a few cents they'll gain from Yahoo advertising.

When I say guess, Firefox makes around 85% of its income from Google by providing Google as the default page. This works out at around 30 cents per Firefox user a year. Optus is likely to make less. So for less than 30 cents a year from me, Optus has damaged my user experience and when my contract is up, this will be another reason I'll be reconsidering Optus.

To get around the problem I can do one of the following:

1. Use the Opt out feature which places a cookie on my computer.

The opt out feature is well hidden so check the links on the page.

This is a bad option because we have multiple computers in our home. They use different browsers (and sometimes multiple browsers on the one machine) and every now and then the cookies get cleared. It is also not a good option because it will still be going to the Optus page which is a waste of time.

2. Set the DNS to another address provided by Optus.

This is a poor solution as it means each computer has to be changed. I've found in the past other ISPs have changed their DNS servers, and when that happens, it creates problems. It means this change needs to be done to each computer. If I use the computer when at a different location, I don't know if this will cause problems or what performance hit I might take.

3. Set the DNS on the router.

This is something a lot of users would not know how to do. In fact without calling Optus support, a user would not know the password for the router.

The problem however is with the equipment provided by Optus, which is he CG814 wireless router by Netgear, there isn't an ability to change the DNS addresses. I could set up another DHCP server, but really that is not worth the time and effort.

Option 2 is unfortunately the only useful option.

A couple of weeks ago, which coincidently was when this change appeared to have occurred, I had a problem for about a week accessing certain sites. Things got very unstable and some of the companies I deal with were getting a lot of flack from me. I couldn't update the sites I maintain. These suppliers almost lost my business and it really wasn't their fault. I don't see why the equipment I've been using for nearly 18 months has now decided to have problems around the same time as Optus made a change.

As it turned out Optus support didn't know what the problem was so it was escalated. The problem was solved the next day by disabling one of the firewall features. I really thought this was a poor solution as reducing protection provided by the router is not ideal.

A client also mentioned to me their home service was having a problem accessing some pages and had been advised it was a router problem.

The cost to me was literally hours of time. If you've ever called Optus and waited on the support line you'll know the time involved. I had quite long discussions with two support groups to fix the issue. Had I not been a computer expert I would have been dismissed by the support people based on our conversation. I had checked the problem was verifiable across five different computers using various operating systems.

This earlier problem is documented in MyAnswers solution 1934.

The DNS assist feature is an annoying inconvenience. It may have additional side effects which I'm not aware off. I really think companies are getting too greedy and it will end up biting them. In this case it probably amounts to making another 30 cents out of me per year. Yes, per year. This estimate is based on the estimated revenue of the Firefox/Google arrangement. Every day I see the Optus screen is reminder to me Optus' interests are definitely placed well ahead of mine as the customer. If Optus annoys me enough (which they're close to) they stand to lose over $1,500 of my business. I hope they've done their maths, because it won't take many annoyed customers to leave, to erode whatever revenue they make from their DNS assist page.

To get around the problem use one of the three approaches above. Whilst not ideal, when dealing with big companies it is best to work around their problems. Next time your contract comes up is the time to think about walking. I'll certainly be seriously thinking about giving Optus the shove due to this and the quite numerous other problems I've had with them. (E.g. Being without a telephone for nearly a week I consider to be a big issue. They're lucky they had me tied to a contract.)

The alternate DSN addresses as provided by Optus are:

Customers in NSW, QLD, ACT should configure their resolvers with these two DNS server addresses, in this order:

• Primary DNS Server

• Secondary DNS Server

Customers in VIC, SA and WA should configure their resolvers with these two DNS server addresses, in this order:

• Primary DNS Server

• Secondary DNS Server

I also tried using Telstra's DNS servers, but found they didn't work. This is a concern. It may mean I'll have problems if when I connect to the internet in another location. Making the DNS server IP addresses fixed isn't a good idea for mobile computing.

I hope this article helps other work around this issue.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Thinking phones, think Renée.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Renée Barber's MyTreaure page now live.

Check out Renée's pre-loved items on her MyTreasure page at

- Kelvin Eldridge

MyTreasure beta now available.

I enjoy selling, swapping and giving away my pre-loved goodies, so it made sense for me to write an application which would enable me to list my goodies on the internet. I've called the software MyTreasure and it is available for free from

With all the online auction sites now available, the usual response I get from people is why MyTreasure. What most people don't realise when they list on other sites is 30-40% of all items listed never get a response. I want to list a lot of items and those fees for no result can really add up.

I also want to encourage people to look for pre-loved treasures locally. I've often seen people buy things for a few dollars and rarely do they take into account the postage and packaging. I was told of a young person who got ripped off because the freight was many times more than the hat they bought.

MyTreasure now provides anyone with a tool to create their list of pre-loved items complete with the files required for displaying on the internet. For those with access to free space on the internet (and that's most people), they can now promote their pre-loved treasures for free. If you'd prefer to have someone else look after the hosting, then that option is also available.

Over the coming days I will be creating my list of treasures which you'll be able to find at

MyTreasure is beta software. If you're interested in helping by using the software and providing feedback, I'm happy to provide three months of free hosting.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Win Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 on The Great Give-Away.

Looking for a copy of Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007?

Why not enter The Great Give-Away and win a copy of this fantastic program.

You never, never know, unless you have a go.

Good luck.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Tags: 2007 Microsoft Office key, 2007 Microsoft Office product key, Microsoft Office 2007 product key

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Articles: Google docs

For some time I've been using Google docs as a handy online word processor and spreadsheet program. I thought I'd share a few of my experiences, so I wrote an article which shows how I've used Google docs.


- Kelvin Eldridge

Has your search facility been hijacked?

A very common issue I see with client's machines is the default search engine has been changed without their knowledge. In many instances it is simply they've downloaded an update which also includes the Google Toolbar. Unfortunately many updates from leading overseas companies providing the Google Toolbar don't provide the correct Google search engine for Australia. You know if this has happened to you when you do a search using Google and Pages From Australia is not an option.

In addition, many of the leading software providers try to seed users with their own software. Software the user will often never need, which consume resources and should be removed. So not only do you get the wrong version of Google search for Australia, but you also get unwanted applications installed in your computer.

A while ago I developed a option for Internet Explorer (a search provider) for my clients, which enables them to search for pages from Australia by default. Most people love searching for pages from Australia first because it reduces a great deal of clutter in the results. People also prefer to find products and services from Australia first.

From a support point of view, adding the search provider to clients' machines gives me a visual clue they are using the correct version of Google for Australia. One glance and I can see the words JustLocal Google (AU default) as shown in the following image.

When I open any client's machine and the words JustLocal Google (AU default) do not appear in the search field, I know the machine needs to be reviewed.

Companies like Google, Apple and Adobe when you install their software often include software you don't want or need. The real problem isn't so much the leading companies, the real problem is with other companies tricking a user into installing their search engine by default. A change of the search provider is often a good clue of a malware infection, and in these cases I often find a couple of programs (typically adware) which need to be removed from the computer.

If you are interested in checking for products and services from Australia as the default in Google, then check out the Fun with Search page and install the Google search provider for pages from Australia as the default. The extra benefit is you can easily see if a software provider has altered your search settings without you being fully aware.


- Kelvin Eldridge