Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dodo Buddy Box. Low cost landline too good to believe.

I’ve now completed my trials of the Dodo Buddy Box over a period of a couple of months. Those interested in purchasing a Dodo Buddy Box would benefit from reading MyAnswers solution 2168.

The Dodo Buddy Box offers the promise of a low cost landline for home users and at $9.90 a month including $10 worth of calls it really is a great offer. But the question is, “is it too good to be true?”

I purchased the Dodo Buddy Box and decided to share my experiences and my testing. A landline for $9.90 a month would suit many young people and could save them a great deal of money compared to using a mobile phone as the Dodo Buddy Box provides fixed cost local calls.

For those interested check out MyAnswers solution 2168.

Kelvin Eldridge

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Backup programs for Online Connections and JustLocal clients

Backup programs used to be popular software packages, but now there doesn’t seem to be an easy low cost method for people to backup their data from their computer. I’ve reviewed a lot of mainstream programs and frankly I haven’t found them to be very good. One program I did find to be good, but the supplier isn’t’ actively promoting the program so I don’t expect it will have a long term life.

Windows used to have an excellent backup program built into Windows XP, but since Vista and Windows 7 were released, the backup program included with Windows is adequate.

I decided there had to be a better way to perform the relatively simple task of performing a backup by copying the desired folders from a computer to an external drive. I wanted the files to be copied and not amalgamated into a single big backup file because if a restore is required, a person can easily copy the file from the external drive back to their computer. I wanted each backup to be separate as a single backup is easily overwritten by corrupted data. I wanted a program to check the files copied matched in number and total bytes to ensure the backup completed successfully.

As part of my consulting and support service I’m now able to install a simple backup approach for clients as part of the service call with no cost for software.

One of the biggest problems I have is when I arrive at a new client’s premises, is invariably they haven’t done a backup and that can add hundreds of dollars in time to their support cost. To start working on a computer without having a current copy of the main files is not best practice. Whilst in many cases you can fix a problem, there is always the risk of losing data and people will be very unhappy if they lose their important data, emails and photos.

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for computer support in Templestowe and the surrounding suburbs.
No call-out fee or minimum charge for local customers.
Satisfaction guaranteed.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Alert: Mercury Exposure. DONT TAKE THIS LIGHTLY

I received an email from a family member who had received the email from another family member. The subject was Mercury Exposure and the email contained two PDF files (Mercury Exposure.pdf and Health & Safety Warning – energy saving bulbs.pdf).

The email is a hoax designed to trick people to send it on.

Before sending on emails like this it is a good idea to search the internet to check whether it is a hoax or not. The problem is people receive this information from a trusted friend and believe it to be true. You owe it to the people you know to check the validity of the information before sending it on. It only takes a moment with a Google search on key phrases in the email to determine it is a hoax.

Kelvin Eldridge

MyAnswers: Woolworths Homeshop, Coles Online prices compared to Coles supermarket.

The following MyAnswers solution 2185 is now available:

How does Woolworths Homeshop and Coles Online prices compare with going to the Coles supermarket?

Click here to obtain the solution.

Click here for related solutions.

Kelvin Eldridge
(An Online Connections service.)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Alert: Decrapifier mentioned on radio recently caused computer to stop working and constantly reboot.

I recently attended a client who had heard on a radio station about a decrapifier program which could clean up their computer. They downloaded and ran their computer. As a result, when the computer restarted it would constantly reboot. There was no way to run Safe mode because selecting any option would reboot the computer.

I’d highly recommend that you do not risk using one of these programs. It is very easy to clean up your computer manually and there is less risk of a problem.

It took many hours to get this computer up and running again. I use techniques not generally known by an average user. I prefer to fix a computer if I can, because often there is important data on the computer the person would prefer to save such as their photographs, data and documents. In this situation the cost effective approach would normally be to reinstall the operating system but that could mean loss of data.

Do keep in mind when you’re listening to radio, watching TV, or reading newspaper articles, those presenting the information have a job to present the information and in most cases won’t be running a computer support business. It is very easy to read and report on information and new programs, but working with and living with those programs is where you find out what works and what doesn’t work.

As another example, one of my clients heard on radio about a site which they visited. They ended up infecting their computer with malware which displayed pornographic material. That wasn’t a good outcome for the office and took a number of hours to fix.

Be careful of the advice you receive from the general media. In general it is good information and I believe no harm would ever be intended, but well meaning advice doesn’t always end up with a good outcome.

Kelvin Eldridge

Monday, November 07, 2011

Today I was blog spammed by Function Rooms Melbourne

I thought I’d share what I think is becoming an epidemic on the internet and it is blog spam. Email spam is now illegal, but blog spamming isn’t. It may not be appropriate, and to a degree, most of us at one stage or another will blog spam by writing an article on a site which has a link back to our own site. We give to get a little and generally both parties are benefiting. The comment is legitimate because you’ve read the article and want to add value to the site by adding your information. In return the site appreciates the extra input and is happy to give some link love to the contributor. A win-win for both parties.

But what I suspect is now happening is people are purchasing article marketing programs which submit a generic article to hundreds or thousands of web sites automatically. The aim is to get more links so Google will raise the importance of the person’s site so they get more business. As a business strategy this is a good move, but is it right to post rubbish on others’ sites for your own benefit. I don’t think it is. The means does not always justify the end.

Google was built on the principle of the importance of a site was based on the number of sites linking to the site and in the early days of the internet that was a good strategy. For example Adobe’s site scores a 10 out of 10 in terms of PageRank (Google’s measure of importance) because so many people use Acrobat Reader and link to Adobe’s site so people can easily download and install the software.

Now however, the importance of a site if links are used, is only as good a someone purchasing a program and then spamming thousands of other sites. Blog spamming is possible, it isn’t illegal, but is it a good business methodology and in my opinion it isn’t. If a business uses inappropriate techniques it reflects on the ethics of the business. Just because something can be done it doesn’t necessarily mean it should be.

Right now I am looking for a function room, but I wouldn’t even consider Function Rooms Melbourne because of their approach to business.

Just as interesting when I checked their site, every comment on their site was blog spam. When I see a site with a lot of blog spam I consider that business to lack quality control.

If you’re considering automatically posting articles to sites using an article marketing robot or similar technique, ask yourself how will that reflect on your business. There are a lot of cowboys in the internet market who are prepared to make money and that could be at the expense of your business reputation. Be careful.

If you have a site, turn off the automatic acceptance of comments and review the comments. Most comments now are blog spam. In the past people didn’t know about blog spam so they saw lots of comments as a sign of activity. Now if you see lots of activity which is blog spam, it indicates the comments don’t have any value, even the legitimate ones.

Kelvin Eldridge   

Friday, November 04, 2011

Alert: Virgin Mobile - Issue found and fixed.

I regularly receive and malicious emails advise readers. One form of a malicious email is an email which comes from a well known company. The email looks legitimate because it is can be a very good copy of a legitimate email that has been sent out by the company. The very good copies are almost impossible to distinguish from the original. The links in the email usually give the fake email away as they take people to a site which looks like the company, but is a slightly different domain name. A small change tricks many people into revealing their username and password details.

Today I received an email which is most likely from Virgin Mobile, but what looks suspicious is the links in the email don’t go directly to the Virgin Mobile site. They go via a site that appears unrelated. I suspect the site is a marketing site, where if you click on the link they can measure who clicked and then track that person. But is isn’t a Virgin Mobile site. If you follow the link you’ll then be redirected to the Virgin site.

I consider this to be bad form for a large company like Virgin. Given the large number of people who are tricked into revealing their details there is no reason to provide a link. People can be advised to go to the site which can be provided as straight text for people to copy and paste into their browser.

The following is the start of the email.

Hi Kelvin,

Our technical team has recently corrected an error in your service which may have caused some of your data to expire a day or two before its due date.

As an apology for the error and as a gesture of goodwill, we're going to add 300MB of data to your account.

Now given I’m on a yearly data plan and it is many months before my plan expires, this really is a suspicious email. In addition I did have a problem with Virgin Mobile. I updated my details so all communication would go to my email address and not a Virgin email address. The problem is this doesn’t apply to your data usage. I thought I’d be advised when the first months data was expiring but those emails didn’t go to the address I provided and I lost a couple of gigabytes of data. Now I’m receiving an email which doesn’t appear to be related to my plan so it really does feel suspicious. The only way I can check is to call their customer service, who when I called last time to provide constructive feedback to help Virgin I was treated quite abruptly, so I really don’t want to spent the time waiting on the line to get treated poorly  again.

I highly recommend that if you do receive an email from Virgin Mobile, or any other company, and in particular when it requires you to enter a username and password, don’t click on a link in the email. Open your browser and enter the web site address. If you do that you can’t be tricked by the scammers.

Kelvin Eldridge

Computer PC repair - Templestowe, Doncaster, Doncaster East, Templestowe Lower, Eltham, Lower Plenty, Montmorency

Two new customers, who were local, recently made comments when I was repairing their computers.

The first was, that because I was local, how much easier it was to get the computer fixed. Instead of having to unplug all the cables, trying to remember where they went, then lugging the computer off to a business a few suburbs away and then picking it up again a few days later, all they had to do was call me in. In fact not only did I repair the problem I was called in for, but I also cleaned up two other computers whilst the first computer was downloading software or running programs when nothing else could be done.

The second person said it removed a lot of pressure for them. The previous person who helped them was from the other side of the city and so they felt uncomfortable about the time involved getting them out to look at their problem. I fixed the problem for this person in about 15 minutes, which is all they would have been charged for, since I don’t charge a call out fee or a fixed hourly charge. They had issues with the performance of the computer which I also fixed for them.

If you have a computer or computer related problem, live in Templestowe, Doncaster, Doncaster East, Templestowe Lower, Eltham, Lower Plenty or Montmorency, send me an email or give me a call on 0415 910 703. Because I’m just around the corner, it really does change the way support is provided. It is much easier to organise a time for support because I don’t have to fight traffic and travel half way across Melbourne. In quite a few cases people have additional problems they’d like looked at. If a second trip is required there isn’t any pressure. I can return at a suitable time because there is very little travel involved. More often than not I can complete additional tasks if required because there is very little travel time to the next customer.

Providing local support is a win-win situation. I don’t have to fight my way through traffic and customers don’t have to pay a call-out or travel fee. I recall when I worked for a Chartered Accounting firm that for one client there was an hour of travel to get to the client, an hour of work and then an hour of return travel. That’s three hours of chargeable time where the benefit to the client is one hour of actual work. That doesn’t happen when you provide local support. I also like the idea that I’m not impacting the environment as much by minimising the travel involved.

With no call-out fee, and no minimum hourly charge, the customer only pays for the time involved to fix their problem. I also offer a satisfaction guarantee which means I’m not happy if the customer isn’t happy. It hasn’t happened yet, but I offer it because one day there will be a problem I can’t solve.

Supporting locals really does have a great feel about it. Because I live in the same area as customers we already have something in common. I know I’m helping a local when I go out to fix a problem and that’s a pretty good feeling.

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 if you have a computer related problem and need help.


Thursday, November 03, 2011

Opera Mini 6.5 now available for the Apple iPhone.

Yesterday I installed the update to Opera for the Apple iPhone. Even though I don’t use it much, there are times when pages do not display correctly in Safari and in those cases I’ve found Opera to be very handy. Another neat feature is Opera compresses data and it shows you how much data you’ve saved using their servers. If you need to watch your data allowance this may be a good way to save quite a few megabytes whilst browsing. This Opera update initially didn’t display some pages correctly for me so you need to check the settings.

I also share my notes with others via the MyAnswers web site ( and when I enter another MyAnswers solution, I publish a blog entry on the MyAnswers blog to let people know of the new solution. With over 2,000 solutions MyAnswers is a wealth of knowledge I use nearly every day to assist my clients. The solutions are made available to the public for a small charge.

Kelvin Eldridge