Wednesday, December 31, 2014

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

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

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

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

Kelvin Eldridge

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for IT support.

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

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for IT support.

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

Monday, December 15, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kelvin Eldridge
Helping locals find businesses without tracking them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kelvin Eldridge

Saturday, December 13, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Kelvin Eldridge
Helping locals find local businesses. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kelvin Eldridge
Helping locals find local businesses.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

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

Looking for a commercial property to lease?

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

Kelvin Eldridge
Helping local businesses

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Costco Christmas trading hours 2014

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

Kelvin Eldridge

Your electricity usage reveals more than you may think.

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

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

Is there an unusual trend you can spot?

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

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

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

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

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

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for IT support.

Blogger - Why is my blog disabled?

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

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

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

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for IT support.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

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

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

The following is a link to the Public Transport map.

Kelvin Eldridge

Monday, December 08, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kelvin Eldridge
Helping businesses to be found by their neighbours.

Friday, December 05, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ah well. We live and learn.

Kelvin Eldridge

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

RACV membership. Do you really need it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kelvin Eldridge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 01, 2014

Eltham Village Shopping Centre advertising with spelling and grammar errors.

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

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

How many errors can you spot?

Kelvin Eldridge
The preferred Australian English spelling.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Cheap computer repairs Melbourne shares low cost options provided by Online Connections.

Cheap computer repairs Melbourne is a page I've added to one of my sites to let people know Online Connections can provide cost effective solutions for those who consider money tight or simply want a bargain. We all love a bargain and Online Connections is happy to cater for the bargain hunter.

Do keep in mind we aren't reducing our hourly rate, simply providing creative ways to achieve the same result at a lower cost. Even if money is no object, taking advantage of the options provided by Online Connections can provide anyone with more cost effective options.

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for IT support.

McDonald's hijacks our nickname for their stores by using and promoting the Maccas nickname.

I don't know about you, but somehow I don't feel it is right for McDonald's to hijack our nickname we use to affectionately describe them. The name we as the public use. We've now seeing them using the term Maccas in things like having a maccas run.

Now the problem is companies like McDonald's don't just stop at using the terms we've created, but they also then go and trade mark them. That's the big companies pushing their weight around.

Not happy Jan. I don't think this is good marketing for McDonald's as once they take our slang and use it for their own purposes they push us to use a different nickname. The next nickname on the list is mcscraps and I'm sure that's not going to help them.

So unless McDonald's want to be known as McScraps, then perhaps they really should think about their long term marketing. Hijacking an affectionate name for commercial purposes may be a good short-term idea, but may end up biting them in the long term. I know I won't be using the term maccas any more. Who's up for McScraps, instead of let's do a maccas run, will probably be the catch cry for me.

Kelvin Eldridge

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Apple Mac OS X birthday and anniversary reminders keep popping up for November 30th.

Turned the computer on this morning and I had a whole lot of birthday reminders pop up. Weird I thought. So what is it that made all these reminders appear.

I don't really enter contacts into the MacBook Air and I certainly don't enter birthdays, so I decided to check the contact book and see what the birthday date was for one of the entries. It turns out the date for the entry was November 30 1999. In fact all those with birthdays had the date November 30 1999. The anniversary date is also November 30 1999 so I can expect messages for those as well.

Somewhere along the line I suspect this data was input and the dates set up incorrectly. Not sure where this happened. Most of the data has come from my iPhone entries and synchronised to the MacBook Air via Apple's cloud service.

Anyway, if someone's birthday or anniversary really is on the 30th of November then happy birthday or congratulations.

Looks like I made need to do some editing before next November.

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for IT support.

Google appears very slow at scanning and reindexing Australian sites I've checked.

I've been checking the .Melbourne site and usually in the past my sites can get reindexed in a few days. I thus suggest to people for SEO to make a change and then wait a week until the change has taken effect.

However as an indirect result of this monitoring I noticed the latest versions of my sites are not in Google's cache since October.

To me that's really disturbing. We could infer quite a few things from this and none are particularly good for websites.

1. Google has reduced the importance of scanning sites in terms of the time between scans. I've always said a company's site is the best place to check for the latest information (hence the reason JustLocal links direct to the site) as I've found Google to be slow at reindexing, but never this slow.

2. If you're trying to optimise your site in terms of SEO with Google then my earlier wait a week suggestion is way off. It may now be a month or more. That has serious implications for those who want to get results from adjusting their site and getting feedback on those changes. It certainly plays into the hands for SEO providers who say it can take months for changes to ripple through. Now you may not see any effect for a month or two and that means you end up paying more until you know what they're doing is working or not. That's a real worry as many SEO practitioners are scammers and it will cost you more before you know.

Perhaps this is good for JustLocal. If you're looking for the latest information from a local business on JustLocal you'll always find it on their site. The site for a business is one click away from your JustLocal postcode page.

Certainly very disturbing. Are websites now being treated as static brochure by Google? This means if you're looking for the latest information from a site Google is not the place to go. Perhaps it's time to look for different places to obtain the latest information that's important to you.

Kelvin Eldridge
Helping local businesses to be found.

PS. If you want to see when your site was last scanned you can type cache: followed by your site into Google as a query and you'll see the cached version of your site.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Computer Repairs Melbourne CBD. Online Connections now servicing residents and businesses in Melbourne's CBD.

For computer repairs in Melbourne's CDB you are now welcome to contact Online Connections. Over the last couple of years I decided to focus locally around where I live, but many business across Melbourne and further afield contact me for support and guidance. To me travel time and parking fees are a waste of time and money. Ultimately however you the client decides what is important to you and I'm here to help. If those costs don't bother you, then they shouldn't bother me as well. As long as you're getting the skills you need cost effectively, someone you can trust is often more important than a few extra dollars.

So if you're located in Melbourne's CBD and need computer repairs or general IT support then you are welcome to contact me.

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for IT support.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

McDonald's free Wi-Fi perhaps Hijacked at 406 Bourke Street Melbourne!

OK. Today I decided to test the free Wi-Fi at the McDonald's at 406 Bourke Street Melbourne. The Maccas is located on the corner of Bourke Street and Hardware Lane.

When I checked the names of available access points there was no McDonald's free Wi-Fi. A check of the McDonald's site shows the location should have free Wi-Fi. There was however free Wi-Fi available from CafeScreen. I thought perhaps McDonald's had decided to outsource the free Wi-Fi and decided to see what happened if I selected CafeScreen.

I was actually a bit concerned when I saw this screen come up with across the top. I always tell people not to take chances, but hey, I like to test things so others don't have to.

It turns out Hijacked is a service for students so no need to be concerned. However if I was McDonald's I'd be concerned. People now expect McDonald's to have free Wi-Fi and I'm finding a number of McDonald's that don't have free Wi-Fi.

There's now a couple of exposures for the public when visiting Maccas who expect free Wi-Fi. When Maccas doesn't provide the service this opens up two opportunities.

1. For a scammer to set up a free hot spot and set up man in the middle attacks.

2. Maccas have a lot of customers and by not having free Wi-Fi, they leave themselves open for others to take advantage of the opportunity to promote as CafeScreen and Hijacked appear to have done in this situation.

Now I have no idea without more accurate equipment to know if the McDonald's free Wi-Fi had been hijacked but I don't think it has. All it needs is for a nearby cafe or restaurant to take advantage of the marketing opportunity and this is simply good marketing. The iPhone does not provide very good tools in terms of testing a Wi-Fi signal. Perhaps next time I may take an Android device and see if I can better locate the access point.

In general I find McDonald's free Wi-Fi to be a terrible service. Rarely does it connect quickly and most times the performance is extremely slow. Sometimes I think it would be better for McDonald's to get rid of their free Wi-Fi service because it is very irritating and takes away from the Maccas experience. Either provide a decent service or none, but a half-hearted effort as Maccas currently do isn't up to their standard.

Kelvin Eldridge

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Search Australia is again the default search for JustLocal.

My apologies for the flip-flopping like a fish out of water, but I've decided to make Search Australia the default search for JustLocal.

My reasoning is, having the JustLocal Members Search as the default is promoting members across Australia the point of JustLocal is to encourage people to buy locally from within their local area. Of course that doesn't stop people from finding and using the products and services of JustLocal members, just that it doesn't make sense to go against the essence of JustLocal.

By making Search Australia the default search engine this makes it easier for people who wish to search, to find businesses in their local area. I've removed nearly 50 online directories so they no longer get in the way of finding the site for the local business. Only .au domains are included in the search. Whilst many Australian businesses do use other top level domains it is not possible to easily include those domains without including overseas competitors.

I've had one Australian business abuse me for not including their .com based site in Search Australia. Had they asked nicely I would have had no problems including their site, but abuse to me is not the way to get things done. In the future if people feel there's value for them to be included for their non .au domains, I'll happily include nominated domains for Australian businesses for a yearly fee.

I use Search Australia all the time to find Australian based businesses and information, so felt making it easily available to others via the JustLocal Search option would be of value to JustLocal users.

You can find Search Australia on any JustLocal postcode page in the menu, or visit There's also a link to the mobile version which you can bookmark or add to your Home page for your mobile device.

Kelvin Eldridge
Help your neighbour find your business.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

How much electricity does a fridge use?

Today I decided to determine how much electricity a fridge uses. Normally I'd use one of the power meters you can find on the Energy Cost Calculator, but this time I decided to actual electricity as determined by the electricity wholesaler United Energy.

Now you could ask how this could be done but it really is quite easy. I simply turned off every power switch in the house and so the only power being used was the refrigerator. In the past I've estimated the energy of the refrigerator at an average of 40 watts. Here is the graph from the energy wholesaler.

During the hours from 1 pm to 4 pm every power using device was switched off at the switch with only the refrigerator left running. The following is the power reported.

1 pm - 2pm  0.03 kWh
2 pm - 3 pm  0.08 kWh
3 pm - 4pm  0.03 kWh

Averaging the three value we get 0.047 kWh. This 47 watts per hour so my earlier estimate of energy of the refrigerator uses as 40 watts wasn't too far off the mark.

Performing the same test over a longer period may give a better estimate but the real limitation may be the value is reported to two decimal places. However that accuracy is good enough for us to understand the energy usage of the refrigerator.

For those interested in working out the electricity costs for a years, the Electricity Cost Calculator. Plug in your current electricity rate, 24 hours and the wattage which in this case would be 47 watts. The yearly cost estimate for our refrigerator is approximately $108.

Kelvin Eldridge
Helping you to reduce your electricity costs through knowledge.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Compare electricity providers, but to save real money understand your usage.

People compare electricity providers to save money. I know, I do that as well. But have a look at our electricity usage in the graph which compares it to others in our suburb. The graph is provided by United Energy's online reporting service.

The line at the top is the average use of others in our suburb. The bar graph at the bottom is our usage during the month of October. The dotted line is our average use during the month which is 4.9 kWh per day.

As you can see our usage is under half the average use of others and can even be a third or even less.

So how did we do this?

The answer is very simple. I measured the appliances around our home using a cheap electricity meter and understood where we were leaking electricity for little or no gain. We then adjusted our usage without really impacting our lives. Simple things like filling the kettle with the water required, rather than two thirds full. We even bought a bigger and better TV for one of our rooms which will pay for itself in around 5-6 years through electricity savings and got rid of the old clunky TV and set-top box. Little changes in our lifestyle that made almost no difference to how we live our lives.

I wrote this online calculator (Electricity Usage Calculator/) to help me work out costs. Once you know where you're using electricity that you previously didn't know, you're now better armed to make informed decisions going forward.

Of course you can simply shop around for a new electricity provider and that will probably save you 10-20%, or you can look at your usage and save 60-70%. In fact why not do both as we have done.

Kelvin Eldridge

Sunday, November 23, 2014

When did Google last take a scan of my site?

When making changes to your site in terms of search engine optimisation (SEO), it is a good idea to keep an eye on when Google last scanned your site. If you make a change and nothing happens in terms of your positioning, it could simply be that Google hasn't visited your site again since the change and thus doesn't know about the change.

I suggest to people to make a change and then wait for up to a week after they see Google has scanned their page. They can use the date on Google's cached version of their site to determine the date. I suggest a week because you want to make sure that after the site has been cached, the effect of that change has then propagated through Google's servers and out to their regional data stores.

If you find a change has a positive effect then keep the change. If the change has a negative effect reverse the change and see if your positioning returns. After you're back to where you were then continue with another change. Trying one change at a time will educate you as to what changes work and what changes don't. Trying a number of changes at once may mean some have a positive effect and some have a negative effect and you won't be able to figure out which change had what type of effect.

Keep in mind that Google is constantly updating their search engine. Google is supposedly trying to improve the search results for users, which would be true, but in addition they're trying to reduce those who have worked out how to game the system and so don't need to pay for advertising. Over the years there's been many techniques that have come and gone that gave an advantage in the search engine and no doubt there still are some quirks that can be taken advantage of. It is important to retest because what worked last year may no longer work this year. I've seen Google push one of my sites up to number one position then only to push it down and the site is currently at position 31. There were no significant changes on my part that I know of. The only way to know what works and what doesn't work from year to year is to keep testing.

A quick way to check the cached version of your site is to type into Google search the word cache, followed by a colon, then followed by your site. For example this is what I'd type for the JustLocal site.

For a long time a search for JustLocal had JustLocal in the first position. For quite a while JustLocal  was sitting around the third position. A search for JustLocal now returns in the first position. Recently Google did an algorithm update and I also applied a technique I use, but I really can't say whether it was my site getting pushed up, or the other sites getting pushed down. The last time Google scanned was on the 29th of October, according to Google's cache. That's handy to know as I've added two new links on the first page of Google to assist my sites in terms of SEO and Google would not have seen those changes yet.

It really is a case of patience is a virtue with Google. In terms of SEO, make a change and then wait and see how the change affects the positioning of your site for the keywords of interest.

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for IT support.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Blogger blog deleted.

Every morning I wake up to a bunch of emails letting my know my various accounts have been suspended. All fake of course and containing a nefarious link designed to scam people. This morning was a little different.

I received all my emails from my main account, but then my Gmail account wasn't working and I couldn't seem to get it to work on the mobile. Weird I thought, but with technology not unexpected. I went to one of my Google services and got the following message.

Now again that's not unusual. I accept online services are constantly targets for hackers and minimise my exposure with online services as a result. If anything I have online is lost it will just be a nuisance. With email it would probably be annoying, but other than than, not business critical. All information I consider important is backed up offline. So I provided the code and was able to get into the Google service.

Now my Gmail on my mobile wasn't working so I decided to again use the notebook. There was a message for the Google Blogger team.

Hello, Your blog at has been reviewed and confirmed as in violation of our Terms of Service for: SPAM. In accordance to these terms, we've removed the blog and the URL is no longer accessible. 

That's a little annoying I thought. They've deleted the blog. No way to contact them. Just gone. Hmmmm. Didn't think they'd do that. That's an unexpected exposure. Now whilst I'd planned that should I lose all the information in the blog it wasn't much of a concern since it is largely local news items, but to lose that blog as well. Hmmm. Have to think about that one. I decided I'd take a backup copy of the data in the other blogs I run. Some articles may be useful. Apart from generating traffic and sharing information publicly, I find minimal return for my efforts through blogging. Yes I get a huge amount of traffic at times, but most people on the internet want freebies, so traffic rarely converts to ta return. Even if all the blogs disappeared tomorrow it wouldn't be a major concern.

However for some their Blogger blogs is their livelihood. To have Google simply delete a blog and not suspect it, or provide a method of communication to rectify a situation, well that's the risk of using Google's free services. Google, Microsoft will drop services being used by tens of millions of people without a second thought. What happens to one person is irrelevant.

As best as I can tell, the reason the blog probably was deleted was I use the facility which enables me to send posts from my email and they'll appear in the blog. All that is protecting the blog is a password which is part of the email address. This is standard. If the password is hacked then others can post to the blog. I suspect someone managed to hack the password. Nearly everyone using an online service is now usually only protected by a password. The username is often known since many online services uses their email address. In this case people who know how Blogger is set up know there's only a password to work out. Spam starts to appear, Google flags unusual activity. Instead of suspending they simply delete the blog. Game over.

So if you have any type of online presence, do seriously think about your business exposure. Your online presence is being attacked constantly and you will be totally unaware as you can't see that activity. It is only when something succeeds will you find yourself finding you're faced with an issue.

Gmail, Microsoft's online mail, Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox and all the other online services expose you and your business directly to the most active and fraudulent sector in our community. Review your exposure and make sure you have a plan in case something goes wrong.

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for IT support.

Friday, November 21, 2014

United Energy Summer Saver Trial

I received a letter from United Energy inviting me to participate in their Summer Saver Trial. I checked all their information and everything appears above board. In effect you can receive up to $100 per summer by reducing your energy usage for three hours on what they call an 'event day'. A day of high temperature. I'm assuming this means up to four days.

I'm happy to participate in the trial as I enjoy saving energy. The problem for me is since I'm already a relatively low energy user, it may be hard for me to reduce the energy usage even further, but I'm happy to give it a go. Our current energy usage is around 5-7 kWh per day.

For those interested in saving money on electricity, reducing your usage is quite effective. I wrote and use the following Energy Cost Calculator to work out how much appliances were costing me. Knowledge as they say is power. In this case, less power.

Kelvin Eldridge
Helping your business to be found by your neighbour.

YouTube - Your video may include music that is owned by a third party.

I used a couple of very old public domain videos as part of new videos I created. I received this message and also other message where others were claiming rights to the material. Pretty scary on the one hand that you may be breaching copyright, but also annoying when the material was obtained as public domain material from the I'd lost a bit of trust in, but perhaps I was concerned where I shouldn't be concerned.

For this video I removed the section of music as it had no impact on the overall result. YouTube then accepted the video. But then each additional video gave me a similar issue because others appeared to be claiming copyright over the material. It was really annoying as the material was public domain.

The problem as I saw it was in YouTube's service. YouTube is just looking for similar content. It can't tell if part of that content is public domain. Once you incorporate public domain material into your own work it becomes copyright. That means any number of people can legitimately use the same public domain material, incorporate it into their work and their work as a whole becomes copyright, but not original public domain material. I hope that makes sense. At least that's how I see it.

So I decided to challenge. This is scary because you can get a strike. Three strikes and you impact your YouTube presence. So I decided to challenge two videos. It takes around 30 days and if there's no response your material is then cleared for use. Both of my videos are now valid and available on YouTube. Phew. Indeed a bit scary.

This does mean that for each video I produce in this way there may be a delay of around 30 days and I only wish to take the exposure of two videos at a time risking copyright infringement. So it will be slow progress for what I want to do. In the end however hopefully it will be worth the time.

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for IT support.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Computer Repairs Melbourne - New site now live to test how the .Melbourne top level domain performs.

I decided to register the domain www.Computer-Repairs.Melbourne. The new top level domain .Melbourne provides a new opportunity to use a relevant domain for the services I provide. Now if people are searching for Computer Repairs Melbourne hopefully they'll more easily find my service.

In addition I have no idea of how well the .Melbourne domain will perform so as always, the best way to find out is to run a test. I'll be sharing the results with JustLocal members.

This is also a bit of a change in direction for me. Over the last few years I've been very focused on generating business in the local area. I simply don't like the idea of charging people travel time as I feel it is an unproductive use of time. Yet what is really strange is that isn't an issue for others, just me. So instead of making it hard for people who aren't located locally but still wish to use my services I've returned to my original business model. I simply charge for the time involved including travel time. Quite of bit of my support calls are handled over the internet or the telephone so travel isn't an issue in many cases. However sometimes travel is required, and when it is, there's no longer an issue to me if there's not an issue for the client.

If you're in Melbourne, or in fact you could be located anywhere, and need assistance with your computer, then you're welcome to contact me via email or my mobile 0415 910 703.

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for IT support.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Catch Up Coffee video now live on YouTube.

I thought I'd create a short video to demonstrate the Catch Up Coffee site and the mobile page. You can find the video at

Having attended quite a few networking breakfasts and events over the years one of the best events happened completely by accident. The power who had been invite to speak at the networking event didn't turn up. The group looked at me (I was simply another attendee) and ask me to lead the group. Not quite sure why the looked at me, but I didn't mind. I thought for a moment and I thought, you know what, what I really want to know is what everyone else at the event did. That more I know about others the more likely I am to be able to use their services or refer others to them. I hope that in return people think the same way about my services.

I loved the approach so decided to incorporate the approach into Catch Up Coffee. To me there's far to much in networking events that simply is designed to fill the time. Do I really want to spend half an hour listening to a presenter promote their business. Not really. I'd rather know more about the people attending.

Attending networking events can get fairly expensive over a year. Most networking events now charge around $20-$30 and some more. If you attend just one event each week you'll end up spending close to a $1,000 a year.

With Catch Up Coffee the cost is simply the price of a cup of coffee, or whatever else you wish to buy. That's in the order of $3.50-$4. That's networking on a shoestring budget, and for many micro and small business owners, that's a welcome relief to the hip pocket.

On the Catch Up Coffee page I provide further details of my approach. All it takes is for you to invite just one person and then open it up to your contacts and you may be surprised how quickly a table of 6-8 is filled. Of course if you just want to catch up with one person, that's OK too.

Catch Up Coffee provides you with the opportunity to network with other like-minded business owners, exchange business cards, learn about each other, and relax whilst getting to know one another.

Kelvin Eldridge
Catch Up Coffee is a JustLocal initiative to help local businesses to get to know each other.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

JustLocal.Melbourne domain name now registered and live.

The domain www.JustLocal.Melbourne is now registered and live. The domain system is a bit like a scam. If you don't register the domain someone else can, so in effect if you want to protect your internet presence a little, then often you're left with little choice.

The .Melbourne domains are worse than others. Somehow I think the Victorian government is involved and profiteering (I apologise in advance if the government is not involved) as the .Melbourne domain is probably the most expensive domain I own. If you're looking for purchase a .Melbourne domain the domain company I have on the main page of JustLocal I found to be the cheapest. Don't register any other features from the registrar otherwise the price continues to go up. I use the hosting company I have on the main page of JustLocal ( so it cost me nothing extra to point the domain to the Melbourne postcode page of JustLocal.

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for IT support.
Servicing Doncaster, Templestowe, Eltham and the surrounding area.

Christmas shopping hours Westfield Shoppingtown Doncaster 2014

It's getting close to Christmas so I thought it was time again to find out the Christmas shopping hours at Westfield's Doncaster Shoppingtown.

This year extended trading hours start on Sunday the 14th of December.

14 Sunday  9:00am – 6:00pm
15 Monday  9:00am – 9:00pm
16 Tuesday  9:00am – 9:00pm
17 Wednesday  9:00am – 9:00pm
18 Thursday  9:00am – 11:59pm
19 Friday  9:00am – 11:59pm
20 Saturday  9:00am – 9:00pm
21 Sunday  9:00am – 9:00pm
22 Monday  9:00am – 11:59pm
23 Tuesday  8:00am – 2:00am
24 Wednesday  7:00am – 5:30pm
25 Thursday  Closed
26 Friday  8:00am – 10:00pm
27 Saturday  9:00am – 9:00pm
28 Sunday  9:00am – 6:00pm
29 Monday  TBA
30 Tuesday  TBA
31 Wednesday  TBA

1 Thursday  TBA
2 Friday  TBA

The times from the 29th of December will be advised once they're published.

Also keep in mind if you require assistance with your computers contact Online Connections on 0415 910 703.

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for IT support.
Servicing Doncaster, Templestowe, Eltham and the surrounding area.

Is SEO more cost effective than Google Adwords?

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) has largely reached the status of being a scam for many businesses,  but in reality, like any business transaction, you'll get ripped off if you don't approach a purchase professionally.

I recently reviewed one client's SEO agreement and suggested they were being scammed. The agreement was professionally written and had targets that would be achieved. The problem, if the targets weren't achieved there was no penalty, so in fact the targets were just meaningless numbers. However had the business been wise enough to tie the targets to payment two things would have happened. The client would have received the service which achieved the results "they thought they wanted", or no money need to have been paid because targets were not met. With SEO this is dead easy to measure. You can agree to the list of keywords and you can measure the before and after position in Google. Nothing is left to chance.

However you'll see I wrote "they thought they wanted". You need to remove this part of the scam as well. You may think you want a particular keyword phrase to rank you well in Google's search results, but if it gets no traffic, there is no value.

A smart business person will:

1. Tie an SEO supplier to a list of known keywords.
2. Set agreed targets for those keywords in terms of positioning in Google's search results.
3. Measure the before and after position for the keywords.
4. Determine an estimate of the real value the keywords.

If you know the real value and the SEO business achieves the results you wish, then it is a service worth paying for as long as the return or the real value exceeds the cost of the service. The problem is the cost of using an SEO business can exceed the expected return so it can be a waste of money.

A good idea is to compare the cost of using SEO to the cost of using Google Adwords where you simply pay for advertising. Sometimes one will be more cost effective than the other. Sometimes both will be a total waste of money. If you do your research then it may be possible to use SEO or Google Adwords to make money. At worse, if you do your research, you'll know it isn't worth investing in either approach. Google and SEO businesses are there to make money off you. You are the only one looking after your interests so make sure you do your research.

I've now extended the SERP Calculator I wrote to include the number of clicks per month. The SERP Calculator lets you know the value of a position for a keyword in the Search Engine Results Page (a Google search). You should know the monthly value a customer is worth to you and you can use Google's Keyword Tool to determine the number of searches for a given keyword. The conversion rate is a bit rubbery and a good range is from 0.5% to 2%. The figure of 1% is the default and a good starting point. But as you can see this is just a guide and could easily be out by a factor of two in either direction. Whilst rubbery, right now it is the only guide I know of that will give you an estimated value you can use to base a decision.

The clicks per month is a figure I've just added which will enable you to determine an estimated cost using Google Adwords to achieve the same number of clicks.

As an example, I assisted Cherie Curlis, who is a member of JustLocal, to get a position in Google for Marriage Celebrant Melbourne. Previously Cherie didn't have a position in the first 10 pages of Google and is now in position 5. Google's keyword tool shows us there are 480 searches per month for the term Marriage Celebrant Melbourne. Cherie has provided the industry figure of $400-$900 for the typical service.

Plugging in the figures above we can see a position of 5 for "Marriage Celebrant Melbourne" has an estimated value of $117-$264 per month. It should be noted that it is expected the average time to acquire a new customer is 3.42 months. This is not a huge amount of new clients, just 3-4 per year.

Many SEO businesses set fees at $300-$400 a month, so if Cherie had used an SEO business for this one keyword, Cherie would be losing money. As a member of JustLocal I did this at no cost (keep in mind this will in future be a paid service). Thus it is important to know the expected type of return to see if SEO has value.

It should also be kept in mind SEO businesses often selected 8-12 keywords to optimise for, so all of the value of all the suggested keywords should be taken into account. Also the SERP Value Calculator is just guide. There's no guarantee of an actual return, but if used as a guide it is a valuable tool. More importantly, even as a guide keep in mind the return could be half to double the amount based on the default rate of conversion. For this one keyword phrase however, using an SEO business charging $300-$400 a month would be a waste as at best. It would barely recover the cost. Personally I think advertising should be 10-20% of the cost of acquiring a custom, so SEO should aim to return 5-10 times the investment. That's simply not the case here with SEO.

How then does Google Adwords compare?

Google's Adword tool suggests a bid of $4.30 for the keyword phrase "Marriage Celebrant Melbourne". With my own testing I've found I've not been able to get my paid ads positioned for the suggested bid so it costs more, often much more, but let's go with the suggested bid.

Now if we look at the SERP Value Calculator we see we expect 29.3 clicks per month. If these were paid ads using Google Adwords the cost would be $126 per month. That is certainly better than the typical SEO business charging $300-$400 per month, but at $126 a month, most of the money made would go straight back to Google. That simply isn't a good business decision.

Based on this information using an SEO business or Google Adwords is likely to be a costly exercise and most likely a loss, or at a minimum, most of the money going to third parties meaning there's little reason to use either SEO or Google Adwords in this case.

Whilst people may see this result as meaning SEO or Google Adwords is not worth it, that's simply not the case. The real meaning behind the information here is know your numbers and then you'll know if it is worthwhile for you. What amazes me in business is what works brilliantly for one business can often be a disaster for another and the opposite is also true. As an example I tested local paper advertising and found it a total waste of money. For another business they invested 10% of their turnover into local paper advertising and had a return of 10 times the advertising cost, or so they led me to believe. The information was made in passing and made have been exaggerated, but I still felt there was some substance in the information.

I'd highly recommend that you use the SERP Value Calculator to help you to determine whether or not SEO or Google Adwords is worth investing your money.

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for IT support.

Monday, November 17, 2014

myGov - Tax refund notification - Alert

Today I noticed a new email scam aimed at myGov users. The myGov service is an umbrella site but one of the services promoted is secure email across a range of government services. I thought this attack was interesting as myGov is a service I'd only recently heard about.

If you receive emails sent from myGov you should discard them. To log on to your myGov services open your browser and enter the website address. Don't click on a link in an email.

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for IT support.
Servicing Doncaster, Templestowe, Eltham and the surrounding area.

Westfield Gift Card stands out as it is one of the few that charges and additional fee at the time of purchase.

I was checking the rack of gift cards at Target and one in particular caught my eye. It was the Westfield Gift Card. It is quite interesting the range of gift cards. Personally I think gift cards are a bad idea. Somehow those giving gift cards think they've gone out and made the effort to buy a present when really all they've done is taken perfectly good cash and locked it into something that can be annoying, inconvenient and may even cost their family and friends more than otherwise need be. To lazy to thing of a gift and now it is OK to convert perfectly good cash into a more restrictive present that indicates just how lazy you really are. Go figure.

However the Westfield Gift Card stood out as even a worse deal for the buyer. It costs and additional $5.95 for the buyer. Who would do that? Why would people pay nearly 12% more just to give people a piece of plastic instead of a $50 note.

People are certainly weird beings. Somewhere along the line we've decided to the tune of billions of dollars across the world to replace the far more flexible, no strings attached lovely gift of a fresh new note with a more restrictive and costly gift of a gift card. We somehow thing grabbing a gift card at the check out shows we've made more of an effort.

In the past I've lost a $50 gift card from JB Hi-Fi, because it sat around for quite a while. I simply don't buy things from JB Hi-Fi that often. Another gift card I won as a prize from a networking group was close to expiry (no wonder it was offered as a prize) and soon after expired. Never saw that coming. I've also read that up 20% of gift cards never get used, but my reading recently indicates that could be closer to 10-15%. Still that's a lot of cash in the pockets of retailers for doing nothing.

I have to admit I have purchased one gift card for another person. I knew this person loved buying their music on iTunes. I wanted to give her an iTunes gift card and to me that makes sense. So I gave the gift I wanted to give that was the actual gift. Not a generic gift card that could be used in a range of stores as a replacement for cash. Perhaps others have their reasons other than laziness.

Kelvin Eldridge

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Australian Tax Calculator 2014-2015 now available.

I've now released the Australian Tax Calculator for 2014-2015. The Australian Tax Calculator enables your to enter up to four sources on income and determine the tax on the income.

Links to previous years are available on the calculator.

Recently a family member wasn't sure if they're need to pay tax as they have their main job and a second part-time job. Both jobs tax him appropriately but he was wondering if sufficient tax had been taken out. By using the Australian Tax Calculator he quickly found he had paid the appropriate amount of tax including the Medicare levy.

Kelvin Eldridge

How Toyota lost my trust in them and are unlikely to get future business from us.

At the moment I'm getting very annoyed with the constant upsell that is happening around us. Businesses we've used for years seem to just want to extract as much as they can from us. Bump up prices here, upsell there.

Businesses know they can increase prices and the extra profit from all their customers will exceed the profit from the customers they lose. That's why it is important to constantly review your suppliers.

I put my Toyota Avensis in for the 80,000 km service at Toyota Preston. Sat down at the desk and they said it would cost around $1,100. I asked if they could discount it which they did and the cost was around $1,030. Still pretty steep I thought. At this point they hadn't even looked at the car so I thought this was the standard service charge.

Some months later I decided to check the internet. Here's an old price from Cranbourne Toyota.

I have a Toyota Avensis. The price here was $674. I called Cranbourne Toyota for their current price and it was $768.

Now Toyota Preston decided to install a fuel filter which is where the extra cost is. Keep in mind I went in for a standard 80,000 km service. There is nothing in the Cranbourne information to indicate any additional charge for a fuel filter. At the point of booking in the car no mention of a fuel filter was made and the car had not even been touched.

It simply doesn't make sense. Toyota dealers are advertising a price for a service and then when you take the car in the price is much more. This was a standard service. Surely Toyota knows exactly what should be included in a standard service. If the fuel filter is required then that should be in the price they advertise.

To me this feels like false advertising. I've lost total faith in Toyota and their dealers now. My latest service was done by the motor mechanic that looks after our older cars. I'll be using them from now on.

Businesses can upsell and put their prices up and generally most of us simply tolerate it. It costs us a lot of money over the years but generally the devil we know is better than the devil we don't. For me I'll change if I think I'm being treated like a fool or trust is broken. In this case not servicing the car for the advertised price and upselling sight unseen, has broken my trust in Toyota. Trust once broken can rarely be mended. Our next car which will be purchased in the near future won't be a Toyota and Toyota won't even be considered.

How easy it is for companies to lose business simply by doing what isn't expected.

Kelvin Eldridge

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Alert: Westpac:New Payment

I've received a number of the following emails to different email address. These are fake scam emails and not from Westpac.

Westpac are currently forcing people to register an email address to use their online services. I keep reporting this to Westpac. Westpac just don't get how many scam emails are targeted at their customers every week.

My advice is don't provide your email address to your financial providers and then you know every email is a scam. There is no reason for my banks to send me an email. They have other ways to contact me.

Unfortunately eventually I will be forced to dump Westpac as I see little chance of Westpac catering to my needs.

If you receive these emails you should delete them. The links take you to what is most likely a hijacked WordPress site.  

Dear Customer,


Date: 11/11/2014

This email is to confirm that you recently made a Funds Transfer to a payee with account ending 8169 for the first time.

For more information about this payment please log in and select 'Payment list' from the Funds transfer menu.

Please Click here if you did not perform this transfer.

Westpac Internet and SMS Banking Team

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Kelvin Eldridge

Leather couch from Harvey Norman is nowhere near the quality they used to be.

An elderly family member purchased a new leather couch from Harvey Norman and after a while the cushion behind their head showed the following wear.

It took a while and the seat cover was replaced. The person started using the back cushion from the second chair whilst they waited for the replacement cover and subsequently kept using the cushion from the second chair. Now the second cover is being replaced as well.

On the weekend we took measurements to make a cover to go over the back of the chair because the replaced cushion is now starting to show signs of the same wear.

Unfortunately the elderly do not want to keep making a fuss so eventually give up and put up with second rate quality. Here is a $5,000+ lounge suite that is clearly not of acceptable quality.  The previous couch lasted them over 20 years without showing this type of wear. Our leather couch is around 10-15 years old and does not show this sign of wear.

Harvey Norman should be investigating their supplier. Sadly the people I know will put up with this crappy quality furniture rather than make a fuss.

I will now be hesitant to consider using Harvey Norman for furniture given this experience. I don't want to be following up a supplier repeatedly so don't wish to take this risk.

Kelvin Eldridge

PS. I thought I'd add this leather lounge suite was purchased in April 2014. This quality is not good enough.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Virgin Airlines offer Uber voucher is a real concern.

Anyone considering using Uber in Australia really should check with their insurance company and make sure the car they'll travel in has insurance that will cover them.

If you read the Uber terms and conditions you'll see all the responsibility outside of the software is your responsibility. If what people are doing is illegal and there's an accident, the legal fees could wipe out people financially. This is not Uber's problem. It is yours.

Read the terms and conditions you'll see Uber's liability is limited to 500 Euro.

Does your insurance cover you?

If you're doing something illegal you won't be covered by insurance. Talk to your insurance company and make sure you get everything in writing. If something goes wrong it may be the most expensive form of travel you've ever used.

To see Virgin make such an offer whilst the legal situation in Australia is not resolved is not something I would expect to see from a company like Virgin.

Uber and Virgin have deep pockets and will be well protected. They are looking after their interests. Make sure you look after yours.

Kelvin Eldridge

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Subway $5 deal. Don't get tricked by the two different $5 deals.

Subway are running two $5 deals at the moment. A $5 deal where you get a six inch subway plus a drink and a second deal where you get a low fat six inch subway.

I feel the better deal is the deal which includes the drink. It may just be my imagination but I found today the $5 deal which included the drink was on the windows outside, but you only notice the $5 low fat deal which doesn't include the drink is advertised on the counter.

Of course some people will prefer the low fat deal, but for those wanting the drink, it may be worth noting the deal.

Kelvin Eldridge

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Postal vote application form Victoria. When is a scam not a scam? When it is legal.

Postal vote applications forms for the coming Victorian election are now being received in the mail by Victorians. Most people will be totally unaware they are not from the Electoral Commission, but are actually from the political parties.

People don't realise if they use these forms and send them to the address provided, the information can be collected by the political party and used for marketing purposes.

Today I was asked to witness a form. I asked the person if they were happy for the Labor Party to receive all their details including name, address, date of birth for marketing purposes, given they'd only ever vote for the Liberal Party. This was not received well. This further concerns me because the signature of the person is provided as are the details including signature of the witness.

I said I'd send them the link for what I consider is the only postal vote application form people should use. Don't use a form you receive in the mail. Check the form and the address and you'll see it is going to end up the in the hands of a political party and you may not wish to provide those details for marketing purposes.

Pass this information on to your family and friends. I was almost tricked by these forms last election and went to pass them on to a family friend thinking I was helping. Luckily I realised before the person collected the form, that I would have inadvertently where I would have exposed their personal information to be harvested for marketing purposes by a political party.

Kelvin Eldridge

VicRail ticket inspectors don't care so why should you?

Ever got onto a train and get annoyed because someone else is breaking the rules and don't seem to care about others?

Yesterday I got on to the Geelong train and returned to Melbourne. It's actually quite a pleasant trip and the country train is more comfortable than the city trains. Across the way were two youngish guys (they all look young to me now) that were quite pleasant and chatting to each other. One however had their feet (with thongs) on the opposite seat so that the soles of his thongs were on the seat. Now of course that means the dirt from his thongs gets on to the seat and that can dirty the clothes of others. I consider that to be inappropriate and the rules are there for people to see.

It was a bit annoying for us to see inconsiderate behaviour. Should we say something or not. I'm sure others have been in the same situation. But then I got the answer I needed.

The ticket inspector came along asking for tickets. VicRails and the government love the revenue they make from fare evaders. With all the advertising we're almost led to believe fare evaders are the scum of the earth. They avoid paying their fair share. Of course we all pay between 60-90% through our taxes since public transport is run at a loss and requires taxpayers dollars and the fare evaders will be paying taxes at some point.

So I watched the ticket inspector who checked our Myki cards were all OK. Not a word to the passenger with their feet on the seat. OK. Perhaps I didn't pay enough attention. So I watched as the ticket inspector passed by the passenger as they returned and yes he glanced sideways at the passenger with his feet on the seat but simply ignored it.

So why do we care when VicRail's own ticket inspectors don't care. VicRail's marketing has made us care but if they don't bother enforcing their own rules they're making us the rule enforcers and that's just plain crazy. VicRail needs to lead through example and the example I got was they care about fines because it's all about the money. Who cares about how much those high and inappropriate fines are for a largely taxpayer funded system. Revenue is all that matters. Let's not enforce the rules which actually avoids the situation where others end up with soiled clothes. There's only angst in that and no money to be had.

Time to rethink how much I care and follow the lead of the government. We as citizens should only care as much as our leaders do. They lead and we follow. If it doesn't really concern them it's just revenue or marketing. If it really matters then they'll do what is right.

Kelvin Eldridge

Friday, November 07, 2014

Australia Post's Shopmate service announced enabling Australians to ship to a local USA address for companies that won't ship to Australia.

JustLocal is built on the idea of supporting local businesses. Often a product or service created or delivered locally can be done so cost effectively at the same rate as elsewhere and even at a lower cost in some situations. However let's be realistic. People will try to save money when they can just as businesses (including local businesses) will shop overseas to reduce their costs to stay profitable. You won't stay in business long if you're not profitable.

Australia Post have introduced their ShopMate service which appears to provide the ability for Australians to purchase products in the States from companies that won't ship to Australia. Australia Post then forwards the purchase on to the customer in Australia. Some USA companies charge Australians higher prices than they do locally and this is referred to as the Australia Tax. The Australia Tax will probably be more difficult to get around since the USA companies will use the geographical location based on your computer's IP address. To avoid that you'll also need to use a VPN service such as Hola which enables you to appear as though you are in the United States.

You'll then need a form of payment, perhaps a credit card or PayPal, and be mindful of potential legal restrictions and also shipping restrictions. The ShopMate site provides fairly simple guidelines to help the Aussie buyer know what they can't ship. Do keep in mind they mention devices with lithium batteries and that includes many electronic devices, so do check the information provided on the site

Interestingly when I see the words Australia Tax I actually think this service is another form of Australia Tax, but some could say it is simply a mechanism to work around a situation retailers and manufacturers have put into place to unfairly charge Australians higher prices. Ultimately that's up to you to decide.

What I do like is Australia Post has now quantified the cost of such a service and that may enable Australians to work for colleagues based in America where the salaries are typically lower. The base rate of $24.95 is I feel a figure which enables so scope for the opportunity to work together for mutual benefit. I recall a Wi-Fi memory card selling for around $60 in the States and somewhere around 50-100% more expensive in Australia. The funny thing is I ended up getting the card from one of the Australian clearance site for about the same as the American price, but in the end I was disappointed in how it worked. Only half as disappointed though since I'd paid around half the price.

What would also be interesting to know is how the Australia Post prices compare with the American company postage rates. It may be important to know if there's hidden extra cost with higher rates. Also consider insurance, exchange rate and other fees for foreign country purchases. Many people only see the exchange rate but don't realise there is a further rate that is generally not mentioned and that's a hidden reduction in the amount you receive with the credit card companies. I've estimate that could be as much as 6%, so don't just look at the daily rate you see on TV, because that's not the rate you get. Look at what it costs you in Australian dollars. Finally you need to factor in risk and often the inability to make a return. Not because you can't, but because it simply isn't worth the cost. When buying in Australia from an Australian retailer often the risk and the return cost is very low.

Certainly dealing with a well known Australian brand provides a degree of confidence. I do wonder if it takes off whether or not retailers will simply change their terms and conditions to exclude forwarding services which might just stop Australia Post in their tracks.

I wonder how many others think that Australia Post's ShopMate service is a good idea. In the past I've tried to organise similar forwarding services to generate income for an overseas based contact but without a number of Australian customers it really wasn't worth their time. Perhaps Australia Post may legitimise this as an opportunity for some of our fellow home based business operators in the States.

Kelvin Eldridge