Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Melbourne Airport pickup parking - Ring & Ride

The other night we picked up family at Melbourne Airport. A handy feature at the airport is the Ring & Ride parking. This is a car park close to the airport where you can park for 20 minutes for free and when called, you can drive to the pickup point, which is only a minute or so away (plus the delay in the pickup traffic).

I thought I'd use the Where Did I Park My Car web app I wrote to record the location of the car park to make it easier for others to find the car park. There's two exists as you approach Melbourne Airport. One for terminal 4 which is the first exit, and the other exit for terminals 1, 2 and 3, which is the second exit. Every time I visit the airport things seem to change and this time was really the first time I'd used the exit for terminal 4.

The location of the Ring & Ride car park you can find using the link http://maps.apple.com/maps?q=-37.681654304397526,144.8650513606828.

The car park rates are:

20 minutes free
21-40 minutes $2
41-60 minutes $4

If you need to pick up someone at Melbourne Airport, knowing about the free Ring & Ride parking can certainly be useful.

Kelvin Eldridge

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Telstra bill payment leaves customer overdrawn by $2 million, a lesson for all us to be careful with online systems.

I read the following article on how a person went to pay their $225 Telstra bill and ended up making a payment of $2,250,623.00.


The customer was understandably irate and subsequently had to deal with a stressful couple of days.

In the article the person said they went to pay 225, I thought that was interesting because my experience is you would also need enter .00 for the amount. I then decided to check the number 062300 which appeared in the payment amount. My thought is this was most likely the banks BSB number. It turns out this is a branch of the Commonwealth Bank in NSW (Carlingford in Pennant Hills). Whilst it is possible this may be a system error, given the person said they entered only 225, does use the Commonwealth Bank, if this is their bank BSB, it may mean they didn't move onto the next field to enter the BSB.

It's hard to imagine an online banking system allowing a transaction that would allow an account to go into such a negative amount. You would think such a transaction would immediately be flagged as invalid and the person would then know to enter the correct amount.

This is a good warning to all of us to keep in mind the online systems of the major companies in Australia, may not be as foolproof as we think they should be. A warning that we need to double check what we are entering before hitting the submit button and then double checking before completing the transaction.

Kelvin Eldridge

Office 365 subscription cost can be reduced.

If you're using Office 365 your subscription will come up for renewal. A while ago I shared with Windows you can delay the renewal for up to 30 days and continue to use Office. That gives you an extra month. Mac users however have their subscription expire on the anniversary.

Another way to save money is not to pay using the link provided by Microsoft for your Office 365 subscription renewal. For example, for Office 365 Home users the renewal cost is $119. When you get the renewal you can shop around and purchase a new licence for Office 365 and save some money. For example Officeworks are selling Office 365 Home for $96 at the moment. You do need enter a new licence but that doesn't cause any problem. Now you can potentially saved $23.

But wait, as they say there's more. At the moment some retailers are advertising a Microsoft cash back of $20. Keep in mind the promotion is by Microsoft and not from the retailer, so what you pay at the retailer doesn't change the offer. That means if you purchase a copy at Officeworks (or an even cheaper retailer), you get the cheaper price plus you can currently get another $20 off. That's potentially a total saving of $43 or 36%, or more if you find a cheaper price.

The Microsoft offer can be found at https://officecashback.azurewebsites.net. The cash back offer is for purchases from the 20th of May to the 30th of June 2016. The offer is for a range of Office software and not just Office 365 Home.

Kelvin Eldridge

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Where Did I Park My Car web app

Ever parked your car and couldn't quite remember where?

Last weekend we visited the Children's Farm in Collingwood. The car park said full so I dropped everyone off and went to park the car. There's lots of parking restrictions in the area. I parked in one spot and said high to a local as I left the car. She alerted me to the fact there was a sign for Permit Parking. I thought I'd read the sign right which had parking restrictions on Monday to Friday so thought I was OK. Luckily the person helped me. So back in the car driving down backs streets and found a parking spot. It really wasn't that far, but thought, would I remember the location after a couple of hours. Luckily I did as well because I saw the parking officers a couple of times that day.

After I'd parked I pulled out my smartphone, took a screen capture of the map, but couldn't help feeling it would be better if I could see where I was and where the car was. I tried to find a way to record the GPS coordinates but wasn't able to.

Over the years there's been times where I've wanted to record where my car was located. I've taken pictures of street signs, screen captures and tried numerous approaches, but none seem to work well for me. Then there's been times when a family member's car broke down and the time it takes to let me know where they were was frustratingly long. Or, the "can you pick me up" only to again spend time trying to work out where they were.

I thought it was time to write a web app to help myself, my family and friends. All I really needed was the ability to record the current GPS coordinates and then to be able to send the GPS coordinates to myself or someone else via email.

The result is the Where Did I Park My Car web app.

Open the Where Did I Park My Car at www.JustLocal.net.au/wheredidiparkmycar/, click on Get current location until you get an accurate location and then send the location as a link via email. Using the email, when I click on the link the mapping application opens showing where the car/location is and if I'm close, where I am. If I'm further away, I can even use the mapping application to give me the route. As a bonus the time stamp for when the email was sent lets me know how long I've been parked and that can help avoid those parking fines.

Now recording the GPS coordinates and sharing the location simple and easy.

Kelvin Eldridge

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Cheapest petrol in Melbourne today.

Finding the cheapest petrol station in Melbourne can be a bit tricky. The websites don't exactly scream, here's the cheapest petrol price in Melbourne today. One lets you know the cheapest price, but then somehow you have to work out where it could be. With a bit of online detective work I found the cheapest petrol price in Melbourne today and I thought the result was very interesting.

Today the cheapest price as I write this blog is currently 103.7 at Costco in Moorabbin. What is interesting is the next best price appears to be at the Caltex/Woolworths in Braeside at 107.7.

I couldn't help think why is that?

My thought is Costco is a membership based retailer so only members can take advantage of the petrol price. However, Braeside is right next door to Moorabbin, so perhaps Caltex/Woolworths don't want to lose business to Costco. If you take the 107.7 offered by Caltex/Woolworths and then throw in a shopping discount of 4 cents per litre, Caltex/Woolworths have matched Costco and largely neutralised the competitive threat to their business.

If you're passing through the Braeside area today it may be useful to keep in mind this current anomaly where the petrol price is around 20 cents a litre cheaper than the average around Melbourne.

For those who have been following my work/interests, you'll know I'm now raising an alert when petrol prices around Melbourne take a swift hike. This helps my family and friends. I make this information public via Facebook, Twitter and my blog. I provide a link for where I spotted the price increase once I've confirmed the market is now trending up. I've written a web app located at www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au which I use to let others know. You're welcome to use the web app to let your family and friends know as well.

Kelvin Eldridge

Update: 11:57pm
The Caltex/Woolworths price has now increased to 119.9. Whilst I can't confirm the Costco price, I'd guess then it may have also increased.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Bank of Queensland not currently able to accept BPAY for VicRoads

I thought this was interesting today. As an IT person I see lot of systems not work as they should. Today it was the Bank Of Queensland's online service. I went to pay the car registration for VicRoads and received the following pop-up message.

Now the question becomes, is this a Bank of Queensland issue or a VicRoads issue?

To test I signed on using another bank's account and entered the VicRoads' BPay biller code and VicRoads was shown as the biller. This shows the problem is not with VicRoads, but with Bank of Queensland.

If you find yourself in this situation I'd suggest paying using another payment method. In this case I used a credit card and paid on the VicRoads site. At least now you know it isn't you if you see the same error message.

Kelvin Eldridge
Online Connections

Postal vote application form received in the mail

As a heads up, I'd like to remind people if you receive a postal vote application form from a local member or political party, keep in mind it's a technique used to collect your information. Information such as your secret security question and answer is included in the form and that should be a concern if you're not aware of who is seeing or collecting the information. The envelope provided is not for the address of the AEC (Australian Electoral Commission).

Yes it is a postal vote application form, but what I've read in the media is the envelope provided means it doesn't go direct to the Electoral Commission. It goes somewhere else for the information to first be collected by someone other than Electoral Commission and the form is then forwarded on to the Electoral Commission.

If you really want a postal vote application form you know where it has come from, you can visit the AEC site and print your own postal vote application form. (http://www.aec.gov.au/election/pva/files/pva-180316.pdf)

If you do wish to use the form provided by your local member or political party, you can also discard the envelope and use your own envelope. The address for where to return your form is on the reverse of the form. The address is currently Australian Electoral Commission, Reply Paid 9867, [Your capital city], where you enter your capital city. No postage is required if you post from within Australia.

Kelvin Eldridge

Monday, May 09, 2016

7 Eleven fuel app saves $8.05 on petrol.

Recently I created the Petrol Prices Melbourne Alert web app. This is a simple app which allows me to let family and friends know when petrol prices in Melbourne are taking a hike. We now see prices jump 20 to 30 cents a litre, which means since I usually fill up 50 litres each time, a potential saving of up to $10-$15. Really it is about getting the timing right. Miss the price hike and if you're near empty you end up wishing you'd just filled up.

On Friday I noticed the price hike so I filled up my car and let others know. Our second car needed filling up but this time I wasn't in such a hurry. I had a trick up my sleeve. The previous week I locked in 99.9 cents using the 7 Eleven Fuel app. So today we filled up the second car. Pump price was 124.9 so we saved 25 cents per litre saving $8.05.

Of course this is a great saving, but what is the 7 Eleven Fuel app really worth in terms of saving money. This answer isn't quite as simple. First the Shell around the corner with a discount voucher had a price of 122.9, so our saving compared to Shell needs to be reduced by around 64 cents.

Secondly the car still had around 30% left, so we could have run the car for another week without too much problem. I've found petrol prices drop around half to one cent per day during the cycle. In a week the price is likely to be 3.5-7 cents cheaper and that means our saving could be less if we simply waited. Around $1-$2 less.

The bottom line however is even if you reduced the saving by $2-$3 by using a shopping voucher and waiting, we still saved at least $5 and on petrol, that's the pretty good saving.

I've found 7 Eleven isn't the cheapest fuel around. However now with the ability to lock in the fuel price, if you get the timing right, the 7 Eleven fuel app gives you the chance to soften the price hike that occurs about once a month.

Since the price hikes occur roughly once a month in Melbourne, this means by being more aware of the price hikes and using the 7 Eleven fuel app and locking in a price, I can probably save  a few hundred dollars a year on petrol. That's not a bad saving.

I've now developed an approach which enables me to better identify the petrol price hike. I use the Petrol Prices Melbourne web app (www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au) to let family and friends know. I also post a public alert on Facebook and Twitter, so if others want to help their family and friends to know about the petrol price hike they can as well.

Kelvin Eldridge

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Cheapest Petrol Prices Melbourne versus Closest Petrol Station web app now available.

Cheapest Petrol Prices Melbourne versus Closest Petrol Station web app is now available. If you've ever wondered how much you can save (or lose) by driving your car further to a cheaper petrol station versus using the nearest petrol station, this web app will help you.

Kelvin Eldridge