Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Hailstorm in Templestowe.

There's a hailstorm that just passed through Templestowe and the hail stones were huge. About two thirds the size of golf balls. A good time to put the car in the garage.

Take care.

Kelvin Eldridge

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Seniors Card Vic discount offers now being added to Mapz.

Now that I have a Seniors Card I thought I'd start creating a map of the places I've received special discounts or offers. Initially I thought it would be easy, but then comes the frustration. Now you could say just be grateful, and I should be, but I do wish things would be simple. Different businesses of the same franchise group make different offers so you never know what offer you'll get until you ask.

The Seniors Card Vic section of Mapz is now being populated with the places I've received discounts or offers.

Whether it's an extra coffee or a discount, if you have a Victorian Seniors Card it doesn't hurt to ask the question, "do you offer a Seniors Card discount?" The worst they can say is no and sometimes you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Don't forget when shopping for Christmas presents at this time of the year, some shops offer a Seniors Card discount.

Kelvin Eldridge

Monday, December 11, 2017

Petrol prices in Melbourne on the increase. Unleaded rising to 149.9

Today I noticed a number of petrol stations rising their price for unleaded petrol to 149.9 so it looks like it's petrol price hike time again.

What has been really weird over the past week has been price drops of up to 4 cents per day. I've not seen that happen before so felt something very unusual was happening in the petrol market. Secondly, since I've been following the petrol price over the last year the pattern has been fairly consistent. The petrol price drops to around or below the average gate price (wholesale price) and then returns to the peak which is around 25-30 cents higher than the low price.

Usually the drop from the peak to the low price point happens at around half to one cent per day. Basically that means the price drops over three to four weeks. Sometimes longer, sometimes shorter. Quick drops like we've recently seen aren't usual.

Second, the low price point of the average gate price has not been reached or passed. We've still seeing prices around the high 120s. The average gate price is around 124.

I can only guess that as we approach Christmas and the holiday period the petrol companies wanted to drop the price rapidly so the price could be raised back to the peak to get a better return from people going on holidays. Otherwise at the normal rate of the price dropping, those travelling would have had excellent petrol prices. Now that's not going to happen.

There's been one false price hike I've seen where prices for some petrol stations went up early and this still could be the case. However, there's far more this time so it really does look like the price hike is happening.

Time to shop around and fill up those tanks. For those using the 7 Eleven fuel app, watch the prices and lock in the low price in the near future.

Kelvin Eldridge

Thursday, December 07, 2017

The Australian Spelling Test - The Sequel, now available.

For those keen spellers out there, my latest spelling test, The Australian Spelling Test - The Sequel, is now available.

There's 20 words to test your spelling skills. Each word is shown with spelling variations people typed into Word Check to check the spelling, or the meaning of the word. What makes the test tricky is when you see all variations together, it is amazing how you sometimes struggle to remember the correct word even though you've spelt it correctly for years.

You can find the spelling test at http://www.australian-dictionary.com.au/spelling-test-sequel/.

Have fun.

Kelvin Eldridge
The preferred Australian English spelling dictionary.

Google Adsense This month total is currently wrong for Estimated earnings.

Yesterday I noticed the Google Adsense This month total in Estimated earnings, which appears near the top of the Home screen, was wrong. We've now moved on to the next day and the This month total is still wrong.

If I choose the product report for this month I get a different figure than the This month total. Another indicator that it is wrong is the This month total is up over the same period last year by exactly the same amount. For this to be true it would mean I didn't earn anything during this period last year and that's not correct.

I thought I'd share in case others are having the same problem. I expect Google will fix this is due course.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Update: 7 December 2017 @ 11:55 am
This issue fixed itself.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Watch the latest release movies online for free.

Now if watching the latest movies online for free interests you, then this post is for you.

A little while ago a message popped in my browser from Microsoft saying I could join their rewards program. All I have to do is be logged on to my Microsoft account, search using Bing and I'd start to accumulate points. In addition Microsoft has some challenges and rewards which are a bit of fun earning more points.

How it works is I get 3 points for each desktop search up to 90 points a day and 3 points for each mobile search up to 60 points a day. There's also the option to get another 150 points a month by using Microsoft Edge whereby for each hour you've been using Edge you get 5 points. I do most of my searching on my MacBook using Safari and my Android based mobile so I'm unlikely to get the points for using Edge. Really all I have to do is log into my Microsoft account and use Bing for searches. How hard could that be!

The rewards. If you earn over 500 points a month you earn more points, so it's good to get to that level each month. If you do then by building up 2,220 points you can redeem that for a $3 Microsoft Store gift card. Two of these and you can hire any of the latest movies.

There we have it. Free movies.

To make things a bit more fun Microsoft Rewards offers 10 points for an activity which does a search on a particular topic. Who knew what bottle tossing was? You don't have to do these activities, but they're a bit of fun and generate points. What else are you doing whilst travelling to work or passing time? A second activity is a questionnaire where there's three questions and you earn 30 points. It's multiple choice so get it wrong and just click on another option. Too easy.

Finally if you go to the Bing page you'll see there's about a dozen trending news items. This isn't a bad way to keep up with news items that others will be talking about. Click on the item and you get a search result. Often the headline is enough to let you know what's happening and if you want to know more, then you can read on. Each day there's easily 20-30 points for news items.

If all you do is change your default browser from Google to Bing you'll earn points. In time enough points to earn gift vouchers which in time will be enough to watch a movie.

Now to make my life easier I have my own search engine. I've put keywords into the search engine so a single word takes me the sites that interest me, and there's around 300 keywords that are the top keywords Australians use, such as banks, airlines, etc. I've set the page https://www.AdvancedSearch.com.au/SearchBing/ as my default home page and default search in Safari. On the Android I've added to the Home screen an icon for https://www.AdvancedSearch.com.au/SearchBing/mobile/. Whenever I want to search if what I type in isn't one of the keywords, Bing is used. That makes earning points just part of how I normally work. For others, you can simply change your default search engine in your browser to be Bing and that will work just as well.

How is this going for me? It takes me about a month to build up enough points for a movie. I've been doing this for around two months and am just about to earn enough points that will allow me to watch two latest release movies.

Totally free latest movies you watch online just for changing from Google to Bing. Not bad at all.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support. 

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

ASIC renewal email is a scam. That is it's fake.

If you receive an email like the following that appears to be from ASIC please be aware that it is a scam. It's a good fake email.

All but one link is legitimate. The link to the "Renewal letter" is the link that will take you to a malicious site.

I've received a number of these emails and it is hard to see immediately if they're fake. Since ASIC send out reminders via email, and you don't want to miss renewing your business name, there's an added pressure that may trick people. My experience with ASIC is they give no latitude for mistakes which again adds extra pressure.

Don't click on the link. Instead go to the ASIC site and log in directly to your account. Check there if there's anything outstanding. If you're still concerned give them a call.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

How much is an iPhone addiction costing people!

I just read the following posted by a person on the internet.

They've been purchasing the iPhone since 2009. A total of 8 iPhones in 8 years. That's probably well over $6,000-$7,000 in mobile phone purchases and that doesn't even include plan charges.

The media often mentions the avocado generation, but it's the large companies making a killing with their must have marketing tactics. Add ongoing fees and this subtle but continuous drain on people's finances may reduce their long term ability to grow their asset base.

I'm sure this person is very proud of their iPhone collection, but do people really need to buy a new expensive iPhone or equivalent every year. Perhaps not. But of course, if that's what brings joy to your life then ultimately that's your choice.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Bureau of Meteorology short term forecast for Templestowe last night way out.

Last night I decided to go for a walk around 7:30 pm. I'd checked the weather forecast for Templestowe and there was a 70% chance of rain. A look outside and whilst there were some dark clouds in the distance, they weren't close enough to affect my walk.

The Bureau of Meteorology forecast for between 8 pm and 11 pm last night was predicting 90% rain. Again it didn't happen. At 6:30 am this morning the rain did start.

From what I could tell the weather radar was a better indicator of rain. In fact I couldn't help feel all that is really needed is live monitoring stations run by individuals and we could probably have a more accurate picture of what is happening around us. For all the huge sums spent on weather forecasting, the pun I regularly use, "your guess is as good as the weather bureau's", still seems to apply.

Last month I was going to cancel a trip to Sydney because the weather forecast predicted terrible weather. As it turned out it did rain, but only at night. The days were beautiful and it was a great holiday. So glad I went irrespective of what the weather report said.

To be fair the Bureau of Meteorology to provide a range of tools that can be very useful. The weather radar is one of my favourites as it shows the weather approaching. That really does help to see if it's going to rain in the next few hours.

Kelvin Eldridge

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Fake news on the Bureau of Meteorology website.

It really isn't good enough when the Bureau of Meteorology is promoting fake news on their website. It really makes no sense for the Bureau of Meteorology to put itself in this position to damage its reputation.

If the Bureau of Meteorology wants to put ads on their site why don't they just advertise government related news and cut out the middleman. That would saving millions of dollars and keep the money in the government's hands. Then there's no chance of fake news, OK, that probably depends on what you consider to be fake news, but to me it's ads like the one in the image above saying "MYER CLOSING NATIONWIDE".

This is a reminder that even sites we consider to be highly reputable now need to be treated with caution like every other website that takes advertising from sources they have no control over.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Gallon to Liter calculator now live.

My international Gallon to Liter calculator is now available online at www.GallonToLiterCalculator.com.

For those of you who have been following my Australian Dictionary work, you will probably shake your head with my spelling of the word litre. Yes, for the Gallon to Liter calculator I've used the American spelling Liter.

One of the questions writers often ask is which version of English should they use for their material. This time I needed to ask myself the same question. In this case I wrote the Gallon To Liter calculator  for the international market, but primarily the US market. The domain name .com was selected so the site isn't associated with Australia. The variety of English I used for the site was also American.

So whilst the spelling of litre isn't correct for Australia, it is correct for the market the Gallon to Liter calculator is targeted to.

Kelvin Eldridge

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Can you pick the different coloured green square?

I read an interesting article when I was researching the word 'colour'.

Can you pick the different coloured green square?

Whilst there are small colour variations with most of the squares, one square is a different colour of green.

For those interested in the answer and the article you can find it at https://www.businessinsider.com.au/what-is-blue-and-how-do-we-see-color-2015-2

Kelvin Eldridge

Friday, November 17, 2017

Petrol prices in Melbourne starting to rise today to 149.9.

Today I noticed a number of Woolworths Petrol stations have raised their prices to 149.9. This is perhaps the highest price for a long time for unleaded petrol. That means it's time again to watch the prices and start filling up. For those using the 7 Eleven fuel app wait and watch the prices and then lock in the lowest price you can find for the next week.

For those wondering how come the price is so high, it is because the average gate price of petrol has increased above the 120 mark. When prices are restored to the peak the peak price is usually 25-30 cents above the average gate price. There also appears to be a pattern of prices a tenth of a cent below a multiple of five cents eg. 139.9, 144.9, 149.9, etc. With the average gate price at 123.1 today, it makes sense the price would go up to 149.9.

The lowest prices around Melbourne today appear to be in the Springvale/Broadmeadows area if you're lucky enough to be passing through those areas.

Kelvin Eldridge

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Alert - Please verify your business identity to have your account limitation lifted email

I received an email today possibly from PayPal, possibly from a scammer with the subject "Kelvin Eldridge, important information regarding your PayPal account".

Notice how the email subject contains my name, but in addition this email was sent to the correct address which I have set up for PayPal and not used elsewhere. That's unusual for scammers to do. They often don't include the name as they don't know it.

The main message in the body of the email is "Please verify your business identity to have your account limitation lifted email".

Now I think this is a very good scam that could trick people. The reason isn't so much because of the email itself, but because of my recent experience with PayPal.

Back in August I received an email from PayPal asking for information to verify my business identity. This was a legitimate request. As the following paragraph shows this was required by the Australian government.

As part of PayPal's Compliance Program, we request that organisations provide certain information. The verification process is a requirement of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing (AML/CTF) laws in Australia, in accordance with which every financial institution in Australia, including PayPal Pty Limited, has to comply. Please review the following link for more information regarding the AML laws for Business Accounts: https://www.paypal.com/au/webapps/mpp/confirm-your-business.

From August to October I had nothing but trouble trying to complete their request and PayPal's system kept requesting information even though they had everything. I'd received an email on 12 September 2017 stating my account had been returned to normal but continued to received pop-ups on the PayPal site stating it hadn't. A call to PayPal on 17 October 2017 confirmed they had what they needed and the account was back to normal. However I still got notices pop up when using the PayPal system.

Now when you get months of issues with PayPal this leaves the door right open for scammers. They know people have these issues and it will be easy to trick people to click on a link in a scam email. You have after all probably tried everything else.

There's only a single link in the email which gives a hint the email may be a scam. It uses the address epl.paypal-communication.com which doesn't look right. It may be a PayPal subcontractor but there's no way to know. The domain has been registered since 2011. If this were a scammer surely PayPal would have closed them down by now. So there really isn't anything to warn people this may be a scam.

Really frustrating experience with PayPal over months and emails that are potentially very good scams. That's a recipe that could easily trick people. Certainly I thought these were simply PayPal's systems still screwing up and I know what to look for.

I decided to forward the email to PayPal. Again not easy to find out where to send it making things easy for scammers as people tend to be lazy. I received a reply quite quickly but it didn't answer my question as to whether or not the domain name was PayPal's or someone they used. It was one of those typical canned responses where they include a lot of previously prepared information, but nothing to answer your question. Pretty slack and not good service. But they did provide the address phishing@paypal.com.au to forward the suspect email.

A quick canned response came back regarding the phishing submission. It's not clear whether or not they'll respond with useful information. Again this really feels like a waste of time with PayPal. If you submit information regarding a phishing attempt I believe you should at least get a response back letting you know the outcome.

You would think if people who use the PayPal service make the effort to report a potential scam, PayPal would have a mechanism to enable you to know whether or not it was a scam. In addition the domain epl.paypal-communication.com has been used on the 17 Oct 2017 and now on the 14 Nov 2017. Surely you'd think PayPal would take action on domains using their business name it they are not their domain.

Given the first email was received on the 17th of October 2017, around the time I was having trouble of the exact same nature with PayPal, this is an excellent timely scan that could easily trick people.

If you receive emails which appear to be from PayPal NEVER click on a link. Go to your account and see if you have any notifications. PayPal do include links in their legitimate emails, but so do scammers.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

UPDATE: 22 November 2017
There has been no further update from from PayPal to answer my question. Unfortunately this is what I expected would happen. With these extremely large companies I think most of us will feel we're largely on our own.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Melbounre Cup 2017 results - finish order.

I'm not really into horse racing, but at this time of the year many people find themselves wondering where their horse finished in the Melbourne Cup. This information often flashes across the TV screen and is then quite hard to find. Here is the list of horses and the place they finished in this year's Melbourne Cup.

1. Rekindling
2. Johanne's Vermeer
3. Max Dynamite
4. Big Duke
5. Nakeeta
6. Thomas Hobson
7. Tiberian
8. Libran
9 Marmelo
10. Wicklow Brave
11. Red Cardinal
12. Almandin
13. Cismontane
14. Amelie's Star
15. Boom Time
16. Wall Of Fire
17. Single Gaze
18. US Army Ranger
19. Humidor
20. Hartnell
21. Ventura Storm
22. Bondi Beach
23. Gallante

I hope others find this list useful.

Kelvin Eldridge

Friday, November 03, 2017

How to make 20% more interest on your savings.

Recently I asked my bank, the Bank of Queensland, to close off a term deposit early. I also asked them to reconsider the hefty 50% interest penalty, as that way they'd keep the reasonably sized term deposit. Naturally they weren't able to do anything. I find most banks can't really do anything so you need to work out their offers and decide what is best for you.

As a result of the Bank of Queensland's inability to look after their client, I started to get serious about looking around. It really made no sense the Bank of Queensland didn't consider my request as what they gained in the penalty is little compared to what they make. Losing the money meant they'd make nothing. In fact it ended up nearly all of the money parked in the Bank of Queensland could produce better returns elsewhere and that is what happened.

So how do you make 20% more interest on your savings?

You shop around.

Bank of Queensland is offering 2.45% for term deposits for 6 months. Other banks offer around 2.2%. These are term deposit accounts where you can't access your money without penalty until the end of the term.

I've found two online bank accounts which offer access to your money. One offering 2.95% and another offering 2.87%. Bank of Melbourne did offer an introductory honeymoon rate of 3% on a savings account, but that's since dropped to 2.8%. Some of the banks have special conditions (such as deposits each month or using their debit card) but usually it's fairly easy to meet their conditions. The best part is your money is accessible to you at any time and not tied up like term deposits.

Whilst interest rates on savings are pretty terrible at the moment, if you have savings, it really is worth shopping around. An extra 20% in interest is there for the taking and the money is better in your pocket.

A tool I wrote to help me determine whether it was worth shopping around is my Compare Term Deposit Rates calculator which can be found at www.CompareTermDepositRatesCalculator.com.au. The calculator enabled me to enter an amount, term and two rates. By entering two rates I could quickly see the difference the interest rates made. Sometimes when looking at short periods (under a month) it made little difference, but when looking at 3-12 months, the benefit could be quite good and worth the effort. Having an easy to use calculator certainly made it easier for me to make comparisons and then make informed decision on what to do next.

Kelvin Eldridge

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Swan Hill petrol prices observation. Quite a spread on prices.

Last week we spent some time up in Swan Hill. A nice relaxing country town with better weather than Melbourne at this time of the year.

As we drove into town the price of unleaded petrol at BP was 139.9 and the price stayed at 139.9 for the four days we were there. Both the BP and Woolworths Petrol were 139.9 and both are the petrol stations you'd see as you arrive into town.

What was interesting was the price of petrol on the opposite end of town away from Melbourne was initially 129.9 at Shell and Caltex. The price increased around two days later to 132.9 at both Caltex and Shell. That's a saving of between 7-10 cents per litre between the north and south of town.

Quite a few of the country towns we drove through going to, and coming from Swan Hill had prices of 129.9.

Checking the price today, Woolworths Petrol price for unleaded petrol is currently 132.9.

Often when driving in the country and our petrol is getting down, we're very tempted to fill up at the first petrol station we get to. This is a reminder that sometimes it may be worth checking the prices before filling up. You can use the Woolworths Fuel app to check Woolworths petrol prices. Unfortunately, whilst there's other apps you can use, often they aren't accurate. If you do use them be prepared for the worst. That is the price isn't correct. The 7 Eleven Fuel app is also quite accurate, but doesn't really apply in country regions, where there's no 7 Eleven petrol stations.

Kelvin Eldridge

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

BMR Calculator now available.

For those wishing to know their BMR, or Basal Metabolic Rate, the BMR Calculator is now available. You can find the BMR Calculator at www.bmrcalculator.com.au.

The BMR calculation is still part of the BMI Calculator I wrote some time ago. I like to write web apps to provide what people need. If people don't need or want all the BMI information, the BMR Calculator now simply provides the basal metabolic rate information.

Kelvin Eldridge
BMR Calculator

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Petrol prices in Melbourne going up to 142.9 for unleaded.

Last night I noticed the petrol prices around Melbourne were starting to rise with quite a few now being 142.9. Time to fill up those cars. Time to get ready to lock in the price using the 7 Eleven fuel app.

There's still of lot of petrol priced around the 113 mark. Even less with a discount voucher. Around Springvale you can find unleaded petrol for 111.9 and Oakleigh around 111.7.

Prices won't hold for long now and you can expect it will be hard to find a low price by or after the weekend.

Kelvin Eldridge

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Cheaper Melbourne petrol near Lilydale train line

I've mentioned a number of times how people can lock in a cheaper petrol price for later use using the 7 Eleven petrol app. This is great when the price drops suddenly 25-30 cents a litre and you can lock in the low price for another seven days. However another saving that can be made is when petrol prices are dropping. The difference between one area and another can be significant. Sometimes if you can lock in the petrol price from another area without too much effort, you can make additional savings of perhaps 8-10 cents a litre.

At the moment those travelling on the Lilydale train line passing through Croydon can take advantage of the 7 Eleven Petrol app to save around 8-10 cents a litre. The 7 Eleven petrol stations at Croydon Hills, Moorolbank and Chirnside Park are advertising unleaded petrol for 115.9 cents per litre. Many other service stations outside this area are advertising unleaded petrol for around 123-126 cents per litre.

If you've signed up for the 7 Eleven petrol app and you pass near one of these 7 Eleven petrol stations you can lock in the price for use closer to home. At 8-10 cents a litre cheaper than your local area, it means this is usually a good price for the next few days. Even if you have a Coles or Woolworths discount voucher, the 7 Eleven price can still be better than your local servo.

There's really little point driving to these cheaper petrol stations, but if for example you're travelling to work via public transport or driving near these areas, you should be able to lock in the cheaper price. By near this often means you can be 10 km or more away from these 7 Eleven petrol stations. As long as one of these petrol stations is one of the five nearest 7 Eleven petrol stations to your current location, you can lock in the cheaper price.

This week I was able to fill up our two cars and save around $7-$8 for petrol. Not a bad saving for simply taking the time to lock in a cheaper petrol price.

Kelvin Eldridge

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Snapchat Spectacles sample videos. Australia

Picking up a pair of Snapchat Spectacles in Australia isn't currently possible. However, if you have family or friends, or you're travelling to America, then you may be able to pick up a pair.

So far found I've the Snapchat Spectacles are quite good at some things and very poor at others. That isn't meant to be a criticism, it's more about knowing what they're good for an not good for.

First, the novelty of the Snapchat Spectacles when seen by others, became a real conversation starter. It's been a while since I've found people so fascinated by a piece of technology. "You mean it's not just a camera, it can take videos." Once people knew the Snapchat Spectacles could take videos they were really impressed.

I've posted the following three videos I took using the Snapchat Spectacles.

Snapchat Spectacles - P & O Cruise Conflict Islands

Snapchat Spectacles - Cairns Esplanade Lagoon

Snapchat Spectacles - Birdword Kuranda

This isn't meant to be a review, but more of sharing an experience. The Snapchat Spectacles can take 10 second videos. By pressing the button whilst filming you can extend the recording by another one or two 10 second videos. Each video is taken separately, but you can select and export them as a single video. The 10 second length I found to be better than I expected. Often when taking home videos you get that too short video, so the video jumps from scene to scene. The 10 second video gives a good amount of time, but not too long and the result when videos are combined (using a computer) is quite good.

Close up scenes best. If you're thinking you'll get a good picture of things in the distance, probably best to think again. I found the best result was when what I wanted to video was quite close. Perhaps not more than a couple of metres away, but often even closer, as in the bird video. Scenes in the distance just don't seem to capture the feeling of the scene as well.

Memory limitations was a real problem. I was travelling and didn't have access to the internet. A cheap mobile phone with 4GB of memory, but a 32GB memory card. The problem was the Snapchat Spectacles wanted to back up what I was recording and progressively consumed all the memory in mobile phone. I'm talking about multiple gigabytes of memory. The temporary file it was creating swamped the storage making it impossible to use the mobile phone. I learnt if you have limited storage you need to move the files manually to the external storage and then delete them from Snapchat. A time consuming exercise. Resetting the Snapchat Spectacles had to be done at one stage but again, keep in mind you need to have internet access as you need to be able to log on to your Snapchat account. I spent hours of wasted time trying to work around issues with the Snapchat Spectacles relating to storage and how the software worked.

Exporting videos. Certainly not straight forward to get what you want out of the Snapchat application. I've read people saying Snapchat is deliberately designed to make it hard for people to find things, but to me it's just poor design. It takes a lot of effort to work out how to use the software, although that may depend on what you want to do. I really wanted a convenient video recording device, whereas I get a feeling it's really about a device that's built for Snapchat.

One video I didn't share was taking a video whilst driving. The wide field of view (120 degrees) meant more detail of the inside of the car from the drivers perspective and less detail of outside. The detail shown in the car was quite good, but what was shown outside the was much further away. If you want to take what's outside the car in detail, this is probably not the device. As an example I wanted to record a petrol price. Yes you can see the price sign, but the resolution of the Snapchat Spectables at 800x800, meant  that if you zoomed in you lost too much detail to read the price. The detail was quite pixelated.

Overall I found the Snapchat Spectacles to be fun to use. There's videos I took which I would never have taken on a mobile phone. The hands free design of the Snapchat Spectables makes it possible to take videos conveniently when required. Yes there's plenty of limitations, frustration with the software, but I'm OK with those limitations, as long as I use the Snapchat Spectacles for what I feel they're best suited.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

PayPal - Action Required. Please verify your business identity.

I don't know if others are experiencing this issue, but PayPal has become a pain in the neck.

According to the PayPal site, action is required to verify business identity. I went through this process a couple of months ago and it was a real pain. Eventually I submitted feedback letting them know their system wasn't working properly. Whilst they never contacted me it appeared they fixed everything and the account was back to normal.

Today the message started to appear again.

The problem is all of the information is entered. The last piece of information required is my name. I entered my name and I get the error message which appears to be more of a software error than a typical error message. Now sometimes when I go to log in or out I get the above Action Required and sometimes I don't. There's no notifications so there's no way to find the section to verify.

Whilst I can't be sure, this looks more like PayPal's system may be playing up. However if you do get this message it may be better to give them a call, if you've entered all the information but still get an error as I did.

I've lost quite a bit of faith in PayPal as a result of this. I've been dealing with them for possibly over a decade and whilst there's been a few annoying issues, this is probably the most annoying. OK. That's probably because I've forgotten how annoying the past issues were at the time. As I've lost confidence that money won't be tied up, I've kept only a minimal amount in PayPal. That's probably a good idea as a general rule.

Kelvin Eldridge

Update: 17 October 2017
Today another email and the Please Verify message appearing on the account. In addition I tried to again enter my name as the director. The following message appears.
A call to PayPal confirmed they indeed had my name and my account was OK. They would forward the issue on to their technical team. This confirmed the issue is with their system.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Booking.com doesn't show all the available rooms.

I was looking at Booking.com to book some accommodation in a Victorian country town. According to Booking.com all the accommodation is booked. This simply isn't true.

I checked one motel and there were plenty of days left, but it would have meant moving rooms during the stay. Not ideal, but still plenty of rooms available. I then checked the hotel I was originally looking at that had become booked. The hotel had a room for all the days I wanted. I booked the hotel even though Booking.com stated the last room sold out 2 days ago.

The trick here is not to just use Booking.com. Double check the hotels' actual sites.

In the past I've found a cheaper price by checking a hotel's site. In another instance one accommodation provider said they use Booking.com to keep their name out there.

There's lots of techniques accommodation providers will use to help promote their business and get our business. It isn't always Booking.com's issue. But just because Booking.com doesn't say there's any rooms available, doesn't mean there's actually no rooms available. Check each of the accommodation providers' own websites. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Kelvin Eldridge

Friday, September 29, 2017

How much electricity does a Google Home device use?

One technique to save money on electricity is to turn off all those stand-by devices. TVs, media players, computers, monitors, etc., all consume electricity even when in stand-by and that can add up to a hundred dollars or more a year. However, many devices need to remain permanently on to be useful. Google Home is one such device.

A Google Home devices sits there waiting for you to issue a command. It's always on. I decided to measure the wattage being used by the device and it works out to be around 2.9 watts.

To work out the cost I plug the 2.9 watts into my Energy Cost Calculator, along with the fact that it is running 24 hours a day. The running cost of the Google Home device is around $8.34 a year, based on the electricity provider I use and set as the default in the Energy Cost Calculator. Your electricity costs may vary.

Keep in mind these devices are really only useful on a room-by-room basis, so there's a good chance you'll be encouraged to buy more. Perhaps one in each room. Each device adds to your electricity cost.

Now of course $8.34 a year isn't that much and if Google Home gives you considerable enjoyment and usefulness, then that's one of the many choices you have to make in life.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Four big banks drop ATM fees. Watch out for the trap you can easily fall for.

On the weekend Commonwealth Bank announced they were dropping ATM fees for cash withdrawals for customers from other banks. For some people that could be a good saving, or at least it makes withdrawing cash easier and more convenient.

The other three major banks made similar announcements on Sunday if I recall correctly, which I thought was interesting as it wasn't a bank day. However, the first thing to note is it wasn't clear when the other banks would start. It looks like some time in October.

Now the trap is that people may think this means any ATM, but this isn't correct. Even BankWest, which is a subsidiary or the Commonwealth Bank is not dropping the ATM fees. Reportedly neither are the ATMs in 7/11 or Redi ATMs.

It is therefore important that you don't just think all ATMs are now fee free for cash withdrawals. First Commbank's, which was immediate, then the other banks, NAB, Westpac and ANZ, sometime in the near future. Stick with those brands of ATMs and you should be OK to get cash withdrawals without paying a fee. Of course if in doubt, stick with ATMs from your own bank.

If you're travelling overseas ATM fees still apply.

Kelvin Eldridge

Friday, September 22, 2017

Compare Term Deposit Rates Calculator now available.

Lately I've been looking at term deposits and with the current rates available, it's not that exciting. When you look at term deposits you're naturally going to compare term deposit rates and the return with the different rates. Often this requires two calculations and noting down each amount and then calculating the difference. Do this a few times and you'll understand why I decided to write the Compare Term Deposit Rates Calculator.

With interest rates being so low you'd think it's not worth worrying about them. However, it's because they're so low that what would be seen normally as not a big difference, can make a large difference in your return.

For example I have some money in a web savings account earning 1.45% at call. Shopping around for a better interest and I can get 3% on a 3 month bonus savings account, or 2.95% at call on an online account subject to meeting certain conditions. Either of these will nearly double the interest earned.

But is it really worth the time and effort chasing a better interest rate. Depending on how much you have and the interest difference, it may or may not be. The only way to know is to do the calculations. You'll be surprised that often it really is worth moving the money around.

Keep in mind when you move money around you may lose a day of interest, and if you need a cheque, there could be a charge. Even a transfer from one bank to another will generally cost a fee. Then there's your time. The banks will sit you down and it does take far more time than you expect to open and close accounts. There is a time and cost involved in moving money around.

Overall however I'm very pleased I made the effort. I tend to stick with the same bank, which I consider to offer good rates, but when I made the move to move the money around I'll be considerably better off with other banks. It's also a good time to ask your bank if they can do better. It's at these times you'll find that as a customer you don't really matter very much and all the marketing hype about how much you're worth to them is just marketing. Even though it may cost a bank perhaps a few hundred to keep you, they're generally happy to lose thousands of dollars income for themselves than to make a real effort for customers. The lesson really is you have to look after your own interests.

Whilst I've called the new calculator Compare Term Deposit Rates Calculator, you can really use the calculator with any type of interest bearing account. I was able to compare term deposit rates and also compare interest rates for other savings accounts.

I hope you find the Compare Term Deposit Rates Calculator to be useful.

Kelvin Eldridge
Compare Term Deposit Rates Calculator

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Seniors card discount at KFC.

If you have a Seniors card KFC offer a 10% discount. So far I've tested a number of KFC stores (Eltham, Eastland, Thomstown) and KFC has been consistent and easy to deal with when using the Seniors card.

One thing to be aware of, is KFC have an offer where if you provide feedback, they'll provide a free regular chips and drink on your next purchase which is a saving of around $3. If you use the Seniors card to get a discount you don't get the offer to complete the survey. Depending on how much you spend, it may be better value to do the survey.

Kelvin Eldridge

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Melbourne petrol prices starting to hike to 142.9.

I noticed tonight quite a few petrol stations around Melbourne have started to hike their prices to 142.9. It looks like it's that time again when petrol prices hike back up again.

If you're taken advantage of the 7  Eleven fuel app watch the prices around you and lock in a good price for the next week.

Kelvin Eldridge

Thursday, September 14, 2017

ASIC Messaging Service Renewal - Scam email

Today I received an email which appeared to come from ASIC for the renewal of my business name. At first glance it looked legitimate. It had my name in the To field and I do have registered business names which ASIC sends reminders.

I then thought is this a scam email? I checked the headers in the source of the email and the email was from America. That pretty well meant it was a scam. Next I hovered the mouse over the links in the email and they weren't for ASIC. This now meant this was a definite scam.

A short while later I received an email using the domain for a second registered business name. I don't use that email address with ASIC so this too was a scam.

It really is very easy to click on a link from an official looking email but you really shouldn't. In a case like this go to the ASIC site and log on. Don't use the links.

Secondly no matter how tired you feel, pause for a moment. A quick click and you could be in world of pain. Some malicious sites can infect your computer and if that happens it can cost you dearly to remove malware, and if it's encryption malware, you may not be able to recover.

If in doubt set the email aside until later when you have time and patience to check it out. Using a desktop computer and email client hover over the link and see if all links are legitimate. If you're able to, check the IP address the email was sent from. That's usually an excellent indicator of scams.

Scammers are getting better with the presentation of their scams. The emails are often so good because they're a direct copy or variation of a real email and these can easily trick anyone.

Kelvin Eldridge
Online Connections
IT support.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Dodo Power and Gas increasing Electricity and Gas charges.

Today I received an email from Dodo Power and Gas letting me know their electricity and gas prices are going up. I decided to do a quick analysis.


Daily Supply Charge - increasing 15%
Anytime usage - 15%


Daily Supply Charge - 20%
Usage - 15%

These increases are actually quite staggering.

We've all heard issues with energy supply in the media recently. Gas being contracted off for overseas sales and electricity infrastructure closing down. Even so the Daily Supply Charge for gas going up 20% when I don't recall reading much about infrastructure changes, doesn't quite make sense.

One of the problems with Dodo putting up their prices now when the rest of the industry puts their prices up around January, is they look bad for a while until the rest put their prices up. That means you have to wait until you see what happens with the other supplies in the new year.

Not good news at all. We're quite frugal with our energy usage now so this increase will be difficult if not impossible to negate in some way with further energy reduction. However it never hurts to look for ways to reduce usage.

I'm a believer that as the prices increase, that one day an alternative will become available because it becomes cost effective. For example as the daily supply charge increases for gas it may mean it becomes viable to consider only using electricity. Perhaps the gas to electricity conversion becomes more cost effective and thus we could get rid of the electricity suppliers. Perhaps with solar, better batteries we may be to get rid of one supplier. Certainly lower energy cost appliances (e.g. lights) and computers have helped reduce energy use, so we really never know what's around the corner.

If you're paying large amounts on electricity bills working what your appliances are costing you so you can make informed decisions is something we did that saved us thousands. I wrote the Energy Cost Calculator (www.justlocal.com.au/clients/energy-cost/) to help me with calculations. Perhaps it might help others.

Kelvin Eldridge

Update: 14 September 2017
As a result of this nudge I decided to go searching for better prices. As a result I believe I've identified a supplier which would be $60 a year better for electricity and around $240 better for gas. That's a potential saving of around $300 per year. I thought I had shopped around and had good prices, reduced electricity usage, but the one area I've been less thorough, is with gas and this shows with the potential saving. This is a reminder that you should shop around.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Can you thaw and then refreeze meat?

Today I read an article on whether or not you can thaw and refreeze meat which appeared on the new.com.au site.


The problem is the first myth in the article didn't quite make sense and didn't really answer the question.

Myth 1: If you thaw meat, you can’t refreeze it.

FALSE. According to the CSIRO, it’s perfectly safe to refreeze defrosted meat or chicken or any frozen food as long as it was defrosted in a fridge running at five degrees C or below. The only thing you may compromise is a bit of taste, as defrosted meat can become slightly watery.

If there’s anything to watch, it’s the pre-freezer ‘steam’. If you cook defrosted meat and refreeze it into a container while hot, you’ll create condensation — which is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. So wait for the steam to subside before packaging.

I thought I'd then look for the source of the material from the CSIRO. The same article on the CSIRO made sense.


Myth 1: if you’ve defrosted frozen meat or chicken you can’t refreeze it

From a safety point of view, it is fine to refreeze defrosted meat or chicken or any frozen food as long as it was defrosted in a fridge running at 5°C or below. Some quality may be lost by defrosting then refreezing foods as the cells break down a little and the food can become slightly watery.

Another option is to cook the defrosted food and then divide into small portions and refreeze once it has stopped steaming. Steam in a closed container leads to condensation, which can result in pools of water forming. This, combined with the nutrients in the food, creates the perfect environment for microbial growth. So it’s always best to wait about 30 minutes before refrigerating or freezing hot food.

Plan ahead so food can be defrosted in the fridge, especially with large items such as a frozen turkey or roll of meat. If left on the bench, the external surface could be at room temperature and micro-organisms could be growing rapidly while the centre of the piece is still frozen!

This is an example of how you have to be careful when material is edited and republished on other sites. The news.com.au site didn't make sense as they had removed the paragraph starting with "Another option". The news.com.au article went straight from refreezing thawed meat to talking about steam being a problem. Nothing about cooking and thus the disconnected meant it didn't make sense and wasn't advice I'd follow. The CSIRO article was complete, made sense and gives me confidence I can follow the advice.

So yes, according to the CSIRO you can thaw and refreeze meat, as long as you follow their guidance.

Kelvin Eldridge

Friday, September 08, 2017

McDonald's monopoly Australia rare pieces 2017.

Just for fun!

It's that time when McDonald's runs their Monopoly competition. In previous years I've posted the rare pieces as they've become known. If you'd like to help, post the McDonald's monopoly pieces you have in a comment below. That way we can determine the rare pieces together.

NOTE: This is for McDonald's monopoly Australia 2017.

Rare pieces.

Park Lane
Euston Road
Marlborough Street
Fenchurch St Station
Fleet Street
Regent Street
Old Kent Road

Information has been collected from purchases and internet research. I've not personally confirmed all rare pieces, however the above list is most likely correct.

Remember, post a comment of all your pieces to help identify the rare pieces.

Thanks and enjoy.

Kelvin Eldridge

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Seniors discount at Red Rooster Doncaster.

I thought I'd start recording where Seniors Card holders can get discount. Yes there's a online site that has a directory, but I've found the business I use aren't listed.

I noticed the Red Rooster on the corner of Manningham Road and High Street (known as Red Rooster Doncaster on the Red Rooster site) has a sign on their drive-through window that they offer a seniors discount. I asked what it was and they said it was 10% off.

As usual you can expect this may not apply with other discounts, but getting 10% your Red Rooster order is a nice bonus for seniors.

Kelvin Eldridge

PS. Whilst the Red Rooster according to Red Rooster's site is known as Doncaster, this is a weird section of land in terms of suburb boundaries and the actual location is in Templestowe Lower.

Update: 8 October 2017
Red Rooster is offering a $5 Hungry for Value deal. The Seniors card did not apply.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Get your free Coke no sugar.

On TV tonight there was an ad for Coke no sugar. You can get a free sample by visiting the following page.


On the site you can request a free sample and they'll send you a link for the voucher. I haven't used the voucher but from what I read in the terms and conditions you have 12 minutes in which to show the voucher to the cashier before the voucher expires.


Kelvin Eldridge

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

How many days to Christmas?

I've updated the Days Between Dates web app to have three shortcut links to three popular dates. The dates are:

New Year's Day
Days since the start of the year

By clicking on each of these links you'll get the number of days.

Kelvin Eldridge
Days Between Dates

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Victorian Stamp Duty Calculator updated with new stamp duty rates for First Home Buyers

From the 1st of July 2017 First Home Buyers now have new discounted stamp duty rates when buying their first home. I contacted the State Revenue Office and they were kind enough to provide the reference to the new formula for the discounted stamp duty.

The Victorian Stamp Duty Calculator has now been updated with the new formula, correctly providing the stamp duty for First Home Buyers purchasing a property up to $750,000.

Kelvin Eldridge

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Dominos 10,001 free pizzas.

Dominos are currently having a special promotion giving away 10,001 free pizzas. The promotion started at 4 pm on Wednesday the 9th of August.

As expected the promotion is proving very popular with the message "This promotion is currently serving the maximum allowed number of concurrent users. Please check back in a minute."

For desktop users you can find the promotion at https://www.facebook.com/DominosAustralia/app/174961479209942/.

For mobile users you may wish to try the link http://bit.ly/2vNQpVv.

Good luck.

Kelvin Eldridge

PS. You do need a Facebook account. I got through but since I don't have a Facebook account I can't connect to the coupon app. Such is life. If it helps I was using the mobile phone with the link above. I just kept pulling the page down to refresh and got through.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Days Between Dates calculator now available.

I decided to create a Days Between Dates calculator for those times you need to work out the number of days between two dates.

For example:

How long until Christmas?
How long until our holiday?
How long until my birthday?

There's lots of times we'd like to know how many days there are between two dates.

One example is when we wish to lose weight by a certain date. Using the BMI Calculator you can work out roughly how much weight you can lose per day. Then you can work out how many days between dates. Multiply the number of days by the daily weight loss and you can work out how much weight you'll be able to lose by the given date. For convenience I've provided a link to the Days Between Dates from the BMI/BMR Calculator.

Kelvin Eldridge
Days Between Dates calculator

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Applying for a Victorian Seniors Card online

I'm getting close to that point in my life when it's time to apply for a Seniors Card. I've heard a number of people who have turned 60 wonder when they'll get their Seniors Card.

The Seniors Card isn't something that will happen automatically. You have to apply for the Seniors Card. I've read there's forms available at the Post Office, but my preference is to use the online form which is available at https://dhhsseniorsonline.secure.force.com/NewApplication.

You can submit your application three weeks before you turn 60 enabling you to receive your Seniors Card soon after you turn 60.

Now whilst having a Seniors Card isn't a biggie, there are discounts available to Seniors Card holders and it's worth becoming aware of some of the discounts. For example KFC offer 10% discount as do The Good Guys. There's free travel on public transport which isn't that great if your other half isn't also a senior, but it least it's offered.

The savings aren't huge but over the year could add up to a nice little amount.

Kelvin Eldridge

Update: I received the Seniors card and a free Myki card (which I assume to be a seniors Myki card) today the 18th of August. That's pretty quick and more than a week before I turn 60.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Free Bike Share Melbourne has evolved.

I've now added a bike sharing system to the Free Bike Share Melbourne site. The system will enable my family and friends to find, book, borrow and return bikes, making bike sharing much easier.

The new option is the Bikes option found on the menu at https://www.freebikesharemelbourne.com.au. This section is password protected for registered users only.

My desire is to test the approach and if it is found to assist my family and friends, to then look for ways I can make the same facility available to others.

Kelvin Eldridge
Free Bike Share Melbourne

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Aldi 60"/152cm Ultra HD 4K LCD TV.

Can't justify the cost of a large screen TV, perhaps the 60" TV from Aldi is worth checking out.

OK. I'm not really a big TV fan, or more specifically a big fan of TV, but like most people, do spend time watching it. We've had a smallish 32" TV in the lounge for some time and really it looks too small.

The Aldi range of TVs are very reasonably priced so I thought why not give it a go. I picked up the Aldi 60"/152cm Ultra HD 4K LED LCD TVs on Saturday. If you're thinking about one of these TVs it is big, so make sure you have a car/van that can carry the TV. We have a small people mover and it took up all the back boot and passenger space. The good thing is whilst it's best to have two people to lift it, it is surprisingly light for its size, at about 15kg.

Set up of the TV was pretty easy. Installed the two legs by screwing in three screws in each. I'm always a bit concerned with screws cross threading and one was a bit of a concern, but the rest screwed in fine. Turn the TV on an followed the prompts and it was up and going in a few minutes. The picture quality for my needs is very good. It also fits our large lounge room and doesn't look out of place. I like the thin black frame which means the TV doesn't look like a piece of furniture.

So far really, the only thing I think could be better is the EPG guide. The EPG doesn't show a summary of what's on across all the channels. You have to step through each channel to see what's on the channel. Not a really big issue as I can always check an online TV guide. The EPG does show what's showing currently and later for the channel, so that's good if you want to see what's up next.

Keep in mind this is not a smart TV. I'm not interested in a smart TV as the computing devices, Apple TV and Google Chrome provide all the smarts I need.

In terms of ports, it has all the ports I need. One port that is missing that I've seen on other TVs, is output of video/audio using RCA sockets, but since I've never used them in the past, I don't see that as a problem for the future. There's four HDMI inputs and two USB inputs. One HDMI for the Google Chrome device I have which uses one USB port for power and a second port for a USB device. Again sufficient for my needs.

At $799 the Aldi 60"/152cm Ultra HD 4K LCD TV is a pleasant addition to our entertainment needs. No real problems so far and I'm very happy with the purchase.

Kelvin Eldridge

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Coles receipts are tax invoices, but not a valid tax invoice when Flybuy points are used.

A while ago I created the Australian GST Calculator to make it easier to determine GST, or add GST. Rounding can be an issue with GST.

Today however, I noticed a very unusual situation that I'd never seen, or thought about before. According to the Coles site, Coles receipts, which are clearly marked at tax invoices, also display a disclaimer they are not valid tax invoices, if Flybuy points are used. Coles provides a GST Calculator specifically for calculating the actual GST when you use Flybuy points.


Looking at the examples provided, it appears you need to apportion the Flybuy point saving in proportionally to both the tax example and taxed items. In the first example on the link provided the total receipt is for $79.99, the Flybuys discount is $10, the GST on the receipt is $6.40 and the tax free item is $9.55.

The $10 as a proportion of $79.99 is 0.125. Therefore the GST needs to be reduced by 0.125 or $0.80, giving the actual GST as $5.60.

In the case of the second receipt for $154.34, GST $7.74, Flybuy points were used to pay the entire amount. The GST in this case has to be reduced by 100% or 1 * $7.74, meaning no GST has been paid. Put another way, Flybuys is a discount and needs to be applied equally to tax free items and taxed items. Thus the amount of GST paid for the taxed items is reduced.

In this case, the Australian GST Calculator won't assist in this more complex situation. It may be worthwhile when purchasing business related items to either pay entirely using Flybuy points, or not to use Flybuy points at all.

Kelvin Eldridge

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Melbourne petrol prices are now in the price hike phase.

Last night I noticed the Preston Woolworths Petrol station had increased its price to 132.9. This morning I noticed a second in South Preston has increased their price.

Today driving around there were many petrol stations that had restored their prices to 132.9.

It's definitely time to fill up your petrol tanks and soon lock in the 7 Eleven petrol price for the coming week.

The area where you can find the lowest prices appears to be around the Clayton/Springvale/Moorabin area. There's still plenty of areas you can find unleaded petrol under the 110 price, but don't delay, another day or two and the petrol price will have restored to the higher price.

Kelvin Eldridge

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Optus offers extra 50GB on it's $70 a month 50GB SIM only data plan.

I found this interesting. Optus recently offered an extra 50GB on their $70 a month 50GB SIM only data plan, taking the monthly allowance to 100GB. The plan continues at 100GB a month unless you cancel the plan. The offer expired on the 2nd of July 2017.

Today, the 6th of July, I saw this ad appear on the News.com.au site.

 Yes (no pun intended), it is the same offer that had just expired, but now we have a new offer (that's the same) which expires on 6/8/17. The offer like the previous, ends on a Sunday.

Now I do wonder what will happen after the 6th of August. Perhaps another similar offer.

Seeing this type of ad is good as it shows us the technique of using a limited time offer to encourage people to buy now. Once you see such offers only to see the same offer again after the expiry date, it makes you realise you're just being manipulated by the advertising. You're then in a better position to make better decisions, rather than making decisions where they've used psychological tricks to make you buy.

Overall the offer is a good offer. I suspect not too far into the future we'll see 100GB at this price or better, so mobile data hopefully becomes better value over time.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Making an offer on real estate/property.

I think everyone is annoyed the real estate industry regularly advertises properties for sale with a price range and the sale price is nowhere in the range. The reserve price is far above the advertised price range.

The explanation I was given for this type of price advertising by an agent decades ago, is the pool of buyers is like a pyramid. At the actual price wanted there is only a limited number of buyers. However as you go down in price the pool of potential buyers in the market increases. If you can get the interest of a larger pool of buyers, it may be possible to encourage some of those buyers to pay more.

What this means for most buyers is they waste valuable time and resources looking at property that may never have been in their price range.

Recent changes in the law to discourage under quoting (advertised prices lower than the price actually wanted) means there's now a better way to make an offer on real estate/property.

Always make your offer to the agent in writing (this also means email). If the offer is then rejected by the vendor and you get a response in writing (request a written response), the agent can no longer keep advertising below the price that was rejected. That means the advertised price has to be adjusted resulting in a more realistic advertised price.

If the agent continues to advertise the real estate/property below the price of a written offer/written rejection, then the agent can be reported to ASIC for review.

Keep in mind vendors do not have to consider any offer and may wish only to go to auction. It is also conceivable the agent may try to respond with the rejection verbally so it is not in writing, or not respond at all. There may be many ways for the agent to continue to advertise a price lower than the vendor will accept.

At least now by making a written offer and requiring a written response, there's a slim possibility advertised prices may adjust making it easier for buyers to only consider real estate/property within their budget, saving them considerable time and effort.

Kelvin Eldridge

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

ASIC late payment fees due to ASIC sending reminder late.

To me it is rather disturbing how ASIC is acting. ASIC are issuing late payment notices that are received well after the date the fee has to be paid, resulting in an even higher excessive fee being charged.

ASIC send out very early notices, months before the ASIC fee is required. In this case I fully accept I misplaced the notice and thus should pay the late payment fee. However, the notice I received from ASIC to indicate the yearly fee had not been paid and thus a $76 late payment fee was being charged, did not come out in a timely manner.

ASIC invoice issue date 24 Jan 17
ASIC due by date 24 Mar 17

ASIC invoice issue date 27 Mar 17 with additional $76 late fee
Not stated due date. Pay immediately.
Received and paid on the 1 May 17.

If this amount isn't paid within 28 days an additional late payment fee of $240 applies. Invoice was received and paid on 01 May 17.

Overdue notice dated 25 May 2017 for a further late fee of $240.
Paid on 31/5/2017.

As stated above I have no issue of paying the initial late payment fee as I was in error. However, sending out the reminder to be received after the time required to be paid, means you automatically end up being hit with an additional $240 late payment fee. My incompetence in paying the ASIC fee on time, is only exceeded by ASIC to get late payment notices out in a timely manner.

If you're in this situation, I'd suggest it is simply a waste of time applying for a fee waiver. In my case it was rejected.

Kelvin Eldridge

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Are airlines really using tricks in their advertising to get you to pay more?

I was reading the following article about supermarkets using surge pricing as Uber uses. I'm definitely not a fan of the idea, but I suspect in time it will come. In the end if it boils down to making more money, that tends to be the way of business.


One section of the article which mentioned techniques used by airlines caught my attention. To quote a section of the article:

Hotels and airlines had been using an e-pricing system on the internet for years, Dr Coker said.
“They use little tricks, they know when you’ve been looking and gone away and when you come back. Some of them can adjust the pricing based on how often you’ve been looking,” he said.
“You’ll find when you go back the pricing is higher because it wants you to hurry up and buy it.”

Some time ago I was looking for a airline ticket for my daughter. She was about the book the ticket. I said wait a minute whilst I check another site. The other site wasn't as good. When she then went to book the price had increased quite a bit.

More recently I was looking for some accommodation on a major booking site. I did quite a bit of research and found rooms and prices. When I returned to book the price for the room had increased significantly and the free breakfast had also gone. If this hotel is using the techniques mentioned it may be worth them noting I would have booked there, but instead booked a different hotel.

I don't know if either of these were just coincidences where seat on the airlines had been taken, rooms in the hotel had been taken, or examples of how we are being manipulated by online sites. But it does mean we need to be watchful of such activity and even take into account how we search the internet.

We are now being tracked individually on the internet, but not all systems are as thorough. There may be techniques you can use to check you're not being hit with these techniques, or to minimise being affected by the techniques. For example:

  • Use one computer and internet service provider to do your research. When you're ready to book use a completely different computer and internet service provide. E.g. use your mobile data and fixed broadband which are most likely different internet service providers.
  • Clear the cache and history on your computer, particularly for the browser.
  • Use the incognito feature of your browser.
  • Perhaps use the Opera browser which can use a VPN or a VPN service.
  • Use different browsers.
  • Make sure you have logged off all services such as email and social media. Being logged into services makes it easy to track your activities.
  • Perhaps even do your research at the local library or computer store. The local Apple store has plenty of computers.

If you see any unusual behaviour of pricing techniques let others know they're occurring. By sharing the information we get some insight into how we may being tricked into parting with more money than we need to.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support

Myki card expired with a balance on it. Get your money back.

OK. I figure this will happen to others. You get on a bus and your Myki card has expired. There's money on it but you can't use it. Not happy Jan. The only option at that point is to purchase another Myki card from the driver at a cost of $6 ($3 for concession) plus some credit. I'd say around $10 in total.

This will also be a problem for those catching trams. It's a nuisance at a train station but easily solved, as long as it's a larger station where they sell Myki cards.

Once the Myki card expires, which it does after four years, that's it for the card. If there's money on the Myki card don't throw it out. You can get the balance transferred to a new card and the new Myki card doesn't cost anything. Take your old card to the nearest large train station and they should be able to do it for you.

I just did this with four cards and recovered nearly $30. Not bad for the effort involved.

Kelvin Eldridge

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Free Bike Share Melbourne site now live.

Old bikes sitting around the home doing nothing? Why not share them with family and friends?

A while ago I decided rather than have bikes sitting in the shed, which I'd most likely eventually throw out, perhaps I could put the bikes to better use by sharing them.

I've decided to share the information I gained as I fixed up my bikes for family and friends. Perhaps others may benefit from what I've learnt. I've also added a web app so those sharing a person's bike, can let them know the location where they've left the bike.

If there's interest in my approach I'm happy to hear suggestions. Some of those suggestions may end up being added to the site to help everyone.

The Free Bike Share Melbourne site can be found at https://www.FreeBikeShareMelbourne.com.au.

Kelvin Eldridge

Victorian Stamp Duty calculator reflects July 2017 change.

At this stage I can't find the actual formulas used from the 1st of July for Victorian stamp duty on the transfer of property, which makes it hard for people to estimate how much stamp duty they may be up for after the 1st of July.

I decided to use the indicative table provided by the Victorian government, The assumption I've made is within each dollar range the saving is linear.

I've now updated the Victorian Stamp Duty Calculator to provide an estimate of the stamp duty and fees on the purchase of a property. In addition I've added a handy summary to provide an estimate of deposit + stamp duty + transfer fees.

You can find the Victorian Stamp Duty Calculator at www.VictorianStampDutyCalculator.com.au.

Kelvin Eldridge

Friday, June 09, 2017

Google Adsense Error 500. That's an error.

When trying to access Google Adsense Google returns error 500. That's an error. There was an error. Please try again later. That's all we know.
The 500 error has been occurring since yesterday. It doesn't matter it I use Safari or Chrome on a MacBook Air, or Chrome on Windows 10, the error still appears.

To get around this issue you can use the Google Adsense app on your mobile phone. You can still see you Adsense stats and there's no error.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT Support

Update: 12 June 2017
Checked the Google Adsense forum shows other people are experiencing the same problem. The following link can be used to check your balance from a desktop or notebook computer.

Update: 14 June 2017
A number of people were experiencing the same issue and had posted this on the Google Adsense Help forum. I added my issue as well in case knowing others were experiencing the same issue may help confirm the issue. Don't know if it helped. Google were aware of the issue. The issue was resolved within a couple of hours of my posting, however I think this was just a coincidence and nothing to do with my post.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Your AdSense Publisher Policy Violation Report

I received an email with the subject "Your AdSense Publisher Policy Violation Report" which at first was a bit concerning. The report stated:

In the last 24 hours

New violations were detected. As a result, ad serving has been restricted or disabled on pages where these violations of the AdSense Program Policies were found.

For anyone using Adsense to generate income this type of report is a concern. I visited my adsense account to find someone had visit one of my sites using a proxy server at my-addr.org.

I checked my site and it was still serving ads. Things didn't make sense.

I checked the raw site logs and it appears someone with an IP address based in France visited my site. Based on the time involved (around three minutes) and their queries (information entered into the form) it looks like it may have been a real person. They were using Firefox as their browser.

Google Adsense reported six violations, which equates to one violation per each page the person visited. Google Adsense also reported it was a malware violation.

My best guess is the person's computer is infected with malware and when they visit a page, in the background the malware is effectively clicking on ads.

All of this is outside of my control and it would be a concern if Google Adsense suspended sites based on this. However, in this case Google Adsense appears to have suspended the pages using the proxy site address and not the actual site. That makes sense. At least they've not suspended my actual site.

In the back of my mind I always have this very unsettling feeling that Google will terminate my Adsense account for something that happens outside of my control. The lack of being able to contact Google directly in the past when their systems incorrectly disabled my blogs due to a technical issue, showed me how exposed I can be.

At least for the moment Google adsense continues to work and I don't have a problem. Even though I'd received the email for a violation and my Adsense account contains violation alerts. Google Adsense has apparently suspended pages, but they're not actually my pages and thus have no affect on me.

I share this story in the hope it helps to explain what happened to me and that might help someone else.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Where Did I Park My Car now has sharing using SMS for Android and iPhone.

Where Did I Park My Car was originally written to help people to make a map link to where they've parked their car. However, Where Did I Park My Car can be used any time you want to create a link with your location either for yourself, or to share with family and friends.

I have to admit I'm an email person and I share things using email. However, the next generation tends to use SMS more than email. For that reason I've added the email to share the map link for your location using SMS. Simply use the link for Android, or the link for iPhones. Text messaging will open with the message already formatted. Make any changes to the message and then send to one or more people.

Kelvin Eldridge
Where Did I Park My Car

Properties being passed in reported as sold at Auction. Is this misleading.

Out of interest I've attended three auctions in recent times. Each of the auctions were passed in. After the auction the price is further negotiated and the buyer offers more to close the deal. The auction results on Realestate.com.au report these as sold at auction.

To me these have not been sold at auction, but sold after the auction. Stating they've been sold at auction makes it appear the auction provided a result, but it didn't. The negotiation after the auction provided the result.

Is this a new strategy to squeeze and extra $10-$15K out of potential buyers?

Why don't buyers just walk away. They've already most likely bid more than the property is worth. But they are probably so committed at this stage, what's $10-$15K more. However if they stood their ground would the agent want to miss out on the sale? Would the owner want to walk away from the sale for the sake of $10-$15K. That's very unlikely.

I don't think any bidder at an auction would throw in a higher bid against themselves, yet that's what they seem to be doing.

Are you prepared to walk away at an auction, or would you cave?

Is this the new norm? Pass in auction to then squeeze out that little bit more.

How many auctions are being reported as successful in realestate.com.au when in fact the property in my mind has really been sold after auction? Or is the negotiation phase after the auctions still considered part of the auction?

Kelvin Eldridge

Friday, May 26, 2017

Free Qantas Frequent Flyer membership.

One of my contacts is flying soon so I suggested they sign up for the Qantas Frequent Flyer program. If they end up flying Qantas they may get some points. In the past Qantas has provided free membership, although on their site they do charge $89.50. I decided to search the internet.

It appears if you use this link (https://www.qantaspoints.com/join-now?code=FAMILYFREE) you'll reach a form which will enable you to sign up to Qantas Frequent Flyer for free. As soon as I get someone to test this, if it works I'll update this post and let others know.

From what I've read the free offer is available until December 2017.

Kelvin Eldridge

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Optus IMAP email settings.

One of the tasks a client needed recently was a netbook set up so he could use Thunderbird as the email client. They were using Optus as their ISP.

Since they were using multiple devices, the obvious solution was to use IMAP if possible. Using IMAP means all devices see the same emails. With POP3 each device downloads emails and it can get a bit messy deleting emails as the same email needs to be deleted on each device. I prefer to set up email using SSL with the password being encrypted. This provides better security when using third party access points such as when travelling.

A quick check on the Optus site and the email settings didn't mention SSL, so I decided to check the internet. As usual there's a lot of misinformation with sites providing values for SSL for use with Optus. I tested the SSL port settings found on the internet crowd support sites and they did not work with Optus.

The Optus help does state that port 110 is used for IMAP/POP3 for incoming emails and port 25 for SMTP for sending emails. The server's address is mail.optusnet.com.au. This works, but there is no security, as in encryption of passwords.

If you're connecting directly to the Optus service using their fixed or mobile broadband this shouldn't be a problem. However, if you're travelling and using a third party access point to connect to your email, this is a real concern. Whilst travelling and using third party access points, it is perhaps best to use webmail, which will give you better security. Alternately think about using a service such as Gmail which provides better security for email clients.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Blood Alcohol Calculator now available for when consumed multiple types of alcoholic drinks.

Recently I released the Standard Drink Calculator which enables people to calculate how many grams of alcohol they've consumed. The one limitation is the Standard Drink Calculator is only for a single type of drink.

Now I've released the Blood Alcohol Calculator which enables people to enter in up to six different types of drinks and the number of each drink. This is good for those situations where drinks flow from one type to another such as at a dinner, or some other function. It's not unusual for people to mix  a champagne, white or red wine, beer, or spirits. Now the Blood Alcohol Calculator enables people to determine their blood alcohol content more easily.

For times when a single type of drink is being consumed visit www.StandardDrinkCalculator.com.au, and for times when multiple types of drinks are being consumed visit www.BloodAlcoholCalculator.com.au.

Kelvin Eldridge