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

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

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

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 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 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