Thursday, November 21, 2019

Medicare Near Me?

Ever asked the question, "where's the Medicare near me?" I have and I'm sure many others have as well.

A few years ago you could find a Medicare office at far more locations than you can today. I seem to recall Medicare offices could be found in the local shopping centres. However, a few years ago that all seemed to change and now if we need to find a Medicare office, there's none where they used to be.

From what I can tell the Medicare offices were merged with other government offices. For example we now find our local Medicare office is located at the Centrelink office.

Since it was confusing for me I decided to create a web app based on the government's provided data dated the 9th of October 2019, and use the mapping software I've created, to provide a convenient map of the Medicare office locations near where a person is located.

If you need to find your nearest Medicare office then give Medicare Near Me a go. You can also go to the web site www.MedicareNearMe.com.au.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.MedicareNearMe.com.au

Friday, November 15, 2019

Petrol prices in Melbourne are on the rise to 174.9 cents per litre for unleaded.

Late Wednesday night I noticed the first signed of petrol prices starting to hike. The price hike will take the price of petrol to 174.9.

For the past couple of years when the petrol price hiked it would consistently jump between 25-30 above the average gate price (think wholesale price), but now for the last few months the price jump is closer to the 40 cent mark. I'm quite surprised the media hasn't caught on and nothing is being said from the ACCC. The average gate price on Wednesday was 135.5 cents per litre so a hike to 174.9 is what would be expected based on recent price hikes.

At the moment prices around Melbourne can go as low as 127.9 at Woolworths Caltex in Patterson Lakes, less with a discount voucher. There's plenty of places in the low 130's. Woolworths tends to be better value with a discount value than Coles Express, but sometimes Coles Express can surprise you.

It's time to keep an eye on petrol prices and fill up before the petrol price cycle peaks. Also don't forget to lock using the 7 Eleven Fuel app to give yourself an extra week of lower priced fuel.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au

Monday, November 11, 2019

Videos for Speed Camera Locations site now listed on a separate page.

As I've been adding videos to the Speed Camera Locations site I've found a few ways to help let people know a video has been added for a particular location. For example, the red light camera / speed camera icon for a location with a video available has the lens coloured red.

You can also find on the detail page for a red light camera / speed camera a link to the video.

I kept thinking however, it might also be handy to have a list of locations where a video is available. As the number of videos available grows that list could also grow. To achieve this I've now added a Videos page to the Speed Camera Locations site.

https://www.speedcameralocations.com.au/videos/

I hope others find this useful.

Kelvin Eldridge
Speed Camera Locations
www.speedcameralocations.com.au

Thursday, November 07, 2019

New red light cameras / speed cameras on Rosanna Road and Darebin Road / Banyule Road Heidelberg

Recently I've been updating the Speed Camera Locations site with more recent government data covering the 2017-2018 period. Previously the site covered 2014-2015 period. In addition previously the cameras were averaged when there were two or more cameras covering a section of road or intersection. Now if there's a camera covering say the left lanes and another covering the right lanes, the camera locations are separate. In addition for red light cameras instead of using the camera location, the location is being updated to be the stop line and the middle of the lanes covered.

I'd also recently noticed four upcoming (or pre-commissioned) camera locations. These are camera locations that may flash but tickets are not yet being issued. They will be in the near future. Two of the cameras were located on Rosanna Road and Darebin Street Heidelberg. One for northbound traffic and one for southbound traffic.

By pure chance I was driving along Rosanna Road, Heidelberg and saw the new cameras as well as videoing them using the dashcam. Not only were there two new cameras at the intersection of Rosanna Road and Darebin Street, but there were also two new cameras at Rosanna Road and Banyule Road, Heidelberg.


The new cameras have a modern design that I've not seen before. One person on the internet described them as spaceship looking. What I felt was odd was not only was there the usual arrangement of the camera and separate flash, but facing the car on the other side of the intersection was another pole and device. At first I thought could this be taking a front on picture. However checking the site for the group company site that provides the cameras (Sensys Gatso Australia) their demonstration video makes me think the additional camera is a radar which is used to locate the position of the car instead of the in-road induction loops. That means the road didn't need to be cut to lay loops into the road. In time I'll check to see if my hunch is right.

For those interested in more information, the contracts for the work for the cameras was worth around $900,000. That's about $225,000 per camera. In addition there's an interesting letter published on Facebook I found which I thought I'd share. You can see the letter by clicking on the pictures.

Videos of all four cameras can be viewed using the links provided in the detail page for each camera (click on the icon) on the Speed Camera Locations site.

NOTE: What will catch people out is there also appears to be a speed limit change to 40km/h coming to Rosanna Road, Heidelberg between Banksia Street in the south to Brown Street in the north according to the VicRoads site.



The combination of the speed camera and the lower speed limit is one that in others location raises a lot of revenue and will probably do the same at Rosanna Road and Darebin Street, Heidelberg.

Probably a common mistake people make is thinking they are in the intersection if the front of the car is over the stop line. They aren't. There's an imaginary line which goes from the kerb of the road to the other side of the intersection. You need to be over that line to be in the intersection. That means fully over the stop line and the pedestrian lines. For those turning and waiting for pedestrians, there's even a greater chance of getting booked. If you check the northern approach to Darebin Street the stop line has a huge angle and probably two cars can be over the stop line, yet still not in the intersection. Combine that with slowing down to turn and there's going to be a lot of cars being booked. Perhaps the new technology may make it fairer to those who think they're in the intersection when they're over the stop line. Only time will tell.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.SpeedCameraLocations.com.au

Update: 13/11/2019
My earlier thought these cameras might be the new laser based, not requiring induction loops in the road was wrong. I checked the road and the road has induction loops placed before and after the stop line. The additional camera as you exist the intersection may be a camera and flash unit to take a picture of the driver. In time no doubt people will find out.


Monday, November 04, 2019

CityLink speed camera locations added to Speed Camera Locations.

I've been updating Speed Camera Locations to correspond with Victoria's data for fines, which details in some cases the individual lanes. The CityLink speed cameras have data for each lane, but identifying the actual location was more difficult since the location is underground.

Google maps is good for above ground and Google Street View shows you the view underground, but given the poor light, seeing where the camera is located wasn't possible. However, fixed speed cameras generally work using sensors in the ground. It took a while, but if you know what you're looking for, you can find the sensors and thus the location. The following screen capture from Google Street View shows the in-ground sensors for one set of CityLink cameras.


I hope you find this as interesting as I did.

Kelvin Eldridge
Speed Camera Locations

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

List of locations for videos added to the Speed Camera Locations site.

The Speed Camera Locations site www.SpeedCameraLocations.com.au is now being updated to provide a link to videos for the following locations. As time and opportunity permits it is hope to produce a video for each location.

Canterbury Road and Mitcham Road, Vermont
Cemetery Road West And Royal Parade, Parkville
Elgar Road And Arnold Street, Box Hill
Fitzroy Street And Lakeside Drive, St Kilda
Flinders Street And William Street, Melbourne
High Street And Verene Avenue, Templestowe Lower
Hoddle Street And Victoria Street, Abbotsford
Lonsdale Street And Webster Street, Dandenong
Manningham Road And Macedon Road, Templestowe Lower
Maroondah Highway and Mount Dandenong Road, Ringwood
Maroondah Highway and Ringwood Bypass, Ringwood
Maroondah Highway And Springvale Road, Nunawading
Middleborough Road And Eastern Freeway, Box Hill North
Peninsula Link Freeway, Frankston, Northbound, Skye Road BridgeP
Peninsula Link Freeway, Moorooduc, Northbound, Eramosa Road West Bridge
Peninsula Link Freeway, Moorooduc, Northbound, Loders Road Bridge
Ringwood Street And Maroondah Highway, Ringwood
Royal Parade And Gatehouse Street, Parkville
Springvale Road And Lower Dandenong Road, Braeside
Station Street And Thames Street, Box Hill
Stud Road And Ferntree Gully Road, Scoresby
Stud Road And Heatherton Road, Dandenong
Victoria Street And Doncaster Road, Doncaster
Warrigal Road And Batesford Road, Chadstone
Whitehorse Road And Elgar Road, Box Hill
Whitehorse Road And Surrey Road, Blackburn
Williamsons Road And Doncaster Road, Doncaster

Previously I announced by clicking on a speed camera, a detail page will be displayed and on that page is a direct link to the location using Google Street View. This is great for looking around the location. Now by adding videos people can also see from a driver's perspective what they see as they approach and leave an intersection, which has a red light camera/speed camera.

Kelvin Eldridge
Speed Camera Locations
www.SpeedCameraLocations

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Free Victorian Seniors Card off-peak travel vouchers changing from 2020.

I received my free Victorian Seniors Card off-peak travel vouchers this year but this time there was a noticed included. From 2020 you need to register. This is pretty easy to do and only takes a few minutes.

The site to go to is www.ptv.vic.gov.au/vouchers.

I've blogged about this because when I talk to others they're often not aware of their seniors' perks and this page will enable me to quickly provide the link.

I hope you find the link handy.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au

Red light camera / speed camera at Boronia Road And Wantirna Road, Wantirna

The Speed Camera Locations site www.SpeedCameraLocations.com.au is now being updated to provide a link to a video for the location. It will take me a long time to produce a video for each location. The following is a link for:

Boronia Road And Wantirna Road, Wantirna

Previously I announced by clicking on a speed camera, a detail page will be displayed and on that page is a direct link to the location using Google Street View. This is great for looking around the location. Now by adding videos people can also see from a driver's perspective what they see as they approach and leave an intersection, which has a red light camera/speed camera.

Kelvin Eldridge
Speed Camera Locations
www.SpeedCameraLocations

Woolworths Qantas points or Woolworths Rewards. Which is better?

Woolworths recently changed the conversion rate of Woolworths Rewards point to one Qantas point for two Woolworths Rewards points. So which is better value? Is it better to convert the Woolworths Rewards points to money off your shop, or is it better value to convert the points to Qantas points?

The value of Woolworths Rewards points is easy to calculate. For 2,000 Woolworths Rewards points you get $10 off your shopping.

If you wanted to you could even double the value of Woolworths Rewards points by only buying products that are half price meaning 2,000 Rewards point could potentially get you $20 worth of groceries.

How much is 1,000 Qantas points worth?

Working out how much Qantas points is worth is much harder. The fares for flights can vary considerably. You may even use Qantas points for upgrades or buying products from the Qantas store.

Let's check the value of buying products from the Qantas store.

Logging onto the Qantas store the first item shown was the Tefal UltraGlide Steam Iron for 14,780 points.

A search of Google gives the following prices. Keep in mind the online sites will probably charge postage.

ClearanceOutlet $58.90
Catch.com.au $64.48
Billy Guyatts $62
The Goodguys $69.95

Worst case then the iron is worth around $70. At 14,780 points that gives us 1,000 Qantas points is worth around $4.74 or using Billy Guyatts price of $62, the value of 1,000 Qantas points is $4.19.

Selecting a second item I picked a Fitbit Charge 3. No particular reason except it's a product I recognise. The number of Qantas points required is 36,020.

Officeworks $168.00
Myer $179.00
Bing Lee Electronics $168.00

Using the above the value of Qantas points is from $4.66 to $4.96.

This gives us a guide that buying a product from the Qantas stores isn't good value as 1,000 points is worth $4 to $5. Better to spend it on groceries at $10 or better if spent on specials.

What about Qantas flights?

From the first page we see the following and then I checked the points for a long distance flight.

Melbourne to Sydney for 6,400 points plus $32.37.
Melbourne to Perth for 14,400 points plus $27.42.
Melbourne to London (Heathrow) for  55,200 points plus $199.

NOTE: Return flight taxes and charges are quite a bit higher at 212GBP (approx $398AUD).

The real problem with flights is there's such a range of prices and if you're paying with money you'll probably pick a cheaper flight, but with points the price doesn't change. Changing your day and luggage also can change prices. Qantas isn't the only airline so you have choice of cheaper options.

Let's take a flight over the next couple of days to each location.

Melbourne to Sydney Thursday 24/10/19
Cheapest Jetstar - $131 @ 5:35am
A more reasonable time plus luggage could cost $200-$300.

Melbourne to Perth
Cheapest Qantas - $350 @ 7:10am
A more reasonable time plus luggage could cost $400-$500.

Melbourne to London
Cheapest Virgin - $697 @ 8:00am
Other reasonable prices could range $800-$1,000.
However one way flights from London to Melbourne start at $1,333.

To make things easy lets take the cheapest flight option.

Melbourne to Sydney Jetstar @ $131. That means a 1,000 Qantas points is worth $15.41. That's good as it's better than the $10 for Woolworths Rewards. It only gets better as the prices for flights go up.

Melbourne to Perth Qantas @ $350. That means a 1,000 Qantas points is worth $22.40. Again better than Woolworths Rewards points.

Melbourne to London Virgin at $697. That means a 1,000 Qantas points is worth $9.02. For the return flight 1,000 Qantas points is worth $16.93. Given these are the lowest prices, using Qantas points for long distance flights is looking better than Woolworths Rewards.

Overall using Qantas points for flights is looking better than using Woolworths Rewards points for groceries. I have to admit that was something I didn't expect especially as you have to pay money as well as use points using Qantas Classic Rewards.

This doesn't take into account whether or not you can get a flight sometime around when you want to fly.

The other thing to consider is how long it will take you to build up points. We purchase around $100-$150 a week in groceries. That's $5,000-$7,500 a year. With one point for each dollar spent that's potentially 5,000-7,500 Woolworths Rewards points a year or 2,500 to 3,750 Qantas points. Not even a one way trip to Sydney. That's pretty sad. About two years to get a one way trip to Sydney. Perhaps best to stick with buying half price specials, at least I'd get that reward up to four times a year.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au


Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Speed Camera Locations site updated to link to Google Street View for red light camera and speed camera locations

Let's face it, most of us make minor mistakes on the road and the ones we notice the most is when we get fined. Ouch. It really hurts to have to pay and often we don't even know what we've done wrong.

I've been caught out once with an unusual school zone that ended at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon. Luckily I was travelling at 45 km/h or otherwise it could have been a very costly mistake. A mistake that costs others millions each year at the same intersection.

Another costly and common mistake are turn arrows on higher speed roads. Few people realise the timing on the turn arrows is much shorter than if going straight ahead and people are required to brake harder on many turn arrows when lights start to change, than on lanes going straight ahead. One can't help feel this is revenue raising as all it takes is to make the amber turn light last as long as the amber light for going straight ahead lane and many people would not get booked. I read once for every half a second the amber is reduced increases the number of bookings by 50%. Since amber turn arrows can be around 1.5 seconds shorter than straight through lanes and people are travelling much slower, it's very easy to get booked when turning. The real irony is when people brake because the light changes to amber they actually increase their risk of getting booked significantly as they now take longer to enter the intersection. Of course many people push the boundaries when turning as well.

When you've received a red light camera or speeding camera fine it's often handy to be able to easily check the location and Google Street View enables you to closely examine the location. Sometimes checking the location can help you see what you may have done wrong. Knowing what you've done wrong and why, can help make sure you don't make the same mistake again.

The Speed Camera Locations site shows the majority of red light cameras and speed cameras around Victoria. When you click on a camera icon you'll go to the details screen which provides further information. I've now added Google Street View as an option so you can easily view the intersection.

It should be noted the location is an average where there's a couple of red light/speed cameras in the same section of road, such as lanes going straight ahead covered by one camera and lanes turning covered by another camera. This was done to provide a better indication of the total value of fines for all cameras in a section of road. In the future I hope to update the Speed Camera Locations site with the individual camera locations. This will help in proving a better location and provide options for further development of the site.

I hope you find the update of including Google Street View handy.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.SpeedCameraLocations.com.au

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Sorrento to Queenscliff ferry High Tea online booking system error shows cost of failing online system.

A person contacted me letting me know they couldn't book the Sorrento to Queenscliff ferry High Tea for Sunday at 2pm. Perhaps it was their debit card so I decided to use my credit card in case that was the problem.

I also received the following error message.


That got me thinking, at $330 for six people that's a lot of business lost as a result of their computer system. I decided to let them know their system was failing using their online form. That also failed with a reCAPTCHA error message even though the reCAPTCHA feature (where you enter letters or numbers to show you're human) wasn't displaying.

It makes you wonder just how much business is lost as a result of failing or faulty systems.

Apart from the spelling error in the error message, it does make me wonder if perhaps they shouldn't provide a phone number in the error message people can call if their system isn't working. That might help retain some business.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au
IT support

Update: 22/10/2019
Calls to the telephone number to the book the high tea were also not answered on the Sunday morning. Had a good day at Arthurs Seat instead. Great views and good to try the new chairlift.

Petrol prices Melbourne petrol price hike.

Last Thursday I noticed the petrol prices around Melbourne had started to increase to the higher price of 173.9 for unleaded fuel. As of today around 40% of petrol stations have increased their prices.

The average gate price (think wholesale) was 136.6 cents per litre. The price hike is in the expected range of 35-40 cents above the average gate price. The lowest prices around Melbourne dropped quite a bit below the 136.6 down to under the 130 mark.

There's still around 60% of petrol stations yet to have increased their petrol prices.

I noticed a number of petrol stations around Bayswater that have prices under the 130 mark and since I'll be going down the Eastern Freeway I'm hoping to be able to lock in a better price using the 7/11 Fuel app. The good thing about the 7/11 Fuel app is you can lock in a better price than your local area whilst travelling and then use that lower price in around a week's time when prices are much higher. In my case I've only used around a quarter of a tank so filling up in a week's time would be a good time for me. The 7/11 prices around Bayswater are better than the local prices around my, area even with the discount vouchers.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Aldi Onix dashcam a waste of money.

A dashcam can be very handy. When there's an event that's happened you can go back and review the event. However, that doesn't work with the Aldi Onix dashcam because when it deletes older files to make more room, it doesn't delete the oldest first as expected. In fact you'll find there doesn't appear to be any logic to which files are deleted.

The following is a list of files on the SD card in the Aldi dashcam today.

I was interested in the recordings for the 23rd of September 2019. As you can see there's only one recording for a single journey. On that day there were three journeys with perhaps more recordings as recordings are for a time slice of five minutes and not the entire single journey.

Just to make sure the dashcam is recording all of the trip, I checked today's journeys and all of the journeys were recorded, so there's no reason to feel the dashcam isn't recording the journeys.

For the previous day not all the journeys had been recorded. Some at the beginning of the day had been deleted.

I think we'd all expect older recordings would be deleted first to make room for new recordings, but this isn't happening with the Aldi Onix dashcam.

A second issue (although not as important) is the packaging for the Aldi Onix dashcam has a clear night-time picture on the box. The Aldi Onyx dashcam has no ability to take night-time pictures. A night time feature isn't mentioned on the box but the packaging could mislead people to think the dashcam can work at night. It does work at night, but you don't get anything you could use.



A third issue which is very important is the quality of the images. A car in a shopping centre damaged the side of my car when it left. I had the number plate details of the car caught on the dashcam, but the quality was so poor number plate was not able to be read.

In hindsight, at the time of buying I felt the Aldi Onix dashcam was good value. However, if the dashcam doesn't provide what you need when it's needed, then really it isn't very good.

I'd suggest giving the Aldi Onix dashcam a miss.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au



Friday, September 27, 2019

Compound interest calculator shows the impact of tax and the Medicare Levy on savings.

We're always told with investments, you can't beat the effect of compound interest. With compound interest you earn interest on your interest. The calculators you find online can all show the benefit of compound interest, but what they don't show, is just how much impact taxes can have on the end result. Even the government's ASIC Moneysmart site doesn't include the option to enter a tax rate.
The Compound Interest Calculator shows quite clearly the impact of taxes on your savings and depending in the interest rate, can make quite a significant difference to the end savings.
For example:

Initial amount: $10,000
Interest rate: 5%
Number of years: 10

End result: $16,470
Interest: $6,470

Now let's enter 32.5% and Medicare Levy of 2%.

End result: $13,904
Interest: $3,904

The impact on your savings due to taxes is very significant giving just 60% of the interest that could otherwise be made if the government didn't take taxes each year. If taxes were taken out at the end of the period, the interest earned would be $4,237, or about 8.5% more.

For those interested extend the time out to 30 years and you can really see the difference taxes make.
Generally compound interest calculators aren't particularly useful in the real world because they don't take into account the government needs to collect taxes. The Compound Interest Calculator provides a better estimate of the return on your investment that ends up in your pocket.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.CompoundInterestCalculator.com.au
Compound Interest Calculator

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Petrol Price Alert - Petrol prices have unexpectedly gone even higher at 171.9 cents per litre for unleaded.

Recently I wrote a post to let people know petrol prices were on the increase. However, I have to say I've never seen this before, even as prices at those first stations to lift prices started to drop, we've seen prices go even higher. The petrol price hike looked like it was going to go to 167.9 but now a number of petrol stations have put prices up to 171.9.

The average gate price(think wholesale) today was 130.7 so this price has also increased 1.2 cents. That doesn't explain the additional 4 cent jump. As a consumer you can only think this is taking advantage of the hype recently in the media with the Saudi Arabia oil plant being bombed.

What will happen in the future is hard to say but the media is conditioning people to expect higher prices and since we're expecting it, it will probably happen.

There's still time to shop around so it's hard to tell if prices from now will go up fairly quickly or whether some will hold back. Certainly paying 171.9 when you can currently pay 126.5-129.9 elsewhere doesn't make much sense.

Now I'm not an economist but what I find interesting is higher petrol prices have an impact on inflation. I read a 10 cent increase in petrol gives a 0.6% increase in inflation. Since we're seeing that an more recently with the petrol price hikes, higher than expected inflation appears to reduce the chances of an interest rate drop. It is amazing how all these things seem connected. For the consumer all we see is higher prices in one area.

Keep a close eye on petrol prices over the coming days. Don't forget to lock in using the 7 Eleven Fuel App to keep prices low for another week.

Kelvin Eldridge
Petrol Prices Melbourne

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Petrol Price Alert - Prices around Melbourne have started to increase to 167.9 but dropped to 166.9.

A couple of days ago I noticed a couple of petrol stations around Melbourne had increased their prices to 167.9. Today some of those petrol stations have dropped their price to 166.9.

The current average gate price (think wholesale) of unleaded petrol is 129.5 so we're seeing a price increase of 35-40 cents. This price hike range has now occurred for the last few price hikes which is higher than the 25-30 cent price hike seen over the past few years.

The media has also reported the drone bombing of Saudi Arabia's biggest oil plant and it's been suggested prices may go up as a result. Prices were already on their way up before the bombing occurred so this may add additional pressure to oil prices.

How quickly petrol prices will rise is hard to tell as we approach the next school holiday period, since it's still around two weeks away.

Time to keep on eye on petrol prices over the coming week to two weeks.

Kelvin Eldridge
Petrol Prices Melbourne
www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au

Friday, September 13, 2019

Is your variable rate home loan with mortgage offset account costing you more than a fixed rate home loan?

I suspect more of us when we get a home loan look at the fixed rate and variable rate and make a pretty quick decision for one or the other. Variable even though it currently has a higher rate but have an offset account to save money, or fixed because it saves money now.

Of course the big one is which way are interest rates going to go in the near future (1-2 years) and if they're going to go up, fixing the rate is a good idea, but if they're going to go down, variable is a good idea or is it?

When I wrote the Fixed vs Variable loans calculator I recently released, the first version of the calculator only went as far as showing how much money was needed in the offset account to recover the difference of the lower fixed interest rate. That in itself required understanding the financial calculations and formulas, even going back to basics to work out the formula.

However the problem is this solution was incomplete. It assumes the money in the mortgage offset account isn't otherwise generating any interest. That's not realistic. If you have a reasonable sum of money it should be in an account earning interest. In addition each year you need to pay tax on that interest.

So the question really is, how much do you need in the mortgage offset account to not only cover the fixed and variable interest rate difference, but also how much to cover any interest the money would otherwise earn in an interest bearing account, whilst also taking into account tax and the Medicare Levy?

The Fixed vs Variable loans calculator has now been updated to handle the complete picture. By entering the savings interest rate, tax and Medicare Levy, the calculator provides how much is required in the mortgage offset account taking in all those factors.

I have to admit even I wasn't expecting the amount to be as large as it is. If people don't take this into account many people will be paying more for their loan than even they think they are. In a way this is deceptive on the part of the banks. Banks aren't informing people how much they really need in their mortgage offset accounts.

This reminds me of the days when people were buying items just to get rewards points, where the cost of the items often meant they were wasting money since the points had such low value.

I certainly had no idea of how much money really is needed in the mortgage offset account to break even. Now at least people can be better informed by using the calculator.

The only remaining issue is whether interest rates will go up or down. A small change in the rates can have a huge impact on the break-even point.

I hope others find the Fixed vs Variable loans calculator to be useful. If you have a home loan you really should plug in your figures and see if there's a better option for you.

Kelvin Eldridge
Fixed vs Variable loans calculator


Monday, September 09, 2019

Fixed vs Variable Home Loan - How much is needed in a mortgage offset account to break even?

Currently the fixed interest rate on home loans is lower than the variable interest rate. It makes sense then to take out the fixed interest rate doesn't it?

Well the answer isn't quite that simple.

When you first take out the loan it may make sense. People won't have much in the way of savings. However it really depends on how much people have left in savings. Variable rate loans often include a nice feature called a mortgage offset account. When you put money into the mortgage offset account the interest on your mortgage is calculated on the balance of the mortgage less the amount of money in the offset account. The best part is it's tax free. If you put the same money in an interest bearing account you'd get taxed on any interest earned every year plus you have to pay the Medicare Levy. Not so with a mortgage offset account.

So the answer to this question really is how much money do you need in your mortgage offset account to break even. This isn't a simple calculation so I decided to write the Fixed vs Variable Loans calculator to provide the answer.

It may sound strange, but if you have some savings, the variable interest rate loan may be the better option even thought the rate is higher. Give the calculator a go and see what is best for you.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.FixedvsVariableLoans.com.au 

Thursday, September 05, 2019

Centrelink PDF upload error - Unexpected error happend. Please try again later. Error code - undefined

If you're trying to upload a PDF document to Centrelink and receive the error message: "Unexpected error happend. Please try again later. Error code - undefined", the following may help.

This type of error has been occurring for years. Not sure why, but it can be frustrating when you're trying to upload a document. If the document is a single page document that can be viewed on a computer screen the following tip may help.

To get around the "Unexpected error..." you can try to convert your PDF file to an image file. The image file can then be uploaded and this has worked.

Convert the PDF document into a PNG graphic file as follows.

Open the PDF document either using your browser or Acrobat PDF Reader. Other PDF readers may also work.

Enlarge the document to full-screen mode. That is you can only see the document and it takes up the entire screen. You may also wish to rotate the document so the document takes up more of the screen and the information is larger. For example if you have an A4 document rotating the document may give a better result.

Press PrtSc to perform a print screen (this captures an image of the screen into the clipboard)

Open Microsoft Paint

Paste the captured image into Paint (use the Paste option or Control+V)

Save the image as a PNG file

Now you can upload the file to Centrelink.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au
IT support

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Pia's Survivor challenge. What really happened.

I read the following article about Pia on the Survivor challenge and how she may have grab the bar with both hands before the end of the challenge meaning she would have been disqualified.

Luckily for Pia it appears no one at the time realised what she had done. The production company indicated there was a micro second when Pia grabbed the bar with two hands and Luke let go. However this really isn't what happened at all.

The good thing about the video in the following article on News.com is you can grab the slider and drag the video backwards and forwards.

https://www.news.com.au/entertainment/tv/reality-tv/australian-survivor/australian-survivor-viewers-fume-over-pias-controversial-challenge-win/news-story/866f2df3296e84c5d0bb77d3b327adc5

What actually happened is Simon lets go and starts sliding. He is out of the challenge. Pia then grabs the bar with both hands whilst Luke continues to hold on. We watch Simon slide off the equipment and into the water, then the camera returns to Luke and Pia. We can clearly see Pia holding with both hands and Luke holding on with one hand. Luke then lets go and Pia is declared the winner.


Pia was not struggling and I suspect that was because of her light weight. She most likely could have easily continued and won. In this case however she breached the rules and should have been disqualified. Luck was on her side and her breach wasn't noticed.

13s - Simon lets go of bar
14s - Pia holds on to bar
15s - Luke lets go of bar

For those into Survivor and wanting to know what happened, hopefully this answers the question as to what happened.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au

Friday, August 30, 2019

Nearest train station, nearest Vline train station, nearest tram stop moving to Mapz.

After reviewing the Nearest Train Station site (which contains nearest Vline train stations and nearest tram stop) I''ve decided to migrate the Nearest Station site into the Mapz site. By making train, Vline and Tram stop locations available under the Mapz site this makes the sites easier to find for users. It also makes the Vline and Tram information more obvious.

You can find each of the services at:

Nearest Train Station
Nearest Vline Train Station
Nearest Tram Stop

Alternatively you can visit Mapz and select the services from the list of options.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.Mapz.com.au

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Car running cost calculator and cost to run per kilometre over the first 10 years.

The Car Running Cost Calculator has been really good in helping me get a handle on using the car versus options such as using public transport. By clicking on the example button in the calculator the actual costs over 10.38 years are provided. By adjusting these figures others can also get a handle on how much their car is costing them per kilometre.

Now one thing came to mind and that was, what if people sell a car sooner. How does that affect their cost per kilometre?

Whilst not scientific, the first thing I needed was an estimate of how much a car drops in value from the day you purchase it. One site gave a figure of 24% in the first year and then 6% each year after that. I thought that was a good figure as it roughly corresponds to what my car was worth after 10 years.

I took the figures my example data provided and then divided the number of kilometres by 10.38 to give my yearly travel distance of 13,627 km per year. I left all the figures for each year the same with the only change being the residual value of my car. I plugged this information into a spreadsheet and obtained two interesting figures.

The first was the effect of the high depreciation in the first year and then the straight line 6% drop in value each year after that. In years 14 and 15 the car would go negative so I entered a notional value of $500 which I consider the car would then be worth. Maybe more, maybe less, but at least I have something to work with. This figure isn't about getting rid of the car at an earlier year, but shows me the cost per kilometre assuming I keep the car for a long time and there's not major unexpected costs.

Year 1: 88 cents per kilometre
Years 2-13: 42 cents per kilometre
Year 14: 33 cents per kilometre
Year 15: 27 cents per kilometre

What is good about these results is you can quickly see after the first year, my car is costing me roughly 42 cents per kilometre. It should be noted I didn't finance the car and used savings to purchase the car. That meant I did lose some interest on the money that I haven't factored in. Over the 10 years I'd estimate this to be around 2-3 cents per kilometre.

Let's now look at what I was really after. What is the cost per kilometre and how is it affected by disposing of the car earlier.

Year 1: $2.22 / km
Year 2: $2.06 / km
Year 3: $1.91 / km
Year 4: $1.76 / km
Year 5: $1.60 / km
Year 6: $1.44 / km
Year 7: $1.29 / km
Year 8: $1.14 / km
Year 9: 98 cents / km
Year 10: 83 cents / km
Year 11:  68 cents / km
Year 12: 52 cents / km
Year: 13: 37 cents / km
Year 14: 30 cents / km
Year 15: 30 cents / km

When you look at these figures you really can't help but be amazed at how much per kilometre it costs if you turn over your car regularly.

A few factors to consider when comparing your costs to mine are that my car was more expensive than the average car at around $35,000. Being a small people mover (possibly heavier) it means my cost of fuel may also be higher. I also drive only around 14,000 km a year which is under the average. Those who drive a lot bring their cost per kilometre down quicker. Basically by driving more you spread your fixed costs (registration, insurance and the cost of the car) over more kilometres each year.

For example a lower cost car costing around $25,000 and using say 80% of the petrol and driving twice as far a year would almost halve the cost per kilometre if the car was kept over a long period of time. In terms of disposal the cost per kilometre would be around 89 cents per kilometre in the first year dropping by 6 cents per kilometre per year after that.

I hope others find this information and the Car Running Cost Calculator useful for them.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.CarRunningCostCalculator.com.au

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Petrol Price Alert Melbourne - Unleaded petrol increasing to 165.9.

Last Thursday saw the first signs of the current petrol price hike. Over a few days only a small number of petrol stations increased their prices so I felt it best not to make the announcement at that point in time as the price increase was happening slowly. Letting people know too early means they can jump the gun and get petrol too early in the price hike part of the cycle.

The petrol price hike is now well under way and the price is hiking to around 165.9 for unleaded petrol.

In the last couple of months we've seen the petrol price hike increase prices by over 35 cents per litre above the gate price (think average wholesale) which is currently 129.0. For the last couple of years the price hike has been between 25-30 cents so we're now consistently seeing  higher margins on petrol  which is a concern, but not much we can do about it. Except of course, avoid the high prices as best you can.

We can expect the current price hike will result in most of the service stations increasing their prices by late this week, to early next week.

My tank is literally on empty so I've timed this top up well. For those using the 7 Eleven Fuel App keep an eye on the 7 Eleven Fuel prices and lock in a price in a few days time. Remember you can be driving around Melbourne, using public transport, or even be interstate (I once locked in a price in Sydney whilst sitting on the aeroplane) and if there's a cheaper price, you can lock that in and top up, up to seven days later. It's a good way to give you that extra boost on a lower petrol price and take you closer to when prices have dropped considerably.

For example petrol prices drop from the highest to the lowest over about a month. Sometimes shorter, sometimes longer. Let's say you fill up weekly. If you fill up just as the price has nearly peaked at a low priced petrol station, that's the first week of petrol. Using the 7 Eleven Fuel app to get the cheaper price one week later, that takes you to the end of the second week. At this point the petrol will have dropped by around half the price hike, or between 10-20 cents per litre. For a 50 litre tank that means you're saving around 35 cents per litre in the first week, around 25 cents in the second week giving a saving of around $30 which adds up to around $390 a year (13 x 4 weeks). Then shop around in the  third week as there can be quite a difference as prices have spread out and you're likely to save around 10 cents a litre saving another $65 a year. Then you're ready to fill up again when the price is low. A possible saving of $400-$500 a year per car just by knowing when petrol prices are hiking.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au

UPDATE: 27/08/2019
I thought I'd point out a couple of interesting things that's happening with the current petrol price hike.

The first is how incredibly slow the price hike is occurring. It's around a week and a half since the first petrol stations started to hike their prices. Why I can't be sure, but perhaps it's because the Victorian school holidays are around three and a half weeks away and hiking the price too early means prices are going down when people fill up for holidays.

The second observation is whilst some petrol stations are hiking to 165.9, since there's been a delay, some are now hiking to 155.9. That means there's already a 10 cents per litre price difference in the market. As of today there's still around 20 per cent of petrol stations selling at the old low price so there's still time to fill up at the lower price. There's also a few 7 Eleven petrol stations offering the lower price that you can still lock in, but they are spread out.

It will be interesting to see what happens as we approach the school holidays.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Pension Age Calculator web app now available.

In keeping with things that take my interest I recently wrote the Pension Age Calculator to help people determine when they'll reach pension age.

Normally knowing pension age is very simple. It used to be 65 years of age. However at the current time the pension age is gradually being increased to 67 years of age. At one point it was mooted this may go to 70, however that is not currently the case.

To help people know when they will reach pension age I wrote the Pension Age Calculator.

I hope you find it useful.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.PensionAgeCalculator.com.au

Friday, August 16, 2019

The Pines Shopping Centre car park slippery and dangerous in the wet.

Recently I was returning to my car with a younger person at The Pines Shopping Centre. It had been raining but now the weather was fine. As I walked I stepped onto the driving direction arrow on the road and thought that felt pretty slippery. The next moment the younger person next to me did the splits and down they went.


Getting older this type of fall can really hurt and if you do your back, shoulder, or the many other parts that seem to give more issues as you get older.

I can't help feeling the arrows on the road now seem to be more slippery in the past. I don't know why. I do think however The Pines Management should rethink the material used for the arrows. A non-slip material should be a must.

The Pines Management have allocated the parking bays near these arrows reserved for the elderly, and a fall at that stage of your life, can lead to fatal complications.

It really isn't good enough to use material on roads that make them slippery in the wet, but more so if the road is used as a shared walkway as they are in shopping centre car parks.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au


Saturday, August 10, 2019

New site called Taste Test - www.TasteTest.com.au

Sometimes you just have to do it. Our family has fun at get-togethers participating in a taste test. These taste tests can be quite informative. It's interesting to see what people prefer the most and how different, or the same, people can be.

I decided to start a site where I share our taste test results. Perhaps it will interest others, perhaps not. Either way the information is available for those who find it interesting.

Enjoy.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.TasteTest.com.au

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Mobile speed camera locations Melbourne and Victoria.

A while ago I created a website which provides the locations of fixed red light and speed cameras (www.SpeedCameraLocations.com.au). The Victorian government also provides the location of approved mobile speed camera locations, so I decided today to add an additional page listing the mobile speed camera locations.

You can find the list at www.speedcameralocations.com.au/mobile/.

I hope you'll find the page useful.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.SpeedCameraLocations.com.au

Friday, July 19, 2019

Petrol price alert: Melbourne prices rising to 167.9

Tonight I noticed a number of petrol stations raising the price of unleaded petrol to 167.9 or slightly less. This is to be expected as prices have dropped to around the gate price (think wholesale) which is currently 132.6 and a large proportion of petrol stations around Melbourne are under the 130 mark. Prices are again rising around 35 cents which is much more than the 25-30 cents seen over the last couple of years. Perhaps this is the new norm.

It's also now a week after school holidays and many people will be filling up again after filling up at the end of the school holidays. Perhaps it's just coincidence, but prices in the past week have fallen much faster than usual to have the low correspond to this weekend. I'll let you be the judge.

Time again to watch the petrol prices and watch 7 Eleven prices if you're locking in the fuel price using the 7 Eleven fuel app.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Woolworths Petrol deal with BP falls through, but new deal with Caltex struck.

I was looking forward to the Woolworths/BP deal but as we've seen, that appears to have been canned by the ACCC. All's good though as the Woolworths Group has entered into a new long term agreement with Caltex. More information on the news can be found using the following link.

https://www.woolworthsgroup.com.au/page/media/Latest_News/woolworths-group-enters-convenience-and-loyalty-alliance-and-new-15-year-wholesale-fuel-arrangement-with-caltex/

One benefit of this new agreement for consumers is another 125 Caltex sites will be participating in the Woolworths Rewards scheme. Caltex fuel prices especially with the discount voucher have shown to be competitive over the years so hopefully this helps consumers manage their fuels costs.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Alert: Melbourne petrol prices starting to hike to 155.9 - 165.9

Petrol prices in Melbourne appear to be going up, however what they are going up to isn't quite clear.

In Templetstowe the 7 Eleven is 155.9, but in Clarinda the 7 Eleven is 165.9. That's a huge difference. Either way as we approach the school holidays it does appear petrol prices are on the rise.

The current gate price (think wholesale) is 124.4 cents per litre for unleaded petrol. The petrol price usually increases by 25 -30 cents per litre, so unless wholesale petrol prices are rising quickly (and there's no evidence of that), we can expect prices to rise to around 150-155. Higher and that would be the highest jump I've seen since writing these blog posts. That would certainly be a money grab by the petrol retailers.

Time to keep an eye on petrol prices as we approach the school holidays.

Kelvin Eldridge

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Cycling incident with ute near Main Ridge Mornington Peninsula leaves many questions.

Yesterday I read an article on the News.com.au which had a video of a ute overtaking a group of cyclists only to shortly after overtaking turn into a a property causing a number of cyclists to be in an accident.


I read articles like this as I like to understand an improve my driving skills and my very basic riding skills.

The article was well written and simply report the information provided. It did not make a judgement on who was in the right or wrong. The person reporting the incident, known as Clint, appears to be one of the riders. The location was not provided except that it was in the Main Ridge Mornington Peninsula area. The time of the incident was during a weekday morning ride. Whilst it is hard to read the date/time stamp looks like it is Mar 29 or May 29 at 10:35. At the news article is dated May 29 at 8:35am, this must have been in March.

The headline "Cyclists slam ute driver after accident" was written leading one to feel this was a ute driver at fault which plays into the cyclist versus cars mentality, which reinforces the us and them argument.

What is also interesting is to read the comments and whilst I admit I don't know all the road rules, so I'm like everyone else, some of the comments show people getting the road rules wrong.

Watching the video the ute driver was not considerate of other road users. Around five seconds after overtaking the riders, the ute driver turns into a property.

The first question I have is has the ute driver done anything wrong. Whilst we may not like a car overtaking us and then making us slow down immediately afterwards, I don't think that is illegal. Yes rude, but that's what people can be like.

It appears from the video the ute driver's indicator isn't on whilst overtaking, or moving back into the left lane. However, when the ute driver turns into the driveway, the indicator does appear to be on.

After overtaking a single white line divides the road. The ute driver has returned to the left lane before the single white line appears. The ute driver turns right over the single white lane into a property, which as I read, is legal.

The ute driver's driving would thus appear to be legal, although for many it may be considered rude, but that's not illegal.

There is a group of eight cyclists travelling together. The leading two cyclists have  time to slow and stop as the ute turns into the property. A voice is heard calling out wait, wait, indicating an issue.

At this point the outside cyclist in the second row loses control and falls off their bike. This causes the inside cyclist in the second row to lose control. The third row of cyclists avoid the two fallen cyclists. The rider taking the video in the fourth row who appears to move left and right in the lane indicating the fourth row may be staggered, then loses control and falls.

The rider taking the video has around three seconds warning from the wait, wait alert to when the second rider has fallen blocking their path causing them to lose control.

According to the article, "The abrupt move led to two cyclists crashing as they were forced to slam on their brakes to avoid running into the back of the vehicle." This doesn't appear to be correct. The two cyclists in front had stopped so the two that fell had to break to avoid running into the two stopped cyclists.

Clint uses word's such as deliberate which imply to me as a reader the driver deliberately meant to interfere with the riders. This may not have been the case. Yes their action was deliberate to turn into their driveway.

Clint states the car didn't have to merge back in front of them before turning into the driveway. Clint's suggestion for the ute would mean the ute would probably be breaking the law by driving on the wrong side of the road (divided by a white line) and turning incorrectly from the wrong lane.

Client states the driver was more interested in arguing, however from the gesture of the first rider's arm held up in the air and body turned toward the ute, you could only assume the driver would be entering into a heated situation.

In the comment section a person states the cyclists were riding two abreast which is illegal in Victoria. Riding two abreast is not illegal in Victoria.

When I look at this video I see two problems. A driver of a ute who is not considerate of other road users. A group of riders who are travelling too close together that would enable them to safely stop if they have to.

Until reading this article I thought there was a road rule that said if I left the road turning into private property I had to give way to other road users. I took that to mean road users behind me. I decided to read the road rules and I could not find anywhere where people who turn into private property have to consider road users behind them. Yes to pedestrians and other vehicles they have to give way to, but that's not vehicles behind them.

Was the driver's driving style illegal I don't know. We see driving like that all the time on our roads were people speed ahead just to block the traffic and turn at the next intersection.

Whilst the cyclists may not be happy, as soon as the vehicle has overtaken and is in front of them, if the vehicle puts their indicator on to turn for a sufficient period of time, the cyclists should slow down and stop if necessary.

According to Clint the riders had been travelling at 35 to 40 km/h. This speed is not insignificant. The close formation riding is a concern. The video shows the riders in front whilst inconvenienced had no problems stopping. The riders following had significant issues stopping and in three cases ran into serious issues possibly causing injury.

The problem for the riders, apart from the action of a driver, is they weren't travelling at a safe distance from each other which would enable them to stop safely if required.

Perhaps it's time for peloton style of riding to be reviewed on our roads. If riders need to train peloton style, then perhaps additional safety controls should be put into place. We may not like it, and cyclists certainly won't, but people's safety is important. None of us like giving up anything, but this happens all the time in our society, so hopefully our society works better together.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au


PS. This video has been posted on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xp3d4qojvx8).



Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Alert: Petrol prices on the rise in Melbourne. Prices hiking to 167.9 cents per litre.

On Saturday night I noticed the first petrol stations increasing the price of unleaded petrol to 167.9. Before sending out an alert I like to wait until a few more petrol stations increase their prices. I've seen petrol stations jump the gun before to later drop their prices again.

It's now Monday night and more petrol stations have increased their prices to 167.9. The current gate price is 134.9, so the increase is in the expected range of 25-30 cents above the gate price.

On the weekend I was passing through the Dandenong area where prices were very good. I was able to use the 7/11 Fuel app to lock in the price of 131.7 cents per litre for unleaded petrol. The lowest prices in my area were around 137.9 so even with discounts vouchers, the 131.7 was still a better price and it meant I could fill up when my tank was lower.

Over the next few days we can expect petrol prices to head upwards as we approach the weekend. Time to keep an eye on prices and if you're using the 7/11 Fuel app, be ready to lock in at the right time.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Blood Alcohol Calculator merged into Standard Drink Calculator.

Looking for the Blood Alcohol Calculator web app but can't find it.

The Blood Alcohol Calculator has now been merged into the Standard Drink Calculator site. The menus in the Standard Drink Calculator haven't changed, as the Blood Alcohol Calculator has always been the Multiple option on the menu. The Multiple option previously linked to an external site (Blood Alcohol Calculator) whereas now that external site has been incorporated as a page on the Standard Drink Calculator.

Whilst it's always a gamble to change a site by either splitting a site out to separate sites, or to bring together similar sites into one, it is hoped that by having the multiple sites together, this makes it easier for people to find the functionality of the calculators. This is part of my approach to keep testing and tuning sites. To find what works and what doesn't work. If it works more people get the opportunity to benefit from the calculators.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.StandardDrinkCalculator.com.au

Duracell battery leaked damaging souvenir.

Over the years you build up brand loyalty and one such product are batteries. We all know and expect cheap batteries, if you don't take care, can potentially leak.

Today I read an article on The Age site where the writer shared their story of their Duracell batteries leaking. The responses from Duracell really wasn't a good look good for Duracell.

I'd also had similar experiences with Duracell batteries. Another family member recently had souvenir clock that didn't work and when I checked the clock, this is what I found.


Now I'm sure most of us have been in this situation. An old toy, a remote control, devices left sitting and forgotten for some time, only to find the battery has leaked. Yes we should have removed the batteries, but you only realise when you go to use the device and the device doesn't work. The news isn't good.

As long as the corrosion from the battery acid isn't too great, I usually clean up the terminals and then with a cotton bud use a solution of water and baking soda mixed to a paste to neutralise any remaining acid. Sometimes however, the corrosion has been so bad the terminals have rusted and break off.

At some point in the past I really felt Duracell had such a good reputation and believed their batteries didn't leak. Well the reputation with regards to batteries not leaking well and truly busted and extra care is required when using Duracell batteries.

I did a search on the internet for Energizer battery leaked to see what came up. I was quite surprised to see Energizer offers a no leak guarantee and repair of your device if damaged by leakage. However it's important to read the fine print. The Energizer batteries (excluding lithium) are  only covered for 1-2 years following the full use of the battery. I don't know about you, but if I pack an item away the batteries are not fully used and there's no way for me to know when the battery has been fully used. If I knew the battery was fully used, I'd have removed the battery and disposed them. This guarantee also probably doesn't apply to Australia.

I then searched for Energizer Australia. There's no Australian site for Energizer, but there is a site that covers Asia, which I suspect also covers Australia. In the terms and conditions for Energizer Australia Pty Limited there's no mention of a no leak guarantee. No mention of damage to your appliance.

It would appear both Duracell and Energizer really don't offer any peace of mind to consumers. What's important to accept is probably any battery can leak and damage your devices. It's important then you take appropriate precautions such as checking the use by date. Removing batteries before you put items away, or if you're not using them regularly.

It's not just devices you put away. I've found myself using a TV remote control day after day for the remote control to just stop working. Then on opening the remote control the batteries have been found to have leaked. One set of kitchen scales I was using slipped out of my hand onto the bench and stopped working. On opening the scales I found the batteries were corroded. The device only stopped working because the bump caused the good contact to be lost. I would not have expected to see leaked and corroded batteries in a device that was still working.

I already remove batteries from devices I'm not using for a while, if I remember. In future however I will also be checking to make sure the use by dates of batteries have not expired, even if the batteries are still working.

Hopefully these thoughts may help others.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au



Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Google ads appearing over site content making it impossible to use the site.

I've noticed recently Google ads appearing over sections of pages on my sites that means it's no longer possible to enter data into the fields making it impossible to use the page. This is only occurring on mobile sites to my knowledge.

If you find pages on my sites where Google ads are damaging the user experience (such that you can't enter information into the forms) please let me know and I'll temporarily remove or replace the ads.

This appears to be a recent change by Google. I've never seen this happen before and it's only started to happen recently. When the Google ads appear they should simply take up space. Instead they appear over the content of the page and that makes it impossible to see what is now under the ad. This is obviously a recent flaw in Google's programming and hopefully they'll realise and correct the issue.



The issue with Google ads affects pages with forms where the Google ad is above the form and the person is using a mobile device.

Please contact me using the details on the Contact page if you find a problem. Thank you in advance for any assistance.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au

Update: 14/05/2019
A quick solution to ads covering the page is to click on the X in the corner of the ad. Then click on the option to Stop Seeing This Ad. There's options then for the reason you're closing the ad and one option is the ad is covering content. Not all ads are a problem, but getting rid of the ads that cause a problem may flag a problem. If lots of people close problem ads you would hope it may get noticed. That should fix the immediate issue for a user, but of course doesn't fix the issue if people don't know this is an option.

Update: 16/05/2019
The quick solution mentioned previously is useful to clear the screen temporarily, but the ads often keep coming back, so the problem keeps occurring. For me the way I'll work around this issue, as there's no telling how long it will keep happening, is on web pages that can be used on mobiles, where there's a form that will get blocked by an ad overlaying the form, I'll remove those ads and replace them with a different ad that does not impact the form. You could also simply delete the ad, or alternately, instead of using a responsive ad use a fixed size ad instead.

Update: 20/05/2019
I found through further reading it is possible to limit the height of the response adsense ad, so today I decided to create a new size limited ad and test the result. I used the following code in the adsense code, but modified to take into account the maximum width of the web pages I have. This code was found in the Adsense help pages.

   style="display:inline-block;min-width:400px;max-width:970px;width:100%;height:90px"

Unfortunately it didn't work. Some ads had a height which was much greater then 90px. The good outcome however it looks like Google may have fixed the issue, or at least made it better. In general when I went to type into the form the larger ad was replaced with a shorter ad and the fields were not covered by the ads. On one occasion the was a huge amount of white vertical space, so Google's code is still not perfect, but appears to work most of the time.

Unless something unexpected occurs it looks like I can return to using the standard responsive code from Adsense.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Car versus bus. Which is more cost effective? The Car versus Public Transport calculator provides the answer.

Yesterday I met a friend at Eastland Shopping Centre. Before I left home I'd done a calculation comparing the cost of using a car versus the cost of using a bus. Ignoring time because frankly if you take time into account you'd probably never use a bus, and in this case the extra time taken didn't overly affect my day.

Here is my calculation for using a bus or car from Templestowe to Ringwood.

Not a huge saving at $2.88 each way, but more than enough to pay for the coffee I had. Also since it was cheaper using the bus I feel like I'll get a greater use out of my car which is a large investment, if I use it when the car is the most cost effective mode of transport.

Whilst sitting having that coffee (which in effect had already been paid for) I did the same calculation for my friend who had driven from Warranwood to Ringwood. It turned out my friend by driving had taken the most cost effective mode of transport also saving 18 cents each way, but possibly more since I'd use an estimate of 30 cents per kilometre. My friend's car uses gas and cost less, so there's a good change I've over estimated the cost per kilometre.


The Car versus Public Transport calculator is quite handy in answering the question is it cheaper to use public transport of use a car. There's so much promotion by the government to use their services that sometimes you really do start to wonder. Now it's easy to work out what's best for you.

What the calculator has shown in this situation is just how bad public transport is for short local trips. Even worse is this is with seniors concession so for people having to pay full fare, it cost considerably more. There should be no reason it is cheaper to use a car compared to a far less convenient, slower, heavily subsidised shared bus, but that's not how the government has set up its charging. It literally costs the same amount to go from the Melbourne Airport to Frankston as it does to travel one stop on a bus. That really doesn't encourage people to use local public transport for short local trips which really is a pity.

In any case, the Car versus Public Transport calculator is already proving to have been useful in helping me to better understand my costs and save me money. That's the main reason I write the calculators. Hopefully the calculator can save you money too.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.CarVersusPublicTransport.com.au

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Car versus Public Transport - which one is cheaper?

Answering the question of which is cheaper between car and public transport is not as easy as you first think. There really are a lot of variables, and sometimes it's cheaper to use a car and sometimes it's cheaper to use public transport.

The advantage of using public transport is often public transport is subsidised by tax payers by 40-60% and sometimes I've heard, up to 90%. So that means someone else is picking up probably around half the cost of your "real" cost. The major disadvantage of using public transport is time. It's not unusual for a trip on public transport to take three or more times the amount of time compared to a car. As an example, I set off one day to do some banking on a Saturday morning at 11 am. I reached the bank by 12:50 pm. That's a staggering 110 minutes for what takes about 6-10 minutes in a car. The stress of almost not getting to the bank by closing time at 1 pm was considerable.

Cars on the other hand have a considerable amount of costs you just don't think about.  When you get into your car for a trip you often don't actually pay anything. Sure we may think about the petrol cost, but then what about the rego and insurance cost each year.

Then there's the situation where you own a car and also take public transport. You really can't do without the car so like it or not, you've got recurring costs like rego and insurance even if the car stays in the garage.

So overall, it really is very hard to work out what the cost of using your car is for a single trip.

To help get an answer I've written a couple of calculators over time which I use. One is the car running cost calculator. I've gone through my records over the last 10 plus years and now I can quickly ask some questions which help me determine my cost per kilometre.

If I consider all costs so far, the cost of using my car has been 51 cents per kilometre. This does not include a financing cost or loss of interest on the money used to buy the car. If I consider only the petrol cost the cost has been 13 cents per kilometre. However I think a more accurate cost is the cost of the car, less an estimate of any remaining car value, plus any other costs. I don't include rego and insurance, but do include servicing. Using that approach this gives me a figure of 35 cents per kilometre. Sure it's not exact, but at least it's a good estimate.

Working out the cost of public transport is fairly easy. The time taken for car versus public transport can be estimate using Google Maps. The distance travelled by car can also be determined using Google Maps.

If time isn't a concern you then have everything you need to compare the cost of using a car to the cost of using public transport. If time is important, you'll need to work out a figure you're happy with that places a value on your time.

The Car versus Public Transport calculator has already revealed some quite unexpected results for people I've tested the calculator with. Hopefully the calculator will reveal some valuable insights for you as well.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.carversuspublictransport.com.au/

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Menzies electorate and the importance of your voting preferences.

Based on the last election results for Menzies, this election could be very close. It may all come down to preferences. I've found most people don't understand their preferences are just as important as their primary vote.

Here's a link to the 2016 Federal election.

https://results.aec.gov.au/20499/Website/HouseDivisionPage-20499-229.htm

You can see Liberal Party won outright, but they only received 51.72% of the first preference votes. With over 50% of first preferences the Liberal Party couldn't lose. But what if there was a further swing against the liberal party which took them below the 50% mark. Still highly unlikely they'd lose, but it could happen.

All that then needs to happen is for all second preference votes to go Labor. Hard to believe isn't it. A party that gets around a quarter of the vote could actually get in. Whilst it may even be harder to believe, if a strong third contender entered the race taking votes from both the Liberal and Labor parties, then getting strong preference support, it's a really long shot, but the third candidate could have a slim chance.

How then do preferences work and how is it possible that preferences are so powerful.

Let's take a simple example.

Let's say the Liberal Party gets 49% of the first preference votes. Then an independent gets say 26% of the first preference votes and Labor gets 25% of the first preference votes.

Now what happens in our system, is since in the example above the Labor candidate came last, the way people entered their preferences are then used to split up the votes for the remaining two candidates. If everyone that voted for Labour listed their second preference as the independent, then all the votes for the Labor candidate would go to the independent. The independent would now end up with their 26% of first preference votes and the 25% of the Labor candidates votes as a second preference, giving the independent a total of 51% of the votes.

Few people realise the second preference vote has as much voting power as their first preference, should the candidate they're voting for end up with a lower number of votes than the leading candidates.

Candidates may do a deal with other candidates to give their preferences to each other. They don't really give anything, but what they do is list the order of how they feel people should vote. The order can be based on the deal that's been done that gives them the best chance of getting in.

Menzies is not a marginal seat. Around 77% of the votes at the last election went to Liberal (51.72%) or Labor (24.6%). There were 5.02% of informal votes (votes not entered correctly) and thus they didn't count. That leaves 18.66% of the vote for other candidates. That means no other candidate had a chance of winning, even if preferences were taken into account. As the preferences are taken into account and those candidates receiving the lowest number of votes removed, you finally end up with the two party preferred votes. Of the second and further preferences (20,656) the Liberal Party received a further 7,709 votes (37%) and the Labor Party received 12,947 votes (63%).

If you really want to make a difference with your vote, one way to maximise the value of your vote is to look at your preferences. Look at which parties are giving their preference to which candidates. Then vote for the candidate you most prefer and then each further candidate based on how they are allocating their preferences. There's a good chance a higher proportion of people will follow the candidate's How to Vote card and that will influence the very powerful preference votes.

Hopefully this post helps people understand a little more about our election system, and how truly powerful and important your second and further preferences really are.

Kelvin Eldridge


Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Petrol Prices Melbourne price hike alert. Petrol prices at 166.9 spotted.

Checking petrol prices tonight I noticed a number of petrol stations around Melbourne have increased their unleaded price to 166.9 cents per litre. With the current gate price at 137.9 cents per litre, and then adding the usual 25-30 cents per litre when prices hike, we could expect to see the unlead petrol price to hike to somewhere in the range of 162.9 to 167.9. I would expect the price to hike to 164.9 as the price looks better and makes the price appear to be in the lower half of the 160-170 range. However at 166.9 this is still within the expected range.

I'll continue to watch the petrol prices as I usually like to wait until I see three or more Woolworths Petrol station increase their prices. Sometimes some petrol stations break from the pack just to later reduce their prices. Once I'm confident the petrol price hike cycle has started I'll notify those on the Alert mailing list.

Let's see what happens tomorrow.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au
Petrol Prices Melbourne

Update: 1/05/2019
A few more petrol stations have increased their prices to 166.9. Looks like 166.9 is the new price hike price.

Update: 9/05/2019
The hiking of petrol prices has occurred quite slowly this time. It's 9 days since the first signs of the price hike started and still an estimated 20% of petrol station have not increased their prices. That's great for drivers as it means cheaper prices are still relatively easy to find.

A second unusual situation is the average gate price (think wholesale) has dropped a couple of cents so we're seeing a second group now raise their prices to 159.9, meaning even if you miss out on the cheaper prices there's still a 7 cents per litre saving that can be found.

As we approach the weekend it's probably safe to assume most prices will have gone up by Monday and perhaps prices might quickly drop to around the high 150 mark.

Early voting centre for Menzies

For those looking for the early voting centres for Menzies, the following page provides details of candidates and the locations of early voting centres.

https://www.aec.gov.au/election/vic/menzies.htm

Kelvin Eldridge

Alert: Your Optus bill for account xxxxx.

Sometimes timing can be everything, even for scammers.

Today I activated a new Optus prepaid service, so when I received an email bill from Optus, my first thought is what has Optus done. I've seen this happens to others. Rather than knowing the email's a scam, because the person has done something very recently with the same company, this leads a person to think the email is from the company. Timing. No this email isn't from Optus.

This is a scam email designed to trick people to click on the link (Vew your bill now). If you check the link it has nothing to do with Optus. Most likely it's a hacked website where the scammer has loaded their code onto the site without the site owner knowing. This is extremely common.

Next time you receive an email from one of your suppliers do pause for a moment. It's easy to be tricked by scammers when you're under pressure, or perhaps just not thinking clearly.

Discard these emails for the junk they are.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au
IT support.