Saturday, March 30, 2019

Cruise Travel Insurance - 1Travel, Cover-More, Medicare, RACV, Bupa, Woolworths Insurance

When travelling overseas I consider it always to be a good idea to get travel insurance. The main reason is you hear horror stories with medical costs. Travel insurance provides peace of mind, and in some cases, is necessary to visit some locations.

If you purchase travel insurance through a travel agency or your cruise company, you may end paying hundreds of dollars more. It really is a case of checking around which can be easily done online.

Recently I checked the following. There's others I don't have confidence in and there's companies I'd never heard of. Perhaps there's an even better deal but whilst you may not get the absolute minimum shopping around, at least you can make some good savings.

1Travel
Cover-More
Medicare
RACV
Bupa
Woolworths Insurance

Make sure you get the cover you need. For example read the PDS (Product Disclosure Statement). Use the search function Control+F and search for "cruise" to help find the sections relating to cruises.

It's not really difficult work, but it is tedious, but it can also save hundreds of dollars.

Medicare travel insurance was the most expensive costing up to three times more than others. 1Travel had a huge $3,000 for one quote and not great prices. Cover-More the one listed by P &O Cruises is hundreds of dollars more expensive. Looks good until you add the price for your cruise fare which adds hundreds. Cancellation of the cruise fare is probably one of things you'd expect in the Cover-More policy by default, but it's not there.

What did surprise me was Bupa's travel insurance was quite reasonable. RACV travel insurance was quite reasonable and both Bupa and RACV give members a 15% discount. Not a member though.

The cheapest was Woolworths insurance. I've used them before. However there don't cover people over 80.

In the end the RACV insurance was clear and specifically had an option for cruises. Medical evacuation was included. For $30 more went for the highest cover. Usually I'm prudent, but I've heard of friends and contacts getting hurt travelling so peace of mind is important.

Really I'd recommend shopping around. For a two week cruise the savings from shopping around could easily be as much as $300-$400.

Kelvin Eldridge

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Emergency Phone, spare phone, uses for an old mobile phone.

Recently I announced the GPS Tracker For Car site. The GPS Tracker for Car site shares information on using an older mobile as a GPS tracker which can be placed on or in equipment such as cars, so if the car is stolen, there may be a chance to tracker and locate the car.

Sometimes however when creating one project you learn something you didn't previously know.

I often see EMERGENCY CALL on my mobile's lock screen. Never really thought about this, but it's there if needed. There's a number of features of mobile phones I never really thought about or knew.

No SIM is required to make an emergency call.

WOW.

It appears all mobile phone have the ability to call emergency services without a SIM card installed. Just turn on the mobile and call the emergency number. Even if the mobile is locked.

That means if you have an old mobile phone without a SIM, keep it turned off, but charge it every now and again, you have a mobile phone ready for an emergency and it doesn't cost a cent.

Lock screen can have emergency information text displayed.

Lost your phone or in an accident and someone picks up your phone. You can place text on the lock screen which provides others a means of contacting an emergency contact. This could be very useful in the case you're incapacitated, or you lose your mobile.

ICE

This was recently suggested to me by a nurse. ICE which stands for In Case of Emergency is a standard that's gaining some traction world wide. Add a contact in your contact for the contact ICE. You can provide a number or in my case I added notes as well. Often however your mobile will be locked. However some mobiles will allow you to associate a contact with an emergency call.

In the case of my Samsung S7 if I press the EMERGENCY CALL I get the option to place a call to emergency services or to add emergency contacts. If I select add emergency contacts I am shown my favourites. With ICE added as a favourite, ICE is available to then add to your emergency call list. Now if someone finds your mobile, or needs to use it because you can't, all they need to do is swipe the screen, press on EMERGENCY CALL and then they can select the ICE contact and call them.

I suspect the ICE contact can't be contacted if you don't have a SIM card installed, current, or activated, but it's an option available for others to help you if required.

Lock a mobile so only listed contacts can be called

Based on the EMERGENCY CALL feature and the idea that you can add a list of contacts to the emergency screen, this also means you could set up your mobile for one of your children with just the numbers you want them to be able to call. Lock the mobile so it can't be used for any other purpose. Then if your child needs to call you, they swipe the screen, select EMERGENCY CALL, then select you as the contact and call you.

That's certainly a feature I never knew existed and means a mobile phone with limited functionality, could be provided to children in their bags in case of an emergency. If the mobile is left off the battery will retain it's charge for some time. If the mobile is on, and it's OK with the child, the parent could also locate their child using the same approach GPS Track for Car uses. This means parents could see where their children are when using public transport. Particularly useful if they need to pick them up from the station or bus or tram stop.

Spare phone

Separate from the use of the emergency facility built into mobile phones, it also became apparent recently an old phone could be used as a spare phone. Take an old phone, insert a SIM card with a 365 day prepaid plan (these can be found in the plans section of GPS Tracker For Car) and leave it turned off in your car or bag, and you have a back-up phone if it's needed.

I recently left home to meet someone in the shopping centre but left my mobile behind. Let's just say it did not go well. The help desk helped get in contact will someone who could call the person I was meeting and let them know where to meet. A spare phone in the car would have solved this problem instantly.

I read recently of hikers wanting a spare phone and thought that was such a good idea. A mobile turned off, with a 365 day prepaid plan, sealed in ziplock bags and an old phone could make a good emergency back-up phone.

Hopefully some of these ideas may be useful for others.

Kelvin Eldridge
GPS Tracker For Car
www.GPSTrackerForCar.com.au

Update: 8/04/2019
Just set up an Amaysim SIM using $10 starter pack for a mobile to stay in the car as an emergency or back-up phone. The mobile will be off and should keeps its charge for many months. Also disabled data so no charges when mobile turned on. Amaysim offer a refer a friend link where both parties get a $10 credit. Use this link (http://amaysi.ms/r/Ovi8BWsU) and it means a back-up mobile can cost very little to have available. Remember this approach uses the AS YOU GO payment option. The AS YOU GO lasts 365 days. If the mobile is off no credit is being used.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Mini GF-07 Car GPS Tracker

I've been working on a GPS Track For Car approach using an old mobile an inexpensive mobile plan. Basically the hardware's free because you already have a suitable old mobile phone sitting in a drawer and all that's required is a suitable plan.

The GPS Tracker For Car approach is now documented and available at www.GPSTrackerForCar.com.au.

One friend recently purchased a Mini GF-07 Car GPS Tracker. The device is inexpensive and very compact. My friend couldn't get the Mini GF-07 to work so they gave it to me to test. On reading the manual it is apparent the Mini GF007 uses GSM which is the 2G network. All 2G networks in Australia have been switched off, so any device that uses 2G will not work. 

I've also seen Mini GF-07 devices promoted as 3G on eBay. Given the product has the same code and similar price, the product is highly likely to be a fake and not use 3G.

To further trick people eBay sellers often have an Australian flag and colours of the Australian flag which may lead people to feel these products are suitable for Australia. They're not. There's even sites with .com.au domains which again give substance to the feeling the product will work in Australia. It's still the same device using the 2G mobile network and will thus not work in Australia.

To double check the GF-07 doesn't work in Australia I inserted a Telstra SIM card that was known to work and sent the code 777 via SMS to get the current location. No response. Whilst this doesn't show 100% it doesn't work, there's no way to know if something doesn't work for certain if there's something you don't know. But there's a very high probability that the GF-07 does not work in Australia. The GF-07 certainly didn't work for me.

The following link has a good table and shows that no Australian telco supports 2G any longer in Australia.

https://www.whistleout.com.au/MobilePhones/Guides/Will-my-phone-work-in-Australia-carrier-network-frequencies

Hopefully this experience will help other people in Australia who are looking at the Mini GF-07 Car GPS Tracker.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au
IT support

Update: 18/04/2019
The following is a graphic from eBay for the item purchased. Lots of Australian related images including stock in Australia Australia Post logo. This is surely deceptive as it would lead people in Australia to think the product would work in Australia.






Sunday, March 17, 2019

Telstra, Vodafone, Optus unlock fees.

You can often pick up a discounted mobile phone from the supermarkets, but it is usually locked to a network. How much then is the unlock fee?

Telstra

From the Telstra site.

You can unlock your Telstra Pre-Paid mobile, iPhone or mobile broadband devices, so it works on another network - but if you’ve had it activated on the Telstra network for less than two years, we charge:

$80 for devices never activated or only active for six months or less

$25 for devices activated for six months to 2 years.

Good to know
After two years, we don’t charge an unlocking fee.


Optus

From the Optus site

Have you recharged your service to a minimum / accumulated amount of $80.00?

Yes: There is no fee to network unlock your handset

No: How long has your service been active?

Less than 6 months: There is an $80 fee
More than 6 months: There is a $25 fee

Vodafone

From the Vodafone site.

If you purchased your device outright to use with a prepaid service, there'll be a fee to unlock it from the Vodafone network.

If you’ve had your device for less than 6 months there’s a $50 unlocking fee.

If you’ve had your device for over 6 months there’s a $25 unlocking fee.

Other information

The above assumes the mobile is purchased for use on a prepaid plan. If you purchase a mobile on a plan from a telco, it may or may not be locked.

In my experience I've purchased a Optus USB/Wi-Fi on prepaid but the device was not locked. I've had two devices unlocked from Telstra, but a third was too old and they didn't have the unlock information available. They were going to get the information and send it to me but the information never arrived. The lessons here are test your device to see if it is locked, and if it is locked, don't wait too long before unlocking the device.

Overall I feel Vodafone's devices are the worst as you always have to pay an unlocking fee. With Optus and Telstra after two years, you can get the device unlocked. With Optus, if you spend more than $80, you can get the device unlocked earlier.

Overall this would mean the Optus approach is best, Telstra next and Vodafone last.

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

Thursday, March 14, 2019

GPS Tracker For Car web app now available.

For a while I've been working on writing up a hack I've been experimenting with and the results are now available on the GPS Tracker For Car site.

Some time ago I had a thought. A number of people I know had their cars stolen. Why not use an old mobile phone as a GPS tracker. Place the old mobile phone in the car, keep it charged each week, and if the car is stolen, you should be able to find the location of the car.

Since we probably all have old mobile phones sitting around the place, the cost of a GPS tracker for a car would be minimal. Since mobiles based on iOS and Android now include the ability to locate the mobile phone, no extra software is required. All that is required is a suitable mobile plan.

Reviewing the mobile plans available, how much data the GPS tracker would use and my testing is now complete. The GPS Tracker For Car site is now up and running and includes the results of my research.

With an old Apple mobile phone and the right plan, you can now have a GPS tracker in your car for under $20 a year. Android mobiles use more data, but again the cost isn't excessive. One extra benefit is if for some reason your current mobile bites the dust, you have a back-up mobile your can use in an emergency already in your car.

Hopefully the hack will help others locate their stolen cars and give them peace of mind.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.GPSTrackerForCar.com.au
GPS Tracker For Car

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Melbourne petrol prices starting to hike. Unleaded petrol spotted at 151.9.

Last night I noticed two Woolworths Petrol stations in Preston had increased their petrol price for unleaded to 151.9. Today I checked and around five petrol stations had increased their prices to 151.9. All are Caltex or Caltex/Woolworths petrol stations.

The average gate price (think wholesale price) today is 126.3. In February on the 3rd, the gate price dropped to a low of 115.2. When unleaded retail prices started to hike around the 13th of February the gate price had increased to 118.4, At the moment we are seeing a gradual increase in the gate price and thus we can expect unleaded prices to also continue to increase.

The usual pattern for unleaded petrol price increases is for the retail price to hike to around 25 to 30 cents per litre above the gate price. Thus the next price hike is expected to be around 151.9 to 156.9, so 151.9 is at the low end. The price of 151.9 is a little unusual as most prices appear to end in 4.9 or 9.9. It's likely the price may quickly drop to 149.9 and then the discount cycle for the next three to four weeks will continue the price drop.

Since the first signs of the price hike have occurred on a Monday, and there is no period of peak usage like school holidays, it's likely the rest of the market will follow slowly with prices at most petrol stations being restored to the peak later in the week or over the weekend.

Watch the prices carefully and if you're using the 7 Eleven Fuel app, wait until prices have started to increase at 7 Eleven to lock in a low price for another week. Too early and you may have locked in a low price whilst there's still low prices around at other petrol stations.

Kelvin Eldridge
Petrol Prices Melbourne
https://www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au

PS. Whilst it is possible the five petrol stations are a false indication of the price hike, the price hike is still expected soon as the retail price is now near or below the gate price for many petrol stations.

Update: 13/03/2019
The Caltex/Woolworths petrol stations have flipped and dropped their prices back to the current low prices today. The Caltex petrol stations that had hiked their price kept their prices high. Some additional BP services stations have increased their prices taking the number to around 10 petrol stations in the Melbourne area that have hiked their prices. This is still a relatively small number, but is indicative of prices still dropping in some areas whilst the price hike is just around the corner. In other words there's no rush to fill up our tanks, but we do have to watch the prices.

Update: 14/03/2019
The number of petrol stations that have hiked their prices has roughly doubled. Still not a large number though. The maximum price hike however has now moved to 153.9 cents per litre for unleaded.

Friday, March 01, 2019

Car insurance quote - Coles, Woolworths, AAMI, RACV

It's time again to renew the car insurance for our 2016 Honda HR-V. It really is a good idea to shop around. Don't believe those ads on TV about one insurance company saving you money as we got a quote them once and they were much, much higher. Also don't fall for the ads on Google offering cheaper car insurance. Chances are you can get better by getting quotes direct from the company sites.

We're currently with AAMI. We've been long time customers of AAMI but at some point, AAMI was sold to Suncorp so really, it's now just a name. Plus we've had a very bad experience with a Suncorp repair. Two companies cover 80% of the market so also don't think because you're buying from another brand you're buying from another company.

I decided to visit the sites for Coles, Woolworths and RACV. We have a renewal from AAMI so no need to visit their site. The agree value was around $18,700 and the excess around $800. The following are the prices we found.

Coles - $1,224.17 (Agreed value $18,125 maximum allowed, excess $850)
Woolworths - $680.04 (agree value $18,700, excess $800)
RACV - $757.36 (Agreed value $18,900, excess $825)
AAMI - $770.91 (With discount, Agreed value $18,900, excess $800)

The winner this year appears to be Woolworths Car Insurance.

Car insurance changes all the time so each year when you get your renewal notice, it's prudent to shop around. As you can see from the prices above the range is considerable. I've seen one well advertised company quote roughly three times the price of another well known company so take the advertising with a grain of salt.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au

PS. Web apps I've written which may interest you are: Petrol Cost Calculator, Petrol Prices MelbourneNearest Petrol Station and Car Running Cost Calculator

Update: 1/3/2019
As this is a second car driving around 7,000 km per year, decided to change to usage rather than unlimited kms. Used 9,000 as usage so plenty of room for increased usage. The price was reduced to around $541. Interestingly if I took of the older second driver (that's me) the price increased around $60. So if there's an older second driver include them and the price is reduced.

Adsense - Valuable Inventory: No content

A while ago a few of my sites were no longer showing Google AdSense ads. The sites were no longer listed in the AdSense Site list. Adding the site www.NearestTrainStation.com.au today returned the reason being "Valuable Inventory: No content" as shown in the following.



I tried adding this site again to AdSense today as another site that was also rejected for the same reason, when I added it yesterday, the site was added to Google AdSense without a problem.

Whilst I can't be sure, I have a feeling there may be a couple of different reasons you may get this message.

For the other site which was www.PavingCalculator.com.au, which is now acceptable to Google AdSense, with if I recall correctly there were no changes. I decided to try the www.NearestTrainStation.com.au site but that site was still being rejected. Perhaps it's the large map taking up much of the screen. You never really know.

All I can suggest in this situation to try again at some future point. This site had been working for years without a problem and now there's a problem. I'm guessing but I suspect the review is automated so it's not a human making the decision but an algorithm. Algorithms change.

In the meantime rather than Google AdSense ads I'll include ads from a different organisation. I do prefer using Google AdSense, but if for some reason I'm not meeting their requirements and I can't work out what's wrong, it's best to move on.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au
IT support

Update: 5/03/2019
Resubmitted www.carrunningcostcalculator.com.au which was rejected with the "Valuable Inventory: No content" message. NOTE: The were no ads included on the page at time of submission as a site.
Whilst there's no idea as to why the site is rejected, it is possible the number of fields appearing on the form is giving the bots an issue.

Update: 29/03/2019
Site www.GPSTrackerForCar.com.au also rejected with the Valuable Inventory: No content" message. Perhaps providing enough examples may help others work out what the pattern is for sites being rejected.

Update: 6/04/2019
Found I'd made an error with the canonical tag on www.GPSTrackerForCar.com.au as I'd repeated the same tag across the three pages. I fixed this issue and resubmitted. Still getting the same message. Not sure what the issue is. To reiterate this site is my own work based on my own research. No material is copied from other sites.

McDonald's Chicken McFeast $5 meal.

Now I don't really want to encourage people to eat McDonald's, but for those who already do, the Chicken McFeast $5 meal is good value.

A while ago I went to Maccas in the Knox Shopping Centre. Before ordering I opened the Maccas app on my mobile to check the Maccas at Knox were selling the Chicken McFeast, which they were. I walked up to the counter and ordered the Chicken McFeast. I was told they didn't sell the Chicken McFeast. I said, "according to the app you do". The person then got the manager. The manager said it was after 2 pm so the Chicken McFeast was not on special. I said, "according to the app the offer is until 5 pm". Dare I say it I did not get happy customer service, but I did get my Chicken McFeast, or so I thought. I sat down to eat the Chicken McFeast only to find I'd been given a McFeast with a beef patty. Exasperated I couldn't help but shake my head.

This experience actually reinforced a good lesson Even though the Chicken McFeast special is often not promoted, the special offer is current and available. To check, open the Maccas app on your mobile and go to order a Chicken McFeast from the store you're at, or going to. The Chicken McFeast can be found under the Classic burger range. Also to check the offer is still available you need to go to order the meal and then select the small size. You'll see the price is $5 and the offer is until 5 pm. You don't need to order the meal through the app.

I now always check the app before ordering the Chicken McFeast. Avoids any potential grief.

Kelvin Eldridge