Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Microsoft Rewards point system doesn't appear to be working properly.

Microsoft Rewards is a system which enables you to earn points a number of ways such as: searching using Bing on your desktop or mobile, taking short questions, using Microsoft Edge, etc.

Today I noticed accumulating points through searches is not working. Neither is getting points through some of their opportunities presented on their Rewards page, but some opportunities to earn still work.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Update: 20/09/2017
Testing today shows:

Bing searches Chrome on Android mobile working
Bing searches using Edge, Internet Explorer and Chrome on Windows 10 working
Bing searches using Safari macOS not working
Bing searches using Chrome on macOS intermittently works if searching from main Bing page, but works if searching from Bing search results page.

At this stage the problem mainly be for those using Safari under macOS. Whether this is an issue or a permanent change only time will tell. Although searches from main Bing screen using Chrome on macOS doesn't always appear to generate points.

To be specific, the rewards page does say for searches on PC and mobile, so that could be taken as not being on macOS and it's just by chance the Bing searches using Safari has previously worked.

Popular utility CCleaner contained malware.

According to the following article, the popular utility CCleaner now owned by Avast (known for their free anti-virus product) contained malware and affected 2.7 million users.


Anyone downloading and installing the software between August 15 and September 12 should remove CCleaner and install the latest version. As a precautionary measure also perform a full system scan using your anti-virus software. Then checking your system with a second anti-virus product is often a good strategy. Often malware which is not found by one anti-virus product may be picked up by a second anti-virus product.

For more information please read the article using the link above.

Kelvin Eldridge
Online Connections
IT support.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Domain renewal. Save money by transferring to another registrar.

One common technique I use to save customers money is when their domains are up for renewal, to see if it is cheaper for them to transfer their domains to another registrar.

Often the cost of my time assisting them to transfer their domains is less than the saving in the first year or two for Australian domains, and then the client saves money many times over in future years. Why? Because when they first registered their domain they used an expensive registrar which typically charged around $140 for two years for a .com.au domain. There's a number of registrars who from experience are just as good and they only charge around $20-$30 for the same service. That's a very quick $110-$120 saving. If you can do this yourself, even better.

Keep in mind often transfers are quite straight forward, however there's often gotchas with registrars systems and clients forgetting passwords. I generally transfer my own domains (I know my providers systems) and it only takes a few minutes. Some providers my clients have used have been quite painful. Whilst most domains comes across easily, I have known one which took weeks to get across. One of the biggest problems is when clients let their web developer have control over the domain. Getting control back from a disgruntled developer can be very difficult. Keep control of your domain, record your passwords and transferring domains becomes easier.

A second scenario you often find, to get your business a domain registrar will have a good price when you purchase a domain, but then when it is up for renewal, they have a higher price. For example you can often get a new .com.au domain from a leading provider for $19.98 for two years, but when the renewal comes, the prices is $33.98.

A third scenario is you've transferred your domain to a new registrar, but again when the renewal comes the price is higher.

For the second and third scenario you can often save a little by transferring to another registrar. For example, today I moved a domain from GoDaddy (renewal price $16.99/year for 2 years being $33.98) to Crazy Domains for $26.38 for two years. I used my PayPal balance to pay, otherwise the bank charges a fee as Crazy Domains is an overseas company, even though it is charging in Australian dollars. The saving is only $7.60, but since it only takes a few minutes, the return on my time is quite good. Also I have dozens of domains so doing this adds up to some good savings over the year.

Now it isn't just transferring from GoDaddy to Crazy Domains. Often transferring from Crazy Domains to GoDaddy will get a saving. Sometimes for some domains there's no savings at all, or could cost you more. I've been tricked by GoDaddy's special offers which ended up not applying, so be careful of special offers. For some domains there may also be a charge to transfer, so you really need to be aware of the detail. As crazy as it sounds, since registrars offer a discount to entice you to move a domain, but a higher price to renew, transferring a domain back and force between two registrars can get you a saving each time you need to renew. Yes, crazy isn't it, but it's the old look after the new customer better than the existing customer approach to doing business.

Finally, don't leave it until the last minute. Start your transfer two weeks before your domain needs to be renewed. If something goes wrong and it can, you need to leave yourself plenty of time. In the past some transfers wouldn't occur for a number of days, so sometimes you don't know what your domain registrars will do and it can end up biting you.

The good thing is once you've done this a few times there's money to be saved for minimal work, if you can do it yourself even better. For clients where I may be dealing with domain registrars and systems I've never used before, clients who don't record passwords, sometimes it may be just as easy and more cost effective to just renew the domain at the higher price.

Kelvin Eldridge.
Online Connections
IT support.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

How much data do voice apps like Facebook Messenger or Skype use?

As far as I can gather, Facebook Messenger uses around 20MB per hour and Skype uses around 52MB per hour.

It's good to know these figures to help determine if it's better to call using a landline, mobile phone, or voice app. Often how you call will depend on what you have and what the other party has. Sometimes it may depend on cost.

Let's say for example you end up going into excess on your mobile data plan as a result of your data usage. A fairly standard figure for excess data on mobiles is $10 for 1GB. Obviously if you have plenty of data left in your plan there's no additional cost. However let's say you do use excess data at that cost then Facebook costs around 0.3 cents per minute and Skype costs around 0.9 cents per minute.

At less than a cent per minute, either product is very cheap to use. Either product is very cost effective.

The advantages Facebook Messenger has over Skype is Facebook is used by a far greater number and even if they don't have Messenger on their mobile currently, it doesn't take much for them to install it. Facebook Messenger also uses around the third of the data that Skype does.

Skype does have one feature I like when I travel. You can add a credit to your Skype account and call landlines and mobiles. Mobile rates can be high at around the normal mobile rates, but landline calls are very cost effective at a few cents per minute. Skype's smaller user base however does mean it's less likely to be other people's mobile phones.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Can't see the mp4 videos on the Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader on an iPad.

I got caught out with this once before, transferring media files to the iPad using the Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader.

When you insert the SD card into the Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader, and then plug the cable into the iPad, the import screen appears but it is blank. Nothing is shown.

The problem is the name of the video file isn't in the format the iPad requires. The iPad needs files to be named using the 8.3 format where the first 8 characters are what you want, followed by the dot, followed by mp4.

Once you name your files correctly, the files then show up on the import screen. Unexpectedly the files are imported and be seen in the photo app but not the video app on the iPad.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support. 

Friday, September 8, 2017

TPG converts customer from ADSL2+ to NBN wanting to charge fee and put on contract.

One person I know was contacted by TPG and said they were being converted from ADSL2+ to NBN. They would be charged $99.95 and put on a six month contract.

The person was out of contract and thus on a month-to-month commitment.

In this situation don't just be told what's going to happen. To the person's credit they said if TPG wanted to convert their service they were not going to pay a fee and they also didn't want to be put on a contract.

TPG converted the person's service to NBN. There was no charge and they were not put on contract.

If you're in this situation you should negotiate. The companies may be reluctant to lose a customer.

I've been checking the offers from some of the companies and Optus is offering no set-up fee, free Wi-Fi modem, unlimited data, on a 24 month contract. If you're being pushed into something you don't want it's a good idea to shop around.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Telstra appear to have dropped the data plan of $50 for 5GB with 365 day expiry.

One of the plans for those using tablets, which I felt was good value from Telstra, was the pre-paid plan of 5GB for $50 with an expiry of 365 days. That meant you could use Wi-Fi most of the time and when you were out, you could use mobile data. Since the data lasted 365 days it was likely you may not use all the data over the year.

Checking Telstra's site this plan now appears to have disappeared. There's a $50 for 10GB plan but the data expires after 28 days. To get data that lasts 365 days, you now have to pay $150 for 25GB.

If you are already on the $50 for 5GB/365 day plan the good news is it appears you can still top up another $50 and get the 5GB with 365 days to use the data. If you're on this plan it's a good idea to make sure you put an entry in your diary as a reminder to renew before it expires.

It's a pity that Telstra have taken this path. I had one device on the $50/5GB/365 day plan and missed the renewal by a couple of days. All the credit was wiped. However it ended up it wasn't that bad. I didn't renew and found other ways to get data I needed. Remember your mobile phone can often be used as a hotspot and often it can be more cost effective to use data on your mobile phone plan. Most mobile plans charge $10/GB for excess usage, which is what the $50/5GB plan is offering. Even at $150 for 25GB which is $6/GB, this isn't great value. It may be better to use the money and increase your mobile's data plan to have more data each month, which can often be $2-$3 per GB or less. It really depends on how you use data.

The main reason I like to have a Telstra plan like this available is in some remote locations Telstra has better coverage. Most of the time this is not required. I consider it to be like insurance. It's there when you really need it.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.