Wednesday, June 7, 2017

PayPal - We're sorry, things don't appear to be working at the moment. Please try again later.

This morning when testing a purchase on my website I got the message: PayPal. We're sorry, things don't appear to be working at the moment. Please try again later.
Initially I thought there was a problem with PayPal, but then one of my PayPal Buy Now buttons still worked. Lots of information on the internet pointed to potential problems with people's sites. I decided that perhaps PayPal had changed their service and the older code I was using, which didn't use encryption, was perhaps being discontinued.

For the next four or so hours I wrote new code, reading documentation and ended up with code that worked. At that point I had to leave things, but still one of my sites would not be able to make sales.

Tonight I continued working on the sites. I went to check the old code to convert to the new code. When I clicked on a PayPal Buy Now button that hadn't worked, it was now working.

The problem in the end was with PayPal's service.

Hopefully by sharing this experience, others may benefit from the experience.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT Support

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Outlook versus Gmail app on Android.

For me the built-in email client on the Android 5.1 mobile phone at first appeared to be quite good. However, there was a major problem. It kept crashing. Simply failing for no apparent reason and returning me to the home screen. I decided enough was enough. I went looking for a replacement.

The two obvious email client apps are Google's Gmail app and Microsoft's Outlook app. Both have a much better user interface than the built-in email app. Large, easy to read text and they look quite good. Both however have issues.

For the Gmail app the main issue is after you delete all that spam, the emails appear to stay in the inbox. If you delete emails on another device such as a notebook and open the Gmail app the emails are still there. You have to wait for some time for the list of emails to refresh. You can pull the list down to cause a recheck of emails, but again there's quite a delay.

Microsoft's Outlook app also has some issues. The main ones for me is that if I add a URL (website link) a link isn't automatically created and the receiving person only gets a URL as text. No ability to click on the URL as you'd expect. The second issue is Outlook has no ability to let you know emails have arrived. OK. It does, but the notifications didn't work for me. That meant I had no idea if new emails had arrived.

The Gmail app also isn't great with notifications, but at least in the status area at the top you see a small Gmail icon to indicate email has arrived. That's OK. With Outlook I had to add the Outlook widget to a home screen which showed the latest emails that hadn't been read. I didn't like this approach.

Overall I'm actually not happy with either the Gmail app or the Outlook app. Given I'm also not happy with the built-in email app, it means I have to accept the email client with the least annoying short comings. In this case it is the Gmail app. The reasons are I like to see some visual indicator email has arrive without opening the email. Also I want a visual indicator and not an audible one. Gmail also makes URLs I insert into links when others receive the email.

I'm not a fan of Gmail products as I don't like the idea they've scanning everything I do for marketing purposes. I would prefer Outlook because Microsoft isn't as focused on advertising for revenue. I can't understand why Microsoft couldn't fix these two issues. In the end, until Microsoft fixes the issues, I've gone with the Gmail app.

Kelvin Eldridge

Sunday, May 28, 2017

BigW has a special on a E8372 4G Wi-Fi USB mobile adaptor.

I recently purchased an Optus 4G W-Fi USB mobile dongle from Big W which is currently on special for $20. The normal price is $69.

The reason I purchased this device was I'm planning to move from ADSL to 4G for internet access and this device gives me the ability to have a Wi-Fi hotspot in the home and also take my larger internet plan with me.

A word of warning. BigW had a couple of these units and the SIM card had expired in 2016. That means the 4GB of data which lasts for 14 days wasn't available. They tried to sell me an additional $2 SIM card with no data. I suggested that perhaps they should simply drop $5-$10 off the price. They took $5 off the price. For $15 that was an excellent price for a 4G W-Fi/USB dongle.

The next surprise is I currently have a SIM card with 14GB of data I using for test. It uses the Vodafone network. I decided to see if I could unlock the device since it expired so long ago, but Optus required a mobile number, and since it hadn't been activated I didn't have a number. But that's where I received a very pleasant surprise. The device wasn't locked. It worked immediately. I was planning and still may use it with the Optus network, so being unlocked wasn't necessary, but it was great that it was.

If anyone is looking for a 4G Wi-Fi USB device the E8372 works well and at $20, it's a very good price. If you're lucky enough that the unit is unlocked, even better.

Kelvin Eldridge

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Apple MacBook Air mini displayport to hdmi adaptor.

Most of us with computers need to purchase accessories, such as cables, every now and then. My MacBook Air (now a few years old) is an excellent computer. Very light and portable. The 11.8" screen most of the time isn't an issue. However sometimes I'd like to connect to a larger screen.

I already have an Apple TV (the older model) which works well for entertainment. But this time I wanted to connect to a larger monitor via HDMI. The Apple site has a Belkin 4K mini DisplayPort to HDMI adaptor for $49.95. We all know Apple's prices aren't the cheapest, so I decided to check eBay.

The item I purchased was a mini displayport to HDMI adaptor for $2.95. It works a treat. Does what I need and at $2.95 it's loose change and an easy decision. Of course you're always gambling when it comes to purchasing products on eBay. I've had some devices (not computer related) simply melt, so there is a risk. Most devices are OK, but you need to know your exposure and know your risk.

For example I purchased a SD card reader from the Apple store for $45, for a relatively new iPad Air 2, and for that device I wasn't prepared to take a risk. The Apple MacBook Air is over three years old, paid for itself, so for me there doesn't feel like there's much risk.

What's important is you know you have options.

Kelvin Eldridge

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

GST Calculator for Australian businesses.

The GST Calculator is available for Australian businesses to use when calculating GST. Whether you need to add GST, or to determine the GST component of the GST inclusive price, the GST Calculator is available for Australian usage.

A handy method to add the GST Calculator to your Desktop is to drag and drop the icon, which appears in the address bar of your browser to the left of the site address, to the Desktop. In Apple's Safari you first need to click on the site address for the address to be highlighted and then you can click and drag the icon. For Google Chrome you can click and drag the circled i, as thought it's an icon.

You can find the GST Calculator at

Kelvin Eldridge

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Apple iPhone iOS feature Wi-Fi Assist is turned on by default. You may wish to turn it off.

Recently I helped a person set up their new iPhone 6S. Yes, it's an older model now, but the 16GB model was being sold at a very good price.

When setting up an iPhone there's a number of settings I suggest people turn off until they know what those settings do. One feature that is a particular concern and is turned on by default, is Wi-Fi Assist.

Wi-Fi Assist lets the mobile phone use the often expensive and more limited mobile data allowance if Wi-Fi connectivity is poor. That's a really poor idea. If Wi-Fi isn't working, you really don't want to automatically start chewing through the more expensive mobile data. Turn the Wi-Fi Assist option off to avoid surprises with your mobile bill.

Will this really help. Perhaps. If Wi-Fi drops out and you have mobile data enabled, then your mobile phone is probably going to use the mobile data anyway. This for example may happen as you move away from the Wi-Fi access point. If your ISP service for you Wi-Fi access point however stops working, and you're still using the Wi-Fi access point, this is when you'd expect to lose access to the internet. Not convenient, but if you're watching a movie via Wi-Fi and the internet drops out, automatically switching to mobile data could consume quite a lot of data before you may even be notified by your ISP.

Do turn this option off, unless it's really what you want to do.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Google Maps Share location feature now available

A while ago I read Google was launching the ability for people to share their location using Google Maps. Today this feature became available on my Android based mobile phone. A second mobile phone didn't have the feature. All that was required was to update Google Maps and the second mobile had the feature as well. You can find the feature in the menu by pressing the "Hamburger" or menu icon.

Previously one of the web apps I wrote provided this functionality, but Google's implementation is much better being integrated into Google Maps.

There's a number of reasons to use a feature like this. Parents can now have their children start this feature on their mobile phone and know when they're getting close. Want to let your other half know when you'll get home. Now they can watch your progress through the traffic. As a group of friends getting together, sharing your locations means everyone can see where everyone in the group is currently located. If you've ever wondered where someone was when you're waiting for them, now there's no need to wonder.

My favourite way to use such a s feature is to help a family member when they're stuck in traffic. Whilst they're focused on the traffic, I can look at the traffic on Google Maps and help determine a better route for them to take.

You can decide whether to share your location for a period of time or indefinitely.

You may find other useful ways to find this new feature.

TIP For better accuracy turn on your Wi-Fi. Google uses Wi-Fi access points around you to better locate where you are. The built-in GPS by itself is often too slow and your location can often be placed quite a distance from where you are actually located. Together, the GPS and Wi-Fi works better in built-up areas.

Kelvin Eldridge
Providing IT support.