Thursday, June 30, 2011

Alert: Firefox release cycle may be a exposure for users.

I read the following article about Mozilla Firefox 4 being end-of-life. Whilst quick release updates are understandable, not providing support for the users of previous versions of the browser and potentially exposing them is a real concern.

Mozilla has openly admitted it's focusing on consumers at the expense of businesses, after accelerating the release cycle of Firefox... Read More

As I understand by the articles I’ve read, once Mozilla makes a version of Firefox end-of-life it is no longer supported. If not being supported means there won’t be any security updates that could be a concern. I for one don’t know exactly what “no longer supported” really means, but I get a feeling it may mean no more work it done on the release. If that is the case I’d consider that to be a major problem.

Right now just 8% (according to my logs) of Firefox users are using Firefox 5. Since Firefox 4 has now been made end-of-life, that means around 49% of Firefox users (according to my logs) won’t receive security updates and that’s potentially an exposure for many people and that’s a concern.

I once read there were approximately 300 million Firefox users. If as the article states there are 2 million people downloading Firefox a day, if there are nearly half the users using Firefox 4, that means it would take three months to in theory to fully roll everyone over to Firefox 5. That is a long time to run with unpatched software in this age where a major focus of hackers is to infect web sites to infect unsuspecting users’ computers.

Yes, Firefox users can easily update to the latest version of Firefox, but the reality is many don’t for whatever reason and those people should not be exposed.

I thought I’d flag this for those using Firefox that they should at least determine their exposure.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Office 365 now live in Australia

I decided to start reviewing Office 365 for both current and future clients. Interestingly, during the beta period Office 365 was being promoted as $6 a month for the Office 365 for professionals and small business, but now that it has been released, it is $7.90 a month in Australia. I decided to check the pricing in other countries and found the following:

Australia - $7.90 AUD
United States - $6 USD
Canada - $7 CAD
New Zealand - $9.25 NZD
Great Britain - £4 GBP

It is interesting to see the different pricing, but really in the end, it is all about what the product does for you and whether it is value for money or not for you.

I found setting up Office 365 was a bit cumbersome and may be beyond many users. If people take it easy and spend the time to learn then they’ll get there, but it isn’t as easy as setting up a Gmail or Hotmail account for example.

For those thinking you’ll get Microsoft Office 2010 type functionality and speed on the internet you really need to think again. You’ll get reduced functionality and slower speeds. But keep in mind this is not desktop software and there may be additional functionality that assists you in your business. For example having access to your documents and files from anywhere in the world without carrying around everything with you may be just what you need. Only you know what you need.

For me I’m looking at my needs and the needs of clients and will review Office 365 against people’s needs. The first step however is to review Office 365 to find out what it does do and what it doesn’t do. As I review various aspects of Office 365 I hope to share my experiences via the MyAnswers service ( I’ve already identified a number of issues for myself. It is too early to tell if they are show stoppers, or whether it simply means a different way to work.

Kelvin Eldridge

How much is Facebook really worth?

I read this article this morning about MySpace. It just goes to show how an industry can change so quickly. Facebook is probably around 50 times bigger than it was when it overtook MySpace, but all it needs is the next fad and Facebook could be the next $35 million dollar sale, which is a far cry from the estimate valuation of $70 billion.

The users of Facebook aren’t the customers. How much do you pay to use Facebook? The users are the free source of information which gives the service substance, but in the end, the real customer is the advertiser. If advertisers find a better place to advertise then the industry could quickly change again.

It is often felt the Achilles heel of Facebook is privacy, but really it is how much value Facebook brings to the advertisers. Facebook has an estimated 700 million users bringing in ad revenues of around $2 billion this year. That means as user you’re only worth around $3.12 a year. So next time you’re annoyed at Facebook and feel they should look after you better, just remember, you aren’t worth much to them. You aren’t paying the bills;-)

News Corp has sold struggling social networking site MySpace for $35 million, a fraction of what they paid for the site six years ago... Read More

- Kelvin Eldridge

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Google updates their search site both for Desktop and mobile users

I read in the press Google were updating their main search page and today I noticed the changes in presentation.  One change I’d suggest clients to avoid is the prompt to make Google search your home page. This appears at the top of the search results. I’m constantly surprised that many people do not realise browsers contain a search field (for example Internet Explorer has to search field at the top right) and you can set that search field to your favourite site engine. The search field is always present.

Those that have set their default page to Google search should think about setting their start page as blank. When I show this to people they are amazed at how fast their browser starts and they can get to the site they want to go to. Many people have the NineMSN page as their default page. They often say I can’t remove it, but once they realise every time they open their browser during the day the NineMSN page has to open first they realise starting with a blank screen is much more productive. Adding a button to their toolbar for NineMSN enables them to check the news when they want. As yourself one question. How many times a day do you open your browser and for most people it is many times a day. How often do you want to read the page you’ve made your home page. Usually the answer is around once a day. So it makes sense to set your home page to blank so your browser opens briskly.

For me the main visual change is the black row across the top. As to the main Google page I rarely use it as I always search using the search field in the browser to open Google search results. I also have a number of other search engines I regularly access (Word Check, IP address checker, JustLocal) which are all immediately available.

TIP of the day: Set your browser start page to blank. You’ll enjoy the new found speed you haven’t seen for a while.

Kelvin Eldridge

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Google PowerMeter is now dead.

I noticed the following post by Google with regards to their Google PowerMeter service. This is an online service which enables people to provide their raw data from a device attached to their electricity system and obtain reports on their usage. At some point large companies like Google have to determine whether or not a service is commercially viable and if it isn’t, they need to close it down.

As there are a number of products on the market advertising as being compatible with Google PowerMeter as a selling point, you should be aware this service will cease on September 16, 2011.

Google PowerMeter (retiring September 16, 2011). ... Read More

Having graphs of your usage is a good technique in getting a graphical representation of your usage which can make it easier to see trends in power usage. In the sample graphs I’ve seen you can clearly see the morning and night time peaks. You can see where the refrigerator turns on and off and you can see the always on background use of which quite a bit of the background power usage is from standby devices. Knowing how your power is being used helps you determine strategies to reduce your power.

I didn’t have access to graphical tools so I used the stated wattage used for devices such as light fittings and then measured the power usage using a power meter. By using the Energy Cost Calculator I was then able to determine an indicative figure for electricity usage for appliances. The end result with a fairly small change in our family’s behaviour we reduced our power usage to around half. It really was very easy to do.

Whilst I don’t think it is necessary to have an online service such as Google PowerMeter, I do think it is handy to have a tool which can show you your usage over time visually. In any case, Google PowerMeter will certainly not be an option in the near future.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Add Word Check as a search engine to Internet Explorer.

On the Australian English dictionary page you can now find the link to add Word Check as a search engine to Internet Explorer. What that means is if you want to check a word to see if you’re using the preferred Australian English spelling, to find a list of suggestions if you can’t quite spell a word correctly, or want to check the meaning of a word, you can simply use the search field built into Internet Explorer.

The search engine is free to install and can be found on the following page.

You will still need a password to use Word Check. The password is provided free to clients of Online Connections, JustLocal, those purchasing the Outlook Express spellcheck add-in, those purchasing the Microsoft Exclude file for Office, and those subscribing to Word Check.


To use the Word Check search engine type in the word you want to check and then select Word Check from the list of available search engines using the arrow to the right of the search field.


Kelvin Eldridge
JustLocal (An Online Connections service.)

MyAnswers: How to remove a registry key using a .reg file.

The following MyAnswers solution 2108 is now available:

How to remove a registry key using a .reg file.

Click here to obtain the solution.

Click here for related solutions.

Kelvin Eldridge

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

MyAnswers: Micro sim to sim adaptor.

The following MyAnswers solution 2107 is now available:

Micro sim to sim adaptor purchased for $10 in Melbourne.

Click here to obtain the solution.

Click here for related solutions.

Kelvin Eldridge

Alert: YouTube sent you a message: Unique Offer

I received an email this morning with the subject YouTube sent you a message: Unique Offer and noticed a couple coming through so decided to check one out. These emails should be deleted. They aren’t from YouTube. If you check the links you’ll see all links lead a site with no connection to YouTube. For those interested the email I received came from Germany.

Kelvin Eldridge


Microsoft Office 365 Beta - Australia - unable to create account

I’ve been watching Microsoft’s Office 365 for a while with the view of reviewing the service for my clients. What hasn’t quite sat right is the beta is not available for Australia. It states it is available for Australia but when you go to sign up you can’t select Australia.

I then read the following in the community blog.

Office 365 will not be available to Australia until GA (General Availability) and at that point it will only be available through Telstra, our Australian Partner.... Read More


If Microsoft are doing a special deal so the service is only available through Telstra they will lose a lot of business in Australia. I didn’t provide BPOS to clients as I felt in my previous dealings with Telstra both as a business and individually, the level of service I require for my clients wasn’t acceptable.

Sadly if it is true that Microsoft is only going to offer Office 365 in Australia using Telstra as their partner, it will make it very hard for me to recommend the service. I can understand that Telstra brings a huge customer base to Microsoft, but I feel Microsoft is being short-sighted by not providing the service in the same way as they are providing it to the many countries and regions listed. Our neighbour New Zealand is being provided with the ability to sign up to the beta.

If you’re in Australia and are thinking of signing up for Office 365 then wait for a while and see what Microsoft decides to do. For me if Microsoft don’t provide the service direct it will put me in a situation where I probably won’t be able to recommend the service because of my previous experience with support issues. At a minimum I will need to perform extensive testing and a lengthy trial period before considering Office 365 for clients.

My suggestion to clients is be patient and wait and see what happens.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Monday, June 20, 2011

Alert: A reminder to watch out for blog spam

What is blog spam?

Blog spam is when others use a blog to promote themselves. They post a comment which in some way links back to their site. It is fairly easy to spot because the comment is usually generic and doesn’t specifically relate to the post. Often it will be a compliment. For example today I received this comment on my blog.

I really like your article very much,its very informative.Thanks for the nice article.Keep posting.:)

Apart from the poor punctuation there is nothing obvious about this comment that would indicate it is anything but a compliment. It was posted by anonymous so from an owner of a blog you wouldn’t even think there was a link to anywhere. The problem is if you accept this comment it does contain a link to the advertisers site and you may potentially expose your readers to malware or even some scam.

Bloggers who leave their blogs open and accept this type of comment automatically are a concern. They may even end up harming their regular readers or those who search and end their site.

If you own a blog don’t accept blog spam. Don’t just accept a compliment because it feels good. It is usually just a trick to get past your defences. I receive quite a few of these every week and a search of the internet shows this technique has been used for many years to provide sites back to sites which are somewhere dubious. I couldn’t even guess how many millions of this type of comment has made its way onto the internet over the years.

Kelvin Eldridge

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Alert: Notification from Microsoft Outlook - Please read.

I just received an email with the subject Notification from Microsoft Outlook - Please read.

The email has an attachment setup.htm.

This email appears to be a phishing attempt. You should delete the email.

Kelvin Eldridge (An Online Connections service.)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

iPhone passcodes. Is yours one of the top 10 most common passcodes?

I read this article and thought it was worth sharing with others to help them improve their security. If you’re using one of the top 10 passcodes then perhaps it’s time to pick a new passcode. Before reading the article see if you can work out what you think the patterns are in the passcodes.

1234, 0000, 2580, 1111, 5555, 5683, 0852, 2222, 1212, 1998

It turns out that of 204,508 passcodes collected by an Apple iPhone app that 15% or around one in six people use one of these passcodes.

There are two lessons that can be learnt from this. The first is how easy it could be for people with nefarious intent to break into a person’s iPhone. Actually think of it another way. All a person need do is to try to break into 6-7 iPhones and he’ll most likely find one they can. They don’t necessarily have to break into a particular iPhone to achieve the result of hacking into an iPhone. The second lesson is how easy it is for a developer of an app to collect information that you have no idea what they are doing with it. Yes this information is anonymous, but collected information often reveals patterns about people’s behaviour and often we wouldn’t even know that what we do is a very common pattern. If others know we’re likely to behave in a certain way that can be used for good, or it can also be used for not so good purposes.

Bad purposes doesn’t even really have to be bad in the normal sense of bad. It could be like the GPS data being used by authorities to determine better locations to place speed cameras which could be used to increase revenue. That’s not considered bad usage unless of course you’re the one who ends up getting fined.

How are your photos being used? How is your location information being used? How is what you search for being used? How is your voice being used? How is your “Like” information being used? I for one would never have expected anyone would have collected passcode information and sent that information outside of the application and device. Perhaps there’s a good reason. (Apple has since pulled the app.)

This is certainly food for thought. At a minimum check the passcodes and make sure you’re not using one of the top ten, or for that matter a year, which are also quite common. Whilst we are all so very different, it is amazing how we are often all so similar.

Kelvin Eldridge  

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

MyAnswers: Which notebook would I suggest.

The following MyAnswers solution 2103 is now available:

A person recently shared their poor experience with a Dell computer (purchased from Best Buys in the USA). They asked which notebook computer I'd suggest.

Click here to obtain the solution.

Click here for related solutions.

Kelvin Eldridge

MyAnswers: What anti-virus program do you use?

The following MyAnswers solution 2102 is now available:

What anti-virus program do you use?

Click here to obtain the solution.

Click here for related solutions.

Kelvin Eldridge

MyAnswers: Top likes and dislikes of Apple iPad 2

The following MyAnswers solution 2101 is now available:

I decided to start documenting my top likes and dislikes of Apple iPad 2. There are some great features, but also many limitations that for some that might kill off the iPad 2 as a choice for them.

Click here to obtain the solution.

Click here for related solutions.

Kelvin Eldridge

Friday, June 10, 2011

HP TouchPad webOS Australian release date

I’ve been watching with interest what HP is doing in the tablet area. There was an earlier, what I’d call a false start with the Windows 7 Slate, but once HP purchased Palm and their webOS operating system, it was obvious the focus for HP would be on its own operating system.

The following is a paragraph from the Palm blog and we can see Australia is well down on the list in terms of the release schedule.

The Wi-Fi version of HP’s first webOS tablet will be available in the U.S. on July 1, followed by the UK, Ireland, France and Germany a few days later and Canada in mid-July. And continuing HP’s phased rollout, webOS fans in Australia, Hong Kong, Italy, New Zealand, Singapore and Spain can expect to see HP TouchPad later this year... Read More

Whilst I am interested in HP’s webOS TouchPad, it will be interesting to see what HP brings to the table. For me, HP has an uphill battle ahead of it. I sell and support HP equipment, but it has never been because of HP software, but because of Microsoft’s Windows software. For me it would be a very hard sell to promote webOS to clients.

I do think HP has an opportunity but I don’t currently like their chances of success. However there is one thing that would appeal to me that would make me take webOS seriously, but I don’t know if HP could bring themselves to do it. I enjoy technology so you could call me a techo. My real bent is to deliver solutions to business rather than technology for the sake of technology. If HP made webOS available for older PCs for a relatively low cost (perhaps around $29.95), I’d seriously consider installing the operating system on older computers. That could give HP a foot in the door. A modern lighter operating system for PCs a couple of years old would appeal to me. I don’t think they can do it, but I’d encourage them to. In my opinion HP need to think different, if they don’t, I don’t like their chances of success. I wish HP the best of luck with their webOS.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Apple iTunes Match legitimising pirating?

I watched the presentation by Steve Jobs last night for the World Wide Developer Conference 2011, but what really stuck in my mind was the pause by Steve Jobs at about two minutes before the end of the video.

Steve was presenting the iTunes Match service. As I understand it, this service will scan your hard disk, locate all your music tracks and then upgrade your music to 256kbps for $24.99 a year.

To quote Steve from the presentation, "most of our customers won't need this because they've already bought a lot of their music from iTunes, but for those that do, it's, ah, an industry leading offering, let's put it that way."

The pause and the phrase "let's put it that way" for me, begs the question which industry is making the industry leading offering. Is it the music industry, or is it the cloud based music service industry?

I honestly don't know what to think. Is the music industry using this as an opportunity to take those who have pirated music in the past, convert them to legitimate users, making some money each year for past behaviour with the yearly subscription, and perhaps hoping future purchases will be legitimate. If so that's a significant event in the music industry.

Personally I find the copyright laws to be a mystery. I've tried finding out more about what you can and can't do in terms of copyright, but mostly it seems like they won't let you know what you can do and try to scare you into thinking you can't do anything. I'd really like to see something from the Australian government written in plain English on the things people can do.

I just can't help feeling a little concerned this might expose many people in some way. For example, all of those who use this service will now able to be identified as to what music they have. Imagine if you've produced a song and made sales of say 10,000 to only find out you've now got hundreds of thousands of people with a copy of your music, should you be compensated? What protection is in place for those who use the iMatch service?

To me there are too many unknowns. The statement "let's put it that way" really should be clarified. This is a great opportunity in many ways. I can't help but feel this may be the start of the move of the music industry to a subscription service, a change in how music is consumed, charged for and musicians rewarded.

I will watch this area with interest.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Posting pictures to Twitter from an iPhone a hassle

Today I attended a cloud data storage seminar. To make the seminar interesting the organisers had organised a treasure hunt where you took pictures of six objects and post the pictures using Twitter. I'd previously used Twitter but didn't find it offered me much value at the time. I decided to give the competition a go. Take a couple of pictures during the breaks, what could be easier.

As it turned out it was amazingly difficult. Taking the pictures was easy. Setting up a Twitter account was easy. But Tweeting the pictures didn't work with Twitter's app on the iPhone which took quite some time to isolate and identify. Trying another app showed the Twitter app was the issue. However even this second app only worked for every second picture and the other pictures had to be done again. To ensure it worked I needed to double check all tweets as others would see them. That should not be necessary.

I thought this was a particularly poor experience with Twitter and something I'll avoid exposing my clients to. For me this was a real time waster. I'd have given up, but I felt knowing what was going wrong would enable me to assist clients in the future if they experienced a similar problem.

If you are going to add technologies to your client interaction it is a good idea to test it yourself and also on others around you first. Make sure the technology is easy to use and doesn't get in the way of your message.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Monday, June 6, 2011

Alert: If you blog expect your content to be copied.

With the recent post on the Apple iPad 2 ( I noticed within 24 hours my blog (or part of it) had been copied and used by another site. The site purports to report US news and trends. There was no original content on the site and the only purpose I can see for the site is to promote Amazon ads as a affiliate so as to earn commission.

Unfortunately if you’re a blogger, or a business sharing your information and putting in your time and resources to create blog content, the reality is your information will often be copied by others to profit off. You’ll gain no benefit as these sites will rarely link back to your content.

What interested me in this latest post is I really found it interesting to see how a site not only took the content from my site, but then also decided to run it through an automated process to change the words slightly. I suspect in an attempt to make the content sufficiently different so as not to be detected as a copy.

Here is the start of my original content.

For some reason Apple has decided not to deliver the full browser experience for users of the iPad 2 (even if we ignore Flash). I decided to check out Google docs and Microsoft's Office web apps.

Here is the copy which has been modified by another site.

For some reason Apple has resolute not to deliver the full browser experience for users of the iPad 2 (even if we ignore Sparkle). I resolute to check out Google docs and Microsoft's Office web apps.

The word decided had been changed to resolute and the word Flash to Sparkle. Obviously the software product Flash has nothing to do with Sparkle.

In fact whilst the text looked visually similar, if we checked the source code many characters had been changed, perhaps to make a direct text comparison even more difficult. The following is the source code of the copied material on the site.

F&#959r &#1109&#959m&#1077 reason <em>Apple</em> h&#1072&#1109 resolute n&#959t t&#959 deliver th&#1077 full browser experience f&#959r users &#959f th&#1077 <em>iPad 2</em> (even &#1110f w&#1077 ignore Sparkle). I resolute t&#959 check out Google docs &#1072n&#1281 Microsoft&#39;s Office web apps.

The aim of sharing this information is to help others who are blogging and wanting to advance their business on the internet. Few people when they start blogging realise the level of copying on the internet. Most people will feel it is OK to copy a short amount of text and provide a reference back to the site, but that isn’t the way the internet or even many businesses tend to work.

Make sure if you’re providing content via the internet that if it is copied by others and used as their content, you’ll be OK for that to happen. If not you’ll need to put into place a strategy which helps you achieve your objectives.

Kelvin Eldridge


Friday, June 3, 2011

Apple iPad 2 doesn't work with Google docs or Microsoft Office web apps

For some reason Apple has decided not to deliver the full browser experience for users of the iPad 2 (even if we ignore Flash). I decided to check out Google docs and Microsoft's Office web apps. Whilst it is possible to purchase word processing, spreadsheeting and presentation apps, if you're a person using multiple computers (iPad, iPhone, desktop, notebook etc.) then having your document stuck in one device is very limiting.

To my surprise the online applications made available by Google and Microsoft are not useable at all on the iPad 2. Even my $400 netbook handles them without a problem.

My advice is if you are going to purchase an iPad 2, test all your current applications and make sure you know what you're getting and what you are losing. What the iPad does do it does well, but you'll be surprised at what you think it should be able to do but it doesn't.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Apple Keynote, Pages, Numbers now available for Apple iPhone and iPod touch.

1 June 2011—Apple® today announced that its groundbreaking iWork® productivity apps, Keynote®, Pages® and Numbers®, are now available for iPhone® and iPod touch®, as well as iPad®. ... Read More

- Kelvin Eldridge