Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Alert: Important information from the Nokia Developer website team

I received an email with the subject Important information from the Nokia Developer website team on the Monday and have subsequently read a news item. It does appear a Nokia site has been hacked. Nokia was quick off the mark letting its users know which is good.

What did concern me was the links in the email weren’t from Nokia but from a marketing group. Given that anyone with the mailing list could now send fake emails on behalf of Nokia I think companies using third parties to send emails out on their behalf should reconsider using third party organisations in this situation.

The bottom line is if you have registered with Nokia as a developer to use their forum you should now treat emails with greater caution.

Kelvin Eldridge
Contact Online Connections for assistance with your computers.

MyAnswers: Office365/Office 365 gets the thumbs down.

The following MyAnswers solution 2155 is now available:

Office365/Office 365 gets the thumbs down.

I initially started the review of Office 365 with the aim of seeing whether or not I could recommend it to my clients and new clients. My focus is on micro and small business so I'm always looking for tools and services which can help those businesses. I hope others find the information useful.

Click here to obtain the solution.

Click here for related solutions.

Kelvin Eldridge

HP's decision to kill WebOS tablet has broader ramifications

HP’s recent decision to kill off the WebOS tablet just a few days after its release in Australia and then following up with news it may exit the PC market, is certainly news for concern.

I’ve been a long time reseller of HP business equipment to my customers. They’ve been reliable suppliers and the equipment has been very reliable. In business you need long term reliable suppliers to help you help your customers. Right now I’d have to say everything has been turned on its head. Right now for me a question mark hangs over HP as a supplier and I’d have to say I’d no longer recommend them in preference to another supplier.

HP has in a short period of time gone from a preferred leading brand to an unknown quantity. In effect their actions have moved them from prime candidate to non recommendation. I personally think that is absolutely amazing and disappointing.

Even though it is stated in the press the printer division is safe as it is profitable, it really begs the question will it be the next to go. The only certainty with HP right now appears to be uncertainty, and that’s not good for the industry and those who rely on HP.

If the leading maker of personal computers worldwide pulls out of the PC market it is a concern. Everyone is talking about tablets but really they’re an additional item, and not a replacement for notebook computers and desktops. They represent a sliver of the computing market at least at this stage. Much of what I do with a computer I cannot do with a tablet and that is true of my clients.

The competitors must have grins from cheek to cheek. With the main player simply stepping aside for them I don’t think they’ll believe their luck.

For my clients I’ll certainly be reviewing the suppliers I recommend as my clients deserve to know the supplier they purchase from at least appears to be in the game for the long haul.

This is indeed a low spot for the computer industry.

Kelvin Eldridge
For assistance with your computers call Online Connections
In the IT business for over 20 years.

Does open source create a leech like mentality and hurt those working in the computer industry?

There is no doubt that obtaining free software is a bonus for people, but what if you’re the one putting in your energy to improve the software. As the builder of the Australian English dictionary I put in hundreds of hours only to find almost no return for my efforts. I tried all the usual ways to raise money from a distribution fee, a donation link, or thinking that perhaps people would use my professional services once they knew my work, but in the end, there is probably over a million people using my work and almost nothing to show for it.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. I put myself into that position. I naively believed that if you give to others then others will give to you. One person from the Ubuntu project was happy to pay $9.95 distribution fee so he could include my work into Ubuntu. He believed there were 20 million users and that I would benefit. I saw no traffic to my site or any business from Ubuntu users. The Firefox project took my work and gave nothing back. Google included my work in their Google Chrome project. A link from Google would have been worth its weight in gold, but instead any reference back to my work was buried deep inside the project. Every project took what they wanted and gave nothing back.

For me the saddest aspect is I did exactly the same. I took the work of the UK dictionary project at the advice of the OpenOffice.org project lead and used the from the OpenOffice.org project never once thinking about the people who put the work into the UK dictionary. I then gutted the dictionary from 120,000 words to 70,000 and built a better Australian dictionary for my clients (at my cost) and then made the work available to Australian users. It was later when I realised what I’d done that I wrote to the developers offering to help them if I could in some way.

Firefox was the worst for me because my work was converted to a different licence against my wishes. Google was a disappointment because I asked that they add the ability to select Australian English so I could make my work available, but in doing so they then just incorporated my work.

The problem I see with open source is it takes from one group of people to give to another. It doesn’t support those who are contributing. Until open source projects do, they will continue to churn through the people it uses which is not a good long term strategy. This approach means there will be a constant brain drain of the people contributing. People will come and go because in the end they are not rewarded. With commercial software those who contribute get paid which helps the project grow and those who are contributing to also grow.

I hope that by sharing this experience others working in the computing industry will see my contributing to open source as an example to follow thinking they’ll benefit. I haven’t. I’ve consumed a very large amount of time with no return on the time invested. I hope that by being open if one other person makes a better decision than I have, that will be a good outcome.

Kelvin Eldridge


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Is blog spam a legitimate marketing technique?

Today I received blog spam from Toronto First Class Limo, Limos Rental Toronto, King’s Pastry, Homes and Castles (Century 21) and Airport Auto Rental. These sites appear to maintained by Asian Web Media a division of GloXtar Inc.

Blog spam is where other companies submit comments with the intent of having their site appear in other company’s blogs. In the past links would appear in the text but now companies have their site included as the author.

I consider this inappropriate and not a way to endure your business to others. I’d even be certain these businesses have not bothered to find out the marketing techniques of those whose web marketing services they retain. In addition the registrars in control of these domains appear disinterested in the activities of those registering domains, whereas if these businesses are legitimate, a single warning would likely result in the companies ceasing their blog spamming.

We can see ISPs in Australia do not wish to take responsibility for those who use their services fighting tooth and nail so those who breach copyright aren’t their responsibility, but in the end if ISPs and registrars actively discouraged law breakers, the internet would be a better place for everyone.

If you have a blog don’t automatically release comments. Manually approve each comment and help keep blog spam from reaching the public. It takes some work but if others don’t take responsibility then it is up to you.

Kelvin Eldridge
Need help with a blog. Contact Online Connections.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Alert: Work Offer Inside

I treat unsolicited emails as potential malware, but I suspect many people don’t based on the large number of people who get scammed. For me it is a real shame these people are scammed and I wish they had the knowledge to see the scam in advance.

Today I received a typical unsolicited work offer email. For those who are unemployed and looking for an opportunity it would be easy to be enticed. After a while any offer can end up being a good offer. But I suspect not in the case of unsolicited offers. I decided to review this email.

The email is about an offer for someone in Canada. I’m in Australia and this email was sent to an email account that most likely was harvested from the internet. I don’t give out the email or use it in any other way. Scraping the internet for email address is the first sign that something isn’t right.

The email has an address which implies it is a Canadian site. When I checked where the email was sent from it was sent from Costa Rica. Further investigation shows the domain has a contact in Russia.

Chances are emails like this are only a ruse to get detailed contact information which may potentially be used for identity theft.

A general rule is don’t respond to any unsolicited email. If you interested in doing work approach the business directly yourself and not as a response to an email.

Kelvin Eldridge
Contact Online Connections for computer support


Friday, August 26, 2011

Monthly and Annual peak sun hours for locations around Australia

A figure I tend to think is quite useful when thinking about a solar system is the amount of peak sun hours around Australia as compared with the number of daylight hours. From what I’ve read the peak sun hours is the number of hours you can use to determine the amount of energy your solar system will generate.

I found this very informative document I thought I’d share with others. It provides the annual peak hours around Australian but also useful information such as the efficiency based on the orientation towards the sun and also the tilt of the panels. This information gives you a better understanding of why a solar system only provides a certain amount of electricity and also how that varies over the year.

I’m still not sure how much energy is generated each day compared with the peak sun hours. I can’t help feeling even though there is a percentage efficiency drop electricity would still be generated. I hope to make some rough measurements in the near future which will help me clarify this.

Also the information about how a shadow over a small section of the panel can have a dramatic effect to the amount of power generated was useful. That now makes a bit more sense and isn’t what I would have expected.

The other useful figure was how a stand-alone system produces less power due to the losses associated with other components of the system. For when I did some calculations with regards to charging batteries some time ago, I’ve found you usually have to factor in a loss of around a third of the power. Very interesting information indeed.

I hope others find the information useful.

Kelvin Eldridge

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Alert: IMG (Offers) Image Marketing Group

I continue to receive emails to email addresses I don’t make public from this group so I’d highly recommend you delete emails from this group as they’d be considered spam. I’ve previously unsubscribed but that had no effect.

On checking they’ve changed their email address but lately appear to be using the email address admin@optin-marketing.info.

The good thing is that whilst the company uses a consistent email address you can add it to your spam filter. If you have control of your email at the mail server you can add the email address at the server and for a while you’ll be free of these pesky emails. That is until they change their email address again.

If you need help blocking your email at your mail server and have access to your mail server you’re welcome to contact me.

Kelvin Eldridge
Having problems with your computer then drop us a line.

Easy low cost photo books

I recently produced a photo book of our holiday and couldn’t help feel that others may be interested in creating their own photo book.

The problem I’ve found in the past is the time involved in creating a photo book can be days, and if you have a lot of photos, you have to cut the number of photos back otherwise the photo book could easily cost $200.

I’ve now created an approach which enables me to automate creating a photo book from a large number (small number as well) so I can create the majority of the photo book in a few minutes and then dress the photo book up with the final touches. I produced a photo book containing 410 photos on 134 pages in under an hour for around the cost of a standard 20 page book.

If there is interest and I can find a way to make my program available to others I’d be happy to consider the options.

For example:

Would you be interested in attending a short course which would enable you to learn the software (it is very easy) and ask some questions?

Would you prefer a do-it-yourself approach with printed or web based instructions?

If you are interested let me know and if there is enough interest I’ll put something together.

For me the ability to put together quickly and at relatively low cost some photo books opens up some great possibilities.

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for support if you have a computer related problem.  

Steve Jobs resigns as Apple CEO

Letter from Steve Jobs... Read More

- Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for help with computer problems

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Software backup programs for Windows 7, Vista and XP.

I’ve done a great number of hours of research on backup programs over the years and I found it very difficult to find a good program for those using Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7. The leading brands I felt weren’t good enough. They generally failed or had terrible performance.

For my small business users and individuals my requirements for a backup program isn’t rocket science.

Here is what I wanted:


1. A copy of the files and folders. I’ve found any user can retrieve a file or folder when it is a copy, but most struggle with restoring from backup when a backup program makes a special file.

2. To be able to run a process to copy multiple folders as users’ data is often stored in a couple of areas. A basic copy isn’t good enough.

3. When I copy the folders to an external drive I want to create a new folder to store the data so I have a different backup each time. I’ve found copying over a previous copy a recipe for disaster.
4. Easy to run.
5. Easy to add new folders to the backup.

I decided it was time I wrote my own simple backup program. I could then place this on a user’s machine and they could run the backup program to copy  their important folders and files.

I’ve now created a backup program which is a DOS batch file. It is easily edited to meet the needs of the individual, fast, can copy to a nominated drive letter, very low cost and is launched by clicking on an icon. Each backup creates a new folder which has the date and time as part of the folder name to store the data.

I’m very pleased to say I can now provide my batch backup program to clients as an additional service. I’m happy to provide the batch backup program for $9.95 per user plus any time involved in tailoring for each user if you don’t wish to do this yourself.

Kelvin Eldridge

Why installing solar panels may not be a good investment.

I have to be frank, but I'm really struggling with investing in solar panels and here's why.

I read that in Melbourne the average amount of sunlight for solar energy production per day is 4 hours. The average solar panel kit is 1.5kWH and whilst a basic installation until recently was around $3,000, with the reduction of the grant it is now around $4,500.

The first concern I have is by taking a grant I am in effect taking other people's money.

The second is if the government instead invested in large scale developments (I've read two are underway) then the savings from building on a large scale means no government grant would be required to achieve better returns.

I've read the amount of energy used in making the solar panels takes about 7 years to break even.

The basic installation when I reviewed information provided at a meeting run by the local council wasn't what I'd end up paying. There were potentially other costs. There is also a maintenance cost and the inverter if it dies, is very expensive to replace.

But let's forget about all the above and just do a quick financial review. Using the Energy Cost Calculator and my current energy retailer's price of around 21 cents per kWh, a 1.5kWh system would generate 6kWh's per day or roughly a saving of $469 a year.

At current prices that's around 10 years just to pay back the money I invest. In 10 years if I left the money in the bank I'd have increased the money and if I applied the money to a mortgage the savings off the loan would have doubled the money.

Now to complicate things more, there is an attractive rebate for energy you pump back into the grid. But for most people that won't be very much as their base load may even exceed the electricity the panels generate. But worse, by putting in the panels you go on a split tariff system that charges a higher rate for two thirds of the day and a lower rate for only a third of the day when usage is lowest. Overall the tariff change will increase your electricity costs.

The picture I'm seeing is you gain some savings but that is reduced by the increased costs due to the higher tariffs.

It is hard to get an accurate idea of how much better off you'll be, but if I'm to go by the 11 people in the local area who appeared in the newspaper, the savings for them only averaged around $200 a year.

For many that means installing solar panels may never end up paying for themselves.

For those who justify installing solar panels because it is environmentally good then perhaps think about the very large scale projects which can achieve a better result at a lower cost for the benefit of everyone with no grant required.

Installing solar panels just doesn't make sense.


Now don't get me wrong. I'm a fan of solar energy and have been for decades. I just think we need to make sure we're doing things for the right reasons and in the most appropriate ways.

The approach I've been taking is energy reduction which has reduced our electricity usage to around 40% of the average. I’ve found a number of ways to save money which pay for themselves in a few months to under and year. I'm also investigating the appropriate use of solar energy where there is a better payback so I have definitely not given up on solar.

Kelvin Eldridge

PS. If you have verifiable savings with your solar installation you'd like to share with others, please feel free to contact me with the information. So far people haven't been jumping up and down to brag about their savings.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Are you paranoid that your computer might be infected with malware?

If you’re paranoid that your computer might be infected with malware you probably have good cause. The problem is there are so many businesses out there, both legitimate and not legitimate, who try to change your computer without you quite realising what they’re doing or why.

It could be as simple as installing Acrobat Reader where you end up with the Google Toolbar installed. Acrobat most likely makes money by bundling Google’s Toolbar, Google gets to monitor the sites you visit which helps them make money from advertising and you’re computer just gets another piece of software installed it doesn’t need. That’s a legitimate business tactic although one I wish they didn’t use.

Next you have the site which changes your default search engine as I’ve seen with Firefox users. The search engine looks like Google but it isn’t. The site creates a front end to Google’s search engine so it makes money if you click on ads. You’ve been tricked and you’re browser has been hijacked. Because Firefox makes most of its income from Google, unlike Internet Explorer, where it is easy to change the default search engine, the average user will have difficulty removing this search engine and my logs show quite a few people reaching my site have been infected or tricked. You might just be starting to think the world is conspiring against you.

Then you have the malware writers. It can be as simple as visiting an infected site and your computer is infected. One person I know had their mortgage offset account cleared out of thirteen thousand dollars.

If you have shared computers and your children frequently search the internet (who doesn’t) then you run the risk of your computer being infected and often you won’t know it has occurred. The problem is if you then do things which require a username, password or pin number, that information could be recorded and sent to others without you knowing. To be quite frank, I advise all my family not to use any computer other than mine to do internet banking because I can’t be sure their computers haven’t been infected. I know they have in the past.

As a result of talking with a concerned client, I decided to investigate and see if there was a way to boot a computer from a CD and provide the user with a secure environment. As it turned out I was able to locate software used by American soldiers whilst overseas and can now make that software available to clients at a relatively low cost. The only tricky aspect is getting your computer to boot from the CD when a CD is present. This is a standard feature of most computers but isn’t generally known by the average users. Unfortunately changing the setting can vary from machine to machine, but once set up it works like a dream.

I can see a number of possible uses.

1. You want to do your internet banking and want to make sure you start your computer and know that even if it is infected, you’re session is secure. That’s exactly what the software can do. It doesn’t require anything from your hard disk and doesn’t update your computer. Every time you start the computer using the CD everything is clean.

2. Your children have infected your computer as a result of surfing the internet and that cost you a bucket of money to fix and you’d prefer not to go through that again. When your children want to surf the internet get them to boot their computer using the CD and they can surf the internet to their heart’s desire and even if they do comes across malware, only the current session is affected and once the computer is restarted the malware will be gone.

3. You own a business and don’t mind letting your staff surf the net or do their online banking during breaks but are concerned they could infect your computers, or worse, an infected computer clears out their bank account leaving you potentially liable. I’ve read this cost one business around $10,000 in legal fees. Give staff and CD and let them boot the computer. Your computer is safe and so are they.

4. You want to use a friend or relation’s computer whilst travelling to do internet banking. Yes. I’ve been there. The ANZ screwed up my automatic payments when I went overseas so I was forced to use a computer I didn’t know to make payments and it was really stressful. The secure boot CD would have given me peace of mind.

5. How many times have I had to fix a business computer after a staff member has worked on the weekend and brought in their child and the computer was used to occupy them. Yes. Very costly. Boot the computer with a secure boot disk and the computer can again be used to occupy children without concern or pressure they could do something wrong.

There are many uses for a secure boot disk. Clients are welcome to contact me if you’d like a secure boot disk. There is a small charge for the disk ($9.95 plus postage if required) but if you need support to set up your computer so it can boot from the CD, there would also be a small charge for the time involved.

For me this is a great opportunity for clients to minimise the risk associated with the internet. Nearly all malware infections now come from the internet. If you use a secure boot disk when accessing the internet the chances of infecting your computer are greatly reduced.

Kelvin Eldridge


Monday, August 22, 2011

Facebook 'Like' button declared illegal in Germany

I personally doubt if many people realise how their use of Facebook and features such as the Like button are used by the companies who have access to the information.

FACEBOOK'S famous "Like" button has been declared illegal under Germany's strict privacy laws by data protection officials.... Read More

People often don’t care if they’re actions are being tracked. Most don’t care if the government and authorities have access to their information and the general attitude is, “I don’t do anything wrong so what does it matter”, thinking only good people can get access to their data. But if the Homeland Security of America’s information is correct, where 3 in 100 people aren’t allowed onto an aeroplane because they’re dangerous and 10 in 100 are stopped before boarding then we need to keep in mind that bad people also work in these companies and have access to the information.

It amazes me that people use a feature such as the Like button for a business. Have you ever noticed with banks and other companies all the good offers are used to get new customers and existing customers don’t get much. Telling a company that you like them means they have you and they don’t have to work hard for your custom. The business will be focusing on getting new customers and that isn’t you.

Short term I expect to see the Like button being used to get new customers with special offers, but long term once they have you the benefits will reduce over time and since loyal customers generally remain loyal, a business can increase prices without losing a customer. Using a Like button is giving away your negotiating position. Remember it is basic human nature. We try harder to get the things we want rather than the things we already have.

So whether you’re concerned about your privacy, how your information is being used by others, who your information is being sold to, or just reducing your bargaining power, you should really think about social networking and features such as the Like button. I for one think people should if possible aim to keep things balanced and fair.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Friday, August 19, 2011

HP to discontinue HP webOS TouchPad Tablet which has just been launched in Australia.

I wrote in an earlier blog post a while ago I couldn’t see a compelling business case for the HP webOS TouchPad tablet, but even I didn’t think HP would have planned to can it so quickly. The problem to me is HP kept webOS devices under wraps and if anything, probably lost momentum so when it was released there wasn’t the demand required. I felt they had one trump card up their sleeve if they decided to use it. If they had made webOS available for purchase for old PCs at low cost a lot of people including myself would have bought a copy to give it go. Once the tablet devices came out there may have been an enthusiastic early adopter market ready for the tablet. But that all now appears to be history.

If you’re thinking about buying a HP webOS TouchPad tablet keep in mind there now doesn’t appear to be a future for the device. Quite a pity really.

In addition, HP reported that it plans to announce that it will discontinue operations for webOS devices, specifically the TouchPad and webOS phones. HP will continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward. ... Read More

- Kelvin Eldridge

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Critical alert: Telephone call from scammer purporting to be from Service of Windows Operations James Stevenson. Issue: Illegal copy of Windows.

Only moments ago I received a call from a person called James Steveson who said they were from Service of Windows Operations a section of Microsoft. He informed me  they had detected an illegal copy of Windows on my computers. He wanted me to go on my computer. My computers are legitimately licensed so I knew immediately the caller was a scammer.

I asked for his telephone number so I could call him back. He provided an address of 75 Ressdale Street but I was not able to obtain any further information and I’d be certain this information isn’t legitimate. By asking for the a number to call them back on this would provide an ability to trace the caller. The caller knows this so hung up.

I reported the information to Optus (my telephone service provider) but it requires three calls for them to take action. There does not appear to be anything in place to protect consumers so each consumer has to effectively look after their own interests.

In this case the caller appeared to be using the telephone directory information to contact me.

Should you receive any unsolicited call from overseas letting you know you have a problem on your computer it is almost certainly a scammer.

Please take care.


Kelvin Eldridge


Are you missing out on up to 40% of your potential search engine traffic?

I recently helped a client with their web site. They’d set their site up using an overseas hosting company and a .com domain and thought everything was OK. When searching using Google they were first in the search results which is what they wanted. But when searching Pages From Australia their site was nowhere to be seen. Because 30-40% of Australians search by selecting Pages From Australia that meant potentially the client was missing out on 30-40% of their internet traffic.

Because how you set up your site on the internet could cause you to miss out on up to 40% of search engine traffic it is important to consider your options carefully.

For the client I was able to use techniques which resulted in their site appearing first in the Google search results for Pages From Australia. An overview of the approach I used is documented in MyAnswers solution 2152.

Kelvin Eldridge

Google search results now different for each person

There are many limitations I’ve found with Google search results over the years, but more recently the results have started to become less useful. People often ask me for assistance with their computers and sometimes I suggest they search for a particular phrase because I know the site will appear in the search results.

For example recently I was assisting a client with their Search Engine Optimisation strategy. I said the quickest way to find an article on my blog was to enter a particular phrase and my blog entry would appear in the results. For me blog entry always sits on the bottom of the first page of the Google search results. To my surprise the client couldn’t find the page in their results so I had to send them a link to the post via email. How strange I thought!

In hindsight I’ve now become aware of what is happening. If you have signed into a Google service then Google is adjusting your search results so you no longer see what others see. For some that might be good, but for me it isn’t. Google thinks I want to see my own sites high in the search results and that just isn’t the case. I’d prefer to see what everyone else sees so I can use that information to help others.

I’ve read that Google will be using their social networking service, Google+, and incorporating your contacts shared information into your search results. Now again that might be good for some, but for others I suspect it won’t offer much value. As Google filters information more and more you’ll find you’ll see less results from people you don’t know and those are the people who know things you don’t know.

Over the years Google has changed the search results page. If I look at a Google search result I see so much information I don’t need. I don’t need a map to appear every time I search. I can use Google maps for that if I want. I don’t need a list of businesses like a directory to consume a lot of the page. I can use a directory for that. I certainly don’t need my own pages to appear on the first page if they don’t usually appear on the first page. I know what they contain so I’m not getting anything new.

Now when I search I need to log off Google services so I can see the results I think others will see. I say I think, because if they’re logged onto a Google service they won’t get the same results. Add this to Google’s geographical filtering which can change results for people located as close to each other as Melbourne and Geelong and it starts to become much harder to feel you’re getting the information you’d like, rather than the information Google thinks is what you want.

So the tip today. If you’re searching log off your Google services first and you’ll get search results without the extra filtering.

Kelvin Eldridge

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

MyAnswers: Office 365 own domain for email.

The following MyAnswers solution 2148 is now available:

When I send an email using Office 365 and a different email address it shows as it was "sent on behalf of" my Office 365 account. Will setting up a domain fix this?

Click here to obtain the solution.

Click here for related solutions.

Kelvin Eldridge

MyAnswers: I'm in Australia. Where is my Office 365 data hosted?

The following MyAnswers solution 2147 is now available:

I'm in Australia. Where is my Office 365 data hosted?

Click here to obtain the solution.

Click here for related solutions.

Kelvin Eldridge

Alert: Tips on pumping petrol try it you might be saving money

A thoughtful family member passed on an email with the subject Tips on pumping petrol try it you might be saving money. I find if you receive an email that encourages you to pass it on to large numbers of people it is generally a hoax of some type and you should hesitate before sending it on.

The best thing to do if you do receive such as an email and feel like sending it on, then do a bit of research first. In this case I took the subject of the email and copied that into Google Search. I found the following page which provides further information.


From the information provides is shows that saving money using the suggestions made will generate negligible savings for the time involved.

The intent of this type of email has no harm but simply to get people to take action and virally generate traffic by passing the information on. Those taking action based on the information will most likely be wasting their time.

For me the concern with this email is it appeared to have been faked and was adjusted to be from Melbourne where the sender and their contacts are located. That is a real concern to me. This is targeted viral marketing and whilst this email’s content may have no real value it is a concern that it is targeted. The change in location gives people a feeling the information content is legitimate. The changing of the location and also the word petrol is used whereas the other versions for America would use the term gas. Localising the information for the language of a country is unusual, but localised it further for the geographic location of the recipient  raises some warning signs with regards to future hoaxes, and viral spam marketing.

If you receive information of this type I’d highly recommend you do not forward it on to others. Whilst in this case probably the worst outcome is people will waste some of their time for little return, in other cases the content may be harmful.

Kelvin Eldridge


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Computer technician. Have you considered the alternatives?

I am constantly surprised and disappointed at companies providing professional services. The general rule is if a cost can be passed on to a client or is incurred by the client, the professional services organisation doesn't try to save the client money, in fact, they'll often cost the client more money than they otherwise need to spend.

Sometimes I really don't like to call myself a professional because to a degree I'm ashamed by how most other professionals behave. To me a professional tries to look after the interests of the client and puts the client's interests before their own interests to make sure the client gets the best possible advice they can be provide.

I decided some time ago to start recording problems clients were having as the same problems were experienced by others and sometimes that could be months or years down the track. Remembering a solution to a problem a few months later can be hard, but trying to remember what you did two or three years ago is even harder. By recording problems and solutions I didn't have to reinvestigate the same problem and work out the solution again. Often for new customer having the same problem, all that was required was to send to client the solution to fix the problem. This could be a saving of minutes to hours, but in all cases clients save money. I now make those solutions available to the general public for less than the minimum time interval for using my services. Some problems have taken hours to resolve so the savings can be very significant.

I call the solutions MyAnswers and the solutions are available from http://www.myanswers.biz/. The following is a list of the categories I cover.

If you need a computer support person then perhaps next time first check to see if I've already created a solution. All solutions come with a money back guarantee so there is simply no way you can lose. If it doesn't work for you for whatever reason you can then still retain my services or the services of another computer support person.

As a professional my aim with MyAnswers is to reduce the cost to clients where I can and to save money for clients where I can. It really isn't hard to be professional.

Kelvin Eldridge

Monday, August 15, 2011

Google to acquire Motorola

Tonight I read that Google is to acquire Motorola.

Google to Acquire Motorola Mobility ... Read More

I find this to be interesting news and I’d be guessing, but I suspect it might have a very interesting effect on Samsung and LG. Up until now Motorola was just another Android player and now it is “THE” Android player. If you were Samsung or LG what would you be doing. Wouldn’t you want to hedge your bets. If they do the only card left to be put on the table is Microsoft’s operating system.

Samsung and LG need some form of leverage to keep the playing field level and running a dual Android/Microsoft strategy might give them that leverage, or at least give them a backup plan. Personally I think a Samsung device with a Microsoft tablet operating system (Windows 8) would be interesting to review.

If you’re considering an Android device will Google’s acquisition enter into your thoughts. Perhaps, but then again, perhaps not. I expect mobile phones and tablets to largely have a life expectancy of around two years. You could buy what you want today and as long as you don’t over invest, you’ll still end up getting two years of use out of your device.

This has certainly changed the goal posts as they say, and it will be interesting to look back in two years to see what the players are up to.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Office 365 and Google's cloud services could be reducing the security of an organisations information.

A number of years ago I was asked to quote on a some work for a company offering security services to a major company. Through our discussions I was quite surprised the email address was the same address used by the user to remotely access their computer services. In fact they were very proud of their systems and the ability to log in from anywhere in the world. To me I felt this was a significant exposure. With the email address known publicly the only piece of information required to access their systems was a password. To me that was too big an exposure.

Fast forward about ten years and in my review of Office 365 I’ve been struggling to set up a user and use what is known as an alias as the public email address. From what I can see the user’s email address is their username. Once again the only piece of information required to access a user’s information is a password. I can’t find a way where the users email address is not shared.

Once I realised this I started to realise this is true for the majority of the online services and how people use them in general. Google’s services use the email address as the username. Again all that is required is the password and you have access to all the material stored online.

To me this simply isn’t good enough. The username to sign on and administer or use an account should in my opinion not be a public email address.

There is little wonder so many peoples’ online accounts are getting hacked. If hackers need to determine both the username and password this reduces the chance of being hacked considerably. Giving hackers half the information is significantly increasing your exposure.  Recently quite a few hacked password databases have been made public and it is surprising how many people use similar or easily determined passwords.

With email my actual account username is not made public and all the public ever see is an alias. This is a much safer way to work. With cloud services now offering your spreadsheets, your documents and your systems as well as your email, the amount of information you are now starting to share online has increased significantly and you should make sure you are fully aware of the exposure.

If all that stands between your information and a hacker is a password, then I’d be worried.

Kelvin Eldridge


Friday, August 12, 2011

HP WebOS Touchpad tablet Australian launch date

According to the following article it appears the Australian launch date for the HP WebOS Touchpad tablet is the 15th of August.

The device is set to launch on Monday 15 August. ... Read More

I do think HP needs to sharpen its pencil. If they can sell the Touchpad for $100USD less in the States they really should reduce the difference. Charging Australians 25% more isn’t going to win friends in a very competitive market.

I’m still not sure where the HP tablet will fit in. I’ll check one out to see what I think but only time will tell if it will succeed. There may be a couple of aspects which will give the HP tablet an advantage and I’ll be interested in finding them.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Optus Fusion no ADSL port available Templestowe

I just read on the Whirlpool forum that there was no ADSL port available for the person to take advantage of the Optus Fusion plan. I couldn’t help thinking this was quite unusual. I can’t help feeling that perhaps with the NBN being rolled out the investment by companies in ADSL may now dry up and a shortage of ports could become a short term issue. I don’t know if there is an issue but I thought I should flag it in case others are finding similar issues. If anyone else is having a similar problem it would be interesting to find out.

Kelvin Eldridge


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Android versus iPhone versus Windows Phone 7

People often ask me about which mobile phone they should get. Unfortunately my answer isn’t one they usually prefer to hear, especially if they’ve already bought a mobile phone.

The problem is each choice comes with a compromise. I find Google developed products tend to not quite finished off and I feel they’re only 80% there. One Android mobile phone we have, in my opinion has a shocking email client. You’d think given email is Google’s second biggest service they’d at least build a good email client. Little things like no ability to check how much data is being used also makes my life difficult. There are many little things that could be better. Apple on the other hand has a more polished product but the gotcha with them is they tend to design in restrictions for what appears to be their own benefit. For example they’ve disabled the ability to upload a file (even a photo) using the Safari browser, which I use so frequently I often have to use a computer where the mobile phone should have in my opinion been able to do what I want. Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 is a very polished operating system. The problem is the first generation and in my opinion was released and needed more work done. Copy and Paste was added later and it really should have been included from day one. The browser doesn’t display the pages I’m interested in correctly. As a developer I was surprised the browser doesn’t have location capability built into the browser and to me there were too many things the developer couldn’t access.

For me I really think all the mobile operating systems aren’t good enough and you have to decide what you’re happy to compromise on. Sometimes the biggest problem is even though we buy the mobile phones we are no longer the customer. Often the mobile phones are designed for the benefit of the business (such as Apple with their App Store) or for the benefit of the telcos. Microsoft released about nine mobile phones at launch but if you wanted a particular model you could only get it through a particular telco. That reduced the choice significantly usually from nine to three.

To be fair all of the mobiles are very good and it is amazing how far they’ve come in a matter of years. They’ll all tend to do a lot of what you want to do as a user, but it will only be when you start to push your requirements will you find the limitations and have to work within those limitations.

I look forward to the day when as the purchaser of the mobile phone I am again treated as the customer. When that happens we’ll get some great features built into the mobiles phones. For example App Stores will be largely a thing of the past once the browser technology allows the user to do everything they want independent of the mobile phone they choose to purchase. Will it happen? Not sure because at the moment the consumer isn’t the customer, but one day I hope they will be and then things will change.

So for those who want to know which mobile phone I suggest to customers, the answer is usually the one they want to buy. Most people usually have a preference already and that preference is hard to change. For me it is the mobile with the best browser. Others will have their preferences.

Kelvin Eldridge


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hacked WordPress blogs distributing malware

I have an approach to news which I’ve found works well for me over the years. If I read something in the news that doesn’t affect me or anyone I know then it is often hype designed to market a product or service. But when I know someone, or someone I know knows someone that it’s affected, then I consider the threat real and action needs to be taken.

This year a number of people I know have had their sites hacked. In one instance I assisted a client with their WordPress sites which had been hacked (I had nothing to do with the site as I generally don’t recommend the use of WordPress for a number of reasons). Whilst it was possible to remove the offending code the sites would be reinfected and the hosting company was required to remove the offending code as it was outside of the client’s control.

Today I read the following article.

Hackers are abusing thousands of independent WordPress sites to litter Google Image search results with code that redirects users to servers that attempt to infect them with malware
... Read More

What I found interesting about this article was the hackers are using Google Images to distribute malware. Those using Google Images to find images, will from what I see in many instances have almost no warning they are going to a site which may be distributing malware. This approach makes sense for hackers. Google scans sites to present images. It costs Google nothing for the content and the content links to the sites it was obtained from, which could have been hijacked.

The problem I find with people using WordPress is often they install the software on their own site and then think that is the end of it. Most will probably never upgrade their installation and as holes are found that means an ever increasing number WordPress based sites and left open for hacking.

Another client of mine recently had a site set up by a graphic designer using WordPress. I have to admit I did raise an eyebrow. This client is now either going to have to maintain their own site which they won’t as they don’t have the knowledge or skills to do it, or the graphic designer will need to do it and generally they aren’t interested in regular IT admin work which doesn’t generate an income.

If you’re considering a blog for your site do get some professional IT advice. Anyone can get a site for $5 a month, add WordPress for free and think they’ve done all they need to, but the reality is the work is just beginning. The client who required support incurred a bill of hundreds of dollars for support, exposed their customers to malware and had their site listed on Google as containing malware for a period of time which would not have happened had they used a different blogging approach.

The lessons here are:

- If you’re using images from the internet then perhaps think about how those images were obtained and potentially the sites they link to.

- Think about using images from sites that have been designed to distribute and share images as their core business.

- Think about the blogging software you’re thinking about using and the work you need to do to maintain it. If you install it on your own site are you skilled to maintain it.

- Think about your customers who visit your site. The decisions you make also affect them.

- If something is free on the internet there is a reason it is free and the site is making money somewhere else which may not always be in your best interest.

- Always be vigilant on the internet.

- If in doubt when searching on the internet think about a more secure approach which reduces the risk to you.

The internet is one of the wonders of the modern age, but do take care when using it.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Thursday, August 4, 2011

MyAnswers: Link in PDF created using PowerPoint 2010 doesn't work

The following MyAnswers solution 2141 is now available:

Using a Windows 7 computer with PowerPoint 2010, when I produce a PDF with a web site link the link doesn't work when open the PDF using Acrobat Reader and I click on the link in the PDF.

Click here to obtain the solution.

Click here for related solutions.

Kelvin Eldridge

MyAnswers: Optus Speedster ADSL modem and Belkin wireless router not working

The following MyAnswers solution 2142 is now available:

A client had a Speedster ADSL modem and a Belkin wireless router and they couldn't get their wireless network to work. They were using Optus ADSL.

Click here to obtain the solution.

Click here for related solutions.

Kelvin Eldridge

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Photo book album, the easy way

I don’t know about others who create photo book albums, but what I found was organising all the photos from a trip takes a lot of time and often photos I wanted included don’t get included because as the pages increase so does the cost.

For some time I’ve wanted to put together a photo book album of our trip to Europe and last night I submitted our European trip photo book album for printing. Actually it is more like a magazine rather than a hard cover photo book. I wanted a soft cover and I wanted to open the book like a magazine. The book has a total of 410 pictures, a massive 134 pages and I’m quite excited to see how the final product looks.

Oh, did I mention that unlike the enormous amount of time it takes to create a photo book album I decided to write a program to lay out the photos for me. The bulk of the photo album book is now automated and all that is required is to spend a little time on the front and rear covers. Perhaps the most interesting fact is the price. The photo book in comparison will cost less than a 24 page photo book album and even less than the cost of printing off the pictures at a low cost self photo printing service. This approach means I’ll end up with a photo book with all the pictures I wanted to include for a very reasonable price.

If photo books interest you let me know. I’m not yet sure if I’ll release this product for others but if there is enough interest from clients I’ll seriously consider making the photo books available to others either as a product or service.

Kelvin Eldridge


Monday, August 1, 2011

Electricity Power Usage now available on MyAnswers

I’ve now added a new section to the MyAnswers site where I’ll list the devices I measure and their power usage figures. The following is a link to the page.

Electricity Power Usage... Read More

By using the power usage figures and the Electricity Usage Calculator you can determine the cost of each device on a daily and yearly basis. By identifying devices which use a lot of power over a period of time you can make significant savings in your electricity bills. I think many people will be surprised when they find out which devices are costing them the most. It isn’t always the most obvious. Better decisions can be made when you have better information.

- Kelvin Eldridge