Friday, March 30, 2012

DNSchanger malware alert by FBI mentioned on The Project on channel 10.

Tonight on channel 10 I was watching The Project and heard about the DNSchanger malware alert. I’d also seen some articles in the press. I thought this was an interesting alert and worth investigating. Some alerts are hoaxes, but in this case this appears to be a real alert.

There appears to have been malware, referred to as DNSchanger, which changes the DNS settings for a computer or the router, people use to connect to the internet. Temporary action was taken by the FBI in November 2011 to provide a solution, but that solution will be closed down in July.

I’d suggest you should check your DNS settings for your computers and your router and make sure they aren't set to one of the following values.

Rogue DNS IP Ranges
85.255.112.0 - 85.255.127.255
67.210.0.0 - 67.210.15.255
93.188.160.0 - 93.188.167.255
77.67.83.0 - 77.67.83.255
213.109.64.0 - 213.109.79.255
64.28.176.0 - 64.28.191.255

You can use the site provided by the Australian government (www.dns-ok.gov.au) to check your computer, but I'd suggest a manual check will be more thorough. The reason is the ISP you use may have taken action which means, whilst you may be infected, you may not be able to tell.

It is stated it is expect that around 10,000 Australians (about 4 million worldwide) will not be able to access the internet when the FBI removes the temporary solution to the problem on the 9th of July 2012. Whilst that will cause inconvenience, the side effect will be those who are infected will know and then need to make the necessary changes.

If you need assistance checking your DNS settings, I'm available to assist people in the Templestowe, Doncaster, Eltham and surrounding area. The cost to check your DNS settings will vary depending on how many computers you have and the type of router you have, however it shouldn’t be that much.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au
Call 0415 910 703 for assistance.
Providing support in Templestowe, Doncaster, Eltham
and the surrounding area.

 

 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

MyAnswers: How can I recover my domain (.com.au) password?

The following MyAnswers solution 2210 is now available:

How can I recover my domain (.com.au) password?


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Kelvin Eldridge
www.MyAnswers.biz
(An Online Connections service.)

Monday, March 26, 2012

How much electricity does a computer use and thus its cost to run?

When I reviewed the electricity usage of appliances around the house, one device which stood out in terms of electricity usage I must say I’d never really thought about.

I’d turn the computer on in the morning and leave it on all day. I work from home so for me having the computer on made sense. Often I’d even have a couple of computers on. The children even had their computers on as well. But the real surprise wasn’t when the computers we on, it was when they were off.

An off computer isn’t off. It is in standby and it keeps consuming power. The LCD screen looks off, but again it is in standby consuming more power than you’d think. Those additional devices such as the printer, the scanner, the external drive, all sitting there sipping away at the power and ready to immediately jump into action at your beck and call, even when you are asleep.

All those devices even when not used are in standby up to 24 hours a day in some cases (such as when you go away for the weekend) and all consuming power which is costing you real money.

Yet amazingly the answer is simple. When you power down your computer turn it off also at the switch on the wall. When you power off the devices at the wall you save power, you also prevent the situation of a brown out where the power drops and your computer ends up in an unknown state and doesn’t want to work and you also reduce the chance of a power spike taking out your computer during a storm.

Determining how much your computer is costing you when it is running and how much it is costing you when it is in standby is very easy. You can purchase a cheap power meter for under $30 and measure the power usage in watts. Then use the Electricity Cost Calculator I provide,  enter the power usage, the time the device is on, or the time it is in standby and the calculator will let you know the daily cost and the yearly cost. If you use your electricity retailers tariff you’ll get an even better idea.

I’d highly recommend that everyone should measure how much the devices in their home are using. We’ve reduced our daily electricity usage to around 6.5kWh down from around 12-14kWh per day. From what I’ve read the average power usage for a home is around 18kWh. We now save around $400 to $600 a year off our electricity bill and it all started with the purchase of a low cost power meter. We’ve added a couple of convenient foot switches and one remote control power switch (all quite low cost), some simple changes to how we turn devices off and the impact on our power bill has been significant. I know I prefer the $400-$600 in my pocket than the power company’s.

I wrote the Electricity Cost Calculator to help me when selecting high cost energy efficient lights compared to the lower cost normal lights. The calculator helped me make better purchasing decisions. I found the Electricity Cost Calculator was also very handy for working out the cost of appliances we had running in the home which helped me make informed cost saving decisions. I’d found the government and media would focus my attention on what they wanted (such as installing solar panels for their carbon certificate scheme) where I could achieve the same or better result with almost no cost.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au

Call 0415 910 703 if your require computer assistance.
Covering Doncaster, Templestowe, Eltham and the surrounding area.

MyAnswers: Which anti-virus software would you recommend either free or paid?

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Which anti-virus software would you recommend either free or paid?


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Kelvin Eldridge
www.MyAnswers.biz
(An Online Connections service.)

MyAnswers: Which PDF writer software would you recommend?

The following MyAnswers solution 2208 is now available:

Which PDF writer software would you recommend?


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Kelvin Eldridge
www.MyAnswers.biz
(An Online Connections service.)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Electricity tariffs increase in January has now been adjusted in the Energy Cost Calculator

In January the price for electricity from my retailer increased as it did for a lot of people. The biggest increase which people often don’t notice, was the Service to Property Charge which increased by a staggering 25%. For me that’s another $62 added to the bill which I can’t control. I can control my usage, but when the increase is added to the Service to Property Charge that has nothing to do with usage.

I’ve now updated the Energy Cost Calculator with the latest peak energy rate which is 22 cents per kilowatt hour. The Energy Cost Calculator allows you to determine how much your devices are using over a year and the cost. It really is amazing how just a few cents a day saved on a single device can add up to quite a bit over the year.

When comparing electricity prices don’t forget to compare the Service to Property Charge as well. The best approach is to take a couple of bills and do the calculation for each bill with each of the electricity retailers you are thinking of using. I’ve seen some retailers with quite high Service to Property charges, whilst their usage rate compares well or better than others, it was when the full calculation was done they were shown to be worse than a higher usage rate.

With basic changes to our families electricity usage we’ve move than halved our electricity bill and now use around 6.5kWh per day. By using a low cost power meter and the Energy Cost Calculator, I was able to determine which devices were using how much energy, the cost per year, and with some basic changes, we now make considerable ongoing savings.

You can check out the Energy Cost Calculator at http://www.justlocal.com.au/clients/energy-cost/.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au

Outlook Express French spell check (spelling check) fix for British and Australian users

If you’ve installed Microsoft Office 2007 or Microsoft Office 2010, then you’ll now find the spelling check in Outlook Express only offers French spelling as an option. The options of English (United Kingdom) and English (United States) are no longer available. The other situation is if you’ve set up or purchased a computer and never installed a Microsoft application such as Office or Works, then the Outlook Express spelling check will also not be available.

Both of these situations are easily fixed using a program I’ve written. The program provides American spelling and British spelling. Whilst British spelling is sufficient for Australian users, those who have access to an older version of Office 97 or Word 97, are also provided with instructions on how to obtain the Australian dictionary so they can have Australian English spelling.

You can find the program at http://www.justlocal.com.au/clients/oespellcheck/.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au

PS. There is no such word as “spell check” with the space between the words. This is now very common because it is incorrectly suggested by most spellcheckers.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Computer PC repair: Doncaster, Templestowe, Eltham areas

Computer PC Repair: Covering Doncaster, Templestowe and Eltham area with no call-out fee or travel charge. Other areas covered with travel time charged so the closer you are to Templestowe the better.

If your computer is giving you grief and you need assistance give me a call on 0415 910 703. I’ll visit your home or business at a time convenient to you. If you live in, or your business is based in Templestowe, Templestowe Lower, Lower Plenty, Montmorency, Eltham, Doncaster or Doncaster East, because you’re local, there is no call-out fee or travel time.

I’ve found a number of people who are stumped by a problem and have taken hours to try to fix the problem, but because I’ve seen the problem before I’ve been able to fix the problem very quickly at minimal cost. I don’t charge a minimum fee, a call-out fee or travel time for locals, so people only pay for the time to fix the problem. Where problems are tricky I’m also happy to set a fixed fee so people aren’t concerned about costs blowing out. I’ve seen one real estate agent have a virus removed for over $700, something which is 2-3 times more than you’d expect to pay. At that price you could purchase a new computer. You don’t want to experience that type of shock to your budget.

If you have a desktop computer, notebook or netbook computer which is giving you problems, give me a call. I offer a satisfaction guarantee which gives you peace of mind that you’ll get your computer fixed at a reasonable price.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au
Call 0415 910 703 is you require assistance.

MyAnswers: How do I add a PayPal Donate button to my site?

The following MyAnswers solution 2207 is now available:

How do I add a PayPal Donate button to my site?


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Kelvin Eldridge
www.MyAnswers.biz
(An Online Connections service.)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Alert: ANZ Sign-In Protection Alert

I received the following message and felt the techniques used by the scammer were interesting and hoped that no one is tricked by this type of email anymore.

An attempt to access ANZ Online Banking was denied on Tuesday, 20 March 2012, 10:07:48 EDT.

If you do not remember trying to access Online Banking on the above date and time, please select
That was NOT me.

You will then be prompted to safeguards your account.
2012 ANZ Bank Limited.


What I thought was interesting was the logic of tricking people into saying it wasn’t them, rather than the direct approach of getting them to go to their account. I thought that was an interesting social engineering technique.

The second technique was the time involved. This was within a couple of hours of the actual time which potentially lends credibility to the information provided.

It is a very obvious scam email. Straight text which I don’t think any large corporate would use. The link is to a Netherlands domain which has nothing to do with ANZ Australia, however the email originated from Bulgaria.

My approach to banking email is that I don’t provide my bank with my email details where I can, except for the one where I had to, and I asked that they don’t send me any emails. That way all emails from banking institutions to me are scams. My approach is very low tech and I’d suggest it to others who are concerned about scammers. I see almost no reason for my banks to have or use my email address, except for marketing, which I don’t want, so why provide them with details they don’t need.

I am amazed in this day and age how all of us are approached multiple times a day with scams. Certainly different for years ago when the internet didn’t exist.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au

MyAnswers: Send emails using my business email address with Outlook using ISP's email.

The following MyAnswers solution 2206 is now available:

I'm using my ISP to send and receive emails so everyone sees the ISP email address. Can I still use my ISP's email service but send emails using my business email address with Microsoft Outlook?


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Kelvin Eldridge
www.MyAnswers.biz
(An Online Connections service.)

MyAnswers: Send emails using my business email address on iPhone using ISP's email account.

The following MyAnswers solution 2205 is now available:

I'm using my ISP to send and receive emails so everyone sees the ISP email address. Can I still use my ISP's email service but send emails using my business email address on my iPhone?


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Kelvin Eldridge
www.MyAnswers.biz
(An Online Connections service.)

MyAnswers: The iPod cannot be used because the Apple Mobile Device service is not started.

The following MyAnswers solution 2204 is now available:

After connecting my Apple iPod Touch and starting iTunes I get the message: "The iPod cannot be used because the Apple Mobile Device service is not started." How do I fix this issue?


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Kelvin Eldridge
www.MyAnswers.biz
(An Online Connections service.)

Friday, March 16, 2012

PayPal Here could be a game changing for banks and credit card companies in Australia

I just read on the internet PayPal Here has been released by PayPal in Australia today. I’ve submitted a request for details from PayPal and look forward to their response.

PayPal Here is a device which is triangular shaped and plugs into the sound socket on an iPhone. It enables businesses to use PayPal services to process credit card transactions. For a business like mine where I provide computer support, that will provide a much needed additional payment method which is convenient and easy to use.

I’ve previously produced a document for clients with the issues of using PayPal, but for smaller and start-up businesses, PayPal is a low cost and easy to use service to handle PayPal and credit cards as payment options. I currently use PayPal on my site and it has generally worked very well, but there are some catches which I explain in the document.

On the Online Connections site I have a page where people can make a payment (www.OnlineConnections.com.au) which works well. Hundreds of people have made purchases using PayPal as the payment method for online purchases from my sites. I also provide a link for those interested in PayPal for Business on the main page of JustLocal (www.JustLocal.com.au). (NOTE: The PayPal link is a referral link so potentially a payment is received if this link is used.)

For me the new option of PayPal Here offers an exciting point-of-sale option which is very much needed.

The reason it is a game changer, is PayPal is relatively low cost and when I signed up, had no upfront set-up costs.

When I approached one bank for merchant services (the ability to accept credit cards) they wanted 7% of every purchase, around $40 a month for equipment/service costs and if I recall correctly, a couple of hundred dollars set-up fees. Even worse though, their terms and conditions prohibited me from using another service (which I wanted for overseas current transactions and they couldn’t provide) and should there be an issue, I’d have to commit to paying for legal costs, which to me meant an open chequebook for them to retain any legal services at my cost and to me that was a risk I wasn’t prepared take. PayPal does come with its own associated risks, so you need to make sure you make an informed decision.

I look forward to PayPal Here being made available in Australia and the opportunity to try out the service.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au
Call 0415 910 703 for computer support.
Onsite services to Doncaster/Templestowe/Eltham and the surrounding area.
Support available independent of location if onsite support not required.  

Monday, March 12, 2012

Middle Camberwell Fish and Chips menu - Example of single page web site for a small business

Do you need a single page site up on the internet for your business to let your customers and potential customers know about your products, services and contact details?

 

I regularly order fish and chips from Middle Camberwell Fish and Chips when I visit family in Camberwell. The problem is I don’t really know what they have on their menu so generally just stick with the basics, even though they have quite a bit to offer. I asked Jenny the owner, for permission to put her menu on JustLocal so I could more easily check their menu next time, make it available to other family members and that also means it is available to her customers. I also felt it would be a good example for other small business owners to see what they could easily do to help promote their businesses.  You can find the Middle Camberwell Fish and Chips menu at www.justlocal.com.au/clients/middle-camberwell-fish-and-chips/.

The work involved in putting your business information onto the internet for others to find isn’t that large, if you approach it in the right way. If you’d like a relatively low cost presence to get your business started on the internet, give me a call on 0415 910 703 or send me an email at sales@onlineconnections.com.au.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au

 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Apple iOS 5.1 update Australian release date

Tim Cook recently announced the iOS 5.1 update was available immediately.

I use an older 3GS iPhone and none of the new features made me feel there was an urgent need to update. To my surprise the update had started without my knowledge.

I sometimes use a 3G wireless hotspot and without realising it, the mobile phone switched to the wireless service which I had on to test Android 4 on a tablet. The 3GS was plugged in and charging. This combination was sufficient for the iOS 5.1 update to silently and without my knowledge to start updating. I only knew the update had started because when I checked to see if iOS 5.1 was available, I was surprised the download was already started but in a paused state.



The caution here is to watch your data plan usage if you're using a 3G wireless hotspot, or make sure you turn off wireless on your Apple device when not using the feature. The same situation could occur if you're using an Android or Apple 4/4S as a hotspot with a Touch or iPad. I had no idea the update would occur without warning. Usually I'll connect to a fixed broadband service for large updates.

The good news is the iOS 5.1 update is available now for Australian users. Connect your device to power and a WiFi connection and the update should start. I'd also suggest using the software update feature to manually check for updates and make sure the update starts. If you have an older version of iOS (before version 5) you'll need to perform the update using iTunes, which I believe is a very big update.

Two features that caught my attention are: the camera is now available from the lock screen, which is convenient, and apps that can be downloaded without a WIFi connection has increased from 20MB to 50MB, so watch that data usage.

Happy iOS 5.1'ing.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au
Call 0415 910 703 if you require help with your computer.
No problem too small.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Apple iPad 3 Australian release date

The Apple iPad 3 has now been announced in the States. The new features are:

Higher resolution display

A5X chip with quad-core graphics

5 megapixel camera
1080p HD video
4G
Personal Hotspot for 5 other devices using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or USB.

The operating system has been updated to iOS 5.1 and includes some new features.

 

The iPad 2 will be reduced in price.

The Apple iPad 3 will be available in Australia on Friday the 16th of March, which is the same time as the United States.

 

This information is provided for those interested in the Apple iPad 3. This isn’t meant to be a recommendation. You should review the iPad 3 against your requirements as you would any computing device. I assist clients with their Apple devices including services such as connecting their Apple devices to their home or business networks, setting up email, and general support.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au
Call 0415 910 703 for assistance with your computers.
Servicing Templestowe/Doncaster/Eltham and the surrounding suburbs.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

iPad or Android tablet as mobile computer replacement for netbook, notebook or laptop

I have to say I was keen to try a tablet computer as a replacement for my ageing netbook. The netbook has been (and still is) a great machine. I’ve been able to run all my Windows based applications and the built-in Ethernet adaptor and wireless meant that when travelling, I could connect to both wired and wireless access at hotels. Tablets only have wireless access which rules out a lot of hotels. The attraction of the tablet is the long battery life and the slimmer form factor.

So I purchased an Apple iPad 2.

As I was working with others I noticed I was using the iPad 2 to demonstrate what a site/blog would look like on the internet, but the real work had to be done on the netbook. After a couple of weeks I felt it was absolutely crazy to be carrying both devices around. I also found many sites just didn’t work with the iPad (even those that didn’t use Flash). A major limitation for me was Apple crippled the browser so you can’t upload files using the browser, a feature I use regularly. To Apple’s credit they took the device back with a full refund.

More recently I purchased an Android based tablet (Acer A200) running Honeycomb 3.2. A number of the online sites I use are Google sites so I felt surely Google’s own sites would work better than with the iPad. How wrong I was. Google’s own sites are sluggish at best and often simply don’t work. The built-in email application is very basic and even lacks basic spellchecking. I’m hoping Android 4 will make the tablet useful, or otherwise it will have been a waste of money. When I check the reviews for Android based tablets I often see high scores. To me that simply doesn’t make sense. I’ve found the Android tablet to be flakey and the functionality far from what I expected. The Acer hardware feels well made and doesn’t feel like it is the problem. The problem is the operating system, or more specifically for me, the browser.

If you’re considering a tablet as a replacement computer make sure you try out the tablets first. Don’t just try them out in the store and hope for the best, try them with the applications/sites that you run. Putting in the passwords to use an online site isn’t something you or I would feel comfortable with in a store, so you need to find a way to get a device and try it in a real world situation.

For clients I now have an Android 3.2 tablet you can test your real world applications/sites. At the end of the test we can reset the tablet so your important information such as your passwords are wiped.

The irony is all I require is a decent browser on a tablet and I’d be happy. If Apple provided their full Safari browser I would have been happy. If Google provided their Chrome browser I would have been happy. Both companies have chosen to provide a limited experience which to me is a shame.

The lesson here is if you think a tablet device is potentially a more portable replacement for your ageing notebook or netbook, then make sure you test each of the devices in a real world situation.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au
Call 0415 910 703 if you require computer assistance and live

In Templestowe or the surrounding suburbs.

.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

How to create birthday invitations.

I’ve found creating a professional whizz-bang birthday invitation is a fun and easy project. The comments we’ve received back from people amaze me as they’re astonished by the quality that we can easily produce and have no idea how we’ve done it. The software I use is free and the cost per invitation including high quality invitation, label and matching coloured envelope would be under 50 cents, and just 10-15 cents each if you just want to hand out the invitations.

It occurred to me that since I find it fun and interesting to create birthday invitations, others may also be interested in creating stunning birthday invitations as well.

If you’re into creating your own invitations, leave a comment, and if enough people are interested, I’ll produce an e-Book to help others produce their own high quality birthday invitations.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au