Friday, November 28, 2014

Beware of the low cost entry level computers and tablets being sold by retailers.

There's some really good priced cheap computers available from retailers and it would be very tempting to replace your old, or perhaps broken computer with a new and inexpensive computer. Prices seem to have come down dramatically.

The problem is this is largely perception. The low cost entry level computers and tablets often have very slow processors. Even the more expensive computers available from retailers may not be as fast as you think.

As an example, I got a call from a person who purchased a great portable unit overseas which they loved. The problem is the unit was too slow. I checked the processor and found it was a very slow processor.  The person then decided based on advice from a person who worked at a major computer company to upgrade the memory and were initially quite pleased. A month or so later they came back and said the computer was still far too slow. Memory can often help but sometimes you have to think are you throwing good money into a computer that ultimately will still be too slow.

I've just compared fixing a computer for a client (the hard disk has died) with a new low cost computer. I have to say it is a hard call. The computer is a around five years old and came with Windows Vista. I'm the first to say save your money and put it into a new computer, but sometimes the budget won't stretch. When I checked the low cost computers some had processors much slower than their five year old computer. Those that were fast were a few hundred dollars more expensive than repairing the computer. If it was only the hard disk there would be no question, but there's labour and because the operating system disks didn't exist, there's also a copy of Windows 8.1. So the decision could easily go either way. Ultimately the choice is the customer's, which in this case was to keep the computer.

Another example is a client decided to purchase a new super fast computer on the spur of the moment. Their Windows XP computer was giving them grief and Windows XP was coming to the end of support. They purchased a new computer from a well known retailer who said the computer was one of their fastest. When I compared the brand new computer to their old XP computer that was over seven years old, the new processor was only about 20% faster. This was a bad purchase with bad advice from the retailer, as for the same price they could have purchased a computer that ran 300% faster.

I've heard another salesperson at a retailer tell and elderly couple the processor speed doesn't matter as they're much the same.

This is bad advice and means people are being guided into making poor purchasing decisions. Clients are welcome to contact me and I'll show them how to compare processor speeds. The processor is one of the main decision points when purchasing a computer. Salespeople are often only interested in making a sale. Only you can look after your interests by gaining a basic skill that will help you make a better decision for yourself.

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for IT support.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Telstra free Wi-Fi trial using public telephones.

Today in the city at the following location I saw a Telstra free Wi-Fi public telephone location and decided to give it a go.

Connecting worked well but that's when the good experience ended. I sat down tried using the Wi-Fi connection as I do the data on my mobile. The performance was terrible. In the end I gave up, turned the Wi-Fi off and then started using the mobile data again.

Sometimes I wonder why companies provide free Wi-Fi and then seem to provide such a terrible experience. It certainly hurts the image of the company. It would be better not to provide any service than a frustrating service.

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for IT support.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Medicare contact number.

I get some weird requests as a result of my presence on the internet and the things I blog about. I was called once for a bag that was left on the bus because they found my post about one of the Smartbus routes.

This request was from someone I know. They needed to speak to Medicare because they'd not received the payment, yet the doctor's receptionist said the request had been submitted but the refund had not hit the bank account. No problems they thought. Just call Medicare. The number provided by the doctor's receptionist had not answer and a search of the internet didn't reveal the number. Actually they went to the Human Services site and if you've ever tried to find anything on a government site you'll know just how hard it is.

Using my snooping skills I had the number in a flash. Simple. Don't always use Google. I've found Google isn't particularly good for some things so I tend to use a range of approaches. In this case the White Pages gave me the answer faster than Google could.

The number for those interested is 132011.

Keep in mind Medicare is now part of Human Services. I suggest that when people call Human Services they call the number and then put the telephone on speaker. That way you can go about your business and when someone takes the call in Human Services you haven't wasted as much time just sitting there. Not to be unfair to government departments there have been a few times I've got through for various things over the years with a reasonable delay. However plan for a delay and if it is quicker than expected it can be a pleasant surprise.

By the way in this case the issue was the information provided by the doctor/admin was incorrect. The request to Medicare was that the bill hadn't been paid where in fact it had been. That mean completing an additional form for the person I know so as to rectify the error made by the doctor's practice.

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for IT support.
Preferably not to look up telephone numbers;-)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Is open source a bit con with the free as in freedom and not free as in beer?

At one stage I was all for open source projects and put in a lot of time. However I now think they're just sucking in good people and using the energy of others. The big projects gain at the expense of good people.

As a person making a living in IT, IT has been good to me. But in the end you have to make a living. When you participate with software and code in open source you're giving away your time and thus your income. Anyone can take your work and call it theirs. You have nothing at the end and only the projects you contribute end up with your energy. This is the same was when you work for a company. When you leave you have nothing and the company ends up with the momentum you build from your efforts.

One opportunity that represents real freedom to me is public domain material. The beauty of public domain material is anyone can use the material in their work and then that work becomes your intellectual property. Free for you to do whatever you like with the end result. You can make your end material public domain in the same way you received the material as public domain. To me that is the essence of how most people view open source material. If you wish you can make your material open source. You can also make your material copyright. You have true freedom to do what you want with your work.

My older open source dictionary work is used by Firefox, Google Chrome and almost every open source project that uses an open source Australian spellcheck dictionary. Countless companies including the largest companies in Australia use my work.  Neither project (or any of the companies) gave anything back to assist me. They just took for their own benefit and I received nothing in return. These projects just use people.

Don't fall for the same romanticised ideal that I did. My involvement in open source has cost me dearly in terms of revenue and future direction that will be hard to recover from. Public domain however gives me hope. I hope that by sharing this insight it may help others in the IT industry that I love.

My first material based on public domain material will soon be released. It will be interesting to see the result which I hope to share with others.

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for IT support.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The .Melbourne top level domain has now been released so I thought I 'd run a test for Computer Repairs Melbourne searches.

I registered the domain www.Computer-Repairs.Melbourne to promote the services of Online Connections. Whilst it may be difficult to get a good position in the organic search results in Google, I felt  this would be an interesting test.

By testing the presence of a .Melbourne domain clients will be better positioned to know whether or not it is worth retaining a .Melbourne domain. Relative to other domains a .Melbourne domain is quite expensive. Many businesses will feel they have now choice and purchase the .Melbourne domain as I did for one of my services. For Online Connections I don't feel it is necessary. For searches on computer repairs Melbourne I felt it was worth the cost of the test.

Only time will tell if the money has been well spent or not.

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for IT support.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Internet Explorer 11 doesn't work on a number of sites making it frustrating to use.

Internet Explorer is my preferred browser because I find it easier to fix if there's a problem on client machines and I like the scripting capabilities. However, as with most things Microsoft, Microsoft seems to have lost the plot. It is not possible to use just Internet Explorer to get things done.

During my support role I've found a couple of sites where Internet Explorer 11 simply doesn't work. For my own use of Blogger I'm not able to upload an image to a blog post. It simply doesn't work and freezes Internet Explorer. Those using Centrelink's site to upload documents for a claim find you can't use that feature and a different browser is required.

There was a time when sites were crafted to work with Internet Explorer since it dominated the market. Now you just don't know what will or wont work. To get around this problem I have the Opera browser installed as a back-up browser.

Since Microsoft in their short-sighted wisdom (commercial self interest) decided to stop supporting Windows XP and Internet Explorer 8, for those using Windows XP I suggest using Google Chrome. Google has committed to support Windows XP for 12 months after the end-of-life. Well done Microsoft. You've simply handed 20-30% of the market to Google and lost considerable credibility that Microsoft even cares about its customer base. That's OK, but that means the customer now cares less about Microsoft and perhaps that isn't such a bad thing. Now the market can evolve to where it will be in the future. Unfortunately that does appear the movement is to Google which is simply replacing one large business with another with our usage data being mined for advertising and other purposes.

So if you're having trouble with your browser, install a second browser in case a site gives you problems. Opera isn't a popular browser, but I do find it to be lightweight and gets around the problems I have. This also means I don't hand my usage data over to Google. Somehow I think Google however is winning this game, with my logs showing Google Chrome to be the leading browser and Internet Explorer in the third or fourth position.

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for IT support.
Servicing Doncaster, Templestowe, Eltham and the surrounding area.

PS. My apologies. I originally wrote Internet Explorer 10 for this article. I was of course meaning the latest version Internet Explorer 11.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Will Google drop Mozilla and Firefox support now their agreement is up for renegotiation?

I noticed the article regarding Mozilla, which largely means Firefox and the current contract is up for renegotiation.

This negotiation is largely about whether or not Firefox is financially viable.

I first noticed the negotiations in 2008. Back then revenue made for Mozilla was around 80 million of which about 80% was from their deal with Google. Mozilla's own costs were around $20 million year so without income from Google Mozilla would be dead in the water. Google Chrome was just starting in the market and had no real presence. Firefox around 20-25% and Internet Explorer around 75-80% if I recall correctly. Without Firefox being in the market Google may have found it near impossible to get a foot in the door as Microsoft would have had close to a monopoly. Google is the default search engine and whilst you can select other search engines.

Fast forward to 2011 and the contract was up for  renegotiation. Firefox used Microsoft as leverage and all of sudden the figure for Google was up to $300 million. Google couldn't afford to lose that level of market share for their search engine to Microsoft and Bing. To me just as importantly with Google Chrome now reaching double digit penetration as a percentage of the market Microsoft's presence with Internet Explorer was weakening considerably. Google were actively promoting Firefox and Chrome as alternatives to Internet Explorer. In effect it was as though Google had two browsers on the market.

Now IT people love to promote the new and different and really most don't like Microsoft and simply tolerate them. So everyone who used to push the Firefox barrow was now pushing the shiny new Google Chrome barrel. Of course IT people don't really care Google is recording their every movement. It isn't Microsoft seemed to be all that mattered. Google Chrome was fast, lightweight, although a bit shaky, but that didn't matter.

Now we reach 2014 and the contact is again up for renegotiation. It is unlikely that Microsoft will fall for the old let's use Microsoft again to leverage Google trick, although you never really know. Google won't want to open a crack that could see Firefox lose market share unless of course it was all to them. In a way Google are now in the situation where Firefox is probably limiting their market share.

In six years Firefox has made almost no inroads into any other sector of the technology market. They have a mobile operating system but really, if their revenue outside of Google's support is taken away, and income from investments is removed, there's probably very little profit growth in the last six years. The Firefox browser has lost market share and is estimated to be around 15% of the market.

My guess is Google has made their bed and will need to continue to support Firefox for the next three years. Google in effect still has two browsers and if they lose Firefox their opportunity to dominate reduces. If Firefox wanes further it is possible that loss could also be Microsoft and Internet Explorer's gain. Any strengthening for Microsoft is not in Google's interests. Google is making money from Firefox, perhaps not as much as it could with the higher cost, but still that beats not making money.

I expect Google will again support Firefox and it will be hard for them not to keep the status quo.

Kelvin Eldridge

NOTE: Personally I do not recommend Firefox. I have seen it damage the linking in Outlook emails multiple times. I also find nearly all Firefox installs to be hijacked and it appears, because of the importance of the income from the search default, this may have made it more difficult to remove the malware. I find Internet Explorer and Google Chrome to be easier to repair. If I need a test back-up browser I'll often install Opera. Installing Opera reduces the situation where clients are exposed to Google's monitoring of everyone's activities.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Apple fixes iMessage error which stops ex iPhone users receiving SMS messages if they move to another platform.

A few years ago I'd to suggest to people to turn off their iMessage feature on iPhones. People were finding that if someone they knew went from an iPhone to another device, SMS messages would no longer not get through.

It is hard to imagine this has been an issue since 2011. Since I first recognised the issue I've always switched iMessage off to avoid the issue. Here is an article regarding the issue.

Now the issue has been fixed it may just be time to start using iMessage again, or at least retest it.

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for IT support.
Servicing Doncaster, Templestowe, Eltham and the surrounding area.

PS. Here is a link to the Apple tool to deregister your mobile number.