Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Can send a new text message to a contact but if I reply to their text message I get message can't be sent.

Ever had a problem that baffles you. This one has me baffled. This only happens with one of my contacts.

I can send the person a new text message and it works fine. If the person replies to me, or sends me a new text message and I go to reply to them, the reply fails.

To get around this problem I have to delete all text messages from the person and then I can send them a new message.

It is the weirdest thing I've seen, and so far I've not been able to find a solution to the problem, except my way of working around the problem by deleting text messages from them first.

At this stage the only thing that is strange is the person is using a very old mobile phone. It may be the old mobile phone is somehow issuing a sequence that isn't compatible with my mobile phone.

I thought I'd share this because if others have the same problem, they know if they delete the person's message and send a new text it gets through.

I've not seen this issue with anyone else, just this person.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Update: 19 December 2017
Found there's no need to delete entire text message thread including text message sent to the other person. Only need to delete their text messages received. 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

iPhone power cable won't plug in.

Today a person's iPhone power lead wouldn't plug into the iPhone correctly and would simply fall out. Not being able to plug in the power lead meant the iPhone wouldn't charge and was progressively going flat.

When the power cable wouldn't plug I think of two issues. A damaged cable and something blocking the power port on iPhone. The cable was fine but inside the power port was some white fluff or lint. In trying to get the power lead inserted the lint had become quite compacted. The following is a picture of the iPhone with the lint I removed.

Removing the lint was a bit tricky. Being a bit of a "MacGyver" I wondered what I could use to remove the lint. I was adverse to using anything metal. With the iPhone turned off it shouldn't be a problem, but you never know. A toothpick perhaps, but not really great as they can break easily. The item that worked well was a tooth floss stick that looks like the following.

The point on this is quite pointed and reasonably strong. Being very gentle you can slowly lift out any lint or fluff. Make sure you get all the lint/fluff. In this case the person had compacted the fluff quite a lot trying to put in their power lead. The material was compacted so much it looked quite solid. As you can see by the picture above it worked well with the amount of material removed from the iPhone's power socket.

How did the fluff or lint get into the iPhone? Most likely from the person's pocket and this could happen to anyone who carries their iPhone or other mobile in their pocket.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Microsoft Edge mobile browser for Android and iOS.

Last night I read that Microsoft had made their Edge browser available on mobile devices such as Android and iOS. I immediately thought there's two things I'd like from Edge so decided to test to see if Edge could do what I wanted.

1. My choice of Start page.

Having a browser open on the page of your choice can save a lot of time. It brings value because you have a page you want immediately available. In my case I want my search page https://www.advancedsearch.com.au/SearchAustralia/mobile/.

Nope. This feature isn't' available. You end up with a start screen and no ability to set the start-up page. You can work around this by going to the page and then using the Add to Home screen option. Not ideal but gets around the issue.

2. GPS location access without having to have an SSL site.

When you go to a website that uses your GPS location you get asked if you want to give the site access. In their wisdom, browser makers Google Chrome, Apple Safari have decided the site needs to be using SSL as well. This means many sites no longer work, or if you're a developer you need to pay more to host these sites. Often the extra cost isn't worth it for small developers.

Edge however on notebooks and desktops works fine and asks to use your location. Since this can be based on your Wi-Fi access point (your home) it can be pretty specific as to where you're located. Google even has a geolocation API that does the same thing. So forcing sites to use SSL makes no sense.

I was hoping Microsoft had taken the same approach with their mobile browser. Sadly no. Looks like they're using the same restriction that applies to the Chrome browser.

3. Using my own search engine

Now this was good. I was able to set up my search engine as the default search engine. That means you can type a word or phrase into the address area and you search engine will then take over. Since I have keywords for all my major sites, that's a real productivity gain not available with Google Chrome.


The two things I thought would get me to use the Microsoft Edge mobile browser aren't available. Again Microsoft doesn't seem to guess if their product isn't different from others they're unlikely to beat the incumbent. This is the same fight Lotus and WordPerfect lost. They lost because Microsoft had the operating system. Microsoft this time doesn't have the mobile operating system and in the end they'll lose must as Lotus and WordPerfect did.

Microsoft needs to do what others don't do to win. Google is about ads. An ad blocker is an obvious choice as are the suggestions above.

At this point I don't really see much point in moving to the Microsoft Edge browser on mobiles as there's no significant gain, at least for my needs.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

LinkedIn - see what your network has been up to. Watch out. Some may not be who they say they are.

I really only have a LinkedIn account to help my clients if they need help with their LinkedIn accounts. Other than that I don't really use it. My earlier testing over a couple of years didn't show me the LinkedIn account had any value.

Now if you have an account and in my case don't use it, LinkedIn love to send you those email letting you know there's been some activity. It's a way of appealing to the FOMO (fear of missing out) in us.

I decided to check the four people mentioned in the email. One I know is a client. One is an old contact that invited me to connect some months ago but I haven't since I don't use LinkedIn. Nothing against the old contact.

What was interesting were the two other pictures. Now normally you'd have to sign in to LinkedIn and then check the people out. That means they could know you've checked them out. I didn't want to do that. So instead I got the site address for the pictures and did a Google image search. The image of the woman returned two LinkedIn accounts with different names. One living in New Zealand and one in South America. The other also returned two names but to one LinkedIn account, which was strange.

Given the suspicious nature of these people (multiple names) checking out my LinkedIn profile, I can only say it was probably for nefarious purposes. More importantly there's no reason to log on to LinkedIn as the people concerned that I don't know probably aren't legit.

Perhaps knowing you can get the image source from the email and do a Google image search, may give you another option should you wish to check out people who are checking you out without them knowing.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Google search algorithm update around 7-8 October 2017.

I decided to share some stats from one of my sites. The site enables people to convert kj to Cal. The site is www.convertkilojoulestocalories.com.au. The site is a handy web app I and others regularly use.

Below is a graph of the number of sessions since the start of September 2017. As you can see there's a large increase and the number of sessions has more than doubled.

I did nothing during this period that would have any effect. I can only put this down to a change in Google's algorithm. There was only one change on the 9 September 2017, which was to add the words "Thank you for visiting my web site:-)" and then the next change was on the 11 November 2017. Now whilst there's still a slim change the change is to do with something I'd previously done to the site, it's more likely a Google search algorithm change as there's gossip on the internet that a change did occur at this time,

The real concern here for those relying on Google search  for business, is at any time their traffic can double as it did here, but just as equally traffic can disappear overnight and you'll be none the wiser for it happening. This shows just how risky it is to rely on organic traffic from search engines as the main source of business.

I hope this insight assists others.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Headphones won't click into place in PC.

This was a really unusual request from a client. They went to plug their iPhone headphones into their PC's audio port and it wouldn't click into place. They could hold it in but if released would not longer work.

To me this didn't make sense. The iPhone headphones will work in a PC audio port to play sound (although the microphone of course won't work). I suggested trying it on another PC and the same thing. Both PCs were bought not long ago and were identical. Perhaps there was something wrong with the audio ports on both PCs.

A check on the internet and I could see people having probably with lint or fluff getting into their audio ports. That makes sense. The fan in a PC draws air in through the case across the motherboard and out through the back. With both PCs being on the floor the audio port is very likely to get dust sucked into the port.

The suggestion to the client was to see if they could clear the audio port. They came back saying they blew into the audio port and whatever was there is now gone and the audio is working perfectly.

If your audio port on your PC is giving you a problem it is worth checking it for dust or fluff.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Testing TrackR Bravo device. TrackR Bravo device not being found.

A friend gave me a TrackR Bravo device to test. They said they were having trouble getting them to work.

The first thing I found on the TrackR Bravo I was given was the battery was dead. The TrackR Bravo devices had recently been purchased so the batteries should have worked. In the past I've found newly purchased devices have had flat batteries. One device even had corroded batteries, indicating the device had been sitting around on a shelf for a long tie. It's a good idea if the device isn't responding to first check the battery.

The next issue I found when testing the unit was the amount if time it took to find a device, even though the device may be sitting right next to you. If you're walking around the house looking for the TrackR Bravo this time delay means you'll probably walk straight past the device and won't know it's there.

Using the TrackR software in a certain way made the problem much worse. Before opening the TrackR software make sure Bluetooth is turned on. If you enable Bluetooth after the TrackR software has started, using the Enable prompt, that's when I found the software would often not connect, or take an extraordinary amount of time to connect to the device. Both situations means you probably wouldn't find your device. There were a few times even when Bluetooth was started first the TrackR Bravo device wasn't found.

Generally, if I was in the room where the TrackR Bravo device was located, BlueTooth turned on and then started the TrackR software, the TrackR Bravo device connected without a problem.

Overall, I felt in the limited testing, the variability of whether or not the TrackR software would find and connect to the TrackR Bravo device disappointing. I'd probably say not acceptable.

The second problem I feel people will have is understanding how the device works. The TrackR Bravo is marketed as helping you find your lost or stolen items. People may not realise when you're out of range of the item you need to use the "crowd" to find your item. If it is in your house and you're not there, the range of the TrackR Bravo means it probably won't be found.

When the TrackR Bravo connection worked, it worked well. When the TrackR Bravo didn't connect it really was frustrating. So much promise that isn't delivered.

There's one more test I want to perform. That is to use the "crowd" to locate a bicycle which will be locked up not too far from Melbourne's main train station, Southern Cross Station. Using the "crowd" to find a lost or stolen item to me is one of TrackR Bravo s main features. A TrackR Bravo as a single one off purchase for Australians isn't cheap at around $40 AUD plus delivery. If the "crowd" feature doesn't perform well, you might as well buy one of the cheaper Bluetooth locator devices that you can use to find your item using your mobile phone. These devices can be purchased for $10-$15. Let's see how the "crowd" test goes.

Kelvin Eldridge

Update: 24 October 2017
It's now been 12 days since I left the TrackR Bravo located in the city. The crowd feature has not reported the device's location.

Based on this test so far it would appear the crowd sourcing of the location of a lost device may be little to no value. It makes sense. If you have one of these devices do you leave the software on all the time in the background. I suspect most people will launch the software when they lose whatever the device is attached to. That means there will be very few people who will pass within range of your lost item to let you know where you lost it.

TrackR's sound like a good idea in theory, but in practice these costly items really probably aren't worth the money. For items you want to find close to you, much cheaper options are available.

Update : 4 November 2017
I must admit I'd given up on the TrackR ever locating the device, however today at 5:43 pm on Saturday the 4th of November the device was located at the right location. This has taken 23 days.

In fairness to TrackR this means the TrackR Bravo device has worked as promoted. I now have to retract some of my earlier comments above and give credit to TrackR. Whilst I could have edited out my negative comments above, I much prefer to leave them as this may reflect the experience others may also go through.

As long as you know what to expect with the TrackR Bravo device, you can determine whether or not the TrackR Bravo is right for you.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Compare Term Deposit Rates Calculator now available.

If you have money in term deposits, or even a bank account giving interest, then at times you'll probably need to compare the return for depositing money in one account versus another.

Recently I was moving some money around and performing the comparison of term deposit rates quite a bit. It can get tedious performing the calculation for each bank and then working out the difference. To make things easier I wrote the Compare Term Deposit Rates Calculator.

Whilst usually you're trying to work out how to improve your return, recently I had to move $2,000 and had a choice of two online savings accounts to move it to. One was paying 2.95% and the other 3%. The bank I was moving from, charges 65 cents to transfer money to another person's account, and because this account is with another bank, a fee gets charged. Fees aren't much but they do add up.

I decided to put the amount into the Compare Term Deposit Rates Calculator and see what difference it made in terms of return on the money for a month. I was actually quite surprised. It was an incredibly small 8 cents for a month. A dollar over a year. The return for that amount is so small it doesn't really matter which account the money was transferred to. Both the online savings accounts had no additional fees to transfer money to another account, so once out of the original bank, if I did want to move the money between the accounts, there was no additional cost.

Which account did I transfer the money to?

It really didn't matter as the return was so low. However I did transfer the money to the account paying 3%.

The real lesson here was to use the calculator to determine the real impact on the return so a better decision can be made rather than just guessing.

The Compare Term Deposit Rates Calculator is my latest web app. I write these web apps for my own personal use and make them available to assist others. I hope you find the web app useful. Most of my web apps can be found on the main page of JustLocal (www.JustLocal.com.au), or you can go directly to the web app at www.CompareTermDepositRatesCalculator.com.au.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Microsoft Rewards point system doesn't appear to be working properly.

Microsoft Rewards is a system which enables you to earn points a number of ways such as: searching using Bing on your desktop or mobile, taking short questions, using Microsoft Edge, etc.

Today I noticed accumulating points through searches is not working. Neither is getting points through some of their opportunities presented on their Rewards page, but some opportunities to earn still work.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Update: 20/09/2017
Testing today shows:

Bing searches Chrome on Android mobile working
Bing searches using Edge, Internet Explorer and Chrome on Windows 10 working
Bing searches using Safari macOS not working
Bing searches using Chrome on macOS intermittently works if searching from main Bing page, but works if searching from Bing search results page.

At this stage the problem mainly be for those using Safari under macOS. Whether this is an issue or a permanent change only time will tell. Although searches from main Bing screen using Chrome on macOS doesn't always appear to generate points.

To be specific, the rewards page does say for searches on PC and mobile, so that could be taken as not being on macOS and it's just by chance the Bing searches using Safari has previously worked.

Popular utility CCleaner contained malware.

According to the following article, the popular utility CCleaner now owned by Avast (known for their free anti-virus product) contained malware and affected 2.7 million users.


Anyone downloading and installing the software between August 15 and September 12 should remove CCleaner and install the latest version. As a precautionary measure also perform a full system scan using your anti-virus software. Then checking your system with a second anti-virus product is often a good strategy. Often malware which is not found by one anti-virus product may be picked up by a second anti-virus product.

For more information please read the article using the link above.

Kelvin Eldridge
Online Connections
IT support.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Domain renewal. Save money by transferring to another registrar.

One common technique I use to save customers money is when their domains are up for renewal, to see if it is cheaper for them to transfer their domains to another registrar.

Often the cost of my time assisting them to transfer their domains is less than the saving in the first year or two for Australian domains, and then the client saves money many times over in future years. Why? Because when they first registered their domain they used an expensive registrar which typically charged around $140 for two years for a .com.au domain. There's a number of registrars who from experience are just as good and they only charge around $20-$30 for the same service. That's a very quick $110-$120 saving. If you can do this yourself, even better.

Keep in mind often transfers are quite straight forward, however there's often gotchas with registrars systems and clients forgetting passwords. I generally transfer my own domains (I know my providers systems) and it only takes a few minutes. Some providers my clients have used have been quite painful. Whilst most domains comes across easily, I have known one which took weeks to get across. One of the biggest problems is when clients let their web developer have control over the domain. Getting control back from a disgruntled developer can be very difficult. Keep control of your domain, record your passwords and transferring domains becomes easier.

A second scenario you often find, to get your business a domain registrar will have a good price when you purchase a domain, but then when it is up for renewal, they have a higher price. For example you can often get a new .com.au domain from a leading provider for $19.98 for two years, but when the renewal comes, the prices is $33.98.

A third scenario is you've transferred your domain to a new registrar, but again when the renewal comes the price is higher.

For the second and third scenario you can often save a little by transferring to another registrar. For example, today I moved a domain from GoDaddy (renewal price $16.99/year for 2 years being $33.98) to Crazy Domains for $26.38 for two years. I used my PayPal balance to pay, otherwise the bank charges a fee as Crazy Domains is an overseas company, even though it is charging in Australian dollars. The saving is only $7.60, but since it only takes a few minutes, the return on my time is quite good. Also I have dozens of domains so doing this adds up to some good savings over the year.

Now it isn't just transferring from GoDaddy to Crazy Domains. Often transferring from Crazy Domains to GoDaddy will get a saving. Sometimes for some domains there's no savings at all, or could cost you more. I've been tricked by GoDaddy's special offers which ended up not applying, so be careful of special offers. For some domains there may also be a charge to transfer, so you really need to be aware of the detail. As crazy as it sounds, since registrars offer a discount to entice you to move a domain, but a higher price to renew, transferring a domain back and force between two registrars can get you a saving each time you need to renew. Yes, crazy isn't it, but it's the old look after the new customer better than the existing customer approach to doing business.

Finally, don't leave it until the last minute. Start your transfer two weeks before your domain needs to be renewed. If something goes wrong and it can, you need to leave yourself plenty of time. In the past some transfers wouldn't occur for a number of days, so sometimes you don't know what your domain registrars will do and it can end up biting you.

The good thing is once you've done this a few times there's money to be saved for minimal work, if you can do it yourself even better. For clients where I may be dealing with domain registrars and systems I've never used before, clients who don't record passwords, sometimes it may be just as easy and more cost effective to just renew the domain at the higher price.

Kelvin Eldridge.
Online Connections
IT support.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

How much data do voice apps like Facebook Messenger or Skype use?

As far as I can gather, Facebook Messenger uses around 20MB per hour and Skype uses around 52MB per hour.

It's good to know these figures to help determine if it's better to call using a landline, mobile phone, or voice app. Often how you call will depend on what you have and what the other party has. Sometimes it may depend on cost.

Let's say for example you end up going into excess on your mobile data plan as a result of your data usage. A fairly standard figure for excess data on mobiles is $10 for 1GB. Obviously if you have plenty of data left in your plan there's no additional cost. However let's say you do use excess data at that cost then Facebook costs around 0.3 cents per minute and Skype costs around 0.9 cents per minute.

At less than a cent per minute, either product is very cheap to use. Either product is very cost effective.

The advantages Facebook Messenger has over Skype is Facebook is used by a far greater number and even if they don't have Messenger on their mobile currently, it doesn't take much for them to install it. Facebook Messenger also uses around the third of the data that Skype does.

Skype does have one feature I like when I travel. You can add a credit to your Skype account and call landlines and mobiles. Mobile rates can be high at around the normal mobile rates, but landline calls are very cost effective at a few cents per minute. Skype's smaller user base however does mean it's less likely to be other people's mobile phones.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Can't see the mp4 videos on the Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader on an iPad.

I got caught out with this once before, transferring media files to the iPad using the Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader.

When you insert the SD card into the Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader, and then plug the cable into the iPad, the import screen appears but it is blank. Nothing is shown.

The problem is the name of the video file isn't in the format the iPad requires. The iPad needs files to be named using the 8.3 format where the first 8 characters are what you want, followed by the dot, followed by mp4.

Once you name your files correctly, the files then show up on the import screen. Unexpectedly the files are imported and be seen in the photo app but not the video app on the iPad.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support. 

Friday, September 8, 2017

TPG converts customer from ADSL2+ to NBN wanting to charge fee and put on contract.

One person I know was contacted by TPG and said they were being converted from ADSL2+ to NBN. They would be charged $99.95 and put on a six month contract.

The person was out of contract and thus on a month-to-month commitment.

In this situation don't just be told what's going to happen. To the person's credit they said if TPG wanted to convert their service they were not going to pay a fee and they also didn't want to be put on a contract.

TPG converted the person's service to NBN. There was no charge and they were not put on contract.

If you're in this situation you should negotiate. The companies may be reluctant to lose a customer.

I've been checking the offers from some of the companies and Optus is offering no set-up fee, free Wi-Fi modem, unlimited data, on a 24 month contract. If you're being pushed into something you don't want it's a good idea to shop around.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Telstra appear to have dropped the data plan of $50 for 5GB with 365 day expiry.

One of the plans for those using tablets, which I felt was good value from Telstra, was the pre-paid plan of 5GB for $50 with an expiry of 365 days. That meant you could use Wi-Fi most of the time and when you were out, you could use mobile data. Since the data lasted 365 days it was likely you may not use all the data over the year.

Checking Telstra's site this plan now appears to have disappeared. There's a $50 for 10GB plan but the data expires after 28 days. To get data that lasts 365 days, you now have to pay $150 for 25GB.

If you are already on the $50 for 5GB/365 day plan the good news is it appears you can still top up another $50 and get the 5GB with 365 days to use the data. If you're on this plan it's a good idea to make sure you put an entry in your diary as a reminder to renew before it expires.

It's a pity that Telstra have taken this path. I had one device on the $50/5GB/365 day plan and missed the renewal by a couple of days. All the credit was wiped. However it ended up it wasn't that bad. I didn't renew and found other ways to get data I needed. Remember your mobile phone can often be used as a hotspot and often it can be more cost effective to use data on your mobile phone plan. Most mobile plans charge $10/GB for excess usage, which is what the $50/5GB plan is offering. Even at $150 for 25GB which is $6/GB, this isn't great value. It may be better to use the money and increase your mobile's data plan to have more data each month, which can often be $2-$3 per GB or less. It really depends on how you use data.

The main reason I like to have a Telstra plan like this available is in some remote locations Telstra has better coverage. Most of the time this is not required. I consider it to be like insurance. It's there when you really need it.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Aldi Unisurf 14" notebook with Windows 10 for $222.

I noticed a tech blogger commenting on Aldi having a greater price computer for just $222. Getting a computer below the $300 is worth checking out.

Ultimately whether the Aldi Unisurf 14" notebook is a good buy or not depends on your needs. If you need a fast computer with plenty of storage then this computer is most likely not for you. If you want a cheap computer, limited storage, slow processor with a 14" screen, then this will do the job.

With any low priced computer I suggest that people first check the processor type. The Unisurf 14" notebook has an Intel Atom x5-Z8300 1.92GHz processor according to the Aldi catalogue. I'm perplexed with this as the Intel Atom x5-Z8300 only had a burst frequency of 1.84GHz and not 1.92GHz. The x5-Z8330 and x5-Z8350 both had a burst frequency so this may be a typo. Best to check the processor. In any case these processors are quite slow. If you have an older Core Duo, i3, or i5 notebook from five or more years ago, there's a good chance that old computer will run faster than the Aldi computer. The main point here is to recognise the Aldi Unisurf 14" notebook is a slow computer in today's terms.

The 4GB of RAM is low, but to be expected at this price. The 32GB of memory is something you need to watch. Windows 10 itself can take up nearly 20GB so that doesn't leave much space for your files. To give you more elbow room with this type of computer it's often best to look for 64GB or memory. However if you're frugal with space, use external drives, the computer can still be usable.

The one feature which means for some people this computer is better than than their five year or older computer is the 6-8 hours of battery life. Older computers were lucky to give you 1-1.5 hours of useful battery life. If you're travelling the 6-8 hours can certainly come in handy.

The 14" screen size is smallish for a notebook, but is larger than the many very small portable computers available which only have 10-11" screens.

The one piece of information that is missing that would be handy to know, is the weight of the notebook. If you're travelling lighter is often best. I suspect the only way to know the weight will be to wait until the notebook is in Aldi stores and then check the specifications on the box.

Overall if you're happy with a slow processor, small memory size, for the low price, then you may be happy with the Ultrasurf 14" notebook. If you're wanting to replace that older notebook with a faster modern notebook, then you really need to check the specs and processor speed carefully.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Chrome will show security warnings on your website.

Google it appears have decided that any data input by a user should be encrypted from the users computer to the server. As a result, Google Chrome version  62, come October will show any web page with a text or email field that is on a http site, as being non secure.

Here is an example of the message received from Google.

Chrome will show security warnings on <website>

To owner of <website>,

Starting October 2017, Chrome (version 62) will show a “NOT SECURE” warning when users enter text in a form on an HTTP page, and for all HTTP pages in Incognito mode.

The following URLs on your site include text input fields (such as < input type="text" > or < input type="email" >) that will trigger the new Chrome warning. Review these examples to see where these warnings will appear, so that you can take action to help protect users’ data. This list is not exhaustive.

Like many developers I have a number of websites that are hosted and use http. Personally I don't think there's much security risk for many of my sites. For example sites that convert inches to cm, allow a person to enter a postcode, or the many different calculators I've created. None of that information really presents a risk to a user. However Google is dictating what developers do by pushing them to have sites using https.

We'll have to wait and see how intrusive the non-secure message is, but at this stage it looks like it will appear as an information message in the address area. If it becomes intrusive by blocking what users do, that could be a concern.

Appropriate security is definitely a good thing. Having secure sites where there is little to no reason for security, that's almost bordering on dictating and that's a concern.

The good thing is people generally have a choice and if they're not happy with the path taken by Google, they can simply stop using the Google Chrome browser. If people are happy with Google's direction, then they'll probably stop using sites that don't conform. Either way the choice is yours.

Kelvin Eldridge
Online Connections
IT support.

iiNet advertising Superfast internet in many cases has the same speed as today's internet.

I've noticed ads with the term Superfast to promote internet using the NBN and I feel this can mislead people into thinking they're getting faster internet speeds than they already are getting.

The base NBN plan from iiNet is for a service with a speed of 5-12Mbps. The next level of plans at 5-25Mbps.

The current ADSL2+ service in theory can achieve 20,000kbps or 20Mbps. However, measuring the speed of services people are using, a typical speed is more around 10-14Mbps. The basic NBN service compared to a well functioning ADSL2+ service is actually slower. For iiNet to call their basic NBN based service Superfast, if it makes people think they're getting a faster service, is misleading.

For those on Optus cable it is not unusual to get up to 30Mbps. This is faster than ADSL2+, but not what I'd call Superfast. In fact, since all the iiNet services that I saw on their page have a maximum speed of 25Mbps, I don't consider any of the plans offered to be Superfast at all.

The NBN can deliver speeds of 50 and 100Mbps. If iiNet were promoting these speeds which are typically above the current speeds consumers are getting, then perhaps using the Superfast term could be considered OK.

Don't be misled by the advertising for the NBN service. The basic plans which most people will more than likely take up are actually around the same speed or slower than ADSL2+ services people currently use, if they have a good ADSL2+ service.

Kelvin Eldridge
Online Connections
IT support.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Get an extra month on Office 365 subscription for free.

If you're a home user and don't use Microsoft's Office 365 that much, but still want to have access to the programs, here's a couple of tips to save money on your renewal.

You'll get warned that your Office 365 is about to end. Let it end if you're a Windows user. You'll then be nagged for the next month (roughly 30 days) to reactivate your licence. That gives you a month's free use of Office 365. If you don't need to use Office 365 you can continue with Office 365 where you can only read but not edit documents. This of course doesn't work for Outlook users, but if you have a backup mail client such as your mobile phone, you may be able to skip using Outlook as well for some time.

Now don't just renew the subscription. If you do that you pay the full subscription fee. Head into Officeworks and purchase an Office 365 subscription card. The price at Officeworks is $96 for the Office 365 Home 5 device product. Keep the licence ready for when you really need to use Office again. See how long you can go without using Office 365. The longer you wait the more you save money as you're delaying the next time you need to pay for the subscription. For Australians the price for the Office 365 renewal is $119, so buying a renewal from Officeworks saves some money.

Apple Mac users, unfortunately once Office 365 expires you don't get the extra month. But of course Apple Mail is very good and you have other Apple software you can use, so perhaps you can delay renewing the new licence.

Kelvin Eldridge
Online Connections
IT support.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Hey Siri? What are you and the rock up to?

An ad appeared on the TV tonight to get people to say "hey siri, what are you and the rock up to", which I suspect will then display the video Apple created featuring the Rock (Dwayne Johnson) and Siri.

If you think about this ad it should be a concern. There's an implication how easy it is for Apple to add whatever commands it wants to, to direct people where Apple wants them to go.

When the technology we use is biased to work in a particular way to the benefit of the provider, it can mean you never know if you're getting impartial or biased results. That's when we can start to lose confidence in the technology.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

NBN users not getting anywhere near the speed they're paying for.

I like to see how clients' NBN has been set up and it's interesting to watch the trouble people are having with NBN.

I attended one client and was wondering why they were still using their Wi-Fi router when a new Wi-Fi router had been installed. Their original W-Fi router was daisy chained to the NBN Wi-Fi router and they were still using their old Wi-Fi router, not the new one.

The reason given by the tech was their original Wi-Fi router had better speed an coverage. I did some testing and the tech was certainly right.

The new Wi-Fi router provided by the NBN installer (it's generally the same white Huawei box) isn't particularly fast. This client was paying for the top speed 100Mbps NBN service. The NBN provided W-Fi router was only providing a download speed of 27Mbps. Their old Wi-Fi router was providing a download speed of 59Mbps. To get even close to the stated download speed you have to connect via Ethernet which provided a download speed of 87Mbps.

If you're using the NBN installer's provided Wi-Fi router, you're probably only going to get about quarter of the download speed you're paying for if you connect your devices using Wi-Fi.

This client was previously paying Optus extra to be on their high speed service but testing showed they were getting around 20Mbps, and during one test, around 5.6Mbps. Previous testing of the Optus cable service showed the basic service could achieve 30Mbps, so this client was paying money to Optus and not getting anything extra, in fact much less than they'd expect with the basic Optus cable service.

With the NBN service they opted for the highest speed, but unknown to them they would never be able to take advantage of the speed as their W-Fi routers would never deliver the speed. That's paying extra money for something that's never going to be used.

In fact for this client I suggested their use was very basic and all they most likely needed was the base NBN service at 12Mbps (previously measure to deliver around 11Mbps). For their needs this would meet their needs and save them money.

One other question did cross my mind and that was, why don't they just discard the new Wi-Fi router. The reason they can't is the Wi-Fi router provided by the NBN installer provides the telephone line to the home. If people decide to get rid of their home telephone landline, this is no longer a problem.

It's important to measure what you're getting from the NBN services you are paying for. There's a very good chance you're paying too much and getting much less than you think you are.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Who would have thought your vacuum cleaner might be spying on you?

We've all heard of those vacuum cleaners that bump around the house avoiding objects and cleaning the house. However, I never once thought about the data it could be capturing and that the data may potentially be made available to others.


This is another example of how a smart device is collecting information and that information may end up being used by third party organisations.

Now that you know, you at least have the knowledge to make a decision about whether or not you get a robotic vacuum cleaner if your data and privacy is important to you.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support

Windows 10 is no longer supported on this PC error on some Atom based PCs.

Microsoft seems to shaft its customers with such frequency the loyalty factor towards Microsoft is almost dissipating, if it hasn't already.

When I saw Microsoft drop it's blogging platform discarding 20-30 million users without concern, it made me stop and pause. When they dropped support for 300 million or so Windows XP users, I simply shook my head. Time and time again it's move forward and discard existing users without apparent concern, at least that's how it feels.

Microsoft was always known for very long term support for their software. With Windows 10 that seems to have vanished as well. The problem is Microsoft has moved to much more frequent updates and with each release they only support the current plus the previous version. The older version drops off support. In the past there may have been two updates for the entire life of the operating system, whereas no there's around one or two per year.

In the press I read people who purchased some of the lightweight Atom processor based computers are getting the error message "Windows 10 is no longer supported on this PC".


According to the article, the error appears when trying to update to Windows 10 Creators Update, which came out around April 2017. There's another update coming out later this year (Windows 10 Creators Fall update). That means two updates and potential for the computer's operating system to no longer be supported, making using the computer questionable.

Another article I read indicates Microsoft may be working with Intel on drivers to resolve the issue (why wasn't this already done before the software was released) and Microsoft will continue to provide patches (but the question is for how long).

The processors that are affected are the Atom Z2760, Z2520, Z2560, Z2580.

You can check the processor type in your computer by viewing the system information.

Select Settings -> System -> About

Then check the processor type.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support

Monday, July 24, 2017

Crazy Domains domain prices increase due to GST.

I'd never really thought about it before, but a while ago I received an email from Crazy Domains advising GST will now be added to domain prices from the 1st of July.

Today I received an early renewal reminder offering a 20% discount. Checked the price and it wasn't too bad. But then I checked the total and it didn't make sense. There was a difference. What's the difference I thought. These sites always try to upsell so perhaps something is ticked. Nothing ticked. There it was. The GST was added in the total.

The good thing about the introduction of the GST (if there's such a thing) back in 2000, is prices had to be advertised inclusive of the GST. Sadly things have slackened off and now businesses are advertising ex GST prices, so you don't know if the price you're looking at is including or excluding GST. This is the same crappy situation that existed with the previous wholesale tax. Sneaky computer sellers would advertise ex wholesales tax so would get the business as you thought they had better prices. It wasn't until afterwards you realised you'd been tricked. The same is now occurring with GST which is such a pity.

If you check the price of Australian domains on the main page of Crazy Domains there's no indication the price does not include GST. It is only when you go to purchase that GST will be added.

Now I was about to renew the domain early (it stated 89 days) as there was a 20% discount, but when I checked another supplier I also use, they're based in Australia, they already include GST in the price. To my surprise their normal price was cheaper than Crazy Domains price.

Whilst it's only a few dollars, if you have dozens of domains, and some people have hundreds, a few dollars per domain can add up. It looks like it's time to review which domain provider to use. If you manage your own domains, moving domains is not that hard. Make sure you transfer domains around two weeks before the domain expires.

Kelvin Eldridge

Monday, July 17, 2017

Android - unable to send message.

I have an inexpensive Huawei Android mobile and recently replied to a text message from a friend. The text message failed with an unable to send message respond. I tried a few times more on different occasions with the same result.

Sending the same text message to others had no problem. Up until the first time sending a reply failed I had no problem sending or receiving text messages from the person.

To fix this issue I selected the entire conversation for the person and deleted it. This fixed the issue.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Make sure you understand what you've providing when you use voice services.

Voice services are now part of everyday life for many of us. We talk to our mobile phones and other devices have or will have voice capabilities. This would not be a problem if these were stand-alone devices, but they're not, they're connected to the internet. They can literally be listening to and recording everything that you say.

Keep in mind when you say "Hey Siri", the software has to already be listening to pick up the phrase "Hey Siri". In a recent article where police were involved to break up a domestic dispute, the phrase "Did you call the sheriffs" was heard by Google Home. Google Home interpreted this to be, "call the sheriffs" and subsequently called the sheriffs.

In this article we're told Amazon may give developers your private transcripts. This apparently is already being done by Google. Now they do say it is non-identifying information, by it does mention location. If you're at home (the location) that to me pretty well identifies you or your household.

How much information is being handed over to developers is not stated, but to be safe, you probably should assume that anything you say could be recorded.

Isn't it amazing. I'm sure most of us would not wish to have anyone eavesdropping on our conversations, yet with voice services that's potentially what we're giving away.

Remember you always have a choice as to what and how much you give away. You can disable features, although that may not mean the features are fully disabled. You can turn off devices. The choice is yours.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Windows 10 privacy settings for device prompt for Creators update.

Recently I received a call from a customer who was concerned about a prompt which appeared unexpected on Windows 10. The prompt was to Choose privacy settings for your device.

This prompt is legitimate and is in preparation for the Windows 10 Creators Update which was released in April 2017. If you're not sure what these options mean, the easiest approach is to simply turn them all off. If you need a feature such as location, you can later turn that feature on.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kelvin Eldridge
IT Support

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Outlook versus Gmail app on Android.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kelvin Eldridge

Sunday, May 28, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kelvin Eldridge

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Apple MacBook Air mini displayport to hdmi adaptor.

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

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

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

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

What's important is you know you have options.

Kelvin Eldridge

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

GST Calculator for Australian businesses.

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

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

You can find the GST Calculator at www.AustralianGSTCalculator.com.au.

Kelvin Eldridge

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Google Maps Share location feature now available

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kelvin Eldridge
Providing IT support.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Fake your GPS location on an Android mobile phone.

Your mobile device knows where you are because using a couple of techniques. The most obvious is the GPS capability built into most phones.

When developing web apps there have been times when it would have been easier if I could have simply made the mobile phone appear to be in another location. I can do that by changing the code, but that's code that doesn't need to exist in the application.

For some reason I decided to see if there was a way to fake the GPS location in the Android phone and it turns out there is and it's pretty easy to use.

First you need an app which will enable you to set your fake location and then you need to enable the developer features in your mobile phone and enable the option Allow mock locations.

First install the app from the Play Store called Fake GPS Location Spoofer Free. There are other apps but this one did what I wanted.

To turn on the developer options go into Settings -> About phone, and press on the Build number 7 times. Yes, you read correctly. Pressing the build number 7 times enables the developer options.

Go into Settings and scroll down and you'll see there is now a Developer options. Select Developer options.

Enable the Allow mock locations option.

Now open the Fake GPS Location Spoofer Free app, move the map to the location where you'd like to appear to be, or use the search feature, then double tap the location so a marker appears on the map.

To start the fake location press the Play button at the bottom right. Ads are shown in the app but that's OK.

Now if you go to an app or web page that uses your location, you'll appear to be at that location.

To stop the faking of the location go into the Fake GPS Location Spoofer Free app and press the Stop button at the bottom left.

I'd also suggest when you're not needing to use a fake location to turn off the Allow mock location option in the Developer options.

That's it, you can now have your mobile phone appear to be anywhere you want it to be.

For those nefarious types, some apps may give you some type of advantage if you are in a location, but keep in mind if there's a setting, it may be possible for apps to determine you're faking your location and you may be breaching their terms and conditions and you don't know what the consequences may be.

In my case I can use the fake location to better test web apps I write. Each day I enter the local petrol prices into my Petrol Prices Melbourne web app, so now when I'm away, I can more easily appear to be at home, which makes it easier to enter the petrol prices. Another web app I've written is Nearest Train Station app, which only works well if you're in the area. If I'm planning a trip for later in the day that doesn't work. Now I can easily appear to be in that location.

Once you know you can fake your location you may recognise useful opportunities to use this feature of Android phones.

Kelvin Eldridge

Monday, January 23, 2017

Nearest Train Station and Tram Stop web app now available.

As you know if you've been reading my blog, you'll know I write web apps for those things that interest me. I never know what the next web app will be, but when the idea and interest comes together, I create a web app. The apps help me and hopefully they'll help others.

I recently found the data for train station locations was available and whilst the train stations are shown on the map applications, because they're small they're often difficult to find, particularly if you don't know the area. I decided to put together a web app which would show me the train stations and in particular the nearest train stations. Hence the web app is called Nearest Train Station.

I then found the tram stop information was also available so decided to extend the web app to cover tram stops as well. I may further extend the web app to cover bus stops as well if I find this serves a need.

Now I have a convenient web app which will show me the nearest train stations and tram stops. I can then use the web app to open Google maps right at the station or stop. At that point I can use Google maps to provider train or tram timetable information.

The Nearest Train Station web app will hopefully make my life a little easier and hopefully it will assist you as well. You can find the Nearest Train Station web app at https://www.NearestTrainStation.com.au.

Kelvin Eldridge

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Original Windows 10 release now reaching end-of-life on March 26, 2017

How times have changed. In the good old days you got your computer, or installed the updated Windows operating system and you'd get many years of upgrades. That has now changed.

Microsoft are releasing updates more quickly and only supports the current two versions after a given period. Windows 10 came out in July 2015 (version 1507), next came Windows 10 Update (version 1511) in November 2015 and now we have Windows 10 Anniversary update (version 1607) released in August 2016. Basically a little over a year and the original version is no longer going to receive updates. To me that's a bit bizarre and many Windows users may not be aware.


There's no problem if you've continued to update your version of Windows, but some people may not have. If you haven't updated your version of Windows 10, it's now a good idea and time to consider updating your operating system.

The way I quickly tell which version of Windows 10 is on a computer is the following.

Windows 10 original. No power button on the full screen Start Menu at the top right.
Windows 10 Update. A power button on the full screen Start Menu at the top right. Also clicking the Start button now brings up a menu.
Windows 10 Anniversary. When pressing the Start button a pop-up menu appears with the tiles to the right and a column which is largely empty at the left. This column now has a power button.

Given that I wasn't aware of Microsoft's change of approach with more rapid releases, to making versions of their operating obsolete, I suspect many other people won't be as well. If you're thinking of the good old days, when a Windows operating system was released and about two to three years later a service pack came out, meaning two releases would be supported for many, many years, that approach by Microsoft has well and truly gone.

I summary, as best I can tell, the original release of Windows 10 will no longer be serviced (that is receive patches or security updates) on March 26, 2017. It is recommended anyone with the original release of Windows 10 to update to a more recent edition.

Kelvin Eldridge