Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Closest Petrol Station web app for Sydney and NSW now available.

Following on from my earlier Nearest Petrol Station web app which shows the nearest petrol stations to you in Melbourne and the surrounding 100 km approximately, I've now created the Closest Petrol Station web app for those in Sydney and NSW.

The Closest Petrol Station web app for Sydney and NSW covers all of NSW enabling you to find the 1 closest petrol stations, or if you prefer a particular brand of petrol, the closest ten petrol stations for your favourite petrol retailer.

In the past a number of people have let me know they've found the various petrol station web apps to be handy and hopefully the Closest Petrol Station will be handy for those in, or travelling to NSW and Sydney. You can find the Closest Petrol Station web app at https://www.closestpetrolstation.com.au.

Kelvin Eldridge
Closest Petrol Station for Sydney/NSW
Nearest Petrol Station for Melbourne and the surrounding area

Friday, December 02, 2016

Kurt Russell died hoax

Every now and then I open Facebook and today I noticed at the right the article titled, "Kurt Russell Leave Us At 62".

For those that haven't seen one of these adverts before, this is a hoax advert. It's not true. A quick check on the internet and you'll find there's plenty of posts letting people know this is a hoax. Of course the picture of Russell Crowe is probably a bit of a give away as well.

Facebook is accepting these fake ads which appears to be a real problem for them in terms of news credibility. If you see an news item in Facebook, perhaps don't click on the article, but instead perform a search to find out more information. You really don't know where that link will take you.

Kelvin Eldridge

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Google Webmaster Content Keywords option missing

Today I noticed one of my favourite Google webmaster options, Content Keywords, was missing. A double check and yes it has gone.

A quick search of the internet revealed Google on the 29th of November in their blog they were retiring the option.

If like me you're looking for the webmaster Content Keywords option, yes it has gone.

Sad to see it go as it was a handy tool.

Kelvin Eldridge

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Blogger stats can be woefully inaccurate.

There are times that I live in my stats pages but when it comes to Blogger I really do feel like I'm fooling myself.

This blog according to the stats page gets a lot pages views and thus traffic. At one time this pleased me seeing the numbers increase, but now the numbers simply have very little meaning. The page views shown by Blogger stats for this blog are about 30 times the actual number of real page views by real visitors. Yes that's a staggering 30 times the page views by real people.

I have three other ways to measure the traffic to this blog and the other methods largely correspond.

Why the huge difference?

From what I've read the difference is the way in which Blogger records what is a page view. Blogger records not just real people viewing pages, but also records the automated processes (bots) as views. As the blog becomes more popular the more it appears to get scanned by bots and thus the more the stats have little to no meaning.

Are all Blogger blogs' statistics as bad?

Some aren't as quite as bad as 30 times, but another one we have is about 8 and another around 2. What is interesting is the one with page views being around twice that shown by Google Analytics, is quite specific to Australia. There may be some correlation between geographically specific content versus content not tied to a location. In all cases however the Blogger stats can be quite misleading.

How do you fix this problem?

If you want meaningful stats from a Blogger blog, the easiest way is to add Google Analytics to your blog's template.

Now you might not be as happy with the page views you're actually getting, but isn't better in the end to base your decisions on real information.

Kelvin Eldridge

Monday, November 28, 2016

Video providing an overview of the Speed Camera Locations web app.

I regularly use the Speed Camera Locations web app to alert me of speed cameras whilst I'm driving along. Knowing where the speed camera locations are is certainly good to know.

I've just uploaded a short video giving an overview of the Speed Camera Locations web app and the Alert function. (https://youtu.be/lEQF2iABuqg)

Hopefully it the web app will help others adjust their driving to avoid a speed /red camera fine.

Kelvin Eldridge

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Dodo electricity and gas price increases.

I received an email yesterday advising of Dodo increasing their electricity and gas prices. As prices increases our bills go up which isn't a good thing, but it also opens up the possibility that other energy sources may be worth investigating.

The first thing I do is to update the default electricity rate on Energy Cost Calculator which helps me determine the cost of appliances and the payback of using a lower cost appliance. As an example I worked out once the energy saving for replacing and old TV and set-top box with a new more energy efficient TV was equivalent to getting a 30% discount on the TV over a couple of years. Who doesn't want that type of discount. The Energy Cost Calculator shows how much it costs to run an appliance, but also shows the payback period should you wish to replace an old appliance with a newer more energy efficient appliance. If the payback period doesn't interest you I created a simpler version of the calculator which is available at Electricity Cost Calculator.

The second thing is it's good to know how much the increase is in terms of a percentage. Here's how the figures pan out. The below figures do not take into account Dodo's pay on time 30% and 20% usage discounts.

Electricity (All prices includes GST)

Daily supply charge cents per day
Old - 91.190
New - 105.435
% increase - 15.6%

Anytime usage cents per kWh
Old - 26.169
New - 28.545
% increase - 9%

We can see from the above the daily supply charge has the biggest increase. Unfortunately you can't reduce this by changing your electricity usage. The only way to change this is to see if you can find a lowest cost supplier.

Overall the increases are quite steep and far exceed inflation.

Gas (All prices include GST)

Daily Supply Charge cents per day
Old - 60.489
New - 67.749
% increase - 12%

Old Peak Usage Rates
Usage - First 98.63 MJ per day - 2.167
Usage - Next 49.32 MJ per day - 1.639
Usage - Balance MJ per day - 1.309

New Peak Usage Rates
Usage - First 98.63 MJ per day - 2.431
Usage - Next 49.32 MJ per day - 1.837
Usage - Balance MJ per day - 1.463
% increase - 12.18%, 12.08%, 11.76% respectively

Old Off Peak Usage Rates
Usage - First 98.63 MJ per day - 2.057
Usage - Next 49.32 MJ per day - 1.562
Usage - Balance MJ per day - 1.309

New Off Peak Usage Rates
Usage - First 98.63 MJ per day - 2.299
Usage - Next 49.32 MJ per day - 1.749
Usage - Balance MJ per day - 1.463
% increase - 11.76%, 11.97%, 11.76% respectively

When these prices take effect on the 7th of December gas prices will increase by around 12% for both supply and usage. Again this far exceeds inflation.

Generally we are quite conservative users of energy, but these increases will still add around $200 a year to our energy costs. As usual I'll review the energy offers of other companies and look at ways of further reducing our energy use. Saving money is one benefit as is the feeling we lower our impact on the environment.

Kelvin Eldridge
Energy Cost Calculator
Electricity Cost Calculator

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

New Inches to cm web app now available. Includes links to BMI formula and BMI/BRM calculator.

Both the BMI formula and BMI/BMR Calculator use metres and centimetres respectively for the calculation. Often us in the older generation still use the height we grew to which is in feet and inches.

I decided to write a simple Inches to cm calculator so that people can enter their height in feet and inches and then click on a link which takes them to the BMI formula or BMI/BMR Calculator web apps. That way the conversion is done for them.

I hope others find this new calculator useful.

Kelvin Eldridge

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Sally Field's death Facebook hoax.

I was just asked if Sally Field had passed away, as a person had the news item come up at the right hand side of their Facebook session.

A quick check reveals that Sally Field is alive and well. There appears to currently be a number of celebrity death hoaxes circulating in Facebook. It should be noted that this is the section Facebook controls and was not being spread by a Facebook user. It appeared in the sponsored section at the right hand side.

Fake news on Facebook is certainly a concern. If you see news on Facebook, perhaps it's best first to check by performing a few searches using your favourite search engine before spreading hoaxes.

Kelvin Eldridge

Friday, November 18, 2016

Adsense stuck on terms and conditions contract form.

Today I tried to sign into Adsense and was greeted with the terms and conditions form. I agreed and clicked the button to continue to account, but all that happens is the form shows again.

I noticed a few others having the same problem so hopefully for those using Adsense having the same problem, the problem will right itself.

One person stated they were using the following to check their account (https://www.google.com/adsense/m/?unsupported=true) so hopefully the link might assist others.

Kelvin Eldridge

Update: 3:04 pm, Saturday 19 November
This problem now appears to have been fixed. You can now complete the form and continue on to adsense.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Victorian Stamp Duty Calculator now available.

I often can't believe how big a cost stamp duty is for those purchasing a home in Victoria. The stamp duty on a home around the $750,000 mark is close to same amount I paid for my first home. How things change over time.

I decided to write a Victorian Stamp Duty Calculator for those looking at property. I'm also including links to concessions. I find it quite difficult to find the information on the State Government's site. Yes there are calculators, but I like to know the formulas the calculators are based on. The links on the Victorian Stamp Duty Calculator hopefully provide that information for others who may also be interested in how the calculation is done.

You can find the Victorian Stamp Duty Calculator at www.VictorianStampDutyCalculator.com.au.

Kelvin Eldridge

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Petrol Prices Melbourne and Nearest Petrol Station web apps now uses SSL.

For some time I've put off migrating some of my web apps to use SSL. In other words you access the website using https rather than http.

Not all websites need to use https, but some sites need to, such as e-commerce sites taking payments, but others need to because the browser makers limit certain functionality and sites stop working. As an example sites which use location facilities won't work in browsers such as Chrome and Safari on the desktop//notebook, and also some mobile browsers. Whilst users can use other browsers, users don't know in advance there's a problem and more than likely, they'll simply leave the site thinking it doesn't work.

The Petrol Prices Melbourne site (https://www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au) and the Nearest Petrol Station site (https://www.NearestPetrolStation.com.au) have now been converted to use SSL. Whilst there was a bit of work involved, it really is rewarding seeing the web apps simply work as they should. No more fudging around with different browsers. Just use the browser you prefer and the web apps work as they should.

Kelvin Eldridge

Monday, November 07, 2016

Australian GST Calculator illustrates the importance of correct rounding in systems handling GST.

Over the years I've noticed in systems handling GST, rounding can be an issue. I've created a short video which illustrates the problem of rounding.

As an example, if you take the price of $1.04, this breaks down to the GST amount of 9 cents and the amount without GST is 95 cents. However if we add GST to the price of 95 cents, we don't end up with $1.04, we end up with $1.05. The reason for this is when we calculate GST based on 95 cents, we get a GST amount of 9.5 cents. Since we can't have half cents, we need to round the cents up to 10 cents. This gives us a GST inclusive price of $1.05.

This example illustrates that not all prices directly calculate to be the same in both directions. That is, adding GST to a price and determining the GST of a GST inclusive price do not all end up with the same amounts.

Next time when you're entering a purchase into your system and the cents don't quite match up, at least now you'll know why.

To help those that need to work with GST I've created a couple of calculators to assist. The first is a calculator which enables you to determine the GST amount from a price that includes GST. This calculator is located at www.AustralianGSTCalculator.com.au. The second calculator enables you to add GST to a price which does not include GST, to give you the GST inclusive price. This calculator can be found at www.AustralianGSTCalculator.com.au/add-gst.php.

I hope you find the calculators useful.

Kelvin Eldridge

Friday, November 04, 2016

Apple macOS geolocation in Safari stops working on many websites.

Since upgrading to the latest version of the macOS on my MacBook Air, I noticed a number of my sites which use location facilities stopped working in the Safari browser. This had been true of Google's Chrome, but not Safari.

The reason is there appears separate from the HTML5 standard, which provides location facilities for browser sites, for a push by some browser manufacturers to only provide geolocation facilities if the site being accessed is a secure site, that is running SSL. 

In a way this is probably good, but as a developer it means there's an additional cost for each site such that many of the sites I now provide as a service for others, become financially unviable.

The other issue is there are many thousands upon thousands of sites that use geolocation features and these will not work and the average person won't know why. Up until now to protect people's security the standard as I read them, meant people had to be prompted if they wished to share their location with a web site. This is now being further restricted by the browser. The problem is this browser restriction is a waste of time for products like the MacBook Air since the only location information is the IP address to estimate location and that is still available. The change effectively achieves nothing, but reduces the functionality of web based applications. For mobile devices which show close to the exact location, this is a different matter.

For those wishing to use websites on a MacBook Air, there's a couple of choices. If you're lucky enough to have Windows 10 also installed, you can use Internet Explorer or the Edge browser. Simply turn on the location option to use your IP address to estimate your location in Windows 10. The other option is to install Firefox. Normally I'd not recommend or suggest Firefox, but in this case it does solve a problem and that means it's a viable option.

It would be good if the developers of the desktop browsers provide the option to enable the user to decide if they wanted to use location services with sites that don't use SSL, (people are still promoted before they share their location) but unfortunately this trend to decide everything for us restricts our options and the usefulness of our computers. Windows 10 combined with Internet Explorer or the Edge browser do work in the way I'd prefer as does Firefox. Google Chrome and now more recently Apple Safari under macOS do not.

Kelvin Eldridge

Monday, October 24, 2016

Australian GST Calculator web app now available.

How many times in the past did I need to perform a GST calculation? More specifically, given an amount, how much is the GST and how much is the price excluding GST.

Since this is a very common requirement in business, I decided to write the Australian GST Calculator. The Australian GST Calculator is a web app, which means it can be used from any desktop, tablet, or mobile device. No software to install. Simply visit the site www.AustralianGSTCalculator.com.au if you need to use a GST calculator.

Kelvin Eldridge

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Telstra refund scam

When I receive scam emails every day I can't help wonder why the Australian ISPs can't stop people from being scammed. All it would take is for the ISP to redirect the link (or site) to a safe page letting people know it is a scam. Most people in Australia use the DNS server from their ISP, and if I'm right, an entry in the DNS could stop people going to malicious sites.

So many people get caught by scams and yet the ISPs don't seem to care.

What interested me with this cam was the email address they used to send the email to me. It is one I use, but rarely hand out. The email address doesn't contain my full name, but as you can see, the To field for the email does use my full name. That adds a level of legitimacy that could trick people. I don't have a Telstra account where Telstra can bill me, so this is an obvious scam.

When you receive emails don't just click on the links. Stop for a moment. Check the links by moving your mouse over the links and the address will appear. In many scam emails some of the links may be legitimate, but one or more you are meant to click on will send you to an unrelated address that has nothing to do with the company.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Windows 10 Anniversary update could cost people large amounts of money if using mobile devices.

The other day the power was turned off so I didn't have my usual access to the ADSL broadband. I checked my mobile data and I had 1GB of my 1.5GB plan left. No problems I thought, for the small amount of use I'd need, I'd simply use my mobile as a hotspot.

Then something weird happened. I received a data usage alert that I'd used 50% of my data from the plan. How weird I thought.

I was lucky.

I hadn't been using the MacBook Air very much. I have Windows 10 installed using Parallels. I perhaps wrote a couple of social media posts for a client and maybe a few web site updates. Very minimal amount of work, and yet I'd clocked up hundreds of megabytes. Why was this so?

On further investigation I found Windows 10 was automatically downloading the update in the background. Easy I thought, I'll simply disable the update. Not so easy. There's no longer any such feature. I'll let Windows know I'm using a mobile hotspot. Nope. As it's a virtual machine it thinks it's connected to a network and there's no option to let Windows 10 know otherwise.

Later I did some testing and using one hotspot Windows 10 was downloading at around 9MB per minute. With another hotspot Windows 10 was downloading at 32MB for minute. Depending on your plan this could be costing around $20 an hour. If you're travelling overseas, this could cost you thousands.

A client later rang up as they were concerned about a Windows 10 update. Normally they use less than 4GB a month on their mobile device, but had already used 13GB. I don't know the actual size of the download, but from what I can gather around 3.5GB for the ISO (usually burnt to DVD), but for the download and update, I don't really know. Whatever the size keep in mind when you download, there's overhead and also upload traffic occurs which can add another 15%.

The bottom line is, if you have a Windows 10 computer and haven't updated to the Windows 10 Anniversary update, think twice about using your mobile connection or hotspot. It's best to use lower cost broadband and the manually apply the update before the automatic update comes along.

If you're travelling overseas you could easily get bill shock if the automatic update hits you.

Kelvin Eldridge

Friday, September 30, 2016

Location failing in Safari since upgrading to macOS Sierra 10.12

For those thinking about upgrading to macOS Sierra, if websites that use location features is important to you, then perhaps put off the upgrade.

Whilst prior to upgrading the Safari browser may occasionally fail to find the location, since upgrading to macOS Sierra, the websites that use location features built into the Safari browser, now fail all the time. This includes when using Safari and Opera. Chrome only supports sites which use SSL, so I tend not to use Chrome for much on the MacBook Air. The sites all work fine on mobile devices including iOS and Android.

Applications such as Google maps and Apple maps have are OK with finding the location, so the problem appears to be more related to location services used by the browsers such Safari and Opera. It is a design of the Chrome browser not to support websites that don't use https, so Google Chrome can't be tested for sites using http.

An example that will enable you to test if location services are working is my site www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au.

Kelvin Eldridge

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

BMI formula page updated to show weights for BMI ranges for your height.

For those of us who are overweight, a question I often ask myself is what weight do I need to get down to, to be in the next range. To find the answer I'd keep dropping the weight until I got the BMI. A long way to do something that is pretty easy to calculate.

I decided to update the BMI formula web app so that once you enter your height, you can see the weight for the various BMI groupings. Now you'll instantly know the weight for the next range.

When dieting people would often ask me am I trying to lose weight. My response was, "no, I'm simply trying to get from obese to overweight".

I hope this helps others.

Kelvin Eldridge

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Nearly took one for the team on Sunday. Red light/speed camera on Warrigal Road and Batesford Road Chadstone.

Phew. That had me worried. As I was posting the video for the red light camera/speed camera on the corner of Warrigal Road and Batesford Road Chadstone I was reminded the light changed to amber as I was driving through. At the time I didn't give it a second thought as I most likely felt I was sufficiently close to the intersection that stopping wasn't safe or practical, which it wasn't. However reviewing the video made me get quite concerned. Had I been booked!!!

Watching the video you can see I was nearly across the intersection when the traffic light turns red. Anyone would consider that to be OK and it happens to us all the time. But how close was I to getting booked. A lot closer than I would have ever thought. I think once you read this you'll realise the government has tightened down their tolerance so there is very little margin for error and a lot of margin for revenue generation. OK. That's a tad cynical.

Here's a link to the video. Play the video at normal speed and ask yourself what you would have done. Stopped or gone through. (https://youtu.be/E2c36V6c5OM)

Based on the video I travelled 1.33 seconds until I reached the white line. I measured this later and that means I was around 2 metres before the line. When we look out the front windows of a car we can't see the exact front of the car. We estimate.

Now what is generally not known is where the sensors are placed. They are not at the white line where you stop your car. The induction loops can be placed quite a bit further forward. Using Google maps I measured this to be 3.44 metres.

Why is this important? We've all grown up believing if your car has entered the intersection you're OK. It is even stated on the Victoria Police site (http://www.police.vic.gov.au/content.asp?document_id=40417), "A road safety red light camera is activated when a vehicle crosses the stop line and enters the intersection after the light/arrow turns red. If a vehicle is already partially or wholly over the stop line and within the intersection when the light/arrow turns red, an infringement will not be issued. All images are verified before an infringement notice is issued."

The police don't get a picture of where you were when the light changes to red. Only when the rear of your car leaves the sensor. Two pictures are taken. A second picture is taken a second later. We just have to hope when the pictures are reviewed they get it right.

There's one more little piece of detail. Speedometers by law have to be at or below the actual speed limit and can be up to 10% lower. That means if you're at the speed limit, you're most likely travelling slower than the speed limit. When I'm travelling at100 km/h the highway test shows around 96 km/h. At 40 km/h I'd guess I'd be travelling at perhaps 38 km/h. However since I was approaching the light I made sure I was under the 40 km/h, so perhaps another 2 km/h. That means I may have been travelling at about 36 km/h

So how close was I to getting booked?

It took 1.33 seconds to get to the white line according to the video. At 36 km/h that's 10 metres. There's then actually 2 metres between my car and the white line. So I was roughly 12 metres to the line.

My car is 4.7 m long and the distance to the end of the sensor 3.44 m. That's another 7.14 m. A total distance of 19.14 metres.

At 36 km/h the stopping distance assuming and emergency reaction time of 1.5 seconds, is 22 m, so no time for me to stop. safely. OK. I did the right thing.

The amber light goes for 3 seconds. At the 36 km/h I would travel 30 m. I had close to 11 m to spare. I'd suggest that's about one car length plus the spacing between cars.

In reality I had about a second to spare. There's also 0.5 seconds after the red light changes where reportedly you don't bet booked. A total of 1.5 seconds.

It really isn't a lot. The 1.5 seconds is assumed for an emergency driving situation and in a relaxed driving situation I don't think we react that fast and certainly don't come to a stop as fast. In addition you don't just look at the lights. You look at the traffic around you, from the sides, your speedometer. and any other potential hazards. There's a lot going on and the difference between getting fined or not is very slim.

Had I been going less than 30 km/h, then it gets very, very close. I suspect this is a reason for many people getting booked by red light cameras and speed cameras when turning and when in low 40 km/h speed zones. Great for government revenue.

This really is a reminder that when travelling on a low speed road (40 km/h), or turning at an intersection, where often the amber timing is set at the much shorter 3 seconds than for the speed limit of the road, if the amber light comes on, try to stop if it safe to do so. There's no tolerance for going through a red light and it is very costly.

Kelvin Eldridge