Friday, November 17, 2017

Petrol prices in Melbourne starting to rise today to 149.9.

Today I noticed a number of Woolworths Petrol stations have raised their prices to 149.9. This is perhaps the highest price for a long time for unleaded petrol. That means it's time again to watch the prices and start filling up. For those using the 7 Eleven fuel app wait and watch the prices and then lock in the lowest price you can find for the next week.

For those wondering how come the price is so high, it is because the average gate price of petrol has increased above the 120 mark. When prices are restored to the peak the peak price is usually 25-30 cents above the average gate price. There also appears to be a pattern of prices a tenth of a cent below a multiple of five cents eg. 139.9, 144.9, 149.9, etc. With the average gate price at 123.1 today, it makes sense the price would go up to 149.9.

The lowest prices around Melbourne today appear to be in the Springvale/Broadmeadows area if you're lucky enough to be passing through those areas.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Alert - Please verify your business identity to have your account limitation lifted email

I received an email today possibly from PayPal, possibly from a scammer with the subject "Kelvin Eldridge, important information regarding your PayPal account".

Notice how the email subject contains my name, but in addition this email was sent to the correct address which I have set up for PayPal and not used elsewhere. That's unusual for scammers to do. They often don't include the name as they don't know it.

The main message in the body of the email is "Please verify your business identity to have your account limitation lifted email".

Now I think this is a very good scam that could trick people. The reason isn't so much because of the email itself, but because of my recent experience with PayPal.

Back in August I received an email from PayPal asking for information to verify my business identity. This was a legitimate request. As the following paragraph shows this was required by the Australian government.

As part of PayPal's Compliance Program, we request that organisations provide certain information. The verification process is a requirement of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing (AML/CTF) laws in Australia, in accordance with which every financial institution in Australia, including PayPal Pty Limited, has to comply. Please review the following link for more information regarding the AML laws for Business Accounts: https://www.paypal.com/au/webapps/mpp/confirm-your-business.

From August to October I had nothing but trouble trying to complete their request and PayPal's system kept requesting information even though they had everything. I'd received an email on 12 September 2017 stating my account had been returned to normal but continued to received pop-ups on the PayPal site stating it hadn't. A call to PayPal on 17 October 2017 confirmed they had what they needed and the account was back to normal. However I still got notices pop up when using the PayPal system.

Now when you get months of issues with PayPal this leaves the door right open for scammers. They know people have these issues and it will be easy to trick people to click on a link in a scam email. You have after all probably tried everything else.

There's only a single link in the email which gives a hint the email may be a scam. It uses the address epl.paypal-communication.com which doesn't look right. It may be a PayPal subcontractor but there's no way to know. The domain has been registered since 2011. If this were a scammer surely PayPal would have closed them down by now. So there really isn't anything to warn people this may be a scam.

Really frustrating experience with PayPal over months and emails that are potentially very good scams. That's a recipe that could easily trick people. Certainly I thought these were simply PayPal's systems still screwing up and I know what to look for.

I decided to forward the email to PayPal. Again not easy to find out where to send it making things easy for scammers as people tend to be lazy. I received a reply quite quickly but it didn't answer my question as to whether or not the domain name was PayPal's or someone they used. It was one of those typical canned responses where they include a lot of previously prepared information, but nothing to answer your question. Pretty slack and not good service. But they did provide the address phishing@paypal.com.au to forward the suspect email.

A quick canned response came back regarding the phishing submission. It's not clear whether or not they'll respond with useful information. Again this really feels like a waste of time with PayPal. If you submit information regarding a phishing attempt I believe you should at least get a response back letting you know the outcome.

You would think if people who use the PayPal service make the effort to report a potential scam, PayPal would have a mechanism to enable you to know whether or not it was a scam. In addition the domain epl.paypal-communication.com has been used on the 17 Oct 2017 and now on the 14 Nov 2017. Surely you'd think PayPal would take action on domains using their business name it they are not their domain.

Given the first email was received on the 17th of October 2017, around the time I was having trouble of the exact same nature with PayPal, this is an excellent timely scan that could easily trick people.

If you receive emails which appear to be from PayPal NEVER click on a link. Go to your account and see if you have any notifications. PayPal do include links in their legitimate emails, but so do scammers.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au
IT support.


Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Melbounre Cup 2017 results - finish order.

I'm not really into horse racing, but at this time of the year many people find themselves wondering where their horse finished in the Melbourne Cup. This information often flashes across the TV screen and is then quite hard to find. Here is the list of horses and the place they finished in this year's Melbourne Cup.

1. Rekindling
2. Johanne's Vermeer
3. Max Dynamite
4. Big Duke
5. Nakeeta
6. Thomas Hobson
7. Tiberian
8. Libran
9 Marmelo
10. Wicklow Brave
11. Red Cardinal
12. Almandin
13. Cismontane
14. Amelie's Star
15. Boom Time
16. Wall Of Fire
17. Single Gaze
18. US Army Ranger
19. Humidor
20. Hartnell
21. Ventura Storm
22. Bondi Beach
23. Gallante

I hope others find this list useful.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au

Friday, November 03, 2017

How to make 20% more interest on your savings.

Recently I asked my bank, the Bank of Queensland, to close off a term deposit early. I also asked them to reconsider the hefty 50% interest penalty, as that way they'd keep the reasonably sized term deposit. Naturally they weren't able to do anything. I find most banks can't really do anything so you need to work out their offers and decide what is best for you.

As a result of the Bank of Queensland's inability to look after their client, I started to get serious about looking around. It really made no sense the Bank of Queensland didn't consider my request as what they gained in the penalty is little compared to what they make. Losing the money meant they'd make nothing. In fact it ended up nearly all of the money parked in the Bank of Queensland could produce better returns elsewhere and that is what happened.

So how do you make 20% more interest on your savings?

You shop around.

Bank of Queensland is offering 2.45% for term deposits for 6 months. Other banks offer around 2.2%. These are term deposit accounts where you can't access your money without penalty until the end of the term.

I've found two online bank accounts which offer access to your money. One offering 2.95% and another offering 2.87%. Bank of Melbourne did offer an introductory honeymoon rate of 3% on a savings account, but that's since dropped to 2.8%. Some of the banks have special conditions (such as deposits each month or using their debit card) but usually it's fairly easy to meet their conditions. The best part is your money is accessible to you at any time and not tied up like term deposits.

Whilst interest rates on savings are pretty terrible at the moment, if you have savings, it really is worth shopping around. An extra 20% in interest is there for the taking and the money is better in your pocket.

A tool I wrote to help me determine whether it was worth shopping around is my Compare Term Deposit Rates calculator which can be found at www.CompareTermDepositRatesCalculator.com.au. The calculator enabled me to enter an amount, term and two rates. By entering two rates I could quickly see the difference the interest rates made. Sometimes when looking at short periods (under a month) it made little difference, but when looking at 3-12 months, the benefit could be quite good and worth the effort. Having an easy to use calculator certainly made it easier for me to make comparisons and then make informed decision on what to do next.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.CompareTermDepositRatesCalculator.com.au

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Swan Hill petrol prices observation. Quite a spread on prices.

Last week we spent some time up in Swan Hill. A nice relaxing country town with better weather than Melbourne at this time of the year.

As we drove into town the price of unleaded petrol at BP was 139.9 and the price stayed at 139.9 for the four days we were there. Both the BP and Woolworths Petrol were 139.9 and both are the petrol stations you'd see as you arrive into town.

What was interesting was the price of petrol on the opposite end of town away from Melbourne was initially 129.9 at Shell and Caltex. The price increased around two days later to 132.9 at both Caltex and Shell. That's a saving of between 7-10 cents per litre between the north and south of town.

Quite a few of the country towns we drove through going to, and coming from Swan Hill had prices of 129.9.

Checking the price today, Woolworths Petrol price for unleaded petrol is currently 132.9.

Often when driving in the country and our petrol is getting down, we're very tempted to fill up at the first petrol station we get to. This is a reminder that sometimes it may be worth checking the prices before filling up. You can use the Woolworths Fuel app to check Woolworths petrol prices. Unfortunately, whilst there's other apps you can use, often they aren't accurate. If you do use them be prepared for the worst. That is the price isn't correct. The 7 Eleven Fuel app is also quite accurate, but doesn't really apply in country regions, where there's no 7 Eleven petrol stations.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

BMR Calculator now available.

For those wishing to know their BMR, or Basal Metabolic Rate, the BMR Calculator is now available. You can find the BMR Calculator at www.bmrcalculator.com.au.

The BMR calculation is still part of the BMI Calculator I wrote some time ago. I like to write web apps to provide what people need. If people don't need or want all the BMI information, the BMR Calculator now simply provides the basal metabolic rate information.

Kelvin Eldridge
BMR Calculator
www.BMRcalculator.com.au

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Petrol prices in Melbourne going up to 142.9 for unleaded.

Last night I noticed the petrol prices around Melbourne were starting to rise with quite a few now being 142.9. Time to fill up those cars. Time to get ready to lock in the price using the 7 Eleven fuel app.

There's still of lot of petrol priced around the 113 mark. Even less with a discount voucher. Around Springvale you can find unleaded petrol for 111.9 and Oakleigh around 111.7.

Prices won't hold for long now and you can expect it will be hard to find a low price by or after the weekend.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Cheaper Melbourne petrol near Lilydale train line

I've mentioned a number of times how people can lock in a cheaper petrol price for later use using the 7 Eleven petrol app. This is great when the price drops suddenly 25-30 cents a litre and you can lock in the low price for another seven days. However another saving that can be made is when petrol prices are dropping. The difference between one area and another can be significant. Sometimes if you can lock in the petrol price from another area without too much effort, you can make additional savings of perhaps 8-10 cents a litre.

At the moment those travelling on the Lilydale train line passing through Croydon can take advantage of the 7 Eleven Petrol app to save around 8-10 cents a litre. The 7 Eleven petrol stations at Croydon Hills, Moorolbank and Chirnside Park are advertising unleaded petrol for 115.9 cents per litre. Many other service stations outside this area are advertising unleaded petrol for around 123-126 cents per litre.

If you've signed up for the 7 Eleven petrol app and you pass near one of these 7 Eleven petrol stations you can lock in the price for use closer to home. At 8-10 cents a litre cheaper than your local area, it means this is usually a good price for the next few days. Even if you have a Coles or Woolworths discount voucher, the 7 Eleven price can still be better than your local servo.

There's really little point driving to these cheaper petrol stations, but if for example you're travelling to work via public transport or driving near these areas, you should be able to lock in the cheaper price. By near this often means you can be 10 km or more away from these 7 Eleven petrol stations. As long as one of these petrol stations is one of the five nearest 7 Eleven petrol stations to your current location, you can lock in the cheaper price.

This week I was able to fill up our two cars and save around $7-$8 for petrol. Not a bad saving for simply taking the time to lock in a cheaper petrol price.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.PetrolPriceMelbourne.com.au

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Snapchat Spectacles sample videos. Australia

Picking up a pair of Snapchat Spectacles in Australia isn't currently possible. However, if you have family or friends, or you're travelling to America, then you may be able to pick up a pair.

So far found I've the Snapchat Spectacles are quite good at some things and very poor at others. That isn't meant to be a criticism, it's more about knowing what they're good for an not good for.

First, the novelty of the Snapchat Spectacles when seen by others, became a real conversation starter. It's been a while since I've found people so fascinated by a piece of technology. "You mean it's not just a camera, it can take videos." Once people knew the Snapchat Spectacles could take videos they were really impressed.

I've posted the following three videos I took using the Snapchat Spectacles.

Snapchat Spectacles - P & O Cruise Conflict Islands
https://youtu.be/HuQkLeHZZbg

Snapchat Spectacles - Cairns Esplanade Lagoon
https://youtu.be/H_0NY_nW5og

Snapchat Spectacles - Birdword Kuranda
https://youtu.be/g4MkyhwvHls

This isn't meant to be a review, but more of sharing an experience. The Snapchat Spectacles can take 10 second videos. By pressing the button whilst filming you can extend the recording by another one or two 10 second videos. Each video is taken separately, but you can select and export them as a single video. The 10 second length I found to be better than I expected. Often when taking home videos you get that too short video, so the video jumps from scene to scene. The 10 second video gives a good amount of time, but not too long and the result when videos are combined (using a computer) is quite good.

Close up scenes best. If you're thinking you'll get a good picture of things in the distance, probably best to think again. I found the best result was when what I wanted to video was quite close. Perhaps not more than a couple of metres away, but often even closer, as in the bird video. Scenes in the distance just don't seem to capture the feeling of the scene as well.

Memory limitations was a real problem. I was travelling and didn't have access to the internet. A cheap mobile phone with 4GB of memory, but a 32GB memory card. The problem was the Snapchat Spectacles wanted to back up what I was recording and progressively consumed all the memory in mobile phone. I'm talking about multiple gigabytes of memory. The temporary file it was creating swamped the storage making it impossible to use the mobile phone. I learnt if you have limited storage you need to move the files manually to the external storage and then delete them from Snapchat. A time consuming exercise. Resetting the Snapchat Spectacles had to be done at one stage but again, keep in mind you need to have internet access as you need to be able to log on to your Snapchat account. I spent hours of wasted time trying to work around issues with the Snapchat Spectacles relating to storage and how the software worked.

Exporting videos. Certainly not straight forward to get what you want out of the Snapchat application. I've read people saying Snapchat is deliberately designed to make it hard for people to find things, but to me it's just poor design. It takes a lot of effort to work out how to use the software, although that may depend on what you want to do. I really wanted a convenient video recording device, whereas I get a feeling it's really about a device that's built for Snapchat.

One video I didn't share was taking a video whilst driving. The wide field of view (120 degrees) meant more detail of the inside of the car from the drivers perspective and less detail of outside. The detail shown in the car was quite good, but what was shown outside the was much further away. If you want to take what's outside the car in detail, this is probably not the device. As an example I wanted to record a petrol price. Yes you can see the price sign, but the resolution of the Snapchat Spectables at 800x800, meant  that if you zoomed in you lost too much detail to read the price. The detail was quite pixelated.

Overall I found the Snapchat Spectacles to be fun to use. There's videos I took which I would never have taken on a mobile phone. The hands free design of the Snapchat Spectables makes it possible to take videos conveniently when required. Yes there's plenty of limitations, frustration with the software, but I'm OK with those limitations, as long as I use the Snapchat Spectacles for what I feel they're best suited.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au
IT support. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

PayPal - Action Required. Please verify your business identity.

I don't know if others are experiencing this issue, but PayPal has become a pain in the neck.

According to the PayPal site, action is required to verify business identity. I went through this process a couple of months ago and it was a real pain. Eventually I submitted feedback letting them know their system wasn't working properly. Whilst they never contacted me it appeared they fixed everything and the account was back to normal.

Today the message started to appear again.


The problem is all of the information is entered. The last piece of information required is my name. I entered my name and I get the error message which appears to be more of a software error than a typical error message. Now sometimes when I go to log in or out I get the above Action Required and sometimes I don't. There's no notifications so there's no way to find the section to verify.

Whilst I can't be sure, this looks more like PayPal's system may be playing up. However if you do get this message it may be better to give them a call, if you've entered all the information but still get an error as I did.

I've lost quite a bit of faith in PayPal as a result of this. I've been dealing with them for possibly over a decade and whilst there's been a few annoying issues, this is probably the most annoying. OK. That's probably because I've forgotten how annoying the past issues were at the time. As I've lost confidence that money won't be tied up, I've kept only a minimal amount in PayPal. That's probably a good idea as a general rule.

Kelvin Eldridge

Update: 17 October 2017
Today another email and the Please Verify message appearing on the account. In addition I tried to again enter my name as the director. The following message appears.
A call to PayPal confirmed they indeed had my name and my account was OK. They would forward the issue on to their technical team. This confirmed the issue is with their system.


Thursday, October 05, 2017

Booking.com doesn't show all the available rooms.

I was looking at Booking.com to book some accommodation in a Victorian country town. According to Booking.com all the accommodation is booked. This simply isn't true.


I checked one motel and there were plenty of days left, but it would have meant moving rooms during the stay. Not ideal, but still plenty of rooms available. I then checked the hotel I was originally looking at that had become booked. The hotel had a room for all the days I wanted. I booked the hotel even though Booking.com stated the last room sold out 2 days ago.

The trick here is not to just use Booking.com. Double check the hotels' actual sites.

In the past I've found a cheaper price by checking a hotel's site. In another instance one accommodation provider said they use Booking.com to keep their name out there.

There's lots of techniques accommodation providers will use to help promote their business and get our business. It isn't always Booking.com's issue. But just because Booking.com doesn't say there's any rooms available, doesn't mean there's actually no rooms available. Check each of the accommodation providers' own websites. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Kelvin Eldridge

Friday, September 29, 2017

How much electricity does a Google Home device use?

One technique to save money on electricity is to turn off all those stand-by devices. TVs, media players, computers, monitors, etc., all consume electricity even when in stand-by and that can add up to a hundred dollars or more a year. However, many devices need to remain permanently on to be useful. Google Home is one such device.

A Google Home devices sits there waiting for you to issue a command. It's always on. I decided to measure the wattage being used by the device and it works out to be around 2.9 watts.

To work out the cost I plug the 2.9 watts into my Energy Cost Calculator, along with the fact that it is running 24 hours a day. The running cost of the Google Home device is around $8.34 a year, based on the electricity provider I use and set as the default in the Energy Cost Calculator. Your electricity costs may vary.

Keep in mind these devices are really only useful on a room-by-room basis, so there's a good chance you'll be encouraged to buy more. Perhaps one in each room. Each device adds to your electricity cost.

Now of course $8.34 a year isn't that much and if Google Home gives you considerable enjoyment and usefulness, then that's one of the many choices you have to make in life.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au
IT support.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Four big banks drop ATM fees. Watch out for the trap you can easily fall for.

On the weekend Commonwealth Bank announced they were dropping ATM fees for cash withdrawals for customers from other banks. For some people that could be a good saving, or at least it makes withdrawing cash easier and more convenient.

The other three major banks made similar announcements on Sunday if I recall correctly, which I thought was interesting as it wasn't a bank day. However, the first thing to note is it wasn't clear when the other banks would start. It looks like some time in October.

Now the trap is that people may think this means any ATM, but this isn't correct. Even BankWest, which is a subsidiary or the Commonwealth Bank is not dropping the ATM fees. Reportedly neither are the ATMs in 7/11 or Redi ATMs.

It is therefore important that you don't just think all ATMs are now fee free for cash withdrawals. First Commbank's, which was immediate, then the other banks, NAB, Westpac and ANZ, sometime in the near future. Stick with those brands of ATMs and you should be OK to get cash withdrawals without paying a fee. Of course if in doubt, stick with ATMs from your own bank.

If you're travelling overseas ATM fees still apply.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au

Friday, September 22, 2017

Compare Term Deposit Rates Calculator now available.

Lately I've been looking at term deposits and with the current rates available, it's not that exciting. When you look at term deposits you're naturally going to compare term deposit rates and the return with the different rates. Often this requires two calculations and noting down each amount and then calculating the difference. Do this a few times and you'll understand why I decided to write the Compare Term Deposit Rates Calculator.

With interest rates being so low you'd think it's not worth worrying about them. However, it's because they're so low that what would be seen normally as not a big difference, can make a large difference in your return.

For example I have some money in a web savings account earning 1.45% at call. Shopping around for a better interest and I can get 3% on a 3 month bonus savings account, or 2.95% at call on an online account subject to meeting certain conditions. Either of these will nearly double the interest earned.

But is it really worth the time and effort chasing a better interest rate. Depending on how much you have and the interest difference, it may or may not be. The only way to know is to do the calculations. You'll be surprised that often it really is worth moving the money around.

Keep in mind when you move money around you may lose a day of interest, and if you need a cheque, there could be a charge. Even a transfer from one bank to another will generally cost a fee. Then there's your time. The banks will sit you down and it does take far more time than you expect to open and close accounts. There is a time and cost involved in moving money around.

Overall however I'm very pleased I made the effort. I tend to stick with the same bank, which I consider to offer good rates, but when I made the move to move the money around I'll be considerably better off with other banks. It's also a good time to ask your bank if they can do better. It's at these times you'll find that as a customer you don't really matter very much and all the marketing hype about how much you're worth to them is just marketing. Even though it may cost a bank perhaps a few hundred to keep you, they're generally happy to lose thousands of dollars income for themselves than to make a real effort for customers. The lesson really is you have to look after your own interests.

Whilst I've called the new calculator Compare Term Deposit Rates Calculator, you can really use the calculator with any type of interest bearing account. I was able to compare term deposit rates and also compare interest rates for other savings accounts.

I hope you find the Compare Term Deposit Rates Calculator to be useful.

Kelvin Eldridge
Compare Term Deposit Rates Calculator
www.comparetermdepositratescalculator.com.au

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Seniors card discount at KFC.

If you have a Seniors card KFC offer a 10% discount. So far I've tested a number of KFC stores (Eltham, Eastland, Thomstown) and KFC has been consistent and easy to deal with when using the Seniors card.

One thing to be aware of, is KFC have an offer where if you provide feedback, they'll provide a free regular chips and drink on your next purchase which is a saving of around $3. If you use the Seniors card to get a discount you don't get the offer to complete the survey. Depending on how much you spend, it may be better value to do the survey.

Kelvin Eldridge

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Melbourne petrol prices starting to hike to 142.9.

I noticed tonight quite a few petrol stations around Melbourne have started to hike their prices to 142.9. It looks like it's that time again when petrol prices hike back up again.

If you're taken advantage of the 7  Eleven fuel app watch the prices around you and lock in a good price for the next week.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au

Thursday, September 14, 2017

ASIC Messaging Service Renewal - Scam email

Today I received an email which appeared to come from ASIC for the renewal of my business name. At first glance it looked legitimate. It had my name in the To field and I do have registered business names which ASIC sends reminders.


I then thought is this a scam email? I checked the headers in the source of the email and the email was from America. That pretty well meant it was a scam. Next I hovered the mouse over the links in the email and they weren't for ASIC. This now meant this was a definite scam.

A short while later I received an email using the domain for a second registered business name. I don't use that email address with ASIC so this too was a scam.

It really is very easy to click on a link from an official looking email but you really shouldn't. In a case like this go to the ASIC site and log on. Don't use the links.

Secondly no matter how tired you feel, pause for a moment. A quick click and you could be in world of pain. Some malicious sites can infect your computer and if that happens it can cost you dearly to remove malware, and if it's encryption malware, you may not be able to recover.

If in doubt set the email aside until later when you have time and patience to check it out. Using a desktop computer and email client hover over the link and see if all links are legitimate. If you're able to, check the IP address the email was sent from. That's usually an excellent indicator of scams.

Scammers are getting better with the presentation of their scams. The emails are often so good because they're a direct copy or variation of a real email and these can easily trick anyone.

Kelvin Eldridge
Online Connections
www.OnlineConnections.com.au
IT support.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Dodo Power and Gas increasing Electricity and Gas charges.

Today I received an email from Dodo Power and Gas letting me know their electricity and gas prices are going up. I decided to do a quick analysis.

Electricity

Daily Supply Charge - increasing 15%
Anytime usage - 15%

Gas

Daily Supply Charge - 20%
Usage - 15%

These increases are actually quite staggering.

We've all heard issues with energy supply in the media recently. Gas being contracted off for overseas sales and electricity infrastructure closing down. Even so the Daily Supply Charge for gas going up 20% when I don't recall reading much about infrastructure changes, doesn't quite make sense.

One of the problems with Dodo putting up their prices now when the rest of the industry puts their prices up around January, is they look bad for a while until the rest put their prices up. That means you have to wait until you see what happens with the other supplies in the new year.

Not good news at all. We're quite frugal with our energy usage now so this increase will be difficult if not impossible to negate in some way with further energy reduction. However it never hurts to look for ways to reduce usage.

I'm a believer that as the prices increase, that one day an alternative will become available because it becomes cost effective. For example as the daily supply charge increases for gas it may mean it becomes viable to consider only using electricity. Perhaps the gas to electricity conversion becomes more cost effective and thus we could get rid of the electricity suppliers. Perhaps with solar, better batteries we may be to get rid of one supplier. Certainly lower energy cost appliances (e.g. lights) and computers have helped reduce energy use, so we really never know what's around the corner.

If you're paying large amounts on electricity bills working what your appliances are costing you so you can make informed decisions is something we did that saved us thousands. I wrote the Energy Cost Calculator (www.justlocal.com.au/clients/energy-cost/) to help me with calculations. Perhaps it might help others.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au

Update: 14 September 2017
As a result of this nudge I decided to go searching for better prices. As a result I believe I've identified a supplier which would be $60 a year better for electricity and around $240 better for gas. That's a potential saving of around $300 per year. I thought I had shopped around and had good prices, reduced electricity usage, but the one area I've been less thorough, is with gas and this shows with the potential saving. This is a reminder that you should shop around.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Can you thaw and then refreeze meat?

Today I read an article on whether or not you can thaw and refreeze meat which appeared on the new.com.au site.

http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/food/eat/can-you-thaw-and-refreeze-meat-6-food-safety-myths-busted/news-story/feac0341b79bed4c58f7b803ba1a8c69

The problem is the first myth in the article didn't quite make sense and didn't really answer the question.

Myth 1: If you thaw meat, you can’t refreeze it.

FALSE. According to the CSIRO, it’s perfectly safe to refreeze defrosted meat or chicken or any frozen food as long as it was defrosted in a fridge running at five degrees C or below. The only thing you may compromise is a bit of taste, as defrosted meat can become slightly watery.

If there’s anything to watch, it’s the pre-freezer ‘steam’. If you cook defrosted meat and refreeze it into a container while hot, you’ll create condensation — which is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. So wait for the steam to subside before packaging.

I thought I'd then look for the source of the material from the CSIRO. The same article on the CSIRO made sense.

https://blog.csiro.au/you-can-thaw-and-refreeze-meat-five-food-safety-myths-busted/

Myth 1: if you’ve defrosted frozen meat or chicken you can’t refreeze it

From a safety point of view, it is fine to refreeze defrosted meat or chicken or any frozen food as long as it was defrosted in a fridge running at 5°C or below. Some quality may be lost by defrosting then refreezing foods as the cells break down a little and the food can become slightly watery.

Another option is to cook the defrosted food and then divide into small portions and refreeze once it has stopped steaming. Steam in a closed container leads to condensation, which can result in pools of water forming. This, combined with the nutrients in the food, creates the perfect environment for microbial growth. So it’s always best to wait about 30 minutes before refrigerating or freezing hot food.

Plan ahead so food can be defrosted in the fridge, especially with large items such as a frozen turkey or roll of meat. If left on the bench, the external surface could be at room temperature and micro-organisms could be growing rapidly while the centre of the piece is still frozen!

This is an example of how you have to be careful when material is edited and republished on other sites. The news.com.au site didn't make sense as they had removed the paragraph starting with "Another option". The news.com.au article went straight from refreezing thawed meat to talking about steam being a problem. Nothing about cooking and thus the disconnected meant it didn't make sense and wasn't advice I'd follow. The CSIRO article was complete, made sense and gives me confidence I can follow the advice.

So yes, according to the CSIRO you can thaw and refreeze meat, as long as you follow their guidance.

Kelvin Eldridge

Friday, September 08, 2017

McDonald's monopoly Australia rare pieces 2017.

Just for fun!

It's that time when McDonald's runs their Monopoly competition. In previous years I've posted the rare pieces as they've become known. If you'd like to help, post the McDonald's monopoly pieces you have in a comment below. That way we can determine the rare pieces together.

NOTE: This is for McDonald's monopoly Australia 2017.

Rare pieces.

Park Lane
Euston Road
Marlborough Street
Fenchurch St Station
Piccadilly
Fleet Street
Regent Street
Whitehall
Old Kent Road

Information has been collected from purchases and internet research. I've not personally confirmed all rare pieces, however the above list is most likely correct.

Remember, post a comment of all your pieces to help identify the rare pieces.


Thanks and enjoy.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au