Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Petrol prices in Melbourne appear to have started to rise to 149.9.

A small number of petrol stations around Melbourne have now increased their prices to 149.9. This may be a couple of petrol stations jumping the gun, or it could be the start of prices rising to 149.9.

There's some very good prices for unleaded around Melbourne at the moment, possibly down to 116.9 so there's savings to be made by shopping around, without of course driving out of your way.

Keep an eye on petrol prices around Melbourne and for those using the 7 Eleven fuel app, hang tight and lock in a good price for another 7 days.

Kelvin Eldridge

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Hungry Jack's soft serve ice cream cones much bigger than McDonald's soft serve ice cream cones.

If we have a choice of getting a Hungry Jack's or McDonald's software soft serve ice cream cone, we'll always go with Hungry Jack's. In the past I've had to send a a couple of McDonald's soft serve ice cream cones back as there was barely any ice cream on top of the cone.

With Hungry Jack's so far, they've always been very generous. Even Hungry Jack's smallest soft serve ice cream cones usually exceed the biggest we've ever received from McDonald's.

If you think I'm exaggerating here is the most recent soft serve ice cream cone we received from Hungry Jack's and this is the smaller of the two. OK. These really are the biggest soft serve ice cream cones we've received from Hungry Jack's, but half this size isn't unusual for Hungry Jack's and that is still much bigger than those provided by McDonald's.

In a similar vein to the Crocodile Dundee knife dialogue - That's not an ice cream. Now that's an ice cream.

Kelvin Eldridge

Monday, February 26, 2018

Aldi 12L toaster oven

I saw the Aldi 12L toaster oven that was coming up on the Aldi special buys day and two things crossed my mind. I'm a bit over specials where they're gone before you get to the store and, I wondered perhaps if other stores had just as good an offer.

The Aldi 12L toaster oven is priced at $34.95. Not a big outlay and I do miss grilled cheese on toast, as our grill is in our oven. A check on the internet from various retailers shows the Aldi 12L toaster oven is a good price. But there was one which interested me more and took the urgency of the Aldi special away. It was an 18L toaster oven at Kmart for $39. For $4.05 more I'd get 50% more capacity and that would potentially give me more flexibility in what I could cook.

I decided the no pressure buying at Kmart and the 50% greater capacity oven for me, was the way to go.

Kelvin Eldridge

Friday, February 16, 2018

Petrol prices around Melbourne appear to have started going up to 151.9 for unleaded.

The first signs of petrol prices around Melbourne going have appeared. The new high price is 151.9 for unleaded petrol. Only a few petrol stations appear to have lifted their prices.

Now is good time to watch prices. You can get petrol for around 120 at some places. If you're not in one of the lower priced areas, using a Woolworths Petrol discount can bring the price down close to the lowest prices.

For the 7 Eleven fuel app watch the prices. If you're going past and area with lower prices (south west of Melbourne, Fairfield East, etc.) you can lock in lower prices for another 7 days.

There's no way to know whether prices will rise quickly or slowly, so all you can do is watch the prices and pick up petrol for the best price you can when convenient. Sometimes we have seen a false start to the price hike, so again, watching petrol prices is a good idea.

Remember a trip driving just to pick up petrol often consumes a few dollars. However buying a full tank soon could save $10-$15 for most people.

Kelvin Eldridge

Update: Prices of the initial petrol stations went to 151.9 however, by Monday the prices stabilised at 149.9. During the past week the average gate price (think of the gate price as wholesale price) dropped 3-4 cents meaning the 149.9 is what would have been expected.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Saved the $125 Westpac annual credit card fee just by asking.

Banks don't want to lose your business, so it doesn't hurt to ask the question, "can they wipe the annual credit card fee?" In my case that's a saving of $125 this year simply for making a telephone call.

I call the bank around 4-8 weeks before the annual fee is about to be charged. I am fully prepared for them to say no and I'm happy to close the credit card. The reason is, I have a number of other cards now that can do the same or similar things. For example I have debit cards issued by other banks so could forgo the credit card if I wanted to. Those cards don't cost me anything so it really doesn't make sense to keep paying an annual fee. However, I do like the card as it keeps the transactions I use it for separate.

Be sincere and friendly during the call. They want your business and they're there to help. If it's not worth it to them, that's OK, that's their choice.

Kelvin Eldridge

Friday, February 09, 2018

Melbourne beaches and Yarra water quality EPA reports.

As a general rule I don't swim in Melbourne beaches until there's been a couple of really hot days. I'm not a fan of the colder water, but after a run of hot days (mid thirties) the water can be beautiful. We also have some of the best beaches around the Bay.

This approach also means generally the water is good for swimming. Best to avoid swimming in beaches after heavy rains and this approach coincidently corresponds. However, a better way to check the health of the beaches and the Yarra is to check the daily reports in the summer swimming season by the EPA. The following are links to the EPA reports for the Bay beaches and the Yarra.

Beach report - http://yarraandbay.vic.gov.au/beach-report

Yarra report - http://yarraandbay.vic.gov.au/yarra-watch

Kelvin Eldridge

NOTE: I'm not quite sure how often the testing is done, but if I'm right, the testing is done once a week and the reports are forecasts. Not great as this isn't the actual quality of the water but a forecast. The factors in the forecast are historical sampling, rain previous 24 hours (less is better), rain predicted for forecast period (less is better), cloud cover (less is better). In essence best to swim in areas with historically low microbiological sample, no rain prior or during the forecast period, and clear skies.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Melbourne 2018 lunar eclipse, blue moon, blood moon tonight 10:48 pm.

For the stargazers amongst us, the sky looks clear. Unusual for Melbourne. Tonight's the night for the lunar eclipse, blue moon, blood moon. It all starts at 10:48 pm.

The following is the times according to the abc.net.au site.

Partial Eclipse starts at 10:48 PM
Total Eclipse starts at 11:52 PM
Maximum eclipse 12:30 AM (February 1)
Total Eclipse ends 1:08 AM (February 1)
Partial Eclipse ends at 2:11 AM (February 1)

Let me know if you get any good pictures. I never do as I don't seem to have the right equipment.

Kelvin Eldridge

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Strava heat map shows fitness activities highlighting areas of interest.

The accumulated data from fitness devices released by Strava hit the press as it showed the location of secret army bases in remote locations. Fit people tracking their activities.

However I thought it might be interesting to checkout some of the locations in around me. Perhaps you may find it interesting as well.

Wilsons Promontory National Park

Criterium Cycling Track - Cranbourne

Westolds Park - Templestowe

1,000 Steps - Tremont

Waverley Park

If these heat maps don't quite make sense to you, visit the Strava blog which shows some examples of heat maps and activities (https://blog.strava.com/galleries/heatmap/).

Why I thought this information may be interesting is the heat maps may show activity areas near you which might give you something interesting to check out. Perhaps you'll find a hidden gem.

If you find interesting locations and wish to share them, you're welcome to let me know using my contact details which can be found on my www.OnlineConnections.com.au site.

Kelvin Eldridge

TIP: If you'd like to see the location on a Google Map you can copy and paste the latitude and longitude values from the Strava address in the address bar into Google Maps. For example for the Wilson's Prom website address above use the numbers and enter them as -39.06405,146.32009. Notice the two numbers are reversed and a comma is inserted in between.

If time permits, I may write a quick web app to take the Strava website address, extract the GPS coordinates and open Google Maps at the location. I'll post the link here.

Update: 30 Jan 2017
Copy and paste the Strava website address for a location on the Strava map into www.justlocal.com.au/clients/stravatogooglemaps/ and click Submit to go to the location in Google Maps.

As I or others find popular activity locations I'll post the links here.

Albert Park Lake

Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

Edwards Park Lake Reservoir

Ruffey Lake Park - Templestowe

Barrak Bushlands & Wingrove Park - Eltham

Friday, January 26, 2018

Testing a TrackR device. Will the crowd find the TrackR device attached to a set of car keys?

OK. Decided to test another TrackR device. This time with some help we attached a TrackR to a person's car keys. The aim, to see if the crowd provides the location and the TrackR device.

As the car keys go about their normal activity, the test is to see if the TrackR is located. This includes activities such as travelling on public transport, attending sporting events and travelling in and out of the city which in theory should pass by thousands of people. Perhaps one or more will have the TrackR software running.

The first test tonight, is Olympic park and travelling by train to and from the soccer.

Let's see how it goes. Will TrackR locate the car keys using the crowd?

Kelvin Eldridge
Online Connections
IT support.

Update: 29 Jan 2018
TrackR not detected at Olympic Park or over the weekend. Not detected train from Eastern suburbs to city and around the Docklands.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Cheers - Three Blood Alcohol Content calculators I've created.

If you've been drinking and want to check your blood alcohol content, the most accurate way is to use a device which measures blood alcohol content. Short of having a device, you can use a BAC calculator to estimate your blood alcohol content (BAC).

I've now created three blood alcohol calculators.

1. Standard Drink Calculator - when drinking the one type of drink.
2. Blood Alcohol Calculator - when drinking different types of drinks.
3. BAC Calculator - by entering the standard drinks, weight and sex.

When I created the Standard Drink Calculator I was only considering the situation where people drank a single type of drink to help determine the number of standard drinks and their BAC.

When I created the Blood Alcohol Calculator it was obvious there's times such as functions when people change their drink and the second calculator allows for different types of drinks.

From the feedback I received I'd been asked if it was possible to enter a person's weight. As it turns out there's a formula I could use that would enable people to enter their weight, sex, and number of standard drinks. which I used to create the BAC Calculator. You can use either the Standard Drinks Calculator or the Blood Alcohol Calculator to determine the number of standard drinks you've consumed.

I'm not a person that drinks that much, so it really is great to be able to estimate my BAC. The calculators certainly provides peace of mind.

Kelvin Eldridge

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Aldi 4K action camera. There may be better prices on eBay.

I saw the upcoming promotion of the Aldi 4K action camera. I have no doubt the GoPro devices would be of much better quality and/or performance, but at $69.99, I thought I'd pass the information on to some family members. At the much lower price it may just do what they require.

I then started to wonder whether or not eBay had similar products listed. As it turned out a search on eBay for "sports camera 4K" turned up sports cameras at much lower prices. Products with similar specifications to the Aldi action camera can be bought for around $38 with Wi-Fi, and down to around $20, if you go without the Wi-Fi. It's important that you compare the specifications carefully and not get tricked into a lower resolution action camera on eBay.

You can find more information on the specification for the Aldi 4K action camera is you search for "Bauhn" where you'll find the current products on sale at Aldi and their specifications (http://www.bauhn.com.au/product-listing/action-camera). With eBay, change the search order to "best price including postage", and then check the information provided for each action camera. Keep in mind the eBay advertisers often bait with a lower price item to get you to their listing. You need to select the actual item to see the price.

A few specifications did catch my attention. The Aldi 4K action camera according to their ad has the wide angle lens as 125 degrees. That's quite narrow. From what I've read sports cameras often have wide angle lenses of 140-170 degrees. Perhaps it's a typo. Most on eBay appear to be 170 degrees. Whether you want the wider angle or not however is a personal preference. The Aldi 4K action camera includes Wi-Fi and a remote control. Also mentioned is slow motion mode and the specification does indicate 1280x720 @ 120 fps. The ability to handle 64GB generally indicates the higher resolution.

The Aldi action camera mentioned 4K interpolated and had an image sensor "SONY 179, 8M pixel COMS". I'd be fairly sure "COMS" is a typo and should probably be CMOS. Interpolated to me suggests the resolution is not really 4K.

A bit of reading reveals there appears to be a lot of fake specifications from suppliers of the action cameras (https://dashcamtalk.com/forum/threads/the-list-of-shame-fake-4k-cameras-and-cmos-size.16490/).  This does mean you could easily get tricked so make sure you read the specifications and do the necessary research. Even then you may not end up getting what you think you're getting.

Even though with Aldi's 4K action camera does appear there may be better priced units, the advantages are: Aldi give you what they advertise, they're local, if they have sufficient stock you get the action camera quickly.

Kelvin Eldridge

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Scam - Pensioner to call Centrelink on 02 9099 1773.

Today I received a call which I let go to the answering machine. I've set my telephone so that calls from people we know ring with a happy tune. All other calls are mostly telemarketers, or scammers, so we let them go to the answering machine.

I decided to share this call as it is a scam that is trying to scam pensioners. Some pensioners get tricked by these scammers. By making the call available to others, hopefully this reinforces this is a scam.

I received the call. I'm not a pensioner. The number 02 9099 1773 to call and the same application number 080456 has been reported by quite a few people on the internet.

You can listen to a recording of the call on my Youtube channel. The link to the recording is https://youtu.be/1VMbvGXcaD8.

Hopefully this information assists others.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Update: 17 Jan 2017
I've read of a number of people being scammed. Basically people are being asked to pay for certain costs to get their money back paid. Some people have been asked to pay for this using iTunes gift cards.

Melbourne Car Parks and Drinking Fountains Melbourne maps added to Mapz.

When I find data that I feel may be useful to me, I think it may be useful to others as well. Recently I found The City of Melbourne have made available some of their data for others to use. There's a number of datasets that I feel may help me, so I decided to map the data for easier use.

When riding a bike to the city, or simply walking around the city you can get thirsty. The Drinking Fountains Melbourne map provides an easy way to find the closest drinking fountains. Honestly I'd never noticed them around the city and there's a lot. I may use them more often. Melbourne's water is pretty good and much better than buying a fizzy drink.

The other day I was in the city and needed to find some parking. My knowledge of the city car parks is about 30 years old so I was pretty lost as to which car parks were good, or even where they now were. They can get pretty expensive. Whilst on the first occasion I parked outside the city and took the tram in using my free weekend travel for seniors, I know not everyone has that opportunity. The next was to use the on street parking. At $5.50 an hour it is pretty expensive. The Melbourne Car Parks map will hopefully help me find suitable parking close to where I need to be.

A tip for the Melbourne Car Parks map is to use the link to Google maps and zoom in. There's you may get a link to the actual business which may provide more information.

Kelvin Eldridge

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Petrol prices around Melbourne may be on the increase to 149.9.

I expected the next price increase for petrol would occur towards the end of this week, but some petrol stations have already started to put their unleaded price up to 149.9 today.

Now is a good time to watch the petrol prices and fill up if necessary. If you're using the 7 Eleven fuel app, keep an eye on 7 Eleven prices and fill up to lock in the current price for another week.

With the Petrol Prices Melbourne web app I'm only currently entering the local Woolworths Petrol station. This is sufficient for me to watch the price. I then compare the average gate price and when the prices get close to each other, that's a sure sign prices will increase in the near future. Most days I update the average gate price (similar to the wholesale price) on the Petrol Prices Melbourne web app.

Kelvin Eldridge
Petrol Prices Melbourne

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Bike stolen at Docklands. Goodbye old friend.

For those who have been following my Free Bike Share posts you'll know I've been testing leaving a bike in the city for future sharing with family and friends.

Part of this testing was to see if the bike would get damaged or stolen. Somewhere between the 26th of December and the 2nd of January the bike was stolen. If anyone knows or sees the bike please let me know.

The bike does have a Trackr module on it, so it may still turn up. Last time I put in a crowd locate request with the Trackr software it took 21 days. We can only wait and see.

The outcome for this testing has been quite good so even though it cost a bike, it's probably been worth it. I thought I'd share some of my thoughts in case it helps others.

1. The software I wrote (https://www.freebikesharemelbourne.com.au) for sharing bikes does a reasonable job for my needs and potentially the needs of a few small groups.

2. Personally a bike in the city for a couple of people isn't much use.

3. The free trams in the city means there's little need for a bike around the city.

4. If you've taken public transport to get to and from the city, you've probably paid the maximum for the day on Myki, so all other travel would effectively be free. This meaning a bike in the city won't save anything.

5. Having a bike close to the city so you can ride to and from the free tram zone was one unexpected good use of a bike. In this case I shared a car ride to and from near the city and use a bike for last section to the city. There was thus no public transport cost.

6. The tyres did go flat, so maintenance of the bike is required to ensure it is usable.

7. The bike lasted around three months in the city before being stolen.

8. One thought is that perhaps because of the huge crowd in the city around New Year that perhaps this wasn't the best time to have the bike in the city. However, given public transport can be difficult and taxis/Uber expensive at that time, it also makes it the best time to have the lower free bike option available.

Losing the bike is a bit of a disappointment, but it should be remembered this was part of the test. The bike lived at three places around the Docklands for around three months without a problem. The cost to repair the bike, lock, etc. was probably less than $20, so it didn't cost much to have the bike available in the city.

This is perhaps not the end of the Free Bike Sharing Melbourne project trial as I've already potentially been offered another old bike to use. Once this bike is ready for use I'll write another post.

Kelvin Eldridge
Free Bike Share Melbourne

Update: 12 January 2018
One person asked me where the bike was parked. The bike was locked up on the centre hoop. The location was the Docklands on the corner of Harbour Esplanade and Bourke Street, Melbourne. The bike is not in the picture as the picture was taken after the bike was stolen.

Friday, January 05, 2018

Christmas cards from Northern Ireland arrive in the New Year.

Christmas cards arriving after Christmas just don't seem to have the same impact as those that arrive before Christmas. It's still a lovely thought but somehow it just isn't the same.

This year, relatives in Northern Ireland posted Christmas cards on the 6th and 7th of December 2017. Both of the cards arrived on the 2nd of January 2018. Perhaps even more strange, is a family member in Reservoir received their cards around a week earlier than we did in Templestowe.

Last year I sent a Christmas card to my wife on Monday the 12th of December 2016 and it arrived on Friday the 23rd of December 2016. The card had to travel from Doncaster East to Templestowe which is about 4 km. That's incredibly bad postal service from Australia Post.

The main purpose of this post is as a reminder that if we wish to send or receive cards for Christmas from family and friends overseas, it's best to post them before December. Even cards posted locally are best posted two weeks before Christmas. Keeping these cut off dates in mind may make that Christmas greeting a little more special.

Kelvin Eldridge

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

BAC Calculator for males, females and differing weight.

I'd already produced two different blood alcohol calculators to take into account whether people were drinking the one type of drink or multiple types of drinks. A question that frequently came up is can I enter my weight.

By chance recently I found the Widmark formula which is used to estimate the blood alcohol content, also allowed a person to use their weight and sex. I decided to write a web app that used the Widmark formula for people to determine their BAC.

The BAC Calculator can be found at www.BACCalculator.com.au. Please keep in mind the BAC Calculator can only ever provide an estimate and that each person's body handles alcohol differently.

Kelvin Eldridge
BAC Calculator

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Hailstorm in Templestowe.

There's a hailstorm that just passed through Templestowe and the hail stones were huge. About two thirds the size of golf balls. A good time to put the car in the garage.

Take care.

Kelvin Eldridge

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Seniors Card Vic discount offers now being added to Mapz.

Now that I have a Seniors Card I thought I'd start creating a map of the places I've received special discounts or offers. Initially I thought it would be easy, but then comes the frustration. Now you could say just be grateful, and I should be, but I do wish things would be simple. Different businesses of the same franchise group make different offers so you never know what offer you'll get until you ask.

The Seniors Card Vic section of Mapz is now being populated with the places I've received discounts or offers.

Whether it's an extra coffee or a discount, if you have a Victorian Seniors Card it doesn't hurt to ask the question, "do you offer a Seniors Card discount?" The worst they can say is no and sometimes you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Don't forget when shopping for Christmas presents at this time of the year, some shops offer a Seniors Card discount.

Kelvin Eldridge

Monday, December 11, 2017

Petrol prices in Melbourne on the increase. Unleaded rising to 149.9

Today I noticed a number of petrol stations rising their price for unleaded petrol to 149.9 so it looks like it's petrol price hike time again.

What has been really weird over the past week has been price drops of up to 4 cents per day. I've not seen that happen before so felt something very unusual was happening in the petrol market. Secondly, since I've been following the petrol price over the last year the pattern has been fairly consistent. The petrol price drops to around or below the average gate price (wholesale price) and then returns to the peak which is around 25-30 cents higher than the low price.

Usually the drop from the peak to the low price point happens at around half to one cent per day. Basically that means the price drops over three to four weeks. Sometimes longer, sometimes shorter. Quick drops like we've recently seen aren't usual.

Second, the low price point of the average gate price has not been reached or passed. We've still seeing prices around the high 120s. The average gate price is around 124.

I can only guess that as we approach Christmas and the holiday period the petrol companies wanted to drop the price rapidly so the price could be raised back to the peak to get a better return from people going on holidays. Otherwise at the normal rate of the price dropping, those travelling would have had excellent petrol prices. Now that's not going to happen.

There's been one false price hike I've seen where prices for some petrol stations went up early and this still could be the case. However, there's far more this time so it really does look like the price hike is happening.

Time to shop around and fill up those tanks. For those using the 7 Eleven fuel app, watch the prices and lock in the low price in the near future.

Kelvin Eldridge