Sunday, December 21, 2008

Coca Cola is proud to announce our new Christmas Promotion

I've received the email with the subject Coca Cola is proud to announce our new Christmas Promotion quite a few times. This is definitely an email with a malware attachment. OzEfilter allows me to delete the email at the email before I receive it. If I accept the email, the anti-virus program I use identifies it correctly as malware and removes the attachment.

For me there is not issue, but I've written this blog entry because I've received many of these emails, and others may not be protected in the same way.

Take care with Christmas promotions. You may end up with an unwelcome gift. 

- Kelvin Eldridge

Friday, December 19, 2008

Get the gift of search this festive season from the Google AdSense team

I just received an email with the subject Get the gift of search this festive season from the Google AdSense team.

Now here is the problem. I've never received an email from Google using this mailing address. There is actually not a single link to Google in the email.

Now this might not be unusual and this email may be bona fide. Many businesses use mailing list services.

However what I don't like about mailing list services, is they track your activities and they can apparently track the activities of others you may forward the emails on to. I really don't want to pass information on to others where they are not aware they are being tracked.

For me it doesn't matter how good this information may be, it is straight into the bin. This could easily be a phishing email and since I can't readily tell, I'd prefer to be safe than sorry.

Safe computing practices is often the only thing that will save you from malicious emails. If in doubt, hit the delete button.

Have a festive season and don't get tricked by the festive season emails.

- Kelvin

Important Security Update from Microsoft – "out of band" critical update for Internet Explorer

Thursday morning I woke to hear on the radio, Microsoft was issuing a patch for Internet Explorer. Weird I thought. We have the situation where flaws in software is a major news item. Being in IT however this information is important for my clients.

Friday night at 7:12 pm an email arrived at my mail server which I picked up later that night. It was titled Important Security Update from Microsoft – "out of band" critical update for Internet Explorer.

I checked all the links in the email and all links pointed to valid Microsoft sites. There was nothing in this email which made me feel it wasn't bona fide.

I would advise all clients to make sure their Windows update is enabled and to download and apply the latest updates. In particular the security updates.

Also take care with this type of email. Since so many people receive this email, and I suspect that would include virus writers, there is nothing to stop a virus writer creating a fake letter and circulating it. There is no need to click on any of the links in the email and you can always go to the Microsoft site if you want further information.

The main thing is you need to apply the updates available from Microsoft. If anyone clients require assistance please contact me. I will be visiting client sites on Friday to ensure computers are updated. I get a feeling it is going to be a long day.

Take care.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Thursday, December 18, 2008

FREE Australian English spellcheck dictionary for Google Chrome

Want to use Google Chrome, but prefer to spell using "colour" and not "color", then download V2.2.2 of the Australian English spellcheck dictionary for Google Chrome.

Unfortunately at this stage Google Chrome does not support Australian English, but the patch we provide gets around the problem for now.

You can find the Google Chrome dictionary via any of the following:

1. The Australian English spellcheck dictionaries can always be found from the front page of JustLocal (www.JustLocal.com.au).

2. Go directly to the dictionary project via www.dictionary.JustLocal.com.au and then go to the page for Google Chrome.

3. Go directly to the page for the Google Chrome dictionary. (Please note these pages may change as we reorganise. You will always be able to find the page via options 1 and 2.) 

Please enjoy.

- Kelvin Eldridge

UPDATE: 23 July 2009
Support for Google Chrome has been withdrawn as a result of actions by the project.

FREE Australian dictionary for OpenOffice.org, Firefox and Thunderbird.

As a result of your support and feedback I've decided to release version 2.2.2 of the Australian English dictionary file free for OpenOffice.org, Firefox and Thunderbird users. I hope to make the dictionary file available for other projects shortly.

I'm doing this because both the Firefox and OpenOffice.org project are distributing hacked versions of this file. By hacked I mean they have been updated without following the proper procedure. This has resulted in spelling and other errors being introduced.

These faulty files will no doubt spread through the Internet which is a concern. The only files you can be sure which haven't been hacked, are those direct from my site.

Use the FREE files available from www.dictionary.JustLocal.com.au to replace the faulty files. They are the latest and best free files available.

Version 3 is also now available for FREE to clients and customers of JustLocal, Online Connections, and those using the products and services from Virtual Profit Sharing partners via the JustLocal site.

Again thank you for your support.

- Kelvin Eldridge

UPDATE: 23 July 2009
Support for the projects has been withdrawn as a result of actions by the projects.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Is the Big Mac index missing an important variable?

The Big Mac index which is produced by the Economist, is a light hearted way of comparing the purchasing power of currencies across the world.

In travelling I find the price of a Big Mac when converted to Australian dollars, to be a good indication as to how expensive things are in other countries. Once you convert the price of the Big Mac from the local currency to Australian dollars and then work out the ratio, you get a good idea as to how much more expensive the country is compared to Australia. Of course if the price is less, that country is less expensive than Australia.

But wait. Is there a factor missing?

On my trip to the States a number of years ago I was sure the burgers were bigger in the USA. So I've decided to post this topic and others are welcome to add their information.

The cost of a Big Mac in Melbourne Australia on Sunday 14th December 2008 was $4.25 and the Big Mac (without any packaging) weighed 212 grams.

According to a reliable source (thanks Renée) has a friend who weighed a Big Mac in Austin Texas and found it was 8 ounces exactly (227 grams).  Our gut feeling was right. Big Macs are bigger in the USA.

If you want to join the Big Mac weigh in, please weigh the Big Mac without any packaging, but don't let that extra lettuce escape. Also include the price for the Big Mac, your currency and if possible, the current price in Australian Dollars. On our Fun With Search page we show how to convert between currencies using Google.

I will keep you posted as people send me their Big Mac weigh in results.

Bon appetit.

- Kelvin






Sunday, December 14, 2008

Streets of Templestowe starting with "B".

Continuing with a map of the location for each street in Templestowe, the following are the pages for the streets starting with the letter "B".

Bali Hi Boulevard, Bamfield Close, Bantry Grove, Barnacle Mews, Beale Court, Beavis Court, Bebs Court, Bedervale Drive, Beecroft Crescent, Berkefeld Court, Berwick Rise, Berwyn Crescent, Beverly Hills Drive, Bindi Close, Birchgrove Crescent, Blyton Court, Bramber Court, Bray Court, Briar Lane, Briarfield Court, Bronte Rise, Browning Drive, Burleigh Drive, Burns Court, Byron Close

Enjoy.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Heading to Surfers Paradise this summer.

Recently I had a trip to Surfers Paradise and booked everything over the Internet. You would think this would be easy, but a search for Surfers Paradise accommodation in Google returns one to two hotel sites on each page, with the rest being businesses promoting their services. With over a hundred places to stay, I would have to probably visit over two hundred pages. Even then I would have to visit each hotel's site to see what they had to offer.

I thought wouldn't it be great if I could just search the web sites of the hotels.

I couldn't, but now you can.

I created a search engine which only contains the 100 plus accommodation providers and allows you to directly search the hotel sites. If a gym is important to you, search for gym and see which hotels promote a gym. Perhaps a late stay.  Perhaps you are looking for conference facilities, just type in the word conference.

Give the Surfers Paradise search engine a go and see if it helps you find what you are looking for you next trip to Surfers Paradise.

Happy holidays.

- Kelvin Eldridge

PS. You can also find the Surfers Paradise search engine at JustLocal.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Streets of Templestowe starting with "A".

Recently I provided pages with a map of the location for each street in Lower Plenty. The following are the first pages for Templestowe which are the streets starting with the letter "A".

Adella Place, Albert Street, Aloha Gardens, Amberwood Court, Anderson Street, Angeltop Terrace, Annan Place, Anthlin Court, Apple Blossom Court, Ashcroft Avenue, Athenry Terrace, Atkinson Street, Aumann Drive, Austin Place, Azure Court

- Kelvin Eldridge

Australian English spellcheck dictionary for Firefox 3.1 beta.

For those Australians interested in testing the beta of Firefox 3.1, you can now install the Australian English spellcheck dictionaries for Firefox. 

If you are looking for the Firefox 3.1 beta download page, you can find it at the following address.

http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/all-beta.html

If you prefer a different browser, you can find the Australian English spellcheck dictionary files using the following links for each of the browsers. 

Internet Explorer 7/8 Beta
Opera 10 alpha
Google Chrome

- Kelvin

UPDATE: 23 July 2009
Support for Firefox has been withdrawn as a result of actions by the project.

Just when I'd given up on Opera, Opera 10 alpha is released.

I had decided not to release further Australian English dictionaries for Aspell, since Aspell has not been maintained for the Windows environment for years. My main reason for releasing Aspell dictionary files was Opera 9 uses Aspell, but unfortunately the spellcheck implementation isn't very good and thus not worth supporting.

Now Opera 10 alpha has been released and uses the same dictionary file format (Hunspell/Myspell) as the other projects I support, making it much easier to support Opera users. Talk about a back flip.

On the dictionary page you can now find Australian English spellcheck dictionaries for Opera 10 alpha and also the Australian English language user interface file. This makes Opera 10 alpha the most Australianised browser.

Our testing so far indicates that whilst there as some issues in Opera 10 alpha, (it is alpha after all), it is quite stable. This post was created using Opera 10 alpha.

If you love Opera and prefer using Australian English, check out the dictionary page.

- Kelvin

UPDATE: 23 July 2009
Support for Opera has been withdrawn as a result of actions by the company.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Anti-virus software

From an IT consultant's point of view, the anti-virus software market is a hard market to recommend to client. No software will fully protect a client, and the leading software sold by many retail stores, is not software I would suggest. Every anti-virus software I've tested or come across with clients, and that is most of the commonly available software, has not protected one or more computers, resulting in infected computers.

At this stage the software I suggest subject to people using coming sense with their emails, and in particular emails with attachments, is the Computers Associates software.

The software above is the anti-virus software, but I prefer getting the anti-virus plus spyware version as having both in the one packages makes things easier. Purchasing the three user version represents good value for money.

For overseas buyers one interesting quirk I found is the cost of the software if purchasing in America in US dollars, is the same amount as Australian dollars. With the exchange rate that means Americans can possibly save 20-30% by purchasing from the Australian site. The same may apply to other countries. Of course it probably does mean support may be an issue, but we've found over the years we haven't used CA support. The other anti-virus companies we have used have not been very good, so we tend to solve our own problems, as I'm sure most people do.

If you have a bad infection on your computer, often the most cost effective thing to do is to save all your data to external media and then reload the operating system.

I and my clients also use OzEfilter which is software I wrote. OzEfilter enables me to delete unwanted emails at the mail server and this approach stops infected emails getting near my computer.

Using an anti-virus plus spyware program, OzEfilter, and good old fashioned common sense, I've found to be the best protection against malicious software like viruses and spyware.

Interestingly I've found quite a few people who don't even realise their computer is infected. Pop-up messages when not browsing the Internet, keyboard or mouse not working, and the lights on their ADSL modem indicating constant traffic, are some of the symptoms of an infected computer which people don't realise. Downloading the trial version of CA anti-virus is a good way to check a computer. It won't fix the problem, but it may let you know you have a problem.

- Kelvin Eldridge

PS. The Computer Associates anti-virus software above is 29.99 GBP/39.99 EURO when purchased from the UK site. According to Google's exchange rates 29.99 GBP is 67.37 AUD and 39.99 EURO is 78.91 AUD. The current price purchasing from the Australian site for Computer Associates is 39.99 Australian dollars. That's up to a massive 50% saving over the EURO price. The price on the US site is 39.99 USD which is 60.64 AUD. If you are in the United States of Europe buying from the Australian site could save you 30-50%. You should be aware banks and credit card companies will charge for the exchange rate, but there are still good savings to be made by buying from Australia.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Street maps for Lower Plenty Victoria 3093

How handy is it to have a single page map when you need to pick up or drop off the children?

We decided to create a single page map using Google maps for the streets of Lower Plenty, which places the street you are interested in, in the middle of the page and can be easily printed on a single page.

Some other useful ways to use the maps are: to direct someone to your home for a gathering, perhaps a get together at the Lower Plenty Hotel, a round at the Heidelberg Golf Club or the Rosanna Golf Club, or to have someone pick up the children at the Lower Plenty Primary School. If you are looking for real estate to purchase or rent, a one page map can make things easier.

I'd be interested in finding out if you find a useful way to use the maps.

Alma Street, Amberley Way, Anthony Close, Barongarook Court, Beckett Court, Beleura Grove, Bolton Street, Bonds Road, Byron Avenue, Carisbrook Crescent, Cavanagh Road, Charles Street, Cheval Court, Cheverton Road, Cleveland Avenue, Coral Court, Devon Court, Edwards Street, Gees Court, Geoffrey Court, Glenauburn Road, Gwenda Court, Harcourt Place, Havelock Court, Henty Road, Karafili Way, Keating Court, Kett Street, Lakeside Drive, Lees Road, Leslie Court, Lincoln Drive, Longs Road, Lynwood Crescent, Maida Court, Main Road, Maskell Crescent, Montpelier Drive, Old Eltham Road, Palamino Court, Panorama Avenue, Para Road, Philip Street, Prosperity Road, Rangeview Road, Riverhill Drive, Roseburn Court, Rosehill Road, Sapphire Court, Sidwell Court, Stawell Road, Symes Street, Towyn Close, Tyalla Close, View Road, Woodfull Road, Yardie Court, Yarra Hill Close, Yarrowee Road

Please enjoy.

- Kelvin

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Streets of Lower Plenty

The recent post on Michael Doellefeld selling his home at 1/336 Main Road, Lower Plenty, led me to explore the area of Lower Plenty. For those interested, the following is a list of the streets of Lower Plenty.

Alma Street, Amberley Way, Anthony Close, Barongarook Court, Beckett Court, Beleura Grove, Bolton Street, Bonds Road, Byron Avenue, Carisbrook Crescent, Cavanagh Road, Charles Street, Cheval Court, Cheverton Road, Cleveland Avenue, Coral Court, Devon Court, Edwards Street, Gees Court, Geoffrey Court, Glenauburn Road, Gwenda Court, Harcourt Place, Havelock Court, Henty Road, Karafili Way, Keating Court, Kett Street, Lakeside Drive, Lees Road, Leslie Court, Lincoln Drive, Longs Road, Lynwood Crescent, Maida Court, Main Road, Maskell Crescent, Montpelier Drive, Old Eltham Road, Palamino Court, Panorama Avenue, Para Road, Philip Street, Prosperity Road, Rangeview Road, Riverhill Drive, Roseburn Court, Rosehill Road, Sapphire Court, Sidwell Court, Stawell Road, Symes Street, Towyn Close, Tyalla Close, View Road, Woodfull Road, Yardie Court, Yarra Hill Close, Yarrowee Road

It occurred to me that perhaps the full list of streets may be of interest to others. For example if you sought of know the street name, and know it is in Lower Plenty, it is much easier to quickly scan a list of around fifty streets, than it is to try to find the street using other means.

I hope others find the Lower Plenty list of streets to be of use.

Enjoy.

- Kelvin

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Michael is selling his own home in Lower Plenty.

From what I've read, only around two percent of people sell their own home and that is what Michael Doellefeld is doing. Located at 1/336 Main Road, Lower Plenty, the twelve month old property is modern with great views. To find out more check out his online brochure.

Just as exciting is Michael is also using the Virtual Profit Sharing approach, which means if you are a Virtual Profit Sharing member and you refer the person who ends up buying Michael's home, you will a very big thank you in the form of a bundle of cash.

Whether you are looking for a home, or some extra cash for Christmas, check out Michael's home. By helping Michael, you could end up helping yourself and that is what friends helping friends is all about. Everyone comes out a winner.

Happy home hunting.

- Kelvin

PS. You can also find Michael's property being advertised on the Lower Plenty 3093 postcode page.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Special offer for residents and businesses in Lower Plenty.

Online Connections is offering residents and businesses located in Lower Plenty, computer support with no call out charge for November and December 2008.

That's right. No call out fee. You only get charged for the time it takes to solve your problem, plus any out-of-pocket costs that may be incurred.

If your business or home falls is in the list of streets you can take advantage of this offer.

May all your computer problems be easy to fix.

- Kelvin

PS. For a low cost way to solve your computer problems, check out MyAnswers. If your problem has already been solved for someone else, the solution may have already been posted.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Outlook Express users read this before upgrading to Office 2007.

If you use Outlook Express and require spellchecking to work, then you may wish to think twice about upgrading to Office 2007.

Outlook Express works with the spellchecker built into earlier versions of Office/Word. But once you install Office 2007, your ability to spellcheck your email in Outlook Express is lost. To my knowledge there is no official fix from Microsoft to this problem.

One person contacting me for a solution (who was put onto me by Microsoft Australia support) was irate to lose their Outlook Express spellchecker after having spent hundreds of dollars upgrading to Office 2007.

There is a patch available from my site which adds spellchecking to Outlook Express and is suitable for most English speaking countries. It should be noted however the spellcheck dictionary is not as comprehensive as the Australian English spellcheck dictionary I provide. I would estimate it includes about a third of the words. However to get around the Office 2007/Outlook Express spellchecking issue, it is a good short term measure.

The spellchecking program and patch are provided by a third party and according to the developer won't be upgraded. It is an end-of-life program.

I would suggest after obtaining the spelling program (and patch if required) from my site, to think about the email clients available. Using web mail and the spellchecking dictionaries I provide with your browser, may be a good option for the future.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Have you Googled lately?

Who hasn't. But the question is how did you Google and do you know these neat Google tricks?

On many computers I see, the Google toolbar installed taking up valuable screen space and causing issues. Get rid of it. Internet Explorer 7 has a great search facility built in.

We've put together some of our favourite Google tips and search techniques on our Fun With Search page. If you:
  • Want to know the weather
  • Need a handy calculator
  • Want to know the meaning of a word
  • Want to do a Google search with pages from your country as the default
  • Want to know what other people in others countries see when they search Google
  • and much more

then check out the JustLocal Fun With Search page.

One tip our clients love is the ability to set Google Australia as the default search in Internet Explorer 7. Most people think they are stuck of Microsoft's Live Search which is the default. Now they can click on a link on the Fun With Search page and set Google Australia, or Google Australia with pages from Australia as their default search engine. It couldn't be easier.

Happy searching.

- Kelvin Eldridge

PS. Have you ever wondered why when you sometimes search using Google it gives you the option to show only pages from the country, and other times this option isn't available. Try the search engines for the different countries and check the results. Can you work out why?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Virus alert: Your Statement number: 384545

I decided to receive this email instead of using OzEfilter to delete it. The subject of the email was "Your Statement number: 384545" and the body of the message was the following:

"Dear Client

As you requested, we are sending you this report with details on your account transactions made between 9/1/2008 and 10/28/2008.

At your service
Marguerite Crowell"

The email also had an zip file Details.zip and that file contained a program which was disguised to look like a Word document file where the name appeared to be Details.doc......exe, where the exe extension might not be seen by many.

The attachment was submitted to the virus scanning service identifying the attachment as malicious.

- Kelvin

This post brought to you by the JustLocal service.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Dictionary: Is it cellphone or cell phone?

This is a rather interesting question. The word cellphone is not currently in the spellcheck dictionary.

It is important to check a word like cellphone, as it could easily be the American spelling since American spelling tends to concatenate words together. In this case a check of the Merriam Webster site displays an entry for "cell phone", when a search is performed for "cellphone", so even this generalised observation does not apply. This leads me to suspect this is not the usual spelling in America. That rules out "cellphone" being an American spelling variation.

If we check the Australian Concise Oxford dictionary Fourth Edition cellphone is an entry. If we check the Macquarie Concise Dictionary Third Edition there is no entry cellphone, but there are entries for cellular telephone and an also entry for cellular phone.

The general rule I use in maintaining the spellcheck dictionary files, is if a word is in either dictionary and there isn't an obvious conflict, then it is included in the full version of the spellcheck dictionary.

For the Kelvin version, which is the prescriptive spellcheck dictionary, designed to simplify spelling to the preferred spelling in Australia, this requires a bit more investigation.

In this case we also need to consider that "cell" is a shortened version of cellular. Just as phone is a shortened version of telephone and phone would be considered as a colloquial spelling of telephone, or the shortened version of telephone. In more formal documents, phone by itself may not be an acceptable spelling.

Using the Kelvinometer, a tool I developed which shows the usage of words in Australia as found by the search engines, I can then get an indication as to which is the preferred usage.

The results for Google Australia are:

cellular phone: 206,000
cellular telephone: 8,810

cellphone: 99,100
cell phone: 1,180,000

Based on this information cell phone is the preferred spelling.

I also thought it would be of interest to check the word mobile, as I personally would not use cellphone or cell phone, but would instead use mobile phone, or mobile for short.

mobile phone: 7,870,000
mobile telephone: 82,100

Based on the above the preferred term in Australia would be mobile phone, and then cell phone. Since cellphone is a secondary way to spell cell phone, cellphone wouldn't be added to the Kelvin dictionary.

It should be noted that spellcheck dictionaries cannot handle a space, so it is not possible to spellcheck for "cell phone", and the spellcheck would be testing for the words, "cell" and "phone". Both the full and the Kelvin versions of the dictionaries contain colloquialisms, so “cell phone” would appear as correct spelling.

In this case both spelling variations are correct and it would be considered a matter of style. The more popular usage in Australia is “cell phone”, but the term “mobile phone” is even more prevalent.

- Kelvin

This post is brought to you by the dictionary project which can be found on JustLocal.

Thinking phones, think Renée.

JustLocal advisory: Facebook shows your friend's photographs to the world.

As a result of a search my daughter recently did, my Facebook page was returned in the number one position. On clicking the link there were photographs of a number of my friends and that really concerned me.

By default Facebook creates a public page which can be found on the Internet. I had not thought that it would also provide photographs of friends which could also show their children. I would not without permission, put other people's photographs on the Internet for the world to see, so I really didn't expect this to happen by default.

Please accept my apologies. It was never my intent to make photographs of others available and I would never have thought this would be a default behaviour of Facebook.

By reviewing the security settings in Facebook I've now removed the public page.

The problem is it is not possible to completely remove the information. The information once made public, will continue to exist on some sites for some time to come, possibly for many years to come.

I hope that by sharing this experience it alerts others to potential issues when using Facebook.

- Kelvin Eldridge

This information is provided to assist JustLocal friends.

Virus alert: An old friend added you as a friend on facebook

I recently checked the email on the mail server using OzEfilter and noticed an email with the subject: An old friend added you as a friend on facebook.

The contents of the email was as follows:

"Facebook is a social utility that connects you with the people around you.
Facebook notifier

One of your old classmates added you as a friend on Facebook. We need to confirm that you know her in order for you to be friends on Facebook.
To see her picture please check your attachment."

The attachment was a zip file called picture.zip and this is a pretty good indication the email contains a virus. In the zip file was a program called picture.exe further indicating this is a malicious email.

This program was not detected by our desktop anti-virus program, or the server anti-virus software, which has been the case for a couple of months with similar virus infected emails.

Once again I've sent the attachment off for review as mentioned in MyAnswers 1890 and expect it to come back as malware.

I also recently read an article from a news site with the subject and the first paragraph which read as following:

"Facebook attacked by vicious virus

FACEBOOK users are under attack from a virus sweeping through the online social network.

The virus is technically a trojan worm that disguises itself as an email from facebookmail.com."


This email may or may not be the type of virus the article was talking about. The email did have what is most likely a fake address appearing to be from facebookmail.com.

Once again treat with suspicion any email you receive. Log on to facebook and check your messages there. Avoid using links in the email.

Please take care with email purporting to be from facebook.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Monday, October 27, 2008

News at it happens.

Each night many of us sit and watch the news of the day. A half hour segment split into news, sport and weather, with around a third of time taken up with commercials.

For me waiting around until 6:30pm to hear the weather doesn't make sense, when the Bureau of Meteorology provides a very good service and it is easily available on the Internet. Sometimes I would like more than a brief overview of a story provided by the nightly news, and at other times, I'd prefer to skip a number of stories.

It occurred to me, what if I could access the latest headlines. I could then scan the headlines and read only the articles of interest to me. The result of this idea is the NEWS page which provides links to the headlines from a number of the major media organisations, and of course, the latest weather.

You can access the NEWS page from JustLocal. Just click on the following image.

Enjoy.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Important Security Update from Microsoft

Hi,

On Friday 24th of October 2008 at 12.27 pm I received an email from Microsoft with the subject: Important Security Update from Microsoft.

The first paragraph and heading was the following:

"What is the purpose of this alert?

Microsoft has released a security bulletin (out-of-band) to address a vulnerability in all currently supported versions of Windows. The software update was made available for download from the Microsoft Update / Windows Update web site this morning."

I've examined this email and it is legitimate. However that doesn't mean other emails will be legitimate. Microsoft provides a link in the email to obtain further information. The full link address is not shown for the full bulletin, just a click here type link. The underlying link however is a valid Microsoft site.

The problem is phishing attempts that look like Microsoft official emails are sent. One of my clients was tricked and ended up infecting their computer and other computers on the network.

Personally I think Microsoft should display the full version of every link. Even if the full version of the link/address is shown, I would suggest keying the full version of the link/address into the browser and not clicking on a link. When you can see the domain is a www.microsoft.com, or www.microsoft.com.au domain and a page on their site, and the address is typed in, this gives assurance the information is information from Microsoft.

In this case the email I received was a bona fide. You may receive the same email, but just as equally take care, as you may receive a fake email with almost identical information, if one gets created.

Treat all emails, even from the companies you know, as a potential threat. Use the standard update approach used in Windows, which ensures you do not download potentially harmful malicious software.

- Kelvin Eldridge

This informaton is brought to courtesy of the JustLocal service.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Search Australia first, with Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox 3.

The clutter with the number of results when searching using Google can be overwhelming. Large overseas companies often get their information positioned first in Google, and this can cause Australian companies to suffer and lose sales. With the States having a population of 300 million, their presence simply overwhelms us and many smaller countries. This can make it hard for Australian sites to gain a higher presence.

So now if your using a third party search bar such as the Google search bar, hide the search bar, use the search facility that is now built-in to Internet Explorer 7 and the Firefox 3 search bar, sometimes called Mozilla search. Now add Search Australia to your list of search engines to conveniently search for Australian sites.

You can find the Search Australia page available on the JustLocal site.

http://www.justlocal.com.au/search/australia/

At the bottom of the Search Australia page are two links to enable you to easily add the search page as a search engine to your browser. Click on the link for your browser and you can quickly install the Search Australia page. You can make it your default search engine, or you can use it as required. Once installed, if Search Australia is selected as your default search engine, you should see JustLocal Australia as text in your search area.

Now when you want to search Australian sites, just select the Search Australia search engine and enter your question straight into the browser's search area. The best part is if you have been using a third party toolbar which takes up an additional row of space in your browser, you can get rid of it and use the features now built into the Internet Explorer and Firefox browser. It never hurts to have more space to read web pages.

As they say "Too Easy". Now it really is easy for you to Search Australia first.

Enjoy.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thinking of removing Internet Explorer 8 beta.

If you are like me and have been frustrated to find a lot of sites not working as they should with Internet Explorer 8 beta, there is a way to keep it installed and working.

If you have a web site, it is a good idea to test your site with Internet Explorer 8 beta, because many sites will be broken. Microsoft reportedly are moving to greater standards compliance. My feeling is this is going to hurt Microsoft in the short term, as so many sites will not work as they should. People will probably just dump Microsoft's Internet Explorer and move to a solution that just works for them, like Firefox 3 or Google Chrome.

However, if Internet Explorer 8 is more standards compliant, then it makes sense to persist and use it to check sites, because none of us want our site to cause grief to visitors. Even if our sites worked pre Internet Explorer 8, visitors won't care whose fault it is, and we will lose business if our sites don't work.

I have to admit I was at the point of regretting installing Internet Explorer 8 beta and was thinking of removing it, as it was causing too much grief. I actually run three browsers which are Internet Explorer, Firefox and Google's Chrome. Google's Chrome for speed and simplicity, Firefox for spellchecking when the others don't work as they should, and Internet Explorer as it works generally better on more sites, until Internet Explorer 8 beta that is.

In Internet Explorer 8 beta there is a compatibility mode you can run which temporarily switches the browser so it runs like Internet Explorer 7. The problem though is this feature doesn't always work as it should and it makes life even more frustrating.

The following is how I get around the problem.

When checking sites for future compatibility with Internet Explorer 8, I simply use Internet Explorer 8 beta as it has been installed.

Once I've done my testing, I set Internet Explorer 8 beta to always be in compatibility mode and this gives me a very stable experience. When I want to test again I can turn the compatibility mode off. This approach gives me the best of both worlds.

To set Internet Explorer 8 beta compatibility mode always on you do the following:

Select Tools -> Compatibility View Settings
Tick the option Display all websites in Compatibility View
Click Close

Now the frustration of using Internet Explorer 8 beta on a regular basis because of compatibility issues is gone.

For more solutions like this please check MyAnswers. When I and my clients have problems with computers I often document the solution like I have done above. Some problems can take hours to solve and I recall one problem took over twenty hours to solve. There are now nearly 2,000 solutions I've documented over the years, and having ready access to these solutions saves my clients a great deal of time and money.

Chances are if you have a problem, then others are having the same problem. You can of course search the Internet and if you are very experienced, piece together the solution. The problem with the Internet is there are a lot of solutions which are very poor and I've found through some bad experiences, that some will easily damage your computer making things worse. The solutions I provide are the solutions that actually solved the problem for the particular situation and so there is no need to go through hundreds of posts to find a solution.

You can also find MyAnswers on the front page of JustLocal.

Enjoy

- Kelvin Eldridge

Sunday, October 12, 2008

How lucky is Paul Wight from Queensland.

Paul is the winner of not one, but two prizes in The Great Give-Away.

I attended the draw of the two prizes provided by The Computer Wholesaler which was a 2.5" and a 3.5" external hard disk drive case. A random number was generated and the winner of the 2.5" external hard disk drive case was Paul Wight. Another random number was generated, this time for the 3.5" external hard drive case. To the astonishment of both Mike, who owns The Computer Wholesaler, and myself, it was Paul Wight again.

By my calculation Paul had a one in nearly a thousand chance of winning both prizes. Maybe they should rename the sunshine state to the lucky state.

Well done Paul and thank you to The Computer Wholesaler for participating in The Great Give-Away.

The Great Give-Away is a competition run by JustLocal together with advertisers, where we give people the chance to win a prize in return for receiving promotional emails from JustLocal and the advertiser. People can request to stop receiving promotional material at any time.

Feel free to check out The Great Give-Away. It costs nothing to enter and you never know, you might be as lucky as Paul

- Kelvin Eldridge

Friday, October 10, 2008

Virus alert: Please check your AdWords Payment Information/Please Update Your Billing Information.

On running OzEfilter this morning I noticed two emails possibly from Google adwords, but most likely a phishing attempt.

I decided to receive these emails instead of OzEfilter deleting them safely at the mail server.

The reason I wanted to check them out is many smaller businesses give Google adwords a go either to promote their business or to try to generate some income from their site. Since the focus of JustLocal is to assist micro and small business, I felt checking these out might help others.

Both emails are the same and start with the following:

This message was sent from a notification-only email address that does
not accept incoming email. Please do not reply to this message. If you
have any questions, please visit the Google AdWords Help Centre at
https://adwords.google.com/support/?hl=en_GB
the page.

and then go on to state:

Our attempt to charge your credit card for your
outstanding Google AdWords account balance was declined.
Your account is still open. However, your ads have been suspended. Once
we are able to charge your card and receive payment for your account
balance, we will re-activate your ads.

Hovering the mouse over the first link the text tip which appears, shows the site address to be a Google address. However hovering the mouse over another address used to log on, shows it is not a Google address, and is an obvious phishing attempt to probably gain user name, password and/or possibly credit card information.

The advice I have in these situations, is not to connect to a site from a link in an email. Instead, open the browser and go directly to the site by using the URL known to be correct for the site.

Whilst most of us will discard these emails after realising they are fake, because of the large volume of emails sent, the probability is some people will get caught, which to me is quite sad.

It should be kept in mind that in my experience I have only ever found one situation where a computer was infected, that was not the result of a person being tricked into taking action.

I use OzEfilter to assist me in handling unwanted emails. What I find is it helps people to reduce the exposure from the Internet and just as importantly, to reduce the chances of people doing something to damage their computer.

Please take care with all emails, and in this type of situation, emails that can be mass marketed, because large numbers of people use these well known brand companies.

- Kelvin

Thursday, October 09, 2008

How did Optus Wireless broadband go on my recent trip to Surfers Paradise?

One of the things I do for clients, and those using the JustLocal service, is to document IT related issues as solutions in the MyAnswers service. By doing this clients can receive answers more economically than they could by using my services directly.

Recently I travelled to Surfers Paradise and took my computer and Optus wireless broadband modem. I used the Optus service at the hotel and at the airport. I share this experience in MyAnswers solution 1908.

Knowing this information can help my clients, or perhaps you, make a better informed purchasing decision, when it comes to wireless broadband.

Happy mobile surfing.

- Kelvin

Think of birthday gifts, Christmas gift ideas, or something for you.

I'd like to welcome Lil and Natural Gifts For You to JustLocal. I checked out Lil's site and I am very impressed. Lil has some very interesting products which would make great gifts. If you're having problems coming up with a birthday gift idea, a Christmas gift idea, or just want something for yourself, then check out Lil's site.

The Himalayan Salt Crystal Lamps look great, and I recently saw one of the Mesmerizer Balls whilst in Surfers Paradise and I have to say the effect was, well, mesmerising.

In addition to a range of Himalayan Salt Crystal Lamps, Selenite Lamps, and the Mesmerizer Ball, you can also find a range of Feng Shui and Bling products.

You can find Lil and Natural Gifts For You on the JustLocal postcode page 3037. I believe Lil ships all over Australia. If you can keep a secret, I've already spotted a few neat Christmas gift ideas.

I hope this helps next time you're looking for a great gift idea.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Firefox 3.0.3 download works with Australian English dictionary.

Firefox just updated to 3.0.3 so I decided to check Australian English spellchecking (spell checking) to ensure there were no new issues.

The existing issue where if you copy and paste text into a form, and the in-line spellchecking does not work, is still the same. To get around this problem turn off the spellchecking and then turn it on again.

On the Firefox dictionary page, I provide a convenient link to download the British version of Firefox 3.0.3. This version's user interface is more consistent with spelling used in Australia.

The Australian dictionary available via the project is very dated and should be avoided. It is based on my work from years ago. You can obtain the latest Australian English dictionary files which have over 40,000 more words and greater localisation.

Two versions of the Australian English dictionary are available. The full version, which contains the dual spelling of many words used in Australia (e.g. organise and organize), and the Kelvin version which contains only the preferred spelling of a word used in Australia (e.g. organise). The Kelvin version removes over 2,300 words many people consider to be American spelling, but in most cases are really the secondary spelling used in Australia. The Kelvin version is often the spelling students will find their lecturers to consider to be correct. Using the Kelvin version of the dictionary will result in more consistent spelling in documents.

Happy spellchecking.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Little Wheels Productions helping raise money for Ronald McDonald House Monash.

Ashley is a VPS member promoted on the 3106 post code page. Ashley is also a member of the final year PR team at Box Hill TAFE, who are running an exciting event titled, "Feel the Rush" on November 12th.

If go-karting takes your fancy, if laser games appeal to you, if you want to have a great night out and help raise money for a worthwhile cause, then let your inner child take over for the night and have great fun at the same time.

As a sponsor of the event, it has been my pleasure to provide Ashley and the team with hosting services, and advice and guidance on web site development. Ashley has done a great job on the Little Wheels Productions web site. I've also seen material produced by other team members and I have to say, it is as good as I've seen from many companies. Well done team.

You can also find Little Wheels Productions on the main page of JustLocal, in the community section at the bottom of the page.

I'm looking forward to the night and seeing a few JustLocal friends at the event.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Acer Aspire One has Outlook Express with French.

People upgrading their computer to Office 2007 are finding their Outlook Express spellchecking stops working. More of a concern, are brand new computers, such as the Acer Aspire One netbook, come with Outlook Express and French spellchecking as the only option.

Microsoft by now should have released a patch to fix this issue, as it is causing a lot of people grief.

The solution many people around the world find acceptable is the spell.exe program made available by Vampirefo. For those who don't want to use American English, a patch also provided by Vampirefo in response to my request for assistance, changes spell.exe to check using the spelling variation more commonly used in Australia, and other countries, such as England and New Zealand. For example "colour" and "organise" will be the correct spelling and not "color" and "organize".

You can download the program and patch from the dictionary project on the Outlook Express page.

I highly recommend reviewing all your email and spellchecking options if you are using Outlook Express, as Vampirefo has indicated the programs will not be updated. My testing shows the dictionary files have a very usable subset of the language, but this is probably only 30-40% of the current Australian English dictionary files I provide. The dictionary projects provides you with many more options with email and Australian English spellchecking.

Right now, to get around your Outlook Express spellchecking issues, unless of course French is your preferred language, the program from Vampirefo is one of your best short term options.

Thank you to Vampirefo for making these files available and assisting Justlocal users.

Happy spellchecking.

- Kelvin Eldridge

PS. If this issue is causing you grief, please feel free to add a comment to this post. If enough people comment, I will pass this information on to my contacts in Microsoft Australia.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Virus alert: [NO-REPLY] UPS Tracking Number 13438330

This slight variation of the recent UPS tracking email has been occurring more often according to my OzEfilter log so I felt it was time to recheck. This is a malicious email.

The email contains the following text:

"Unfortunately we were not able to deliver postal package you sent on Sept the 18 in time because the recipient’s address is not correct.
Please print out the invoice copy attached and collect the package at our office

Your UPS"


The email has an attachment named UPS_letter.zip and the zip file contains the file UPS_letter.doc.exe. (For those with the option to display file extensions off, you will not see the ".exe".)

This is a malicious email and it should be deleted.

I am quite surprised that these emails continue to pass anti-virus software undetected since this form of malicious email has been released many times over recent weeks . Both the mail server anti-virus scanner software and the desktop anti-virus scanner software, did not detect this malicious email.

For us this is not a problem, as OzEfilter keeps this unwanted email out of our computer. However for everyone else, I would suggest deleting this email permanently.

Virtual Profit Sharing members please also keep in mind OzEfilter is available for you to let others know about. If you find people you know receiving 10-20 or more unwanted emails a day, OzEfilter can assist them and significantly reduce the chances of them infecting their computer. Everyone I have using OzEfilter, appreciates the peace of mind OzEfilter gives them.

- Kelvin Eldridge

The Weekend Australian Art Sydney - 24-26 October 2008

For those in Sydney from October 24-26, you can find Lyne Marshall of Art Clique at Stand A12. Some of you will know of Lyne from her book, Gleaner or Gladiator: the struggle to create. You can find Lyne's book on her JustLocal book page. I thoroughly enjoyed the extract of her book which also gave me the chance to view and appreciate some of Lyne's work.
For more information on the exhibition click here.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Microsoft Live Hotmail and Australian English spellcheckiing.

Spellchecking is a very important aspect of writing and it is no less important when writing emails. Typos and spelling errors can make a bad impression with those you write to. With family and friends, typos and spelling errors are usually of little concern. But when applying for a job, or responding to a request for a quote from a new customer, typos and spelling errors can make the difference between winning or losing the job or  business.
A large number of people use Windows Live to write emails, so I decided to check which browser in conjunction with the Australian English spellcheck dictionaries gave the best user experience.
To my surprise, the answer was none of the browsers spellchecking worked with the browser's built-in, or add-on spellcheck feature with Microsoft Windows Live.
In the test I created a new email in Windows Live with Internet Explorer 8 beta/IE7Pro, Google Chrome, Firefox 3 and Opera 9. In all cases I was not able to spellcheck the message using the Australian English spellcheck dictionary files.
For me, after the product itself, spellchecking is a critically important feature of any software where the main role is writing. As a result of these tests, I would not use or suggest Windows Live to other people. Many people will however find the Windows Live spellcheck feature is sufficient for their needs. For those like myself who prefer not to use the "ize" spelling variations of words, the Windows Live spellcheck feature will not be sufficient.
If you haven't checked out Windows Live Hotmail you can get yourself an account by clicking on the following graphic.
You can find the Australian English spellcheck dictionary files at www.dictionary.JustLocal.com.au.
Enjoy.
- Kelvin Eldridge

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

JustLocal Surfers Paradise search engine.

One of the things that is very frustrating about organising a holiday, is to find the accommodation available in an area such as Surfers Paradise. For example, a search of "Accommodation Surfers Paradise" using Google, returns 3.1 million pages, with only one of the organic results on the first page being an actual hotel. There are so many directories and listing services that the actual properties aren't easily found.

The thought occurred to me, what if I could have a search engine with just the accommodation in Surfers Paradise. If I had that, then I could start to search those hotels for things I wanted. For example, I'm on holiday in Surfers right now and we wanted a gymnasium. I wanted a hotel right next to the beach and walking distance to Cavill Avenue, but not too close.

Being in Surfers Paradise the information is easily available. I've always found the irony of holiday destinations is the information is available once I get to the destination. Often it takes a couple of days to find the information about the local highlights, and by then, a short holiday is over. What I need is the information before I get to the destination. 

Now for the benefit of others, I would like to make available a search engine which lists over a hundred accommodation places in Surfers Paradise.

Now you can search for the things you want. Things like:
  • The Esplanade (for accommodation on the beach).
  • Gymnasium
  • Indy
  • Schoolies Week
Many site provide lots of information about local activities and the information can be very handy.

In addition on this page, I've added a link to the Wotif.com service so you can see the last minute accommodation available in Surfers Paradise. I actually wanted to wait to book the accommodation this holiday. Choosing a place like Surfers Paradise where there is a great range of accommodation, made me feel the chance of getting good last minute accommodation may have been easy, even considering it was school holidays. But unfortunately the pressure of not having accommodation booked for the rest of the family was too much and so we booked in advance. Out of interest I decided to check the accommodation for the hotel we are staying at and yes there were rooms available. The decision not to wait cost us about $250-$300 more in accommodation and there were plenty of hotels to choose from. Booking early however does give peace of mind. It is always a trade off.

On the Surfers Paradise search engine page at the bottom left, I've also added a link which you can use to add the Surfers Paradise search engine to Internet Explorer to help you plan your next holiday.

If you find I have missed your favourite Surfers Paradise accommodation (only Surfers, not surrounding areas), an error, or even incorrectly not linked to the main site for the property, please feel free to let me know. 

If you find the Surfers Paradise search engine helps you, please feel free to leave a comment.
Happy holidaying.

- Kelvin Eldridge





Friday, September 26, 2008

Phishing alert: BankWest Security Depertment

I was about to delete an email using OzEfilter, supposedly sent from BankWest, because to me it was probably going to be a phishing attempt. This time however, I decided to check it out and let others know what I found.

The email contained a poor quality BankWest logo.  



The start of the email reads as follows:

BankWest has been receiving complaints from our customers for unauthorised use of the BankWest Online accounts. As a result we are making an extra security check on all of our Customers account in order to protect their information from theft and fraud.

Due to this, you are requested to follow the provided steps and confirm your Online Banking details for the safety of your Accounts. Click Here To Get Started!

As a rule you should not click on a link in an email to go to a financial site. Always open your browser and enter the site address of your financial institution. The technique I use for this email is to hover my mouse over the "Click Here" link. I then see the address of the link which is not visible. In this case the site is a .net.au site and nothing to do with BankWest

This email is an obvious phishing attempt to get a person's bank account details. Don't be tricked by this type of email. 

- Kelvin Eldridge