Friday, April 30, 2010

Alert: Amazon.com Deal of the Day

Today I received three emails with the subject: Amazon.com Deal of the Day.

These emails were a mock-up of a page attempting to look like an offer from Amazon. Checking the links for the menus showed a domain ending in .ru, which is obviously not an Amazon domain. I then checked where the emails originated and they originated in Romania.

You should delete this type of email. If you have signed up for online services such as eBay, Amazon, or any service with a large number of users, there is a high probability that over time you will receive a fake email which appears to be from one of these companies. It is easy to be tricked so you need to take care at all times.

I use OzEfilter to enable me to delete this type of email at the mail server before I receive the email into my computer. In this case I was curious so I accepted the email so I could check it further.

- Kelvin Eldridge

IT: Telstra drops SMS notification for pre-paid browsing pack

As readers may know I use a $10 browsing pack from Telstra to access the internet whilst on the go. Telstra's 3G provides the best and most reliable data coverage.

I should add I don't use the Telstra's service for anything but browsing on the go, which makes the service cost effective. I use other providers for other mobile services.

The good thing about browsing packs from Telstra is you can obtain a Telstra 3G SIM card, purchase $60 prepaid credit and the credit last 12 months.  What I do is each month purchase a $10 browsing pack which gives me $100MB of data.. The $10 isn't on top of the $60, it comes out of the prepaid credit . of $60. This is much better than paying extra for data as other Telcos do. In effect it means the $60 can last around six months.

The reason I can get nearly six months usage from the $60 credit is I only use the data whilst on the road.When around the office or home I use the wireless internet. By watching your use you can have mobile internet that doesn't cost too much.

One advantage Telstra had over Optus was when you reached the end of your data allowance for the month, or the browsing pack was about to expire as it reached the 30 days, you'd get an SMS notification. The reason this is good is with Optus there is no warning and it only takes a minutes to clock up hefty data costs. For example it took me 4 minutes to clock up $27 of data costs with Optus. Had I not realised what was happening that could have easily been hundreds of dollars.

Sadly Telstra has now dropped the SMS notification without warning. This month I went over my 30 days and clocked up around $30 of data charges.

There is no reason companies like Telstra and Optus can't provide users with a warning they are reaching their limit, or something is about to expire. I can't help feeling this is by design. Telstra had the facility and has now removed it. That's another $30 in their pocket.

To me these companies only damage themselves by not looking after their customers.Yes in the short term they garner a little extra income, but in the longer term they potentially lose a customer.

Optus didn't lose my business to Telstra because of their poor coverage, but when that was added to extra and very excessive charges when the prepaid data expired, they lost my mobile data business. In time they will probably lose other business from me (and probably my entire family) which will amount to thousands of dollars a year. Telstra lost my business a while ago, but started to claw some business back. This latest removal of a simple SMS notification has now started the process of me looking elsewhere. These companies will continue to churn customers whilst they garner additional income from people when they unknowingly reach their limits. I suspect the Office of Fair Trading one day will get involved and force Telcos to provide adequate warning to their users, but until that happens the only real option we have is to vote with our purchasing power.

I use pre-paid plans with Telcos as I've found in the past it is very easy to incur unexpected costs. I remember an early experience where I hadn't locked my phone. It was in my briefcase and as it moved it kept redialing the last number called. That was an expensive bill. With the high cost of data it is now very possible for people to be hit with bills of hundreds and possibly thousands of dollars. Using prepaid helps to avoid that situation to a degree. At worst you tend to end up consuming the prepaid credit a faster than expected.

I hope that by sharing my experience others find ways of avoiding unexpected mobile costs.

- Kelvin Eldridge

PS. If you are looking at the Telstra prepaid browsing packs I feel the $5 pack is totally inadequate. The $29 pack doesn't make sense because you only get 200MB whereas two $10 browsing packs will give you the same amount of data for less. Keep in mind the prepaid browsing packs only last for 30 days. You can monitor your usage online but my experience with Telstra's site is it is pretty awful.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Wireless intercom for pooch

We love pooch, but we had a problem. Pooch stays in the laundry of a night, but sometimes decides to wake up early, very early and starts knocking on the door. Whatever it is that wakes her we don't know, but it does require one of us getting up and settling her for the night.

I tried an intercom once and whilst it worked, the cable running through the house from our bedroom to the laundry just wasn't acceptable. It was an old unit and eventually died, so we again settled for the routine of getting up and settling pooch.

I recently noticed an FM wireless intercom in a suppliers product list. I decided to purchase a unit and see how it went. Whilst I'd say the sound quality is average, it is more than suitable for us to settle the dog without leaving the warmth and comfort of the bed. Now that's what I call good use for technology.


The FM wireless intercom is $74.95. If an FM wireless intercom interests you, please contact me using the Online Connections page. 

- Kelvin Eldridge

Tags: intercom systems, wireless intercom, home intercom, intercom system



Thursday, April 22, 2010

Alert: Beware of comments containing fake compliments on your blog.

If you run a blog and receive a glowing compliment via a comment, before accepting it read it again. If it doesn't specifically mention something in your article, (and even if it does) chances are it is simply someone trying to promote their site. When they post a comment their site address appears with the comment.

I should add there is nothing wrong if someone comes to your site, comments on what you write and in turn for their effort, there is a link back to them. However if their only purpose is to scan the internet for places to promote their business, then that is when it you may need to review the comments.

I recently had a used car trader post a comment for an article I wrote letting people know about the MyTreasure site, which enables people to sell, trade, or give away their excess items for free. The article was very complimentary. From the information I received about the comment I couldn't see anything which made the comment an obvious marketing attempt. It was only when I accepted the comment did the link for the user become public and that is when I was able to trace it to the used car trader site.

I recently received the comment with the following:

Wow! Amazing... It's really a mind blowing job. Thanks for sharing your link

The email I received to notify me of the comment allows me to publish the comment, but unfortunately it provides no information about who is posting and what link they are using. If I go to the blogging software to accept the comment I see the text, (Make Money At Home In Australia), but I still can't see the link until I publish it.

The problem is if I simply publish the compliment, it is very possible I am also publishing a link on my blog which could easily be a link to an undesirable, or even potentially dangerous site. I have seen one computer infected by simply going to a site. The first time I saw the particular malware it took hours to remove. I really don't want to expose my readers to such a situation and I suspect other blog owners don't want to expose their readers either.

One of the more interesting fake comments I received was very well written. When I searched the internet I found 95,000 sites had received the same compliment.

Next time you receive a compliment, you might want to review it more carefully before simply hitting the accept button.

- Kelvin

Malware alert: Macquarie Online Alert

I received a couple of emails today with the subject Macquarie Online Alert. Because of my dictionary work I thought they may have been from the Macquarie dictionary group. I had to smile because in effect I was tricked into receiving the email. At that point is was obvious it was a phishing attempt.

The following is the body of the message with the link removed.

Important information

New Security Features
You have 1 new Alert Message !

Resolution Center: Your account is limited! Click to Resolve

Thank you for using Macquarie Internet Banking.

As with all phishing attempts you should immediately delete these emails. In this case OzEfilter did its job, it was me that decided to manually accept the email.

Also you may notice the use of the spelling of Center. In an earlier post I mentioned that many spammers use poor grammar, punctuation and spelling. As Australians we have an added advantage that many of the spammers don't realise our preferred Australian English spelling differs from the American. Incorrect spelling for Australia is also something to look for in suspicious emails.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Keyword Tool, Google Keyword Tool

I am often asked by small businesses wishing to advertise on JustLocal, how they can improve their presence on the internet with respect to being found when people perform searches using Google. Obviously the first answer I give is to advertise on JustLocal. That way when they advertise I share some of the energy and presence of JustLocal with them and their business. A number of businesses have been amazed at how quickly JustLocal has generated a presence for them on the internet compared to going it alone.

However the next area that I consider important are the keywords they are using on their site. Whilst you shouldn't solely focus on keywords to the detriment of the message you are putting forth to your customers, a clever amount of editing means you can incorporate the words and terms people are looking for on the internet. When you combine the stronger presence JustLocal provides with the Google search results, you can acheive some excellent results. For example a local pizza business received  hundred visits a month to their page which converted to real sales. This was a better result than most other forms of advertising they'd tried.

If you're putting your business on the internet there is one tool you really need to check out, which is Google's Keyword Tool. This tool enables you to see how many people are searching for a specific word or phrase each month on the internet. The best part is, it is totally free.

Often when we think about our businesses we think about what we provide. But on the internet what is more important is what people are searching for. For example, the term underquoting in terms of real estate, has been getting a lot of press exposure lately. Many people I talk to don't really understand what underquoting/(under quoting) is really all about. You'd think with all the press coverage there'd be a lot of people checking out the term underquoting in Google. The reality is very few people are searching for the term.

The problem in business is often what we see in the media influences how we think and the actions we take. It would be really easy to think with all the media exposure people were interested in underquoting and thus you may slant your site with information on underquoting. Since so few people seem to be interested, at least when searching on the internet, that may be a poor business decision.

The Google Keyword Tool is a great tool and I recommend it to any business who wishes to have a presence on the internet.

It should be noted that Google provides the Keyword Tool so you can research words with the aim of purchasing words for an Adwords campaign. The words you'd select and pay for are how the paid ads get placed at the right and top of Google search results. There is however no need to participate in an Adwords campaign. You can simply use the Google Keyword Tool courtesy of Google as a research tool at no cost.

You can find the Google Keyword Tool at the following address https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Tags: keyword tool, tool keyword, google keyword tool, keyword google tool, adwords keyword tool, google keywords, elite keyword

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Alert: "This is a very interesting blog and so i like"

Recently I wrote a post about others writing comments on blogs which appear to be generic compliments Today I received the following comment on my blog.

Alan has left a new comment on your post "Alert: Westpac - Security
center advisory, iBankin...":


This is a very interesting blog and so i like to visit your blog again
and again. Keep it up.


Sharon


http://www.removed.com/articles/269017_internet-banking-safety


Posted by Alan to JustLocal at 7:46 PM

I decided to check to see how many times this type of comment appeared on the internet so I typed "This is a very interesting blog and so i like" into Google. I felt this string of text should be sufficiently unique to located similar comments on other blogs and suggest others use this approach.

The number of pages returned by Google was 12,100. Some of the pages date back to 2008, so this generic comment approach has been in use for a couple of years.

The aim of this article is to share with other small businesses that comments on their sites should be treated with care. You may inadvertently end up directing your users to sites you'd prefer not to.

- Kelvin

Monday, April 19, 2010

Welcome to Maverick Solutions as a VPS partner

Maverick Solutions is the newest business to join as a Virtual Profit Sharing partner. For those who haven't heard of Virtual Profit Sharing, this is where as businesses if we gain from a referred business, then so does the person who referred the business for the life of the customer relationship. It is our way to say thank you.

Gary Hipworth, the director of Maverick Solutions has developed a series  of computerised business tools to assistance business owners to improve their business.

I've known Gary for around twenty years and I've seen him turn around an organisation from a million dollar loss situation to a profit. But what impresses me the most about Gary is his focus on the individual. To make sure the individual gets the most out of their life.

If you own a business, or you're a senior member of the executive team and want to improve your business, I'd highly recommend contacting Gary. You can contact Gary via his Maverick Solutions VPS page.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Tags: Business coach, executive coaching, life coach

Sunday, April 18, 2010

How do I delete a comment on Google's blogger?

I was so amazed at how obscure it was to delete a comment from Google's Blogger that I decided to create a MyAnswers solution.

The problem is what at first looks like a legitimate comment, often lately becomes apparent it was little more than a cleverly disguised marketing trick, often with a generalised compliment, but possibly with an undesirable link. When I realised after I've accepted the comment, I then wanted to go back and remove the comment. That is when I found it was extremely obscure to remove a comment.

You can find out how to delete a comment from Google Blogger with the MyAnswers solution 1972.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Alert: Westpac - Security center advisory, iBanking online protection, Account identity check

Today I let three emails past OzEfilter so I could check them out. The reason I decided to check is I consider three different attacks against Westpac at roughly the same time was unusual.

All emails are phishing attempts designed to get people to log on and thus give away their log on details.

Now whilst I and others have noticed most phishing attempts have poor grammar, it occurred to me the spelling is a very obvious way for Australians to flag that something isn't quite right. In Australia our preferred spelling has evolved to be slightly different from other parts of the English speaking world.

The subject: Security center advisory is a dead giveaway. The spelling of centre as center is something I'd never expect a reputable bank to send out in an email.

However, as a result of my work creating the preferred Australian English spellcheck dictionary, it occurred to me all of these emails contained the word authorization, as can be seen in the following paragraph.

Please pay attention that your online banking account is suspended because of missing information. In order for it to remain active,please pass the account authorization process.

I decided to check how often Westpac uses authorization as opposed to authorisation (the preferred Australian English spelling) by doing a search on their web site.

The results were:

authorization: 2
authorisation: 146

That's an amazing 73 to 1 usage of the preferred spelling over the secondary spelling in Australia. Both spelling variations are valid in Australia. The preferred spelling however is authorisation.

I thought this observation was very interesting. Because many people in Australia consider the ize spelling to be American (they don't realise it is a valid Australian spelling, but yes it is the single American way to spell the word) they will almost instinctively feel there is something not quite right with the email. Listen to you instincts. If something doesn't feel right, it often isn't.

Large companies in Australia spend a considerable amount of time and money on presentation. Before something is released to the public, it will generally have been reviewed, possibly by a number of people. Phishing attempts generally won't put the same amount of effort into their writing. The use of the wrong spelling, bad punctuation, poor grammar, missing spaces and poor layout, are obvious signs of phishing attempts. Some phishing attempts are amazing in their quality of presentation, but most phishing attempts aren't up to the standard of bank correspondence and that should flag that something might not quite be right in an suspect email.

I hope this observation about the Australian English language assists others to spot suspect emails.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Property update: Eltham, Eltham North, Bulleen, Templestowe, Templestowe Lower, Doncaster and Doncaster East

The following properties have been listed in the last 30 days.
Happy home hunting.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Alert: Link exchange proposal between and my site

I often receive these link exchange requests. In years gone by requests link exchange requests looked like they were written by the person concerned. A check of the site and you'd see their name on the site and you had a pretty good feeling as to whether or not you wanted to exchange links.

Now I receive link exchange requests most days, and sometime multiple requests a day. I've tried to unsubscribe with no effect. They just keep coming. That's OK because usually I just let OzEfilter delete them at the mail server so they don't get read or reach me.

In this case the email was sent from Peru. I checked the site and it has Google advertising which is designed to generate them income by people clicking on the ads. There are a serious of articles. I checked the About page and they hadn't bothered to enter any information. This site feels like it has been quickly set up as a marketing exercise.

I really don't know the idea behind these sites. Maybe it is to get people to visit the site and click on the Google ads. The marketers could be sending out hundreds of thousands of these invitations and if a small percentage link to them that could get them traffic and clicks.

The following is the body of the email I received today.

My name is , Web Marketing Consultant. I’ve greatly enjoyed looking through your site justlocal.com.au and I was wondering if you'd be interested in exchanging links with my website, which has a related subject. I can offer you a HOME PAGE link back from 2 of my Online Business websites which are:

 with page rank 3  with page rank 3


If you are interested, please send me the following details of your

site:
TITLE:
URL:

I'll add your link as soon as possible, in the next 24 hours. As soon as it's ready, I'll send you a confirmation email along with the information (TITLE and URL) regarding my site to placed at yours.


I hope you have a nice day and thank you for your time.

Kindest regards,

My feeling is you should delete these emails and ignore them. Their approach appears is to use a standard template to simply market themselves. It is highly unlikely they have never visited your site or read what your site offers. You'll see there is nothing in the email that relates to my site except for the domain. Anything they've included about me is easily harvested from the internet.
 
In this case the lack of real contact details on the site is a concern. The fact the email came from Peru flags that something is a bit weird. Checking the domain shows it is registered in Peru, but then checking the site for the domain contact shows another site quickly put together with an About page that has not been set up.
 
I'd suggest to anyone receiving these offers to simply bin them. If you want to exchange links get to know the people. Make sure they are bona fide and you'd be happy to refer people to them. Your users will thank you for the extra effort.
 
- Kelvin Eldridge

PS. Another clue I missed in the domain registry information which indicates this request is highly suspect is the domain was registered two days ago. I wouldn't be interested in exchanging links with a site that has zero track record. There is nothing to say it will still be around in two more days.

Take care with any unsolicited offers you receive via the internet.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Alert: UPS Delivery Problem NR.1266955

I received an email today which included an EXE file attachment (a program). I decided not to have OzEfilter delete the email so I could check for malware. The malware wasn't picked up by Microsoft Security Essentials as malware and the attachment is potentially harmful. The attachment is named UPS_invoice_1683.zip which contains the program UPS_invoice_1683.exe.

The body of the email is the following:

Dear customer!



Unfortunately we were not able to deliver the postal package sent on the 14th of January in time because the addressee's address is wrong.
Please print out the invoice copy attached and collect the package at our department.

United Parcel Service of America.


Performing an update on Microsoft Security Essentials did not detect the malware as a newer update had not been released. The current definitions version is 1.79.1453.0.

I also submitted the file to the online scanning service mentioned in MyAnswers solution 1890 and will update this post later with the result.

One thing I did find interesting with the malware file is the file has an icon which is designed to make it look like it is a word document. I've found people in the past being tricked when they felt an attachment was a Word document. This is not a Word document.

You should delete this type of email.

- Kelvin Eldridge

UPDATE: The attachment has now been confirmed as new malware.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

MyTreasure: How To Start A Business On Your Kitchen Table and The five Pillars Of Guaranteed Business Success added.

I've now updated my list of books available on my MyTreasure book page. The books that have been added are:

The 5 Pillars Of Guaranteed Business Success by Dr Greg Chapman
How To Start A Business On Your Kitchen Table by Barbara Gabogrecan

Happy reading,

- Kelvin Eldridge

Alert: I recevied a Diners Club International/ANZ statement and I don't use their services

Yesterday I received a statement from Diners Club International which also had the ANZ logo. Whilst the statement was for the amount $0.00, receiving a statement for a card that I don't use, from a bank that I don't use was a real concern. I'd advise anyone in this situation to call Diners Club International.

Today I followed up. It turned out the problem occurred as a result of software migration. I've not been a member of Diners Club. It has been years since I used ANZ, but I do recall the ANZ sending me out an application. The application I am lead to believe was a pre-approved application.

I now suspect that as part of the software migration process, pre-approved inactive accounts with no balance, had statements generated that shouldn't have been created and sent out. As a developer I understand how such a situation can occur.

According to the customer support person I spoke to, this has happened to others and the account will now flagged for review and followed up by another department.

The reason it is important to follow up in this type of situation is the potential for identity theft. It is important to know that no one is trying to open an account in your name. If you receive a letter or statement like this, make sure you contact the company concerned and record the date, time and name of the person you speak to, and keep a record for later reference. I've learnt the hard way that you need to keep details.

So in summary, this is a procedural error in the IT systems and there is no reason to be concerned. Just make sure if it happens to you, to follow up with the organisation concerned.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Inspirational books by authors like Michael Gerber, John Gray, Robert Kiyosaki, Stephen Covey and others.

If you're a budding entrepreneur, or simply interested in personal development, I'm now making a few of my books available for others in the local area. A small fee applies for borrowing the books with the aim of growing the collection. The books currently available are:

The E Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber
Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus by John Gray
Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T Kiyosaki
The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey
The Biology Of Success by Dr Bob Arnot
The New Dynamics Of Winning by Denis Waitley

I've also included the following books for those interested.

Playing With Fire by Gordon Ramsay
Super Highway To Success by Lee-Ann Gottani
Feng Shui by Sarah Rossbach

You can find these books via MyTreasure or use the following link.

MyTreasure is currently in beta. It is an excellent way to sell, share, swap, rent or simply give away your excess items. MyTreasure was used to create the page. The page was then modified to suit my requirements, but doesn't need to be modified by others.

Happy reading.

- Kelvin Eldridge

Friday, April 02, 2010

Why I created the Electricity Cost Calculator

If you're interested in saving energy around the home or office, I wrote up a short article about why I created the Energy Cost Calculator. The Energy Cost Calculator and power meter have enabled me to reduce our electricity bill by around 20%. Click here to read the article. You can also access the article from the Energy Cost Calculator page.

- Kelvin Eldridge