Sunday, April 24, 2011

How to check Apple iPad 2 availability at Doncaster Shoppingtown

I dropped into the Apple store at Doncaster Shoppingtown to check the availability of the Apple iPad 2. The staff member told me there was a web site on a sign in the window where you can reserve an iPad 2 and if you are lucky you can come into the store and pick up the iPad 2 the next day.

Reserving the iPad 2 isn’t a purchase, but it doesn reserve a unit for you.

According to the sign if you are interested in an iPad 2 you should try to reserve one at 9pm. If you’re lucky you’ll receive confirmation.

I’ve been checking the site for nearly the past week at various times (mostly quite a while after 9pm) and so far I’ve only seen stock on one night and just a couple of models.

 

For those interested the site is: http://www.apple.com/au/ipad/reserve.

Good luck.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au

Friday, April 22, 2011

Alert: Crystena Skae - do you know Brian Tracy?

I received an email from Crystena Skae with the subject do you know Brian Tracy. I don't know this person and I don't ever recall communicating with them and my systems don't indicate the sender is using a known email address.

I decided to check where the email was sent from which from what I can tell is California in the United States.

I consider this type of email to be unsolicited spam and would suggest if you receive such an email you delete it. If you continue to receive emails from people you don't with to receive emails from and you have control over your domain and email, you may wish to add a filter on the mail server which results in emails from the sender to fail. This approach works as long as the sender continues to send emails using the same emails.

What I do is I use OzEfilter to delete the email at the mail server before I collect the email. OzEfilter shows me a list of emails on the mail server from people I don't know. Most are spam or malware. I can then hit the delete, deleting unwanted emails and then proceed to download wanted emails. This is a great time saver and has saved me from the tedious task of deleting over 60,000 emails I would have normally received in my email client.

Kelvin Eldridge
http://www.justlocal.com.au/  

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Apple iPad 2 cameras are a bit of a disappointment

Since I couldn't easily find out the size in megapixels of the Apple iPad 2 cameras, I decided with the help of some friends to determine the megapixels of the cameras. As it turns out I think a lot of people are going to be disappointed with both the cameras.

I don't know why Apple didn't provide higher resolution cameras. Maybe it was cost. Maybe it was to keep the iPhone ahead of the iPad. Maybe it was to keep some features to be released in the iPad 3. It doesn't make sense to me but ultimately it was their choice. I was really keen to get an iPad 2, but now I'm not so sure.

I'm not an Android fan as I feel the fragmentation and the customising by vendors will make it difficult to move to later versions of the operating system. I read recently the Samsung Galaxy Tab wouldn't be able to be upgraded to Android Honeycomb (not confirmed) so already we may be seeing equipment without a future on the market.

Microsoft doesn't seem to be saying much and I'm not really sure what to think of HP's WebOS, which I'm not sure if it will be available in Australia.

So really picking a tablet is exceptionally hard.

Whilst the iPad 2 might still get my money, as time goes on it becomes a hard choice. No ability to plug in external memory. Lower resolution cameras. No HDMI output. No USB connection. A great browser but it doesn't provide the ability to upload files from the browser which for me is a feature I'd really miss.

I think Apple really has to rethink its strategy or the sheer force of the many major hardware suppliers might just enable Android to become number one in Australia.

So if you're thinking about getting a tablet, the middle of the year is when we'll see quite a few new products on the market. By that time Apple iPad 2's will probably also be much easier to get. Perhaps patience is a virtue after all.

For those interested in my findings on the Apple iPad 2 cameras this is available in MyAnswers solution 2090.

Kelvin Eldridge
http://www.onlineconnections.com.au/

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Alert: You have reached the limit of your email quota

I received an email today with the subject You have reached the limit of your email quota and since it made me pause for a moment to check it out I decided to check the email out further.

If you receive an email like this don't just assume it applies to you. In this case  the following rather generic message was in the body of the email.

You have reached the limit of your email quota.
You will not be able to send or receive new mail until you boost your mailbox size.
Click the below link and fill the form to upgrade your account.

The link did not relate to any site or email facility I use.

I'd suggest deleting this type of email. At a guess it is simply a way to lead people to pay for something there is no requirement for.

Kelvin Eldridge
http://www.onlineconnections.com.au/

Friday, April 15, 2011

Alert: Domain Renewal Group domain name expiration notice.

I and my clients each year receive a number of letters from businesses trying to get domain owners to switch to them. The wording is usually done in such a way as to make the person concerned. For example having Domain Name Expiration Notice as a bold heading at the top is enough to concern people. Over the years I've a number of clients ringing me concerned their domain is expiring. I've also seen a number of businesses respond to the letters not realising the are actually changing their supplier.

If you receive a letter like this you should place it aside and contact the business who is assisting you with your domain and make sure you receive confirmation it will be renewed. If you are managing your own domain, you should be aware this most likely isn't a letter from your current supplier.

In this case the domain was a .com domain and the current price I can easily get the domain registered or renewed for is around $10-$15USD per year. The offer in the letter is to have it renewed for 3-4 times as much.

The lesson here is not to overreact to letters like this. They are generally designed to elicit a response as all marketing it. Put the letter aside and contact your current supplier. Just pausing for a moment will save you money and possibly grief in the future.

Kelvin Eldridge
http://www.onlineconnections.com.au/  

Thursday, April 14, 2011

JustLocal news. Lyne Marshall artist and author exhibition and workshop.

I’ve received a notice of a couple of events regarding Lyne Marshall and am sharing the details in case they may be of interest to others. Lyne is an artist and the author of Gleanor or Gladiator and Invisible Realities. You can find Lyne’s book Gleanor or Gladiator (and the first few pages to give you an idea of the contents of the book) on the JustLocal book page www.JustLocal.com.au/book, a page I use to help to promote Australian authors.

Lyne is holding a workshop this weekend (April 16th and 17th) titled Finding the inner artist. You can find more information on the following page.

Lyne is also holding an exhibition of her works at the Neo Gallery which is located in Fortitude Valley. Details of her exhibition can be found on the following page.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Alert: Google AdWords: Ads have stopped running!

I received and email today (which I'd normally delete at the mail server using OzEfilter, but let through) which I decided to review.

The text in the email stated in big green letters  We stopped running your Google ads this morning (Wednesday, 13 April 2011).

You should delete this type of email if you receive one as it is a phishing attempt. Clicking on the link will send you to a site not run by Google.

If you ever receive an email you may think is from Google, open your browser and go to the site by entering the URL. That way you won't be tricked into revealing your logon details.

Kelvin Eldridge
http://www.justlocal.com.au/

MyAnswers: Should I add Google advertising (adsense) to my web site?

The following MyAnswers solution 2093 is now available:

I'd like to earn some extra money from my web site. Should I add Google advertising (adsense) to my web site?



Click here to obtain the solution.

Click here for related solutions.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.MyAnswers.biz

Monday, April 11, 2011

What was Apple thinking when it designed the Apple iPad 2!

I spent some time today checking out the iPad 2 in the Doncaster Shoppingtown store. I can say that there are aspects which to me a below what I expect from Apple.

I was looking at the white iPad 2 and to me it looks like the white was stained. Perhaps it is just the way the light hits it, but it looks like the white colour you'd see from something that has aged.

The second point is what were they thinking with the grey aluminium back. An all white or all black unit would have looked very classy. But now it just looks like a black or white front on a grey back.

The screen I was looking at also had patchy areas of darker areas along one edge. I've heard of the yellow light issue, but the screen wasn't consistent. I've attached a photo so others can see. Perhaps the demo units in the store get a bit of rough treatment, but I actually think that is good because it shows how good the units will stand up over time.

The reason I wanted to check out the iPad 2 today was I haven't been able to find information I could rely on about the resolution of the cameras. I did some testing and was really disappointed with the result. One person in a JB Hi-Fi store told me they're the same cameras as used in the iPhone 4 and that is simply not the case. Or perhaps I should say if they are, they're operating at a much, much lower resolution. The Apple store attendant didn't know and even after reading the specs on the online Apple store I still didn't know.

On the other hand I'd just tried a Windows 7 tablet (which I wouldn't buy because I think other units will be better) and since Windows 7 on a tablet had been given such bad coverage in the press I was very pleasantly surprised with the unit.

It is much easier to be surprised when our expectations have been lowered, but with Apple I expect so much more. To me it really feels like Apple cut back on the iPad 2 and could have delivered much more.

I really do think the Apple iPad 2 is a great unit and when I see my web site on the unit it looks fantastic (OK except the text tips don't work because mouseovers don't work) and that makes me want to buy a unit. But there's always something that stops me.

In the past it has been the inability to upload or from the browser which is a standard feature of every browser that I know, the lack of external memory, the need to have another computer to transfer files with iTunes. Yes no Flash is an issue because there are so many sites that use it, but I suspect that will change over time.

If these comments sound negative it is only because I was disappointed with what I found. That's OK because at least once you know, you can factor that into your decision. For example I prefer the black which to me will look cleaner and not have that tarnished look. The patchy screen I think would be covered by warranty. I can live with a grey back and once I know the camera resolutions aren't as high as I'd like, well so be it.

To show that I'm not entirely negative I was also showing another customer how great the PDFs look. I have excerpts of books from Australian authors (which are available from the http://www.book.justlocal.com.au/) and I use the PDFs to test various devices. So far I feel the iPad makes them look the best out of the tablets.

I also recently tested the Samsung Galaxy Tab in Optus store at Doncaster Shoppingtown and in portrait mode the PDF text wasn't readable and the browser malfunctioned a number of times displaying my main web site. So to me, the Apple iPad is still ahead, but the restrictions designed into the iPad, plus these latest things that niggle me, suggest that I should wait and stick with my trusty netbook and iPhone 3GS for the time being.


Kelvin Eldridge
http://www.onlineconnections.com.au/

MyAnswers: Apple iPad 2 camera resolution isn't stated in the specifications.

The following MyAnswers solution 2090 is now available:

Something didn't seem to be sitting quite right with the Applie iPad 2 and the new cameras. When I checked the web site there were no figures about the resolution so I decided to investigate.



Click here to obtain the solution.

Click here for related solutions.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.MyAnswers.biz

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Alert: An Important Message from Dell Australia

I received an email which appeared to be from Dell with the subject An Important Message from Dell Australia, so I decided to investigate. Over the last couple of days I've noticed the company Epsilon in the USA, which is a permission based email marketing company (emailing out on behalf of some 2,500 companies) was hacked and some of the companies mailing lists may have been obtained by others. Epsilon reportedly sends out around 40 billion emails a year, so as you can appreciate the number of contacts in the client mailing lists would be massive.

So far it has been suggested that about 50 companies of the 2,500 may have had their mailing lists hacked.

What that means for consumers is the potential threat of what is called a "spear phishing" attack. Phishing is where you receive an email which tries to trick you into revealing your information. We are all used to seeing emails like this supposedly being sent from banks and other financial organisations, but it isn't limited to just financial organisations. It could just as easily be a web mail account, a social networking site or any well know brand. However a phishing attack generally doesn't identify you personally.

With a spear phishing attach the chances of getting past the person's guard increases considerably because it can contain your name and perhaps other information such as the reward points you've accumulated to give the email credibility.

In the case of this email from Dell, to the best of my knowledge it is legitimate. Every link in the email resolves to a Dell site. I should add I haven't done business with Dell for a number of years so keep in mind your details may still be active even years later. The email came from New York. Dell in my opinion would be better placed if they localised their emails and sent them from the country where the person is doing business.

With a cursory check of the email I was only able to say the email looks legitimate. There is always the possibility of those with the mailing list sending a hoax email, which would be little more than a nuisance. Further investigation of the source of the email shows it is from Epsilon, which would mean the email is almost certainly legitimate. The fact that is was sent by Epsilon and to me I thought it was Dell, shows just how easy it is for anyone to send an email on behalf of someone else and making it look legitimate. That is after all the service provided by email marketing companies.

Other companies that have so far been identified as having the compromised mailing lists that I recognise as relevant to Australia are: JPMorgan Chase, Citi and Target. However I don't know if this is relevant to Target Australia. It may not be.

I haven't included the full list here as I believe the company collating the material which others use should get credit and the only way that takes place on the internet is if you link to their information. The following is a link to a site which has collated a list of brands. I don't know if their list is theirs or whether they are simply reporting other people's material without credit to the source, but that is their choice.

You will notice that Dell is not on the list as of writing this blog entry.

What this does mean is we'd all be advised to be even more careful with emails we receive that contain links. The added credibility of malicious emails being directed to a named recipient with additional supporting information is indeed a concern.

Full credit to Dell for taking swift action.

With JustLocal my policy is not to have email lists available via the internet. I don't use mailing list companies as there is no way anyone can ensure systems can't be hacked. This causes considerable inconvenience for me, but I do this out of respect to those on my mailing list.

Kelvin Eldridge
http://www.onlineconnections.com.au/

Alert: BPay and Easter Bank Holidays April 2011

My bank recently alerted me about the extended period of bank holidays with Easter this year.

Easter this year goes from Friday the 22nd of April through to Monday the 25th of April. Banks have for as long as I remember always added an extra bank holiday at the end of Easter to include the Tuesday. With Anzac day falling on the 25th of April, which is already a public holiday, the bank holiday for Easter is now on Wednesday.

That now means banks will be closed for nearly a week. I actually find that quite amazing.

Why this is important is for anyone doing a BPay transaction (and other bank transactions) if you make a payment or transfer after close of business on Thursday the 21st, your transaction may not be made until nearly one week later on the following Thursday or Thursday night.

I've been caught by this before with BPay and a credit card payment. I missed the due date for payment (if I recall correctly I'd returned from holidays). I thought that was OK as there wasn't much on the account and I'd incur a small interest fee. I paid on the Friday night before the period for late payment. However what I didn't take into account was the following Monday was a public holiday and so even though I thought I'd paid in time, I didn't realise since the Monday was a bank holiday the payment wouldn't be processed until the following Tuesday which meant I'd paid late and incurred a $35 fee.

With a large period of consecutive bank holidays there is a high chance of tens of thousands of Australians being charged with additional bank fees simply because of the way the banking system works.

I once worked out BPay could be making millions of dollars, possibly hundreds of millions of dollars simply by holding over money that has already been paid but not forwarded to the recipient because of non-bank days. BPay processes billions of dollars of transactions a year. With two of every seven days being a non-bank day, plus the public holidays and the additional bank holidays, that's a lot of money sitting in BPay's account making money. I have no problem with BPay making money, but not when it is at the expense of consumers. We can purchase using bank services any day of the week and the money goes effectively immediately. But when we make a payment the money is taken from our accounts immediately, but that money often doesn't get paid to the recipient that day or the next, or in the case of Easter this year, up to nearly a week later.

In this day and age of 24 hour banking it is time this area of banking was reviewed by government. It has certainly cost me money in the past and I'm sure it has cost Australians hundreds of millions of dollars in unwanted bank fees and charges.

More recently I had another situation where a bank sat on the money, which I believe is for their own benefit. I have a Westpac Mastercard and had paid for another person using my credit card online and they were going to pay the money direct from their bank account to my credit card. I wanted the money cleared from the card as I was going on holiday. The person went into a Westpac branch on the Friday and made a direct withdrawal form their Westpac account and paid my Westpac Mastercard.. I would have expected since it was all done internally with Westpac the money would have been received immediately. The money did not appear on the credit card until the Monday. Had this been the coming Easter period, I wouldn't even be sure now that paying a credit card direct over the counter on the due date, means the credit card has been paid on time or not.

Everyone complains loudly about the excessive banks fees, but I think if you make a payment on a given date it should now be accepted as being paid on that date and not days later. The banks already do this on purchases that come through days after the purchase, so there is no reason it shouldn't apply equally to payments.

So this Easter if you have a bill or an amount that needs to be paid around that time, make sure you pay early.

Kelvin Eldridge
http://www.onlineconnections.com.au/