Thursday, December 29, 2016

Qantas cash change pin at RediATM.

OK. I decided to use the Qantas cash card to test the coming cashless society. In my mind it is only a matter of time until the government decides to make it harder to use cash. The first step will be to remove higher valued notes as we're seeing happen in other countries. The banks will love it because of the increased fees they'll get. The consumer will lose by having to pay increasing fees.

Since I think it's going to happen, I decided it was time to see how easy it was to go cashless (with a smaller note for emergencies). However I don't want to rack up fees. I simply want a card that will give me access to a store of money, I can easily check the balance, and if possible, have no fees. It turned out I already had such a card in my drawer. It was a Qantas cash card. Qantas sent out their new Frequent Flyer cards some time ago and the new card is also a cash card. The Qantas cash card is designed for travellers, but there's nothing stopping you using it locally. If used appropriately you should be able to use it and pay not fees.

I activated the card. No problem there.

The next step is to load some money. I used BPay as there's no fees to load money onto the card using BPay. There's a delay of up to three days, but the money was there the next day, so that was good.

The first gotcha I've encountered is I wanted to change the pin to something I could more easily remember. The online help states I could change the pin number at selected ATMs. Of course I don't know what they mean by "selected". I tried two ATMs and both didn't have an option to change the pin number. Both were operated by NAB. I later read on another banking site (CUA) that RediATMs run by NAB and BOQ don't offer the change pin number option. On my next outing I'll try a RediATM that isn't run by NAB or BOQ. I'm not game to try another brand of ATM as I'm concerned about the potential for being hit with fees. I don't intend to use ATMs in the future, but of course if I need cash, then I may be forced to.

Now I have cash loaded on the card I can start the next stage of my testing. Spending money!

Once I find an ATM that will allow me to change the pin I'll let others know whether I've managed to change the pin or not.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au

Update: 30/12/2016
Changed the pin number at the CUA branch at Doncaster Shoppingtown. They have a RediATM in the wall.

Went to make my first purchase which was Sushi at the Doncaster food court. I should have known, but had simply not thought about it, but they wanted to charge a fee. That's a gotcha for many people. I remember many people complaining about cafe's not accepting cards. Small purchases can be a problem with some businesses. With the large businesses this is not a problem. Maccas had no problem or fees. Coles sold milk for $2 without a problem or fees. If you want to go cashless, sticking to the big names is probably going to be easier. That's not going to be good for smaller businesses. Although charging a small fee for a $10 purchase of sushi which is probably half profit and then losing the sale as a result doesn't make good business sense either.

Not only do you have to keep in mind the fees banks will charge, but it's just as important to keep in mind fees traders will also charge. Hard to go cashless when we have such a system.

Update: 1/1/2017
Whilst some retailers only take cash, or won't take cards for small purchases, Aldi charge 0.5% irrespective of the amount. As such small amount purchases don't cost too much extra.

Update: 4/1/2017
Recently ordered pizza from Dominos. Opted to pay cash so I could use my Qantas cash card when I got there. Sign stated $9 minimum EFT so paid cash. Next time I'll try the credit card option when I order online and see if that works.

Update: 14/1/2017
Balance was running low due to purchase so put in $100 on the 11/1/2017 (Wednesday) using BPay. The amount has not yet reached the card. A good reminder to allow three banking days to clear.

Received an email today from Qantas Cash Recoveries. The card had been put on hold due to a suspect transaction. OK. In a way I strayed from using the card as a cash replacement. The supplier is in the USA and I used the card for their site. To verify the card they charged 1 USD. Since there were no other USD transactions this flagged as potential fraud. This took around 20 minutes (mostly waiting) to resolve. This is a reminder your card could be locked as a fraud security prevention measure. That doesn't happen with cash, but of course I couldn't have done this transaction with cash.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Aldi frozen treat maker

I noticed Aldi will soon be selling a frozen treat maker. I purchased a similar unit about two years ago. The idea of freezing fruit and making a tasty treat sounded very appealing.

In hindsight the product was very disappointing and ended up being another gadget that simply sits in the cupboard never to be used again.

The problem is fruit frozen in this way doesn't taste that good. The unit is noisy and it takes quite a bit of cleaning up for the small quantity food produced. It really takes quite a long time to produce a small portion of food.

If your looking at one of the frozen treat makers hopefully my experience may help.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au

Hungry Jack's vouchers.

NOTE: Link to latest brochure in the updates below.

I''m not quite sure why Hungry Jack's simply don't have their latest vouchers promoted on their website.

In the past family have passed on their sheet of vouchers they've received in their mail box and won't be using. We don't get junk mail so don't see the vouchers. The cost of printing and delivery surely must be quite significant, and with over a third of people having no junk mail signs on their mail boxes, it isn't necessarily the best way to get to as many people as possible.

A quick check of the internet and you can download and print off their one page of vouchers. The following is a link to a PDF which has the specials until 30 January 2017.

http://www.frugalfeeds.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Hungry-Jack’s-Vouchers-expires-30-Jan-2017.pdf

I've found Hungry Jack's in the past have honoured the vouchers without a problem. In fact even just mentioning the special offer without a voucher has often been enough to get the special offer. It really doesn't make sense why they wouldn't simply make the vouchers available on their website when it is fairly easy to go to another site and get the vouchers and that's traffic to their site they're missing out on. Ultimately however it is Hungry Jack's choice.

Hungry Jack's can be a bit hard to find in the Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne so if you're looking for a Hungry Jack's perhaps give my site www.Mapz.com.au a go.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au

Update: 8 Feb 2017 - Expires 13 March 2017
The following is a link for a PDF with vouchers expiring on the 13th of March 2017.
http://www.frugalfeeds.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Hungry-Jacks-Vouchers-valid-until-13-March-2017-v3c.pdf

Update: 22 March 2017 - Expires 1 May 2017
The following is a link for the PDF with vouchers expiring on the 1st of May 2017.
http://www.frugalfeeds.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/hun420_vouchers_march2017.pdf

Update: 1 June 2017 - Expires 26 June 2017
The following is a link for the PDF with vouchers expiring on the 26th of June 2017.
http://www.frugalfeeds.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/hun434_vouchers_may2017.pdf

Update: 23 July 2017 - Expires 18 September 2017
http://www.frugalfeeds.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Hungry-Jacks-Vouchers-valid-until-18-Sep-2017.pdf


Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Closest Petrol Station web app for Sydney and NSW now available.

Following on from my earlier Nearest Petrol Station web app which shows the nearest petrol stations to you in Melbourne and the surrounding 100 km approximately, I've now created the Closest Petrol Station web app for those in Sydney and NSW.

The Closest Petrol Station web app for Sydney and NSW covers all of NSW enabling you to find the 1 closest petrol stations, or if you prefer a particular brand of petrol, the closest ten petrol stations for your favourite petrol retailer.

In the past a number of people have let me know they've found the various petrol station web apps to be handy and hopefully the Closest Petrol Station will be handy for those in, or travelling to NSW and Sydney. You can find the Closest Petrol Station web app at https://www.closestpetrolstation.com.au.

Kelvin Eldridge
Closest Petrol Station for Sydney/NSW
Nearest Petrol Station for Melbourne and the surrounding area



Friday, December 02, 2016

Kurt Russell died hoax

Every now and then I open Facebook and today I noticed at the right the article titled, "Kurt Russell Leave Us At 62".

For those that haven't seen one of these adverts before, this is a hoax advert. It's not true. A quick check on the internet and you'll find there's plenty of posts letting people know this is a hoax. Of course the picture of Russell Crowe is probably a bit of a give away as well.

Facebook is accepting these fake ads which appears to be a real problem for them in terms of news credibility. If you see an news item in Facebook, perhaps don't click on the article, but instead perform a search to find out more information. You really don't know where that link will take you.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Google Webmaster Content Keywords option missing

Today I noticed one of my favourite Google webmaster options, Content Keywords, was missing. A double check and yes it has gone.

A quick search of the internet revealed Google on the 29th of November in their blog they were retiring the option.

If like me you're looking for the webmaster Content Keywords option, yes it has gone.

Sad to see it go as it was a handy tool.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Blogger stats can be woefully inaccurate.

There are times that I live in my stats pages but when it comes to Blogger I really do feel like I'm fooling myself.

This blog according to the stats page gets a lot pages views and thus traffic. At one time this pleased me seeing the numbers increase, but now the numbers simply have very little meaning. The page views shown by Blogger stats for this blog are about 30 times the actual number of real page views by real visitors. Yes that's a staggering 30 times the page views by real people.

I have three other ways to measure the traffic to this blog and the other methods largely correspond.

Why the huge difference?

From what I've read the difference is the way in which Blogger records what is a page view. Blogger records not just real people viewing pages, but also records the automated processes (bots) as views. As the blog becomes more popular the more it appears to get scanned by bots and thus the more the stats have little to no meaning.

Are all Blogger blogs' statistics as bad?

Some aren't as quite as bad as 30 times, but another one we have is about 8 and another around 2. What is interesting is the one with page views being around twice that shown by Google Analytics, is quite specific to Australia. There may be some correlation between geographically specific content versus content not tied to a location. In all cases however the Blogger stats can be quite misleading.

How do you fix this problem?

If you want meaningful stats from a Blogger blog, the easiest way is to add Google Analytics to your blog's template.

Now you might not be as happy with the page views you're actually getting, but isn't better in the end to base your decisions on real information.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au
www.OnlineConnections.com.au

Monday, November 28, 2016

Video providing an overview of the Speed Camera Locations web app.

I regularly use the Speed Camera Locations web app to alert me of speed cameras whilst I'm driving along. Knowing where the speed camera locations are is certainly good to know.

I've just uploaded a short video giving an overview of the Speed Camera Locations web app and the Alert function. (https://youtu.be/lEQF2iABuqg)

Hopefully it the web app will help others adjust their driving to avoid a speed /red camera fine.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.SpeedCameraLocations.com.au

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Dodo electricity and gas price increases.

I received an email yesterday advising of Dodo increasing their electricity and gas prices. As prices increases our bills go up which isn't a good thing, but it also opens up the possibility that other energy sources may be worth investigating.

The first thing I do is to update the default electricity rate on Energy Cost Calculator which helps me determine the cost of appliances and the payback of using a lower cost appliance. As an example I worked out once the energy saving for replacing and old TV and set-top box with a new more energy efficient TV was equivalent to getting a 30% discount on the TV over a couple of years. Who doesn't want that type of discount. The Energy Cost Calculator shows how much it costs to run an appliance, but also shows the payback period should you wish to replace an old appliance with a newer more energy efficient appliance. If the payback period doesn't interest you I created a simpler version of the calculator which is available at Electricity Cost Calculator.

The second thing is it's good to know how much the increase is in terms of a percentage. Here's how the figures pan out. The below figures do not take into account Dodo's pay on time 30% and 20% usage discounts.

Electricity (All prices includes GST)

Daily supply charge cents per day
Old - 91.190
New - 105.435
% increase - 15.6%

Anytime usage cents per kWh
Old - 26.169
New - 28.545
% increase - 9%

We can see from the above the daily supply charge has the biggest increase. Unfortunately you can't reduce this by changing your electricity usage. The only way to change this is to see if you can find a lowest cost supplier.

Overall the increases are quite steep and far exceed inflation.

Gas (All prices include GST)

Daily Supply Charge cents per day
Old - 60.489
New - 67.749
% increase - 12%

Old Peak Usage Rates
Usage - First 98.63 MJ per day - 2.167
Usage - Next 49.32 MJ per day - 1.639
Usage - Balance MJ per day - 1.309

New Peak Usage Rates
Usage - First 98.63 MJ per day - 2.431
Usage - Next 49.32 MJ per day - 1.837
Usage - Balance MJ per day - 1.463
% increase - 12.18%, 12.08%, 11.76% respectively

Old Off Peak Usage Rates
Usage - First 98.63 MJ per day - 2.057
Usage - Next 49.32 MJ per day - 1.562
Usage - Balance MJ per day - 1.309

New Off Peak Usage Rates
Usage - First 98.63 MJ per day - 2.299
Usage - Next 49.32 MJ per day - 1.749
Usage - Balance MJ per day - 1.463
% increase - 11.76%, 11.97%, 11.76% respectively

When these prices take effect on the 7th of December gas prices will increase by around 12% for both supply and usage. Again this far exceeds inflation.

Generally we are quite conservative users of energy, but these increases will still add around $200 a year to our energy costs. As usual I'll review the energy offers of other companies and look at ways of further reducing our energy use. Saving money is one benefit as is the feeling we lower our impact on the environment.

Kelvin Eldridge
Energy Cost Calculator
Electricity Cost Calculator






Tuesday, November 22, 2016

New Inches to cm web app now available. Includes links to BMI formula and BMI/BRM calculator.

Both the BMI formula and BMI/BMR Calculator use metres and centimetres respectively for the calculation. Often us in the older generation still use the height we grew to which is in feet and inches.

I decided to write a simple Inches to cm calculator so that people can enter their height in feet and inches and then click on a link which takes them to the BMI formula or BMI/BMR Calculator web apps. That way the conversion is done for them.

I hope others find this new calculator useful.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.Inchestocm.com.au

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Sally Field's death Facebook hoax.

I was just asked if Sally Field had passed away, as a person had the news item come up at the right hand side of their Facebook session.

A quick check reveals that Sally Field is alive and well. There appears to currently be a number of celebrity death hoaxes circulating in Facebook. It should be noted that this is the section Facebook controls and was not being spread by a Facebook user. It appeared in the sponsored section at the right hand side.

Fake news on Facebook is certainly a concern. If you see news on Facebook, perhaps it's best first to check by performing a few searches using your favourite search engine before spreading hoaxes.

Kelvin Eldridge

Friday, November 18, 2016

Adsense stuck on terms and conditions contract form.

Today I tried to sign into Adsense and was greeted with the terms and conditions form. I agreed and clicked the button to continue to account, but all that happens is the form shows again.

I noticed a few others having the same problem so hopefully for those using Adsense having the same problem, the problem will right itself.

One person stated they were using the following to check their account (https://www.google.com/adsense/m/?unsupported=true) so hopefully the link might assist others.

Kelvin Eldridge

Update: 3:04 pm, Saturday 19 November
This problem now appears to have been fixed. You can now complete the form and continue on to adsense.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Victorian Stamp Duty Calculator now available.

I often can't believe how big a cost stamp duty is for those purchasing a home in Victoria. The stamp duty on a home around the $750,000 mark is close to same amount I paid for my first home. How things change over time.

I decided to write a Victorian Stamp Duty Calculator for those looking at property. I'm also including links to concessions. I find it quite difficult to find the information on the State Government's site. Yes there are calculators, but I like to know the formulas the calculators are based on. The links on the Victorian Stamp Duty Calculator hopefully provide that information for others who may also be interested in how the calculation is done.

You can find the Victorian Stamp Duty Calculator at www.VictorianStampDutyCalculator.com.au.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.VictorianStampDutyCalculator.com.au

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Petrol Prices Melbourne and Nearest Petrol Station web apps now uses SSL.

For some time I've put off migrating some of my web apps to use SSL. In other words you access the website using https rather than http.

Not all websites need to use https, but some sites need to, such as e-commerce sites taking payments, but others need to because the browser makers limit certain functionality and sites stop working. As an example sites which use location facilities won't work in browsers such as Chrome and Safari on the desktop//notebook, and also some mobile browsers. Whilst users can use other browsers, users don't know in advance there's a problem and more than likely, they'll simply leave the site thinking it doesn't work.

The Petrol Prices Melbourne site (https://www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au) and the Nearest Petrol Station site (https://www.NearestPetrolStation.com.au) have now been converted to use SSL. Whilst there was a bit of work involved, it really is rewarding seeing the web apps simply work as they should. No more fudging around with different browsers. Just use the browser you prefer and the web apps work as they should.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au


Monday, November 07, 2016

Australian GST Calculator illustrates the importance of correct rounding in systems handling GST.

Over the years I've noticed in systems handling GST, rounding can be an issue. I've created a short video which illustrates the problem of rounding.

As an example, if you take the price of $1.04, this breaks down to the GST amount of 9 cents and the amount without GST is 95 cents. However if we add GST to the price of 95 cents, we don't end up with $1.04, we end up with $1.05. The reason for this is when we calculate GST based on 95 cents, we get a GST amount of 9.5 cents. Since we can't have half cents, we need to round the cents up to 10 cents. This gives us a GST inclusive price of $1.05.

This example illustrates that not all prices directly calculate to be the same in both directions. That is, adding GST to a price and determining the GST of a GST inclusive price do not all end up with the same amounts.

Next time when you're entering a purchase into your system and the cents don't quite match up, at least now you'll know why.

To help those that need to work with GST I've created a couple of calculators to assist. The first is a calculator which enables you to determine the GST amount from a price that includes GST. This calculator is located at www.AustralianGSTCalculator.com.au. The second calculator enables you to add GST to a price which does not include GST, to give you the GST inclusive price. This calculator can be found at www.AustralianGSTCalculator.com.au/add-gst.php.

I hope you find the calculators useful.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.AustralianGSTCalculator.com.au

Friday, November 04, 2016

Apple macOS geolocation in Safari stops working on many websites.

Since upgrading to the latest version of the macOS on my MacBook Air, I noticed a number of my sites which use location facilities stopped working in the Safari browser. This had been true of Google's Chrome, but not Safari.

The reason is there appears separate from the HTML5 standard, which provides location facilities for browser sites, for a push by some browser manufacturers to only provide geolocation facilities if the site being accessed is a secure site, that is running SSL. 

In a way this is probably good, but as a developer it means there's an additional cost for each site such that many of the sites I now provide as a service for others, become financially unviable.

The other issue is there are many thousands upon thousands of sites that use geolocation features and these will not work and the average person won't know why. Up until now to protect people's security the standard as I read them, meant people had to be prompted if they wished to share their location with a web site. This is now being further restricted by the browser. The problem is this browser restriction is a waste of time for products like the MacBook Air since the only location information is the IP address to estimate location and that is still available. The change effectively achieves nothing, but reduces the functionality of web based applications. For mobile devices which show close to the exact location, this is a different matter.

For those wishing to use websites on a MacBook Air, there's a couple of choices. If you're lucky enough to have Windows 10 also installed, you can use Internet Explorer or the Edge browser. Simply turn on the location option to use your IP address to estimate your location in Windows 10. The other option is to install Firefox. Normally I'd not recommend or suggest Firefox, but in this case it does solve a problem and that means it's a viable option.

It would be good if the developers of the desktop browsers provide the option to enable the user to decide if they wanted to use location services with sites that don't use SSL, (people are still promoted before they share their location) but unfortunately this trend to decide everything for us restricts our options and the usefulness of our computers. Windows 10 combined with Internet Explorer or the Edge browser do work in the way I'd prefer as does Firefox. Google Chrome and now more recently Apple Safari under macOS do not.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au

Monday, October 24, 2016

Australian GST Calculator web app now available.

How many times in the past did I need to perform a GST calculation? More specifically, given an amount, how much is the GST and how much is the price excluding GST.

Since this is a very common requirement in business, I decided to write the Australian GST Calculator. The Australian GST Calculator is a web app, which means it can be used from any desktop, tablet, or mobile device. No software to install. Simply visit the site www.AustralianGSTCalculator.com.au if you need to use a GST calculator.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.AustralianGSTCalculator.com.au

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Telstra refund scam

When I receive scam emails every day I can't help wonder why the Australian ISPs can't stop people from being scammed. All it would take is for the ISP to redirect the link (or site) to a safe page letting people know it is a scam. Most people in Australia use the DNS server from their ISP, and if I'm right, an entry in the DNS could stop people going to malicious sites.

So many people get caught by scams and yet the ISPs don't seem to care.

What interested me with this cam was the email address they used to send the email to me. It is one I use, but rarely hand out. The email address doesn't contain my full name, but as you can see, the To field for the email does use my full name. That adds a level of legitimacy that could trick people. I don't have a Telstra account where Telstra can bill me, so this is an obvious scam.




When you receive emails don't just click on the links. Stop for a moment. Check the links by moving your mouse over the links and the address will appear. In many scam emails some of the links may be legitimate, but one or more you are meant to click on will send you to an unrelated address that has nothing to do with the company.

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

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Windows 10 Anniversary update could cost people large amounts of money if using mobile devices.

The other day the power was turned off so I didn't have my usual access to the ADSL broadband. I checked my mobile data and I had 1GB of my 1.5GB plan left. No problems I thought, for the small amount of use I'd need, I'd simply use my mobile as a hotspot.

Then something weird happened. I received a data usage alert that I'd used 50% of my data from the plan. How weird I thought.

I was lucky.

I hadn't been using the MacBook Air very much. I have Windows 10 installed using Parallels. I perhaps wrote a couple of social media posts for a client and maybe a few web site updates. Very minimal amount of work, and yet I'd clocked up hundreds of megabytes. Why was this so?

On further investigation I found Windows 10 was automatically downloading the update in the background. Easy I thought, I'll simply disable the update. Not so easy. There's no longer any such feature. I'll let Windows know I'm using a mobile hotspot. Nope. As it's a virtual machine it thinks it's connected to a network and there's no option to let Windows 10 know otherwise.

Later I did some testing and using one hotspot Windows 10 was downloading at around 9MB per minute. With another hotspot Windows 10 was downloading at 32MB for minute. Depending on your plan this could be costing around $20 an hour. If you're travelling overseas, this could cost you thousands.

A client later rang up as they were concerned about a Windows 10 update. Normally they use less than 4GB a month on their mobile device, but had already used 13GB. I don't know the actual size of the download, but from what I can gather around 3.5GB for the ISO (usually burnt to DVD), but for the download and update, I don't really know. Whatever the size keep in mind when you download, there's overhead and also upload traffic occurs which can add another 15%.

The bottom line is, if you have a Windows 10 computer and haven't updated to the Windows 10 Anniversary update, think twice about using your mobile connection or hotspot. It's best to use lower cost broadband and the manually apply the update before the automatic update comes along.

If you're travelling overseas you could easily get bill shock if the automatic update hits you.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au

Friday, September 30, 2016

Location failing in Safari since upgrading to macOS Sierra 10.12

For those thinking about upgrading to macOS Sierra, if websites that use location features is important to you, then perhaps put off the upgrade.

Whilst prior to upgrading the Safari browser may occasionally fail to find the location, since upgrading to macOS Sierra, the websites that use location features built into the Safari browser, now fail all the time. This includes when using Safari and Opera. Chrome only supports sites which use SSL, so I tend not to use Chrome for much on the MacBook Air. The sites all work fine on mobile devices including iOS and Android.

Applications such as Google maps and Apple maps have are OK with finding the location, so the problem appears to be more related to location services used by the browsers such Safari and Opera. It is a design of the Chrome browser not to support websites that don't use https, so Google Chrome can't be tested for sites using http.

An example that will enable you to test if location services are working is my site www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au

Update: 19/12/2016
I've since read that Safari on macOS now requires sites to use SSL if they use location services.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

BMI formula page updated to show weights for BMI ranges for your height.

For those of us who are overweight, a question I often ask myself is what weight do I need to get down to, to be in the next range. To find the answer I'd keep dropping the weight until I got the BMI. A long way to do something that is pretty easy to calculate.

I decided to update the BMI formula web app so that once you enter your height, you can see the weight for the various BMI groupings. Now you'll instantly know the weight for the next range.

When dieting people would often ask me am I trying to lose weight. My response was, "no, I'm simply trying to get from obese to overweight".

I hope this helps others.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.BMIformula.com.au

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Nearly took one for the team on Sunday. Red light/speed camera on Warrigal Road and Batesford Road Chadstone.

Phew. That had me worried. As I was posting the video for the red light camera/speed camera on the corner of Warrigal Road and Batesford Road Chadstone I was reminded the light changed to amber as I was driving through. At the time I didn't give it a second thought as I most likely felt I was sufficiently close to the intersection that stopping wasn't safe or practical, which it wasn't. However reviewing the video made me get quite concerned. Had I been booked!!!

Watching the video you can see I was nearly across the intersection when the traffic light turns red. Anyone would consider that to be OK and it happens to us all the time. But how close was I to getting booked. A lot closer than I would have ever thought. I think once you read this you'll realise the government has tightened down their tolerance so there is very little margin for error and a lot of margin for revenue generation. OK. That's a tad cynical.

Here's a link to the video. Play the video at normal speed and ask yourself what you would have done. Stopped or gone through. (https://youtu.be/E2c36V6c5OM)

Based on the video I travelled 1.33 seconds until I reached the white line. I measured this later and that means I was around 2 metres before the line. When we look out the front windows of a car we can't see the exact front of the car. We estimate.

Now what is generally not known is where the sensors are placed. They are not at the white line where you stop your car. The induction loops can be placed quite a bit further forward. Using Google maps I measured this to be 3.44 metres.

Why is this important? We've all grown up believing if your car has entered the intersection you're OK. It is even stated on the Victoria Police site (http://www.police.vic.gov.au/content.asp?document_id=40417), "A road safety red light camera is activated when a vehicle crosses the stop line and enters the intersection after the light/arrow turns red. If a vehicle is already partially or wholly over the stop line and within the intersection when the light/arrow turns red, an infringement will not be issued. All images are verified before an infringement notice is issued."

The police don't get a picture of where you were when the light changes to red. Only when the rear of your car leaves the sensor. Two pictures are taken. A second picture is taken a second later. We just have to hope when the pictures are reviewed they get it right.

There's one more little piece of detail. Speedometers by law have to be at or below the actual speed limit and can be up to 10% lower. That means if you're at the speed limit, you're most likely travelling slower than the speed limit. When I'm travelling at100 km/h the highway test shows around 96 km/h. At 40 km/h I'd guess I'd be travelling at perhaps 38 km/h. However since I was approaching the light I made sure I was under the 40 km/h, so perhaps another 2 km/h. That means I may have been travelling at about 36 km/h

So how close was I to getting booked?

It took 1.33 seconds to get to the white line according to the video. At 36 km/h that's 10 metres. There's then actually 2 metres between my car and the white line. So I was roughly 12 metres to the line.

My car is 4.7 m long and the distance to the end of the sensor 3.44 m. That's another 7.14 m. A total distance of 19.14 metres.

At 36 km/h the stopping distance assuming and emergency reaction time of 1.5 seconds, is 22 m, so no time for me to stop. safely. OK. I did the right thing.

The amber light goes for 3 seconds. At the 36 km/h I would travel 30 m. I had close to 11 m to spare. I'd suggest that's about one car length plus the spacing between cars.

In reality I had about a second to spare. There's also 0.5 seconds after the red light changes where reportedly you don't bet booked. A total of 1.5 seconds.

It really isn't a lot. The 1.5 seconds is assumed for an emergency driving situation and in a relaxed driving situation I don't think we react that fast and certainly don't come to a stop as fast. In addition you don't just look at the lights. You look at the traffic around you, from the sides, your speedometer. and any other potential hazards. There's a lot going on and the difference between getting fined or not is very slim.

Had I been going less than 30 km/h, then it gets very, very close. I suspect this is a reason for many people getting booked by red light cameras and speed cameras when turning and when in low 40 km/h speed zones. Great for government revenue.

This really is a reminder that when travelling on a low speed road (40 km/h), or turning at an intersection, where often the amber timing is set at the much shorter 3 seconds than for the speed limit of the road, if the amber light comes on, try to stop if it safe to do so. There's no tolerance for going through a red light and it is very costly.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.speedcameralocations.com.au



Monday, September 19, 2016

Warrigal Road and Batesford Road Chadstone red light/speed camera video

As part of my continuing effort to create videos so people who have been booked with a red light or speed camera infringement, can now review the location, I've uploaded a video for tne Warrigal Road and Batesford Road Chadstone red light/speed camera.

The low 40 km/h speed limit when travelling in a southerly direction along Warrigal Road catches close to 91,000 people each year. It's very easy to do.

You can view the video at https://youtu.be/E2c36V6c5OM

You can find a list of the videos on my site www.SpeedCameraLocations.com.au. You can also find a web app which you can use to alert you to speed and red light cameras in Victoria as you drive along.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.SpeedCameraLocations.com.au

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Bus and trams take off before people are ready or seated.

It never ceases to amaze me how inconsiderate bus and tram drivers are. When I get on a bus in Templestowe to go to the city, invariably I move down to around half way down the bus, just past the seats that are left for less others. About a quarter of the way down the bus driver takes off jerking me and I have to make sure I'm ready for the driver to suddenly take off. A few bus drivers do wait.

I've regularly seen people being tossed back and forward in buses in this way. I also saw an elderly woman on a tram who when trying to sit down and was half way seated when she was tossed forward as the tram suddenly drove forward.

As I get older trams and buses become a real concern for injury. The body simply isn't is flexible as it once was. A jerked back can easily lead to days of discomfort and I suspect many older people are in the same boat.

I decided to do a quick check on the internet and found this article in The Age.

http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/tram-and-bus-braking-causing-serious-injuries-20150109-12kx0f.html

This paragraph caught my attention.

In six years 1300 people have suffered falls, trips and slips on trams or buses, resulting in 171 serious injuries requiring hospitalisation.

That's 216 falls, trips and slips per year, resulting in 28 serious injuries requiring hospitalisations.

I also thought we need to report incidents more often. Yarra trams made the following statement.

A Yarra Trams spokesman said the company was committed to improving passenger safety and that in 2014 it had received "only 109 feedback cases related to braking by drivers" in 25 million kilometres of travel.

I know I've been tossed around by braking and acceleration and never reported it, and I suspect most other people do the same. I know my elderly mother had some terrible stories that worried us at the time. We just accept this as a negative of travelling on public transport.

I didn't report the drivers going through red lights. The drivers not stopping to pick up passengers. Drivers abusing car drivers and even arguing with passengers (but I should say the passengers didn't help). Nor on the other hand have I provided feedback of the many good drivers who provided a smooth experience.

Perhaps it's time we all start to report driving that affects us both good and bad. We don't want to get the drivers into trouble and yes they will probably get into trouble. But the drivers are only trying to stick with the timetables and that can be difficult. Unfortunately those who run the trams and buses will only blame the drivers and not themselves and the pressure they put drivers under.

In the end I'm really looking forward to autonomous cars taking over public transport. I can only see the level of service improving. The vehicles will wait for you to be ready. No driver to get into trouble and the owners can't blame the drivers just for trying to do their job. As I get older the thought of injury and discomfort caused by trams and buses becomes more of a concern and eventually it won't be worth the risk.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au

Friday, September 16, 2016

Fill up with petrol in the morning. Good idea or not.

Because of my recent interest in petrol prices around Melbourne, I've been reading articles and questions about whether or not it is a good idea to fill up first thing in the morning. The idea is petrol expands as it gets hotter. The mornings are cooler so you get more petrol for your buck.

From my observation there is something missing from this conversation. It is how petrol prices change during the day. Each day prices around Melbourne drop by half to one cent. If you buy in the morning you'll buy at a higher price from the day before since prices don't appear to go down overnight.

I decided to see what I could find out. The density of petrol changes about 0.12% per degree C. So yes petrol density does change with temperature. If we look at the temperature change from minimum to maximum, it is unusual to see more than a 10 degree change. The minimum would often be around 5-6 am and the maximum mid afternoon. So even if you did decide to fill up in the morning, most likely it will be after the temperature starts increasing. However this assumes a direct relationship with the ambient temperature. Petrol is stored underground and is less affected by the ambient temperature. For simplicity lets say the temperature did change for say 5 degrees. That would be 0.6% change in volume. Perhaps in summer with hotter days, this may mean a larger temperature variation.

The price of petrol in Melbourne is currently fluctuating between around 100 cents to 130 cents per litre over roughly a four week cycle. With prices in the discount part of the cycle changing around 0.5 - 1 cent per day, filling up later could save half to one cent per litre.

Too put this into perspective, if we fill up a 50 litre tank and there was a 0.6% density change due to temperature, if we use 115 as the price per litre of fuel, that would gives us a saving of 30 cents.

On the other hand, if we fill up at the end of the day and take advantage of the dropping price, that could save us 25 - 50 cents.

In all sincerity I suspect the actual temperature variation would be lower since the tanks are stored in the ground, but in any case, you're more likely to gain more by taking advantage of the dropping price. Overall however, saving 30 or 50 cents, is a very small amount and it would be hard to justify changing your habits for such a small saving. There's bigger and better savings to be made. However if I were to pick, I'd pick filling up towards the end of the day because the price cutting will most likely mean a better saving.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

BMI formula web app now available

Some time ago I wrote a BMI/BMR calculator. Whilst this is very handy web app, often people only need to perform a BMI calculation. I decided to create the BMI formula web app.

Only two figures are required to calculate your BMI. Your height and your weight. The BMI formula as you can see on the web app does not use your sex or age.

You can find the BMI formula web app at www.BMIformula.com.au.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.BMIformula.com.au

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Monopoly rare pieces 2016 for Maccas Australia

A couple of years ago I created a web app so people could submit their monopoly pieces they'd collected from Maccas. By knowing the pieces collected I was able to determine the rare pieces.

Since Maccas Monopoly 2016 has started, I decided to dust down the code and make the web app available again. If you have Maccas Monopoly 2016 pieces for Australia, please feel free to enter your pieces. Once enough pieces have been entered I'll be able to start determining which are the rare pieces and let everyone who has contributed know.

The site is www.justlocal.com.au/clients/monopolyrarepieces/.

Good luck and enjoy.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au

Update 20th September 2016

Not as many people submitted pieces as had been hoped, so I performed a review using the internet. The list of rare pieces is not available. Whilst these haven't been confirmed by people's input, there is a high degree of certainty.

To see the rare pieces enter a piece, submit to obtain the password. Then enter the password and submit. 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Are the Apple iPhone 7 and Apple iPhone 7 Plus overpriced in Australia?

Last March you may remember I reviewed the pricing of the Apple iPhone 5SE to compare Australian pricing to USA pricing. The result was not good.

http://justlocal.blogspot.com.au/2016/03/apple-iphone-6se-over-priced-for.html

I decided with the new Apple iPhone 7 and Apple iPhone 7 Plus, I'd perform a similar review. Basically we take the US dollar price, convert to Australian dollar, add 6% for exchange rate costs and then add 10% for GST. So how do the prices compare.

Apple iPhone 7 32GB
USD price $679
Converted price in AUD $1,050.
Apple's price in AUD $1,079.

Apple iPhone 7 Plus 32GB
USD price $769
Converted price in AUD $1,189
Apple's price in AUD $1,269

At this stage the prices for the full range of the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are not currently listed on the Apple USA site, so it is not possible to perform the calculation for the entire range.

We can see that whilst the based iPhone 7 converts to Australian dollars very well, the iPhone 7 Plus is marked up around 7% greater than the USA price, which isn't good.

In terms of value for money, it may be wise to perform the above calculation. It may be the higher priced models means a greater mark-up for Australians and less value for money. Ultimately however it boils down to the price you're prepared to pay.

Kelvin Eldridge

Friday, September 09, 2016

Find the nearest petrol station in Melbourne and surrounds

Looking for the nearest petrol station. Perhaps you need to find the nearest petrol station for your discount vouchers. The latest web app at www.NearestPetrolStation.com.au is now available.

Nearest Petrol Station Melbourne and surrounds

Kelvin Eldridge
www.NearestPetrolStation.com.au


Thursday, September 08, 2016

Video of Cemetery Road West And Royal Parade, Parkville speed/red light camera

In the continuing series of videos on speed camera and red light camera locations, I recently took a video whilst travelling along Cemetery Road West turning into Royal Parade in Parkville.

The aim of the videos is to allow others to easily review the speed/red light camera.

Around 6,000 drivers drivers are being booked at this location generating revenue of over 2.5 million dollars a year. The main reason is people going through the red light when turning right into Royal Parade. The amber timing is quite short at 3 seconds. The approach traffic lights are high overhead and not visible as you approach the stop line.

There were only 32 speeding infringements for the turning lanes and around 600 for those travelling directly through the intersection.

The aim of these posts is to help people become aware of the speed limits in different areas. We may not agree with them, but in the end the law is the law and if we don't comply, then we can expect a fine.

You can view the video by clicking on the link to the video at www.SpeedCameraLocations.com.au.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.SpeedCameraLocations.com.au

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Video of Fitzroy Street And Lakeside Drive, St Kilda speed/red light camera

I recently took a video whilst travelling along Fitzroy Street approaching Lakeside Drive in St Kilda. The aim of the video is to allow others to easily review the speed/red light camera.

Tens of thousands of drivers are being booked at this location generating revenue of over 12 million dollars a year, which is mainly as a result of the low 40 speed limit.

The aim of these posts is to help people become aware of the speed limits in different areas. We may not agree with them, but in the end the law is the law and if we don't comply, then we can expect a fine.

You can view the video by clicking on the link to the video at www.SpeedCameraLocations.com.au.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.SpeedCameraLocations.com.au

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Flinders Street and William Street Melbourne red light/speed camera.

The video of the intersection of Flinders Street and William Street Melbourne has now been uploaded.

For those wishing to review this intersection hopefully the video will assist.

Flinders Street and William Street Melbourne red light/speed camera

Kelvin Eldridge
www.SpeedCameraLocations.com.au

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

How to spot the petrol price hike is occurring using Petrol Prices Melbourne.

It's that time when petrol prices spike in Melbourne. Yesterday we saw the first petrol stations jump from around 99.9 cents to 129.9. I thought I'd share what you see on the Petrol Prices Melbourne (www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au) map.


During the price discounting cycle you'll see the average price being a yellow marker and prices above being orange to light red, and prices below, being olive to light green. However when the petrol price spikes you went up with prices being at either end of the range. The old much lower price and the new much higher price. That is you'll see lots of dark reds (those that have increased their prices) and lots of dark greens (those that haven't yet increased their prices).

It takes around 3-4 days for the new higher price to become the norm (this is called the restoration phase of the discounting cycle) and then for the discounting to start again.

When you see lots of dark reds and lots of dark greens it is time to fill up.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au

Monday, August 29, 2016

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Alert - Speed Camera Locations - Audible alert when approaching speed camera location (red light camera).

Alert - Speed Camera Locations - Audible alert when approaching speed camera location (red light camera).

Just finished first release of the alert for speed camera locations. A good way to become aware of speed camera locations on your trips around town. You get an audible and visual warning of an approaching speed camera location. Give it a go and let me know what you think.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.SpeedCameraLocations.com.au

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Costco Epping petrol may change petrol prices in the northern suburbs.

Since starting the Petrol Prices Melbourne web app I've noticed a number of interesting trends. One particularly interesting trend is where the price of petrol in Melbourne is consistently the cheapest. It turns out the best petrol prices tend to be around Costco in Moorabbin.

The following is a snapshot of the petrol prices around Melbourne as shown on the Motormouth site. The dark green markers show the cheapest petrol location.


Anyone in the Moorabbin area can take advantage of the reduced petrol prices and not just at Costco. Without purchasing a Costco membership those shopping at Woolworths can use their discount voucher to often match the Costco petrol price. Other petrol stations get very close negating the need for a Costco membership.

Should a Costco open as has been suggested in the media in Epping, it is very likely Costco petrol prices may have a similar effect on petrol pricing in the northern suburbs of Melbourne around Epping. Good for consumers but perhaps not so good for some of the petrol stations.

The reports in the media also indicate Costco were granted a permit in 2013 for 20 Jovic Road, Epping. With another article in the media stating "The Costco proposal will include the extension of a road from Cooper St, between The Northern Hospital and Epping Plaza, to Deveny Rd."

The aim of the Petrol Prices Melbourne web app is to help people save money on petrol. Knowing where the cheapest petrol is around Melbourne can save some money. Moorabbin may not always be close to you, but if you're passing through the area, keep in mind the petrol prices are often very competitive. If you're running low, a top up may be a good idea.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au

Update: 21 August 2016
For those wanting to buy petrol at Costco Epping you'll be in for a long wait. A few days ago I decided to check to see what progress had been made at the site. The site is still a vacant area. No construction work or anything has been started.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Speed Camera Locations new web app in development.

I write web apps for myself, family and friends. When I see something that interests me and I can solve a problem using a web app, I'll create a web app. The latest web app I'm creating is Speed Camera Locations. Recently I saw a couple of red light/speed cameras mentioned in the press and thought, I wonder why they catch so many people.

Now I should say I don't think it is a good idea to speed or go through red lights. But sometimes you can't help wondering how much is revenue generation versus public safety. Two cameras that caught my attention were the cameras in Flinders Street and Williams Street in the city and Warrigul Road and Batesford Road Chadstone.

The speed/red light camera on the corner of Flinders Street and Williams Street Melbourne generated the second highest number of fines at 66,429 with a potential revenue of  $15,327,627 in 2014/2015. That's a staggering $15 million dollars. As I stood watching cars go by I felt many cars were simply lucky that the light changes red. If you're stopped you can't get fined. A couple or cars who had a clear run with no traffic were pinged in a matter of minutes. They weren't going overly fast. The speed limit is 40 kph in the city. I for one didn't know that and others I've asked also didn't know. The signs are relatively small signs and given how busy the city is with signage, easy to miss. The big jump from 2013/2014 from 27,138 I can't help wondering why such a big jump. I also couldn't help think if 40 was painted on the road the additional information may assist drivers to keep to the speed limit. I think it would be an excellent research project to see the before an after effect of painting 40 to provide drivers with more information.

Whilst looking at the data I noticed an intersection I was booked at a while ago. The intersection of Warrigal Road and Batesford Road Chadstone.  I was driving relatively slowly (quite a bit under 50 kph) and if I recall, did a U-turn or turn to go into the Maccas on the corner. It was around 1:30 pm in the afternoon on a Saturday. The catch here is there is a 40 kph sign, which sort of makes sense due to the high number of students, but what doesn't make sense is the time restrictions. The speed restriction currently is 8 am to 12 am Monday to Saturday. Whilst I may be wrong, when I was booked I seem to recall the time restriction ended at 3 pm on the Saturday afternoon. Perhaps the signs have changed or my memory fails me. I've never seen a sign with this time period before. Why not Sunday as well? Why Saturday if not Sunday? I did ask for the fine to be reconsidered and luckily it was withdrawn.

When you look at the number of fines it makes sense you could get caught at this intersection.There's huge number of road signs in the area. Reading the smaller time periods as you drive and concentrating on the road and cars around you, plus the times cover an unexpected period, increases the chances of making a mistake. This intersection has the highest number of fines at 93.371 with a potential revenue of $21,349.786. This is an increase from 13,680 and a value of $3,048,927 from 2013/2014. That's a huge increase.

In both of the above cases I highly doubt if the huge increases was because of worsening driver behaviour changes. If I were to guess it was either due to operating part of a year, or the reduction of the signed speed limits.

In this case I can't help feeling when the time periods change, flashing 40 kph signs should be used instead.

One day you're driving along and there's not a problem. The next you're driving along and you've broken the law. Certainly doesn't seem fair and it doesn't seem like the government is doing enough to make it easy for drivers to comply.

The Speed Camera Locations web app is designed to help people better know where the speed cameras are located and by increasing their knowledge they'll be better able to comply with the law. I certainly didn't know I'd broken any law and had no desire to break any law, but yet I did. Not knowing is not an excuse, but it certainly doesn't make the fine any more palatable.

Speed Camera Locations is currently in development. As I update the location information the web app will be updated. Once all the camera location information has been added, if there's sufficient interest, I'll develop further tools to assist drivers.

The first step in assisting drivers is to provide a map where the speed camera locations are colour coded. The coloured markers hopefully will show people where the biggest issues are as experienced by other drivers.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.SpeedCameraLocations.com.au

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Hostgator cancellation form didn't work.

Often I look after the admin tasks for clients as computer related issues can be beyond clients and it is easier for me to handle them. I cancelled a client's hosting with Hostgator on the 20th of July using Hostgator's online form. The client just received an email for the next month's bill and payment had been taken out of their credit card, which obviously means the account was not closed as expected.

When systems don't work as they should it takes time to fix things and this can cost money. In this case it took half an hour and this time will be written off, but could often be charged. It does also mean the client has to keep an eye out for the credit on their credit card and if it doesn't come, another support call.

One good lesson out of this is don't trust Hostgator's form to close an account. Use the online chat available under the support option. That way you get a support ticket ID, someone who you can then make sure they understand and will do what is required. You even have available a printout of the conversation you can use if you have further issues.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au
IT support


Tuesday, August 09, 2016

census.abs.gov.au not working

I had my first call tonight from a person not knowing what to do to go to the census site. No problem I thought. Then it became obvious that many people are going to have the same problem.

The letter states "Just follow the simple instructions below". The first instruction: "Go to census.abs.gov.au".

The person opens their browser on the search page as many people do. Typed in census.abs.gov.au and saw a list of sites. None were census.abs.gov.au.

Not so simple after all.

The instructions should have been more specific. Something along the lines, "In the address area of your browser type in www.census.abs.gov.au". Now of course some people don't even know they are using a browser and some people wouldn't know where the address area of the browser is.

The government has made assumptions there's a far greater understanding by the general population than a large segment of the population actually has. It is lucky those who don't know will be assisted by someone who does know. In effect the government has dumped the support role for their systems onto the IT literate amongst us.

Now the additional problem is the site is overloaded. It is not working. This will be causing a huge amount of grief for people. People who will be worried they'll be fined for not completing the census.

It really is a pity the government doesn't get things like this right. We saw the click-frenzy failures of the past for commercial organisations, but for the government to do this is almost beyond belief. It simply shouldn't happen.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au

11:48 pm, 9 August 2016
Decided to try site using mobile. Click on button to complete census just goes to blank about: page. On the notebook you get the census page, then clicking on the button gives a message to try in 15 minutes.



Update: 10:19 am, 10 August 2016

I read this in today's online News site. "However the ABS took the “precaution of closing down the system to ensure the integrity of the data” just after 7.30pm."

What is bothering about this, is had the ABS put this or a similar notice on their site at 7:30 pm that the site was not available until further notice, the time wasted by millions of Australians could have been reduced or avoided. The lack of transparency and being upfront with clear information is a considerable concern.

Update: 14 August 2016

It should be a concern the census system capacity was 260 forms per second. That is 936,000 forms per hour. We were all told to fill in the form on census night. For most people that would mean between 7 pm and 11 pm on Tuesday. There would be a large peak sometime during this period, the submission would not be evenly spread. It would be expected there would be somewhere around 10 million people submitting the census, although not all online. It is conceivable the system capacity could be exceeded by two to three times the design. Capacity did reach 150 forms per second at 7:30 pm when the system was shut down. Around 2 million people had submitted their census by this time with quite a few submitting during the day and the previous day (not census night as we'd been told).  At 936,000 forms per hour that would only allow for around 4 million forms during the 7 pm to 11 pm period. Far less than the 7 million plus expected for the census to break even. There is little wonder the census failed.

Why do some households get a census form, some get no form, and others get the census letter with code?

I found it very interesting that we received a letter to the resident for the census. The letter has a code and we're expected to complete the census online, or request a paper form.

What I found quite surprising were two other people I know. One received the census form to complete. Another person didn't receive a form to their property at all.

Why do some households get the paper form, others the letter and others nothing at all? Questions I certainly can't answer, but thought was an interesting observation worth sharing.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Does half filling your petrol tank save money?

I've read a number of articles on the internet about whether or not half filling your petrol tank saves money or not. Obviously visiting the service station twice as often costs time, but let's just focus on the cost of petrol. In every article I read I noticed there was something missing. The petrol price cycle which has a restore point followed by discounting. That is the price hikes significantly over a couple of days and then in the coming weeks drops in price. The graph of the typical Melbourne petrol price cycle can be seen at www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au. Since the price cycle has not been considered I thought I'd write a little on this.

Savings due to weight of petrol

First in terms of saving money. The reason people feels it saves money to half fill your tank is petrol has  weight and if you increase the weight of your car it uses more petrol. But the question is by how much. I'll use my purchasing behaviour to illustrate.

I purchased a tank roughly each fortnight. I let the car usually go to empty and then fill up. Filling up takes roughly 50 litres. By the way I'm not really on empty. My car, a Toyota Avensis has a 60 litre tank, so I still have 10 litres left in the tank when I fill up.

If at the start of the period I put in 50 litres and end up using that so have zero of the 50 litres left at the end, then the average number of litres I have throughout the period is 25 litres.

If I only fill up half the amount, or 25 litres then I have to do this twice. The average volume is 12.5 litres.

Thus the difference is 12.5 litres. Petrol weights around 0.74 kg/l (0.71 to 0.77 kg/l) and thus the amount of extra weight averages out to be 9.25 kg.

We need to simplify the maths so we'll assume (as we only need an estimate) the relationship between weight and petrol usage is linear. That is double the weight and twice as much petrol will be used. In my case my car weighs 1,490kg. Yes there will be one or two passengers and some extra things we carry around, but lets just use the weight of the car. We then get 9.25/1490 which is 0.6% A small car is around 1,000kg. The tank is usually smaller, but if we use the same 9.25 we got 0.9%.

The saving will thus be somewhere around 0.5-1%. A tank of petrol costs me around $60, so the saving by filling up twice as often would expect to be around 30 to 60 cents a fortnight or about $7.80-$15.60 per year. That's not really a particularly good saving.

Savings due to petrol price cycle

A second saving can occur if you use the petrol price cycle. This however means filling up completely when the price cycle is at the lowest, and then half filling your tank as the price is dropping. Since the price is dropping by half to one cent per day, every time I half fill (which would be every week after the first two weeks) I would save 25 (litres) by 3.5-7 cents, or if I waited until I was on empty and then half filled (25 litres after two weeks) the price would save 87.5-175 cents. With typical petrol price cycles being roughly monthly, we'd get about 24 (12 x 2) half tank fills and 12 full tank fills a year. The savings value of the half tank fills would thus be $21-$42 per year.

Overall savings

The overall savings from half filling up are not great, but they do exist. Savings from less weight and the petrol price cycle means a possible saving of $28.80 to $57.60 per year.

If you add these savings to buying at the lowest point in the petrol price cycle and shopping around for the lowest price (without going out of your way) and using discount vouchers when appropriate, the savings can add up to many hundreds of dollars a year. That money is better in your pocket than someone else's. However do keep in mind all of this takes time. If time is more important to you than the money, then that's your choice.

If you need help keeping an eye on the petrol price cycle and thus the best time to buy petrol, or even where if you're in the Manningham area, visit www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au

Monday, August 01, 2016

Share My Location updated to make it easier to reconnect to session.

Share My Location is a web app which enables you or others to share their location as they travel around. As a web app rather than a native Share My Location has advantages such as being able to run on most devices, mobile, tablets, notebooks, or desktops.

Unfortunately however, running through a browser on a mobile device means when not the open application, the application pauses. Depending on how you restart means Share My Location you may lose the current connection. Previously this closed the session. Now you can restart Share My Location and the session still exists. There's no need to share the link as the people watching already have the link. However links are provided to share again in case they are needed.

Share My Location can now keep a session available for up to 24 hours, but realistically most sessions will most likely be for much shorter periods.

Now if you somehow exit Share My Location without pressing Share Off, when you reopen Share My Location, press Share On, the session is reconnected. Anyone watching will see your location update.

A second change has been to make Share My Location looks more like a native app when it is now opened. Share My Location now looks more like a native application than a web page application.

I hope these changes makes the experience using Share My Location better for everyone.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.ShareMyLocation.com.au

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Article on savings by the first Australian to install Tesla Powerwall could easily mislead.

When I read some articles in the news media I really can't believe them. The following article is one example.

http://www.news.com.au/technology/innovation/inventions/first-aussie-resident-to-have-tesla-powerwall-installed-has-a-saving-on-90-per-cent-on-power-bill/news-story/4fcb76b650468f99bb50ff7dce92e853

If you read this article the implication is the savings were made all because of the Tesla Powerwall. A massive 90% saving. However dig a little deeper and if I'm reading the information provided by the person through their own site and other news sites, a different story starts to appear.

Yes the person has made savings. Whilst I don't know how many kWh per day the $660 bill was for, the bill was for 91 days and a rough estimate would indicate around 24-25kWh per day. The person has now reduced their usage through knowledge to 13.7209kWh per day. That's roughly a 43% reduction.

Reducing electricity usage isn't a saving that can be attributed to the Tesla Powerwall. The same or better can be achieved using a $25 power meter device and reading the energy ratings on devices. Power companies now provide sites providing information down to the hour on your usage. Knowledge that doesn't need any outlay.

This is all very rough, but I think you get the picture. If we reduce the electricity usage by 43% (first removing the daily service charge) the equivalent bill for the same usage would be roughly $326 compared to the post Powerwall bill of $50.39. Yes an excellent saving, but not quite as much. That's a saving of roughly $92 per month, and if we assume usage is the same every month, a yearly saving of  roughly $1,100.

The set-up cost for the person for their system was $15,990. The payback period is thus around 14.5 years.

The person also mentioned they could have put the money into their mortgage for an interest saving of $750, which people often forget is also tax free. Put the same money into the mortgage over 14.5 years and the benefit would be around $31,000 tax free.

The problem here is not unusual. People only think about reducing usage after they've made a large investment. I nearly did the same. Instead I worked on reducing my usage first. My normal electricity usage was around 13-14kWh per day. It's now 5-6kWh per day. No solar. No large outlay. With discounts, once you're using the level of electricity grid connected solar no longer makes financial sense.

If you have mortgage or other debt, it really may be worth considering paying down the debt before making purchases like this that have payback periods that are near or longer than the life expectancy of the equipment. With electricity usage, first reduce your usage as best you can and only then look at the payback on investing.

The article in the newspaper really made me interested again in the Tesla Powerwall, but once I go through the numbers and research further, what's being said simply doesn't add up. Good unbiased knowledge can only help you make better and more informed decisions.

Kelvin Eldridge
Electricity Cost Calculator



Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Share My Location web app is now live.

Hot off the press the Share My Location web app is now live. Those of you who know me, know I write web apps for myself and make them available for others. I figure if they help me then perhaps they'll help others as well.

Share My Location enables you to share your location with someone else. Not just your current location, but your location as you're moving. You may in a car, on public transport, or just walking, but now you can share your location with someone else.

Yes there are apps that do this, but most only work for one device. Share My Location doesn't need to be installed and works across multiple platforms. Now obviously if you're sharing your location it's best if you have a GPS enabled device, but the person you're sharing with can be on any computer or mobile device.

No identifying information is requested. No sign up. You just visit the site, www.ShareMyLocation.com.au, click the Share On button, click on the link to send an email and you and the other person (or people) can see your location and follow your journey. Great for letting people know where you are. Great for meeting up with people. Great for helping people.

I write the web apps because over time it's what I wanted on a number of occasions. Now I have what I want and I'd be fairly sure others have probably been in the same situation.

Enjoy,

Kelvin Eldridge
www.ShareMyLocation.com.au

Friday, July 22, 2016

Petrol prices in Melbourne spiking at the moment.

It's been interesting watching the latest petrol price hike in Melbourne. There's usually up to 4 days before the new higher price moves across the market. Normally I see the price hike on the second of the four days and alert everyone using the Petrol Price Melbourne site www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au.  This time I noticed the price hike very early since I'm now recording prices in the area.

Two things became apparent. The trend on the site can go in any direction on the first day. Whilst some prices are spiking, others are still going down. It is really weird to watch part of the market going down whilst another part is having a massive price hike of around thirty cents per litre.

The second was I felt the colour coding for the markers on the maps which help people locate lower priced petrol wasn't particularly good. My initial approach was 21 coloured markers at set price intervals, but unfortunately this approach didn't make it easy to distinguish the cheaper prices as the prices move down. This is because the market has a small spread of prices (4-6 cents) so the markers all look very similar.

I decided to change the markers to indicate one cent differences. This is very good when prices are going down. When prices are going down the range of prices is usually between 6-10 cents, so the coloured markers can be easily distinguished. When the price spikes the average moves towards the middle so is everything lumped into red (expensive) and green (cheap). When this occurs you may need to check individual markers or use the cheapest page to find the cheapest petrol. When the price peaks the new peak becomes the average which will show as yellow. As prices drop the range increases and the range of coloured markers again increases.

I hope this new colour coding scheme makes it easier for people to find cheaper petrol and save money on their petrol purchases.

Kelvin Eldridge

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Petrol Prices Melbourne - Now showing average, maximum, minimum and trend.

The main page of Petrol Prices Melbourne now shows the average, maximum, minimum unleaded submitted petrol prices, along with the trend from yesterday. This is a good way to know roughly the price petrol will cost. Petrol Prices Melbourne 

Kelvin Eldridge

Thursday, June 30, 2016

TPG home phone and telephone not working. "Number you have dialled is not valid. Please check the number and call again."

A couple of days ago our home phone with TPG wasn't working for a few days. A Telstra technician was required and fixed the problem. Now just a couple of days later the home phone and internet are not working again.

I called TPG support and they informed me the problem was Telstra was having problems and the problem should be solved by 7:30 pm. On the TPG site they only refer to a third party and the outage for the home phone being from 1:42 pm to 7:30 pm and internet being 1:42 pm to 11:30 pm.

From the TPG site, the "exchanges Belgrave, Melton, Scoresby, Sunbury and Templestowe may experience Internet and home phone connection difficulties".

Hopefully this may assist others who are in a similar situation.

Kelvin Eldridge

Monday, June 27, 2016

Petrol Price Melbourne has been rewritten based on feedback.

One of the best things about developing software is watching others use the software. The responses and feedback are invaluable to help improve the software.

I initially wrote Petrol Prices Melbourne as a simple single page alert. An alert so people could share when they spotted petrol prices hiking. Given that's only around every 3-4 weeks, for much of the time the web app didn't have much use.

Now whilst buying petrol before the price hike can save a considerable amount of money each year, knowing where to buy better priced petrol at other times can also save a considerable amount of money. I decided to make Petrol Prices Melbourne even more useful.

Petrol Prices Melbourne now shows maps of prices submitted by the public. You can see the prices for all petrol stations or just those around you. There's even a handy comparison helping people to work out the cost of buying at a cheaper place that is further away.

Based on feedback, I changed my initial approach for the maps to show only today's submitted prices, to also show petrol stations from the previous day. The date and time the price was submitted is provided. Prices from the previous day are obvious as the marker is faded. Seeing the information for a petrol station is even easier with the information provided by pressing or clicking on a marker.

Submitting petrol prices is now even easier allowing people to press or click on a marker in the submit section. All Shell, Coles Express and BP service stations within approximately 100 km of Melbourne are present, as are all the petrol stations around Templestowe. More petrol stations will be set up in future. If there's a petrol station you'd like to submit prices for, drop me an email and I'll set it up.

A new feature I added today shows the cheapest petrol stations around Melbourne from the prices submitted.

Thank you to everyone for your support and feedback. Whilst I save money using Petrol Prices Melbourne, it is even more pleasing when I hear others are saving money as well.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Facebook forcing messenger app on users.

Today a person said they could no longer use messages on Facebook using the website on their mobile phone. The person was only given the option to install the Facebook Messenger app which they did not want to do.

From what I've read and seen, there's people who do not wish to use the Facebook Messenger app. I decided to see if an earlier trick I used with Facebook might work and it did.

The technique is to use the link https://www.facebook.com/messages/.

Whilst not ideal as it gives you the desktop version of messages, it does allow you to get around Facebook trying to force you to install Facebook Messenger app. The person was quite happy with the technique even though they needed to zoom in.

If you're not a fan of installing the Facebook Messenger app, then perhaps give the above link a go.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Useful maps added to Petrol Prices Melbourne

New features added to the Petrol Prices Melbourne web app.

Since the web app was designed to log submitted prices, the prices are now shown on two maps. A map showing nearby petrol stations and a map showing all submitted petrol stations.

The reason the maps have been made available is if you know a petrol station has a better price, and it is conveniently located to you, then you can save money on your petrol purchases.

Markers for petrol stations on the maps are coloured coded to make it easy to find the best prices. The map showing nearby petrol stations shows details for up to 10 petrol stations. Included is a handy calculation showing the cost for 50 litres of petrol plus the estimated cost of petrol for a return trip. Obviously it's even better if the cheaper petrol station is already on your way.

Petrol prices are entered by the crowd which means you and me. If we enter prices the maps become useful resources and that will help show the maps useful.

Often we buy petrol from the same petrol stations. I was quite surprised recently to find Shell/Coles Express prices, even with the discount voucher was more expensive than other nearby service stations offering better prices with no discount.

The Petrol Prices Melbourne web app is located at www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au. The maps are available via the menu, but can be found at www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au/map/mobile for the nearby petrol stations and www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au/map/, for the map of all petrol stations submitted.

Kelvin Eldridge

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Cheapest petrol prices in Melbourne.

Today I topped up my tank. Prices for petrol are currently around the 130 mark, but I saved $6.36 by purchasing petrol at 107.9.

I've decided to create a MyAnswers solution which shares the techniques I now use which could potentially save $300-$500 a year or more for us on petrol. The solution is available at http://www.onlineconnections.com.au/myanswers/mapurchase.php?solution=2509.

I've received good feedback that my posts to social media using the web app www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au on petrol price hikes have helped others, which is very pleasing. Sometimes you wonder whether or not what you do makes a difference, but then when you hear it does, it really makes it worthwhile.

Kelvin Eldridge


Monday, June 06, 2016

kJ to cal often searched, but isn't what people really want.

A while ago I wrote a kilojoules to Calories converter. I notice many people searching for kj to cal, which I don't think is what people really want.

The problem is the difference between using a small c as opposed to a capital C at the start of the word calorie or Calorie. It is very unusual for the use of a lower case or upper case letter to make such a difference, but in this case it makes a huge difference. In fact a difference is a factor of 1,000.

It is important to note that 1,000 calories equals 1 Calorie.

What people are really searching for is kJ to Cal. Most people are probably trying to convert kilojoules in food to Calories. Calories is the unit of measure often used for food and often referred to by those dieting. The lower case calorie is one thousandth of a Calorie.

Not realising the difference between calorie and Calorie is very common. If you search the internet the two terms are often used as the same, and more often than not, the correct term should be Calorie.

Now you know there's a difference between using an upper case or lower case c, you'll easily spot when people are using the wrong capitalisation.

I've made notes on the kilojoules to Calories calculator which hopefully will assist people. You can find the kilojoules to Calories calculator at www.ConvertkilojoulestoCalories.com.au. Domain names aren't case sensitive so you can use upper case or lower case. But when we're talking about food and energy,  the use of upper case or lower case when referring to Calorie or calorie really does matter.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.ConvertkilojoulestoCalories.com.au

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Petrol prices in Melbourne jumped to 134.9 cents per litre yesterday. May still be some lower priced petrol around.

Yesterday I sent an alert to Facebook and Twitter on the petrol prices price hike. I use the web app I wrote Petrol Prices Melbourne which can be found at www.PetrolPricesMelbourne.com.au to alert family friends. You're welcome to use the web app as well to help those you know.

When prices go up what I find is the first day only a few go up and we don't quite notice. The next day which in this case was yesterday, perhaps around 20-30% will have gone up. Today it's probably around 80%, but that does mean there's still pockets of petrol at the lower prices of around 107.

At the moment I still see pockets of lower prices fuel at some petrol stations in or near Templestowe, Ringwood, Glen Waverly, Hallam, Falkner, Hoppers Crossing, Frankston, but there's no telling for how long.

As the time from when the petrol price hikes there is a period of up to four days where there are still petrol stations around with lower prices, but they become harder to find and it may not be worthwhile trying to detour to get the cheaper petrol. In the Petrol Prices Melbourne web app I've provided a tool which helps you work out the cost of petrol, for the extra distance you need to drive to get the cheaper petrol. Factor in your time, wear and tear on your car and it may not be worth it.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.JustLocal.com.au