Thursday, March 31, 2016

New Calories to kilojoules web app now available.

A while ago I wrote a kilojoules to Calories calculator web app. The main reason is I sometimes need to do the conversion and the calculator Google provides can be misleading to use.

The opposite conversion from kilojoules to Calories is Calories to kilojoules, so I thought why not have both conversions available in the one web app for convenience. The Calories to kilojoules calculator is now available at www.convertkilojoulestocalories.com.au/Caloriestokilojoules.php.

I hope others find the web apps useful.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au

Monday, March 28, 2016

Australia Post delivery times got a slamming in the following article.

I read the following article in The Age and thought there were some quite interesting points, and it raised a thought I'd not considered.

http://www.theage.com.au/national/snail-mail-gets-even-slower-20160317-gnldtg.html

Now is probably a good time if you're sending out mail to perform some testing in terms of delivery times. I remember a few years ago standing in a queue in the ANZ bank. The person in front was really annoyed they'd received their credit card statement just a few days before the cut-off date and thus missed paying on time. I'd noticed the same in the past so understood where the customer was coming from. The teller didn't appear to understand. The short payment period on the ANZ credit card, coupled with delays getting the letters out back then I'd also noticed the very short payment period and one of the reasons I' ditched the ANZ credit card. With Australia Post now taking longer to deliver, the delay may impact more consumers.

One of the topics raised in the article was that some businesses may actually be breaking the law by not sending out mail with enough time to meet particular dates.

Another interesting point raised is that all mail posted in Victoria ends up going through the Dandenong sorting centre. WOW. If a letter is posted in a country town, to someone else in the town, it first has to come to Melbourne and then go back again.

I've not really thought about the changing delivery times for Australia Post, but sometimes when we do post mail, it is important to have a realistic idea of the delivery times. No longer can you think the mail will necessarily be delivered in a day or two. Perhaps it's time to run a few tests to see how long delivery times actually are.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au

Friday, March 25, 2016

9Now error "an error occurred loading this content" using Apple TV

Decided to watch catch-up TV using the iPad and Apple TV. The show was Survivor. Over to Catch Up TV using Safari, find the latest episode and go to watch it. Unfortunately this is where the plan starts to fall apart. Channel 9 decided the only way to watch the episode is to sign up for the 9Now app.

OK. No choice so downloaded the app, set it up and start the process again. Find the latest episode. Yep it's there. Now connect the iPad to Apple TV and a yellow triangle with the message "An error occurred loading this content". Nothing really to let me know what was going wrong. However on the iPad there was a message which read "Video is temporarily unavailable. Please try again soon or visit the 9Now Help Centre".

On the 9Now Help Centre I found in the questions and answers the 9Now app does not currently support Apple TV or Google Chrome. A bit frustrating. Channel could have provided this information up front and saved some time.

In the end we had two choices. Watch the episode on the iPad or use a computer with Apple TV or Google Chrome. Since only one person wanted to watch the episode, it was watched on the iPad.

This is a case it's not you, it's Channel 9. So much time is wasted because companies don't let users know up front of the limitations of their services. Hopefully this post will let others know it's not them.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au
Call 0415 910 703 for IT support.
Servicing Templestowe, Doncaster, Eltham and the surrounding area.


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Apple iPhone SE over priced for Australians.

Apple have announced their new Apple iPhone SE so I felt now was a good time to check out the pricing. In particular, I wanted to see how the price for Australians compared with the American price.

To do the comparison I use the following approach. I take the American price, convert the price from USD to AUD using Google and add 6% for exchange rate costs. I then add 10% for GST.

The iPhone SE starts at $399USD. Using the above approach means the price should end up around $612. A good rounded number for the iPhone SE would then be $599. Instead in Australia the iPhone SE starts at $679. I've not seen such a large price difference from Apple for some time that I can recall.

If we compare this to the new iPad Pro 9.7 this reinforces that Apple have hit Australians harder with the iPhone SE price. The iPad Pro 9.7 starts at $599. Using the above approach we end up with a price of $918. Round this down to $899 which is a good round number. That's the price Apple are actually selling the iPad Pro 9.7.

Apple's Australian price for the iPhone SE is certainly priced higher than it should be. This is disappointing as Apple have been very good lately with their Australian prices. Hopefully this isn't a sign of future pricing for Australian Apple users.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au
Call 0415 910 703 for IT support.
Servicing Doncaster, Templestowe, Eltham area.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Your eBay purchase comes with five chance to win $5,000.

I recently placed an order on eBay and my eye caught an advertisement with the wording "Your eBay purchase comes with five chance to win $5,000".  The poor grammar made me wonder if this is some type of scam so I ignored it.


When I went back to check eBay using a link in the email for a purchase I then noticed the following ad.

Now I notice ads to the top and right in eBay quite often. These look like Google ads and on checking they use Google's advertising service.  I decided to follow through one of the links as it really did feel like a scam.

When I followed the link it became apparent the link is to get people to sign up for the eBay newsletter. I couldn't help think if my eBay order came with a chance to win something that surely they have my details and they could simply use that information. Having ads to get me to sign up for the newsletter disappoints me, but in the end that's eBay's choice and part of their marketing strategy.

What looks like a potential scam is simply marketing by eBay.

Kelvin Eldridge

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Compare electricity and gas cost to warm a room.

Today is quite nippy and a reminder that winter is just around the corner. However it isn't quite nippy enough to turn the gas central heating on. It makes you wonder how does the cost of gas central heating compare with the cost of using an electric heater to heat just one room.

This actually isn't a trivial question because there's so many variables. The main problem is how to measure and compare gas versus electricity. For that we'd need to do some testing and frankly, that takes a lot of time. We need to simplify.

OK. We're going to heat just the family room area which is where we spend the most time. Really this is two rooms. The kitchen a family room, so it's a fair size area. Next we're going to assume that whatever appliance we use it will run at the setting we use for the entire time. That is, even though we can use the thermostat to control the temperature of the room. Without doing testing we can't know when the devices will turn off and on and for how long. In addition conditions may change so running one test and then another may be quite hard. It can be done, but it will as I said take some time.

The gas central heating has a disadvantage in that it has to heat more rooms. The thermostat is outside the family room are. We can close off vents, but still we have the family room area, kicthen and hallways. Electricity tends to be known as more expensive.

Checking the gas heater it uses a nominal 120MJ/h. We'll assume that figure for the comparison. The electric heater we've chosen is a column heater. It has three heat settings, low, medium, high and a fan mode, which appears to set the heater to medium plus the fan. The following is my rounded nominal measurements.

Low - 1,000 watts
Medium - 1,400 watts
High - 2400 watts
Fan mode - 2000 watts

Our cost for electricity is easy as we use an Anytime rate of 26.169 cents per kWh. We get a pay-on-time discount of 30%.

Gas is a bit trickier as the more gas you use, the lower the rate. The rates for use are 2.167 c/MJ first 98 MJ/day, 1.639 c/MJ for next 49 MJ/day and the balance at 1.309 c/MJ. We get a 20% pay-on-time discount. Our base usage per day is around 35MJ/day when not using heating. We only have hot water on demand and heating. If you have gas cooking then that needs to be considered. As I said, there's lot of variables. Since this is a nippy day, during our lower usage period, we'll usage the highest rate.

Let's now compare running the appliances for one hour.

Gas 120MJ at 2.167 cents less 20% discount giving us $2.08

Electricity @ 26.169 c/kWh less 30% giving us 18.31 c/kWh
Low - 18.31 cents
Medium - 25.63 cents
High - 43.94 cents
Fan mode - 36.62 cents

I must admit seeing these figures in writing for the first time I'm very surprised. This is not the result I expected. Electricity always gets a bad wrap for heating as being expensive, but if you only need to warm a smaller area, it looks like electricity may be a more efficient and cost effective way to go.

I decided to check the MJ usage for gas heaters. The first unit I found uses 5.5 to 11MJ/h which would cost us around 9.5/19 cents per hour to run. This is where gas is cheaper than electricity. However for us, the gas heater wouldn't be in the area we use most.

At first glance it now appears for those nippy mornings where we need to warm up a smaller area for a short period of time, the electric heater may be more cost effective. To be sure however I'd now need to do some testing to determine the actual usage of each appliance over the desired time and take into account the on/off cycle time.

I hope others find this information useful. It certainly helps me to put my thoughts in writing and to compare different heating strategies. If you'd like to use an electricity cost calculator to help determine the cost of using an electrical appliance, I written one which is available at www.ElectricityCostCalculator.info.

Kelvin Eldridge

Friday, March 18, 2016

Alert: Make sure Dick Smith TVs can view new channels.

I noticed in the media Dick Smith are struggling to move their own name brand TVs. I also noticed a large shipment of over a million dollars of TVs that Dick Smith may also need to sell and that all adds up to a lot of Dick Smith TVs.

The media has made it known that buying a Dick Smith brand may not be a wise idea and to stick with buying brand names which will be supported by the manufacturers if there's a problem.

I purchased a Dick Smith TV around two years ago. With the new free-to-air channels that use the H264/MPEG4, the Dick Smith TV cannot receive the channels. I've asked Dick Smith support and at this stage there is no update available. I've checked the Chinese manufacturer's site but there's very little information on the site.

If you're going to buy a Dick Smith TV, may I suggest you make sure it can receive the new channels such as 7flix or channel 76. For some the channels 74/4ME and 78/racing.com may be important. Channel 9 is also introducing a new channel. I don't know if the newer TVs can or can't receive these channels, so it is worth testing the TVs yourself to make sure all current channels can be received.

Kelvin Eldridge

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Alert: Important Notice Regarding the Sale of the Dick Smith Online Business

Today I received an email with the subject "Important Notice Regarding the Sale of the Dick Smith Online Business". This could have easily been spam but it wasn't. On the 19th of May 2015 I purchased a power adaptor online and collected it in the local store. That means my contact details are in their database.

If you receive an email like I did from the receivers and administrators, there's a good chance it is legitimate, but as always be careful with the links.

What I found interesting is yesterday I purchased some AAA batteries from the local Dick Smith store and said I was sorry to see the store was closing. I also said the Dick Smith brand will probably be picked up. I've seen this a number of times. The brand gets sold off to a new owner as it is an asset, but all those owed money (including in this case those individuals with gift cards) are out of pocket. It just doesn't seem right to me. Sometimes I think these brands should just disappear off the market. Yes it is an asset of the business just like stock and equipment, but still it doesn't feel right.

In this case the brand, customer database, and if I read it correctly the online business is continuing, or is it? If the online business is continuing then perhaps some of those people who purchase online may have recourse. I don't know. That's not my area of expertise. I personally suspect all that's continuing is the brand and our customer contact details. We'll then be marketed to under the Dick Smith brand.

When you receive the email you'll have a choice as to whether or not you you wish to have your contact details transferred. The new owner is Kogan. The choice is yours.

Kelvin Eldridge

PS. If you do decide to remove your details from the mailing list before the transfer, the email states you have until 5 pm on the 22nd of March. The following appears on the form you'll complete and submit which shows you've already missed the cut off. Hopefully they're simply running behind schedule and stick to the date in their email.


Dodo Power and Gas price update. Electricity down and Gas up.

I received an email notifying the price changes for Dodo Power and Gas.

For electricity the plan I'm currently on is the Anytime plan. For this plan the daily fee has remained the same, but interesting the price per kWh has reduced by around 11 per cent. That is a welcome change. It does appear this is generally happening across the country.

For gas unfortunately both the daily supply charge and cents per megajoule are up 3.7 per cent and 9.4 per cent respectively. (Note this calculation is only for the most expensive cents per megajoule usage bracket).

For electricity I've updated the Electricity Cost Calculator at www.ElectricityCostCalculator.info with the latest rate. Whilst the 11 per cent usage reduction is welcome, this has been after a number of years of increases. I've found the best way to reduce electricity costs is to reduce your electricity usage. The calculator helps to get a handle on how much individual appliances are costing you. Next is to shop around and compare energy retailers and the discounts they're offering. Don't just go for the discount. Put together a spreadsheet of your usage, key in their charges and then apply the discount. Some companies have higher discounts but their charges are higher would could mean you pay more than using a lower cost supplier. I've not gone down the solar panel path as my calculations showed the savings were minimal and the payback period meant I didn't think it was a good investment. Smart reduction of usage resulted in over a 50 per cent reduction in electricity costs.

These prices above for Dodo do not include the pay on time discount offered by Dodo. This also isn't a recommendation or endorsement for Dodo

Kelvin Eldridge

Thursday, March 10, 2016

McDonald's McWrap Patch at Federation Square email.

I was wondering if it is just me, or whether others have unexpectedly received an McDonald's email regarding their McWrap Patch at Federation Square.

Of course I could be wrong, but if I'm correct, it's been over two years since I may have entered a McDonald's Monopoly competition. I didn't enter their last competition and don't have any records of contacting them. As I said, I could be wrong. Weirdly the was sent to an email address I normally wouldn't give out. It makes me wonder if the email was spam.

I'm wondering if anyone else unexpectedly received the same email.

Kelvin Eldridge

PS. Apologies in advance to McDonald's if I'm incorrect and have forgotten.

PPS. If you're looking for your nearest McDonald's you may wish to check out Mapz at www.Mapz.com.au. I've made it easy to find the closest five Maccas to your current location using a mobile phone. 

Electricity Cost Calculator now includes kWh per day and kWh per year values.

I found when using the Electricity Cost Calculator I'd often like to know the kWh/day value, as this can be handy when trying to decide which devices may or may not be able to be switched easily to a low cost solar powered system.

A common figure you'll see on appliances is the kWh/year value. This often appears on the star rating sticker. You can now easily work out the kWh/year value for your appliances.

The Electricity Cost Calculator now includes the kWh/day and kWh/year figures.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.ElectricityCostCalculator.info

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Mapz now provides directions to McDonald's, Hungry Jack's, KFC and others.

I wrote Mapz a while ago as I found locating the nearest particular fast food outlet (McDonald's, Hungry Jack's, KFC), servo  (Coles Express, BP), or other place (e.g. cinema) I was interested in, to be quite difficult. At the time some of the sites didn't work well on a mobile device so I wrote my own web app. However I did find a shortcoming to my approach.

Yes there was a map and you could see the address. But if you didn't know the area, trying to zoom in on the small screen was a big ask. More recently I've taken a liking to route facilities that are provided with the mobile applications. I thought why not provide a link so people can use their mobile phones and the map application to provide the route and even let you get there with voice navigation.



You see in the screen capture above there is now a new directions link. Click on the directions link and the location where you want to go will be shown as a pin on the map. Click on the route option in the mobile mapping application and the route will be shown. Often now all you need to do is press start and you'll be guided to your destination. Since desktop computers don't know their location, you may need to type in your current address if using a desktop computer. However for mobile devices, much of the information to get you from where you currently are, to where you want to be, is provided for you.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.mapz.com.au

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Aldi - Indoor Bike Trainer

I noticed Aldi are again selling their Indoor Bike Trainer starting on Wednesday the 9th of March.

I previously purchased this unit. I set up the bike which had the mountain bike style tyres and not the smooth tyres. I found the unit was really noisy and not something I could use. In their advertisement Aldi state "Suitable for adult mountain and road bikes" and the catalogue shows a bike with quite mountain bike tyres Yes it does work, but I don't feel the indoor bike trainer is suitable at all for mountain bikes, or any bikes that don't have the smooth tyres. I've should say I haven't tested the unit with smooth tyres.

I hope this feedback helps others.

Kelvin Eldridge 

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Amaysim reduces "unlimited" plans from 30 to 28 days effectively increasing prices by 8.33%.

Today I read that Amaysim were reducing the number of days for their  mobile "unlimited" plans from 30 to 28 days. I thought that was an interesting strategy and certainly one people need to keep in mind.

If you're comparing mobile service providers, it's now more important than ever to check the number of days being covered. If you're comparing plans and one plan charges monthly, and another charges 28 days. then you really need to increase the 28 day plan by 8.33% to compare apples with apples. If the plan is 30 days compared with 28 days, then increase the 28 day plan by 7.1%.

Two days doesn't sound like much, but it does add up. For example if you're paying $49.90 per 30 days at the moment, then over a approximately a year being charged every 28 days, adds another $42.77 to your mobile cost.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.OnlineConnections.com.au