Although I've been experimenting in Swan Bros with Google Adsense for content, Adsense for Search, Chitika, Kontera and Widgetbucks, I've never tried "Competitive Ad Filter" from Adsense at all. I've noticed the function a long time ago, but I thought it was just to block ads from your competitors.

Recently I did some research about avoiding low CPC ads, I found out how "Made For Adsense" sites are stealing traffic & revenues from genuine bloggers with their low CPC ads (too late, you might say :-p). That's how I found out and without any hesitation I joined it, and got the list of black listed sites(MFA and low CPC) for my keywords. Then I activated "Competitive Ad Filter".

It's been only one day, so it's a bit early to say how effective it's. But I'll keep you updated with my success story (hopefully).

How about you? How have you been coping with low CPC ads?

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A few weeks ago, I joined Kontera after reading positive feedback from Randy Brown. In-Text advertising was very new for me too so I thought to give it a go. It was quite easy to join although Kontera used to be available to only the sites with minimum 500,000 page views per month. I thought I was quite lucky to be able to join with small traffic.

It was easy to set up too. I just had to copy and paste the script in my template and Kontera did the rest. Within 24 hrs, I could see the in-text links showed up with double lines underneath. I was really happy... at least for a while.

After a few days later I checked the results. They are nowhere near what Adsense or Chitika offers. It's a tiny bit more than 1 cent a click. Considering the visitors "lost" to the ad sites, it's not worth running at all. So I removed the Kontera after two weeks. You might say it's too early to quit.

Kontera worked well for Rany Brown and John Chow and they recommend it a lot. However, Kontera didn't impress me at all. So bye bye, Kontera!!!

What's your experience with Kontera? Please let me know.

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Alright now you've either received $900 tax bonus from ATO as part of economic stimulus package or you'll receive soon. The ATO said not to contact them until mid May regarding the payments.

How are you going to spend your $900 tax bonus? Please take the poll below.

Here I've listed some of the things people could do.

  1. Spend it on groceries, clothes, cosmetics, home entertainment systems or gadgets. If you believe spending on made-in-overseas stuffs will promote our economy, that's alright. That's what our Prime Minister and Treasurer want too.

  2. Save it for the rainy days. If you do, you should save it in high interest accounts only. But these days the interest rates are too low to motivate people to save.

  3. Buy shares. The share prices have dropped a lot and there are so much bargain out there. If you pick some strong businesses and invest for a few years, you'll be in a great position. But you must make sure you can sleep well at night.

  4. Contribute to your super. If you're a low or mid income earner, you can contribute it to your super. You can get the benefit of low share prices and co-contribution from the government. But you can't touch it until you are 65.

  5. Pay off your debts. If you have any debt or mortgage, I strongly recommend you do that, especially personal loans or credit card debts.

  6. Donate it to charity. I guess in current economic situation, charities may not be receiving as much donation as they used to. I'm sure they will need it now more than ever.

So what are you going to do with your tax bonus? Please take the poll.

Web polls

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Yesterday I received the following email from Blogger saying that they locked my blog as it has been identified as a potential spam blog!!! It really freaked me out and needless to say I was so upset with the quality of their "Automatic spam detection". When I checked in Google forum, I found out that I wasn't alone with that problem.

I totally understand Google has to fight splogs because one in every five blogs in blogspot is a spam blog. I really appreciate Google's initiative to block those splogs too. However, they should have a better detection system and they should make sure not to penalise wrong people.


Your blog at: has been identified as a potential spam blog. To correct this, please request a review by filling out the form at

Your blog will be deleted in 20 days if it isn't reviewed, and your readers will see a warning page during this time. After we receive your request, we'll review your blog and unlock it within two business days. Once we have reviewed and determined your blog is not spam, the blog will be unlocked and the message in your Blogger dashboard will no longer be displayed. If this blog doesn't belong to you, you don't have to do anything, and any other blogs you may have won't be affected.

We find spam by using an automated classifier. Automatic spam detection is inherently fuzzy, and occasionally a blog like yours is flagged incorrectly. We sincerely apologize for this error. By using this kind of system, however, we can dedicate more storage, bandwidth, and engineering resources to bloggers like you instead of to spammers. For more information, please see Blogger Help:

Thank you for your understanding and for your help with our spam-fighting efforts.


The Blogger Team

P.S. Just one more reminder: Unless you request a review, your blog will be deleted in 20 days. Click this link to request the review:

I've responded and requested a review. So far no reply yet. But I don't see the warning in my Dashboard any more, so I guess it has been fixed now. I hope they fix this problem before they annoy more users.

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I have been working on creating a Super Co-contribution Calculator. Superannuation co-contribution is a great way to increase your retirement savings, and it is an Australian Government initiative to help low to middle income earners save for their retirement.

So how much co-contribution can you get from the government?

If you're eligible, you can get $1.5 co-contribution for every $1 you contribute - the maximum co-contribution amount being $1,500. The co-contribution reduces by 5c for every dollar you earn over $30,342 up to $60,342 for the financial year 2008-2009. Use the Super Co-contribution Calculator below to calculate how much you can get.

Calculate Super Co-contribution
Financial Year
After-tax Contribution
Annual Total Income
Government co-contribution *
Your Optimum contribution #

* You are entitled to a $20 of co-contribution if the calculated co-contribution amount is between $0 and $20.

# This is the amount you should contribute to maximize return on your investment.

What are the eligibility criteria?

For the financial year 2008-2009, from 1 July 2008, you will be eligible for the co-contribution if:
  • you make a personal super contribution by 30 June 2009 into a complying super fund or retirement savings account

  • your total income is less than $60,342 (this is indexed annually to reflect changes in average wages)

  • 10% or more of your total income is from eligible employment, running a business or a combination of both

  • you are less than 71 years old at the end of the year of income

  • you do not hold an eligible temporary resident visa at any time during the year lodge your income tax return.

What is Optimum Contribution in the calculator?

If you earn more than $30,342, the co-contribution from the government becomes less and less. For example, if your total income is $40000, the government will chip in $1017.10 whether you contribute $1000 or $678.07. So you're not getting any bonus for extra contribution above $678.07, the Optimum Contribution.

How else can you boost your savings?

You can salary-sacrifice a portion of your salary and invest in your super. Thus you can reduce your taxable income and liable tax too. You won't get co-contribution from the government for that.

Compare Superannuation Funds

Disclaimer: This is just for educational purpose only. The author is not responsible for any consequences or losses due to actions taken solely based on the examples and advices given in this post.

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It has been a few weeks since I first installed Searchles related posts widget in my blog. So what is my opinion?

These are some of the features I like about Searchles Related Content Widget.

Ease of setup and configuration: It's so easy to set up. You don't need to worry about java scripts. Choose colors and size of the widget, and it's ready to go. The number of links displayed depends on the size of the widget. In comparison, it's way easier than installing Adsense (not that Adsense is hard to install).

Doesn't rely on tags/labels alone: It will work even if your site doesn't have labels/categories. I guess because Searchles scans all pages to display, it's more accurate than relying on labels.

Report for clicks : The best feature I like is I can see the report of clicks from the widget, which you can't get with other related post scripts. It's great to be able to check how many people use it to find more information. As visitors can see related information easily, it will somehow encourage them to stay around a bit longer. The disadvantage of it might be less frequent use of search box to find more information because the visitors are finding related information easier. But I'm not sure yet if that's the case.

Searchles Related Posts Widget Stats
What I am not so thrilled of

Index frequency: Although the initial indexing was pretty fast, I don't think it indexed every single post of my blog. It doesn't seem to scan frequently after that (based on the Indexed Articles stat). I hope they fix this issue to make it a perfect related post/content widget.

Overall, I'm very happy with it. I hope visitors are finding it useful too.

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Last week the Australian government started giving away $900 tax bonuses. Although I don't mind that payout, I never thought this was the best way to spend our taxes to stimulate the economy. After reading some news articles about 340,000 students might end up with $1850 bonus and accountants swamped by tax liars coming clean to get $900, I felt totally disgusted to know how inefficient this stimulus package is going to be.

A good portion of these students might end up spending the bonus outside Australia taking holiday, etc. Some bonus-recipients might save, some might spend wisely while others gamble it. What about me? I'll DEFINITELY save majority of it. I consider this bonus as the money we, tax payers, will have to pay back in the future in the form of higher tax or lower standard of health, transport or education. There is nothing like a free meal.

I believe the government should have spent the money on people who lost jobs, struggling families and building more infrastructures in the country. Especially new infrastructures will create more jobs and stimulate other industries with better roads, etc. I hope the government gets it before it's too late.

Take a poll on how you're going to spend the tax bonus?

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Today I downloaded and installed Windows Myanmar Translator (Beta Version) from Myanmar NLP. It's a Windows-based software to translate English phrases to Myanmar (Burmese). It has English-Myanmar dictionary and you can add more vocabularies to the database too.

Windows English Myanmar Translator and Dictionary

So what are my thoughts on it? The translation is not accurate. I tried two simple phrases - "I want to have dinner" and "Can you help me?". You can see the translated phrases in the screenshots below.

Translated Phrase 1

Translated Phrase 2

As you can see, the translation is not impressive. However, because this translation software is first of its kind, I think we should welcome it no matter what and support its development. I hope we will see more improvements in Version 1.0 and 2.0 as the developers have claimed.

အောက်ဖော်ပြပါ Feature များ အသုံးပြုနိုင်အောင် ဆက်လက် ဆောင်ရွက်လျက် ရှိပါသည်။

Features of Version 1.0

(1) Complex Sentence Translation

(2) Windows based and Web based

(3) WordNet usage

(4) Parser Model Extending

Features of Version 2.0

(1) Statistical Based Machine Translation

In the mean time, we still can use it as a English-Myanmar dictionary software, which is not a bad thing.

English Myanmar Dictionary
Download Windows Myanmar Translator and Fonts.

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Paypal is a very widely used payment method on the net. Ebay uses it. Other online merchants use it to sell their products. I've used it many times (all for small amounts) and it seems quite secure. However there are a few things to notice with using Paypal. I'll talk about Paypal's "Funding Options".

Paypal - Send Money

When you send money to someone using Paypal, the default payment method may be from your debit account. As you can see in the screenshot above "Instant Bank Transfer" from my savings account is the default option, and Paypal states that "Paypal will use Visa xxx xxx to fund this transaction if your bank does not have enough funds."

Well it sounds very easy and simple. Paypal doesn't charge you if it has to use "Backup Source" because you don't have enough funds in your primary source. But the catch is your bank will!!! If you don't have enough funds in your debit account, once Paypal tries to withdraw funds from it, the bank will charge you "dishonor fee", which normally is around $30.

So here are a few tips for how to avoid dishonor fee from your bank while using Paypal

  • Make sure the funding source you select has enough funds

  • DO NOT ever rely on Paypal's automatic backup source option. Your bank may end up charging you hefty fees

  • If you accidentally paid and you realize it doesn't have enough funds, transfer money to that account as soon as possible. Go and deposit it personally. Sometimes Paypal doesn't charge straight away. I got away like that once.

  • If you don't have enough funds in default funding source, click "change" and choose another source with enough funds

Paypal - Funding Options

Paypal - Funding Confirmation
Once again, Don't rely on Paypal's automatic backup source option.

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It has been a while since Google upgraded its Adsense for Google Search. The new version has improved features such as

  • you can add keywords to target particular ads and results,
  • you can manage the search box through "Manage Ads" sub-tab and
  • you can select where you want your ads to appear on your search results pages.

New Custom Search

New Google Search
But I still prefer the classic Google Search for Adsense because visitors can select if they want to search your site or the web. I think it's important to give the visitors that option. Besides, adding keywords might bring up unrelevant ads and search results, which can annoy users. That's why I decided to stick to the classic version.

Classic Google Search

Classic Google Search
Unfortunately you can no longer get the classic search box from Adsense. You need to copy the script below and replace codes in red with your details.

<!-- Search Google -->
<form action='' method='get' target='google_window'>
<table bgcolor='#ffffff' border='0'>
<tr><td align='left' height='32' nowrap='nowrap' valign='top'>
<a href=''>
<img align='middle' alt='Google' border='0' src=''/></a>
<input name='domains' type='hidden' value='YOURSITE'/>
<label for='sbi' style='display: none'>Enter your search terms</label>
<input id='sbi' maxlength='255' name='q' size='31' type='text' value=''/>
<td nowrap='nowrap'>
<input id='ss0' name='sitesearch' type='radio' value=''/>
<label for='ss0' title='Search the Web'><font color='#000000' size='-1'>Web</font></label></td>
<input checked='1' id='ss1' name='sitesearch' type='radio' value='YOURSITE'/>
<label for='ss1' title='YOUR TITLE'><font color='#000000' size='-1'> YOURSITE </font></label></td>
<label for='sbb' style='display: none'>Submit search form</label>
<input id='sbb' name='sa' type='submit' value='Search'/>
<input name='client' type='hidden' value='YOUR-ADSENSE-PUBLISHER-CODE'/>
<input name='forid' type='hidden' value='1'/>
<input name='channel' type='hidden' value='SEARCH-CHANNEL-ID'/>
<input name='ie' type='hidden' value='ISO-8859-1'/>
<input name='oe' type='hidden' value='ISO-8859-1'/>
<input name='cof' type='hidden' value='GALT:#008000;GL:1;DIV:#336699;VLC:663399;AH:center;BGC:FFFFFF;LBGC:336699;ALC:0000FF;LC:0000FF;T:000000;GFNT:0000FF;GIMP:0000FF;LH:50;LW:272;L:YOUR-LOGO-URL;S: YOURSITE;FORID:1'/>
<input name='hl' type='hidden' value='en'/>
<!-- End Search Google -->

  1. Firstly save your blog template
  2. Copy the script in the text box
  3. Go to "Page Elements" sub-tab under "Layout" tab
  4. Click "Add a Gadget" in desired panel and choose "HTML/JAVASCRIPT" (You can give a name for the widget if you like)
  5. Paste the script and change the codes in red with your site's URL, search Channel ID, Adsense publisher number, etc
  6. Save and test it

You can also customise the search results page by changing the codes in blue. Below is what each term means.

If you don't want to use your own logo in the result page, you can remove the logo portion shown below from the script.

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Nokia N73 has been around for a few years but many people are still using them. I've used it too and it's one of the best mobile phones I've ever seen. For N73 lovers, I found a nice list of Nokia N73 Games, Applications and Themes. I hope you enjoy it.

Nokia N73 Games:

Darkest Fear II
Splinter Cell double agent
Sky force Reloaded
Asphalt 2 3-d
Brothers in Arms 3-d
Street fighter Alpha
Christmas Midnight
The Sims 2
K rally
Krish Cricket
MV cricket
Black Hawk down
Call of duty 3
A Knights tale…
Dig. chocolate Night club
Chocolate TOWER
Medal of honor
fifa 2007
Brothers in Arms 2-d
Mission Impossible
New York Success
War of the worlds
Street Basket BAll
Prince of Persia warrior within
Mid town madness
TOPGAM Roland Garros
Rally evolution 3-d
Asphalt Urban 3
Beach Ping Pong
Need for Speed carbon
Extreme air snowboarding
Final Fight
Fish labs heli strike
Crime city
Lemonade Tycoon
Metal Slug
True Crime New York city
Crash and Trash
Prince of Persia The 2 thrones
Roger Federers Tennis Open
The Crow
Virtual Tennis
V sun plus
Wimbledon 2006
Super minners

Download N73 Games

Nokia N73 Applications:

Fonts1 (different fonts for N73 or other Series…. and the method to chage it)
SYS explorer
Divx player
Agile messenger both 3.76 and 3.78
Besttaskman with Keygen
Heir beta (Chatting software like agile)
Mobile security-fcym
Nokia SMS Accelerator
N sys Info. ( a complete system info about your fone)
Smart movie player 3.32
Xsound player
Zip manager
gsm magic
Live Msn mobile ed.

Nokia N73 Themes:

N95 theme
Dark Vista
Dreamy Vista
Lonely Eyes
Mac flower
Mac stacy
Spider man
Tokyo drift

Download N73 Applications and Themes

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Today I found Searchles Platform when I was looking for a widget for related posts. As soon as I read about their "related posts" widget or "related content widget", I was hooked.

Searchles PlatformI've been looking for a related posts widget to install in my blog. But I found some javascript widgets only that use labels to look for related posts. Although it may be better than not having anything at all, I am not 100% impressed with the idea of using labels for that. If I want to use it, I will have to stop using generic labels such as "tips". Another downside is I would need some tweaking with the scripts and they may not work well.

On the other hand, Searchles' related posts widget doesn't require any tweaking from my side except choosing colours, sizes, etc. Besides they don't use labels or tags. They determine relevancy by spidering your site's content. It works pretty well as you can see in the picture below. The best thing is you can get stats about visits from related post links.

Related post sample of Swan BrosHere is how they describe the Searchles Discovery Platform.

The Searchles Discovery Platform is the culmination of all the Searchles/ Dumbfind technology that has been building over the years. To kick off the platform we have released a related content widget aimed at blogs and content websites looking to make their sites a bit more sticky. Over the coming months, we will be releasing more widgets to build out a suite of products designed to make your users stay put, and hopefully earn you some money along the way!
I think this is by far the best related posts widget and the easiest to install too. It's good for Blogger, Wordpress, etc and forums too.

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When was the last time you shop around your car insurance (Comprehensive or Compulsory Third Party Personal (CTP) or Third Party Property)? Are you disappointed because the premium was increased a lot compared to last year?

If you have never shopped around or haven't shopped around for at least a few years, chances are you may be paying more (a lot more) than what you should be paying.

Today I decided to do some research about comprehensive car insurances and it was quite an eye-opening experience. The premiums differ a lot between different insurers and some of the "famous" brands did not live up to their fame.

I used the following information for comparing insurance premiums among AAMI, NRMA, ING, GIO, YOUI, Justcar, Allianz, Commbank and Budget Direct. Please note that I did not consider the quality of customer services and repairs, ease of claims, etc in it.

Location: Sydney City, NSW 2000


Age of Driver: 30

Year first licensed:1998

Car Use: Private (including to or from work)

Any other car: No

Any non-standard accessories or fittings: No

Current mileage:100km

Finance: No finance

Purchas price: $22000

Parking: Garaged

Additional driver: No additional driver specified but the option is set to cover any one who drives this car

InsurerAnnual PremiumStandard ExcessExtra Excess for This Driver
Budget Direct$930$600$0
Justcar Insurance$1133$600$700!!
Commonwealth Bank$1206.65$600$0

GIO didn't give me any online quote.

So AAMI offers the best price for this situation, followed by Budget Direct, which has been voted as the best by Cannex Star Ratings across all states. I tried my own situation and Budget Direct gave me the best premium. Justcar doesn't seem to like new cars (at least 2008 TOYOTA COROLLA ASCENT ZRE152R)!!!

My two cents: people should shop around or do research before they buy insurance.

Disclaimer: This is just for educational purpose only. The author is not responsible for any consequences or losses due to actions taken solely based on the examples in this post.

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Whether English is your native language or not, there will be a time you don't know a particular word is but you know the concept. I myself have experienced it so many times and it's very frustrating.

Here is a good "Reverse Dictionary" site called OneLook. You just need to type the concept with a few keywords. Then it will show you a list of possible words you're looking for. For example, let's say you forgot the word for "monkey bars" but you know that it's a bar kids climb in playground. So type something like "kids playground climb bar". Bingo!!! You'll see "Monkey Bars".

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Here is a list of Java games for mobile phones of multiscreen (128x128, 128x160, 176x208, 176x220, 240x320). They should be compatible with different brands such as Nokia, Sony Ericsson, etc. Enjoy!!!

Part 1 (1-J)
1942 Air Combat 240x320
1943 Sky War 128x128, 176x220, 176x208
3D Bomberman 176x208, 240x320
3D Ronnie OSullivans Snooker 2008 176x220
A Dog's Adventure 176x220, 240x320
Abracada Ball 128x128, 128x160, 176x208, 176x220, 240x320
Advanture Boy 176x208
AirBurster 3D
Ancient Towers Of Sarun 176x220
Aqua Jet 128x128, 130x130, 128x160, 132x176, 176x208, 176x220
Bejeweled 240x320
Big Race USA 240x320
Block Breaker Deluxe 2 128x128, 128x160, 176x208, 176x220, 208x208, 240x320
Burger Rush 176x208
Caf & Dominos 176x220, 240x320
Cafe Kakuro 240x320
Cafe Memory Match 128x128, 126x160, 176x220, 240x320
Cafe Spades 176x220
Cafe Sudoku 176x220, 240x320
Camera Cafe El Judge Movie 176x208
Castlevania: Order Of Shadows multiscreen
Comic Blast 176x208
Conflict Global Storm 176x220
Crash nitro kart 2 multiscreen
Cubis 2 128x128, 128x160, 176x208, 176x220, 240x320
DChoc Cafe Hangman 128x128, 128x160, 176x208, 176x220, 240x320
DChoc Cafe Hold'Em Poker 128x160, 176x220, 240x320
DChoc Cafe: Black Jack 128x160, 176x220, 240x320
DChoc Cafe: Mahjong 176x220, 240x320
Demon's Castle 128x128, 176x208
Diamond Islands 240x320
Discovering Angels and Demons 128x128, 128x160, 176x208, 176x220, 240x320
Disneys PK: Phantom Duck 176x208, 240x320
Dots&Boxes 240x320
Elite Systems Double Dragon 2 176x208, 240x320, 352x416
Favorite Chekers 132x176, 176x220, 240x320, 352x416
Ferrari World Championish 128x128, 128x160, 176x208, 208x208, 240x320, 352x416
FreeStyle Blocks 176x208, 240x320
Furby Island 176x208
Galactic Alien Force 240x320
Godzilla: Monster Mayhem 176x208, 240x320
Goozer's Fire Frenzy 240x320
Gravity 360° 240x320
Hugo Evil Mirror 3 - Viking Camp 128x160, 176x220, 240x320
Iron Man 176x220
James Bond Top Agent 176x208, 240x320
Jimmy White: Snooker Legend 176x208, 240x320
Johnny Rumble 176x208

Part 2 (L-X)
Landers 240x320
Lego Bionicle Defender 128x128, 128x160, 176x220, 240x320
Liftboy 128x160, 176x208, 240x320
Mad Rat 128x128, 128x160, 176x208, 176x200, 240x320
Magic Stones 240x320
Maya The Bee 128x160, 176x220, 240x320
Men In Black - Alien Assault 128x160, 176x208, 176x220, 240x320, 352x416
Mercenaries 2: World In Flames 240x320
Mighty Wizard 128x128, 128x160, 176x208, 176x220, 240x320
Mika Kallio GP 240x320
MobiChess 176x208, 240x320, 352x416
Mobile Orgasm 2
Mobile Rally 2
Monopoly: Here And Now 176x208, 240x320
Moorhuhn Jumpn Run multiscreen
My Pet Store 176x208/240x320
NCAA Football 2008 176x208
New York Nights 2: Friends for Life 176x208, 240x320, 352x416
Ping Pong Champion 176x208, 240x320
Platinum Mahjong 176x208, 240x320
Popeye Pinball 176x208
Racing Masters 2008 176x208, 240x320
Reggie Bush Pro Football 2007 128x160, 176x220, 240x320
Resident Evil: Genesis 176x208
Robocop 128x128, 128x160, 176x208, 176x220
Roland Garros Paris 2008 176x220
Runner 626 128x128, 128x160, 176x220, 240x320
SCX 240x320
Sexy Girls 2008 176x208
Siemens 3D Rally 240x320, 352x416
Speed Racer 240x320
Spellboys 176x208, 208x208, 176x220, 240x320
Street Fighter II Championship Edition 176x220, 240x320
Sudoku Monsters 176x208
Sushi Mania 176x208
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 176x220
Terrors Seed 128x128, 128x160, 176x208, 176x220, 240x320
The Village 176x208, 240x320
Twin Spin 176x220
UEFA Euro 2008 176x208
Underwater 3D multiscreen
Wheelette 176x208
Wimbledon 2008 128x128, 128x160, 176x208, 176x220, 208x208, 240x320
Worms 2008. A space oddity 128x128, 128x160, 176x208, 176x220, 240x320
Wulin Rumour 176x208
X-Mahjong: Kim 176x208

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Yesterday by a very massive luck, I found a very popular book (ရတနာသံုးပါးကို ယံုႀကည္ကိုးကြယ္ဆည္းကပ္လာသူတစ္ေယာက္အေႀကာင္း (ဆန္းလြင္) or About A Person Who Has Become A True Believer of Yadanar Thone Par)of U Sun Lwin (U San Lwin) on the net. I've been so keen to read it but I couldn't find it in any Myanmar ebook site. Just imagine how happy I was when I first saw it. Please visit here to read it online. You can download it as a PDF file if you want. It's about 76MB. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

U Sun Lwin - Yadanar Thone Par Ko Yone Kyi Koe Kwell Lar Thu

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I've listed some Australian sites that will help you persoanl finance with researching, comparing and choosing superannuation funds, savings, term deposits, loans, credit cards and property prices. Before you do anything with your finances, use relevant links to do some research and it will save you big bucks.

Choose Best Superannuation Funds

Super Ratings

Selecting Super

Invest Smart

Home Loans, Credit Cards, Saving & Transaction Accounts, Term Deposit Comparisons

Info Choice

Property (Houses and Apartments)

For Sale Listings

Real Estate


Residex FindMeAHome (shows all houses for sale in a suburb, with an estimated fair price)

Suburbview (searches the Suburbs you want from Australia’s Largest Real Estate sites)

Suburb Profiles (Suburb Research)

Domain Suburb Profile

RP Data Free Suburb Profile

Check Property Price Report by SMS (Home Price Guide)

InvestSmart (median price, rental yield and 12/24/36 month growth stats for any suburb)

SQM Research (Demographics and Vacancy Rates of suburbs)

Past Sold Property Prices


OldListings (tracks changes in advertised price of properties for sale)

RP Data Auction Results

Property Indices

Residex Indices (historical growth statistics for all capitals)

RP Data Indices (historical growth statistics for all capitals)

Other Property Research

Global Property Guide (for a worldwide perspective)

Herron Todd White ('Month in Review' report)

Westpac Property Outlook

ANZ Property Outlook

Commonwealth Bank Property Value Guide

National Mortgagee & Deceased Data

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I've listed a few good practices for computer users. Many of you might have already known and used them. It's not comprehensive, so depending on situations, some will need more security and configurations than the ones listed below. But I hope it's useful for you. I've divided them into security (things that may protect you from attacks, downtime) and convenience (things that will give you ease of use).

Please share your tips and tricks by adding in comments. Thanks and enjoy :-)


Creat Partitions

I have seen many people who couldn't be bothered with creating partitions. All they have is C:\ drive for the operating system and "My Documents" folder or Desktop to save all files!!! They do not seem to appreciate the benefits of creating partitions. Some of them are

  • Reduced risk of losing all their data should the C:\ drive need to be formatted because of a virus, etc.
  • Ease of backing up
  • More organized

I personally prefer to have at least 3 partitions: System (C:\), one for workspace (where I keep all files that I may need delete later once I'm done with them) and another for archive (for backups and the files I want to keep for a long time). If you're looking for a cool partition tool for free, why don't you try GParted? It's compatible with all versions of Vista too.

Create Image

Anyone who has tried formatting and reinstalling operating system because of viruses or system crashes knows how painful and tidious it is to bring the system back to the original state. I myself spent many hours and even days looking for drivers, downloading updates, tweaking configurations, etc. That's before I found Norton Ghost and Acronis True Image. I use the latter and I've never been happier. The latest version Acronis True Image Home 2009 is by far the best and is compatible with Vista and SATA disks.

Set up your computer the way you want. Install all programs that are ESSENTIAL to you. Then create an image of your system and save it in non-system drive (Eg. not in C:\). Restoring the image will take less than 10 min (which is nothing compared to reinstalling from scratch) and you'll surely have a high confidence because you can recover from viruses easily.

Install Antivirus and Get Auto Updates

I know it sounds so common sense, but how many people use their computers without any antivirus on them? I dare say it's a significant percentage. May be they don't consider themselves vulnerable. In fact, people should not take a chance when they are not sure what a virus can do to their systems and what is at stake. If you don't have any antivirus now and you don't want to pay a lot every year, you can try AVG Antivirus for free and get regular updates?

Activate/Install a Firewall

Even if you don't want to purchase a third party firewall such as Norton, you should still make a good use of Windows firewall by activating it. It may not be the best firewall but it's better than not having anything at all. Let me remind you that if you do internet banking and stuffs, then you need a firewall and an antivirus on your system. Otherwise, you're inviting thieves.

Have a Vista Bootloader Repair CD Ready

Although an image created with Acronis True Image or Norton Ghost is the best recovery method, it's a good idea to have a Vista Bootloader Repair CD just to fix Vista Boot menu. You can use either Windows Vista Installation DVD or Vista Bootloader Repair CD created by NeoSmart.


Copy i386 Folder to C:\

Although it's not critical to copy i386 folder from installation CD to C:\ drive, doing so will save you from looking for the installation CD again in the middle of some updates. I don't think you'll regret copying that.

Move My Documents Folder to Share Drive

By default, "My Documents" folder is the first location where many programs will look to save files or load files. Because it's in C:\ by default, you might end up keeping your files in system drive. Therefore, it's a great idea to move "My Documents" folder to another partition (eg. Workspace partition) so that it's easier to backup.

To change the default location of the My Documents folder, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, and then point to My Documents.
  2. Right-click My Documents, and then click Properties.
  3. Click the Target tab.
  4. Click Move, click the folder in which to store your documents, and then click OK twice. If you need to create a new folder, click Make New Folder. Type a name for the folder, and then click OK twice.
  5. In the Move Documents box, click Yes to move your documents to the new location, or click No to leave your documents in the original location.

Install a PDF Converter

Sometimes we want to keep some information (eg. transaction record) as a record but we don't necessarily need to print them or we don't have a printer right now. In situations like this, pdf coverting softwares such as CutePDF are very handy. You can convert or print anything (documents, webpages, pics) to pdf files to save or print it as hard copies later when you need them. Save our environment :-)

Install FireFox and Plugins

If you haven't been using Firefox, it's a great web browser to have. There are many add-ons available for free and some of my favourites are DownThemAll for faster downloading and DownloadHelper to download flash videos from YouTube, etc.

Note: Don't uninstall Internet Explorer. It might create problems in the future.

Install a Virtual CD Drive

Another great software to have is a virtual CD/DVD drive such as Daemon Tools. Thus, you can run CD/DVD image files on the virtual drive without the need to burn it on a CD/DVD. It saves you time, money and space.

Notify Me Before You Update

I understand that my OS needs to be up to date with the latest fixes and patches. But I still want to be in charge of it. I want to know what updates are available and decide what to download and install instead of Windows doing everything without my knowledge. Thus something goes wrong, I would know what changes I've made in the past few days.

You can set Windows to notify you of the latest updates before downloading. The procedure for pre-Vista OS is (it may be slightly different for Vista)
  1. Go to Control Panel
  2. Choose "Security Center"
  3. Click on "Automatic Updates" in "Manage Security Settings For" section
  4. Choose "Notify me but don't automatically download or install them"
  5. Click "Apply" and "Ok"

Now you're in charge of all the updates. If new ones are available, you check it by choosing "Custom" instead of "Express" and decide if you want to update or not.

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There are many hard disk partitioning softwares available for Windows XP, Windows 2000, etc - my favourite being Partition Magic. However some of them are not compatible with Vista and some of them do not support Vista 64-bit. Another reason may be software vendors don't want to bother selling it because Vista already has partitioning feature (shrink or expand) as part of disk management. It's quite a nice feature and it will create the partition without the need to reboot your pc.

Vista Disk Shrink

But as you can see in the above picture, the size of available shrink space is limited and you can't change it at all. Therefore, sometimes it may be 120 GB out of 500 GB hard disk!!! Then you can't touch the remaining 380 GB. That's simply not good enough for me.

Thanks to GNOME, there is a fantastic software to solve all these problems from free. It's called GParted. All you need to do is download the GParted Live bootable image file from here and burn it to a CD. After that boot your pc from the CD. Step by step procedure can be found here.

Once you have tried GParted, you won't go back to Vista's partitioning at all. That's for sure. Happy partitioning!!!

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Last week, I ran into trouble while trying to install Windows XP (as a dual boot) to my PC that already has Windows Vista. If you have never done it but are thinking of doing, then BE VERY CAREFUL!!! There are many things you need to be aware with dualbooting with Vista. After copying files from the CD during installation process, it restarted automatically to boot from XP. But it can't boot any more!!! Neither from Vista nor from XP. It says something like operating system is missing.

After googling for a while, I found out that Vista uses a totally different boot process from XP. Therefore, it must have been messed up by XP installation. I couldn't load boot menu to try safe mode or last known configuration either. Because it's OEM version, I didn't get any install DVD or recovery disc.

Finally I found and downloaded Windows Vista Recovery Disc thanks to NeoSmart. You can download the torrents from the following links. You need to have a torrent software to download them. You only need one depending on the version you have.

Windows Vista 32-Bit (x86) Recovery Disc Torrent

Windows Vista 64-Bit (x64) Recovery Disc Torrent.

After downloading the ISO file, you need to burn it to a CD and boot from the CD (press F12 during power up). I have taken some screenshots for step by step procedure. You can use Vista installation DVD too if you have one.

  1. Boot from the CD and after a few seconds later you will see the following screen to choose language and time format.
    Windows Vista Recovery 1

  2. Click Next and you will see the screen below. DO NOT click on "Install Now" button. Click on the "Repair You Computer" link.
    Windows Vista Recovery 2

  3. Then you'll see "System Recovery Options" box listing your Vista. Choose "Next".
    Windows Vista Recovery 3

  4. You'll be presented with a list of options you can choose to repair or restore. To repair bootloader, choose "Startup Repair". It will automatically repair the bootloader and at the end there will be a message box showing how many problems found and fixed.

Windows Vista Recovery 4

Now take the Recovery CD out of the drive and restart the pc. You should be able to boot from Vista this time.

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I recently found a small ebook called "As a man thinketh" by James Allen. It is such a great book and so short that it takes no time to finish it. But the contents are as precious as gold. I hope you enjoy the book.

As A Man Thinketh

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