Aug 29, 2012

Costco is going to invade cut-price petrol market

US RETAILER Costco is seeking to break into Australia's $15 billion-plus discount petrol business, currently dominated by Woolworths and Coles, by selling its own heavily reduced fuel at prices below those offered via popular supermarket shopper-docket schemes.
Costco, which operates a warehouse store in each of Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra, has requested room to build petrol stations at a second store slated for Sydney and for its first in Brisbane, and is awaiting council approval on both.
If the petrol outlets are approved, it will be the first time Costco can offer petrol to its local members along with its range of drastically discounted food, liquor, clothing and electrical products that has made its warehouse-style outlets so popular since they arrived in Australia three years ago.
''If you can sell vegemite at a cheaper price on a full pallet, or a kilo tub, why can't we sell gasoline?'' Costco's Australian managing director, Patrick Noone, said.
However, Melbourne motorists may have to wait a while for their own cheap fuel. Costco's maiden store in Docklands doesn't have room for petrol pumps, nor does the new store being built in Ringwood.
But Mr Noone said that as the discount supermarket sought new sites for warehouse stores it would favour properties and zoning laws that would allow as many as six petrol pumps for members.
Costco plans eventually to open as many as 20 outlets in Australia.
Mr Noone believes the retailer will be able to sell petrol at prices below those available through the shopper-docket schemes operated by the nation's biggest supermarkets, which typically reward customers with discounts of 4¢ a litre.
Cheap petrol is huge business for Costco in the US, where discounted fuel pulls in drivers and generates about $US7 billion ($A6.7 billion) in annual sales. In 2010, Costco, the world's eighth-largest retailer with more than 500 stores in the US, Canada, Mexico, Britain, South Korea and Japan, sold 8.7 billion litres of petrol at its 343 petrol stations in the US.
''The petrol stations [in the US] are busy all the time,'' Mr Noone told BusinessDay, ''the [petrol] is usually a few pennies per litre better off and it attracts members, for sure.''
Costco shoppers pay an annual membership fee of up to $60 to shop at the warehouse outlets, which specialise in household goods and food in bulk, and even luxury items such as diamonds.
A move into petrol would be a direct pricing challenge to Woolworths and Coles. Although Costco still has a tiny store footprint in Australia compared with the major supermarkets' 1200 combined co-branded petrol stations, it would win bragging rights for the cheapest fuel in the country. This could peel customers away from the supermarket majors.
Both Woolworths and Coles have pulled in billions of dollars in annual sales through their petrol offer, with the supermarket groups operating about 600 branded petrol stations each. Usually customers receive the 4¢ discount if they spend more than $30 at the supermarket, but the discount can hit as high as 40¢ a litre during promotions.
In July, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said it would scrutinise shopper-docket schemes to see if competition was being undermined. But an earlier investigation found no proof of anti-competitive behaviour.
Latest financial figures show Woolworths, with its joint venture with Caltex, had total petrol sales of $6.7 billion in 2011-12, up 11.4 per cent. This generated pre-tax earnings of $127.1 million for Woolies.
Coles Express, which includes petrol through Shell, had sales of $7.5 billion last financial year, up 11.5 per cent, while pre-tax earnings were roughly $124 million.

Aug 27, 2012

Australian Census Data for 2011 was released!

For Greater Melbourne:

For Greater Melbourne
People 3,999,982
Male 1,966,503
Female 2,033,479
Median age 36

Families                  1,055,604
Average children per family                  1.8

All private dwellings 1,636,167
Average people per household 2.6
Median weekly household income $1,333
Median monthly mortgage repayments $1,810
Median weekly rent $300
Average motor vehicles per dwelling 1.7

For other information, see Quick Stats Data 

Optimize Your Wi-Fi Network with Mac’s Hidden Diagnostic Tool

lifehacker has an article showing us a Mac hidden tool that can show the wireless networks around you.  The tool is called: Wi-Fi Diagnostics tool.

First, you can either go to the folder /System/Library/CoreServices—or hold down the option key while clicking on the Wi-Fi icon in your menu bar and select "Open Wi-Fi Diagnostics..."
Open the tool (if you browsed for it by folder, you can copy the app to your Utilities folder or Dock first).

For Mountain Lion users only: Ignore the first screen and hit Command+N to open the "Network Utilities" window. Then Hit "Wi-Fi Scan" and you'll be presented with a list of all the networks near you—even ones that are hidden, as well as their channel, security, and signal and noise levels.

Technorati has an article on how to use this tool as well.

The "Signal" number specifies the signal strength between your Mac and the Wi-Fi access point or router. The higher this number is, the better. But note that these are negative numbers so a Signal of -60 is higher (and stronger) compared to a Signal of -80. The Noise number represents the amount of wireless noise that can interfere with the Signal. In this situation, we want lower numbers. So again, because we have negative Noise numbers, a Noise level of -94 is better than one of -90.
Finally, we can take the Signal and Noise numbers to come up with a Signal-to-Noise ratio (SNR) for our wireless connection. So for example, If I have a Signal level of -60 and a Noise level of -91, the difference between these two numbers is 31. The higher the SNR is, the better the Wi-Fi performance will be. Typically a SNR of 25 or higher will give you great Wi-Fi performance.

If you have competing networks on the same channel, you could possibly improve your reception by changing your channel on your router to one that's not used.

Click on the Performance tab if you're using Mountain Lion to see a chart of your live signal strength and noise meter (as well as network traffic). Basically, the wider the gap between the yellow and green lines, the better.

* Another article about this tool on OS X Daily.

Activities for Kids

Looking for activities for kids under two in Melbourne.

The Melbourne for Kids has a intensive list to help parents looking to spend some quality time with kids.

Melbourne for Kids was founded in 2009. It is a creation of Renata Fortes. Renata is a creative person who has worked in the online marketing and advertising world since 1998. She decided to develop this website because she found that Mums and Dads needed some help to find things to do to entertain their kids. As well as this, it would help all young parents to be inspired in finding things to do with their family

With extensive internet experience Renata developed a competitor analysis for this project and she found that there was no user-friendly websites that displayed kids activities in Melbourne. So for this narrow niche she developed a concept where with only three clicks visitors can find many child friendly activities. This concept makes the Melbourne for Kids website a quick and easy tool to use.

Kidspot also has tons of activities listed to hep busy parents to plan for weekend.

We-Love-Melbourne has many suggestions on outdoor activities for kids during weekend.

Another two cultural experiences that kids would love:

Art Centre Melbourne

NGV - Kids Club

Let me know what's your favorite.

Aug 8, 2012

Primary Schools Around Box Hill


Barloa Road
Mont Albert VIC 3127
(03) 9890 1331

Middleborough Road
Blackburn VIC 3130
(03) 9898 5811

Box Hill North Primary School‎
Elizabeth Street
Box Hill North VIC 3129
(03)9890 5023

Kerrimuir Primary‎
Molbray Street
Box Hill North VIC 3129
(03) 9898 1494

St Francis Xavier's Primary School‎
1087 Whitehorse Road
Box Hill VIC 3128
(03)9890 1108

Roberts McCubbin Primary School‎
57 Birdwood Street
Box Hill South VIC 3128
(03) 9890 2372

Surrey Hills Primary‎
Beatrice Avenue
Surrey Hills VIC 3127
(03) 9890 1560