Devious internet trolls – who needs ‘em?

I RECEIVED more phone calls in a 60-minute period yesterday than I have all week. Maybe all month.

Why? Because a devious internet hacker, who appears to have been logging in from Melbourne, managed to infiltrate my email account and send a dastardly virus to my entire email address book.

And he did it while I was still logged into my account. Sneaky buggar!

I received this very virus from a colleague last week, and it looked so darn legit I clicked on the link and stupidly entered my email address and password.

The message simply read:

Please review the file attached with this email using Google Drive.

Click here to just sign in with your email to view your Google document. Its essential you see the document.

Kind Regards…

As it so happens, I was expecting a document from this person – an important one, which she promised to send ASAP – so I clicked the link.

Entered my email address.

Entered my password.

Then got a dead link with an error message that said, “Please try again later”. So I did. Three times!

That very clever move on my part has now led to literally hundreds of people receiving same virus from me… Which has prompted dozens of them to contact me, via phone, email and text, asking to clarify exactly what “essential information” I was dying to share with them.

Friends, family members, former work colleagues and employers, charities I’ve donated to, a university course I once enquired about, a travel agent who never returned my call: they’ve all been in touch.

I quickly changed my password and the crisis appears to be over, but it was a frustrating and unproductive way to spend an afternoon. Not to mention the fact that I’ve now gifted this frustration on to friends and colleagues.

The whole experience has made me acutely aware of how vulnerable I am to sneaky cyber culprits. I thought I was tech-savvy and virus-aware – and far too smart to be hookwinked into sharing my personal details with a spammer. Apparently not.

Embarrassingly, I’ve realised this isn’t my first brush with cyber crime. Years ago, my eBay account was hacked by a joker from Germany, who quickly racked up $2,000 in sales of stolen TVs. Last year my Facebook page cloned, and fake me started asking all of my contacts for cash so we could invest together in an “unbelievable business opportunity”.

I can only imagine how the likes of Jennifer Lawrence and co feel after their privacy was invaded this week. I don’t even understand the cloud, let alone how it could be hacked, but I have peace of mind in the knowledge that there is not a single rudey-nudey picture of me in existence – so that is one embarrassment I shall never suffer through!

The Meddler

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Where are all of the Gold Coast jobs?

I HAVE lived in the Gold Coast area for more than two years now and I have seen the population steadily grow but I am wondering, where are the jobs on the Coast?

For the majority of people who live here, they commute to Brisbane for work. Yes, Brisbane has a much larger population and thanks to former Queensland Premier, Peter Beattie (who provided incentives for companies to relocate to Queensland) the population and number of jobs grew.

The population of the Gold Coast is approx 538,000 (according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2012). The population is there, but not the jobs.

Tourism plays a key part in the city’s growth and the Coast is primarily geared towards it but more people are moving here for work and the lifestyle.

The Coast is no longer just an area that people come to retire or have a holiday in but a place where people permanently relocate to enjoy the alternative lifestyle to the ‘hustle and bustle’ of a busy city.

The main employment options for the GC is mostly in hospitality, tourism, retail and construction but not everyone wants to work in these areas.

There are options of owning your own business which creates exciting prospects as well. The idea of working close to home is very appealing; reducing costs of travel and having more time to enjoy the local surroundings and activities.

It is difficult to do this, if you work in Brisbane and spend the majority the time commuting and working away from your idyllic location. Of course, you make the choice to do this but at what cost?

The GC is one of the fastest growing areas in Australia so I would expect there will be more incentives from government and a commitment from businesses to establish themselves here.

Whilst the Gold Coast is possibly thought of in terms of sun and surf, it also needs to show that it is a serious and professional place to conduct business.

According to the Gold Coast City Council, the 2018 Commonwealth Games is said to generate around 30,000 jobs and one of the Games legacy is to continue with future job creation.

Let’s hope this is the catalyst to ensure the Coast continues to be a growing, progressive and thriving city in the future and I will no longer wonder where the jobs are!

The Meddler

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Lowest petrol prices in a year

I USED to live in America. The price of petrol or ‘gas’ changed every other week and the difference in prices between ‘gas stations’ was minimal. It cost about $3.00 per gallon…that is a drool worthy 79 cents per litre, Gold Coasters.

In these parts, the price averages close to $1.50 but can change within hours at the one location and vary up to twenty cents between service stations. Getting a good price around here requires either a lot of homework or sheer luck.

Remember when Cheap Tuesday was the day to fill up? That ship has long since sailed and predicting the bottom of the fuel cycle has become a science and it is keeping us all on our toes.

On the weekend, I had to get petrol. It was a long weekend, of course, so my expectations were low and I wasn’t surprised when the price at our local service station was 152.9 cents per litre.

I even felt a bit chuffed because for once we remembered our four-cent discount coupon. I saved myself a whole $2.20 thank you very much.

The good feeling was short lived, however. An hour later I saw petrol advertised for 134.9. What the?

Swerving to do a double take, I nearly caused a car accident and just might have a case of whiplash. To say I felt ripped off is an understatement and it’s not like I could take our full tank back.

Nine Gold Coast News reported last night that the Gold Coast is currently experiencing the lowest petrol prices in over a year. The average price for petrol in 2013, according to the RACQ, was 147.9 cents per litre (ULP).

At the moment you can find it for 133.9.

Not that I’m complaining, but it is a bit confounding. Don’t world events and the exchange rate of the Aussie dollar usually affect the price of petrol in a major way?

And there is a lot going on. We have major strife in the Middle East, the fall out of the plane crash in Syria continues, our Aussie dollar has been stable for months, and we just had a public holiday.

It sounds like the perfect storm for expensive petrol and yet the price continues to fall. Anyone care to enlighten me?

If this hangs around, a good, old-fashioned road trip or ‘surfari’ might even be on the cards.

The Meddler

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The myth of the ‘Great Australian Dream’

GROW up, get a job, buy a home, start a family.

This was, traditionally, how life played out, although not always in that order.

These days, however, one of the crucial elements in the above-listed ‘Great Australian Dream’ is becoming unreachable for many, as it’s now harder than ever for Aussies to buy their own home.

Increasing house values, coupled with the axing of the First Homebuyers Grant and most lenders demanding a minimum 10% deposit, mean that many Australians are finding themselves unable buy a home.

In the last four years, figures from the Real Estate Institute of Australia show that the nation’s average median house price has increased, up from $518,600 in March 2010 to $605,500 in March 2014.

A 10% deposit on a $500,000 home is $50k – on $600,000, it’s $60k. Who has the funds to save up that much money, plus stamp duty, plus mortgage insurance and other buying costs?

Apparently, not too many of us.

Australia’s biggest mortgage broker, Australian Finance Group, says just 9.5% of the loans they processed in the month of August were for first homebuyers.

If fewer than one in 10 home shoppers right now are newbies, what’s a first homebuyer to do, then?

Well, I reckon there are two possible solutions. Neither suggestion is usually popular with the first homebuyer set, but they do work.

The first option is to lower your expectations. When I bought my first home 10 years ago, it was a pretty basic townhouse with besser brick walls, cheap carpet, two small bedrooms and a 30-year-old bathroom. It wasn’t my dream home by any stretch, but it was a great starter home and I have loads of great memories from that time.

My parents had the same situation a generation ago: their first home was a tiny two-bedroom cottage, into which they squeezed themselves, two toddlers and a cockerspaniel.

So that’s option one. Downgrade and get on with it.

The second option is to keep renting a lovely home, and then buy a cheaper investment property – it could even be an apartment or unit in a town or state outside of the Gold Coast, depending on your budget. That way you can live in the home you want in the area you like, but you still have your foot on the property ladder.

Two valid options, the way I see it. And it means the Great Australian Dream is still possible – it just may look a little different to what you expected.

The Meddler

Here’s your chance to get your opinion in front of a larger audience. And earn a dollar! Anything from the minutiae to the meaningful, the heartfelt to the humorous, if you’ve got an issue or a rant you think Gold Coasters need to read submit it to The Meddler. There’s $50 for each contribution published. Contributions should be under 400 words, please supply contact details including a phone number. The Meddler reserves the right to edit articles submitted. Please send to news@mygc.com.au

Gold Coast sport: How much more do we have to lose?

IS anyone else worried about professional sport on the Gold Coast?

I mean this is not a new issue and long time locals will probably take it in their stride but it sure is frustrating and the news of Luke Bailey has just brought it to a head yet again.

I’ve heard the talk and seen the stats; the Gold Coast is known as, ‘the town where professional sporting teams go to die’ after all.

The Titans just keep going from bad to worse, losing by 42 points on the weekend against the Warriors and failing to put any points on the board for the first time in team history. ‘The Bull’ is bailing and next season’s team is sure to have a very different look.

The Suns occasionally show promise, but are limping along with their season ending, 52-point loss to the West Coast Eagles on the weekend.  This isn’t helping excitement levels for their 2015 campaign.

Our most recent attempt at an NBL team, the Gold Coast Blaze, only lasted five years before going bankrupt.  Then there’s Clive Palmer’s failed effort at an A-League soccer team on the Gold Coast. Despite the money thrown at them, the Gold Coast United never really stood a chance.

Oh, did you hear, the Council and Football Gold Coast is planning to get a new A-League team on the Coast before the Commonwealth Games begin…Yeah, I won’t be holding my breath.

In fact, it is hard to keep count of the number of professional sporting teams that have tried their luck on the Gold Coast. There is no denying the passion of people like Michael Searle, Dave Claxton and Clive Palmer to get their code a start on the Coast, but starting isn’t our problem, staying is.

So what is it dooming our Gold Coast’s sporting teams?

• Dismal team management?
• Deprived of professional standard facilities?
• Our inability to attract or hold serious talent to give us a fighting chance?
• Spreading ourselves too thin with too many sports on the table?
• Our city full of transients and transplants who don’t have any allegiance to the ever changing face of our sporting teams?
• Or maybe it’s our faithless selves who are losing steam and haven’t shown our support with bums on seats?

It is an interesting discussion for the next barbeque anyway.

The Meddler

Here’s your chance to get your opinion in front of a larger audience. And earn a dollar! Anything from the minutiae to the meaningful, the heartfelt to the humorous, if you’ve got an issue or a rant you think Gold Coasters need to read submit it to The Meddler. There’s $50 for each contribution published. Contributions should be under 400 words, please supply contact details including a phone number. The Meddler reserves the right to edit articles submitted. Please send to news@mygc.com.au