Wednesday, 28 May 2014

09:33 – I just shipped the last biology kit we had in stock, but I have another 30 in progress. I should be able to finish those today or tomorrow, depending on what else comes up. We’re also down under two dozen chemistry kits in stock, so I need to get another batch of 60 of those started.

In 2013, my goal was to double 2012 revenue. We didn’t quite make that, finishing 2013 at about 185% of 2012 revenue. Starting 2014, my goal was to double 2013 revenue. Through today, we’re running about 170% of January through May 2013 revenue. Of course, it’s the quarter covering July through September that will determine our year’s results. Last year, our revenue for that three month period matched the other nine months combined. And we did about a quarter of the entire year’s revenues just in August. Which is why I’m working hard to get finished-goods inventory built up in time for the rush.


12:35 – Using stamps.com rather than USPS Click-N-Ship just saved me $3.04. The USPS web site doesn’t offer first-class parcel as an option, and the least expensive Priority Mail option is $5.05 for a small flat-rate box. So I used the stamps.com software running on the Dell Windows 8.1 laptop to print a first-class parcel label for $2.01 to ship a four ounce box.

Stamps.com supposedly supports Linux and Mac clients via a web-based app. I couldn’t get that to work with my main system when it was running Linux Mint, but since I’d upgraded it to Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, I decided to give it another shot. It worked fine, right up to the point where I tried to print the postage label. A box popped up telling me that I had to install a small app before I could print postage. That app is a Windows .exe file. So much for supporting Linux and Mac clients.

So I fired up the laptop and ran the stamps.com software. Everything proceeded smoothly until I tried to print the postage label. When I did that, a box popped up warning me that I was using the “hide postage” option. Apparently, the USPS is very sensitive about that. The box warned me that if the weight was incorrect or there was any other significant issue, USPS would probably revoke my hidden-postage privileges. Okay, so I clicked on the button to show postage. The app then popped up another box that asked if I was really sure I wanted to show the postage amount on the label because hiding postage improves deliverability. Eh? No matter which of their suggestions I accepted, I’d be violating the other. So I chose to hide postage, just to see what the label would look like. The package, hidden postage and all, is now sitting in the queue to be picked up. If the Postal Police come after me, they’ll never take me alive.

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19 Responses to Wednesday, 28 May 2014

  1. Alan says:

    Googling “homeschool lab” results in Bob’s corresponding kit showing as the #1, #3 and #1 result for chemistry, biology and forensics.

  2. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Must have been those SEO companies that I didn’t pay to improve my web results.

  3. Ray Thompson says:

    If the Postal Police come after me, they’ll never take me alive.

    It may take them until long after you are dead to deliver the notice of non-compliance. So what you say may be true.

  4. Alan says:

    I use PayPal to print first-class parcel postage labels – from what I recall it’s all web-based so I guess it should work on all platforms? (YMMV, I’m using Win 7)

  5. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Yep. I tried PayPal to print labels. They use Pitney-Bowes rather than Stamps.com, but they have the same problem: it just doesn’t work for Linux users. Like Stamps.com, PB is script-based, so you can’t generate a PDF copy of the label as you can on the USPS Click-N-Ship site.

  6. Chad says:

    Just do like my wife does and hand the box to your spouse and say, “Here, mail this today.”

  7. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Yeah, that’d work. Not that I’ve tried it, nor intend to. As Barbara sometimes points out, I have to sleep sometime.

  8. OFD says:

    Looks like the death-knell for the Warthogs hath been stayed a spell:

    http://www.dodbuzz.com/2014/05/23/senators-restore-funding-for-a-10s-growlers/

    And we really don’t need the new AF jets but I guess we’re gonna get ’em anyway, and right down the road here, about thirty miles. Bust up the AF among the other branches and be done with it. Keep the National Guard units in their home states, only going to others for necessary humanitarian or mil-spec aid. Cut the Navy down to Trident and Sea Wolf nuke-armed subs, and the Seals. Thin out the current faddish expansion of spec ops across the board. Cultivate the learning of 4th-Gen Warfare in the service academies and war colleges and the rising generations of officers and noncoms.

    And make me Military Governor of Novacadia (northern New England and the Maritimes).

  9. brad says:

    Have y’all seen the kerfluffle about truecrypt? For those who don’t know what it is, Truecrypt is very widely used, cross-platform disk encryption software. While it’s not quite open-source (apparently the license is weird), it is free, freely available, and other encryption solutions have implemented truecrypt compatibility.

    So, yesterday, Truecrypt announced that their software “is not secure”, that “The development of TrueCrypt was ended in 5/2014 after Microsoft terminated support of Windows XP” (which is bizarre, because Truecrypt has zilch to do with Windows, aside from having Windows users), and that people should migrate to Microsoft’s BitLocker.

    This is really bizarre. It seems likely that this is LavaBit all over again: They have an NSA letter demanding they build in a backdoor, and they’re ending the project instead.

  10. Dave B. says:

    I have a theory as to why the post office has such a problem getting enough money to cover their expenses. There is a lower postage rate for not for profit organizations. The bulk of the mail we get every day is for my late mother from not for profit organizations. One piece we got yesterday was metered, and it appears it was only 12.7 cents to send it. Every day, the overwhelming majority of the mail I carry in from the mailbox is for my mother from not for profit organizations. I’ll be glad when my mother’s estate is closed because then I can tell the postal service to stop sending me her mail. Not because dealing with the estate is a pain in the backside or because I’m the sole heir, but because I’m tired of dealing with her junk mail.

  11. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Yeah, the discount for non-profits should be eliminated. In fact, all breaks for non-profits should be eliminated.

    But commercial junk mail is a big money-maker for the USPS. People who’ve never dealt with junk mail on the sending end don’t realize just how little it costs the USPS to deliver junk mail. Imagine 100,000 letters being sent:

    In the case of first-class, the carrier has to pick up those letters, most of them individually or in small batches. The addressees are pretty much random, so when they arrive at the local PO they need to be sorted one-by-one and routed to the destination post office. When they arrive there, they need to be sorted individually again and assembled into carrier route groups.

    Junk mail has to be delivered by the sender to the origin post office already in trays, grouped by destination zipcode and sorted by carrier route and address. The trays are scanned and automatically routed to the destination post office. When they arrive at the destination post office, there’s no sorting required other than breaking them down by carrier route. In short, a junk mail letter requires a tiny fraction of 1% of the handling effort that an individual first-class letter does.

  12. OFD says:

    No one seems to have the straight bumf on the TrueScript mess yet; it is very strange. And for Windows 8 users, you have to buy the Pro Plus license to get BitLocker, even though it was available before in Windows 7 (well the two most expensive versions), and the 8.1 and subsequent upgrades don’t provide it, either.

  13. MrAtoz says:

    I’ve used TrueCrypt for years on PCs and Macs. Truly bizarre. I wonder if the NSA is also putting them out of biz. If I encrypt using a Mac, can I decrypt using a PC? I could do that with TrueCrypt. Especially handy since our biz is a mix of PC/Win and Mac.

  14. Miles_Teg says:

    “As Barbara sometimes points out, I have to sleep sometime.”

    But you’ve got Colin to look after you… 🙂

  15. Miles_Teg says:

    Why can’t the TrueCrypt people just tell the NSA to go jump?

  16. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Greg, you don’t seem to realize that when a US government agency orders anyone, any company, any government on the planet to do something, they’d better do as they’re told or they’ll regret it.

  17. OFD says:

    If you go to the TrueCrypt site they have a plethora of instructions on how to dump their app and move to BitLocker, depending on your machines.

  18. Lynn McGuire says:

    Yes, we have truly moved into the stage where the USA government is a big bully to its own people. The next stage will be “papers, please” followed quickly by the chip in the forearm phase.

  19. Ray Thompson says:

    followed quickly by the chip in the forearm phase.

    You mean you don’t have yours yet? You’d better get inline the next they offer it. I am not so sure that one was not implanted the last time I gave blood.

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