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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 27, 2009 / 10 Kislev 5770

USPS' Consumer Computer Problem

By Mark Kellner



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | One week ago, on Nov. 16, the United States Postal Service reported a $3.8 billion - with a "b" - dollar loss for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2009. The quasi-governmental corporation said in a news release it could lose as much as $7.8 billion during the current fiscal year.


There are many reasons why this proud, pre-1776 service, founded by Benjamin Franklin, is on the ropes. One small part might be the agency's cavalier attitude towards customers seeking to integrate today's computer technology with USPS services.


Since 1991, when the first computer-automated laserjet stamp-printing kiosks were tested at the Merrifield, Virginia, post office, I've followed many iterations of what could be called "digital postage," for want of a better term. Many of the private sector initiatives, such as Stamps.com, have done relatively well in meeting customer needs; bottom-line profits may have been more elusive.


To compete, the Postal Service has, among other items, a service called "Click-N-Ship" at its Internet Web site, www.usps.com. Sign up for a free account, have a credit (or debit) card handy, and you can print a Priority Mail or Express Mail label, complete with bar code and postage, speeding you through the mailing process. It could be a great boon for the millions.


The hassle came - at least for this reviewer - when trying to do all this with an Apple Macintosh computer and Mac OS X version 10.6. The USPS site says their Web service is geared towards computers running Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer, and does not support Apple's Safari Web browser. Fair enough. But the claim is also made that Mac users could employ Mozilla's Firefox browser. I tried. It didn't work, twice.


The flaw, it turns out, is in making sure that Adobe Corp.'s Acrobat Reader is specified as the "default" PDF file reader for such documents created with Click-N-Ship. This involves getting into the "guts" of the Firefox program, working with settings for applications and the like. It's not impossible, but it's not super-friendly to busy consumers. And, apparently, it's not something Windows users have to do.


At a time when the USPS is looking to grab every customer it can, and with the holidays at hand, it seems grating that Mac users - who comprise nearly 9 percent of the U.S. computer market in the third quarter of 2009, according to Gartner - are relegated to second-class citizens when it comes to Click-N-Ship.


What's more, Mac users could end up paying more: the online shipping discount for Click-N-Ship users isn't available, obviously, at postal counters. If a user can't figure out how to print a label on a Mac, they're stuck.


Apparently, Mary Beth Fluto of the USPS feels my pain. She's manager of online programs for the USPS, and said that an overall of www.usps.com, code-name "Project Phoenix" is in the works. Ms. Fluto said it should appear online in the "late spring [or] early summer" of 2010.


The Postal Service is redesigning the "most popular" elements of the Web site, Ms. Fluto said, and is re-engineering "the 'print shipping label' application," with a goal to "make it more Mac friendly." While Mac sales are growing, Ms. Fluto said Mac users account for only 5 percent of USPS Web customers.


A boon for stamp collectors is also in the works, Ms. Fluto said, with plans to revamp the "shop.usps.com" portion of the USPS Web site to provide "state of the art e-commerce" and "cater a little more to collectors." Though the ranks of American philatelists have probably dwindled from a one-time high of 20 million, stamp collecting remains a popular hobby.


I can only hope the USPS burns the midnight oil and summons the spirit of Herodotus, whose dictum about ancient Persia's couriers is paraphrased as "neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds," to complete the task early. Every online shopper - and shipper - deserves equal access at the Post Office.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.

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