Web app idea: Stamp mix calculator

2013-01-03 11.05.45

I’ve resolved to send more paper letters. I also have an odd mix of stamps that I want to use up: some with Canada Post’s permanent postage, and various denominations throughout the years. There are different rates for domestic, US, and international letter mail. Naturally, I want to optimize my stamp use so that I use the minimum number of stamps and avoid exceeding the required stamp rate.

Some examples for the $1.80 international rate:

  • 2 x $0.89 + 1 x $0.02
  • 2 x permanent postage (currently valued at $0.61 each) + 3 x $0.02 + 1 x $0.52

And lo, someone has actually built a stamp optimizer. Also, only one in Google Search? What do people call these things?

Next question: Has someone built a stamp optimizer that lets you keep track of your stamp inventory, maybe through bookmarkable parameters? It would be neat to be able to not have to enter in your particular mix of stamps each time. That might be overengineering this, though.

Who knows, I may sit down one day and code this just for fun. It totally fits the profile of the programming competitions we used to do in high school and university.

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  • Nice! As someone that sends 200-300 pieces of mail a year, a stamp inventory tool would be great!

    • You send that much mail? Neato! What do you write about? I’m curious about the modern epistolary habit.

      There’s a whole combination of things I’m curious about building better support for. Something that filters Google Contacts to show me only people with postal addresses, and the last time I marked those addresses as current. Something to keep track of the last time I wrote someone. Something to visualize the frequency of correspondence. Evernote integration for notebooks, scanned letters, and tags, or some other way to share scanned letters with addressees so that we both have a copy of the correspondence. And then there’s that little stamp optimizer thing, so that old stamps don’t go to waste and so that I don’t have to always trudge to the post office (through the snow! uphill! both ways!)…

  • I write about all sorts of things! Pretty much anything that I fancy — anything most people send in social emails, I send by post. :)

    For now, I’ve just been tracking my correspondence by hand in a little journal. I have no programmatic or efficient way to track what addresses I have, whom I’ve written to at what frequency, or who I receive responses from. That leads to a lot of missed opportunities for correspondence!

    There must be some kind of system that let’s you track all of that, but I haven’t found one yet. Evernote still doesn’t feel right in my workflow (for anything, really) so I haven’t tried that, but I’m sure someone must be working on an app that can manage all of this.

  • Hah, that must be it – I don’t have a habit of writing social e-mails yet, either, although I should because I want to find out about what’s going on in people’s lives and they don’t update nearly as often as I do. ;)

    Have you considered copying your journal records into a spreadsheet? That might be a good combination of having the paper journal’s tactile and ready-to-go experience plus the ability to sort and figure out how long it’s been since you’ve last contacted someone…

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  • Brandon Jewett-Hall

    Another stamp calculator (US-based, but should work for any currency): http://brandon.multics.org/old-stamps.xhtml.