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249 comments

Nice to get this from slashdot (2)

emj (15659) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440190)

Kinda makes me wonder if I should read more newspapers here in Sweden.

Re:Nice to get this from slashdot (1)

qmaqdk (522323) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440322)

I'm wondering the same thing here in Denmark.

Re:Nice to get this from slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35440748)

Who sends actual letters ;-)

Re:Nice to get this from slashdot (2)

Ahhrg (1451457) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440426)

Why not start with some of the most well known ones? All published a couple of days before ./ Not sure about the printed versions, but DN definitely had the it. DN [www.dn.se] , Aftonbladet [aftonbladet.se] , SvD [www.svd.se] , Expressen [expressen.se] .

Re:Nice to get this from slashdot (1)

emj (15659) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440654)

Your links makes me sad they are just short telegram notices, so I guess I shouldn't feel that bad for missing it even though I get the paper every morning. :-/ Paying so much just to beable to discuss and keep current while getting so little content feels bad, maybe I should spend that money on flattr.com [flattr.com] instead.

Got it from american late-night television. (1)

eddy (18759) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440744)

I think I can one-up you in that department. I got it from a Craig Ferguson monologue a couple of days ago. "Wait, we're doing what?"

Written? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35440210)

So these written codes...they will be verified automatically?

Thinking of the varying penmanships of the world, the swedes must be outpacing captcha makers by leaps and bounds.

Re:Written? (1)

emj (15659) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440234)

All mail is already sorted automatically in Sweden, every postofficer gets a bundle with the mail he is to deliver that day. Sure there are lots of mail that can't be sorted automatically, but not really that much of an issue.

Re:Written? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35440392)

what i mean is a stamp is easy to verify by scanning, a written code is much more difficult unless done by a human

Re:Written? (1)

dingen (958134) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440472)

Addresses are written as well and they're also scanned by machines. Why would these codes be more difficult?

Re:Written? (1)

hnangelo (1098127) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440556)

No they are not. They are sorted by humans. I know people that do that kind of work in Sweden.

Re:Written? (2)

Eudial (590661) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440614)

Those are the letters that the machine scanning fails to process.

Re:Written? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35440644)

penis.

Re:Written? (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440956)

It's still a non-trivial task that they're now considering doubling. And for what purpose? They'd need the (expensive if it's a government service) IT infrastructure to support this, they'd prevent people without mobiles from sending letters (unless they keep both methods, in which case it's even more insane), I'm not seeing the upside. Well, I guess it would pretty much end anonymous mail, which conspiracy theorists might think is the reason, but I'm failing to see a sane reason.

Good luck with that (5, Insightful)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440218)

The code has to be a certain length in order to be unique, it has to be complex enough to take a while to crack, but write down one digit wrong (or slighly unreadable) and the code is invalid.

Re:Good luck with that (0)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440248)

Also, who sends letters? I communicate with colleagues, friends, and family by phone, IM, email, and video phone. I send and receive packages via UPS and FEDEX. I pay bills via my bank's bill pay. I write checks via my bank's automatic check writing/sending service. The only thing I get in the mail are tax documents and junk mail.

Re:Good luck with that (1)

i-linux123 (2003962) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440340)

Also, who sends letters?

People that can't affort sending signed documents with UPS each time. You also send other things through the post office, such as Internet purchases etc. so they're already doing delivery of items, it's just of varying sizes from mail to packages.
So I don't see the post office going away anytime soon.

Re:Good luck with that (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440920)

I have no faith in the USPS and would never use them to send an important document. Especially one that I needed signed, guaranteed to be delivered by a certain date, or even proven that it was delivered. I know that USPS does offer some or all of these services (for a price), but I simply don't find them reliable enough. With UPS or FEDEX, I never have any concern about whether my delivery will be made when I want it and with a signature. Also, it's not all that expensive (unless you're sending it over night). It's maybe 20% more to ship by UPS than USPS, but in my experience, it's definitely worth it.

The USPS is still an incredible deal if you are sending a letter, for certain. You can't really beat 40 or 50 cents to get a letter across the entire country within only a few days. On the other hand, you can't beat email, so that's becoming an outdated service. Even at 50 cents. I'm not in Sweden, so I can only speak for this from the perspective of the USPS and it may be an entirely different situation over there (though, apparently, a more advanced one, if only a bit).

By the way, the best way to make sure I won't buy an item from your store or your auction? Tell me I can only get it by USPS. One of the most aggravating things is when I buy something, say, from Amazon. Only to find that the item was actually fulfilled from an Amazon *partner*... and that they sent it by USPS, instead of a courier service. Seriously pisses me off.

Re:Good luck with that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35440350)

You think you can troll good with a keyboard? Try pen and paper, man. Shit gets real.

But I'd agree when generally keeping in touch.

Re:Good luck with that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35440522)

How would you send 20 blueprints without a phone or camera?

Re:Good luck with that (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440984)

In town? A messenger service (taxi companies also provide this, too). To another city, state, or country? UPS/FedEx. If I had twenty blueprints to send somewhere, I'd say it's safe to assume I'm doing it for some form of business and that it was needed in a timely fashion and with both guaranteed delivery and confirmed delivery. It wouldn't even be a question, for me, as a business organization.

It seems that the USPS is having a real hard time finding special niches where it can still fit in and provide a service that isn't already provided by private industry without government subsidies or oversight.

By the way, why don't I find the USPS reliable? Well, they use a measuring system for reliability that scores them at 90%, but they won't actually publically release any information on what is delivered, lost, or stolen. I do recall some watchdog (CATO, maybe?) accused them of losing over a billion items per year. I've also never heard of stories about UPS or FedEx as I have the USPS. You know, stealing Netflix CDs. Finding tens of thousands of letters and packages in a postal carrier's home. Finding mail thrown away rather than delivered, etc.

Re:Good luck with that (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440584)

Also, who sends letters?

The government.

Re:Good luck with that (2)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440776)

Certified Mail is highly useful for legal matters.

My parent's ebay business is only viable because of USPS.

Re:Good luck with that (1)

rastilin (752802) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440258)

Yeah, there are a few downsides. On the other hand it's more efficient than possibly losing stamps or not being able to send a letter in time because you have to detour to get more stamps. Personally my biggest problem is that it requires yet another centralized server and the phone system. When we lose power; the local stores can still accept cash, unless they keep printing stamps, there won't be a fallback like that here.

Re:Good luck with that (2)

seifried (12921) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440466)

Uhmm. Unless the power/phones are out for over a day the inherent delays in sending physical mail will vastly outweigh the time you spend waiting to get a "stamp". Personally I like what we have in Canada, "permanent" stamps, they're good forever. http://www.canadapost.ca/cpo/mc/personal/productsservices/atoz/permanentstamp.jsf [canadapost.ca] . So no worry about needing to buy those one penny or whatever stamps the next time rates go up.

Re:Good luck with that (1)

_Stryker (15742) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440998)

And in the US we have the Forever Stamp. [usps.com]

Re:Good luck with that (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35440314)

It's already proven technology here. The facts speak for themselves. You can buy subway, train, and bus tickets via SMS here, and it works pretty well. I don't see how applying the same concept to mail could go wrong. No one is going to be writing the numbers down, instead people will just show their cell phone screen to the post office agent, who will then type in the code in their system and validate it. Think of it as a unique barcode, like the ones you get on e-tickets when you fly, or when you buy tickets for a concert.

It has to be complex enough to crack? I'm not following you on this, though. The only possible thing that migh thappen is having someone looking at your cell phone screen and using your code, but I suppose that's unlikely.

I welcome this change. It's going to make things much more practical.

Re:Good luck with that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35440360)

> You can buy subway, train, and bus tickets via SMS here

Assuming you don't have a data-only SIM in your phone. Like I do. And many other people.

SMS is 1990s technology which is being left behind

Re:Good luck with that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35440592)

Even Gmail can SMS for free. Google Voice. Probably dozens of alternatives.

that said no new technology should be based around SMS.

Re:Good luck with that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35440798)

that said no new technology should be based around SMS.

Exactly correct. Communication via SMS is an accident of marketeers realizing they could make revenue out of an existing critical infrastructure control channel.

Fuck the network warping bastards

Re:Good luck with that (2)

aliquis (678370) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440512)

Except you used to leave letters in a box, not at a post office.

Not that I see much purpose for sending letters at all nowadays. Regardless we kinda don't have any post offices longer either, just "service offices" at random stores and what not but I guess you could leave the letters there.

But if you have to go there with the letter and show the SMS it's not that much different from buying a stamp. Somewhat more convenient but not as convenient as dropping in the box I guess.

Re:Good luck with that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35441002)

"It has to be complex enough to crack? I'm not following you on this, though. The only possible thing that migh thappen is having someone looking at your cell phone screen and using your code, but I suppose that's unlikely."
Wow, you think like a PHB.

The way you would crack something like this is determining what numbers it will accept by observing patterns in the codes it generates.

There's two ways to implement this. First, you can issue "random" numbers, store them in a database, and verify them by looking them up in the database. Truly random numbers will cause collisions once in a great while, and true randomness is (relatively) expensive anyway, so there's a chance the implementation will pick a "random" number by a deterministic algorithm. Enough datapoints to determine the PRNG state, and you can predict the next ten codes that will be issued, sprint to the post office, and mail 10 letters. When the people who receive those codes from the computer get to the post office, they're denied service because "that code has already been used".

The easier implementation choice is to say "screw the database, let's make it so a local machine can verify codes" -- this can be as simple as a fixed checksum, or as complex as signing the current unix time with a private key. The point is, making a valid token self-authenticating is very attractive because of the infrastructure savings. However, it suffers because reusing the same code at different post offices can't be blocked, and because it can be cracked more easily (you don't need to know "the next 10" numbers to ensure they're in the db; any key that passes the validation is good to use.

Re:Good luck with that (1)

physicsphairy (720718) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440430)

Write down one number of the address wrong and your letter is also "invalid" in the sense of going to someone else. If anything I would imagine less error for copying down numbers (which you will presumably double-check) rather than sloppily dumping something out of your personal memory. The code doesn't need to be any more "complex" than a credit card number, which is basically the function it's serving (except more secure since it is one-time use). I am not sure how much effort the criminal industry is going to expend in sniffing out postal codes at $0.50 value... they might be better off jumping kids' for their lunch money.

Re:Good luck with that (1)

the_olo (160789) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440494)

"take a while to crack"? How do you exactly imagine performing cracking in this context? Cracking a code in the way you imply (brute force?) involves lots of attempts.

When faced with interactive network login, this is feasible - the attempts are cheap, you can automatically perform millions of login attempts at practically no cost.

In this context, you'd have to send millions of identical physical letters until one gets through. How do you imagine going that? Getting a truck of blank letters, using an army of printers and robots to fill them in and pack and throw into mail boxes? You'd have to distribute your attack among thousands of geographically distributed post offices, otherwise you'd overwhelm the one, the mailbox would immediately overflow.

We're talking of physical reality. Brute force cracking attacks are mostly tied to the domain of virtual stuff unless you're talking about really short codes (like 2 digit code, or, in the case of e.g. suitcase locks, 3/4 digits). I doubt they make the codes so short here.

About getting one digit wrong - you can always make the code somewhat redundant, making use of error correction codes.

Re:Good luck with that (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35440506)

Pre-printing envelopes with individual QR codes that you scan with your phone and then send to the central server to activate that QR code as postage would seem to be an easier solution for the consumer.

Re:Good luck with that (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440746)

But then you have to stock different sizes of envelope. How about pre-printing a small sticky label representing the amount paid which you attach to the envelope of your choice? Can I patent that idea?

Re:Good luck with that (5, Insightful)

narcc (412956) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440878)

Pre-printing envelopes with individual QR codes that you scan with your phone and then send to the central server to activate that QR code as postage would seem to be an easier solution for the consumer.

How is that an easier solution for the consumer? Rather than needing a common dumb-phone, the user would need a smartphone with a camera, QR code software, and the knowledge to put it all together.

It seems like your pre-printed QR code system would only benefit the automated machinery at the post-office.

Besides, if you were planning to go through all the trouble to pre-print codes on the envelopes, why not just add the cost of postage to the cost of the envelopes and skip the whole 'activation' bit?

Better yet, since we're printing things, why not print a whole bunch of codes on a large sheet instead of on individual envelopes? Just Image: If you perforate the sheet and add an adhesive backing, the customer need only tear off one of the "tokens" and stamp it to an inexpensive envelope.

To save some extra cash, instead of unique codes (and a monstrous computer system to keep track of them all), we could make all the "tokens" uniform. Like a picture -- We could even have more than one. For security, we could add some luminescent ink or micro-printing.

If your token pictures are interesting enough, I'll bet you'll have people buying whole sheets every time you issue a new image just to collect them. That's basically free money.

Yes, I think that's a much better idea.

Denmark too (1)

spectrokid (660550) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440634)

Danish post will start the same concept. The codes will be read by handwriting-capable OCR and will only be valid 8 days.
Interesting experiment...

Re:Good luck with that (2)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440816)

They could use a subset of the alphabet containing characters that are hard to confuse with each other, e.g. if they use C then they should not use G, same for B and D, O and Q. So even if you only have, say, a 16 letter alphabet, a 5 character code has a million possibilities. Make it a 10 character code and you could even include redundancy to cope with a single character being illegible.

Re:Good luck with that (1)

AC-x (735297) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440894)

The code has to be a certain length in order to be unique, it has to be complex enough to take a while to crack, but write down one digit wrong (or slighly unreadable) and the code is invalid.

Do you actually have a source for any of that?

Code length - it doesn't have to be a GUID, they could easily recycle codes after a year or so once used. The public cycle hire here in London makes do with daily 5 digit codes made up of just 1, 2 or 3.

Complexity - has to take a while to crack? What's to crack, some super secret code?? You may as well just create a random text string and store that in a database along with the payment information.

Invalid codes - or maybe they could just come up with a fault tolerant code.

All in all I think this is a great idea and I hope they introduce it to England some time (you can already buy postage online but you've got to print out a barcode to tape to your package)

Re:Good luck with that (1)

indeterminator (1829904) | more than 3 years ago | (#35441024)

The code can be just a totally random shared secret (the server generates it and remembers it until it's been used). You would need to send a letter for each cracking attempt, but not get any closer to crack it. You would just have some probabilistic chance to get your letter delivered free. The code just needs to be a long enough number, so that guessers have low enough chance of success not to ruin the mail services's finances. My guess is, anything under 1/100 would be tolerable.

Code errors can be helped to some extent by use of error-correcting code [wikipedia.org] . Or if the codes are just random, accept it if someone gets close enough.

The end of anonymous snail mail (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35440238)

is what it is. There are a few US organizations that are doing good work for the country but that I'd rather not be entangled with in terms of tracking databases (I'm not particularly thinking of wikileaks, but that general idea). So I'm not going to respond to their requests to donate to them by paypal or send them a check. Instead I occasionally put a carefully wrapped ten dollar bill in an envelope, stick on a postage stamp, and send it to them with no return address. That's what Sweden (which is still trying to extradite Assange on very dubious charges) is trying to eliminate. It creeps me out.

Re:The end of anonymous snail mail (0)

i-linux123 (2003962) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440428)

I see this as the benefit of the system. People that send illegal things through the post office will be tracked down more easily. Stolen things that are sold on the Internet (What do you think happens to all the stolen credit cards), money that is sent illegally out to other countries (I'm thinking specifically of an incident where a shady exchange office refused to give me a receit), and such things happen on a large scale. Submissions such as that to wikileaks are an exception that don't can't even be seen on the larger scale of things.

Fraud (3, Interesting)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440252)

Just wait until a postman copies the code to a package of his own, and just destroys the original package.

Re:Fraud (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440278)

If Kevin Costner has taught us anything, it's that postmen are weasely bastards who cannot be trusted.

Re:Fraud (3, Interesting)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440304)

That's quite a high risk for few krona worth of postage.

Re:Fraud (1)

seifried (12921) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440478)

or he just cuts the stamps off and glues them to his package. Exact same problem we have now potentially. I can't imagine it's a real issue (postmen thieving stamps off of packages and then destroying them to send their own packages for free.... uh yah).

Re:Fraud (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35440582)

A postman can simply drop a letter into the mail system with a postage paid stamp. They don't need to use stamps or franking codes.

Re:Fraud (2)

robinvanleeuwen (1009809) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440594)

Just wait until the postman strips the stamps of your mail and glues them on his own package and destroys yours!!!

Re:Fraud (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35440696)

i think its not so ....

Re:Fraud (1)

nickruiz (1185947) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440910)

Just wait until a postman copies the code to a package of his own, and just destroys the original package.

If I were designing such as system, I would encode the string with information about the end address, the timestamp of the text message, the identity of the sender (based on text messaging registration and phone number), and the ID of the transaction. If the "stamp" is unique to the transaction and sender/recipient, then I think that it would be fairly difficult to spoof (unless you had the person's SIM card).

Overall, I think it's an interesting alternative to stamps.

Re:Fraud (1)

Per Wigren (5315) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440986)

Just wait until a postman steal your stamps and kill your children! We must stop using stamps, think of the children!!!

Privacy (2)

zokahn (743065) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440260)

Poststamps are anonymous, sms certainly is not. I believe that, doing it like this is expensive and traceble. Then again i have not send any snailmail in a long, long time. So i should not be the one to cry about it. Zokahn

Re:Privacy (1)

zill (1690130) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440292)

Poststamps are anonymous, sms certainly is not.

Most telecomms have a web interface [wikipedia.org] for sending sms to their customers. Using that interface through a dozen proxies is probably as anonymous as it gets.

Stamps, on the other hand, will always leave a money trail if you buy them.

Re:Privacy (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440394)

You can buy stamps with cash. It's not like they'll run a background check or enter you into a Stamp Owner Registry. :)

Re:Privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35440446)

Money trails are meaningless unless you can backtrack the purchase to that transaction and the money back from it (e.g. checks, credit/debit cards, or marked bills). AFAIK stamps have no serial numbers or other identifying features to track the stamp to the purchase, and using change (no serial numbers) or small bills (serialized, but nobody's recording them) in a vending machine to purchase stamps leaves no way to trace the money.

Re:Privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35440526)

Stamps do not have a unique number that can be traced back to the person who buys them, even if he payed using a debit/credit card.

Re:Privacy (1)

badran (973386) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440538)

You can by a stamp with Cash.

The SMS will be tied to your phone number of CC.

Re:Privacy (1)

robinvanleeuwen (1009809) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440630)

The letters you send can be tied to the to: and from: address you put on them...

Re:Privacy (1)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440996)

Most telecomms have a web interface [wikipedia.org] for sending sms to their customers. Using that interface through a dozen proxies is probably as anonymous as it gets.

Stamps, on the other hand, will always leave a money trail if you buy them.

And how, exactly, are you going to get the generated code to write on your letter if you send the SMS through an anonymous service? And I don't think it's practical to track a stamp back to the supermarket that I bought some stamps at.

Re:Privacy (1)

robinvanleeuwen (1009809) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440622)

Yes, offcourse stamps are anonymous... the letter with an to: and a from: address are not. Even those anonymous stamps are bought, payed with plastic? traceable...

And just because snailmail is becoming more rare, sms-stamps are a good thing. When people sent snailmail more regulary they always had a supply of stamps in their home within reach. Now with the one or two snailmails you send per year you first have to either buy stamps because the old ones got misplaced over the course of a year, or spend time searching for them because you don't use them that much anymore.... happend to me with the two letters i sent last year ;-)

I've always said it (4, Funny)

DrXym (126579) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440262)

Philately will get you nowhere.

Philately (3, Funny)

vagabond_gr (762469) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440272)

Could this be the end of stamp collections and philately?

Not really.

Btw I'm selling the following RARE swedish stamp:
67XX5768XX34XX4233 (digits hidden for security reasons).
Anyone interested?

House much is a full house worth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35440300)

Anybody else play poker with dollar bill serial numbers?

Re:House much is a full house worth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35440386)

Yes, although we always stalemate when everyone gets flush.

Re:Philately (1)

narcc (412956) | more than 3 years ago | (#35441006)

Btw I'm selling the following RARE swedish stamp:
67XX5768XX34XX4233 (digits hidden for security reasons).
Anyone interested?

Buyer Beware! vagabond_gr (aka smstampmaster_25 on ebay) is known for selling common sms stamps claiming that they're "rare" to bilk money out of newbie Swedish sms stamp collectors.

While it's true that you won't find 67XX57 issue stamps offered on slashdot very often, they can be had for under $20 at any sms stamp collecting show in Europe. Just did some checking, and there are 3 on yahoo auctions right now.

Scammers like vagabond_gr are ruining the whole market for us true sms-philatelists and causing prices to rise for everyone!

Making it easier for bigbrother (2)

pinkishpunk (1461107) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440286)

Great way to track peoples communication, you order the stamp with your mobil phone, so unless its a prepaid they can now check who you send snailmails to easy.

can already print my own stamps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35440288)

..here in the Netherlands (and presumably other places). Basically it's just a barcode - works pretty well

The Latest from the Department of Stuff No (1)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440302)

One Asked For.

Do you think this is anything other than a way for the company contracted for this project to make their living?

Yeah, this is neato, but what was wrong with stamps?

Not really correct (1)

Novin (983423) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440316)

According to what I have read, for example here http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2151&artikel=4387324 [sverigesradio.se] the OP is not really correct. 1. Germany has had this system running since 2009. 2. Denmark will start using it from April 2011. 3. Sweden is just looking at having this kind of a solution. And for all three, it is / will be only complimentary to regular stamps.

Could this be the end... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440328)

Could this be the end of stamp collections and philately?"

I always like these simple yes/no questions. In this case, the answer is "no".

You go to into a shop and buy some stamps and stick one on your letter. In a most cases it's a lot easier than texting a number and writing it on the package. This is a convenience for some people but not a replacement.

You now pay even more (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35440344)

Now you also get to pay the price of a text message on top of the cost of postage.

This may be cost effective (1)

e70838 (976799) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440378)

The article says that "risk of forged codes is no greater than it is with traditional stamps".
If this system is implemented correctly and the text message contains a unique id that can be easily associated to the destination address, the sender address and the transaction, then forged codes or reused codes can be easily detected and efficiency of the all snailmail system could be improved.
An other step to simplify address recognition would be to use QR code.

Re:This may be cost effective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35440534)

QR codes with addresses coded in them would certainly help adress recognition, but who's going to sketch out a QR code?

BARCODE commercial postage (1)

bussdriver (620565) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440574)

We already have various barcode formats for comerical postage. So the OCR is now being leveraged to let you write the code on the letter without the special software and printer.

Any issues involved would also be involved today with existing systems - a scanner could copy such codes and a printer could place them on your post... but we've not heard about that being a problem... is it rare or did they address such issues already over a decade ago?

Re:This may be cost effective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35440636)

This already works in Germany, BTW. It is called Handyporto (with handy being the German word for mobile phone). You just have to send a SMS or use one of the apps. However, it is more expensive than using a stamp (95 instead of 55). FYI, the number you get is 12 digits long. QR code, or something similar, works too and does not cost more.

Re:This may be cost effective (1)

profplump (309017) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440674)

You don't have to track anywhere near that much information. You just give the code a limited lifetime -- it is invalidated when scanned at a postal center, or after say 72 hours of inactivity (at which point it could be refunded or just lost). Immediately after the code is invalidated, return it to the pool of available codes to keep the maximum amount of entropy available in that pool. Given a limited lifetime the code can be fairly short and not require any information about the letter other than the amount of postage it needs, all without serious risk of someone guessing or re-using the code.

There's some additional risk to individuals, as codes can be copied in addition to just being stolen or lost like stamps. But that's not a problem for the postal service, and given the relatively low value of the postage and the simple security measures required to protect the code it's probably something individuals are willing to accept.

The risk of loss to the postal service is probably smaller than with regular stamps. The centralized, automatic, electronic distribution makes it difficult for employees or other brick-and-mortal thieves to steal postage except for the very small number of people with access to the system, and "forged" codes are much, much less likely to work than forged stamps if the code selection is appropriately random.

DOOOM! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35440408)

The end of little pieces of paper that we stick to other pieces of paper to move them around the world.

Oh no!

no (3, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440414)

Could this be the end of stamp collections and philately?"

No. It's the beginning of the rise in value of my stamp collection. :)

New vocabulary word: Philately (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440546)

Philately/Philatelism/Philatelic is your vocabulary word for the day.

Especially if you live in or around San Francisco.
http://stampsfromelsewhere.com/ [stampsfromelsewhere.com]

Re:New vocabulary word: Philately (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35440772)

visit:www.harmalharcheez.com

Wow, that gives me lots ideas! (2)

famebait (450028) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440552)

* Powertools will get your stone axe sharper, quicker! * Put your horse and carriage on a freight-train for greater speed! * Sending my telegrams would be so much quicker if I could just order them from my iPhone!

Re:Wow, that gives me lots ideas! (2)

nickruiz (1185947) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440944)

* Powertools will get your stone axe sharper, quicker! * Put your horse and carriage on a freight-train for greater speed! * Sending my telegrams would be so much quicker if I could just order them from my iPhone!

Until e-Cards become popular for birthdays (fat chance) and contracts are completely digitized, snail mail isn't going anywhere and thus this isn't a bad idea.

Re:Wow, that gives me lots ideas! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35441000)

Letters/boxes can contain more than information. Besides there is no effective spam filter for physical mail.

babys+; we staying 'till monkeys have a hymen, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35440602)

or some other such time as our intentions have been met. there's ongoing sentiment that many are overlooking the acts, & the unavoidable consequences associated with wholesale murder & mayhem, choosing to trust in....??? nothing new, just more important now?

How to resolve the situation ? (1)

analyst-cz (1386075) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440656)

Lets assume postal office will somehow write down (in database) used codes. So what will they do, if SMS went from the anonymous SIM card and the same code is used on two letters from two different senders (if even sender could be identified - in Czech it is not obligatory for standard mails).
  1. 1)Refuse both letters ? Who will rely on such unreliable service?
  2. 2) Deliver both ? Cry over income losses ?
  3. 3) Refuse random of letters ? Just kidding :-)

Nothing new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35440670)

We have a similar system in use here since several years in germany called HandyPorto. It consists of 3 block of 4 numbers each which produce a 12 digit numberal code. And Philately is still going strong, esp. with special edition stamps. The only thing is that the SMS stamp costs you actually more than a regular stamp *rolleyes*

Similar system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35440676)

In Macedonia a similar system like that is already active for almost a year now. You send a text message instead of an administrative stamp.

But I don't like it very much.

Among the other problems.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35440690)

.... Inefficiency? I think it would be quicker to lick 20 stamps and place them on 20 envelopes than to send 20 text messages and read the responses carefully and write them on the envelope.

This would make sending thank-you cards more painful than it already is.

babys; when one of us explodes, we all cry (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35440726)

not to mention if any of us is uncomfortable in other ways. this advanced dna consciousness 'feature', was probably intented to make it more difficult for us to kill each other, like the soldiers who have trouble shooting/bombing their neighbors? butt, if you can't see/feel ?IT?, it ain't happening? yikes. mediastic mindphuking (not a swear word yet?)

No More Anonymous Posts....Literally. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35440740)

What a great way for your government to keep tabs on your communications.

Doesn't consider tourists (1)

Rob Kaper (5960) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440796)

Shortcodes for premium text messages are assigned nationally, so foreign tourists will not be able to use this system. That seems like a big oversight, because how many local consumers really still use snail mail? There's birthdays and Christmas, but other than that I'd expect the majority of purchasers to be tourists sending postcards?

Re:Doesn't consider tourists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35440884)

Shortcodes for premium text messages are assigned nationally, so foreign tourists will not be able to use this system. That seems like a big oversight, because how many local consumers really still use snail mail? There's birthdays and Christmas, but other than that I'd expect the majority of purchasers to be tourists sending postcards?

The summary says "replace", but I don't see why both stamps and these new numbers couldn't work at the same time.

Ok option, not as requirement (2)

Remloc (1165839) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440818)

Many totally tech capable people (raises hand to indicate self) may be technically adept, building their own 'puters, posting to /., etc. etc., yet don't own a cell 'phone, much less one capable of text messaging because they hate them. Every 'phone I own has a cord to the wall. Does that mean I'm no longer allowed to send mail?

Umm....This is news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35440900)

We already have this system in the UK - we have had it for many years.

You email the Royal Mail server, and it sends back a bar-code image which you print off and stick onto your letter or parcel. It works very well, and does senders/recipients address at the same time. All the security and other practical problems have been solved ages ago. Here's the portal page for printing: http://www.royalmail.com/portal/rm/jump2?catId=400046&mediaId=106700775

Not new - just a new way to pay. (1)

cheeseflan (462270) | more than 3 years ago | (#35440928)

Come on everyone, this is just pre-paid franking. Nearly all european mail services (I have no idea about the rest of the world, sorry) offer this in various guises, usually only requiring an account with the company. Royal Mail in the UK offer their "SmartStamp" service allowing you to purchase your postage online. You don't have to be a company, and you use your home printer to print out the codes/franks on the letter. You can see it here: https://www.royalmail.com/portal/sme/content1?catId=62300709&mediaId=99400762 [royalmail.com]

Who licks stamps anyway? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35440940)

Dip them in your sink.

So what happens if you use the same code for 2 letters? Do both get sent?

Security not important (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35440970)

I haven't lived in Sweden the last 4 years but before i left the postal service always delivered the letters even without stamp. Before the postal service sent a letter to the recipient and asked them to come down to office and pay the 50 cent that the sender didn't pay. This is system was much more expensive than just delivering the letter even if it wasn't paid for. Most people pay the 50 cent to not look like cheap bastards.

Why does it have to be "Cracked"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35441044)

Can't you just txt in the house number and post code you're sending it to and from and you get a uniquely generated key which is recorded. That way it's only good for being sent to the one address. Then the postal service just has to decide how quickly it needs to block further mail once the code has been used to not be defrauded.

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