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Snail Mail As E-Mail

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the one-remove dept.

The Internet 309

techcon writes "An Australian startup Planetwide has launched an interesting product called Scan Me. The idea is simple, you redirect your snail mail to them and they scan your physical mail and email it all to you as a text searchable PDF. Targeted at the world wide traveller, it also looks like a good way to help prevent identity theft and getting nasty white powder in the mail."

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309 comments

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shagedelic!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7101383)

I shagged you mom and still gotz FP! :-P

Re:shagedelic!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7101505)

I shagged you mom [snip for jollity]

MOTHERFUCKER!

The real question! (-1, Redundant)

termos (634980) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101384)

Can you also convert your mail to the original letters again?

Re:The real question! (3, Funny)

Gherald (682277) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101394)

I don't now about you, but my version of Adobe Acrobat Reader has this newfangled "print" feature.

Re:The real question! (-1, Redundant)

termos (634980) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101402)

That would only create a copy of the original letter ;-)

Re:The real question! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7101444)

Yes, it would "convert", if you will, to the original printed form.

Re:The real question! (2, Insightful)

Worminater (600129) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101445)

I have a nice simple Q for ya,

Think of all the spam you get...

and picture getting that in your REAL mailbox...

and sorting through that for your bills and such...

**shudder**

Re:The real question! (3, Informative)

tjohns (657821) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101499)

Actually, it looks like you can. From the article [planetwide.net] :
Your mail items are stored in secure storage facilities...You can contact us as often or as little as you like. We will forward the originals to your address.
They'll probably charge you postage though. However, as somebody else mentioned, you can always just print the mail from your computer.

Stop identity theft? (5, Insightful)

SirCrashALot (614498) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101385)

How would this stop identity theft. Unless you use TLS/SSL email is less secure than snail mail -- its not traveling across bare network wires.

Re:Stop identity theft? (2, Interesting)

EvanED (569694) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101428)

It would prevent people from rooting through your trash however to find bills, bank statements, etc. since there would be essentially no way to find *your* mail in there.

Re:Stop identity theft? (4, Insightful)

bigsteve@dstc (140392) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101575)

If you are really worried about people reading your discarded mail, you would do better getting a paper shredder.

A decent shredder with two sets of blades will reduce your bills to the size of punched card chads. For extra points, mix it with vegetable scraps and put it into your compost bin. Or reduce it to paper pulp by mixing with water, and boiling it for a few minutes :-).

Re:Stop identity theft? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7101665)

Or use biological techniques, possibly of the genus merionides.

Re:Stop identity theft? (4, Interesting)

waitigetit (691345) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101436)

My thoughts exactly. This company is asking for a whole lot of attention from black-hat crackers. Instead of one bank statement, they can get thousands.

Also, reading it in some internet cafe in Beijing will probably leave it in the temp directory. I really don't think this is a good idea.

Re:Stop identity theft? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7101477)

Exactly - it introduces another layer of complexity, another thing that can go wrong. And I'd be even more worried about the company doing the scanning than the security of email.

A close-to minimum-wage labor-intensive job opening your mail and scanning it. What could possibly go wrong?

Re:Stop identity theft? (5, Insightful)

Charbal (677787) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101486)

I'm also not seeing how this could stop identity theft. If you use this program, aren't you putting your mail in front of the eyeballs of the person that's scanning them?

I use a similar service already (5, Informative)

Nugget (7382) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101388)

I have been using a similar service from PayTrust [paytrust.com] for about a year now. Their focus is on bills, which is really the only mail I receive that I want to ensure I handle in a timely manner. I travel quite a bit for work and find it invaluable to be able to receive and pay my bills while on the road.

When a new bill arrives, I get an email and I can view the scan of the bill online through the paytrust website. I can pay the bill automatically, if I choose, by establishing per-payee rules (always pay bill [foo] as long as it is under [y] dollars) and that sort of thing.

At the end of the year they send me a CD-ROM that contains all that year's bills and payments for my archives, allowing me to store everything in a much more space efficient way than I'd have with paper files.

It's a great service, although I don't know that I would find much benefit if they started handling all my mail and not just my bills. Mail I get is either bills, junk, or physical things which I wouldn't want in scanned form.

Re:I use a similar service already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7101721)

Sounds good if your main suppliers can't set up direct email / online billing or direct payments. I now receive only one paper bill (for my electricity) with all others arriving by email / txt notification that a bill is awaiting within my online account with the provider. Further than that I set up direct debits wherever possible and my FirstDirect bank account sends me a handy text message if a payment is over 10 or if I have under 1000 left in my account.
It DOES mean that I have a stack of about 400 unopened letters by my door - I just hope theres nothing from the tax man in there expiring!

Re:I use a similar service already (5, Insightful)

Pretor (2506) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101729)

The banks in Norway has been doing this for year already. With no or low cost, and no paper; the bills are electronic. Combinded with their really good Internet banking services I no longer go to the bank, have to check any of the regular bills and so on. And because of almost 100% "visa" card coverage I don't use cash any longer. I can even buy the bus ticket using a credit or debit card.

I wonder why people in other countries has to still use checks, bills and etc. I haven't seen a checkbook in Norway for about 10-15 years.

My sister lives in San Francisco, and boy do the US need to get into the modern age when it comes to banking and payment.

Re:I use a similar service already (1)

cujo_1111 (627504) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101816)

What is a 'checkbook'? Is it a book full of checklists? The Apollo astronauts had to fill out hundreds of checklists during training.

FP (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7101390)

1st postage

Re:FP (0, Offtopic)

ebay troll (712015) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101489)

Very disappointed with seller's timeliness. Will NOT do business with again, and do NOT recommend.

Get Local Snail Mail Address (-1, Troll)

aSiTiC (519647) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101395)

I don't want mail stuff to Australia. Get employees and locations in local areas and you might have something.

Re:Get Local Snail Mail Address (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7101504)

Personally, I like to have my corporation in a different country from where I live, which, of course is a different country from where I keep my bank account. My web servers are in an entirely different country as well. Having my mail sent to a fourth, or is that fifth, country could further impede copyright owners from every suing by business...which is to distribute copyrighted materials for free via P2P!!!!!

Re:Get Local Snail Mail Address (0)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101528)

That's the crappiest busines plan I've ever heard. It doesn't even have a ????? Profit in it.

Send me your mail (0)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101397)

I visit your house at least once a year anyway. I promise not to read the letters.

Privacy (5, Insightful)

flibble-san (700028) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101406)

I don't like the idea of someone reading my personal snail mail. I'm sure they get a laugh out of finding out "Mr Jones" subscribes to Busty Babes monthly etc.

Re:Privacy (1)

PhlegmMaster (596165) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101435)

I don't think they'd laugh....

I'd just hope they scan it before they read it (icky results).

Re:Privacy (1)

program21 (469995) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101472)

Exactly. It's a huge tradeof between privacy and convienience. There are plenty of people who will find it better to read their mail in electronic form from anywhere, hell, I'd like to be able to do that too. I (and presumably others) just don't want a third party reading all our personal mail, like bank statements and credit card statement (which include account information).
Secondly, if I'm not mistaken, it's a federal crime to open mail addressed to someone who isn't you. Would that restriction apply to this for the company that opens and converts the mail? Also, I would think that once the mail is in electronic form, it loses that protection and it's not illegal for anyone else to open and read it in the event it's misdirectered to someone else.

It should be interesting to see how many people opt for a service like this, and how soon it is before there are reported cases of employees revealing personal information to third parties.

Re:Privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7101488)

Then you start getting into international laws...is it still a US federal crime if it's now in Australia? I don't know anything about international laws, just saying what came to mind.

Re:Privacy (1)

TelcusFreshbreeze (601347) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101555)

This could be a way to get more jobs for blind people!

Seriously, how hard could opening a letter and scanning it be for someone with no sight! BAM! instant privacy!

Though you might get a few blanks when they scan it wrong side up

Re:Privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7101678)

Come off it, blind people don't need jobs. They already can save enough money by not having to pay for a television licence, light bulbs, expensive paintings or window cleaning.

E-Bills. . . (3, Insightful)

villain170 (664238) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101408)

Don't most services that require bills offer some type of electronic payments? Wouldn't scanning your bills just be more work than going to their website and paying it that way?

Re:E-Bills. . . (1)

Nugget (7382) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101434)

But then you end up having to travel with a dozen logins and passwords for a dozen various merchant websites which all work and behave differently. It's much more of a pain in the ass than you'd think, especially if you find yourself on dialup sometimes.

With a bill presentment service you can pay everything from a single site using a single consistent interface and login. I've been using PayTrust [paytrust.com] for about a year now and I couldn't live without it.

Re:E-Bills. . . (1)

villain170 (664238) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101441)

I think I'm dealing with it fairly well. Not trying to be a jerk, but I seriously never thought of it as that much of a problem. Different strokes for different folks I guess. :)

Re:E-Bills. . . (1)

Nugget (7382) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101451)

Well, relying on the merchant still excludes all the smaller bills that you probably have to pay. My water bill is a little local company with no website, for instance. Plus the benefit to recordkeeping is tangible. The service runs about ten bucks a month, which I find reasonable.

Naturally it all depends on how many bills you get and how often you travel, I suppose.

Hmmm... (4, Insightful)

BJH (11355) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101417)

Doesn't sound so great to me. A lot of things that come in the mail are sent that way *because* they have to reach you physically - a new credit card, etc.

Re:Hmmm... (1, Funny)

PhlegmMaster (596165) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101471)

Well, with the advances in fraudulent printing technology, the scan should be all you need to recieve your new card.

Re:Hmmm... (3, Insightful)

patriceCH (321022) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101759)

Don't know if you read the page. They also batch-forward you the physical mail.

So you get the mail immediately wherever you are and have Internet access but also get the physical stuff a few days later if you really want it.

At least that's how I understand the product site.

this is dandy but.. (1)

thebrillopuff (712310) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101421)

what i really need is the other way around. I send them the email, they print it out and snail mail it for me.

Re:this is dandy but.. (4, Interesting)

chill (34294) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101468)

what i really need is the other way around. I send them the email, they print it out and snail mail it for me

CompuServe was offering that service back in 1989. You could send an "e-mail" to a physical address. They would print it out at their office closest to the final destination and stick it in the mail.

It cost something like $1.25 for the first 8x11 sheet and $.15 for each sheet after that.

I remember trying this out and having e-letters delivered from Orlando, FL to places like Kalamazoo, MI and Seattle, WA in 2 days.

I still think this would be a good idea.

Re:this is dandy but.. (2, Interesting)

Talthane (699885) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101682)

That depends on your existing postal service, of course, and whether you're sending internationally or not. In the UK, standard first-class mail is - normally - delivered the next day and costs 28p (42 cents) for an envelope of quite a few normal-weight sheets of paper. Such a service wouldn't find a market here.

As a replacement for air mail, however, it has much greater potential. Delivery from the UK to the US can be up to two weeks - with a service like this there would be no correlation between distances and delivery times.

Re:this is dandy but.. (1)

Worminater (600129) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101670)

I have a nice simple Q for ya,

Think of all the spam you get...

and picture getting that in your REAL mailbox...

and sorting through that for your bills and such...

**shudder**

just what I need (1)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101730)

snail mail telling me about your wicked screensaver.

Post offices in Belgium (2, Interesting)

FlashGordon_CyberDud (703530) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101423)

The Belgian Official Mail services were planning to do the opposite. Printing emails and delivering it to for ex. elderly people. That way evrybody has email, even if you do not have internet available.

Re:Post offices in Belgium (1)

Nexus Seven (112882) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101446)

ex elderly people

Aren't they called "dead" people?
Why would a corpse be interested in receiving email? or snail mail for that matter?

Re:Post offices in Belgium (1)

pe1chl (90186) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101638)

Non-native english writers often forget that "for example" is abbreviated as "e.g.", not "f.e." or "for ex." or whatever...

Re:Post offices in Belgium (1)

statusbar (314703) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101554)

Wow, I hope they have good spam filters!

--jeff++

Re:Post offices in Belgium (1)

pe1chl (90186) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101673)

This kind of services often does not make it because of the payment problem. You want the sender to pay for the handling (just as with regular mail), because if the receiver pays they will have no protection against spam, abuse, etc.
But there is no sender-pays infrastructure in place in the e-mail system.
Once that has been built, it would not only be possible to implement this kind of service, but it would also be the solution for the spam problem.
Of course, the sender would get some information about the tariff when sending a message. A normal e-mail message may cost 1 cent or so, and a post-delivered message could be 50 cents. When you agree to that at the moment of sending the message, that would be perfectly OK.
(spammers of course would not agree, and would no longer be able to send you mail)

what about coupons (1, Funny)

aardwolf204 (630780) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101424)

you mean ill actually have to print out the pizza hut coupons before using them, pfft never mind then

Re:what about coupons (1)

whereiswaldo (459052) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101480)


Coupons, that's easy. What about AOL CD's?

Re:what about coupons (0)

waitigetit (691345) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101694)

It would be even better if you ordered music cds. Will they rip them for you and send you the mp3s?

Re:what about coupons (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7101586)

God forbid you skip a pizza dinner, fatty.

Re:what about coupons (1)

mikiN (75494) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101625)

LOL! (mis)reading your comment brought back memories: A friend of mine, a graphics artist, had to do a project for a Web design course. He came up with the Instant Pizza Delivery.

It claimed to be the fastest pizza delivery ever. As soon as you had selected which kind of pizza you wanted and mindlessly clicked away some OK popup, your printer whirred into action and... out came your pizza! Too bad it was only a picture of it...

bonded employees? (0)

zonker (1158) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101430)

so are all of their employees bonded? this seems like a perfect way to commit fraud to the nth degree.

also, how the hell do they deal w/ things like bills where there are a zillion leaflets of various sizes etc.? from experience, this *can* be a very labor intensive task (meaning = costly).

stop identity theft? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7101433)

yeah, having some low wage working opening all my mail then emailing it is a good way to steal people's ID's

Security? (2, Interesting)

Lackaff (247537) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101437)

Interesting concept, but even discounting the obvious security and privacy concerns, what types of correspondance would this be useful for?

Aside from a few (not yet online) bills, the only physical correspondence I receive are things I value for their very physicality -- personal letters, packages, magazines.

I also get junk mail. But as it is seldom addressed specifically to me, I wouldn't think this service would have much of an impact on that... Automated junk mail to spam converter, anyone?

UK did it first (2, Informative)

skinfitz (564041) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101438)

UK Royal Mail has offered this as a service for some years now.

Also Finnish Post (1)

czaby (93380) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101588)

The Finnish Post has agreement with most of the companies that send bills to people:
your bill originally arrives in pdf format,
you receive an email notification,
you read the bill on the post's secure website,
you might even pay it right there.

No paper involved at all.

Re:UK did it first (1)

dr_labrat (15478) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101653)

Yeah? Where do they offer this service? I have checked their site, but cant find a mention of it anywhere... I would love this as a service, as I am always far too lazy to open envelopes.

I dont know about you but I always leave for work before the post arrives... it would be cool to get a scan of them in the email while i am at the office.

Scanning _and_ forwarding (4, Interesting)

achurch (201270) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101439)

The summary doesn't mention it, but not only do they scan everything you get, they forward it to you once you're somewhere you can receive it, so you still have the paper originals. And for those who are paranoid about having confidential documents sent via E-mail, they let you cut the scanning step out and just treat it as an ordinary forwarding address.

It doesn't say anything about whether they're offering this to people outside of Australia, but it's certainly interesting for those of us who move frequently. I wonder if this will start a "permanent postal address hosting" service genre like Hotmail did with E-mail.

Re:Scanning _and_ forwarding (2, Interesting)

Servo (9177) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101561)

I wonder if this will start a "permanent postal address hosting" service genre like Hotmail did with E-mail.

You mean, like a PO Box? They have been providing that sort of service for a long time. My friend has had the same mailbox rental for 3 years, all the while he's lived in 4 different places.

remailemail.com (4, Funny)

daveo0331 (469843) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101452)

This service [remailemail.com] lets you send an email, and have it converted to a snail mail letter and sent to someone. So if you combined the two services, you could send an email which would be converted to snail mail, then the recipient could convert the snail mail to an email that they could read from any computer in the world.

Oh wait...

Re:remailemail.com (1)

aardwolf204 (630780) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101514)

Or if you really want to have some fun call up the voice TDD/TTY operator and ask her to dial the data TDD/TTY operator and ask her to ask him to dial your friend. Or do it the other way around.
Its a service for deaf people. They use 1200/2400 baud terminals to connect to a special data operator. From there they instruct the operator what number they would like to call and the operator serves as a proxy for communication between deaf and hearing people. The system works both ways so you can call the operator and have her/him call your deaf friends terminal. The numbers are in the front few pages of your phone book. Google "TDD/TTY +Phone Loosers of America"

Kinda off topic but the voice number is an 800 number. I used to have a BBS setup at home while I was at school that would pose as a person if the operator called it. I would call the TDD voice op from a payphone free of charge and have her dial my home and from there I could have her type specific commands that would retrieve email subject lines. Awesome!

Re:remailemail.com (1)

BJH (11355) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101738)

As I recall, there's a site somewhere that has transcripts of a phonesex session conducted via this service... fun was had by all.

Subscription only (0)

badcherry (532730) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101454)

Then for subscription only members you can view an archive of the best (or worst) peices of mail that they've scanned in. Hell, I'd pay to see that.

Tax returns and ATM cards (4, Funny)

aardwolf204 (630780) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101456)

Oh yeah, cant wait to get my tax return check in PDF. Try explaining that one to the bank teller

Or better yet how about my ATM/Credit card?

Do you take plastic?
VISA, MasterCard, Discover and Amex
Great -- Hands over printed card

Awkward Pause (tm)

Yeah, I had to print it since it came in my email...
...Honest!

Re:Tax returns and ATM cards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7101515)

Can't you just get your tax return credited directly to your bank account? We can do that here in Australia, so I've never seen a cheque from the tax department. My bank balance is just automatically updated a few weeks after I enter my data into the e-Tax program.

Re:Tax returns and ATM cards (1)

jwang (61010) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101558)

Read the article. You get notified by email for stuff that's not scannable, plus all the originals are forwarded to your address when you specify.

Or you could just give the bank your *real* address.

I Became an Oracle Master w/a Giant Faxed BankCard (3, Funny)

LouisvilleDebugger (414168) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101566)

In 1996 when I had to travel in order to take Oracle7 classes, my company's owner would send me packing in my own car with gas and food money only. When I would arrive at the hotel (having driven from Louisville KY to say, *Framingham MA* (a hellacious drive of 20 hours) I would call him at the office (often late at night) and he would fax an image of his credit card straight to the hotel desk: blown up to 8.5"x11" size. They always accepted it.

Are you mad? (4, Insightful)

CGP314 (672613) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101458)

Targeted at the worldwide traveler, it also looks like a good way to help prevent identity theft

Are you mad? You mean having someone else read your mail and then send it in a searchable format over the Internet is a good way to prevent identity theft? Is today opposite day?

Re:Are you mad? (0)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101711)

They forgot to add "In Soviet Russia..." at the beginning of the story.

Re:Are you mad? (1)

hankwang (413283) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101761)

> send it in a searchable format over the Internet

The example PDFs on the web site are scanned bitmaps and at least I am not able to search for text strings in them. Is there a new Acrobat Reader with built-in OCR?

Re:Are you mad? (1)

jcon (101531) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101804)

Is there a new Acrobat Reader with built-in OCR?

Well, no, but there are 'pdf2html' converters readily available, just google for that and see. In fact, google itself uses something of that type to scan and display pdf content. And we all agree that html allows for searching of text strings... right?

Re:Are you mad? (2, Funny)

evilmrhenry (542138) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101790)

Is today opposite day?

No.

Re:Are you mad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7101812)

You mean having someone else read your mail and then send it in a searchable format over the Internet is a good way to prevent identity theft?

Of course; it's impossible to encrypt mail!

Subscription (4, Funny)

rf0 (159958) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101460)

I don't want them forwarding me a scan of my monthly Playboy. Hmm on second thoughts :)

Rus

How would this work? (2, Interesting)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101474)

Hrm, it seems to me that such a system would only work for 'normal/average' snail mails. Letters, etc. I wouldn't want stuff like bank PIN codes, important work information, etc going there. Or mails where they actually provide you with something physically useful in the letter, such as a return envelope.

Uhm.. (1)

Geekwad (309774) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101491)

Wait .. but what about paychecks and business reply mail which have watermarks and special teeny tiny envelopes, respectively? What about THEM!?

Digital business and personal mail (3, Insightful)

PoisonousPhat (673225) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101492)

I'm sure there are many (especially here!) that celebrate the movement away from physical communications. Sure, it saves paper, it's faster (especially when compared to the slightly derogatory "snail mail", it's portable, etc. But let me wax a little sentimental here...

There's just a little something that you get from actual mail, especially hand-written mail. True, it's terribly archaic, but when you're far, far away, a letter is one of the nicest things to receive someone willing to spend a buck and some time. Maybe it's just the amount of time invested in handwriting, or the lack thereof when typing an email, but the physical presence of personal mail is something people should not, in my opinion, be so eager to discard.

That being said, business mail, provided it is sent via secure trasnmissions, seems perfectly suited for movement towards digitalization. The businesses themselves, though, should take more initiative to move themselves away from the massive and expensive paper usages and try billing electronically. I can only imagine the vast amounts of paper used by banks every month for high-speed printed glossy credit card applications.

Re:Digital business and personal mail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7101631)

I have to agree with the paper mail idea. E-mail removes something from the essence of correspondence that comes with a letter in the mail. E-mail is instant, sanitary, and looks the same no matter who sent it. It carries words, but not personality. For business correspondence or casual communications among friends, it is a great medium.

A letter via post is something unique. The paper it is written on was in the possession of the writer at one time, carrying not just the words, but the handwriting style and a bit of the writer with it. It's more personal; a computer puts a degree of separation brtween the reader and writer, where a letter can carry emotion. A spritz of perfume on a scented letter to a lover; a special handwriting style to give the letter an artsy feel. Try THAT using Outlook or Evolution. OK, there are "stationaries" available to send HTML mail, but that's not quite the same thing.

So while I have to agree that scanned archives of certain documents is a powerful tool to organize and store various documents, I'll still continue to use the written word via pen and paper to convey emotion and personality, not e-mail.

(This coming from as big a techo-geek as there is...being a gadget freak is a terrible weakness I have)

IPO? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7101496)

When is this company having its IPO? This company is thinking outside the box to leverage synergies between the electronic and physical worlds. Its stock will have tremendous upside potential, and I would like to get in on the ground floor. It is companies such as this that will bring the new electronic media into the twenty-first century.

Re:IPO? (0)

REDNOROCK (597025) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101684)

whoa, dude, this ain the 1990''s any more! You actualy have to have a good idea to make money these days!

Sounds good but... (1)

killermal (545771) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101503)

...can it smuggle drugs?

Finally, a service for the Ultra Paranoid! (1, Funny)

RoderickMcDougall (661783) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101507)

For many years now I have been suspecting that the dreaded white powder would indeed arrive at my home, thus killing me and ruining my perfectly legitimate home cocaine business. Its comforting to know that I will not have to face the situation where somebody opens my mail and robs me of my privacy. Oh wait.. ohh.. oh crap!

Bah (1)

Sir Haxalot (693401) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101509)

getting nasty white powder in the mail
I wish I got cocaine in the mail :(

Re:Bah (1)

Dj Stingray (178766) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101577)

Don't forget the other valuble white powders such as:

Sugar
Powdered Sugar
Snow
and all important Flour

Re:Bah (1)

mikiN (75494) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101693)

Don't forget the other valuble white powders such as:

...
Snow ...


Are you kidding? Not even FedEx would be fast enough to deliver that to you in its original state...

USPS approach to E-mail (4, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101522)

From the article:
  • It's worth noting, perhaps, that in the early days of the Internet, it was proposed that the U. S. Post Office manage e-mail. Electronic messages would come to your local post office and then be delivered to you along with the regular mail. The proposal was not considered for very long.
No, not only was it considered, it was actually implemented and deployed. It was called E-COM [stampsjoann.net] , and it operated from 1982 to 1985.

And it was really dumb.

The USPS put in a system with a mainframe computer and "high-speed" printers in major regional post offices. Mailers could submit mail jobs as IBM remote job entry jobs over dedicated SNA links. The interface was so one-way that error messages came back as paper mail a day or two later.

E-COM was for first class mail, sent in bulk. You had to send at least 200 letters to a single regional post office in a day, so it was useless for general business mail. It cost as much as first class mail, so it was useless for advertising. Mailers couldn't have a return envelope included, so it was useless for bills. Western Union did establish an extra-cost consolidation and routing service, so you sent your mail to them and they routed the messages and batched up jobs for the USPS. But few people signed up.

Great, so now I can find out what a pdf of. . . (4, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101525)

an AOL disk looks like.

KFG

prevent identity theft? blah (1)

avida (683037) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101526)

How will it help identity theft? You are now sending all your mail to a third party, and anyone there can make a copy of hundreds of identities.

Great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7101530)

Now your mail will be "securely" saved in a server, where it will be intercepted by Carnivore and can be provided to anyone with a subpoena, etc.

What a great idea!

Oh dear (4, Funny)

cca93014 (466820) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101547)

it also looks like a good way to help prevent identity theft and getting nasty white powder in the mail.

Some people I know would be more than happy receiving white powder in the mail.

No Indentity Theft.... (0, Redundant)

yuri (22724) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101550)

As long as you trust their staff, not to abuse your privacy.

I don't know where to start... (5, Interesting)

spook brat (300775) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101562)

Wow. In the United States there are federal laws protecting both the content and *addresses* for all mail sent through the US Postal Service. If Big Brother wants to watch you there are oversight requirements (ie. the watcher must be watched) for the simple act of scanning the addresses on an envleope. The requirements are more stringent if BB wants to actually open your letter and read its contents. I don't remember off hand at what point it takes a Judge to sign off on it, I'd have to look it up.

If you're using this "Scan Me" service, however, they can intercept your mail once it leaves US Postal Service channels with much lower levels of scrutiny - they'd just need to walk up and ask the nice people at Planetwide to do their civic duty. In fact, if Carnivore is still running (and I'm paranoid enough to believe it might be) then they wouldn't need to contact the Planetwide staff at all. The Feds could just go to Planetwide's ISP and monitor the traffic, reading the information unencrypted as it flies by on the 'Net.

The ACLU can't protect your civil liberties if you are asking third parties to copy all of your private correspondence into the electronic equivalent of postcards. No, scratch that, postcards are still covered by the same Federal laws as normal (sealed) mail. This is copying to postacrds and re-routing through a network of untrusted private couriers. =[

Is October 1st in Australia like our April 1st? (4, Insightful)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101604)

it also looks like a good way to ....

Yea, like this is really going to work. And how much is it going to cost me to have them forward each rebate check I get, not to mention what it cost for them to scan it in the first place? Think spam was expensive before? Wait until you pay for scanning all the junk mail that you get in snail mail, or all the crap packed in with your bills. Say goodbye to ever getting a magazine subscription. No free samples in the mail any more, and no cookies from Mom at Christmas time. And I'm paying for this why? Because I fear identity theft? So that then they can e-mail my private mail to me as clear text? So that an unknown number of people at that company I know nothing about all see all of my mail?

Face it, the always-on-the-go world traveler who just might (but I think it unlikely) get anything out of this has other means to deal with it: a personal assistant, express shipments that can catch up to the next hotel he will be at, faxes for some documents, he doesn't need an outside company poking through his business. The average smuck (like most of us) wants that mail, and knows that some of it needs to be dealt with on a timely basis (If someone sends me tickets, for example, I want them before the event, not a week after), and that some of it will get "lost" if an outside company is opening it and going through it.

Bad idea. Oh, also, the company will be out of business in six months.

Stupid (1)

tetro (545711) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101643)

This is a stupid idea. You can't guarantee that the workers for the company will not try to steal your identity and use your information. Like what other people have mentioned, your info now has the ability to be stolen in huge numbers now. People who throw their bills and important info w/o shredding them thoroughly just get what they deserve.

Well, I can see one benefit... (2, Funny)

geekwench (644364) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101664)

My mom could finally send me a completely fat-free chocolate bunny for Easter! ;)

Stops identity theft? (2, Interesting)

aaaurgh (455697) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101731)

Sounds dumb. In the U.K., nearly everyone has a letterbox (mail slot) in the front door (or similar place) - once the mail is delivered it's as secure as anything else in the house. Here in Oz, we have the (IMHO) lazier mail box by the road system. My solution to identity theft - a bloody great brick mailbox with a padlock on its door. It might not stop the determined thief (what would?) but I'd have a pretty big clue if the thing is broken into.

Besides which, the scan process still has to send to the originals to you somewhere - if that place is secure why not send the stuff there in the first place. When I'm overseas I far prefer to have the relatives open anything questionable/official and advise me/handle it themselves.

A new business model for intelligence agencies ? (1)

TrackerChamp (595492) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101757)

That's the thing we all have been waiting for:
Waive your rights concerning the secrecy of letters, let them spy on you much easier and PAY FOR IT!

Maybe the underfunded intelligence agencies can use this business model to raise even more money. At the same time they save money and manpower, because they no longer need to sniff around in your waste... What a wonderful idea !

Top 5 Mail you'll never receive this way (5, Funny)

rjamestaylor (117847) | more than 10 years ago | (#7101777)

5) Columbia House CD of the Month Club selection
4) Beer of the Month Club selection
3) Oh...look - shiny!
2) Cookies? What cookies?
1) Congratulations! You're the Publisher's Clearinghouse winner!
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