The last postcard I sent via Postcrossing was in May of 2009. Unpacking boxes I found my stamps and some postcards so today I sent out six more cards. Here's hoping I get some good ones in return. ;)

Sending things via the postal mail is always a "fun" adventure in math. USPS keeps raising the rates but I already have a lot of stamps so I figure out how to get the exact postage amount ($0.75 for Canada and $0.98 for other countries right now) while using the smallest number of stamps. I keep thinking I could write an app to solve the problem but that takes away part of the fun I get from sending and receiving mail. Other than tracking addresses I do everything by hand.

Talking about stamps reminds me. I need to setup the scanner and scan some nifty stamps I received from 16 Sparrows Letter Writers Alliance. They're very shiny.

NL-174788

Jun. 21st, 2009 12:11 pm

NL-174788
Originally uploaded by hollyking
92nd postcard via Postcrossing. 4th from the Netherlands. Only 8 more until I hit 100 postcards! Woo!

LT-37608

Jun. 19th, 2009 10:46 pm

LT-37608
Originally uploaded by hollyking
My lasted card via Postcrossing. This one is from Lithuania.

CH-31391

Jun. 16th, 2009 06:14 pm

CH-31391
Originally uploaded by hollyking
I received this Postcrossing card from Switzerland today. The 90th card I've received and only the 2nd from Switzerland. Do you think [livejournal.com profile] hollyqueen would let me get an alphorn?

AU-41661

May. 24th, 2009 11:43 am

AU-41661
Originally uploaded by hollyking
Another recent postcard I've received. This one is from Australia and the photo on the card was taken by the sender. Awesome!

FI-491754

May. 24th, 2009 12:38 am

FI-491754
Originally uploaded by hollyking

It's been a while since I posted about my Postcrossing activities. It's not that I haven't been trading cards. It was moving and losing the power supply for the scanner. Well I found the power supply and got the scanner installed and working under Windows 7.

So here is one of my recent cards that I was able to scan tonight. I scanned quite a few more and uploaded them to my Flickr photos. Enjoy!


Today I received a nice fat envelope in our mailbox. Did I get a book? A DVD? A long missive from a long lost friend? Nope. I got stamps. A lot of stamps. See you can go online and order stamps and the mail carrier will deliver them with your regular mail. Sure, it costs a bit for the delivery but when you buy stamps in the quantities I do it's a small price to pay. Plus I didn't have to stand in line or anything.

Now to get back to writing letters and sending postcards.
While on vacation in Missouri I picked up a few postcards to send folks via Postcrossing. The US Postal Service (USPS) has changed rates since I last bought stamps and it costs the same to send letters and postcards to other countries. So I had to spend some time figuring out how to get the exact amount of postage ($0.94) in the minimum amount of stamps. As usual I spent way to much time trying to think of an improved algorithm to find the optimal combinations. Still no epiphany that would lead to international programming fame and glory.

I ran out of good combinations before I was done with the postcards. There is only so much room and once you get above 4 stamps you get cramped and don't have much room for writing. When ordering more stamps I notice that the post office still doesn't provide a single stamp that has enough postage for an international letter or card. So the current minimum number of stamps you can use is 2. At least we're getting some prettier stamps now.

I have lots of $0.02 and $0.03 stamps because they came in sets of 100. I should write a few letters and just use these stamps for the postage. That'll show 'em... ;)

BTW: I've been removing people and communities from my LJ that: A) I don't read; B) I don't recognize; or C) never update. If I've removed you and you want to stay leave me a comment. Although I rarely post anything locked so you won't miss anything by not being added.

As we all know I like to trade postcards with friends and new people via PostCrossing. I also have printed my own cards from photos I’ve taken. I have used two different services now and here are my thoughts about each of them. I would love to hear about anyone having experience with any other postcard printing service.

My first cards were printed at Vista Print (VP). With VP you upload a photo to their web service. Select a pre-made template or edit your own. Pick a quantity and make a payment. The post cards start at $24.99 for 100 cards or about $0.25 each. My order arrived quickly and without any problems. VP only supported one picture for the batch of cards and I chose the popular snowplow that I took in Alaska.

The next set of cards I printed via Moo. Instead of uploading photos Moo allowed me to chose photos from my Flickr account. Moo supports more than one photo per batch so I chose four (1, 2, 3 and 4) photos. Moo also has a selection of templates for the back and the one I picked included my userpic from Flickr. The cards from Moo are $19.99 for 20 cards or about $1.00 each. My order took a bit longer to arrive but it wasn’t a huge delay and they included some nice bonuses in the package.

While both companies had quality product I like the cards from Moo more. The stock is a bit heaver and the cards feel like they could handle abuse from the postal system better. Neither company prints standard sized postcards (4” x 6”). They were too short in one direction and too long in the other. This isn’t a huge deal because very few of the postcards I’ve collected fit in standard sleeves or pages. The front of both cards is nice and glossy. The back of the Moo cards has a better writing surface. I had fewer problems with smeared ink.

VP certainly wins in price. $1 each isn’t a huge amount for a custom postcards. It just looks like it next to $0.25 each from VP.

Moo has a much nicer UI. Using photos from my Flickr account meant I didn’t having to convert and upload photos before creating my cards. The ability to use more than one photo for a batch of cards was also a plus. I was able to pick one photo that included [livejournal.com profile] hollyqueen and I that I sent to family members. The rest of the cards are great for trading. Moo also offers a lot more options than just postcards. They offer mini cards, sticker books, note cards and greeting cards.

In the future I plan on ordering from both Moo and Vista Print. I’ll use VP for the bulk of the cards I want to trade since that will only cost $1.15 after you add $0.90 for international postage. Moo will get orders for small sets of cards that wouldn’t make sense to the general trader. For example the card that has a picture of us doesn’t mean much if you don’t know us.

I've known that I've traded the most postcards with people from Finland. I was bored so here are the nubmers of cards I've send and received from each country. You can see that Finland is at the top with a large margin.

I think it would be interesting to create a map of the world and color each country by the number of cards I've traded with that country. And now, the data:

SentReceived
Finland1629.09%Finland1630.77%
Germany814.55%Germany815.38%
Netherlands59.09%Canada59.62%
Italy23.64%Japan35.77%
Australia23.64%Czech Republic35.77%
Canada23.64%Hungary23.85%
Brazil23.64%Netherlands23.85%
Japan23.64%Portugal23.85%
Slovakia23.64%Taiwan11.92%
Spain23.64%Italy11.92%
United Kingdom11.82%Australia11.92%
New Zealand11.82%Iceland11.92%
Korea (South)11.82%Switzerland11.92%
Bulgaria11.82%New Zealand11.92%
Azerbaijan11.82%Lithuania11.92%
Chile11.82%Brazil11.92%
Norway11.82%France11.92%
France11.82%Singapore11.92%
Malaysia11.82%Russia11.92%
Slovenia11.82% 
Portugal11.82% 
Austria11.82% 
Total55 Total52 

HU-4410

Sep. 28th, 2007 11:17 pm
My first Postcrossing card from Hungary.
HU-4410 HU-4410R

TW-3586

Sep. 27th, 2007 10:07 am

TW-3586
TW-3586R
TW-3586R
Originally uploaded by hollyking
A postcard from Taiwan and the reverse for your pleasure.

DE-101280

Sep. 25th, 2007 10:52 pm

DE-101280
Originally uploaded by hollyking
This is the latest Postcrossing card from Germany. The message on the back says that the house in the bottom center was the house of Goethe and many other artists.

CZ-3199

Jul. 10th, 2007 02:58 pm

CZ-3199
Originally uploaded by hollyking
A Postcrossing card from the Czech Republic.

This is the last of the batch I received while on vacation. Back to your regularly scheduled updates.

JP-12588

Jul. 10th, 2007 02:57 pm

JP-12588
Originally uploaded by hollyking
A Postcrossing card from Japan.

FI-183770

Jul. 10th, 2007 02:51 pm

FI-183770
Originally uploaded by hollyking
Another postcard from Finland. There seem to be a lot of Postcrossing users there. ;)

FI-178548

Jun. 19th, 2007 01:41 pm

FI-178548
Originally uploaded by hollyking
A handmade card from a Postcrossing member in Finland.

CA-13754

Jun. 15th, 2007 01:32 pm

CA-13754
Originally uploaded by hollyking
The latest PostCrossing card. This one from Ontario, if you couldn't tell by the big yellow letters in the cornier.

DE-77858

Jun. 11th, 2007 07:33 pm

DE-77858
Originally uploaded by hollyking
A PostCrossing card from Rostock Germany. It looks very beautiful. I would like to visit there someday.

FI-176800

Jun. 9th, 2007 10:02 pm

FI-176800
Originally uploaded by hollyking
My latest postcard from Finland. I picked it up in the mail on my way home tonight. I like the sunset it shows.

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