U.S. Postal Service Records $2.8 Billion Loss and Sets Shipping Price Hikes

The U.S. Postal Service reported a net loss of $2.8 billion for fiscal 2008, which it attributed to reduced mail volume caused by the economic slowdown and costs mandated by the Postal Act of 2006, including pre-funding worker retirement plans. The Postal Service also announced across-the-board shipping increases set for January that will raise prices by an average of 5%.

Price changes for mailing services, including stamps, will be announced in February and will be effective in May 2009.

InternetRetailer.com – Daily News for Thursday, November 20, 2008

Note: Time to stock up on Forever stamps!


Netflix Player by Roku

My Christmas present arrived late last week–a NetFlix Player by Roku. Our intention was to open it, make sure it worked as advertised, then pack it up until Christmas. Two seasons of Kim Possible and several episodes of The Rockford Files and 30 Rock later, the Roku shipping box is out in the trash and my husband is scrambling to come up with another Christmas present for me.

From the Roku Netflix Player site:

  • Streams a growing library of movies and TV episodes instantly to your TV.
  • Easily connects to your TV, home theater or A/V receiver in minutes.
  • Puts you in control–play anytime, pause, fast-forward or rewind.
  • Connects with 100% of televisions sold in U.S.
  • Delivers superior media compatibility, including Ethernet and Wi-Fi, composite and component video, analog stereo and optical audio, S-video and HDMI connections.
  • Enjoy unlimited hours of entertainment for the one-time purchase price of $99.
  • Learn more or order for immediate shipment at the Netflix Player website — a unique separate site created in conjunction with Netflix. It’s your single source for Netflix Player information and special offers.
  • From full-length movies to TV series, Netflix offers thousands of choices to watch instantly, and more are being added every month. Click the “Watch Instantly” tab on any Netflix page to see our library of choices.

Other NetFlix-ready devices:

Unsure if you’re cut out for NetFlix? Try it for free. To watch instantly for no additional fee, you’ll need to be on a Netflix unlimited plan (from $8.99 a month).

roku netflix player


One Laptop Per Child Program Give One/Get One Program Returns

One Laptop Per Child launched its second Give One/Get One (G1G1) program today. This year, order and delivery of the laptops in the US will be handled through Amazon.com. If you missed out on participating in this program last year, here’s your chance.

The laptops (known as XOs) run the latest release of Sugar on a Linux-based Fedora Core operating system. (They do not dual-boot Windows and Linux, contrary to some reports.) For answers to frequently asked questions, and for other XO giving programs, follow the links on Amazon.

Unlike last year’s program that ran just over a month at the end of the year, this year’s Give One/Get One campaign will become an ongoing program. Amazon will distribute the “get” laptops and are providing their services at cost. You can see the developing OLPC storefront at http://www.amazon.com/xo.

The program details are similar to those from last year:

$199 to give a laptop to a child in the developing world
$399 to give a laptop to a child in the developing world and get a laptop.

I participated in this program last year and love my little laptop. It’s extremely durable–they have to be to survive in some of the environments they’re sent to, it’s compact, and it has built-in wireless. I keep it in my car and use it at free wireless access points to catch up on email and read e-books, among other things. I’ve used it more than once to post to this blog.

Today hundreds of thousands of children use XOs every day, including over a quarter of all young students in Uruguay. Meanwhile, Peru is distributing XOs to over 10,000 schools. Although you can’t specify where your donated XO will be sent, you can be assured that it will go to a child in a developing country who would otherwise not have an opportunity to get their hands on a computer.


Coinstar $10 Holiday Bonus

CoinStar PromoCoinstar coin counting is free when you turn your coins into a gift card or eCert. Now through December 7th when you cash in $40 or more, Coinstar will send you a holiday bonus worth $10.

To take advantage of this offer, take $40 or more in coins to a Coinstar machine and choose a pre-paid gift card in lieu of cash. Afterwards, mail in the bottom portion of your receipt, and Coinstar will mail you a $10 gift card for the same brand you originally cashed in for. Offer ends 12/07/2008.

Gift cards include Amazon.com, Eddie Bauer, iTunes, Borders, CVS, Pier 1, AMC, and Starbucks.

If you swap your coins for cash, the fee is 8.9%, and you get no holiday bonus.

Complete details (and Coinstar locations) here.


‘Underwater’ Need Not Mean Foreclosure

Excerpted from “Underwater Need Not Mean Foreclosure,” by Karen Blumenthal, on WSN.com:

What does being “underwater” in your house really mean? Probably not that you’re drowning.

The number of underwater homeowners — those who owe more on their mortgages than their home is now worth — has been growing sharply since 2006 as real-estate prices have tumbled. By some estimates, between one in six and one in eight homeowners are in that position, most of them people who bought homes in the past few years or who put down small or no down payments.

This worries economists and policy makers, since owing more than your home is worth is the first step toward foreclosure. And it’s a concern to the rest of us because foreclosures are roiling the financial markets and, closer to home, they drag down our neighborhoods. (Most people who still have equity, by contrast, would rather sell their houses at a loss than lose what’s left of their investment.)

In response to concerns about rising foreclosure and delinquency rates, federal regulators are studying possible new programs aimed at needy homeowners…



Play Pool for Free in November

Saw this ad in last Thursday’s paper for All Star Billiards. Stopped in last night–more of a pool hall than a bar. They do have a small bar with liquor and bottled beer. Had a bacon cheeseburger, which was very good. If you’re looking for something to do on Sundays or late at night during the week, I’d recommend checking it out. There is no purchase necessary. Obviously, they are hoping you will eat or drink, but you don’t have to.

Thanks, Jim!