Like all proud parents, we’ve found that having a beta is a rewarding but exhausting process. Sadly, this blog, like a previous child, has been neglected.

So, I thought I’d take a few minutes this evening to give a general update on where we’re at, how things are progressing, our dreams of writing Broadway musicals, etc.

Over the last month, we’ve been finding the balance between working on bugs, working on new features, and helping our new users. Due to herculean efforts by our programming team (think of the Augean stables), we’ve made some major improvements in response to your feedback. Some of our feature releases have been slightly delayed in this process, but we’re definitely moving forward now with a better system than the one we began with.

Personally, I think all of us have gone through the process of finding what our limits are. Sleep can be delayed, but you have to find a balance in order to keep going for the long haul.

This may sound strange to those who haven’t worked in this kind of environment, but it’s actually hard to force yourself to take breaks. Emotionally, working on this is energizing. It’s thrilling to see each new user’s ideas and questions. Each bug is a personal offense that simply must be dealt with. The limits have been physical. Past a certain point, you have to give your body breaks from that kind of constant rush. Heck, some of us have even started taking the occasional day off again.

That’s the rough overview, at least. There are a hundred little stories, some of which we’ll be able to share as things develop, others we’ll probably keep to ourselves. It’s somewhat incredible that it’s only been a month and a half since the beta began. I’m looking forward to seeing what surprises the next few months bring.

Send a PDF file as an attachment and we’ll print and mail it. It’s really as easy as that.

Places where this might be useful:

  • Invoices with extensive formating
  • Fliers for marketing or announcements
  • Forms or copies of existing documentation
  • Mailing the output of almost any program on your computer

PDF is probably the most widely supported display format available. Many programs and systems allow you to either export or print to PDF. For you, this means that any program which can output PDF is “Postful Ready” (We’re working with software developers to add this label to their software. Can’t figure out why they’re stalling).

If the body of your e-mail is blank, the PDF will print on its own.  If you add a message, it will be printed like any other letter and sent along with the PDF.

Here’s the inevitable fine print:

  • Page size must be 8.5″ x 11″
  • Minimum margins are .2″ (your pdf can run to the edge of the page, but the margins will be cut off at .2″)

As always, we’re curious about the uses you’ll find for this. Even for us this opens up options (which we’re diligently pursuing). Which is to say, more announcements are coming soon…

You can now add funds to your account using Google Checkout. This allows you to store your information with Google and make payments using their interface.

google_checkout.png

One big advantage of this is that we can accept credit cards issued in (and currencies of) these countries (note, we’re still working on supporting international mailings).

The process is simple. You’ll be redirected to Google’s site and prompted to either sign in or create an account. You’ll make your payment there and can return to Postful. In a few minutes, after we receive notification from Google, your payment will be reflected in your Postful account.

Google Checkout can save you a few keystrokes. Once you’ve established an account with them, you won’t need to re-enter your billing details to make payments on any site that supports Google Checkout.

Techcrunch recently pointed to a Pew Internet study (pdf) which provided statistics about Internet usage in the US. While I knew that 15% of the country had no internet access, I was surprised that the category which the Pew study categorizes as “Few Tech Assets” (those with no access, no interest, or no experience) includes 49% of the population.

Digital Divide

It emphasizes the importance of what we’re doing. This kind of divide has consequences.

If someone isn’t on the same system we are, we lose contact and commonality. That’s one thing when the divide is between MySpace and Facebook users (with Friendster taking the role of Tiresias in this sad morality play). But when the population is effectively divided in two by the type of information they receive and the communities they have access to, there is a problem.

Postful isn’t the final answer to this, but it is a part of a solution. The Internet must be more than a place created and accessed by web browsers. It’s a system capable of extracting information from a huge number of sources and performing the radical translation necessary to output into whatever format people prefer. It shouldn’t matter whether you’re using computers, telephones, televisions, or letters.

For much of that 49% of the population, print is a channel they know and are comfortable with. Imagine the possibilities of helping to connect that group with the richness and possibilities already present online.