How many 1st class stamps to use on heavy letters?

In our office, we buy Royal Mail stamps in ready to use denominations of “1st Class”, “2nd Class”, “Large 1st Class” and “Large 2nd Class”. However, these are only useful for 100g weight letters.

For heavy letters, we can use multiples of these stamps. I noticed I was routinely having to do the calculation in my head as to what is the optimum combination of stamps. For example, what to stick on a 500g 2nd class large letter. I know that’s £1.58, I know the stamps represent the 100g values, so 1st=65p 2nd=56p Large_1st=98p and Large_2nd=76p.

It’s not too hard to work out, but it takes time and gets harder with bigger letters and parcels.

For a coding challenge, I wrote “Stampulator“. It’s a single web page that tells us which combinations of stamps to use, so for the 500g 2nd Class large letter, £1.58 example, we need 1 x 1st class and 1x Large 1st class. That’s over by 5p, but it’s the nearest value to the cost.

I also made it so that if I have different value stamps or a different target value to reach (say; special offer or I’ve been slow to update the values when Royal Mail prices change) I can input those and get an instant result.

I then printed the page and stuck it buy our post box.  Stampulator is on my web server and free to use – it works well from a mobile phone too.

Post a comment here if it’s useful and that’ll encourage me to keep it up to date.

Google Chrome ” Failed – Network Error.” on downloading files greater than 5MB (ish) – solution for me = Disable QUIC

For the last few weeks I’ve had trouble downloading from Google Photos files. It only happened on large files; videos & zip files of multiple images. The problem only affected Chrome – the files would download fine using Firefox. For single images the download would work so I decided it must be something related to the files size. A lot of googling and it seemed to only affect me so I removed and fully reinstalled chrome, that didn’t fix it.

I found similar problems in the help forum but none of them had solutions (technically, one did by changing the download folder location but that didn’t work for me).

I used developer console to see what happened on the page and try and get more of an error message. I found “load resource: net::ERR_QUIC_PROTOCOL_ERROR”. I then googled that and found a page on stack overflow suggesting that disabling QUIC would help, and to disable it here: chrome://flags/#enable-quic

What is QUIC? It appears to be a protocol to improve performance of pages of the network using UDP. There were mentions that some networks/routers/devices don’t work properly with this format. I don’t know which part of the network between me and Google Photos is at fault, but once I disabled QUIC the downloads completed perfectly. If you want to know more, you’ll need to research it from here yourself. Sorry, I have work to do 🙂

Blog traffic

sep2016_cloudflare_traffic According to cloudflare, my blog traffic this month.

sep2016_analytics_trafficAccording to google analytics, my blog traffic this month.

The difference?
a) Cloudflare is counting requests to my server (each image, each file, each style sheet) whereas Google Analytics is joining requests from the same visitor into a session.
b) Hackers don’t always ask for a page, and don’t load the javascript that google analytics need to track the visitor.

What can we infer from this?
Computers in Ukraine that are visiting the blog aren’t reading this text, but they visit a lot.
We cannot state with certainty the users instigating this are in Ukraine though, just that the requests can be traced as far as there. Likewise, computers in the USA requesting items from my server are less likely to be people than computers in the UK.
My guess of the reason for this: Hacking attempts, search engines.
You cannot tell from the source (eg: Ukraine) that the people controlling the computer requesting files [be that hacking or search engine or other uses good and bad] are in Ukraine. For example, for a long time my web server lived in Paris, but I’m not in France to control it.