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Latest happenings at L-Mail
Newsforge.com reviews L-Mail
10th October 2004
Email has gained acceptance as a quick, easy way to communicate. Some have even gone as far as to say that the time-honored custom of writing letters and sending them via postal mail (or snail mail, a reference to the lack of speed some perceive from the U.S. Postal Service's delivery times) is a dying one. For those who still need it, however, a new service based on open source software makes it possible to send actual hard copy "snail mail" directly from your Web browser.

Appropriately, it's called L-Mail, or Letter Mail. Launched this week by Web design and consulting firm QiQ Ltd., the service takes your typed-in message, prints it out on paper, puts it in an envelope, and stamps it and mails it, from any of eight locations in the U.K., Australia, Canada, Spain, and the United States.

Peter Harris, managing director of QiQ, said L-Mail is based on a completely open source infrastructure, including a Linux server, a Web site built in PHP, and a database using MySQL.

"We used open source solutions to help contain the cost of the development, not only from a software perspective, but also because of the high levels of support available," Harris said. "The continual improvement of the applications we chose assist us in ongoing enhancements."

Harris said the service is beneficial because it will save users "time and money." Instead of having to drive to the post office to buy stamps, customers will simply type a message, in much the same fashion as email. Instead of having to make that incredibly long journey to the mailbox, a quick click will have the letter on its way to the mail truck and eventually to its final destination.

For a computer user, the process is straightforward. A user writes a letter at the L-Mail site using a Web browser, then proceeds to the payment screen. L-Mail then routes the letter to the printing station nearest to the intended recipient, where it is printed, placed in an envelope, and mailed. The customer can request that L-Mail email a copy of the letter back to him. L-Mail also sends a confirmation email once it has posted the letter.

L-Mail will clearly save time compared to international postal mail. The claim that it will save money for everyone, however, is up for debate. It depends upon where you live. The cost for mailing a three-page letter to the United States via L-Mail, regardless of where you are physically located, is 64 pence (about $1.15), while the cost of the postage if you did it yourself from the United Kingdom would be 68 pence.

Harris said that there have been some unique challenges in the way of document management and formatting, but he said QiQ has been able to take advantage of free advice from the MySQL community in order to overcome "a number of obstacles" on the way to final delivery of the system.

SOURCE: Newsforge.com
Send letter API
08th October 2004
The L-Mail team are creating an API to enable users to send L-mail requests from their website or back office system. Contact sales@l-mail.com for further information.
L-Mail introduces multi-currency pricing
04th October 2004
Prices for L-Mail letters are now displayed on the home page in Australian dollars, Japanese Yen, Euros, Pounds Sterling and US Dollars. Prices are updated daily inline with exchange rate movements.

When paying for letters, users can view the exact cost of
letters in their preferred currency.

Multi-currency will be implemented site-wide shortly.
Leicester Mercury reviews L-Mail
02nd October 2004
Babita Wakelin of the Leicester Mercury has produced a feature article on L-Mail describing how the new service is a telegraph with a 21st century twist, or bridges the gap between snail mail and net-mail.

The full article can be viewed here:

http://www.l-mail.com/document/l-mail.pdf
Government site reveals help is at hand thanks to L-Mail
01st October 2004
The UK government site for UK online centres (http://www.helpisathand.gov.uk) recently featured L-Mail. Reporter Roy Bhakta commented on the service...

Writing letters can often seem like a chore rather than a pleasure. Most particularly when you can not find some or all of the following:

- Pen
- Paper
- Stamps
- Envelope

L-Mail offers a solution by allowing users to write a message online, the L-Mail service will deliver the letter to any valid postal address across the world (envelope, letter and postage are included). The service is likely to appeal mostly to those who frequently send letters abroad as the overseas rates tend to be very competitive.
CEP News review L-Mail
30th September 2004
‘L-Mail’ is a new hybrid mail service for the general public offered by QiQ Limited, a British internet software house. Since Tuesday, a special website set up by the company (http://www.l-mail.com) enables private individuals and companies to send mail internationally from their computers, requiring only internet access and a browser. In a first step, the user defines the letter format and composes the text.

Subsequently, the data is transmitted to a printing centre chosen by L-Mail, preferably in the vicinity of the addressee, where the letter is printed, put in an envelope and fed into the postal system. On request, the sender may receive a copy of their letter or an e-mail confirmation of its dispatch. In an interview with the CEP News, managing director Peter Harris said the L-Mail concept helped save time and costs. A three-page letter from Britain could be sent very conveniently from a PC to the US for 64 pence, while the cost of the physical transmission alone would otherwise be 68 pence. However, a first trial carried out by the CEP News reveals that other connections could turn out much more expensive than the letter post: L-Mail charges 99 pence – i.e. approx. 1.45 euros - for a letter from Germany to Austria, whereas a standard letter would cost only 55 euro cent.

Mr Harris said he intended to have eradicated such weak spots by the time the pilot period ends. Printing centres are currently located in Sydney (Australia), Madrid (Spain), Edinburgh, London and Leicester (UK), Ellensburg and New York (USA) and in Canada. QiQ Ltd. says further locations will be added continuously.

SOURCE: CEP NEWS
L-Mail launches
28th September 2004
L-Mail.com has launched! L-Mail is a new system that allows users to send physical letters via a web site and will often be cheaper and quicker for international mail than traditional post.

L-Mail.com offers consumers and businesses the ability to send postal letters via any Internet enabled computer through a simple web based interface.

Users of the service will simply type and format their letter in a browser, click submit before it's printed and put in traditional postal mail systems from one of an initial 7 locations around the world.

QiQ Limited, the developers of L-Mail, claim their service will save users time and money over using traditional post. International letters are frequently cheaper through L-Mail compared to traditional mail. For example, a three-page letter to the United States will cost 64p fully inclusive. Postage alone for a 20g letter from the UK to the USA is 68p.

L-Mail can be sent to any address on the planet via the initial seven printing and posting locations:

Australia - Sydney
Canada - British Columbia
Spain - Madrid
United Kingdom - Edinburgh
United Kingdom - Leicester
United Kingdom - London
United States - Ellensburg (West Coast)
United States - New York (East Coast)

Further locations will be added regularly.

With no need to buy stationary or stamps or trips to the Post Office L-Mail promises to be a useful tool for busy people everywhere.
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