One of my favorite movies is The Postman with Kevin Costner in the title role. I’m not sure why this movie never caught on, maybe people were just tired of Costner, but the movie, like the book written by David Brin, does so many things right that it certainly should have been more popular.
The book and the movie are very different, but the basic premise is the same: after some devastating apocalypse pockets of people try to rebuild. In what’s left of the midwestern United States an army led by a mad copy machine salesman turn general harasses the populace. A drifter, cold, hungry, and desperate stumbles on an old mail truck and concocts a scheme to get food and shelter by posing as a postman and a representative of the Restored United States. His scheme gets out of control when young people looking for something to believe in sign on. The story gets more involved and I don’t want to give away anything if you haven’t seen the movie, but you can see that there’s a lot going on. Check out both the book and the movie. Both are well worth your time.
Thinking about The Postman also got me thinking about the real U.S. Postal Service and how it has become but a vestige of what it once was. The Post Office was the nervous system of our government back when the government was for the people and by the people. Messages put into the postal system was all but guaranteed to make it to its destination. It was something you could depend on. The Postal Service was all about trust and dependability. If the mail didn’t get through then things were really bad.
Remember the postman’s slogan? “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
Actually the U.S. Postal Service does not have a slogan. What we assumed was its motto is an inscription on the wall of a post office building in New York and it was derived from the writings of the greek historian, Herodotus, who was describing how well Persian couriers performed their tasks.
It seems to me that our Postal Service could learn a thing or two from the Persians. Not necessarily about delivering mail, they seem to have that down pat. In fact, most of the so-called mail that gets delivered today is junk. Applications for credit cards, sales flyers, promotion that we shouldn’t miss. And mixed in the commercial mess is the occasional bill and even rarer letter from a friend. We use to love to get mail, now most of it goes right into the trash bin. [Editor's Note: In California, it gets recycled! - Editor]
Well, I’m sure that's more about the Postal Service than you really wanted to know. What you might want to know is where is the nearest post office, or the zip code for Aunt Fannie, or track a package you’ve sent. As you might suspect, there’s a free iPhone app for that.
USPS Mobile is a nicely design iPhone/iPod touch app that offers up a wealth of info about the Post Office, zip codes, drop box locations, it can even tell you which locations have automated tellers and hours of operation. It’s one of those apps that you never really knew you needed until you need it.
I’m a fan of the interface, which is uncluttered and easy to understand. I predict this will be one of those apps that you’ll use more than you think you might. And it’s free!
If you are just looking to send yourself a note there’s little better than a well placed sticky note. It’s bright so you can’t miss it, it sticks almost anywhere, and...well, it’s a sticky note!
Stick It is a free iPhone app that lets you write sticky notes in a variety of colors. You can then post that sticky on virtual cork board which becomes your locked screen background. Pretty neat, huh?
You can also send it as a email. I like this app because it is so open ended. If you need to put emergency contact info on your home screen, use this. Simple reminders work as well. The only thing I wish it could do is let you export appointments or directly access phone number. As it is, the screen is just a picture. Still, it works in a pinch.
This is another one of those apps you’ll find yourself using a lot. Grab Stick It at the iTunes Store.
I apologize, usually I write about 3 apps, but I have the flu and I’m fading fast. So that’s a wrap for this week.
More free stuff below with direct links.