back to article Polish IT worker calculates exact speed of snail mail

A Polish IT worker has calculated the exact speed of snail mail after receiving on 3 January a letter which was sent priority mail on 20 December, Reuters reports. Michal Szybalski whipped out his calculator and determined that the missive had spent 294 hours in transit, covering the 11.1km between sender and recipient. The …

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Tom
Unhappy

Faster than internal mail

I sent a form through internal mail - because I wasn't allowed to walk down two flights of stairs to hand it in personally. It took 4 weeks to travel a distance of around 100M.

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IT Angle

in bps

294 hours = 1058400s

Assume 1 page, and using english conventions since I don't speak Polish, we get:

~250 words/page, ~5 chars/word + 1 space = 250*6=1500 characters

If we assume we're not sending any overhead (like packet headers and word documents) that gives you:

1500 characters * 8 b/char = 12000 bits in 1058400s = 88s/bit or 0.011337868bps

Still - that's nothing. When I lived in the US, we had a neighbour who sent the guy across the street a Christmas card at the appropriate time. It arrived in March.

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Paris Hilton

I was going to say

Don't forget to mention global warming on the grant application form.

Paris - for the hot air she spouts.

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Thumb Up

New Reg Standard

I propose that speed should now be measured in Polish Snails. With sub units of Royal Mail Express Deliveries.

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It's the same principle for airline baggage

BA can fly me and my luggage 4,500 miles in a tad over 4.5 hours. However once I arrive at Heathrow everything slows down and it takes 1.5 hours for my luggage to travel the last mile or so from the plane to reclaim

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Not bad....

A Polish garden snail can clock up 11km in a couple of weeks?

I'd say that's pretty good going.

Three cheers to the plucky (and speedy) Polish garden snail!

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i thought

That he'd worked it out in bits per second of something. That would have had far more IT relevance.

And was it an English or Polish postie delivering it?

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Anonymous Coward

That's pretty quick.

When I was a kid I posted a letter to myself in the post box outside my house (about 10m from the front door). It took around 18 hours to be delivered, giving it an average speed of 0.00056km/h.

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not questioning the slowness

but surely that's incorrect? He's use the 'as the crow flies' surely, or a road map's expected route - it might have had to travel backwards to get to the nearest post depot, it may have been re-routed to the wrong depot and had to go back/be resent, the delivery may have been the last of the postman's route/pickup may have been the first of a massive pickup route...

it's not that hard to do the old dist = speed*time equation, a 5 year old could do it. how is this news?

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European or African Garden Snail?

So what was the baud rate for this connection, and how does it compare to RFC1149?

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RE: in bps

Perhaps HMRC should think like that? They just experienced some packet loss in their connection? Put like that it doesn't sound too bad that a few (~700MB) packets are lost now and again.

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BA

"BA can fly me and my luggage 4,500 miles in a tad over 4.5 hours."

Not since Concorde went out of service though...

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Eh?

What, he posts something in the week before Christmas, and he's surprised it took a couple of weeks to be delivered?

My missus had a card posted in Feb 07, and it was delivered along with the christmas cards in December. Must have fallen behind something. See, if I was designing a post-sorting room, I'd definitely design-in a lack of things for things to fall behind.

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Joke

Compact Disks

Ah

But how long would it have taken if he had posted a couple of Cds full of personal data?

I posted a couple of disks before christmas and i'm still waiting :-)

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Silver badge
Coat

There is an RFC for Avian ..

SD cards tied to pigeon legs can beat DSL speed. The latency though, while several hours to a day is usually better than post.

Packet loss can be 100% in presence of Raptors.

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What's the inverse of light-speed?

Average speed from NZ to Aussie approaches infinity since you can't expect any given non-letter package to actually arrive

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Happy

Re: There is an RFC for Avian ..

Since you're doing it, do it correctly :)

http://www.faqs.org/rfcs/rfc2549.html

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RFC standard for pigeon-post

http://rfc.net/rfc1149.html

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Silver badge

Ha!

Still better than HM Govt, the documents actually arrived!

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Coat

Laden or unladen?

And does the shell count as "load"?

Mines' the shell hanging next to the door, please

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Boffin

@Dai Kiwi

"Average speed from NZ to Aussie approaches infinity since you can't expect any given non-letter package to actually arrive"

Infinite speed implies zero delivery time.

Infinite delivery time, which is what you are experiences, implies zero speed.

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Silver badge
Coat

Pigeon Post problems

As Mage pointed out pigeon post has its hazards. This is a system developed by dogs to halt the reduction of available postmen to attack and usually known as Counter Avian Transportation Security.

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Stop

Well...

"...an internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning..."

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Go

How far

A bicycle sold on eBay was promptly posted by my self to the customer maybe 100 miles away in the UK. After the third failed delivery attempt the Parcel company returned it to the sender, however as I did not put a senders address on the parcel it was returned to the cycle manufacturer in California. They were slightly bemused to see this item, so sent it back to the UK to their distributor. The item was then sent back to us (covered in customs stickers and the such) as they had a record of the serial number and knew where the box was sent to originally. The whole process took over six months, insurance was claimed and received, so we sold it again. The bike sold on eBay for £60. I have no idea how far it had traveled.

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How far

A bicycle sold on eBay was promptly posted by my self to the customer maybe 100 miles away. After the third failed delivery attempt the Parcel company returned it to the sender, however as I did not put a senders address on the parcel it was returned to the cycle manufacturer in California. They were slightly bemused to see this item, so sent it back to the UK to their distributor. The item was then sent back to us (covered in customs stickers and the such) as they had a record of the serial number and knew where the box was sent to originally. The whole process took over six months, insurance was claimed and received, so we sold it again. The bike sold on eBay for £60. I have now idea how far it had traveled.

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Unhappy

Email may not be much faster...

Last week it took 4.2 hours for an email I sent from work to get the 2.9 miles to my home - and both are connected to the same Telewest UBRnn cable router, for heaven's sake! Last night an email sent from 80 miles away at 18:48 arrived on my PC at 09:50. Where do they hide these things?

Ooh look, Virgin Media has put up a Service Report about "Delays receiving emails" at last [ http://status-cable.virginmedia.com/vmstatus/summary.do ] - but at the time of writing no update over the last 22 hours...

"Calling Mr Branson..."

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Thumb Up

@ John MacIntyre

You are right, there's a diference between average speed and velocity.

Average speed = distance travelled/time. Velocity = distance from start to finish/time.

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Pirate

Well

At least it got there, which is more than could be said for Royal Mail.

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Boffin

@Matthew

Velocity is the rate of change of distance travelled *in a given direction*. You can do a steady 100mph in a circle, and although your speed is constant your velocity is continually changing.

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Black Helicopters

Slow mail in Europe

Several years ago my brother posted a letter with an ordinary first class mail stamp. It was not even sent with overnight or priority delivery. The letter was delivered to the correct address approximately 900 miles away. What is so amazing? It was posted at 7am and delivered by 4pm, THE SAME DAY!

Submitted as anon to prevent the USPS from identifying me and delaying my mail to make up for this excessively quick delivery.

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@Tom (Internal Mail)

You must be using Exchange Server. It used to regularly take over four hours to get email across about 3 cubicles. When it arrived at all...

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Coat

Slow mail in Europe @ Anonymous Coward

<< It was not even sent with overnight or priority delivery. The letter was delivered to the correct address approximately 900 miles away. What is so amazing? It was posted at 7am and delivered by 4pm, THE SAME DAY! >>

I know the USPS mail service is better than most of the rest of the work, but there's no way this could have happened... If it was dropped in a collection box at 7am, that box wasn't even picked up until probably 12 noon or later... USPS doesn't turn on the machines that sort mail at the processing centers until 3:30 or 4:00 in the afternoon because no mail is collected in the mornings. By the time it gets through the processing machines (several of them) it MIGHT be on a truck to the airport at 9:00 p.m., on a flight by midnight, and MIGHT be delivered the NEXT day. Service is no longer the top priority of the USPS that it was when I started working there 37 years ago... The top priority for managers now is "making budget", and to Hell with service. That's why I got out last year.

Oh, and the boys in the USPS know who you are... your mail will take 10-14 days to be delivered for the next month... even from your neighbors.

Hand me my coat please... the mailman's winter coat and hat, and my old leather satchel... hard to replace them now.

LateNightLarry

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Boffin

We need more research on this

There are a few variables missing, that only can be obtained by some (un)formal testing of sending snailmail using from and to-points measured by route via the local post office (to get the actual speed). The other thing we need to test, and that requires a lot of testers, is the average packet loss over this connection (this will give us the minimum redundancy needed to make sure a transmission actually gets through). With this data, we can set up a proper RFC for IP-by-mail with fault tolerance, prolly by april next year. Sounds like a proper register(ed) project. :)

//Svein

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Black Helicopters

RE: Slow mail in Europe @ Anonymous Coward

You may have worked for the USPS and can claim all you want that it is impossible. It may even be impossible today. Back in 1992 when it happened, it obviously was possible. My brother dropped it in the mail on our way to school and I was there that afternoon when he got called to let him know the letter arrived.

A fellow college student that worked at the USPS also found it difficult to believe. He said the letter must have just barely made every connection. The best he could figure out is a sequence that stacks improbabilities to the same levels Arthur and Ford had of getting rescued from the vacuum of space. Then again the volume mail sent every day suggests that the probability of it happening once is almost a certainty.

As I said, that was back in 1992. I admit that it may be impossible today due to policy and procedure changes at the USPS. It does not change the fact that it did indeed happen at least once back in 1992.

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Stop

USPS and Royal Mail

I can get mail from England and Scotland to California in 4 to 8 Days. I waited 2 weeks for USPS to move a letter 260 miles. If I send a letter back to the UK it can take 7 to 15 days by USPS. I assume USPS holds outgoing letters in a sorting office for a while until sorted.

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Anonymous Coward

Average speeds...

...are only relevant if the mail arrives.

Data disks never arrive they just disappear into that black hole at the centre of the galaxy. Now if we were to imprint personal data onto the DNA of snails and if we could prove that snails are faster than mail perhaps we could get rid of a major garden pest. Sluuuurp!

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Anonymous Coward

From here to there and back again.

Mail sent from NZ to Blighty even at Xmas usually takes three to four days. NZ Postal service, plane, Royal Mail, house. No great drama and quite quick. Mail sent from Blighty to NZ 3 - 5 days customs wiling. Again no great drama. BUT parcel sent from Blighty to NZ including I think £35 special delivery charge for speedy delivery took 3.5 weeks. The guarantee was 10 working days. So my question is can I get a polish garden snail under contract.

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