September 18, 2009 · Comments Off on Stamp of approval

A typical issue of Microzine.

A typical issue of Microzine. Image courtesy NeighborhoodValues.com.

I grew up with an Apple II in the classroom, where I regularly enjoyed Scholastic's Microzine, a sort of edutainment version of Softdisk. One Microzine game (perhaps Math Mall on issue #22) put players in the role of the proprietor of a a galactic pet store, where they needed to fulfill customers' orders. Shoppers weren't picky about how many or even what kind of pets they wanted — as long as they collectively had the exactly right number of eyes, feet, tails, and other appendages. It might take three space monkeys, two Martian blowfish, and a cosmic coonhound to accommodate their expectations.

Though I haven't seen an issue of Microzine in decades, I don't have to miss this particular game, as I play it every year with the United States Postal Service. With each postage rate increase, I have to determine what stamps to buy to mail an issue of Juiced.GS. For example, it costs $2.92 to send an issue to Australia, but there's no single stamp with that value. What lesser stamps can I combine to come closest to that number? It can't be less than $2.92, but the greater the total is, the more cents are lost. It's an inexact but demanding science.

There are enterprise alternatives to this chore: both Stamps.com and a Pitney Bowes mail meter would let me purchase and apply postage from my own home office. But both require a monthly fee, making them more suitable to companies that mail products regularly. That describes Juiced.GS's former publisher, Syndicomm, which markets a variety of Apple II hardware, software, and publications. But for Gamebits, whose sole product is Juiced.GS, paying monthly for something I'd use quarterly is not economical.

And besides, it's not a great burden to manually address and stamp envelopes four times a year. But it does explain why your issues will be arriving this month featuring lauded authors and wedding cakes. It's not a hidden message so much as it's a manifestation of skills I learned on an Apple II.

April 3, 2009 · Comments Off on Contact

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