Posts tagged ‘schwag’

Arch Linux Schwag site is back up (a comment on privacy)

Hey all,

http://schwag.archlinux.ca has been down for at least a week. I’m really sorry about that. I’ve been working on transferring to a new web host and they were having trouble getting all the Python dependencies I needed.

My old host was based in the United States, and while they provided exceptionally good service for the price, I have become uncomfortable with storing any data in the US. The websites are not private, of course. However I am also hosting e-mail on these domains. As a Canadian citizen, I am not covered by the NSA’s (possibly false) claim that they do not spy on US citizens, so I felt that I should store it in my own country.

I don’t do anything that is currently illegal, but I don’t know that these arrogant governments aren’t going to change their laws to restrict my freedoms. I may not be a person of interest today, but I am outspoken about freedom, privacy, and transparency. This is currently legal and acceptable, but that may not always be the case and I want to be proactive about keeping my private data out of the hands of those who would use it against me.

Arch Linux Laptop Sticker Price Reduction

I recently ordered a new batch of Arch Linux laptop stickers. However, because they have been selling so well, I ordered three times the number that I usually stock! I was able to get a much better price by ordering a larger bulk quantity and I’m excited to pass the savings onto all the loyal Arch Linux users out there.

The price for a single Arch Linux Sticker has dropped from $1.90 to $1.35. The savings are even greater if you purchase in bulk; you can now order 20 stickers for 80 cents a piece!

Arch Linux Laptop Sticker

Head over to schwag.archlinux.ca to order your stickers and other Arch Linux goodies. If you’re interested in more generic Arch Linux branded items, check out our Zazzle shop.

New Arch Linux Laptop Sticker Design


I’ve tweaked the design on the incredibly popular Arch Linux Laptop Stickers available through the Arch Linux Schwag store. I’ve taken the black outline of the sticker for both a more modern look and to alleviate problems when the decal cutters don’t quite line up with the border. I hope you like the effect!

My camera isn’t top of the line, so if someone would supply me some quality photos of these new stickers in action, I’d be happy to include them on the Arch Schwag website.

Thank you for supporting Arch Linux.I am always eager for new ideas to put in the Arch Schwag store. I’

Arch Linux Lanyards Are Back!

Demand for Arch Linux lanyards has been growing steadily. I had intended to have a new order by new years, but I ended up dealing with a different company, and decided to do a completely new design inspired by the updated Arch Linux website. There is a subtle gradient from dark grey to black in the background that looks very dynamic, and the logo itself is crisp and clear. Each lanyard is thin and very light to wear.

The lanyards are $6 for singles, and can be purchased from The Arch Schwag Store.

New Arch Linux Laptop Bags

My supplier for the Arch Linux Laptop Bags product line has updated her offerings. We have four new laptop bags available, and some of the older models have been dropped or reduced in price. Check out Arch Linux Schwag to review the offerings.

In addition, I’ve reduced the price on Arch Linux pens to below cost, in an effort to liquidate some stagnant inventory.

As always, thanks for supporting Arch Linux!

Arch Linux Handbook 2.0

Over a year ago, I released the Arch Linux Handbook, a print copy of the Arch Linux Beginners’ Guide. It proved to be far more popular than I expected, with nearly 400 copies in print.

Of course, the Beginner’s guide is a community edited document for a rolling release Linux distribution, and after a year, the Arch Linux Handbook became somewhat dated. So I’ve created a second edition. It is currently available directly from the eStore and will be available on Amazon within a couple weeks. The International Amazon sites, other booksellers, and brick and mortar stores should have the book available for order after about six weeks.

I would like to extend a huge thank you to both Jules Pitsker and Branko Vukelic. Jules is the motivating force and primary maintainer behind the online Beginners’ Guide. His tireless and thankless contributions have turned it into the exceptionally well-written and comprehensive document that it is. Branko is the best designer I know, both for print and web based materials. He did a terrific job on this handbook cover.

Upcoming Schwag Shipping Delays

I’d like to thank all my Arch Schwag customers for being the best schwag customers ever! Sales are steady and brisk, and I’ve been able to donate several hundred dollars to the Arch Linux project this year. Laptop stickers are, by far, the most popular item, but handbooks, t-shirts, lanyards, and pens are also well-liked. The occasional laptop bag and piece of jewelery are also ordered.

In a few days, I will be headed to Toronto for a vacation, tai chi training, and ArchCon. This means that orders for any items I ship personally will not be shipping until the end of the month. I apologize for the inconvenience, but I’m the only person involved in these items. If you are making an order and planning to move, it may be wise to have your items shipped to an alternate permanent address.

The items affected include laptop stickers, case badges, pens, and lanyards. Orders from the Zazzle store will not be affected, nor will orders for the Arch Linux Handbook. Orders for laptop bags and jewellery will likely only suffer minor delays, as I simply have to contact the people who create them; it will depend how slow I am to deal with my e-mails.

Schwag Shipping

Canada Post recently raised its shipping rates. Again. I think it’s the third time in a year, and the increase was substantial. I have considered their rates to be unfair for quite some time, and have tended to keep my shipping rates lower than my actual costs (handling fees, such as envelopes, printer ink, and tape are other costs I face). However, I had to raise the rates on most of my products today in order to cover more of the costs. Some of my more recent shipments have cost me more than the amount I was making on the products themselves.

As a government-run corporation, I believe Canada Post should be making more of an effort to keep it’s rates low and facilitate the moving of mail across this rather large country. I find it insulting that it costs so much for me to ship items to my Canadian clients. I understand the costs associated with international shipments, but with the unique size, geography, and climate in this country (it’s a tough place to live), I feel it is very important to have the infrastructure for getting both people (it is costing my $1000 for return flights to ArchCon in Toronto and back. I can fly to Vegas with 5 nights included for half that.) and parcels across the country as cheaply, efficiently, and easily as possible.

That said, most of my schwag customers are not located in Canada, and I am taking even bigger hits on my shipments to those customers. I have investigated some alternatives, such as travelling to the US to mail orders in bulk, but less often, but USPS has also been steadily raising their rates, and the savings to my customers wouldn’t cover the gas to get down there, the hassle at the border, or the added delays.

I anticipate reduced sales from these raised prices, and I apologize to those who feel it is too expensive to order Arch Schwag products. I will continue investigating cheaper forms of logistics, and hopefully I will be able to reduce the rates someday!

How (not) to submit a W8-BEN: Canadian retailers dealing with US income

As a Canadian retailer selling books on Amazon’s Createspace, (an American company), I suffer a 30% tax by the US government. (Aside: this is not a good way to promote global trade in a country that is nearer to economic collapse than ever before). Canadian residents are supposed to have this entire tax waived. In order to have the tax waived, I need to supply a W8-BEN form to Createspace. This sounds quite trivial, but the steps involved are time consuming and error prone. If you’re trying to figure out how to do this, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Get a Certified Copy of your Canadian passport. If you’re lucky enough to live near a city that has an official Passport Canada Office go there and have them certify it. Service Canada and Canada Post cannot perform this service. If, like many Canadians, you are not so lucky, you’ll have to mail it to this address:
    Passport Canada
    Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
    Gatineau, Canada K1A 0G3

    with a letter requesting the certified copy service. It will take up to four weeks for your passport to be returned, so don’t plan any international travel. You can also get the passport certified at a US embassy or by a US notary (the IRS won’t trust a Canadian Notary).

  2. Fill out a W-7 form. This is fairly straightforward. The IRS has instructions but they don’t make much sense. Mail the form to this address, with the certified copy of your passport:

    Internal Revenue Service
    Austin Service Center
    ITIN Operation
    P.O. Box 149342
    Austin, TX 78714-9342

  3. Wait for the IRS to get back to you. In my case they didn’t. They did get the form though, because I started getting official IRS e-mail spam. They just never gave me a TIN or responded in any physical fashion whatsoever. So I had to start the process over, continuing to lose 30% of my income every month, and going without my passport for another month.
  4. Fill out the W8-BEN form. The IRS has instructions for this too. You’ll have to include your TIN in this form.
  5. Send the form to whichever company is withholding taxes from you for the US government.

After the IRS lost or destroyed or rejected my application, without telling me, I had no way to contact them to find out what had happened. There is no e-mail address on their site, no web submit form, no phone number for international service. They don’t even seem to encourage using their mailing address.

Even worse, for me, Zazzle has now also started withholding this 30%, and they refuse to send my funds AT ALL until I submit the W8-BEN. A substantial portion of my income is now being held hostage or stolen by the US government, and they are cleverly refusing to give me the information I need to free it.

Taxes are a difficult matter, and we all complain about them. Dealing with the IRS has given me a huge appreciation for how intelligently the Canada Revenue Agency has streamlined their processes in recent years. Interacting with the IRS is like using smoke signals. Interacting with the CRA is like using a telegraph. Hopefully both countries will be able to handle the simplicity of the Internet someday soon.

Finally Shipped

Arch Linux Case BadgesAfter far too many delays, I’ve finally shipped all the outstanding case badge orders. The badges arrived today, after a delay in production and mailing, and all envelopes have been packaged; they’ll be in the mail tomorrow. I spent a lot of time stuffing envelopes this evening!

I would like to apologize to everyone who has been waiting for badges; the preorder form has been up since early December. I originally said they’d be shipping in early January, and a 1.5 month delay is truly unacceptable. Thanks to everyone for their patience; I will try to perform better in the future. I’ve certainly learned not to rely on shipping estimates!

The new badges are a more modern looking than the old ones; I’ll try to update the pictures on http://schwag.archlinux.ca/ tomorrow.