TTB Permits Online for Mac Users: Working Solution

Having TTB upload errors using Microsoft Silverlight on your Mac? Think I may have a solution for you.

  1. If you can, try OSX Yosemite 10.10.4 and Firefox version 39, a combination I am currently successfully using. Later iterations of both may also work, but so far this is all I’ve tested.
  2. See if you can dust off a really old Mac you may have in your electronics graveyard somewhere—preferably with an older version of Silverlight. I was using an ’06 MacBook Pro in connection with a variety of different browsers. I’ll post the versions if I bring it back into service.
  3. Begrudgingly install Windows on your machine using Bootcamp or a third-party option such as Parallels.

Notes/frustrations vented below.

I’ve been on a Mac at home and at work since 2006. Unfortunately, due to TTB compatibility issues with recent Apple OS X versions, most notably (and unsurprisingly) Microsoft Silverlight and Apple OS X errors, I’d actually been using my trusty old ’06 MacBook Pro to upload documents to all of the TTB applications I handle. It’s the only solution I’d found at the time that worked. (Using Bootcamp or Parallels to install Windows on my Mac just seemed sacrilege—and inconvenient!)

In any event, if you don’t submit a lot of TTB applications, you may not notice that TTB’s Brewer’s Notice submission system does not play nice with newer Mac computers. TTB tells you, but quietly. Here’s the only hint, toward the very end of your application, and it’s in small black font just before a big warning for something else grabs your eyes. When you’re in a hustle to get your TTB application from point A to point B, it can be easy to miss, and cause a ton of headaches.

TTB not playing nice with your Mac? Here's the tiny warning about it, within your TTB commodity application.
TTB not playing nice with your Mac? Here’s the tiny warning about it, within your TTB commodity application.

What happens for those of us using anything newer than Leopard? (In other words, those modern users on OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, 10.7 Lion, 10.8 mountain Lion, 10.9 Mavericks, or 10.10 Yosemite?) In my experience, on my newer machines, is that when you’re using any browser, when you go into the upload document portal, you get taken into a Microsoft Silverlight vortex. You might get prompted to update Silverlight (do so at your own risk). You go upload your important documents, and they appear to upload all the way and show as complete. But, when you click back to the application, there’s nothing there. You might try again, and this time your documents don’t upload all the way, with one or two getting stuck somehow mid-upload. It’s frustrating, to be sure.

However, I’m glad to report a fix that’s working for me right now. In the past, I’ve tried working on every browser imaginable to see if it would work with my current version of Apple OS X. Right now, I’m on OS X Yosemite 10.10.4. And, every now and then, I’ll try it again on my new machine to see if things are compatible, or if I have to bust out my vintage machine. Much to my delight, things seem to be working! You have to skip using Chrome (like about 65% of all of us use). The solution for now is in Firefox (well, at least OSX Yosemite 10.10.4 is working with Firefox version 39).

Read More

Legal Beer Shipping Through US Mail? Maybe Soon.

Legal alcohol shipping? Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California says she’ll introduce a bill that just might make it so. Announced through her Facebook page on July 14, 2015, Congresswoman Speier would like to “tear down the last vestiges of #Prohibition” by introducing a bill that will undoubtedly be unpopular with craft beverage fans across the United States. The bill would make it legal for consumers to ship alcohol through the United States Post Office, “expanding consumer choice and keeping the Post Office solvent in the process,” according to Congresswoman Speier.

For those out of the loop, it’s currently illegal to ship alcohol through the US Mail. It’s also not okay through third-party carriers such as FedEx and UPS, although violating their rules is not as risky as the USPS’s. For example, violators of the United States Post Office alcohol shipping prohibition technically “shall be fined . . . or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.”

Don’t get too excited yet, though. This isn’t the first time a bill like this has been introduced. However, it’ll be the first time such a bill has been introduced (if it indeed is) on new Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan’s watch. Previous Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe, however, publicly supported previous steps to open up alcohol shipment. Indeed, he even had ideas about making shipping easier, including introducing flat-rate boxes designed to ship bottles.

For the curious, the ban on shipping alcohol through the United States Postal Service stems back to 18 U.S.C. § 1716, a federal statute that came on the books back in 1909. The statute provides that “[a]ll spiritous, vinous, malted, fermented, or other intoxicating liquors of any kind are nonmailable and shall not be deposited in or carried through the mails.” Pretty straightforward.

Opening up beer and wine shipping through US Mail won’t be without its administrative challenges, but former Postmaster General Donahoe thought they were surmountable. For example, there are issues with shipping out of and into various states (some states allow it, some do not), and further issues with preventing delivery to those underage.

With interest in craft beverages at an all-time high, this may just be the time for a bill like this to make it through. Keep in mind, however, that secondary markets, from a consumer-to-consumer sales perspective, would still be illegal—and bartering or trading could still be deemed a sale of alcohol, prohibited under many state laws. Shipping of gifts back and forth to your buddies in different parts of the United States, however, may pass muster. So, perhaps it’s a good time to warm back up to your old college friends who may be scattered about the US, and living nearby your favorite hard-to-find source. We’ll keep you posted.

Read More