March 2013 Archives

You know the story. You've ordered something online. You get an email thanking you for your order and providing a tracking number and link to UPS's tracking page. And you click it and you get stuff like this:

UPS Tracking Information screen shot

Okay, so the status is "Out For Delivery". Which, with UPS, could mean anytime all day until like 7pm at night. And if the item is perishable, and your house is south-facing, means there's a good chance that the UPS guy will throw your package in front of the front door, plopped down on the welcome mat, perfectly aimed at the blazing sun above, and that the clouds that were prevalent in the morning will have cleared leaving the sun a goodly number of hours to bake and cook what's inside the package until you get home after work. (Assuming nobody steals it in the meantime.)

And so, nobody likes that so you have to go home and work from home to intercept the UPS man. But Murphy's Law dictates that, like the watched pot that never boils, the longer you wait for the UPS delivery to arrive, the longer it will take, and if you sneak out for a minute or run down to the garage, that will be when he shows up.

Which leads me to the question. We all know that UPS and FedEx and all the delivery folks carry these very smart handheld devices which communicate to the mother ship every second or whatever, and, no doubt, include GPS locations. So why not offer customers a little insight into the delivery guy's location?

Instead of "Out for Delivery", imagine the Shipment Progress reads, "Headed for La Jolla, on Torrey Pines Rd", "5 stops before your address", "2 stops before your address", "now at your addres, etc.? With this kind of info, especially arriving as push notifications on one's phone, one could not waste an entire day waiting for the UPS delivery but instead do a just-in-time handoff, arriving the same time the UPS guy does. Take the package, sign for it, drop it off inside, lock up, and get back to work. Done and done.

Maybe Google could do it. As a secret 20% feature. Go to Google Maps, type in one of those 1Zyaddayadda numbers from UPS, and it goes, oh, I get it, you wanna know where the truck is well check this out, and you get a live map with not only the truck's current location updated every second, but where he's been all day since pulling "Out for Delivery" at 5:23am. Yeah, that would be cool.

Bruce is in fine form this year.



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The Friendly Orange Glow: The Story of the PLATO System and the Dawn of Cyberculture, by Brian Dear
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