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UPS to Deploy Ultra-Connected Wireless Handhelds

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the never-out-of-range dept.

Handhelds 160

Lyle E. Dodge writes "According to this article at Yahoo.com Symbol Technologies announced (on Tax Day of all days) that in 2004 UPS would deploy 70,000 handheld delivery computers based on Symbol's Fourth Generation hardware. Color screens, 128 megs of RAM, and uber-connected (GPS, GPRS, CDMA, WiFi, Bluetooth, Infrared, Analog modem), and, of course, the familiar barcode scanner. The obvious /. question is: Can we run Linux on Brown? Maybe UPS can fund an OSS startup, "BrownHat"? We'll see..."

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Take this information with a grain of salt (-1, Offtopic)

dphoenix (623525) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765130)

Take this information with a grain of salt, this information comes from the Iraqi information Minister... He's not the most reliable source, I hear.

I doubt Linex will be running on these (-1, Offtopic)

unterderbrucke (628741) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765131)

UPS' Foundation contributed to a MS cause [microsoft.com]

also, Linex drivers for GRPS are very buggy still.

What? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5765155)

Just because Microsoft and UPS (along with AOL-TW and Cisco) are sponsoring USA Freedom Corps doesn't mean anything about their business relationship.

Hooo (-1)

MAKE IT STOP ARRGGHH (644754) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765136)

Kobla kahn

New OSS startup: (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5765141)

brown hole [slashdot.org]
Thank you, thank you! I'll be here all week...

Picture (5, Informative)

chennes (263526) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765151)

What good is a slashdot article without a picture [businesswire.com] ?

Re:Picture (1, Funny)

digital bath (650895) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765160)

Spiffy. I bet they get to play tetris on that thing...

Re:Picture (1)

curious.corn (167387) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765163)

What does private use mean? ;-)
groan...

Re:Picture (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765373)

What does private use mean? ;-)

I guess it means you can't use it on your "pay for porno" site.

Maybe I am missing something (1)

Mattygfunk1 (596840) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765178)

but isn't that exact same picture on the site on the left hand side? In fact it is even bigger. Are we all so trained to automatically skip the spaces on the page that we think might be adds at first glance?

Anyway it shows for me.

__
cheap web site hosting [cheap-web-...ing.com.au]

Re:Picture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5765190)

what good is a picture if slashdot links to it?

probably pretty good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5765418)

It's businesswire, not some geek's cable modem-hosted site.

Re:Picture (1)

Forkenhoppen (16574) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765241)

Ugh, man.. do they ever need a hand model.. look at those fingernails! I mean... augh... I think I'm gonna be sick..

Re:Picture (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765468)

I had to laugh when I saw your comment. I wasn't aware nerds had such good manicures, or cared. I didn't notice the nails until I went back. Didn't seem that bad to me, but I guess we all have their peeves.

Looking at the picture.. (1)

WegianWarrior (649800) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765265)

I'm striken by the things that usually strikes me as I look at gizmos that has a 'keyboard-look-a-like-input-thingy' - why do so many people designing such gizoms where text entry is important insist of laying out the 'keyboard' like "A B C D E etc"? I mean, come on people, Psion [psion.com] has shown us that is is easy to put in a QWERTY-layout keyboard (or DOVRAK, if you prefer) on a handheld device. For me, and I have tried a handfull of small formfactor keyboards, you can't get better in a small package than the Series5mx [series5mx.com] . Even the old Series3 [mypsion.ru] looks to have a better keyboard than this new gizmo the UPS will start using.

I know, I'm ranting a bit, but it is something I feel is important; but then, I prefer using the keyboard over the mouse most days to move about on the computer.

yes TTY kicks X11's ass (1)

SHEENmaster (581283) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765694)

but text entry on PDAs is another matter.

The zaurus [baylor.edu] has the best keyboard I've yet seen in a palmtop. Their new model has a "laptop style" folding k/b, but with only 32 mb of ram it isn't worth buying. Anyways, text entry for single words is fine, or even short memos, but try coding on it and you see the design flaws. Many special characters require the use of the on-screen k/b, and your thumb start to hurt after extended use.

Re:Picture (-1)

GhostseTroll (582659) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765408)

Grab the next motherfucker marmaduke who refuses to submit to these pelvic ostentations.

damnit (1)

SHEENmaster (581283) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765672)

I wanted one of those things until you showed me what it looks like!

What I'd really like is a "graphing calculator keyboard" addon for my Zaurus. Maybe I could use a terminal program for my 82 or my 85; they wouldn't be much of a loss....

FP (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5765154)

From my new purple hat Linux system. Suck it Wintrolls!

It's free as in being ass raped by micheal.

My Q (4, Funny)

Mattygfunk1 (596840) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765159)

The obvious /. question is: Can we run Linux on Brown?

Hmmmm, and I thaught the question was can we run tetris on this?

__
cheap web site hosting [cheap-web-...ing.com.au]

Re:My Q (1)

Steven Blanchley (655585) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765200)

No, the question is whether we can write Tetris for this.

Re:My Q (1)

Blaine Hilton (626259) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765393)

If it can run a linux distro then I'm sure someone will port a tetris clone to it.

Re:My Q (3, Funny)

DMDx86 (17373) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765577)

So between sleeping and smashing my packages they can play tetris too?

Re:My Q (1)

Alien Being (18488) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765638)

At the request of the package jockeys, UPS engineers are adding a "Squishability factor" to the blocks to make the game more lifelike.

Michael Sims: Asshole (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5765167)

Michael Sims, Domain Hijacking and Moral Equivalency
by Jonathan Wallace jw@bway.netHow would you feel if your webmaster maliciously took your web-site offline, then, when you demanded its return, put up a site attacking your company at your old URL? It happened to a group I was involved in, the Censorware Project, currently at http://www.censorware.net. The purpose of this essay is to put the behavior on record, and to give you some impressions and inferences about it.
The Censorware Project was originally an informal collective of six people who collaborated online to fight censorware: Seth Finkelstein, Bennett Haselton, Jamie McCarthy, Mike Sims, Jim Tyre and myself. Several of us had never met or even spoken on the phone, yet for some time -- around two years as I recall -- we had a remarkably easy collaboration. There was no funding, no hierarchy, no titles, not even project managers. Someone would suggest a project and take the responsibility for a part of it, others would sign up for other elements, and proceeding this way we got a remarkable amount of work done, including reports on X-Stop, Cyberpatrol, Bess and other censorware products.
Even though two of us were attorneys -- Jim and myself -- we never incorporated the group or wrote a charter or any contracts among ourselves. Mike Sims was obliging enough to register the domain, just as other members paid for press releases and the other incidental expenses which came along. Mike also served as webmaster of the censorware.org site and did substantial work for the group, including writing contributions to several of the reports and lead authorship of at least one. Seth was the source of our decrypted censorware blacklists and managed many technical tasks, but later felt he had to leave the group because of the increasing prospects of a lawsuit, particularly under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). After Seth left the group, the remaining five continued.
Robert Frost said that "nothing gold can stay," and the Censorware Project was no exception. Over the summer of 2000, Mike Sims' reaction to a perceived slight from Jim Tyre was to take the site down for a week. He sent us mail at the time saying something like "The Censorware Project is now closed." I replied to him that, given that the group was a collective and we all had an interest in its work product, the domain, and the goodwill it had achieved, the decision was not his to make. Sims did not reply.
After Seth created a partial, text, mirror, Mike put the site back up a week later without explaining, let alone apologizing for, his actions. Given his continuing failure to answer any email from me (and I think from others) and the overall signs that Sims thought the group was exclusively his, I wrote him several emails requesting that he turn the domain over to Jamie or Bennett, as I felt we could no longer trust him to administer it. We also found out during that time that important email from people trying to contact us, including members of the press, was not being answered by Sims, nor being forwarded to other members.
I ultimately became exasperated that my name was listed as a principal on what had now become a "rogue" site I had no control over. Over about a five week period, I wrote Sims several more emails asking him to delete my name from the site if he wasn't going to transfer the domain. Again, I received no reply.
In November 2000, Sims took the Censorware Project site offline again, with a message saying "Due to demands from some of the people who contributed, in however minor a fashion, to this site, it has been taken down." Judging from some email I received from him at the time, this meant me.
Its a sad thing, both because we got some good work done and because some of the other members of the group were eager to continue and in fact have continued working, while deprived then of the Censorware Project site, name, email aliases and public recognition. Within a few months after, we relaunched the site, with the original content, at http://www.censorware.net. We only had the content available because Seth Finkelstein had mirrored it -- the rest of us trusted Mike and therefore had not maintained an archive out of his control.
But all the hundreds or thousands of links Censorware Project had build-up over the years still pointed to the old site. In some cases, it was impossible to fix them, since they were from mailing-list archives, old web news pages, in print, or webmasters didn't want to be to be bothered with edits. And anyone who tried to get in touch with us by sending mail to the previous contact address would have their message trashed by Sims.
In 2002, amidst the publicity of a major trial against a Federal censorware law ("CIPA"), Sims made further changes to the censorware.org site. He expanded it with an essay accusing various other members of the project, principally Seth, of bad behavior. Remarkably, in his chronology of events, he does not deny nor even try to explain his take-down of the domain of a busy activist group which did not at all consent to being robbed of its domain: ... A few weeks later, the last shreds flew apart in a couple of bitter emails back and forth, and the website came down. I was asked nicely by Jamie McCarthy to restore the site. Reconsidering my hasty actions, I did so. ... It was conveyed to me that Tyre and Seth were pleased that I had given in to Jamie's request and restored the site, because that meant that Seth could spider (use an automated tool to download every webpage) all the content off of the site in preparation for putting it up elsewhere. That is to say, what I thought was a sincere and honest request from Jamie was actually a sort of trojan horse - made under a dishonest pretense. That was the last straw. At the beginning of November, the site came down, for good.

Michael has now set things up so that every pointer to former censorware.org content leads to his attacks. What this means is that hundreds or thousands of links which were put up elsewhere to Censorware Project content during our hey-day now, when followed, lead to Michael's denunciation of the group. Try the experiment -- invent a URL starting with censorware.org, such as http://censorware.org/DomainHijackedByMichaelSims/ index.html and you will get to Michael's rant.
Although we made some attempt to contact people maintaining pages that linked to us, and ask them to redirect the link to the new www.censorware.net, we could not contact all of them, and some never made the change. My own Ethical Spectacle site had scores of links to Censorware.org -- and every time I thought I had changed them all, I would find a few more.
In short, this is a colossal and continuing act of malice by our former webmaster, Michael Sims. It's not even ambiguous -- you can go and read Mike's essay at censorware.org and confirm that he admits he did it.
Astonishingly, there were no consequences to Michael, as far as I know, for taking down the Censorware Project content and redirecting its substantial web traffic, first to a page which said the group no longer existed, and now to his rant against its members. We had some internal discussions about suing him to get the domain back. I thought there might be some merit in it and that we might be able to prove common law collective ownership of the domain by establishing our mutual contributions of work and money to create the content which was published on the site. However, another lawyer, much more knowledgeable about these things than I am, believed that the fact that Michael had been allowed by us to register the domain in his own name would be definitive and that we would lose.
The Censorware Project had been invited to participate in a mailing list of free speech organizations known as IFEA-Plan. After Michael took down Censorware.org, several of us requested that he be removed from IFEA-Plan because he had so badly violated our confidence. (His current rant on the site reveals a number of confidential communications he received over the years.) The list-master declined to delete him and we got a number of "We don't want to get in the middle of this" type messages from various other participants.
I was naively astonished by these. If the ACLU's webmaster had trashed the organization's site, I think everyone would pretty well recognize he was a Bad Character and Not To Be Trusted. As much more minor players, despite the significant contributions we had made in revealing what censorware actually blocked, no-one could be bothered to take a stand for us. There was nothing to be gained.
Another thing I learned from the experience is the pretty obvious lesson that it is ultimately hard to decide whom to trust when relationships are based on email and lack the significant visual cues we usually use in making trust-related determinations. However, I had met Mike in person twice, while there are other members of the Censorware Project I have never laid eyes upon.
Also, even in the most collegial, relaxed and rewarding collaborations, its good to have a written contract -- exactly the advice I used to give law clients but that none of us thought to adopt to protect ourselves against the eventuality of a rogue member.

DO YOU WANT ME TO ORDER ONE? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5765169)

NO I WANT YOU TO FUCK IT!

Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page)

DO YOU WANT ME TO MOD IT UP? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5765195)

NO I WANT YOU TO FUCK IT!

Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page1)

DO YOU WANT ME TO WIPE YOUR ASS? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5765214)

NO I WANT YOU TO FUCK IT!

Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page)2

DO YOU WANT ME TO SUCK KATHLEENS ANUS? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5765225)

NO I WANT YOU TO FUCK IT!

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DO YOU WANT ME TO TONGUE MICHAELS SCROTUM? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5765236)

NO I WANT YOU TO FUCK IT!

Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page)4

DO YOU WANT ME TO BITE A PENGUIN? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5765246)

NO I WANT YOU TO FUCK IT!

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DO YOU WANT SOME CEREAL? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5765248)

NO I WANT YOU TO FUCK IT!

Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page)5
???

SHOULD I GIVE MY PET NIGGER A BATH? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5765261)

NO I WANT YOU TO FUCK IT!

Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page)6

SHOULD I CHECK THE MAGIC 8 BALL BEFORE I PISS? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5765269)

NO I WANT YOU TO FUCK IT!

Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page)7

DO VAGINAS REALLY HAVE TEETH IN THEM? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5765284)

NO I WANT YOU TO FUCK IT!

Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page)9

Linux, yes, but you forgot... (2, Funny)

gpinzone (531794) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765173)

Can we port MAME to it?

which UPS? (-1, Redundant)

knowledgepeacewi (523787) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765177)

my power supply?
oh, you mean United Parcel Service.

Re:which UPS? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5765256)

How does this guy's comment make him a Troll?
It may have been a bad joke, but... a Troll??
Someones having a bad day...

bad joke...why, I never... (1)

knowledgepeacewi (523787) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765395)

It certainly isn't a BAD joke.

Re:bad joke...why, I never... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5765847)

It certainly isn't a GOOD joke.

Re:which UPS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5765509)

Why was this post moderated down? It is not offtopic when there is an issue with unfair moderation, which is often the case on Slashdot.

Up to the minute tracking information (3, Funny)

Steven Blanchley (655585) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765183)

So next time something like this [slashdot.org] happens, it will be possible to see who or what is responsible, right?

Re:Up to the minute tracking information (1)

BlackListedCard (588042) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765388)

I have been fighting with Canada Post and the U.S. for a insured package that was in a thousand pieces. Both say it's the other guy that should pay. The insurance coverage was for $525.00U.S. They keep telling me that they are backlogged. Three years.... They inquirying if I have the claim number and the paper work. I just respond that I made photocopies of the originals. They always respond, "oh.."

UPS and OSS (5, Insightful)

SiMac (409541) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765186)

UPS does not like OSS. I can say that for certain.

A few months ago, I developed a package tracking application for Mac OS X. Since I had just done this in my free time, and I didn't really feel like selling it, I decided to make this application open source. My original plug-ins communicated to the package trackers via HTML, but it soon became apparent that the websites changed quickly enough to make this more difficult than I had first imagined.

Since this was an application, and not a package tracker, I couldn't use a regular e-commerce account. I emailed FedEx and they gave me the proper key and information necessary to use their XML service. UPS, however, was not so nice. I got an email that stated:
Our current license agreement does not support open source, and we are only able to authorize the use of the tools if the product cannot be altered in any way by subsequent users, including resellers.

So, UPS is certainly not a fan of open source. My current UPS plug-in breaks rather often, but there's not much I can do about it, given UPS's stance on this issue.

Re:UPS and OSS (3, Insightful)

anonymous loser (58627) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765253)

Did it occur to you that perhaps UPS didn't write their own software, and are limited by their license agreement with the vendor? That's what it sounds like to me.

Re:UPS and OSS (1)

SiMac (409541) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765488)

This software is definitely developed exclusively for UPS. Who would sell a XML server for package tracking that only connects to UPS's system? Anyway, even if someone else did develop the software, why would the vendor put any restrictions on which end users could use it? It's not like it's a chunk of code; it's an XML API that requires an account to connect.

Re:UPS and OSS-"Fragile" when examined. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5765263)

"Our current license agreement does not support open source, and we are only able to authorize the use of the tools if the product cannot be altered in any way by subsequent users, including resellers."

So does that mean that the "authorized" versions have to be rewritten alot? Doesn't look like a picnic for the closed-source guys either.

Re:UPS and OSS (4, Informative)

seanadams.com (463190) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765318)

I can second that - UPS' XML interface is needlessly complicated and very unreliable. I implemented it as part of my ordering page and it was a disaster. It worked okay during testing and for the first couple weeks of deployment, but then their servers started going offline for 2-3 hours a day. Many sales were lost. Why, in the name of god, should an application have to go over the public Internet in order to get rate quotes and ship packages? UPS' own software doesn't do this, so why do they force their customers to use an inferior system?

The main thing I needed from it was their rate calculator. After much digging around on their web site and several calls to my account rep, I finally found their rate tables. They came in tab delimited format which was great, except these spreadsheets were not suitable for automated processing because there were many formatting inconsistencies - the data was obviously maintained by hand.

To make a long story short, in the end I was able to make some perl scripts for looking up domestic and international rates using those files, without having to go across the net. But I wasted a LOT of time finding out out how badly their XML interface sucks, and we still don't have a solution for automated shipping - only rate quotes.

When it comes to software, UPS is as clueless as it gets. I'm going to be getting set up with Fedex soon and if they're any better software-wise, it will be my pleasure to drop UPS.

Re:UPS and OSS (1)

KingAdrock (115014) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765520)

I've used UPS's XML service for not only tracking, but also order processing and have had few problems. The XML gets a little complicated because it has some powerful features (especially for order processing).

I'd be interested in knowing if anyone has created any shipping solutions with the Fed Ex API. I've looked at it, but it didn't look nearly as nice as what UPS had.

Worldship cost? (1)

ssstraub (581289) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765628)

Does someone know the cost of UPS's "WorldShip" application? I don't know if this is developed in-house or not, but I would guess they want everyone to use it and this is why they won't help the competition. The most likely reasons being so everyone has to pay for it or to keep it consistent. I would guess the former....

That said, I've had to deal with both installing it, and to a limited degree, using it. It feels like a poorly written VB app. Very amatuerish and unprofessional, IMO. And this is their "global" solution.

Going nowere. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5765188)

"Can we run Linux on Brown? Maybe UPS can fund an OSS startup, "BrownHat"? "

New slogans: "When it absolutely positively has to blow chunks." or "BrownHat: when neither your time nor package is worth anything"

Re:Going nowere. (1)

whereiswaldo (459052) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765489)

Maybe UPS can fund an OSS startup, "BrownHat"? We'll see..."

I was thinking more along the lines of "BrownStripe", but that's just me.

Re:Going nowere. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5765634)

"Can we run Linux on Brown? Maybe UPS can fund an OSS startup, "BrownHat"? "

No Way! It would deffinately be "BrownShorts"

How (3, Interesting)

Subnirvana337 (572385) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765189)

Is this any different from the black and white touch pads they had before? It may have all the gizmos and gadgets, but is it needed? Are they going to be more productive now?

Re:How (1)

devilspgd (652955) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765415)

From what I've seen the current ones take down information, but until they get to their shipping outlet the information doesn't go anywhere.

Re:How (1)

Subnirvana337 (572385) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765448)

Hmm...data getting back to UPS faster is nice, but if the customer has it already, why does is the data more treasured then? Their scanning facilities are nice, because it'll tell you where your package is in (city, state, en route etc etc) So getting the post data shouldnt be that important, should it?

Re:How (1)

devilspgd (652955) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765733)

The data I really want, as a receiver, is to know whether or not UPS has already made a delivery attempt today or not (If I haven't been around) so that I know if I should go home and wait or not...

Fedex one step ahead (0, Redundant)

knowledgepeacewi (523787) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765194)

Last week the Fed-ex guy showed up with one of these things.

"Ultra-Connected Wireless Handhelds" (3, Funny)

Fjornir (516960) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765197)

OK... Ultra-Connected Wireless Handhelds

Which is it?

Geocaching for lazy people? (4, Funny)

iabervon (1971) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765198)

"Yes, I'd like you to pick up a package at these GPS coordinates, and ship it to me. I have no idea what it will be."

On the other hand, it would be kind of neat to have UPS deliver something to the location output from your GPS. Driving down the highway, the UPS truck honks at you, you pull over, and the driver gives you the books you bought online...

Re:Geocaching for lazy people? (1)

Forkenhoppen (16574) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765228)

Actually, that'd probably kinda freak me out...

Re:Geocaching for lazy people? (1)

Micro$will (592938) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765433)

Kinda reminds me of the movie Seven.

Yes, I'd like this box delivered to these GPS coordinates at exactly 7 PM tomorrow.

Re:Geocaching for lazy people? (1)

EdMcMan (70171) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765905)

That could be kind of interesting.. UPS Dodge Vipers flying down the highway trying to catch up ;)

qwerty? (2, Insightful)

natefanaro (304646) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765201)

looks good. The only con (to me) about it is that the keyboard isn't qwerty. I'm sure getting used to the layout wouldn't take much time but for people that are really used to qwerty may have a tough time with it.

Alternatives to this device (5, Informative)

elitman (455012) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765207)

Have a look @ TI's WANDA platform [ti.com] for a cool reference design similar to this. I played with the platform at the CTIA show [ctiashow.com] last month, and the company that put it together for TI, Accellent, had working prototypes in cases ready to go.

The best part about WANDA: it's $130 for the integrated board. Add a battery, display and a few controls, and you could have whatever kind of PDA you wanted.

Additionally, Metrowerks [metrowerks.com] has been working to get their OpenPDA [openpda.com] Linux distribution (formerly Lineo's) working on WANDA.

Symbol has a less than stellar track record of opening up their devices to alternative technologies, and their licensing relationship with Microsoft all but guarantees that you'll never see them shipping a Linux or Symbian device from them.

PalmOS maybe? (1)

cmiller173 (641510) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765212)

Palm just announced that the next gen would support 128Meg Symbol currently has 5 palm based handhelds.

Shipping, Tracking, Wireless OpenSource Rodeo... (5, Informative)

csg (7845) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765226)

Disclaimer: I work for FedEx, my comments are my own.

From the Article Link: The incorporation of three different types of radio communication links in each unit will ensure that package delivery information is available to customers almost instantaneously...

FedEx has done this sort of real-time updates on packages since the early 1980's when we started using the DADS radio network. Thats right, back when I was using an Apple IIe, and many slashdoter's weren't even in Kindergarten, FedEx had near-time tracking updates on packages. Let's not act like it's rocket science.

As for running Linux on the device, that's not really important, except for a coolness factor. I do know that FedEx has many projects headed towards Linux and OpenSource.

Funding an Open Source startup seems silly too. Why not just hire experienced Open Source talent. That's what we've been doing @ FedEx. Seems to work pretty well provided the hacker-types can live in the business-type environment. 200k person companies aren't for everybody.

Anyways.. I digress. Cool hand-held custom built. Neat. They still call themselves "brown" and that speaks for itself. ;-)

BrownHat? (1)

glwtta (532858) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765235)

I would think the more logical name would be "BrownShorts"... well, it's not as bad as some distro names out there.

Re:BrownHat? (1)

presearch (214913) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765286)

Bring me my brown shorts!!

I can see it now (4, Funny)

Spoticus (610022) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765237)

Future CNN reports about dozens of UPS delivery people are getting mugged by redbull-toting geeks who want to nab these puppies and create beowulf clusters of them...

Does this mean? (2, Funny)

swordboy (472941) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765251)

Does this mean that I can get a package delivered to my house without taking a week off from work?

We'll be there between 8:30AM and Thursday

The other day, they stopped delivering packages without signature (they'd never had me sign anything before... just left it on the back porch). Then all of a sudden, then started playing by the rules and I realized how inconvenient it is to try to get a shipment.

Now, I have to call and tell my credit card company that I am shipping to my work address every time that I need something delivered.

Sigh...

Re:Does this mean? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5765505)

If they're anything like FedEx, I believe you can call and tell them to leave it without a signature.

By the black porch? (1)

AlbanySux (248858) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765513)

Your lucky.. When i get stuff delivered by UPS they don't even bother bringing it to the house! They leave at the bottom of the driveway! Even when the package SAYS signature required, even when its insured, regardless of whats in the box. Be it junk, clothing or computer parts. Fedex leaves it by the front door, which we never use. Today we "found" a package that had been sitting there for about a week without us knowing. So, I try to get stuff delievered at work too.

Re:Does this mean? (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765521)

Now, I have to call and tell my credit card company that I am shipping to my work address every time that I need something delivered.

Actually you don't. Just call your credit card company ONCE and have them add your business address permanantly as an alternate to your billing address. I have both my shop and another company listed with my credit card company, plus the home that is the billing address. I just order, decide which one, and it goes through. All the verification does is see if the address is listed, it can be more than one.

Quite convenient since I ship to all three addresses on the same card, depending on what the item is.

On your other point: My regular UPS guy never gets me to sign. If there is a substitute, he always requires me to sign. I haven't figured out why yet.

Typists (1)

minusthink (218231) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765270)

Does anyone know how fast someone begins to type on this thinger, once they have used it for a while?

is easier (or maybe harder?) to start typing at a reasonable rate since its layout is fimilar (A B C ....)

I suppose anyone who programmed on their calculator during math class can answer this too. ( I always had the serial cable :D )

New Toys == Better Service? (1, Flamebait)

telstar (236404) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765274)

I've had nothing but problems receiving UPS packages. I've had packages that were never delivered, packages damaged in transit, and I had to go meet a delivery man on a corner one time because he said he couldn't find my address. My apartment was in a town with a numbered grid of streets ... so I'm not sure where the confusion was. I'm all for Brown getting some new toys so long as it means I get my packages faster.

Re:New Toys == Better Service? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5765436)

I use to work for a company that contracts for ups.
I can tell you, that I have seen packages thrown and carelessly handled. I ship always ship fed ex now

Try shipping anything damageable through UPS (2, Insightful)

Cecil (37810) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765277)

Then see how you feel about them.

Re:Try shipping anything damageable through UPS (2, Funny)

EdMcMan (70171) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765878)

As opposed to what, exactly? I don't have any indestructible objects laying around.

Going wireless inside too... (5, Informative)

quandrum (652868) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765317)

Actually, internally UPS has been "wireless" for years. I work as a "Loader" packing boxes into 18-wheeler type trucks. (Whenever I just say trucks, people assume the brown ones they see on the street.) We have to scan the barcode on every box and the device we use is wireless and straps on teh wrist, with a scanner eye on our hand. However, the tech used is circa '94 and often the things have lots of problems connecting. Can be a problem.

In may, these systems will be replaced with a system with better wireless performance. And the eye piece will be wireless too, so we can wear the computer on our hip.

Re:Going wireless inside too... (2, Interesting)

digitalhermit (113459) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765441)

I helped deploy the Symbol technology in the South Florida District a few years ago and we were one of the original beta sites. We had lots of problems with the scanners dropping into "batch mode" and sometimes locking up. Battery issues were also common. The sort shifts were around 3-4 hours but the batteries, though rated for that length, didn't really live up to the claims. Still, the technology was still fairly cutting edge during the delployment.

Eventually the technology was supposed to help loaders determine which packages went into each feeder, but this would require more information (such as destination zip code, service level) to be present on each barcode; or, have some way for the scanners to query a central database in real-time. It would also allow packages to be "intercepted" and rerouted at a request from the shipper.

Anyhow, the technology that lets a relatively low performance terminal (in this case a wearable scanner) query a much more powerful server (PC or even mainframe) is pretty cool. There's a very, very strong case for putting Linux on these devices rather than some other proprietary solutions.

Re:Going wireless inside too... (1)

quandrum (652868) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765605)

Eventually the technology was supposed to help loaders determine which packages went into each feeder

Seriously, this was needed a long time ago. The standard for UPS is that 1 in 2000 boxes is allowed to be missorted (Sent to the wrong destination.) I've been told each one costs the company between 10 and 60 dollars.(extra transit + customer refund) At millons of packages shipped every day, this has to be one of their biggest expenses. And it would be so easy to implement some form of computer check. Relying on us Loaders while expecting us to load at a break-neck pace is only a recipe for disaster. (At Xmas, our area had a missort frequency of about 1 in 200!)

Okay, so doing almost entirely manual labor all alone for four hours a day leaves me plenty of time to redesign the whole system in my head.

Re:Going wireless inside too... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5765793)

Woah, 1 for 200? In my hub they'd chew us out for that to no end. I really hate the scanners we have at the moment. Constant drops into batch mode (could be fixed if they would deploy more AP's) and thus packages go missing if the scanner logs out.

And i really do agree, a system is needed to catch missorted packages. At the moment the sorting staff is a joke. That's the reason a new hub in our area is almost completely automated. Everything was cut save for loaders and unloaders. Too bad the system gets shut down on a weekly basis because the plant engineers can't figure out reversing the polarity on a motor makes it run backwards. Took them 8 hours to figure that one out....

Brown Hat (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5765327)

I know it really doesn't matter what you name it but I think brown shorts linux be more appropriate name for a ups linux distro

It's "ber" (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5765382)

Please, if you absolutely must use the worn-out prefix "über-" without actually understanding what it means or where it came from (and who that Nietzsche guy actually was), at least spell it correctly. It's either über, or if you don't know how to generate Umlauts, ueber. But definitely not "uber".

Yes, those little dots are important. They change the pronunciation significantly, and in some cases the meaning. Of course, this may be irrelevant at Slashdot, where there's no difference between "than" and "then", or "your" and "you're", and "its" and "it's". A "mute point", I guess.

When I worked at UPS (3, Informative)

Pettifogger (651170) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765391)

I used to work for UPS back in 1991-1992 down in LA, and was one of the DIAD Techs that they had.

For what it's worth, this new model looks a whole lot better than the original. For starters, it's a lot smaller, not to mention all the wireless capabilities. You used to have to "dock" the DIADs in big metal racks and spend a lot of time getting information on and off of them each night. That took quite a bit of time.

I don't know if they still use it, but back then, the DIAD system was run under OS/2, which is why I'm still a fan of that OS.

The only thing I'm curious about is the durability of these units. The original DIADs were pretty good, however, a significant drop or other mistreatment would either knock it out or send it into "bootloader" mode. And it was a pain to have deliveries done on paper.

Anyway, this one looks pretty good- it almost makes me want to go back so I can play with them. Then again, the current carrer track is a whole lot more profitable.

neat but how do I .....? (0)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765398)

OK, it's really neat, but how do I steal one of these great toys if it has GPS in it and all those ways it can snitch on me and tell UPS where it is?

Wearable Computer Stuff - Test environment (2, Insightful)

BlackListedCard (588042) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765404)

UPS would be a great environment to test out the latest and greatest in Wearable Computer stuff. Feedback from the employees would help the development of the technology.

Re:Wearable Computer Stuff - Test environment (1)

quandrum (652868) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765721)

Actually, internally it might be too rough. Flesh wounds are a daily occurance and cardboard dust gets EVERYWHERE. Like, my chest is black with the stuff after 4 hours. Under a t-shirt and sweatshirt.

I tried taking my iPod into work to listen to music while I worked. I swear it aged about 2 years in one day. Hasn't worked correctly since. And if you're talking about the drivers who stop by to drop off packages, what company in their right mind would beta test anything that had to interface with the customer. "I need your signature here ma'am. Dammit, another blue screen." that'll send 'em right to FedEx

Re:Wearable Computer Stuff - Test environment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5765902)

Flesh wounds are a daily occurance and cardboard dust gets EVERYWHERE. Like, my chest is black with the stuff after 4 hours. Under a t-shirt and sweatshirt.

Jesus Christ! Imagine what that stuff is doing to your lungs!

BrownHat FAQ (1, Funny)

TV-SET (84200) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765442)

Q: How does one make BrownHat?
A: One needs to put a lot of shit into RedHat. :)

linux...never (4, Informative)

sickmtbnutcase (608308) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765530)

"The obvious /. question is: Can we run Linux on Brown? Maybe UPS can fund an OSS startup, "BrownHat"? We'll see..."

Just to let you know: I work at UPS. Switching to Linux will never happen. UPS is a Microsoft joint. Plain and simple, and i really doubt they will ever switch. They have too many programs written for Windows and that seems to be all the developers know. And, what's really scary, too much stuff runs on Access. A company their size takes forever to roll out new equipment and software, heck, the system i work with (runs all the scanning in the hub) is still on OS/2. We are waiting for our new scanners, which will run on a Windows 2000-based system. The new scanners for hub use(loading trucks) will even be running Windows CE. No chance of tux invading this place.

Re:linux...never (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5765768)

Switching to Linux will never happen.

Then have 'em switch to BSD.

Symbol Technologies Incompetancy & Greed (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5765712)

Mark this OffTopic if necessary, but please read it.


Take a peek at this as I would not at all trust Symbol Technolgies with anything IT related.
Check the head lines here: Symbol Technologies in the news [yahoo.com]


Take a look at this: Former Symbol Technologies Exec Pleads Guilty to Fraud [yahoo.com] . Its just the tip of the iceberg.
Symbol Severance Assailed [newsday.com]
Critics: Delay $2M payment to ex-CEO

I had worked for their manufacturing team on Long Island, NY from 97-99 & did web development/IT stuff for them from 99-2001. The IT management is clearly incompetent & personal greed (not even greed to make the company better) is their God. Since distribution of their own personal performance related bonuses hinged on how budgets were spent (IT hardware: replacement HDs, etc; salaries; job related tools: like having pagers or cell phones for those on call) they cut the budgets like MAD.

They killed off pagers for the sysadmin team. Yet, they had to remain on call/available if necessary. They took IT staff on salary (off hourly wages) & then demanded that they work an absolute minimum of 45 hours a week. So some staff left & that meant that the work load for the existing staff went up but salaries didn't scale. "Oh, we can give you comp time." But the rub was that you have to ask permission to use your comp time. Since the work load went up, you can't use your comp time.

They killed the budget for replacement hardware. They had a good system for deploying a PC (Norton Ghost or a hardware HD copier) but they had no $$$ to buy a new HD or a new switch 'cause the old one gets smoked on Monday logins.

They ignored Java & ColdFusion as a means of developign internal systems and instead chose VB/ActiveX, MS IE, IIS, & even MS ACCESS for their three-tier system.

They have moved 95% of all their manufacturing to Renosa, Mexico. This company used to run radio ads on how it has helped Long Island & specifically the town of Brookhaven. They laid off their manufacturing workforce (both engineering & assembly) in order to cuts manufacturing costs.

TOMO RAZMILOVIC ex-CEO, This asshat ran the company into the ground & then gets a servance package. About half of the folks that were laid off received 2 months salary & then they got 6 months of New York State Unemployment. This jackass' contract gives him $2 million. WTF is up with that?!?!

The REAL question is: (1)

Eberlin (570874) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765728)

Will they name it after Apple's naming convention (or the ipaq) and call it iBROWN or BROWN-i?

What I'd really like... (2, Interesting)

Dr. Mu (603661) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765755)

...is a way to access the system to find out where my driver is when he's got stuff for me. That way I could go meet him early and get it, instead of waiting for an afternoon delivery.

symbol makes some cool handhelds (2, Interesting)

AssFace (118098) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765788)

they are making a handheld barcode scanner that would be used for grocery shopping. as you walk along putting groceries in your cart, you scan it in to the scanner that you have.
then when you check out, instead of them scanning all of your groceries, they just take your handheld device and plug it in to see how much your bill is.

the obvious point that came up is how easily one could steal. so the store would instate a rule where they randomly scan all of someone's groceries.

I, and apparently many others at the major grocery chains that were approached with this idea, was skeptical that people would steal like crazy.
so there were a bunch of test stores that were setup with the system to see how well it works out, and apparently it worked really well - they saw less theft that way than they did the "normal" way and the main problem they actually had were people ringing the same item up multiple times (accidentally I presume).

I don't recall the numbers off the top of my head as to how much faster this made the checkout process, but it was a very impressive number.
every time I find myself standing in checkout lines and I see that they are using Symbol checkout scanning equipment (which is nearly every grocery store I've ever been in) - I always wish that they had that new personal scanner system.

I haven't followed Symbol's stock in over two years, but they used to have a pretty solid system last I looked. not sure how they are lately.

Technology... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5765789)



UPS Already owns a technology company - UPS AT. They (UPS AT) are not an "OSS" or an "OS" company, but they do have hardware and software skills to do the integration jobs and support truck tracking and also a fair amount of of avionics.

The POWER of brown (1)

unixwin (569813) | more than 11 years ago | (#5765837)

Scenario Time: anytime

Location : Bathrooms all over the world

Sounds : gasping and grunts from the bathroom...
"uh", "brrrrrr...." .... "gasp!!???" , "ouch", (straining grunts...) , "brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr"
"sighh..........aaaaaaaaaaaaahhh"


aaahhhhh the POWER of brown
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