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New Yorker Accidentally Gets $1M WebTV Prototype

CmdrTaco posted more than 15 years ago | from the who-signed-for-that-one dept.

Microsoft 225

An anonymous reader sent us to a story that chats about a shipping error causing a million dollar WebTV prototype to get shipped to a NY Bank employee. The creepy part is that the NYPD apparently tracked the package down. I guess I should be thankful the HPD isn't knocking on my door asking about that crate of Transmeta CPUs that somehow got shipped here by mistake last week.

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Re:Maybe I just read the comment wrong, but... (1)

mistalinux (78981) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458744)

Then again, if I did read the comment wrong, then maybe it was referring to the fact that the NYPD was called in at all to recover MS property, that was incorrectly mailed to the wrong address ... which is certainly not a crime by any definition of the word.

It is referring to what you are talking about in this statement, but WHY did the NYPD have to retrieve the package? Who payed for this? The taxpayers of New York? If so, that is DEFINATELY a crime. And don't tell me "oh you think its a crime just because it is micros~1" because if redhat were to the same thing and I were a tax payer in New York, I would be just as angry.

Show your receipt. Tell cops and MS to get lost. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1458745)

Sounds like a legitimate business transaction. I might as well say, "Oh did I sell that Picasso at the garage sale for 3 bucks? It's worth a lot more, I'm gonna have the cops go get it back for me." Sorry, doesn't work that way. MS screwed up. They should suffer the consequences. The guy paid for the unit FAIR AND SQUARE. It's his. MS should offer to buy it back for a few hundred thou or even the fill mil... the guy still doesn't HAVE TO sell, though.

Confirmation, please! (3)

Inoshiro (71693) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458767)

Do we have any true confirmation, or is this just more word of mouth stuff? I mean, there are a lot of more plausible sounding urban legends on this site [snopes.com] .

Let's analyse this: Big corporation X, which many people don't understand, and has been recently confirmed to have been doing evil things, has an employee, who accidently sends package Y, which is worth 1,000,000 dollars. This person, Z, who is a complete innocent just trying to get his fair share from company X is shocked/scared/suprised as company X brings in the [Mafia|Police|Military] to get back its 1,000,000 dollars package. Lesson to be learned: really don't trust those large corporations, because they're all evil and secretly control the government.

" Has the NYPD now been reduced to foot soldiers that serve to correct simple clerical errors on behalf of corporate America? "
I don't know. I'd want a signed letter, compelete with a few forms of ID, from this Scott Posner fellow before I'd believe any of this in the slightest. This is an NT security rag^H^H^Hmag...

Re:1 million dollars - really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1458768)

Possibly, but i'd suspect that the shipping label was printed wrong. ie, end user goof-up. Which I doubt they'd be running OS/2. Tom

My god, am I commenting pro-Microsoft??? (2)

MidKnight (19766) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458769)

OK, maybe this is a non-anti-Microsoft post. Should be interesting.

Most people seem to be taking issue with the fact that the NYPD was called in to track down the prototype. This seemed like a Bad Thing/Big Brother/Corporation-Gov't conspiracy at first, I must admit.

But now that I've been thinking about it, maybe we're all succuming to a knee-jerk reaction here. Suppose Ford "accidentally" shipped their 2001 concept car prototype to Joe Bob in Topeka.

After the initial panic attack at Ford Corporate settled down, they'd look for the absolute fastest way to get that thing out of the open. Call the police, explain the situation. Then call the police commissioner, explain the situation. Then call the mayor, explain the situation.

In short, I think the inherent value of the box (well, its value to Microsoft) may justify the use of the police. As someone else posted, it isn't fair the the NY taxpayers picked up the tab, but those are the breaks. Capitalism sucks, but it's better than anything else.


Microsoft == OCP (remember Robocop?) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1458770)

Just think, MS could find some local bankrupt gov't like Orange County California and take over local gov't services in exchange for fully funding their continued operation. MS would then control the police, etc. Hmmm OCP? Orange County Police? There's just gotta be something to that I'm missing here...

Yep, OS/2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1458771)

UPS uses OS/2 Warp heavily for clients and servers. Although they are evaluating NT solutions to further fux up their operations.

Re:Legalities (1)

colnago (91472) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458772)

It sounds like the guy expected the shipment of a web tv, he just happened to get the prototype instead of the regular shipping version. So I don't suppose he could have kept it w/o paying for it. Perhaps he was entitled to pay $300 for a $1M piece of equipment, though.

He probably had no idea it was a prototype, and his dad probably couln't have cared any less one way or the other.

Re:Legalities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1458773)

Well, the law would, naturally, vary from state to state. There is an important (to me) difference between A sending B a package with a bill when there has been no dealing, and A sending B a package when there has been dealing, and it is misdelivered to C. In the first case, A intended B to get the thing, while in the second, it was a mistake.

There have been cases where electronic fund transfers have gone wrong, and people had to give the money back.

I would apply the law regarding lost property. The common law was that the a finder could keep lost property unless the true owner showed up. The interesting other part was that the owner of the location got to keep misplaced property unless the true owner showed up. How do you know the difference? (I am not making the following up, I am not that funny.) YOU ASSESS THE STATE OF MIND OF THE (ABSENT) PERSON WHO LOST/MISLAID THE PROPERTY. (DOH!) Regardless, many states require good faith efforts to find the true owner and return the property.

Modern statutes require you to take the property to a place like the police station, and leave it there for a period of time. If nobody claims it, it's yours.

With unique property like the prototype, you have to worry about good faith purchasers for value. Mind you, it is an incredible concept for a prototype, but more applicable to things like original artworks.

I mean really, don't you prefer a world where lost stuff gets returned rather than one where everyone is looking to lift everyone else's stuff?

Potential reasons? (2)

Forkenhoppen (16574) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458774)

I suspect we're not getting the full story; if this is a legit story, then I would have to say that one of the following must be true:

(a) The secretary who "accidentally" sent the prototype did so intentionally, and the person it was sent to was suspected of being in cahoots.

(c) The secretary intentionally sent the prototype to that address, and then forwarded the address to whomever she was secretly working for. They went and picked it up wearing NYPD uniforms.

(c) Microsoft got a discount on some NYPD costumes from a local custome shop.

(d) One helluva bribe must've changed hands.

Anyone have any other ideas..?


Slashdotted (1)

GossG (108241) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458775)

Did anyone cache the story? I cannot read the original story.

Is there any site that tends to see these stories and cache them before us raveous hordes descend from slashdot?

Hmmm (0)

mochaone (59034) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458787)

An anonymous reader sent us to a story that chats about a shipping error causing a million dolar WebTV prototype

Does anyone know the exchange rate from dolar to dollars?

Let the flamage begin.

Penal code (1)

scumdamn (82357) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458790)

Is anyone familiar enough with the New York penal code to determine why the police would personally go to this man's house for the "unit" (wink wink nudge nudge)?
I just want to know so I can accidentally send Gulianni some flowers and get the cops to go get them back for me.

NYPD (1)

tomson (100060) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458793)

We can all have a great laugh of this, but I guess the real news is at the bottom of the article..

It was microsoft's fault, so they have to fix it. Did they pay NYPD for this, or did the people of New York pay for this..

I wouldn't want it either (2)

RickyRay (73033) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458796)

If I had received it, I wouldn't want M$'s prototype either. Too big for a doorstop, too heavy for a bookend, and too dorky to use. But I wouldn't give it back, just to keep them worried ;-)

Do I Sense a Future Katz Article on this? (2)

delirium_9 (26055) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458797)

Pretty good question at the end of the article. Just how did the NYPD get called in for a clerical error?

It would seem that a better solution might have been for MS to send an employee from a nearby office (they must have a New York office), explain the situation and then give him a new unit and perhaps a couple of free months for the hassle.

The again would YOU open your door to some stranger claiming to be from MS? and if you happened to be a gun nut... (er collector)

Re:Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1458799)

idiots.....This was NOT a prototype worth a mil. Read the whole story

Re:I wouldn't want it either (1)

Imperator (17614) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458801)

Actually, would it be illegal for him to sell it to one of Microsoft's competitors?

Re:Confirmation, please! (2)

kmcardle (24757) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458802)


If I had a prototype worth $1M, I wouldn't send it via UPS or what have you. If I could make a $1M prototype, I'm pretty sure I could afford to have someone drive it to its destination.

Sounds pretty fishy to me.

Re:Do I Sense a Future Katz Article on this? (1)

delirium_9 (26055) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458803)

But aren't the big companies what make New York the Centre Of The Universe (TM)?

It probably is more important for the mayor to suck up to these big companies, after all these companies hire a lot of New Yorkers, and are a big draw for people to come to New York.

Besides which, with all the "cleaning up" that Guiliani has done, there can't be as much work for the cops there anyways :)

Re:NYPD was good call. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1458804)

I must agree here. The officer probably politely explained the situation and requested the unit back. On the other hand, a MS lawyer probably would have accused you of living the wrong house and tried to prove it in court. In this case, I think I would've rather had a police officer come to me.

I'll bet he got the 200 MPG car too.. (1)

Stevis (69064) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458805)

This sounds like a modern day recasting of the old urban legend--fancy new prototype. I can't follow the link right now (/. effect?) so I can't check the details, so I'm not asserting that this must be false. But you might want to flip your BS radar up on this one, until someone gets independent confirmation


Re:1 million dollars - really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1458806)

What does the software has to do with the clerk putting the wrong piece of hardware in the wrong package?

MS could use some good PR... (2)

freq (15128) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458807)

Wouldn't it be scary if Microsoft actually cared about public perception and handled situations like this a little better from a PR standpoint?

One scenario could have been microsoft special agent (and bodyguards :) show up at this old dood's house and give him a new gateway computer (+ tons of free microsuck products and 3 year's free subscription to MSN?) how much would that cost compared to the PR they would get in return for it? That kinda positive spin on the screwup would have been priceless! i wonder if microsoft is hiring?


Shipping company property... (1)

Parsec (1702) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458808)

You too can have fun and make money at the same tiem by shipping out company property.

Seriously, there are real thefts attempted this way.

I disagree with the NYPD being involved, but... (1)

mr_spatula (126119) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458809)

I disagree with the NYPD being involved, but I think there may have been a fear of a situation developing in which whoever recieved the package wanting to hang on to it, once the value was realized. A good majority of people who use WebTV units probably wouldn't know the difference, however.

Prototype cost is probably inflated... (2)

adamsc (985) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458827)

Usually they inflate the costs of these things if they're trying to get damages from someone (the word "E911" comes to mind). I'd be surprised if they weren't counting a large percentage of the R&D costs in that prototype.

Sorry sir... (1)

Darwin2000 (98941) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458828)

I'm Sorry sir, I opened the package and played with it. It seems that all I got was a blue screen reading GPF at the top. So I filled it with dirt and am using it as a flowerpot on the patio.

Re:Confirmation, please! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1458829)

I agree. This doesn't pass the BS test. _However_ IF this is true it definately highlight the privledges awarded large corporation vs. the average shmuck. A guy from NY ripped me off on a laptop that I sold him on Ebay. I was out $2000 and the NYPD wouldn't return my phone calls.

If the guy was smart - (industrial espionage) (2)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458830)

s/he would have gotten as much info about it before having to turn it back in - like get lots of close up shots of the circuit boards, ROM dumps, case design, pull the ASIC's, (chips? what chips??) etc. just in case a potential competitor is, ahem, interested ($$). A rare opportunity.


Not only that... (2)

SpinyNorman (33776) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458831)

While the R&D cost could easily be $1M, the value of the actual unit itself is hardly more than a few thousand - the cost of a small PCB run or wire-wrap prototype. I would moderate this article as "Bullshit". Oh, I forgot, we can't moderate articles.. :-(

Read the law you cite (5)

coyote-san (38515) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458832)

IANAL, but read the law you cite. That law does *not* say you can keep everything you receive in the mail (or via some other delivery service); it simply says that implied contracts where you "indicate consent" by accepting your mail are unenforceable and you are under no obligation to either pay the invoice or return the merchandise at your own expense. It's the same logic used to overturn the other notorious unilateral implied contracts - "shrinkwrap" software license.

You *can* be required to return the merchandise at the shipper's expense.

You *can* be required to return misdelivered merchandise to the delivery agent, so they can complete delivery.

But most importantly, this law doesn't apply because it wasn't invoiced merchandise and this individual was not the intended recepient.

As for the presence of the cops, that's probably just standard procedure when valuable deliveries go astray. It's wildly inappropriate here, but think about what's usually involved in megadollar value shipments. It's not unreasonable for the cops to wonder if there's a connection between the carrier, the recepient, and the missing diamonds.

A Million dollars? .... (1)

taniwha (70410) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458833)

Am I the only one who is suprised that someone is shipping something worth "a million dollars" by UPS? Either it's not really worth that much (in which case M$ probably misrepresented themselves to the NYPD) or the guy who sent it to the mail room rather than buying it a seat on a plane and escorting it personally should be fired forthwith.

Maybe it was... (1)

Mr Donkey (83304) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458834)

New York City Postal Department

You never, ever, ever want to mess with a US Postal Service Inspector. They can make your live a living hell

Re:In financial news today... (1)

mlesesky (81453) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458835)

Seems like this could turn out to be a great move for the USoA. Although a little cynical, I think that you have tapped a nerve that many feel is true...big brother USA and MS.


Re:1 million dollars - really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1458836)

Actually I would suspect that the labels where printed just fine but that the clerk put the wrong label on the wrong package, but that must of course be too simple and then you guys wouldn't be able to blame Windows right?

Lets see... (4)

Accipiter (8228) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458845)

The unit was supposed to be shipped to Redmond via UPS, but apparently a clerical error at Microsoft's WebTV facility did not allow that to happen as originally planned.

I'm guessing the shipping computer Blue-Screened at an inopportune time.

-- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

Re:Do I Sense a Future Katz Article on this? (1)

miniver (1839) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458846)

The doorbell rings; you answer it, and there's a man standing there who says "I'm from Microsoft, and I'm here to help you..."

Do you (a) shoot him, (b) fire a warning shot, or (c) helpfully send him down the street to the local crack house?

Nitpick (2)

Kev Vance (833) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458847)

WinTV [hauppauge.com] is a bt8x8-based video capture card manufactured by Hauppauge. WebTV [microsoft.com] is something completely different.

Re:Yep, OS/2 (1)

clustersnarf (236) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458848)

If UPS runs heavily on OS/2, then why are all of their site based shipping software only running under NT with Access/foxPro ODBS support. I've never seen any of the UPS shipping software come with OS/2 apps, Much less provide server based LAN functions from OS/2. Always requiring NT and ODBS stuff with Access or FoxPro.

Maybe i wasn't looking in the right place.

Wow..Time for redoing the org chart at MS. (1)

PotatoPhysics (126423) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458849)

Anyone find it strange that the R and D department and the customer relations people were so close that it was possible to swap outgoing products?

If I was running a company that was building game consoles or 'high tech' stuff the R/D guys would work in an unmarked building on the outskirts of some town in Arizona. There would be lots of dish antennas, razor wire fences, and rabid guard dogs with names like "pookie" and "raul." Lastly, all one million dollar engineering prototypes would not go out UPS. There great and all, and I'm sure they do great with liver transplants and stuff, but this is my prototype. Hell, I wouldn't even trust the NYPD. My delivery people would be the Secret Service.

They rent out, don't they?

If not I'll call the Swedish Ski Commandos of Doom and Questionable National Alligence.

The plea for help... (2)

Mr Donkey (83304) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458850)

[Bill Gates] Hey Rudy, how you doing?
[Rudy Gulianai] Ay, Not bad, just happy the subway situation didn't get out of hand
[BG] That's good. I was wondering, uh, umm, I sort of, um, lost a "computer" in the mail, I was wondering if you could track it down for me
[RG] Who is the carrier
[BG] United Parcel Services
[RG] Hmm... Yeah, I've had trouble with them too, why don't you just call them
[BG] Well, the damn operator would believe that the package was worth a million dollars
[RG] You shipped a @#$@#$ million dollar computer with UPS, you @#$@#$, are you completely out of your mind.
[BG] Yeah, I know, it was a stupid thing to do, but can you help me?
[RG] I'll see what I can do

not only OS/2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1458851)

Not entirely OS/2, not anymore. The high speed/high reliability mail sorters and bar code readers run LINUX. Maybe Cmdr Spudhead should flash his press pass for a guided tour of a BMC, they are impressive.

Re:NYPD was good call. (1)

E_Let (95623) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458852)

I don't think you get it.

If you shipped a package to someone, ie you paid ups to send mom her christmas gift and it accidently goes to someone else, what does the NYPD have to do with it?? Who cares how much the thing costs, it's irrevelant. Why not call UPS and have them fix the problem??

As it was already said, the main juice of this article was MS called NYPD to fix their problem with UPS. (Already said), who paid for this? It costs resources to have the cops come to an address. What about the dude that was getting mugged in the other neighborhood while these coppers were kissing MS butt?? Gimmie a break. You try calling NYPD and tell them that you UPS'd a package somewhere and it got sent to the wrong addy, see how fast they tell you to call UPS, and then see how fast they laugh at your face (through the phone).

Again, being redundant, MS must have SOME CLOUT to get the police to fix a problem that UPS should have.


Possible Scenario (1)

Master of Kode Fu (63421) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458853)

My guess is that when the WebTV [webtv.com] prototype didn't arrive as expected, someone in Redmond placed a call to UPS [ups.com] . UPS probably told them that the unit had already been delivered. After a Seinfeld-ish exchange of "It's been delivered / No it hasn't," UPS gave them the delivery address ("See, I told you we delivered it..."). This address isn't M$ headquarters in Redmond, but some place in NYC.

I can already see some manager wondering who got their hands on it -- a competitor? 2600 or LoD -- aren't they based in the east coast, possibly New York? Then thoughts shift to what this will do when management hears about this: have we just committed a "career-limiting act"? [baileyalliance.com]

There's probably always been a kind of siege mentality at Microsoft [uci.edu] . I'm sure that this has only intensified with the recent finding of fact by Judge Jackson [rapidregs.com] , BackOrifice 2000 [bo2k.com] , the spotlight that Linux took from Windows [sco.com] and all the general ill will towards the company [enemy.org] . Couple that with the human tendency to assume that something that's gone missing has been stolen [slashdot.org] (especially if that something is valuable), and you have a recipe for paranoia. Except that paranoia is the mistaken impression that people are out to get you.

In the end, they assumed theft-by-scam, for which it would have been justified to call the cops. Since it wasn't the case, it's yet more egg on Microsoft's face, and you can allow yourself a little schadenfreude [cableinet.co.uk] and know that somewhere inside 1 Microsoft Way, someone is getting the riot act read to them.

Re:1 million dollars - really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1458854)

But this is Slashdot, my fellow AC. Everything evil on Earth is due to Microsoft.

Microsoft is to blame for poorly-written device drivers that crash servers, Microsoft is to blame for stupid people who think they can administer a big NT installation only because they spent some time tinkering with installing a pirate copy of NT on their dorm buddy's PC. Microsoft, as you just pointed out, is the cause for all blunders, at UPS or anywhere else.

Windows is the sole cause of poverty, political unrest and lung cancer. Kiss your Karma goodbye if you don't agree with these points in all your posts. Moderators wil be out there, looking for posts like yours. Just like they will be moderating this post to -3 in a couple of minutes. Yay zealot moderators!!

this is anti-MS sentiment taken too far.... (1)

miscellaneous (14183) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458855)

i hate microshaft as much as the next guy, but this crap with the "hey, there's no crime here, why's the NYPD doing the hegemon's footwork?" is just ridiculous.

there is no crime committed:

when a cat gets stuck in a tree.

when someone loses their sub-$1 million-dollar car.

when someone's car breaks down.

...and yet, i don't hear anyone complaining about the police helping out in those circumstances.

the simple truth of the matter is that microsoft probably wanted their package back ASAP, and the NYPD was the quickest, surest way to do that.

maybe MS thought that the guy would more easily surrender the package to the NYPD than some MS rep. so what? believe it or not, the guy doesn't have a right to the prototype. he didn't buy it.

to use an earlier analogy: if you sell somebody a picasso at your garage sale for $3, you don't have a right to get it back. if, however, you sell a velvet elvis painting for $3, and accidently hand the guy a picasso instead, then you did not make a bargain for that painting, and it's still yours, even if the other guy has committed no wrong.

on the other hand, of course, you still owe the guy a velvet elvis painting.

just my $2000.02,

Better article at NY Times (5)

RedX (71326) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458856)

The article cited in the /. summary does a horrible job of telling the story. Check out this [nytimes.com] article at the NY Times for a better recap. Seems the NYPD unit involved was the Computer Investigative Unit, which is certainly appropriate due to the fact that this was suspected industrial espionage. At the time, it was suspected that the shipping labels may have been intentionally switched in order to steal the device. In hindsight, the police did overreact since this turned out to be a mistake rather than industrial espionage. To be fair, they didn't know if they were knocking on the door of a pregnant wife (they were) or a corporate spy. Also, the device was in the hand's of the banker's father, who is an attorney. Regardless of our opinions of MS, a prototype of one of their more popular products that is more than a year from market probably is worth $1 million to them or their competitors, and when something like this ends up in NY rather than Seattle, you can bet there will be some pretty beefy law enforcement involved. I'm sure a similar case with a big company like GM, Ford, IBM, Apple, etc. would result in similar police response.

The Really Scary Part (1)

cdmz1 (97535) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458857)

Is that someone actually BOUGHT a WebPC.


I like my Linux shaken, not stirred.

Re:1,000,000 (4)

isdnip (49656) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458858)

The million dollar valuation is the same one used to show how costly Kevin Mitnick's crimes were. And oh, remember that million dollar-ish document somebody dumpster-dove from a phone company, the one telling how to dial 911 or something? It probably cost MS over a megabuck to develop the new product, but the prototype was not, in and of itself, the thing of real value, and they probably lied to the PD in order to get them to do their dirty work for them.

Re:Nitpick (1)

Dr. Charles Forbin (20231) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458860)

Quite true -- If I had the option of receiving a million-dollar prototype of a video capture card, or a million-dollar prototype of an internet-wannabe-appliance, guess which one I'd take :)

Someone made a typo... (1)

mduell (72367) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458861)

In the title it says WinTV, but in the article it says WebTV. Which is it?

Mark Duell

When is $1M not $1M? (5)

wfmcwalter (124904) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458862)

That "million-dollar" valuation on the proto-board is, I fear, wholy specious. Whilst I'm sure MS spent $1M to produce the board, that cost was almost entirely spent on the _design_. Thus, if they lost the board, they only have to make another from the same design.

Now, a hand-stuffed custom board with a bunch of rework is still an expensive item (maybe $10-50K in engineer's time) and it's rare (they'll probably have a dozen or two of a given rev), but unless it's fabricated from pure gold, the board itself isn't hugely valuable.

It's also misleading to argue that, because the board embodies "trade secrets", its loss could cost the company millions of dollars - its a pretty opaque instanciation of a proprietary design, not that design itself. A prototype board is no more reverse-engineerable than is a production board, and no-one claims that by shipping production hardware they're losing valuable intellectual property.

Re:Microsoft Officers? (1)

AndyL (89715) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458875)

Of course the conversation might go a bit like this :

Guy : Hello?
MS-Guy : Sir, We accidentaly shiped you a one of a kind very valuable prototype unit and we'd like to- ... Hello? Sir Please open the door. Sir?

Price tag (1)

Kinthelt (96845) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458876)

Doesn't $1,000,000.00 seem a big expensive for a set-top box? :) I'm not an economist, but I'm sure there is a pretty small market for high-pricetag-low-end internet connections.

Re:Possible Scenario (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1458877)

I was/am a victim of a similar situation (different state, different company, same mistake). In my case, I was served with a search warrant, and have yet to get all my stuff back (almost three months gone!) The cops and Big Business are soon to be indistinguishable. My legal fees are at $3000 and climbing...

Re:NYPD was good call. (1)

billybob jr (106396) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458878)

I'm curious as to the approach the police used. Did they demand the unit back? Did they ask? Did they intimidate?

I really don't understand how you can feel comfortable with officers whose job it is to enforce the law tracking down ms screw ups. The fact that the package was worth one million dollars is irrelevant. Why were the police involved?

Re:Show your receipt. Tell cops and MS to get lost (2)

poink (7454) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458879)

Did you even READ the article? A shipping clerk changed the addressing label on the package, sending it to New York instead of Redmond. The clerk thought it was an ordinary WebTV and that nobody would miss it.

Re:Do I Sense a Future Katz Article on this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1458880)

All Microsoft has to do is say that a crime was committed. The poor shmuck that sent the wrong package to the wrong address would be in a lot of trouble. All Microsoft would have to do is to say the person who sent it was a criminal! Thats all the PD need.

Re:Confirmation, please! (1)

billybob jr (106396) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458882)

I wonder what would have happened or did happen if the recipient just refused the police and asked the police to leave?

Re:NYPD was good call. (1)

Ageless (10680) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458884)

Someone already made this point, but you are so paranoid that I will make it again.
Bob: Oh no! The $10M diamonds got shipped to John Smith instead of Dick Smegma!
Tom: Who the hell shipped it? I'll fire the bastard!
Bob: Uhmm.. it seems that John Smith was in charge of shipping that item.

Re:Read the law you cite (1)

billybob jr (106396) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458885)

IANAL either, but why would anyone be required to return a screw up?

Let's look at similar situations:

I want to give you a gift, but accidently give you something I did not intend to:

1) I hand deliver it to you.

2) I pay my friend bob to act as a courier and deliver it to you.

3) I ship it through a professional mailing service to you.

I can't see anyway that I could use the law to force you to return something back to me in situation 1. Why would 2 or 3 be different?

One of the officers was over heard saying...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1458887)

"It's Bill Gates TIME!!" while the other was holding a very sharp CD-Rom jewel-case saying. "You want some of this? Where's the unit?"
What's really amazing is that the WebTV upper echelon didn't think it was important enough to handle shipping this so-called million-dollar unit. I also feel sorry for that mailroom clerk, his future at WebTV must be shakey now.

the NYPD - Microsoft relationship (1)

duvin (40343) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458895)

it sure is quite frightening to hear that Microsoft can command the NYPD to search for a parcel they've fucked up... (no cirme committed)

what if you did something that hurts Bill's feelings? A SWAT team?

Legalities (5)

adimarco (30853) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458896)

I know that if you receive unrequested merchandice in your mail, you are entitled to keep it for free. This law was enacted to prevent companies from sending products to people who hadn't requested them, along with a bill requesting payment. If someone does this to you, throw the bill away and keep whatever they sent :)

I'm curious as to how this kind of "clerical error" would be dealt with in that kind of context. Do we have any lawyers here on /. who could commend on the legal issues involved in this kind of thing?

Even more interesting, as the author noted, was how Micros~1 managed to get the NYPD to knock on this guy's door to retreive the package even 'though no crime was committed. Do they really have that much clout? God help us all if so :)


Re:Penal code (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1458897)

Huhuhuhuuh....you said "penal"

Microsoft Officers? (1)

Dysan2k (126022) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458898)

Now, I'm apt to buying into a lot of stuff, but this one does take the cake. First-off, Microsoft should have sent a representative off to the person's house to explain the mixup and traded ON THE SPOT with a new WebTV unit (Which are next to worthless.. I've used one, and hate 'em)

Why the police were even involved, I'll never know, but I do believe the city of New York can prosecute Microsoft on the grounds of mis-appropriation of some sort or another. That kind of tactic is totally wrong. Of course, the article didn't mention that the home was possibly in the middle of Harlem.

My 2 bits...

Tomorrow's story: (5)

Ledge Kindred (82988) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458900)

*knock* *knock*

"Hello, sir, this is the NYPD. We have been informed by Microsoft that you have machines here that have been bought for the express purpose of running a Microsoft operating system but you are instead running Linux on them. We would like to come in and confiscate those machines."


In financial news today... (4)

Kintanon (65528) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458902)

Microsoft completed merger talks with industry giant United States of America. Reports are somewhat sketchy at the moment, but it looks like Microsoft will be purchasing a majority share in the USoA. Supporters point to the recent Microsoft controlled actions of the NYPD as further evidence of the MegaCorps takeover. USoA stock skyrocketed on the rumors as investors speculate that for the first time in fifty years USoA may actually turn a profit. Microsoft stock also rose several points as the acquisition of nuclear weapons makes them a formidable world economic player.


Re:the NYPD - Microsoft relationship (1)

panchax (24388) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458904)

it sure is quite frightening to hear that Microsoft can command the NYPD to search for a parcel they've fucked up...

What do you expect from a company that distributes Microsoft Access software? Bug free shipments?

NYPD (1)

Duke of URL (10219) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458906)

If it was a shipping mix-up, then it wasen't a crime.... so why was the NYPD called in? This UPS crap has happened to me before. They just ask for the box back and then they give you the intended shipment.

Re:Legalities (2)

Mr_Plow (30965) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458907)

Even more interesting, as the author noted, was how Micros~1 managed to get the NYPD to knock on this guy's door to retreive the package even 'though no crime was committed. Do they really have that much clout? God help us all if so :)

Microsoft is the largest company in the world. Their market cap is higher than the Pentagon's annual budget. Of course they have that much clout. They could probably get Guiliani to show up in person at the guy's doorstep to pick up the unit.
------------------------------------------- ---------------

1 million dollars - really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1458909)

Uh, prototype hardware or not. This thing CAN'T be worth a million bucks. If Microsoft lost it, would they have REALLY been out a $1,000,000. No, of course not. Only the cost of parts and assembly - couple thousand bucks at best. Unless they happened to put the only copies of the schematics in the same package.

Furthermore, why UPS??? Thought FedEx and Airborne were the preferred ones for that sort of stuff.

I'll refrain from taking a guess as to which platform their shipping software was running on... ;)


Re:Read the law you cite (1)

synthe (86919) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458914)

From what I understood in the news article, the error was not at the shipping company, but in Redmond. Some clerk either mislabled the prototype with this NY guy's address, or their computer system misprinted the address. The shipping company delivered the package to the address that was specified. If anyone is to blame here it should be the MS shipping clerk or database admin, not the shipper, not the person who recieved the final unit.

Re:Price tag (2)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458915)

Maybe it was really, really big.

Re:Yep, OS/2 (1)

clustersnarf (236) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458916)

Insert ODBC instead of ODBS

switching keyboards really FUBARS my typing .

--ROFL-- Re:Sorry sir... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1458917)

The cops sweat profusely, having run up 20 flights of stairs to Mr. Cogen's apartment -- and bang on the door with their nightsticks, fingers silently adjusting their position to the perfect pistol grip -- just in case. BANG BANG BLANG CLANG Muffled sounds from the apartment fill the hallway and turn into loud yells, then still louder echos of "Ok, ALRIGHT, just a SECOND DAMNIT". Mr. Cogen opens the door, albeit a bit quieter after what he sees. "Um, " Mr. Cogen Squeezes out barely before being interrupted. "Mr. Cogen, please help us here", a puffy, white-faced 30-something officer blurts between gasps, "But we seem to have a problem." "Yes?" Cogen asks, politely, slightly amused, and a tad bit frightened all at once. "Well, there was a ... you received a shipment, some WebTV item, right? Or your son delivered it? You have it?" "Yes, yes, I do. It's in the back bedroom. WHY?" Cogen finally asks, as he has a faint clue of what might be transpiring. "Well," continues the chubby officer, "It's not really yours, but Microsoft's. They accidentally sent you a preview unit, and they want it back. We're sorry, but it's worth alot of money". A dismayed look of bewilderment, and fright overcomes Cogen as he realizes the urgency of the situation. Taking cue from Cogen's sudden change of expression, the officer and one other move past him in a graceful shove and ask if they can help him box the unit. Cogen, pushing his own way back before the officers says, "BUT LILO WAS JUST WORKING!" ---Sorry, didn't know how to end it....

Hello, Rudi? Bill here.... (4)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458918)

Yeah, hows the ol' senate campaign going? Really? Sure, sure, glad we could help out. Look, there's been a little mix up here, and, haha, was wondering if you could do us a little favor this time? Sure, look, I need to get our shipping mgr. in touch with your police chief, What's that Rudi? No, no, no, just a small operation, nothing big, just a single user, uh voter, yeah; What? Oh, yeah, they are a dime a dozen, hehheh. Sure, just talk with my shipping dept and there'll be more where that came from, lots more, Ok?


What would they do with it? (1)

Tony Hammitt (73675) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458920)

I think the only thing they could do with such pictures is sell them to magazines. It's not as if the box contains useful components like hard drives or lots of RAM. You'd run as much of a chance of getting sued for breaking the damn thing by opening the case...

Let's think about a similar situation: You somehow find or receive 1kg of cocaine (you think). What do you do with it? Can you find some underworld type to fence it with? Will the real owners eventually find out who got it? The bag of cocaine, which could be useful if it were in small quantity, is thoroughly useless and very dangerous in large quantity.

Maybe the analogy doesn't hold up, I doubt that the use value of a webtv box is anything more than the street price of the current model at BestBuy. In any case, how would you alert the other people who are making webtv like boxes that you had the photos without M$ finding out somehow? Who are the competitors anyway? How much good would pictures do them?

This whole idea is silly.

Re:Legalities (2)

Cramer (69040) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458921)

aah aah aah, higher than the Pentagon's published annual budget...

New York's finest delivery service (2)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458924)

It's good to know that NYPD is expanding their list of services available to the public. I suppose they had to find something to fill the day now that they can't shove plungers in peoples butts anymore.

That'll teach them... (2)

Croaker (10633) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458926)

not to use MS Access to maintain their address databases...

Maybe I just read the comment wrong, but... (1)

Chip Stillmore (16985) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458933)

I don't see anything creepy about the NYPD being able to track the package down. I mean, they have several ways to do it. I'm no specialist in the area, by far, but they could easily have obtained the address from MS (which is probably what happened.) They could also have gotten the UPS tracking number from MS, and then used that to determine where it was delivered, but the first method would be much faster.

Then again, if I did read the comment wrong, then maybe it was referring to the fact that the NYPD was called in at all to recover MS property, that was incorrectly mailed to the wrong address ... which is certainly not a crime by any definition of the word.

Ha ha ha ha ha (2)

Mr_Plow (30965) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458934)

Am I the only one that
finds it hilarious that
someone went through all
this trouble for WebTV?

------------------------------------------------ ----------

How much does NYPD charge for their services? (1)

Chip Stillmore (16985) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458935)

I wonder how much the NYPD charges for their services? Maybe they have a "first time free" deal? I certainly could use them to run a few extra Xmas shopping errands for me.

Re:Legalities (2)

humphrm (18130) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458936)

You're right, although I think it varies from state to state. But, I've taken advantage of that law a few times.

A perceptive person might have caught on to the fact that they had a prototype, and might have contacted their lawyer prior to / in anticipation of hearing from Microsoft (although the NYPD part would throw me too) and then, through their lawyer, demand that Microsoft pay them money (you insert ghastly amount here) in order to get their unsolicited shipment back. The lawyer could at least hold the NYPD and Microsoft lawyers at bay while the recipient had some fun at Microsoft's expense.

Ah, but I guess this guy was just too honest.

Re:In financial news today...[update] (1)

bbqBrain (107591) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458937)

Reliable sources indicate that Microsoft may add several USoA subsidiaries (DOJ, DOE, DOD) into its corporate structure, spinning off the other, less valuable pieces. A company spokesperson says, "We will do whatever it takes remain competitive."

CmdrTaco: "Huh?" (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458938)

CmdrTaco, why didn't you whip out your PRESS pass and phone the NYPD to find why they were involved?

Re:Do I Sense a Future Katz Article on this? (3)

tokengeekgrrl (105602) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458939)

It's more than a pretty good question - it's a really disturbing question. I would think that in New York, of all places, the police have more important problems to address, like say...oh actual crimes, as opposed to playing gopher for a big corporation who has plenty of money to hire and send someone to fix the company's error.

I guess Mayor Guiliani is just as bad as Mayor Willie Brown here in San Francisco when it comes to catering to big companies at the expense of the taxpaying public. (Please excuse the rag-on-my-mayor tangent - I'm in a really blah mood...must be Monday).

- tokengeekgrrl

1,000,000 (1)

BMIComp (87596) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458940)

Ok, i can't connect to the website that the article is on... but, how could ANY webtv product... prototype or not, cost a million dollars (well, dolars to be techinical =P)..!?!

NYPD was good call. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1458941)

It seems perfectly reasonable to call the police if you've lost a $1M prototype and you want it reclaimed with no problems. I can't imagine they were even bad about it, they probably just stopped by, explained the mixup, and asked for the unit back. I give the rant 2 thumbs down.

Oxford explains it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1458942)

Money and the executive branch work together
pretty well, don't they. I'm sure M$ will gladly
give the NYPD free copies of Windows 2000 next
time they upgrade their PCs.

How many companies can get direct support from
the NYPD, huh, M$, the major's office and the attorney general?

Re:Legalities (1)

kramer (19951) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458962)

Ah, but it's all a moot point now that Microsoft has the prototype back. They'll send the guy a new production unit, and probably a few free samples of some other software to smooth things over for sending the NYPD to the guy's house. As they say, possession is 9/10 of the law, and right now Microsoft is in possession.

Still, I would have loved to see the look on Bill's face had the guy told the NYPD to bugger off and kept the unit.

That was Pinky and the Brain. (1)

Hermelin (15608) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458963)

Except it was Microsponge and the bought 51% of the municipalities of the world, hence having controlling interest of the world. And Bill Gates was a robot controlled by a gerbil. I wish they still had this on as a show.

And that was like a year and a half ago. Of course, now the Simpsons even comments on Microsoft.

This is offtopic up to now, but one company would not be allowed unless it had more than software. You would have to control industrial production and the banks. So sorry.

Also, this was in the forum, and there is no person to contact it seems to ask how to corroborate this.

Re:Legalities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1458964)

It's simple:

The law that you are referring to is for situations where items were intentionally sent to non-customers with a bill included. Mis-shipments don't fall into that realm. :)

I am surprised, however, that the NYPD got involved. I would think that the first step would be to have the Shipping Company attempt to retrieve it.

BTW: Anyone know who was the shipping Company?

Re:In financial news today... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1458965)

Ok, and that's not offtopic.

Re:Legalities (2)

Signal 11 (7608) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458966)

My mom worked at Northgate before they went out of business and it was a common occurance for UPS or Fedex to forget to have the customer sign for the computer. The result was that the customer can (legally, too) claim that the package was never delivered. Northgate (or UPS) often ate the cost of that. I know another friend who works in auto sales, and they've lost entire cars before - 30k, *poof*. These things happen - alot. The NYPD technically could do nothing if the prototype was shipped to the wrong address. They could kindly ask for it back (maybe even a small reward), but they cannot force you to give it up.

Infact, I got a package which contained something worth a rather large dollar amount and the guy didn't ask for signature. As a result, I was never billed. I will not divulge details, however. *g* Stuff like this happens all the time... it's why you buy insurance for these kinds of things...

Re:1 million dollars - really? (1)

hrieke (126185) | more than 15 years ago | (#1458967)

>I'll refrain from taking a guess as to which >platform their shipping software was running on... >;)

UPS runs their operations on OS/2, believe it or not.

Re:Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1458968)

idiots.....This was NOT a prototype worth a mil. Read the whole story

I would read it if I could, but www.ntsecurity.net can't keep their site up. Are they using the same software (pIIS) to run their site as Microsoft did for shipping (Microsoft Access Database?)
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