Tracking Packages

Last week I ordered a new laptop. Yesterday, Dell’s web site told me that it had shipped. And, an hour or so later, they gave me a link to track the delivery on the UPS web site.

Now that link is fun of course. But refreshing the page dozens of times a day gets a bit boring. So I started to look for alternatives. Firstly, UPS have a service that sounds like it emails you whenever the status changes. So I set that up. I got an initial email at that point, but nothing more – even as the status changed a couple of times. Reading the description more closely, it seems it only sends an email a) when there’s a delay, b) when the package is delivered and c) when explicitly requested on the web site. So that’s no good.

Of course, what I really wanted was a web feed. Something that I could subscribe to in Google Reader that would always show me the latest status. Being a geek I started to think about a writing a program that would grab the information from the web site periodically and turn it into a web feed. But I stopped myself before I started writing any code. “Surely,” I thought to myself, “I can’t be the first person to want this. Something like this must already exist.”

I was right, of course. A quick Google brought me to Boxoh. Give them a tracking number (and it’s not just UPS – they also understand FedEx, DHL and USPS) and they will not only give you the web feed that I wanted, but also a Google map showing the progress of your package. How cool is that?

There appears to be no way to embed the map on another web site, but that’s the only fault I can find with the site.

Here’s the progress that my laptop is making. It started in Shanghai, before travelling to Incheon in South Korea and Almaty in Kazakhstan from where it flew to Warsaw, which is where it currently is. On Monday it’s due to arrive in Balham.

I love the fact that I can track it so easily. And I’m more than a little jealous of its travels.

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