Monthly Archives: December 2007

Where's Santa? NORAD Knows!

December 18th , 2007
Norad has been successfully tracking Santa for 51 years – with 2007 being 52.

First, it may help to know what NORAD stands for. NORAD is an abbreviation for the North American Air Defense Command, which was known as CONAD, or the Continental Air Defense Command, until the late 1950s. In 1958, the United States and Canada joined forces to form NORAD in order to warn and defend the continent more effectively in the case of an attack. The North American Air Defense Command watches the airways for intrusions such as planes or missiles and warns if any unrecognized object should enter protected airways and more recently, waterways as well. So, why does such an important entity like NORAD track Santa Claus?

That also started back in the 1950s and came about because of a simple mistake. In 1955, a Sears store, at the time known as Sears Roebuck and Company, placed Christmas advertising that included a phone number where children could call and reach Santa Claus. The only problem was that the phone number was printed incorrectly. As excited children began dialing on Christmas Eve, they reached CONAD, instead of Santa. The Colonel in charge recognized what had occurred, and in an act of kindness, had his team check the radar to see where Santa might be. Children were told of his speculated location when they called. Tracking Santa became a Christmas Eve custom after that. When CONAD became NORAD, the custom was passed along and is still in practice today. Information about Santa is now available in six different languages and children and their families can track Santa by calling or by viewing the NORAD website.

The NORAD site also has a countdown that shows exactly how long it will be until Santa leaves the North Pole which includes the days, the hours, the minutes, and even the seconds. Children can learn the very second Santa begins his journey, and track his progress toward their locations. For those “Grinch’ type folks who might be concerned about this use of taxpayer’s dollars, remember that much of this effort is simply an exercise in creativity and imagination. In addition, NORAD states that people from both the United States and Canada work voluntarily to help track Santa Claus. If you would like to learn more about this Christmas Eve tradition, or if you would like to follow Santa’s progress, please visit the NORAD website for more information. Last year (2007) 756 volunteers answered 65,355 phone calls between 2 a.m.Christmas Eve and 2 a.m. Christmas Day, reports Major Stacia Reddish, NORAD’s Track Santa project officer. NORAD volunteers received calls from every state in the U. S. , with the most callers phoning in from Texas , California and Florida .“All of those poor states with no snow,” Major Reddish said.Between Nov. 17 and Dec. 31, 2007 the NORAD Tracks Santa Web site,, received 907,958,865 hits from 210 countries and territories around the world. Norad Santa Website:
New for 2008 check out the Official Santa Mail website for fun games and much more:

From the entire ACTSmart team, Merry Christmas to all and to Santa, good flight!


December 4, 2007
Decisions, Decisions, Decision

With the holidays coming up, way to quickly I might add, perhaps it’s time to investigate getting a new PC. Dell is selling its PCs in Staples office supply stores as evidenced by the Staples flyer in this past Sunday’s newspaper. The PC lineup includes Dell’s Inspiron 530 desktop PCs and two versions of Inspiron notebooks, as well as supplemental Dell products like all-in-one printers and flat-panel LCD monitors. These are consumer based PC’s with limited warranties and most likely off shore technical support. Buying through a retailer also limits the add-ons and bells and whistles available. These systems are pre-configured, cash and carry boxes with no customization is available.

Will this help Dell have a strong holiday sales push?
Dell’s deal with Wal-Mart was grand when it was announced, but since the company has given no specific performance figures on how well its retail effort in Wal-Mart has fared, it’s hard to gauge how customers will react to Dell’s brand in Staples. Does Staples even sell many PCs?Dell systems in Wal-Mart stores reflected an aura of older or overstocked parts assembled into PCs and dumped into Wal-Mart’s parking lot, rather than any specific computer build made for the retailer, and I’m not so sure customers have responded in droves to buy Dells inside those local Wal-Mart stores. Not enough time has gone by, though, so I could be jumping the gun here.

Last month, Wal-Mart started selling a $200 Linux-based machine
(the Everex TC2052 gPC) that we spoke of a few months ago. The initial run was around 10,000 units and now Wal-Mart is sold out. Perhaps Linux has found a niche. These PC’s don’t have what it takes to run Windows Vista, but they have enough power to do pretty much everything that users want from a PC.
Dell’s latest partnership with Staples will put its PCs and products into 1,400 more retail locations, which will instantly give it more exposure to the American buying public. Perhaps that is what Dell is going after here — mass exposure (which generates a certain amount of purchases) instead of strategic, slower partnerships. Dell is expected to strike more retail agreements in the next 12 to 18 months. Dell is now significantly behind competitor Hewlett-Packard in overall computer system sales, and these retail efforts are considered by many to be a desperate attempt to win back market share. Right now, it’s too early to attribute any success or failure in that effort.As the seasons roll around so do the quarterly PC sales numbers. It will be a chilly fall for Dell. In the third quarter, the Texas-based PC company shipped 9.8 million PCs. That was an increase of less than 4% over the same period last year, and gave the company 14% of the global market, according to The Wall Street Journal.By way of contrast, Hewlett-Packard shipped 12.8 million PCs world-wide, enough for 19% of the market and a 33% increase from the year earlier period.

Ouch…..It would appear that HP is going to report especially strong PC sales when it releases its third quarter earnings. Its shares are already at almost $53, near their 52-week high.

So, Santa… your choices are varied and numerous. Be sure to do your homework before plunking down your hard earned cash. Remember, extended warranties and effective technical support are worth a little extra money.

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