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New Jersey Helps Kringle Corp.
Perform Technology Upgrade (12/2000)
by Douglas Dixon
It has just been revealed that the New Jersey Economic Development
Authority (NJEDA) has been working on a secret project with Kringle Corp., Inc.
to perform a technology upgrade of the entire Kringle corporate enterprise
inventory and delivery infrastructure. Commented Santa Claus, the Kringle Corp.
CEO, "New Jersey and you, ho, ho, ho!"
For the past year, elves from the Kringle Corp. technology division
have been taking classes at The College of New Jersey to upgrade their skills in
Web design and programming, particularly in the object-oriented languages C++
and Java. The elves attended the college incognito, and apparently this
experiment was a holly jolly success.
Kringle Corp. was originally attracted to New Jersey as a logistical
and distribution center because of its location adjacent to a northernly
shipment route. Due to the steady growth in its client population, and the
increasing bulk and weight of its deliverables, Kringle Corp. needed to develop
a more decentralized approach to inventory management.
With funding from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority,
Kringle Corp. established a warehouse and distribution center near Newark
Airport, with access to air and snow transportation. The Port Authority of New
Jersey estimates this location will lighten the load for the Kringle delivery
vehicle, allowing it to travel more rapidly during transit through other
continents, and then stop in Newark to take on the sacks for this continent.
This reduces time from warehouse to tree, which is particularly important for
perishable goods such as partridges and figgy pudding.
In order to better manage its inventory and deliverables, Kringle
Corp. has been working with database and artificial intelligence experts from
Princeton University to develop an integrated client and gift tracking and
matching database system. With this system, Kringle Corp. can input gift
requests and suggestions from clients, and then match them against available
inventory and potential suppliers. The database also uses fuzzy logic to make a
list that weighs gift quality against client disposition ratings, using a
calibrated scale from "naughty" to "nice."
Kringle Corp. also has been able to make use of the Internet to
perform more precise client ratings by evaluating the materials that clients are
posting and transmitting via the Internet. It is developing automated tools to
scan websites, E-mail, and chat room transcripts in order to check twice for
troubling client behavior. One future possibility is to provide for direct
observation of client goodness, to see them when they are sleeping and when they
are awake, by connecting to feeds from microphones and WebCams attached to
One major advantage of this new database system is that Kringle Corp.
can take advantage of E-commerce suppliers to address the growing need for the
more technologically-sophisticated items requested by clients that are replacing
the more traditional items manufactured by the legacy Kringle Corp. facilities.
In particular, Kringle Corp. has been able to take advantage of automated
shopping and bidding systems to reduce stocking costs by selective acquisition
of popular and nostalgic items such as golden rings and sweet silver bells
through auctions on eBay.
One of the important considerations for this database design was to
maintain the security and privacy of the client information. Unfortunately,
before the security systems were fully implemented, several young hackers were
able to penetrate the system and adjust their own ratings towards the nicer end
of the scale. However, they were detected, and, as a result, they had better
watch out during the upcoming holiday season for the Lump O' Coal virus embedded
in a fruitcake.
Kringle Corp. also worked with Princeton-based communications experts
and engineers from several unidentified companies to develop a sophisticated
worldwide communications system. This provides constant cellular communications
during airborne and rooftop operations, and uses a GPS tracking system installed
in the delivery vehicle to monitor progress during the night's run. The
specifications for this system were particularly demanding due to the need for
it to operate continuously, even when the weather outside is frightful.
The firm is now considering a follow-up project to develop a bionic
reindeer power and guidance system for the delivery vehicle. This is intended to
automate the sometimes temperamental red-nose guidance system now in use on
foggy Yuletide eves.
In recent years Kringle Corp. has become concerned about escalating
client pouting over receiving incorrect packages. While some of these reports
may be explained by client misjudgments of the type of item for which they are
qualified, Kringle Corp. has moved to tighten its delivery processes. All
inventory, whether hard goods or plush, is now bar-coded and tracked throughout
the Kringle Corp. system. To verify the destination itself, Kringle Corp. is
installing universal bar-coded markers on client properties, unobtrusively
located near the crown of the chimney.
Finally, Kringle Corp. is also considering the use of biometric
identification systems as definitive verification that the correct item has been
delivered to the proper individual. Marlton-based Iridian Technologies Inc.
(formerly IriScan, Inc.) was planning to bid for this contract until R&D
determined that identifying individuals by scanning the iris pattern of the eye
is logistically impossible when they are nestled all snug in their beds.