For over 50 years, America has had its eye on Santa Claus. Since 1955, NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) has been running a volunteer service and hotline to track the bearded gift-giver across the night skies.
NORAD's legion of volunteers have been happy enough to sit up manning the phone lines every year, and now there's even an online web service, too. Powered by Microsoft Azure, the NORAD Santa Tracker will go live on Christmas Eve, allowing true believers to tune in and watch the physically and chronologically impossible annual delivery mission unfold.
Not only that, but the dozen-or-so people who've bought Windows 8 or a Windows Phone will be able to log into the tracker from the comfort of their mobile devices. Santa: if you're reading this, it might be an idea to download the app and use it to give you the edge over those incoming cruise missiles en route.
The trusty helpline, which is 1-877-HI-NORAD, is powered by Avaya Government Solutions, keeping the service ticking over all night for any child - or manchild - curious as to the whereabouts of everybody's favourite aged Coca-Cola advertisement.
"We know Santa travels quickly, but we're certain NORAD is up to the challenge," said Steve Derr, CTO of Avaya Government Solutions in a carefully-worded press release.
"We're proud to provide the same mission-critical Avaya systems for NORAD's Track Santa hotline that the organisation uses year-round for the important work it does in the defence of our nation. Children around the world can rest assured that the best people and the best technology are being used for this important task."
Posting a guest Microsoft blog, Captain Jeff Davis of the US Navy and Director of NORAD, said "It's a big job, and we can't do it alone, but the holidays have always been a time for bringing people together. With the help of our industry partners and friends in Canada, the tradition that started as a mistake will live on again this year."
Computing suggests that marrying the cutting-edge NORAD technology with a really top of the range artillery cannon could net you and yours a Christmas present haul beyond your wildest dreams. Happy holidays, and even happier hunting.
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