An inconvenience of physical hardware is that it has to be delivered

October 23, 2020

We're in the process of getting various pieces of new hardware here. In fact we've actually been in this process for months and months. Well, sort of. Part of what's made this process take so long is that we've run into an inconvenient aspect of getting physical hardware that I hadn't even considered before, which is that it has to be delivered to us.

Under normal circumstances getting hardware delivered is easy and I don't think much about it; we order things and they show up, sometimes directly in our office and sometimes at mailrooms where we have to fetch them. The most troublesome part is usually getting the websites of various companies to accept the full shipping address that we use (which has various long names in it, extra building names, and so on). But the circumstances haven't been normal for some time, and that complicates everything. Put simply, when there's no one in the building you can't get deliveries.

For some of the time since the end of February, we could have arranged for a person to be present to receive a delivery if we could schedule one. Unfortunately very few delivery firms will do this, even for relatively broad time windows like 'the morning of <X>'; instead they're oriented around the idea that they can turn up any time and find someone present. This is understandable but hasn't been all that workable under a full scale 'work from home' situation.

(Having things delivered to people's homes is not a viable thing once you're dealing with more than a modest amount of hardware, partly because people only have so much room and so much capacity to transport hardware in to work. A bunch of 4U rackmount computer cases or Dell 1U servers take up a lot of space and aren't exactly the lightest thing in the world.)

I'm sure we're not the only people who are dealing with this and we have been able to come up with some solutions (eventually, and after various confusion). But it's definitely an aspect of getting hardware that I hadn't previously really thought about much. It turns out that there's a bunch of invisible infrastructure in the background of our everyday activities.

(For instance, I don't think much about how we have a collection of carts that we can load up with boxes to move things around, and how our buildings all have access ramps. Without both together, getting deliveries from mailrooms to our offices or storage areas would be a lot more work.)

Written on 23 October 2020.
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Last modified: Fri Oct 23 00:46:14 2020
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