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[Discuss] Travelling abroad & taking technology

I learned something about international shipping this year. Know why we don't make much in the USA anymore? Because a couple of companies have built an oligopoly of shipping services: the costs are incredible, and the paperwork burden is horrendous.

I moved into a house vacated by a Taiwanese friend. He asked me to ship a few things. My jaw dropped at the price quoted by UPS: anyone in China or Hong Kong or most places in Asia can send a package to the USA for a few dollars; we have to spend tens to hundreds going the other way.

I tried sending a laptop battery at a downtown UPS store. After 20 minutes of writing up my order, the store manager cancelled it, apologizing that he didn't have the precisely correct hazmat label to get past the (American) bureaucrats to make it across our border.

At work, it took about 5 weeks to transfer 2 boxes of embedded-systems equipment to the office of one of our contractors in India.

So: you're better off hand-carrying equipment than mailing it. I look out at the harbor wistfully, looking at Chinese-flagged container ships filled with Chinese Christmas goodies as they arrived earlier this month, empty steel boxes going back the other way.



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