St. Nick and his reindeer have begun their Christmas Eve work delivering presents to children around the world and NORAD is tracking their progress today.
As the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has been doing since 1958, volunteers at the Tracks Santa Operations Center in Colorado Springs are monitoring Father Christmas' progress around the world.
The annual tracking program, which went online in 1998, started at 2 a.m. ET today. Users can go to the NORAD website to watch Santa make his way around the globe via NORAD's new Santa Cam. They also can call in to speak with a live phone operator to inquire as to Santa's whereabouts by dialing the toll-free number for the Santa Holiday Hotline: 877-HI-NORAD (877-446-6723).
About 1,200 volunteer trackers will be working this year to talk to children calling the hotline to hear about Santa's trip, according to Avaya Technology, which is working with NORAD on the hotline effort. They will be taking calls 6 a.m. ET on Dec. 24 through the early morning hours of Christmas Day.
Last year, the hotline received more than 100,000 calls.
People also can email NORAD volunteers to get information about Old St. Nick at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
At 10:45 a.m. ET today, Santa was in Australia with Easter Island next on his itinerary. The Santa Cam showed St. Nick and his reindeer flying over the Sydney Opera House.
At 10:50 a.m. a volunteer on the Santa hotline said Santa was headed toward Indonesia. She also said his trip was going well and the reindeer had not yet needed to make a rest stop.
NORAD is making a big change this year.
After working with Google for the past five years, NORAD is teaming up with rival Microsoft.
On Microsoft's blog late last week, the company noted that NORAD, which has been tracking Santa for the past 62 years, will be using Microsoft Windows Azure cloud computing platform and Bing Maps this year.
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is email@example.com.