Flashback to the days when this midsize tech vendor is selling turnkey business systems to lumberyards, and a pilot fish working there is about to get a new assignment.

"One day, my manager stopped by my desk with a handheld RF terminal," says fish. "He wanted me to write a program for it to do physical inventory for a customer. The device had a 4-line LCD display and a small alphanumeric keypad.

"I went into the computer room and connected the base unit to a serial port on our PDP-8 minicomputer. Then I took the handheld and checked the signal in various parts of the building."

Turns out the signal range is about 200 feet, but there's a problem: The building's aluminum studs create dead spots where fish can't maintain a connection.

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