Here's What Techies Want

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Surprise: Cable's technical community is awash in techno-wishes for the New Year … and, of course, for their own personal geek-o-spheres.

As 2006 wound down, we checked in with a medley of tech-side contributors, to learn what they'd been hoping to find under the tree — and what gadgets will gizmo them into 2007.

Apropos to next week's Consumer Electronics Show, John Treece, director of cable business development for Juniper Networks, wants a universal digital rights-management scheme “that really does, in fact, let me move my songs and movies across devices — I really like the buy-once, use-it-like-you-own-it model.”

Also on Treece's gizmo list: A Boss BR900CD 8-Track Recorder with digital outputs to the computer “for when I get inspired,” and an upgrade to a 30-Gigabyte video iPod.

Mark Francisco, director of engineering/home services for Comcast New Media Development, wants a magical GPS — magical because it navigates both traffic jams on the New Jersey Turnpike and his quest for life-and-work balance.

“GPS is the hot device this year, so I want one that gives me directions to go home and spend time with family, and to get out of bed despite darkness and chill and get a run in before work,” Francisco said. Also in his spec for the gadget: “Directions to reach out to friends that time and geography have made distant, and to stop and think rather than react.”

Bob Zitter, chief technical officer for HBO, wants more consumer education about what folks can do with an HDTV set. “I'd like our industry to educate all those people who purchased high-def TVs about how easy and inexpensive it is to connect them to HD services. We should be ashamed at the magnitude of sets without HD service,” Zitter said.

Rick Mandler, recently named vice president of digital media advertising for Disney-ABC Television Group, wants “a simple method for discovering video on a PC but playing it out over my TV, and the ability to dynamically serve VOD advertising across a network of diverse system operators.”

By the looks of the gadget wish list submitted by Paul Bosco, vice president of cable and video initiatives for Cisco Systems, he might want to schedule a personal day to wander around CES. Bosco wants not just an HD camcorder, but a “Sony HDR-SR1 HD camcorder, to capture family in my limited time at home,” plus an IBM Z61P widescreen laptop, with HD edit tools and a “personal video locker to load and stream on-demand to my HD set-top box and LCD screen.”

Jim Chiddix, outgoing CEO of OpenTV, seeks “a Soundtraxx Tsunami Digital Command Control sound synthesizer/throttle chip for the big steam locomotive on my Oahu Railway layout in the basement.” (He added: “Is that too geeky?”)

Other holiday wishes were as … curious. “I recently watched my rocket scientist sister give a talk on the solar wind,” said Rebecca Lim, senior director of advanced services for Starz Entertainment. “When I got in the elevator, this guy had a very cool magnetosphere spectrum analyzer. I'm not sure I really want one, but …”

And there's the inevitable industry wishes. Dick Green, CEO of CableLabs, wants a banner year for the OpenCable Applications Platform: “I want OCAP to become as big a success as DOCSIS and PacketCable.”

Michael Misheff, VP of tier-1 service providers for Audio Codes, wants “peace, happiness, and continued subscriber growth.”

Likewise for Andy Paff, CEO of Cedar Point Communications: “My wish is for continued fair weather in the capital markets.”

But it was Bob McIntyre, chief technical officer for Scientific Atlanta, who summed it all up with a succinct wish, mentioned by almost everyone: “Definitely fewer sky miles.”

Hear, hear.

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