The first publisher I ever worked for had written a book, influential in certain circles, called Two Cheers for Capitalism. It’s in that sincere but guarded congratulatory spirit that I offer these shout-outs:
• To Harmonic, for having won the polling at the CableLabs Summer Conference Innovation Showcase for its Cable Broadband TV demo. It’s an exciting set of real technologies that appear to have near-term potential. Our only caveat, already expressed by our grumpy contributor Jim Barthold in one of his CT Reports articles, is the big question of whether the cable industry is trying to buy innovation on the cheap. Or another way to put it: Can innovation on the application layer thrive under Layer 1 constraints?
• To our award-winning systems. (See "Top Tiers" for two more profiles.) A hearty congrats to one and all. Our caution cuts two ways here: First, there are other examples of outstanding engineering and technical operations that we missed. Sorry, maybe next year. Second, these four systems aren’t perfect. But what’s interesting is that high-performing systems know that, too, in an even more precise and self-aware way than do their lower performing brothers. Saints, after all, are known to frequent the confessional.
• To all other Cable-Tec Award Winners, including those products picked by Ron Hranac in his column last month. I did my own checking with more than a dozen engineers in a position to purchase equipment and came up with very little overlap, either internally or with Ron’s list, meaning that operators were looking for a lot of different things. One that did overlap: the battery replacement kit for Motorola IRTs introduced by WooshCom Chairman and CTO Bruce Marler, whose entrepreneurial reputation precedes him. "I wouldn’t like to see the basement for all the ideas that didn’t make it," said one of my secret shoppers. The point: There were lots of other winning products at Cable-Tec, in part because they won on the vendor’s own test bench first.