Giving thanks where thanks are due

An almost snark-free column in which I express gratitude to the people and companies who actually deserve it

It's that time of year again: time to count our blessings and appreciate how lucky we are to be where we are, doing what we do, with people we love. Don't worry, the serious part of this column is almost over – but let's take a deep breath and give thanks for our health and safety, as well as being able to wake up tomorrow and enjoy being alive. Nothing else really matters.

That said, I'd like to take a look back at 2007 and give thanks for some tech stuff I'm grateful for.

1) Thanks to Diane Greene and the folks at VMware for showing the IT industry there's something new under the sun and that what's going on at Google and Apple isn't the only real action in the technology world.

2) Thanks to my 7-year-old nephew, my 17-year-old PHP/MySQL guru, and my 72-year-old dad for getting me going with text messaging. Only one problem: It takes me half an hour to compose a two-line message. What's wrong with me?

3) Thanks to corporate CIOs and CEOs for not freaking out about Web 2.0 and overreacting, like they did in the '90s with Y2K and Web 1.0, by buying too much stuff. Companies are responding, as they should, but IT hasn't blown its credibility and seems better able to separate the wheat from the chaff. 

4) Thanks to eBay's PayPal unit for continuing to show large financial organizations how easy and pleasant a self-service consumer banking experience can be. Without ongoing threats from upstart competition such as PayPal, the big banks would still be using carbon paper and triplicate. With it, they're rolling out envelope-free ATMS.

5) Thanks to the unsung IT heroes in the bowels of those same big financial firms who are now no doubt getting blamed for the recent failures of the credit derivative and program trading efforts, which led to tens of billions of dollars in recent write-offs. It wasn't your fault!

6) Thanks to Rush for putting on that great concert in Silicon Valley on Aug. 1, providing a showcase for the real capabilities of the just-launched iPhone. Dozens of people were holding them up to pirate-video the concert. It made me want… a lighter.

7) Thanks to HP CEO Mark Hurd for not only restoring the company's growth and profitability, but for bringing that clean-cut, upstanding all-American look back to the vendor community after years of backdating and accounting scandals.

8) Thanks to corporate raider Carl Icahn for buying that big stake in BEA Systems. Though he hasn't succeeded in forcing the company to sell to Oracle, it's nice to know that these financial sharks finally care about tech. The industry has grown up.

9) Thanks to AT&T for politely refunding the money it had overcharged me after I ripped it a new one in my column earlier this year. Although the company may seem big, monolithic, and uncaring, it can do the right thing by a customer (if you happen to be a published columnist).

10) And finally, thanks to all the readers who left feedback comments on my columns this year – not just the tidal wave of thoughtful discussion on my controversial IT immigration proposal, but those who had something to say about almost every topic I showed my ignorance on. You're smart, you know your facts, you're not shy, you keep me honest, and I appreciate it!

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