ZDNet UK recently polled its registered readers to ask what they would like for Christmas. We received thousands of replies and, not surprisingly as we were offering an iPod Mini to the reader with our favourite entry, Apple's little music player was a popular choice.
(By the way, if you are wondering whether you won, we reveal the name of the winner at the end of this article. And if the name there is not yours, you still have many chances to win dozens more fabulous prizes in our Twelve Days of Christmas Competition).
So, did everyone want an iPod? Almost everybody. But not quite. Some of you wanted Santa to bring some very strange things indeed. Take this terrible trio, looking for a little tingle with their tinsel:
Alex Waddell, a technology risk manager, asks for: "One of those battery operated massagers - the one that looks like six little puppies trying to escape from a bin bag that you strap to your office chair, armchair, dining room chair, toilet seat."
Santa is unsure about that, Alex, but suggests you try in Japan.
Dennis Foy, who lists his occupation as God, is more straightforward. He wants: "A vibrating chair; if I am going to be deskbound, at least I will be getting massaged without being distracted..." which Santa thinks should be standard office equipment. Definitely classier than a wrist-rest -- or a bolt of lightning.
Kyle Kennedy, student, has a similar dream, but is somewhat sneakier. "The iPod with built-in foot massager. This leading product provides customers with an amazing music experience combined with the relaxation that only an iPod can provide."
Santa will be sure to leave the product suggestion when he pops down Steve Jobs' chimney. He'll also ask around when he's visiting William Shatner, to see if he can help with these enterprising chaps:
Colin Gibson, director of a Web design consultancy, wants to beam up "one of those machines they have on Star Trek that makes whatever food you want. Sitting at my desk over Xmas would be a lot more bearable if I could have roast turkey with all the trimmings followed by Xmas pud (oh, and a glass of sherry too)." Commendable Christmas spirit, Colin, but the last time Santa found himself on Federation ground the darn thing would only produce synthehol sherry and lo-carb mince pies. He recommends the Romulan Winter Warmer.
IT director John Carlin wishes for a mixture of Trek tech and Klingon backup: "How about a Star Trek Tricorder? -- wave it in front of the offending device, an instant diagnosis and solution. Alternatively a hammer, it may not solve the problem but it would certainly relieve that stress."
Josev King is also suffused with the true spirit of Christmas: He wants "A Star Trek transporter. Get me away from my family." And in similar vein, senior solutions engineer Michael Cameron has his heart set on "a Star Trek holodeck would be nice if you could arrange one. Somewhere to escape the guests, the cooking and the washing-up -- that won't be covered in tinsel; a present that even the kids might use beyond Boxing Day."
IT manager Rob Vaughan has a sneaky thought. If you're going to ask for just one present... "my one 'must-have' tech gadget would have to be a replicator unit, as featured in Star Trek. While not actually a reality, imagine the fun you could have over Christmas. No more cold manky sandwiches from whichever garage you can find open. Instead, Christmas lunch hot. Tea, earl grey hot, coffee (with a little something added to keep out the cold) or even Czech Beer. Of course being a complete fiction, you would also be able to generate your own music player, DVD player, TV or even a pool table. Now that’s what I call stress relief. " What, no iPod? You strange man.
Others are more practicable in their festive wishes. Santa has a great deal of sympathy for Vincent Roberts, who "being a nuclear safety engineer, would love to have a wireless link from my PDA to control our two nuclear reactors, so that I could spend time at home and keep in touch with 'the office'. However, life's not like 'The Simpsons' and so this would probably never be allowed to happen". Rudolph, who got his glowing red nose doing deliveries to the boys and girls at Windscale a while back, is rather happy about that.
He's also going nowhere near Andrew Harvey, who is dreaming of a gift-wrapped "shotgun. With a laser sight for the technological value." Santa regrets that a surprising number of the naughtier children requested firearms or other weaponry, some quite ingenious such as Steve Bell's "remote electric shock delivery system. Using this on the phone system would alleviate the problems that cause the stress."
William Lamb, company owner, has a much less evil suggestion: "a talking stress ball. Squeeze it and it utters a random series of grovelling apologies. 'It was my fault.' 'You were right.' 'Without your technical brilliance...', etc." Santa likes that.
Santa also sees considerable merit in the gift request of company owner William Robertson's heart's desire - "A fully automatic still would be a great boon to a busy Scot as it would allow him to produce his very own brand of single malt and would ensure that all his friends came along to his party."
Robert King, principal of a PR and marketing firm, is a person of similar tastes, and just as vivid an imagination. He wants "a trained chimp who can take dictation, is a wow with XP, and can pour two fingers of the finest Scotch to order while pulling a cracker. Preferably all at the same time." Santa's own IT support department has many, Robert, but they're on unbreakable contracts. Sorry.
Also among those who seek solace in liquid form is principal consultant Michael Corbett, who's taken one of this year's less impressive marketing ideas and found the killer application. "Grid Alcohol. It's a bit like utility computing in that it collects all the unused dregs of booze from bottles and cans and redistributes to those places where 'alcohol is needed'." Get that working over wireless, Michael, and you've got something there.
Rob Thelen-Bartholomew, head of mobile communications, wants a "Santa GPS locator with on screen mapping and tracking so I can be tucked up in bed and fast asleep..." very good. Is that all? "...when he leaves that new iPod underneath my Christmas tree." Nice try, Rob, but Santa has a full suite of electronic countermeasures on his sled.
Which he needs with people like IT manager Rob Turnbull out there, whose "must-have gadget would have to be the L39 fighter jet which can be bought for a piffling £200K! Seriously! Who could care about working Xmas day when you can rock up to the office in one of these blighters! Parking might be an issue though..." The only air traffic up there is Santa, and that's the way he plans to keep it. The same goes for support engineer Josh Cann, who desires "a sentient Magic Carpet, like they have in Aladdin. And a monkey".
Paul Rose, marketing executive, has more down-to-earth Yuletide transportation wishes: "A Segway so I could clown around in the office while I'm supposed to be working. Also if we had a few then we could hold a Segway Grand Prix."
The tersely named "IT bod" N Pearse knows what he wants to eat all of, and how to get them "The iPie of course! Pies on demand, mince at this time of year, able to switch to any flavour as and when you need. Plenty for everyone."
There were lots of requests for PDAs, laptops, Robosapiens, mobile phone blockers, Christmas advert filters, even an ingenious Boozy-Babel Fish that translated sober requests for technical support into drunkspeak and back again, thus allowing you to be sozzled in charge of a hotline. A thought that would change Chrismas Day working for millions, thanks to network manager Jessica Pitcher. Many people wanted digital radios; two even fancied a Windows Media Centre PC.
But with two tiny exceptions, only one device inspired poetry. One present was top of thousands of wish lists: there's no getting away from the grip it has on the nation's stockings. But before Santa reveals the poetic lengths to which this not-really-a-mystery-at-all device has driven his readers, he would like you to pause and contemplate this haiku from Nigel Patience, IT manager.
Needed in work place.
Stronger signals through the air.
Now digital death.
Santa thinks Nigel wants some aftershave, but who can tell?
Mark Bradfield makes the solitary stand for traditional poetry not about an Apple product. He wants
"A USB TV Box.
So that even when surrounded by work, trouble and woe
And the rest of the folks filled with beer
Me and my laptop though still working hard
Can catch up on some festive cheer."
OK, it's iPod Poetry time. Hey, you sent 'em in, you gotta read 'em.
Simon Jones, take the stage.
Working over Christmas is never much fun, Christmas pud is nice but avoid the rum,
I'll get called out so let's hope there's no snow, But with an iPod Mini I'll sing ho ho ho!
I can listen to Slade, Sir Cliff and some Wizzard, Let's hope things restore it looks like a blizzard,
All systems working let's have some Band Aid, The prize from ZD my Christmas it made.
With so much space I'll store carols galore, And on my way home I'll listen some more,
I'll get back to the family to finish my dinner, I'd love an iPod so please make me the winner!
Stephen Elms, proprietor of an accounting firm, serenades Santa with a new take on an old favourite:
There's many a good reason for iPods
And one has just entered my head
If I can't have a listen over Chrimble
How the heck can I listen when dead?
Stuart Colville, IT manager, paints a Dickensian picture of contemporary festivities:
Working for peanuts during Crimbo,
To prevent my bank balance from going into limbo,
Listening to a mini iPod would be nice,
I could pretend I couldn't hear the wife.
Tom Maasland, a lawyer, sets himself a hard rhyming scheme, and also seems somewhat over-optimistic about the wattage of those snow-white earphones...
If I have to work,
Over the festive break,
Be in the office,
No break to take.
Can't be at home,
Or down by the lake,
Profits for someone
Else's pocket to make.
The least you could do,
Before I flake,
Is give me an iPod,
To make the office shake.
Nigel Cooper, senior manager at a rather large computer maker, has high hopes of the restorative powers of Apple's little box.
The deadlines are pending,
and the users need mending,
but the phone hasn't stopped at all.
I should be at home with my wife,
and enjoying my life.
At least with this iPod I'm having a ball.
Maurice Solovitz, accountant at a local telco we all know, takes an avant-garde approach to rhyme and scansion with this dramatic mashup of a childhood favourite.
Roses are red
violets are blue
pets are for life
but i'd rather t'was an iPod (they make better music than pets)
Software developer Lianne Bailey hopes that possession of such a toy would remove the need for sleep. The iPod's good, Lianne, but it can't actually rewire your brain.
The must have gadget for me,
would be an iPod MP3.
Listening to my favourite song,
All night long,
Would keep the stress at bay,
And ensure I was ready for the next day.
Company director Kym Borrett makes a bold stab at using the vital rhythms of two-step, drum'n'bass and other urban vibez to get her point across. That or cut and paste.
Pod, pod, pod, pod,
Gotta get me one of 'dem apple pods.
Pod, pod, pod, pod,
get me on da tube with my apple pod.
Pod, pod, pod, pod,
out and about with my apple pod.
Pod, pod, pod, pod,
but all around are those apple pods!
Pod, pod, pod, pod,
it seems EVERYONE has an apple pod!
Pod, pod, pod, pod,
all with white wires plugged into smiling heads.
Pod, pod, pod, pod,
but can we ALL be cool with our apple pods?
Pod, pod, pod, pod,
err - YES - so I just gotta WIN me one of 'dem apple pods!
George Anderson, IT security chap, doesn't even need stereo
The days are dark and long,
with little time for song
but with my iPod on,
I'll be full of festive cheer,
and with my other ear,
help all right any wrong,
with my iPod on.
Derrick Cartlidge, assistant advisory officer, adopts traditional meter to build up a shocking mid-verse suprise - does he not want an iPod at all? Rest assured: he does.
Christmas comes but once a year
And, when it comes, it brings Good Cheer.
So, 'tis with bated breath I write
These choice few words this very night
In search of my must-have techie gadget,
Filled with optimism that I might just get it
In ZDNet's Christmas Competition,
Though 'er indoors says, "You haven't a mission".
But, to alleviate the stress as Christmas looms so ever near
all that is necessary is a bit of photographic gear
A Canon EOS 20D Digital Camera
Would be more than enough for me to shout "Hurrah!"
And celebrate our Family Christmas Dinner
A proud ZDNet competition winner!
Though humble pie I will readily eat
And settle for a mini iPod as a special treat.
But the winner of the iPod mini we have to give away is this little ditty from lecturer David Muir from Strathclyde, who fits in a sly joke and some self-deprecation.
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
No gadget was working, not even a mouse.
A wish list of gizmos was written with care,
In hopes that St ZDNet soon would be there.
This extrovert techie was tucked up in bed
While visions of doohickies danced in my head.
(Though speaking with people still fills me with dread,
an extrovert geek looks at their shoes instead!)
I found myself worried, "Was this Halloween?
Or is it near Christmas? Oh, what can it mean?"
Since thirty-one oct, and twenty-five dec,
Came out just the same, I thought, "I’m a wreck!"
I found myself worried, unable to sleep.
To alleviate stress I want something that beeps.
So as I approach this next festive time,
An iPod for Christmas would suit me just fine.
Congratulations David, an iPod mini will be on its way to you in the New Year.