I've been writing the Exchange & Outlook UPDATE column for just over five years, and I always look forward to writing the annual gift guide. This year is no different, so let's take a look at what I have to recommend!
First, here's a gift suggestion for people who spend a lot of time on the phone. The Jabra GN9350 wireless headset works both with a PC and a desk phone; you can easily switch between using the headset for Microsoft Office Communicator or Skype and your desk phone. Its range is excellent; I can go from the second floor of my house to the opposite corner in the basement, or even out to the mailbox, and still stay connected. Battery life is very good, and the headset features a replaceable battery so you can keep multiple batteries on hand. Best of all, it keeps me from holding the phone between my ear and my shoulder! Priced at $349, it's expensive, but I figure it's saved me more than enough because of the chiropractor's visits I've avoided. In fact, I like these headsets so much that I bought several of them for the folks in my office.
How about a new monitor? Microsoft Research did a study that claims workers see anywhere from a 9 to 50 percent productivity gain from adding more screen real estate ("Two Screens Are Better Than One"). My work machine has been sporting a Dell 2005FPW, which I've really enjoyed. However, I've recently been testing a Samsung 225UW, which I like even better. It's a 24" 1680 x 1050 widescreen with a built-in 2.0 megapixel camera and a high-quality microphone. Plug a single USB cable into your computer, and voila: instant Office Communicator endpoint! The image quality is great, and having dual 1680 x 1050 monitors really has made me more productive.
I wanted to suggest some sort of movie or TV show that highlights a realistic portrayal of technology. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any. (And, no, neither Battlestar Galactica nor 24 counts as realistic!) Maybe next year I'll find something. However, one entertainment-themed gift I can unreservedly recommend is a subscription to Turner Broadcasting System's GameTap service. For about $10 per month, you get unlimited access to a library of nearly 1,000 games, ranging from classic text adventures such as Zork to newer games such as Hitman. This is a fun way to blow off steam. (Or, if your budget allows, grab an Xbox 360 and Rock Band to set up in your conference room!)
Again this year, 3Sharp gave gifts to our major customers by donating to The Smile Train, a charity that performs free cleft palate surgery for children in developing countries. Making a donation to an action-oriented charity such as Smile Train, Heifer International, or Habitat for Humanity is a great way to show your favorite admins you're thinking of them during this holiday season.
Speaking of thinking (or not thinking . . . ) remember, this is your last chance to submit entries in our contest for the worst Exchange design or administrative mistake you've ever seen (or committed!). Submit your entries via email to firstname.lastname@example.org by December 15, 2007.