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Mitch Irsfeld

TechNet Flash, Volume 13, Issue 29 - December 14, 2011
TechNet Flash Editor's Note from Mitch Irsfeld

Living Up to Expectations over the Holidays

As technology professionals, we play a multifaceted role during the holidays. It starts with the requests to recommend the best gadgets, games, devices, and software. Then it probably progresses to something like, "I'll bet uncle Mitch knows how to get a good deal on that gizmo." And then come the calls for help on setting up and troubleshooting whatever it is that you might or might not have recommended.

I have no advice for you on that front. That's our lot, it seems, so wear your cape with pride. But I can help keep the polish on your superhero boots and provide some advice for sorting out the hits and misses.

It's actually a good year to be Santa, especially if you're filling a high-tech wish list.

Just ask Ellen DeGeneres. If you didn't catch her show last week, you can watch her "12 Days of Ellen" segment and see the crowd reaction when she reveals the gifts from the Microsoft Store.

No surprise at the joy that erupted in the audience when Ellen took the wraps off Kinect for Xbox 360 and Kinect games. And as a tech pro, you should be watching the Kinect technology closely because the vision for Kinect goes well beyond controller-free, interactive gaming and entertainment. For more on that, check out the "Kinect Effect" and see how innovation is starting to galvanize around this unifying technology.

Xbox 360 Reveals the Future of TV
Microsoft last week released a free update to Xbox live that transforms the Xbox 360 into an all-in-one entertainment device. Now you can get games, music, movies, sports, and live and on-demand television in one box, not to mention the powerful social tools. And with Kinect and Bing, all you have to do is say it, and Bing finds it.

Microsoft now has deals with nearly 40 TV and entertainment providers to start rolling out services for the Xbox 360 this holiday season. The groundswell continues to build around Xbox 360 and Kinect and I fully expect that by this time next year, the percentage of non-gamers getting Xbox 360 will show that Xbox 360 really is the future. Don't believe me? Read the Wired article With TVs, Microsoft Is Right and Apple Is Wrong.

Let's Skype with Grandma
Now officially in the Microsoft stable, Skype is a great way to stay connected with friends and family this holiday season. And Microsoft carries an array of cool webcams and headsets to suit everyone on your contact list.

If it's time to get someone on your list connected and you're shopping for the right device, check out the Microsoft Store for computers, phones, accessories and services.  And if you're looking for that ultimate device for the tech enthusiast (maybe Santa needs something for his/herself), I'd have to recommend the Sony VAIO Z Series. This unit is loaded, weighing in at only 2.5 lbs with 12 hours of battery life, AMD Radeon HD graphics, Blu-ray disc, a 2.70 GHz i7 processor with the Intel Turbo boost up to 3.40 GHz, 6GB of RAM and a 256 GB solid state drive. It has a 13.1-inch (1920 x 1080) HD display and supports up to four external displays.

Stocking Stuffers
Looking to accessorize? Let's start with a mouse of abnormal abilities that makes pointing and clicking old school. Consider the Microsoft Touch Mouse with multi-touch technology where you navigate with gestures of graceful slips and slides across the surface of the mouse.

I've already described in this column why Windows Phones are far and away the best choice for IT pros and their business users, and it will pay to revisit the new features to see if they're right for the rest of your posse. But here's a phone-related stocking stuffer sure to please all those who drive cars without the integrated hands-free system. Heck, it might even work for new cars since the BlueAnt S4 voice controlled Bluetooth car speakerphone is truly hands-free. That's right, you never touch anything. Everything is controlled by voice.

Still at a loss? Or maybe everyone is well stocked with technology items? See the new Bing Holiday Calendar with a new Bing offer every day of the month.

Happy Holidays and see you in the New Year,

Mitch Irsfeld
Editor, TechNet Flash

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