I have been using a multiple monitor system for about a year, but I recently upgraded. I was using a system with two 21 inch monitors that sat side by side in landscape mode. As I got used to the system, I would generally display a document that I was writing, a PDF of drawings, and a MindManager map of notes from a meeting all at the same time.
Even with two big 21 inch monitors, I had trouble trying to get everything on the screen at one time.
So, I upgraded to a new system with a giant 30 inch monitor (2560 x 1600 resolution) in between the old two 21 inch monitors (each with 1600 x 1200 resolution) in portrait mode. This system has doubled the computer desktop space from the old system. I am amazed at how much more efficient I am when I sit down to write. I may have four different applications or documents open so that I can scan them all as I write. I find that it is easier to add more details to a discussion about a particular feature of an invention, for example, when I have all the notes up on the screen, Wikipedia entries displayed, or any other information displayed so I can glance at it without having to move windows around to find it. It truly is a computer desktop now, rather than a computer clipboard which is a more apt name for the old, single monitor systems.
I have done a number of other upgrades. In the new system, I have installed Microsoft Vista Ultimate. Vista offers a number of significant changes to the architecture of the operating system, but also has a new Aero user interface that is very pleasant to use. I am also using Microsoft Office 2007, the best parts of which are the improvements to Outlook.
I have been using Windows Small Business Server for my email and other backend services for quite some time. I had pretty much set it up and let it run without much, if any, administration. With the Vista box on the network, I was able to take some time to do some necessary administration upgrades to the SBS box. The SBS box is an ancient Pentium III dual processor server that I got on eBay a couple years ago and is due for an upgrade at some point soon.
Over the last couple months, I have also purchased an HP 9100 Document Sender. It is no longer manufactured by HP, but there are plenty of them on eBay, which is where I got mine. Once configured, the device has revolutionized my document scanning system. I was using an old 3-in-1 fax/scanner/printer which was slow and painful to use. I have the 9100 configured to scan a document straight into a shared directory.
Lastly, I revamped the entire office network to a gigabit network. I was using a wireless bridge connection between my office area and the server room. After pulling a hardwired connection and upgrading my network switches to gigabit speed, it is now fast from one end to the other. Although I always had proper security precautions for the wireless network, including WEP and MAC filtering, I always worried about the security implications. Now everything is hardwired and the wireless has been disconnected.
I spend time and money on the infrastructure of the business because it pays money in several different ways. First, I can rest easy at night because I know I have a reasonably secure system and can handle many different catastrophes that might devastate my business. Secondly, I do a lot of patent work in networking and server technologies, so it makes sense that I am able to do the nuts and bolts of basic network configuration and administration. Thirdly, I can work much more efficiently when I have the proper tools that allow me to focus on the critical task at hand, which may be drafting a patent application, rather than standing next to the scanner waiting for it to slowly scan a document.