What is a cheap, but good, alternative to Polycom conference phones?

Have you tried out Sqwiggle? It uses the hardware built into your computer to provide really great presence with your team throughout the day. You can also start a video discussion with a single click. I'd recommend taking a look!

Sqwiggle – Remote Working, Collaboration and Communication

Full disclosure: I'm a cofounder

Are there compact flourescent light bulbs that produce the same kind of light as incandescent bulbs?

I'm assuming by 'looks the same as' you mean produces the same kind of light.

Before I can answer your question, I have to introduce these two metrics.

All light bulbs (professionally known as lamps) have a rated Correlated Color Temperature (CCT), which describes the color of the light. The higher the number, the colder or whiter the color. For example, 2750 is the CCT of an incandescent lamp (very yellow and warm), and 5000 is the CCT of daylight (very white and cold).

In addition, all lamps have a rated Color Rendering Index (CRI) from 0 to 100. The higher the number, the more accurate colors appear to the eye. For example, street lighting and parking lot lighting often has really poor CRI, making it hard to tell the different colors; whereas incandescent lamps generally have a high CRI of near 90.

To answer your question, yes, there are compact fluorescents available that produce the same light as incandescents, namely the ones with CCT of around 2700 and CRI of above 80.

See the Sylvania fluorescent catalog to find specific lamps:

What is the best place to try out ergonomics equipment in San Francisco?

You're right, we're not open weekends.  BUT I'm really expert at helping people find the right products and we have a pretty liberal 30 day return policy. If it's for a corporate purchase, I can come to your site and bring a demo.  I'm a TOTAL expert at SOMA chair fittings – used to work for SOMA and believe in their modular system.  Can do furniture too.  Contact me!

What are the main benefits of standing desks: posture, burning more calories, a greater need to take natural breaks? What sucks about them?

I’ve used a height-adjustable standing desk since 2005. I was first introduced to a standing workstation by my friend and coworker Blaise DiPersia.

I enjoy four main benefits from a standing desk:

  • My productivity and focus is greater because I incur a physical toll when I’m standing. So I’m less likely to surf the internet and clown around on YouTube/Twitter/Quora when I stand. I’m also generally more alert and far less lethargic when I’m on my feet.
  • I am much more mobile when standing. I can dance to music over headphones (no joke) and can regularly adjust my posture and position.
  • Conversations are less awkward because a visitor doesn’t have to stand over me while we chat.
  • Coworkers think that standing desks are novel. A standing desk contributes positively to your workplace reputation: you’re highly visible and people infer that you must have more stamina and dedication because you stand for hours.

I use a LINAK desk at work. http://www.movingdesks.com

What is the best office chair?

I tried a lot of high end office chairs and settled on a Soma Comfort tall back chair. I am tall and have RSI and both of those affected my choice so it might not be the best for you, but it's definitely worth trying out. They don't sell direct so you have to find a place near you that carries them.

There are some pictures here: SomaComfort Tall Back Chair

How good is tileboard as whiteboard material?

It's worked fine for me, particularly for the cost. I'd agree that if you leave marks on it for a long time (over a week in my experience), it will be harder to erase and more likely to leave ghosts, but this might be solved by buying higher-quality dry erase markers (I bought dollar store brand markers) and spray cleaner (never tried).

For my home office, $10 for an 8' x 4' whiteboard was an unbeatable deal. Just don't expect them to still be pristine after months of use.