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Spending the Holidays Three Houses Down from America’s Christmas Lights Display Winner – #sonyholiday

Whitis Family Christmas House in Tallahassee, Florida. Winners of the GMA Contest.
Semper Fi Christmas House, Tallahassee, Florida

I’m spending the holidays in Tallahassee, Florida, which happens to be the town from which the Whitis family, the winners of Good Morning America’s “Our Lights Are Better Than Your Lights”, hail. I’m not only in the same town as this Christmas lights attraction, but approximately three doors down from it. When my family and I arrived after a very long drive yesterday, we had to get a police escort to stop traffic so we could get down the street to my sister’s house. Cars were lined up for at least a mile to get a chance to drive by the GMA winners’ home.

So what does it take to earn bragging rights for the best Christmas lights in the nation? Apparently, it takes 17,000 LED lights and a patriotic, red-white-and-blue light show set to the techno remix of Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to Be an American.” I can’t say it’s a beautiful display – the word “tacky” comes to mind. But it certainly took a lot of effort and the winners have asked visitors and online admirers to contribute to the Semper Fi Fund, an organization that provides “immediate financial support for injured and critically ill members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families.”

I took a few photos* of the Whitis’ lit-up home, but you can’t really appreciate the audaciousness of this light display until you watch the video complete with music. Thankfully, for the neighbors’ sake, the family has purchased some radio spectrum (92.3 FM) for the duration of the Christmas light show so the neighborhood doesn’t have to endure techno music repeating on a four-minute loop for five hours per night. (I understand there’s currently a lawsuit against the family because of the light and music display, which is probably one reason why the radio spectrum was purchased.)

Here’s the full video of the Whitis’ family’s Semper Fi Christmas House, which will be on display through Christmas night. I promise you this is real:

 

 

*All photos (except featured photo) taken with the Sony Cyber Shot DSC-WX9 camera, which was provided courtesy of Sony.

Old and Busted vs. New Hotness and the Elephant in the Room – #sonyholiday

Old Sony Vaio - "Old and Busted"

When a PR representative recently offered me the opportunity to review the new Sony VAIO S Series laptop, I was hesitant. But I realized that it would be a great opportunity to compare my previous Sony VAIO experience with my new one, as well as compare the two laptops to my relatively new MacBook Pro.

That’s right. I am a new convert to Mac after years of using a PC. My last laptop before getting my beautiful, shiny, Steve Jobs-approved MacBook? You guessed it – a Sony VAIO. Full Disclosure: I’m typing this post on a MacBook. I’ll be blogging from the Sony as the review series continues.

We bought a Sony VAIO in 2009 from a Best Buy. It wasn’t an ideal purchase. Our workhorse Dell, which wed had since 2004 and carted to India and Turkey, was old, gigantic (by today’s standards), and died within a week of returning stateside after being abroad for almost four years. We didnt really have a whole lot of time to do research on a new laptop; we just needed to buy one fast so I we could get online and I could continue blogging or whatever it was that I was doing in 2009.

Old Sony Vaio - Worn Out Keyboard
Old Sony Vaio - Worn Out Keyboard

The Sony VAIO was the best looking PC laptop at Best Buy that day and was priced in the middle range – around $699. I was thrilled to have a new laptop again, but the honeymoon period ended fairly quickly. Because we had bought an out-of-the-box model (previously owned for about a week before being returned to the store), we had a limited warranty on the VAIO. Right about the time that the warranty expired, the VAIO’s fan began whirring loudly and my sons got hold of the laptop and ripped half of the keys off. I was typing on the laptop so much, that by the middle of 2010, the paint on the keyboard keys began to wear off. That’s what you see in the photo to the left.

I had had it with PCs by the end of 2010 and coveted a Mac, not only because it was going to work seamlessly with my iPhone but because I had finally eased out of the mindset that computing on a Mac would be difficult. Sure, keyboard shortcuts would change, preferred software wouldn’t be available in some cases, and software I already owned (such as an old version of Photoshop for PCs) wouldn’t be compatible with my Mac. But I was ready for something different, especially since Id heard that I wouldnt have to worry about malware and viruses striking my Mac.

So, here I am, getting ready to really review the Sony VAIO S Series laptop, both in comparison with my old-and-busted Vaio and the elephant-in-the-room MacBook, but also as a laptop on its own terms. Stay tuned for more posts on the Sony VAIO S Series laptop as well as reviews about my experience using the laptop in tandem with the Sony Cyber-shot (DSC-WX9) camera and Microsoft Windows Live Sky Drive. On Twitter, Im labeling my posts with the hashtag #sonyholiday.

Sony VAIO S Series
Sony VAIO S Series - New "Hotness?"

Talking Tech for the Holidays – #sonyholiday


I am no stranger to writing about technology on this blog. While MissAdventures started out as a sort of diary-cum-travelogue, it has evolved to include all sorts of interests and life events – writing, parenting, social media, gadgets, men, apps, clothing, and even baseball. One of the most popular posts I’ve ever written on here was about returning my Kindle. Mind you, it was the first generation Kindle – pre-iPad – and I was smitten with my iPhone at the time.* I’ve even done a few reviews of products sent to me by PR firms, notably the Vinturi wine aerator, which, coincidentally I just used last night after a soft cork popped into a freshly opened bottle of red and I needed to filter the bits out.

Well, the time has come for me to write about tech again, as well as revitalize this poor, neglected blog. For the next few weeks, I will be reviewing a few products for Sony – the Sony VAIO S Series laptop and the Sony Cyber-shot (DSC-WX9) camera – both of which Sony offered to me for review. Simultaneously, I will be using and evaluating Microsoft Windows Live Sky Drive, Microsoft’s cloud service that syncs with Microsoft Office. The idea is that I will test these products throughout the holidays, write about my findings, and Sony and Microsoft will get in me (and the several other bloggers who are doing this) some really cheap, viral marketing. Indeed, Sony offered this opportunity with a very “soft sell” approach. For example, they didn’t even suggest a Twitter hashtag for this whole process. So, I thought, “What the hell? This could be fun.”

Plus, I have plans.

What could those plans be? Well, you’ll have to stay tuned to find out. By the way, I am officially coining the hashtag #sonyholiday for my tweets about this project. Feel free to follow me on Twitter for my take on Sony’s VAIO and Cyber-shot and Microsoft’s Live Sky Drive. Maybe I’ll love them, maybe I’ll hate them. But I can promise you that I will be fair-minded throughout the course of this assignment.

Thanks for tuning in. I hope you’ll come back and check out my subsequent posts.

*Note: I still have neither an iPad nor a Kindle. Oh, Santa!

Photo by Flickr user kwl